Columns

What's new in baby names? 2015.12.02

By DAVID GREEN

Hi, Colleen!

I get a lot of e-mail that starts off that way. They arrive via the Observer account and they're all for my wife, the columnist. I suppose it's because of the nature of her columns that she was placed on some sort of press release list that deals with family issues and raising children.

• "Hi, Colleen. I hope you have had a good weekend!" This one was about a hair accessory called ScrewUp. "I designed ScrewUp because there was nothing out there to hold long, fine hair like mine, and my daughter’s long thick hair always seemed to slip out of whatever she was using."

• "Hi Colleen, I'm excited to announce that Tempaper-the amazing removable wallpaper-has teamed up with Tots by P'kolino for an adorable new line!"

• "Hello Colleen! Baby requires product after product, which can be exhausting. Why can't there be one item that you can use forever? Now there is—introducing the Beyond Junior Y Highchair."

The most recent arrival was unique in that it wasn't selling a product. It does push a website, BabyCenter, that might be behind all of these items, but it also provides a lot of information.

"Hi Colleen! The hot new trend among parents is to name their children after Instagram filters." For those of you not in the know, Instagram is another social media option, this one dealing with photos and videos. A simple photo can be made to look more interesting by applying various filters with names including Ludwig, Valencia and Walden.

This is not good, according to Bre Payton who writes for the Federalist. By the way, Colleen, Bre is available for interviews!

I think it's richly ironic that someone named Bre is complaining about baby names, but let's give her a chance. Bre says the Instagram name trend is evidence of the dummification of names in America. Bre points out that early American settlers chose names after virtues such as Charity, Prudence and Felicity "with the intention that their children would exhibit these virtues and spread them throughout the New World." Maybe the name Bre was popular with the Puritans, as well. It's a form of the Celtic name Bree suggesting strength, power and force for a push across the continent.

Names are supposed to ascribe characteristics to a child, Bre says, but by naming a child after the Instagram editing tool Lux, she wonders if we're just hoping that our children look good in photographs. Come on, Bre, don't be stodgy.

Bre claims that names are supposed to draw from the past, but now they're just meaningless words that sound pretty. She says that we can't recall the name of our great-aunt so we go with Juno and Amaro instead of names like Louella and Minnie.

The name Lux grew in popularity by 75 percent from a year ago, mostly for boys. We should have one in Morenci by 2018, or perhaps in Fayette first. At the Observer, we've marveled over names we see from Fayette student lists, but then a new year arrives and we see that Morenci isn't far behind. It's usually not a new name that catches our eye, but instead a new spelling. Just try to keep track of them all.

According to Colleen's e-mail, it's not just Instagram that's inspiring names. There's also…actually, I'm not sure what inspires names such as Royalty, Duchess, Reign, King, Sultan, Emperor and Cesar. Supposedly they're all on the increase. 

Young adult literature is also important, bringing on a surge in Hazel, Eleanor, Hermione, Rainbow, Augustus and Aysel. There's also an increase of celestial names including Venus, Gaia, Moon, Luna, Jupiter, Stella and Soleil. Even the chance of a Sunny grew by 43 percent.

For this year, the top five girls names are Sophia, Emma, Olivia, Ava and Mia. For boys, it's Jackson, Aiden, Liam, Lucas and Noah. Important Instagram filters that might make their appearance some day: Inkwell, Sutro, Mayfair and Toaster.

Listen, Bre, I think Lux should make the cut for inspiration—old photographers know it as a measure of luminous flux, the intensity of light—and it also works for virtue, in this case cleanliness. When I finally meet a kid named Lux, I know I'm going to think of a bar of soap.