what's in a name?
January 7, 2015 4:12 PM   Subscribe

"For any given profession, it turns out that there are certain names that appear more often in that profession than in the general population. Here's a chart with 6 of the names that are the most disproportionately common in 37 professions."

tfront-page chart via Verdant Labs: Hannah, Emma, Joanna - Poet, Historian, or Venture Capitalist?

Verdant Labs on The Politics of Names (Democrat/Republican naming charts)

Slate - What Time of Year Is Your Name Most Popular? How the calendar affects the naming process

Atlantic - Who Wins in the Name Game?: "From dating to job prospects, a name has remarkable power over the path of its owner's life"

FlowingData - The Most Trendy Names in US History
Prooffreader - The 100 trendiest baby names (determined by an analytical chemistry technique)

Baby Name Wizard - Pet Name Trends: The Changing Names of Cats and Dogs

Wait But Why - How to Name a Baby

Nymbler: "Nymbler is the smart baby name guide that responds to your personal taste. Just choose a few names that appeal to you or let Nymbler offer ideas. Then press "Find Names" and Nymbler will start using its expert knowledge to brainstorm names tailored to fit your style."

Laura Wattenberg's Baby Name Voyager
("Explore baby names and name trends letter by letter" with dynamic charting of Social Security Administration info dating back to the 1880s)

selected advice & trendspotting from Laura Wattenberg:
  • The 8 Hottest Baby Name Trends for 2015
  • Baby Names that Stand Out: A Field Guide
  • The Magic Formula For an Attractive Traditional Baby Name, Revealed!
  • Why Your Baby Name Choice Is Making You Miserable, part 1 & part 2
  • The Least Controversial Names in America
  • The Names You Choose Mean More Today Than Ever Before
    I've talked before about a revolution in the way Americans name their babies. It started in the 1960s, when individuality was elevated to a prized cultural virtue. More parents started looking for names that stood out, rather than fitting in. It accelerated with the new media and information landscape of the '90s. Internet searches, unique user names, and 300 cable channels all upped the ante on finding a distinctive name. Bit by bit, the core classic English names that ruled for centuries began to disappear. They left behind a wild and woolly world where there's no such thing as a normal name. That's the bird's eye view. What might not be obvious is the revolution's impact on an individual name, and an individual name-hunting parent. With the change in naming culture, your name choice carries more information; it means more.
  • The Generational Sweet Spot, Or Why Your Parents Have Such Bad Taste
    Here's how I usually describe it: the names of your own generation sound too ordinary, your parents' too boring, your grandparents' too old. But by the time you make it back to your great-grandparents' names, things start to perk up. You've never known a young Vivian or Julius, so those names sound fresh to you. That places a style "sweet spot" at naming generations roughly 60-90 years older than you. But it also points to a second sweet spot at names 20-40 years younger than you. Those are the names that you and your friends name your children. Meanwhile you're turned off by names in middle, particularly your own age and 10-20 years older. So if you were born in the 1970s, you probably didn't consider '60s names like Sheila or Kent for your kids. Now here's the kicker. That same generation of names that marks your style nadir is your parents' sweet spot. And those charming antiques you love? They're your parents' stodgy grandma names.
Namecandy - Aren't These Old Lady Names?
"Today's schoolyards are packed with girls' names from the late 1800s (like Grace and Amelia) through the 1910s (Ruby, Evelyn). The names of the 1920s and '30s, then, should be right around the corner... Yet the reality is that not every name makes a comeback. For every Emma or Grace that returns to the heights of style there's an Edna, a Gladys, a Florence and two Gertrudes left behind..."

previously on MeFi:
*how to tell someone's age when all you know is her name
*animated state-by-state map of the most popular girls' names since 1960
*the new baby-name anxiety
*middle names considered
*the most poisoned baby name in US history
*
is your name linked to your life chances?
*the more uncommon or feminine a boy's name is, the greater the likelihood he will end up in prison
*Laura Wattenberg on Ledasha, Legends & Race
*on having a black name
posted by flex (111 comments total) 111 users marked this as a favorite
 
To be fair, if your parents name you Shlomo, it's because they want you to be a Rabbi...or a lifelong virgin.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:19 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


That is a rather epic post thank you! On reading, hmm, I should be a biologist or a venture capitalist.

