Animated Baby Names for Girls
By Abby Sandel
Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling kept us guessing about their daughter’s name for weeks. But as Esmeralda Amada has gotten older, they’ve shared not only her name, but also their reasons for the choice. In a recent interview, they shared that the name appealed because it works in English and Spanish, but also thanks to the character from The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The famous couple says that the novel by Victor Hugo, as well as the Disney movie, inspired their choice. The Disney version, with the singing gargoyles and the happy ending, might be a little easier to explain to a child than the bleaker original version of the tale.
The Mendes-Gosling family isn’t the only one to take inspiration from animation.
Another recent example? Hotel Transylvania gave a fusty, dusty name to Dracula’s darling vampire daughter when it came out in 2012. The movie was successful, and a sequel is planned for later this month. As for Drac’s daughter? Her name has caught on, too, re-entering the US Top 1000 since the movie’s debut.
Movies can make us take a fresh look at a forgotten name. The nine names on this week’s list are somewhere between fusty and fashionable, but all have been boosted by an animated character in the recent past:
Mavis – Hotel Transylvania was a 2012 hit, and the sequel comes out at the end of September. Both stories center on Dracula and his daughter, Mavis. Yes, Mavis. In 2012, just 43 girls were given the name. By 2014, there were 231 newborn girls named Mavis. That’s a big jump, and the adorable animated vampiress must get some of the credit. Mavis also shares sounds with Top Ten favorite Ava and up-and-coming Maeve.
Mabel – Mabel is one of Cinderella’s stepsisters in fractured fairytale collection Shrek. She first appears in 2007’s Shrek the Third. The franchise helped make Fiona a mainstream favorite in the US. The ogre and his rag-tag collection of companions might not be the reason Mabel is making a comeback – but it didn’t hurt. In 2013, Mabel re-entered the US Top 1000.
Elsa – There’s no question that Elsa’s surge in popularity was thanks to Frozen mania. But the name was quietly rising before the Snow Queen belted out a single verse of “Let It Go.” Back in 2012, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie included Winona Ryder as Elsa Van Helsing. The name was a nod to Elsa Lancaster, who starred in the Bride of Frankenstein in 1935.
Nell – Tim Burton movies have some great names. 2009’s Corpse Bride was the story of the dearly departed Emily – a Top Ten staple. Nell was mother of the groom, Victor. While Nell isn’t quite making a comeback yet, I think the name shows promise. Ella, Nora, Grace … why not Nell? Another fun and fusty choice from the movie was Maudeline, but I think that one will remain rare.
Coraline – Let’s talk about one more from Tim Burton. Burton based 2009’s Coraline on a 2002 Neil Gaiman book. Gaiman claims he invented the name when he accidentally reversed the letters in Caroline. Others have pointed that Coraline has a history of use as a given name in France. What’s certain is that American parents did seldom considered Coraline a possibility until the movie’s release. In 2008, there were just eleven girls given the name. By 2009, there were 120. And in 2014, 450 newborn Coralines arrived.
Margo – The Despicable Me movies are all about aspiring super-villain Gru, his band of minions, and the three orphaned girls he takes in. The sisters’ names are a delight. The eldest is Margo. When the first movie premiered in 2010, there were 82 newborn Margos, plus 155 Margots. By 2014, there were 150 Margos, plus another 372 girls named Margot with the silent ‘t.’
Edith – The middle sister in the Despicable Me franchise answers to Edith. There were 326 Ediths in 2010, and 452 born in 2014. Earlier this year, we learned that Cate Blanchett had adopted a daughter named Edith Vivian Patricia, so it’s a safe bet that the name will continue to rise.
Agnes – At first glance, the youngest Despicable Me sister has the least stylish name. But in 2010, there were just 67 newborn Agneses – and by 2014, 187, putting the name just outside of the US Top 1000. Plus there’s still at least one more installment coming in the series, in 2017. There’s plenty of time for parents to fall in love with Agnes.
