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Unusual Names: The Nameberry 9, from baby Rex Harrison to a girl named Casper

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This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel does her usual super job of uncovering the most interesting and unusual names in the news.

There’s been no shortage of baby name news in recent days, and the names make for an eclectic bunch.  The week ended with Nameberry’s twelve trends to watch in 2012 post, a mix of what’s in, what’s out, and what isn’t nearly as unusual as you think it might be.

But the biggest trend is one that isn’t limited to a calendar year.  For decades, beginning before the birth of most of today’s parents, there’s been ever increasing freedom to choose your child’s name.  Gender matters less.  Tradition can be overlooked.  Even a name’s status as a given name is less of a concern today, as parents look to the phone book and the dictionary for inspiration.

Except, of course, when they don’t.  For just as some parents are seeking out modern hero names or borrowing from the animal kingdom, others are discovering vintage options, those found on their family trees, or those that reflect the circumstances of their child’s birth.

It is an anything-goes moment in baby naming.  The only thing that isn’t okay these days, it seems, is choosing a name without a backstory.

From the outrageous to the antique, and everything in between, this week’s Nameberry Nine is quite a list:

Press – She rhymes with Bess and Tess, and brings to mind musical surname Presley, but new parents Shayne Lamas and Nik Richie are referring to the media with their new daughter’s moniker.  Shayne Lamas, daughter of actor Lorenzo Lamas, and an aspiring model/actress herself, is best known for winning The Bachelor Season 12 and appearing with dad on Oxygen reality series Leave it to LamasShayne reports that she and Nik initially referred to their baby as Press as something of a joke thanks to all the media attention Shayne’s pregnancy generated.  Apparently the nickname stuck, and the couple decided to put Press on their daughter’s birth certificate.

Rex Harrison – This next starbaby name brings to mind My Fair Lady.  Appropriate enough since mom is model Niki TaylorTaylor and husband Burney Lamar are also parents to daughter Ciel, and Niki has sons Jake and Hunter from a previous relationship.  Rex Harrison was, of course, a British actor known for his work on stage and in films, including starring opposite Audrey Hepburn in the 1964 musical My Fair Lady, for which Harrison won an Oscar.

Casper After years of rumor, we have official confirmation that Pilot Inspektor’s little sister is Casper AliceJason Lee and wife Ceren Alkaç kept Casper’s name quiet, maybe because of the flap created when Lee and his ex, actress Beth Riesgraf, announced Pilot’s name.  The reaction to the friendly choice has been surprisingly positive, perhaps because we were expecting something far less mainstream, or maybe because Casper is on trend with choices like Harper and Piper.  Plus Casper has a pretty middle name that anchors an unconventional first name choice.

Speaking of Alice, the literary lovely is rumored to be among the top picks for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which could mean that the world would see a future Queen Alice of England.  We’re getting ahead of ourselves, of course.  The royal couple has yet to announce any happy news, and their firstborn could easily be a prince.  Alice, a top twenty staple a century ago, has been rising rapidly.  Tina Fey’s older daughter is Alice Zenobia, and Nameberry named the letter A the Now Vowel.  A little princess answering to Alice would surely spark a craze.

Noa – From England to Israel, this is the top girls’ name over the last decade according to their Central Bureau of Statistics.  Israeli parents are comfortable with gender neutral names, but this isn’t a case of girls borrowing from the boys.  Instead Noa is a separate appellation from the Biblical Noah.  She’d be right at home with Mia and Zoe in theUS.

NoamThe top Israeli name for boys is scarcely heard in the US, perhaps for fear that he’d be confused with a garden gnome or corporate spokesgnome for an online travel site.  That’s too bad, because Noam is quite stylish.  From a Hebrew word meaning pleasant, he’s a two-syllable name that sounds like an awful lot like the ever-so popular Noah.  Anyone expecting all-boy triplets?  I’m waiting to meet a happy trio of brothers called Felix, Asher, and Noam.

Dovahkiin Do you like video games?  How much, exactly?  Video game company Bethesda Softworks made this tantalizing offer: give birth on 11/11/11 and name your child Dovahkiin, after a character in the company’s new release Skyrim, and receive free games for life.  A family did indeed welcome a baby boy on November 11, and opted to take Bethesda Softworks up on their offer.  Little Dovahkiin also has the middle name Tom, just in case he turns out more banker/lawyer than dragon-slayer.

Yoby – Actress Connie Britton, best known as Tami on Friday Night Lights, is a new mom.  The name seems wildly different at first glance, something better suited for an animated character.  But Yoby is actually short for Eyob, a traditional name in Ethiopia, related to the Biblical JobBritton adopted her new son from an orphanage in Ethiopia.  Yoby isn’t so different from Brody and Cody and even Jacoby.

Blithe – Let’s go to the movies for this week’s ninth name.  Actor Jonah Hill is poised to be this generation’s Elisabeth Shue with his new flick The SitterJust like Shue’s character took her charges on a wild trip through Chicago, Hill is poised to traverse Manhattan with three kids in tow: Rodrigo, Slater, and BlitheBlithe comes from an archaic word meaning cheerful, making her a member of another Nameberry 2012 trend: adjective names.

Spotted any interesting names this week?

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