Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday's Fun Find! - Skeleton Names

Today's find is not a product to buy, but a name-centered activity! I found this on Pinterest and think the project is absolutely perfect for the upcoming October festivities.

Garden of Praise posts this idea, the results of which are great fun for you and your children.  Just write a name in cursive on a piece of white paper doubled over.  Then cut the name out and paste on a piece of black paper as the body of the skeleton, add a skull, arms and legs and you have your scary creation!  A simple but fabulous way to display a name during the Halloween holiday!


Monday, September 24, 2012

President(ial) Names

by Dutch artist MsGothje

Note: President(ial) Names was originally published in January 28, 2008 on my old blog. It was revised and republished September 24, 2012.

In the honor of the upcoming election, I did some research on the popularity of U.S. Presidents' names. Not their first names (sorry... no Chester, Grover or Barack in this article), but their last names. Here is a list of the ones currently being used (2011 rankings) – along with the possible correlation between peak of name and presidential term.  Keep in mind that SSA rankings began in 1880.

Arthur (#338) – peaked at #14 in the 1880s and 1890s, Arthur was president from 1881-1885
Carter (#41) – currently at the highest ranking at #41 in 2011 (Karter is currently ranked at #391), Carter was president from 1977-1981
Clinton (#923) – peaked at #124 in 1981, Clinton was president from 1994-2001
Grant (#151) – peaked at #114 in 1997, Grant was president from 1869-1877
Harrison (#197) – peaked at #52 in 1888, Harrison was president from 1889-1893
Hayes (#776) – peaked at #513 in 1905, Hayes was president from 1877-1881
Jackson (#23) – currently at the highest ranking at #23 in 2011 (Jaxen is currently ranked at #595, Jaxon is #86, Jaxson is #140), Jackson was president from 1829-1837
Jefferson (#702) – peaked at #255 in 1880, Jefferson was president from 1801-1809
Kennedy (#90) – peaked at #516 in 1964 and currently at the highest ranking at #90 in 2011 (Kennedi is currently ranked at #445), Kennedy was president from 1961-1963
Lincoln (#178) – currently at the highest ranking at #178 in 2011, Lincoln was president from 1861-1865
Madison (#8) – peaked at #312 in 1881 and #2 in 2001 and 2002 (Maddison is currently ranked at #322, Madisyn at #410 and Madyson at #502), Madison was president from 1809-1817
McKinley (#451) – peaked at #137 in 1896 and currently at the highest ranking at #451 in 2011, McKinley was president from 1897-1901
Nixon (#901) – currently at the highest (and only) ranking at #901 in 2011, Nixon was president from 1969-1974
Pierce (#474) – peaked at #394 in 1886, Pierce was president from 1853-1857
Reagan (#892#122) – peaked at #596 in 2004 and currently at the highest ranking at #122 in 2011 (Raegan is currently ranked at #341 and Regan at #930), Reagan was president from 1981-1989
Taylor (#337#44) – peaked at #51 in 1993 and #6 in 1994, 1995 and 1996, Taylor was president from 1849-1850
Tyler (#38) – peaked at #5 in 1993 and 1994 (also peaked at #238 in 1993, was ranked from 1984 until 2007), Tyler was president from 1841-1845
Wilson (#603) – peaked at #122 in 1913, Wilson was president from 1913-1921

Almost all of the President’s names have been in the top 1000 at one time or another. Here is a list of the name and the years it was on the list (and if it corresponds to the presidential term, I included that as well):

Adams 1898
Bush 1889
Cleveland 1880-1989 (Cleveland was president from 1885-1889 and 1893-1897 and the name peaked at #92 in 1884)
Coolidge 1924-1925 (Coolidge was president from 1923-1929)
Ford 1880-1951 (off and on)
Garfield 1880-1953 (Garfield was president in 1881 and the name peaked at #88)
Harding 1920-1923 (Harding was president from 1921-1923)
Hoover 1928-1932 (Hoover was president from 1929-1933)
Johnson 1880-1948, and then sporadically between 1982 and 1987
Monroe 1880-1971
Polk 1890
Roosevelt 1895-1993 (Teddy Roosevelt was president from 1901-1909 and the name peaked at #91 in 1905)
Taft 1907-1912 (Taft was president from 1909-1913 and the name peaked in 1908)
Truman 1880-1955, then sporadically between 1957 and 1971, and then again between 2004 and 2010 (Truman was president from 1945-1953 and the name peaked at #350 in 1904)
Washington 1880-1921

Only BuchananEisenhower, FillmoreObama, and Van Buren have never cracked the top 1000.

