Creative Baby Names: Original but not outre

This week for her Nameberry 9, Appellation MountainAbby Sandel seeks out and finds creative baby names that are on the safe side of unusual.

We endlessly dissect outlandish names.  There are the wacky celebrity choices that make headlines in the mainstream press, and the footnotes at the end of articles announcing Mason and Emma the most popular names in Montana, but a handful of babies named Banana or Marvelous.  Heck, we’re still talking about Blue Ivy, and probably will be until she heads off to middle school.

And yet much of the time parents still gravitate towards the more popular choices.  How many times have you heard: “We wanted something unusual, but we just kept coming back to Ava.”  It takes an awful lot of daring to choose a name that is completely out of the mainstream.

This week’s list is packed with possibilities that are just a little bit different – not shocking departures from the mainstream, but neither are they currently in the US Top 100 – or even the top 1000.

The nine most newsworthy names from last week are:

Meridian – Did you spot this one on SwistleMeridian has much to love – it is a noun name, and Alice Walker used it for a heroine in a 1976 novel.  She also sounds like quintessential good girl appellation Meredith, as well as Pixar heroine Merida.

Keeva Jane – Now that Kira and Kayla are fading, could Keeva pick up where they left off?  She blends the nouveau appeal of a K name with the sound of the enduring classic Eva.  Plus she’s a phonetic spelling of the Irish Caoimhe and the name of Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof’s new daughter.

Isabetta Rose – Reality television veterans Rob and Amber Mariano welcomed a third daughter, a little sister for Lucia and Carina.  Look again – she’s not Isabella, she’s Isabetta, a spin on the oh-so-popular name.  I’ve never heard it before, but it seems like it would wear well.  Plus, Isabetta can lead to Betty or Betsy as short forms, without resorting to the classic, but well worn, Elizabeth.

Grover – Are you reading the analysis of the very bottom of the 2011 name lists? Nancy recently rounded up rare boy names, like Crispin, Rufus, and PiersGrover – a nickname for the kid in 2002 bestseller The Nanny Diaries – is the one that most intrigues me.  Ends in –r is a stylish sound, as is the letter o.  Sure, there’s the Muppet, but Oscar seems to have risen above his furry roots.

Halston – This is one I’d never considered until Eponymia’s look at rare names from the 2011 data.  The name was given to eight girls in 2011, putting her in the same category as Jessamine, Evelette, and Domino.  She also sounds something like Harlow and even Harper, plus there’s the possibility of shortening Halston to Hallie.  A young Nickelodeon actress answers to Halston and could boost the iconic fashion designer’s surname.

Jalé – The Toronto Star has a great story about a random name spotting that led to a child’s name.  At first glance, Jalé seems confusingly creative, too close to the word jail.  But there’s a backstory that transforms Jale from a modern innovation to a meaningful name steeped in history.

Poet – The talented Kal Barteski blogs at lovelife.  She’s the mother to the spectacularly named sisters Penn Lily, Pilot Maile, and Poet Olli.  More proof that creative people choose really thoughtful and interesting names for their children.

Dodge – Let’s go to the movies.  Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley star in comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, coming to a theater near you this summer.  Knightley plays Penelope, called Penny – yet another invitation for that charming name to skyrocket.  But I’m more intrigued by this one: Carrell’s character is Dodge. If Owen Wilson has a baby Ford, is Dodge an option?

Django – While we’re in Hollywood, there’s been so much buzz about the new Quentin Tarantino flick, I was sure that Django Unchained was set to debut this summer.  Not so … it is actually set to premier in December.  A few years ago Django would have been impossibly strange.  But now that ends-in-o names are big for boys, maybe Django’s jazzy roots will help him join Milo and Leo on the playground.

What are your favorite just-a-little-different names?

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23 Responses to “Creative Baby Names: Original but not outre”

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littlebrownpony Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 10:07 am

Meridian! Yes! I used to teach a little Meridien (same pronunciation.) It works very well as a name, I think.

Flick Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 11:02 am

The only ones I care for are Grover and Isabetta. Keeva isn’t bad, I suppose, I prefer the traditional spelling, though.

I’m sad to see Penelope skyrocketing, but on the other hand I would rather see something like Penelope skyrocket than some of the other, less desirable, names that I have seen the past few years.

I find Halston interesting, I REALLY do not like it for a girl, though – -ston sounds so masculine.

Whirligig Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 11:22 am

Not really keen on any of these

agirlinred Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 11:40 am

I LOVE Grover, but used it for my dog… Dodge is cool too, but the others aren’t for me.

