Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ken - not just Barbie's boyfriend

Barbie and Ken making eyes at each other in 'Toy Story 3'

I've recently been referred to a blog by a man named Kenney. At first I was a little confused, as it's not a naming related blog. But then it became a little clearer - you see, Kenney really likes his name. Really, really likes his name. So much that he has devoted several posts to famous Kens and Kennys from all walks of life, such as authors, politicians, actors and singers.

Admittedly, Ken or Kenny is not really a name that I would normally consider. My main associations with the name are Barbie's boyfriend, saxophonist Kenny G (who always seemed a little wimpy to me) and a great uncle Ken (Kenneth) that I barely remember. So to me it felt a little "soft" and dated.

But Kenneys' obvious enthusiasm for his name stuck in my head. Then recently while I was having a look at the list of names I keep for potential upcoming posts, I realised that while I'm not a fan of Ken or Kenny, I actually have my eyes on a few Ken related names. I guess I just prefer a less traditional path to Ken. There are a surprisingly large number of names starting with Ken, such as  Kent, Kendra, Kenzie, Kenlee, Kennedy, Kenzo, Kendrew, Kenway, Kennelly, Kensington and Kenisha. But the next three would have to be my current favourites.

Kenyon - I find myself strangely attracted to Kenyon. It has quite an earthy, spiritual feel to it, maybe because of it's similarity to both the word canyon and the East African country Kenya. While Kenyon may feel like a new, possibly made up name, it actually has roots in Gaelic, and means 'blond' or 'white haired'. Not very exciting, I know. It also has a history of use in the US since 1914 for boys and 1969 for girls. While for boys it has entered the top 1000 a number of times, it spends more time skirting around just outside the top 1000. It's usage is much rarer for girls.

Kendall - not so strange anymore thanks to a younger Kardashian (well, technically Jenner) sister, Kendall is a great example of a  Ken-surname-turned-versatile-unisex-name. Kendall is an Old English name meaning 'of the Kent river valley'. Kendall first entered the US charts for boys in 1906, and has been in the top 1000 since the 1920's. For girls it first charted in 1929, and despite a few appearances in the top 1000 it wasn't a consistent performer until 1980. In 1993 female Kendalls started outnumbering the boys, and in 2011 it was positioned at #123 for girls and #606 for boys.

Kendrick - Kendrick has a definite strong male feel to me, maybe because it contains Ken and Rick, both traditional male names. Obviously, this would be a fantastic choice for anyone wishing to honour both a Ken/Kenny/Kenneth and a Rick or Richard at the same time, while still having a quite "modern" sounding name. The origins of Kendrick are unsure, but it seems to be an English/Scottish name meaning 'royal ruler, champion'. Kendrick first hit the US charts for boys in 1912, and peaked in the 80's around the #320 position. And while I'd probably steer clear of it for girls, it has been given to a handful of girls most years since the 1970's.

It's interesting to note that all three of these variations first appeared in the US charts (for boys) between 1906 and 1914, a fairly narrow window. I thought that maybe Ken was peaking at this time and people were interested in alternatives, but Ken itself was only just appearing at this time too. However it was the more formal Kenneth that was extremely popular at this time. A Gaelic/English name with the romantic meaning 'born of fire, handsome', Kenneth ranked #170 in America in 2011, and was a top 100 name from 1898 to 2001. So I guess that makes it "King of the Kens"!

However you like Ken, there are plenty of alternatives if you just can't get over the Barbie reference. What would be your pick for the "King of the Kens"?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Lily Collins plays Collins in 'The Blind Side'

They're playing 'The Blind Side' on TV tonight. I remember being so touched when I first saw this movie a couple of years ago, and even more so to know that this is based on a real family. Movies like this renew your faith that there are good, kind, generous people in the world. And Sandra Bullock did such a good job of playing the matriarch of the family, Leigh Anne Tuohy, that she won the best actress Oscar that year.

