Category: names from the arts and pop culture
Creative baby names can be more than names you invent: The category can include names from literature, the arts, and even photography. You could consider a related word name–the late tennis champion Arthur Ashe and his photographer wife named their daughter Camera— and we’ve also heard of at least one little girl called Leica, after the iconic brand.
Much better though to turn to the names of the greats in the field for artistic inspiration. Here are the Nameberry Picks of the 12 Best –meaning of course the most creative baby names.
Andreas Feininger, Gursky
Ansel is very much associated with this great photographer of the American West, and could serve as a tribute to him in the middle spot. The name Ansel is related to the German Anselm, which happens to be the name of another artist, Anselm Kiefer.
August has been heating up in Hollywood–used by Mariska Hargitay, Lena Olin and Jeanne Tripplehorn, (and by Garth Brooks for his daughter), and is rapidly becoming the preferred month name for boys. August has two august literary namesakes: playwrights August Strindberg and August Wilson.
One of the romantic vintage names now on the cusp of a revival, Dorothea means ‘gift of God’ (it’s the reverse of Theodora), and its literary heritage includes Dorothea Brooke, the heroine of the George Eliot novel Middlemarch.
This is a name with four legitimate spellings—depending on how many consonants you want to use. One of the increasingly popular E-boy names, its namesakes include such variously spelled Elliotts as Roosevelt, Ness, Gould, and Spitzer
Adam has faded, but sweet, simple Eve (forget the one in All About Eve) is being appreciated anew these days. It’s biblical but without a heavy religious feel, short but strong, has musical cred via singer Eve, and it’s even a palindrome. Actor Clive Owen chose it for his daughter.
Felix, which means happy and fortunate, would make a felicitous choice, now that it’s thrown off the old negative associations with Felix the Cat and the overly fastidious half of The Odd Couple, Felix Unger. The name of four popes and 67 saints, it’s currently a Top 10 choice in Europe.
I’ll admit it: I obsessively read the Pottery Barn Kids catalog not for the color-coordinated, impossibly organized nurseries and playrooms, but for the names. They tend to be a predictable set, drawn from the US Top 100, often reflecting the more conservative choices. Over the last year or so, I’ve detected a subtle shift. Along with Andrew and Michael, Katherine and Grace, the Spring 2011 issue featured bedding and gear personalized for girls called Emerson and Leela, and boys named Rory, Ryland, Tyson, Calvin, and Graham.
If Pottery Barn Kids is embracing a greater diversity of names, let’s take it as just one more sign that parents truly are considering a broader range of options than ever before. If you’ve ever clicked on the Social Security Administration’s Beyond the Top 1000 Names page you’ll know that the percentage of newborns given a Top 1000 name has dropped over the years. Last year, just 73% of all American newborns received a Top 1000 name. That’s down about 5% in the past decade.
Looking for more evidence? Names I’ve spotted recently include:
- During the American Idol auditions in New Orleans, 15 year-old Jacee Badeaux belted out “Dock of the Bay.” Jacee is a he! Other hopefuls on their way to Hollywood answer to Ace, J’Leigh, Jovany, and the oh-so-appropriate Symphony Music.
- For Real Baby Names – a round-up of birth announcements culled from just about everywhere – spotted Linnet Leeann, Sophera Rose, Riken Kade, and Clete Harrison.
- Two from Nancy’s Baby Names reach a bit farther back. Actress Swoosie Kurtz was named after a B-17 bomber by her fighter-pilot dad. And what could explain the rise of Kasara in the 1980s? I think Nancy has solved the mystery.
- My friend Emily met a boy called Echo, and I met a little girl named Bethlehem.
While we ordinary folks were giving our kids inventive appellations, Hollywood was doing the opposite. The arrival of Owen Wilson’s son Robert Ford prompted headlines like “Owen Wilson Gives His Baby a Normal Name.”
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban announced the birth of their daughter.
It was shocking that they’d managed to keep the pregnancy a secret, but the name they chose, Faith Margaret, raised no eyebrows. Sisters named Sunday and Faith did prompt a few comments. Swistle’s list of possible names for a future sibling is great: Deacon, Bishop, or Benediction for a brother; Trinity, Epiphany, or Hosanna for another girl.
Even Flynn, the name Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr chose for their son,has resulted in very little chatter, though some speculated that F-names could make for a surprising trend. My note to Natalie Portman? Fleet Millepied is available.
For those who love Extreme Celeb Baby Naming, don’t lose hope. The Beckhams are expecting, and with guesses at the new baby’s name ranging from Vaughn and Arcadio to Primrose and Egypt, here’s betting that we’ll be in for a surprise in a few more months. I can’t wait!