Why a Pop Culture Baby Name Can Be Risky

If you follow baby names (or have new parent friends), odds are you know that Atticus has become a popular baby name in the past decade. It rose from the 900s on the Social Security Administration’s list of top baby names in 2004 to number 370 last year. And you can chalk almost all of that popularity up to the beloved classic To Kill a Mockingbird, and the idealistic and loving father figure, Atticus Finch.

So the recent publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, which features an adult Scout dealing with the fact that her father Atticus was a segregationist and racist, likely has some who picked that name based on the character in a tizzy—including one Colorado couple who took the extreme step of changing their 14-month-old son’s name from Atticus to Lucas, because, “when the new book came out, we just felt like, this does not at all encompass the values that we want for our son to have and know,” they told People.com. And, in fact, the second I heard about the way Atticus is portrayed in this new book, even though Go Set a Watchman is just an early and rough draft written before Lee’s masterpiece, I knew that would likely be the death knell of this name. I fully expect to see it drop back into obscurity over the next few years.

Related: 6 Steps to the Perfect Baby Name

But that leads to a bigger question: Should parents think twice about naming their baby after a pop culture character—especially if there’s a possibility that something could change your opinion of that character down the line? To be honest, Atticus seemed like a safe bet , but what about all those parents naming their kids Khaleesi and Arya after Game of Thrones? Or Luke after Star Wars? Their stories are still being told, and their fates are uncertain. Will you still love the name Arya as much if she continues down the path toward becoming a cold-blooded killer? And what if Luke turns to the dark side in the Star Wars installment due out this December?

I think before you pick a baby name based on a character you love, you do need to consider whether that character could be altered in a way that makes that name unpalatable. It’s pretty safe to say that Disney suddenly won’t make a movie that makes Princess Tiana evil, but what if J.K. Rowling decided to do a Harry Potter sequel that portrays a grownup Hermione as a power-hungry dark witch? If that would impact whether you choose the name for your child, you may want to second guess your decision in the first place.

There’s definitely room out there for pop culture baby names. And in most cases, even with characters who are still in play, you can see how their story arc will likely play out. But you need to keep in mind that the creators of some of your favorite characters could pull a fast one on you—and if that will impact your choice of baby name, it’s best to keep looking.

If you’re still looking for a great baby name, check out our Baby Name Finder or email me at lamilbrand@gmail.com. And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in baby names.


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Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret
Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret
Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret

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Jaime King’s Baby Name Pick: Get the Scoop!

Actress Jaime King and husband Kyle Newman welcomed their second son (Taylor Swift’s godson!) earlier this week—and shared the news via  this awesome breastfeeding birth announcement pic—but they kept us all waiting a few days before announcing their baby name. Now we know: Joining big brother James Knight is Leo Thames!

Leo has become a pretty hot baby name pick for boys since the turn of the 21st century—so maybe we can chalk that up to actor Leo DiCaprio, or to the fact that actors Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz also chose it for their son? It comes from the Latin word for lion, and it’s currently sitting at #97 on the popularity charts.

Related: Jaime King’s Best Pregnancy Advice!

A spokesperson said that Jaime and Kyle decided to use Thames in the middle in honor of the legendary river in London, which holds special meaning for the family—Jaime and Kyle were married near it. I think it’s a lovely choice, and a nice reminder that you can pick a middle name with special and sentimental meaning to you, even if it’s a bit offbeat.

Related: Middle Names: 8 Ways to Pick a Great One

All in all, I think it’s a winning combination, and one that nicely complements the name they picked for big brother James.

Tell us: What do you think of Jaime and Kyle’s baby name choice? Is Leo on your short list? And did you pick a name with special meaning to you for your son or daughter?

If you’re still looking for a great baby name, check out our Baby Name Finder or email me at lamilbrand@gmail.com. And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in baby names.

Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name
Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name
Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name

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Baby Name Advice: Changing the Name After Adoption

Reader Betsy is excited about her new daughter—but wants to welcome her to the family with a new baby name.

Help! We are adopting a baby girl from foster care and want to change her name. We are considering keeping either her middle or first name, to be used as a middle name. Her current name is Ariel Beauty. I know, she sounds like a Disney character. Can you offer any ideas? We are stumped!

