Do parents really name their babies after names they hear on television? Yes, they do! Time and again, TV has proven to be a powerful influence on parents: after hot handles show up as names for favorite characters on our screens, they start popping up on birth certificates. Need proof? Check out the baby name trendsetters below that are making the rounds in real life.
TV Show: Game of Thrones
Why it’s Worthy in the Real World: Arya sounds both ancient and futuristic, with its traditionally feminine “ah” ending and its trendy use of the letter “y.” Depending on how it’s spelled, Arya can possess an array of meanings. “Aria” means “air” in Italian and “lioness” in Hebrew.
On Game of Thrones, Arya is feisty, tomboyish, noble, and loyal—a fitting name for a survivor of the House of Stark and an invisible assassin in training, who manages to elude her would-be captors.
The name has jumped from #711 to #413 in popularity in the past year alone.
TV Show: Girls
Why it’s Worthy in the Real World: Do you ever notice that when you pronounce the long “ee” sound, your face naturally breaks into a grin? With its upbeat “ee” ending, Marnie runs in a cheery crowd that includes the likes of happy-sounding monikers Charlie, Allie, Ellie, and Chloe.
On Girls, Marnie is a sporty name for a serious and reflective character played by Allison Williams, who is the real-life daughter of anchorman Brian Williams.
TV Show: Game of Thrones
Origin: Dothraki, a fictional language made up by author George R. R. Martin
Why it’s Worthy in the Real World: Before you start knitting a baby blanket from horsehair, or hailing your beloved “my sun and stars,” remember that Dothraki is a fictional language, created by author George R. R. Martin. The character withstands scorching heat, frees multitudes of slaves, and speaks the tongue of Valeryan (more made-up stuff). Dragons call her Mommy.
Parents noticed and 146 babies were named Khaleesi in 2012. That’s more people than were named Daenerys or Old Valyrian. (Oh, yeah, and we happen to love the first name of actress Emilia Clarke, too. It’s a lovely variation of Emily.)
TV Show: Prison Break
Origin: Old English
Meaning: “lake colony”
Why it’s Worthy in the Real World: Sometimes it takes confinement and injustice to remind you of what’s precious in life: Freedom. Equality. Civil rights. And what better way to illustrate those values and qualities than the name of Abraham Lincoln? A surname from an early Roman settlement in England, Lincoln has been ascending in the baby name populartiy ranks for decades and is likely to break into the top 100 within the next couple of years.
TV Show: Sons of Anarchy
Meaning: Invented name that may be a variant of Jack
Why it’s Worthy in the Real World: As a name, Jax is overthrowing the old world order of Jacks and Jacksons. A departure from traditional Jacks and Zacks, Jax has that undefinable cool X-factor. He’s disrupting the status quo. Parents will readily admit they named their son after a tattooed, Harley-riding dude with a prison record, who is trying to rebuild his life.
On the popularity charts, this man of mayhem is surpassed only by the name Jaxon.
TV Show: Teen Mom
Why it’s Worthy in the Real World: Maci and Macy, along with Macie and Macey, are our thoroughly modern Millies for this generation. And what better place than MTV to boost the ratings for this surname that is closely tied to retailer and department store founder, Rowland Hussey Macy. Sometimes considered French for the meaning “weapon” or “mace,” Macy is originally derived from a Norman baronial name, with Gallo-Roman roots. It provides a youthful spin on names such as Lacey, Stacy, and Tracy.
TV Show: Teen Mom
Meaning: “a meadow of bent or coarse gras”
Why it’s Worthy in the Real World: Even more popular than mom, Maci, is son, Bentley, whose name has been a top 75 contender since 2011. And no wonder—the stately and distinguished surname bears associations with a luxury British car and is a place name in England. It is currently in use as a girl’s name as well. The roots of this status conscious name remain humble and ironically refer to untilled land.
TV Show: Dexter
Origin: Old English, Latin
Meaning: “one who dyes” or “one who is right-handed”
Why it’s Worthy in the Real World: A surname for a dyer, or a woman who dyes fabric, Dexter has been used primarily as a boy’s name through the years. It has a trendy “er” ending–so desirable for boys’ occupational names! (Think Hunter and Archer.) In Latin, Dexter means “right-handed” or “fortunate.” We’re not sure if Dexter’s victims on the program (many of them murderers themselves) felt so fortunate, but the name is here to stay. It usually maintains a respectable, mid-level presence on the popularity lists, rarely residing at the top or bottom. It’s still a killer name, with an matinee-idol nickname: Dex.