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In 2012, the Top 4 boys names (Jacob, Mason, Ethan, Noah) cover only one in every 26 boys.

Examples: Ashton, Wyatt, Luca, Brooklyn, Delaney, Alexia Benefits: You’re being nonconformist but without most of the drawbacks in Category 2; If it’s a really good name people will be jealous and you’ll be all thrilled with yourself; It says “My parents are cool but not too annoying.” Drawbacks: You might be a little too pleased with yourself for someone who still let the Top 200 names dictate their choice; There’s a chance a lot of other people feel the same way about that “unconventional” name and you inadvertently find yourself as part of a Name Fad. You know when everyone calls a guy by his nickname except his parents, who use his full three-syllable name?

This category is perfect for parents who are far too thrilled with themselves and are having far too special a child for a Timeless or Top 10 Name, but who also look down upon those who go for a Super Weird Name as annoying or unclassy. I think part of that is trying to wrench individuality from a fad name.

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After many hours on The Baby Name Wizard (and the government’s official name database), here are my thoughts (focusing on the US unless otherwise stated)— Parents choosing a name have a few options: Examples: John, James, William, David, Mary, Sarah, Elizabeth Benefits: You won’t embarrass yourself; You won’t pigeonhole the kid in any way, including generationally; It’s classy; There’s something cool about a common bond with centuries of previous humans Drawbacks: It’s kind of boring. The Top 10 boys names in the 1880’s share six members with the Top 10 boys names in the 1950’s: John, William, James, Robert, Charles, and Thomas.

These names are often biblical, or sometimes those of famous royalty, and they’re bigger than any one generation—William is not a typical old man’s name or young guy’s name—it’s just William. But the Top 10 in 2012 only includes one name from that list—William.

Examples: Winter, Namaste, Jameliah, Stormy, Cameo, Grudzel Benefits: No one will ever question your balls; If the kid is awesome, then it’s awesome.

Drawbacks: They’ll have to spell out their name on phone calls 2 trillion times throughout their life; They’ll have to watch people figuring out how to react every time they introduce themselves; They’ll get made fun of at school; It might hurt their chances of getting job interviews; If the kid isn’t awesome, the whole thing is awkward; If you were just in a phase and made a compulsive decision, that’s shitty cause the kid has to live with it forever.

Despite several drawbacks, it’s a nice chance to say, “P. We don’t give a shit about what other people think.” And again, if the kid’s awesome, a weird name just makes them even more awesome.

For what it’s worth, a lot more people are going weird now than they used to. In 1950, only 5% of parents strayed out of the Top 1,000 names when naming their child.In 2012, 27% of parents went weird and left the Top 1,000.This is part of a broader trend away from conformity: In 1880, the Top 4 boys names (John, William, James, George) covered one in every four boys.The first time a friend of mine had a child, it was intensely jarring.I’d be living my normal day, and then the thought would hit me—”Matt has a son”—and my whole world would get turned upside down. This new phenomenon in my life has introduced several new experiences—things like “having your feelings hurt and losing self-confidence because your friend’s toddler doesn’t like you” and “learning that talking about the baby as a ‘toy’ or a ‘pod’ and commenting on ‘it not having a brain yet’ is less funny to the baby’s parents than it is to you.” But perhaps the most frequent new experience is finding myself in discussions about baby names, both in the form of talking to the impending parents and pressuring them to reveal the candidates, and talking to other friends about the eventual name choices behind the new parents’ back.Three years and six friend babies later, I’m 32 and have numbed to the whole thing considerably. (Note: definitely best to keep the name candidates a secret until after the baby’s born—no name will please everyone and other peoples’ opinions really shouldn’t be part of the process for something so personal.

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