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Pop Culture Names: Cora, Aurora and Devora

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The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

It happens all the time.

You’re expecting your first – or second, or third – and the perfect name eludes you.  There are lots of possibilities and maybes, but none of them are The Name.

And then along comes a movie, a television show, a celebrity, a song, and that’s it.  That’s the name.

The numbers tell us that pop culture is a major influence in baby naming.  And yet we resist the idea.  A name from a Jane Austen novel?  Classic, sophisticated.  From a soap opera or a Disney Channel series?  Sometimes we’re a little dismissive of those choices.

But here’s the thing about names: we can’t consider them until we are aware that they exist.

This week’s names all come from movies and television, books and blogs.  You may have heard them before, but seeing them on the screen could make the names feel fresh, interesting, and just right for a daughter.

Holliday – A new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations arrived in the US last week.  (It’s been out in the UK for a year.)  You might already know English actress Holliday Grainger as Lucrezia on The Borgias, but now she’s playing the elusive Estella.  We love noun names, and Holliday fits with Top 100 favorites like Trinity and Serenity.

Dove – From the elaborate Holliday to the simple Dove.  She’s a symbol of peace, often associated with the winter season.  She’s also worn by another young actress, this time Dove Cameron, of Disney Channel original series Liv and MaddieDove plays identical twin sisters.  Dove takes the best of virtue names like Hope and Grace, and merges them with nature names like Lark and Wren.

PhilomenaJudi Dench’s latest movie is the tale of a mother looking for the son she was forced to give up for adoption many years earlier.  Judi plays Philomena.  It’s a name worn by a mythological princess and an early saint.  File her with clunky-but-cool choices like Wilhelmina and Theodora.

Sophia Devora – Congratulations to Parents.com executive editor Michael Kress and wife Stephanie on their new arrival, daughter Sophia DevoraLisa Milbrand explains that both choices have ties to family history.  An unexpected middle with a popular first name is a great combination, and Devora – an older version of Deborah – feels quite stylish.

CoraDevora reminds me of the gently vintage CoraDownton Abbey is mid-fourth season in the UK, but we’re still waiting in the US.  The elegant, but down-to-earth Countess of Grantham has boosted her character’s given name more than 120 spots in the rankings since the show debuted.  She feels as classic as Caroline, as simple as Ava.  Could Cora be headed for a return to the US Top 100?

Aurora – One more -ora name for your consideration.  Aurora has been on the rise since the 1990s.  Now Disney is due to release Maleficent, a prequel to Sleeping Beauty, next spring.  Angelina Jolie plays the evil queen.  Maleficent is a non-starter of a name, but Princess Aurora – played by Elle Fanning – could get a boost.

Briar – If you remember the fairytale, Princess Aurora spends some time in hiding, answering to the name Briar Rose.  Besides the 2014 flick, there’s also a new doll called Briar, part of the Ever After High line, a spin-off from Monster High.  One-part Briana and one-part Harper, it is hard to believe that Briar has never charted in the US Top 1000.  She fits right in with other gender neutral nature names like Rowan.

Buttercup – Yes, it’s more Disney influence.  They’ve just announced that a Broadway musical adaptation of The Princess Bride is in the works.  Buttercup feels too fanciful to wear as a given name, but the story is beloved.  Maybe in the middle spot?  Maybe the name more likely to benefit from a successful stage show is the handsome Westley.

Edie – The incomparable Liz Stanley of Say Yes to Hoboken has welcomed a daughter, Elizabeth Jean, called Edie.  She’s a little sister for HenryLiz is the fourth Elizabeth, after her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.  That makes Miss Edie the fifth generation to share the family moniker.  To borrow Liz’s tagline, three cheers for stylish and meaningful baby names!

Have you heard any great names on television or in movies and blogs this week?  What are your all-time favorite character names?

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