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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

The game of the name

Holy cow, maybe this partisan divide thing has gone too far:

Styles of baby names, it seems, are nearly as different in various parts of the country as voting habits. "There is an enormous red state and blue state divide on names," says Laura Wattenberg, founder of BabyNameWizard.com and author of The Baby Name Wizard, which claims to be "the expert guide to baby name style."

But this doesn't break down the way you might think. The creative and androgynous names -- like Paislee and Liberty and Scottlynn and Rykan -- tend to come from more conservative red state areas. In progressive blue state areas, they tend to go with traditional names such as Evan, Elizabeth, Rachel, Abigail and John. Why? "Women in red states tend to have their first children earlier than women in blue states. A 23-year-old mom is more likely to come up with something out of the ordinary than one who is 33."

The article also notes that the number of children given trendy names is much less than it was a generation ago. At the height of the baby boom, nearly 25 percent of all boys and girls had the 10 most popular names. Now only about 8 percent do.

When I was a child, I had no idea Leonard meant "brave or hardy lion" when translated from the Old German. If I had, I probably wouldn't have started responding to Leo in high school. On the other hand, Leo sounds a little more cuddly. Leonard sounds like the character Tony Randall played in all those movies where Rock Hudson stole Doris Day away from him. Neither name is all that popular. Leonard ranks 755th this year, although it is up from 847th last year and 911th back in 2008.  Leo does a little better -- 90th this year, up from 144th in 2008.


Tue, 05/15/2012 - 2:48pm

Red state women are also more likely to be poor, young and unmarried. So much for "abstinence" training. They are likewise likely to be less educated and to score lower on IQ tests. You Republicans run some really swell states. I can see why you want to inflict your values on the rest of the country.

Tue, 05/15/2012 - 4:43pm

I'm not sure how Laura Wattenberg can tell the difference between a red state and a blue state.

After the election in November, when 50 states go red, it will appear to throw her numbers off a little.