B Baby Names in the News: Bowie, Brie, and Beyond

January 17, 2016 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel

A is the stand-out star, the most popular first initial for girls’ names (hello, Ava and Amelia) and the second most popular for boys (I’m looking at you, Alexander and Aiden).

But what about B? Lately it’s the letter making baby name news. It’s nowhere near unseating the almighty A, but the first initial B ranked a respectable eighth for boys and ninth for girls, as of the most recent count.

Let’s take a look at some of the best of the Bs, from the classic and the understated to the bright and the bold.

Bowie – We learned that iconic rock star David Bowie passed away early last week. Mere hours after the news broke, headlines announced that a zoo in Cincinnati had named its newest arrival, a baby penguin, Bowie in honor of the musician. A few days later, British boy band alum Howard Donald named his new son Bowie. Bowie Taylan Donald joins big sisters Grace and Lola. The surname name has been occasionally heard in recent years, but is now poised to join Hendrix, Lennon, and Marley on the most popular musician-inspired surname names.

Baird George Clooney often plays characters with names as classic as his own: Thomas, Michael, Billy, Jack. But in 2000’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? he answered to Everett, a rarity then – and a fast-rising favorite now. Now George is starring in another Coen Brothers movie, Hail, Caesar. His character’s name is Baird, a Scottish surname meaning poet. It’s another under-the-radar possibility that could catch on.

Bridger – While we’re at the movies, the much-lauded Leonardo DiCaprio film The Revenant includes a name on the fringes of the current US Top 1000: Bridger. It’s been wildly popular in western states, like Utah and Montana, where several landmarks are named after explorer, trapper and mountain man Jim Bridger. A very young version of Jim Bridger appears in the blockbuster.

Brooklyn – The movie Brooklyn is the tale of an Irish immigrant in 1950s Brooklyn. It might introduce a dozen interesting Irish names to the US, but it could also keep the place name in the spotlight. Brooklyn has been a favorite in the US Top 100 since 2005. At Number 26, it’s currently the most popular B name for girls in the US.

Benjamin – The most popular B name for boys in the US is Benjamin, currently Number 12. It’s a Biblical choice that’s quietly caught on. The name entered the US Top 100 in 1968, and climbed even faster after an early Michael Jackson solo hit, “Ben.” Could Ben be the next Top Ten name?

Benicio Benjamin isn’t the only way to get to Ben. Given our affection for Mateo and Luca, how about this Italian and Spanish name, made familiar by Oscar-winning actor Benicio del Toro? It’s the romance language answer to Benedict – another name boosted by the silver screen.

Blessing – Benicio and Benedict come from the Latin benedictus – blessing. Blessing is a rare word name, one that feels more Plymouth Rock than 2016. But it was given to 179 newborn girls in the US in 2014 – a new high. If Legend and Saint aren’t too much to carry, why not Blessing? Names for Real recently spotted a birth announcement for a Blessing.

BrieBrie is a region in France, famous for cheese-making. It’s also another way to spell the Irish Brigh – exalted. Bree seems like the less cheesy way to spell the name, but with young actress Brie Larson – born Brianne – nominated for an Oscar, perhaps the ‘ie’ spelling of the name is the one to watch.

Beatrice – Let’s end with a B name that I’m always watching – Beatrice. It ranks Number 31 on Nameberry, but just Number 601 in the US. Literary, traditional, and nickname-rich, Beatrice seems like an obvious substitute for the very popular Abigail, Amelia, or Lillian. It’s hard to believe that this name isn’t more common in the US.

What are your favorite B names, for boys and girls?

About the author


Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at

View all of Abby's articles


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