Baby Name News: This week’s most notable names, from Ami to Zia

We’re so pleased to announce that starting today, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel will be presenting a regular baby name news recap and analysis every Monday.

If you’re a Nameberry aficionado, you might recall that this column started out as a week in review, then morphed into a more conventional list of names based around a certain theme – superheroes, or wild animal names. 

This week’s column goes in a different direction, offering a re-cap of some of the most notable names in baby name news last week, from baby name message boards to international headlines.  The names have nothing in common, necessarily – they’re just nine newsworthy appellations plucked from the headlines.

Ami – The first season of NY Ink wrapped up this week, and I can’t help thinking about the leading man’s given name.  It looks like a spin on 1970s girls’ favorite Amy, but Ami James rose to fame on TLC’s Miami Ink, before headlining his own show.  The Israeli-born tattoo artist pronounces his Old Testament name like Tommy without the T.  James has been in the public eye since 2005, and 18 newborn boys were named Ami in 2010.  I’m intrigued by the idea that names like Peyton or Taylor can remain gender neutral.  But what would it take for a name perceived as feminine to chart for boys?  Ami seems like a long shot, but Kelly is showing signs of life, at least on message boards.

Arabella – Speaking of feminine, is there a girlier name than the frothy confection Arabella?  Worn by well-born women in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, she’s in the spotlight now as the newest Trump heiress, daughter of Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner.  Arabella is undeniably pretty, but makes me think of Nymphadora Tonks, the Harry Potter heroine who despised her elaborate appellation.  What do you do if your Arabella is a tomboy?  I guess you call her Arie – or maybe Abby.

DjangoJamie Foxx is set to play an escaped slave in Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 production Django UnchainedJazz guitar legend Jean Reinhardt put his Romani nickname on the map.  Reinhardt was a major force in 1930s and 40s music and remains influential today.  His unusual name – the “d” is silent – seems like an outlandish choice for a son.  It is certainly one that the world hadn’t heard before Reinhardt rose to fame.  Despite that, writers have given the name to Foxx’s character, plus the anti-hero of a series of violent Westerns.  There’s also a bounty hunter from the Star Wars series called Jango Fett.  Now that Leo and Theo are mainstream, maybe Django is the new Atticus.  (Thanks to Nancy for the tip.)  LINK:  http://www.nancy.cc/2011/07/21/baby-name-predictions-django-and-atlantis/

Jack – From the implausible to the predictable, actress Maya Rudolph and husband Paul Thomas Anderson disappointed name nerds worldwide when they named their third son Jack.  Nothing wrong with Jack – on the contrary, nearly everyone likes the snappy, retro short form of the evergreen John.  But with big sisters called Pearl Bailey and Lucille, I was expecting another clunky-cool pick.  Otto, maybe, or Martin.  Turns out that the tot’s full name is Jackson Wright, which has a little more creative oomph – but still feels like another case of parents playing it safe when it comes to naming a son.

Liu – I mentioned Liu in my list of Perfume Names.  Leslie noted that it is a legit Chinese named, used by Puccini for a character in his opera Turandot.  I thought she’d make an exotic successor to Leah, only it turns out her correct pronunciation rhymes with boo – as in “Skip To My Lou.”  All of this makes Liu look like a gussied-up, non-intuitive spelling.  I guess there’s still the sci-fi/botancial Lilou and intriguing smoosh Malou.

Lucifer – New Zealand has released a list of banned baby names.  Lucifer has gotten the most buzz, though the country’s Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages was very equal opportunity – Messiah is also out.  While Lucifer strikes me as a problematic name, it is wildly tempting.  The nickname Luke!  The interesting, ends-in-r construction!  The literal meaning – bringer of light!  If only it weren’t for all those associations with evil incarnate …  In the US where there’s no similar ban, six boys were named Lucifer in 2010, compared to 369 little Messiahs.