But I'm not going to gush about the movie too much, just about one of the names spotted in the movie. Early in the movie, there's a scene when Leigh Anne arrives at her daughters volleyball game and shouts encouragement to her. I did a bit of a double take, because I had forgotten that the daughters name is Collins. Thanks to the magic of the Internet, I double checked and yes, that is the name of her daughter.

Since Collins' younger brother Sean was named after their father, I thought that perhaps Collins was Leigh Anne's maiden name perhaps. But no, Leigh Anne's maiden name is Roberts, so there went that theory. Nevertheless, I'm guessing that a Collins can be found in their family tree somewhere, especially as it's not particularly unusual to use family surnames as given names in the Southern US States. And fun fact - in the movie, Collins is played by actress Lily Collins. I guess that would have made things easy on set!

This name caught my attention mainly because it sounds more like a preppy boys name at first, and seeing it on a girls made me do a double take. It would definitely get confused with Colin/Collin a lot. But the instant after that thought, I thought it sounded like a spunky (and still a little preppy, which I like) choice for a girl.

Traditionally a surname, Collins fits right in with current unisex surname trends, but has so far gone largely overlooked. It has been modestly used for boys in the US, and occasionally for girls (which increased a lot after 'The Blind Side' was released), but hasn't cracked the top 1000 for boys since 1909. Or ever for girls.

There's a little confusion as to the origin and meaning of Collins. Different sources say that it's:

  • an Irish/Gaelic name meaning 'holly'
  • a Scottish variant of Colin, meaning 'young creature' or 'pup'
  • a shorter variant of the Greek name Nicolas, meaning 'people of victory'. 

If you're using it to honour a family member though, having one definitive meaning doesn't really matter, as it will be what the original owner meant to you that will define what special meaning the name has for you.

While it's not for everyone, I quite like Collins for a boy or a girl. Admittedly if you're using it for a girl you'd probably want a more traditionally feminine middle name to pair with it. And you probably want to avoid it if your last name starts with an S. But for the right person and the right family, Collins could be a real gem.

Monday, February 18, 2013


I see a lot of movies every year, and one that really stuck in my head in 2012 was 'Argo'. We came close to almost not seeing this one at the cinemas. We had some Gold Class vouchers that we had less than a week to use, and there weren't any seats available for 'Skyfall' (it was in its opening week), so we went to 'Argo' instead. It was a great choice, and I loved it. Ben Affleck did an outstanding job, both with the acting and the directing, and it's great to see him receiving so many accolades at the awards this season. Fingers crossed for the Oscars on Sunday!

I'm sure I can't be the only name enthusiast who walked out of the cinema thinking "you know what, Argo would make a really cool name". I can see it working best for a boy, particularly due to it's "o" ending and due to it's similarity to Arlo. Arlo has been getting quite a bit of attention recently. In 2011 it slipped back into the US top 1000, after an absence of just over 60 years. But for some reason I have found it hard to get on the Arlo train (so to speak), whereas Argo is a name I would love to see more of.

If you haven't seen the movie yet, 'Argo' is the title of the fictional movie used as the cover to get the escapees from the hostage standoff at the American embassy in Tehran out of Iran and on a flight to America. The concept is that it is a science fiction retelling of the Greek mythological hero Jason, whose famous quest was the search for the Golden Fleece. Jason was supported by a group of heroes otherwise known as the Argonauts. This literally meant 'Argo sailors', as their ship was christened Argo for its builder Argus.

Argus/Argos is a Greek name meaning 'vigilant guardian', so as a derivative I would assume that Argo has the same meaning. Argo has only charted four times in the US, and it seems that at the time it was popular there was a company in the US called Argo Electric Vehicle Company. Coincidence maybe, or perhaps naming a child for a luxury car is a phenomenon that is not as new as we like to think.

