This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Monday, April 6, 2009


Meg writes:
I'm curious, where did the name Juniper come from? All of a sudden I've heard of 3 little girls being named Juniper, and I thought it was a regional thing, but then I read your post about another couple considering it... Just curious if you have any idea where this one comes from.

I'm curious, too! I think it's like the name Cadence, which showed up practically out of NOWHERE and was suddenly EVERYWHERE.

I think it's a combination of a few things:

1) The rhythm of Jennifer
2) The familiarity of June
3) The cuteness of Piper

I think the name Juniper hits that perfect balance of out-there and familiar, so that a much wider range of people like it than typical. I remember when I first heard the name Cadence: it was in one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and when the name was used I was ELECTRIFIED by it and immediately added it to my baby name book, which didn't have it. It was the same with the name Juniper.

That's a danger sign, by the way, if you want to avoid popular names. If you hear a name and it ELECTRIFIES you and you think, "WHY has no one USED this glorious NAME??"---it is very likely that a hundred thousand other people are thinking the same thought. If you mention it to a few other people and they are all electrified, too, just walk away sister.

Well, unless you're like me and you don't really want to use a name until it's pretty mainstream. In that case, good news! Juniper isn't in the Top Thousand for any year in the last 200 (source: Social Security baby name site), but I'll bet you a dollar we'll see it REAL SOON and that it'll be moving up REAL FAST.


Carolyn said...

Just my two cents, but I'll betcha a lot of us in the blogosphere were inspired by the blog "Sweet Juniper"...that's the first place I'd heard of it!

Frazzled Mom said...

There's also that movie, Juno, with the title character named Juno. I remember seeing Juno listed on a "cool names" list a few months ago. Perhaps Juniper might appeal to people who like Juno as a nickname but not a given name. The kisses of death for any name: 1. Showing up on monogrammed items in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog. 2. Being listed as a "hip" or "up-and-coming" or "cool" name in any parenting magazine.

I'm guilty - I love exotic names that sound different, but as more and more of my favorites get discovered, I'm actually, finally beginning to see the appeal of simple names like Mary, Susan, Anne, Ellen... etc. And not that anyone cares, but I really don't see the appeal of Juniper, and I'm happy to be in the minority. Than again, I'm tired of Jennifer, never liked June, and find Piper too cutesy.

Lara Jane said...

I fell in love with the name approximately 15 years ago, when the movie Benny & Joon came out. This quirky, sweet film features the delectable Johnny Depp as the titular Benny, and Mary Stuart Masterson as his love interest, Juniper "Joon" Pearl, which I latched onto immediately.

I mean, seriously. Juniper Pearl. How freaking fabulous.

Allie Maloney said...

It is also the title of a pretty wonderful kids book, which is just old enough so that the first wave of people who read it when they were young are all starting to have babies. The main character, Juniper, was a strong, beautiful, magical, kick-butt kind of girl.

Meredith said...

Gotta second the sweet-juniper reference. With that little one, how can you not love the name.

Frazzled Mom said...

Big time name nerd back again. I decided to look and see if I could find Juniper in the Baby Name Wizard (from 2005). As expected, Juniper wasn't listed - the name really did come out of no where. But...

I discovered Junia!

Junia is actually a really obscure Biblical name, that doesn't appear in many Bibles due to sexism of middle age Biblical scribes. Apparently she was described as "of note among the apostles." and these scribes couldn't believe a woman could be that important and changed it to the masculine Junias. Only recently have modern publishers corrected that.

According to the Wizard, "Call this a traditional name that bucks tradition."

Surely if Juniper takes off as predicted, similar names like Junia will follow suite. But I feel Junia has so much more going for it, with the history, an interesting story, and similarity to Julia as well we Juniper. For these reason, I feel perhaps Junia can withstand an increase in popularity, and move from fad name to new classic. Only time will tell I guess.

Swistle said...

I found Juniper in The Baby Name Wizard, but not with its own listing. It's listed as a sibling name for Lavender and for Topaz, and it's also with the Charms & Graces names.

It's also in the Oxford Dictionary of First Names, but I have the 2nd Edition (2006) so I don't know if it's in previous editions.

The Baby Name Bible (2007) has it as a "Latin plant name."

It's not in my 1995 The Very Best Baby Name Book, or in the 2006 100,000+ Baby Names, also by Bruce Lansky.

It's not in my 1988 Beyond Jennifer and Jason, but it IS in the 1999 Beyond Madison and Montana.

cerridwen said...

Oh no, please tell me this is not another of my all-time favourites getting popular!

I love the nature connection of the name without being to plant-y or sweet/cute and the nn June, Juni or even Nipper for a baby are very appealing.

I'll have to keep my fingers crossed...

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I too hadn't heard of Juniper as a name until I came across the blog Sweet Juniper... and then I started to think it was just sooo cute!

But it isn't my typical style, and I have a family that so wouldn't be on board if I named a baby that, so I wouldn't be using it myself... but I do think it's really cute sounding.

Lara Jane said...

Erp. I'm a dork.

