Friday, May 26, 2017

Famous Fictional Bookworms - Sara, Matilda, Belle

Hello, readers!

One thing I've noticed from my time in the name community is how many name nerds discovered their passion through reading. It makes sense - if you're exposed to dozens of different character names, you're likely to find their names interesting and/or meaningful. I'm definitely a part of this group, and one of my favorite character types was that of the Female Bookworm.

Bookish and nerdy but headstrong and opinionated, these ladies were inspirations in my youth - and now inspire some fantastic name ideas! Why not name a child/pet/character after someone with smarts and personality?

Full disclosure - I've never read Matilda, by Roald Dahl. A brief clip of the film version frightened me at a young age, and I never got the courage to try the book. Still, Matilda (Wormwood) Honey is frequently cited as one of the most influential bookworms, and for good reason - her devotion to books despite constant derision is moving. Her sweet name also has the courageous meaning of "battle-mighty," making it a lovely choice that balances strength and style.

Who doesn't love a character whose catchphrase is "My glasses, my glasses!"? Velma from Scooby-Doo frequently got the gang out of trouble with her intelligence and cunning. Being that this sassy name last peaked in 1912, Velma could gain popularity along the same lines as Alma and Zelda.

Though her name literally means "beautiful," Belle is definitely the most bookish out of all the Disney princesses. Then again, were any of the others given access to a gigantic castle library, they'd probably follow suit! Belle returned to the top 1000 this year - its vintage sound and bright spirit matches its kindness.

The heroine of the Harry Potter series, Hermione has practically become an identity for fans of the books. Her early preoccupation with exams turns into a passion for knowledge over time, and she's an excellent example for young nerds. Unfortunately, her name is so unique that it's hard to bestow upon a child - perhaps in a decade or two, Hermione will soar.

Friendly yet formidable, Connie is Steven's well-read best friend in Cartoon Network's Steven Universe. Though the audience discovers that Connie's strict parents are the reason for her fixation on school, she certainly enjoys learning for learning's sake. Connie is a diminutive of Constance, and neither appealing name currently ranks in the top 1000.

I devoured the Anastasia Krupnik books in elementary school - precocious and blunt, Anastasia appealed to me on a personal level. She frequently mentions books, from Gone With the Wind to The Interpretation of Dreams, and uses her intelligence to help solve the problems in her dramatic twelve-year-old life. Once frilly, Anastasia has become a popular, elegant name in today's world.

Josephine (Jo)
The oldest American bookworm on this list, Jo March was based on the author of Little Women, Louisa May Alcott. Of the book's four sisters, Jo is the best read and the most bold, and (spoiler alert) ends up writing a few books of her own. While Josephine and Josie rank in the top 300, nickname Jo is perfect for tenacious and boisterous girls.

For fans of the Disney cartoon Recess, Gretchen was the smartest (and arguably most mature) of the crew. In fact, one episode shows Gretchen besting her teachers in a battle of knowledge. While the name Gretchen has never been very popular, it did have a brief peak in the early 1970's. It's originally a short form of Margaret, and it has an amicable and adorable sound.

Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess introduced many readers to Sara Crewe, a formerly rich little girl left penniless and forced to find her own way in the world (with the help of a few friends). Sara's cleverness and warmth towards others ultimately helps her more than money - an excellent lesson for young readers. The simpler version of the Biblical classic, Sara is especially great as a cross-cultural pick.

The titular heroine of The Book Thief, Liesel Meminger is a bright young girl enamored with books in the midst of WWII Germany. Many have heard this charming name via The Sound of Music, but Liesel is actually a diminutive of the perennially popular Elizabeth. Liesel is unusual but accessible, the kind of name that will fit all kinds of personalities.

In Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, Suzy Bishop runs away from home with just a suitcase full of books - we've all been there, haven't we? Though Susan is taking a well-deserved break, cute Suzy fits in with current retro names like Sadie or Sylvie. Might this nickname become a possibility in our modern age of diverse names?

