Joanne MacNeil had no idea what to name her third child until she spotted a
Lexus SUV parked at the local McDonald's.
She had been toying with names like Alexis and Alexa, but had her eureka moment
when she saw the luxury vehicle as she pulled up to the drive-through. She named
her daughter, who is now almost 16 months, Lexxus.
The baby's father insisted on the extra x to make it more original.
Ms. MacNeil, an ambulance dispatcher in St. Catharines, may have thought she was
selecting a rare name, but in the United States, 353 girls were named Lexus in
2000, according to baby names on social security applications.
Increasingly, parents are naming their children after the most sought-after
cars, popular perfumes and expensive drinks.
"I think the Lexus maybe belonged to the manager of McDonald's. She'll be so
proud," Ms. MacNeil joked.
Among the other popular names in the United States in 2000 -- Chanel (269
girls), Timberland (six boys), Porsche (24 girls) and Armani (273 boys and 298
Parents named their children after everything from bottled water (Evian) and
soft drinks (Fanta) to Western hats and cologne (Stetson), wine (Chardonnay) and
"Perfumes and automobiles are the ones that are most common," said Cleveland
Evans, an associate professor of psychology at Bellevue University in Nebraska
who has studied the list of names. "Chanel is fairly popular now and there are a
fair number who name their daughters Porsche -- who spell it like the car
instead of the normal way to spell Portia as a girl's name. Camry also turns up
quite regularly," he said.
"There are a lot of girls who are named just Lexus and a lot of girls named
Alexus [suggesting "a Lexus" -- rather than Alexis]. I saw one child named
Obsession, which I am sure was the perfume."
He said some parents are naming their children after consumer products they
aspire to own but will likely never afford.
"Someone who is a lawyer is not going to name their child Lexus usually -- they
are the ones who like antiques and dig up the old names like Abagail. It is the
blue-collar workers who are looking for something modern but ritzy sounding."
Over the past several years, Mr. Evans has come across children named Chivas
Regal, Champagne, Nivea and Pepsi.
The 2000 names list also included five Canadas and five Cobras.
Sheila Embleton, vice-president academic at York University and a linguistics
professor, said naming children after possessions has also become popular in
Canada. There are no equivalent statistics, but she has seen children named
Nike, Lexus and Chanel. She said the names may be popular because they are
"echoes" of others -- Camry is similar to Cameron, Chanel isn't far off Chantal
-- while giving an air of importance. Parents realize they are choosing brand
names but they have a nice, familiar ring.
Thursday, October 02, 2003
You may remember during the dot com boom,
the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA) offered parents money to name
their babies IUMA, and some actually took them up on the offer. A year later, a
married couple tried to auction their baby's name off to major corporations on
eBay. Last year, Acclaim entertainment offered $10,000 to anyone willing to
legally change their name to that of a video game character. It seems these
companies are going the wrong route by paying parents to name their kids after
certain brands. Many parents are naming their kids after brands for free -
sometimes causing distress in the family. The mother of one of six American boys
named Timberland, claims she wanted to call the boy Kevin, but her (since
divorced) husband insisted the boy be called Timberland or Reebok. The article
names plenty of other unfortunately named children, who are going to have hell
to pay in school. There's a Gouda, a Bologna, a Xerox and apparently Camry is an
increasingly popular boys name.