"We named the dog Indiana"

Reading an End-of-the-Decade baby name round-up, I ran across this:

The last few years have shown a dramatic increase in the influence of everything from blockbuster movies to celebrity babies on naming trends ... Marley, from the film "Marley & Me," is gaining numbers for both sexes.

"[Parents] may not be able to send their kid to Harvard or buy him or her a celebrity lifestyle, but names are free and can give a piece of that cachet," Murray said.

No Harvard for you, kid. But we named you after a dog. So there's that.

NBC: Emma, Aiden are top baby names of the decade


    1. Really? I just thought all those people naming their kid “Madison” just really enjoyed their undergraduate years at Wisconsin…

  1. nothing new here (i’m even guilty of it). peyton is a popular name this year (i’m sure one tree hill had nothing to do with it). i’m almost certain that there will be tons of little bellas and edwards running around in a few years.

    if anyone is wondering, i named my daughter after a character from a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film (and it’s not amelie).

  2. We gave our kid a dog’s name, Loki. Horrible mistake. We’ve filled out all the forms to have it changed, just procrastinating filing them with the courts.

  3. Most people don’t realize that this is why I named my son “Attack of the Clones”.

    It was because of the movie “Attack of the Clones”.

  4. I used to have a friend that was named after a dog. Laika, to be exact. But spelled differently. I personally was named after my father’s first girlfriend, which my mother never found out about until well after I was born.

    1. You think you’re so original? You think we haven’t heard of Arcade Fire? WE HAVE!

      When his/her dad came home, did he start a fight so the neighbors could dance?

  5. I like “Emma” because of Red Emma…but I can’t see that as the source of the Emma naming trend. Anyone venture a guess what it could be?

  6. So, like, Emma, Rachel’s baby from “Friends”? And Aiden, the scorned boyfriend of Carrie Bradshaw, from “Sex and the City”? Please tell me I’m not pathetic for wondering this out loud.

  7. Back in high school, I knew a guy named Harvard who wound up going to Harvard. His father, also named Harvard, had also gone to Harvard.

    1. Back in high school, I knew a guy named Harvard who wound up going to Harvard. His father, also named Harvard, had also gone to Harvard.

      I’d hate to be there when young Harvard the 3rd gets his rejection letter from Harvard and has to go to Princeton or Yale with that name.

  8. I almost ended up being names Indiana. Instead I got the so-much-better Harrison. To be fair, I at least enjoy the acting of my namesake.

  9. These lists are well worth taking a look. We picked a family name for our son, Jacob, not thinking how many kids there would be with that name. If we’d have checked, we probably would have switched and used it as a middle name.

  10. Marley & Me makes me angry because I named a stray cat after Bob Marley, not some cartoon character! It was because he has dreadlocks.. (Just kidding about the angry part..)

    @pppony, my cat is named Miette!

  11. Some advice for all you future parents out there in BoingBoingland:

    Once you pick out names (which you usually do after you discover you’re expecting and before the baby is born) don’t tell anyone the name(s) you’ve picked out. Because people will tell you something strange and might ruin the name for one of you.

    Olivia: Oh, that was my dog’s name from when I was kid.

    Jackson: There’s a kid on my block with that name, well there was until he disappeared and then was found in a ditch two counties over.

    Molly: Like Molly Ringwald? I lost my virginity while half-watching 16 Candles.

    And it might ruin the name for you. If you wait until after the baby is born, people won’t tell you these things. Seriously. Wait till after the birth and then announce the name.

  12. My parents “named” me after the lady who sold them their Jetta. They thought Gloria sounded like a nice name, so that was that.

    Then they went and named my youngest brother Wesley after their favourite sci-fi writer.

    1. Wesley Crusher was your parents’ favorite sci-fi character?!?

      I don’t think I’m actually named after anything. But I do know that, had I been a boy, I would have been Micah Jeremiah, because my Dad really liked the cadence of Micah Jeremiah Koerth.

  13. Or you could have the same name as your uncle and your grandfather. And have two out of your three cousins share a name. The part of inbreeding that they never warn you about is the tiny pool of names to choose from.

