Globe-Trotting Names: Alexandre, Raphael, and Ysabel
Not so long ago, globe-trotting was the exception. Immigrants quickly adopted the language of their new homes, and we tended to marry and raise children with partners from similar religious and cultural backgrounds.
Now, in our globally-connected world, many families are faced with naming across cultures. The high-profile parents in this week’s round-up can claim roots in Colombia, Cuba, France, Sweden, as well as the US, UK, and Australia. The baby names they chose reflect this diversity.
Some names seem like an attempt to bridge several cultures, like the Monegasque arrival. Others, like one of Michael Jordan’s new daughters, or Melissa George’s son, seem to celebrate one parent’s roots.
The trend isn’t just limited to celebrities and royals. Plenty of us are trying to solve naming riddles: combining Irish roots with Polynesian heritage, or finding Japanese names that work well in English.
If we’re all the jet-set, is it any wonder that our children’s names are so rich with influences from French and Spanish, from history recent and far past? There’s a healthy splash of creativity and daring, too, which seems fitting in a world filled with so much possibility
On to the nine most newsworthy baby names this week:
Alexandre – Let’s start out with one that I missed! Andrea Casiraghi is Princess Caroline’s eldest, and the firstborn grandchild for the late Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III. This makes him second in line to the throne of Monaco, behind his mom. Alexandre is Andrea’s son with wife Tatiana Santo Domingo. The couple made headlines earlier this month when they celebrated a wedding mass – they’d previously been married in a private ceremony – and also baptized Alexandre Andrea, known as Sasha. Sasha is currently third in line to the throne of Monaco.
Finn – We’ve finally learned the name of Owen Wilson’s second son. Big brother Robert Ford is known by his middle. Now Ford has a half-brother called Finn. Mom is Swedish-born personal trainer Caroline Lindqvist. Finn first appeared in the US Top 1000 in 2000. With his combined Irish and Scandinavian roots, plus the literary appeal of Huck Finn, this name has quickly gone from rarity to staple boy’s name.
Raphael – We’ve seen Australian-born actress Melissa George on Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Wife. Now she and French entrepreneur Jean–David Blanc have welcomed son Raphael. It’s a traditional Biblical name with a long history of use. Raphael is a Top Ten name in France. In the US, Spanish spelling Rafael is more popular. Either way, he fits right in with other Biblical favorites like Michael and Gabriel.
Eric – Simon Cowell hinted that his firstborn son with Lauren Silverman might be named Simon. But instead, the television personality named his son Eric, after his dad – another widely rumored contender for baby Cowell’s given name. In the US, Eric ranked in the Top 100 from 1950 through 2010. He’s fallen in recent years, but remains a modern classic.
Lyric – If Eric is a classic, doesn’t it seem logical that Lyric could be used as a boy’s name? Lyric Sonny Roads is the third child for former child star Soleil Moon Frye and producer Jason Goldberg. Then again, we weren’t expecting logical from Soleil Moon. Her older daughters are Poet Sienna Rose and Jagger Joseph Blue – both daring, headline-making choices. Lyric is much more popular as a girls’ name, but is not unheard of for boys.
Ernest – It’s a birth announcement from boy band One Direction – but no, none of the young pop stars are parents just yet. Instead, Louis Tomlinson’s mom welcomed twins. Louis is already the eldest, with five half-sisters: Georgia, from his dad, and Charlotte, Felicite, Phoebe, and Daisy from his mom. Now he’s added a baby brother to the mix: Ernest Rupert Atholl. Could Ernest be among the newest revival names?
Doris – Ernest’s twin sister is Doris Poppet. Yes, Doris! If Ernest surprised me, Doris knocked me right over. Other 1930s names, like Esther, Edith, Gloria, and Irene seem ready for a comeback. But Doris, despite her mythological roots, seemed lost forever. Is it time to reconsider? After all, her big sisters’ names are all pretty stylish. As for Doris’ middle, Poppet is a doll, but also an affectionate term for a girl. File Doris Poppet with Ruby Sweetheart and Daisy Boo.
Victoria – From an unlikely girls’ name to an unassailable classic. The regal Victoria is a fitting name for the daughter of basketball royalty. Michael Jordan and Cuban-American wife Yvette Prieto welcomed identical twin girls last week. Victoria is a Top 100 choice in the US, and is popular in places as distant as Chile and Denmark.
