Can I Name a Baby Charlotte in Charlotte?
I'm a first-time mom pregnant with a daughter. Our absolute favorite name is Charlotte. It's just so beautiful! Here's the catch. We live in North Carolina. Charlotte is the largest and most well-known city in our state. Is it out for us?
- NC Mom
There's no simple rule for how a place name plays to people from that place. Some city names sound silly on babies to the locals, whereas others sound extra-appealing. And still others just sound like, well, names.
On one end of the spectrum, take Brooklyn. Brooklyn is the 37th most popular girl's name in the U.S. The closer you get to Brooklyn, N.Y., though, the less popular it gets. In New York State and New Jersey, the name has never cracked the top 100. Brooklyn-the-borough has such a powerful image there that namers stay away from it. But far from the Big Apple, where Brooklyn has less daily reality, the pretty sound and vaguely big-city edge make the name extremely popular -- it's top 10 in Utah and South Dakota.
At the other extreme, Savannah is more popular in Georgia than in the U.S. overall. Virginia the name was for several years most popular in the state of Virginia, and Caroline remains especially hot in the Carolinas. (Want to explore this on your own? Try the BabyNameWizard.com NameMapper tool.)
Part of the calculation is whether the image of the place fits the name's style. Brooklyn, N.Y., is many fine things, but sweet and girlish don't top the list. Savannah, in contrast, is just right for Savannah, Georgia's southern charm. In fact, the portrait of the city of Savannah in the book "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" helped make the baby name popular.
Another factor is the name's associations beyond the place. This is where Charlotte really shines. It's a classic girl's name, linked to centuries of culture from Charlotte Brontë to "Charlotte's Web" to the "Charlotte of Sex and the City." Even a city as strong as Charlotte, N.C., can't dominate the name. As a result, Charlotte remains quite popular in your state. So go ahead and give your child the beautiful gift of your "absolute favorite name." Your fellow North Carolinians should welcome her with open arms.
Have you run into names shared with a map, or a dictionary? Share your experiences here. And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!
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