The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Bergen County, NJ Edition

For being only 36 years old, I’ve lived in a lot of different places in the U.S. Each of these locales has left a lasting impression on me as a person, and I’ve made great friends in the majority of the places I’ve called home. Recently, a girl I went to high school with, who is about to have her fourth child, mentioned that all her children are named after locations near where we grew up. This fabulous avenue for name brainstorming, as well as the fact that Kyle, Felix, and I have finally settled in the place we’ll call home long-term, inspired me to blog about lists of names related to all the places I’ve lived.

This multi-part blog series will start with the place where I was born and proceed in chronological order. Today’s blog thus focuses on my birthplace—Englewood, NJ. Englewood is located in Bergen County, just across the Hudson River from the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. Since my family moved to Pennsylvania when I was only four, I don’t have as many direct memories of my childhood in New Jersey as I would like. However, because I still have close family members who live in Bergen County and the surrounding areas, I am very familiar with and have a special place in my heart for this region.

So, please enjoy these unique names inspired by my original hometown area!

The boys’ name Baker (Bae-curr) is more popular than most I include on this blog; it debuted on the U.S. top 1,000 list in 2018 at #712. Still, this name makes the cut because I needed a way to honor the beloved Hackensack bakery, B&W Bakery. As a piece of general knowledge for those of you who have never lived in or been to New Jersey, bakeries are a huge cultural Jersey tradition. As such, the quality of these establishments is just plain superior to bakeries pretty much anywhere else (in the U.S, at least). B&W is most renowned for its coffee cake, a treat that my family has to have every time we visit Jersey or have our Jersey relatives come visit us. Baker is one of many English occupational surnames (Baker), and Bay or Kerr are cute nickname options.  

As noted above, Englewood is located in Bergen County. But the name Bergen (Burr-gin, with a hard g) has special meaning for me primarily because I spent a lot of time as a child at my Granny and Grampy’s house on Moose Lane in Bergenfield. One particular random memory that always sticks out in my mind is picking and eating fresh-grown chives from Grampy’s backyard garden. I also recall fondly many a New Year’s celebration at the Bergenfield house. Bergen is a unisex name of Scandinavian origin that means “lives on a hill” (Bergen).

Cress / Cressa
Cress (b) and Cressa (g) (Kress / Kress-uh) are inspired by the town of Cresskill. This is another place I have great memories of, since some of my dearest family members still live there, and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to visit them once or twice a year. Cresskill is your typical Jersey suburb town—quiet, somewhat affluent, and full of diversity. My favorite memories of Cresskill are of spending time with my family and eating delicious, authentic Jersey pizza and bagels. The boys’ name Cress and the girls’ name Cressa are inspired by a group of cruciferous plants, whose leaves are often used in salads (Cress). Cress and Cressa join a long line of baby names ending in –ess / essa, such as Jess / Jessa, Tess / Tessa, and Kess / Kessa. Or, for those who prefer something slightly more recognizable, Cressida could also be considered an honor name for the town of Cresskill.  

Dumont (Doo-mont) is another classic Jersey suburb. When I was young, I often visited (and, at one point, lived with) my grandparents on my Mom’s side, Mimi and Pop Pop. And though Pop Pop is deceased and I do not have a relationship with Mimi (for family drama reasons I won’t bore you with), I do have some fond memories of being at their home with my Mom, playing with their Collie dog, and playing in their sun porch and backyard. Dumont is a distinguished, preppy boys’ name that means “of the mountain” in French (Dumont). I think Monty would be a very cute nickname for Dumont.

While I don’t have any direct memories of Garfield, my mom often regales us with tales of how she and my dad once lived in a very tiny apartment in this town when my siblings and I were very young. One (kind of embarrassing) story Mom tells is that, in the Garfield apartment, Mom had a special wall reserved for me to projectile vomit on every day, since I apparently had some stomach issues as an infant. (TMI?) Though sound-wise the boys’ name Garfield (Garr-field) is stately and unique, the meaning is somewhat pedestrian: a triangular field. (Garfield). And the association with a U.S. president who got assassinated may give parents pause (James Garfield). Still, if you’re hoping for a son who loves to sleep and houses multiple pans of lasagna in one sitting, then Garfield could be the right name for you.  

Leonia (Lee-oh-nee-uh) is one of those Jersey towns that I’ve passed signs for my whole life but never actually been to. But, if I’m not considering personal connections, this is probably my favorite name on today’s list. Leonia means “lion” (Leonia), and it’s a pretty, shorter alternative to longer (but still gorgeous) girls’ names like Leonida or Leocadia.  Lee, Lia, or Nia are all great nickname options.

Ramsey (Ram-zee) is my second-favorite name on this list, despite its association with the famous hot-headed chef, Gordon Ramsey. I have not spent a ton of time in this particular Jersey town, but I do have family members from there who I enjoy seeing at Jersey family events. A place name of Scottish ancestry (Ramsey), many might think of Ramsey as only or primarily a boys’ name, but it is actually gaining traction as a girls’ name as well.

Ridgewood is yet another consummate Jersey suburb. Located next door to many of the Jersey towns I frequent most, I’ve been in Ridgewood for many things over the years. In particular, I remember once participating in a 5K walk / run in this town with my dad. And I also have fond memories of going to the Ridgewood outdoor pool with Dad and my two youngest siblings, Sarah and Josh, during visits to NJ. Ridge is a word name that has become increasingly popular since 2015, especially as a middle name; it was #702 on the U.S. top 1,000 in 2018 for boys’ first names. This name is considered a boys’ name only for now, though I could easily see it transitioning to a unisex name over the next several years.  

Rutherford is another Jersey town that I’ve always seen signs for but never visited. But I like Rutherford (Ruh-thur-ferd) a lot as a boys’ name, especially with the possible nickname Ford (which I love because it’s a nod to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). Rutherford is a Scottish / English place name.

Though Waldwick is another Jersey town that I don’t have a deep personal connection to, I spent a lot of time visiting family in the neighboring town of Midland Park. In particular, I spent a lot of time there hanging with my cousin Kim, rocking out to the classic 90s band Hanson. And even though names that end in –wick are super pretentious, I must confess I still like the boys’ name Waldwick (Wald-wick). As a nature lover, perhaps my affinity for this name comes from its beautiful meaning: “village in the forest” (Waldwick).

Photo credit: Doc Searls

Author: thebabynamebuff

Hi, I'm Vickie. I'm a baby name enthusiast, and I'm excited to share and discuss with others the unique baby names I find. Besides talking and writing about baby names all day long, I also enjoy spending time with family, hiking, astronomy, reading (mostly science fiction and dystopias), and all things Star Trek. (Are you noticing a theme?) I currently live in Champaign, IL with my husband, Kyle, and my son, Felix.

2 thoughts on “The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Bergen County, NJ Edition”

  1. For the record (Bergen Record reference…that was the newspaper when we lived in Jersey…lol) you were not even 3 when we moved to PA. I especially enjoyed this weeks blog…very nostalgic. I am picking Dumont as my favorite name on this list because it sounds cool and I like Monty as the nickname. Although it is probably more associated with a boy name I think it would work for a girl and the nickname could be spelled Montee in that case (I think you are rubbing off on me Vix). Obviously I am also particularly fond of Dumont as a large part of my formative year were spent there. 💜


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