    1. with you there – I think my entire family has access to about 6 names – even marrying, brothers have married women with the same name, named their kids the same – it gets a touch confusing…

  14. Wow. A whole clan named “Antinous”….

    I’m named after William Tell! I might consider naming a son “Maynard.”

  15. My first name is Daniel, after Daniel Berrigan, a Catholic priest who was also a poet and peace activist. Felton is my middle name, which goes back a few generations in my family. I have no idea where it came from.

  16. I once had a girlfriend with the last name Hammer. When she unexpectedly became pregnant I was hoping for a boy whom I wanted to name Maxwell Silver and give him her last name. Wasn’t to be however, when she miscarried. Odd how things turn out.

  17. I named my son after Milo Auckerman from the Descendents. Yeah, for real. A singer of a punk band and I don’t regret it at all.

  18. Watched I Am Legend last night….Smith’s character named his daughter Marley after Bob, like dculberson’s cat.

    A couple of my online accounts have a username that at the time meant nothing more than possibly an onomatopoeia, but today is a very commonly used word.

    I think it’s a bit silly to assume the source of inspiration based on current fads.

    1. That makes we want to get a cat, just so I can name him/her Marley, and constantly tell people “no,no,no, like Jacob Marley! Haven’t you ever read A Christmas Carol?”

  19. most of these sound like hick names, its like they strive for unoriginality but do it in a way to suggest originality on the surface. sorry, this post is pretty hateful and i wont mind at all if it gets disemvoweled but i gotta vent it. almost everything in that article put me in a real bad mood, cresting with the part about “Apple” gaining popularity… nothing is worse than a stupid, thoughtless name except for copying it from hollywood flakedom. seriously what is wrong with people

  20. Two things: 1) I would’ve been “Krystal” if I was a girl – a name that was very popular among people of my age (born 1981). Thankgod for my schlong.

    2) Pedant time! Isn’t the convention to go 2001 – 2010, a decade being 10 years. The 21stC didn’t start until Jan 1, 2001, right? Seems like everyone’s jumping the gun by twelve months. It only shits me because we’ll see these lists all again come the actual turn of the ‘calendar deacde’.

    1. JFrance,

      That depends entirely on what you think people are acknowledging with the new year on their calender; the time since the supposed birth-date of a supposed person two thousand years ago, OR the new (arbitrary) end-number being a zero and a brand new tens-number. I suspect it’s mostly the latter.

      Case in point, the year 2000. While the pedants noted the “real” millenium being 01/01/2001, most people were actually celebrating the three end-zeros and living-in-the-future (of course 2001 being what it is, we got to celebrate living in the future that year too.. just like 2010 wooo!).

  21. I decided when I was 10 years old that if I ever had a son I would name him Kai — that was in 1982 when I had never met anyone with that name (I had read it in a fairytale somewhere). Now some soccer player just recently named his son that and everyone thinks my 8 year old son’s name is somehow connected to that. Sometimes it’s just an unfortunate coincidence. Frankly, I wish celebrities (or the press)wouldn’t even bother telling the public what they name their children.

    1. Where I’m from Kai means food.

      My dad has a masters degree in geology. My real name is Petra – it is derived from the Greek word for rock.

  22. My son’s middle name is Indiana, our last name is Jones. His grandfather is an archaeologist. When he was 7 we saw “The Last Crusade” together, at the end he looked up at me and said, “You named me after the dog?” So I gave him the only response I could. “Hey, I loved that dog.”

  23. A friend of mine named her baby daughter “Canela”, which is a very common dog name. In fact, my brother’s dog is named “Canela”.

    Nobody has ever told her and she doesn’t seem to know…

  24. My name is a shorter form of my mothers name. For several years people told me they had a parrot/pony/dog with my name. Thankfully, this has stopped now. But even worse, a really dumb german celebrity (wife or girlfriend of some sports guy) has my name. So embarrassing.
    I liked “Indiana”.

  25. I was named after the tragic female lead in Dr. Zhivago — Larissa. In my age group, I have met less than 5 others. I’ve seen a few more little ones with it though.

