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abbysmurf

Here, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel’s take on the nine cool names in the news this week–intriguing as always.

I’m always hoping celebrities will surprise and delight us with the cool names they choose.  (January Jones, I’m looking at you!)  A kid who is going to grow up in Hollywood can rock a name like Ptolemy or Apple more easily than one who has to navigate a typical suburban playground.  Plus, somehow I doubt being named Suri is the strangest thing about growing up with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes as your parents.

My preferences aside, it was refreshing to hear veteran rocker Paul Stanley – father of the normally-named Evan, Colin, Sarah, and new arrival Emily Grace – comment “I guess we’re not cool enough for names like Peach or Astro Girl.”  Pretty down to earth for a guy who made his name in sequins and platform boots.

Nonetheless, Emily did not make my list the week she was born – and she still doesn’t. There’s a huge category of names that are more intriguing than Emily, but not as tough to wear as Astro Girl.  (January, don’t rule out Peach.  She has potential, especially in the middle spot.)

There has been plenty of baby name news this past week, and here are nine of my favorite names from the headlines:

Clover – The fourth child of actor Neal McDonough and wife Ruvé Robertson wears this lucky nature name.  Clover Elizabeth joins sisters London Jane and Catherine Maggie, and big brother Morgan PatrickClover combines the fashionable –er ending of Piper and Harper with the botanical appeal of Lily and Violet.  She sounds something like the chart-topping Chloe, and makes for an Irish heritage choice more exciting than Erin.

Ezra – Children’s classic A Snowy Day celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2012, prompting a recent piece in the New York Times about the author – Ezra Jack KeatsJack is epidemic, and Keats could catch on, but I have my eye on Ezra.  Since Joshua and Noah have proved that boys’ names can end in a, too, I can imagine tons of parents discovering Ezra.

Haven – It sounds like a conundrum for the Nameberry forums: my husband is named Cash and we called our first daughter Honor.  What can we possibly name her little sister?  Jessica Alba managed to solve the puzzle on her own, announcing the birth of second daughter Haven Garner last week.  I’m a big fan of the letter H, and the girls’ names share a modern virtue name vibe that fits with choices like Journey and Harmony.

Hopestill – Did you catch Leslie Owen’s Nameberry guest post on family names last Friday?  There’s Consider and Mahala and Dwell, but I was most captivated by Hopestill and Truelove.  Word names are huge, opening the door for daring parents to embrace phrase names.  Truelove is a bit much, but Hopestill has a lovely quality that might appeal to parents seeking an optimistic choice for the middle spot.

Mabel – Someone sent me a YouTube clip of the world’s first robot with knees, which means that the robot can run – probably faster than me.  The technology is fascinating, but I had to go digging for an explanation of her name.  A few articles suggested that it was just Mabel, not MBL-3P0 or anything equally geektastic.  Could the biggest innovators in robot technology also be closet name nerds?  Then I stumbled on a reference to the Michigan Anthropomorphic Biped with Electric Legs.  Still, it is nice to know that when machines take over the world they might have names as appealing as Hal.

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U5

While A, E, I and O-starting names abound, increasing  in popularity all the time, poor little step-sibling vowel U tends to get neglected. Of course there are many fewer names starting with that letter, and even fewer that would appeal to the modern baby namer, but there are definitely a few that are at least worth a look, most of them with a touch of the exotic.

GIRLS

ULLA, ULA –  Seen in several cultures, this stong name (it actually means strong-willed in Norse), is sometimes used as a pet form of Ursula or ULRICA/ULRIKA.  Most recently associated with the leggy Swedish secretary character in The Producers.

UMA –  Thanks to Ms. Thurman almost a one-person name, this throaty, exotic appellation is a name of the Hindu goddess Parvati–which surely inspired her father, a renowned expert on Eastern religion, to bestow it on her.

UMBER –  A highly unusual color name, dark and mysterious, which could be used for either gender.

UMBRIA  –  Richly evocative, shadowy Italian place name–a neighbor of Tuscany known for its wines, olive oil and truffles.  Could be a possible replacement for the rapidly becoming overused Siena/Sienna.

UNA –  An ancient Irish name, also Anglicized as Oonagh or Oona, used by Edmund Spenser for the heroine of his classic The Faerie Queene; she’s the daughter of a legendary king and the quintessence of truth and beauty (it was for her that St. George slayed the dragon).

UNDINE  –  A German mythological water sprite, better known in its Ondine form.

UNIQUE  –  Not any more.

UNITY — One of the newly appealing, lesser used Puritan virtue names, with an admirable meaning.

URANIA –  One of the nine Greek Muses, whose special area was astronomy.  This one is not recommended, for obvious reasons.

URBANA — An unusual  possibility for a city girl.

URSULA –  Kids today will probably associate this martyred saint’s name with the campy, corpulent octopus sea witch in The Little Mermaid,  while others might tie it to  a character in Shakespeare‘s Much Ado Ursula Brangwen  in D. H. Lawrence‘s The Rainbow, novelist Le Guin,  60′s Bond Girl sex goddess Andress, or the character on Friends.  Novelist/style icon Plum Sykes chose it for her daughter, which puts it on trend alert.

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