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.
In late 2007, Greenpeace held a competition to name some endangered humpback whales in the South Pacific Ocean.
After gathering over 11,000 suggestions from people across the globe, the organization narrowed it down to just 30 contenders:
Mister Splashy Pants
When the polls opened, the rule was one vote per person. But things didn’t go quite as planned.
An anonymous voter in Arizona disabled cookies on his/her computer and was able to cast thousands of votes for Mister Splashy Pants early on.
This attracted the attention of various websites (Digg, Reddit, BoingBoing, Fark, etc.) which led to even more votes for Mister Splashy Pants.
Mister Splashy Pants ended up winning by a landslide, with over 78% of the vote. In 2nd place was Humphrey, with less than 3%.
…Though I love the name “Mister Splashy Pants” (reminds me of Sparklemuffin!), let’s pretend Greenpeace had disqualified MSP mid-competition. Out of the 29 remaining names, which one would you have voted for?
Today’s interview is with Maia, a 40 year old from Montreal, Canada.
How did she get her name?
My parents had friends with a daughter named Mira, a name they both liked. Mira’s parents mentioned that another name they had considered was Maia. My parents were apparently instantly sold on it and that was that.
What does she like most about her name?
I love that my name is short and feminine without being over-the-top frilly. I love that it comes from Greek mythology, and that it works well cross-culturally. When I was growing up it was an unusual name, but not so unusual as to baffle people.
What does she like least about her name?
My name sometimes gets mispronounced as Mia, or confused with Maria, but this hasn’t been a major issue.
Would Maia recommend that her name be given to babies today?
Maya and Maia are now quite popular, and they fit into the larger trend of short, vowelly names like Lila, Ava, Mia, Ella etc., so I wouldn’t suggest Maia to parents who are looking for something really out of the ordinary. However, a little Maia would certainly not be out of place today and I’ve had many positive reactions to my name as far back as I can remember, so I’d recommend it based on that. It could also be an interesting choice as a middle name.
Thank you, Maia!
P.S. Want to see how popular the name Maia has been in the U.S. recently?
A reader named Carin recently e-mailed me. She and her husband are expecting a baby in December, and they’d like help coming up with a name. Carin says:
We live in England, but I’m Swedish and my husband is of Indian background (born in England). We’d like to find a name that’s got Indian or Scandinavian background, but is still easy to pronounce in English. At the moment we’ve come up with Siri (Swedish) or Millie/Mili for a girl, and Alek or Sameer for boy. However, they don’t feel completely right! If you have any suggestions, I’d be very grateful!
I like that Carin and her husband are zeroing in on short, simple names. I think that makes a lot of sense in this case. Here are some similar suggestions:
(For each gender, Swedish names are on the left and Indian names are on the right.)
What other names can you come up with?
Update, 6/03 – The baby girl is here! Check the comments to find out what her name is…
If you like the idea of anagrams but want to avoid sound-alike sets, I recommend anagrams with different numbers of syllables. Pairs like “Etta and Tate” and “Clay and Lacy” are a far more subtle than pairs like “Enzo and Zeno” and “Mary and Myra.”