Celebrity Baby Names: The hottest and the nottest

The year before Nicole Richie, who’s mainly famous for being famous, named her first child Harlow Winter Kate, that Golden Age of Hollywood first name was given to only 28 baby girls.

In 2008, the year Richie gave birth in January, that number shot up to 133, more than doubling again the following year to enter the official Top 1000, rising to Number 778 in 2010 when 349 baby girls were named Harlow.

Celebrities have the power to catapult not only their own names to stardom, as they have in recent years for choices ranging from Scarlett to Jude, but the names they choose for their babies. Celebrity baby name choices can breathe life into a forgotten name like Matilda or Violet, add new luster to a vintage Hollywood appellation as with Harlow or Ava, even switch a name’s gender identity.

For a celebrity baby name to make it big seems to take a combination of parental star power and intrinsic name appeal: Reese Witherspoon’s Ava caught on in a major way, for instance, while son Deacon’s name may be just too quirky or religious for widespread use.

The most influential celebrity baby names right now:

AVAHeather Locklear first revived the slumbering (it had been out of the Top 1000 for two decades) name of gorgeous Hollywood star Gardner in 1997, but it really started to climb after Witherspoon used it for her daughter in 1999, jumping all the way to Number 5 last year.

EMERSON for a girl — When Teri Hatcher named her daughter Emerson in 1997, there were nearly six boys for every girl that received the name. In the most recent count, thanks to Hatcher’s influence, there were 1000 female Emersons born to only 612 boys.

KINGSTON – This place-name that mixes reggae with royalty entered the Top 1000 in 2006, the same year Gwen Stefani used it for her son, and has now risen to Number 214.

MADDOX – The names of the Brangelina brood are mixed in terms of their influence. Maddox, Pax, Zahara, and Vivienne have caught on, while Shiloh and Knox have not to the same extent. Oldest son Maddox is still the dominant baby name influencer. Born in 2001, his name entered the Top 1000 in 2003 and is now Number 180.

MATILDA – This quirky old-fashioned name harkened back to late dad Heath Ledger’s home country of Australia. Obscure when Michelle Williams gave birth to the little girl in 2005, Matilda entered the Top 1000 after a 45 year hiatus and is now a hipster favorite.

RYDER – Use of the name Ryder has more than tripled since Kate Hudson chose it for her older son in 2004. Infant son Bingham’s name is unlikely to have the same widespread appeal.

VALENTINA – This romantic name, chosen for her daughter by Salma Hayek in 2007, has risen 250 places on the popularity chart, to Number 152.

VIOLET – Blushing Violet has become a star since Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck revived this vintage name and used it for their daughter in 2005. Number 372 then, it’s now closing in on the Top 100. We predict little sister’s name SERAPHINA will also become much more popular. Though not yet in the Top 1000, the use of the obscure angelic name has doubled in the two years since Garner and Affleck chose it.

WILLOWWill and Jada Pinkett Smith used this graceful name for their daughter eleven years ago; now it’s risen from Number 760 to 290 and seems sure to go even higher, along with big brother Jaden’s name, whose popularity has also been influenced by Britney Spears’ Jayden.

A few other celebrity baby names destined to be influential but too recent to make the Top 1000 list are Clementine (Ethan Hawke), Romy (Sofia Coppola), and Story (Jenna Elfman).

And then there are those celebrity baby names that may have attracted a lot of attention but not many real-life namesakes. Why? While the children may be high profile and adorable, their names fall on the wrong side of the line between distinctive and weird.

AppleGwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin
BronxAshlee Simpson & Pete Wentz
EgyptAlicia Keys & Swizz Beatz
HuckleberryBear Grylls
IgnatiusCate Blanchet
Monroe for girl—Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon
MoroccanMariah Carey & Nick Cannon
MoxiePenn Jillette
PtolemyGretchen Mol
SparrowNicole Richie and Joel Madden
SundayNicole Kidman & Keith Urban
SuriKatie Holmes & Tom Cruise

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23 Responses to “Celebrity Baby Names: The hottest and the nottest”

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littlebrownpony Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 9:08 am

I disagree about Monroe for a girl. I think it’s lovely and appealing and will most likely gain some popularity.

i.heart.nerds Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 9:17 am

I will probably be the only one, but Ptolemy and Ignatius are the only two that I would consider out of the whole bunch. The rest are too out there or too popular for me.

