Why we should declare the name Gary extinct

When things are at risk of extinction, sometimes it's better for everyone to just let them die. 

No, not the orangutans, snow leopards or mountain gorillas. Please save them. I'm talking chiefly about something else. A sub-species of the human male race called Gary.

With apologies to my mum for casting aspersions on her (usually impeccable) taste, she had a blip this time. Gary. Really? What does a Gary grow up to be? It's hardly the suave, sophisticated name that heralds a promising future.

(Mum, if you're reading this, please don't think your son has turned into a snooty ingrate. He has just become a typical Gary: forever looking enviously - and slightly creepily - at the next gent, thinking what an infinitely preferable moniker he probably has. Then sighing profoundly.)

It was breathlessly announced earlier this year that the name Gary is in global freefall. Just 442 Garys were so-named in the US in 2013, compared with 38,000 in 1952. Only 28 British boys were named Gary in 2013; in 1996 there were 235. Closer to home, in NSW there were fewer than 10 Garys born every year between 2004 and 2008. Since then, the name has totally disappeared.

Other names also deserve to be left to rest in peace: Roger, Kevin, Bruce, Nigel, Darren and Wayne, for starters.

Put it on ice

The dust still hasn't settled. In May, Sydney's Newtown Gelatissimo celebrated its third birthday by offering free ice cream to anyone on a list of like, totally "hipster Newtown names" (for the boys, think Scout, Oliver, Hunter, Archer and Kai).

In a patronising caveat to the shameless PR stunt, the press release added: "We've also popped the name Gary in there, as it apparently faces 'extinction'! We're trying to encourage all the Garys to come on down to Gelatissimo and celebrate the landmark, by proving Garys are very much still in existence!"

We don't need charitable ice cream, Gelatissimo. We don't want your pity. We need new Christenings.

Aussie website MamaMia even launched a 'Save the Gary' campaign by urging its pregnant readers to name their babies Gary, after panicking that fewer parents than ever are cursing their kids with this name.


Gary the flatulent

The name is Germanic for "spear", which is precisely what we should be waving in a threatening manner at any parent that henceforth thinks of naming their child Gary.

I've actually resorted to calling myself Gazz – always with 2 z's, because 'Gaz' is French for 'gas'. A French fart is one of the few things that's even less classy than the name Gary.

And don't get me started on Garry. What on earth is that superfluous 'r' for? It adds less than nothing to the pronunciation, or the name. Call your child Garry with 2 r's? Sorry, but you're an arrse.

It's not just the Garys, either. Other names deserve to be left to rest in peace: Roger, Kevin, Bruce, Nigel, Darren and Wayne, for starters. These are, let's be frank, names that rob men of any hope of coming across as debonair. Ban them.

The winning names are Jackson, Heath, Mitchell, Henry. They're sexier, cooler and more aspirational for boys likely to grow up into executive, professional men.

Living up to your name

Why should it matter what parents call their sons? Two words: nominative determinism. It's a phenomenon of the subliminal power of language, whereby a person's name has an effect on their interests, passions, and even their profession.

It was coined by The New Scientist's feedback editor, John Hoyland. The story goes that a reader wrote in about a paper on incontinence in the British Journal of Urology that was written by JW Splatt and D Weedon; on the very same day Hoyland noticed a book about the Arctic and polar regions by Daniel Snowman. You couldn't make it up.

Such determinism can stretch beyond employment: in his books Quirkology and 59 Seconds, Professor Richard Wiseman described research into the 2000 US presidential campaign that found that people whose surnames began with B were especially likely to make contributions to the Bush campaign, whereas G surnames were more likely to contribute to the Gore campaign.

Wiseman's research in partnership with the UK Daily Telegraph's former science editor Roger Highfield also found that people whose surnames began with a letter towards the start of the alphabet were likely to do better than the Youngs and Yorks.

A Bolt from the blue

Similarly, research conducted in 2007 by Leif Nelson and Joseph Simmons found that, over 15 years of analysis of students' exam marks, those with a first name or surname beginning with the initials A or B obtained significantly higher marks than those beginning with C or D. Karl Jung wrote in his 1952 book, Synchronicity, that there was a "sometimes quite grotesque coincidence between a man's name and his peculiarities".

Examples are abundant. Usain Bolt. Jules Angst, a psychiatrist specialising in anxiety. Colin Bass (bassist in rock band Camel). The novelist Charles Reade. A Republican politician called Rich White, a lawyer named Sue H Yoo, and a meat manager called Brad Slaughter.

So expectant and future parents: I implore you. Stop calling your child Gary. Or Wayne. Or Kevin. Or Bruce. And certainly not Garry. I bet there isn't a single CEO in Australia called Garry. There certainly won't be in 30 years' time. And that, dear reader, can only be a good thing.

Do you agree Gary should be made extinct? What other names should we eradicate? List the ones you would like to see eradicated (male or female) in the comments below.