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I am NOT Trendy!

How do traditional names suddenly become "trendy"? I'm pregnant with my fifth child, and my favorite names for this baby are Eleanor and Leo. I started researching them online only to find, to my great disappointment, that many sites are describing them as "trendy" names!!! They have been around for so long, and I have no intention of tinkering with the spelling or anything. I love them in part for their history. To me, "trendy" applies to names like Jayden & MacKenzie, not Leo & Eleanor! Why have my favorite names been saddled with "trendiness"? - Old-fashioned Mom

How can "old" names be "trendy"? Because of people like you, of course.

You love old names, in part for their history. But you don't love all old names, do you? Gladys, Ralph and Thelma didn't make your short list. Even classics like William and Elizabeth don't quite do the trick. Instead, you're drawn to names that are traditional and familiar, even though you've never met anybody called that; names that are smooth as vintage silk, with liquid consonants and bold vowels. Names like Eleanor and Leo. Or perhaps Amelia and Miles, or Phoebe and Eli? They're all classic names. And yes, they're all trendy.

I know, "trendy" is such an unfortunate word. But a trend is a movement in a particular direction, and there's no denying that's the direction the names are moving. Just try typing any of the classics above into the NameVoyager and watch them soar. The fact is, what sounds good to you at this moment also sounds good to your friends and neighbors. Your mind may say "timeless," but your ear for style can't help saying "right now!"

One simple way to avoid this trendiness is to choose names that don't sound good -- to your neighbors, or to you. Little Melva and Norbert won't have to worry about trendiness. I recommend a less drastic approach, though. Rather than switching names, try switching vocabulary. When you read "trendy," see if you can convince your mind to read "fashionable."

Trendy is wearing jeggings, or 30 years ago cutting the neck out of your sweatshirt like Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. (Kids, you can look that one up.) Fashionable is more like knee-high boots. Some years they're everywhere, some years they're scarce, but you're never embarrassed to have a pair in your closet. And if you do wear them more when others do, well, there's nothing wrong with being in style, is there? Think of it that way, then go ahead and choose the classic, fashionable names that you love.


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May 23, 2011 11:01 AM
By Abby@AppMtn (not verified)

Trendy feels like a put-down, doesn't it? But I agree - substitute "stylish" or "fashionable" and you'll feel much better.

It doesn't change the fact that your little Leo or Eleanor won't be alone, of course ... I know at least one of each! But they're still great names.

May 23, 2011 11:15 AM
By AngelaAiea (not verified)

Gladys is totally on my short list. Just for the record.

May 23, 2011 11:20 AM
By Kristin (not verified)

Great answer, Name Lady! Before I had my daughter, I was obsessed with not choosing something trendy to the point that I almost didn't use the name we ended up with, and my absolute favorite, Ruby. Now that my Ruby IS her name, I'm so glad we picked it and not nearly as concerned about its relative trendiness. I plan to take this lesson to heart when naming my next child and remind myself of what you said ... "trendy" is just another word for "stylish" - and we all want to be that, right?

May 23, 2011 11:33 AM
By hillary (not verified)

I think it's also worth keeping in mind that the trendy names of our generation were FAR more popular than the trendy names of this generation. There is much more diversity in naming now so even the #1 name is not that common. There are also local trends, so while there may be a cluster of Eleanors and Leos in some places, in other places it's a different naming style that predominates and there won't be any baby Eleanors.

May 23, 2011 11:34 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My namegeek friends and I distinguish between names that are "popular" and names that are "trendy."

We use the word "popular" to describe classic names that have endured over the generations and are currently in fashion - think names like Emma.

We use the word "trendy" to describe flash-in-the-pan names that came out of nowhere, are hugely popular for a time, and then fall hugely out of fashion - think names like Nevaeh.

Your two choices would definitely fall into the first of these categories.

May 23, 2011 2:43 PM
By mk (not verified)

If you like the names then don't worry so much about whether other people call them "trendy" (which means fashionable and up to date, not exactly bad things).

And as others have said, just because the name is "popular" or "trendy" doesn't mean it is in your area. I didn't meet someone with my name until college, despite it being in the top 10 for my birth year.

May 23, 2011 6:24 PM
By Zoe (not verified)

While some names are trendy, I think that when they are legitimate names that have a long history of use they are still timeless and therefore won't date your child. By the way, I love the names Eleanor and Leo. Elinor Audrey is one of my absolute favorite name combinations (Sense and Sensibility is my favorite book, hence the Elinor spelling over the more common Eleanor)

May 24, 2011 11:08 AM
By Sarah A (not verified)

I feel your pain, Old-fashioned Mom! I'm in a similar boat with the name Moses, which is the only name DH and I can seriously agree to.

I've always loved less than common Biblical names, but now Biblical names are really "trendy" in that the heretofore less common ones are becoming more common. As Jacob sits pat at the top of the SSA list, parents seem to be reaching for the "old" sounding Biblical names like Isaac and Elijah.

I'm nervous that Moses will become the next Isaac - once reserved for grandpas but now headed to every preschool near you.

I'm also worried that names like Isaac, as they skyrocket in popularity, will lose their religious vibes much like Michael and Matthew have.

May 24, 2011 12:01 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love this answer! Both my preschoolers have traditional names that are now considered trendy. I freaked out until I realized that what the Name Lady said is true: if a lot of people are using a name, that means a lot of people like it. Is that really such a bad thing? I think it would really be a shame to purposely name your child something unappealing, just so that YOU won't be considered "trendy." Pick what you like!

May 24, 2011 12:28 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Honestly, I think babynaming is when a lot of folks first realize that they're not unique--that their taste is predictable, and part of a generation's taste. That's hard to take when your identity has been tied up in being hip and ahead of the crowd! But you cannot escape your time. You'll like what your peers like, more or less, or at least you'll consider their opinions, more or less. If you choose the names you love, you won't regret it, no matter how many other people love those names. Yes, there will likely be other Leos and Ellies and Noras in school--and you'll laugh with their mothers about how you all used to worry over such things.

May 24, 2011 1:49 PM
By Maggie (not verified)

The fashion world use the term "on-trend" to take the sting out of "trendy". It makes it sound like you are in sync with current styles rather than trying too hard to be fashionable.

May 24, 2011 1:56 PM
By Rowelin (not verified)

I must be fashionable because I have a Miles! Leo, Amelia, and Eleanor are on my list. I have two friends who just names their little girls Greta, and Luella (nn. LuLu) to me those are traditional and old fashioned.

May 24, 2011 4:03 PM
By Anya (not verified)

I'm gonna go against the current here:) Leo and Eleanor are not very popular, so I'm surprised they're called trendy, so I don't see a problem. Great names.
As far as "a name is good no matter how popular it is, since popularity means a lot of people like it, go ahead"... I'd rather give my children names I'm not crazy about than popular names. And I did. All three. None of the three had ever been on any of my lists or even on my mind before I had kids. The first one was picked by my mother (the grandma) from a list of 3 or 4 that were extremely rare, even out of use, in my area, and went well with the last name. The second one matched the first one, they are both Gospel names. The third one honors my husbands ancestry and is easy to spell. All three have the same number of syllables and several sounds in common.
I have come to absolutely love all the three names.

May 25, 2011 7:32 PM
By Charly (not verified)

I'd definitely like to name a second daughter Greta. (Heart's set on Madeleine Irene for the first.) Considering their (but not my) last name will be "Brown," it's not like they can think they're so damn special that no one has had that name before. Hell, my in-laws swear they know a family with Seven (Layer?!) and Boston Bean.

(Nooooo! No Captchas. I always fail them :| I guess I'm a robot.)

May 25, 2011 11:09 PM
By Kira (not verified)

I'm completely guilty of not wanting to be predictable and average, and I like the Name Lady's take on that conundrum. If I had another daughter, she would like be Harmony because her father adores the name. Still I really love my great-grandmother's name - Florence Belle - although Florence is getting more popular.

May 25, 2011 11:10 PM
By Kira (not verified)

I'm completely guilty of not wanting to be predictable and average, and I like the Name Lady's take on that conundrum. If I had another daughter, she would like be Harmony because her father adores the name. Still I really love my great-grandmother's name - Florence Belle - although Florence is getting more popular.

May 26, 2011 3:20 AM
By janfi (not verified)

My grandmother's name is Florence, and she has always hated her name. It leads to the extremely unfortunate nickname Flo. ("flow" for women does not usually have a great connotation).
My grandmother instead chooses to go by Ruth (has gone by this all her life), even though it is not actually part of her name in any way, which I find funny, as I don't find that name any more attractive than Florence.
Oh, well, it is her choice!!

