What’s in a Name? – Letters, Sounds, and Associations


You know Juliet’s famous question and answer:

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.

True, it would, but on the other hand, if a rose went by the name ort[1], it might not seem to smell as sweet – you purchase a dozen red orts for your love; life is certainly no bed of orts; may I introduce you to my fiancée, Ortmarie?

Because I’m so attuned to the auditory essences of words, it sometimes surprises the combination of sounds parents choose when naming their newborns.

Take the name Michaela Loeb Krawcheck, for example.

Although Michaela’s a lovely name and Michaela Krawcheck’s okay, the first and last names don’t meld well the the spondaic middle name Loeb. It’s too much of a mouthful. Plus, your tongue has to go on a rollercoaster ride up and down the palate to spit it out.

No doubt Loeb is a family name, and homage is being paid.  Here’s an alternative: Lila Loeb Krawcheck.  Or ditch the Loeb and go Americana with Michaela Lou Krawcheck, or if that’s too low rent for your taste, Michaela Louise Krawcheck.  If my last name were Krawcheck, I might go all out with Michaela Loquacia Krawcheck, copping a rhyme with the twin trisyllabic first and second names.

Now, you’re talking.

However, most people are more visual than auditory, and of course, most names have origins, which people may be interested in karmically copping, e.g., Lucas = light-giving, as in lucent (or Lucifer).


Here’s a small sampling of newborn names that are trending in 2016.  First, let’s check out female names cited by the website baby center.

Romance is on the rise:  Amelia, Olivia, Gabriella, Ariana, and Camila are hot names for newborn girls in ’16.  Very Shakespearean.

What I call soap opera names, gender-neutral surnames, remain popular. Among them Addison, Brooklyn, Peyton, and Sydney.  These names suggest old money, whether there’s any or not.

One last trend features rather old-fashioned names like Sadie, Ruby, and Hazel, which is interesting because my grandmother was named Hazel, and she had two sisters, Ruby and Pearl.  No Sapphires, however. I certainly hope girls who receive these names are blessed with beauty.  A homely Hazel or sadsack Sadie might be better off as an Addison or a Brroklyn.

Okay.  What’s happening on the Y-chromosome side of the ledger.

Switching to the mom 365 website, we find they actually have the boys’ names ranked according to popularity.  Here’s the top ten: Noah, Liam, Mason, Michael, Elijah, Jacob, Ethan, James, Aiden, Benjamin.

What in the world are Michael, Jacob, James, and Benjamin doing in there?  I know some Mikes, Jims, Jakes, and Bens, though I suspect that none of these names will be shortened if the school where I teach is any indicator.  Michaels are not rare there, but you’ll never encounter a Mike under 30.

Of all the names I ran across in my cursory research, the hot trending name that most caught my eye was Jagger.  It sounds cool.  It conjures cavorting Mick.  But, like I say, make sure it goes well with the other names.  John Jagger Jones sounds a lot better than Jagger Tate Garbowski.

Oh yeah, here are a few names not trending in 2016:



Ellie Mae







[1] Actually, ort is the Anglo-Saxon word for table scrap.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s