There is no question that 2014 has been a phenomenal year for celebrity baby names. With the year’s most popular names—Sophie, Alice, and Louis—drawing inspiration from the royal houses of Europe, and Europe’s most fashionable cities, it’s clear that the public have taken a shine to the very name brands that are popular now. But just as notable is the fact that many of this year’s most popular baby names are timeless. So, although you might want to avoid copying the very latest famous parents, you can give your baby the advantage of a unique beginning by opting for one of this year’s most popular names.
With over 32 million copies sold in 17 countries and over 42 million audio files sold on Spotify, it’s clear that Sophie is dominating the celebrity baby naming scene.
Sophie is the German form of Sophia, which means wisdom. One of the most notable individuals to be named after this royal advisor to the Holy Roman Emperor is the British-French actress Sophia Loren. Born in 1914, the Italian-American performer became an icon with her sultry look and distinctive voice. Her films helped make her famous and established her as a queen of 1940s cinema.
Other notable people named after Sophia Loren include Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti and Swiss banker Georges Scherz.
But it’s not just famous people that are choosing this timeless name. In fact, given the choice between Sophie and Sophia, it’s clear that many individuals are choosing the more traditional and simpler variant. For example, in the U.S., the most popular name for baby girls in 2014 is Sophia, which is down 1 million names from 2013 and up 6 million from 2012. In contrast, the most popular name for boys in 2014 is once again, not surprisingly, Sophie, which is up 9 million names from 2013 but down 2 million from 2012. The most popular baby name in the U.S. in 2014 is Sophia, with Daniel as the second most popular boy’s name.
Another timeless name making its way to the top of the baby name rankings this year is that of Alice. This name has been around since the 1800s, but it wasn’t until 2014 that it began to make its presence felt in popular culture. It’s most widely known as the English form of the name Allice, which was the medieval German form of the name Alais, which means “mystery.”
The name Alice was most notably associated with the Alice in Wonderland fairytale written by English author Lewis Carroll. Carroll’s vivid and colorful descriptions of Alice’s adventures in wonderland made her the perfect personification of the name Alice. This was especially evident in the 1930s, during which time Carroll’s books were among the best-selling novels in the English language. Since then, the name Alice has continued to appear in popular culture, with some evidence to suggest that this is being driven by the media and entertainment industries. For example, the Netflix series House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey is frequently credited with making the name Alice famous once again.
French historian and courtier Louis le Grand wrote the first biography on King Louis XIV of France, which was published in 1667. In it, he describes King Louis as a man who, despite his great wealth, power, and fame, yearned for the simple life, which is perhaps why he decreed that no member of his court should have more than five children.
King Louis XIV’s decision to limit the number of children in his court has had huge political and cultural ramifications. It was a controversial move at the time, especially since it was known that he had several children from multiple mothers. In the centuries that followed, it became the most recognizable moniker for Frenchmen and women alike, and is even now used as a royal title by the French royal family.
This is not the only cultural impact that King Louis XIV had on naming conventions, as the Sun King himself is responsible for many other traditional French customs and practices, such as fickleness, extravagance, and flamboyance. Today, the name Louis XIV is still widely used, especially among the French royal family, but it has significantly decreased in popularity for middle-class and working-class French individuals. In 2014, Louis XIV was ranked as the 14th most popular name for baby girls in the U.S.
The King’s Gambit
Another interesting development this year is the ascent of King’s Gambit to the top of the baby name popularity charts. This is the unique story of a game that has been played for centuries between two elite groups of people, the Kings and the Gambitters. Only the strongest of ties could keep these families together, which is why a game that essentially ended in a draw for centuries was revived in 2014. The game was played on May 4, 2014, at the Wilton Art Gallery in London, and was the culmination of a 4-year-old girl’s birthday party.
Kings’ Gambit, which is also known as Darts, is a racquet sport that can trace its origins to the early 1700s. Although it is played internationally, it is mainly associated with England and Wales. The name King’s Gambit is a reference to a pub in East London that is said to be the oldest in the world and the place where the game was first played. In order to play the game, one must be 18 years of age or older. Anyone who plays Kings’s Gambit is known as a King or Queen, and a person who has played the game is known as a Gambitter.
On the occasion of the game’s revival, England’s Princess Elizabeth said of the event, “It is wonderful to see an old game that has been around for almost 300 years brought back from extinction. I hope many children and grandchildren play the game now that we have revived it.” It is unclear if she had Kings’s Gambit in mind when she made this statement, but it is certainly a name that has risen quickly in popularity this year due to its presence in the media.
Royal Families Trending
There is also the matter of the British royal family, which continues to be a major source of inspiration for individuals across the globe this year. As the King George VI of Great Britain noted in a rare 2014 interview, “We are a family business, aren’t we? Through the generations, the royal family has brought out excellence in everything they’ve done.”
It is perhaps this sentiment that encouraged the British royal family to embrace a more modern approach when naming their children in 2014.
In the United Kingdom, the most popular baby names this year are George, Emily, and Charlotte, which are all associated with the royal family. This year also saw a huge increase in the number of unique baby names that the royals chose. In 2014, 13 unique baby names were chosen by the Queen Victoria, while in 2013, there were only two unique baby names chosen by Her Majesty. It is clear that the British royal family are proud to continue the name Victoria forevermore, and are selecting names that reflect the prestige and influence of their name over the last 200 years.
Similarly, Australian fans of the Sydney Olympics could be in for a treat this year, with the Olympics punctuating a baby boom in the country. As Australian historian Wendy Crompton noted in an article for The Conversation, “It has never been easier for families to have a say in the name of their baby.” Crompton also noted that, in the lead-up to the Games, many parents-to-be in Sydney were choosing names that were somewhat traditional in order to give their children an advantage in the upcoming competition. In fact, Crompton noted that some parents-to-be in Sydney had even chosen names that were directly associated with the Olympics.
As for which names are most popular, it’s difficult to say. This is especially true since many celebrities have very specific name requirements. For example, Angelina Jolie, the High Costa Rican film star, has a daughter named Shiloh and requests that only English names be used. Similarly, Beyoncé has a toddler named Blue and requires only French or Italian names.