steveandheather.net

The name: Jace

July 6, 2007 5:05 pm
Posted by: Steve Leibman

When novelists write books, it’s not unusual for them to create the entire text before they figure out what the title should be. Because they want to build the plot and texture of the story on its own, without being constrained by the handful of words on the front cover that define and hint at the contents of the pages.

Not so with names. We have the responsibility of picking out a name for our kid — a title for somebody else’s book — before we’ve even met the main character, much less peeked at the plot lines.

So we go with something that is flexible enough to match anything in the range of personalities we expect. Something fun and bold yet easy to say, easy to spell, and which hopefully won’t be the primary topic of future counseling sessions.

We had a handful of names on our short list, all with a similar flavor to them, but some of them were so incredibly common among recent newborns that their popularity seemed like a liability, and we decided to go with something a little more unique. We didn’t actually settle on a name until the day after Jace was born, but we did discuss it and give it a little thought before that time. Here’s a glimpse at some of the research behind the name.

Gathered below for your reading pleasure, we have some information on:

1. The popularity trend
2. Geographic distribution
3. Spelling
4. What real live grown-up Jaces have to say about their name

The popularity trend

We didn’t really want to be influenced too much by the relative popularity of the name we chose, but the trend for Jace is interesting:

Year of birth Rank
2006 187
2005 208
2004 228
2003 249
2002 281
2001 299
2000 310
1999 336
1998 379
1997 406
1996 466
1995 524
1994 568
1993 555
1992 550
1991 559
1990 552
1989 603
1988 626
1987 616
1986 616
1985 665
1984 736
1983 747
1982 850
1981 a
1980 947
a Not in top 1,000 names for indicated year of birth
Note: Rank 1 is the most popular, rank 2 is the next most popular, and so forth. Name data are from Social Security card applications for births that occurred in the United States.

In most of the years prior to 1980, the rank was above 1000.
[From http://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/babyname.cgi]

Geographic Distribution

Though the name Jace barely makes it into the top 200 male names nationwide, it is in the top 100 in a handful of states (the distance between rank 200 and rank 100 tends to be fairly large in terms of the frequency of occurrence). The states identified in the map shown here [for those reading this post in an email, you might need to go to the website to see the image] come from the 2006 data on the Social Security website at http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/.

jacemap

It wasn’t until after I examined this distribution that it occurred to me that there may be a connection to Mormon naming strategies. It has been widely observed that Mormons have a higher than average tendency to choose uncommon names and to invent new ones (consider “Mitt”, for example). The only explanations I’ve ever seen for this phenomenon reference the statistical fact that Mormon families are larger than the national average, and that their surnames tend to come from a small common group (“Smith”, “Young”, etc.).

We wouldn’t be shy about picking up some naming tips from our Mormon friends if we thought it was appropriate. After all, they chose well when naming the guy who turned out to be one of the best quarterbacks of all time (Steve Young). However, it’s not necessary in this case. My investigation shows that, while it isn’t really tied to any particular group, instances of “Jace” correlate more closely with a geographically overlapping set: the western-style names such as Cody, Wyatt and Austin.

Spelling

Jace. Definitely Jace.

If it were a short form of Jason, it seems like you might spell the name “Jase”.

But the part of my intuition that connects spelling to pronunciation tells me that, on its own, Jace/Jase is like face/phase or lace/lase (to use a laser).

In other words, the spelling “Jase” is incorrect and easily mispronounced as “jaze” (though at least it’s probably not as varied in its pronunciation as “vase”, which ends up retaining the French-like “vahz” sound for half one-third of our household :-) ).

Spelling happens to be one area in which popularity does matter, and it seems that the world agrees with us: in 2006, “Jace” was rank 187, with 2,119 males receiving that name. “Jayce” was way down at rank 427, and “Jase” landed at rank 565.

What real live grown-up Jaces have to say

In early June, I sent email to 14 different guys named Jace, and got detailed responses from 10 of them. The recipients included, among others, Jace the history professor; Jace the 18-year old professional race car driver; Jace the programmer; Jace the investigative reporter; Jace the random blogger dude; Jace the attorney; Jace the musician; Jace the other musician. I asked a handful of silly questions about what they think of their name (silly because, well, what the heck are you supposed to say when somebody asks you whether you like your name?). I also asked whether, “as a real-life adult Jace, you have anything to say about your relationship with your name over the years.”

Out of the 10 respondents, one had changed his name to Jace as an adult, and the rest had been Jaces since birth. All respondents thought it was fun and slightly flattering to get the question, and all highly recommended the name.

