Cleve Evans on 2017’s Top Baby Names in the Providence Journal

Names parents choose for babies meld tradition, fashion, pop culture, ethnicity into a unique identity. The Health Department of the state of Rhode Island has provided the 10 most popular names for boys and for girls.

While simple — Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Charlotte, Isabella, Ava, Amelia, Mia, Aria and Abigail for girls; Liam, Lucas, Noah, Julian, Mason, Benjamin, Matthew, Michael, Logan and Joseph for boys — the names evidence the weighty decisions parents must make, balancing fashion with tradition, ethnic identity with popular culture, names that sound unique with ones that just sound weird.

“One of the commonest things parents are always telling me is they’re looking for a name that’s different, but not too different,” Cleveland Kent Evans, a psychology professor at Nebraska’s Bellevue University and a leading expert in how babies are named, told The Providence Journal in a previously published interview. “Culturally, one of the biggest factors now is not to have a common name. Somehow they think it’s child abuse if a kid gets into a kindergarten class and there’s another child with the same name.”

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