Now his little sister is also singing “baby, you a fiiiiiiiyawawk.”As we listened to the song for the hundredth time last night, I found myself thinking: could Perry make a comeback? It’s not just the flirty pop star. This weekend, likable young country musicians The Band Perry came through Washington DC on their summer tour with Tim McGraw.
The last time Perry was in vogue was the nineteenth century, when Commodore Perry was all over the news for his expeditions to Japan. Today, with surname names showing no signs of etreat and plenty of parents seeking similar-but-different options, Perry would fit with Riley and Bailey.
Names bubble up for so many reasons, from fictional characters to newsworthy figures, songs and celebrities, even sounds that just feel right.
Here are nine most buzz-worthy this week:
Cecil – The fourth installment in the Spy Kids franchise opens this month, with Joel McHale and Jessica Alba taking over as the parents. The series is known for its precocious youngsters, outrageous gadgets, and wildly unusual cool names for the male characters. The boy spy kid in this iteration is Cecil (illustrated), twin to Rebecca. Other names throughout the series include Wilbur, Juni, Donnagon, and Devlin.
Dexter – When I hear Dexter, my first thought is Cary Grant as Katharine Hepburn’s ex in The Philadelphia Story. Grant plays the dashing C.K. Dexter Haven. But plenty of parents hear Dexter and think of a mightily disturbed serial killer, thanks to Showtime’s five seasons and counting of gory stories about Dexter Morgan. Next week’s release of One Day, the big screen adaptation of David Nicholls’ 2009 novel, could return Dex to the romantic hero category. Jim Sturgess plays Dexter Mayhew, who spends entirely too long realizing he’s in love with his best friend Emma.
Gale – For a boy. As if The Hunger Games’ heroic Gale Hawthorn isn’t enough encouragement, what about actor Gale Howard? The CW’s paranormal teenage drama Secret Circle debuts next month. Howard plays the father of the Circle’s head witch – and a rather attractive villain, too, if I read the previews right. Boys are called Gage and Cale – mash ‘em together, and Gale is a logical pick for a son, as long as you don’t name your daughter Abby.
Jett – For a girl. Nameberry intern Hannah Tenison mentioned Joan Jett in her Rock’n’Roll baby names post on Tuesday. Hannah kept it on the boys’ list, but I wonder if some parents seeking rock-star style might think of Jett for a girl. The solution appeared at Swistle – name your daughter Juliet, and reserve Jett as a nickname. (You can read the Swistle post here: http://swistlebabynames.blogspot.com/2011/08/baby-naming-issues-avoiding-teen-mother.html)
Kix – Yes, Kix is a breakfast cereal. Max, Dex, Lex, Rex, Jax and nearly any other ends-in-x sound, however, are names for boys. Foster the People’s breakout hit “Pumped Up Kicks” has been unavoidable this summer. And now For Real Baby Names just spotted him in Texas. (Check out her full list: http://names4real.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/kix/) Could Kix catch on?
Mae Mobley – As I write this, I’ve yet to see the big screen adaptation of The Help that opened recently. I mentioned Octavia last week, but here’s my guess: the real name boosted by the book and movie is the child in maid Aibileen’s care: Mae. Like Ava and Audrey, she has Hollywood glam aplenty, plus she’s right in step with mini names like Mia and Zoe. It’s also another example of those “Southern double names” Nicole Kidman referenced when she and Keith Urban welcomed Faith Margaret. In the novel, Mae is always referred to by her first and middle, Mae Mobley. Mae re-entered the US Top 1000 in 2010 after four decades of obscurity.
Penelope – Ever since Christina Ricci donned a prosthetic pig snout for 2004’s modern fable, parents have rediscovered the gorgeous Greek Penelope. And why not? She’s a little bit quirky, undeniably literary, and her list of nicknames is extensive. There’s Penny and Nell, Polly and Poppy, and if you stretch a little further, maybe even Lola, Pia, or the hottest of the hot, Pippa. Of course, the real story could be Athena. Will parents get wise to this stylish goddess name now that Ms. Fey has put it on the map?