Argos has never charted, but the original form Argus first charted the same year Argo did (1912) and managed to hang around much longer than the short lived Argo. I'd be interested to know how these names fare in Greece.

While I can see a lot of positives to Argo, it could be said that the name is virtually unusable at the moment as people would only associate it with the movie. But Argo makes me think of that other famous two-syllable, ends in "o", mythology based movie name/title, 'Juno'. 'Juno' hit screens in 2007, and was a massive hit for first time writer Diablo Cody. Juno had charted once in the first half of the 1900's, and was just starting to see some increased (bu still rare) use for both boys and girls when the movie was released. Since 'Juno', use of the name has increased quite a bit for girls, although it has decreased for boys somewhat.

I'm guessing give it a couple of years and we'll start seeing Argo re-appearing in birth announcements. It feels like it could be the next cool hipster/bohemian name, or would feel right at home in a mythological or  "heroic" sibset. And now thanks to the movie, it even has a little sci-fi geek cred. Or maybe it just appeals to you as the little name that could - the movie concept that reportedly helped to rescue a group of innocent people when the odds seemed to be stacked against them.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Looking for a subtler Valentines Day name than - well - Valentine? Then how about a sneaky love related name - Clover. In case this question has left you a little baffled (what does Clover have to do with Valentine's Day?), let me spell it out for you. C - L - O - V - E - R. Yes, Clover contains the words love and lover, making it a romantic but not soppy choice.

Clover is a name you might have been hearing a bit of buzz about lately. In 2012 it famously got some celebrity endorsement when Barry Watson and Natasha Gregson Wagner named their daughter Clover Clementyne. They were inspired by one of Natasha's mother's most iconic films, 'Inside Daisy Clover'. Neal McDonough has also used it for his daughter, and skater Tony Hawk used it as a middle name for his daughter Kadence Clover. 

Almost surprisingly, Clover has quite a history of use, appearing on the American charts for girls sporadically since 1897, and occasionally appearing for boys too. It has made the rare appearance in classic books too, such as Katy's younger sister in 'What Katy Did' by Susan Coolidge. However it has also appeared as an animals name in both George Orwells 'Animal Farm' (as a horse) and Richard Adams' 'Watership Down' (as a rabbit).

In fact, it does seem like it was not that long ago that the idea of Clover on a person would have seemed like a silly suggestion, feeling more like a name given to a pet than your daughter. But as quirky nature names have been rising in popularity, Clover now seems sweet, friendly and super cute. 

It's an English nature word meaning 'meadow flower', and seems a much more humble, earthy choice than exotic bloom names like Orchid, a far less popular one than Lily, and a fresher alternative to Rose or Daisy. Clover is also traditionally recognised as a symbol of luck, wealth and comfort. I like to think a girl would be delighted to be told that her name is associated with love and luck. 

Clover - definitely worth more than a second look. Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Thomas Sabo Clover Charm

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Literary Persuasions

Love reading and writing? Love the idea of names inspired by this love? But it can be so hard to pick just one iconic writer, book or character that represents your tastes and what it is that you love so much about the world of fiction and prose. If you're someone trying to escape "can't see the forest for the trees" problem, how about some more general literary related names.

Author - if occupational names are in, why not Author? Possibly due to its similarity to Arthur, I could see this working best for a boy. It has in fact been used regularly in America, appearing in the US charts most years up until 1995, when it dropped off the charts not to be seen again. Maybe we feel it would be too much for a child to live up to these days because it is still a common career, whereas the more popular occupational names such as Piper, Hunter, Cooper or Archer are very rare in society today.

Fable - I adore Fable! It would be a great name for either gender. So far it has only charted for girls in America, and only in the recent years of 2008, 2010 and 2011. Each year it was given to fewer than ten babies. Fable is also the name of an action role playing video game, so has the cool advantages of a literary reference, classic feel, modern sound, and video game reference.