Some interesting tidbits of info from my research on the names currently being used:

-In 1978 and 1979, Carter was not ranked in the top 1000. Prior to 1978, it was a steady name in lower half of the top 1000. Starting in 1979, it re-entered the top 1000 and has increased in popularity ever since.

-Clinton has been ranked #211 and higher from the beginning of record-keeping until 1993. Since then it has steadily fallen and is now into the 900s.

-Hayes re-entered the top 1000 in 2009 after being absent since 1931 (before which it was ranked pretty sporadically).  It jumped from #955 in 2009 to #776 in 2011.

-Kennedy entered the top 1000 for boys at #723 in 1960. It jumped to #592 in 1961, was #828 in 1962, #624 in 1963, and #516 in 1964. After 1964, it went back down into the 600s-900s until it fell out of the top 1000 in 1969. It re-entered the top 1000 in 1994, but fell back out after 2005. For girls, Kennedy entered the top 1000 in 1994 and has increased in popularity ever since. 

-Madison entered the top 1000 for girls in 1985 and became extremely popular starting in 1993. It has been in the top 1000 for boys since the beginning of record-keeping, except for a big gap of time between 1953 and 1986 when it re-entered the top 1000 only to fall back out in 2000. In 2004, it temporarily came back at #857.

-McKinley as a boy’s name was in the top 1000 from 1890 until 1966. McKinley as a girl’s name has been in the top 1000 since 2006 and has jumped 500 spots in 5 years.

-Nixon has made its first appearance in the top 1000!  Have people lived past the resignation stigma enough to realize the great potential of this name?  We'll see if it sticks around in the years to come.

-Reagan as a boy’s name has only been in the top 1000 since 1996. Reagan as a girl’s name was a part of the top 1000 between 1975 and 1981. It didn’t re-enter the top 1000 until 1993 and since then has become increasingly more popular.

-Taylor as a boy’s name has been in the top 1000 since record-keeping began. Taylor as a girl’s name didn’t enter the top 1000 until 1979.

-Truman was in the top 1000 pretty steadily until 1972, didn’t re-enter until 2003 and has only dropped out again this past year.

-Tyler didn’t really enter the top 1000 until 1946 for boys and 1984 for girls. Tyler reached its peak for both sexes in the same year of 1993, but dropped off of the girls list after 2007.

A lot of this to say that the timing of the presidential term rarely has an effect on naming children, unless it’s the late 19th century or early 20th century. It seems like people may have avoided the name Reagan while he was president, and Clinton has decreased in popularity since his term began. I also noticed the popularity of a name the year before the man became president (maybe while he was running for president). It’s a shame the record-keeping doesn’t go back further… it would have been interesting to see how many Lincolns were out there in the 1860s or Jeffersons were out there in the early 1800s.

Looking at it another way, the popularity could have absolutely nothing to do with the president; for example, Madison became a hot name after the movie Splash came out in 1984 (I realized that correlation from The Baby Name Wizard book). Even if the term of the president has nothing to do with the name’s popularity at the time of the presidency, popularity later on could be a result of admiring the man from a historical context, in which case I wouldn’t know unless I asked everyone with a little Kennedy or Reagan why they used that name. I already know someone who named her daughter Kennedy because it was her maiden name. So… one down.

Whether people use these names on their children because they are Presidents’ names, because of some other fad, because they just like them, or because of coincidence, it was still fun to do this research. I also liked studying the differences in usage for the two genders. As you can see, most of these names are only used for boys. And while Kennedy, Madison, McKinley, Reagan and Taylor are seen on both genders, they have mostly been taken over by the girls.

