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Celebrity Baby Names: The V, X, and Z epidemic

November 30, 2014 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

The stars, they’re just like us.  They shop for groceries.  Run out for coffee.  And celebrity parents love names with vibrant, exciting letters like V, X, and Z – just like the rest of the world.

Names featuring V, X, and Z aren’t novel.  One hundred years ago, parents were naming their daughters Evelyn and Virginia.  Melvin, Marvin, Vernon, and Alvin were all up-and-comers circa 1914.  Max, Felix, and Hazel have had good runs before, and rarities like Zenobia and Zola aren’t quite as rare as you might guess.

Even Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II – there’s that letter ‘z’ again – has a granddaughter named Zara, born all the way back in 1981.

But those letters feel almost epidemic nowadays, from favorites like Zoe and Xavier to nouveau names like Zayden and Everly.

Any birth announcement round-up includes plenty of names featuring the letters.  Names for Real recently spotted an Oxford and Nova.  In Australia, Waltzing More than Matilda found a Baxter and a Tex.  And British Baby Names gives us Zara and Violet.

Celebrity baby name news this week was filled with the letter Z thanks to American Idol alum James Durbin and his wife Heidi.  They managed to fit not one, but two Zs into their new daughter’s three-syllable name.

Let’s take a look at recent celebrity birth announcements featuring V, X, and Z – there’s no shortage of celebs embracing the trend!

Kinzee James and Heidi Durbin got creative when naming Hunter’s little sister.  Kinzee isn’t exactly new.  Kinsley, McKinley, and Kenzie have all picked up where the once oh-so-popular Mackenzie left off.  And yet, the spelling Kinzee is pretty unusual.  Will it blend in with the other Kin/Ken names, or is Kinzee different enough to stand out?  I’m a sucker for Kinsey – as in Sue Grafton’s fictional detective, Kinsey Millhone, but I’m not so sure about the -zee spelling.

Cruz Kinzee’s middle name is Cruz, doubling the Scrabble-value of her name with a second letter z.  The Spanish word for cross, Cruz has risen steadily for boys since David and Victoria Beckham gave the name to their third child, and youngest son, back in 2005.

Xander – Not so long ago, Xander was an unlikely short form of Alexander, worn by a vampire-fighting Joss Whedon character on television’s Buffy.  But Xander has since gone mainstream, charting in the US Top 300 every year since 2003.  In 2011, January Jones played the telepathic Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class and welcomed son Xander Dane later that year.  Today, Xander feels like a go-to name for a boy, nearly as classic as Alexander and a slightly less popular alternative to Xavier.  Phonetic spelling Zander is even more popular than the original.

Zhuri – NBA star LeBron James and wife Savannah welcomed their third child and first daughter earlier this year.  The spelling they chose is unusual, but Zuri is a Z name to watch.  Swahili for beautiful, Zuri rose over one hundred places to #524 in 2013.  With a high-profile birth announcement and the continued success of Disney Channel series Jessie, featuring a spunky character by the name, Zuri name could climb even higher.

Knox – All three of the JoliePitt boys have names that end in x, and all three names have been boosted by the family’s considerable star power.  Maddox made it as high as #169, but it could be baby brother Knox who proves the most trend-setting.  Country music’s Dierks Bentley gave the name to his son in 2013.  Knox feels as vintage as Max, as cool as Fox, and slightly Southern, too – it’s the middle name of Brad Pitt’s grandfather, Hal Knox Hillhouse, and brings to mind Knoxville, Tennessee.

Vale Savannah Guthrie has a prominent ‘v’ sound in her name, and her new daughter answers to the spare, poetic Vale.  It’s one of my favorite celebrity baby names of 2014, a true rarity that’s sure to be imitated.

Valor – Speaking of Vale, the similar-sounding Valor was one of my 2013 favorites.  Actor Emile Hirsch gave this virtue name to his son last year.  Valor hits all the right notes – a meaningful name with a great sound.  Since Hirsch’s baby boy arrived in October 2013, it’s too soon to say if the name is catching on.  But response to Valor was overwhelming positive, so here’s guessing we’ll be hearing even more of the name.

Axl Axel is edgier than Alex, and dropping the ‘e’ makes this less Scandinavian and more rock’n’roll.  Actor Josh Duhamel and singer Fergie welcomed Axl Jack in August 2013.  It’s a lot of attitude in just three letters.  Axel has been steadily popular in recent years, a Top 200 choice in the US since 2010, and big in Sweden and France, too.

Liv Alana de la Garza is the latest celeb to name her daughter Liv, in 2013.  The name has a long history in starbaby circles, thanks to Liv Tyler, daughter of legendary Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, and now a star in her own right.  Julianne Moore used the name for her daughter in 2002.  And let’s not forget Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann, who inspired Miss Tyler’s mother to choose the name back in 1977.  With Olivia in the Top Ten and Olive on the rise, can spare, simple Liv catch on?

Are you a fan of the letters V, X, and Z?  Would you use any of the names on this list?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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