Boys’ Names: Naming a son the Pinkett-Smith family way

This week Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel follows the lead of Jada Pinkett (with son Jaden) in showing us how to find boys’ names honoring a female namesake.

Jaden Christopher Syre Smith turns 13 next month.  Smith is Hollywood royalty, the son of actors Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, and his name is often cited as one of the reasons Jayden, Caeden, Hayden, and company became an epidemic among boys’ names

Overlook the rhymes-with-Aiden qualities of Jaden Smith’s name for a minute, and there’s something else notable about this young actor’s appellation.  While girls have been named after their fathers since ancient days, Jaden is one of relatively few boys to be named after his mother. 

The Smiths continued the pattern with daughter Willow Camille Reign, choosing a name that honors dad, but opting for something less conventional than Billie or Wilhelmina.

They’re not the only famous parents looking to their family trees as a starting point for choosing a child’s nameOrlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr chose Flynn to honor his grandmother, Evelyn.

Plenty of names have obvious equivalents, like Charles and Charlotte or Ray and Rae.  Others don’t lend themselves to an obvious opposite-gendered name.  What’s the masculine form of Bridget?

You may need to be creative to name a daughter after your favorite uncle, but that can create an opportunity, too.  Grandpa Donald might fume if you reject Donald in favor of the more stylish Donovan for your son.  But honor grandma Donna or aunt Dawn with a little Donovan, and chances are she’ll be thrilled.

Based on the most popular names of the 1970s and 80s, here are some thoughts about how you might name a son, Pinkett-Smith style.  The girls’ list is up next week.  Add your additions and suggestions in the comments!

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43 Responses to “Boys’ Names: Naming a son the Pinkett-Smith family way”

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alyss1 Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 2:01 am

Good post! I have a few of these names in my family.
I’ve actually thought about doing this with my moms name, Trish (Patricia), and naming a boy Tristan.

CountryLizB Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 4:40 am

Grace- Gray

K Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 6:28 am

Ha, if I have a boy this December, I’m considering naming him Jude after my mother, Judith. I wasn’t thinking about it being the “Pinkett-Smith way” to name my kid. 🙂

Natalie Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 7:29 am

If I was able to honor a Cassandra (none in my family), I would use Casey. And for my grandma Patricia, I may use Patrick some day.

i.heart.nerds Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 8:07 am

Isn’t Flynn named after grandfather Evelyn?

Abby Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 8:33 am

@i.heart.nerds – I double checked – definitely grandma!

@K, so stylish! I love Jude, and the family connection makes it that much better.

@alyss1, Tristan works for Trish, too!

@countrylizb, I do like Gray for Grace. Then again, I just really like Gray!

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 8:46 am

So fun Abby! I love games like this. Let’s see:

Alyssa: Alistair
Bridget: Bridger
Cassandra: Sandro
Lisa: Silas

My own name, Elisabeth: Eli, Elias, Seth
Abby: Abel
Pamela: Melo, Palmer
Linda: I like Linden!

Allison Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 9:19 am

I was given the name Allison after my grandfather Alistair — way back in 1959. 🙂

Lola Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 10:31 am

We nixed Laurence for me, Laura, a quarter century ago. I like Laurie on a boy, He liked Larry (Augh!). So Leo he became. That L is close enough for me! 😀

I thought, very briefly about Kendra for Kenneth, but he tossed it out because of a past aquaintance I’d completely forgotten about.

So it’ll never happen for us. And Leo (who’s married now) has informed us that opposite honoring is out for them, her folks are Wayne & Deidre! (the DIL is simply divine Celia).