The original fictional female bookworm (correct me in the comments), Jane Eyre turns to books when her family and boarding school prove subpar. This ends up empowering her, allowing her to leave a sheltered life behind and get working #girlboss A classic feminine choice, Jane has begun creeping up the popularity charts again, proving that it's anything but plain.

Shy but intelligent, Phoebe from Hey Arnold! is also memorable as one of the few early Asian-American characters on Nickelodeon. She's the smartest kid in class, but also shows an emotional side in a few episodes. This Greek name is a friendly and beautiful choice, made popular by the character in Friends, too.

I'm sure I missed a few - tell me your favorites in the comments!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Terms of Endearment - Terrific or Tacky?

Hello, readers!

As name tastes continue to widen and diversify, all sorts of monikers that would never have been considered a decade ago are suddenly available. Celebrities have been given free reign, and this type of freedom is starting to extend to everyone - from nicknames to three middle names, birth certificates are more exciting than ever! But are there pet names too saccharine for even the quirkiest parent to use?

"Honey" (2003) theatrical poster, Wikipedia

In 2003, Jessica Alba starred in a film called Honey, playing a music video choreographer named Honey Daniels. Though the film received negative reviews, the effect of this character on name records was undeniably positive: while only twenty-five babies were named Honey in 2003, seventy-seven were given the name in 2004 and 109 in 2005. The name plateaued and declined, but the impact of this rather minor film is worth noting. Not even "Honey Boo Boo" (Alana Thompson) had this much name influence when she rose to fame after 2008. 

Did Honey get popular because of Jessica Alba's star power? Or, since this name was already a familiar pet name, were parents just more open to it? Let's look at some other terms of endearment that have made it into official records: 

Sweetie - Recorded regularly between 1889 and 1948 (and, surprisingly, in 2001), Sweetie had an adorable retro sound - think Hattie or Sadie - but not much substance to back it up. 

Darling - First debuted in 1920, but this stylish pick had its highest number of babies born in 2014, with twenty-nine girls given the name. 

Dearie - Only showed up in 2010! Less than ten girls per year have been given the name since, but it continues to show up as a first name. This pet name is admittedly a bit dated, and Dearie could have gotten its boost from such vintage vibes. 

Babe - Now associated with the cinematic pig, Babe was used for both boys and girls between 1880 and 1980. It could have some of the same pitfalls as Baby (see below), but the Babe Ruth influence is too important not to mention. 

Baby - Many times, this was written in birth records because the parents hadn't decided on a name, or didn't feel it was important to report - check out Laura Wattenberg's interesting article on "no name" babies before 9/11. But in 1987, Dirty Dancing introduced American audiences to Baby Houseman, played by Jennifer Grey, and by 1989, Baby was in the top 1000. It remained there until the early 2000's, helped in no small part by Baby Spice of the Spice Girls. But this name has spent its pop culture credibility, and was given to less than fifteen babies last year. 

Lovey - Honestly, I've heard this name applied to cats more than humans, but it was recorded for over 120 years! Today, Love is more likely to make it onto birth certificates, along with the other modern virtue choices sweeping the charts - Serenity and Genesis among them. 

Sugar - The definition of sweetness, Sugar has the cheerful benefit of featuring in a lot of popular music, from Sugar Sugar by the Archies to Sugar by Maroon 5. But it's a bit too glucose-heavy for many tastes.

Bae - Conflicting origin stories aside, Bae has entered the lexicon of terms of endearment used by millennials. It's arisen around the same time Bailey and Baylor have become popular - coincidence, or co-evolution? It's also been given as a first name to a couple dozen babies in the past five years.

Are more parents destined to bestow names in the same way that Jamie and Jools Oliver do? Or are these names just flukes, and unlikely to catch on the way "traditional names" do? Tell me your opinions in the comments!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Names for Adventurers

Hello, readers!

