What’s In A Name
What’s in a name? A name can carry a lot of cultural and familial significance. Also, one’s name often becomes a distinct summation of one’s personality, though this distinction isn’t just inherent once your first and last are printed on your birth certificate. It builds as the personality develops. Even so, we can make a lot of assumptions upon hearing someone’s name. If we know someone else by that name, we may associate people by this name with having similar personality traits. By that same token, names that sound exotic or nontraditional can offer an air of mystery or lead people to draw other conclusions.
It is no coincidence, then, that positive associations with names can lead certain baby names to gain popularity. These boosts in name usage often coincide with the release of different movies and books as well. One entertainment entity that heavily influences baby name trends is the Disney Corporation. Once a Disney movie becomes a box office smash, you can almost guarantee the characters’ names will start to trend in maternity wards shortly thereafter. Disney movies are often based on traditional fairy tales from cultures around the world too, so it makes sense that a Disney movie character named in another time and place would spark interest and seem surreal. The girl names Ariel, Esmeralda, and Aurora hadn’t been on our radars for quite some time, and yet animated adaptations of classic tales like The Little Mermaid, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Sleeping Beauty brought these ethereal-sounding titles back into the forefront of our societal consciousness.
Names.org has compiled an intriguing list of Disney character names and data related to girls and boys being born with corresponding names after movies hit theaters. In my mind, there is really no other explanation for the sudden trend in the name Vanellope. The girl’s name went from being statistically non-existent to spiking on the record significantly, just one year after the film Wreck-It Ralph debuted featuring a female character of the same name. Apparently, parents aren’t opposed to naming their children after lions, bears, or crustaceans either, given these beasts have great names of course. Names for animal characters in movies like The Lion King and Brother Bear also gained traction after audiences learned these names.
Ultimately, I believe parents considering baby names want to choose enduring names that can be associated with strength and, most importantly, living happily ever after. Since Disney has a reputation for telling epic tales of love and friendship, it is no wonder that the names they choose for characters often speak to us in very special ways.