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What’s in a name?

May 19, 2011

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet asks

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

But, would we love Bella as much if she were named Gertrude? Edward as much if he were Eugene? Jacob as much if he were “Dances with Six Pack”?

I doubt it.

Alas, the US citizenry has seemingly swooned over the names Isabella and Jacob, making them the two most popular girl/boy names in both 2009 and 2010. Judging by the people I know who have dogs or cats named Bella, that name just may also top popular pet names too.

But what of poor Edward?

It is a more “old-fashioned” name and, unlike Isabella, is not shortened into something lovely like Bella but into the clunkier “Ed” – a name which always makes me think of the horse “Mr. Ed.”

Alas, Edward is not relegated to the nether regions of name popularity. In fact, according to Think Baby Names it clocks in as the 19th most popular name for males.

Apparently the name “Kellan” has had the largest jump in popularity nationwide. Seems we like the “real thing” in this case (or Kellan Lutz) over the fictional character Emmett Cullen.

Speaking of like, parents in Israel recently named their baby “Like” after the Facebook Like button. Hmmm. Well, guess it’s not too far off from Luke.

As for Twilight inspired names, I am wondering if we will see a trend to spell Stephanie “Stephenie” or if maybe Meyer will become popular as a boy’s name. Will we see many Aro’s or Rosalie’s? Perhaps a Renesmee or two?

Although some of the saga names don’t exactly roll of the tongue, any would be preferable, I think, to naming one’s child “Adolf Hitler.” The most amusing thing about this name (given to an American boy several years ago) is that the father claims he “is asking for a little tolerance” in regards to his sons name. Yeah, because tolerance and Hitler go together like blood and vampires.

At least Twilight inspired names, no matter how “old-world” sounding or odd, likely won’t have any problem finding their way onto a store decorated birthday cake, as little Adolf Hitler’s did. I just hope none of those cakes ever re-enact the birth scene in Breaking Dawn in frosting form…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Roxie permalink
    May 19, 2011 11:50 pm

    excellent little post! I must up my blogging game.

  2. Zoe permalink
    September 16, 2011 7:47 am

    Names are a pet passion of mine, so I must say Natalie, I was very disappointed in this. Firstly, Edward is NOT the 19th most popular name in the country, it is ranked at 136th, closer to names like Ryder and Hudson than James (the actual 19th most popular name in the country). The highest Edward has ever ranked is 8, from 1912-1923 and it has been falling further and faster ever since.

    Next, yes, Isabella and Jacob have been the most popular names for the last two years. However, a simple check of the social security website (which I also used above) will tell you that Jacob has been the most popular name in the country since 1999.

    As for Isabella, well, that’s harder to gauge. Is Bella Swan’s name the cause of the rise of Isabella, or an effect? Stephenie Meyer stated that Isabella was the name she wanted to use for a daughter. Twilight was written in 2004, when Isabella was already ranked at number 7, where it had been having a meteoric rise having risen from 114 in just seven years (compare it’s rise to that of Emily, which was number one from 1996-2007, there’s a handy site called that has an excellent application called NameVoyager which allows you to see in graph form the rise and fall in popularity of every name that has made the ssa top 1000). So while Twilight very likely DID have an effect on Isabella’s rise it is very likely that had Bella been named Gertrude, Isabella would still be the number one name in the country.

    And on an interesting side note, Isabella and Jacob are not actually the most common names for babies born in the US in 2010. They are the most common spelling of any one name in 2010. The actual honor goes to Sophia/Sofia and Jayden/Jaden/Jaydon/Jaydin/Jaydan/Jadon/Jadyn/Jaeden/Jaidyn (all those spellings do actually appear in the top 1000). Sophia is ranked number 7 and Jayden 11.

    • Natalie Wilson permalink*
      October 3, 2011 3:09 pm

      I was going off the ranking provided in the link – it seems you have found another name ranking list that differs.

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