Eclectic Baby Names in the News: Buzz, Onni and Michelangelo

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

When anything goes, how do you know if you’re going too far?

Naming a baby in 2014 is mostly about freedom.  Gwyneth’s edibly-named daughter Apple regularly tops the list of craziest celebrity baby names, but we’re calling our own kids Clementine and Olive.  Zuma Rossdale’s first name doesn’t sound like a name … except it does sound something like popular choice Ezra.

The list goes on.  For almost every so-called “crazy” baby name, there’s a case to be made that it fits in with current trends.  But that’s not a guarantee that anything goes.

This past week was filled with foreign imports, misspellings, nicknames that might be too casual, and hero names that might go too far.  Take your favorite name, travel to another country, and it could become unwearable.  Or name your child something that you really want to use, accept that you might spend the first few months explaining your choice, and then laugh when it makes the Top 100 by the time your kiddo starts kindergarten.

It was a week where every kind of name made headlines, from enduring classics to emerging possibilities.  The nine most newsworthy baby names from the past week are:

Buzz – McFly frontman Tom Fletcher is a new dad.  The British pop star and his wife Giovanna named their son Buzz.  Yes, Buzz.  Other Buzzes you may have heard of: astronaut Buzz Aldrin.  Toy/Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear.  And now young Master Fletcher.  With parents putting names like Buddy and Birdie, Spike and Buster on the birth certificates, I suppose Buzz was inevitable.

Michelangelo – If Buzz doesn’t surprise, his middle name surely will. Does Michelangelo celebrate Mrs. Fletcher’s Italian heritage, or is it a nod to the original Renaissance man, Michelangelo Buonarroti?  If it is the latter, that’s a lot to live up to – almost as intense as being named Buzz Einstein or Buzz Shakespeare.  Still, I’m tempted to file Michelangelo with wearable Italian imports like Matteo, Luca, and Lorenzo.

Windsor – Speaking of being a lot to live up to, is Windsor over the top?  PGA golfer Patrick Reed and wife Justine are about to welcome a daughter in a few weeks.  After dad won the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral, they revealed their chosen nameWindsor Wells.  Assuming they call her Winnie, this one is exactly on trend.  But Windsor is also the name of the ruling house of the United Kingdom, and Windsor Castle is the longest-occupied palace in all of Europe.  Yes to Winslow and Winter and Winifred, but I’m not so sure about Windsor.

Wells – Let’s look at Windsor’s middle name.  She’ll share it with Rosie Pope’s younger son, WellingtonWellsReade.  There’s been a trendlet in s-ending boys’ names recently: Brooks, Ames, Yates, and yes, Wells.  While I don’t think we’ll hear this one on many girls, I suspect that Wells might be an up-and-comer for our sons.

Bruno Peter Gene Hernandez is having a heck of a year.  He nabbed his second Grammy and performed at the Super Bowl half-time show.  Wait, you’ve never heard of Peter Gene HernandezNancy found this great quote from the musician better known as Bruno Mars: “Everyone calls me Bruno.  They don’t ever call me Peter; that was just my government name.”  The musician has had the nickname since childhood.  Here’s guessing that his continuing success could inspire an uptick in baby Brunos.

Alice – What could possibly be controversial about Alice?  Most of us see her as a lovely and literary choice, suitable for a child, wearable for a district attorney.  But in Saudi ArabiaAlice is a foreign import, now banned, along with Maya, Linda, Lauren, and Elaine.  Take it as proof that any name can cause a ruckus.

Onni – Finnish names, with their extra vowels, can be downright surprising.  I’m captivated by the most popular name for Finnish boys born in 2013: Onni.  In the US, Onni might seem like a creative twist on Annie.  But in Finland, he’s an upbeat name meaning luck or fortune, Helsinki’s answer to Felix, Asher, and Noam.

Ferelith – While we’re talking about imports, let’s take another look at one of the newest names to debut on Nameberry.  Ferelith has her roots in medieval Scotland and Ireland, and enjoyed the tiniest bit of a revival in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  She’s a daring possibility for parents after a heritage choice today, and would make a striking middle name.

Hadrien – Canadian politician Justin Trudeau welcomed a son named Hadrian a few weeks ago.  Except he wasn’t Hadrian.  A sleep-deprived Trudeau misspelled his new son’s name on Twitter.  Can you blame him?  Trudeau and wife Sophie are also parents to Xavier and EllaGrace, so Hadrien joins a busy household indeed.  The French –ien spelling of the ancient name isn’t likely to catch on in the US, but English form Adrian ranks in the Top 100 here.

What do you think of this week’s news?  Do Windsor, Buzz, and Michelangelo go too far?  Are names like Onni and Ferelith wearable in the English-speaking world?

