Category: Nameberry 9
By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain
Here’s something I overheard recently:
There’s something to that statement, isn’t there? Olivia feels like a vintage revival, a literary choice thanks to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and a wildly popular name for over a decade. Aria is a newcomer, a noun name that leapt from obscurity to prominence thanks to more than one pop culture reference. They’re very different names.
Yet on sound alone, Aria and Olivia are similar. Reverse the histories – make Aria the Shakespearean choice and Olivia the twenty-first century television darling – and it is easy to imagine the statement reversed, too. After all, five of the current US Top 20 girls’ names end with -ia.
Nouveau or traditional, popular or obscure, our favorite names tend to share sounds.
When it comes to naming a daughter, imagination reigns. From Hollywood birth announcements to literary powerhouses, blog babies to the most random of name spottings, a great name can come from anywhere.
This week’s potential seismic name influence? Disney’s big screen retelling of Sleeping Beauty. This time, we’re getting the villain’s side of the story in Maleficent. Angelina Jolie might make the two-horned headdress look elegant, but I doubt she can sell her character’s name to future parents. Maleficent is too downright evil! But plenty of other choices associated with the big summer film could get a boost.
On a sad note, this was also the week the world said farewell to the towering Maya Angelou. If Francis has gained currency as a hero name, could the widely admired writer’s names – first and last – be next?
Together, they point towards some of the most interesting sources for naming daughters in our age: myth, fable, and literature, much of it ancient and well-worn, but some of it modern, even newly invented.
The reality star and her football-playing husband Hank Baskett III have welcomed a baby girl, a little sister for Hank IV. Normally I’d wait patiently for the name announcement, but a) Kendra recently shared that she’d shortlisted Maxwell until Jessica Simpson used it for her daughter and b) Kendra’s former roommate Holly Madison named her daughter Rainbow.
This could be a seriously headline-worthy name.
Kendra hinted the couple has a favorite, and it is something along the lines of Maxwell – familiar, but usually reserved for boys. I’ve been pouring over the Geezer Names for Girls list ever since. Lyle? Chauncey? Rudy? Jules? Or is something more obvious, like Addison or Ashton, names mentioned by the couple previously.
Not only did we have a bumper crop of high profile birth announcements last week, but the Social Security Administration also released the eagerly anticipated 2013 baby name data.
Oh, the excitement!
Sure, the US isn’t the only country to share statistics – and we’re kind of late to the party, since plenty of countries publish their lists earlier in the year. But with the sheer number of newborns – just shy of four million – the US data is the mother lode.
Plenty of parents check popularity data when choosing their child’s name. This week, it’s as if every model, athlete, actor, reality star, and musician seemed to agree: mainstream names are great, but maybe something just outside the Top Ten.
There are a handful of super-controversial topics in baby naming.
Creative spellings. Surnames-as-firsts. And, of course, boys’ names on girls.
The first two are easier, I think. They’re about style and preference. If you love the look of Madelyn, no amount of cajoling will convince you that it really must be Madeline. And either surnames like Lincoln and Bellamy make your shortlist, or not.
But when it comes to gender, there’s more at stake.