Berries, here’s my constant dilemma: do I ask an expecting cousin/colleague/acquaintance if they’ve thought about baby names? Let’s face it, I’m going to ask eventually. Do I throw it out in the same breath as I offer my congratulations? Or do I try to play it cool, waiting for a cautious “we were thinking about Isabella …”
More often than not, I ask.
A friend recently indulged me, and rattled off their short list for a late November baby. It was the kind of list that you would expect from a pair of thoughtful, stylish first-time parents: Josephine and Penelope and Eleanor and so on.
Oh, and Brooklyn.
I raised an eyebrow.
But then I heard the story: their beloved niece, the nicely-named Sophie, had suggested it on a long car trip, reading it off an exit sign on the Long Island Expressway, offering it up as if no one had ever been named Brooklyn before. Brooklyn wasn’t their style – but the moment was memorable, enough to add the name to their list.
It was a great reminder that inspiration comes from unlikely places. Somehow I doubt my friends will end up with a baby Brooklyn, but the story almost makes me wish they would.
Speaking of unusual inspiration, here are nine names that caught my eye this week.
Alfie – Oliver and Olivia are the top names in the UK for the second year in a row, but here’s the choice that fascinates me: Alfie. The nickname has rocketed into the Top Ten in recent years, reaching #4. Most popular British choices aren’t very different from American favorites, and American parents often borrow from the UK, like Jack and Lily. But Alfie is nowhere in the US and seems an unlikely import. Or is he? I once might have said the same thing about Oliver, and he’s climbing rapidly in the US.
Arthur – Selma Blair’s new baby boy is Arthur Saint. Arthur is as regal as William and as cool as Archer, too. There have been hints that Arthur was on the comeback trail – Courtney Cox’s Cougar Town character joking about adopting a baby boy to call Arthur, all those rumors that Natalie & Benjamin had chosen it for their little guy. Let’s say that Arthur is officially back.
Brighton – Actor/director Jon Favreau is in the spotlight with his genre-crossing, summer thrill ride Cowboys and Aliens. Favreau is dad to three kids – son Max, and daughters Madeleine and Brighton Rose. Brighton could be yet another place name adopted for a child, fitting right in with other bright br- names like Brianna, Brielle, and Aubrey. But she also brings to mind a word: brighten. Oodles of noun names are in the Top 100. Could verbs be the next big thing? How about adverbs? I like the idea of Merrily.
Cadel – Speaking of verbs, 36 year old Australian cyclist Cadel Evans sprinted, raced, and chased his way to be first through the finish line of the 2011 Tour de France. Evans, named after a trio of medieval Welsh kings, pronounces his first name with emphasis on the second syllable. Think of Adele or Fidel. Now that Rhys is mainstream, Cadel could appeal to parents seeking an uncommon Welsh heritage choice.
Cozi – French names for girls were catching on before the Jolie-Pitts welcomed daughter Vivienne in 2008, a twin sister for Knox. Lately, there’s buzz building around an even less likely mademoiselle: Cosette, as in the waif from Les Misérables. Or maybe that should read Cozette, as in the daughter of a contestant on the most recent season of The Bachelorette. Names borrowed from reality television often have short shelf lives, but then I spotted the name on Cozi Zuehldorff, a young actress making her big screen debut in family feel-good flick A Dolphin Tale later this summer. I’ve yet to confirm Miss Zuehldorff’s full name – is it Cozi? Cosette? Constanza? – but somehow the addition of another notable Cozi makes the name seem a smidge more wearable.
Hallow – Elisabeth at You Can’t Call It “It” (link to www.youcantcallitit.com) spotted this unusual choice on a message board. She’s one scoop trendy Hollywood name, as in Harlow and Marlowe, mixed with a healthy dose of meaningful virtue choices like Grace or Faith. An obscure term to refer to a person or place that is venerated as sacred, Hallow carries a heavy meaning – but not any heavier than Trinity or Genesis.
Lucille – Lucille Ball would have been 100 years young this week. I love Lucy, a vintage gem that just re-entered the US Top 100 in 2010. Lucille, too, is rising, much like Lily and Lillian have all caught on. Maya Rudolph’s second daughter is Lucille, a sister for Pearl and Jackson.
Walton – Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig are the big noise in the much anticipated Cowboys and Aliens. But I’ve long been fascinated by Walton, as in veteran character actor Walton Goggins. He’s called Hunt in the sci fi Western, and is best known for his small screen roles, including a long run on FX’s The Shield. Walton fits in with cowboy choices like Wyatt, and his links to the fictional television family lend him a gentle strength.
Yvaine – Neil Gaiman crafted this name for the heroine of his 1998 novel Stardust. Claire Danes played the fallen star in the 2007 movie adaptation. Yvaine has been big in the Nameberry tag cloud for most of the week. Is she a logical successor to Ava and Eva and Evelyn? A twin sister for Luna? Or is something else keeping this pretty obscurity on Nameberry’s homepage? I think she’d make a lovely and unexpected option for the middle spot, and a daring choice as a given name.