In my earlier comment, I noted Johnny Depp as Benny in the movie Benny & Joon. I had to watch it again last night and his name is Sam! Benny is Joon's brother, played by Aidan Quinn!

At any rate, I fell in love with the movie all over again. It's a good one. (Sorry to be so off-topic! I just can't stand to be wrong, so I had to correct myself, if only for my own peace of mind.)

Shannon said...

I love Juniper.

When it comes time, Swistle, I'll need some baby name help (unless it is a boy - then Jeff has it locked down). We used up our favorite girl names with our ladies.

Anonymous said...

i love the name juniper because of the amazing, amazing young adult novel mentioned in an earlier comment. i'm really sad it's becoming popular - by the time i have kids i bet it'll be all over the place.


but what a great name!

Sharing Ethiopia said...

Just browsing the web and saw this post. Im the mom of a Juniper . Loved the name for years and has a family history.

I hope it does not get too popular.

Ine problem withthe name is we end up having 100 short forme Juni joonbuggles, junebug, jujubug...get the idea.

Always said I would never do that and I have!

Nive to hear people like it as before my daughter came and we proposed it, many friends and family did not like it.

AP said...

We have just named our beautiful daughter Juniper. She was born on Sunday a few weeks early. Took us completely by surprise and we didn't have a certain name, but Juniper just felt right after a few days. Just like the last poster, many friends and family aren't sure about it, but we firmly believe it's the right name, and very beautiful.

Anonymous said...

As someone named Juniper I can safely tell you it is not always fun. Lots of teasing, lots of "thats a wierd name". I love my name but I'm fairly thick skined. Just letting you know.
P.S I was born 19 or so years ago before the popuarity uprising, and I think they saw "juniper" as in the berry as an ingrediant and decided they preffered it as a name.
Apparently its more common for boys. I think it would be a nicer boys name to be honest.

Swistle said...

Anon- It's the curse of being on the cutting edge. Today's Junipers will have it easier: the name is rising quickly so won't seem as odd or unfamiliar.

It's not being used for boys at all in the U.S.: in 2009, there were 167 new baby girls named Juniper (up from 2008's 106, which was up from 2007's 80), but no boys (or rather, "4 or fewer" boys: the stats only show a name if 5 or more babies are given it).

Anonymous said...

I named my daughter Juniper Rose in 2001 and have yet to run into another Juniper, and I've been an elementary school teacher for the past 11 years. I don't think the name is that trendy. Juniper prefers her nickname Juni, but she always introduces herself as Juniper. And yes, 9 times out of 10, people respond, "Jennifer?"

Anonymous said...

I'm 5 months pregnant and my husband and I have settled on the name Juniper (nickname June) for our daughter. We have so few names we agree on at all and he needed to spend some time thinking about it before he agreed. Not very sure how our families will respond but too bad!! I thought this was just about the most beautiful and unique name when I thought of it - Reading all these comments on a websearch about the name I'm SO hoping it doesn't become super popular!

Kelly Jean said...

My husband and I also have decided on the name Juniper for our daughter which we should welcome her around April 26th 2011. We have gotten a lot of mixed feelings of the name but We love it!

Anonymous said...

We named our daughter Juniper (she was born one year ago) and have not regretted it. It just suits her - whimisical, but not excessively feminine, and unusual, but not too weird. We have noticed that younger people love the name, but those in older generations often have a comment. Just last week, we got "well, I hope her middle name is not berry!" Ha!

Anonymous said...

I've been set on the name Juniper since I was 14 years old. 15 years later, I'm still in love with the name. My husband and I are finally having our little girl this February. We plan on calling her Piper for short.

I first heard the name from the book series mentioned above. The first book in the series is called Wise Child. Its about a young outcast in a small village sent to live with the woman Juniper, who is often called a witch by the local people. The young girl discovers that Juniper is actually a kind and loving woman who surrounds herself with magic and is feared mostly for being different. The book has a wonderful message, especially as a child...I wanted to be that strong loving Juniper, who was different from those around her, but a good and beautiful person.

Growing up, I met several adult Junipers. It is a common name in the Wiccan community. Raised by a very open-minded Christian pastor, I fell into the world of creation spirituality and met a role model in my life, named Juniper...a Wiccan priestess. I have never met a Juniper who wasn't kind, loving and down to earth. Its a wonderful name and I recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different but still beautiful:)

Anonymous said...

My daughter is named Juniper - her name is often mistaken for Jennifer. In college, she was asked if she had hippie parents because of her name. But she loves her name and she is often called by her nickname of Juni.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of the few named Juniper born in 1971.....I have grown to love the name but it was rough in school....with an odd last name I was called Jupiter Porky...I believe it has made me a stronger woman today. It has also helped me clients always remember me and its a great icebreaker when meeting new people since I usually have to correct them after calling me Jennifer.
Donovan's song was my parents' inspiration apparently he wrote it after meeting Jennifer (patty Hurst's sister) who he fell madly in love withher and she had a boutique in London named Juniper-he's the king of alliteration so he wrote the song. Gin is made out of Juniper berries so sometimes I get the question of "Are your parents gun drinkers?" I respond with no....just hippies :-)