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.
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?
Which boy names increased the most in popularity from 2015 to 2016? And which ones decreased the most?
The U.S. SSA likes to answer this question by analyzing ranking differences within the top 1,000. I prefer to answer it by looking at raw number differences, and to take the full list into account. So let’s check out the results using both methods…
Boy Names: Biggest Increases, 2015 to 2016
1. Kylo, +2,368 spots — up from 3,269th to 901st
2. Creed, +370 spots — up from 1,352nd to 982nd
3. Benicio, +356 spots — up from 1,331st to 975th
4. Adonis, +307 spots — up from 701st to 394th
5. Fox, +288 spots — up from 1034th to 746th
6. Kye, +281 spots — up from 984th to 703rd
7. Hakeem, +256 spots — up from 1,161st to 905th
8. Shepherd, +242 spots — up from 1,105th to 863rd
9. Wilder, +238 spots — up from 961st to 723rd
10. Zayn, +222 spots — up from 643rd to 421st
Kylo was influenced by the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
Creed and Adonis were influenced by the movie Creed (2015).
Hakeem was influenced by the TV show Empire (2015-). So was Bryshere, which debuted last year.
Wilder could have been influenced by either Gene Wilder or by boxer Deontay Wilder, or both. (Or neither.)
Zayn was influenced by British singer/songwriter Zain “Zayn” Malik.
1. Mateo, +1,516 baby boys — up from 5,010 to 6,526
2. Oliver, +1,340 baby boys — up from 11,635 to 12,975
3. Bryson, +1,239 baby boys — up from 3,094 to 4,333
4. Lincoln, +1,094 baby boys — up from 5,982 to 7,076
5. Benjamin, +899 baby boys — up from 13,670 to 14,569
6. Grayson, +735 baby boys — up from 7,887 to 8,622
7. Theodore, +723 baby boys — up from 4,136 to 4,859
8. Greyson, +704 baby boys — up from 3,591 to 4,295
9. Leo, +678 baby boys — up from 4,582 to 5,260
10. Maverick, +675 baby boys — up from 2,265 to 2,940
Other names that saw raw number increases in the 200+ range included Owen, Sebastian, Ezekiel, Lucas, Ezra, Leonardo, Santiago, Conor, Gael, Everett, Rhett, Jameson, Killian, Tobias, Arlo, Easton, Finn, Rowan, Elias, Asher, Calvin, Thiago, Bodhi, Legend, Lukas, River, Elliot, Harrison, Roman, Adriel, Paxton, Julian, Ace, Josiah, Waylon, Messiah, Nash, Ellis, Matias, George, Barrett, Connor, Wade, Kyrie, Milo, Amir, Bennett, Elliott, Silas, Matteo, and Axel.
Rowan is rising quickly for both boys and girls right now.
Kyrie, which was once given primarily to girls, is now being given primarily for boys thanks to basketball player Kyrie Irving.
Boy Names: Biggest Decreases, 2015 to 2016
1. Jonael, -475 spots — down from 921st to 1,396th
2. Aaden, -239 spots — down from 784th to 1,023rd
3. Triston, -230 spots — down from 957th to 1,187th
4. Freddy, -222 spots — down from 993rd to 1,215th
5. Yaakov, -213 spots — down from 992nd to 1,205th
6. Braeden, -203 spots — down from 792nd to 995th
7. Chace, -202 spots — down from 935th to 1,137th
8. Brantlee, -176 spots — down from 777th to 953rd
9. Gannon, -173 spots — down from 533rd to 706th
10. Robin, -171 spots — down from 969th to 1,140th
The name Jonael got a lot of exposure in 2015 thanks to 11-year-old Puerto Rican singer Jonael Santiago, who won the 3rd season of La Voz Kids, which aired from March to June. It didn’t get as much exposure in 2016, which accounts for the drop in usage.
