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Category: names of the week



Animal Instincts: Baby Names From the Wild

animal baby names

By Abby Sandel

If you’re having trouble signing into Nameberry or accessing your lists lately, don’t worry: It’s not you, it’s us.  We’re making a major upgrade to the technical end of the site, which will ultimately make everything work better and allow us to add new features more quickly.  Your lists and all other functions will be back to normal shortly.  Now on to this week’s Nameberry 9:

Zooey Deschanel made us wait to learn the name of her firstborn. The indie darling turned sitcom star and producer husband Jacob Pechenik welcomed a daughter named back in July. We expected something quirky-cool from Zooey, and she didn’t disappoint – though she didn’t share the name Elsie Otter until last week.

Zooey also made it clear that Otter referred to the playful animal, calling them “wonderful” and noting that she and Jacob just plain love ‘em. I half expected Otter to be his grandmother’s maiden name, or maybe borrowed from some obscure novel.

But why not Otter? Plenty of birth announcements feature creatures.

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names in the news

By Abby Sandel

It was a week chock full of birth announcements. Some weeks it feels like classic baby names carry the day. Other times, creativity reigns.

But sometimes – maybe most of the time – it’s a mix.

This week’s baby names in the news were definitely an eclectic bunch. From vintage choices to new-to-me names, many of this week’s high profile birth announcements made for surprising choices.

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p-girls names

By Abby Sandel

Congratulations to Molly Sims on the arrival of Scarlett May, a little sister for Brooks. We were pleased as punch when Molly – and Maya Rudolphtalked about their love for Nameberry on Late Night with Seth Meyers earlier this year.

Scarlett is a great, stylish choice, and May is one of the middle names of the moment. But this week was brought to you by the letter P.

And not just any P names. The two biggest celebrity baby name announcements featured P names for girls, and both of those names are pretty unusual in the US.

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What makes a name a name?

Kid portrait

By Abby Sandel, AppellationMountain

What makes a name real?

To think bigger, what makes a word real?  That’s the question raised by English professor and language historian Anne Curzan in her TED talk.

They’re long-standing questions, but the speed of our modern age means that change happens fast.  Imagine a name like Nevaeh catching on before MTV, or Jayceon before YouTube.

Curzan points out that dictionaries are written by people, people who are listening very carefully to how the general public uses words.  So tweet and defriend make the cut.

The same thing happens with baby name books and websites.  Nevaeh wouldn’t have appeared in the 1980s, but she’s firmly installed today.  And while Jayceon might be too new to appear in print, the fast-rising variant can be found on most of the major baby name sites.

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Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

It’s been a quiet week for high profile arrivals.  Sure, Michael Weatherly of NCIS fame and wife Bojana welcomed son Liam.  It’s a great name – friendly, upbeat, accessible.  Liam is also a solid favorite in the US, just like big sister’s name, Olivia.  Last year, he was the #1 choice in at least nine states, and shows no signs of slowing down.

But name news isn’t just about celebrities.  In order for parents to consider a name, they have to know that it exists.  Books, television, movies, athletes, actors, song lyrics, people in the headlines – they can all add new options to an expectant parent’s shortlist.

Baby name books have always surfaced some unusual possibilities.  I fell in love with Hephzibah in a paperback name encyclopedia from the 1970s, the same book my mother used to circle mainstream options like Jill and AmyHester came from The Scarlet Letter.  And Caroline, a name I eventually used as one of my daughter’s middles?  She’s from a Psychedelic Furs song, a classic I never noticed until I heard the lyrics.

Now Nameberry, and the vast community of baby name blogs and websites, is part of that process, too.  This week was filled with daring, even fanciful names for girls with global influence.  Some of these might seem too much for a first name, but I can hear most of them in the middle spot.

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