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Cool Names 2011: How To Be So Uncool You’re Cool


When Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany recently named their newborn daughter Agnes, I was very excited.  For a baby name connoisseur, the choice of Agnes by two stylish and attractive stars heralded the arrival of a new kind of cool name: the slightly awkward, somewhat geeky name that’s so uncool it’s cool.

Of course, Geek Chic has been around for awhile now, in names as in other aspects of fashion.  In our book Beyond Ava & Aiden, we featured a category – now on Nameberry – of Clunky but Cool Names for boys and for girls.  (There are also more, similar choices on the lists of Old Lady Names and Old Man Names.  The list of Old People Names, taking off from the twitter sensation, is full of names that are terminally geeky.)

Some of these choices, like Hugo and Oscar for boys, for instance, and Imogen and Matilda for girls, sound a lot more cool than clunky these days.  As vintage names become more mainstream and our tastes broaden, names that seemed edgy just a few years ago now feel normal and pretty – pretty normal.

Vintage names like Violet and Jasper, Beatrice and Felix, are decidedly chic rather than geek.  Pretty and palateable, those names may not yet be popular, but they’re hard for anybody of any generation to actively dislike.

Agnes is another story.  Not yet fashionable, not even pretty, Agnes may be a name that you have to look like – well, like Jennifer Connelly – to pull off.  But we guarantee that adorable little Agnes Bettany will do much to polish up the image of her clunky name and others like it.

Not that long ago, many of these names were among my least favorites.  Raymond, Vincent, Ida: ugh.  But then something happened.  They began to grow on me.  While I still can’t go all the way to Gladys and Gomer,  I love Martin, love Vincent, love Agatha and many of the others on this list.

Names we see as so uncool they’re cool — among the coolest names of 2011 and beyond —  include:



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