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Baby Name Stories: The Nameberry 9

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This week Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel poses the question: Can a great story influence the way you think about a name?

We berries know that names others dismiss as strange, even wacky, are often mainstream.  Jackson has eclipsed John, and many girls’ names in use only a few decades are among the most popular in the US.  Neveah, Brooklyn, and Kaylee, I’m looking at you.

But if you are going to use an eye-poppingly strange name, I’m convinced the way to do it is to have a great story, one that your child won’t mind re-telling again and again.  And again.  Actually, you’d better be willing to re-tell your tale, too, as curious types coo at your sweet little newborn babe and ask if McKechnie is a family name.

Nancy shared a great article about two women with truly unique names earlier this week, and my theory held up.  Bluzette experienced frustrating moments, especially as a kid, but mostly she’s made peace with her unusual name, inspired by a song.  Open, who lacks a simple backstory, still struggles with her appellation.

Of course the biggest name this week requires no explanation.  Jen and Ben went with an all-boy Biblical staple never out of US Top 100 for baby #3.  The littlest Affleck kicks off our nine most newsworthy baby names this week:

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Celebrity Baby Names

The celebrity baby-naming year got off to an exciting start with the birth of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s second daughter, whose name remained a mystery for more than a week.

When it was finally announced, it was so surprising and lovely that it made the long wait worthwhile: SERAPHINA ROSE ELIZABETH, a shoo-in for one of the Best Celebrity Baby Names of the year.

Our other nominees for Best Celebrity Baby Girl Name:

MABEL PAINTERChad Lowe’s little girl’s name is a charming, quirky vintage choice, with an original artistic middle name from the hot occupational genre.

HELENA GRACE – The classic Helena is a name just emerging from the attic, chosen by Gossip Girl’s Kelly Rutherford.  Its originality makes up for the lovely yet somewhat standard-issue Grace in the middle place.

PALOMA LOUISEAna Ortiz chose this exotic-yet-familiar name for her daughter, with the original Louise, tres chic in Paris, in the middle.

PHOEBE MARGARET Phoebe is a mythological and biblical name that’s newly finding favor, chosen for her newborn daughter by Julianne Nicholson.

For boys, our nominees for Best Name are:

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There are some celebrity kids’ names that are immediately embraced by other parents and become instant hits. Take Kingston, for example, the name chosen for personal reasons relating to the city in Jamaica by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale: it had all the ingredients to make it a success– accessibility, likeability, a strong, familiar sound with regal overtones, plus extremely high-profile parents.

Another name with similar qualities is Maddox, the first son of Angelina Jolie, which first entered the popularity lists in 2003 and has been steadily climbing ever since. A few recent names—Honor (Warren), Clementine (Hawkes), Seraphina (Affleck), and Harlow (Madden) spring to mind—were direct hits, and seem sure to spread.

On the other side of the coin are those that were just as instantly rejected as too weird for everyday consumption: the Ikhyds, Banjos, Bandits, Pumas, Pirates and Peanuts.

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Celebrity Baby Names

At last! Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have finally announced the name of their newborn daughter: Seraphina Rose Elizabeth.

Seraphina‘s name, which means fiery or ardent in Hebrew, comes from the Seraphim, the high order of six-winged angels. Spelled Serafina in Spanish and Italian, this elaborately feminine name is in step with the Isabellas and Gabriellas so popular today, yet is far more distinctive.

Jen and Ben have proven their baby naming know-how with this gorgeous choice, a great match for Violet, and it’s sure to rise up the popularity list along with that of her big sister.  Much more unusual than Violet, Seraphina hasn’t ever appeared in the Top 1000 of the Social Security list in the past century.

Rose is the middle name du jour, a flower name match for Violet.  And, like many young Americans following the British tradition, the couple has chosen two middle names (although some people have already expressed the objection that it wasn’t fair for this baby to get one more than her big sister).

Seraphina hasn’t appeared much in popular culture references, though a couple of its variations have.  With the Latin  Serafina spelling, it was the name of the passionate heroine of Tennessee Williams The Rose Tattoo, and just last year it was a  character played by Eva Green in The Golden Compass.  It’s also reminiscent of Sarafina, the South African hit musical that played on Broadway in the 90s.

What do we think of Seraphina?  Let’s just say that we picked it as one of the Authors’ Favorites recommendations in The Baby Name Bible.

But do we have a winner in the Guess the Jennifer Garner Baby Name contest? Not a single one of the hundreds of entries picked Seraphina, though a lot of people did guess the middle name Rose.

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