Baby Names and Hunger Games

Many people believe that the name you give your child will influence certain things about them. There are, after all, giant books of  baby names, some of which include a description of what the name means or represents. But people aren’t generally cognizant of the cultural trends of baby names. In the last half-century, the biggest factor of name-trends was, of course, television. For example, the popularity of one American soap opera of the 1980’s, called One Life to Live, led hundreds of parents to name their kids after one of the characters, “Cordero.” This year, the names that are getting big boosts in popularity are coming mostly from blockbuster movies.

This list does not indicate the most popular names of the year, but the names that got the biggest boosts in popularity since last year. It was made by NameBerry.com, who compared names registered in 2012 with those from 2011.

  1. Rue – This the name of one of the main female characters from the book (and later, the movie) “Hunger Games.”
  2. Emmett – This is the name of one of the best-looking vampires in the book/movie series “Twilight.” Apparently other boys’ names ending in “ett” also gained popularity, such as “Everett” and “Beckett.”
  3. Ivy – This name became popular because of American music stars Jay-Z and Beyonce, who named their child “Blue Ivy Carter.”
  4. Weston – Apparently names that start with “Wes,” such as “Weston,” “Wesley,” and “West,” have gained popularity. It has been suggested that Jenna Fischer, better known as “Pam” from the American version of The Office, had started this trend after she named her child Weston last year.
  5. Adele – This is probably quite straightforward – the young English singer who is so critically acclaimed that she has her own Wikipedia page dedicated entirely to her awards.
  6. Grayson – “Grayson” (and “Gray,” for whatever reason) were probably popularized from the new TV series “Revenge.” Grayson is the good-looking male character of the series.
  7. Cyrus – It’s not clear why this random historical name has come back recently with such popularity, but Miley Cyrus probably has something to do with it.
  8. Cato – Another character from Hunger Games, Cato is the major male villain of the story. Evidently even the “bad guys” can have names that catch on.

Other names that grew in popularity were “Blythe,” and “Aria,” which possibly came from “Arya,” from the book series (and now TV series) “Game of Thrones.”

The interesting thing to take away from this is that we are often inspired by others – fictional characters or real people – who influence how we name our children. Just like here in Japan, where people sometimes get baby names from child celebrities, people around the world find names in sometimes strange places.

The funny thing about this name-taking phenomenon is that many celebrity parents are notorious for naming their children unique names; and the ones who especially want their children to be unique are going to have those names taken by others. So Jay-Z and Beyonce had an interesting and significant reason to name their child “Ivy,” but others may just like the way it sounds.

So if you’re planning on naming someone a unique name, you might want to think about how popular that “unique” name really is.

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