The name Bear was just barely being used before adventurer Bear Grylls (birth name: Edward Grylls) came to our attention via the TV series Man vs. Wild (2006-2011).
Since then, usage has increased steadily — both among regular folks and among celebrities:
2017: English musician Liam Payne had son Bear Grey
2017: English musician Howard Donald had son Dougie Bear
2013: English actress Kate Winslet had son Bear Blaze
2011: American actress Alicia Silverstone had son Bear Blu
2010: English chef Jamie Oliver had son Buddy Bear Maurice
In the U.S., the baby name Bear is currently sitting just outside the top 1,000:
2016: 186 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,055th]
2015: 134 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,311th]
2014: 131 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,327th]
2013: 84 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,730th]
2012: 79 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,845th]
2011: 85 baby boys named Bear [rank: 1,728th]
The England and Wales data for 2016 isn’t out yet, but Bear entered the top 1,000* there in 2015:
2015: 36 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 859th]
2014: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank: 1,330th]
2013: 15 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,546th]
2012: 19 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 1,319th]
2011: 7 baby boys named Bear in E/W [rank 2,650th]
But this data only accounts for first names. The principal usage for Bear could be happening under the radar, with middles. Two of the celebs above used Bear as a middle, and so did this Canadian couple who hit on a bear on the way to the delivery room. And don’t forget American actress Zooey Deschanel, who didn’t opt for Bear, but did give her kids the animal-middles Otter and Wolf.
Do you like Bear as a baby name? How high do you think it will climb on the U.S. charts?
*I assigned rankings to the E/W names the same way the SSA assigns rankings — breaking ties by assigning rank in alphabetical order.
I’m in the middle of Alfred Lansing’s 1959 book Endurance, which tells the story of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917).
One intriguing detail Lansing mentions early on is that, of the 5,000+ people who applied to be part of the expedition, three were women: Peggy Pegrine, Valerie Davey, and Betty Webster.
They applied together in a single letter dated January 11, 1914. In the letter, they referred to themselves as “three sporty girls” who were “willing to undergo any hardships that you yourselves undergo.”
The names of these “sporty girls” aren’t particularly sporty, but which of the three — Peggy, Valerie, or Betty — do you like best?
While looking for facts on Faron, I unearthed a Werly:
I think the song “It’s a Cold Weary World” should have been titled “It’s a Cold Werly World” instead. I bet Werly himself would have appreciated the wordplay — after all, another song he wrote was called “Love Spelled Backwards Is Evol” and a label he later launched was called Whirlybird.
Werly Fairburn was a rockabilly musician born in Louisiana in 1924. His birth name was Lewi Werly Fairburn, but evidently he preferred his middle name.
Speaking of preferences…if you were having a son, and you had to name him either Werly or Faron, which would it be?
Entrances are typically guarded by lions. But in downtown Denver, I’ve found an entrance guarded by a pair of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep:
The entrance is to the Byron White Courthouse on 18th Street, and the rams were sculpted by Gladys Caldwell Fisher in 1936, making them a few decades younger than the NYPL lions.
I wondered whether the rams had names, so I emailed the courthouse. I was told that the sculptures are titled “White Ram” and “Rocky Mountain Sheep” — but no one knows which is which.
Titles aren’t names, though. So let’s come up with some potential names for these rams, shall we?
Should they be virtue names (like Patience & Fortitude)? Should they be symbolic of the city or state in some way (Pike & Peak; Cheech & Chong)? Should they just be random (Mario & Luigi)? Leave a comment with your ideas…
The baby name Unicorn: Ridiculous? Inevitable? Both?
I’m not asking because I think Unicorn should become a baby name. I’m asking because I think there’s an outside chance that it could see some usage this year, thanks to the sudden trendiness of unicorns.
The word “unicorn” is being used to market all manner of colorful, sparkly products at the moment. In fact, Google searches for “unicorn” hit an all-time high last month.
The word has also acquired some positive associations over the last few years. According to Elizabeth Segran of Fast Company, “unicorn” is now being used to denote uniqueness (e.g., unicorn startup, unicorn boyfriend) and also to signify anything “happy, fun-loving, and cute.”
So if this unicorn fad lasts long enough, and if American parents are daring enough, do you think we could see a Unicorn or two in the birth announcements this year?
For the record, Unicorn has been used as a name in the U.S. before, but only a handful of times. The youngest I found was a male born in the ’90s with the middle name Unicorn.
Mythical creature names (like Phoenix, Griffin, and Dragon) — not to mention real-life creature names (like Bear, Fox, Wolf, and Wren) — are on the rise right now. So what are the odds that we’ll see some some baby Unicorns in 2017?