Thursday, November 3, 2011

Katniss Is Not a Real Name

The title of this post says it all - Katniss is not a real name.

It's an answer to a question that I feel is plaguing my favorite baby name website, Nameberry.  I check it out on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis.  I love the witty blog articles.  I love scrolling through all the name lists like "Geezer Names for Girls" and "Nouveau Names on the Rise".  And, I love checking out the "Today's Most Popular Name" feature, which is a cluster of the most searched names on Nameberry on any given day.  It's a great website to kill fifteen minutes or two hours (click here for other websites that I kill time on).

For the past several months, Katniss has been a name featured in Nameberry's "Today's Most Popular Name".  It's always there.  Front and center, large and pink.  The larger the name the more times it's been searched.  Everytime I pop over to check out the latest in baby names I see Seraphina (thanks Ben and Jen) and Katniss.



A screenshot from Nameberry yesterday.  
You'll notice the prominence with which Katniss is featured.




For those of you who are thinking, KATNISS?  WTF?  I can explain its popularity, in part: The Hunger Games.  You've heard of The Hunger Games, yes?  It's followed in the footsteps of the Twilight Saga as the next, best, cheesy, teenage, science fiction, drama, romance series.  The heroine of the Hunger Games series, who will be played by Jennifer Lawrence when it comes to movie theaters everywhere in March 2012, is Katniss.  Just as Bella and Isabella became wildly popular baby names thanks to the Twilight Saga, it seems that Katniss is becoming a top baby name choice thanks to The Hunger Games.


Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss.  Fierce.
Looks like she could kick Kristen Stewart's ass.


The part I can't explain is why people have decided that Katniss is a real name (versus the name of a science fiction heroine).  Katniss is like Spock - it's a character, not a name.  People didn't have to make that distinction with Bella or Isabella, because both had been within the top 1,000 most popular baby names (per the social security website) since 1880.  Katniss has never been on the social security website's top 1,000 baby names.  Will it join those ranks in the next couple years?  If it's popularity on Nameberry is any indication, then yes.

What do you think - is Katniss a "real life" name?  Am I being a baby name party pooper?  Will I be eating my words in a couple decades?  And, more importantly, have you read The Hunger Games and how does it compare to the Twilight Saga?

24 comments:

Chrissy said...

AHH! Please don't name your baby Katniss, people! I feel the same way about Juno. And I know people who named their baby Juno. Yes, after the popular film character.

What do think Suzanne Collins thinks about her made up name becoming a real name for real children? I bet she's amused.

Kendall @ On An Inhale said...

i like it! i wouldnt do it but its cute. i love the books. our ytt class all did. im not sure if your mom read them. im not a twi fan either. just this!

Abby@AppMtn said...

There's a long, long, LONG history of parents borrowing names for their children from literature. Pamela, Evelina, Enola ... and that's just a start.

The names seem to catch on a) because the character is admirable and b) because the name sounds like name that are currently in favor. Katniss fits with all of the Kate and Katherine names, plus Alice and Frances.

I'm not sure if you've read The Hunger Games trilogy, but they're really well written. Twilight is fluffy fun with a dose of "really, Bella?" But Suzanne Collins is in a whole other category.

Plus, Katniss isn't made-up. Collins borrowed her from the natural world. So if we can use Lily and Rowan and Linden, Katniss isn't so outlandish, either.

http://appellationmountain.net/2011/07/28/baby-name-of-the-day-katniss/

The Mrs./The Mom said...

If you think that's strange Neveah is even stranger. It's the most made up name that you can ever make up (heaven spelled backwards) and yet it's like the 25th most popular name in 2010. Now I'm not knocking it especially because I know a guy name My-Heaven (I'm being serious) and his daughter name is Neveah so in that case it's very appropriate.

LawEnforcement said...

Perhaps it’s my pure and utter dislike for science-fiction or just the simple fact that Katniss reminds me of catnip, but I thoroughly enjoyed this post!

Mother of Pearl said...

I loved The Hunger Game trilogy. As another post commented, it's very well written and excellent teen literature, in a different class than Twilight series, which is fluff and trendy (though financially successful and darn I wish I'd written it!)

