The Baby Name Buff: Car Models Edition

Road trips are a great American summertime tradition; the warm weather is a perfect time to go cruising in your car with the windows down and the stereo up. As such, this week’s blog presents a list of baby names inspired by car models.


Photo credit: loubeat

The Baby Name Buff: Manga Edition

Guest blogger: Kevin Garton

In this edition of The Baby Name Buff, we’ll be going over some names from manga—Japanese comic books! As far as naming goes, manga is very cosmopolitan, including not only Japanese names but many names from the West, especially English, given the number of stories that take place outside of Japan or in fictional settings heavily inspired by historical Western countries. Some names are wholly invented for a setting with little basis in reality or taken from words that wouldn’t usually be names. Presented here is a collection of names that should touch on a number of different Japanese genres, including names that are common in Japan, names that may already be recognizable to English speakers, and names that are all but unique to the manga that made them popular. This collection also focuses on names from series I’m personally familiar with and my favorite characters from those series. So if you’re looking to name your kid with a pop-culture reference from the fringes of the mainstream, or if you’d like some comics to add to your reading list, this post may be a decent place to start!

A word on nicknames: Japanese uses an honorific system in which a person’s name is suffixed with a word indicating something about the speaker’s relation to them, called an “honorific.” Probably the best-known in the English-speaking world is “-sensei,” which indicates that the person referenced has a formal teacher’s relationship to the speaker. There are other, similar words that are used to indicate informal relationships: “-chan” and “-kun” are diminutives applied to girls and boys, respectively, and can be attached to any name to give it the feel of a nickname.

    1. Utena (oo-ten-uh): This is the name of the protagonist from Chiho Saito’s Revolutionary Girl Utena, a series best known for its anime adaptation. Her name literally means “calyx,” the leaves that protect an unopened flower bud and later the open flower’s underside; as a namesake, Utena stands for courage, independence, and defiance of gender norms. Having been rescued by a prince at a young age, Utena is inspired to become a prince herself. She eschews the scarf and skirt of her school’s girls’ uniform in favor of the blazer and trousers of its boys’ uniform—and attracts a large amount of attention from other girls by virtue of her dashing figure and prowess at sports. As such, Utena is a good option for parents who prize a revolutionary spirit that refuses to bend to tradition, a strong sense of justice, and athleticism. Options for nicknames include “Tenny” and the series title, “Revolutionary Girl.”

    2. Anthy (anne-thie): Anthy is one of the most important characters from Revolutionary Girl Utena, after Utena herself. The vessel of a supernatural power that motivates most of the conflict in the story, Anthy is fated to serve anyone who wins a duel to control that power. In this sense, Anthy stands for traditional feminine ideals: she is beautiful, subservient, and the key to enormous power that she is unable to wield herself. By the end of the story, however, it’s clear that Utena has succeeded in freeing her from her supernatural bonds and granting her autonomy. If there is any flower that Utena, the “calyx,” protects and nurtures as it blooms, Anthy is that flower. The prominence of rose imagery throughout Revolutionary Gril Utena and Anthy’s title of “The Rose Bride” provide solid links to the flower for parents interested in horticultural names. Given her journey from meek obedience to confident independence, naming your child “Anthy” is a hopeful sign that your daughter will be able to use the power handed down to her to seize the future and revolutionize the world.

    3. Rock (rawk): The name “Rock” appears in three different contexts (that I know of) in the world of manga: multiple times throughout the works of Osamu Tezuka; in the name of Rokuro Okajima, a character from Rei Hiroe’s Black Lagoon; and in the name of Rock Lee, from Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto. Curiously, these characters represent between them a continuity of perspective that offers a parent a full array of values they could ascribe to the name and also allows room for their child to choose their own favorite association.

Osamu Tezuka is one of the most prolific and without a doubt the most influential mangaka of all time. Working over a period of just over forty years, it was he more than anyone else that defined the style of Japanese comics that we know today. A character named “Rock” appears in a number of his works, many times with a similar appearance and personality but never a narrative continuity. While Tezuka’s “Rock” does have some stints as a hero, he appears most often as an antihero who’s willing to use whatever brutal means are necessary to achieve otherwise positively-motivated ends. As a namesake, Tezuka’s Rock stands for guile, ambition, and perseverance, even in defiance of mainstream values. In this way, Tezuka’s Rock offers a similar flavor of namesake to Star Wars’ Sith.

