Baby Emma, David or Elizabeth? Not for American parents Caitlin and Luke McNeal.
Instead of naming their children after grandparents, biblical figures or the British monarchy, the couple chose names of places that hold meaningful travel memories for them.
“Kinsale was when we lived in Ireland, and we holidayed in Kinsale and fell in love with it,” Caitlin said. “Keeneland is from Kentucky, the first place we ever vacationed together to watch horse racing.”
And finally there’s Sabi – “from Sabi Sands in South Africa, where we went on our first solo holiday without Kinsale.”
The McNeals are part of a growing trend of choosing baby names based on travel destinations.
The McNeal Family – Keeneland, Luke, Sabi, Caitlin and Kinsale.
Source: Caitlin McNeal
The popularity of “travel-inspired” names grew by 14% between 2000 and 2020, according to a study by luggage storage app Bounce. The company compared a short list of destination names and travel-related words with data from the US Census Bureau and the UK Office for National Statistics, it said.
The results show overlap in baby name choices in the two countries. However, the trend of naming children after countries and cities is more pronounced in the United States than in the United Kingdom, even after accounting for differences in population size, the study shows.
The most popular ‘travel-related’ baby names
Preston, Israel, Phoenix and Orlando appear on both lists, but Preston – which means priest town – is the most popular overall.
Baby website The Bump calls the name “old-fashioned and rather odd… Although some may see it as a title reserved for the rich, Preston is the name of a Northern England town once known for his role in the industrial revolution.”
American parents of young boys tended to prefer local city names, while British parents showed a tendency to look abroad, with names such as Milan, Orlando and Rome topping their list.
Sydney made the “top 10” list for girls’ names in the US and the UK, but is much more popular with American parents. It is the only name that was chosen more than 100,000 times in the 20-year period analyzed in the study.
However, Sydney’s popularity is waning in the United States. After peaking in 2002, the name dropped from the 23rd most popular name that year to 249th in 2021, according to the US Social Security Administration.
Historically, baby names have been inspired by literary characters, biblical figures and the British monarchy. Now, there is a growing trend to add travel destinations to the list.
Source: Ria Hoban
London also made the top 10 lists for American baby names – for both boys and girls – but it might be a little too close to home for British parents. It was chosen just 220 times in the UK from 2000 to 2020, compared to 44,556 times in the US, according to the study.
Of all the names in the study, Atlas grew the most in popularity, according to Cody Candee, CEO of Bounce. There were only eight babies named Atlas in 2000, but nearly 2,175 in 2020 — an increase of more than 27,000%, he said.
“This may be due to parents favoring more unique and meaningful names, with Atlas originating from Greek mythology and meaning ‘to endure,'” he said.
“On the other hand, there are some names that have fallen in popularity”, he added. “In fact, there were 11 that disappeared completely, the biggest of which was Montreal that went from 23 to 0.”
Baby names that match place names
Ria and Connor Hoban with their children, (from left) Bruno, Joaquin, Bode and India.
Source: Ria Hoban
“Indus is feminine for river,” said Ria Hoban. “I accidentally got my elements read one night when I found out I was pregnant and they told me I was a water element.”
“Plus, Connor and I honeymooned in India—Delhi, North and South Goa, and Rajasthan, and I’ve always been mystified by the region. I’ve also always loved the realm of the name and [I’m] a fan of India Hick’s designs,” she said, referring to the British designer and relative of the British royal family.
In both the US and the UK, the trend of naming babies after countries is much more common for girls. With the exception of Israel, Trinidad and Cuba, the names on both lists were exclusive or much more popular choices for girls.
Baby names that match city names
Although London, Kingston (the name of the eldest son of singers Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale) and Paris dominate the lists, one name is noticeably missing from this list: Brooklyn.
That’s because the study didn’t include names of suburbs or municipalities, Candee said.
Brooklyn’s popularity skyrocketed after Victoria and David Beckham chose it for their firstborn son in 1999, Candee said.
If the name were included, Brooklyn would be “the second most popular travel-inspired girl name in the US, with 75,948 girls named Brooklyn over the past 20 years,” he said. However, the name is less popular for boys, he said — it was chosen just 1,412 times for boys in the U.S. during the same period.
Candee also said some names were excluded from the analysis for being too frequently used to be inspired by travel. Those names include Jordan, Madison, Austin and Charlotte, he said.
It is not known to what extent the other names were inspired by travel or some other association the parents may have made with the names.
An example is Hamilton. Although there are towns and cities named Hamilton in Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US, the popular Broadway show “Hamilton” or Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton may have inspired some parents to choose the name for their children. theirs.
Similarly, it is not known to what extent the parents who named their babies Paris were inspired by the French capital, socialite Hilton or Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – or something else entirely.