Journey - The Heroes Journey is generally accepted as a template for an effective storyline in a fictional tale. It also happens to be the name of a great (some may say legendary) rock band that has won a new generation of fans after their hit 'Don't Stop Believing' became the iconic song of the first season of 'Glee'. Another choice that works well for both genders, it has been gaining in popularity since 1981, and in 2011 was positioned #372 for girls and #2208 for boys.

Legend - OK, I'll admit this is a bit too over the top as a first name. But it makes a fantastic middle, up there with Danger. How cool would it be to say "My middle name is Legend"? Cheesy, yes, but cool. Legend first appeared in the US charts for boys in 1993, closely followed by the girls in 1994, and remains more popular for boys. In 2011 it was ranked #924 for boys, and #8867 for girls. I guess this is one case of a daring name that people are happier to use for boys.

Muse - The Muses of Greek mythology were the goddesses of inspiration for literature, science and the arts. These days, a Muse is a general term used for a person who inspires someone to do great artistic work. It is also the name of an English rock band, who were reportedly inspired by one of the band member's art teacher. They liked that it was short, looked good on a poster and reflected the way the band was formed. It is indeed a one syllable name, and has a unique sound amongst other one syllable names. Muse has only charted for boys, in the years 2005, 2010 and 2011, with parents preferring other versions such as Musetta or Musidora for their daughters.

Myth - Another cool one syllable name option. Unlike other fanciful sounding options here, Myth has never charted. Maybe because it could be hard for young children to pronounce. It does sound suspiciously like Miss with a lisp. Maybe not the most wearable choice here, but it would certainly be different. Mythic or Mythical may feel slightly more usable, but for now it's probably best that these remain middle name territory.

Novella - It might seem like I'm clutching at straws here, but I love the idea of Novella as a name. A novella is a short novel or a long short story (hmmm, is there something wrong with calling something long short?), but is also a Latin name meaning 'new', much like the name Nova. It actually has a long history of use for girls, and used to be a regular in the American charts from the 1880's to the early 1940's. Chances are good you may have a Novella in your family tree, and I think that with Nova on the rise Novella may not be far behind.

Page - It's generally accepted to have an occupational name origin, but taken literally as a page from a book it would be a great literary themed name. Paige is one of my all time favourites and is much more popular than this spelling. But without the "i" it feels a little more masculine, and more wearable for a boy.

Penn - Penn "Lonely Boy" Badgley shot to fame on 'Gossip Girl', and made the name Penn triple in use. Which meant it went from about 10 boys a year being named Penn to about 30 boys a year. This makes it pretty rare, but with the benefit of being recognisable, easy to spell and easy to pronounce. It also feels like one of the gentler 1 syllable boys names if you want simplicity without sharpness. And as we have all heard,  the Penn is mightier than the sword!

Penna - A feminine version of Penn, with the meaning 'feather'. I first saw this rarity on A Baby Name Per Day (now Once Upon A Time Baby Names) last year and it stuck in my head. I think it's pretty, sleek and classic-but-friendly sounding due to it's similarity to names like Jenna. Also a great (and pretty unique) nickname for names like Penelope. It has never appeared on the American charts.

Poet - admittedly not my favourite occupational name, but it does have a certain charm. So far it's preferred use is for girls, with it entering the charts in 2005 for girls but only appearing in 2007 and 2009 for boys. It's still very rare. Like Author, it's a good choice for a occupational name with a difference.

Quest - There aren't many Q names that I'm fond of, but Quest could be one of them. Quest has been in the American charts for boys since 1991. It "peaked" in 1998 when it was given to just 30 boys, and that year was the only year it has appeared in the charts for girls too. I think it could do much better though. It has a modern, almost futuristic sound and could be among the new generation of one syllable names. Quest feels closely related to Journey, and is also an oblique reference to adventure video games where characters often need to complete different quests to advance in the game.