As spring turns to summer, daydreams of vacations are beginning to materialize in itineraries and tickets - seeing more of the world (or even just the world around your neighborhood) is a wonderfully invigorating activity. If you've caught the travel bug, check out these names inspired by adventuring!

Image via Wikimedia Commons

One of the more modern virtue names, Journey is a beautiful word name that seems to fit right into the world of names - it's not too far off from classic Julie or millennial Jordan. While two spellings of Journey rank for girls, it's been given a boost in the boys' column too (thanks to Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green's son). 

At face value, this name calls to mind the powerful and widespread peregrine falcon, a perfect symbol of wanderlust. However, Peregrine also means "traveler" or "pilgrim", giving it more background substance. There's also a few excellent namesakes, from the first English baby born in the United States to Pippin Took of Lord of the Rings

While Saylor is rising up the top 1000, the original spelling feels less trendy and more intrepid. Both Christie Brinkley and Bristol Palin have daughters named Sailor, and it fits in well with the occupational name trend. Pop culture aficionados will love the Sailor Moon connection, too!

The first European to cross the Pacific, Ferdinand Magellan isn't the only travel link for this name - it comes from the German for "bold journey." Both Fernando and Fernanda rank on the popularity charts, but this original version has an eccentric and exciting vibe. If the long form feels too clunky, try out nicknames Freddie or Andy

Already in the top 500, this handsome name was worn by the Titan who held up the sky in Greek mythology. Today, Atlas is more likely to conjure up images of colorful maps than marble statues, but the strength of its origin story remains. 

Bold and determined, Quest is a quirky alternative to other Q names like Quinn or Quentin. Modern audiences are likely to connect it to Johnny Quest or Galaxy Quest, but this word has a historical air that helps it balance between the old and the new. It also works well in the middle name spot. 

A recent addition to the top 1000, Wilder is another occupational name that seems ideally primed for the first name position. It's warm and friendly, cool and free. Book lovers will enjoy the connection to writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, and comedy fans will pick up on the Gene Wilder connection. It's also a viable alternative to masculine standard William

An ancient Roman name meaning "voyager", Viatrix was altered into Beatrix, then Beatrice over time (though Beatrice has a separate origin). This sophisticated choice could be revived today, thanks to its unique sound and high Scrabble value - both a V and an X?! Nicknames range from feminine Via to retro Trixie, and the name is included in the word "aviatrix".

Spelled with a second P, it's another Palin choice, but this short-and-sweet name is more than a fad. Trip emerged as a nickname for "thirds" - John Smith III, for example - but the word name is an energetic and contemporary choice. One drawback - Trip may be associated with drug use in some groups. 

What travel-related names have I left out? Tell me in the comments!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Colorful Names Inspired by Clue

Hello, readers!

One of my favorite board games growing up was the murder mystery Clue. I always fought to play as Miss Scarlett, but was occasionally delegated to being Mrs. White or Mrs. Peacock #notbitteratall

Let's take a look at some colorful names inspired by these classic game characters!

Image by John Lambert Pearson on Flickr

Miss Scarlett

Scarlet/t - The obvious choice, but this lovely feminine name is still vivid and vibrant. Scarlett is elegant yet daring, whether it's worn by an O'Hara or a Johansson. It currently ranks at #22 on the top 100, so those looking for uniqueness may want to check out the following options. 

Ruby - A sweet and vintage name, Ruby has Scarlett's red color with a rosy blush. It last peaked in popularity in 1911, when it hit #22, but it's always been an all-American favorite. Other crimson stone names include Opal, Coral, and Garnet

Poppy - While pretty Poppy has taken the UK by storm, the US hasn't responded quite as dramatically - it hasn't even broken the top 1000. Still, Poppy's rarity here could be a selling point for parents with an eye towards the familiar but unique. 

