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'Mason is the new Mike': Parents bemoan when unique baby name becomes popular

Baby naming is serious business. For some, it’s all about tradition and family names. But for others, finding something original and unique is the goal. So what happens when the wonderful, distinctive, rarely-heard name you’ve carefully chosen suddenly becomes…popular? Call it baby name heartbreak. And with the release of the top baby names of 2014, it’s what’s ailing the parents of M
Mason Petro
Mason PetroToday

Baby naming is serious business. For some, it’s all about tradition and family names. But for others, finding something original and unique is the goal.

So what happens when the wonderful, distinctive, rarely-heard name you’ve carefully chosen suddenly becomes…popular?

Call it baby name heartbreak. And with the release of the top baby names of 2014, it’s what’s ailing the parents of Masons and Liams, Olivias and Lilys and more.

When Gary and Renee Lopus of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, thought of baby names for their son, now 3, they narrowed it down to Mason and Jacob. They selected Mason because they thought it was less popular. Now when they’re at the store, it seems like every adult is calling for a Mason, which BabyCenter lists as the 6th most popular names for boys.

“Mason is the new Mike. We wanted the less popular [name],” says Lopus, 39, who blames the popularity of the name on Kourtney Kardashian, whose 5-year-old is Mason.

Mason PetroToday

Kim and Christ Petro, both school teachers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, found it challenging to come up with a name for their now 11-month-old baby boy because they didn’t want any names of the children they taught.

Related story: What it's like when your uncommon name becomes trendy

“We both wanted names that didn’t remind us of children at school,” says Kim, 32. So When Chris suggested Mason, it fit the requirement. But now, Kim says she sees the name Mason everywhere.  

Mason and Renee LopusToday

“I really had no idea that Mason was such a popular name,” she says. “[I] was kind of in shock.”

Peter Chace, 27, and his wife Sarah, 30, also hoped to give their sons unique names. They named their 2-year old-son Noah. They really liked its Biblical resonance and felt the meaning (rest or comfort) fit his temperament.

“We knew there [were] going to be other kids named Noah,” says Peter. “We didn’t anticipate a Noah in each class.”

When it came to naming their 6-month-old son, the couple chose Liam. It's the third most popular boy name on BabyCenter's list.

“We didn’t recognize that it was happening to us. We were a little bit upset … what we thought was a pretty unique name was not at all,” Peter says, adding that he and his wife “hope that our [sons] will bring [their] own uniqueness to a popular name.”

Growing up, Jessi Dieringer, 34, was always Jessi S. because of the many Jessicas, Jesses, and Jessis. When pregnant with a daughter, she and husband Ron, 35, wanted a name that wasn’t ubiquitous. Ron suggested Lily.

Lily D.Today

“The only Lily I had ever heard of at that point was on that TV show ‘How I Met Your Mother,’” Dieringer says. “Now I know 15 or 20.”

Even though her daughter will probably be called ‘Lily D,’ Dieringer believes the name still fits her daughter’s personality. Lily is the 8th most popular name for girls, according to BabyCenter.

For Elliot and Julie Blake, there was no question of what to call their daughter: Emma is named after the activist Emma Goldman, who protested at steel mills in Pittsburgh, where the Blakes live.

The Blakes also wanted a simple name—growing up, he always had to spell his first name and Julie always had to spell her last name, Werkmeister.

“Emma Blake will not have to spell her name to anyone,” he says, adding that he didn’t realize Emma was a trendy name and doesn’t really mind that it is. “The reasons why we named her Emma, they were kind of independent of that.”