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Laura Wattenberg

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Laura Wattenberg is a name expert, entrepreneur, and author of The Baby Name Wizard[1]. She is known for deriving cultural insights from scientific analysis of name usage,[2] as well as creating innovative interactive tools to communicate these insights. Wattenberg also co-founded the name generating website Nymbler with Icosystem.[3] Wattenberg is frequently quoted in the media on name-related topics.

Writing, technology, and entrepreneurship[edit]

Wattenberg began her career as a baby name expert in 2005, with the publication of The Baby Name Wizard. The book took a new approach to the topic of baby names, focusing on cultural usage over etymologies. Taking advantage of recently released historical data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, Wattenberg provided graphs and statistical analyses of historical name trends. Currently in its third edition, the book has sold over a quarter-million copies.[4]

Along with the book, Wattenberg publishes regularly on how names shed light on cultural issues. In addition to contributing to a blog accompanying The Baby Name Wizard, she is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post[5] and Slate.[6] She is often quoted in the media on name news, on topics ranging from celebrity names[7] to cultural implications of name trends.[8][9]

In 2008, Wattenberg co-founded a company, Generation Grownup, to provide news, analysis and tools for expectant parents and others interested in names. When it was acquired by CafeMom in 2014, the company's web properties had 1.5 million monthly unique users,[10] had won awards,[11] and became standard references for name information on the web.[12]

The Generation Grownup sites also feature a suite of technological tools for understanding name trends. The Name Voyager[13] was the first visualization of baby name trends. Namipedia[14] is a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of name information that contains entries on more than 40,000 names.[15] The Name Matchmaker provides a direct way for expectant parents to choose names.

Cultural commentary[edit]

Wattenberg's research-driven, analytical approach to understanding names and style has led to new insights into the connection between naming trends and society as a whole. As New York Times columnist David Brooks put it, "I didn’t become aware of the true import of names until I read Laura Wattenberg. She has taken her obsession with names ... and has transformed it into a window on American society."[16]

For example, Wattenberg has found strong (and counterintuitive) relationships between partisan voting and baby name trends across states in the United States.[17] Wattenberg supplements data analysis with historical research, tracing, for instance, how U.S. attitudes towards names have been intertwined with attitudes towards race for more than a century, and how gun-related names mirror attitudes toward firearms.[18][19]

A key theme in her work is how the common modern desire for a distinct name has led to "lockstep individualism" in which parents make the same choices even as they attempt to find unique names.[20]

Earlier work[edit]

Wattenberg has an M.S. in psychology from Stanford University, and began her career as a researcher for the Business Enterprise Trust, where she wrote several Harvard Business School case studies on socially conscious business practices.[21] From 1996 to 2002 she led design and development of high-growth technology products for Johnson & Higgins and Marsh & Mclennan.[22]


  1. ^ Wattenberg, Laura (2013). The Baby Name Wizard, Revised 3rd Edition: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby (3 ed.). New York: Harmony.
  2. ^ Brooks, David (August 7, 2007). "Goodbye, George and John". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Meet Nymbler". Baby Name Wizard. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  4. ^ "Bio: About Baby Name Expert Laura Wattenberg".
  5. ^ "Articles by Laura Wattenberg". The Huffington Post.
  6. ^ "Articles by Laura Wattenberg". Slate.
  7. ^ Macario, Dana (December 20, 2012). "'Blue Ivy' gets name-of-the year award for being unique, trademark-worthy". Today Show.
  8. ^ Brooks, David (August 7, 2007). "Goodbye, George and John". The New York Times.
  9. ^ Pappas, Stephanie (November 5, 2015). "Sofia Rises: Baby Name Takes Over the World". Live Science.
  10. ^ "CafeMom acquires BabyNameWizard.com, the premier online baby name destination for expectant parents". CafeMom. August 11, 2014.
  11. ^ Fisher, Adam (August 24, 2009). "50 Best Websites 2009". Time Magazine.
  12. ^ "Best Free Reference Web Sites 2010 Twelfth Annual List RUSA Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS)". American Library Association.
  13. ^ "NameVoyager". Baby Name Wizard.
  14. ^ "Namipedia".
  15. ^ "CafeMom acquires BabyNameWizard.com, the premier online baby name destination for expectant parents". CafeMom. August 11, 2014.
  16. ^ Brooks, David (August 7, 2007). "Goodbye, George and John". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Greenblatt, Alan (May 14, 2012). "Baby Names: The Latest Partisan Divide?". National Public Radio.
  18. ^ Wattenberg, Laura. "Ledasha, legends and race". Baby Name Wizard.
  19. ^ Wattenberg, Laura. "Sun of a Gun: The Firearms Baby Name Report". Baby Name Wizard.
  20. ^ Wattenberg, Laura (May 16, 2010). "Your baby is unique, but her name isn't". The Washington Post.
  21. ^ "Harvard Business School Publishing". Harvard Business School.
  22. ^ "Bio: About Baby Name Expert Laura Wattenberg".