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Middle Names: Thinking Outside the Box

Mowgli3

There’s no doubt that middle names have been taking on increasing  importance in the hearts and minds of  baby namers.  They’ve stepped up from the inconsequential connectives –especially for girls–of a generation or two ago to full co-starring roles on the birth certificate.  For many, it’s a welcome opportunity to honor a family member, preserve a maiden name, or use as a solid alternative for their child to possibly choose to use later on.

But for others, it’s place to be whimsical, to salute a creative hero, to use a favorite word or nature name they wouldn’t dare to put in first place.  For examples of how this works, we need only to look to the stars, those beacons of extreme–if not bizarre– baby naming.  So here are some nature, namesake, word and lovey-dovey endearment middle names they have used, followed by the name of the celebrity parent who chose it and their child’s first name:

NATURE NAMES

BEAR (Anthony Kiedis’s Everly)

CRICKET (Amy Locane’s Paige)

HUCKLEBERRY (Kimberly Williams & Brad Paisley‘s William)

PINE (Simon Le Bon’s Tallulah)

PLUM (Moon Unit Zappa’s Matilda)

RAIN (Brooke Burke & David Charvet’s Heaven)

RAINBOW (Jamie Oliver‘s Petal Blossom)

TULIP (Rebecca Romijn & Jerry O’Connell‘s Charlie Tamara)

NAMESAKES–real and fictional

COLTRANE (Natascha McElhone’s Rex)

HENDRIX (Donnie Wahlberg’s Elijah)

ICARUS (Lucy Sykes’ Titus Jasper)

KAFKA (Tommy Lee JonesVictoria)

KIPLING  (Kim Raver’s Leo)

MADONNA (Geri Halliwell’s Bluebell)

MARS (Sofia Coppola’s Romy)

MOWGLI (Ashlee Simpson & Pete Wentz’s Bronx)

ZHIVAGO (Nia Long‘s Massai)

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Celebrity Baby Names: 2008′s best & worst

baby name Clementine

First for the good news.  Here are the starbaby names which we consider to have found the right combination of originality, charm and substance this year:

CLEMENTINEEthan Hawke & Ryan Shawhughes

Full name Clementine Jane Hawke projects the image of a sweet but strong, prim but pretty heroine of a Victorian novel, and brings to mind the song lyric ‘Oh my darlin’ (never mind that her shoes were #9).  It was previously the starbaby selection of Cybill Shepherd and Claudia Schiffer.

HONORJessica Alba & Cash Warren

We applaud this choice that moves beyond the more common Puritan Virtue names like Grace, Hope, and Faith to one that projects an even more righteous image, but has rarely been heard in this country.  An honorable decision.

KNOX & VIVIENNEAngelina Jolie & Brad Pitt

The award for best twin names of the year goes to the always inventive but never quite over-the-top serial baby namers, the Jolie-Pitts.  Knox continued their tradition of boys’ names ending in ‘X’ (as in Maddox and Pax), and also has family connections to Brad‘s grandfather, as does Vivienne‘s middle name, Marcheline, that of Angelina‘s mother.  Runner-up twin names: Coldplay drummer Will Champion’s lively Juno & Rex.

LOTUSRain Pryor

In the name garden overgrown with Roses and Lillies, Violets and Daisies, it seems fitting that the granddaughter of the late iconoclastic comedian Richard Pryor would have a more exotic flower name.  With its languorous feel, the lotus holds intriguing significance in several cultures.

SUNDAYNicole Kidman & Keith Urban

An unusual but sunny day-of-the-week name, inspired by an Australian artist’s patron named Sunday Reed, it’s in tune with other current calendar names like January, May, June and August, as well as the seasonal Winter and Summer.  Some people did think it strange that Sunday was born on a Monday.

And now for what we judge to be this year’s losers:

BRONX MOWGLI —Ashlee Simpson & Pete Wentz

Poor little Bronx got nothing but Bronx cheers when his name was released, especially as paired with the name of the Disneyfied Jungle Book boy.  If his parents thought this New York borough name would catch on the way Brooklyn has, they’re in for a big disappointment.

BUSTERMichele Hicks & Jonny Lee Miller

Is he a bulldog?  Is he a prizefighter?  No, he’s a baby, whose rambunctuous name will not do much to encourage his sensitive side.  An example of the alarming trend towards giving doggy names (Lucky, Princess) to babies.

KADENCE CLOVER —Tony Hawk

It could just as well be Cadence Klover, within the paradigm of using the initial letters C and K interchangeably, leading to regrettable innovations like Kasey, Kassidy, Karolyn and Kaleb.  Fortunately, the trend seems to be waning.

MAXXScott Hamilton

Taking Max–which already means “the greatest”–to the max.  INXS, we’d say.

PEANUT—Ingo Rademacher

The General Hospital star explained that this had been the nickname they used “when he was in mommy.”  OK, good luck explaining that to him when he’s six feet tall and applying to Princeton.

We’d love to hear your nominations for the best and worst celebrity choices of the year, and won’t be surprised if you have very different opinions.  Let’s hear from you lovers of Harlow and defenders of Kadence!