1. Logan, -1,697 baby boys (12,897 to 11,200)
2. Jacob, -1,498 baby boys (15,914 to 14,416)
3. Jayden, -1,455 baby boys (11,518 to 10,063)
4. Mason, -1,399 baby boys (16,591 to 15,192)
5. Ethan, -1,291 baby boys — down from 15,049 to 13,758
6. Aiden, -1,271 baby boys (13,429 to 12,158)
7. Alexander, -1,186 baby boys (14,507 to 13,321)
8. Jackson, -1,032 baby boys (12,242 to 11,210)
9. Brandon, -1,024 baby boys (5,100 to 4,076)
10. Blake, -951 baby boys (4,220 to 3,269)
Unlike Rowan, Blake is falling on the boys’ list, but rising on the girls’ list. In fact, the graph (right) makes a gender switch look inevitable. This is not something I would have anticipated a decade ago, before the emergence of Blake Lively.
Other names that saw raw number drops in the 200+ range included Landon, Caleb, Gavin, Anthony, Christopher, Andrew, David, Parker, Colton, Jase, Hunter, Brody, Brantley, Gabriel, Jonathan, Jordan, Tyler, Kevin, Nathan, Joshua, Carter, Daniel, Joseph, Dylan, Christian, Noah, Angel, Brayden, Iker, Chase, Nicholas, Austin, Dominic, Camden, John, Ayden, Michael, Colin, Bryan, Riley, Kyle, Hayden, Bradley, Nathaniel, Jake, Samuel, Luke, Cayden, Evan, Zachary, Steven, Kaden, Cooper, Marcus, Ryan, Tristan, Bryce, Ryder, Micah, Brady, Bentley, Kaleb, Levi, Alex, Conner, Jeremy, Isaac, Ian, Gage, Brian, Kayden, Jaden, Carlos, Sean, Jeremiah, Abel, Devin, Adrian, Giovanni, Garrett, and Adam.
Jase has seen a dramatic rise and fall over the last few years: big gains in 2012 and 2013, followed by big losses in 2014, 2015, and now 2016.
Similarly, Iker was on the rise for a while, with partcularly big leaps in 2011 and 2012, but usage is now on the wane.
Do you have any other explanations/guesses about any of the names above? If so, please leave a comment.
(In 2015, the big winners were Oliver and Riaan, and the big losers were Jase and Arnav.)
Many of the earliest English surnames referred to places: places of birth, places of residence, workplaces, and so forth. These location-based surnames ranged from very broad descriptions (e.g., a cardinal point) to very narrow ones (e.g., a tree, a field).
Tash is one of the latter. It was derived from the Middle English phrase atten asche, meaning “at the ash (tree).”
The Middle English word asche comes from the Old English word æsc, which mainly referred to the tree, but in certain contexts also meant “spear.” Ash wood was a particularly popular wood for spear-shafts, as it’s both strong and flexible.
(This strong-but-flexible quality also made ash an in-demand construction material during the early days of automobiles and airplanes. The very first airplane, the 1903 Wright Flyer, was made of ash and spruce.)
Here’s an early example of “atten Asche” being used as a surname: in 1326, a man named William atten Asche received one-and-a-half acres land in Walton (now part of Aylesbury) from a man named John atte Grene.
Surnames became hereditary in England during the centuries following the Norman Conquest. As the phrase “atten Asche” was passed down to successive generations, it evolved into diverse forms.
Modern surnames that can ultimately be traced back to “atten Asche” include not only Tash but also Ash, Ashe, Nash, Nashe, Nayshe, Naish, Tashe, Tasch, Tasche, Tesh, Tesche and Tosh.
Of these, Nash is the one that occurs most frequently in the United States. It’s followed by Ash and Ashe. Tash, in comparison, is much less common.
So has the surname Tash ever been used as a first name?
Yes, but rarely. The baby name Tash has only appeared on the national list a handful of times: exactly 3 times as a girl name and 3 times as a boy name. And only one of those appearances has happened since the turn of the century:
2012: 5 baby boys named Tash
This means that the name Tash is usually given to fewer than 5 baby boys and fewer than 5 baby girls per year in the U.S.
The rarity of Tash as a standalone first name (as opposed to a nickname for Natasha, Latasha, etc.) possibly reflects its rarity as a surname. In other words, parents may be opting for Tash less often than Nash, Ash and Ashe simply because they aren’t aware that it exists.
This makes me think there’s some untapped potential here, as -ash names in general have become trendy within the last few years. Right now there are four -ash names in the boys’ top 1,000: