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The Great Baby Name Divide: Rylen Judith & Sunday Molly

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by Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Congratulations to the Brees family on their latest addition: daughter Rylen Judith.

With just two names, the NFL quarterback and wife Brittany (shown in illustration) managed to capture both extremes in modern baby naming.  The couple chose a first name that’s pure twenty-first century, and paired it with a middle that’s been around since the Old Testament.

Some parents consider names from both sides of the line – innovations like Maddox as well as standards like Robert or Stanley. Most of us probably have a definite preference. Yes to Eleanor, no to Madison. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

And every now and again, the lines between tradition and innovation blur.

Mike Myers and Kelly Tisdale are definitely from the daring baby names camp, but in a Late Night with David Letterman appearance last week, Myers revealed that there’s more significance to their choices than you might guess.

The baby names in the news this week ranged from modern coinages to old reliables, with a handful of names that defy classification.

SpikeRemember when comedian Mike Myers announced that his son was named Spike, and we all thought it just might be a joke? Not only is that his real name, but Spike is named for grandpa Eric. Really. Myers is Canadian, but his dad is from Liverpool, England. In his Late Night appearance, Myers explained that Spike is a common nickname for Eric in that part of the world. I can’t confirm it, but maybe so. Fellow comedian Spike Milligan, another influence for the Myers’ choice, was born Terence.

Sunday Molly – As for four month old daughter Sunday Molly, Myers explained that he and Kelly hate Sundays. Choosing the name was a way to take their least favorite day and make it a positive. It’s a strange route to a baby name, but when big brother is named Spike, it takes a bold choice like Sunday to feel like a match. Molly honors Myers’ late aunt.

Jack – While we’re across the Atlantic, let’s check in on the most popular names in Northern Ireland. Jack remains top dog, the #1 name for boys for the past seven years. Not JohnJack. The official press release tells us that John was the go-to name back in 1963, when Jack failed to crack the Top 100. Now John stands at #27. It’s a similar story in the US, where Jackson has eclipsed John.

Declan – The ever insightful Duana advised a mother searching for a “real” name for baby #2. Big brother is Pearce. Mom’s worry? Avoiding names like Jace and Declan that feel “cobbled together.” I almost fell over – after all, Saint Declan lived in the fifth century! It’s a name with history aplenty, a name that feels much more Judith than Rylen. But Duana’s comment is important here. It’s all about perception: one person’s real is another person’s ‘I couldn’t possibly.’

Vander – Thinking about names like Jackson and Pearce, I’ve got my eye on Vander. Names for Real spotted one in a recent birth announcement round-up. Alexander-spinoff Xander seems to lead logically to Vander. In Dutch surnames, van der means “from” – like the De or Di in French and Italian surnames. 60 boys were named Vander in 2013, and I can easily imagine that number growing.

Rylen – Now for baby Brees! Drew and Brittany are already parents to three boys: Baylen Robert, Bowen Christopher, and Callen Christian. Their new daughter’s name could be another brother: Rylen was given to 171 newborn boys and 36 girls in 2013. It’s undeniably a modern choice, a Riley-inspired name with hints of Jaylen and Kaylynn.

JudithBaby Rylen’s middle name is the opposite of her first – feminine, traditional, and distinctive. Judith is also more common than Rylen – 249 girls were given the name in 2013. But she seems terribly unexpected. Even as Eleanor and Beatrice climb, the equally classic Judith languishes. I’m guessing it is a family name, but the happy couple has yet to comment.

Louis – British royal family names tend towards the very traditional, and this week’s newest entry is no exception. Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor welcomed a third son earlier this summer. Louis Arthur Nicholas Felix joins Albert Louis Philip Edward and Leopold Ernest Augustus Guelph. Young Louis is grandson to the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and 37th in the line of succession to the British throne.

Guelph – Did you notice that unusual middle on Louis’ big brother? With names like Arthur and Edward, Guelph stands out – but it’s a family name from way back. Back in the eleventh century, Welf I was Duke of Bavaria. The House of Welf was tremendously influential throughout the Middle Ages, and plenty of Welf’s descendants were given the name.  The Hanoverian kings, including Queen Victoria, were related to the House of Welf – Guelph in English. It’s a fascinating choice, but it seems that the couple has never commented on the name.

Mae – Let’s end on a bright spot. Australian actress Kate Ritchie has welcomed a daughter with rugby player-husband Stuart Webb. They went with the simple and sweet Mae. It’s a charming choice – as brisk and modern as Sloane or Reese, as vintage as Violet or Louisa.

Do you favor modern names or more traditional choices? Are there any names on your list that don’t really fit – but that you love anyway?

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