Baby Name Wizard has an interesting article by Laura Wattenberg about the names of presidents. I read it after I did my research, and she says that parents nowadays are waiting until the presidential term is up before using the names. As I said before, parents in the past seemed to use the names of the president as he was running for the office or early in his presidency. While I have tried to be as thorough in my research as possible, let me know if you notice anything or see/know anything else that would be of interest. Anyway, Wattenberg seems to come to a similar conclusion… parents choose these names because of their style, not because they are “presidential.”  She also predicted an upswing for the name Lincoln, which has risen over 300 spots since the article was written.

In closing, I really like most of these names. I think the only ones I would consider using are Harrison (although I think the nn Harry wouldn’t go well with my last name), Lincoln (love the nn Linc), Reagan, and Wilson.

What do you think? Which of these names do you like, if any? Would you use it for a boy or girl or both? And given the current election, if Obama only serves four years, what are the chances Romney would become a popular name in the future?


Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday's Fun Find! - Wee Society

I totally stole this find from Appellation Mountain's Facebook page. It is totally too adorable to ignore. I could also be totally biased due to the name used in the online example (and the description is totally appropriate as well).

Wee Society makes these precious wall hangings with a different animal representing each letter, the letter of which is hidden within the animal (the animal also starts with that letter). And then the parent (or whoever orders the print) can choose a way to describe the child using adjectives beginning with the same letter. Cute! Also on the site are limited edition screen prints of the entire alphabet being represented by the animals. Check out these items plus many more offered by Wee Society!


Thursday, September 20, 2012

How Would You Describe? - #1

I did this exercise once on my old blog (four years ago!) and loved the (limited) comments I received. Here's another attempt with the hope we can get more opinions!

The New Baby Name Survey Book is the compilation of a survey asking adults what they think of when presented with a name.  I know some parents worry about what people will think when they hear their child's name... "That's the name of a nerd" or "That's the name of a snob."  While I am still of the mind that your child will make the name you give him or her, it's still interesting to see how people view a name.  But remember, no matter what, your child is whoever he or she is... the results of any survey will never influence or change that.

When I say the following names, how do you picture the child/adult? What does he/she look like? What are his/her abilities, temperament, and/or characteristics? Any description you can think of would be great!



Comment with your descriptions!  Have fun!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Downton Abbey - A Name Study

Oh, the awesomeness that is Downton Abbey. The ever-popular British show is back with its third series, which began last night in the UK. I love most all things British, and this show is no exception (and I hope I don't embarrass myself to any UK readers).  To go along with the great stories, fabulous wardrobe, history and culture, and brilliant accents, there are the names:

Martha (Cora's American mother... a new edition to the show)

Alfred (new to series 3)
Jimmy (new to series 3)
Ivy (new to series 3)

There is not a name on this list that I don't love. What a pleasure it is to see what is described as the Scottish form of Isabel in Isobel (ranked #75 in England/Wales and #81 in Ireland), as well as the Roman mythology name of Lavinia. The servants' names seem to be the more "traditional" and "timeless" names of the bunch.

Cora is a great story. The name has a recorded high of #15 in 1880 (which is probably around the time the character Cora was born... she is American). It consistently fell to its lowest rank of #877 in 1988. And since 1988, it has gradually risen to #207 in 2011. We have seen a great return to the "old-fashioned" names of late, and Cora is definitely along for the ride. It jumped 72 spots from 2010... could that have been a result of the success of Downton Abbey?  It is also ranked #77 in Northern Ireland and #438 in England/Wales in 2010.

Another "old-fashioned" name that has stuck around is Edith.  It has been in the top 1000 ever since they started recording popularity of names in 1880. It has had a steady decline since then (#28 in 1880 and #771 in 2011), but has recently risen from its lowest ranking of #842 in 2009. Edith ranked #259 in England/Wales in 2011. The earliest information I could find for England/Wales is 1904, when Edith ranked #4.

