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midd-belle

It’s been a while now since automatic go-to single-syllable middle names like Ann and Lee and Lynn and Beth were found on the majority of girls’ birth certificates, only to be followed by the suddenly and almost equally ubiquitous Rose and Grace. But now we’ve entered a new era of greater diversity—with forgotten favorites and fresh new, more individualistic, choices abounding. Here are some of the coolest, including a few drawn from nature.

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abby--pearl2

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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spring5

By Linda Rosenkrantz

In most places, Spring—to use an overused phrase—has sprung.  The snows of winter have finally melted, buds are budding, birds are chirping.  Which means it’s time to offer a seasonal menu of names—this time a multi-cultural mix whose meanings connote spring, plus names of ancient goddesses, and a few flowers and birthstones.

Amaryllis, the lovely spring-blooming bulb, is one of the more extreme flower names now beginning to be cultivated; others include Hyacinth and Daffodil.

Aviv and Aviva are male and female versions of a Hebrew name meaning ‘springtime’; another variation is Avivi, which means ‘springlike’ and is also the word for lilac.  (Tel Aviv , btw, means ‘hill of spring’.)  Aviva has long been popular in Israel and its two vibrant v’s could work well here as another path to vibrant nickname Vivi.

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February names

By Denise K. Potter

There’s more to February than roses and chocolates. It’s also Black History Month plus the month that hosts Presidents’ Birthday and Groundhog Day – and let’s not forget Ferris Wheel Day and Polar Bear Day. Whether you’re naming a baby this February or just looking for more ways to celebrate, here are ten ideas themed to the second month of the year. And none of them are Cupid.

Amethyst – The birthstone of babies born in February was worn by ancient Romans and Greeks in the belief that it protected against intoxication. Today, Amethyst can be used as a girl’s name, along with Violet, the official flower of February. Another gem name associated with February is Pearl, as the Finnish call February The Month of the Pearl, a much lovelier designation than the English nicknames mud month or kale month.

BradyMatthew B. Brady, celebrated American photographer of the 19th century, took the first photograph of a U.S. President in Office in February 1849 and left a powerful legacy in documenting much of the Civil War. Today, Brady is a popular Irish boys’ name.

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abby-7-15-13

By Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

The world is awaiting a royal birth announcement, and I’ll admit I’m unreasonably excited.

But it is different this time, isn’t it?

A high-profile arrival usually comes complete with a headline-grabbing given name. There’s North and Knox and Rainbow Aurora, Apple, Hattie and Everly, Zuma and Bronx Mowgli.

Some are prime for imitation, and catch on with non-Hollywood types. Others are unlikely to be used by anyone other than celebrity parents, and while unusual names are more accepted than ever, Suri has yet to crack the US Top 1000.

This time we know one thing for certain: the prince or princess won’t have a wacky name. I suppose Kate and William could slip in a quirky Anglo-Saxon royal as an extra middle – Elswith or Athelstan or Godwin. But the couple doesn’t seem likely to go that route.

Instead, we’ll be celebrating an evergreen classic of a name, the kind that we too often ignore.

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