Two celeb couples just welcomed daughters—Ron Livingstone (you’ll remember him most memorably as the hypnotized hero Peter of cult classic Office Space), and wife Rosemarie DeWitt (an actress who starred in Standoff) welcomed daughter GracieJames; baseball player Nick Swisher and Reba star Joanna Garcia Swisher welcomed daughter EmersonJay. So two ladies with names on the boyish side!
Gracie is a more informal version of the word name Grace, a name that’s just fallen out of the top 20–and James has been popping up more and more for girls as a clever (and slightly less expected) middle name, in lieu Jane or Ann.
Emerson used to be a boys’ only name—but recently, it’s become even more popular for girls, where it’s currently in the top 250. It’s another way to get that popular Emma/Emily/Em sound in your daughter’s name. Jay comes from the bluejay bird (or is short for Jason). Traditionally, this was also boys’ only, but now it’s a girls name, too.
What do you think of these two celebrity “tomboy” names? Are these names you’d want to give your daughter—or would you prefer them for your sons?
And don’t forget to vote for your favorite names with our cool Name Game feature!
It’s been exactly a decade since Buffy staked her last vampire on network TV. But you can see the influence of Joss Whedon’s most popular creation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in more than just TV shows like Vampire Diaries and True Blood—you can see it in the rise in popularity of a few key characters’ names. Nameberry’s had a whole series of articles about Joss’s naming prowess—and a lot of debate about whether people would pick some of the more controversial names (i.e. Spike). I admit that Xander was tops on my list, if we’d had a boy instead of two lovely ladies. Check out what became of these names after the show ended.
Buffy If a kick-ass vamp slayer like Ms. Summers can’t resurrect Buffy from the dead, nothing will. And though she saved the world (a lot), she wasn’t able to save her name from remaining at the bottom of the heap. Buffy is among the goofiest nicknames for Elizabeth.
Angel Buffy’s true love—a vampire with a soul—gets the deep name of Angel. The name was on an upswing before the show even aired, but it’s been a consistent top 100 choice ever since.
Willow The nature name Joss chose for Buffy’s geek-chic best friend (and future most-powerful-witch-in-the-universe) was barely in the top 1000 when the show started, and now is continuing its rise, currently ranking as the 171st most popular name for girls in the U.S. (You can also thank Will and Jada Smith, who picked it for their daughter during this same timeframe.)
Xander This short form of Alexander clearly got a boost from its pop culture association—it didn’t even register on the charts when the show first aired, and it’s now nearing the top 200 names. You can bet, too, that more than a few of the babies named Alexander (it’s currently #9 on the charts) actually go by Xander instead.
Cordelia Buffy’s high-school mean-girl frenemy scored a name that wasn’t exactly apropos (it’s Latin for “heart”). Despite its sweet meaning, its illustrious past (it’s one of King Lear’s daughters in Shakespeare’s masterpiece), and this pop-culture reference, it still hasn’t cracked the top 1000 names in decades.
Anya This Russian variant on Ann was picked for a former vengeance demon and reluctant member of Buffy’s “Scooby Gang,” and perhaps one of my favorite characters on the show. The name zoomed up the charts after the character was introduced in the show, and it’s currently in the top 400 names.
Rupert Sadly, neither Buffy’s guiding force, Watcher Rupert Giles, nor Rupert Grint, the actor who played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series, was able to bring this name into prominence in the U.S. (It is still pretty popular in the UK, though.) I kind of like the funky “Ripper” nickname the bookish Mr. Giles had from his bad-boy rebellious stage.
Spike If you’re really daring, you might want to name your child after Buffy’s other great love—one of the most vicious vamps around, who Buffy helped tame. But you might be better off giving your child this character’s given name, top-10 classic William, and then just calling him Spike around the house.
Faith There’s a whole convoluted story about how Buffy went from being the only slayer in the world to having a second one to join her fight. And Faith represented the wild side of Slayerdom—and later became a good girl gone bad. Faith was already on the rise into the top 100 when the character appeared—and it’s had continued popularity ever since.