Why does this sound like a backstory for a Marvel villain?

*twirls biological moustachios*

(That fact that so many soldiers have names starting with J is a little freaky. Disappointed that none of the ranchers were 'Jolly'.)
posted by nfalkner at 4:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Cool data. Though holy design cruft, Batman.
posted by threeants at 4:25 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


My name peaked in popularity in 1920; I don't know how many people have told me that I have the same name as their grandfather.
posted by octothorpe at 4:30 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


A few years ago I had a hobby that attracted a disproportionate number of accountants and computer programmers (LARPing, fyi). This was the time that I could truthfully say that I knew eleven Simons and eight Katies.
There is no computer programmer list on that chart, and the accountant list doesn't mention either name, so maybe it's different in the UK.
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 4:30 PM on January 7, 2015


fascinating to see the very upper class Anglo names among the surgeons and lawyers, also noted that the journalists have mostly UK or secular Jewish names...

and was going to make a silly joke about how surprising it is to see so many Jewish names among the Rabbis, but hal_c_on made a cleverer joke first.
posted by jb at 4:32 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


New Inventions: Where would we be without some completely new names? Parents are getting all the more inventive, Wattenberg notes. Instead of sticking with standard names like Trent, Levi, and Max, they're inventing brand new long-form versions. Trenton, Leviathan, and Maxton are here, completely expanding your name list options.

Yeah, sure. Name your kid Leviathan. Because these are things you want associated with your child:

Leviathan is a sea monster referred to in the Bible. In Demonology, Leviathan is one of the seven princes of Hell and its gatekeeper (see Hellmouth). The word has become synonymous with any large sea monster or creature. In classical literature (such as the novel Moby-Dick) it refers to great whales, and in Modern Hebrew, it means simply "whale."

If your child's name meaning includes the phrases "see Hellmouth," and "Demonology," you maybe want to reconsider that name.
posted by yasaman at 4:33 PM on January 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


Information Technology is not represented, so I'm going to go with:

Drizzt
Sundahar
Austin
Bob
Hero
and Ivan
posted by Chuffy at 4:33 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


I would not trust an accountant named Mitzi.
posted by scratch at 4:34 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is the first time my name has turned up on a list of most common anything (graphic designer).

I myself know a disproportionate number of Adams in programming, and Louises in editing.
posted by andraste at 4:34 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


People randomly call me "Mark." My name is not Mark. I don't know why this happens, but it does. Often.
posted by Chuffy at 4:36 PM on January 7, 2015


re J names among soldiers: the soldier's names are all young, what was popular about 18-24 years ago. J-names jumped in popularity in the 90s.

I would not trust an accountant named Mitzi.

Why? I know a Mitzi, and she's perfectly lovely. She's a singer, but she could be a good accountant.

If your child's name meaning includes the phrases "see Hellmouth," and "Demonology," you maybe want to reconsider that name.

Unless you're a Goth/Buffy fan.
posted by jb at 4:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Leviathan would make a great middle name.
posted by NoraReed at 4:39 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Apparently lots of people automatically assume I'm Jewish based on my surname. Which I'm not. Not that there's anything wrong with being Jewish.

There was that Mordechai in Hungary in our family tree back in the mid-1700s ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:40 PM on January 7, 2015


This is fantastic timing. No more than an hour ago I sent my dad an email saying I could not start my new story yet because I only have a name for the dragon. I still need a name for the the teeny, tiny town; the huge, ancient, and dusty library; the mayor of the teeny, tiny town; and at least 3 library pages, all of whom need to be made of stern and unflappable stuff (due to the dragon). And I suppose there will be at least one cat in the library, and one dog. I suppose the dog will belong to the librarian.

I said I would have to go out hunting for names because none (except for the dragon) have made themselves obvious to me yet.

Thanks.
posted by AllieTessKipp at 4:40 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've got a two-week-old Hazel napping on my chest right now. Here's hoping the 1880s make a comeback, or everyone will think she's a grandma :)
posted by jewzilla at 4:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


I like that both my name and that of the person I've probably gotten into the most shenanigans with show up under "Stuntman"
posted by flaterik at 4:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Interesting to see how gendered the name choices wind up being for many of the professions. I wonder how this would have looked if they'd attempted to control for that.
posted by sciatrix at 4:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, at least I have a fallback career of being a stuntman...