Katniss is a great name in a sci fi book of the future. Though the author never explains what the name symbolizes. Personally, I wouldn't name my daughter Katniss, but I agree, it does trend nicely with the Kate/Kat names. A nomer is anything you choose, and the international offering of sounds and names brings many unusual combinations. I just heard of a baby girl named Ishara. Lovely, uncommon, reminiscent of Charlotte or Isabelle. It means "promise" or "rich" in Hindi, and was also the name of a Star Trek character!!!

Mother of Pearl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S said...

While I'm not a fan of made-up names, personally, I find it less bothersome when parents are borrowing literature names that an author made up. Miranda (Shakespeare) and Wendy (J.M. Barrie) are also made-up literature names.

S said...

Oh, also, I enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy, much more than the Twilight series. It's still kind of fluffy teen fiction, but it's better. The last book was a disappointment, though.

Katniss is definitely a flawed character, but I don't think the author is trying to make her out to be a perfect heroine, just a teenaged girl who gets thrust into the position. I remember getting the impression that Katniss kind of expected others to rescue her from her bad decisions, but I can't think of any examples of that right now; it was just an impression I got while reading it. But overall, it was one of those can't-put-it-down books that I was really glad I hadn't heard about until the whole series was out and available at the library.

Anonymous said...

Actually, believe it or not, Katniss IS a real name, just not popular. I believe it to be a sort of root, and what a native american indian tribe called arrowheads. I also believe it is from Roman origin.

Jon Levi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon Levi said...

Though it sounded ridiculous when I first heard it, I think Katniss might be a good name. After all, anyone who doesn't like it can abbreviate it to Kat.

I've also found that the name Luna has grown from almost nothing since 2003, which coincides nicely with the introduction of Luna Lovegood to the Harry Potter series. However the names Harry and Ron have actually declined in the last ten years and Hermione and Ginny aren't even in the top 1000 (according to SSA). Why is it only certain names that do this?

Anonymous said...

@Jon Levi Its because people only want pretty sounding names. Of course, whatever makes them think "Katniss" actually sounds good, is beyond me; although from what I can tell it's mostly preteen girls fantasizing, that actually take the name seriously. Most names should roll off your tongue, "Katniss" gets stuck, and rolls back down.



Also, if we're suddenly accepting 'all fictional names' as legitiment things to name children, then I'm reproducting purly to name my kids the fillowing.

Neo.
Cipher.
Morpheus.
Obi.
Boba.
Dovahkin(This one actually became a name, was part of a contest put out by some game developers.)

Anonymous said...

You're right about Katniss not being a "real" name and that I've also never heard of it being on any sensus records. It's recent popularity I believe is based on the movie as opposed to the trilogy of books because the character gets progressively darker as the series concludes. She's really driven insane by war. She's physically disfigured. She makes two decisions towards the end that either morally damn her or vindicate her. It's left ambiguous. So, it's an odd name to choose for your offspring because of the baggage.

You're wrong though about the word being made up. It's an edible plant that you can look up on wiki if you choose. In the book, it was explained why it was chosen by her father. It was used as a metaphor throughout.

In the book, the character is mistakenly called catnip. The name catnip is used to tease her but eventually becomes a term of endearment between two old friends.

None of these thing make it any less ridiculous to name your child Katniss though. However, at least it's not as bad as "Piggy" which was a woman from Road Rules on MTV. It was her given name and it's the bad name I choose to judge all bad names by.

Anonymous said...

To Miss-katniss-isn't-a-real-name,
Katniss is an edible aquatic plant belonging to the Sagittaria family and more commonly referred to as "duck potato" or "swan potato". Sagitarria means "of an arrow" and the plant species was likely named this due to the pointed shape of the leaves.
To name your child Katnis is to name It after sagitarria which represents the mythical centaur Chiron. He was an excellent archer, musician, and physician, and tutored the likes of Achilles, Jason, and Hercules. He took Prometheus' place during his imprisonment for giving man fire and as a regonition for his goodness he placed Chiron in the stars aka sagitarria. To name your child Katniss is to name your child after a mythological archer whom is forever known for his goodness. Don't rely on pop culture too much.

