British Baby Names: From the Olympics and beyond

In honor of the London Olympics, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel focuses her Nameberry 9 this week on British baby names.

The Olympic Games kicked off this weekend, and I haven’t been able to turn away. Yes, there are the feats of athletic prowess, and sure, it is always interesting to learn the finer points of an obscure sport.  (Am I the only American looking forward to handball?)

But mostly, I’m tuning into the Olympics for the names – both those that seem prime for importing to the United States, and those that are just plain interesting.  A few days ago, Sarah explained that Zamzam, the name of the Somali athlete competing in the 400 meter dash and bearing the flag for her country in the Parade of Nations, is actually a religious appellation, a reference to a sacred well visited by those on pilgrimage toMecca.

It’s too soon to say if a superstar will emerge from the games, another Nadia Comaneci to inspire parents to borrow her name for their daughters.  The biggest baby name influence from the 2012 Games could be the host city’s name: London.  We’ll have to wait and see – and watch, to see if any of those handball players inspire us.

The nine newsiest names of this week all point toEngland:

Olympia – Mount Olympus was the home of the gods in Greek myth, and a Greek princess called Olympias was the mother of Alexander the Great.  One of Edouard Manet’s most famous paintings is of a courtesan called Olympia.  That’s a steady history of use, and yet Olympia is off most parents’ radar.  She’s a possible alternative to Olivia, with an unmistakably athletic vibe.

Dolly – Well, hello, Dolly!  English reality star Chantelle Houghton gave birth to her first child back on June 17, but she and fiancé Alex Reid struggled to settle on a name.  They’re not the first high profile parents to revive the early twentieth century appellation – American actors Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell welcomed twins called Charlie and Dolly back in 2008.

Charlotte Charlie reminds me – do you know the name of the very first woman victor at the Olympics?   It’s England’s Charlotte Cooper, a tennis champion who also claimed the Wimbledon trophy five times.  Charlotte makes for a regal, enduring choice – and one with a subtle tie to the international sporting event.

Philippa – Speaking of royals, we didn’t see the world’s most famous sister-in-law at the opening ceremonies, but Philippa was in the news for another reason.  German baroness Isabella Shorlemer welcomed a daughter called Philippa Ina Anna Maria Yves Hieronyma.  If that’s not news enough, Philippa’s dad is restauranteur Jo Laggner, and mom was the headline-grabbing age of 54 when the happy coupled announced their news.

Fox India – Take That frontman Mark Owen has an affection for nature names – his folder kids are Elwood Jack and Willow Rose.  Now he and wife Emma have welcomed a third child, Fox India.  A boy named Fox would’ve fit right in.  The same is true of a girl called India.  But it seems like a strange combination for a daughter.

Nico – While we’re talking singers, you might not recognize Israeli-born crooner Keren Ann by name, but her music has been featured on high profile television shows like Grey’s Anatomy.  Now she has a daughter with an equally musical appellation: Nico, as in the Velvet Underground chanteuse.

Stratford – Back to the Games.  London Olympic Park stands on an extensively re-developed site, an area known as Stratford.  Among the wackier celeb-related Olympic rumors?  Victoria and David Beckham are said to be planning a fifth child, and should he happen to arrive roughly nine months after the closing ceremonies?  It is also said that Stratford could be the little one’s given name.

Jude – Not sold on StratfordHow about Jude?  The Biblical, literary appellation is also the name of the hit Beatles song that Sir Paul McCartney performed to close the Opening Ceremonies.

August – It is the summer games, after all, so let’s end with a seasonal appellation, with a subtle tie to the British royal family.  Zeffy’s post on Georgian era names includes some surprising facts about Augustus and Augusta.

Have you been watching the Olympics?  Are there any Games-related names that you might use for a child?

Tune in again tomorrow as we dig into Olympic history for some unique past gold medalists’s names!


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11 Responses to “British Baby Names: From the Olympics and beyond”

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augusta_lee Says:

July 30th, 2012 at 12:02 am

What about Laurel? As in the laurel wreath given to Olympic victors in Ancient Greece. It could certainly work as a pretty, floral tribute to the games.

Mara_lyn86 Says:

July 30th, 2012 at 12:28 am

I love the names of some of the Gymnasts: Jonna, Imogene, Francesca and Maryna.

Today, someone on my Facebook page announced the birth of their daughter Londyn Paige. To me that is related too much to the games, but they liked it.

Abby Says:

July 30th, 2012 at 5:48 am

@Augusta_Lee – great addition! Subtle, but definitely connected.

@Mara_lyn86 – I can get behind London, but Londyn feels like you’re stuck with a life of being “Londyn-with-a-y.” And Jonna – I really do like Jonna! Why don’t we hear it more?

klcalder2 Says:

July 30th, 2012 at 9:27 am

I’m such a sap for “Hey Jude”. I get teary every time I hear it since my son was born. I about fainted when my husband got excited about the name for our boy.

A couple of interesting names from NZ’s women’s 400m freestyle relay: Amaka and Tash.

Love Imogen, too. Then women’s US soccer has a Tobin, which is really interesting. And I know I saw Valentina somewhere, I just can’t remember where!

miloowen Says:

July 30th, 2012 at 11:19 am

I’ve been watching the equestrian event and enjoying the mix of traditional and European names: Ingrid, Joris, Andrew, Marcello, Zara (currently the Queen’s granddaughter is ranked 6th), Mary, Niklas, Ludvig….

Yes, I am so tired of seeing “y” has the feminine indicator, i.e. the gymnast Jordyn….Jordana is such a beautiful name, it beats me why anyone would want to ignore Jordana for something like “jordyn”.

Abby Says:

July 30th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

@Miloowen – Joris! Love it … and I agree that “y” as a feminine indicator is not for me.

@klcalder2 – Me, too! Love Jude. And Tash? Fascinating. Ditto Amaka and Tobin.

gipro2003 Says:

July 30th, 2012 at 10:58 pm

My mom’s middle name is Olympia. She was born (in Germany) at the same exact time of the 1972 Munich Olympic Opening Ceremony. My daughter’s middle name is also Olympia, and she is currently known by the nickname Ollie.

alphalpha Says:

August 27th, 2012 at 10:51 am

I can’t believe anybody would use the name Stratford… as somebody who lives 10 minutes drive away from there – the Olympic site might be beautiful but the surrounding area certainly isn’t name-worthy!

However speaking of London inspired names… I personally like the name Thames for a boy (as in the River Thames – pronounced ‘TEMS’), I think it rolls off the tongue nicely with the S sound, like Miles or James, but remains a bit unusual.

Most outrageous baby names of 2012 « Partners in Pregnancy and Parenting Says:

December 8th, 2012 at 7:59 am

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Craziest baby names of 2012Baby Feet Casting | Baby Feet Casting Says:

December 8th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

[…] the spirit of the Olympics is not London, which amazingly is already in the Top 100 for girls, but Zamzam, first name of the Somali runner who may have finished last on the track but won the hearts of many […]

The 12 Most Outrageous Names of 2012 | giggle GAB Says:

December 28th, 2012 at 7:01 am

[…] the spirit of the Olympics is not London, which amazingly is already in the Top 100 for girls, but Zamzam, first name of the Somali runner who may have finished last on the track but won the hearts of many […]

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