“Everly” is hot…”Beverly” is not. It’s a one-letter difference between fashionable and fusty.
If you’re sensitive to style, you’ll prefer Everly. It fits with today’s trends far better than Beverly does.
But if you’re someone who isn’t concerned about style, or prefers to go against style, then you may not automatically go for Everly. In fact, you may be more attracted to Beverly because it’s the choice that most modern parents would avoid.
If you’ve ever thought about intentionally giving your baby a dated name (like Debbie, Grover, Marcia, or Vernon) for the sake of uniqueness within his/her peer group — if you have no problem sacrificing style for distinctiveness — then this list is for you.
Years ago, the concept of “contrarian” baby names came up in the comments of a post about Lois. Ever since then, creating a collection of uncool/contrarian baby names has been on my to-do list.
Finally, last month, I experimented with various formulas for pulling unstylish baby names out of the SSA dataset. Keeping the great-grandparent rule in mind, I aimed for names that would have been fashionable among the grandparents of today’s babies. The names below are the best results I got.
From the movie Bridesmaids, bridesmaid Annie (played by Kristen Wiig) being kicked out of first class by flight attendant Steve:
Annie: Whatever you say, Stove.
Steve: It’s Steve.
Annie: “Stove” — what kinda name is that?
Steve: That’s not a name. My name is Steve.
Annie: Are you an appliance?
Steve: No I’m a man, and my name is Steve.
The report [from the Central Bureau of Statistics] also noted that in 2012 only 36 boys were given the name Ovadia. However, following the death of spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in 2013, 117 babies were given this name and in 2014, 209 newborns were named after the rabbi.
Basically, the katakana names given to baby girls born prior to the 1900s were a result of gender discrimination. The ability to read was not prevalent amongst the poor of that time period, so many families would pay a scholar to help them decide on a splendid name in meaningful kanji for their sons. However, that same measure was almost never taken for daughters. […] Only girls belonging to the most wealthy and noble families, such as the daughters of samurai, would be given names in kanji as an indication of their status.
But more offbeat names can pose problems. How about the Rooneys’ Kai? Kai means ‘pier’ in Estonian, ‘probably’ in Finnish, ‘ocean’ in Hawaiian and Japanese, ‘willow tree’ in the native American language of Navajo, and ‘stop it’ in Yoruba.
And Suri, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ daughter, means ‘pickpocket’ in Japanese, ‘turned sour’ in French and ‘horse mackerels’ in Italian.
Arabic, as a spoken language and written text, is something the Western gaze is enamored by, but also terrified of. A quick Google search renders a flood of results about the popularity of Arabic in the non-Arab world. From warnings of things to keep in mind so you don’t end up with a failed Arabic tattoo to white mothers seeking out trendy Arabic baby names, there are numerous examples of how Arabic is made palatable to the white gaze. At the same time, you will find horror stories of students detained for carrying flashcards and study materials in Arabic on a plane, or of a Brooklyn father stabbed by two teenagers who overheard him speaking in Arabic while walking home with his wife and 8-year-old son.
I have a non-trendy classic name which is still reasonably popular, and not only has it failed to provide me with a magically charmed life where nothing ever went wrong, its impact has been minimal at best. Meanwhile, my peers with the trendy names of our generation, such as Jodi and Jason, don’t seem to have had their lives ruined by their names.
I am a Showa-born man, and here’s my pet peeve: This year, only three girl names ending with “ko” made the top 100 list. Back when I was a schoolboy, the mimeographed list of the names of kids in my class was full of girl names ending with “ko.”
Shigehiko Toyama, a scholar of English literature, once recalled this episode: One day, he received a letter from an American person he had never met, and the envelope was addressed to “Miss Shigehiko Toyama.” He understood the reason immediately. This American had some knowledge of things Japanese, and must have presumed Toyama was a woman because his given name ends with “ko.” An episode such as this is now part of ancient history.
From The Women’s Suffrage Movement: A Reference Guide 1866-1928 (2003) By Elizabeth Crawford:
Lamb, Aeta Adelaide (1886-1928) Born in Demerara, where her father was a botanist; she was named Aeta after a palm he had discovered there.
