published Friday, January 13th, 2012

Leber: I ask, what's in a (baby) name?

Baby fever keeps spreading.

In your 30s, more peers become parents. Party photos become wedding photos become newborn photos. Poop, spit-up and nipple chafing become socially acceptable conversation topics.

And as more friends bring new little humans into the world, they have to choose some way to address said little humans.

Many of us, and don't pretend for a second you aren't out there, spend hours thinking of what we will name our babies long before they are a reality. My sweetheart and I have had lengthy discussions on the topic. He's vetoed the name of my favorite literary character, Josephine ("Little Women") for its similarity to his name, Joseph, and I've put the absolute kibosh on "Star Wars"-inspired Anakin or Darth. And don't even get me started on Chewbacca.

Aside from planning for the future, I've always had a great interest in nomenclature, and so I'm always fascinated to see what people name their children -- fascinated and sometimes a bit frightened.

Far be it from me to question anyone's personal choice, but sometimes I have to wonder how much the Demerol and Pitocin played a role in the naming process.

"My friend is a pediatrician and had a patient named La--Da pronounced "La Dash Da," a good friend informed me via Facebook conversation earlier this week.

Should I be prepared to have to send baby gifts to little Ampersand or Asterisk, spelled of course, as & and *?

Using a completely unscientific process, I have some predictions, and yes, perhaps some fears, about what I imagine will be upcoming trends in baby naming.

First, colors. The birth of Beyonce and Jay-Z's baby girl, Blue Ivy, will open up more parents to naming their children after basic hues. Blue is a fairly unisex name, but Brown sounds more like a boy, doesn't it?

Indeed, celebrities continue to break the mold naming their children, and one of the more famous creative celebrity baby names is Apple, the daughter of actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Will regular folk take a bite from that fruit basket and trot out babies Pear, Peach, Plum, Kiwi and Berry?

Pop culture is always an influence. I think we'll see a decline of Twilight-inspired Isabella, Jacob and Edward, and a rise of Lisbeth ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and Katniss ("The Hunger Games").

On the book note, Harper, as in Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird," seemed to be a hot name in 2011. Where do we stand on moving toward naming babies after her contemporaries in 2012? Baby Capote, perhaps, or Truman?

Speaking of Truman, names from my grandparents' generation have been gaining popularity again -- Sophia, Ava, my colleague's granddaughter is Evelyn, and I know a lovely young lady called Ruth. However, this seems not to be so true for boys. I think it's time to bring back George, Walter and Harry, don't you?

Harry, of course, brings us to our next trend: royal-inspired names. Look for a resurgence of Catherine, which hasn't cracked the Top 100 since 2001, as well as Pippa (more likely than the royal sister-in-law's formal name, Phillipa), and other more fringe names, including Zara, Eugenie and Beatrice.

Artist names are another possible trend. I have been waiting for years to see a little celebrity baby named Cezanne, and in that same vein, why not Van Gogh, Monet and Hopper (as in Edward)?

Virtue names are fairly popular in the South. Every year I go see "The Nutcracker" and read names like Blessing, Charity and Justice in the program. Let's take it one step further: Gracious, Generous, Benevolent and Kind?

Finally, yoga names. Can't you just imagine a kindergarten class in six or seven years? "Namaste, share the crayons with Ashtanga please. No, Kundalini, paste is not for eating." You know it's going to happen.

All I ask, please, is that no one name their child Downward Facing Dog.

about Holly Leber ...

Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...

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