Name News: Philippa / Pippa

Pippa Middelton shopping.As mentioned in my last post, the story behind my daughter’s name, I will share the story behind my son’s name, probably this Friday. Until then, I was perusing Laura Wattenberg’s Baby Name Wizard blog, and found the 2011 Name of the Year: Call for Nominations post, and wanted to comment while it was timely.

Laura Wattenberg is looking for nominations for the Baby Name Wizard’s 2011 Name of the Year. This name isn’t necessarily one that is destined to become more popular on new babies, but rather a name that reflects current news and pop culture.

After reading several comments, Philippa / Pippa appeared to be one of, if not the top contender due to Pippa Middleton. Frankly, I’m a little stumped as to why she is generating so much attention. Sure she’s attractive, in good shape, and seems personable, but I doubt the public would care about her if she wasn’t the sister of the new Duchess of Cambridge.

And even that association alone doesn’t seem enough to warrant that much attention. To put things in perspective, I had no idea Princess Diana even had a brother until her passing when he spoke at her funeral, and I doubt many other Americans did either.

I actually wonder if Pippa Middleton’s name has helped generate some of the buzz surrounding her. Of course if she had bad skin, bad teeth, and a rude, crass demeanor, her name alone wouldn’t make her appealing, but all of her other attractive qualities combined with a stand-out name have helped people remember her.

There had been some buzz in the naming world surrounding Philippa / Pippa as a baby name long before many people knew about Pippa Middleton. The name itself has a lot going for it. My gut tells me Philippa was on the verge of becoming discovered before Pippa Middleton; can fly on its own and is just getting one more extra push from its famous bearer.

The masculine version Philip gives it instant familiarity and puts it in the same category as Josephine, the long-feminine version of Joseph. Josephine has been climbing the charts at a gradual, respectable pace, about 100 places since 2000. Like Josephine, which has the spunky nickname Josie, Philippa has the spunky Pippa. Pippa is also similar to up-and-coming Piper which has climbed the charts rapidly, over 350 places since 2000.

Philippa also happens to one of the Freakonomics predicted top baby names for 2015, first published in 2005 long before most people knew about Pippa Middleton.

Sure, some of these names may never see the mainstream, at least not any time soon (I just can’t picture Waverly catching on). Some of the other predictions were already popular in 2005 and I believe will be on their way out come 2015, like Emma, Ava, Grace, and Ella. Plus, when I found the list in 2007 or 2008, I felt there were big omissions, like Lucy and Nora. But some of their predictions like Avery, Quinn, Fiona, and Phoebe are looking promising so far.

Predicting the future is risky business. Luckily I only do it for fun, and I’m not the betting type! Stats only accurately gage the past, and are a reasonable predictor of the future, but certainly not foolproof. Stats also can’t really tell you much, if anything, about the why’s or the how’s.

What the future holds, no one knows. Philippa Middleton could introduce her name to new parents and cause a sudden surge in usage or have the opposite effect. Even a positive association can ruin a name for some parents because they don’t want to seem like they named their kid after a celebrity.

Will Philippa suddenly soar up the charts and see the top 1000 next year? Or will Philippa fade away? I’m eagerly awaiting the Social Security data for 2011 so we can all check!

photo credit

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  1. […] our old friend, Josephine is another currently fashionable feminization that has caught on in the past 10 years. This may be […]

  2. […] son) and this publicity helps the name’s U.S. Social Security rankings. Then there are names like Philippa that also get much publicity due to a celebrity (Philippa Middleton), yet this publicity fails to […]

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