Seven – New Zealand banned at least one number-as-name, too, but Victoria and David Beckham welcomed their fourth child in the US.  The proud papa shared more about his daughter Harper’s distinctive middle name this week.  It’s not just about his jersey number, but also about seven’s status as a lucky, significant number in many cultures.  One of which, I suppose, is Man U fans.

Stephen, Steven – He’s a classic worn by kings and saints, but out of favor with parents these days.  Captain America: The First Avenger hits the big screen this weekend.  Can the movie boost the name, much like the super soldier serum transformed the frail Steve Rogers into a world-saving hero?  Or does he need a few more years to hibernate?  My best guess is that if you do meet any little boys wearing the name, they’ll all answer to Stephen, rather than Steve or Stevie.

Zia – Australian clothier Bonds holds an annual search for spokesbabies, akin to the annual Gap Kids Casting Call in the US.  The winners were recently posted, and they’re all adorable, but I’m fascinated by this name, worn by a champ from the 0 to 9 months category.  Mia, Gia, Lia … why not Zia?    (Thanks to Waltzing More Than Matilda for the link.)

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22 Responses to “Baby Name News: This week’s most notable names, from Ami to Zia”

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Steponme Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 12:39 am

Zia is also a smart/strong character in Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicals series. A gorgeous name! And my favorite from this list.

pennylark Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 12:51 am

I also love Zia! I saw the post and immediately put it on the list. Kind of a mash up of Leah and Zoe, two names that I love but wouldn’t use due to popularity. It doesn’t look made up to me, and sounds pretty and cool.

lagilliana Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 2:40 am

Zia McCabe is the keyboardist for the Dandy Warhols!

Nook of Names Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 4:29 am

I really dislike this whole business of a Government prescribing what names can and cannot be used. As you say, Lucifer may have been tainted, but it didn’t start out ‘evil’ — I actually discussed it in my post at Nook about Lucius yesterday.

Messiah too, has a history of use as a given name, so what gives New Zealand the right to ban it?

Hmmm, I think I can feel an article on this issue coming on!

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 5:14 am

I love that Zia and Noor are companion names, with both of them describing different types of light (illuminating and reflective). I thought Zia and Noor would make interesting names for twins, and as both names are uisex, could be g/g, b/b or g/b! I mean they’re matchy, but they don’t SOUND matchy.

Oh I was just telling Nooks about this article; she obviously found her own way here!

Abby Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 6:01 am

Nook, I tend to agree with you on paper – the government banning names is a tricky thing.

Personally, I wouldn’t be comfortable naming my child Lucifer OR Messiah, though I certainly think that names expressing your religious or spiritual beliefs are lovely. They should just be … well, slightly more subtle. Even Nevaeh isn’t quite as cranked up as Messiah.

@Waltzing, I would swoon if I met twins named Zia and Noor!

Lola Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 8:14 am

I love Arabella, but dislike Ari as a nickname on girls. and Steven/Stephen is a favorite. My kid brother is a Steve. Steven on his BC, but he’s been simply Steve for so long he doesn’t answer to the full Steven anymore. I also know he’d rather have been Stephen, so if I were to use his name, I’d spell it Stephen. And I’d only probably put it in the middle at that.

Ami & Liu make me smile.

Leslie Owen Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 9:03 am

Good column. I noted Zia in Riordan’s series too. I’ve always liked Stephen, but only know one, a 19 year old who goes by Stephen, not Steve. The Captain America movie was a clunker though, so I doubt that there will be a return.

Thanks for the nod re Liu, although it’s prn is very tricky. There’s a subtle “y” sound between the “l” and the “u” that’s more pronounced in Italian but is even there in the Chinese name.

Elle Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 9:24 am

My cousin’s daughter is a Zia. She’s the 3rd with her two older siblings having names that begin with A and S. I think it was their way of signaling that their family is complete and choosing a beautiful name in the process.

names4real Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 10:15 am

I agree with Nook. I find some names and I think, What were the parents thinking??, but their baby, their choice.