Perry – He’s been musical for decades, thanks first to crooner Perry – born Pierino – Como. I mentioned Katy Perry and The Band Perry above, and on a very different note, there’s Texas governor Rick Perry, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.
Vivi-Anne – I spotted this one on Lifetime reality show Dance Moms. Many a re-spelling feels deeply unnecessary, but this one works. I’m guessing that Vivi-Anne’s mom Cathy was eager to name a daughter Vivian or Vivienne, but only if she could ensure that the two syllables would be pronounced with an emphasis on the –an. That’s not normally the case, of course. Choosing a name that you like only if you can insist on a counter-intuitive pronunciation can be a recipe for disaster, but the strong-willed Cathy has made it work.
The minute I saw that the leading character in the new sitcom Life Unexpected was a young girl named Lux, a bell went off. Does this mean that there will be a slew of baby Luxes (Luxi?)? Will Lux be the new Lexi? Or won’t it have any effect at all in this era of diminished network TV viewing?
We certainly know that some TV characters’ names of the past have had an impact, from Samantha on Bewitched to Alexis on Dynasty to Brandon and Dylan on the old Beverly Hill 90210 to Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Aidan on Sex and the City right up to the female Addison on Grey’s Anatomy.
So what about the current line-up? Though some of these are not strictly speaking new names, here are the somewhat out of the mainstream character names of current (and a few about to launch) shows. Think any of them will make an impression on baby namers?
BREE- Desperate Housewives
DOROTA—The Gossip Girls
KALINDA—The Good Wife
KENSI—NCIS: Los Angeles
NAEVIA—Sparticus: Blood & Sand
SILVER (her last name used as first) 90210
SURA—Spartacus: Blood & Sand
ASHUR—Spartacus: Blood & Sand
CREED—The Office (the real first name of the actor who plays him)
ROWDY—The Deep End
While browsing through a recent issue of The New Yorker magazine, I came across an article about the current generation of picture books and their bratty protagonists. It was illustrated by an image from a book called Finn Throws a Fit. Aha, I thought, so juvenile authors are on top of current naming trends. This impelled me to go running (figuratively) to my local Borders to seek further evidence.
One difference I noticed immediately was that there were more little human protagonists and fewer of the porcine (excluding Olivia), feline, canine, bovine, etc persuasion than there were in the past, and there were, as the article pointed out, a lot more angry children populating the pages, and a lot more preoccupation with poop and farts.
In terms of names, I was surprised to see that there was a book title containing almost every currently popular choice—almost as many as there are on the personalized pencils in the airport—a big upswing from the past. Here are some titles all released since the turn of the century–and they’re just the tip of the iceberg!:
CONSTANCE and the Great Escape
ELIZA and the Dragonfly
My Name is Not ISABELLA
IVY and Bean
JUNIE B., First Grader
Let’s Find LUCY
RUBY’S FALLING LEAVES
When SOPHIE Gets Angry—Really, Really Angry
TALLULAH in the Kitchen
Goodnight, my sweet VIOLET
DEXTER Gets Dressed
KYLE’s First Crush
LIAM Goes Poo in the Toilet
OLIVER Who Would Not Sleep
PHINEAS & Ferb series
WALTER the Farting Dog series
Family names was the subject of a recent nameberry poll, in which you voted overwhelmingly –70%–in favor of using family names for your baby. Where to look for great family names? In your own family records, of course, as well as in nameberry for ideas of historic names that sound appropriate for modern life. Another great idea: you can hunt for original family names through genealogy sources — and build a family tree for your baby in the process.
The largest number of people who took our poll–46%–were comfortable with taking lots of liberties with Grandpa Wilbur or Grandma Enid‘s name to make them more modern-baby friendly. We’re happy to help. The following are some possible updates for those fusty, musty family names.
Wilma –> WILLA
How have YOU modernized a family name for your child? Tell us here!