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star grandkids

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Susan Sarandon is a grandmother, and Mick Jagger?  He’s already dandling his first great-grandchild on his knee.

Time marches on, and some of those actors and rock stars whose baby name choices made headlines back in the 1970s and 80s are now welcoming another generation of creatively-named children.

Many of the original starbabies have names that were obscure, even surprising, back in the day.  Oliver and Miles, Stella and Liv are all quite stylish in 2014, even if they were unusual three decades or so back.

Will it be the same for the stargrandbabies?  Some of these names seem likely to catch on.

Read on for some of the most interesting – and possibly influential – grandchildren names.

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hero names

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Last week, designer Rebecca Minkoff and her actor-director husband Gavin Bellour introduced their new baby, Bowie Lou.  Daughter Bowie joins big brother Luca Shai at home.

The new arrival’s name got me thinking: how many high profile parents have chosen baby names borrowed from other celebrities?

Of course, it is possible that the Minkoff-Bellours loved Bowie for another reason – maybe it is a family name, or maybe they’re thinking of folk hero Jim Bowie, who gave his name to the Bowie knife before meeting his end in the Battle of the Alamo.

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What makes a name a name?

Kid portrait

By Abby Sandel, AppellationMountain

What makes a name real?

To think bigger, what makes a word real?  That’s the question raised by English professor and language historian Anne Curzan in her TED talk.

They’re long-standing questions, but the speed of our modern age means that change happens fast.  Imagine a name like Nevaeh catching on before MTV, or Jayceon before YouTube.

Curzan points out that dictionaries are written by people, people who are listening very carefully to how the general public uses words.  So tweet and defriend make the cut.

The same thing happens with baby name books and websites.  Nevaeh wouldn’t have appeared in the 1980s, but she’s firmly installed today.  And while Jayceon might be too new to appear in print, the fast-rising variant can be found on most of the major baby name sites.

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baby name Reign

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

From Grammy Award-winning rapper LilKim to a previously anonymous mom in Alaska, some parents are thinking big when it comes to baby names.

Not every parent, of course.  Casual choices like Charlie and Molly, Mia and Jack have been popular in recent years.  And I’ve always thought that George Alexander Louis was a pretty low-key pick for a future king.

But whether the name is an outlandish borrowing from the dictionary or one worn by an accomplished historical figure, it’s worth asking: When is a name too much to live up to?

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abby--infantas

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Here’s something I overheard recently:

Olivia’s a nice name, but Aria?  Who names a kid after Game of Thrones?

There’s something to that statement, isn’t there?  Olivia feels like a vintage revival, a literary choice thanks to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and a wildly popular name for over a decade.  Aria is a newcomer, a noun name that leapt from obscurity to prominence thanks to more than one pop culture reference.  They’re very different names.

Yet on sound alone, Aria and Olivia are similar.  Reverse the histories – make Aria the Shakespearean choice and Olivia the twenty-first century television darling – and it is easy to imagine the statement reversed, too.  After all, five of the current US Top 20 girls’ names end with -ia.

Nouveau or traditional, popular or obscure, our favorite names tend to share sounds.

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