Wesley If your only experience with Wesley Wyndham-Pryce was Buffy, you probably wouldn’t be too keen on the name—Faith’s Watcher Guide was a major-league prig and a bit of a wuss. But his character was developed more extensively on the spinoff series Angel, where he became quite a hero. Unfortunately, he seemed to have little positive effect on the course of the name—it made a small dip during the series run, but is now back up near the top 150 names for boys in the U.S.
There were some other great choices, too—I loved the names Warren and Glory, even if they were major league baddies. Were you a big-league Buffy fan—or a fan of any of these names? What was your favorite episode?
We all want our kiddos to feel special—so it’s no surprise that unique baby names and unique spellings have become so popular in the U.S. In fact, the number of babies represented in the top 10 names or even the top 1000 names on the Social Security list dwindles each and every year (it’s down by more than five percent over the past several years)—which means that more and more people are choosing names that only a handful of other kiddos get.
And it also means that once you’ve settled on the perfect name for your future kiddo, you tend to get a wee bit territorial about it. Heck, we’ve written articles about baby name stealing, and how much trouble it can cause. And it even ended up becoming a major plot point in an episode of Sex and the City. Remember Charlotte’s much beloved, “made up” baby name Shayla? (P.S. She didn’t make it up—it’s actually an Irish variation on Cecelia!)
It’s twins for country singer Chely Wright and her wife, Lauren Blitzer Wright, who welcomed a pair of sons over the weekend. The two boys were given names that had meaning for the couple—they’re the names of Chely and Lauren’s grandfathers: EverettJoseph and GeorgeSamuel.
Everett is a relatively popular name that means “brave,” and currently is on a major upswing toward the top 200 names. They paired it with the timeless Joseph, a top 20 Biblical name.
George is a Greek name that means farmer. It’s a name that’s on a very slow and steady decline, after decades in the top 20 names. (I still love it, though, for little boys!) It’s a name with a very long and illustrious past, including British royals, our first President, a slew of writers, and of course, a few modern Presidents, too. Samuel is an Old Testament name, which hasn’t been out of the top 100 for over a century. It’s a name that means “told by God,” and it’s currently in the top 25 in the U.S.
What do you think of Chely and Lauren’s choices? Are you planning on any of those names for your baby boy? (Don’t forget to check out our Name Game to tell us what other names you love—or love to hate!)
Could your baby’s name impact his future success? High-end recruiter The Ladders crunched some numbers around its members, and came up with some interesting insights into first names and future income or success. Their overarching theory, based on their 6 million members? The shorter the name, the better! People who went by three-letter monikers (like Bob, Tom and Rob) made the most money—and every additional letter in your name cost you $3,600 in annual salary. And that held true for both men and women—as most of the top earning names in the ladies’ category were short and sweet, like Lynn, Dana and Cathy. One notable exception for the ladies was Christine, which ranked as the top C-level executive name for women, and was also on the top 5 high earners. (Maybe those ladies went informally by Chris when actually addressed at work?)
Another interesting insight was that informal nicknames trumped their more formal roots—so going by Bill instead of William, or Debbie instead of Deborah could help you earn more cash. My thought? Short, one-syllable names like Rob, Marc and Lynn are easy to pronounce, simple and straightforward. And who wouldn’t want a colleague (or leader), who was straightforward?
Admittedly, some of the names among the top earners, especially on the ladies’ list, felt a little less-than-fresh. Denise, for instance, is on a steep trajectory out of the top 1,000 names, and Cindy is following on Denise’s heels. On the boys’ side, Wayne recently had a sharp spike in popularity, but it’s still near the bottom of the top 1,000 names for boys.
Though of course, you’ll have to take all of this number crunching with a grain of salt. The pool of people in their sample is skewed toward high-level business folks (I’m sure there are plenty of Denises and Robs who have less than 6-figure salaries), and I can say with authority that despite our short-and-sweet names, my husband and I aren’t C-level executives.
But maybe this is food for thought as you pick your baby’s name. Look for names that are short and sweet, or that can be lopped off to a simple nickname.
What do you think? Could your name (or your baby’s name) be holding you back?
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