Flannery - This energetic Irish surname has literary credibility via its connection with Flannery O'Connor, the twentieth-century American writer. It comes from the old Irish Flannghal, meaning "red valor" - a strong substance inside a flowery form. 

Rowan - Attractive and unassuming, Rowan is a handsome pick for any child. It's also a very modern pick, as the name has only been popular in the United States for the past two decades. Rowan comes from the Scottish for "red-head", but it would work beautifully on all kinds of kids. 

Professor Plum

Violet - Another retro choice with flair, Violet rose from a quirky celebrity pick to a national darling. It's a gorgeous balance between nature connections, vintage vibes, and colorful imagery. While Violet is bound to soar higher, it's certainly earned its acclaim. 

Lilac - A botanical alternative to Lily, Lilac is an uncommon floral choice that would fit in well with names like Rosemary, Juniper, and Hazel. The origin of this word name is Persian, though the flower is endemic to Europe. Lilac is pretty and recognizable, but unexpected. 

Mauve - With darlings Maeve and Maya on the rise, similar-sounding Mauve may appeal to fans of the romantic. It's soft and old-fashioned, yet incredibly rare - it's never been recorded in US name records. One notable namesake is Anton Mauve, an artist and cousin of Vincent van Gogh. 

Indigo - Dynamic and edgy, Indigo is one color name that works especially well for boys - it's got a cool O ending and a built-in cinematic nickname, Indy. The name has some great musical connections, from Duke Ellington to the Indigo Girls, and would work well for an artistic family. 

Plum - While Apple is still routinely cited as a "wacky" celebrity baby name, today's parents have begun to embrace Clementine, Kale, and Pepper - why not Plum? It's an accessible and sweet nature name worn with pride by writer Victoria "Plum" Sykes, whose moniker comes from the Victoria plum. 

Mrs. Peacock

Sky/e - Once a unisex pick, both spellings have been claimed by the girls, as far as popularity goes. But Sky is much bigger than one defined gender or generation - it's inspiring, expansive, and independent, perfect for an adventurous little one. 

Cyan - It looks like a modern mash-up of Cyrus and Ryan, but Cyan comes from the Greek kyanos, for "dark blue." It's been used periodically since the mid-1980's, yet it feels especially timely in our CMYK world. Cyan was used for 22 girls and 24 boys last year - let's see if it continues to grow!

Blue - The celebrity baby name (and middle name) du jour, Blue is bound to permeate the popularity charts in the next decade. But is this primary color just a flash in the pan, or does it have more substance under its vibrant surface? Literary and musical connections help Blue stay in the latter category, from "Little Boy Blue" to the blues genre to Island of the Blue Dolphins

Livia - Though it sounds like a relative of Olivia, Livia actually comes from a Roman family name meaning "blue" or "envious." It has a plethora of positive traits: a melody that fits with modern trends, an origin grounded in ancient history, and a popularity rank below the top 700. 

Feather - I first came across this name in Angela Johnson's The First Part Last, a teen-lit book in which the main character names his baby daughter Feather. It's definitely unique and bohemian, but its style is similar to other modern word choices like River and Phoenix

Reverend (Mr.) Green

Chloe - A popular pick in a number of nations, Chloe is a Greek choice that's become a standard feminine name worldwide. It's simple yet sophisticated, youthful yet timeless. Chloe comes from the meaning of "green shoot," and would be lovely on a spring baby. 

Ivy - It's fun and friendly, a name sure to fit all kinds of personalities and preferences. Ivy is also virtually nickname-proof, for fans of the formal. It was fairly popular at the end of the nineteenth century, adding some retro flair to this natural pick. 

Moss - While many have used Moss as a short form of Maurice, it deserves some consideration on its own merits - Moss has a history related to the Biblical name Moses, and may work well for multi-cultural families. It's a gentler alternative to Max or Mason, with an organic spin. 