Saga - this word name means a long involved story of heroic achievement, and comes from the Old Norse for 'seeing one'. It's been used rarely in the US, and when it has it's charted only as a girls name. This is influenced by Scandinavian countries, where Saga is a fairly popular name and also the name of a goddess in Norse mythology. A good choice if you want a literary related name with a mythological background and history of use but rare in most countries.

Sonnet - A pretty name that makes me think of love and songbirds. William Shakespeare famously wrote sonnets (a fourteen line poem with a specific rhyming pattern), as did many other famous poets. I've seen nickname Sunny suggested for this one, which is really lovely too. May cause confusion when in English class, but is a sweet name nonetheless. Historically it's only charted for girls, which I guess makes sense. If I'm thinking love and flowers other people probably do too.

Story - This is my favourite on this list, and even more so since I found I have a Story (surname) in my family tree. I also love the idea of Astoria nicknamed Story. It's been seen on boys and girls since the 70's, but it still a long, long way from the top 1000

Wright - sounds like write, but isn't. This surname is derived from Wainwright, which means 'wagon maker'. I love the look and it's preppy feel, and it actually has a long history of use for boys. Unfortunately though it also sounds like right, which could be a little hard to live with. Unless your child is headed for a career in law enforcement perhaps.

Whew! That ran a little longer than I expected, but there are some truly great gems here just begging to be used. I like the idea of these as a middle name theme for siblings perhaps, although some are too nice to be hidden as a middle name. Which ones are your favourites? Would you use them as first or middle names?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cooper & Mason

Occupational names don't have to mean a child has big shoes to fill.
Photo courtesy of GreatInspire.com

A good friend of mine gave birth to her second son last week! Baby Mason joins big brother Cooper, and Cooper looks just as proud as mum and dad - it's so sweet :)

As far as sibsets go, I love Cooper and Mason together. They are very well matched for a few reasons. Both are currently popular in Australia. Cooper is more popular here than in the US, while Mason is a less popular than the US, but here they are both top 20 names. Then of course they are both occupational names. And when so many occupational names end with "er", it's great to see two that match so well for style and popularity, but sound so individual.

Cooper means 'barrel maker' and as mentioned, Cooper is quite popular here in Australia. In 2011 it was positioned #6, which is fairly stable compared to the #7 position it held when this particular Cooper was born a few years ago. It enjoys a similar popularity in our close neighbour New Zealand (#12 in 2012), but is slightly less popular in the US, where it was #82 in 2011. It's also highly popular in Canada and Scotland.

I had a theory for a while that Cooper was getting popular as a name in the southern hemisphere because it is also the name of a popular brewery based in Adelaide South Australia, and it felt that as their beer started selling in the other states it started rising as a baby name. But I now think that is more like a coincidence - it's most likely it just gave it some extra exposure just as occupational names were on the rise (although it possibly helped to get approvals from fathers!). Cooper has also gotten a lot of exposure from other sources such as the Mario Brothers video games (remember the Koopas?), TV and movie characters (both as a last name and a first), singers, NFL players and actors (with Bradley Cooper being my favourite).

I think another aspect that has helped Cooper's popularity is the cool nickname Coop. Coop fits well with  the current rising trend of one syllable, strong sounding boys names. And then there's the super cute "super Cooper". These can more than make up for any "pooper scooper" references you may come across.

Mason has been a little less popular in Australia than Cooper has. He was #27 in 2011, and based on reports from their members, website babycenter.com is predicting that Mason rose in 2012. This was the case for New Zealand, where Mason rose from #15 in 2011 to #5 in 2012. In America, Mason entered the top 100 in 1997 and was already steadily rising when Kourtney Kardashian gave the name Mason to her first born in 2009. This gave the name an extra boost, sending it to #2 in America in 2011. It's also a top 100 name in Canada, England and Scotland.

