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Unusual Baby Names: Phaedra, Phoenix and Penna

abby--4-30-13

Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel targets a wide range of names for this week’s Nameberry 9, from the outrageous (if fictitious) Conquistador to the sweet floral Violet.

 It was a week for outrageous baby names. 

Steve Martin joked that his new baby girl is named Conquistador.

Then Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof welcomed a baby boy named Phaedra, a little brother for Astala.  The only one in the family with a buttoned-down name is Peaches’ rocker husband, Thomas Cohen. 

For better and for worse, there will always be outlandish stand-out baby names, the headline-grabbing, eye-popping choices like Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii.

But this was also the week to consider the new standards.  They’re on trend, and in some cases, they’re catching on quickly.  As we talked about names likely to replace the current Top Ten, let’s take a look at the baby name news, and nine choices that can all be described as modern favorites and new standards:

Harley – When Iron Man 3 hits the big screen next week, the superhero will have a ten year old sidekick called Harley.  It’s a surname worn by William S. Harley, as in Harley-Davidson.  The storied motorcycle manufacturer has inspired parents of boys and girls since the 1990s, but he’s never really caught on.  If the movie is a success, could Harley be the new Riley?

VioletPoppy Montgomery has four sisters with equally botanical names: Rosie, Daisy, Lily, and Marigold.  Now she has a daughter to continue the theme.  Poppy and boyfriend Shawn Stanford recently welcomed Violet Grace, a little sister for Jackson.  Violet is a bloom, a hue, and a modern staple that we’re hearing more and more.

Dashiell – He’s a literary name with energetic short form Dash, chosen by Georgina Chapman and Harvey Weinstein for their new baby boy.  Dashiell joins sister India Pearl, and half-sisters Emma, Lily, and Ruth.  Dad confirmed that his name was inspired by Dashiell Hammett.  It’s a rarity on the rise, perfectly in step with 2013 choices for boys.

EverlyDo you read Young House Love?  Not only do they have an adorable daughter called Clara, they often feature rooms designed by families with nicely named children.  This visit to Everly Harper’s nursery impressed – not only for the stylish décor, but for her on-trend appellation.  I suspect we’ll see her debut in the US Top 1000 shortly.

Jack – Speaking of rankings, he’s the #1 name in Australia and New Zealand.  Once used as an affectionate form of John, today Jack stands on his own.  But despite his popularity elsewhere in the English-speaking world, Jack has faltered in the US, peaking at #34 in 2005 and falling slightly since then.  Even if he doesn’t reach the US Top Ten, he’s a modern staple for boys.

PennaIan Ziering and wife Erin have a new daughter named Penna Mae, a little sister for Mia Loren.  Like big sis, Penna’s first initial was inspired by one of Ian’s parents – dad Paul.  Penna is a rarer than rare, once the abbreviation for Pennsylvania, but almost never heard as a given name.  And yet she fits on this list, thanks to her similarity to the white hot Penelope, as well as choices like Pippa, Stella, and Gemma.

Kingsley – We’ve heard more of the regal Kingsley in recent years, probably boosted by the Harry Potter hero.  But there’s also Gwen Stefani’s Kingston and a long tradition of borrowing aristocratic titles like Earl for children’s names.  Think of Donald Trump’s Barron or Bill and Giuliana Rancic’s Edward Duke.

Phoenix – Australian fashion designer Jessie White welcomed a son named Phoenix, a little brother for Bowie.  Phoenix has gone from daring and different to a solidly established choice for a son – and sometimes a daughter, too.  Like Kingsley, he’s probably been boosted by Harry Potter and his Order of the Phoenix.

Juliette – Let’s end with another literary staple, the name of the lovestruck teenager Juliet from Shakespeare’s most famous romance.  Both the –et and –ette spellings are on the rise in recent years.  She’s less expected than the classic Julia, but still a familiar name.  Ren interviewed a mom who went with Juliette Elena for her daughter, truly a stunning combination.

Which names would you consider modern staples?  Are there any names that you would add to this list?

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