The Rock from Rei Hiroe’s Black Lagoon is a much more ambivalent namesake. Originally named “Rokuro Okajima,” this character is a burnt-out Japanese office worker who discovers he’s been accidentally caught up in a corrupt criminal operation perpetrated by his employers. He gains the nickname “Rock” once he falls in with a band of expat American mercenaries operating out of Thailand. Caught between his milquetoast rearing and the brutality he’s thrust into, Rock’s struggle is to reconcile the ideals of his affluent upbringing and the heartless reality he’s forced to stare down. Ultimately, he manages to carve a niche out for himself, straddling the divide between the two worlds. Being the product of such conflicting forces and ideals, Hiroe’s “Rock” provides a namesake who stands for adaptability, creativity, and bravery—bravery both to accept the hard fact of compromise and to stare down the barrel of a gun if that’s what it takes to keep his ideals alive.

On the opposite end of the spectrum from Tezuka’s Rock is Masashi Kishimoto’s Rock Lee, from the super-popular title Naruto. Rock Lee is the incorruptible “good boy” of the Naruto universe. Unable to use almost all of the supernatural abilities that define the fighting in the combat-oriented series, Kishimoto’s Rock is determined to make up the deficit with hard work and discipline. While he lacks social graces (proving particularly inept around his romantic interests), and though other characters frequently poke fun at his dorky appearance, he is utterly dependable and committed to fighting the good fight. His raw effort and dedication make him a namesake that stands for integrity, honest work, and a blindness to obstacles.

Though they run a gamut of perspectives, all three of these Rocks possess a strong philosophical anchor. They all share a willingness to do whatever it takes, whether a willingness to resort to extreme means, a willingness to compromise where you have to so you can hold fast in other places, or a willingness to work that much harder to accomplish your dreams. Thus, no matter which of these Rocks you decide to attribute your child’s name to (or that they later decide they’re named after), they’ll have a legacy of steadfastness and commitment to ideals to live up to.

TBNB Note: The name Rock has actually been in the top 1,000 before. But our guest blogger didn’t know that, and his information on this name was just too cool to omit, so I made an exception.

    4. Revy (rev-vee): Revy is another nickname from Rei Hiroe’s Black Lagoon. A member of the same expat American mercenary gang Rock joins, Rebecca “Revy” Lee is a gutsy gunslinger who’s famous for wielding a pistol in each hand at the same time. A mercenary punk who takes no guff, her nickname “Revy” represents a namesake for daring, extreme skill, and good, old-fashioned kick-ass. Through the brief flashes we see of her traumatic past, she also represents a cautionary tale that you can’t run away from your problems forever. Because Revy is a nickname, it offers flexibility: you can name your child Rebecca in order to provide a normal fallback while using the nickname Revy (probably until the teenage years when a new identity, distanced from mom and dad’s weird Japan stuff, might become desirable).

    5. Syaoran (shau-ron): The final “Lee” on this list is Syaoran Li from CLAMP’s CardCaptor Sakura. Syaoran (written 小狼 Xiǎoláng, meaning “little wolf”) first appears asserting that, by right of blood,  he should take over the supernatural duties bestowed on Sakura, the title character. Over time, Syaoran comes to recognize Sakura’s strength, decides not to contest her claim to the title, and instead supports her efforts. Thus, Syaoran provides a namesake that represents strength that isn’t overbearing, a willingness to revise one’s beliefs in the face of evidence, and a strong desire to do the right thing—even if it means stepping out of the spotlight. As the title character’s ultimate romantic interest, he also represents a love that does not make demands or set limits but a love that provides support and helps to create possibilities. Syaoran’s name is Chinese, the character having been born and raised in Hong Kong, adding a distinctly Chinese cosmopolitan twist. Its meaning also provides a good nickname in “little wolf.” It could also be shortened to “Ron” in case your child decides they’d rather not draw attention from an unusual name.

