Whether you’ve read the books or seen the movie or not, chances are you’ve at least heard of the Twilight saga, by Stephenie Meyer. And chances are, if you’re a name enthusiast, you appreciate some of the names she chose for her characters. What about those, though, who aren’t followers of Twilight but have always planned to call their first son Edward or their first daughter Rosalie?
One reader wonders, can you still use these names without sounding too much like a fan?
My favorite and second favorite names are Rose and Alice, respectively. In Twilight two of the characters are Rosalie and Alice, with Rosalie sometimes called Rose for short. Do you think having Rose and Alice as siblings, especially with Twilight so popular right now, is a bad idea? Will people immediately assume that I am a huge Twilight fan and named my children because of that?
Also, do you think that Alice will make a leap forward in popularity because of Twilight? Jacob and Isabella are already popular. I can see Emmett and Jasper jumping. Do you think Alice will?
Here’s my helpful guide to using a Twilight name without sounding too fannish. Keep in mind that these rules can be applied to names from other books, movies, or TV shows as well.
1. Consider naming just one child after Twilight. If you name your firstborn Jasper, sure you might be a Twilight fan. Or you might be a gemologist. Or you might like the Three Wise Men. Or you might hope your child grows up to be a petty British crook like the one in 101 Dalmatians. It’s silly to assume fanhood based on one name alone.
2. Choose names that are less marked. Edward, Alice, and Rose have been in the U.S. top 500 for the past century. They have tons of literary and historical namesakes. In fact, 100 years ago, they were all in the top 20, so chances are very good that you have a relative on your family tree with at least one of these names. On the other hand, Rosalie, Esme, Jasper, and Emmett have never appeared in the U.S. top 100. (Well, Rosalie did briefly back in 1936.) They’re much less common, and thus much more marked as Twilight names.
3. Don’t name your children after famous lovers. You wouldn’t call your kids Romeo and Juliet or Adam and Eve, would you? Of course not — that would be gross! The same thing goes for Edward and Bella.
4. Add in some extra padding. If I met a family whose first two kids were called Jasper and Rosalie, I might assume they were fans. However, if I met a family with kids named Jasper, Hazel, Sylvia, and Rosalie, I likely wouldn’t make the connection at all.
5. Consider using a variation. If you really like Edward, consider Edmond or Frederick. Instead of Emmett, try Everett. Instead of Jasper, what about Casper? Rosalie could be substituted with Rose or Rosalind. Parents fond of Esme might also like Amelie. Isabella-fans might go for Arabella or Annabella. Instead of Alice, consider Alison or Adeline. Siblings called Edmond, Casper, Adeline, and Rose would be stylish without being fannish.
6. Don’t use an invented name. If you name your daughter Renesmee, you might as well face it — you’re a fan.
7. Remember that Twilight won’t be popular forever. The parents of a child called Hamlet or Ophelia are probably pegged for life as Shakespeare enthusiasts. But Meyer isn’t Shakespeare, and as with all things pop culture, the associations tend to fade over time. For example, in 1985, a character on All My Children had a daughter and called her Emily Ann. Apparently when I was a little girl, people used to come knowingly up to my mother and say things like, “You watch All My Children, don’t you?” or “I bet her middle name is Ann!” It drove my mother crazy for about a year or so. But you know what? I’ve never heard those comments. The association was lost with time. (And I’ll have you know I was NOT named after a character from a soap opera. My parents were much more sophisticated than that. They named me after a character on The Bob Newhart Show.)
In summary, Jane, I think using Rose and Alice for your first two daughters would be just fine. As to the question of whether these names will jump in popularity, it’s hard to make accurate predictions. Jacob and Isabella were already top-10 names before the advent of the Twilight series. Jasper and Emmett were also on the rise, and most of the names Meyer has chosen for her characters fit in well with the choices stylish parents were already considering. (In fact, most appear on Nameberry’s “Yupster” lists for boys and girls.)
Popular book and TV names can both influence and reflect names that are popular in the culture as a whole. For example, Emma had been a fast rising name since the early 1990’s, but it was propelled into the top 10 in 2002 (the same year Rachel and Ross from Friends chose it for their baby). It’s likely that classics like Edward, Alice, and Rose will also rise, but considering they last peaked about 100 years ago, that might be largely due to normal name cycles. Still, it’s probable that the Twilight series could give them a bit of an extra boost.
It’s also worth considering that, while some adults are certainly reading the Twilight series, the target audience seems to be teenage girls. And while some teenage girls are certainly having babies, the average age at which women in the U.S. have their first child is 25. The TV show Friends, on the other hand, was targeted mainly at young adults (of average childbearing age) and was thus perhaps more likely to immediately affect baby name statistics. Consider your average 15-year-old of today — she’s a sophomore in high school, she’s avidly reading the Twilight series, and she has resolved to name her first children Edward and Rosalie. Ten years from now when she is ready to have children, will she still like those names best, or will she have moved on to something else? It’s hard to say. Let’s carefully watch the rankings over the next couple of years and see where these names stand.