The Evolution of Names

Baby names
Image created by Hannah Amburn.

by Hannah Amburn and Turner Carter

Naming a child is a very exciting but stressful time for new parents. There are millions of names in the world and parents can only choose one.

Some are pretty creative.  For example, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West just named their newborn son Saint West. Actors Busy Williams and Marc Silverstein named their two kids Birdie and Cricket, and let’s not forget that Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter Apple back in 2004.

Names hold power and sometimes can even bring bad connotations.

“I have never met a nice Brandy,” said Jennifer Tuttle, a bookkeeper at Greenbrier Lighting.

In America, baby names seem to follow a pattern. During the 1800s to about the 1950s most baby names have been traditional and biblical. The most popular boy names being John and James, whereas the most popular girl names were Mary and Elizabeth. Around 1970 the baby names took a new turn and became more original and diverse. Names like Tammy and Kimberly became popular names for girls and Jeffery and Brain became popular for boys.  

After the 1970s parents began to split with some naming their kids traditional/biblical names such as Sarah or Michael, and others staying with more modern names like Jennifer or Richard which became popular.

This had to do in part with the changes in modern thinking and the fact that American society no longer revolves around the Christian religion. When it comes to naming children religion can still play a large role. Many Catholics and Christians name their children after people in the Bible.

Parents also tend to name their children based on heritage and family traditions. William Moses Shubert IV, a senior at Bishop Sullivan, comes from a long line of William Moses Shuberts.

“My great grandfather’s name was William Moses Shubert and then he named his son William Shubert and so on,” said Mr. Shubert. He hopes to keep up the family tradition by naming his future son William Moses Shubert V.   

It seems as though every 30-50 years parents go back to either traditional/biblical names or modern names for a decade.

It wasn’t until 2010s that parents really experimented with baby names. Some names like Paris or Skylar became popular. So far in the early 2000s Sophia, Charlotte, Emma, Riley, Ryan and Aiden have been the most popular every decade. Nowadays there are many more gender-neutral names that guys and girls share.  

Media can also play a role in parents naming their children. Some individuals are named after a character in a movie or after a name in a song. Some parents named their sons Ben after Michael Jackson’s song “Ben” and the song “Sweet Virginia” from the Rolling stones inspired some to name their daughters Virginia.  

The names George and Charlotte made a huge comeback after Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge named their royal children George and Charlotte.

Everyone in the world has a name and it is always interesting to see what names people choose for their children and where they got the idea. The top ten names for boys and girls in 1910 is completely different from the top ten names in 2010. It is fascinating to see the different trends in names over the decades. Who knows what the names of 3010 could be.  



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