Forest - Forrest with two R's has long been a masculine surname-turned-first, but adventurous Forest may appeal to fans of the contemporary - it's an excellent word name that could honor an important place or family tradition, and avoid raising too many eyebrows at the playground. 

Sage - Beloved for both boys and girls, Sage is an attractive and intelligent name with a strong sound. It's also a pop culture pick, with dozens of namesakes in television, film, and literature. Both wise and winsome, Sage is a highly recommended choice. 

Colonel Mustard

Saffron - Spicy and colorful, Saffron is fairly well-known thanks to Absolutely Fabulous and Firefly, but still underused. Nickname Saffy is thoroughly adorable, but the long form will wear well over time. The saffron spice is one of the most valuable in the world, as well. 

Xanthe - Meaning "golden" or "yellow," this dramatic Greek choice will appeal to those who love unusual initials or uncommon sounds. While nickname Xan is another plus, the full name is a wonderful feminine equivalent to Xander, and a worthy successor to Zoe

Colonel - Alright, so this name might not fit in with King or Prince, exactly, but it's worth noting that Colonel was recorded as a name for boys for over 100 years in the US. If mighty and eccentric is your style, perhaps try a nickname like Cole or Cory?

Topaz - Luxurious and glittering, Topaz is an elegant and mature alternative to pretty Ruby and vintage Pearl. As a gemstone, it's regarded as lucky and healing - not a bad connection - and it's also the birthstone for November. This bright pick is definitely deserving of more use. 

Flavia - An ancient name meaning "yellow" worn by members of the Roman imperial family, Flavia has recently risen up the popularity ranks in Italy. Now that Freya, Fiona, and Faith are in the US top 500, perhaps Flavia may appeal to those with a taste for the international. 

Mrs. White

Bianca - Before Isabella and Sofia reigned supreme, this Italian pick was loved for its Shakespearean links and connection to Mrs. Bianca Jagger. It made the top 100 in the late 1980's and early 1990's, but this name still feels ageless and alluring. Bianca comes from a medieval French name meaning "white."

Albin - A Swedish favorite for boys, Albin would fit in seamlessly with names like Aidan and Abel. It comes from Latin, meaning "white" or "bright," and maintains a masculine sound without feeling overly macho. Cute nickname Albie is just icing on the cake!

Finn - Soaring high and aiming higher, Finn and its many long forms have become cherished standards for boys and girls alike. This handsome Irish name means "fair" or "white," but its long since transcended its original roots - today, Finn is beloved across the globe. 

Gwendolyn - A lovely Welsh choice with the feminine -lyn ending, Gwendolyn is an ideal pick for those who like both modern and classic sounds. Nickname Gwen is friendly and familiar - still, the long form is poetic, tenacious, and enchanting. 

Snow - Fresh and cool, Snow is a stylish follow-up to warm Summer and brisk Winter - with the bonus connection to a Disney princess. Though it's genderless, Snow has been used primarily for girls, and was bestowed upon fifty-nine baby girls last year. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Peaceful Names for Spring

Hello, readers!

In the springtime, we tend to hear a lot of lovely botanical names that celebrate the natural world - Daisy, Violet, and Lily included. Let's look at some less-obvious seasonal choices that relate to the beautiful concept of peace.

Image via Flickr

Some of these names mean "peace," and some are related indirectly. Let me know if I missed any in the comments!

Absalom - "father of peace"
Abel and Abraham are beloved today - why not Absalom? It can shorten to Abi or Sal, both excellent unexpected nickname for boys. Absalom, Absalom is a famous novel by William Faulkner, giving this name both Biblical and literary credibility. 

Callum - "dove"
Simple and handsome, Callum is an attractive Scottish choice relating to a major symbol of peace. It's an intriguing alternative to Caleb or Colin, but it's familiar enough to be on American playgrounds. 