Great question! There are lots of schools of thought about whether to change your child’s name after you adopt him or her. Some people keep their child’s original name, while others keep part of the name or change the name entirely. When we adopted our daughters, we opted to keep their original names as their middle names. That might be a good choice in this scenario—especially as Ariel is the stronger name of the two. (Ariel has ties to Shakespeare in addition to Disney!)

As far as the first name, what about picking a name that means beauty to pay homage to her original middle name? Belle/Bella usually means beautiful, but it sounds a little strange with Ariel. I would consider one of the following names that also mean lovely: Astrid, Rosalind, Jolie, Calista, or Mirabel.

Another option? Consider giving her a name that has special meaning to your family—the name of a grandparent or other special relative. (My daughters were named after a special aunt and great-grandmother.) You could always name her Elizabeth after you, and give her a different nickname, like Eliza or Ellie. That’s a way to help welcome her into her new family.

Readers, what other suggestions do you have for Betsy? What name would you pick?

If you’re still looking for a great baby name, check out our Baby Name Finder or email me at lamilbrand@gmail.com. And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in baby names.

Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name
Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name
Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name

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Has 1D’s Louis Tomlinson Already Revealed His Baby Name Pick?

Teens and tweens worldwide were buzzing this week about the news that One Direction singer Louis Tomlinson is expecting a baby with stylist Briana Jungwirth. And we may already have the inside scoop on what the baby name he’d love—at least, if it’s a boy! According a Top of the Pops interview in 2012, Louis picked a pair of “L” names for a future son. “I’ve always quite liked the name Leo,” he told the mag. “If I had a boy, I’d quite like to call him Leo, but I like Lucas as well.”

Both names are quite stylish these days. But the question remains: What would he pick for a girl? If he wants to continue the L theme, I do love Luna, which has been on the rise in popularity ever since J.K. Rowling introduced the character Luna Lovegood in the fifth book of the Harry Potter series. If he wants to give a nod to his talents, Lyric makes a lovely baby girl name. And of course, there’s the sweet and stylish Lucy, Lilian, and Lilah.

Related: Celebs Have Baby Name Dilemmas, Too!

Naturally, Louis’s taste in baby names may have changed in the three years since the interview came out—so it’ll be interesting to see if those name picks stand.

Tell us: What names would you suggest for the first One Direction baby?

If you’re still looking for a great baby name, check out our Baby Name Finder or email me at lamilbrand@gmail.com. And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in baby names.

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British Baby Names
British Baby Names
British Baby Names

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Baby Name Advice: Picking an Old-Fashioned Girls’ Name

Today’s reader question is one near and dear to my heart—I love a good old-fashioned baby name!

I am 31 weeks pregnant with my third child, a girl. I have a 4-year-old son, Axle, and a 2-year-old daughter, Evelyn. I am into old-fashioned names, and really don’t care for trendy names. I hope you can help— I’m running out of time!

With those parameters, there’s a TON of great name options out there. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Consider starting with another vowel. Since Evelyn and Axle both start with vowels, maybe pick another name that starts with a vowel. My picks: Isadora, Eleanor, Augusta, and Adelaide.

Look at names that have vintage flair—and some new cache. I’m a big fan of some of the names that are starting to trend, but are still far from the limelight. We’re talking classics like Josephine, Beatrice, Dorothy, Harriet, Penelope, and Matilda.

Think about some old-fashioned virtue names. Word names were big back in the day, and while Hope and Faith have never gone out of style, there are plenty of others available: Mercy, Felicity, Constance, and Clementine, to name a few.

Don’t discount the timeless names. These are the ones that never really go out of style (a lot of them fall into the top 200-500 range, too). This list includes Margaret, Katherine, Lillian, and Mary.

Consider some vintage florals. Lily and Violet may be tops these days, but there are plenty of other lovely floral names out there. Try Juniper, Laurel, Azalea, Flora, Aster, and Iris.

Personally, my picks to go with Axle and Evelyn would be one of the following: Eleanor, Adelaide, Matilda, Felicity, Lillian, and Laurel.

Related: The 25 Best Vintage Baby Names for Girls

Okay, your turn, readers: What other names would you add to the list? And which ones do you love the most?

If you’re still looking for a great baby name, check out our Baby Name Finder or email me at lamilbrand@gmail.com. And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in baby names.

Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name
Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name
Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name

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