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The Nameberry 9: Hitting the perfect balance

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 This week, Abby Sandel, of Appellation Mountain, gathers interesting but not outré names from sources ranging from the Old Testament to Cirque de Soleil.

The end of the year is fast approaching, and with it comes year-end lists.  Are Isabella and Jacob top of the tops, or does that distinction belong to Sophia and AidenHow about Liam and Charlotte?

It is an interesting debate, but for parents seeking inspiration, it isn’t necessarily helpful.  Often we read lists of the most popular names as a collection of those to avoid, lest our little Charlotte complain that she’s one of three in her kindergarten.

And yet, few of us are daring enough to consider a completely unique name.  Yes, celebrities are embracing Bear and Spike and Bing, but they’re rather bold choices outside ofHollywood.

Surely there’s middle ground between Skylark and Emma, Gitano and Noah.

This week’s Nameberry Nine is a round-up of choices that strike that balance.  They’re not eye-poppingly unusual, but neither is your child likely to ever share one of these names.

Zaia – This one appeared in Isadora’s post about Cirque du Soleil appellations up at Bewitching Names earlier this week.  Zaia feels like an exotic spin on Maya and Mia.  My impulse is to rhyme Zaia with Maya – approachable, but definitely different.

Cadeau – The French word for gift, Rowan spotted this on an Olympic athlete – a guy from Liberia!  At first glance, Cadeau is both outrageous and too cutesy, but for a daughter, she shortens to Kate/Cate or Cady.  I think that’s just enough versatility to give the name potential.

Dinah – She’s as straightforward as Emma or Nora, as vintage as Pearl, with something sassy about her, too.  I spotted Dinah on Zeffy’s list at Names from Yesteryear, spanning the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but she’d right at home circa 2012, too.

Adler – Design maven Jonathan Adler is now creating diaper bags with Skip Hop, so maybe that’s why Adler has been on my radar recently.  Or perhaps it is just a good moment for a restrained surname name with a masculine meaning – Adler comes from the German for eagle.

Miriam – As tailored as Madison, as vintage as Beatrice, as enduring as Mary, Miriam has a lot going for her.  Best of all?  She’s hovered around the 300 mark for decades, suggesting that while she’s not as rare as some of the names on this list, she’s definitely not heard on a regular basis.  Names4Real spotted her in Pennsylvania recently, paired with a sweet and literary middle: Miriam Alice.

Harvey – He’s not just for imaginary rabbits in Jimmy Stewart movies anymore!  Or at least I’m convinced that’s the case after reading Marginamia’s post.  A friend mentioned that she knows someone who has Harvey at the top of her shortlist, too.  With everyone considering Henry, names like Harvey seem bound to get more attention.

Avalon Lou at Mer de Noms recently posted a round-up of Disney names.  She mentioned new original series Frenemies is going to include a character called Avalon.  Part-Ava, part-Allison, all Arthurian legend, with just a lingering whiff of Toyota,  Avalon remains very rare, but I’d love to see her used more often.

Hale – Another name I’ve been thinking about for ages, Hale appeared in a Name Soiree post recently, as Hale Lewis.  He’s right at home with Gage and Cade, but has an edge that’s more Colonial – and substantial – than some of today’s trendier picks.

Patton Patrick is an Irish saint, an enduring classic that no longer surprises.  The related Patton appeared on a list of surname picks at Nook of Names earlier this week.  Part-military general, part-comic, Patton feels fresh and wearable in 2012.

Spot any great names this week?

Please note: We’re going to be on CafeMom’s Ask The Expert all this week answering questions about baby names. Join us there!

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