Creative Girls’ Names: Xia, Djena, and Geneva
Are we becoming more tolerant of creative names?
My kids’ friends and classmates are a diverse lot, and their names reflect it. There’s Seamus and Shivarama, a boy named Delaney and a girl called Jordan. Yes, we have Matthew and Sam and Zoe. But in their school of 300 kids, I can count the number of names that repeat on one hand.
Even though we know lots of boys with unusual names, it seems like girls have the edge. Statistics bear it out. In 2012, over 78% of boys received a Top 1000 name, but fewer than 67% of all girls did.
This past week seemed to be all about unusual, but perfectly wearable, names for girls. I’m not thinking of headline-grabbing choices like North and Khaleesi. Instead, I’m thinking of the wide universe of wearable names, choices that are a little bit different, but not staggeringly strange.
The top nine names in the news all belong to girls this week:
Ellerie Eve: Do you read Elise Blaha Cripe’s craft blog, Enjoy It? Congratulations are in order for Elise and her husband, Paul. The couple has just welcomed a daughter, Ellerie Eve. Elise shares her story about choosing a name, and I love that she and Paul stuck with their favorite choice, even when some of the feedback they heard was less than favorable. I’m still thinking about her comment on spelling: “… spelling errors happen when people are lazy, not when names are different.”
Maiselle: Channing Tatum revealed that he and wife Jenna Dewan gave daughter Everly two middle names: Elizabeth Maiselle. Both middles honor the couple’s grandmothers, and I’m a sucker for family names. Maiselle strikes me as very of the moment – part Mae, part Isabelle, very French in feeling, even if I can’t find her in use as a French name.
Sterling – Speaking of family names, former Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller gave her daughter a shining example: Sterling Diane. Sterling joins big brother Rocco at home. Both names come from the couple’s family tree: a great-great-grandfather and a great-grandmother. Balancing the unusual Sterling with a clearly feminine middle is a smart move.
Tuppence – Have you seen Monsters University? Did you stay ‘til the very end to read the list of Pixar production babies? This is the one that caught my eye immediately. Tuppence is a term borrowed from British currency – two pence, or two pennies. It’s an endearment in England – sort of like pumpkin. In the US, I don’t think of coins when I hear Tuppence – though it does strike me as very English, probably thanks to Agatha Christine’s husband and wife detective team, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.
Edith – I’m trying not to think about the royal baby name – yet. Anglophenia’s 10 Extremely British Baby Names for Girls was a welcome distraction. Their ten ranged from the mainstream – Amelia, Olivia, Ada – to the nearly unthinkable. I mean – Frideswide? Probably not. The names that most charmed me were the ones somewhere in between – Myrtle, Gladys, Agatha, and Edith. I think Edith really belongs in the next wave of revival names, and Agnes and Agatha, too. As for Myrtle and Gladys, they sound so outlandishly outdated that I wonder if they’re gone for good, or just hibernating for another few decades.
Geneva – No, this isn’t a place name from a recent birth announcement. Instead, Nancy brings us the story of former First Lady Mamie Eisenhower’s unusual middle name, inspired by a popular song about “Lovely Lake Geneva.” Between Eva, Evelyn, and Genevieve, can’t you imagine Geneva catching on in 2013?
Djena – Lately I’ve been fascinated by names that start with Dj – all two of them, Django and Djuna. Just when I’d assumed that there were only those two, a French baby name site suggested a third: Djena. I’m assuming it sounds just like Gina, which makes the Dj- spelling a little excessive, but I like it anyhow.
Henna – On a colorful note, Waltzing More than Matilda mentioned Henna in her recent round-up of Aussie celebrity baby names. Henna is the second daughter for rugby player John Ulugia and wife Georgina. She joins big sister Ivona. Henna feels like an update to Hannah and Emma with something of a cross-cultural vibe, too – a surprising and appealing choice.
Xia – Mia is everywhere, and we’ve also heard Lia, Gia, Tia, Pia, Fia, Nia, and Zia. The X spelling is new to me, but For Real spotted her in a recent birth announcement. The combination Xia Giselle feels graceful, and I can imagine more parents embracing the popular –ia ending when paired with X.
Are you more creative with girls’ names than boys’ names? Do you think we’re generally more accepting of unusual names for girls? Would you use any of these – oh, and if you’re British, is Tuppence kind of like naming your daughter Pumpkin, or is it more like Penny?
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on July 1st, 2013 at 1:00 am
i’m not sure about the whole “… spelling errors happen when people are lazy, not when names are different.” yes, spelling errors happen when people are lazy. and i guess you could include not asking people how they spell their name as “lazy.” but when a name is different, there is more of a chance it could be spelled wrong. i know. my name is Kelli. were people lazy when they spelled it Kelly? maybe, if the situation were responding to an email where my correctly spelled name is right above the response. but if someone were to ask me my name and then write it down, it would have been misspelled less if my name had been spelled Kelly. interesting to think about. Ellerie is a beautiful name in any case. 🙂
and i am so in love with Edith. 🙂
on July 1st, 2013 at 1:12 am
What an interesting blog! Thank you for a plenty of interesting names. Usually, creative names are not my cup of tea(I prefer classics), but you have a lot of amazing options here! My #1 is Geneva. So beautiful, feminine, unusual and, on the other hand, so familiar. I like Edith too and Dita is a spunky nickname for every day. And hey, Myrtle is one of my favorite names for a girl. I believe it can be reconsidered in 2013 and maybe nickname Mira can add extra charm.
