How Americans Name Their Children The United States of America is a North American country bordered by Canada (N), Mexico (S), the Atlantic Ocean (E), and the Pacific (W). A federal republic featuring a democratic government and a diverse population from around the globe, America is truly a cultural melting pot. Americans are known for their unusual culture which breaks, in some way or another, nearly every traditional civilization’s customary standards and established traditions. The U.S.A. is a nation composed of 52 individual and separate states, each having its own set of rules varying from state to state. The method for naming offspring in America remains consistent with its inherent inconsistent nature. The Unique USA Two uniquely American trends for given names are invented names and last (surnames) names used as first names. Although all names, at one point or another, were created or invented, the term ‘invented name’ as it is used here refers to a name which satisfies one of three conditions. a)A name created recently through the combination of letters and/or syllables which produce a pleasurable sound. b) A name which comes into existence from an author’s imagination, often inventing the etymology as well. c) A non-traditional name usage derived from words which had not been typically used in naming. These newly invented names are common in the US, especially amongst African-Americans. Examples include the use of non-names as names (Unique, Precious and Ebony), adding prefixes (D’ Angelo, De Andre, Dejaun, Latoya), and completely new concoctions with unusual spellings (Jaden, Kamryn) The second popular trend is using last names (surnames) as first names, like Calais, Taylor, and Kennedy. This fad along with the dual hyphenated surname, have contributed to the statistical sharp rise in surname proliferation in North America. Hyphenated Surnames A surname, last name, is passed on with each generation. Traditionally, a woman adopts the family name of her husband upon marriage. Recently popular, an American naming trend using a hyphenated dual last name. This surname hyphenation is used for children from divorced families or mother’s retaining their surnames for professional reasons. Many jerseys worn by high school athletes sport both parents’ surnames in this hyphenated form (Jackson-Smith). Women are also choosing to use the hyphenated version post-marriage, seeking to keep their career established surnames and the reputation associated with it, while also adopting their new husband’s surname. Many celebrities have employed the dual surname, like actress Jada Pinckett-Smith. Middle Names In America The middle name which is the designation between the first (given) name and the last (surname) name, is a secondary name given to those in English speaking parts of the world. Most Americans have one or more middle names. Some people identify themselves with an initial inclusion of their middle name in their usual name, such as Booker T. Washington or John F. Kennedy. While others, prefer to use their middle name rather than their first name. The use of surnames, particularly the maiden name of the mother, as middle names has become commonly practiced in American naming which contributes to a marked increase in the number of surnames used in American names over the years. Surnames According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Smith is the most popular surname in the entire English speaking world. The Smiths account for over 1 % of all U.S. surnames. Smith is from the Old English word smið which means blacksmith or metal worker. The word smið is derived from the word smitan = to hit or to smite. Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, Davis, Miller and Wilson are the next 7 highest ranked surnames by percentage in the US. Moore and Taylor complete the top 10 surnames in America. America’s Top Baby Names The top 5 names for girls in the U.S. are Sophia (Ita), Isabella (Spa), Emma (Ger), Olivia (Lat), and Ava(Heb). The most popular American boy names are Jacob (Heb), Mason (Ger), William (Ger), Jayden(US), and Noah (Heb). The names Jayden and Noah are increasing in popularity for use as girl names, as well. U.S. Star Preference Celebrities often choose off the wall and occasionally outrageous designations for their children. This may explain why so many Hollywood stars prefer American names or combinations including them when naming. Coco Riley is the daughter of two famous actors, David Arquette and Courteney Cox. Riley (a small stream) comes from Ireland, but the given name, Coco, is distinctively American. The little girl’s combined name means a chocolate stream, a combination not shocking considering her parents’ own eccentricity. Truly American in origin and source, the name chosen by American vocalist, Erykah Badu, for her child was simply, Seven (as in the number, 7). Frank & Gail and Frank Zappa named their child Moon (American=of the moon). Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily is the full name chosen by Paula Yates & Michael Hutchence for their baby girl which means “heavenly beautiful sky” and “blossoming flower tiger”. Americans are certainly uniquely innovative and sometimes a little weird when it comes to naming their babies. However, these are the exact qualities which make America a nation unto herself, and admired by so many.