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2008 Names of the Year

edward

What are the names that gained the most attention this year, symbolizing how far we’ve come and where we’re heading next?   The election, of course, figured heavily in deciding on the most influential names of 2008, as did popular culture and the economy.  Here are our top ten picks for the Names of the Year.

1.    BARACKHow did an obscure Hebrew/Arabic/Swahili name that means thunderbolt, lightning, and/or blessing come to inspire a wave of baby namesakes?  The same way a self-professed “skinny black kid with a funny name” came to be the 44th president of the United States.  Barack is exactly the kind of singular, ethnic, family name that the next generation of parents is bound to celebrate.

2.    MILEY – It may be Destiny (which was her original given name) that little Miley Cyrus adopted the nickname given to her by her father Billy Ray because she was so smiley, which, thanks to the stupendous success of Hannah Montana, has become one of the fastest rising girl’s names, debuting on the popularity charts at number 278.  Over 2,000 baby girls were named Miley, Mylee or Mylie in the last year counted, and boy cousins Milo and Miles are also climbing the charts.

3.    JOEJoe – the Plumber, Six-Pack, and Biden – was 2008′s Everyman, hailed and scorned by candidates on both sides of the election.  The ultimate good guy name, Joe is short for Joseph – an important figure in both the Old and New Testaments – which has been among the Top 15 Boy’s Names since the Social Security Administration started keeping records in 1880.  It was rarely mentioned that the real Joe the Plumber’s name was actually Sam.

4.    RUBY – A new generation of hip mamas and cool dads has given rise to a whole new class of Hipster Baby Names: quirky choices long dormant and only now revived by adventurous baby namers bent on making parenthood and babies stylish.  Tops on the hipster favorites list, along with Ruby, are such choices as Oscar, Matilda, Rufus, and Sadie.

5.    EDWARD – The alluring vampire hero of Stephenie Myers’ Twilight series has single-handedly turned the slightly awkward, old-fashioned classic Edward into an unlikely candidate for the hottest, edgiest name in town.

6.    TRIG — Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was a maverick baby namer, with the choices she made for her five children receiving nearly as much attention as her wardrobe and her televised gaffes.  Place names with personal meaning figured heavily in Palin‘s choices, with oldest son Track named for his parents’ love of running, daughters Bristol and Willow named for favorite Alaska places, and Piper chosen because, according to First Dude Todd Palin, “it was a cool name.” Infant son Trig‘s name is Norse for “strength” and middle name Paxson is another Alaska place name.

7.    JANUARY-  As Betty Draper, the heroine of the TV hit Mad Men set in the early 1960s,  gorgeous actress January Jones introduced her own thoroughly modern name that straddles old and new, a perfect choice as we enter a new age of Camelot.  January is also representative of a whole calendar-related genre of names, such as Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s little girl Sunday Rose and such newly-stylish choices as May, June, August, and Winter.

8.    BRONX- – The Crazy Starbaby Name of the Year Award goes to – no contest — Bronx Mowgli, newborn son of rockers Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz.  But Bronx—as opposed to the popular Brooklyn– is about as likely to catch on with non-celebrity baby namers as Kipling-Disney middle name Mowgli.

9.    SASHA- Everyone’s making a fuss over the names of older Obama daughter Malia and power-named mom Michelle, but we think Sasha is more worthy of being a Name of the Year.  In the second First Daughter’s case, Sasha is short for Natasha.  Russian names have quickly gone from heavy-footed to fashionable, thanks to the cadre of long-legged supermodels who’ve imported them to Western Europe and the U.S.  Usually a male nickname for Alexander, it was spelled Sascha by Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld, who used it for their daughter.

10.    CASH—The economy’s tanked and we’re cutting up our credit cards, so where should we turn but to Cash, the baby name choice of almost a thousand parents last year.  It has celebrity cred via Cash (real name) Warren, inamorata of Jessica Alba and baby-daddy of Honor Marie, and as son of actress Annabeth Gish.

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Crazy Celebrity Names: Meet Bronx Mowgli

greetings-bronx

Rockers Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz had a baby boy late last night and named him Bronx Mowgli.

Bronx is, of course, the name of a down-at-the-heels New York borough, nowhere near as fashionable — as a baby name or a place — as Brooklyn.  Usually called “The Bronx,” it’s named after early Dutch settler Jonas Bronck.

Qualifications as a celebrity baby name: It’s unusual, unexpected, New York-oriented, and it ends with the hipster brand X.  And it’s sure to get talked about — a lot.

Brooklyn and now Bronx aren’t the only New York place names turned baby names either: We’ve got a whole list of New York baby names to choose from.  Astoria, Gramercy, Tribeca, anyone?

Baby Bronx’s middle name is Mowgli, after the boy raised by wolves in Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book stories.  Kipling invented the name, which does not, he informed everyone who believed otherwise, mean “frog.”

Little Bronx Wentz (say that ten times fast) is sure to have plenty of compatible celebrity baby friends.  Brooklyn Beckham, definitely, son of Posh Spice and DavidAlabama Jennings, daughter of Shooter and Drea deMatteo, and Kingston Rossdale, son of Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale.  And the two Hudsons, son of James Barbour and daughter of Gena Lee Nolin.

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