    6. Riza (ree-zuh): Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye is a character from Hiromu Arakaway’s Fullmetal Alchemist. As a crack sniper, she represents discipline and highly refined skill; as a member of an insurrectionist clique of the military intent on overthrowing a corrupt regime, she represents something more sophisticated. She acts as a subordinate to the clique’s leader but never follows his instructions without question. Her discipline does not manifest as blind, immediate obedience but rather as the ability to think critically under high pressure and make incisive judgments at critical moments. She is not afraid to critique her superior and is willing and ready to point a gun at him in order to force him to acknowledge when his motivations are sliding off the rails. Riza provides a namesake that represents willfulness that binds people together, combined with the discipline and bravery to act decisively when the situation demands it. Parents wishing to instill in their children a sense of purpose, even without regard to acclaim and recognition, have a fabulous namesake in Arakawa’s “Riza.” Her surname, “Hawkeye,” could serve as a nickname, a middle name, or both. Daring parents may even use “Hawkeye” as a given name.

    7. Kagami (kah-gah-mee): 鏡kagami is an everyday Japanese word meaning “mirror” that is also used as a female given name. I was introduced to this name through the character Kagami Hiiragi from Lucky Star, who shares a name with this title’s author, Kagami Yoshimizu. Both the author and the character write their name phonetically as かがみ, without using the Japanese character for mirror. Throughout the everyday snapshots of high school life that constitute Lucky Star, Kagami lives up to her name and acts as a metaphorical mirror; she’s quick to hold other characters’ flaws and idiosyncrasies in their face, sometimes as a playful tease and sometimes as an exasperated henpeck. Because of her tendency to ground her friends’ flights of fancy and serve as a reality check, her name stands for realism and a down-to-earth sensibility,  a symbolism reinforced by the name’s meaning. Her pestering leads her friends to take great pleasure when they’re able to call her out on some hypocrisy of her own—an important reminder that a mirror always possesses flaws of its own, and its reflections are never exact. In the source material, Kagami is frequently called “Kagamin” (kah-gah-meen) by one of her friends as a nickname; an example of the practice, especially among teenage girls, of creating nicknames by adding cutesy sounds and syllables onto the ends of names.

    8. Miyako (mee-yah-koe): Miyako is the main character of Erica Sakurazawa’s Makin’ Happy. This name is written 都, a character meaning “large city” or “metropolis.” Miyako’s story centers around two metropolises, Tokyo and New York City, between which Miyako is constantly shuttling after she wins the lottery and embarks on a life of glamour. Her efforts at navigating cosmopolitan high society and balancing affairs with exotic American and upscale Japanese men lend this name an air of the sultry night life and opulence you can’t find anywhere but the big city. Once Miyako spends the last of her windfall bringing a luxury perfume bearing her name to market, she falls out of the lifestyle as easily as she came into it, richer in experience if not financially. (Her perfume fails to generate much return on her investment.) Her origin as an everywoman and her return there at the end of her journey provides a counterpoint to the fast-and-hard lifestyle she lives during her time of financial bounty and thus a name with more plebeian shades—both a hope for something greater and the knowledge that getting such a wish might not be all it’s cracked up to be. Nicknames might include riffs on the meaning of the name, like “city girl” or “big city woman.”

    9. Hikaru (hee-kah-roo): Hikaru is a relatively common name in Japan and is given to both boys and girls. This name is commonly written 光, meaning “light.” Hikaru appears in the name of the title character of Yumi Hotta’s Hikaru no Go, in which the protagonist channels a ghost to win at a traditional board game. Hikaru is also the name of a supporting character in Bisco Hatori’s Ouran High School Host Club, in which the main character cross-dresses as a boy to draw female clients to her high school’s stable of otherwise male entertainers. Given this name’s popularity, it undoubtedly appears in many other manga. I associate this name most strongly with Hikaru Shidou from CLAMP’s Magic Knight Reyearth. Reyearth’s Hikaru comes into possession of magical powers while on a school field trip and must use a giant magical robot to fight to defend a magical realm from existential threats. Her journey is very much like Utena Tenjou’s, described above. She relies on her peppy verve and stubborn determination to refuse a false choice that’s presented to her as inescapable, changing the fundamental nature of the world in the process. However, while Utena spends most of her time in a setting that’s essentially realistic with some supernatural elements, Hikaru spends her adventure in another world full of magic, strange creatures, and super-powered ancient technology, making this name a better choice for parents who favor the mystical. In fact, Hikaru’s magical powers are associated specifically with the element of fire, providing an alchemical shade to her name, as well as a suggestion as to the source of her “light.” Additionally, she’s often drawn with cat ears to symbolize her warm, gregarious personality, lending her name a naturalistic bent as well. Nicknames might play on the meaning of the name, with options like “light,” “bright,” or “shiny.”