Anonymous said...

Katniss is the name of a plant - just like Rose, Ivy, or Lily. Many common names were taken from literature (someone mentioned Miranda from Shakespeare, that is a good example). All names were made up at some point.

Brianoeyo said...

You're right about Katniss not being a "real" name and that I've also never heard of it being on any sensus records. It's recent popularity I believe is based on the movie as opposed to the trilogy of books because the character gets progressively darker as the series concludes. She's really driven insane by war. She's physically disfigured. She makes two decisions towards the end that either morally damn her or vindicate her. It's left ambiguous. So, it's an odd name to choose for your offspring because of the baggage. You're wrong though about the word being made up. It's an edible plant that you can look up on wiki if you choose. In the book, it was explained why it was chosen by her father. It was used as a metaphor throughout. In the book, the character is mistakenly called catnip. The name catnip is used to tease her but eventually becomes a term of endearment between two old friends. None of these thing make it any less ridiculous to name your child Katniss though. However, at least it's not as bad as "Piggy" which was a woman from Road Rules on MTV. It was her given name and it's the bad name I choose to judge all bad names by.

Jason_at_52 said...

First of all, EVERY name in existence has at some point NOT been a real name. The name Jill at some point in time there had to a the first person in the world named Jill. Secondly, Katniss is more normal than a lot of the crap people are naming their kids for example; Lion, yes someone name their child Lion. Give me a break, Katniss is a unique name, actually has a meaning to it and actually has an appealing sound to it. Additionally how about the names given to black children??? Seriously...you think most of those are real??? Get over it, if I had a baby girl on the way Katniss is DEFINATELY a name I would consider!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that naming a child Katniss is a bit strange. But I personally think that it's better to name a child after a character who is brave and fierce then a person who is the complete OPPOSITE (like Bella from Twilight). After all, the kid would probably appreciate the name after growing up and reading/watching The Hunger Games herself. As for it being a "made up" name, well...aren't all names made up? In fact, all words are made up, too, I believe, to help humans communicate. My own name is very strange, and I doubt anyone in the world has in besides myself. By that standard, Katniss is a very common name. Anyways, everyone has their opinions and, even though I personally like the name (because I admire the character very much), I, too, would never name my child that. Oh, and about Twilight and The Hunger Games--they are different in a lot of ways. Whereas the Twilight series is about Edward and Bella getting together (I didn't like those books), The Hunger Games deals with a girl creating a revolution to take down the dictatorship she lives in. There IS a love triangle, but it's so discreet that you'll forget it's there while reading.

rs gold said...

Possibly it’s our natural along with say dislike with regard to science-fiction or perhaps be simple fact that Katniss reminds me of catnip, however i carefully enjoyed reading this submit!
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Anonymous said...

Jenny Lawrence is a tasty little cat I love high cheekbones. I think Koshka Кошка better spelled Kashka for a name means female cat in Russian (кошка), would be a good name for the character. Failing to hold back my laughter, I met a black bitch named Kashka. She said her mom heard it somewhere but didn't have the slightest clue what that means. Negros are famous for stupid made up names IE Laqwisha Tadarrel Trayvon Natuanda,& Moliquekwando, hands down the funniest one. Blacks make good entertainment if from the ghetto.I wonder what good intelligent educated blacks, & African people think about the members of their ethnicity that think it's cool to live the "nigger" lifestyle? Of course the population of "white niggers" is an ever growing sector of my ethnicity of white people

Anonymous said...

What about Katya (Катя)? Oh yah I get it too Russian. A little too offensive to the Hilldog voter you know that loudmouth cyka who equated a man who is a far greater statesman than that idiot obama who put his nazi puppet Poroshenko into power. You know this world leader President Vladimir Putin.

Anonymous said...

This thing won't let me PT my name in Vikyentiy Madzin so to avoid a registration form and hassle I'm posting as anonymous

Anonymous said...

It was my African friend Abbay I. He pointed out the fake afro names as we were running out of "real" things to talk about, plus fatigue makes you goofy on our Florida to Texas trip to rehome a couple of zoo kept mugger crocs ft Dallas Texas to the east Tampa FL area.