Nameberry Predicts 12 Baby-Naming Trends for 2014: A Few Might Take Off; The Rest, Probably Not

Here’s a quick summary of 12 trends Nameberry has spotted on the horizon for 2014. Will all of them pan out? Will any? Nobody knows for sure, but some of the trends would be a welcome change; and some—not so much.

Which of these trends are likely to materialize in 2014? Which are pipedreams? What are the odds each will pan out? To find out, read on.

1. Eccentric Ancestor Names. Examples: Edna and Ethel, Wihelmina and Wolfgang.

Comment: This trend sounds awful. I pity the poor kids who get stuck with these gleefully discarded names. (With any luck, this trend will never pick up an momentum.) Odds 25/75.

2. Boys’ Middle Names for Girls. Examples: Autumn James, Agnes Charles and Lucy Thomas.

Comment: When I wrote about  Autumn James, I thought James might be a family name. Whether it’s a family name or a boy’s name used as s middle name for a girl, it’s confusing and off-putting. What if this idea were turned around and John Smith was given the middle name of Melissa. His full name would be John Melissa Smith. If this is a trend, I can’t think of a single good reason for anyone to introduce gender confusion and a possible source of embarrassment and teasing into middle names. Middle names should function as a dependable “insurance”policy  (aka “back-up name) in case the first name doesn’t work well for the child. But “cross-dressing’ the middle name gives the child less viable options rather than more. I hope this “trend” dies a quick and merciful death. Odds: 10/90.

Notice that Charles and Thomas could also be confused for family names. (I hope this trend dies a quick and merciful death.) Odds: 35/65.

3. Spice Names. Examples: Saffron, Ginger, Cinnamon and Lavender.

Comment: The idea of aromatic herb and spice names is very exciting. But as much as I like the idea of spice names, there aren’t that many I’d want to name a baby. Ginger  might work well for babies with yellow/tan complexions and Cinnamon might work well for babies with reddish-brown complexions. To be fair, both of those names are also descriptive of personality types. Ginger for example, may make a feisty and spirited impression; Cinnamon may project a warm and welcoming image. But that said, are there enough great spice names to fuel a hot trend? Odds: 40/60.

4. Pope Francis Spinoffs. Examples: Francisco, Francesco and Francesca, Francine, Frank and Frankie.

Comment: Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air! This trend is already happening, big time, in Italy. But, we’ll need to come up with some more attractive Francis spinoffs if this trend is going to work in the U.S.The name Francis is not exactly a “cool” name in the States. Other options, Francois and Francoise, are hard to spell and pronounce for Americans. Which leaves Frank and Frankie–which sound dated. Odds: 40/60.

5. Virtue Names for Boys. Examples: Noble, Valor, Justice, and Loyal.

Comment: Sorry to be a buzz-kill but I don’t think the bad-boy naming trend is over yet. Names from “Breaking Bad” are still hot. Faith, Hope and Chastity may work well for nuns, but they don’t go over well in high school. Names like Valor and Loyal for boys are so sappy, I don’t think this trend will ever get out of Sunday School. Odds: 25/75.

6. Is C Really the Coolest Consonant? Examples: Claire, Cordelia, Cora and Clarissa.

Comment: The girls names listed as examples are OK. But “C”-names like Clarence, Casper, Constantine and Cassius make this idea a non-starter for boys. (Muhammad Ali ditched the name Cassius, as I recall). Don’t bet more than a nickel on this trend taking off. Odds: 35/65.

7. Go Greek? Examples: Chloe, Calliope, Olympia and Cyrus.

Comment: There are plenty of attractive Greek names. For girls: Alexandra, Anastasia, Callista, Daphne, and Delia.  For boys: Alexis, Demetrius, Nicholas, Sebastian and Xander. But why Greek names? Why not French names, German names, Russian names or Polish names? There are just as many attractive names in other languages. So, why Greek names now? I suspect this “trend” is more like a shot in the dark. Odds: 40/60.

