Tom Purcell

Get this: Old-fashioned baby names are beginning to make a comeback.

That was the finding of BabyCenter, a digital resource for parenting and pregnancy, which released the top 100 baby names for 2013.

Some of the names at the top of the list are oldies but goodies, such as Sophia, Isabella and Olivia for girls. And once we get past Liam, Lucas and Mason, Jack, Ben and Bill are increasing in popularity for boys.

Naming conventions are surely cyclical in nature, and I hope it is just a matter of time before the common names of my childhood make a comeback: Tom, John, Jeff, Bill, Bob, Rich and Tim. We had one Clint and he had a brother named Reid, but that was as daring as things got in those days.

You were never referred to by your full name - Thomas, Jonathan, Jeffrey, William and so on - the way parents demand nowadays.

My sisters had common names, too: Kathy, Krissy, Lisa, Mary and Jennifer. So did the girls I went to school with: Terri, Laura, Donna, Colleen, Karen, Susan, Janine, Holly, Sandy, Sherri and so on.

The girls' names were much less flowery than they were in our grandparents' generation. My grandmother on my father's side, born in 1903, was named Beatrice - family members called her Beady.

She came of age at a time when it was common to name girls Gertrude, Mildred, Dorothy, Lilian, Josephine, Mabel and other wonderful names.

I surely prefer old-fashioned names over the newfangled ones - and don't care much for the way modern parents determine names for their kids.

A few years back, The Wall Street Journal did a report on parents who hired naming experts, applied mathematical formulas and software programs and even consulted with nutty spiritualists.

One couple hired a pair of consultants to draw up a list of suggestions based on "phonetic elements, popularity and ethnic and linguistic origins."

One woman paid a "nameologist" $350 for three half-hour phone calls and a personalized manual describing each name's history and personality traits.

Another spent $475 on a numerologist to see if her favorite name had positive associations, whatever the heck that means.

One married couple really took the cake in coming up with the name Beckett for their son. The name sounds reliable and stable, according to the proud dad, who said the "ck" sound is very well regarded in corporate circles. The "hard stop" forces one to accentuate that syllable, which draws attention to it, he droned on.

What a dweeb.


Tom Purcell

Tom Purcell, author of "Comical Sense: A Lone Conservative Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" and "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood," is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist syndicated nationally by Cagle Cartoons. Visit him on the web at www.TomPurcell.com