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Can anyone pin point when this trend for unique/made up names started?

(33 Posts)
Bumperslucious Fri 17-Jul-09 15:51:18

And who started it? Were their weird names in the 20s? In the 50s?

Who is to blame?

Do you think that we will get to a point were the majority of people will prefer good ol' common garden names, or traditional family names?

SoupDragon Fri 17-Jul-09 15:53:22

It's probably partly crept in from America (more US TV programmes or example) and the fact that we are more multicultural so there are many different names out there anyway.

MaggieBeBold Fri 17-Jul-09 16:07:21

Wow. big question. Read the name chapter in Freakonomics

I think more and more boys names become 'unusable' (or considered risky) as people (Americans first) start using them for girls. Then parents have to start looking for alternatives, like say Harvey which would just have been a sur name 20 years ago.

Some people say that upperclasses revere their pasts, and so they are drawn to old names like William and Peter.

WOrking classes or more optimistic about the future than glorifying their pasts, so they are slightly more drawn to modern-sounding names. Like Kody for example!

I read that somewhere btw, not my observation! Possibly in freakonomics, not sure.

Americans now that they have all merged and blended into a big melting pot can afford to think about their pasts a bit more. So they dig up names which sound Irish/Scottish to their ear, but in fact conform to American trends.

eg, Aidan cos we're of Irish descent, but bang a K on the front, sounds 'cooler' and you have Kaiden....

I think I read that in 'the name wizard'.

Scorpette Fri 17-Jul-09 20:15:42

People have ALWAYS given their kids weird/unusual names. In my family tree on both sides, we have some really weird names from 100s of years ago, including some from now-obscure songs and books, etc. (Can't remember them properly right now without checking with my Dad, but some were mad!).

On the other hand, as regards 'ordinary' names, so many children used to die in infancy or childhood, parents often used to give babies all the same names (boys and girls) so at least one might survive with a family name and also, they had such big families they stuck to simple names that were easy to remember.

DebiNewberry Fri 17-Jul-09 20:20:23

There have always been unusual names.

My great grandfather was called Christmas

not born on Christmas Day by a long way. Can you imagine the MN Jury hmming away at that one.

HeadFairy Fri 17-Jul-09 20:26:49

I had cousins (born 70 odd years ago) called Primo and Segundo (first and second in Spanish) so I don't think we have first dibs on wacky names...

My (Argentine) great grandparents were called Angel and Innocentia (pronounced Innocence-y-aah) - how cool is that?

TheMysticMasseuse Fri 17-Jul-09 20:34:57

my grandmother had the most ridiculous name you've ever heard (it's italian, so pointless to post as it wouldn't mean anything to anyone else!). She was called something completely different all her life. When she died it was a nightmare, every single document/deed had a different name/spelling/combination....

also in italy there is a long and honoured tradition of wacky names: during the independence phase (mid-late 19th century) it was common for patriots to call their dcs with the names of foreign-occupied cities- Trento, Trieste, Italia Liberata (free Italy), etc.

Anarchists in the beginning of the 20th century called their kids non-christian names- Light, Progress, Electricity, Dynamo, Stone, etc etc- to distance themselves from the church.

edam Fri 17-Jul-09 20:43:09

All this is true but I bet if you look up the register of births pre-1980 you will find far fewer made-up or VERY unusual names. Weird names are commonplace these days, oddly enough - if you want to be really wacky, you'd call your child Peter or Jane. grin

mrswoolf Fri 17-Jul-09 20:55:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bumperslucious Fri 17-Jul-09 22:17:05

Interesting Mystic, I quite like the name Dynamo grin, sort of tempting fate though isn't it? grin

edam Fri 17-Jul-09 23:20:13

yeah, s/he would be a lazy arse who never moved off the sofa grin

Theteathings Sun 19-Jul-09 01:23:41

Love the gt granddad Christmas

There have always been unusual names but I think slebs have set the pace with 'creative' naming in the last 20 years and now we all like to do it too. Like ermm... Sir Bob and Paula Yates with trixie peaches etc and didn't David Bowie call his ds something very potty like Zowie? (and didn't he change it to something ordinary like Malcolm)

thumbwitch Sun 19-Jul-09 01:28:04

there was a children's tv programme on about this last week (not that I watch too much tv, oh no, not me, no sirree) - showing some genuine Victorian weird names - things like Happy, Sit, Silence.

