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Category: namesakes




This week Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel follows the lead of Jada Pinkett (with son Jaden) in showing us how to find boys’ names honoring a female namesake.

Jaden Christopher Syre Smith turns 13 next month.  Smith is Hollywood royalty, the son of actors Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, and his name is often cited as one of the reasons Jayden, Caeden, Hayden, and company became an epidemic among boys’ names

Overlook the rhymes-with-Aiden qualities of Jaden Smith’s name for a minute, and there’s something else notable about this young actor’s appellation.  While girls have been named after their fathers since ancient days, Jaden is one of relatively few boys to be named after his mother. 

The Smiths continued the pattern with daughter Willow Camille Reign, choosing a name that honors dad, but opting for something less conventional than Billie or Wilhelmina.

They’re not the only famous parents looking to their family trees as a starting point for choosing a child’s nameOrlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr chose Flynn to honor his grandmother, Evelyn.

Plenty of names have obvious equivalents, like Charles and Charlotte or Ray and Rae.  Others don’t lend themselves to an obvious opposite-gendered name.  What’s the masculine form of Bridget?

You may need to be creative to name a daughter after your favorite uncle, but that can create an opportunity, too.  Grandpa Donald might fume if you reject Donald in favor of the more stylish Donovan for your son.  But honor grandma Donna or aunt Dawn with a little Donovan, and chances are she’ll be thrilled.

Based on the most popular names of the 1970s and 80s, here are some thoughts about how you might name a son, Pinkett-Smith style.  The girls’ list is up next week.  Add your additions and suggestions in the comments!

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The question of the week: How would you go about honoring a namesake?

In choosing a name, there’s nothing more meaningful than paying tribute to a beloved family member, ancestor or friend.  Namesake names can connect your child to her heritage, and convey the essence of a loved one, bestowing their most admirable qualities on your child.  Personal heroes of the past or present can form the basis of worthy namesake names as well.

Would you approach this by:

  • Using the name verbatim as a first name?
  • Modernizing or modifying it in some way?  Changing Mildred to Millicent of Millie, for example?  Finding another name with a similar meaning?
  • Using it as a middle name?
  • Considering the honoree’s middle or last name if you didn’t love their first?
  • Would you ever consider making your son a Junior or a II or a III?
  • Would you use the name of an ancestor you never knew?
  • Would you consider the name of a personal hero?

So have you honored a namesake in your child’s name–or would you in the future?

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Babes in TV Land: Kiddie character names


Guest blogger Abby Sandel, whose blog appellation mountain is a top nameberry fave, takes a look at the names TV characters have given their offspring–and which of them have had a lasting influence.

 From Peyton Place’s Allison to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Xander, plenty of television characters’ names catch on after expectant parents tune in. 

Some of those characters eventually have fictional children of their own.  Mad Men couple Pete and Trudy just welcomed daughter Tammy90210’s Jen has a brand new son called Jacques.  In honor of the two new arrivals, here’s a look back at some notable small screen births.

Everyone was watching I Love Lucy when Ricky and Lucy welcomed Enrique Jr. – LilRicky – in 1953.  The show was a sensation, but Richard was already a Top Ten mainstay, and even Ricky was in the Top 100 before the baby’s arrival.

The first influential television baby probably came from 1964’s Bewitched, a sitcom with a supernatural twist.  Bewitching wife Samantha’s name caught on, as did daughter Tabitha, who arrived in the show’s second season.

There’s more than one way to add a child.  The Brady Bunch’s six kids became seven when Cousin Oliver came to stay during the show’s final season.  While his name is the height of fashion today, it didn’t catch on until decades later.  The character did lend his name to Cousin Oliver Syndrome – the phenomenon of adding a younger child to revive a fading show. 

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Antiquarian Names: Colonial craftsmen names


For a number of years, when I wasn’t writing about names, I was writing about antiques and collectibles for a syndicated newspaper column.  But of course when I was thinking about antiques, I was still also thinking about names.

Looking at the field of antique furniture, for example, I found that when it came to early British cabinetmakers, the names were relatively unexciting.  George Hepplewhite. Robert Adams. Thomas Chippendale. Thomas Sheraton.  Nothing too juicy there.

But with the Early American cabinetmakers and clockmakers it was quite a different story.  Lots of antiquated Biblical names, more than one Chauncey, Ebenezer and Lemuel, a few virtue names rarely heard in modern times (Prudent, Noble), a couple of Latinate names and a Greek god—in other words a variegated picture of American Colonial and Federal era nomenclature:

Some prime examples:

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One of the most interesting blog posts we’ve done – interesting from a research standpoint, I mean — was on individual names with the same meaning for twins.

So today I decided to spin that idea a bit differently and look for compatible names with contrasting meanings, for twins or for siblings.

I tried to come up with pairs in a range of styles.  This is an exercise with near limitless potential, of course, so if any of you are inclined to search nameberry by meaning for other pairs that fit the bill, we’d love to hear your ideas.

Here, the opposing meanings and names that go with them (and each other):

Beautiful & Brilliant

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