The Name of the Year

Filed under: Baby Names

Can you tell the story of a year in names? According the folks at, sister site to The Name Lady's own home base,, their annual Name of the Year competition is a "cultural time capsule."

Site founder Laura Wattenberg and her readers look for names that reflect the times and set the trends. The Name of the Year isn't a popularity contest (look for Isabella to overtake Emma on that front). It's a reflection of the changes 2009 brought, through the window of names.

Past Names of the Year ranged from celebrity baby name Shiloh to political power name Barack, a far-sighted choice back in 2007. This year, the runner-up names were both headline grabbers: Taylor and Falcon. Breakout music star Taylor Swift and movie werewolf Taylor Lautner made the name a magazine-cover staple. According to Wattenberg, though, the real story was how the "Tay Tay" couple -- one male, one female -- shared the name so naturally. "Consider Tay Tay the official clarion call that the androgynous surname generation has come of age," she writes.

Falcon is "Balloon Boy" Falcon Heene, the 6-year-old whose parents pretended he was trapped in a runaway balloon in an attempt to land a reality TV gig. The Heenes and the Jon and Kate Gosselin breakup made the appropriateness of putting kids in the reality TV spotlight one of the year's hot issues. What makes it a name story, though is the attention-grabbing name Falcon, reminiscent of celebrity baby names like Sparrow and Knight. As Wattenberg writes, "Surely it's no coincidence that parents so desperate for attention that they'd coach their 6-year-old to carry out a media hoax were also parents who chose to name him Falcon?"

But what was the official Baby Name Wizard Name of the Year for 2009?


For those of you who haven't read all four Twilight books, Renesmee is the half-human, half-vampire child of the series' heroes. The Name of the Year story, though, is that the girl was named after her two grandmothers, Renee and Esme. That makes Renesmee the baby-name equivalent of celebrity mashups like Bennifer and Brangelina. According to Wattenberg, the Twilight baby is inspiring a growing wave of parents to follow suit, creating their own family mashups. It's a timely style of namesake in an age where Juniors are an endangered species.

Do you think those names represent 2009? Share your comments here. And as always, if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.