Category: Jessica Alba
A fellow berry recently mentioned that Coraline wasn’t accidentally invented by Neil Gaiman for his story. In fact, as thetxbelle pointed out, Coraline peaked in France in 1996 – about half a dozen years before Gaiman reversed two letters in Caroline to name his literary heroine.
It happens more often that you might think. Parents believe they’ve created Aidric by combining parts of different names, only to stumble on a ninth-century saint by the same name.
The two celebrity births to make baby name news this week fit that pattern. They seem stunningly original and terribly familiar all at once.
If mix and match baby names isn’t your style, there are a few other appellations grabbing headlines this week, thanks to the impending Oscars, Grammys, and a few literary classics, too.
This week’s nine newsiest baby names go from the modern to the medieval and everywhere in between:
Exton Elias – Since Robert Downey, Jr.’s firstborn was named Indio, we were expecting something wildly inventive from the actor and his wife Susan. Instead, the couple settled on Exton, a place name that has never been on the baby naming map, but feels an awful like Jaxon, Axton, Maddox, and a bunch of other just-add-x baby names in favor in recent years. If his first name fell short, his middle name is rich with meaning. Robert Downey, Sr. was born Robert Elias, the son of Russian immigrants.
Here in our baby name bubble, in case you haven’t noticed, we tend to parse every element of every name for hints of incipient baby name trends. This would include first syllables, middle letters (like the current x), and endings like en and er for boys.
Just recently we’ve been noticing some suddenly increased attention focused on a group of Latinate names starting with the syllable Cas, which seem to be marching ahead in tandem. They all have a soft a sound, eliminating such oldies as Casey– and the Cas element is often pronounced Cash.
Here are the main contenders in this latest of baby name trends:
Cassia—This lovely, elegant name carries the scent of cinnamon, which is what its meaning is in Greek.
Cassian —Has the stylish Roman feel of names like Atticus; associated (not in the best way) with Julius Caesar, and also with abolitionist Cassius Clay, who inspired the birth name of Muhammad Ali. Variation Cassian is an ancient saints’ name primed to burst onto the modern scene ala Asher.
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.
Which baby name trends do we see coming in for 2009 and which do we see heading out? Here, our predictions for the year ahead.
BIGGEST BIG-PICTURE TREND: DEPRESSION ERA NAMES
The hit TV show Mad Men, set in the early 60s, reintroduced names that were all the rage when the characters were born in the 1930s: Don , Betty, Joan, Peggy. They’re plain names fit for hard times, and we predict the hardscrabble months ahead will inspire more babies with these names: Dorothy, Helen, Ruth, and Frances for girls; Thomas, Edward, Frank, Raymond, and even Harold for boys. Plus the stylish new occupational names–Gardener, Ranger, Miller–are likely to gain in appeal for both boys and girls as actual jobs become more scarce.
MOST SURPRISING COMEBACK NAME
Leon, middle name choice for Brangelina twin Knox, had become a joke in the U.S. but was on the rise in Europe, where all lion-related names–Leo, Leonora, Lionel–are tres chic. Leon and Leonie are the number one names in Germany and for the first time in decades, have style potential here.
BEST NEW TREND INSPIRED BY A CELEBRITY BABY NAME
Jessica Alba’s infant Honor has ushered in a new appreciation for virtue names, on the rise through the name ranks–and hopefully also in spirit–with Faith, Hope, Patience, Mercy, Justice, True, and Pax.
HOTTEST GENDER-BENDING TREND
Boys names that end in a vowel sound and girls’ names that end in a consonant. Examples: Ezra, Eli, Milo, Noah, Hugo for boys, and for girls, Annabel instead of Annabella, for instance, or Eden instead of Emma.
TRENDIEST TREND-RELATED TREND
Names that are considered too trendy by stylish parents by virtue of their association with other, trendier names or with high-visibility celebrities. Examples: Ada, fresh yet too close to the megapopular Ava. Pearl, too much like groovy Ruby. Roman, son of Cate Blanchett and Debra Messing. And Matilda, toddler of Michelle Wiliams and Heath Ledger.
GIRL TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK
BOY TREND READY TO JUMP THE SHARK
COOLEST MIDDLE NAME TREND
Names that carry powerful meaning, launched when people adopted the middle name Hussein in solidarity with Obama. Less name than symbol, the new middle name may carry political meaning, convey ethnic background, stand in for a place, animal, character, or thing that has meaning for the parents.
NEW “IT” VOWEL
MOST FASHIONABLE CONSONANT
NAME TREND THAT’S BEST FOR THE EARTH
MOST SURPRISING CELEBRITY NAME INSPIRATION
Arianna Huffington, whose Huffington Post was the media star of the 2008 election, is an attractive and influential person but hardly the kind of tabloid hottie who usually inspires thousands of baby namesakes. But joining Ashton and Angelina, the name Arianna has ascended with Huffington’s renown, reaching number 70 in the last year counted and certain to zoom much higher.
TREND WE’D MOST LIKE TO SEE DIE
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!