Weird Baby Names

We all know how the media likes to jump on every new ‘weird’ starbaby name, predicting dire consequences down the road for the likes of poor little Moxie CrimeFighter, Pilot Inspektor, Bronx Mowgli, and Apple. Well, only time will tell how these kids will actually meet that particular challenge as they grow up, but it might be instructive to look at the previous generation of oddball-named celebrity babes who are now young adults and see how they’ve handled it–which ones think these names have made them feel special and which have felt damaged, how many have held on to their bizarre appellations and how many have dropped them.

CHASTITY BONO. Mom Cher used the name of dad Sonny‘s film “Chastity,” but though her daughter has hung onto it, she has said “most of the time it’s been a pain.” Seems when she complained about it, Sonny would say “Be thankful we didn’t name you Dweezil.” Which brings us to:

DWEEZIL ZAPPA. When the hospital refused to  register this name, the birth certificate read Ian Donald Calvin Euclid–the names of Zappa’s then-bandmates. But Dweezil, always called Dweezil, later made it his legal name. Older sister MOON UNIT has frequently insisted that she likes having an unusual name like Moon rather than something more ordinary, and presumably their other siblings AHMET EMUUKHA RODAN and DIVA THIN MUFFIN PIGEEN agree.

PEACHES HONEYBLOSSOM MICHELLE ANGEL VANESSA GELDOF, daughter of rocker-activist Bob, has bemoaned “My weird name has haunted me all my life.”  Wouldn’t be surprised if her sisters FIFI TRIXIEBELLE, PIXIE and HEAVENLY HIRAANI TIGER LILY–exhibitionists all–felt the same way.

SATCHEL FARROW. The son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen was born Satchel Ronan O’Sullivan Farrow, named for one of his father’s baseball heroes, Satchel Paige. Following a bitter custody battle, he became known as Seamus, and now, having been a prodigy who graduated from college at 15  and become  a human rights activist and journalist, he has settled on the name Ronan Seamus Farrow.  His sister also took three steps, going from DYLAN to ELIZA to MALONE.

ZOWIE BOWIE. Like SatchelSeamusRonan, has had multiple identities. He was born Zowie Duncan Heywood Bowie and, although he says he loves his distinctive moniker, he first called himself Joey Bowie, and then changed his name to Duncan Jones, saying he didn’t want to be in the shadow of famous dad David.

STRAWBERRY SAROYAN. When fruitily-named Apple Martin was born in 2004, the granddaughter of William Saroyan gave a long interview about her name to the New York Times . Since she grew up among kids named Cream, Wonder and Raspberry, she didn’t exactly feel like the odd girl out, and after some ups and downs, now definitely sees the benefits of her unusual name.

TALLULAH BELLE WILLIS, sister of RUMER GLENN and SCOUT LARUE, though still a young teen, has already had dad Bruce announce on the Letterman show that she plans to legally change her name to (nickname) Lula.

So take heed, Ikhyd and Nakoa-Wolf–you might wind up deciding you’d rather be Ike or Nat.

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Andrea Says:

March 30th, 2009 at 8:56 am

I’ve seen Kal-El and Jor-El a few times in birth announcements in the last few years and once a Kal-El who was the son of a father named Jor-El. I don’t think it’s actually that bad a name. If he hates it, he can go by Kal. People usually adapt to strange names. I went to college with a girl named Sparrow — daughter of hippies — and there was a girl named Cinnamon at a neighboring high school. After the initial “How’d you get that weird name” comments, people just thought of them as Sparrow and Cinnamon.

Lola Says:

March 30th, 2009 at 10:43 am

A a woman who grew up a painfully shy girl, I would have died had I been given something out of the ordinary. As is, my unusual nickname (well, it was unusual for 35 years!) made it easier to stand out when I wanted to.

But then, I’ve also had three gregarious monster children of my own and have realised that something slightly uncommon might be a better fit for some. Outrageous is a digfferent story, though. Everytime I see Kal-El in particular, I wonder “What was wrong with Clark”?

I’ve known a few people with unusual names for the times, a male Artemas (I’ve mentioned before hates his name), a male Pax (who likes his) and Chinese female Holly (who always moans “my Parents can’t say my name!”) and a handful of others that seem to get along perfectly well with theirs.

So I’ve come to the conclusion that you’ll probably know what’s best for your own kid. But I always try the ones I’m considering on myself before they go on my list. I figure, if I can deal with it, the kid probably can too.

Annelise Says:

March 30th, 2009 at 10:55 am

Then again, think how many people with “normal” names don’t like them and change them. I know a Jennifer and a Melissa who both had their names legally changed, and my grandmother Edith has never been called anything but Margery. For their generations, those names were perfectly normal! Plus we all know dozens of people who refuse to respond to anything except a particular nickname, and sometimes those nicknames (I’m thinking of a girl called “Bonsai” and a man called “Cork”) are far stranger than their given names!

jade Says:

November 20th, 2009 at 7:01 pm

well my son name is Kal-El thomas and he is fantastic and loves that his names after superman… it also has the meanin “star child” i think its lovely

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