If you’re a Nameberry aficionado, you might recall that this column started out as a week in review, then morphed into a more conventional list of names based around a certain theme – superheroes, or wild animal names.
This week’s column goes in a different direction, offering a re-cap of some of the most notable names in baby name news last week, from baby name message boards to international headlines. The names have nothing in common, necessarily – they’re just nine newsworthy appellations plucked from the headlines.
Ami – The first season of NY Ink wrapped up this week, and I can’t help thinking about the leading man’s given name. It looks like a spin on 1970s girls’ favorite Amy, but Ami James rose to fame on TLC’s Miami Ink, before headlining his own show. The Israeli-born tattoo artist pronounces his Old Testament name like Tommy without the T. James has been in the public eye since 2005, and 18 newborn boys were named Ami in 2010. I’m intrigued by the idea that names like Peyton or Taylor can remain gender neutral. But what would it take for a name perceived as feminine to chart for boys? Ami seems like a long shot, but Kelly is showing signs of life, at least on message boards.
Arabella – Speaking of feminine, is there a girlier name than the frothy confection Arabella? Worn by well-born women in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, she’s in the spotlight now as the newest Trump heiress, daughter of Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner. Arabella is undeniably pretty, but makes me think of Nymphadora Tonks, the Harry Potter heroine who despised her elaborate appellation. What do you do if your Arabella is a tomboy? I guess you call her Arie – or maybe Abby.
Django – Jamie Foxx is set to play an escaped slave in Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 production Django Unchained. Jazz guitar legend Jean Reinhardt put his Romani nickname on the map. Reinhardt was a major force in 1930s and 40s music and remains influential today. His unusual name – the “d” is silent – seems like an outlandish choice for a son. It is certainly one that the world hadn’t heard before Reinhardt rose to fame. Despite that, writers have given the name to Foxx’s character, plus the anti-hero of a series of violent Westerns. There’s also a bounty hunter from the Star Wars series called Jango Fett. Now that Leo and Theo are mainstream, maybe Django is the new Atticus. (Thanks to Nancy for the tip.) LINK: http://www.nancy.cc/2011/07/21/baby-name-predictions-django-and-atlantis/
Jack – From the implausible to the predictable, actress Maya Rudolph and husband Paul Thomas Anderson disappointed name nerds worldwide when they named their third son Jack. Nothing wrong with Jack – on the contrary, nearly everyone likes the snappy, retro short form of the evergreen John. But with big sisters called Pearl Bailey and Lucille, I was expecting another clunky-cool pick. Otto, maybe, or Martin. Turns out that the tot’s full name is Jackson Wright, which has a little more creative oomph – but still feels like another case of parents playing it safe when it comes to naming a son.
Liu – I mentioned Liu in my list of Perfume Names. Leslie noted that it is a legit Chinese named, used by Puccini for a character in his opera Turandot. I thought she’d make an exotic successor to Leah, only it turns out her correct pronunciation rhymes with boo – as in “Skip To My Lou.” All of this makes Liu look like a gussied-up, non-intuitive spelling. I guess there’s still the sci-fi/botancial Lilou and intriguing smoosh Malou.
Lucifer – New Zealand has released a list of banned baby names. Lucifer has gotten the most buzz, though the country’s Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages was very equal opportunity – Messiah is also out. While Lucifer strikes me as a problematic name, it is wildly tempting. The nickname Luke! The interesting, ends-in-r construction! The literal meaning – bringer of light! If only it weren’t for all those associations with evil incarnate … In the US where there’s no similar ban, six boys were named Lucifer in 2010, compared to 369 little Messiahs.
Seven – New Zealand banned at least one number-as-name, too, but Victoria and David Beckham welcomed their fourth child in the US. The proud papa shared more about his daughter Harper’s distinctive middle name this week. It’s not just about his jersey number, but also about seven’s status as a lucky, significant number in many cultures. One of which, I suppose, is Man U fans.
Stephen, Steven – He’s a classic worn by kings and saints, but out of favor with parents these days. Captain America: The First Avenger hits the big screen this weekend. Can the movie boost the name, much like the super soldier serum transformed the frail Steve Rogers into a world-saving hero? Or does he need a few more years to hibernate? My best guess is that if you do meet any little boys wearing the name, they’ll all answer to Stephen, rather than Steve or Stevie.
Zia – Australian clothier Bonds holds an annual search for spokesbabies, akin to the annual Gap Kids Casting Call in the US. The winners were recently posted, and they’re all adorable, but I’m fascinated by this name, worn by a champ from the 0 to 9 months category. Mia, Gia, Lia … why not Zia? (Thanks to Waltzing More Than Matilda for the link.)