Concordia - "peace, harmony"
If elegant and feminine is your style, Concordia hits all the right notes - it's unusual but not unheard-of; it has a wide range of nickname opportunities - Connie, Cora, or Cori; and it's formally similar to Cordelia, Victoria, and Georgia

Frida - "peaceful"
With Freya gaining traction, artistic Frida could find an audience. There's the fabulous Kahlo reference, but dozens of famous Fridas line the history books. This would also be a quirky way to honor a familial Frederick

Giotto - "pledge of peace"
Dapper Italian choices like Leonardo and Giovanni have become popular recently, and Giotto would fit right in. It's got an edgy O-ending and an art historical connection too: Giotto di Bondone was an early contributor to Renaissance painting. 

Humphrey - "peaceful warrior"
The phrase "so clunky it's cool" is used more and more these days in name articles - retro classics are being dusted off and revisited. Humphrey is definitely part of this trend, with its old Hollywood connections and eccentric sound. (Can't think of a good nickname... tell me your ideas in the comments!)

Iria - mythological name
Just one letter off from darling Aria, Iria is the Portuguese form of Irene. It may take a bit of explaining, but this gorgeous choice has a more ethereal and heavenly vibe. Irene is the goddess of peace in Greek mythology. 

Kazumi - "beautiful peace"
This sweet name is popular in Japan for both boys and girls. Americans may be more familiar with Kazumi via various anime/manga series, but it was also recorded periodically between 1915 and 1930. 

Mirela - "peace, world"
Something between Mira and Mila, Mirela is a pretty euphonic name used in Slavic countries. Mirela is also the name of a famous singer in Spain, a connection that's helped its popularity over the years. 

Paloma - "dove"
Both sophisticated and unembellished, Paloma is a wonderful middle ground between the feminine and the friendly. Nicknames Polly or Loma could spice it up, but it's not necessary - Paloma is positive and strong all on its own. 

Pax - "peaceful"
Though Paxton is in the top 300, Pax has yet to hit the top 1000. Yet the shorter form is far less faddish (-ton ending) and more historically grounded. Pax's Latin influence is mitigated by its aural closeness to Max or Paul, and its purity shines through. 

Poppy - botanical name
Well, it is spring, and flower choices abound. The white poppy is a symbol of peace and pacifism, hence its inclusion here. Poppy has become a huge success across the pond, but Americans have yet to follow suit. Still, this bright and beautiful name deserves some attention. 

Sadako - "child of integrity"
Sadako Sasaki is famous for her quest to fold 1000 paper cranes after being diagnosed with cancer from the Hiroshima bombing in 1945 - books and stories have been told about this little girl, and her desire to find peace in a war-torn world. Sadako's name is worth considering as a lovely honorific. 

Salem - "peace"
Place names like Brooklyn and Madison have found new homes on birth certificates, with Salem an uncommon new option. There are a few Salems in the US - including the site of the witch trials - but this name is independently amiable and appealing. 

Winifred - "friend of peace"
Nickname-name Winnie has been a celebrity fave recently, but long form Winifred still seems stuck in the mud. Could its meaning lend it some allure? It's got strength and substance, with an adorable vintage nickname, so Winifred may win eventually. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Happy National Beer Day!

Hello, readers!

On this day in 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, legalizing the sale of beer in the United States. Since then, beer aficionados have celebrated their freedom to imbibe on April 7th! Let's join in the excitement and look at some sudsy names, inspired by beer brands.

For more substance-related names, check out Names Up in Smoke and Names on the Rocks!

Though it ranked on the top 1000 from 1880-1965, Bud hasn't retained too many fans. Granted, it's a rather short word name that's almost too familiar. Still, I have a special place in my heart for Bud, since it was my grandfather's name - he wore an altered Budweiser hat, too.

Another well-known choice, but for surnames - Miller is the seventh most common last name in the United States. That hasn't kept parents from choosing this handsome, friendly name. Miller has joined Carter and Parker in the surname trend, but it's still fresh enough to stand out.