While Japanese media provides a wealth of excellent namesakes and Japanese writing allows for a single name to express a wide range of meanings, there are some names from popular Japanese media whose meanings are unenviable and difficult to explain away. Parents should therefore exercise caution when assigning their child a name from manga or any Japanese media. In the interest of the preservation of dignity, here are two of the popular series that provide names that might be best avoided:

    10. Naruto: One of the most popular manga and anime of the 2000s and onward, Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto has an eponymous character with something of a joke name: “naruto” is the name of a fish cake that’s commonly served in noodle soups. Its longer name, narutomaki, or “naruto roll,” reflects its method of production: ground fish are pressed into a sheet and then rolled up like a sleeping bag, giving every slice of the resulting log a distinctive spiral shape in the middle. This is reflected in the character’s full name, Naruto Uzumaki, “naruto spiral.” It’s also a reference to the foodstuff’s own namesake: the whirlpools that form in the Naruto Straight, off the coast of the southerly town, also named Naruto.

    11. Names from Dragonball Z: Akira Toriyama’s Dragonball Z is one of the few franchises whose popularity rivaled Naruto’s even at its peak. It’s been one of the most recognizable Japanese media franchises outside of Japan for about twenty years, and its large cast of characters provides a large number of names to choose from. The main character, Goku, takes his name from the main character of Journey to the West, a Chinese myth about the migration of Buddhism from India to China; other characters have names with less illustrious pedigrees. Goku’s son Gohan is named for white rice, and Gohan’s daughter, Pan, is named after bread; in fact, many of the characters who share Goku’s extra-terrestrial bloodline are named after food, including his rival Vegeta(ble), Vegeta’s comrade Nappa (as in the cabbage), and the legendary (cu)Cunber. Even Goku’s own original, alien name, “Kakarot,” includes the Japanese pronunciation of the English word “carrot.” Some of these names were slightly concealed during English adaptation; the name of the alien overlord “Freiza” looks and sounds intimidating, perhaps Germanic; when you take into account he’s descended from people named “Chilled” and “King Cold,” and his brother is named “Cooler,” it becomes easier to see how in the Japanese pronunciation, Freiza cleaves to his family’s appliance theme, sounding identical to the English word “freezer.” The native Earthlings have perhaps the least glamorous names. The English version of the name of Vegeta’s wife, “Bulma,” is a generous adaptation of the original “Buruma,” after bloomers, the undergarment. The similarity is reinforced when taking into account her sister’s name, “Tights,” and the fact those names were given by their parents “Dr. Brief” and “Panchy.” And there can be no doubt as to the dubious tradition Bulma passed on to her son, “Trunks.” Some characters have names that are borrowed from English, but are still perfectly serviceable names: Piccolo, after the musical instrument, for example, or Oolong, after the tea (for a relatively refined food reference). But outside of such obvious winners, I recommend making it a point to investigate any name from Dragonball Z before passing it on to your child for the rest of his or her life.

Photo credit: Zulio

The Baby Name Buff: Sitcom Dads Edition

Last month, to celebrate Mother’s Day, I did name makeovers for some of America’s most beloved sitcom moms. Since Father’s Day is this coming Sunday, it’s now time to treat TV’s favorite sitcom dads to a whole new name look.

Aloysius—for Louis Huang, Fresh Off the Boat
Aloysius (AL-oh-ISH-iss) is a medieval French form of Louis, which means “famous warrior.”

Deòrsa—for George Jefferson, The Jeffersons
Deòrsa (DJor-suh) is the Scottish form of George, meaning “farmer.”  

Erramun—for Ray Barone, Everybody Loves Raymond
Erramun (Air-uh-moan) is the Basque version of Raymond, which means “wise-protector.”

Flip—for Philip Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air AND Phil Dunphy, Modern Family
Flip (Flip) is a diminutive of the Dutch version of Philip (Filip), meaning either “warlike” or “lover of horses.”

Kalle—for Carl Winslow, Family Matters
Kalle (Kah-leh) is the Finnish and Swedish from of Carl, meaning “free man.”

Misho—for Mitchell Pritchett, Modern Family AND Michael Bluth, Arrested Development
Misho (Mee-show) is a Bulgarian form of Michael, a name which means “who is like God.”

Quique—for Hal Wilkerson, Malcolm in the Middle
Quique (Kee-keh) is a diminutive of Enrique, the Spanish version of Henry, which means “estate ruler.”