Like Cooper, it has a great, strong sounding one syllable nickname in Mace. And also like Cooper, we are seeing it crop up in plenty of pop culture references. In particular, there are werewolf characters named Mason on both 'Wizards of Waverly Place' and 'The Vampire Diaries'.

Mason means 'worker in stone' and while it has a fairly unique sound for an occupational name, it has a very similar sound to past favourite Jason. People tend to love the meaning as they equate it with great strength and being a hard worker. It's thought by many to be a caring, smart, strong name for a handsome but modest guy.

It's a little hard to imagine at this point what name you could choose for subsequent children if you wanted to keep an occupational names with different sounds theme. Possible options could include Shepherd, Abbott, Bishop, Page/Paige, Reeve, Smith, Pilot, Poet, or even Wainwright. But then again, I'm not sure any of them have quite the same "current" feel as Cooper and Mason, so a third child might be the time to go down a "currently cool" path rather than surnames.

But that may be getting ahead of things a little bit. Cooper and Mason - a great sibset for any family :)

UPDATE - 15th Feb 2015

It seems we have an answer to the question of what would you name further siblings for Cooper and Mason. The friend that inspired this post gave birth to her third son this week, welcoming Archer into the world!

It's kind of nice to see them sticking with the theme, aptly labelled "medieval job names" by one of their other friends on Facebook. I remember Archer was actually one of the names being considered when she was pregnant with Cooper, so her and her husband have a very consistent taste and style. And they'll definitely have their hands full with three boys!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The Possum Magic Float in the 2010 Christmas Parade
 in Adelaide, South Australia

If you have been a child in Australia at any time since the 1980's, you're probably familiar with an author named Mem Fox. Mem (pronounced MEHM) is the author of best selling children's book 'Possum Magic', first published in 1983. She has of course published several more since then to become one of Australia's best loved children's authors, but 'Possum Magic' was the book that made her a household name for many. Her latest big success was 'Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes', which was an international hit and on the New York Times bestseller lists for 18 weeks in 2008-2009.

I guess growing up I just accepted that Mem was a name. Yes, I knew it was rare, but didn't really give it much more thought than than. A relative of ours (my mum's cousin's) named her daughter Mem, inspired by the author, so to me it was definitely a name. Cute side story, Mem's brother's are named Jed and Kip - such an adorable sibset!

Now that I have this blog, I remembered Mem and what an unusual name it is. It's not listed on any of the usual baby name sites, so there is no accepted origin and meaning for the name. Wikipedia however does tell us that the word Mem is the thirteenth letter of several early "alphabets", including Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic. It is thought that it comes from the Egyptian hieroglyph for water, so I guess you could say that Mem is a water related nature/word name.

This lead me to wondering how Mem came to be named, and it turns out that she has helpfully recorded a short note on how to pronounce her name and where it came from. I didn't previously know this, but it turns out that Mem is not actually her given name, but a shortening of her name that she chose when she was thirteen. Which just goes to show how powerful nicknames can be sometimes - I guess you never know when it will end up gracing the cover of a book and becoming more of an alter ego than just a mere pet name.

No matter how it came about, I love the idea of Mem as a short and spunky name. It has a pretty unique look and sound, and could work well for either a boy or a girl. And as we've already seen, it makes a great nickname if you prefer a longer name for the birth certificate Now I just wonder what Mem Fox's given name is........

Sunday, February 3, 2013


British Songwriter Charlotte O'Connor

In the year I was born, Charlotte was not exactly a hugely common name. It wasn't near the top 100 in Australia, and in America it was also firmly outside the top 100, ranked at #285. Yet I remember loving the name Charlotte as a child, and apparently I wasn't alone. Fast forward to 2011 and Charlotte is placed #7 in Australia, #27 in America, #5 in New Zealand, and #21 in the UK. It's also a top 100 name in Belgium, Canada, Germany, Scotland and Ireland. It's been caught up in the wave of names that were once felt to be too "old-fashioned", but are now being embraced by parents (for more examples of these types of name, check out this article at babysitting.net).

