Category: names from the arts
By Linda Rosenkrantz
Last week we looked at some neglected girls’ namesake names, now it’s the boys’ turn as we seek some equally distinctive names from American history and culture, names that could provide unique-ish options with interesting back-stories. What’s especially evident here is how many of the unusual boys’ names are mothers’ maiden names that started out in the middle but were switched by their sons into first place.
Adlai Stevenson—There were three noted generational bearers of this name– their combined accomplishments: one vice president, two senators, one governor, a two-time presidential nominee, and an ambassador to the UN.
Alpheus Hyatt was the founder of the Marine Biological Lab at Woods Hole; his namesake Alpheus Hyatt Verrill invented the autochrome natural color photography process, and there have been two Alpheuses in the U.S. Senate.
By Linda Rosenkrantz
It’s not unusual to find interesting and creative names among the leading figures in all spheres of the arts, but there’s a really stellar group to be found among notable architects. International in scope, and looked at across time, here are some of the most intriguing first and last name examples–any of which you might want to consider if you’re an architecture aficionado—or if there’s an architect in your family.
Addison Mizner was one of the key developers of Florida resort architecture, Spanish Revival style. Mizner was born in 1872, when Addison was strictly a boys’ name—it didn’t begin to take off for girls until 1994, but still can make a valid patronymic choice for a boy.
Cass Gilbert was an early proponent of the Beaux Arts style skyscraper, designing, among others, the Woolworth Building in New York—the world’s tallest building at the time. He was named for a statesman-relative called Lewis Cass, but the name stands well on its own as a first. Sinclair Lewis wrote a novel about a judge called Cass Timberlane.
Decimus Burton was a prolific nineteenth century English architect and garden designer whose works included buildings at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Gardens and the London Zoo. Decimus is one of the old Latin numeral names that adventurous babynamers are beginning to consider.
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.