Astrid – Back in 2008, The Office celebrated a baby shower for newborn Astrid, repeating the (wildly inaccurate) claim that the name meant “Viking princess.” Two years later, How to Train Your Dragon introduced us to a fearless Viking girl with the name. In 2010 there were 185 newborn Astrids. By 2014? 293 girls answered to the Viking-approved appellation.
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on September 20th, 2015 at 10:51 pm
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on September 20th, 2015 at 11:47 pm
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on September 21st, 2015 at 8:34 am
Astrid is on my short list, and Elsa is on my long list. I liked them before the animated characters, though.
on September 21st, 2015 at 8:54 am
Same, I think those are my favorites as well! I kinda like Mabel, too. Most of these, tough, while quirky, still feel outdated to me!
on September 21st, 2015 at 10:28 am
Elsa was on my list for many years before the movie but I will not use it now. Margot as well but I might still use it. My interest in these names was not from any movie character names.
on September 21st, 2015 at 2:06 pm
Every time I see the name Astrid, I do think of “The Office” Assterd, Michael Scott is the best, But anyways I like the name Elsa because it starts with an E (my grandmas name was Evelyn) and it’s easy to say but wouldn’t pick because of the movie Frozen. I like the name Elena, and I got it from the TV show The Vampire Diaries.
on September 21st, 2015 at 4:47 pm
These names are very pretty but besides Coraline I doubt I’d really use any of them.
on September 21st, 2015 at 8:11 pm
Perhaps many parents do name their children a name after seeing it used successfully on a show, but the truth is that writers follow naming trends when naming their characters. They choose names which sound trendy and fresh and parents chose the names for the same reasons, not because of whatever movie.
on September 21st, 2015 at 9:49 pm
I think movies help rejuvenate names because it provides another cultural usage. For example, Mavis. If Mavis was only great-aunt Mavis than it might be hard to use it but when it is in a movie than there is another usage that makes it wearable. Benedict is a prime example of this. When Benedict was strictly Benedict Arnold than it wasn’t very wearable. Now that Benedict Cumberbatch has added another usage into mainstream culture, it makes it wearable again.
on September 21st, 2015 at 9:51 pm
My sister is named Astrid. I think that it was less trendy when she was born, but now it is becoming “cool” in the US and is now quite popular in Sweden.
I also love Edith, Coraline, Mabel, Margot (I really dislike the Anglicized Margo— it looks cut-off), Agnes, Nell, and basically every name on this list. My dog is a Margot. 🙂
on September 22nd, 2015 at 10:11 am
I actually adore the majority of the names on this list. Nell, Agnes, Elsa, Mabel and Mavis are probably my favorites. But not for this reason. I have associations with them before these movies, though (all except Agnes). Elsa and Mavis I heard on family members (older family members. I always liked the names but I will admit it wasn’t until these movies associated them with younger characters that I looked at them as possible for a child). Mabel and Nell I heard on tv shows (Mad About You and a miniseries entitled Beach Girls, respectively). Agnes is the only one I can actually say I associate with a movie and have fallen in love with the name because of a character. I wish Wreck-It Ralph had chosen a more kid friendly name for Venelope… I love the character but would never use that name.
on September 23rd, 2015 at 1:50 am
Unfortunately all of these just veer a bit too much in the “fusty” territory for me. With the exception of Esmeralda and Margo (which are okay but not for me).
on September 23rd, 2015 at 9:25 am
Maudeline is beautiful!
on September 23rd, 2015 at 7:50 pm
I love animated films! My favorites are:
on September 26th, 2015 at 9:57 pm
Tim Burton has nothing to do with Coraline. Henry Selick directed, produced and wrote the screenplay for Neil Gaiman’s Coraline.
on September 28th, 2015 at 6:55 pm
We were having a terrible time deciding on a name for #2. I saw Mabel on this list and assumed hubby would hate it, but he didn’t! 3 days later we took Mabel and Lydia to the hospital and Mabel Rose was born at 11:00 that morning! I had no idea it was a Cinderella step-sister name, but we love it. She gets called Mabel, Mae, Maybe and Mae Mae.
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