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The Many Faces of Kate

girl name Kate

The strong, straightforward Kate (along with her variations) is the most popular nickname for the perennial classic Katherine today, often standing on its own. Some of the world’s most famous women bear the name Kate, which is popular in the US, England, and Ireland. The nickname even has Shakespearean antecedents, in The Taming of the Shrew – “You lie, in faith; for you are call’d plain Kate, And bonny Kate and sometimes Kate the curst.” How do you get Kate from Katherine, a Greek name meaning pure? One theory is that it’s derived from Hecate, the goddess of magic. The name Kate, ranked in the U.S. Top 200, seems to work magic of its own. Take a look at some of the most famous Kates.

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Valentine Names: Names that link to love

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Here is our annual Valentine’s Day blog—think of it as a love letter to  the whole nameberryite community.

Valentine’s Day certainly isn’t the only time we can think about names related to love, but it does present an opportunity to look at the theme–names that will make a child feel especially cherished.

First of all, there are those that relate most directly to the holiday and its traditional symbols:

ARROW

CUPID

DART

DOVE

HART

LACEY

ROSE (favorite flower of  Venus, the Roman goddess of love)

VALENTINA

VALENTINE

VALENTINO

Then there are the words-of-endearment names, though some of them might be wiser to use in the middle spot, as in Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Tobey Maguire’s daughter Ruby Sweetheart and Kate Winslet’s Mia Honey:

ADOREE
AMOROSA, AMOROSO
ANGEL
BELOVED
CARA
CARINA
CARITA
CARO
CHERIE
CHERISH
CORAZON
HONEY
LOVE
MIGNON

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Middle Names: Thinking Outside the Box

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There’s no doubt that middle names have been taking on increasing  importance in the hearts and minds of  baby namers.  They’ve stepped up from the inconsequential connectives –especially for girls–of a generation or two ago to full co-starring roles on the birth certificate.  For many, it’s a welcome opportunity to honor a family member, preserve a maiden name, or use as a solid alternative for their child to possibly choose to use later on.

But for others, it’s place to be whimsical, to salute a creative hero, to use a favorite word or nature name they wouldn’t dare to put in first place.  For examples of how this works, we need only to look to the stars, those beacons of extreme–if not bizarre– baby naming.  So here are some nature, namesake, word and lovey-dovey endearment middle names they have used, followed by the name of the celebrity parent who chose it and their child’s first name:

NATURE NAMES

BEAR (Anthony Kiedis’s Everly)

CRICKET (Amy Locane’s Paige)

HUCKLEBERRY (Kimberly Williams & Brad Paisley‘s William)

PINE (Simon Le Bon’s Tallulah)

PLUM (Moon Unit Zappa’s Matilda)

RAIN (Brooke Burke & David Charvet’s Heaven)

RAINBOW (Jamie Oliver‘s Petal Blossom)

TULIP (Rebecca Romijn & Jerry O’Connell‘s Charlie Tamara)

NAMESAKES–real and fictional

COLTRANE (Natascha McElhone’s Rex)

HENDRIX (Donnie Wahlberg’s Elijah)

ICARUS (Lucy Sykes’ Titus Jasper)

KAFKA (Tommy Lee JonesVictoria)

KIPLING  (Kim Raver’s Leo)

MADONNA (Geri Halliwell’s Bluebell)

MARS (Sofia Coppola’s Romy)

MOWGLI (Ashlee Simpson & Pete Wentz’s Bronx)

ZHIVAGO (Nia Long‘s Massai)

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Calendar Baby Names

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January Jones, the attractive star of the hot TV show Mad Men has focused a lot of attention on her (real) name, but what’s the prognosis for the other calendar baby names?

JANUARY, named after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and ends,  has a real history as a name, dating back to the Chaucer‘s Canterbury Tales  character in The Merchant’s Tale, a wealthy, elderly knight.  Flash forward to the 1970s for a complete image transformation via the Jacqueline Susann soap-operaish novel Once is Not Enough‘s heroine, “the luscious January Wayne.”  (The South Dakota-bred January Jones told Town & Country magazine that she was named for the Susann character.) Put it all together, and you have the sexiest month name, and one that has the best chance of catching on.

FEBRUARY.  The shortest month of the year has the least potential as a baby name, mostly because of its awkward pronunciation.  You could consider its birthstone, Amethyst, instead.

MARCH, named after Mars, the Roman god of war, is the most masculine of the group, and is beginning to be used for boys, particularly as a strong, brisk middle name.  It’s also a surname name, exemplified by the beloved March family in Little Women.

APRIL, from the Latin word meaning to open, as in the opening buds of spring, has been in name-style limbo for a a couple of decades, but might be due for an early comeback.  Its prominent role in Revolutionary Road, portrayed by Kate Winslet, could breathe new life into it.  It also has appealing musical references via songs like I’ll Remember April and April in Paris.  Singer Avril Lavigne has drawn attention to the French version.

MAY, which started as a pet form of both Mary and Margaret, was wildly popular at the turn of the 20th century, in both real life and fiction–writers like Henry James and Edith Wharton used it for their pure and innocent heroines.  The Mae spelling, as in Mae West, was much saucier.  Some modern parents have begun to use May as a sweet, old-fashioned middle name, but others–including actress Madeline Stowe,–have recognized its potential as a first.

JUNE was the midcentury goody-goody girl, exemplified by June Allyson in movies and quintessential TV Mom June (Leave it to Beaver) Cleaver.  Some parents might prefer the livelier Juno, but June–recently picked by actor/oil heir Balthazar Getty for his daughter–has the no-nonsense solidity many parents are seeking in these difficult times. A hipster favorite middle name.

JULY, named for Juilius Caesar, has been used infrequently, and then usually as a male name–there was a character named July Anderson in Lonesome Dove.  But it could conceivably be an offbeat namesake for an Aunt Julie or an Uncle Julius.

AUGUST, like the word with the accent on the second syllable, has a somewhat serious image,  associated with two heavyweight playwrights–Strindberg and Wilson.  It has some celebrity cred, having been chosen by Mariska Hargitay, Lena Olin and Jeanne Tripplehorn.  Garth Brooks turned August into a female option when he used it for his daughter.

SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER, NOVEMBER, DECEMBER all have limited potential, the Latin Septimus and Octavius having more history as names.  On the other hand, hip writer Dave Eggers did name his daughter October….

TRIVIA TIDBIT: The novel and movie The Secret Life of Bees had characters named April, May, June and August.

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