So what is it about Charlotte that has caused people to fall in love with it all over again? Well, a lot actually.

Great Literary References
A good friend of mine is in love with Charlotte. She has been for a long time, and despairs when she hears of people she knows using it before she has the chance to. Her inspiration comes from Charlotte Lucas - not the actor, but the best friend of Elizabeth Bennett in 'Pride and Prejudice'. Charlotte's character is practical and logical, in contrast to the daring Elizabeth.

Other popular literary references include Charlotte the ingenious spider who finds a way to save the life of her pig friend Wilbur in 'Charlotte's Web'; and author of 'Jane Eyre', Charlotte Bronte. In these examples we see Charlotte as gentle, clever, strong willed, caring, practical, restrained and lady like.

And Musical References
Charlotte has appeared in songs, on songwriters and singers. Rock band 'Good Charlotte''s name was reportedly inspired by the book 'Charlotte's Web'.

A Regal Namesake
Queen Charlotte was the wife of British King George III. Admittedly, from a the couple of portraits I've seen she is not a dazzling beauty. But she bore the King 15 children (13 of which made it to adulthood) which would have been a sign of supreme womanhood and success in a time when a Queen's main "job" was to provide the King with heirs. She was a famous patron of the arts and her love of botany helped enrich and expand Kew Gardens. She was a friend to Marie Antoinette, and the beautiful Bird of Paradise flower was named in her honour.

Prefer your royals to be a little more currently relevant? Princess Caroline of Monaco's second daughter is Charlotte Marie Pomeline Casiraghi. She's 26, an equestrian and journalist, and Grace Kelly's granddaughter.

A Treasured Location
Many places were named in honour of Queen Charlotte, including the cities of Charlottesville (in Virginia), Charlotteton (Prince Edward Island) and Charlotte (in North Carolina). This last one in particular gives Charlotte a "southern belle" feel to it.

Christa B Allen as
Charlotte Grayson in 'Revenge'
Influential Screen Characters
Much more "belle" than southern, in 1998 the character Charlotte York hit our TV screens in 'Sex and the City', capturing many hearts. Charlotte was sweet, romantic, optimistic, practical and traditional. She was possibly intended to be a cross between Austen's Charlotte Lucas and Elizabeth Bennett.

At the time that the show started the name was experiencing a slight down slide in the American charts, but a year later the name was given forward momentum again, and Charlotte has climbed the charts every year since 1999. Other Charlotte's on the screen since have been mainly teenagers (or teenage vampires), appearing in 'Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 2', 'The Vampire Diaries', 'Revenge' and 'The Lying Game'.

A Way To Remember Loved Ones
You may not have a Charlotte in your family tree, but chances are higher you have a Charles. Charlotte is the French feminine diminutive of Charles (with the same meaning of 'free man'), making it a great way to honour great aunt Charlotte, Grandpa Charles or Uncle Charlie. Or all three at once.

And Nicknames Galore 
In it's entirety Charlotte is ladylike, feminine, classic, beautiful and elegant. But many Charlotte's have felt it was a hard name to grow into as a child, it was hard for others to spell, and that younger siblings struggled to say it. And nicknames can be the perfect answer to such problems. Charlie (or Charli) has become so popular as a nickname that girls are now being called Charlie as their formal name, but the are plenty of other options, both "girly" and not. Possibilities include Lottie, Lotta, Lolly, Char, Charl, Carrie, Carlie, Charles or Arly, to name a few.

Whatever it is that attracts you to a name, Charlotte is one name with plenty to love. Rather than "old", it currently screams "timeless". And no matter how popular a name is, there's nothing wrong with not being the only Charlotte you know when you have such a highly regarded name that is more often seen in a positive light than not.

