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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Some weeks, the baby names in the news are aggressively modern.  Rocket and Rebel, Ryder and Stryker.  Girls can be James.  While boys can’t be Sue, there’s no guessing if Kayden, Peyton, and Riley are boys or girls.

Factor in names borrowed from nature, colors, virtues, meanings, and the map, and it can feel like every parent-to-be is considering names that would be right at home in The Hunger Games.  Welcome to the world, Ocean, Indigo, and Haven.  May the odds be ever in your favor.

All of that novelty can make classic, even conservative names seem refreshing.

Little ladies and gentlemen dominated this week’s headlines.  They’re names with history and roots, vintage revivals that are back in 2014, or will be back by 2024.  Or 2054.  And they’ll always come back – eventually – because they’re just that enduring.

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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.

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If you don’t have a beloved Gran of your own to name your baby after, how about looking for some outside inspiration from a pop culture Nana?  Here’s a list of TV grandmothers, from the maternal to the monstrous (looking at you, Livia Soprano), the chic to the crotchety, whose names were seen as elderly at the time of their shows’ creation—from the 1950′s to the present—but which have become totally baby friendly today.

Here, the Nameberry picks of the 20 best Grandma TV baby names:

Adele   True Blood

Thanks in large part to the single-named British singer, Adele popped into the Top 1000 last year at Number 627 and we expect to see it ranking considerably higher on the new list to be released next month.  Molly Ringwald used it for her daughter in 2009.

Bea  That ‘70s Show; Bee  The Andy Griffith Show

Bea and Bee have come a long way from Opie’s Aunt Bee (who was actually a surrogate Grandma, but let’s not get technical), because of the newfound popularity of Beatrice and Beatrix

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In this week’s Nameberry 9, Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain demonstrates the endless ingenuity there is out there in coming up with creative baby names.

This week’s baby name news was dominated by tales of a mom who has agreed to let the general public name her baby in exchange for $5,000.  It turned out to be a hoax, but it raises the question:  Would you ever let another person name your child?

It’s an unthinkable transaction for most of us.  We have extensive lists of baby names carefully assembled and edited over the years.  I like to think that I could blissfully name eight more children, each with two middles.

Or could I?

Creative freedom in baby naming is here to stay.  Even parents who say they prefer the mainstream often choose names like Chloe and Noah, Avery and Jayden, possibilities that would have been quite surprising a few decades back.

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TV Names: Upstairs, Downstairs & Downton

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At last, at last, the third season of Downton Abbey has finally launched, a further opportunity for those of us who love vintage British names to spend time with the Crawley clan et al.  We’re now lucky enough to have had two recent TV period imports with great examples of character names, both for the aristos upstairs and the servants below.  The time frame of both Downton Abbey and the recently updated Upstairs, Downstairs is the early decades of the twentieth century: Downton now picks up in 1920; the second series of Upstairs in 1936, six years after the initial one ended.

And if there seems to be a preponderance of girls’ names, it’s because so many of the male characters, both upstairs and down, have such common names as Thomas, Robert, Matthew, William, Joseph and John.

Here are some of the most interesting names in both series; and it’s worthy of note that the British TV names that are being revived today come equally from both social strata, as in, for example, Isobel and Ivy, Edith and Elsie.

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