Other rankings from 1904 in England/Wales (I only have the top 100): Mary was #1, Edith was #4, Elsie was #10, Ethel was #13, Ivy was #16, Violet was #17, Sarah was #21, Jane was #43, Daisy was #47, and Gwendoline (possibly Gwen's real name) was #56. Sybil doesn't show up on the list (it's only given every 10 years) until 1924 when it was #99. As for Anna, Annie was #6, Anne was 61, and Ann was #67, but Anna doesn't appear until 1954 when it was #88. Beryl shows up in 1914 as #93. The boys are somewhat more predictable. William was #1, John was #2, Thomas was #4, James was #6 (possible real name of Jimmy), Charles was #7, Alfred was #11, Joseph was #13, Robert was #15, Richard was #25, Tom was #63, and Matthew was #84.

The show seems to be very accurate in terms of names for the time period.  The only real outlier I see is Sybil.  Why go from two very popular names in Mary and Edith to Sybil?  It wasn't even that popular in the United States around the time Sybil would have been born (ranked around the low #400s in the early 1900s).  Maybe Cora read it in a book and really liked it.  Or maybe they knew a great woman who bore the name.  I wonder.

Which leads me to my final observation and question.  Will the outlier create another outlier or return back to the top?  When series three starts, the year is 1920 and Sybil's character is pregnant. What will the baby's name be? As I said earlier, I have only been able to find the top names in England/Wales for every ten years, so while I cannot give you the top ten in 1920, I can provide you with an idea of the top names during that time. The top ten in 1914 were Mary, Margaret, Doris, Dorothy, Kathleen, Florence, Elsie, Edith, Elizabeth, and Winifred for the girls and John, William, George, Thomas, James, Arthur, Frederick, Albert, Charles, and Robert. The top ten in 1924 were Margaret, Mary, Joan, Joyce, Dorothy, Kathleen, Doris, Irene, Elizabeth, Eileen for the girls and John, William, George, James, Thomas, Ronald, Kenneth, Robert, Arthur and Frederick. What would you choose among those names?  Or do you think it will be something completely different? I can only hope it's a unique name and not a Tom Jr or a Robert in honor of Sybil's dad.  

Any UK readers will get to find out the baby's name sooner rather than later. Aren't they the lucky ones! In any case, enjoy the show... whenever you get to watch it.  :)

P.S. If anyone knows where I can find more comprehensive historical data for names in the UK, contact me at the email address linked to the right.  Thank you!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday's Fun Find! - sarah + abraham

Today's Fun Find is "super" cute!

Does your son like superheros or do you simply think he is one? sarah + abraham offers these absolutely adorable placemats that can be personalized with your child's name! While this item is worth a look of the website alone, it is not the only product this site offers. There are plates, bowls, water bottles, stationary, invitations, pillows, and many more with many different ways of personalizing them for your child (including hair color and length, eye color and shape, and skin tone). With the holidays approaching, these fun finds are all the more desirable, so check out sarah + abraham today!

And how much do I love the fact that she uses the name Clive on a personalized product! :)

One more thing.  Ever go to a playdate and want to pass along your contact information to other mother's you meet?  Check out these calling cards!

Special thanks to Daisha S. for bringing this site to my attention!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Look of a Name

One day, not too long ago, I found this link - Build a Name. It is a very fun way of looking at a name in many different fonts. How would your kid's name look in lights on Broadway? How would it look written by a young child?  How would it look if typed by a label maker? While it's an enjoyable time-spender, cruising this website makes me ask the question, do the results help or hurt the way I feel about a name?

It doesn't even have to be in a cool font for me to wonder the answer to that question.  We all know of the daydreaming activity of writing our name with a crush's last name or our future spouse's last name to see what it would look like if we married him.  And I know I wrote down, in print and in cursive, the many names I was considering when naming my children.  Not only for list-keeping purposes, but to see what it looked like written down. This is the name that will be typed out on the birth certificate, printed on birthday invitations and graduation announcements, and calligraphied on wedding invitations.  (Is calligraphied a word?  If not, I just made it one.)  Does looking at and thinking about this make a difference when making a decision?