And when I say fallback...

ba da bum ching!
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


This can't be right. None of the Mechanics is named Mike.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:45 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


What's the significance of the 50,000 figure you get when the mouse hovers over a circle?

Are there 50,000 football players called Quinton?

Horse & Hounds for Mr Farquhar!
posted by biffa at 4:46 PM on January 7, 2015


Jerry was a race car driver.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


If your child's name meaning includes the phrases "see Hellmouth," and "Demonology," you maybe want to reconsider that name.

You and I are very different people.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:49 PM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


I met a 16-year-old Shlomo a few weeks back. Poor thing.
posted by jabes at 4:53 PM on January 7, 2015


Are there 50,000 football players called Quinton?

Yes, there are. And that number is not just a rounded-off estimate. The number is carefully regulated. When one Quinton leaves the profession, another is... shall we say... brought into the fold.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:57 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Flangal unit
Sponditis
Cludge-Allah
X Xi XI XIII XIIIII
Coooreeeeeeeeeé 17eme
The Whelk, Bivalve Salve
posted by lalochezia at 5:01 PM on January 7, 2015


This can't be right. None of the Mechanics is named Mike.

Mike is just a guy who hangs out with mechanics. Based on personal experience, architects are quite likely to be Mike or Dave, but I don't know if Mikes are predisposed to be architects.
posted by LionIndex at 5:01 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


People randomly call me "Mark." My name is not Mark. I don't know why this happens, but it does. Often.

I have some bad news for you.
posted by Etrigan at 5:03 PM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Yeah, sure. Name your kid Leviathan. Because these are things you want associated with your child

Well, maybe you hope that your kid will move us out of the state of nature and end the war of each against all?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:04 PM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


To be fair, if your parents name you Shlomo, it's because they want you to be a Rabbi...or a lifelong virgin.

Shlomo? You mean, like Solomon?!

1 Kings 11:1-3
But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; [...] And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines [...]
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:04 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Huh, so I'm either a drummer or a mechanic. Who knew?
posted by surazal at 5:05 PM on January 7, 2015


As expected, my profession has the douchiest names
posted by likeatoaster at 5:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


To be fair, if your parents name you Shlomo, it's because they want you to be a Rabbi...or a lifelong virgin.

Hey, but rabbis are neither required nor encouraged to be celibate!
posted by atoxyl at 5:08 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


car salesman, golfer or race card driver. yep, sounds about right.
posted by photoslob at 5:09 PM on January 7, 2015


I was ready to call bullshit on that chart, but okay, I get it now. These are the most disproportionate names in each profession. So, if you take the proportion of lawyers named Augustus, it's higher than the proportion of men named Augustus in the general population. But my guess -- at least in the case of this particular name -- it's more a function of the very small number of people with that name. So it could be that 0.01% of adults have that name, vs. 0.013% of lawyers.
posted by Pararrayos at 5:10 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Over the course of 25 years, I've become a firm believer in the power of a name. I don't know about determining your lot in life ( the research mention in the Atlantic article is certainly interesting), but I can personally attest that having a name percieved as interesting and/or somewhat distinguished can do wonders for first impressions.

My parents called me Alastair, and while not uncommon across Britain (except maybe the spelling), to the Albertans I meet it seems to generally strike the right mixture of exotic and respectable, while being maneagable to most folk (see spelling).

I avoided nicknames growing up, people seem to remember my name far more than average, and I get regular compliments based on this alone. Several times I've been told that it's someone's very favourite name.