So while it works for the Pinkett – Smiths, I say it’s just not for Us. 😀

NameGoddess Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 10:37 am

I really liked some of these in the blog and posted by members. Alistair/Alison, Donovan/Donna, Larkin/Lauren, Veronica/Nico, K-Catherine/Trent, Alyssa/Asa, great! One that immediately came to mind with Elizabeth was Ezra. Especially if she was Elizabeth Rachel, or something like that.

kathleen Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 10:37 am

Anyone have anything for olga? I can’t come up with a boys name to honor that.

chickpeaz Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 10:55 am

Can’t wait for next week’s list — we gave our 3rd daughter the mn Lara in honor of her grandpa Larry. I’ve long searched for a girl’s name to honor my dad (Thomas) besides the obvious Thomasina or Tommie/Tammie but so far nothing swoonworthy has hit me.

Chloe Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 11:23 am

This is a great post! I thought Will Smith and Jada were pretty inventive when they came up with Jaden and Willow. I thought with my own name (Chloe) I could go with Cole. ?? Is that a good one? Anyone have anything else for Chloe?

C in DC Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Another thought is to look at anagrams. E.g., grandma Edna could become Dane, Aden, or Dean for the boys and Neda, Edan/Eden, Dena, or Ande for the girls.

trich323 Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Rhys is on my list, but I never thought of it as an honor for Theresa, both my and my mother’s names. Maybe because I spelled it the Welsh way.

Chickpeaz, what about Tamsin? It’s a version of Thomasina.

ycw Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Kathleen: Logan, Owen, Olin, Oleg for Olga?

I am a Jessica, but go by Jessi mostly. I don’t really like it for a girl (daughter has my family middle name though–Jane). I do like Jesse for a boy more and more though. John is also a family name I plan to use. DH laughed at me when I first mentioned I was really liking Jesse, but I told him he can’t tell me on when DS is a III (after DH and DFIL). I don’t think I’d do it as a first name, though if I had a little boy on my birthday (DS and DH share a birthday) I think he just might end up John Jesse.

missalice Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 2:47 pm

My nephew was named after his grandma and mom. Joseph for Joann and Anthony for Toni. I just love his name.

Linnie Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I would have said August to go with Autumn

Linnie Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I love Logan for Olga!

Let’s see…
My mom is Lisa, but I don’t feel like Liam really works for that and It’s not really my style. I am feeling Linus for Lisa, though. Or even Louis. Maybe even Leeland.

My dad is Brian. I guess Briar or Brin. Not really into any of the names I could come up with for this one. I kinda liked the Irish Brainne because Brian also stems from Irish but it sounds too harsh for me. I guess I could always settle for Ryan for a girl. I could also use almost any name that ends in the -an sound, but also not my style.

ycw Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

If I were to name a boy for my mom I’d use her name, Lindsey… but only as a middle.
For DH’s mom (Cynthia) maybe Cyrus? But that’s too far afield for me I think (from her name).
For our grandmas… actually I’d probably use some maiden names (Brigham, Locke, Fales) but to keep with theme:
Elizabeth -> Elijah
Susan -> Stephen? Xan?
Rhoda -> Rho (or Rohan, Rowan, Roman, Red, Roz)
Lucy -> Lucas or Luke (sadly, these are awful with our surname).

And a few more:
Cheri -> Che, Charlton
Rebecca -> Reuben
Virginia -> Gene, Virgil

And some more (aunts) ’cause I’m having fun:
Judith -> Judah
Sandra -> Alexander
Sue -> Reuben
Nancy -> Yancy?
Patricia -> Patrick
Katherine -> Kit, Keith, Christopher
Cherryl -> Carroll
Becky -> Benedict

Jean -> John
Donna -> Gideon
Sue (again) -> Steward?
Carol -> Carroll
Dimity -> Dmitri, Damien

Denise -> Daniel

Louise -> Lewis
Linda -> Lyndon
Dawn -> David
Jan -> Janson, John
Marlene -> Mark, Merle
Ann -> Anson, Anthony, Andrew, Anakin

pdxlibrarian Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 4:54 pm


What about Tamsin for Thomas? Tamsin is cute and it’s a contraction/nickname of Thomasina.

pdxlibrarian Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Anyone want to take a crack at Dorothy? This is a good name game, but trying to think of a switch gender equivalent for my relative Dorothy is hard.

ycw Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Dor, Dorin, Theodore, Dorian

Macy Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 7:11 pm

I think using your logic, Kellan would’ve been a better alternative than Kelly.
Otherwise, why not give your sons names like Ashley, Courtney, Jaime, Tracy, Lauren, Meredith, Shannon, Whitney?

belatrix Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I’m a little tearful that the actual male versions of many of these names didn’t even get a mention, such as Amado for Amanda, Loren or Laurence for Lauren, etc.