It’s funny that you mention Django. I found a Django the other day. He was big brother to Norbu. Definite bold choices for both their boys.

phoebesmom Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 10:23 am

Django has another celeb connection, at least for Texans. Django Walker, a singer/songwriter, is the son of Jerry Jeff Walker, a living legend in the Texas Country Music scene.

ycw Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 10:23 am

Nana Visitor, who played Major Kira Nerys on Star Trek: Deep Space 9, named her son Django. He was born during the series, and the pregnancy was written into the show as the baby of Miles & Keiko O’Brien, who was transferred into Kira’s womb after an accident. The baby on the show was named Kirayoshi O’Brien.

Noetje Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 11:08 am

Most countries have some sort of „ban” on naming. And rightfully so.. Some names are just to ridiculous and should never be given to a child. That said… Lucifer as a middle name is a guilty pleasure of mine. Especially together with Damian. Just imagine… Damian Lucifer… *sigh*

klcalder2 Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 11:55 am

It’s a strange concept to have banned names, to me at least. Even if I can’t imagine using a certain name, it’s very different to know that it is off limits. But, I don’t think I could use any name that has such strong negative associations anyway.

As for the rest, Ami and Liu are cool. I am partial to Jack because it’s my son’s initials (almost). I would love to meet a little Zia! Seven will always remind me of ‘Married with Children’. I have a soft spot for Stephen, as it’s my husband’s name. Django is awesome. I don’t know that there is much more to say :).

Then there’s Arabella. It’s my daughter’s name, so it’s safe to say I love this name. But I agree about Ari. My husband was set on calling her that before she was born, but, once she was here, it didn’t feel right. Good thing she’s undeniable girly. Honestly though, Bella is such a common nn now that I think it would work on a girly-girl or a tomboy.

Abby@AppMtn Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 12:02 pm

Elle, that’s a lovely thought about Z names!

Noetje, I completely understand how you feel about Lucifer – gorgeous sound. But I cannot imagine introducing myself as Lucifer. Or Jezebel. I don’t think they should be banned, I just don’t think they should make the short list. In the middle spot? I’m pretty tolerant of ANYTHING in the middle spot. Even Danger, though I find that a joke that wears thin pretty quick.

@klcalder2, that’s a VERY good point about Bella. It would’ve been super-girly circa 1992, but today it is just a great name.

Thanks for all of the Django mentions, and I’ll say this – between Django and Norbu, I’d take Django!

BethAshley Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Love this new column!

authorintraining Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I love Zia! I just hope it remains pretty much noticed until I can use it!

Celia Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Question? How do Americans pronounce Lucifer? Because Katy Perry’s parents wouldn’t let her eat Lucky Charms because they thought Lucky sounded to much like Lucifer, and you mention the nickname Luke. Lucifer is properly pronounced Loos-ih-fer.

Abby@AppMtn Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Celia, I’d say Lucifer as you describe it, with the “s” sound. And I believe there’s a pretty big distance between Lucifer and Luke/Lucas in terms of evolution. But I can imagine that Luke would be a logical short form anyhow.

I’d never heard the Katy Perry story – bizarre!

Celia Says:

July 25th, 2011 at 10:25 pm

Thanks Abby! Because of the Katy Perry story I wasn’t so sure!

Jeanne Says:

July 28th, 2011 at 8:44 am

In Germany, there are lists of acceptable names. I have a friend who is German and who now lives in the U.S. He has a daughter named Sage who was born here and he told me that had she been born in Germany he would not have been allowed to give her that name as it is not on “the list”. Wild, huh?

Baby Name News: This week’s most notable names from Alfie to Yvaine – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

August 1st, 2011 at 12:08 am

[…] this week’s edition of Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel’s Baby Name News feature, we find intriguing examples from the worlds of sports, show biz celebrity and British […]

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