Reino—for Reginald “Red” Forman, That 70s Show
Reino (Ray-no) is a Finnish form of Reynold (of which Reginald is a Latinized version), meaning “counsel-power.”

Taneli—for Danny Tanner, Full House AND Dan Conner, Roseanne

Taneli (Tah-neh-lee) is both the Hebrew and Finnish form of Daniel, which means “God is my judge.”

Tijn—for Marty Crane, Frasier
Tijn (Tayn) is a Dutch short-form version of Martin, meaning “warlike.”

Timotheus–Tim Taylor, Home Improvement
Timotheus (Teem-oh-tay-is) is a German version of Timothy, which means “honoring God.”

Photo credit: Steven Depolo

The Baby Name Buff: Beer Edition

Even though summer doesn’t officially start for two more weeks, the fact that Memorial Day has passed, pools are now open, and warm, sunny days are upon us have me feeling in a summertime mood. And what beverage screams summer more than America’s favorite alcoholic beverage: beer.

As a disclaimer, I personally do not like beer–any beer, so I haven’t actually tried any of the brews discussed below. Luckily, I know many beer connoisseurs, so I enlisted the help of three of them: my brother, John Gundling; brother-in-law, Andrew Becker; and long-time friend, Brian Yulke. These ale experts named some of their favorite beers and pointed me in the direction of some helpful beer-list websites.

Please enjoy these beer-inspired baby names responsibly.

Stella Artois is a classy Belgian beer known for its “well-balanced flavor profile” and “versatility.” As such, naming your child Artois (Ar-twah) could portend that he or she will be sophisticated, well-rounded, and able to go with the flow. And Artie is a cute, gender-neutral nickname. 

Corona is a “subtle” and “sweet” beer, so this name could work well if you’re hoping for a tender-hearted girl. But the name Corona (Cuh-roan-uh) also puts me in mind of the Sun’s corona layer, so this name could be great if you hope your little ray of sunshine will be a powerful firecracker. I love Cora as a nickname for Corona, though Rhona is also a cool option.

Saison-Dupont is a spicy, comforting beer with a wintry palate of “clove(s), nutmeg, treacle, figs, and citron,” making Dupont (Do-pont OR Du-pau) a great choice if your son is born during one of the colder months. As someone who lived in the Washington, D.C. area for six years, this name also reminds me of Dupont Circle, a D.C. neighborhood known for its hipster atmosphere and trendy eats. Dupont could therefore be a fresh name selection for all you funky and stylin’ parents out there.

Named for the Roman author and philosopher, Pliny the Elder is a “well-balanced” beer with “floral, citrus, and pine” notes, so Elder (El-duhr) is a perfect boys’ name option for nature-loving, tree-hugging hippies. (I say that with love, not derision!) This name also brings to mind the Elder Wand, a magical object of great power in the Harry Potter series, making Elder a unique name choice for HP fans. And, as the old saying goes, naming your son Elder will instantly garner him lots of respect.

Rather than a specific beer, lambic is a style of beer that hails from Belgium. Described as a beer-wine hybrid, lambic beers are a labor of love that takes years and results in an unparalleled taste complexity. As such, Lambic (Lam-bick) would set your son up to have a deep and multifaceted personality. I myself love this name because it reminds me of one of my top-ten boys’ names, Cambric. Nicknames are a little hard to come by for this name, but I think Ambi or Beck might work.  

Luna Lupulus is a domestic beer made with “New York-grown malt and hops,” so Lupulus (Loop-you-liss) is a good name option if you have strong ties to New York City or state. Additionally, I dig this name’s Harry Potter-spell vibe. Luna Lupulus is also a full moon beer, made in line with Pagan traditions of brewing one’s own ale as part of a full moon ritual, so Lupulus would be a great boys’ name for Pagan parents. I like Lu as a short-and-sweet nickname for Lupulus.

The word maharaja means “great king” in Sanskrit, so the beer Maharaja is accordingly “regal…and mighty,” with a “tangy, vibrant, and pungent” flavor. The boys’ name Maharaja (Ma-ha-ra-jhuh) joins a proud tradition of titles-as-names, including Earl, Duke, Prince, King, and Baron. I especially like Raj as a nickname option.  

