An interesting question just popped into my head: how many parents of babies named Bentley know what a Bentley is?
First of all, Bentley was originally an English automobile and was once owned by Rolls-Royce, though apparently Volkswagen owns it now. Anyway…new Bentleys look rather like this:
Nice looking cars. But, I doubt most Americans have seen them in person. I only spotted my first one last week, and where I live these are very out-of-place. Seeing someone drive a Bentley in America is much like seeing a limousine out in the country; possible, but the vehicle will stick out like a sore thumb and draw serious attention.
This being a site about baby names, my car talk is somewhat digressive. Nevertheless; this car name is now also a popular baby name, and that merits discussion.
Bentley is currently a top 100 boys’ name in the U.S, but 10 years ago it wasn’t even in the top 1000. Its first re-entrance was in 2007, and rising quickly, it even ranked as a girls’ name in 2011 (though not since). Interestingly, Bentley is currently a top 500 name according to both the English+Welsh and Dutch charts, potentially due to its popularity and association as an American appellation.
Why and how is Bentley so trendy a name? This 2011 article from the Daily Mail suggests MTV’s Teen Mom is the culprit. One of the girls on the show, Maci (who’d previously been on 16 and Pregnant), named her baby son “Bentley Cadence.” From what I could find out, he was born in 2008, and 16 and Pregnant first aired in 2009. Bentley as a baby name jumped from a rank of #939 in 2008 to #514 in 2009. Then, it ranked #100 in 2010. Meanwhile, other spellings have been trending too, which are often more unisex or even feminine in usage. Bentleigh, for example, was given to 38 girls and 8 boys last year.
So here’s what I think: Bentley was already trendy enough to enter the top 1000, meaning it was already on a few people’s radars. However, once the general population saw the name on TV, it exploded. This also potentially means that many Bentley parents indeed have not actually seen the car nor heard of it, but they have heard of Maci.
What do you think of Bentley as a baby name?