Demerara was a colony in British Guiana, and aeta (or æta) palm refers to Mauritia flexuosa, a South American palm tree.
Want to see more quotes like these? Check out the name quotes category.
In January of 2002, University of Kansas basketball fan Scott Schlesener made a deal with his wife Jodi. If the Jayhawks ended up winning the national championship that spring, “they’d name their fifth child after sharp-shooting guard Jeff Boschee.”
Jodi, who didn’t think the Jayhawks would win, thought it was safe to make the deal — though she had the presence of mind to make sure they were talking about the baby’s middle name and not her first name.
The baby girl was born March 21. Even though the NCAA tournament wouldn’t be decided until April 1, they went ahead and named their daughter Deavynn Boschee Christine Schlesener.
And they kept the name even after the Jayhawks lost to the Maryland Terrapins in the semifinals. (The Indiana Hoosiers won the championship that year.)
Source: “Parents Name Baby After KU’s Boschee.” Fort Scott Tribune 26 Mar. 2002: 9.
Ask White if she still drives and she replies, “Of course!” She owns a silver Cadillac nicknamed Seagull. “I love Cadillacs and name them after birds.” Her previous ride, the pale-yellow Canary, was preceded by the green Parakeet.
“If innovative birth names first appear as expressions of cultural capital, then liberal elites are most likely to popularize them, especially given that liberals are typically more comfortable embracing novelty and differentiation,” the study said. “Sometime afterwards, the name will diminish as a prestige symbol as lower classes begin adopting more of these names themselves thus sending liberal elites in search of ever new and obscure markers.”
When elite liberal parents do search for novelty, the authors write, they are “less likely to make up a name rather than choose a pre-existing word that is culturally esoteric (e.g., ‘Namaste,’ ‘Finnegan,’ ‘Archimedes’), because fabricating a name would diminish its cultural cachet.”
After all, they note, “the value of cultural capital comes, not from its uniqueness, but from its very obscurity.”
“With our first we did not keep the name a secret. We told everyone. Then at 36 weeks, my cousin got a puppy which she named the same name as I had picked for our baby. When I asked why she used the name she choose she said she had heard it somewhere and really liked it but couldn’t remember where. I was devastated. Baby ended up coming at 37 weeks and we had not yet picked a new name! After that we kept the names quiet until they were born.” – Nicole Storms
Last month, on the blog he writes for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates explained the origin of his first name:
[F]or the record Ta-Nehisi (pronounced Tah-Nuh-Hah-See) is an Egyptian name for ancient Nubia. I came up in a time when African/Arabic names were just becoming popular among black parents. I had a lot of buddies named Kwame, Kofi, Malik (actually have a brother with that name), Akilah and Aisha. My Dad had to be different, though. Couldn’t just give me a run of the mill African name. I had to be a nation.
Coates’s father was a former Black Panther who raised seven children by four mothers, while running an underground Afro-centric publishing house from his basement. When Bill Cosby complained about black parents naming their children “Shaniqua, Taniqua and Mohammed and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail,” he may very well have been thinking of Paul Coates.
I was watching the Little League World Series the other day and the team from New Castle, Indiana has a great bunch of kids and much to be proud of.
But, unfortunately, that wasn’t what I noticed first about them. What I noticed was the first names of their lineup card: Mason, Janson, Cayden, Hunter, Niah, Bryce, Jarred, Blake, and Bryce (again).
So no John? No Jimmy, Bobby, Richard, or Chris? There’s nothing wrong with their names — like I said, their parents should be bursting with pride — but, as an apprentice old fogey, it’s hard to get used to.
I myself was named after Craig Breedlove, a daredevil who broke all sorts of land speed records in what was pretty much a rocket on wheels. I absolutely love my name and am proud of my namesake, but I always feel I’m letting Mr. Breedlove down when I putter along Route 3 at 55 miles per hour, content to listen to sports radio and let the world pass me by.