8. Boys’ Names Ending in N. Examples: Ethan, Zayden, Camden and Bryson. (Nameberry forgot to mention Jayden and Aiden which, along with Ethan, were top-ten names in 2012.)

Comment: There’s nothing new about this trend. It started about ten+ years ago, when Ethan and Nathan started their assault on the top-ten boys’ list—and when Jayden and sound-alikes were climbing the top-100 list. The bigger and more important trend is the use of soft consonants for boys, like these top-ten names: Noah, William and Alexander. Here’s why: Moms want more sensitive (less macho) boys and soft consonants are the way to go. There’s nothing new about both of these trends. And, they are both likely to last well beyond 2014. Odds: 100%.

9. Dowdy Royal Names. Examples: Helena, Maud, Albert and, of course, George.

Comment: Everyone in the U.K. was caught up in the crowds and the media coverage about this question: “What will William and Kate name the royal baby?” But after George was named, the name started sliding out of the top-ten list. Most of the names bandied about (except for Alexandra) were stuffy and boring, I think the Brits OD’d on them. So, I doubt this trend will go anywhere, either in the U.K. or in America. Odds: 20/80.

10. Joke Names. Example: North West. (Nameberry erroneously called the five names Uma Thurman gave her daughter a  joke.  The joke was that six months after announcing five mostly unspellable and unpronounceable names, Thurman informed the media that she was going to call her daughter Luna–rather than any of the five names.)

Comment: Although North West is pretty much a lock to be named “the worst celebrity baby name of 2013,” (I peeked at the research), I’m afraid that fans of Kim & Kanye, and other celebs who think it’s funny to embarrass their kids with joke names, will be tempted do the same. I hope this doesn’t happen, but some parents don’t seem to understand that a good name is one of the best gifts they can give their child. So keep those baby-naming brainstorming sessions drug and alcohol free–for your baby’s sake. (Kudos to Nameberry for speaking out against joke names.) Odds: 20/80.

11. Baby Boomer Names. Examples: Janet and Jeffrey; Patricia and Paul.

Comment: I’ve been watching parents give names like Max and Millie to their babies–presumably to honor the children’s great grandparents, before or when they die. I suppose that as Baby Boomers age, parents will name babies after them, too. Although boomer names don’t thrill me, I think the “boomer names” trend is inevitable, and not just for one year. The question is: when will it start? Odds: 80/20.

12.  Historic Hero Names. Examples: Lincoln, Scarlett, Chaplin and Dashiel.

Comment: I’m a big fan of names that will inspire children, which is why I like the idea of naming babies after famous namesakes (real or fictional) who parents admire. I wrote a post on this theme, and Lincoln should have been on my list of famous namesakes–and now is. Is this idea likely to take off? Baby Center mentioned this trend recently in conjunction with the release of their 2013 top-100 lists. Names moving up their popularity list (generated by names actually chosen by people registered on their website in 2013) included (Abraham) Lincoln, (Andrew) Jackson and Jack (Kennedy) plus fictional names like Scarlet (O’Hara). Maybe there’s some evidence to support this trend. Odds: 60/40.

Discussion: I assume that Nameberry has some recent data to support some or all of the trends they “predict” for 2014. Although Nameberry noticed the rise of “joke names,” I was glad to read they were concerned about that unwise practice. Unfortunately a number of the other trends they “predicted” are also questionable or unwise. What’s the point of being an commentator if you don’t comment?

And the Winner Is: George Alexander Louis

I had just finished posting an article at 12:56 PM about six boy’s names I thought might be or should be under consideration for the royal baby. After pressing “publish” I decided to check my e-mail. The first item I found was this newsfeed: “The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are delighted to announce that they have named their son George Alexander Louis.”

Finally! Phew! That’s great news for people in the U.K. and throughout the world whose imaginations and hearts have been captured by the birth and naming of a prince who is likely to become a future King of England.

