Category: Celebrity Names
It’s been a quiet week for high profile arrivals. Sure, Michael Weatherly of NCIS fame and wife Bojana welcomed son Liam. It’s a great name – friendly, upbeat, accessible. Liam is also a solid favorite in the US, just like big sister’s name, Olivia. Last year, he was the #1 choice in at least nine states, and shows no signs of slowing down.
But name news isn’t just about celebrities. In order for parents to consider a name, they have to know that it exists. Books, television, movies, athletes, actors, song lyrics, people in the headlines – they can all add new options to an expectant parent’s shortlist.
Baby name books have always surfaced some unusual possibilities. I fell in love with Hephzibah in a paperback name encyclopedia from the 1970s, the same book my mother used to circle mainstream options like Jill and Amy. Hester came from The Scarlet Letter. And Caroline, a name I eventually used as one of my daughter’s middles? She’s from a Psychedelic Furs song, a classic I never noticed until I heard the lyrics.
Now Nameberry, and the vast community of baby name blogs and websites, is part of that process, too. This week was filled with daring, even fanciful names for girls with global influence. Some of these might seem too much for a first name, but I can hear most of them in the middle spot.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
The connection to the haunting voice of a well known jazz or blues singer definitely adds an element of –well—rhythm and blues—to a name’s image, an extra infusion of richness and pizzazz. Boyish Billie takes on new depth when listening to Lady Day, Etta goes from fusty to soulful via the “At Last” singer James. Here then, the Nameberry Picks of the jazziest ‘girl’ jazz singer names.
Billie Holiday, one of the greatest and most tragic jazz singers of all time, was born with the name Eleanora and took her professional name from an actress she admired called Billie Dove—who was originally Bertha. Billie is a tomboyish nickname name that was in the Top 100 from 1928 to 1935, and now seems to be making a return—Rebecca Gayheart and Eric Dane have a young daughter named Billie Beatrice.
Gaiman did say this: “We must not attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meaning and pronunciations to change with time.”
If language is a living thing, doesn’t the same hold true for names?
Some words endure with minimal alteration, and some names do, too. But for every Elizabeth, there’s a Samantha – a name that feels rich with history, but is actually almost unknown until the nineteenth century. Or Brooke, a name that feels established and sophisticated, but would have been out of place a hundred years ago.
What makes a name a true classic?
Very few names have been in constant use, and those few evergreen choices differ across cultures and languages.
A definition is elusive. A classic should be universally recognized and long established. It should possess either a measure of elegance or another distinguishing characteristic. But classic isn’t a black and white line. In baby name discussions, classic sometimes translates as “a name I like.”
Are Adelaide and Charlotte as classic as Mary? How do Walter and Jeremy compare to William and James? How about names like Samantha or Brooke – seldom heard before the twentieth century, but now solidly established? How many years does it take to make a classic, bearing in mind that classic rock is sometimes as young as five decades old.