In Favor of Fitting In: Harper, Haven and Hudson

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

How far would you go to find a truly stand-out name for your child?

Self-described geek dad Stephen McLaughlin has decided to let the internet name his daughter.  His wife insisted that they retain veto power, so the #1 name doesn’t automatically win.

Good thing, too, because as of Saturday morning, the wisdom of crowds had Cthulhu All-Spark as the top choice.

Other suggestions are very wearable, and a few of the most popular suggestions have ties to scifi that would make the geekiest gamer parents proud: Amelia, Luna, Zelda.

The full list alternates between the silly – Unicorn, Moonpod, Sprinkles, Fluttershy, and the truly lovely – Alice, Isla, Aria, Iris, Adelaide, India, Caroline, Claire, Elsa.  Odds are that baby McLaughlin will end up with quite the wearable name when she arrives in April.

It was also the week that ScaryMommy contributor Jen Simon came out strong against strange names.  Yes, she was often one of many Jennifers.  And her son Noah has shared his name with plenty of other kids, including a girl Noa.  But it is tough to stand out.  As she writes, “Even if you think you’re choosing something totally unheard of, someone else out there has the same thought as you.”

There’s something to be said for embracing your favorite name and being confident that your child’s personality and talents will make your kiddo unique, even if she answers to Ava M. at school, or he’s Mason G. on the soccer team.

Which reminds me, Cthulhu is an invention of H.P. Lovecraft, a winged and clawed monster sometimes compared to an octopus.  It’s pronounced ke THOO loo.  I can’t find a record of any child ever given the name in the US.  And yet I’d far rather have a daughter known as Sophia S. rather than Cthulhu, no initial required.

Most of the names in this week’s news do a good job of fitting in.  They’re not too daring, but they’re not the #1 names, either.

Welcome to the world:

Harper Rose – Yes, another baby Harper.  With the middle name Rose.  It’s easy to yawn over a combination this common, but General Hospital’s Kirsten Storms and husband Brendan Barash chose a solid name for their daughter.  No, she’ll never be the only Harper in her generation, but great names become popular for good reasons.

Haven – Could Haven be the next Harper?  She was a surprise when Jessica Alba chose the name for her second daughter in 2011.  The name leapt more than 100 places on the popularity charts in 2012.  Now tennis pro Lindsay Davenport and husband Jonathan Leach have given the name to their new arrival, daughter Haven Michelle.  She joins big brother Jagger, and sisters Lauren and Kaya.

Hudson – One more H name, and another trending choice.  Actor Devon Sawa and wife Dawni have welcomed their first, a son named Hudson.  It’s a surname related to Hugh or Richard, but that’s not necessarily the first association.  Most of us think of Henry Hudson, the navigator and explorer, whose name appears all over the North American map.   There is New York’s Hudson River, and Ontario’s Hudson Bay.  It’s a Top 100 choice in the US, and popular elsewhere in the English-speaking world, too.

Sadie Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams and wife Aryn DrakeLee have welcomed a new daughter named Sadie.  After other retro nicknames like Hattie and Winnie in the headlines, Sadie feels like a very safe choice.  Even if Sadie isn’t surprising, she seems like an easy-to-wear name for a girl born in 2014.

Bennett – Congratulations to Laura Linney and husband Marc Schauer on the arrival of their firstborn, son Bennett.  A cousin of Benedict, an alternative to the very popular Benjamin, Bennett is a name on the rise.  It’s also one of my favorite approaches for finding a name that stands out while fitting in – familiar short form, less common name on the birth certificate.

Armistead – Enough of the mainstream, let’s talk about a few names that are stand-outs.  Bennett’s middle name is Armistead.  Since Linney starred as Mary Ann in the television adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, it seems likely that the middle name is a nod to the author.

GaiaDevious Maids star Dania Ramirez welcomed twins last week.  We’ve already discussed John Aether’s name.  His sister is Gaia Jissel, and their big brother is Kai.  There’s definitely a theme behind the kids’ names – Kai means ocean, or water.  Aether is air.  And Gaia is a primordial Earth goddess.  It’s a clever connection between their names, and isn’t it surprising that we haven’t heard more of Gaia? Maya is so stylish, and Emma Thompson used the name for her daughter in 1999.  Maybe this is her moment.

Maria Eduarda Brazilian actor Henri Castelli welcomed a daughter named Maria Eduarda, a little sister for Lucas.  I’m intrigued by these double names.  The English-speaking world has pretty much abandoned choices like Mary Ann and Mary Ellen, but it is interesting to hear double names in use.  Could they make a comeback here?  Double names and smoosh names still have their appeal.

Olympiada – I’m guessing Sochi residents are pretty excited for the Olympics, just around the corner.  The Moscow Times reported that one couple celebrated the arrival of their daughter in this Olympic year with the name Olympiada.  It’s a stand-out name, but still less outlandish than Cthulhu.

Was it important to you to avoid the Top Ten (or Top 100, or Top 1000) names?  How far would you go to choose a stand-out name?

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