I of course did nothing to earn this (thanks mom!), but the sum total is so overwhelming that I'm going to take the naming process of my own kids quite seriously, in hopes that they may enjoy the same process.
posted by AAALASTAIR at 5:12 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love my name. I would never, ever want another. It gives me superpowers and is so regal and beautiful that I resent when people call me "Alex" but I notice a lot of other people named
Alexandra in my chosen profession. I think sometimes parents get the name so right that you go into a certain profession just to show it off...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe I didn't click in the right place, but I found myself wanting the reverse of that chart -- to be able to put in a name and see in what professions that name is overrepresented.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:26 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


The Most Disproportionately Popular Baby Names in Every State (Sorry for Vox but seemed relevant)
posted by naoko at 5:32 PM on January 7, 2015


- Why circles?
- What do the colors mean?
- Why are the circles placed next to each other?
- Why are some on edges?
- What is the actual P value associated with each name and fold enrichment?
- Who said you could put data scientist on your business card?
- Why did you eat the last fruit cup?
posted by benzenedream at 5:32 PM on January 7, 2015 [26 favorites]


My own name is disproportionally represented among those who design and install shrubberies.
posted by maxwelton at 5:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I would love to see what professions the majority of people with my name end up with. I've been the only person of my name in most of the places I've worked; when I wasn't, I was the only one who went by my particular nickname.

Which, thanks to the fact that it's gender-neutral, has led to some hilarious misunderstandings throughout my professional career -- I once had a company fly me halfway across the country for an interview, only for one of the interviewers to visibly draw back upon entering the office they'd stashed me in, and say, "Somehow, in all our conversations here about your visit, no one ever mentioned you were a GIRL Tory."

Well, yeah, "Victoria" is a no-go on the resume for a reason. (I'm currently working at that job.)
posted by none of these will bring disaster at 5:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


To be fair, if your parents name you Shlomo, it's because they want you to be a Rabbi...or a lifelong virgin.

Or a stunt man in a John Woo movie.

(Sorry.)
posted by brundlefly at 5:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Leviathan would make a great middle name.

Yup. All the smart parents lead with "Behemoth."
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:45 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


My name peaked in popularity in 1920; I don't know how many people have told me that I have the same name as their grandfather.
posted by octothorpe at 4:30 PM on January 7 [+] [!]


The name Octothorpe lost popularity in the 30s due to public backlash against Hungarian fascist Octothorpe Schiffelgrubber III.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 5:47 PM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


VC named guy, oh the irony
posted by oceanjesse at 5:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The meterologist names were spot on.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:50 PM on January 7, 2015


I am laughing at Judge Clement and puzzled by Librarian Nanette.
posted by bq at 5:53 PM on January 7, 2015


But I don't wanna be a soldier, momma.
posted by klangklangston at 5:53 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am laughing at Judge Clement and puzzled by Librarian Nanette.
posted by bq at 5:53 PM on January 7 [+] [!]


I Am Puzzled by Librarian Nanette was my favorite Cinemax import of the 80s.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 5:58 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


Race car driver: Luigi? Makes sense.

And if you include middle names, there's one for murderers.
posted by TedW at 6:00 PM on January 7, 2015


My husband kept choosing terrible names so I was finally like, "BIBLE, SAINTS, OR KINGS OF ENGLAND."
And he was like, "Oooooh, Sariel!"
And I was like, "CANONICAL BOOKS ONLY, NO APOCRYPHA!"

Then he was trying to sass me with weird saints and I was like "ROMAN CALENDAR OR GTFO."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:06 PM on January 7, 2015 [48 favorites]


I hear Dennises are more likely to become dentists.
posted by bq at 6:13 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


My baby naming tip, by the way, is that you cannot name your way out of the zeitgeist. Going hunting for a unique name is the surest way to ensure your kid has a trendy name that's the same as 12 other kids in their kindergarten. You have to pick something that's beautiful and meaningful to you, without regard to its uniqueness. Uniqueness is the absolute worst baby naming goal.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [24 favorites]


"Hazel" was my super-secret alter-ego name when I was a kid. I'm excited to see it on the verge of a comeback. (And I've heard it proposed by several parents-to-be, so I firmly predict comeback.) It's such a neat name.
posted by jaguar at 6:35 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Somehow, in all our conversations here about your visit, no one ever mentioned you were a GIRL Tory."

I'm thinking about giving all my hypothetical kids gender neutral names in the hopes that it works for them in this scenario. Alex, Sam, etc.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 6:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've never known a librarian by any of those names, but I knew 2 librarians named Sukey, which I thought was notable.

