Back in February, a topic was posted on the Girls’ Names section of our Message Boards suggesting that people list their current Top Ten favorite names for girls, and it’s been running ever since. What’s especially nice about this for us is that it’s given Pam and me a fascinating look into the specific likes and loves of the nameberry community. After all, for a long time, through our books and on the site, you’ve gotten to know our opinions on both general categories of names and specific examples–and now the tables have been turned.
And we’re so gratified to see that we’re almost universally in synch (we’ll be dealing with dislikes and ‘heresies’ tomorrow), and that for the most part you love the names we love, affirming to us that we have the most enlightened, most thoughtful, most tasteful, group of name lovers in existence.
Proof to us was in the pudding of names that showed up most frequently on your Top Ten lists, all possessing both substance and style. So even though the thread is still alive, I couldn’t resist tallying up the Top Names of the Top Tens to date.
The most popular three are, in order:
DELILAH, and then:
Here at nameberry, we’ve been known to scrutinize trends down to a single letter (are V names in?) or syllable (la-beginnings) or sound (oo), as in Talllulah. The other day, thinking about the names that are emerging as as among the hottest for girls right now, I suddenly realized that several of them have something in common–and that is that they are all three-syllable names ending in the suffix ine:
This is a pattern that hasn’t been seen in the US for a long time–if you don’t count classics like Caroline and Madeline. The ones that are feminizations of boys’ names, such as Geraldine and Ernestine, fell out of favor at a time when a) women didn’t want to be thought of as appendages of men even in their names, and b) the particular male names they derived from were sounding particularly fusty.
But this doesn’t seem like such a burning feminist issue these days, when many parents are eager to honor their dads and forefathers as namesakes for their kids of either gender. And besides–who knows?–names like Gerald and Ernest could make a return at any time.
When the latest unusual starbaby name hit the headlines last week–extreme adventurer Bear Grylls’ son Huckleberry–maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised. After all, a previous celebrity couple, Kimberly Williams and Brad Paisley had named their son William Huckleberry, and are known to call him Huck. But with people still commenting on Apple, maybe it’s time to look at the whole category of fruit names.
APPLE. Unlike some other starbabies, Apple Martin has not inspired many namesakes, probably because of all the ridicule it received and despite mom Gwyneth Paltrow’s defensive statement that “apples are so sweet and they’re wholesome and it’s biblical..I just thought it sounded so lovely and clean.” In fact, since Apple‘s godfather Simon Pegg was quoted as saying she’d be using her middle name when she starts school, we don’t see much chance of it ever catching on.
BERRY. Has long been used as a unisex name, reaching a high of #435 in 1909 and staying in the Top 1000 till 1971, having two famous namesakes–Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. and Berry Berenson (born Berinthia), photographer/actress and widow of Tony Perkins who died tragically on 9/11. It’s a choice that just might come back as a green name which is less elaborate than the other berry names.
CHERRY. Another fruit name that’s had some popularity before it disappeared in the 70s, along with Merry, Kerry, Sherri and Terry–possibly because of its embarassment potential for a teenage girl. Don‘t see this one coming back.
CLEMENTINE. Partly because you wouldn’t immediately tag it as a fruit name, Clementine is a real winner, which could return to popularity for the first time in over a century, helped by its usage by celebs Claudia Schiffer and Ethan Hawke. Pronounced with either a teen or tyne ending, it has historical ties to Mrs. Winston Churchill, is feminine, stylish and substantive ,and has long since shed its clunky ‘Oh my darlin’ image.
HUCKLEBERRY. Has two main obstacles—the close association with Huckleberry Finn and with the cartoonish Huckleberry Hound. Mark Twain told an interviewer that he picked it to describe “a boy of lower extraction” Huck is a pretty cool nickname though.
LEMON. You wouldn’t guess it now, but Lemon was once a fairly well used male name–as in the legendary blues singer Blind Lemon Jefferson, and it still has some potential as a unisex name. When Alex Baldwin’s character on 30 Rock calls Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon by her last name, it makes it sound like a very plausible first. LIME might be a middle name possibility.
PEACHES. Old-time chorus-girly nickname name revived by rocker Bob Geldof for his daughter Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa, who has been adament in her resentment of it, saying “My weird name has haunted me all my life.” Let that be a lesson.
PLUM. A lot prettier and more usable than Peaches, associated with British-born writer Plum Sykes, whose birth name was actually Victoria–the nickname arising from the species known as the Victoria Plum.
STRAWBERRY. This cousin of Huckleberry is another rarity, given to the granddaughter of writer William Saroyan, who says grew up in a community of kids named Shelter, Wonder and Raspberry, and with a sister named Cream. After changing her name briefly, she came to see the advantages of its uniqueness.
And how do we feel about fruit names? Well, we did call our site Nameberry!
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Taking Max–which already means “the greatest”–to the max. INXS, we’d say.
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!