Among the unexpected revelations was the comment: “My parents got it from the 60′s Saturday morning cartoon show ‘Space Ghost’.” When I read this comment, I realized that I have a vague memory of Space Ghost hanging out with two sidekicks and a little monkey (the show was revived for a year around the time that I was 6 years old). And sure enough, one of them is Jace (this image swiped from http://www.animationmeat.com/modelsheets/spaceghost/spaceghost.html):

space ghost

Right now our little squirmer looks a bit more like Blip the monkey than like Jace the sidekick.

jace/blip

Other comments included:
“I definitely get ‘cool name’ a lot.”
“A close friend of our family just had a baby boy and named him ‘Jace‘ and we were thrilled!”
“In college a fellow asked my permission to name his son jace. that was a few years ago now.”
“Good luck with your new son. The name Jace has served me extremely well!”

There was some acknowledgment from many of the respondents that the rarity of the name could present challenges. For example, one of the responses contained this statement:

Of the people who comment, about 80% say they really like it. The
others are a little confused. The most common points of confusion are:
- wanting to call me “Jason,”
- not knowing how to spell it,
- or mis-pronouncing it as “Jackie.”

But it doesn’t seem like this is too significant as a negative point. In fact, it’s probably best if our son stays away from anybody who would mispronounce “Jace” as “Jackie.”

So there you have it.
And for anybody who doesn’t know us and has just happened across this post on the internet, Jace says that it’s okay if you name your son Jace too. Actually, what he just said was, “squirk! erk,” but I think it’s what he meant.

14 Responses to “The name: Jace”

koos wrote a comment on July 6, 2007

Here’s a fun tool to look at baby names over time: http://babynamewizard.com/namevoyager/lnv0105.html

Jace shows up as a nice, steadily growing modern name. Personally, as much as I love the name “Jace” I’m callin’ your kid “Jay-z.” Although that might be the two mojitos in my talking. Oh, come on!!! “Mojito” isn’t recognized by the spell checker?

Anyhoo, good job on the “Jace”, and, as always, your inventiveness, humor and creativity astound.

Cindy Leibman wrote a comment on July 7, 2007

I think Jace is a great name…but don’t be surprised if he turns out to not like green vegetables! I was having dinner with some friends and I was telling them how excited I was to have a new nephew, when I told them his name, several of them responded, “CHase?” and someone else said, “oh you mean like ‘Jayce and the wheeled warriors??’”
Apparently, I missed that cartoon, but Jayce led the lightening league and fought bad vegetable-based creatures throughout the universe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jayce_and_the_wheeled_warriors

jmay wrote a comment on July 8, 2007

Wow, very impressive…I’m feeling like we didn’t perform our due diligence in this area! We just picked our kids names because they couldn’t be easily shortened, we didn’t have anyone in our present or past who made us shudder when we said the name, and they didn’t sound too “hard” next to our Germanic last name.

Oh, well. They’ll be in therapy anyway, I suppose?

Jace is a fantastic name, and my adorable cousin is named Owen, so that rocks, too. Any story there?

Jace Cole wrote a comment on July 10, 2007

Awesome! Your new addition is very lucky to share such a cool name.

Jace Carlton wrote a comment on July 10, 2007

From one of your interviewees … thanks, Steve! It’s an honor to share the name with your son and I’m glad you asked me for some feedback! And I’m even more glad that I responded and didn’t leave you hanging!

Enjoy your new bundle of joy! And make EVERY moment count! Don’t blink or before you know it he’ll be asking for the car keys, and after the next time you blink he’ll be married with a Jace, Jr.!

amybeth wrote a comment on July 11, 2007

That’s some serious research! You could be onto a new trend… I’ll have to give Marin a heads-up that she could potentially get contacted by people comtemplating using that name…

mo-NEEK-a wrote a comment on November 4, 2007

Wow. That’s quite the research. Very interesting that Jace is becoming a more highly-ranking name. I’ve never met anyone with that moniker. And neat idea to interview people.

Dianne wrote a comment on February 5, 2008

I have a 10 year old grandson named Jace. Jace Brian Heryford. He is very althletic and ride races 2 wheel motocycles, plays baseball, football, wrestles and is very good at anything he does. His sister age 13 is named Taylor. When they were really little my other grandchildren called them Tay Tay and Jay Jay. I have another grandaughter born the same year as Jace, they are cousins, her names is Alix, just plain ALIX, Alix with an i. Her little brother is named Max, just plain Max. He was born in 2000 and I wanted her to name him MaxMillenium, because 2000 was the Millenium. But not to be, just plain Max. When I named my kids, I wanted to give them a short name so they could spell it in choll. So my daughter is Jill and son is named Rick. We are simple people Love the name Jace, we have some chase’s in school but no other Jace or Alix with an i. Lot of dogs named Max and lot of kids boys anfd girls named Taylor. The reason I found your blog, is that I have a google alert out for the name Jace, because he is always winning something in his sports adventures I can only keep up through the internet, even tho we only live 10 miles apart. Sometimes I miss it in the papers. I googled my grandaughter’s name Alix Armstrong and there is another Alix Armstrong in Australia, she writes back to me a lot. And guess what, Alix in Austraila’s boyfriends name is JACE. What a surprise that was,m how utterly weird. We are in California and don’t see many Jace’s here. Have fun with your Jace, they grow up too fast.