And, it’s pretty darned good news for me. Yesterday on a KSTP-TV interview in Minneapolis-St. Paul, I picked George as the most likely choice. And, today in the blog I just posted, I reiterated that prediction for several reasons:
1) It was the #1 choice of British bettors. (I’d just finished reading a book on “crowdsourcing” which is why I had given this betting odds strong credence.)
2) Queen Elizabeth’s father, whose given name was Albert, chose King George VI as his official royal name. It is hard to imagine that the queen did not play a major role in this baby-naming decision.
3) To make the choice even more appealing, King George VI’s story had been popularized in a heart-winning and Academy Award-winning movie, “The King’s Speech.” You may recall that he had overcame his profound shyness and stuttering to make a stirring radio speech in which he declared war against the Germans in 1939.

You may also recall that Alexandra was the number 1 choice of British bettors, should the baby have been a girl. If chosen, Alexandra would have paid 2 to 1. Although Alexander was not one of the leading boy’s names in the minds of bettors, I think it’s no coincidence that Alexander (not a traditional name for English Kings) was chosen as George’s first middle name. (My guess? Word got out that Kate loved the name Alexandra.)

And, how interesting to discover that Louis, one of William’s middle names was chosen as George’s second middle name. (I suppose William liked the name a lot. Perhaps he used it on informal occasions.)

If you’ve read any of my “celebrity baby-name” articles, you know I often take great delight in pointing out the folly of self-indulgent celebrity baby names (North West was the most recent example.) But I look at the royal baby name as a name that has to work on two levels: as the boy’s official (formal) royal name and as the name he’ll be called by friends, family, and the media from the time he’s a baby until he’s crowned king. (All names need to work on both on formal and informal levels–but George’s royal status elevates the need for a name that works particularly well on formal occasions.)

I give George Alexander Louis thumbs up for both purposes. The name George is highly regarded in Great Britain. And “The Royal Speech” has put a very positive spin on how the name will be received, worldwide. What I like even more is the baby’s first middle name, Alexander. It is one of the most powerful names (think Alexander the Great) and one of the most versatile names ever: there are scores of variations and nicknames George can use if he ever gets tired of his royal name or wants to go incognito).

P.S. I started writing this post a little after 1:00 PM CST. Checking my watch, I see it’s 2:35 PM CST. So it took me almost an hour to dash this off and then re-read it a few times to make a few edits. And, now it’s time for lunch.

P.P.S. I just went back and reread my first royal baby post I wrote back in January when the Kate’s pregnancy was announced. This was my final advice:

“Be conservative. Very conservative. Who do you think will have the last word on the royal baby’s name? William? Kate? Me? Think again. Who refused to let Prince Charles marry the love of his life, until he showed her the AARP card he had received in the mail?”

Yes, Queen Elizabeth is still calling the shots in Buckingham Palace and apparently, her heart still “belongs to daddy.”

Six Names Under Consideration for The Royal Baby

Thousands of tourists and media people are still waiting outside Buckingham Palace to find out what name Kate and William will pick for their royal baby, who is now home from the hospital. Here’s a quick listing of the names most likely to be under consideration and a few I suggest would be great choices.

George has the highest odds (paying 12 to 1)of being chosen, based on the odds established by British betting casinos. It’s also the name of Queen Elizabeth’s father King George V1, whose story was charmingly told in an Oscar-winning movie starring Colin Firth. So there are three good reasons this will be the winning choice.

Philip is one of William’s three middle names which may explain why bettors think it is the second most likely choice (paying 23 to 1). Prince Philip is Queen Elizabeth’s husband and the baby’s great grandfather. But only 8 names have been used for English kings in 1,000 years, and Philip isn’t one of them.

Louis is another of William’s middle names, which may explain why it is the third most popular name for British bettors (which would pay 25 to 1). But a very strong association with 16 French kings makes it a fairly unlikely choice.