The best overall word to describe Oberon Ale is vibrant. With its spicy hops flavor, fruity scent, and sunny hue, this beer brings to mind a summer’s day. But the name Oberon (Oh-burr-on) of course also brings to mind a midsummer’s night, with Oberon as Shakespeare’s king of the fairies. I adore the name Oberon, and this pick could be right for you if you hope your son will have a sunny personality, an ethereal quality about him, or a regal and commanding presence. This name could also work well if you hope to foster a love of nature in your young man. Obi is an awesome nickname option for parents who love both Shakespeare and Star Wars. Likewise, Beren is a perfect choice for literature lovers who enjoy both Shakespeare and Tolkien. Bear or Baron are other possibilities.

Because obsidian is a dark, hardy glass (rock) created in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption, I would expect any beer with obsidian in its name to be a strong beverage indeed. And Obsidian Stout does not disappoint. Described as a “robust” brew, this beer packs a punch, even as it fuses delightfully indulgent flavors like chocolate and espresso. Obsidian (Uhb-sid-ee-in) is a strong name that I could see on a boy or girl, and Sid is a great gender-neutral nickname. Bess, Dia, Diane, or Diana would be some other girls’ nickname options.

One reviewer describes Parabola as a “complex” beer that melds several disparate flavors. Parabola (Puh-rab-uh-luh) is therefore a terrific name if you hope your daughter will be a deep soul who can help unite others and keep the peace. And, of course, a parabola is also a mathematical term, and I like anything that associates girls and women with math (since women are still way too underrepresented in this arena).  Possible nicknames include: Parra, Rabbie, or Bulah.

Photo Credit: Julian Tysoe

The Baby Name Buff: U.S. Sports Teams Edition

This week’s blog discusses names inspired by U.S. men’s and women’s professional sports leagues.


The Houston Astros (MLB)

This team’s initial name was the Houston Buffs. Then, reflecting true Texan style, the name changed to the Houston Colt .45s (as a result of a public name-the-team contest). But when the company that makes these guns came sniffing around for a cut of the team’s profits, the name was quickly changed to the Astros (What’s in the Astros Name?). One might think that the Astros got their name because Houston is home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, but this name is primarily a nod to the team’s stadium, the Astrodome. So, whether you are a Texan looking to pay homage to your home state, someone who loves contemplating the cosmos, or a particular fan of the dog from The Jetsons, Astro (Ass-tro) could be the all-star name you seek.

The Milwaukee Brewers (MLB)

When I think of the state of Wisconsin, I primarily think of two things: cheese and beer. And while I’m personally a huge fan of the former but don’t enjoy the latter, the Milwaukee Cheesemakers is a terrible team name, so Brewers was definitely the way to go. Though, now that I think about it, Wisconsin is also known for brutally-cold weather, so The Milwaukee Frosts could have been a good option, since that would incorporate both the cold weather and the idea of a frosty beer. But I digress. Brewer (Brew-uhr) joins a grand tradition of occupational boys’ names like Baker, Tanner, or Rancher. Possible nicknames: Brew, Rue, or Wier.

The Denver Broncos (NFL)

Apparently holding name-the-team contests was really popular in the 1960s, and this was the method through which the Denver Broncos obtained their team name. A bronco is “an untrained horse,” so the boys’ name Bronco (Bronc-o) is in the vein of other names that suggest natural freedom, like Wilder. Bronco also has a rugged feel and is thus a fresh alternative to other more popular country-style boys’ names like Boone and Colt. And the nickname Brawn further supports this name’s tough guy associations.

The Boston Celtics (NBA)

The obvious reason for this team’s name is the fact that “Boston is full of Irishmen” (NBA’s Behind the Name: Celtics). But this name is also a tribute to the New York Celtics, a team of (mostly) Irish New Yorkers who played from 1914 to 1917. (Fun fact: Other names that were considered include the Whirlwinds, Olympians, and Unicorns” (NBA’s Behind the Name: Celtics). Celtic (Sell-tic or Kell-tic) is a short and strong boys’ name choice that is perfect if you want a unique name to honor your Irish heritage. This name could also be a good option if your family follows Celtic Pagan traditions. Sully, Kell, or Ellis would be good nickname options.  

The Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)

I was hoping the story surrounding this team’s name had to do with the importance of the eagle in Native American culture / religion, or at least a general love of nature and animals. Or I even surmised that the name might simply be a patriotic choice, as Philadelphia was once the capital of the United States. But both these ideas were totally off base; the name actually relates instead to the American economy. Previously the Frankford Yellowjackets, the Philadelphia Eagles were named as an homage to the eagle’s use as a symbol of the National Recovery Act of 1933 (How All 32 NFL Teams Got Their Names). Still, all the associations I noted above make Eagle (Ee-gul) a great boys’ name choice for particularly patriotic parents, nature lovers, or anyone whose spirit animal is an eagle. And Gull would be a cute nickname.

The Utah Jazz (NBA)

One of my favorite quotes from the 1998 Trey Parker and Matt Stone movie BASEketball is “the Jazz moved to Salt Lake City, where they don’t allow music.” More specifically, this team moved to Salt Lake City from New Orleans, a city for which Jazz is a very appropriate name. (Other names that were considered when the team was in New Orleans include the “Dukes, Crescents, Pilots, Cajuns, Blues, Deltas, and Knights” (The Origins of All 30 NBA Team Names). As a boys’ or girls’ name, Jazz has a sense of excitement and flair, and this name is currently trending as a middle name.

The New York Jets (NFL) and the Winnipeg Jets (NHL)

My brother Johnny’s favorite football team is the New York Jets. Relatedly, my nephew (Johnny’s son) is named John Edward (the Third) and goes by—you guessed it—Jet! So, this name definitely had to make my list. This NFL team changed names in 1963 from the Titans to the Jets. Other names that were considered were the Dodgers, the Gothams, and the Borros. In addition to the New York Jets, there is also the lesser-known NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets. While Jet (spelled with a single T) has never been in the U.S. top 1,000, it should be noted that Jett (with two Ts) has been in the top 1,000 since 1999.

The Minnesota Lynx (WNBA)

One of two expansion teams added to the WNBA in 1998, the Minnesota Lynx chose their name to complement their NBA counterparts, the Minnesota Timberwolves (Minnesota Lynx Team History). In terms of the animal, Lynx are best known for their ability to survive harsh winter climes and their preference for a solitary lifestyle (Lynx, National Geographic). So, if you hope or suspect your child will be an introvert, or if you want to inspire your son or daughter to persevere when times get tough, the name Lynx (Links) might just be the cat’s meow.

The Seattle Mariners (MLB)

Like many of the teams on this list, The Seattle Mariners got their name as a result of a public name-the-team contest (in 1976). And though this name choice isn’t particularly innovative, Mariners is certainly appropriate for a city by the sea (The Origins of All 30 MLB Team Names). Not only is this boy’s name appropriate if you live by or love the sea, but Mariner (Mare-in-uhr) could be a good choice for all you poetry buffs because of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

The Phoenix Mercury (WNBA)

Just like the Minnesota Lynx, the Phoenix Mercury also chose their team name to match their brother team in the NBA, the Phoenix Suns. But, if you are like me, you might not immediately get the association; Mercury, after all, is not a sun god. The creative connection here is that Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, so major points to this team for their imaginative choice (Phoenix Mercury Team History). And while the Mercury are a team of women, I think this name would likely be thought of as a boys’ name.  

The Buffalo Sabres (NHL)

Once again, we have a name that resulted from a name-the-team contest. But why, you might ask, would the team owners have chosen the name Sabres in particular when there were probably many buffalo-related or winter-themed options? Ultimately, the team’s owners though that a sabre would be a good symbol because “a sabre, a weapon carried by a leader, could be effective on offense and defense” (Buffalo Sabres, Wikipedia). And sabre is also a shade of deep red, so perhaps this name is meant to subtly intimidate opponents. (I hear hockey can be a pretty bloody sport!) Despite the somewhat violent associations, I honestly still love this boys’ name, though I personally prefer the Americanized spelling (Saber, pronounced Say-burr) slightly better.

The Portland Timbers (MLS)

The Timbers is an obviously-appropriate name for any team in the forest-laden state of Oregon. But I suspect this name is also appropriate in soccer in particular, a sport where feinting in the hopes of causing your opponent to fall to the field is a typical strategy. As a nature lover, I’m slightly obsessed with this gender-neutral name, both on its own and as a fresh alternative to the increasingly-popular name Kimber.