I have the greatest hit parade of baby names in my storytime. I currently have a Matilda, a Mabel, a Mason, a Liam, a Lydia and about 27 Maddies. The most unusual names I know right now are Pepper, Luna and Shem. Last year I had a little boy named Scotty, which seemed so retro.
posted by Biblio at 6:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


If your child's name meaning includes the phrases "see Hellmouth," and "Demonology," you maybe want to reconsider that name.

Or you are the first parent ever to be adequately prepared.
posted by srboisvert at 6:55 PM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


I am still sad my husband vetoed "Ian" for our kid, I've always loved that name. His name is one of the middle-of-the-road boy names, not super common, not super unique.

I am done having kids but if I was to have a girl I think I'd go with "Sylvia" because it's pretty and the Plath association is less strong than it used to be. (not that there's anything wrong with Plath, but the whole suicide thing made it a weird joke to some people for a while).

My first name was super-trendy for exactly one year, then never again. I go by my middle name, which has never been trendy, but suits me much better. Neither of them is anywhere on the livelihood charts, which I assume means I was born to be a layabout.
posted by emjaybee at 7:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


My friend just named her baby girl "Irma Susan" and I'm crazy about it, I love it. Suddenly I understand what all those parents felt like 110 years ago when they were like "Bertha? What a lovely name for a little child." Irma. No one else I know has brought that one back until now! I love it.
posted by annathea at 7:10 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


My name peaked in popularity in 1920; I don't know how many people have told me that I have the same name as their grandfather.
posted by octothorpe


It's making a comeback as Hashtag.
posted by themanwho at 7:59 PM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


"My friend just named her baby girl "Irma Susan" and I'm crazy about it, I love it."

That girl's destined for Goosebumps.
posted by klangklangston at 8:02 PM on January 7, 2015


"Maxton"? I just…

The hell, you people?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:14 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


bq, guys, librarian Nanette is actually my great aunt. I am not even kidding. She lives in Illinois, and until she retired a few years back she was a librarian. And honestly, I'm not convinced that there's more than one or two other Nanettes in that dataset.

That name in particular was the straw that broke the camel's back of my trust in this representation. A suspicious number of names for professions like "poet" are the names of very famous members of that profession. Why? Yes, disproportionately represented -- out of what N? And what is the size of the subset of that N that makes it disproportionate? How does Wikipedia figure in their dataset, as they suggest it does? Why the hell are they using election data? How the hell are they using social security data?

This data smells all wrong to me, gang.
posted by gusandrews at 8:48 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


My profession isn't included, but I can testify that my stepfather is a geologist whose first name is in fact Henry.
posted by Flashman at 9:01 PM on January 7, 2015


I love historical naming data as a sideline in roleplaying. Since I am happily child-free, I can enjoy trying all the cool names on characters and not worry about their effects on actual children.

Unfortunately it means that some people's character names grate on the ear. No, parents in the early 1950s did not name their daughters Ainsley, most likely.
posted by immlass at 9:21 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not convinced that there's more than one or two other Nanettes in that dataset

Oh, no...no.
posted by yoink at 9:26 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Hi everyone, creator of the chart here. Though I've generally held back on getting involved in discussions about it, I thought I'd speak up here since I'm a longtime lurker on MeFi.

Anyway, gusandrews is right, at least to a degree. The source data isn't perfect, so the results reflect that. I used what public data I could get my hands on, and I'd be overjoyed to discover some other large data set that's even better. :)

You're seeing the results of analysis of about 2.5 million people and their professions. So, it's a pretty decent sample size, but the sample is skewed somewhat as it consists primarily of campaign donors supplemented with further skewed wikipedia data. If, say, 1) there are a lot of librarian Janes, 2) they're far less politically active or prominent than the typical Jane, and 3) this pattern is atypical vs. other names, then the Jane would be ranked lower in the Librarians list than it should be.

Another thing to note is that the threshold is fairly low (4) for a given name to be considered part of the data set for a given profession. For Librarian, it happens that Nanette just barely makes the cut:

* Nanette Maltz, MI
* Nanette Bulebosh, WI
* Nanette N*****, IL (hidden in case it is in fact gusandrews' great aunt)
* Nanette Welton, WA

Yes, the data isn't perfect, but I think it's pretty decent given what source data is available. Hope you find it interesting...
posted by hodgebodge at 9:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [34 favorites]


please release data for software developers! narcissism is unquenchable
posted by scose at 9:46 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I ever have a son I'm going to be all traditional and shit and give him an old family name: Elias.