It's probably always been around. Just the levels of weirdness change.

lotspot Sun 19-Jul-09 01:37:03

I'm pretty certain Wendy was a name made up in Peter Pan - it wasn't a name before that - now you wouldn't think it to be made up and wacky so over time all these unusual names seem to become commonplace and everyone forgets they were once odd - which suggests it could have always been done!

DiamondHead Sun 19-Jul-09 09:20:08

I think they're have always been unusual names - although I imagine they were less fashioable in the 40's and 50's, so perhaps we see them as a new things.

Really there aren't that many children with proper unusual names. That thread, recently with the most unusual name people had heard, there were quite a few that were fairly ordinary.

Do you actually know many children with made up names?

Scorpette Sun 19-Jul-09 11:02:28

Wendy was indeed made up by J M Barrie. My brother, who lives in Amsterdam, has several friends with made-up names (is/was quite common in The Netherlands, apparently). Most of them sound quite 'normal' (in Dutch) but the stand-out one is Rooelij (pron. Rrrrule-eye), which is a colloquial word from her parents' home town for 'yahoo/yippee'!

Yes, they were hippies.

BlueChampagne Mon 20-Jul-09 13:38:45

Shakespeare is credited with having made up Miranda. And he called his son Hamnett. You don't see that on MN lists very often. I reckon unusual names have always been about, but the media, including the internet, make it easier to share them.

On a similar line, many places are named after people, so why not reverse the trend?

My great great aunt was christened Jamesina. Everyone called her Hope...

qumquat Tue 21-Jul-09 18:08:36

Names have to start somewhere. Shakespeare invented a load and eg. I think Hayley Mills' parents invented Hayley. think it only takes one person to invent a name and others to pick up on it and soon it doesn't sound made up at all. (or else no-one picks it up and it continues to sound wacky and then dies out). It's the same with names from different languages, French names like Claire and Sophie must have sounded completely off the wall at one point as well, but now they are considered 'classic'.

nomorecake Tue 21-Jul-09 18:57:10

i dont think they invented hayley...

nomorecake Tue 21-Jul-09 19:00:17

made it popular

but im sure that names become used more widely when a someone becomes famous with that name.

mrsradders Wed 22-Jul-09 10:28:31

all names had to start somewhere so i would think that all were made up and sounded odd at some point.

in larkrise to candleford the main character was called Dorcas (i thought this very funny and obviosly made up) but actually means gazelle or doe in greek!!

and Dido (the singer...heard her parents were hippies so again asumed made up) means bold and was the phoenician princess who founded carthage in roman mythology!!!

i think it is fun to play with names but i'm not that brave!!

GrendelsMum Wed 22-Jul-09 20:48:28

In the 17th century, Puritans had a tendency to call children things such as 'Endeavour' or 'Zeal for the Lord', or my personal favourite, 'More Fruit' (I want to call my next cat 'More Fruit').

People have certainly given children other people's surnames as first names from the 16th century on, particularly if that would impress a (comparatively) wealthy relative. The only one I can think of off-hand is the well-known poet 17th century Mildmay Fane, Earl of Westmorland, named Mildmay after his mother's maiden name.

elvislives Wed 22-Jul-09 21:50:04

Well I've noticed in my own family history research that after generations of children all called Peter George William John and Henry, Sarah Mary Ann Jane Elizabeth; around the late 1800s/ early 1900s suddenly different names were coming in. All the names in fact that are fashionable for babies now- Florence, Matilda, Flora, May plus boys names like Victor, Percy and Stanley.

But there have always been fashions in names. My mums friends (b 30s-40s) were all called Brenda, Barbara, Margaret, Betty, Valerie and Patricia. The girls I went to school with (b 60s) were called Tracy, Sharon, Karen, Julie, Kim, Claire and Alison. My DD1s friends (b 80s) were Kayleigh, Kirsty, Chloe, Jodie, Samantha, Hannah. DD2s friends (b 2007) are Lily, Molly, Tilly, Maia, Ellie, Emily.

You'd no more have found a Brenda at our school than a Karen at DD1s.

TheMysticMasseuse Thu 23-Jul-09 06:58:08

whenever we want to use an example of a wacky name dh and i always use StJohn which is classical, christian, and literary and yet still manages to sound utterly made up!

nickelbabe Thu 23-Jul-09 16:33:00

mrsradders "in larkrise to candleford the main character was called Dorcas (i thought this very funny and obviosly made up) but actually means gazelle or doe in greek!!
Dorcas is from the bible - it's the other name of Teresa.

prefer Dorcas myself.... shock grin

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