Category: Questions of the Week
Our Question of the Week:
Last week, Serena Williams introduced the world to her adorable two-week-old daughter in an Instagram post. The baby’s name, she revealed, was Alexis. A perfectly nice, normal name; popular, but not too popular, at Number 119. But here’s the unusual part: The newborn’s father is also named Alexis. And the new parents made the namesake connection explicit by giving the little girl the name Alexis Olympia Ohania Jr.
This isn’t completely unprecedented; our very own Name Sage wrote about a family that did the same thing two years ago. But it’s certainly unusual, and Serena Williams may be the highest-profile parent to name a baby girl after her father. She did tweak it by changing the middle name from dad’s Kerry to her very own Olympia, a name appropriate for the daughter of a winner of four Olympic gold medals. And, to avoid any confusion, Olympia is what she will be called.
But what’s your take on this idea for parents who don’t happen to be one of the greatest athletes of all time?
One of the big recent baby name successes has been Ophelia. After nearly 60 years off the Top 1000, it reemerged in 2015 at Number 975, then jumped to 580 last year. Though it hasn’t yet beaten its peak from the turn of the 20th century, when it entered the Top 300, Ophelia ranks a stunning Number 15 among Nameberry users for the first half of 2017, so it’s almost certain to climb even higher in the U.S..
We get the appeal. It sounds unusual but graceful, it starts with the trendy letter O and it has a sterling literary pedigree, coined by Shakespeare himself.
But here’s the thing about that Shakespeare tie: In Hamlet, Ophelia is a central tragic victim, the girl driven to madness and suicide, but she doesn’t have much presence in the play. Shakespeare created dozens of strong, fascinating, brilliant female characters — but Ophelia isn’t one of them.
Yet today’s parents have decided that Ophelia‘s many positive qualities outweigh the grimness of her story. The same goes for Pandora, Abel and Persephone, all of which have started climbing up the charts.
So that’s our question: How much do you care about a name’s backstory? Are there any names you love because they have great stories behind them? Or have you ever rejected a name because of its history?
Naming a baby — or a pet, fictional character or video game avatar — is a very personal process. What matters most is that you find one that resonates with some deep part of your soul. But that doesn’t mean that seeking it has to be a solitary act.
And so here’s our question of the week: Who’s in your Name Squad? Who do you throw your name ideas at? Who do you discuss possibilities with? Hash out pitfalls involving your last name or a tricky ancestral namesake?
For many prospective parents, the Number One member of their Squad is a romantic partner or a co-parent, usually the only other person with final veto power. But there are a lot of other possible collaborators: Your own parents or in-laws, your siblings, close friends, even neighbors.
People who are planning on raising a baby alone might have a completely different setup. Not to mention all of you out there who are obsessed with names even though there’s no baby on the horizon at all. Who do you chat about names with?
And regardless of who’s in your squad, how do you collaborate? Group text? Facebook thread? We hope the Nameberry forums and links are a big part of the process, no matter what!
The first clue about the names of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s twins came in the form of an unusual document: A trademark application for the newborns’ names. Less than two weeks after giving birth, the couple filed the application to use the names Rumi and Sir on, as People put it, “everything from fragrances and cosmetics to baby gear, tote bags and water bottles.”
While few non-celebrity parents are likely to follow suit, the Carters’ trademark application does raise an interesting question. In a world where over 350,000 babies are born every day, does it make sense for parents to claim the territory tied to their newborns’ names?
At first thought, finding an unusual formal name that gets you to a popular nickname might seem to give you the worst of all worlds. The unusual, distinctive name you worked so hard to find is hidden away on the official documents, while the world knows your child by a nickname — Ellie or Addie or Max — that lots of other kids share.
But you can look at it another way that makes a lot more sense. You get to give your baby a truly unique name without having to worry that it’s too difficult to spell or pronounce or understand because it has an eminently user-friendly nickname. And if at any point you or your child wants to be Theodosia instead of Thea, it’s waiting right there.
What are some unusual routes to popular nicknames that you can think of? Treat us to your cleverest choices.