Category: Tina Fey
In the never-ending search for fresh green nature names, prospective parents have dug all around the flower garden, looked up at tree names and swum through a sea of water names.
One area of nature names that hasn’t been explored as much is –don’t laugh—fruit names. Maybe this was because there was so much (perhaps unfair) snickering when Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their baby girl Apple, even though there were some who liked the fresh-faced, wholesome image it projected.
We’re not suggesting that you call your baby Banana (the pen name of a noted Japanese novelist) or Prune (which happens to be really popular in France these days), but if you look beyond the common fruit names to some of their specific varieties and international variations, you might be surprised to find some interesting—and unusual– nature name choices.
ANJOU—The Anjou is a type of sweet and juicy pear, which originated in Belgium but takes its name from a wine-growing province in the Loire valley with a rich history that includes such characters as Geoffrey the Handsome. As a name, Anjou has a charming Bijou-like feel, and might be seen as a cousin to Anjelica and Angelina.
BERRY—Berry has long been used as a unisex first name reaching a high of Number 435 in 1909 and staying in the Top 100 till 1971. It has one male and one female well-known namesake—Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr, and the late actress-photographer Berry Berenson (born Berinthia).
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.
Saturday Night Live has been around for 34 years, and over its long run it has featured many of the funniest, most creative, offbeat comic talents in America–some of whom have gone on to become so iconic that we’ve almost forgotten they were ever regulars on the show. As in Billy Crystal, Robert Downey Jr, Bill Murray, Dennis Miller, Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Adam Sandler, Martin Short and Senator Al “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough” Franken.
The question is: did they apply their quirky creativity when it came to naming their babies? The answer is: not so much. For example, Billy Crystal named one of his daughters Jennifer, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Brad Hall have a Henry and a Charles, Dana Carvey a Thomas, Al Franken a Joe, and Jim Belushi a Robert.
When the latest unusual starbaby name hit the headlines last week–extreme adventurer Bear Grylls’ son Huckleberry–maybe we shouldn’t have been so surprised. After all, a previous celebrity couple, Kimberly Williams and Brad Paisley had named their son William Huckleberry, and are known to call him Huck. But with people still commenting on Apple, maybe it’s time to look at the whole category of fruit names.
APPLE. Unlike some other starbabies, Apple Martin has not inspired many namesakes, probably because of all the ridicule it received and despite mom Gwyneth Paltrow’s defensive statement that “apples are so sweet and they’re wholesome and it’s biblical..I just thought it sounded so lovely and clean.” In fact, since Apple‘s godfather Simon Pegg was quoted as saying she’d be using her middle name when she starts school, we don’t see much chance of it ever catching on.
BERRY. Has long been used as a unisex name, reaching a high of #435 in 1909 and staying in the Top 1000 till 1971, having two famous namesakes–Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. and Berry Berenson (born Berinthia), photographer/actress and widow of Tony Perkins who died tragically on 9/11. It’s a choice that just might come back as a green name which is less elaborate than the other berry names.
CHERRY. Another fruit name that’s had some popularity before it disappeared in the 70s, along with Merry, Kerry, Sherri and Terry–possibly because of its embarassment potential for a teenage girl. Don‘t see this one coming back.
CLEMENTINE. Partly because you wouldn’t immediately tag it as a fruit name, Clementine is a real winner, which could return to popularity for the first time in over a century, helped by its usage by celebs Claudia Schiffer and Ethan Hawke. Pronounced with either a teen or tyne ending, it has historical ties to Mrs. Winston Churchill, is feminine, stylish and substantive ,and has long since shed its clunky ‘Oh my darlin’ image.
HUCKLEBERRY. Has two main obstacles—the close association with Huckleberry Finn and with the cartoonish Huckleberry Hound. Mark Twain told an interviewer that he picked it to describe “a boy of lower extraction” Huck is a pretty cool nickname though.
LEMON. You wouldn’t guess it now, but Lemon was once a fairly well used male name–as in the legendary blues singer Blind Lemon Jefferson, and it still has some potential as a unisex name. When Alex Baldwin’s character on 30 Rock calls Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon by her last name, it makes it sound like a very plausible first. LIME might be a middle name possibility.
PEACHES. Old-time chorus-girly nickname name revived by rocker Bob Geldof for his daughter Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa, who has been adament in her resentment of it, saying “My weird name has haunted me all my life.” Let that be a lesson.
PLUM. A lot prettier and more usable than Peaches, associated with British-born writer Plum Sykes, whose birth name was actually Victoria–the nickname arising from the species known as the Victoria Plum.
STRAWBERRY. This cousin of Huckleberry is another rarity, given to the granddaughter of writer William Saroyan, who says grew up in a community of kids named Shelter, Wonder and Raspberry, and with a sister named Cream. After changing her name briefly, she came to see the advantages of its uniqueness.
And how do we feel about fruit names? Well, we did call our site Nameberry!