Baby Names From Ordinary to Out-There
By Abby Sandel
Everybody loves Emma. It’s tops in the US, huge in France, big in Italy and Ireland, loved by the Dutch, and a favorite in Spain and Scandinavia, too. This week, we learned that Emma is Number 1 in Switzerland, favored by parents who speak Italian, French, and German.
At the same time, plenty of parents are working to choose a name that’s less popular. Some avoid the Top Ten, but stick with Top 100 choices like Piper or Stella. Others worry that Esme and Magnolia are too popular now that they’ve cracked the Top 1000.
Many of the baby names in the news this week are rare – in some cases, nearly one-of-one choices.
Olympic athlete Derval O’Rourke recently chose an unusual name for her firstborn. During an interview, she explained, “ … because I have a bit of an unusual name, I’d like our baby to have an unusual name too.”
That’s the question, isn’t it? Will children with unusual names grow up to become daring baby namers? Or will a generation of kids called Khaleesi and Cassius decide that there’s nothing wrong with a traditional Number 1 name like Emma?
Let’s take a look at nine baby names making headlines this week, nearly all of them decidedly different:
Catcher – Inside Edition’s Megan Alexander has welcomed her second son. She and husband Brian Cournoyer are already parents to Chace. They’ve named their new son Catcher. Megan also covers Thursday Night Football for CBS, so you might think Catcher refers to professional sports. Not so! The couple was inspired by Ewan McGregor’s character in 2003 movie Down With Love.
August – Charlize Theron recently announced that she’s the proud mom of two. Daughter August joins big brother Jackson. August leans masculine, thanks to Roman Emperor Augustus and Saint Augustine. But April, May, June, and even January are all names for girls. Charlize isn’t the first high-profile parent to choose the name for a daughter. Garth Brooks named his daughter August Anna way back in 1994.
Easton – Speaking of second children, word is that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have settled on a name for their baby-on-the-way: Easton. Kim has flatly denied considering other direction names. Then again, she also denied that she’d name her firstborn North – plus during her first pregnancy, she told Jay Leno that she liked the name Easton. The real reason I’m doubtful? I have a hard time imagining Kim or Kanye selecting a name currently in the US Top 100. Maybe they haven’t checked out our popularity page.
Océane – Of course, there are challenges that come along with having an unusual name. I loved Lisa Stadnyk-Webb’s story of choosing her daughter’s name, Océane. Lisa and her husband are both Canadian, but she comes from English-speaking Canada. Her husband is a native French speaker, and they’re raising their children in France, where Océane is a familiar name. She writes, “let’s remember that those names aren’t different to the kids that have them …” Agreed!
Chanel – Ice-T and Nicole “Coco” Austin are expecting their first child together. It’s a girl, and they’ve already announced her name. Chanel! It’s a clever nod to mom’s nickname. It’s also a pretty mainstream choice. Chanel ranked Number 633 in the US last year, and has been in the Top 1000 most years since the 1970s.
Dafne – Wondering about that unusual name I mentioned earlier? Ireland’s Derval O’Rourke competed in track and field. Now she’s retired, and she and her husband, Peter O’Leary, have just named their new arrival Dafne. While Derval is a traditional – if rare – Irish name, worn by a saint, Dafne is Greek. The ‘ph’ spelling is far more common, but the ‘f’ version is not unknown.
Anakin – Anakin was new to the US Top 1000 in 2014, and the name keeps getting press. I first heard it on someone’s shortlist around 2004, and I’ll admit – I thought it was bananas. But there were more than 200 newborns given the name in 2014, and over 1,000 boys called Anakin over the last decade. On sound alone, it is an appealing name. Maybe it’s not so crazy after all …
Jagger – Last week we talked about Snow, the middle name Ashlee Simpson and Evan Ross chose for their new daughter. I’ll admit that I’m not so crazy about her first name, Jagger. And yet, with kids being called Lennon, Hendrix, and Bowie, Jagger doesn’t seem so out there.
Sloane Ava Simone – Rapper Macklemore – born Ben Haggerty – is a new dad! He and Tricia Davis welcomed daughter Sloane Ava Simone back in May, but just shared the big news last week. Sloane is a fast-rising Irish surname name for girls. Ava is a long-time Top Ten favorite. And Simone? At Number 727 in the US, it’s surprisingly rare. It’s a sing-songy combination, but a distinctive and stylish one, too.