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Kids have to make names for themselves
Tom Purcell
Tom Purcell

Get this: New parents are giving newborns outlandish names - so they’ll stand out on social media. 

That’s according to a new survey of British parents by ChannelMum, which found 72% of respondents “believe a unique name will help their child stand out from the crowd,” StudyFinds reports. 

So, what are some of these “unique” names”?  

Maevery, Faelina, Idalia, Evabeth and Tessadora are the top five new names for British girls. 

Jaspin, Charleston, Brigham, Ranger and Wrenlow are the top five new names for British boys. 

Want to see how popular your own name is here in America? Search for it at this Social Security Administration site:

I’m no child-rearing expert, but it seems to me that if you want to give your kids a leg up in life, it’s better to give them simple, traditional names, not names that stand out. 

I’m at the tail end of the baby boom. My high school friends were named Tom, John, Jeff, Bill, Bob, Rich and Tim.    

As for girls, my sisters have common names: Kathy, Krissy, Lisa, Mary and Jennifer. Other common names include Linda, Elizabeth, Carol, Helen and Sandra. 

If you really want your kid to be special, a name won’t do it. She’ll have to earn it, to work hard and sacrifice. She’ll have to try and fail before eventually finding her place - what she’s good at - and then work even harder to polish her talents.

That will be easier if she’s humble. And being humble will be easier if she doesn’t have some goofy name that makes her think she’s God’s precious, special gift to the universe.

Sure, times change and baby names follow trends. But don’t forget this timeless truth: We all have to make a name for ourselves.

Our actions, not our names, define who we are. Are we honest or a bit sketchy? Compassionate or hard-hearted? Thoughtful or close-minded? Courageous or someone who looks the other way when we see someone else doing wrong?

We freely choose our paths, and our real “names” - our real identities - will reveal themselves, regardless of the names we’re given at birth.  

I’m named after my father and his father. I’m the fourth Thomas James Purcell to have the honor of that name. 

My name carries a spiritual meaning. Many Christian saints and biblical heroes were named Thomas (including the doubting one). By giving me this name, my parents hoped to bestow good values on me. 

With my common name, I never took myself too seriously - I knew I wasn’t the center of anybody’s universe. Flawed though I am, I hope my dad thinks I’ve lived up to our shared name. 

I do understand new parents wanting to give their kids a head start in life. But they ought to be careful. An outlandish, “unique” name may do more harm than good.   

“Tessadora” sounds like a 1970s Chrysler luxury sedan that never caught on with the public. Will “Tessadora” be as dated 30 years from now as bell bottoms are today? 

“Wrenlow” sounds like a bird that’s afraid to fly high. Opportunities abound for bullies to make fun of a name like that.

That’s one thing that Tom, Bob and Tim - and Linda, Elizabeth and Carol - will never have to worry about.

Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at