March 19, 2020

Upcoming political / cultural baby names, based on phonetic trends

For a little comic relief and black humor during the pandemic, and to discharge my stir-crazy mind, I got to thinking about what popular baby names there will soon be, based on the existing phonetic trends.

Fashion in baby names has nothing to do with semantics, or the meaning behind a name. Most names don't already mean anything. Rather, they rise and fall according to their phonotactic properties -- the rules governing what sounds can be combined in what ways. People may tell rationalizing stories after the fact about their choice, like "my uncle had that name" or "I love that character from my favorite book". But these were already pre-screened for fitting into the existing trends for how they sound, and only within those rigid guidelines did they choose one with this meaning or that significance. (See Lieberson's A Matter of Taste: How Names, Fashion, and Culture Change.)

For example, if current sound trends say that a boy's name must be two syllables, and you have ancestors whose surnames were Lloyd and Morgan, then only Morgan could be adapted to the current sound trends. You will rationalize about the meaning of family traditions, but the first choice you made was conforming to the sound patterns du jour. If none of your ancestors' surnames fit into today's sound trends, you will ignore them all (so much for that story about the importance of family roots), and find something else that's traditional in meaning yet still -- and most important of all -- obeying current sound trends.

One of the most rigid rules recently is for male names, and some female names, to have two syllables, stress on the first syllable, and second syllable ending with "n" or, somewhat less commonly, "r". Devin, Bryson, Grayden, Archer, Taylor, etc. And the vowel in the stressed syllable is mainly restricted to front vowels rather than back vowels. Back-high vowels are especially avoided. (See here for a diagram of vowel space.) In simple terms, "i" "e" and "a" sounds are fine, but "o" and "u" sounds are not, and "uh" is just barely tolerated (Hunter).

The other major tendency is for names to rhyme with each other, as parents try to put their own little variation on the existing theme. It's a form of status-striving, trying to sound unique yet recognizable to other strivers, unlike the conformist masses. But there are only so many variations on a theme, so they all end up sounding conformist anyway. E.g., Aiden, Jayden, Brayden, Cayden, Hayden, Grayden, etc.

The inspiration for this exercise came from listening to a recent episode of the Red Scare podcast, where one of the ladies said that if she had a kid, she wanted to name him "Honor," and gave a semantic rationalization -- it's trad, it's important to be honorable. In reality, it's a rhyming variation on Connor -- a name already highly popular among the elite class, but without any popular rhyming variations yet. (Donner sounds right, but would get your kid teased for being named after a reindeer.) These names adhere to the current rules of two syllables, stress on the first, second ends with "n" or "r," and stressed vowel is a front one ("ah").

Below are lists of some names that adhere to current sound trends, but that also have meaning for those whose minds are molded by today's political and cultural atmosphere (the usual place to search for names, outside of your own family roots). Some are for the Left, some for the Right, and some for overall lifestyle and persona-construction trends. I put existing names that rhyme in parentheses for comparison. Almost all conform to the rules detailed above, plus a girl's name inspired by the popular stress pattern of "DA-da-DA-da", where both stressed vowels are front ones.

Finally, there's a list of "almost, but not quite" names that could not catch on because their stressed vowel is a back one. They still have two syllables, stress on the first, second ending in "n" or "r," but that stressed vowel makes all the difference in the end. A few names could work phonotactically, but would be avoided because they sound like other names that have been downtrending for a long time. (E.g., if a new girl's name rhymed with Karen or Linda, it could not catch on because others would interpret it as a rhyming variation on an ancient, downtrending name.)

Lighten up for a bit, and enjoy.

* * *

The Left

Larper (Harper)


Planner (Tanner)

Warren, Warron, Warynn (NB: "wahr" fits better than "wor")

Byden (Bryden)



Raddie (nickname for Radisson, from Madison / Maddie)

Brooklynn (already done)

The Right

Darwin (secular right only)


Fasher (Asher)

Nigger (a boy named Sue, a redneck named Nigger)

Lifestyle / Persona

Bacon (Aiken; allows Macon Bacon)


Jennder (Ender)

Hater (close to Hayden)

Texter (Dexter)



Patron, Patrynn

Annarexis / Rexi (Annabella, Alexis / Lexi)

Rexi! How many times have I told you not to spoil your appetite!

Almost, but not quite


Zoomer, Doomer, Coomer





Joker, Broker, Woker, Bespoker



Buster, Bustin (downtrending: Buster, Justin, Dustin)

Trad, Traddison / Traddie (Tr___ is downtrending for girls, e.g. Tracy, Trixie, Trina; Tr___ is trending for boys, e.g. Tripp, Trent, Trace, but Trad rhymes with only downtrending names, e.g. Brad, Chad, Tad, Thad)


  1. "Nader"! How could I forget? Nice rhyme for two sons, Nader and Hater.

  2. This trend has been going for a good 15 years since Aiden variations first exploded. Any idea what causes change to a naming trend, when the next one might be, and what sounds/structure could rise to prominence?


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