Watch out, Utah — TikTok has some weird baby names, too

Utah baby names usually stand out. Some unusual names are making the rounds on TikTok, too.

Utah baby names usually stand out. Some unusual names are making the rounds on TikTok, too. (Bignai, Shutterstock)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Having a child share a name with someone else in their kindergarten classroom is "a fate worse than death" in the eyes of some parents, joked Utah State University professor Jenny Mansfield.

But as a Jennifer — one of the most popular names for Gen X and millennial baby girls — Mansfield knows firsthand that bestowing a common name on your baby is not the end of the world.

"It's never been a disservice to me to have a name that people could spell and pronounce," she said.

Not everyone is so cavalier about their future child's sense of individuality, however. Parents-to-be are scouring baby name websites, social media, old books and family trees, medicine cabinets and even cemeteries to find a name that is at once unique and artistic — yet also familiar — for their progeny. Baby name consultants have taken to TikTok to help parents wade through a sea of names and settle on a unique pick that reflects their personal style.

What names are TikTokers talking about?

  • Sunday
  • Dove
  • Story
  • Romance
  • Delta
  • Rhodes
  • Evergreen
  • Golden
  • Ziggy
  • August

But before some of today's most popular names were on TikTok For You pages, they were in the Beehive State. Utahns, especially members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to baby naming, Mansfield said, and their distinctive choices are starting to spread.

'What I would argue is that so much is already chosen for Mormons, so much is prescribed. … They really are looking for a way to distinguish themselves and their child," Mansfield said.

Hence the unusual spellings, the words-as-names phenomenon, the composite names and the religious names that can be found all along the Pioneer Corridor.

Some names unique to Utah

  • Brexley
  • Embra
  • Haizlee
  • Rainey
  • Brewer
  • Covey
  • Ripp
  • Zeppelin
  • Rowdy

"I think a lot of Latter-day Saint people do that deliberately, as a way to promote their own culture," said Cleveland Evans, a professor emeritus at Bellevue University. "It's almost a badge of honor."

So why is everyone else jumping on the distinctive name train? Probably because of the internet, Evans and Mansfield say.

Mansfield gives some credit to the mommy bloggers of the early aughts, many of whom were Latter-day Saints. They likely helped spread some unusual baby names around the blogosphere.

And the internet doesn't just share unique baby names — it also makes having a unique name all the more important. Parents worry their child won't be able to find a good email address or username if their name is too common.

Plus, social media makes some names seem much more common than they are. In the past, someone probably wouldn't have known what their old high school classmate named their child. Now, that very name might feel off-limits even if the kids will never cross paths.

Social media also broadcasts your own baby's name to the world. It's not just neighbors and family who will know your baby's name, it's practically everyone you've ever met. The pressure mounts until it feels like a name can't just be "nice," it has to embody your personal aesthetic.

Top US baby names last year

Evans has good news for parents who are stressed about giving their child a name that is the perfect combination of lived in, yet unheard of.

"The most popular names are so much less popular than they used to be," Evans assured. "It's much less common now that two children in the same elementary school will have the same name."

In the 1830s, 1 out of 6 girls was named Mary, Evans said. Today, the most popular girl name is Olivia, but just around 1% of new babies will leave the hospital with that name on their birth certificate.

Plus, if it's any consolation, of the several dozen babies and toddlers whose parents appeared on an Instagram search, only four had the same names as each other.

And what about all those Jennifers in Mansfield's elementary school classes? They all went on to do just fine, she said — even with a common name.

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Emma Everett Johnson covers Utah as a general news reporter. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University.


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