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Naming Fashions

While personal names don't go through the same rapid spin cycle as some fashions or products do, it's no secret that some names hang in there on the popularity lists year after year, while others seem to come on and drop off in the blink of an eye.

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Name fashions relate to particular naming styles that are popular at certain points in time or naming traditions used by specific ethnic or religious groups. They can be influenced by historical events, religious customs, or individual practices and beliefs.

Many of the names that were in vogue when you were born have very likely faded in popularity by now. Your own name, in fact, may be one of those faded stars, unless you were given a perennially popular name that never quite goes away. Throw your parents' or your grandparents' names into the mix, and the changes in how babies are named over the years will become even more apparent—especially when it comes to womens' names, which, like our clothing and hair styles, change more frequently than men's do.

Why this happens is largely due to the naming styles—also known as name fashions—that are popular when you and your relatives were born. These can range from such classic fashions as naming children after royalty—a common naming style in Europe for many centuries—to such current naming fashions as culling names from special places or geological terms, creating names, using last names as first names, and using androgynous or unisex names for both boys and girls.

Some naming fashions, like naming children after royalty, are very traditional, although they will cycle in and out of popularity. Others, such as using pet names instead of formal names, are often more trendy and tied into a certain person or event that has had a strong influence on current events at a given point in time. Still others are particular to the habits and traditions of certain ethnic or religious groups.

More on: Choosing a Name


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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