JShores Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 11:55 am

I agree with Flick. I thought Halston would be a boy’s name. And I kind of like it for a boy. Doesn’t sound feminine at all to me though. I like Poet a lot. I find myself really loving the sister sibset of Penn Lily, Pilot Maile, and Poet Olli. Super cute!

miloowen Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 11:55 am

Perhaps Grover has more to do with a lovable satyr in the Riordan books?

Isabetta, like Isabeau, is a medieval Italian variation of Elisabetta. Not used too often anymore, but certainly a choice just as interesting as Tamasin, Isabeau, and Yseult, other medieval appellations.

The newest baby from my students is La’Merria Ann-Marie, an interesting smoosh of African American unique and old-fashioned Catholic. Do not yet know what her mama — whose name is Nasticia, pronounced Nastasha — is calling her….

auroradawn Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I know of a little boy in a nearby community named Grover. If people can get past the Muppet, I think it’s a nice choice. I’ve heard my teenage brother talking about Grover from the Riordan books, too.

Django is pretty cool (though a little too “jazzy” for my taste), but it makes me think of Jango Fett, a bounty hunter from the Star Wars movies. I don’t know, maybe a boy named Django would just think the connection was cool!

Greyer Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I REALLY hope Dodge becomes usable! It is a family surname that’s been used as a second middle for boys in my family for three generations, and I’d love to rock the boat a little bit and put it up front. I think it totally fits with other actiony word names like Chase and Dash.

Also, really loving Isabetta, which surprises me. I love the nickname Etta, Betty, or Betsy, and this seems like a fresh, fun way to get there. Django I like too, but it’s a little too hipster for me.

ksheja Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

The only one I like is Keeva (but I like the Caoimhe spelling better). Isabetta’s not so bad. I too thought boy when I saw Halston. Poet, Penn and Pilot? Not my style I guess. I like some names that are unusual and even obscure, but I like them to have a substantial history of use as given names.

fieldspring Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I like the name Grove. Also, about a decade ago, I knew a teenaged girl named Halston (from a family of 5 with only H or C names).

auroradawn Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

To prevent ambiguity in my earlier post, it should read, “I know a little boy named Grover in a nearby community”!

fieldspring Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 4:09 pm

And I did mean Grove…without the ending “r.”

shinysarah11 Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 9:44 pm

I love Meridian and Isabetta. Familiar but different! Lovely!

Scrambledmegs Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Grover rose on our list as soon as Oscar started to become usable again. And I will admit it’s because he’s my favorite Jim Henson monster muppet. I think with the nature-like Grove and popular -er ending, it has so much potential. I’m not too worried about it becoming to popular, because I feel a lot of people have be adverse to it for so long. But who knows, I would’ve said the same thing about Adelaide until fairly recently.

Scrambledmegs Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 10:49 pm

I should know better than to comment when tired. Sorry for the spelling/grammar errors!

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

June 18th, 2012 at 11:55 pm

That was an interesting story from the “Toronto Star” about Jalé.

The people in the story said they saw the name without the accent in Australia, so it must be said like the word “jail” (or gaol).

Not all states of Australia will accept a birth registration which has diacritical marks in it, so just because someone’s name is Jale, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is pronounced JAYL and not juh-LAY (or something similar). Although I think it might be said JHAHL.

lealou Says:

June 20th, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Dodge is my maiden name and thought it would be cool for a first name but it doesn’t fit right with my married last name :).

neuilly Says:

July 1st, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Actually my SO has always loved Django (for the musician). He would love it as a first name…I said I might consider it as a middle name. The movie though would deter me because I worry that people would think of it first instead of the beautiful music that we’re inspired by.

Stephie656 Says:

July 21st, 2012 at 5:49 am

Grover is on Sesame St not The Muppets.

tfzolghadr Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 11:16 am

Halston is so horrible for a girl… it sounds similar to Hollister. Poet is a bit bizarre… and Dodge is not only a car, but also “get out of Dodge” and the verb ‘to dodge’. I can’t really see the appeal of verbs or cars as names…

BabyNameCrazy95 Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 11:45 am

Blue Ivy sounds like some kind of STI what person would do that to there kid x

BabyNameCrazy95 Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 11:45 am

Blue Ivy sounds like some kind of STI what person would do that to there kid x

iwillpraise Says:

July 8th, 2013 at 2:23 pm

@ Stephie656 – Sesame Street and Jim Henderson Muppets are one in the same and can be used interchangeably. If you watch til the end of either The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppets Take Manhatten, or The Muppet Christmas Carol you’ll see all of them under one roof. (P.S. It’s quite easy to Google or YouTube these movies)

Speaking of the name Grover, it reminds me of the birth announcement that stole my heart a while ago for little Benton Grover. <3 Sigh. I'm still in love! I also like Meridian.

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