Lola Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 9:25 am

Aww, Ignatius gets no love, anywhere! 🙁 It’s a serious love of mine. What’s not to love? Iggy’s fun, Nate’s mainstream. It’s the name of my family Patriarch: the guy who dragged the family (Mom’s side) to the States back in 1820 -1821. Ignatius Edward George is our #4 boys combo. I adore Iggy! 😀

Ptolemy’s wicked cool too. Not mainstream at all but it’s a serious WOW! name for me.

From the girls: Matilda, Violet & Valentina are my cuppa in particular. All the Val- names are on my list somewhere. My Pop was a Valentine’s baby so rather than use Wayne (which He loathed),Valentine wil be used. Violet was an Aunt and Matilda I like for her Tilley potential!

I don’t care if a celebrity uses a favorite name of mine (looking at you: Clementine!), but if it gets too High-profile, it’ll vanish from my list, so it can’t be ruined by said celebrity.

Well, that’s my rant for the day! 😀

roselang Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 9:48 am

I really resent that you call Matilda a “hipster favorite.” All Matildas I know, young and old, are named after someone. They’re not named because the name is cool or quirky, but because it has deep meaning to the parents. Matilda is not and never will be a hipster name.

skizzo Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 9:57 am

Monroe is really awful on a girl, so I agree with the article. It’s a lovely name for a boy though.
But then I feel the same way about Emerson, so…

i.heart.nerds Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 10:29 am

Roselang: I don’t think hipster is a bad thing. It just means that it is s name that is used by a certain group before it goes more mainstream ie Sophie and Scarlett.

katybug Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 10:48 am

I wondered if the “hipster favorite” reference to Matilda would offend anyone! I know of one baby Matilda, daughter of a college friend, and I don’t know if they selected the name to honor someone or simply because they liked the name. Who cares? Most of the names on the list for our December baby are old-fashioned names that I could see being labeled “hipster.” Does that mean I can’t use them without a family connection or should get resentful just because someone else has labeled them as such? It doesn’t take anything away from the name.

katybug Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 10:52 am

And I agree that Monroe will rise in popularity. It shares a lot of similarities to Harlow. This list is a perfect example of how parents tend to be more adventurous with girls’ names and more conservative with boys’ names–Ava, and Harlow rise after a celebrity baby, but brothers Deacon and Sparrow do not.

pam Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 11:08 am

How did hipster get to be a dirty word? There is a curious phenomenon whereby people want to embrace hipster style — which might be defined as things that are so uncool they’re cool — without being called hipster. Michelle Williams and Heath Ledger were sort of the ultimate young hipster Hollywood couple and they imparted that style and image to the name Matilda. If another kind of celebrity couple — someone non-hipster but influential like, say, a Kardashian or Britney — had chosen Matilda for their child, it might still become popular but it probably wouldn’t be favored by hip parents or considered hip or labeled hipster.

Of course there’s also the chicken-and-egg question of whether a Kardashian would name a baby Matilda in the first place.

OliviaSarah Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 11:25 am

Huckleberry, Ptolomy and Sunday are SO not ‘nottest’ on my list <3

GracePheiffer Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 4:27 pm

I’m getting on the Ptolemy bandwagon. I think it’s a very cool name.

To all the people griping about Matilda being called a Hipster name, the fact is that it IS a name popular with that demographic, no matter how many Matilda’s you may know.

moxielove Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Matilda Kardashian! I LOOOOVE the thought of that but ain’t placing any bets anytime soon!

I truly truly love the name Shiloh on a girl but it has so many historical references that I don’t think I would use it since I also have no family connection to it.

I also adore that name Pax – it’s like a more user friendly version of Dax and less trendy version of Finn but unfortunately if we were to use it for a boy we would have started a “P” theme for our kids I’m not willing to do.

Sparrow would be absolutely fantastic on a girl.

Ugh, there are little Kingston’s running around ALL over the place where I live. Jah lives. Smoke another.

Emerson does not belong on a girl. Any name with the word (and meaning) “son” in it should stay with boys. That’s just my personal (and very strongly held) opinion. Which raises the question – was Allison originally for the boys? hmmmm…

I love Moxie (heehee obviously) and was shocked when my husband said he would consider it for a girl! It’s a back pocket name, along with Clover, that I might need a few beers in me before writing down on the birth certificate! If Trixie and Daisy and Lola can make it I’ll never understand why folks don’t embrace Moxie. All of the coolness of an “x” with none to the stripper baggage!

skizzo Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Yes, Allison was originally for the boys. Alison, this spelling, is originally female.

