Friday, November 6, 2009

The Name Game

Here, let me date myself once again. When I was a kid, little boys were named Jimmy, Johnny, Joey, Billy, Michael, David, Mark, Tommy and Steven. Okay, there was the occasional Timmy or Kenny, but I’m guessing these names covered about 87.3% of the boys in my school. (Did you know that 74.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot?)

When my kids were in school, the boys were named Jason, Todd, Matthew, Josh, Jason, Christopher, Kevin, Jason and Brian. Actually, they were all named Jason, but some rebelled and demanded to be called by one of these other names. Still, there was not a Billy or Jimmy to be found.

Somewhere in the ‘90s it seemed that every coworker of mine was giving birth to boys named Tyler or Taylor. Seriously, it was epidemic.

Now I have a grandson in preschool. Here are the first names of his classmates, and with all due respect to Dave Barry (the patron saint of humorists) I swear I am not making this up.


So. Are we naming our children for hotels, universities, credit cards? What’s going on here?

Yes, Daniel has appeared popularly in years gone by, and is a solid, traditional name. Interestingly, this particular Daniel is Chinese-American. My grandson’s name is Zachary; never trendy, so not dated, either. It’s never been tied to any particular decade of name assignation. Whereas I am willing to bet that if you hear the name Jason or Todd, you automatically visualize someone in the 30-35 age range. Am I right?

For a while Zach was in a class that had Aidan, Jaden and Braden. Really! How did the teacher keep them straight?

So what happened to tradition? It is gone. Rarely is the newborn given his father’s or his grandfather’s name. A little girl recently went up to a volunteer (older guy, o-b-v-i-o-u-s-l-y) named Bob in her school. She said, “I’ve never met someone named Bob before,” she shared. Bob wasn’t surprised.

So what does the future hold in store for us? Who knows? It’s hard to see the trends coming, but if the current names teach us anything, I guess we’ll see Hilton, State and Capital One. What’s in your wallet?


  1. My kids are Jordan, Cody, and Cameron. I consider them trendy, but slightly unusual. Their middle names are traditional family names.

  2. My kids are Zachary and Aaron. We've found Zachary to be a wildly popular name for boys born in the early 2000's. This is the first year Zach hasn't had to use his last initial on his schoolwork.

  3. this cracked me up. in one of the son's classes at school I can't tell if some of the kids are boys or girls based on the names.

  4. I was 50% sure about the statistics issue until I read about it in your blog. now I'm 95.8% sure that 74.6% of statistics are made up.

  5. Some names are just odd to me. The name Landon got popular because of a Nicholas Sparks book I believe. It's called "A Walk To Remember."

    I have a Tommy ;)

  6. A quick poll with a friend produced the following in a single class; Evey, Eden, Cara, Cala, Kiya, Summer, Mimi and Kloe. Yes, that's supposed to be Chloƫ/ChloƩ. Modern parents, eh? ;>

  7. What about girls? I can't tell you how many Fallons and Kaylas I've heard announced at cheerleading events. I actually asked a woman last night if her daughter (Fallon) was named for the Dynasty character and she said yes. Most of the Kaylas are named after a popular 80s soap opera character (Days of Our Lives). 10 years ago I met a Laura whose brother was named Luke and someone on my co-worker's van had kids named J.R. and Bobby. (Although when asked if she was a fan of the show Dallas, the woman gave my co-worker a blank look, like she had no idea she'd named her kids after TV characters.) I have to wonder if some of these people aren't getting their kids' names from TV and movies and books...and WE'RE the ones popularizing these names...the writers.

    This from a woman who once planned to name her daughter Macie (before everyone else was using that name).

  8. I've noticed these trends, too. I know little boys named Langston, Lawson, and Sullivan. However, my grandkids (both under 3) are August and ViolaMae, named for great-grandparents, and my daughter's friends seem to be using similar "old" names, e.g., Henry, Greta, Rose, Ruby, etc.

  9. My husband's cousin's kid is named Hagen (and I won't even tell you if it's a boy or a girl).

    The first time I heard that name, I thought to myself, "what the hell is a Hagen?"

    Crazy names, these days.

    And for the record, I still haven't figured out what a "Hagen" is...

  10. It's funny because I'm Brazilian and gave my baby a traditional Brazilian name but here, in Australia, the name sounds very different. His name is Caio (pronounced Ky-o) and people often say "that's different!" and sometimes I can see that what they really mean is "that's weird!"

  11. I suppose Capital One wouldn't be so bad as long as he kid could go by some mysterious initials like "C.O."

    And we should be thankful that they're not naming them Measle Weasel (I kid you not. My best friend's mother used to work for DCFS, and a mother named her child that. Her next one? McRib. Because that's the last thing she ate before she gave birth).

  12. One time my sister and I were at a neighborhood park in Santa Monica and, within a span of 5 minutes, we heard the names Sebastian, Free, Jones, Forest.