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Unusual Baby Names: Real, rare and invented

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Abby Sandel– creator of the wonderful AppellationMountain blog–trawls the web to investigate what unusual names have popped up this week, and found some doozies, from Vash to Pheriby.

 The Week in Review: February 8 – 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day!  It’s tempting to write something about sugary sweet, lace-trimmed appellations for February 14, but Pam and Linda have already covered everything from Valentine to Jetadore.

Instead, thanks to a comment on my blog, I’m thinking about the ugly arguments about baby names of recent coinage.  The tension at Appellation Mountain erupted over a respelling of the rapidly-rising LoreleiLorelei seems like the new Mackenzie, subject to endless variations.  I spotted Laurelea earlier this week, and now a mom mentioned using Laurelie – “anyone have a problem with that?” 

Over at Baby Names Garden, Neil Street summed up H.L. Mencken’s 1919 comments on unusual baby names, just as common in the early 20th century as they are today.  From Hoke to Maybeth, it is a nice reminder that making up new names is, well, nothing new.

Last month, Laura Wattenberg wrote about the frustration parents feel when the name they’ve “invented” is suddenly popping up everywhere.  This week, she followed up with some thoughts on authors’ invented names, from Neil Gaiman’s typo that created Coraline to Anne Rice’s misunderstanding that led to Lestat.

Speaking of names invented by writers, Nancy tallied up the number of baby boys named after Rambo.  It’s more than you might imagine.

Since rumor has it that Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz have chosen Leo as their son’s name, we were treated to a few articles like this one at The Stir, declaring the end of outlandish celeb baby names. The article cited a bunch of recent starbaby birth announcements: Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni’s Max Ellington and Olivia Jane, a daughter for Colin Hanks and Samantha Bryantl.

And yet the article overlooked the birth of Top Chef alum Richard Blais’ daughter Embry Lotus and New Zealand television host Pippa Wetzell’s son Taj.

Other unusual names that caught my eye this week include:

  • Vash, from Nephele’s guest blog on Steampunk names
  • Sovereignty, spotted in a local news story
  • Tressa, from a post at For Real Baby Names
  • Pheriby, a real name from the 1700s, found in plenty of genealogical records, rich with alternate spellings, that had all but disappeared by the 20th century
  • Abilene, a name I wrote about earlier this week with ties to not one, but two, appealing characters from children’s books

If not for unusual names and the freedom to consider them for our children, I’m not sure Nameberry would exist.  Regardless of controversy, something tells me that we’ll keep choosing names from a wider and wider pool of options.

As for whether or not celebrities have given up on unusual names?  With Mariah Carey, Pink, and Ivanka Trump on the list of expectant moms, I can only assume that there will be more newsworthy appellations in our future.

 Thanks for reading!

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