The Acadiana Zydeco (WFA)

Of all the teams in the Women’s Football Alliance, the Louisiana-based Acadiana Zydeco has by far the coolest and most regionally-specific name. Perhaps a subtle nod to basketball’s (former) New Orleans Jazz, this WFA team’s name also references local music, as zydeco is a French and Caribbean-hybrid musical and dance style that originated in southern Louisiana (Zydeco, Merriam-Webster Dictionary). So, Zydeco (Zih-deck-oh)—a gender-neutral name—would be a perfect choice if you have ties to Louisiana or if you love music but feel like all the typical musical-related names are all played out.


The Lake Michigan Minx (WPLF)

The Washington Mystics (WNBA)

The Baltimore Orioles (MLB)  

The USSSA Pride (NPF) and the Boston Pride (NWHL) and the Orlando Pride (NWSL)

The Texas Rangers (MLB) and The New York Rangers (NHL)  

The Metropolitan Riveters (NWHL) and the Wisconsin Riveters (WPFL) and The Flint City Riveters (WFA)

The Tennessee Titans (NFL) and Kansas City Titans (WFL)

Photo credit: Ged Carroll

The Baby Name Buff: Memorial Day 2019 Edition

In honor of Memorial Day, and because my Grampy and Dad both served in the Navy in particular, this week’s post features baby names inspired by U.S. Navy ships that were sunk or damaged during World War II. As you read through this list, I hope you’ll also take a moment to mourn and meditate on the lives of any soldiers who may have gone down with these sunken vessels. The annotations for each ship are taken verbatim from this Wikipedia article.

USS Aludra (AK-72) sunk after being torpedoed by Japanese submarine RO-103 off San Cristobal Island, Solomon Islands, 23 June 1943.

USS Astoria (CA-34) sunk by gunfire of Japanese warships off Savo, Solomon Islands, 9 August 1942.

USS Benham (DD-397) Sunk after being damaged by a torpedo from a Japanese warship off Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, 15 November 1942.

USS Bismarck Sea (CVE-95) sunk by kamikaze aircraft off Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 21 February 1945.

USS Colhoun (DD-801) sunk after being hit by four kamikaze aircraft off Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 6 April 1945.

USS Corvina (SS-226) sunk after being torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-176 south-west of Truk, Caroline Islands, 16 November 1943.

USS Cythera (PY-26) sunk after being torpedoed by German submarine off North Carolina, 2 May 1942.

USS Deimos (AK-78) sunk after being torpedoed by Japanese submarine RO-103 off San Cristobal Island, Solomon Islands, 23 June 1943.

USS Dorado (SS-248) probably sunk in error by US aircraft in the Caribbean Sea, 12 October 1943.


USS Drexler (DD-741) sunk after being hit by two kamikaze aircraft off Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, 28 May 1945.

USS Edsall (DD-219) sunk by Japanese warships south of Java, Netherlands East Indies, 1 March 1942.

USS Eversole (DE-404) sunk after being torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-45 east of Leyte, Philippine Islands, 28 October 1944.

USS Fiske (DE-143) sunk after being torpedoed by German submarine U-804 north of Azores, 2 August 1944.

USS Grenadier (SS-210) sunk by Japanese aircraft off Penang, 22 April 1943.

USS Langley (AV-3) irreparably damaged by Japanese aircraft bombs south of Java, Netherlands East Indies, 27 February 1942, scuttled by destroyer Whipple (DD-217).

USS Lansdale (DD-426) sunk after being torpedoed by German aircraft off Cape Bengut, Algeria, 20 April 1944.

USS Lexington (CV-2) sunk after being torpedoed by Japanese aircraft
during the Battle of the Coral Sea, 8 May 1942.

USS Liscome Bay (CVE-56) sunk after being torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-175 off Gilbert Islands, 24 November 1943.

USS Niagara (AGP-1) sunk by Japanese aircraft bombing near San Cristobal Island, Solomon Islands, 23 May 1943.

Ex-USS Rochester (CA-2) scuttled as a block ship in Subic Channel, Luzon, Philippine Islands, 24 December 1941.

USS Sonoma (ATO-12) sunk by Japanese aircraft off Leyte, Philippine Islands, 24 October 1944.

USS Triton (SS-201) sunk by Japanese destroyers north of Admiralty Islands, 15 March 1943.

USS Valor (AMc-108) sunk in collision with USS Richard W. Suesens (DE-342) off Cuttyhunk Island, Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts, 29 June 1944.

Photo credit: Steve Lynes