Edward was the name of the King who abdicated the throne to marry the brash American, Wallace Simpson, which was viewed by royals as a scandal. As a result, his brother Albert (who became King George V1) ascended to the throne, which is why I think this is a highly unlikely choice.

James was the name of the first king of England, Ireland and Scotland whose rein began in 1603. He was also known for the King James bible, which is still one of the best-selling books ever published. Although it would be a great choice, James is not perceived to be very likely.

Arthur is not a currently viewed as a front-runner, but I hope Kate and William are discussing it as I write this post. Arthur was a historical king whose adventures have taken on a legendary, storybook
quality. You may recall he gained the throne because he was the only knight who could pull a sword named Excalibur out of a rock–a stunt stage-managed by Arthur’s advisor–a magician by the name of Merlin.
Picking this name would turn the birth of the royal baby into an world-wide event even more exciting and heartwarming than it already is.

Richard is another name which would create an aura of greatness. You’ll recall Richard “the Lionheart” was a king who had fought in the third crusade. I doubt that the fictional Robin Hood actually helped him regain the throne, but it’s a great story and the reason why this name, like Arthur, would be a publicists dream.

As you can see, I think George is the most likely choice, but I’m rooting for Arthur or Richard.

My Terrible, Awful, Painful, Stressful Day at the Dentist and the TV Studio

Yesterday was a terrible, awful, painful, stressful, day—that turned out pretty well, considering what I went through. I had chosen July 23 as the date for a complicated and expensive 4-hour dental surgery procedure (which I’d put off, successfully for 2 years). The appointment had been made 3 months in advance for 7:30 AM. Unfortunately, I got a call from KSTP-TV (the day before my operation) saying they wanted me on TV on July 23 (in the afternoon)–to talk about the British “royal baby” who didn’t yet have a name.

I didn’t get much sleep the night before the operation; I longer I stayed awake, the more I worried about how I would be able to go on TV after getting little or no sleep, going through a draining operation with a mouth full of Novacain and wearing a new retainer (which might slur my words).

When I got into the office the morning after, I thought I should write a note to Maggie Sliter, the segment producer, apologizing for being brain-dead and tongue-tied. But my publicist, Tom Nelson told me that viewers would never know I’d been drugged and strapped in a dental chair for four and a half hours that morning. He invited me to watch the video.

I’m usually embarrassed by watching myself on TV, but it was a surprisingly lively segment during which I covered British royal history from King Arthur through George VI (played by Colin Firth in “the King’s Speech). I commented on 6 boy’s names likely to be under consideration. (As of this point in time, a name has not yet been chosen.) If you want to see how the TV interview turned out, click on the video link.

Now That Kate’s In Labor, the Big Question: Which Pre-Owned Royal Name Will They Pick?

Now that The Duchess of Cambridge has gone into labor, I’m nostalgic for the time (a few months ago) when Americans were wondering whether Kim and Kanye were unhinged enough to pick one of the names they had leaked on “The Tonight Show” or through their friends: North, Easton, or a variety of k-names including Khrist.

If British bettors have identified the most likely names for the royal baby, the big question seems to be which pre-owned royal name will they pick? Will the baby be named after its paternal grandmother (Diana), paternal great grandmother (Elizabeth Alexandra) paternal great grandfather (Philip) or paternal great, great grandfather (George). Other likely options include Charlotte (Princess Charlotte: 1766-1868) or Louis (the name of 18 French kings).

If you’ve been hoping Kate would escape her royal handlers and show up as a surprise guest on a late-night talk show to dish some dirt with Dame Edna–it’s not going to happen. So now we’ll just have to wait and see which pre-owned royal name they pick (Alexandra and George are the current betting favorites); or if they’ll abandon the most likely names and go with a name that reflects their own personal preference.

We’ll all find out at the same time, when the royal baby name is written on the “royal easel” that’s been set up for this occasion outside Buckingham palace.