Charlotte blocks available from Three Button Designs

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris)
with one of his famous phrases from 'How I Met Your Mother'

Thanks to a number of famous (mainly fictional) Barneys, the name Barney has many faces. You could be forgiven for thinking that Barney must be a fairly popular name, or else why have so many popular characters carried the name. And famous characters usually lead to people using a name more, right? Well, as we all know, this is not necessarily the case.

Unlike many popular vintage names that have been making a resurgence in recent years, Barney is one that is in danger of becoming extinct. Well, that might be a bit overly dramatic, but I thought I'd look at some famous Barneys and what Barney was doing at the time on the American charts.

In 1880 Barney was happily sitting at #249 in America, and was slowly rising. By 1959, Barney had slipped in popularity to position #508.

In 1960 two popular (and funny) Barney figures appeared on our TVs - Barney Rubble in 'The Flintstones' and  Bernard "Barney" Fife on 'The Andy Griffiths Show'. Both were comedy figures, and both their shows and their characters were beloved. However, they didn't do much to bolster the popularity of Barney. 'The Flintstones' ended in 1966, and Barney Fife left 'The Andy Griffiths Show' in 1965, to only make  guest appearances on the show from then on. And by 1967, Barney had fallen even further to #743

'The Simpsons' stole the crown as the "most financially successful network animated franchise" from 'The Flintstones'. It started in 1989, and had a Barney of it's own, Homer's friend and the town drunk, Barney Gumble. Show creator Matt Groening has said that he was inspired in part by Barney Rubble, and that "Barney was taking the standard sitcom sidekick and just making him as pathetic as possible". Although Barney sobered up for several seasons, he is not exactly an inspirational figure. 'The Simpsons' is still on air, but in it's first year the name Barney plummeted from the not so lofty #1594 in 1988 to #2694 in 1989.

And then of course there was Barney the Purple Dinosaur, from popular childrens show 'Barney and Friends'. Yes, it made Barney friendly and approachable again, but people weren't keen on their child being associated with a purple dinosaur. The show started in 1992, and in 1992 Barney again dropped, this time from #2476 to #2751.

But if you can get past these Barney's, perhaps Barney Stinson of 'How I Met Your Mother' could eventually turn things around. Barney is played by Neil Patrick Harris, much beloved from his 'Doogie Howser, MD' days. The Barney he portrays is sharply dressed, smart, funny and charming. He may be a bit of a womaniser, but he has often showed a more tender side on the show, especially now that he is settling into a real, committed relationship. He's coined the catch phrases "suit up!" and "it'll be legen -wait for it! - dary" just to name a couple. This all helps to make Barney cool again, but not cool enough yet. In 2011 Barney didn't even appear on the US charts.

These of course aren't the only well known Barney's, but they are the examples that immediately spring to people's lips if you should ask "I'm thinking about naming my son Barney, what do you think?" on any baby name forums.

Barney started out as a pet name for other names such as Barnabas, Barnaby, Bernard and Barnett. Which means that if you are open to the idea of Barney but still a little unsure if this will leave your child open to teasing, you have plenty of options for a formal longer form. Each comes with a different meaning. Barnabas and Barnaby come from Greek/Aramaic and mean 'son of consolation', Barnett is Old English meaning 'burned clearing', and Bernard is an Old French/Old German name meaning 'strong, brave bear'. I have to say, for sound I prefer Barnaby or Barnett, but for meaning I love Bernard.

Barney fares better in England and Wales, but is not exactly a hugely popular name at #536 on their charts in 2010. And here in Australia barney is slang for a fight, so it's not exactly a charming association. But if we look at his good points, a Barney can be lovable, trustworthy, funny, loyal, friendly and fun.

I think there's still life left for Barney yet. Maybe not now, but maybe in years to come when Barney Fife is a distant memory, 'The Flintstones' wasn't a big part of everyone's childhood viewing, that purple dinosaur is long gone, and repeats of 'How I Met your Mother' are considered to be classics. I guess Barney may just have to wait for the next wave of vintage revival names.