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mistakehelgaweber

There are few things more thrilling in life than having your first baby.  But newbie baby namers are prone to making some mistakes that more experienced name choosers are able to avoid.

If you’re choosing a baby name for the first time, don’t make one of these 7 common mistakes:

1. Believing that the names that were popular – and creative – when you were a kid still have the same status.

Name tastes have changed radically over the last decade or two.  Goodbye, Jessica and Josh, hello Layla and Serenity, Landon and Tristan – all Top 100 names.

2. Thinking that the playground rules are the same as they were back in the day.

Kids no longer get teased for having names that are unique, androgynous, exotic, or hard to pronounce or spell.  Rather, name diversity is celebrated.

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hanames2

Have you noticed the sudden pop in popularity of girls’ names starting with the happy-go-lucky syllable ‘Ha’—some on them shamelessly stolen from the boys?  Caught in the spotlight by two recent high-profile starbabies, Harper Seven Beckham and Jessica Alba’s Haven Warren, this is among the baby name trends that seem to be spreading like wildfire both inside and outside the celebrity sphere.

So it’s ta-ta to Haley, Hayley, Hailee, Hailey and Hallie—and hello to:

Harper. Originally a Scottish family name, this is the biggest hit of all, now Number 119 on the girls’ list, after just arriving in 2004, and jumping more than fifty places in the last year.  It was inspired at least in part by America’s romance with the much-loved classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper (born Nelle) Lee, the book that has also propelled the name Atticus for boys.  Harper’s cred was then reinforced by the character of Harper Finkle on The Wizards of Waverly Place, introduced in 2007 and to a lesser extent by a more minor one in Gossip Girl. Though Harper is still used for boys, most of the many recent starbaby Harpers—from Lisa Marie Presley’s to Neil Patrick Harris’s, have been girls.  Trivia note: During fashionista Posh Beckham’s pregnancy, there were some snide rumors that her future daughter’s possible name was inspired by Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

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Award-Winning Baby Names

award

Here’s an idea: Why not make your child an award winner from the get-go, and give him or her a name with the bonus point of a ‘best of’ association?   We’re all familiar with Oscar and Tony and Emmy, but there are lots of other award names that aren’t as well known,  most represeningt a distinguished namesake.  And no, we’re not suggesting using Nobel or Pulitzer or Pritzger.

Some possibilities:

Girls

Agatha: Named for Agatha Christie,  the Agatha Awards are given to mystery authors writing in the vein of the creator of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot—that is, featuring an amateur detective and sans sex or violence.  Agathas are bestowed at an annual convention in Washington, D.C. in several categories, from novels to children’s mysteries.

Amanda: Named for an old Norwegian sea shanty, Amandas have been given since 1985 by the Norwegian International Film Festival to stimulate interest in Norwegian films

Clio: Named for the Greek muse of history, a “source of inspiration and genius,” the Clios have been awarded since 1959 for creative excellence in advertising

Echo: An annual German music award given to both German and international pop and classical musicians.  Previous winners have included Michael Jackson and Meat Loaf.

Effie: The Effie Awards are marketing communications awards given yearly to honor the most effective marketing communications ideas. Started in 1968 in the US by the New York American Marketing Association, they then expanded globally.

Emmy: The Emmy Awards are the TV equivalent of the movie Oscars and the music Grammys, presented by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.  The name is a variation of “immy,” the image orthicon tubes used in early video cameras– which is why the statuette depicts a winged woman holding an atom.

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qow-starbabies

The Question of the Week: What’s your favorite among recent celebrity baby names?

There’s been a plethora of interesting celebaby first and middle name choices recently.  Which one do you like best—and why?

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abby 8-16

We always look forward to seeing which cool names Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain will choose as the nine most interesting and intriguing of the week—and once again she doesn’t disappoint.

My son has a crush on Katy Perry.

The head camp counselor confirmed my suspicions.  Apparently, Katy Perry is the grand dame of Magruder Park day camp for 2011, and “Firework” is the go-to song for freeze dance.

Now his little sister is also singing “baby, you a fiiiiiiiyawawk.”As we listened to the song for the hundredth time last night, I found myself thinking: could Perry make a comeback?  It’s not just the flirty pop star.  This weekend, likable young country musicians The Band Perry came through Washington DC on their summer tour with Tim McGraw.