    As a kid I hated it, but I grew to appreciate it, even if I still constantly have to correct everybody who spell it with 2 Rs and 1 S.

  26. olga barshinskey, I dated a guy named Kai back in the seventies. The name is not that odd in China.

  27. if you look on the social security popular baby names site you can see some very interesting trends. Like Ethan began to become popular with the release of dead poets society starring ethan hawke. for some reason uma never got popular, though.

  28. This is infuriating. People treat their kids like pets or toys. There is absolutely NO legitimate reason to name a kid after a pop-culture reference! Anyone ever meet a kid named Starsky or Matlock?

  29. in fact, the social security site (which has a much larger sample than that study) doesn’t have aiden anywhere near the top. it’s never been above 16 in the last ten years. jacob has been 1 for boys every year for the last decade. this article was really poorly researched.

  30. Count me as one of those weirdos who thinks you should actually name people after people, and not dogs or TV characters or mermaids in movies who named themselves after streets. At least Payton Manning is an actual person, but what’ll happen if it turns out that *he’s* had 15 mistresses?

    Personally I was named Adam Neil after the first man on the earth and the first man on the moon. I think that was pretty cool, and I get to add on another name when somebody lands on Mars.

    Oh, and about the decades: there’s no legitimate reason for a pedant to think that the decades “really” got 2001-2010. Technically speaking a decade is *any* stretch of ten years. By convention, people speak of “the 1960s” or “the 1990s” because it’s a convenient way to compartmentalize time. And that name comes from abbreviating the names of the years. So, quite properly, just as the 60s lasted from 1960 to 1969, the oughts last from 2000 to 2009.

    The confusion comes from the improper application of the logic that is applied properly to our naming of the centuries. The 21st century of the Gregorian calendar really did start in 2001, though “the 2000s” started in 2000. But we don’t refer to decades by their ordinal numbers; we don’t tend to say “the first decade of the 21st century” (which would be 2001-2010), we say “the 2000s” in reference to the decade in which the last digit in there is the variable. And quite properly, that decade will end on December 31st of this year.

    1. Someday, when the first person on the moon is actually a woman, and is named “Erica,” I will think of you, Adam Neil.

      1. Mars, not the moon. I’ve thought about that and figured that I’d probably throw it in there regardless.

  31. Dunno – met a few Elvises and Audreys in my time. Not too man Rosebuds though.

    All I can say is Life with Marley was such a mediocre film, it would be like calling your kind Optimus Prime or Yoshie

  32. My cousin’s daughter has the middle name “Marley”–also after Bob. I don’t know that most of the Marleys are being named after the dog. Perhaps Marley Shelton clued people in to the first-name possibilities of their favorite reggae singer. And it seems that if people were naming children after “Splash,” Madison would have been big in the 80’s, instead of now.

    Still, it isn’t terrible for parents to be inspired by the world of names around them. It’s just that we are exposed to so many more names, and it is more acceptable to draw names from outside the standards now.

    It’s somewhat despicable for parents to name their child something bizarre or stupid in order to prove to the world how unique they (the parents) are. But for the most part this won’t impact the kids too badly–apparently there will be plenty of Addisons and Apples and Marleys to keep them company in their classrooms.

  33. Ever read Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Steven J. Dubner? Great book and it even has a section about baby names. The statistical analysis of the socioeconomic connection to the names people select for their children was eye opening. And then of course there were the anecdotal bits of high-larity. Like the brothers Winner and Loser, and of course one of the best sets ever, Orangejello and Lemonjello. Now those are some dumb-ass names. Famous people also name there kids some dumb stuff too; Pilot Inspektor? Who the hell wants to be named that? It just made me thankful that my fairly odd name was not the oddest of the odd, in fact it’s kind of cool now. (Hint it’s a primary color.)

  34. I was named after some kind of poetic word for Ireland. And my middle name apparenly came from the actress from Bionic Woman because my mother was watching it in her post labor haze. My name up until that point was going to be “Ariel” after Shakespeare’s air spirit, but she changed it because shortly before I was born my cousin named her dog “Ariel” and my mom couldn’t stand to have us share the name. It was a nasty damned dog too, stunk, bit, peed on people. Well it died and I didn’t. But then that mermaid movie came out and I was grateful not to be a little kid named after some stupid mermaid.

