Every Name Tells a Story

Every Name Tells a Story

By Abby Sandel

If there’s one rule of modern baby naming, it might be this: expect to tell your story.

How did you choose her name?” is one of my go-to conversation starters with new parents. It’s as reliable as “how did you meet?” to a newly engaged couple, or “do you have any fun plans for the weekend?” to … well, almost anyone.

Sometimes the response is a vague, “Oh, I don’t know, we just liked it.”

But usually there’s a story, and it’s often a great story about going through dozens of possibilities until one clicked. Or discovering that her favorite fictional character was also the name of his favorite great-aunt, so the baby had to called Eglantine. Obviously.

This week was filled with stories about how parents chose their favorite names, as well as a few birth announcements that hint at stories to come.

Here are nine stories in the news about choosing that elusive, exactly right baby name:

Ariah – Let’s begin with a correction. I guessed that Tamera Mowry and Adam Housely were thinking music or television when they named their new arrival Ariah. Not so. It’s pronounced like Mariah without the M, and Tamera tucked the name away years ago. The couple spotted a shop called Araya, but worried that the spelling would cause confusion. A few years later, they settled on Ariah for their daughter’s name.

Thor – Would you let your older child name a new sibling? Kylee and Robbie Wieczorek’s son Owen suggested they name his new brother Thor Captain American Ironman. The parents jettisoned those supercharged middles, but Thor stuck. It sounds crazy, but I know a family who named their second son Logan when his big brother got stuck on the idea of naming the baby after Wolverine. There are some great superhero possibilities, and more are emerging all the time.

Georgina, Genevieve, Sian – British Baby Names blogger Elea helped Marisa and her husband brainstorm names to honor grandmother Jeanne, called Jeannie. Reinventing the name of a loved one is increasingly common, a way to connect a child to a favorite grandparent or a dear family friend while still giving the child a name of his own.

Thia Patrice – Family inspiration was everywhere this week. Swistle helped a couple settle on a middle name for their new daughter. Thia is named after grandmother Cynthia, and is pronounced just like Thea. Patrice is another family name.

Everett, Calder – Crowdsourcing is more and more common. It’s one thing to take suggestions, but Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson, a gold medalist in ice hockey at the 2010 and 2014 games, and husband Scott Reid, have devised a tournament-style bracket to narrow down their son’s name. Everett and Calder are two of my favorites on their shortlist. Let’s assume Molson won’t win!

Rafael ThomasAlec and Hilaria Baldwin recently shared pictures of new son Rafael Thomas. Rafael joins big sister Carmen Gabriela. Hilaria was born in Mallorca, so the children’s Spanish names reflect mom’s heritage. There’s another layer of meaning to Rafael’s middle: Hilaria’s maiden name is Thomas.

Esther Ballantine – Speaking of family middles, did you hear that singer Sophie B. Hawkins welcomed her second child? Daughter Esther Ballantine joins big brother Dashiell Gaston. Sure enough, Ballantine is the B. in Sophie’s name, too. Sharing a family middle is a great way to connect the generations.

Charlie OceanJeff Goldblum and Emilie Livingston are new parents. Jeff had previously shared that Elliot Charlie was their favorite name for a boy. No word yet on why Charlie was promoted to the first spot, or if there’s a story behind Ocean. Here’s hoping the proud papa gives an interview soon.

Zelda Violet Frissberg – We’re not just choosing firsts and middles anymore. Parents are thinking differently about surnames, too. Emma Bloomberg, daughter of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and her husband, Chris Frissora, took a fresh approach. Their new daughter’s full name is Zelda Violet Frissberg – a smoosh of their surnames. The couple welcomed their daughter in March. Zelda joins cousin Jasper, son of Georgina Bloomberg.

Readers, what inspired you?