|Stephen Peacocke portrays Darryl "Brax" Braxton on 'Home and Away'|
If you've visited Waltzing More Than Matilda recently, you would have seen Anna's great analysis of what names are doing state by state here in Australia. It's a great way to see what names moved up, down, and in during 2012. And it seems that one name in particular has emerged as the mover and shaker of boys names in the past year - Braxton.
Braxton is an English name meaning 'Bracca's town' or 'Brock's settlement'. It was a top mover last year in all of the states that have released 2012 baby name data - in South Australia alone it moved an impressive 57 places to become their 44th most popular name. As a big mover in individual states, I'm sure this will be reflected in the results for Australia when they are released.
So what is it about Braxton that gave it such a boost in 2012?
Well, it's probably benefiting from a great combination of the "X" factor and the 2-syllable-ends-with-an-on/en-sound trend that has proved to be popular with boy names in recent years (think Jaden, Mason or Camden). But it's not the only name that benefits from these features. And my first associations with this name were Braxton Hicks contractions, or former Victorian State Premier Steve Bracks. Not exactly great baby naming inspiration.
Then I realised what I was missing. I don't watch 'Home And Away'! For the benefit of those of you who have not grown up or lived in Australia, 'Home and Away' is a long running Australian soap based in a fictional beach side town called Summer Bay. And in 2011 Darryl "Brax" Braxton (played by Stephen Peacocke) became a central character on the show. I can't tell you much about Brax as I don't watch the show, but basically he is a tough surfer type. He's fiercely loyal, a bit of a local hero, and determined to make a better life for himself and those he cares about. I can see how qualities like this would appeal to people, and must admit the nickname Brax is pretty cool.
Braxton has also been quite popular in the US - it's been in the charts every year since 1908, entering the top 1000 in 1985. It's popularity continues to grow, and in 2011 it was the 153rd most popular boys name in America. It also started charting for girls in 1994, but still remains quite rare for girls, positioned at #5048 in 2011.
Some people may dislike the sound of it, saying that all they can think of is Braxton Hicks, but clearly this is not a problem for everyone. I personally think it just sounds strong and cool, and almost preppy (I think that's the ton ending speaking to me). I can also see it working for girls similarly to the way names such as Alex, Alexis or Max do.
It will be interesting to see if Braxton has staying power, especially here in Australia once the character inevitably leaves 'Home and Away' and is no longer a part of viewers daily lives. For now though, there's no denying that Braxton's star is on the rise.