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The Nameberry Nine: Football, Facebook, fiction

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For The Nameberry Nine this week, Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain looks at Superbowl names, the Facebook effect, and the casts and characters of some upcoming TV shows.

If football games were decided on the basis of players’ names instead of points scored, I’d hand the Super Bowl victory to The New York Giants and their quarterback Eli Manning. Eli is on the rise, reaching #65 in 2010 before considering boys named Elijah, Elias, Elliot, and Elliott who might answer to Eli, too.

Brady, on the other hand, was boosted by long-time New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, plus Miranda’s adorable red-haired son on Sex and the City. But the football star has had a long career, and Miranda’s kiddo is growing up in infrequent movie sequels. The stylish Irish surname is fading, falling to #125 in 2010.

Of course, it really works the other way around. While Eli will likely rise regardless of the game’s outcome, would a big win for the Patriots reverse Brady’s slide?

We’ll have to wait and see. For now, here are this week’s nine newsiest names:

Lucas – The players who faced off in Super Bowl XLVI had quite the bunch of names: There’s Ramses, Zak, Rocky, Bear, Niko, Nate, Tiquan, and Lousaka, to say nothing of Chad Ochocinco. But if you’ve just delivered a bouncing baby boy on game day and want a subtle connection for your son’s name? Consider Lucas. In an age of corporate naming rights, few fields offer possibilities for a child’s name. Lucas Oil Stadium, home to the Indianapolis Colts, is the exception.

Indiana – There’s also the name of the state where the game will be played. XLVI marks the very first Super Bowl to come to Indiana. The state is also a gender neutral option popular with actors – Casey Affleck has a son named Indiana August, while Ethan Hawke called his daughter Indiana. The –ana ending makes it wearable for girls, while Harrison Ford’s adventurous archeologist keeps it masculine, too.

Emmett – This name still brings to mind NFL Hall-of-Famer Emmitt Smith, but it makes the list this week as a birth announcement from journalist and Parents.com blogger Jill Cordes, mom to Fia Lily. Emmett Redmond was almost Simon or Liam or another L-name. But once he arrived, they chucked their list and started over again. Congratulations!

Madelyn – There’s asking for suggestions via social media, and then there’s turning the matter over to the anonymous many who voted in one couple’s Facebook poll. The parents made good with their promise to choose the top name. Madelyn beat out Emily, McKenna, and Addilynne, and so Madelyn Rae she is!

Astala – For every couple struggling to settle on a name, there are those who work it out well in advance. Count Peaches Geldof and fiancé Thomas Cohen among the latter. Their son isn’t due until April but they’ve settled on Astala Dylan Willow. The mom-to-be described their ideal name as “unusual but not ridiculous.” I’m not entirely certain they hit that mark.

Martin – Post-Super Bowl, we’ll all be ready for the debut of new television series. Here’s one to watch: Kiefer Sutherland’s new show Touch. He plays Martin, a character I suspect will be thoroughly admirable. Will it help Martin shake off some of his fustiness in favor of a certain Dean Martin retro cool? Or better still, will we simply recognize him as an enduring classic as worthy of consideration as, say, Jack?

Walter – Another leading man in a new debut wears a once-dated, now-prime-for-revival name: Walter, as in The Finder’s Walter Sherman. The Bones spin-off is rich with intriguing monikers, like Willa Monday. Is it any surprise that a television writer and producer called Hart Hanson knows something about naming a character?

Meg – Speaking of writing, did you know that celebrated young adult science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time has just turned fifty? Heroine Meg Murry remains ageless – a shy girl with a talent for math and more bravery than many of us could muster in our teens – the forerunner of Hermione Granger. While her full name is Margaret, she’s the kind of figure that makes a brief, three-letter name feel complete.

Tom – Speaking of three-letter names, let’s head back to the gridiron for just a minute. While Brady is fading, could Tom stage a comeback?  Thomas has never fallen out of the US Top 100, but he’s far less common that was once true. But Tom – just Tom – is in the French Top Twenty, and he’d be right at home with Max and Gus today.

Heard any interesting names lately?

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