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The Nameberry 9: Newsiest baby names of the week

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An interesting mix of names is highlighted in the Nameberry 9 this week by Appellation Mountain ‘s Abby Sandel, drawn from the Grammys, new starbabies, and the pages of Charles Dickens.

A fellow berry recently mentioned that Coraline wasn’t accidentally invented by Neil Gaiman for his story. In fact, as thetxbelle pointed out, Coraline peaked in France in 1996 – about half a dozen years before Gaiman reversed two letters in Caroline to name his literary heroine.

It happens more often that you might think. Parents believe they’ve created Aidric by combining parts of different names, only to stumble on a ninth-century saint by the same name.

The two celebrity births to make baby name news this week fit that pattern. They seem stunningly original and terribly familiar all at once.

If mix and match baby names isn’t your style, there are a few other appellations grabbing headlines this week, thanks to the impending Oscars, Grammys, and a few literary classics, too.

This week’s nine newsiest baby names go from the modern to the medieval and everywhere in between:

Exton Elias – Since Robert Downey, Jr.’s firstborn was named Indio, we were expecting something wildly inventive from the actor and his wife Susan. Instead, the couple settled on Exton, a place name that has never been on the baby naming map, but feels an awful like Jaxon, Axton, Maddox, and a bunch of other just-add-x baby names in favor in recent years. If his first name fell short, his middle name is rich with meaning. Robert Downey, Sr. was born Robert Elias, the son of Russian immigrants.

Elliotte Anne – Actress Marla Sokoloff has grown up on television, graduating from sitcom Full House to legal drama The Practice. Her new daughter’s name owes something to medical comedy Scrubs, one of the first place we heard Elliot on a girl. With built-in nickname Ellie, it is easy to see this one’s crossover appeal, and she fits in with Violet, Scarlet, and Juliet. Or make that Violette, Scarlette, and Juliette.

Bérénice – From the modern to the medieval, and the small screen to the silver, let’s talk about Bérénice. She’s an ancient name, found in the New Testament and the Egyptian royal family from ancient days. We know her as Veronica or Bernice, but the original form has remained in steady use in France. File her somewhere between Beatrice and Vivienne. Now that French-Argentine actress Bérénice Bejo has earned an Oscar nomination for her role as Peppy Miller in The Artist, will we hear more of this ancient name?

Adele – Speaking of medieval appellations ripe for revival, songstress Adele helped push her spare, classic name back in to the US Top 1000 for the first time in over four decades last year. She’s up for a slew of Grammy Awards this year. Even if she doesn’t take home the prize, her name remains a winner.
Jagger – While we’re talking tunes, do you think Jagger is the next Marley/Presley/Lennon? He combines Mick’s legendary swagger with a strong, masculine sound. Jagger seemed to have missed his moment, but the international pop hit from Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera could reverse that trend.

ThompsonTom made last week’s list thanks to Super Bowl QB Tom Brady, but Thompson caught my eye this week thanks to Grammy-nominated husband and wife duo Keifer and Shawna, better known as country music’s Thompson Square. If Exton is the new Jaxon, could Thompson – or Thomson – be an update to Jackson?

Alba Joy – It isn’t just musicians’ surnames. A handful of parents have adopted contemporary actors’ surnames as given names, too, with Aniston and Winslet among the more popular. At first glance, Marginamia’s birth announcement for Alba Joy had me wondering if Jessica Alba was now keeping company with Jen and Kate. But the new parents seem more likely to be focused on the Spanish and Italian meaning – dawn – instead.

Estella – From pop culture to the literary world, Nook of Names celebrated Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday with a thorough round-up of every character name that might possibly work for a child, including surnames and nicknames. Zephyr, Dodger or Granger, anyone? My favorite Dickens name has to be Estella, Miss Havisham’s ward in Great Expectations. Of course, the lawyer in the story is called Jagger

Dora – Think it is crazy to name a baby after a literary character? Charles Dickens named at least one of his ten children after a fictional figure he created. Youngest daughter Dora shared her name with Dora Spenlow, the young bride of David Copperfield, published shortly before Miss Dickens’ birth. She appeared on Nameberry’s list of Floradora girls just last week where she was warmly welcomed.

Do you choose names based just on sound, or are you more interested in the associations – literary, musical, theatrical or other?

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