Jessica wrote a comment on May 4, 2008

Hi! Occasionally I google “Baby Name Jace”, thus stumbling upon your website, so I thought I’d comment….

We named our second son Jace in Dec. 06. For awhile I was having namer’s remorse that I didn’t name him something more sophisticated, classic, etc. (Our first son is Lucas.) Long story short, I was exhausted during my pregnancy with Jace (he and Lucas are 25 mos. apart, hubby’s gone for work a lot) and I decided I wanted a one syllable name. Somehow I came upon Jace in a baby name book. (It’s not in too many of them.) I knew a guy in college named Jace and he was nice, cool, cute enough. Plus, living in CA it had be something kind of cool, kind of different. Not to mention our last name is Chinchiolo- yikes, mouthful, so the first name had to go with that. Another plus, my husband’s name is James and I’m Jessica (sometimes “Jess” for short) so Jace was kind of meaningful for being kind of a combo of our first names. Alas, Jace Linden Chinchiolo was born December 5, 2006!

In my random searches there hasn’t been much exciting or interesting info for “Jace”. I’m am very happy to find your blog and to know that you have done way more research into naming your son Jace, and that it is mostly positive. Baby naming is quite difficult these days!!

By the way, my Jace is VERY active, adorable, fearless (scary!), loves to eat, loves to sleep, demands his schedule, tall for his age, so smart- understands almost everything I say to him at 17 mos., very cuddly and lovable, and most importantly just the happiest little guy!!

Thank you for all of your interesting information. I also vaguely remember Space Ghost. Maybe that’s another reason why Jace rang a bell with me.

Jace Brian wrote a comment on May 30, 2009

Muito boa escolha, adoro este nome, aqui no Brasil acho que sou o único, e isso é muito bom.
Abraços

Angie wrote a comment on August 29, 2009

We found out we are having our 3rd child in Nov. It’s a boy! We picked the name Jace. We already have a Joshua and and Alyssa so this name fits in quite nicely~

CGR wrote a comment on January 17, 2010

My one-year-old is a Jace, and it’s a great name! It suits him well. We have a strong last name, so we wanted a simple, straightforward, cool (but not too cool) first name to counterbalance. My naming strategy was that his name had to work if he was an NFL quarterback … or supreme court justice. lol.

Jace Cheal wrote a comment on March 1, 2010

I just stumbled across this blog.

My name is Jace Cheal and my wife is Alix Cheal. We live in Sydney Australia. We are going travelling internationally soon and my wife started a travel blog, so I googled “Jace and Alix” to see if our blog would come up as a result. It didn’t come up, but this blog did.

I was just as surprised as Dianne (see comment on February 5, 2008) to see there were two other people in the world named Jace and Alix who had some relationship to each other. Even more coincidental is the fact that when my Alix and I are feeling clucky and we muse about our future children’s names, we have almost settled on the name Max if our first son is a boy. How cosmic is that?

Jace.

P.S. Jace is of course the best name in the world for a boy. However, you must be aware that if you name your son Jace, he will have the following conversation at least a million times in his life:

“Hi Jason, how you doing?”
“I’m good, but my name isn’t Jason. It’s Jace”
“That’s not short for Jason? Sorry, I thought your name was Jason”
“Don’t worry it happens all the time. It’s just Jace, though”
“really? That’s unusual. How do you spell it?”
“Jace. J-A-C-E. Jace.”
“Wow. ok. Where is that from?”
“Nowhere exactly. My mum just kind of made it up ”
“oh, ok. Cool name. Sorry i got it worng.”
“Don’t mention it. Like I said, it happens all the time.”

Dianne wrote a comment on June 17, 2010

Our Jace get gets mistaken for “Jase” a lot also. Sometimes people call him “Chase”, but he has a friend named “Chase”. So he gets a lot of, “there’s Jace and Chase. They were both on the same baseball team and football team, so some resulted in calling “Chase ” by his middle name “Marshall” just so it wasn’t so confusing.

Care to comment?

(C) Steve and Heather Leibman, 2007.