Ysabel – Victoria’s sister has an equally classic name – Ysabel. But the spelling the Jordans used for their daughter is quite rare. Ysabel was given to just 23 girls born in the US in 2012. Could it be a nod towards mom’s Cuban heritage? It is an older spelling of Isabel and Isabelle, once used by notables like Ysabel of Castille, though we know her as Queen Isabella.
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on February 17th, 2014 at 12:50 am
Poppet is so intriguing and I’ve always quite liked Ysabel or even just Ysa. Ernest is another favorite of mine, but I don’t like the nickname Ernie.
on February 17th, 2014 at 2:30 am
I’m loving Raphael & Doris!
on February 17th, 2014 at 2:34 pm
I love the name Ernest, but I can’t get over the nickname Ernie
on February 17th, 2014 at 3:21 pm
Raphael is actually an Apocryphal name, the Apocrypha being unique to Catholic versions of the Bible.
on February 17th, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Ysabel and Raphael are gorgeous names and I hope to see quite a few here on nameberry.
Ernest so very ordinary as is Eric which is so boring.
However, Doris wins over Dora for me although I love Isadora.
on February 17th, 2014 at 5:16 pm
I Iove Raphael, Eric, Victoria and Ysabel. Lyric is good too but I can only see it a girls name. Alexandre and Finn are quite good names and Ernest and Doris seem to be growing on me now that they are being used again.
I’m not sure on the nickname Ernie however.
on February 17th, 2014 at 5:59 pm
I love Finn & Ysabel!
on February 17th, 2014 at 6:29 pm
Yes! I do believe Doris can come back, as can Thelma, Irene, Enid, Thomasina, and even Gertrude and Hortense.
Personally I am sick of fluffy princessy girl names and welcome the strength of Doris.
on February 17th, 2014 at 6:33 pm
It may be apocryphal in Christianity — the story of Tobias and the angel Raphael — but the archangel Raphael, patron of healing and music, is quite a traditionally Jewish name.
Doris is interesting, because does that mean that other names that this site in particular has said are doomed may come back? Phyllis, for example, or Mildred? I love Dorothy and Dorothea — and the Italian nn Doro — and Mildred has always been a favourite. Add Ernest to the mix — my favourite version is the German Ernst, for Ernst Theodor Hoffmann –could Bertram and Stanley not be far behind?
I prefer the Norwegian spelling of Eric — Eirik or Erik.
Alexandre and Ysabel are great versions of two classic names. When I lived in Canada, many of my children’s friends had names representing their ethnic backgrounds — my favourite were four Italian boys: Giancarlo, Paolo, Stefano, and Massimo.
on February 17th, 2014 at 8:08 pm
@LuMary – Thank you! I did a double take when I read that – but then, I’m Catholic. It didn’t cross my mind to fact check it, but you’re quite right.
@miloowen – I often find that I change my opinion over time. A name I think is doomed to obscurity is the next vintage gem due for revival … just add five years or so.
@Mrs_Darling – Agreed! I’m mildly obsessed with Poppet …
@lesliemarion – Yes to Irene and Thomasina! And Hester and lots of other clunky names … so why not Doris?
Interesting to see the split on Ernest/Ernie. Someone else pointed out that Ernie fits with Archie, Alfie, and all of those other NN names so big in the UK right now. Could be …
on February 18th, 2014 at 1:20 am
Raphael is one of my all time faves. Doris is kinda growing on me. It may fit in better in England than the US but Ernest and Doris are actually kind of cute to me. I’m 18 and I was in 6th grade with an Ernest (he was a year or so younger than me) he was kind of a douche though. I like the spelling Isabel better than with the Y but I think the Y adds a unique touch. Isabel is so darn common these days. The Y makes it stand out some. I love these new names!
on February 18th, 2014 at 3:05 am
Although I wouldn’t chose it for my own daughter as it just doesn’t fit with the rest of our names, I do really like Doris. And Stanley – as mentioned in one of the comments – is already making a comeback on the UK!
Finn reminds me of the recent post about names we hear waaay to often. I used to like it, but now it’s just waaay too popular.
on February 19th, 2014 at 9:59 am
I absolutely love Ysabel, Victoria, Alexandre & Finn
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