Anyways, to the person who was thinking about honoring a Brian, I’ve had years to think over that same situation, and here’s what I have:

Brianne, Brianna, Briallen, Bryony, Briar, Brynne, Bronwen, Bronte, Bree and Bridget.

Gigi Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 8:49 pm

My father was named after his Mother Elda and Father George.

Eldon George

littlebrownpony Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 8:50 pm

My cousin named her son Patrick after her mom (my aunt) Patricia. Love it!

memomo Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 9:46 pm

I am thinking of using Lucas or Lucian or some masculine variant of Lucy (in the middle) to honor my mother, partially because my dad’s name is just so tricky for me to work with!

Sarai Charlotte Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Any suggestions on how to honor a Wanda? Its one of those names no one ever seems to have suggestions for.

iris1973 Says:

June 13th, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Catherine = Trent? I can’t figure that one out. Help?

Elizabeth Says:

June 14th, 2011 at 2:21 am

Sarai, Wanda=Juan, maybe?

Abby Says:

June 14th, 2011 at 6:33 am

How cool that there are so many examples of names inspired by the opposite gender parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents out there!

@belatrix – They made the first draft, but there were TONS of them. And the Pinkett-Smith kids don’t have the conventional masculine/feminine forms of their parents’ names. Well, I suppose Jada/Jaden is about as close as it gets. But Willard/Willow is a stretch! Bryony for Brian is lovely.

@iris1973 – Some of these are a stretch. I’ve come across Trinny as a nickname for Katherine – Katrin is a German/Scandinavian short form of Katherine, so I assume that’s where it comes from. So Trent reminds me of Trinny … but it doesn’t work as beautifully as, say, Larry/Lara.

ycw Says:

June 14th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Wendell, Andre/Andrew, Winter, Walden

Sarai Charlotte Says:

June 15th, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Hmm Wendell is an interesting take….and Im not sure why Andrew makes complete sense to me for Wanda but it does!

ycw Says:

June 16th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Lots of the same letters: WAND -> ANDW

Abby Says:

June 17th, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I love Andrew for Wanda!

Jonathan Says:

June 18th, 2011 at 8:55 pm


Sunday Summary: 6/19/11 | Appellation Mountain Says:

June 19th, 2011 at 8:13 am

[…] week’s Nameberry post was how to name a boy, Pinkett-Smith style; this week, it is the girls’ turn.  One of my favorite categories of names has to be […]

Jane Says:

July 28th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

My fathers name was Charles,my sister middle name as is Charlene after him…My name is Jane..So to horor my father and sister…I name my daughter Charli Jane..

jewel Says:

July 31st, 2011 at 4:46 pm

I want to name my son after my dad which is Matthew….. and my son which is Y’sad any suggestions I just can’t come up with anything that doesn’t sound too complicated.

Megan Says:

August 2nd, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Here’s a masculine form of Bridget: Bridger.

Can anyone think of a masculine form of Belle? It was my grandma’s name, but we are having another boy!

amandawilliamsen Says:

September 30th, 2011 at 12:26 am

What a wonderful topic. I love the idea of honoring our women ancestors this way. Theodore is a perfect boy’s version to honor a Dorothy. The names have the same roots. I also like the suggestion to honor a Wanda with a baby boy called Jaun, but the namer could also move to John or any of its many variants, such as Ivan, Evan, etc.

cannebella Says:

May 2nd, 2013 at 11:58 am

My name is Caitlin so I think the boy version of my name would be Caiden or Caleb.

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