    Then it turns out my whole family hated my name and refused to use it anyway. Some little girl in my grandmother’s daycare “put her daddy in jail fer rape” and therefore “oughtta been shot” according to my grandmother. And that was that.

    Stupid names. I always liked Julia. I’d prolly change my name to Julia but it would be confusing at work.

  35. That should have been turned not turns. You know for a native speaker I sure do have problems with tense.

  36. I named my dog Indiana, 14yrs ago. He doesn’t seem to mind too much, and he’s gotten really good with that bullwhip.

  37. And it seems that if people were naming children after “Splash,” Madison would have been big in the 80’s, instead of now.

    Actually, the name was basically nonexistent as a girls’ name before Splash came out. Remember, in the movie, when she says her name is Madison, Tom Hanks says, “That’s not a name!” Then it began to appear and rose in popularity over the next 15 years or so.

  38. For all those who mention their use of Marley coming form Bob… that’s how it is in the movie/ book/ real life as well. The dog was named after the singer.

    I say go with Scottish tradition… first son named after yourself, second after your father thrid after wife’s father and then a free for all.

    assuming you have that many kids. Just don’t follow George Foreman or Bobby Brown (both of whom have multiple kids named after themselves)

  39. The “Lemonjello” thing probably started in the 1970s, because there was a real pitcher for the Astros and Blue Jays named Mark Lemongello. Here’s his stats:

    He was a white guy, though, not black. And it was his last name, of course (probably Italian), not his first name. Somebody probably used it is an inspiration for the racist joke against blacks.

  40. I do not agree with naming kids after family members and/or anything out of Hollywood.

    I did not want my son to be a junior–I figured he will be his own person and does not need to be referred to his whole life as “Jimmy” or “junior”.

    This was our method of coming up with a name for our son: since my last name begins with an “S”, we made sure the initials did not spell anything he would regret later (like naming him Andrew Simpson). I also imagined yelling the name out the back door to make sure it sounded okay. If the name picked passed these two tests, it made the short list. And since we did not know the gender of our child until he was born, we had a girl’s name and a boy’s name picked out.

    And to the another commenters thoughts: we did not tell anyone what names we picked out, we just stole a friend’s idea and made up names: “well, if it is a girl, we will name her Modine; if it is a boy, we will name him Festus.” Kept the comments to a minimum.

  41. Now that I think about it, I knew a couple who named their dog Sophie. When they had a baby they named her Sophie and renamed the dog. It’s pretty common to regard dogs as placeholders for future babies.

  42. My mother chose the most popular girl’s name of the year for me. I have yet to be in a class or a job where there wasn’t at least one, if not two or three other women there with the same first name. My married name wasn’t much better. There are at least four other women with my exact first and last name now living within a 10 mile radius – one of whom is HR at a place I applied to and who initially dismissed my resume as a practical joke by her co-workers. We get each-other’s mail, collections calls, vehicle maintenance reminders, and it took two weeks of ID shuffling to get the people at the bank to correct my account. There is something to be said for originality.

  43. I like the tradition of naming the kid for the mother’s maiden name. My last name is German, TERRIBLY awkward and wouldn’t work as a first name, but MY mom’s maiden name would be lovely for a boy. My husband is on board with naming our future possible children with old family names (he’s of Irish heritage, and has some pretty names running around in his family). So far we have Trotter, Baty, Irene… and I’m very partial to Tulane. Thanks Joan Jett and Chuck Berry!

  44. I think those TV-show naming trends are specific to English-speaking countries and Western Europe. In Eastern Europe we go a lot more traditional, foreign names really stand out.

    Me, my given name is Magdalen. I was being introduced to a friend’s friend in Canada- she shook my hand, asked my name, and immediately commented: “Oh, she was a prostitute, you know.”

    I really wasn’t sure why she thought she had to point that out.

Comments are closed.