Ten Percent of Brits Surveyed Said They’d Delay Naming Their Baby So They Could Use the Same Name William and Kate Pick for Their Baby

A recent survey published in the Daily Mail showed the extent to which Brits are gaga over royal baby names. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they would consider giving their baby a name used by members of the British royal family (like William, Harry, Charles, Sophie or Elizabeth). Ten percent said they’d delay naming their baby so they could give it the same name William and Kate choose for their baby.

Here’s how one mother put it: “My baby is due before the royal baby, but I already know I definitely want it to have the same name. The birth of Will and Kate’s baby is … a monumental event that is going to be remembered forever. Giving my baby the same name is my personal way of celebrating.”

The British royal family is too tradition-bound to pick silly, non-traditional names like North West, Blue Ivy, Moon Unit or Apple. So it’s hard to go too-far wrong by following their example. Boring? Possibly. But crazy? Probably not.

What Will William and Kate Name Their Royal Baby?

I’m writing this article so a local talk show producer will think I know something about naming British royalty. I hope she’s not turned off by my iconoclastic approach to a subject that has already motivated thousands (or tens of thousands) of pundits, commentators, and self-proclaimed experts to ramp up the speculation about what William and Kate will name their royal baby.

My plan is to bring you up to date on some of the ideas flying through cyberspace and then come up with an angle that might get me on TV.

Some experts point out that the next royal highness diapered by the royal nanny will be third in line to inherit the throne, so William and Kate will have to stick closely to royal “protocol”—meaning they’ll have to use names previously used by royals, like William (the Conqueror), Arthur (of “Round Table” fame), Alfred (the Great), George (who wasn’t invited to the Boston Tea Party), Henry (VIII and all the other Henrys), Victoria (who gave us the Victorian era), Mary (who gave us a transatlantic luxury liner), and two Elizabeths (the latest of whom seems to have been queen for several centuries).

Other experts and bookmakers suggest Kate and William should stick with “relatives.” That opens the door to the names of commoners who married into the royal family, such as William’s mother Diana, Sarah (aka Fergie), Anthony (a photographer who took naughty photos after marrying Princess Margaret) and many others, including Eleanor of Aquitaine, Wallis Simpson, and Camilla Parker-Bowles).

Now that you know what just about everyone else knows about the name to be given to the future king or queen (if Queen Elizabeth ever decides to vacate the well-padded royal throne), here’s something of value: a way for Yanks, Canucks, Aussies, Kiwis, and Brits completely out of the know, to “bet” on the name William and Kate will select, without risking either your money or your reputation should you fail to select the correct name (which is pretty much a foregone conclusion).

I’ve created two pages on Ranker.com (“What Will William and Kate Name the Royal Baby Boy?” and “What William and Kate Name the Royal Baby Girl?”) that provide the top twenty boys’ and girls’ names based on the current betting odds in London. When you go to the lists, you can bet on (vote for) the boys’ and girls’ names you like best, in the privacy of your bedroom, office, car or wherever you and your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone happen to be. You can also re-rank the entire list and add any names you think English betters should choose—solidly British names like Jack (the Ripper) or Bridget (Jones).

Your bets or votes will change the rankings on the list, as if by magic. Cool, huh? (This is called “crowd-sourcing,” a way to tap into the wisdom of the masses—as though any of them know a thing about how royal names are really selected).

The only thing I could accomplish by hazarding some predictions myself would be sullying my dimming reputation as an expert on baby names. But I’m happy to give you some advice (which is what I do best): Stick with the well-known English kings, queens, princes, princesses, and those parvenus who were beautiful or handsome and well-connected enough to have married into a life of luxury, leisure, and boredom.

Be conservative. Very conservative. Who do you think will have the last word on the royal baby’s name? William? Kate? Me? Think again. Who refused to let Prince Charles marry the love of his life, until he showed her the AARP card he had received in the mail?

Now that you know who’s in charge of most things “royal” in Britain, you’ve got a chance to pick a winner. As they used to say in Chicago when Mayor Daley was running that town: “Vote early and vote often.”

© 2013 Bruce Lansky
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