Category: Disney names
It doesn’t seem fair. Why have some perfectly good names become permanently tainted by their links to a particular fictional character while others haven’t? How come Olivia is OK despite her porcine persona, all Oscars aren’t considered grouches, and even Dexter‘s popularity seems to be rising in spite of his avocation on TV as a serial killer, while Jemima and Jethro, Elmo and Eloise remain somewhat stigmatized? I say let’s take another look at some of these names and see if we can’t get them out of quarantine.
ELMO–A lively O-ending saint’s name, Elmo is the patron saint of sailors, and the legendary St. Elmo‘s fire is a bright glow that sometimes appears on ships during thunderstorms, as well as being the name of a seminal 1980′s Brat Pack film.
GROVER–A fine upstanding Presidential and nature-ish (originally given to someone living near a grove) surname crying out to be considered for its own spunky self.
KERMIT–Enough with the ‘It isn’t easy being green’ froggy references. Instead think of its relation to the well-liked Dermot, Kermit evolving from the Irish surname MacDermot, or son of Dermot. And Teddy Roosevelt used it for his son
And a couple of others with kiddie references:
ELOISE– Long associated with the imperious little 6-year-old who ruled the Plaza Hotel, Eloise is the most likely on this list to redeem herself, what with the growing popularity of similar names like Eloisa and Elodie.
LINUS–No, using this name does not condemn your baby boy to clinging to his security blanket for life a la the Peanuts character. Linus has considerable grown-up charm and some interesting associations: in Greek mythology he was the inventor of rhythm and melody who taught music to Hercules, and a distinguished modern namesake is Linus Pauling, winner of two Nobel prizes. And, believe it or not, cinema characters named Linus have been played by Humphrey Bogart, James Stewart, Matt Damon and Harrison Ford.
Yesterday, as I was writing about the favorite names on nameberry, it seemed as if all was in perfect harmony and solidarity, complete sweetness and sunshine on the site, and that nameberry.com was as tranquil a place as Mayberry R.F.D.
Not totally true.
Turns out that some visitors are as passionately opposed to some of the popular names on the site as others are passionately in favor of them. And so a kind of rebel thread was set up called Secret Name Heresies, where people could voice–make that vent–their negative feelings. And vent is what they/you have been doing, often in EMPHATIC CAPITAL letters. Not surprisingly, since our opinions are formed from our individual experiences, there were some who disliked a particular name because of, say, an unshakable association with an obnoxious high school classmate, or with a Disney character they will forever attach to its name. Or in some cases a simple dislike of its image or sound.
Here, from the varied responses, are a few choice, disgruntled, examples–some of which we found hilarious:
ASTRID – I liked this before The Office.
CECILIA – I have a slight lisp–Ce-ce-lia sounds AWFUL when I say it.
DAISY – I love this name but for a pet.
EVELYN – It’s still 100% nursing home to me.
GUINEVERE – Waaay too regal.
POPPY – I’m all for nature names but this is way too close to “puppy,” not to mention the association with opiates.
– The words “seed muffin” follow this in my head.
– This is what we call my Dad instead of Grandpa, so no.
SADIE – Reminds me of S & M.
VIOLA – Means rape in Spanish.
DUNCAN – Donuts.
— Sounds like it should be the name of a thick, chubby boy.
EZRA – It looks like a typo.
FELIX – This is a cat’s name only.
JASPER – Seems like a girl’s name to me.
— 101 Dalmatians, anyone?
OTIS – Too hickish for someone who lives in rural Nebraska and gets labeled a hick for that alone.
SEBASTIAN – Crab from Disney movie.
In a recent blog, one half of the Nameberry partnership suggested ten neglected names–five for girls and five for boys– names that aren’t receiving the attention or popularity they deserve. Now here are ten more from the other half–names that have been consistent favorites of mine, but which have never really caught fire despite our recommendations. (I should add that two of the names on the first list–Barnaby and Dinah–have been enduring loves of mine as well–in fact Dinah was the runner up to Chloe when I was naming my daughter.)
So, from the Land of Lost Opportunities:
AMITY. Unlike her solid, serious, one-syllable virtue-name cousins Hope, Grace and Faith, Amity has a lacy delicacy as well the wonderful meaning of friendship. And yet it has not appeared in the Top 1000 in 150 years. The same is true of the similarly neglected VERITY, which also has the attraction of a trendy V-beginning and the meaning of truth.
DUNCAN. This handsome Scottish name has always been near the top of my boy favorites list, for its combination of sophistication and bounce. It has literary cred from Shakespeare (Macbeth) to James Fenimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans). Though it hasn’t been completely neglected –it reached as high as 377 in the late 90s heyday of D-names like Dylan, Dustin and Dalton–it’s never been fully appreciated. Could Dunkin’ Donuts be to blame?