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16 Responses to “Eclectic Baby Names in the News: Buzz, Onni and Michelangelo”

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Sunshine Kid Says:

March 16th, 2014 at 11:25 pm

Relating back to that some names may not integrate well in other cultures…Onni. It strongly reminds me of the Japanese Oni (demons, trolls, devils etc).

minisia Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 5:51 am

I heard Michelangelo was in honour of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Abby Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 9:06 am

@Sunshine Kid – I didn’t know that – interesting, and definitely a strike against Onni.

@minisia – Wait, really?! Well, Buzz Michelangelo will have the coolest choices for personalized birthday party themes, I suppose …

freddiethepink Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 12:23 pm

I love Hadrian (spelt this way) and Ferelith! (Ferelith has long been a GP middle name for me).

I just can’t see Windsor Wells as a girls name…

BritishAmerican Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Windsor Wells does read like a boys name to me and it does make me think of the British royal family. I guess the nickname Winnie makes it girlier. Windy is another possible nickname – one that I wouldn’t go for.

Hadrian makes me think of Hadrian’s Wall, which I don’t remember much about except the name. So I guess I’m not familiar with the -en spelling. I had a friend do a similar thing with her son’s name on Facebook – I think it was before he was born. She called him Aiden, when the actual spelling they’d chosen is Aidan.

I don’t mind Buzz, although it’s not my style. I guess it might be cool as a kid and teenager, but it doesn’t seem like it would age well. Although Grandpa Buzz does sound cool again. If Michelangelo is after the turtles, then that is a bit too much with the cartoon theme!

Cloverish Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I’ve never heard about Ferelith before, but it immediately struck me. I really like it. Now I know I’ll have to find an object to call Ferelith, because unfortunately I’ll never be able to give that name to a daughter.

miloowen Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Buzz is just outré for me. Ferelith is interesting — a bit like Frith and Fritha, variations of Freja that I love.

Hadrian is awesome — but adding the H when you won’t pronounce it in French so it’s just Adrien when you pronounce it is kind of silly — although the saint/pope is Hadrian, so perhaps that’s why.

As for Windsor Wells, it’s as if you’re broadcasting that you’re nouveau riche, right out of an Edith Wharton or Henry James novel. Lol.

KickinKay Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I’m surprised by all the hate Windsor is getting, personally I’m pretty traditional about names but I love this one. Not a big fan of the middle name choice, but Windsor with the nickname Winnie strikes me as a very sophisticated young girl.

tori101 Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Such a cool read!

feathername Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Hi Nameberry! Sorry to leave this on a blog post, I wasn’t sure where else to go to make sure I got to you.

My name is Kitty, I’m 18, and I literally just started my own character name blog. I would love for you to check it out and see what you think. I’ve been reading Nameberry posts for almost three years now and your input and/or support would mean so much! Here’s the link:

Thanks so much, sorry be a bother

Pam Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Great blog, feathername! Thanks for pointing it out to us.

Saracita00 Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Well, several clunkers this week. Buzz Michelangelo and Windsor Wells do absolutely zilch for me. Ferelith has potential, though to the modern American ear it seems likely to come across as a fantasy-inspired name.

I feel sorry for the Saudi Arabian women.

marypoppins Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 6:04 pm

I love the name Bruno! After one of my favourite old school actors, Bruno Ganz. I really hope it doesn’t catch on and become too popular, as I’ve got it bookmarked if we ever have another baby.

mill1020 Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I’m with KickinKay: Windsor nn Winnie is wearable, graceful, and nice. To me, a baby named in honor of or inspired by the House of Windsor actually sounds less pretentious than a celeb-inspired baby Madonna or Monroe.
Buzz is cute despite requiring a lot of bravery to use it.

Aurora Says:

March 17th, 2014 at 11:43 pm

I think perhaps it’s the addition of Wells that’s making Windsor sound “too much.” Something more girly-traditional for the middle, like Windsor Catherine or Windsor Elizabeth, would make it sound more feminine and sophisticated (though still very royal-family) rather than so alliteratively unisex and surnamey. I actually like both Windsor and Wells (Wells more for a boy), but not so much together.

Buzz Michelangelo is really a bit much. And Ferelith is lovely.

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

March 19th, 2014 at 2:27 am

I’ll have to be the lone dissenting voice and say I absolutely love Buzz Michelangelo Fletcher! Buzz Fletcher sounds very straightforward and honest to me, and doesn’t seem outrageous in the least.

To me, Windsor Wells is completely masculine – and sounds pretty ridiculous together on either sex, as if it was a collection of wells in Windsor. More suitable for a B& B than a person.

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