You need to choose a name. You want it to be simple and memorable yet inoffensive to anyone, anywhere. And oh yeah, it’s literally a matter of life and death.
Parents choose different names for boys and girls—and they choose names differently for boys and girls as well. For centuries, female names have been more creative and more subject to the shifting winds of fashion, much as female clothing has been. Male names, like male clothing, remained more conservative. Until […]
In Part 1 of this series, I described how a longstanding gender difference in American baby naming is rapidly disappearing. Boys used to be named more conservatively, while girls’ names were more trendy and creative. Today, boys’ names too are objects of fashion, subject to shifting tastes. What does this […]
The pace of news was set to double-time in 2020, and name news was no exception. Names made headlines as they were chosen, abandoned, celebrated, mocked, debated and redefined. These five names made their mark on a year like no other. COVIDThe many names given to the virus that paralyzed […]
The symbolic power of names was front and center in 2020. Physicians and politicians wrangled with the implications of different names for the virus that brought society to its knees. Brands with “nostalgic” slave names like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben were finally retired. And throughout, a rallying cry reminded […]
Is there a unisex style of baby names? Names that parents consistently choose without regard to gender, that are perceived in a gender-neutral way as a child goes through life? We usually take the idea for granted. You can find thousands of lists of unisex name ideas, including one in […]
Names are part of the culture of our times and our world—sometimes in surprising ways. For each of these pairs of name events and world events, can you guess which came first?
Hurricanes have human names, and so I write about them. Over the past 15 years I’ve written about various storms and the baby name trends that followed. But now, for the first time, I truly understand the emotional impact of sharing a name with a storm. Hurricane Laura—Hurricane Me—is on […]
As Joe Biden has vetted prospective VP candidates, the leading names have been analyzed and dissected in the media in every imaginable way. Every way but one, that is: the names themselves. Because while the nominee is expected to be ground-breaking—likely the first woman of color on a major ticket—the […]
Three years ago, I wrote that the name Karen had become the go-to name for an “everywoman” in comedy. Six months ago, I wrote that Karen had evolved into a derogatory term for entitled white, middle-aged women who insist on talking to the manager. Three weeks ago, I wrote that […]