I just love that name so much.
posted by brundlefly at 9:55 PM on January 7, 2015


My grandfather was named Elias Emery Ellery. He went by Ray.
posted by brundlefly at 9:56 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


For you, scose, Computer Scientist (#1 through #50, with a slightly higher threshold for better accuracy at the expense of rare names):

Alec
Dustin
Garrett
Nigel
Evan
Stephan
Nathan
Erik
Jeremy
Jared
Herb
Aaron
Joshua
Justin
Benjamin
Jonathan
Seth
Jesse
Grant
Casey
Spencer
Luke
Adam
Eric
Colin
Alex
Ian
Shawn
Jacob
Jordan
Kirk
Geoffrey
Kyle
Zachary
Tyler
Brendan
Wesley
Nathaniel
Jason
Ryan
Christopher
Brandon
Andrew
Daniel
Matthew
Troy
Graham
Brad
Kent
Bryan
posted by hodgebodge at 9:59 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


My parents embraced conformity. They picked the most popular girl's name in the year I was born for mine, and the most popular boy's name in the year my brother was born for his. Fortunately we have a super unusual last name, so it works out. Also, I was adopted and my original name sounds like some sort of porn star, so I guess that freaked my parents right out into the opposite extreme.
posted by lollusc at 10:04 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hettie, short for Mehetibel, is a great Early American name.
posted by Oyéah at 10:32 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It became a bit of a tradition that each time my brother and his wife let me know they were expecting, we consulted the Utah Baby Namer and laughed ourselves sick.
Such terrible and unique names.

VulvaMae

Utah Baby Namer - Boys
Utah Baby Namer - Girls
posted by isopraxis at 10:46 PM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Irma. No one else I know has brought that one back until now! I love it.

You must not live in an area with any sort of Hispanic population, as I grew up in Los Angeles and I can think of at least 5 Irmas, the oldest who is about 45.
posted by sideshow at 11:02 PM on January 7, 2015


Sideshow you are totally right and I did go to school with a few Irmas, but I moved away from California and the friend in question is from England, and I just don't hear it anymore. That, and I'm guessing my cohort from school isn't recycling the name with this generation.
posted by annathea at 12:03 AM on January 8, 2015


Does that Utah Baby Namer have an FPP yet?
Because it should.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:04 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


There was a kid in my daughter's preschool class named Iluvatar. There is one in my son's preschool class named JohnAthon. I . . . I have not the words.
posted by KathrynT at 12:13 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I recently met a Hermione ("I haven't seen the movies yet!") and her older brother, Finn.
posted by breath at 1:31 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


We named our 8 week old daughter Margaret and keep getting comments about how unusual that is. One midwife at the hospital said she hadn't seen a baby Margaret in 17 years. But we now have a terrible feeling that Kate and Will are going to have a girl that they will name Margaret, and that it will thus become uber popular throughout the Commonwealth and suddenly make our traditional-but-unique-for-her-age name just one of many.
posted by olinerd at 2:21 AM on January 8, 2015


In ‘The 8 Hottest Baby Name Trends for 2015’ piece, I see that Instead of sticking with standard names like Trent, Levi, and Max, they're inventing brand new long-form versions. Trenton, Leviathan, and Maxton are here, completely expanding your name list options. (emphasis added).
posted by misteraitch at 2:52 AM on January 8, 2015


People randomly call me "Mark." My name is not Mark. I don't know why this happens, but it does. Often.

Does it happen like this:

'Can I hold your wallet, Mark?'
posted by hal_c_on at 3:14 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


One of Josephine Penguin's preschool friends is named Maximus, which struck me as weird at first but which, upon reflection, I have decided is awesome. Also, name your children Josephine — I want to be able to buy her those personalized knick-knacks they sell at Hallmark stores before she's 10.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:40 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I knew a girl called Anastasia whose father was an anaesthesiologist around the time she was born. He admits to having named her after anaesthesia.