The last time Perry was in vogue was the nineteenth century, when Commodore Perry was all over the news for his expeditions to Japan.  Today, with surname names showing no signs of etreat and plenty of parents seeking similar-but-different options, Perry would fit with Riley and Bailey.

Names bubble up for so many reasons, from fictional characters to newsworthy figures, songs and celebrities, even sounds that just feel right. 

Here are nine most buzz-worthy this week:

Cecil – The fourth installment in the Spy Kids franchise opens this month, with Joel McHale and Jessica Alba taking over as the parents.  The series is known for its precocious youngsters, outrageous gadgets, and wildly unusual cool names for the male characters.  The boy spy kid in this iteration is Cecil (illustrated), twin to Rebecca.  Other names throughout the series include Wilbur, Juni, Donnagon, and Devlin.

Dexter – When I hear Dexter, my first thought is Cary Grant as Katharine Hepburn’s ex in The Philadelphia StoryGrant plays the dashing C.K. Dexter Haven.  But plenty of parents hear Dexter and think of a mightily disturbed serial killer, thanks to Showtime’s five seasons and counting of gory stories about Dexter Morgan.  Next week’s release of One Day, the big screen adaptation of David Nicholls’ 2009 novel, could return Dex to the romantic hero category.  Jim Sturgess plays Dexter Mayhew, who spends entirely too long realizing he’s in love with his best friend Emma.

Gale – For a boy.  As if The Hunger Games’ heroic Gale Hawthorn isn’t enough encouragement, what about actor Gale Howard?  The CW’s paranormal teenage drama Secret Circle debuts next month.  Howard plays the father of the Circle’s head witch – and a rather attractive villain, too, if I read the previews right.  Boys are called Gage and Cale – mash ‘em together, and Gale is a logical pick for a son, as long as you don’t name your daughter Abby.

Jett – For a girl.  Nameberry intern Hannah Tenison mentioned Joan Jett in her Rock’n’Roll baby names post on TuesdayHannah kept it on the boys’ list, but I wonder if some parents seeking rock-star style might think of Jett for a girl.  The solution appeared at Swistle – name your daughter Juliet, and reserve Jett as a nickname.  (You can read the Swistle post here: http://swistlebabynames.blogspot.com/2011/08/baby-naming-issues-avoiding-teen-mother.html)

 Kix – Yes, Kix is a breakfast cereal.  Max, Dex, Lex, Rex, Jax and nearly any other ends-in-x sound, however, are names for boys.  Foster the People’s breakout hit “Pumped Up Kicks” has been unavoidable this summer.  And now For Real Baby Names just spotted him in Texas.  (Check out her full list: http://names4real.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/kix/)  Could Kix catch on?

 Mae Mobley – As I write this, I’ve yet to see the big screen adaptation of The Help that opened recently.  I mentioned Octavia last week, but here’s my guess: the real name boosted by the book and movie is the child in maid Aibileen’s care: Mae. Like Ava and Audrey, she has Hollywood glam aplenty, plus she’s right in step with mini names like Mia and Zoe.  It’s also another example of those “Southern double names” Nicole Kidman referenced when she and Keith Urban welcomed Faith Margaret.  In the novel, Mae is always referred to by her first and middle, Mae MobleyMae re-entered the US Top 1000 in 2010 after four decades of obscurity.

PenelopeEver since Christina Ricci donned a prosthetic pig snout for 2004’s modern fable, parents have rediscovered the gorgeous Greek Penelope.  And why not?  She’s a little bit quirky, undeniably literary, and her list of nicknames is extensive.  There’s Penny and Nell, Polly and Poppy, and if you stretch a little further, maybe even Lola, Pia, or the hottest of the hot, Pippa.  Of course, the real story could be AthenaWill parents get wise to this stylish goddess name now that Ms. Fey has put it on the map?

Perry – He’s been musical for decades, thanks first to crooner Perry – born PierinoComo.  I mentioned Katy Perry and The Band Perry above, and on a very different note, there’s Texas governor Rick Perry, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. 

Vivi-Anne – I spotted this one on Lifetime reality show Dance Moms.  Many a re-spelling feels deeply unnecessary, but this one works.  I’m guessing that Vivi-Anne’s mom Cathy was eager to name a daughter Vivian or Vivienne, but only if she could ensure that the two syllables would be pronounced with an emphasis on the –an.  That’s not normally the case, of course.  Choosing a name that you like only if you can insist on a counter-intuitive pronunciation can be a recipe for disaster, but the strong-willed Cathy has made it work.

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