GENEVA. Believe it or not, this was quite a common name a century ago, in the very low one hundreds in the first two decades of the 20th century. Being one of the original place names, with the long-popular Gen-Jen beginning (and logical nickname), it’s surprising that it hasn’t been picked up on in the modern age.
JANE. Whatever happened to Baby Jane? Once ubiquitous, it has virtually disappeared, and while the names of several of Jane Austen heroines have succeeded, her own name has not. I’ve never thought Jane was plain, seeing it as much more vibrant than cousins Joan and Jean. It makes a sweet, old-fashioned middle name too–moving away from dated Mary Jane to cooler combinations like Ethan Hawke’s Clementine Jane.
LARS. One of a number of appealing Scandinavian names that have never made their mark in this country, Lars is strong, straightforward, friendly, and a touch exotic–a perfect choice for someone seeking a distinctive no-nickname name or a namesake for a Grandpa Lawrence. (And for those who like the en/-an-ending trend, there are also SOREN, KELLEN, and STELLAN.)
LIONEL. Not quite as obviously leontine as Leo or Leon (of which it’s a French diminutive), Lionel has a lot of multi-dimensional cred, as a Knight of the Round Table, and in the jazz and TV-character worlds. Runner-up: the Welsh LLEWELYN, if only for its cool double-L nicknames–Llew, Lleu and Llelo.
MIRABEL, MIRABELLE. The perfect alternative for those tiring of the mega-popular Isabel and Annabel and Miranda, this is another choice that has never reached the Top 1000, despite its feminine charm and accessibility. It can also be considered a nature name, as mirabelle is the name of a variety of sweet yellow plum. Italian version MIRABELLA is another winner.
POLLY. Why Molly and not Polly? I’ve never understood the enduring popularity of the one and the neglect of the other, both being vintage rhyming nicknames for Mary. The disparity might be accounted for by the childlike, innocent, pigtailed, Pollyannaish (and maybe avian) image of Polly, a name which has hardly been heard since the 70s, (except maybe for Mattel’s Polly Pocket dolls), having peaked on the charts in 1881! I say it’s time for a revival.
REMY. A French name that’s not as effete as Anatole or Antoine. Au contraire. Remy–meaning someone from the city of Rheims and sometimes associated with the Cajun cadences of New Orleans– is lively and charming, with just a pungent whiff of cognac. Kids will relate it to the plucky rat chef hero of Ratatouille.
ZEBEDEE. A distinctive Biblical name with zip as well as gravitas, belonging to the fisherman who was father to two of the twelve disciples, James and John. Other pluses: the cool initial Z and the cool nickname Zeb.
There are a handful of appealing names that mean “prince.” Brendan is Irish, Mael is Breton, while Vladimir is Slavic for “renowned prince.” Armel, the name of a Welsh saint who founded abbeys in Brittany, means “stone prince” in French, while Adhit is an Indonesian name with that meaning.
Prince itself is of course also a name, chosen by Michael Jackson for his son — though if you choose it, you’d have to put up with an awful lot of “formerly known as” jokes. Better bets: King, Duke, or maybe even Earl.
Fictional princes who might prove inspirational include:
Moses – Biblical baby raised as a prince.
Phillip – Sleeping Beauty’s paramour.
And then there are the little princes born to actual royal families over the past decade or so, with William.html”>prince names equally imposing as those of their princess counterparts. I’m especially intrigued by Aymeric, Valdemar, Casimir, Marius, Emmanuel, Froilan, Felix, Baudouin, and Sverre.
Achilleas Andreas — Greece
Aristide Stavros – Greece
Carlos — Spain
Hisahito — Japan
Juan Valentín — Spain
Miguel – Spain
Odysseas Kimon — Greece
Sverre Magnus — Norway
Twitty Milk, the reported name of the new daughter of singer Erykah Badu and rapper Jay Electronica, was thankfully just a hoax. No one knows quite how the Twitty Milk rumor got started, except that the new mom Twittered her way through the baby’s birth. The real crazy celebrity baby name: Mars Merkaba.
1. MOXIE CRIMEFIGHTER — The daughter of magician Penn Jillette, whose assertive word name can be called unique in the truest sense of that term, is the bearer of what may still be the absolute craziest celebrity baby name.
5. MARS MERKABA – Okay, it’s better than Twitty Milk. But it’s still from Outer Space.
6. PEANUT — Soap star Ingo Rademacher’s son’s name might give any child an inferiority complex.
10. PUMA — We have to cite Erykah Badu for being a two-time offender, as she gave her daughter this feline and sneaker name. But Badu also has a wicked sense of humor, as anyone who’s ever heard her fabulous song “Call Tyrone” can attest.