Personally, I would have to answer "sort of."  For example, I LOVE the look of Josiah Brent. It was a contender when we were naming Simon.  But the look of it wasn't enough for me to choose it.  I loved the look and the sound of it, but I just couldn't "see" it as the name for my son.  I also didn't like how it felt yelling the name.  And we all know the frequency of which we yell out our kids names.  The name that we eventually chose, Simon Brent, looks pretty cool to my eyes.  I don't think I could have chosen a name that I didn't like the look of.  It's not as "pretty" as Josiah Brent, but it's perfect for my son.  So, while the look of a name is important to me, it's not the top factor when making the final decision.

In thinking about why I find certain names unattractive written down and therefore would make it not considerable when choosing a name for my child, I came to the conclusion that it mostly has to do with spelling.  I love the look of Simon, but not Symon (which 21 babies were named last year).  I may think a certain name is nicer looking than another, but I don't find it unattractive unless it's spelled differently than I prefer.

So, NameFreaks!... does the look of a name influence YOUR decision in whether or not you like a name, or like a name enough to choose it for your child?


Monday, September 10, 2012

Hurricane Names

Where do the names for hurricanes come from?  I know you have wondered the same thing, so I have looked it up for all of us.  Here is an article from the National Weather Service that answers the question. Further information and the list of retired names can be seen here.

My first thought after reading that was, what a waste to use the same names every six years! There are so many names out there, why not bring fresh ones in each year?  My second thought was, what counts as a devastating storm?  I could never put a number on devastation, thus becoming another reason why there shouldn't be any repetition in name usage.  I like the use of the alphabet and that they switch between male and female names (one year the A name will be male and the next year it will be female).  Using the computer to pick random names for each storm would be a much more fun result for me as a name lover than using the same list every six years.

That being said, are there any names on the lists that you love (or not love) for a storm?  I was contemplating which names would make a ferocious storm sound ferocious.  I love Bertha, Earl, Hector, Kirk and Pilar as storm names.  Hurricanes with the names Grace, Henri, Madeline, Nadine, and William may not make me rush for cover as they should.  Although, in looking at the names that have been retired due to the severity of the storm, you may see how the storm could make the name.  I'm not sure I would have been afraid of Katrina or Isabel before they become such horrible hurricanes.  But Hugo definitely has the looming sound of a bad storm.

So, what names would be appropriate for a hurricane?  There can't be a storm-appropriate name for each hurricane due to the amount, but this thought did make me look up names with relevant meanings.  Tempest and Gale are obvious ones.  Thor is a fun one (means thunder).  But besides that, unless you go into foreign languages for names that translate into storm, there isn't much out there.

There is a huge trend to name children after weather or nature-related things.  Sticking with just weather, I took the challenge to think of a weather name for each letter of the alphabet.  Here's what I came up with:

Jet (as in Jet Stream)
Youg (had to reach far for this one, it's a hot wind during an unsettled summer in the Mediterranean)

I encourage you to comment with weather names that you like!  Also, are there any names not on the National Weather Service list that you think would be perfect hurricane names?

On a personal note, notice the names listed under the Eastern North Pacific for the year 2014.  Hurricane Rachel would be followed by Hurricane Simon.  I can vouch for the validity of those two as storm names.  They reek havoc in my house on a daily basis.  :)


Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday's Fun Find! - Pindseylou Designs

I would like to introduce one of this site's new features!  Probably due to my love of names, I love to get things personalized.  I mean, if you love a name so much, why not put it on everything?  My NameFreak! Pinterest board has a collection of things in which a name is used in a creative way.  I thought I would use this opportunity to share some of the especially cool ones with my fellow NameFreaks!  Hence Friday's Fun Find.  I may get so excited about an item that I post about it on another day, but for alliteration's sake, we'll call it Friday's Fun Find.  :)

This week's find is a very cool way of presenting a name in art by Pindseylou Designs!

What a charming way of displaying your child's or your family name!  There are various types of designs on her page using different colors and fonts, but I personally love the pretty green and the simplicity of this one. The artist is holding a special for September, so you should check out the etsy site for Pindseylou Designs!

