Tuesday, May 17, 2011


It's been fun tracking my names post all over the internet these past few weeks. Although it was tweeted a couple dozen times, I was surprised that the majority of my traffic was coming from Facebook and email. Then my brother-in-law, Kyle, introduced me to Backtype.com, where you can (sort of) track what's happening with your content (specifically, how it's being shared). A membership is required for more intensive analysis, of course, but here is a summary of the social impact of my post:

Quite a few more blogs this year picked up on it, too, and a couple of forums, so it's been interesting reading the resulting discussions on those sites. Something that has come up a few times in those conversations, though, is that this is not exclusively a Utah/Idaho phenomenon. Which, of course, I'm aware of. I'm pretty sure that at no point in my series have I said, "NO ONE OUTSIDE OF UTAH OR IDAHO has ever named their kid something weird or made-up". Obviously celebrities proliferate the epidemic, as well, and it's spreading. But these sorts of names - the ones I include in my lists each year, the ones with weird spellings, multiple capitalizations, and flagrant misuse of the letter Y - ARE a Utah/Idaho thing. Not EXCLUSIVELY, mind you. But the weird names thing is a part of the culture in this area, and has been for decades. It isn't a recent development by any means. My Utah school-teacher aunts and uncles have been complaining about awful kid's names during the course of their entire careers. And I'm far from the first person to remark on it - it would appear that this site has been cataloguing names heard in Utah since the birth of the internet (and if it hasn't been then I don't know WHAT their excuse is for the horrendous layout). And this is one of my favorite Snide Remarks columns of all time.

Anyway, I'm getting off track. The point is, I got to thinking about whether or not Utah and surrounding areas really were the originators of the terrible naming thing, and wondering if there was possibly a way to geographically track name trends, when I found THIS portion of the Babynamewizard website. A godsend! I subsequently spent an hour plugging in names from all four installments of my series as well as any others I could think of off the top of my head that might possibly have ever been popular enough for the site to have stats on, and was pleased when name after name, my theory was proven right. Not for EVERY name that went in, of course, but for enough of them to indicate that Utah and surrounding areas ARE trendsetters in the awful baby name trend.

People from Utah and Idaho are saying, "Duh. We knew that."

Some examples:

Others that also showed up in Utah before anywhere else include McKenna, Madison (both included in my search because of the strong backlash towards them), Paisley, and Ashlee.

A note on the much-maligned 'Jayden'. It would appear that a handful of Jaydens were born in North Dakota back in '89-'91. It then disappeared from the map until cropping up again in '94 in both North Dakota and, you guessed it, Utah. Interestingly enough, the Dakotas seem to be the second-and-third-most-trendsettingest states when it comes to names...at least when it comes to the sorts of names I was searching for.

So pray for those children, too.


  1. I love that feature of the Baby Name Wizard. She even calls Utah one of the frontier states, and I think she means it in a "baby name frontier" sense as well as an "Old West" sense.

    I was personally responsible for at least a blog link, a FB link, and maybe an email reference or two. Your names post is my favorite post of the year.

  2. Just FYI, my husband's name is Easton. He is 41 years old and he was born in Jamaica (but we live in Texas). :)

  3. I don't think it has as much to do with geography as the fact that Utah and Idaho Mormons start reproducing about 10 years before most Americans.

  4. I have an employee named MeKenna. uuuggghh