The best-selling alcoholic drink in Ireland, Guinness has more than a few supporters in the US, too. Guinness has actually been recorded as a first name a few times since 2000. Perhaps Nessie or Guy work as nicknames? Either way, this eccentric choice was assuredly inspired by beer.

It's Spanish for "crown," but many Americans know this brand as the top-selling imported beer in the United States. Corona was recorded a handful of times between 1912 and 1980 - could it work as an alternative to Cora or Corinne? It's still "miles away from ordinary," to be sure.

Stella (Artois)
This Belgian beer was named for the Christmas star, since it debuted in winter 1926. Stella is even more popular today than it was then, currently ranking in the top 100. It's pretty and feminine, yet maintains a vintage sound and sassy vibe.

Samuel (Adams)
Though the real Samuel Adams focused his work in politics and government, he dallied a bit in beer production. The beer sold under his name today was named in honor of this! Samuel is a Biblical classic, having never left the top 100. It's simple and attractive, as well as a great cross-cultural pick.

Sierra (Nevada)
A nature name that calls to mind adventure and exploration, Sierra has begun to decline since its peak in the late 1990's. It's a beautiful and resolute choice, with a feminine bend. The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was established in 1979, and has become the seventh-largest in the US.

Despite its reputation as the quintessential Australian beer, Foster's Lager is most enjoyed in the United Kingdom. Foster, like abovementioned Miller, is a very popular surname that's recently been discovered by baby namers - it's numbers are on the rise!

The fourth largest brewery in Germany, Beck's Brewery has been in American news recently - drinkers report disappointment at the varieties made in the US. As a name, Beck is a great, boyish option, perfect for fans of Jack and Ben. The eponymous musician adds an edge to this name as well.

This Japanese name has a gorgeous meaning: "morning sun." It's also the name of one of the most popular Japanese breweries. If Asa isn't your taste, why not Asahi? It's been used a few times since 2005, with ten boys last year given the name.

Tell me your favorites in the comments!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Name News - 3-20-17

There’s a name for it — racism - Vanessa Hua - San Francisco Chronicle

"When I got married, it would have been the perfect opportunity to change my last name to my husband’s Serbian one. But I’d spent years building my byline, and I didn’t want to give up the name or the heritage my father had passed down to me."

An excellent look at name bias in the US. Sidenote: the middle names Huajin and Huaren for her twins are so beautiful and meaningful!

Dear Prudence - What's in a name? - Mallory Ortberg, Slate

"Some people love getting nicknamed, but it would give me more than a little pause if someone I had just started seeing told me, “I don’t like your name. Let me call you something else,” no matter how they tried to soften it or dress it up."

Despite the fact that I have very strong opinions about names, I don't think I've ever disliked someone's name so much I asked to call them something else. Anyone else familiar with this issue? Conversely, if you dislike your own name, do you tell other people to call you a nickname?

How Scarlett Got Its Groove Back - Ben Blatt, Slate

"The Social Security Administration has never, since its starting history in 1880, recorded a baby Frodo. It’s not the same for female characters in fantasy series. Though the name suffered an 80-year drought between 1923 and 2002, in 2003 the United States welcomed five baby Hermoines."

Though there are a LOT of unsubstantiated claims in this article, I like the idea of looking at name spikes based on pop culture trends. Perhaps we'll one day see if movies or books influence namers more?

What's Your Starbucks Name? - Svati Kirsten Narula, The Atlantic

"I'm not ashamed of my name, but I prefer to reserve conversations about it for less hurried, less public interactions. A back-and-forth about the spelling, pronunciation, origin, and meaning of "Svati" can be fun, even necessary—at a cocktail party, during an interview, on a date. While ordering coffee? Not so much."

I find it interesting that those with "Starbucks' Names" in this article tend towards either end of the popularity spectrum - John vs. Svati, for example. My name has yet to be so common, but as more Emily's grow up and head to coffee shops, perhaps I'll need to find an alter ego...