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The History of Created Names

Misnomers

Creating an entirely new name may be exactly the baby-name solution that you've been looking for, but it's not necessarily an easy process. Be prepared for some additional rounds of tug-of-war in the future, especially if you've already experienced them in your baby-naming experiences to date.

Neo-names come from existing name pools. They are created from elements of other names (for the most part—we'll get to the exceptions later) that are already in existence.

Yes, all names are created—someone had to have a reason for coming up with them at some point, after all! But neo-names stand apart from the others in the name pool for the following reasons:

  • They're the newest creations and the newest additions to the name pool.
  • They're singular and very unique, which means there's a slim chance of them recurring with any frequency for any other reason besides serendipity.
  • They're not derivative or diminutive names—in other words, they aren't nicknames or pet names. Neo-names truly are new creations, formed in ways that are very different from how derivatives and pet names come about.

Neo-names are often the name style of choice for parents who are looking for something new. But there are other reasons for choosing them, too. Maybe you want to honor not one parent but both with your baby's given name.

Maybe you need to strike a compromise between several names. Or you may want to give your baby a name with a truly unique meaning, a name that reflects a special part of your life together or a significant experience that you've shared. Developing a neo-name can not only take on greater importance to you, it can also make your child feel very special knowing that the name he or she bears was created as a symbol of something that is important and cherished by his or her parents.

If, for whatever reason, you find yourself having a difficult time going with a name from any of the other name categories that are in existence, then a neo-name that bears your mark and no one else's is probably exactly right for your specific situation. If so, you've come to the right place to learn everything you need to know about a neo-name for your neo-kid!

Neo-Names for a Neo-Country

Alphabet Soup

The process of creating a new word is known as neology. Neologisms are new words or new meanings for established words, and the people who create them are known as neologists, of course!

Name Dropping

Because neo-names are new and unusual, they carry the same potential for teasing and ribbing as do other unusual or uncommon names. While it can be fun to create a new name that's never been used before, it's also a good idea to stick with a created name that's not too far away from the norm.

If you were to travel around the world and visit just about every other culture in existence, the chances are slim of finding this trend anywhere else. This particular naming fashion is unique and singular to North America—and, in particular, to the United States.

This passion for created names in the U.S. hasn't gone unnoticed outside of our borders, though. Newer-sounding names are indeed popping up in other parts of the world. Still, the U.S. is far and away the leader when it comes to adding new names to the name pool. New names crop up in the U.S. on a daily basis and are taking their place in a naming pool that is already the largest in the world.

No one is exactly sure why the U.S. can claim this name fashion as its own, or how it happened to become such a uniquely American fashion. One thing is for certain: If there is any such thing as a truly American name (aside from Native American names, of course), it's a created name!

Neo-History

Misnomers

With the exception of Brianna, most created names are unusual enough to keep them from gaining much popularity. While it can be fun to come up with a moniker that sets your wee one apart from the rest of the pre-school crowd, keep in mind that such a distinction may wear very thin as time goes on.

Created names actually have a long history in the U.S., dating back to the time following the Civil War when slavery was abolished. Many of the newly freed slaves no longer desired to bear the names that had been given to them by their former masters, and they also wanted names that sounded unique.

So much of their heritage and culture had been destroyed that they no longer knew what their traditional names were or what they sounded like. For this reason, they created names from the ones that were in existence in the U.S. at the time, but made them new by adding certain sounds that set them apart from all others.

Another group of people who had a strong influence on the development of created names in America were (and still are!) the Mormons. This group created a name pool that is unique to its religion and to the state of Utah, which the Mormons founded after their leaders fled religious prosecution in other parts of the U.S.

The Mormons have used every imaginable twist and turn to create names, and rank at the top of everyone's list when it comes to truly unique names. Such unusual names as Jentill, Truthanne, Lexine, and Artax came from—you guessed it—new parents that either live in the Beehive State or have close ties to it.

More on: Choosing a Name

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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.


August 31, 2014



Leftovers make deliciously healthy lunches, and save a lot of time. Use last night's dinner leftovers as the basis of your child's lunch — adding just one or two extra ingredients can make it seem like an entirely different meal.


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