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Place Names

In This Article:

Page 1

Misnomers

Using a city name as a given name is unusual enough. Don't make it even more uncommon with a variant spelling. Brooklyn is preferable to Brookelyn or Brooklynne, which both appeared (along with Brooklyn) as names given to baby girls in 1997.

What's in a Name

The fashion for giving children names related to where they were conceived or where their parents were when they learned that they were expecting has become very visible, thanks to several celebrities who gave these reasons for their name choices. Victoria Adams (Posh Spice), for example, chose Brooklyn Joseph for the name of her son, as she was in New York when she learned about her pregnancy.

Names derived from geographical characteristics or places are one of the fastest-growing name fashions today. Whether it will become more than a fad is hard to say, as this is a fashion that has influenced the naming arena for many years. The precursor to this fashion – turning place names into surnames and then appropriating them for first names – has been around for centuries. Many of these names are still widely used today.

The current popularity of this name fashion has a lot to do with our growing fondness for names with an androgynous or unisex feel, as most of the names from nature give very little indication as to the gender of the children who bear them. Other reasons for choosing names in this category include:

  • The desire to commemorate a special place.
  • Evoking a certain feel or image, such as choosing a western place name because you like the feel of that part of the country.
  • No particular reason beyond the fact that it's a good name that appeals to you!

When it comes to selecting a place name for a given name, the choices are almost limitless.

Places to Be

Currently fashionable place names or those poised to make it onto the hit parade soon are:

Boys' Names:

  • Brent: An Old English place name meaning "mount" or "hilltop."
  • Brett: A Celtic name meaning "man from Britain." Somewhat popular for boys and girls.
  • Dallas: Better known as the city in Texas, but it's also a village in northeastern Scotland. Used for boys and girls.
  • Kent: The county in England, and another monosyllabic name that finds favor with many parents.
  • Lane: An English place name meaning "path" or "roadway."
  • Montana: In Latin, it means "mountainous," and the state that bears this name certainly is. It can be used for both boys and girls and is currently popular thanks to the vogue for western names.
  • Tyrone: It's Irish for "land of Owen." Currently a popular African-American given name, as it has similar elements to many popular created names.

Girls' Names:

What's in a Name

The current popularity of the name Savannah could be due to the early 1990s movie The Prince of Tides, based on Pat Conroy's best-selling novel of the same name. Savannah was one of several main characters around whom both the novel and movie revolved.

  • Brooke: Old English place name, meaning "near a stream or brook." Probably exclusively for girls these days, although this was once a strong unisex name.
  • Cambria: Both a geological period and a term describing ancient Wales. A pretty name, and probably one of the better, albeit unusual, uses of a place name for a given name.
  • Carmel: This Hebrew name means "garden." Carmel is also the name of one of the better-known oceanside communities in California.
  • Dakota: Place name derived from the Sioux Indian word for "friend" or "ally." Currently very popular for boys and girls.
  • Glenna: A glen is a small valley situated between hills.
  • Jordan: As in the River Jordan.
  • Kyle: It means "narrow spit of land" in Scotland. This was a popular boys' name during the 1960s and '70s and is still considered more masculine than feminine.
  • Lane: As a girls' name, this can also be spelled Laine or Layne
  • .

  • Montana: See boys' names above.
  • Savannah: This geographical term comes from the Spanish word for "treeless," and it describes a wide, open plain. It's a city in Georgia and a very popular girls' name at the moment.
  • Shannon: Lots of connections to the Emerald Isle here, but it's almost exclusively used as a given name in the U.S., not in Ireland.
  • Shelby: An English place name meaning "state on the ledge."
  • Shelley: Means "meadow on the ledge" and is a possible alternative to Shelby.
  • Sienna: When spelled Siena, it's a town in Italy. It's currently gaining in popularity.
  • Sierra: A place name from the Spanish word for "saw," as in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.


Next: Page 2 >>

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.


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