Sterling and Henna are very 21 century-sh, quirky and lively. Djena is a bit over the top for me, I prefer easier spellings and Tuppence is so out of box… I can’t say whether I like it or not, keep thinking “Beresford”, too.
From new girl names tha I heard recently, I (surprisingly!) really like Hanley. I believe it’s what Isla Fisher’s character in Now You See Me is called. Hanley is a surname, I suppose, and can work very fine for a girl as well.
on July 1st, 2013 at 1:46 am
Great list, Abby! I like Maiselle and Geneva!
on July 1st, 2013 at 1:53 am
In the UK ‘Tuppence’ is an old fashioned nick-name for a woman’s ‘special bits’, so I definitely wouldn’t be using that one!
on July 1st, 2013 at 5:22 am
I have just recently started reading Elise’s blog and I like it very much! But I’m sorry to say I did cringe little when I saw the baby’s name was Ellerie. I prefer the name she was considering before- Eleanor. And I disagree with the lazy people thing. If I hear a boy is called Henry and right it down as that, only to later realise he’s actually Henrie, does that make me lazy? No.
And Tuppence! @tasmin101 Haha! I forgot about that! And I know people who still call it that! I knew something wasn’t right when I read it. I’ve heard it used in the phrase “I couldn’t give a tuppence” meaning “I couldn’t care less” but I’ve never heard it as a term of endearment. Ever.
Alexia Mae Said
on July 1st, 2013 at 11:06 am
Maiselle is so pretty.
on July 1st, 2013 at 11:50 am
Tuppence automatically brings to mind the song from Mary Poppins. Thanks for the earworm for today.
on July 1st, 2013 at 12:32 pm
Apparently my first post never posted. So sorry if this seems like a duplicate.
In Agatha Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence series, Tuppence’s real name is Prudence. Tuppence is a nickname. It would be like naming your kid Honey or Pumpkin. Not my style.
I have heard of a few Genevas including in the book I am reading. In the book Geneva has a brother Hudson.
I like this post, especially since a lot of these names seem fresh. Good Job!
on July 1st, 2013 at 1:27 pm
Oh, Myrtle, I really love her, but I agree, she may be destined to remain in the retirement home for a while yet.
on July 1st, 2013 at 4:34 pm
Djena, in Bulgaria, is pronounced just like Jenna : )
on July 1st, 2013 at 10:18 pm
Xia is also a Chinese name, pronounced roughly like a sharp Shah. It means “summer”.
on July 1st, 2013 at 10:31 pm
I have a cat named Henna!
on July 3rd, 2013 at 10:23 am
Edith has been growing on me for a while, especially the nn Edi.
on July 7th, 2013 at 11:53 am
I’m sad if Sterling goes to the girls… it’s such a wonderful and retro boys’ name. Please don’t name your child Xia. @Ilander it is actually not quite pronounced as ‘Shah’… and that is why it is a bad idea to name it… it is a difficult word for English-speakers to pronounce. You need to say ‘she’ while smiling tightly (not a toothy smile… so your mouth has to be a completely different shape that for the English ‘sh’) and then transition to an ‘ah’… So unless you have some kind of a Chinese background and can properly pronounce this word, please do not use it.
on July 29th, 2013 at 1:08 am
Yeah, Xia is a no-go unless you are Chinese. Impossible to pronounce. 😉
on July 29th, 2013 at 5:37 am
Interesting that Xia is Chinese, too – my guess was that they’re using the X as a Z sound – Zia. Like Xander/Zander, etc. From tfzolghadr’s description, I’m sure that I can’t pronounce Xia quite as described …
on November 20th, 2013 at 8:31 pm
My grandmother’s name is Jeneva (with a J) and I found some VERY old tax documents that spelled it “Geneva”. She told me it was a combination of her aunt’s name, Eva, and another name that I can’t remember off the top of my head. Anyway, she goes by Jenny.
I’ve always liked Sterling as a boy’s name, but I can’t really see it as a girl’s name. It makes me think of the Kit Kittredge movie. As for the girls vs. boys thing, I think I’m in agreement that girls have a wider scope of acceptable odd names. Probably due in part to the fact that, in general, we tend to see a girl behaving boyishly as acceptable, or even commendable with the whole Feminism thing, but if a boy acts like a girl, he is marked forever as a “sissy”. I’m not saying this to argue any sort of feminism/anti-feminism point, I’m just saying that girls seem to have more leeway at the moment, when it comes to names and behavior. We wouldn’t hesitate to name a girl James, but a boy named Sue is only the title of a great song. 🙂
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