May 26, 2011 1:18 PM
By Megan W. (not verified)

Honestly, it depends on what you are willing to live with. We wanted non-trendy names and found a host of names that were popular for Baby boomers and have been in decline ever since. (Baby name wizard charts help for this!) But you must be willing to live with a name that is the opposite of trendy.

May 30, 2011 4:09 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I have an Amelia and an Elinor. I didn't realize how popular/trendy their names were though until after they were born. Same applies for my first daughter, Katherine.

June 1, 2011 5:12 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I understand all about names you love suddenly being too trendy, or, better word, "popular"! We named our first son Alexander James for his two grandfathers, and I absolutly love how old-school it sounds...but Ive since found out Alexander is one of "the" names of the 2000s! We call our little guy Alec, which distinguishes him from all of the alex's out there...And I spend my whole life saying "its Alec with a C"!

June 3, 2011 10:04 AM
By Andie (not verified)

Why is "trendy" such a disagreeable word to be called?? I looked up the definition and it said "a person that is very fashionable"...I think that sounds like a compliment.

Probably the best is "fashionable but timeless"--like the little black dress that never goes out of style. I personally think that Eleanor and Leo fall into that category. They are going to sound as good when the kids are grown as they do today.

(just my thought)

June 5, 2011 6:58 PM
By Old-fashioned Mom (not verified)

Thanks, Name Lady, for a great answer to my question. (You helped me name my last baby too, I was the person a year & a half ago with the question about the kids' initials spelling "TBAG" if we had a Gerard or Genevieve.) Thanks to everyone else for helpful comments too.

One anonymous commenter argues that babynaming is when most people find out that there taste is just like everyone else's. Honestly, I'm not worried about being "unique" (if I was, I could just pick a random string of letters off my keyboard!). I just don't want my kids to have a super-popular name.

Thanks for all of your help... This is a great site.

June 6, 2011 7:29 AM
By Old-fashioned Mom (not verified)

One other thing -- Name Lady, I don't know if you are interested in the psychology of the people asking you questions, but I think that what prompted my question was the feeling that my taste really is overall not trendy, although some names that I like do happen to be trendy.

For example, you pointed out that "trendy" taste would favor Amelia over Elizabeth... My husband and I have never considered Amelia, but Elizabeth has been in the running for some of our kids. It didn't make the cut because it is very common like both of our names, and we also feel that the fourth syllable is a bit more than we want to say.

The reason "trendiness" concerns me is just that I don't want the names I give my kids to become top 20. It's not out of desire to be "unique" or "hip"... it's just that I know from experience that it's difficult and annoying to have a very common name!

June 6, 2011 10:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

How can you be aware of the vast repercussions of names by following name blogs and still want to name your child Gladys? I knew a Gladys in school and she was teased mercilessly. It's one of the names that is almost universally recognized as an unattractive name. And whether you like the name (we all like the odd couple of names, but we are aware that they are laregly disliked--ex: grandmother her, gotta stay away from the name) or whether you think it sounds like it should be a part of reproductive anatomy, you shouldn't weigh your kid down with it. Even if it "has a strong history" or any of the other myriad reasons people have for choosing difficult-to-wear names, your child may wind up hating you for it.

June 28, 2011 9:01 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Ugh, I feel your pain. I have three boys, and after naming each I've watched their popularity increase- my oldest is now one hundred something, my second two hundred something, and my youngest eight hundred something... I cringe every single time someone tells me excitedly that they just had a friend name HER son the same name. Like that would make me happy?? Uh, no.

June 29, 2011 8:11 PM
By LauraToo (not verified)

Sometimes, we are inadvertently ahead of a trend. My Joshua and Ethan were born in the 1970's, and you couldn't find any kids' merchandise with those names. They are bemused that now their names are so popular.

August 24, 2011 5:26 AM
By Old Fashioned Mom (not verified)

Due in large part to the Name Lady's response to my question, we have settled on "Elisabeth" or "Peter" for this baby. Eleanor and Leo are totally out. There was the right amount of condescension in the title and response to make me ultimately dislike those names. Thanks for helping a person like me, Name Lady!

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May 28, 2013 1:38 AM
By birkin bag (not verified)

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