By Clare Green
Celebrity baby names feature in this week’s high-profile baby boy name announcements, with two that are almost polar opposites, but equally stylish and meaningful.
First there’s Bruce Julian Knight, a first child for Krysten Ritter (aka superhero Jessica Jones) and musician Adam Granduciel. Despite its soft sound, Bruce feels masculine and heroic – think Robert the Bruce, Batman, the Hulk, and Bruce Willis. It may also be inspired by a personal hero, as it looks like Krysten is a Springsteen fan. It’s more popular than you might expect: it peaked in the 1950s, just after Springsteen was born, and in recent years has settled just inside the Top 500.
And in the other corner, there’s Winter Mercy. Name-lovers anticipated that Alanis Morissette and Mario “Souleye” Treadway would give their third child a word name to go with big brother Ever Imre and sister Onyx Solace. They didn’t disappoint, choosing a name that’s every bit as lyrical, brooding and gender-neutral as his siblings. Both names are in the girls’ Top 1000 and much rarer for boys. Our celebrity name guru Sophie even predicted Winter for a girl, but we think it fits Alanis’ son perfectly.
Nearly-name stories: Tiffi and Cyrus
We’ve talked about this before, but do you have an almost-name? Something you were nearly called, which – just possibly – would have made you different?
Here’s the story (watch out, limited free views!) of a woman who wore a different name for the first months of her life, and what happened 30 years later when she tried living not as Lauren but as her wilder alter-ego, Tiffi. Spoiler: Lauren (mostly) wins in the end.
Changing your name isn’t always easy, and doubly so when you’re also making other changes, like transitioning gender. This essay is about the complex journey between the author’s birth name and their new name, a nearly-name their parents considered. Today, Cyrus Grace Dunham (actor Lena’s sibling) uses both. Plus, it features a woman named Venus with a son named Grace – I’d love to know the story behind that.
Do we look and act like our names?
The idea that our names shape our lives isn’t all that crazy. It’s one reason why parents might choose one name over another – do I want my child to live the life of River or Richard? Anna or Anahita? – and it’s a topic that researchers keep coming back to.
One recent psychology study found that people with names heavy in vowels and nasals, like Anne and Owen, tend to be perceived as agreeable and introverted. Meanwhile, names with stopped consonants, like Kate and Kirk, come across as being more extroverted. But that’s only first impressions: there’s no evidence that their actual personalities reflect this.
What about the way we look? According to another study, people are better than statistically likely at guessing someone’s name from seeing their face, or even just their hair. This only works with people and names from their own culture…so does this mean we grow into what society expects our name to look like? Spooky…
International baby names: festivals and fitting in
If you’re not sure whether names impact our lives, try asking someone who constantly has to spell or pronounce their name.
What about when a name has a sound that just doesn’t exist in English? Tanvi Bhatia’s name doesn’t sound quite how it looks, at least outside India. For years, she introduced herself by a version of her name that fit into English, but now she’s reclaiming her pronunciation – and that part of her identity.
While we’re thinking of names from around the world, this week is the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. The first Eid babies born in the United Arab Emirates included a girl named Shadha (meaning ‘fragrant’) and a boy named Yousuf (the Arabic form of Joseph).
Which international names would you love to see English speakers using more? One for me is Caetano (which a Portuguese Olympic swimmer just gave to her son) and his international brothers like Gaetan and Kajetan.
Triple twin names!
Naming a daughter plus three sets of twins sounds like one of our baby name games, but it’s reality for one family in Russia. I can’t find what big sister is called, but the twins’ names are Christina and Karina, Anastasia and Garik, and new additions Aurora and Gaspar. What would you name these extraordinary siblings?
Clare Green writes Nameberry’s weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world. Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.