Years ago, I wrote a post with some naming tips for minimalists. But — as Abby of Appellation Mountain astutely pointed this out in her comment to that post — “minimalism” as applied to baby names could be about capturing a namestyle just as much as it could be about reflecting a lifestyle.
So today I’m giving minimalism another go. This time around, though, it’ll be a list of baby names that fall somewhere between short/simple and modern/stylish.
All of these names have made gains recently (Hank and Linus included!). For more details on usage, click through to see the popularity graphs.
We looked at the top baby name rises last month, so this month let’s look at the opposite: the top drops. That is, the baby names that decreased the most in usage, percentage-wise, from one year to the next in the Social Security Administration’s data.
Here’s the format: girl names are on the left, boy names are on the right, and the percentages represent single-year slides in usage. (For example, from 1880 to 1881, usage of the girl name Clementine dropped 68% and usage of the boy name Neil dropped 76%.)
The SSA data isn’t perfect, but it does become more accurate in the late 1930s, because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data” (SSA). Now, back to the list…
I’ve already written about some of the names above (click the links to see the posts) and I plan to write about a few of the others. In the meanwhile, though, feel free to beat me to it — leave a comment and let us know why you think any of these names saw dropped in usage when they did.
A few weeks ago we looked at names that start with Snow-, so today let’s check out another name that many of us associate with snow: Bode.
Bode Miller is one of the greatest Alpine skiers in American history. He’s won six Olympic medals and competed in five Winter Olympics: 1998 (Nagano), 2002 (Salt Lake City), 2006 (Turin), 2010 (Vancouver), and 2014 (Sochi).
Notice how the baby name Bode debuted in the SSA data in 1998 and spiked in usage every four years thereafter:
2017: 170 baby boys named Bode
2016: 203 baby boys named Bode
2015: 264 baby boys named Bode
2014: 294 baby boys named Bode
2013: 115 baby boys named Bode
2012: 166 baby boys named Bode
2011: 190 baby boys named Bode
2010: 287 baby boys named Bode
2009: 94 baby boys named Bode
2008: 105 baby boys named Bode
2007: 143 baby boys named Bode
2006: 235 baby boys named Bode
2005: 82 baby boys named Bode
2004: 55 baby boys named Bode
2003: 60 baby boys named Bode
2002: 131 baby boys named Bode
2000: 8 baby boys named Bode
1999: 7 baby boys named Bode
1998: 8 baby boys named Bode [debut]
So how did Samuel Bode Miller — who was born and raised in rural Easton, New Hampshire — get that interesting middle name?
According to his 2005 autobiography, Bode’s name simply came from the English word bode. It “means to indicate by signs, but it was the sound of it that my mother liked.” He pronounces it BOH-dee instead of BOHD because, as he says, the “diminutive form stuck.”
And he’s not the only person in his family with an interesting name. His older sister is Kyla (no middle name, notably), his younger sister is Gennie Wren (in full: Genesis Wren Bungo Windrushing Turtleheart Miller), and his late younger brother was Chelone, nicknamed “Chilly” (in full: Nathaniel Kinsman Ever Chelone Skan).
Wren’s naming “was a family effort” said Bode:
Jo gave her the “Genesis Wren”; I called her “Bungo” after the Bungay Jar, the local wind, because it was so breezy the day she was born. Kyla gave her Windrushing for the same reason, and “Turtleheart” was the ever-present and recurring Woody-inspired turtle meme in our lives up on Turtle Ridge. The turtle may be Woody’s totem. It wouldn’t surprise me.”
(The kids called their parents, Jo and Woody, by their first names.)
And here’s how they chose a name for Chelone (chel-OWN):
My folks hiked Mount Moosilauke when my mother was good and pregnant with him and found a flower on top they liked so much that they brought it home. When they looked it up and found that it was an herbaceous perennial called chelone, also known as turtlehead, they considered it a nice omen and planted it outside the door.
Three days after he was born, my mother was headed into town with the new baby, named Thane at the time. She was going to the laundromat when she came across a turtle in the road. It was big and blocked their way, so she had to stop. As she watched the shell waddle across Easton Road, it occurred to Jo how little she like the name Thane, and how much she liked the name Chelone.
If you’re wondering about the name Skan, it’s “a Lakota term for the great spirit of the universe.” Kinsman is no doubt a reference to location: their childhood home was on the side of Kinsman Mountain. In fact, the mountain was named for early settler Nathaniel Kinsman — Chelone’s first two names.
But getting back to Bode…he has welcomed five children so far: Neesyn Dacey (daughter), Samuel Bode (son), Nash Skan (son, named in honor of Chelone), Emeline Grier (daughter, passed away in mid-2018) and Easton Vaughn Rek (son, named for Easton, NH).
So what are your thoughts on the baby name Bode? If you were going to use it, how would you pronounce it?
The U.S. National Park Service has a birthday coming up!
When the NPS was created on August 25, 1916, there were only 35 national parks and monuments. (The world’s first, Yellowstone, had been established in 1872.)
Nowadays the agency oversees 411 units. These units are located in the 50 states and beyond, and include national monuments (82), national historic sites (78), national parks (59), national historical parks (50), national memorials (30), national battlefields (11), national seashores (10), national lakeshores (4), national scenic trails (3), and more.
Let’s celebrate the upcoming centenary with over 100 baby names that pay tribute to the national parks specifically:
The derivation of Kenai is unknown, but it could come from either Dena’ina Athabascan (“big flat” or “two big flats and river cut-back” or “trees and brush in a swampy marsh”), Russian (“flat barren land”), or Iniut (“black bear”).