Baby Name News: Starbabies, Shakespeare and Samurai

Baby Name News: Starbabies, Shakespeare and Samurai

This week’s name news includes super-rare names for girls, celebrity baby boys, samurai babies, cosmic cars, and a billionaire.

The naming road not taken

Do you have Ophelia on your mind? You’re not alone. This Shakespearean name is the 18th most popular name on Nameberry, so it looks like a lot of people are considering Ophelia, even if they don’t use it.

Here are two stories of parents *not* calling their daughters Ophelia. A mother in Ireland gave birth to her daughter just as Hurricane Ophelia was making landfall, but apparently Ophelia was never in the running. Instead, the baby’s name is Maria.

Meanwhile Australian media personality Rebecca Judd says she would have called a future daughter Ophelia, except her husband wasn’t keen. She used the name for a quilt design instead.

With its similarity to Olivia and Amelia, it’s easy to see why Ophelia appeals to parents and was one of the fastest-rising names in the US top 1000 last year.

Unique girls’ names

The word “unique” is used a lot in name talk, and its definition can be a bit slippery. But here are three names that have never appeared on the US charts – that’s about as close to unique as you can get.

If name-nerd favorite Vesper isn’t rare enough for you (it was used 55 times last year), you might consider Vespertine. Brand naming expert Nancy Friedman did a spotlight on Vespertine this week. It’s been mentioned on Nameberry before, but has never charted in the US. The gender is open to discussion too. Valentine works for boys and girls, so why not Vespertine?

More vanishingly rare girls’ names? But of course. You might have seen this story about a judge with a sense of humor giving an unborn baby an eviction notice. The best part was the baby’s name: Gretsel, after a great-grandmother. Less fairytale-like than Gretel, it could be an option if you want to honor a Margaret, or just plain love German diminutives.

And one more unheard-of girls’ name on the radar this week: Palotia. Recorded in medieval Italy, it’s possibly a diminutive of Paula.

Celebrity baby boy names

That’s a lot of girl names, so let’s balance it out with the names of some boys born to celebs in the last few weeks:

Twins Leo and Lenon to actress Jaime Pressly (shown in illustration),  who’s currently in the sitcom Mom. I’m curious to know if there’s a reason Jaime and her partner went for a less-common spelling of Lennon.

Hendrix Scott to Minnesota Wild hockey player Jason Zucker. Scott is Jason’s father’s name, and he said of Hendrix, “It’s a bit unique and also not one he’s going to hate us for in 20 years.”

Maxwell Roland–Samuel, to Justin Baldoni. Maxwell makes a nice alliterative match with his big sister Maiya, and the middle names honor his two grandfathers.

Miscellaneous Q & A!

Finally, here are answers to some questions you probably hadn’t thought of asking.

What do samurai call their babies? According to a 450-year-old Japanese book, the name Yumi (meaning ‘bow’) is best for the warrior class. It goes to show that baby naming advice is nothing new, and neither are archery-related names – although today’s children are more likely to be called Archer, Fletcher or Arrow.

Are you allowed to name your baby Lucifer in Germany? One couple tried recently, but they were persuaded to call their son Lucian instead. That’s a controversial name dodged – the Name Sage has made a case for why parents should avoid Lucifer.

What do you do if one parent wants to use a car name, and the other wants a name from astronomy? You could use one of these cosmic car names. Not all of them are ideal for humans, but choices like Orion, Apollo, Nova and Vega fit the bill nicely.

What do you call your kid if your surname is Ayre? One option is to carefully avoid any potential wordplay. Or you could go all in, this dad who named his son Billion. Sixteen years later, Billion Ayre says people’s reactions to his name have been mostly “positive and disbelief”.

About the Author

Clare Green

Clare Green

Clare Green has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, covering everything from names peaking right now to feminist baby names, and keeping up-to-date with international baby name rankings. Her work has featured in publications such as The Independent and HuffPost. Clare has a background in linguistics and librarianship, and recently completed an MA dissertation researching names in multilingual families. She lives in England with her husband and son. You can reach her at