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What’s In a Name?

Old-fashioned, ethnic, and non-names

Old-Fashioned Names

Girls: Eleanor, Emma, Grace, Rose, Sophia

Boys: Gus, Isaiah, Nathaniel, Tobias, Zachariah

Many old-fashioned names are back in favor. Whether you choose a revived classic or a historic name that hasn't been rediscovered, you tend to be a gentle soul who loves traditional things. You may live in a historic house, wear classic clothes, and dream of vacationing in posh locales like Martha's Vineyard or London. Family and religion may be important to you, and you either have money or you would like to!

Ethnic Names

Girls: Annika, Francesca, Maeve, Natalya

Boys: Ajani, Claudio, Liam, Malik, Soren

If you favor an ethnic name that honors your family and your ancestry, it's obvious that you're proud of your heritage and want to trumpet it to the world. Or maybe you're attracted to names reminiscent of a place you love. The meaning of that is pretty straightforward, too: a desire to symbolize something important to you. But if you love names with an ethnic derivation that's not your own, from a place you've never been and may not even care to visit, the message is more complicated. You may aspire to a background or a life more exotic than yours. Or you could be looking to inject some complexity and spice into your life. As long as you're not seeking to deny who you are, a name is a safe and fun way to be adventurous.


Girls/Boys: Blue, Gardener, London, Plum, Racer

Almost any word can be a name today, and by looking for a name for your child on a map or in the dictionary, you qualify as a true iconoclast. Instead of scoffing when Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple, you took a tour of your own kitchen in search of inspiration. You want a name with real personal meaning, and you're willing to stretch the conventional boundaries to find it. You undoubtedly push hard in other ways, too, insisting that your job, your relationships, and your inner life be all they can be, even if that means taking risks and breaking some rules.


Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz are the best-selling authors of eight baby-naming books, including Beyond Jennifer & Jason, Madison & Montana and Cool Names for Babies.