I cant like Shiloh on a girl either, it’s another male name.

bluedahlia Says:

September 29th, 2011 at 7:19 pm

“How did hipster get to be a dirty word?” – Completely agree with this sentiment.
We don’t own names, they have a larger context in our culture and society. Matilda certainly is a hipster name. If anything the only counter argument I could make is that its a little passe with the cutting edge hipsters at this point 🙂 Matilda is a lovely name either way, imo.

roselang Says:

September 30th, 2011 at 8:35 am

Hipster is a dirty word, and an insult. To say someone does something very important, like name a child, to be cool or ironic is insulting. As always, wikipedia explains: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hipster_(contemporary_subculture).

I suppose not all people mean “hipster” as an insult, and I won’t take it that way on this site anymore.

I LOVE NAMEBERRY!

Sunday Summary: 10/2/11 | Appellation Mountain Says:

October 2nd, 2011 at 11:33 am

[…] Nameberry’s post on Celebrity Baby Names and why some catch on, while others, well, don’t, kicked off a flurry of coverage and commentary; […]

Nyx Says:

October 3rd, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Ava – It has romance, vintage appeal, an old-Hollywood feel, and is a an overall great feminine name. I find this version much more enticing then Eve, and a great stand-alone short, sweet, funky name.

Emerson – I love the poetic feel of this name, but don’t like that it’s trending toward the girls. I love this softer name for the boys, but I have a feeling that Emerson might be the next Addison.

Kingston – Not a huge fan, but I don’t have anything negative to say about it either.

Maddox – Again, not a huge fan, but the worse I can say about it is that it’s trendy and may end up sounding dated.

Matilda – A vintage name with a lot of spunk and personality. We’ve already seen that this is a great name to grow old with, and it’s got serious cute-potential for the younger ages also. A bonus, I love the character Matilda from the Roald Dahl story.

Ryder – A bit too energetic for my tastes…

Valentina – A very frilly-girly name that brings to mind pink hearts and lace, and that isn’t a bad thing. If the ultra-feminine name just doesn’t work for your little girl, she has plenty of nicknames to fall back on.

Violet – It’s feminine, floral, and has starts with the funky letter “V”. What more do you need?

Willow – A nice, earthy choice with a soft sound but a good solid feel.

Apple – I just couldn’t do it… but it might make a cute nickname for something like Apollonia.

Bronx — Sounds like a tough-guy in an 80’s movie. While it works as a name, I wouldn’t recommend using it.

Egypt — Not all place names should be turned into a name for your child… maybe this would be better on your dog or cat?

Huckleberry – Again, a cute nickname…

Ignatius – Like Lola, I am so in love with this name! Iggy is cute and fun, Nate or Nat is definitely mainstream, and Inigo adds in a reference from a favorite book/movie 😀

Monroe (girl) – It has potential… but like Kingston and Maddox, I don’t have any real love for the name.

Moroccan – Like Egypt, not a fan of the name.

Moxie – While better then the MN, this should be left as a nickname… maybe for the vintage Maxine (Max and Sam are both popular for boys, and Sam/Samantha is popular for girls, so why not Max/Maxine?)

Ptolemy – Love the name, but definitly not for the faint of heart. Tolly makes an adorable nickname however 🙂

Sparrow – Softer, but like Robin, I think this one works just fine for a little boy or girl.

Sunday – If you’re going to chose to use a day-of-the-week, I guess this is the one to use. However, I think Seven will catch on before Sunday even has a chance.

Suri – A sweet name with a soft feel. I’m actually rather surprised that this isn’t getting more attention considering names like Eliana (various spellings) and Delilah becoming so popular.

MaryB Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 2:07 am

There will be no Matilda Kardashian unless Kourtney, Kim, or Khloe have a child and do not give it the father’s last name. This is unlikely because Kourtney already has a son Mason (Disick) with Scott Disick and Khloe is currently using her married last name Odom. Kim is recently married too and I doubt her husband Kris Humphries will agree to give a future child the last name Kardashian. The only real possibility is for 25-year-old Rob Kardashian to have a child and choose the name Matilda Kardashian.

Kourtney Kardashian Having a Girl: 5 Celebrity Baby Names | My Blog Says:

March 6th, 2012 at 5:12 am

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ebenezer.scrouge Says:

July 14th, 2012 at 7:48 pm

For those who LOVE Iggy it is a nickname for Isaac

Mara_lyn86 Says:

July 25th, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I hate how Matilda, one of my favorites from when I was younger because of the movie and book Matilda, is now a hipster favorite. Still will use it though if I can, and not because Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams used it.

KerrieBee23 Says:

January 18th, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Why didn’t Mariah name her daughter Marilyn instead??

Volleybalqueen Says:

November 27th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I actually think Monroe for a girl is cute

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