Special thanks to fellow NameFreak Kristen G. for bringing this art to my attention!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Naming a Child

When parents are naming their child, there are a lot of thoughts going through their heads. What name sounds good? Do we agree on this name? Is this name too popular? Is this name too weird? Will other people like it or hate it? What will people think when they hear the name? While I consider all of this contemplation fun (to a certain extent), I'm sure there are many parents out there who find the entire process very stressful.

The main thing I like to tell parents is to go with what feels right. Go with what you love. Don't worry about what others will think... this precious baby is yours to name and you are the one who will be calling the name over and over again. ;) This isn't to say that parents should go crazy though. You've heard the stories of Ima Butt and Adolph Hitler (Last Name). There is definitely a responsibility to naming a child that should give some guidance along the way. Is the "crazy" name something that means a lot to you and one you think will honor your child? If it is, go with it. "Crazy" to others might not be "crazy" to you.

That leads me to how your baby "makes" a name. Others might consider George a name with negative connotations (it's old and stuffy). But if you love it (it's a strong and masculine name), go with it. Your sweet baby will make the name George awesome to all who meet him. This is also the reason why some people don't announce the name of their baby until after he or she is born. Once the name is attached to the face, it's less likely to be rebuked (at least to the parents' faces). But by then, even rebuke doesn't, or shouldn't, matter because you have a precious new life in your arms. If you are going to announce your child's name before he or she is born, you will know how much you love and are confident in that name by how you feel when/if someone has a negative reaction to it. But again, I reiterate, try not to let others' opinions change your feeling on a name. If you truly love it, go with it. It's not good to have regrets when you are using that name several times a day to refer to your child.

In the effort to help alleviate some of the stress parents have in deciding on a name, to give more options, or to just have some fun, I offer my name advice.  If you ask me to do name research, I send out a questionnaire in which I ask, among other things, what is important and meaningful to you. I like to find names that would reflect a significance from your lives, while also respecting your desire and style. My hope is that there is a name in the mix that you fall in love with because of its meaning... not necessarily the meaning of the name (although that may have a part in it), but a meaning that is specific and personalized to you. I know that this won't always happen, and so my subsequent hope is that the names I offer will give inspiration for another name, or convince you that a name you might have been considering before is definitely the one you want to use.  I like to bring value to names that may not be on your radar yet, as well as present ideas and considerations that you may want to ponder.  If you have any questions, desire any information, or need someone neutral to bounce ideas off of... contact me.  Doing the research is a joy for me, and finding a name that you love and are confident in is a special reward... for all of us!

Remember... a name is the first gift you give your child.  It's a gift that lasts forever.  Make it a meaningful one!   


Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I am so happy to welcome you all to the new NameFreak! website! 

For those of you who are new to NameFreak!, this is a place to discuss names, learn about their meaning and history, and have fun with games and tournaments.  Feel free to poke around the site and jump in with your ideas!

For those of you who are old friends to NameFreak! you’ll notice a fewimprovements.  My logo has been redesigned and the blog has been revamped.  Using the buttons to the right, you can email me for name advice or suggestions, as well as follow me on Facebook. There is also a button for you to follow my NameFreak! board on Pinterest, where I collect cool ideas dealing with names.  I would encourage you to pin this website onto your Pinterest board as well.  It would be great to spread the word as much as possible... the more NameFreaks there are, the better discussions, comments and sharing of ideas we can have.

There are tabs beneath the blog header with additional information at your fingertips.  About NameFreak! helps you learn more about this name freak.  Favorite Resources lists some of the books and links I use in my name research.  And Reviews gives you an opportunity to read what others have to say and to share your thoughts on what I do. 

When I revamped the site, I decided to start from scratch so I did not import my old posts to this blog.  However, in addition to the new items of interest and original researched posts, I will be using topics and ideas from the old blog.  I may even expand upon and re-publish certain posts, so don't be surprised if something looks familiar (Name Madness will definitely be making an appearance again).  There are some great reads on the old blog, so feel free to take a look at the link below:

NameFreak! Wordpress Blog

Thank you for diving back into this fun mode of expression for me.  This is truly a passion of mine and I am thrilled to have you all chime in, challenge me, or simply just go along for the ride.  Welcome NameFreaks!