The Baby Name Buff: Parks and Recreation

Do you love the TV show Parks and Recreation as much as I do? If so, check out this list of baby names inspired by Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) and her quirky crew.

Linsday Carlisle Shay (Parker Posey) is Leslie Knope’s former best friend who betrayed her by taking a job in and moving to–gasp!–the rich-and-snooty neighboring town of Eagleton. When I searched the U.S. SSN database just now, Carlisle (CAR-lie-uhl) did not show up as ever having been in the top 1,000, even though I get the sense that this name used to be very popular, maybe prior to when the U.S. started collecting name data. Just don’t name your kid Carlisle unless you like the Twilight book series, since that is the association most people are going to make, with the character Carlisle Cullen. Car / Carr or Lyle are good nickname options.

Another recurring bit character from Eagleton is Ingrid De Forest, played by Kristen Bell. DeForest (Duh-FOR-ist) was actually almost my son’s middle name, as an homage to DeForest Kelly, who played Dr. McCoy on Star Trek: TOS. (We ended up going with Felix Orion instead of Felix DeForest–a tough choice!) This boys’ name is a nice alternative to plain-old Forest, which is still a good name in its own right.

You know how some people have celebrity crushes? One step removed from that, my top fictional character crush of all time is the character of Ben Wyatt from Parks and Rec. Anyone who knows me knows I love nerds, and there’s no one geekier than him! To wit, Ben created an elaborate role-playing game called Cones of Dunshire (which is now an actual game you can purchase and play in real life). Dunshire (DUNN-shy-er) is a preppy boys’ name with multiple cool nickname options: Dunn, Shy, Shae, and Shire.

Who could forget the Pawnee Harvest Festival? An event Leslie Knope spearheaded to help save Pawnee financially, the Harvest Festival is consummate Pawnee–cute and super local. The girls’ name Harvest (HAR-vist) is becoming increasingly popular, especially as a middle name.

Burt Macklin is not a character on the show Parks and Rec. Rather, he is the alter ego of one of the show’s characters (Andy Dwyer, played by Chris Pratt). Andy is a lovable buffoon who–for various reasons–sometimes adopts disguises, the foremost of which is “Burt Macklin, FBI.” Macklin (MACK-lin) is gaining popularity as a boys’ name, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one bust into the U.S. top 1,000 for the 2019 or 2020 list. And Mac / Mack is an awesome nickname.

Orin (played by Eric Isenhower) is the creepy goth friend of one of the show’s main characters, April Ludgate (played by Aubrey Plaza). And while everyone on the show is a little afraid of Orin, there’s only one thing Orin is afraid of: Chris Traeger! (See the entry on the name Traeger, below, for more about this character.) Orin (ORE-in) is more typically spelled Orrin, a name that was in the U.S. boys’ top 1,000 sporadically between 1900 to 1961.

“We all fell into the pit.” ‘Nuff said. Can Pitt work as a baby (boys’) name? Maybe. I would see it more as a middle name, though.

Retta’s portrayal of Donna Meagle is exemplary in terms of how well she conveys both humor and deep character development. Retta’s character–in conjunction with her co-worker Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari)–also gifted the world with “Treat Yo Self ” Day, a concept I love and need to employ more often. The girls’ name Retta (RET-uh) is a fun, spunky alternative to its more common counterpart, Etta. I would also really like this name spelled with an h: Rhetta.

Ron Swanson–played by Nick Offerman–might be my favorite TV show character of all time, from any show. (It’s a toss up between him and Data from Star Trek: TNG.) Ron is a woods-loving, hard-core libertarian who loves steak, scotch, and strong women (who are typically named Tammy). So, naming your son Swanson (SWAN-sin) will no doubt set him up for a lifetime of badassery.

Rob Lowe’s character on Parks and Rec, Chris Traeger, is known for being hyper-positive, always staying ridiculously physically fit, and saying “literally” a lot. As a boys’ first name, Traeger (TRAY-ger) has a trendy vibe, with Trey as an obvious and adorable nickname.

Bonus Names
Plaza (for actress Aubrey Plaza)
Dwyer (for character Andy Dwyer)
Pratt (for actor Chris Pratt)
Rashida (for actress Rashida Jones)
Aziz (for actor Aziz Ansari)
Ansari (for actor Aziz Ansari)
Lowe (for actor Rob Lowe)
Pawnee (for the name of the town in which the show takes place)
Perd (for character Perd Hapley)
Hapley (for character Perd Hapley)
Jean-Ralphio (for character Jean-Ralphio Saperstein)
Dexhart (for character Councilman Dexhart)
Mona-Lisa (for character Mona-Lisa Saperstein)
Boraqua (for Pawnee’s sister city in Venezuela)
Mulligan (for Charles Mulligan’s Steak House, a place Ron Swanson loves)
Elmo (for St. Elmo’s Steak House, another place Ron Swanson loves)

Photo credit: Trending Topics 2019
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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.

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