WHAT’S IN A NAME?
By Liz Gunn || Each year Baby Center puts out a list of the most popular names that were used in the U.S. in 2014. If you’re done having kids or no where near that stage of life, this probably isn’t anything of interest to you – unless you’re just curious. But having grown up with one of the most popular names of all time – Elizabeth – I always like check it out.
I remember vowing, even at a very young age, that I would never give my children such pedestrian names like “Elizabeth” and “Catherine”, my first and middle name, What a lack of creativity! But somewhere along the way I learned the value of what’s in a name.
Naming a child, for me at least, was harder than I ever imagined it would be. This is a name that will be called out in school in front of their peers, hopefully published in the paper when they achieve great things and placed at the top of a college application and a resumé. There is some pressure to make sure it’s a good one.
As an adult I’m actually grateful for my classic, albeit boring, name. It definitely beats having to help people pronounce or spell it all the time. The only problem with an über popular name is the myriad of nicknames that are bound to follow. It’s necessary because there are seven Elizabeths in your class at school, five more in your sorority, three others in your department at work…you get the picture.
When we named our daughter, Harper, we went for what I thought was slightly different but not “weird”. Turns out it’s not different at all. It came in at 19th this year in popularity. It was 26th the year she was born. Ironically, Elizabeth has fallen to 44th. Our daughter’s middle name is a family name that I have never seen on any list.
It’s funny the connotation that names can evoke for some people. When I was born, both of my parents were in education – and I have a feeling that’s part of the reason I ended up with a very “safe” name. My mother taught school for 43 years and has a plethora of bad name stories she can share…as well as an abundance of names she could never use because she would have associated it with a particular student.
Over time, names do trend in and out, so playing it safe isn’t a terrible way to go. When I was little my favorite name was Tiffany…yes, like the singer. Second favorite? Nicole. (Staci Keanan’s character on 1980’s hit show, “My Two Dads”.) Neither of those is on this year’s list. Go figure.
LIZ GUNN is a wife, mom, travel enthusiast, food snob, daydreamer and lifelong Gamecock fan. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, S.C. with her husband and daughter.