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Creative Girls’ Names: Xia, Djena, and Geneva

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The Nameberry 9 by  Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

Are we becoming more tolerant of creative names?

My kids’ friends and classmates are a diverse lot, and their names reflect it.  There’s Seamus and Shivarama, a boy named Delaney and a girl called Jordan.  Yes, we have Matthew and Sam and Zoe.  But in their school of 300 kids, I can count the number of names that repeat on one hand.

Even though we know lots of boys with unusual names, it seems like girls have the edge.  Statistics bear it out.  In 2012, over 78% of boys received a Top 1000 name, but fewer than 67% of all girls did.

This past week seemed to be all about unusual, but perfectly wearable, names for girls.  I’m not thinking of headline-grabbing choices like North and Khaleesi.  Instead, I’m thinking of the wide universe of wearable names, choices that are a little bit different, but not staggeringly strange.

The top nine names in the news all belong to girls this week:

Ellerie Eve: Do you read Elise Blaha Cripe’s craft blog, Enjoy It?  Congratulations are in order for Elise and her husband, Paul.  The couple has just welcomed a daughter, Ellerie Eve.  Elise shares her story about choosing a name, and I love that she and Paul stuck with their favorite choice, even when some of the feedback they heard was less than favorable.  I’m still thinking about her comment on spelling: “… spelling errors happen when people are lazy, not when names are different.”

Maiselle: Channing Tatum revealed that he and wife Jenna Dewan gave daughter Everly two middle names: Elizabeth Maiselle.  Both middles honor the couple’s grandmothers, and I’m a sucker for family names.  Maiselle strikes me as very of the moment – part Mae, part Isabelle, very French in feeling, even if I can’t find her in use as a French name.

Sterling – Speaking of family names, former Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller gave her daughter a shining example: Sterling Diane.  Sterling joins big brother Rocco at home.  Both names come from the couple’s family tree: a great-great-grandfather and a great-grandmother.  Balancing the unusual Sterling with a clearly feminine middle is a smart move.

Tuppence – Have you seen Monsters University?  Did you stay ‘til the very end to read the list of Pixar production babies?  This is the one that caught my eye immediately.  Tuppence is a term borrowed from British currency – two pence, or two pennies.  It’s an endearment in England – sort of like pumpkin.  In the US, I don’t think of coins when I hear Tuppence – though it does strike me as very English, probably thanks to Agatha Christine’s husband and wife detective team, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.

Edith – I’m trying not to think about the royal baby name – yet.  Anglophenia’s 10 Extremely British Baby Names for Girls was a welcome distraction.  Their ten ranged from the mainstream – Amelia, Olivia, Ada – to the nearly unthinkable.  I mean – Frideswide?  Probably not.  The names that most charmed me were the ones somewhere in between – Myrtle, Gladys, Agatha, and Edith.  I think Edith really belongs in the next wave of revival names, and Agnes and Agatha, too.  As for Myrtle and Gladys, they sound so outlandishly outdated that I wonder if they’re gone for good, or just hibernating for another few decades.

Geneva – No, this isn’t a place name from a recent birth announcement.  Instead, Nancy brings us the story of former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower’s unusual middle name, inspired by a popular song about “Lovely Lake Geneva.”  Between Eva, Evelyn, and Genevieve, can’t you imagine Geneva catching on in 2013?

Djena – Lately I’ve been fascinated by names that start with Dj – all two of them, Django and Djuna.  Just when I’d assumed that there were only those two, a French baby name site suggested a third: Djena.  I’m assuming it sounds just like Gina, which makes the Dj- spelling a little excessive, but I like it anyhow.

Henna  On a colorful note, Waltzing More than Matilda mentioned Henna in her recent round-up of Aussie celebrity baby names.  Henna is the second daughter for rugby player John Ulugia and wife Georgina.  She joins big sister Ivona.  Henna feels like an update to Hannah and Emma with something of a cross-cultural vibe, too – a surprising and appealing choice. 

Xia Mia is everywhere, and we’ve also heard Lia, Gia, Tia, Pia, Fia, Nia, and Zia.  The X spelling is new to me, but For Real spotted her in a recent birth announcement.  The combination Xia Giselle feels graceful, and I can imagine more parents embracing the popular –ia ending when paired with X.

Are you more creative with girls’ names than boys’ names?  Do you think we’re generally more accepting of unusual names for girls?  Would you use any of these – oh, and if you’re British, is Tuppence kind of like naming your daughter Pumpkin, or is it more like Penny?

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