She's a doctor now too - maybe it was the family career path, maybe it was the name.
posted by terretu at 3:56 AM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


they're inventing brand new long-form versions

If anyone wants to try this, here are some suffixes that seem give pretty good results which just about any good solid starting name (may need to add or drop connecting vowels to join harmoniously, of course). Concatenate away!

-ius
-arius
-errentius
-iarmus
-era
-ethera
-zilla
-amon
-amarth
-opode
-uvian
-eolith
-obite
-omega
-atoria
-ipygius
-pyrus
-opter
-caseo
-stultus
posted by Wolfdog at 4:07 AM on January 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


Apparently lots of people automatically assume I'm Jewish based on my surname. Which I'm not. Not that there's anything wrong with being Jewish.

There was that Mordechai in Hungary in our family tree back in the mid-1700s ...


It took an embarrasingly long time researching my family's ancestors and roughly 80 billion times reading the surname "Levchenko" before I thought, "Hey, wait . . . ."

Historical family names are the best! I have a Caleb and a Wilhemina waiting to be born.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:44 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's telling that five of the top six names for graphic designers are women's names. In my experience, the profession really is overwhelmingly populated by women. And, when I was teaching design, my classes were easily 3/4 female. Yet, for some reason, people seem to think of it as a predominantly male profession.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:01 AM on January 8, 2015


That name in particular was the straw that broke the camel's back of my trust in this representation. A suspicious number of names for professions like "poet" are the names of very famous members of that profession.

Agreed. It was "Photographer: Annie" that did it for me. As opposed to Ann or Anne or Anna? Who are we talking about besides Ms. Leibovitz? (Aside: her name--who knew?--is apparently actually Anna-Lou, automatically making "Anna-Lou" disproportionately common among photographers, though there probably are not three others.)
posted by The Bellman at 6:51 AM on January 8, 2015


That Atlantic article is super interesting and depressing:
In competitive fields that have classically been dominated by men, such as law and engineering, women with sexually ambiguous names tend to be more successful. This effect is known as the Portia Hypothesis (named for the heroine of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice who disguises herself as a lawyer’s apprentice and takes on the name Balthazar to save the titular merchant, Antonio). A study found that female lawyers with more masculine names—such as Barney, Dale, Leslie, Jan, and Rudell—tend to have better chances of winning judgeships than their more effeminately named female peers. All else being equal, changing a candidate’s name from Sue to Cameron tripled a candidate’s likelihood of becoming a judge; a change from Sue to Bruce quintupled it.

...

A 2004 study showed that all else being equal, employers selected candidates with names like Emily Walsh and Greg Baker for callbacks almost 50 percent more often than candidates with names like Lakisha Washington and Jamal Jones. Work experience was controlled and the candidates never met face-to-face with the employer so all that was being tested was the effect of the candidate’s name. The researchers concluded that there was a great advantage to having a white-sounding name, so much so that having a white-sounding name is worth about eight years of work experience. “Jamal” would have to work in an industry for eight years longer than “Greg” for them to have equal chances of being hired, even if Jamal came from a privileged background and Greg from an underprivileged one.
posted by Librarypt at 6:55 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


To be fair, if your parents name you Shlomo, it's because they want you to be a Rabbi...or a lifelong virgin.

Do you know something, Shlomo? I want to marry a man who plays the shofar.
posted by jonp72 at 7:17 AM on January 8, 2015


I wanted to name a daughter Kunigunde or Hannelore, but I've yet to find a potential daddy who'll let me :D

Also, I thought of Maxïmo, with an ï for extra uniqueness, but my SO also thought that was too much. I can't wait for that discussion though, the first time it's of any practical relevance!
posted by ipsative at 7:45 AM on January 8, 2015


Who knew that my career as a golf cart racer was preordained?!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:03 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was very nearly named Donald Kirby, which is absurd. I don't look like a Donald Kirby in any way. I don't even know what kind of job a Donald Kirby has but I suspect it's unpleasant or full of sawdust. Thank goodness someone famous got shot causing a change of heart.
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 AM on January 8, 2015


Could be worse. Could be Kirby Delauter.
posted by klangklangston at 8:56 AM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Donald Kirby strikes me as the name of a 1950s second-string Hollywood star. The kind of guy who played the hero's buddy who gets killed in the first act, or the sap who is engaged to the leading lady at the beginning of the movie but loses her to the hero by the end. Later, of course, he had a long twilight career in TV. Who can forget his guest appearances on Columbo and The Rockford Files?
posted by yoink at 9:16 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


My husband kept choosing terrible names so I was finally like, "BIBLE, SAINTS, OR KINGS OF ENGLAND."
And he was like, "Oooooh, Sariel!"


