It may not be the most exhaustive source of baby names, but Baby Center, a site dedicated to all parts of having babies from conception to naming, does have a few lists you might want to check out. With lists such as “Most popular baby names through history” and “Baby names inspired by Shakespeare” you have a lot to choose between and a lot of names that you might find of use. I think my favorite list is “Baby names inspired by military heroes” which lists the names of military heroes, both male and female over the years of our country, names like Jane for Jane Thomas from the time of the Revolutionary War who prevented an ambush by passing on important intelligence, saving the lives of many, and Omar for army general, Omar Nelson Bradley from the time of World War II.
The site has nearly 270,000 names, which is nothing to sneeze at. Baby Center has all of the US popular name data available going back to 1880 when they first started collecting and making that info available. Having this data available can be a very useful tool for authors who wish to pick names that were common at the time of the story they are writing.
Individual name data has some interesting information to share. In addition to meaning, origin, and well known people with that name, the site includes information such as similar names to consider and names for siblings. This is useful for authors who are trying to name a full family or who want to name someone after someone else, but do not want to use their actual name.
Using one of my characters as an example. Jaymes is an only child. I don’t plan to give her any additional siblings, but if I did what might this site recommend. First off her actual name is Jayne Marie. Jaymes is just a nick name. Using the site’s search bar, I looked up the name Jayne. It’s not a very popular name, but that’s all right. I don’t need it to be. The site only listed one name for potential siblings, Philip. I guess that does show the limits of the site for the less well known names. It also showed several names as alternatives including the obvious choice of Jane. Using that as choice provided a much larger list of potential siblings names including Grace, Claire, Henry, and Jack.
Since Jayne was not a very common name, I’ll try another of my characters without known siblings. His name is Robert David. Now, unlike Jaymes, he does have siblings. I’m not sure how many or their names, but I do know that at least one brother exists. Dave, who goes by his middle name, is dead by the time he is introduced, but his children and grandchildren are major characters in the series. Let’s see what names the site recommends for siblings for the name Robert.
A much more common name the site recommends names such as Matthew, Ryan, Elizabeth, and Emily. There are actually twenty-four names in all, twelve for each gender, which appears to be normal when there is enough data available. Some of the options don’t work for various reasons. Their last name is Oliver, so I think John is probably not the best choice. Their father is names David James Oliver, but I don’t see him naming a second son after himself and the name David has been passed on for multiple generations in this family. I kind of like the way William Oliver sounds and Christopher Ryan Oliver, so some things to think about.
There’s a lot more to this site including lists of names that fall into various categories and I think the site as a whole, or at least the baby name part, is pretty interesting, definitely worth checking out. What do you find most interesting about this site?