American Baby Names
What exactly is meant by the term "American Baby Names?"
We took a quick look at the top sites in Google for the query "American Baby Names," to see what other people have come up with, and the results were very disappointing! Most lists calling themselves American baby names were really just lists of English names, or the latest names from the U.S. Social Security Administration. Even one of the best name sites on the internet, BehindTheName.com, doesn't attempt to put out a list of American names, even though they have everything from Albanian to Vietnamese (including "Limburgish" which has to be the only one of that kind on the web!)
As we always do at Baby Names Garden, we decided to dig a little deeper...
The basic problem with the concept of American baby names, as opposed to say Chinese baby names or French baby names, is that American names are also English names. There is no "American" language (setting aside regional dialects and cultural adaptations, which are still forms of an American-English). Since Engish is still the primary (but not the only) language of the United States, most names used in America, at least historically speaking, have been "English" names. Other names, prevalent in different cultural and ethnic groups, are usually fairly easy to define -- African names, or Chinese names, and so forth.
So what constitutes an "American" name as opposed to any other origin of names? Certainly, Native American names have a claim to being considered the original "American" names. But Native American names are their own distinct classification of names. And many other names have come into prominent usage in the United States (and nowhere else) that are certainly not Native American.
It's time for a working definition of American names. We suggest that American names can fall into one of three categories:
- Names that were clearly "invented" in America (eg the name Jayden)
- Names that come from elsewhere but have since become as American as apple pie (eg the name Hank)
- Names with Native American roots that have become thoroughly popularized into modern American nameology (eg Dakota)
There are no doubt other categories that could be suggested for American names, but these three seem like a good starting place.
With this working definition in mind, we have put together a list of American baby names that we think capture the essence of what it means for a name to be "American". We hope you enjoy the list, and find it inspirational in your own baby-naming quest. And we'd love to hear your comments and suggestions, and when we have some of those, we will start a new page of reader comments. Send thoughts and ideas about American baby names to . (And don't forget to bookmark this page! Use the AddThis button below to Tweet it, FB it, or whatever way you like to share!).