BEHEMOTH
posted by poffin boffin at 9:24 AM on January 8, 2015


AETHELRED ITS YOUR TIME TO SHINE
posted by The Whelk at 9:28 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


no he's not ready
posted by poffin boffin at 9:30 AM on January 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


Some of those really nicely with Sam, which is definitely a plain name that could use some tarting up. I'm leaning toward Sampyrus as probably the best option.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:38 AM on January 8, 2015


Huh. Interesting stuff. I've always been fascinated by names and naming trends, especially since my family seems stick to the "name-children-after-relatives, no matter what the style" dichotomy, which means I was named after my grandmother (Margaret), and thus, my name is very much out of sync with other people my age (twenty-to-thirty somethings).

For the most part, I loathed my first name a child, have come around to appreciate being able to hide behind the name as an adult (most people I've met with the name are 30-40 years older than me, at minimum), and now, I really like that people have heard of it, but aren't sharing it with me.

In fact, I've met more people in my life who have shared my birthday than my name. Although, I was pretty sad to never find my name on all the cheap personalized trinkets at the gift store as a kid. I could occasionally find my legal name, but hardly ever my preferred nickname (Maggie). I've got two mugs with my rare-ish name on them, and one of them is broken, but I still treasure them more than I probably should.
posted by PearlRose at 10:39 AM on January 8, 2015


My youngest sister (born 1995) is named Lori. She has long complained that everyone she has ever met who shares her name has been our mom's age. Recently, she told me that a same-age friend of hers, upon hearing this, offered "well, my mom's name is Suzanne."

"That's my middle name," she told him.

Still not really sure what our parents were thinking-- all three of us have names that end in I, and are totally atypical for our age groups.
posted by nonasuch at 1:05 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


.

(removed my original comment; this will have to do instead.)
posted by CommonSense at 9:39 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't even know what kind of job a Donald Kirby has but I suspect it's unpleasant or full of sawdust.

door-to-door shoe salesman
posted by poffin boffin at 9:57 PM on January 8, 2015


Teachers know the boy J name effect -- I am not surprised at all to see soldiers.
After 16 years of teaching, I just want to know: were the childbirth drugs that good? Spelling matters.

/Hazel is the main character in Fault in Our Stars (YA Novel) so I expect it to explode. Also, any name in a John Green book.
posted by beckybakeroo at 11:09 PM on January 8, 2015


Donald Kirby strikes me as the name of a 1950s second-string Hollywood star.

I dunno. Donald Kirby sounds like he might be one of the lesser-known Howlin' Commandos, although with some sort of nickname like "Boots" or something. That's definitely a name that could punch a Nazi, though.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:01 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I was ready to dismiss this because it said I should be a farmer, but the Sébastian race car driver is spot on.
posted by Monochrome at 8:16 AM on January 9, 2015


Interestingly enough, there's an electronic music producer whose stage name is Shlohmo. Out of everything he could have taken as a name he chose that.
posted by Spiced Out Calvin Coolidge at 3:05 PM on January 9, 2015


"no he's not ready"

If there's a name for slumbering in a barrow waiting for England to rise…
posted by klangklangston at 3:19 PM on January 9, 2015


So far as I can tell, computer programmers are all called Andy, and any that are not are called Chris, Steve, and Dave.

There is a running joke about workplaces where there are more Andrews than there are women. So far that's been true of everywhere I've worked.
posted by emilyw at 9:55 AM on January 11, 2015


I was ALWAYS able to get personalized pencils and license plates as a kid. My kids, not so much. I don't know how the little Sadies and Sylvias of today will fare at amusement park gift shops.
posted by Biblio at 10:14 AM on January 11, 2015


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