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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18 Responses to “In Favor of Fitting In: Harper, Haven and Hudson”

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crispy Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 2:36 am

I’m in Australia, and Sadie will always be a cleaning lady to me, thanks to an iconic song from an iconic Aussie singer (with trusy scrubbing brush and pail of water.. As the lyrics go).
But I can see the appeal to those unfamiliar with this reference.

Love the combo Bennett Armistead. Handsome and strong, and sounds like a complete gentleman!

crispy Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 2:37 am

*trusty scrubbing brush*

dancingwithdad Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 7:44 am

I’ve always liked Sadie, have a god-daughter named Haven (so can’t use it myself, but love love love it!) and also love Hudson (Hudson Taylor, missionary to China) but find it is becoming to popular!

sorciereblanche Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 9:21 am

Gah! I couldn’t have an online poll like that with so many joke names (I’m looking at you, The Doctor and Doge) but I suppose I’m just as terrible since I jokingly voted for Pikachu. *hangs head in shame*
I don’t entirely agree with Jen’s article, probably because when a name is super common (*cough cough* Sarah and Destiny *cough cough*) and is heard freaking EVERYWHERE, I can’t like it. Just cannot.
Anyway. I like the name Gaia! One of my best friends’ names is Bennett, and there’s a girl in my Algebra class named Haven!

carolinemchd Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 10:34 am

In Brazil, Maria Eduarda is very common, and it has 2 of the cutest nicknames: Duda and Madu! Nice post. I have a sweet spot for Haven and Sadie.

Abby Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 10:40 am

@sorciereblanche – I am surprised at how many completely crazy names are in the poll!

@carolinemchd – Thank you for sharing that about Maria Eduarda! Now I like the combination even more – Madu is charming. 🙂

indiefendi Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 11:56 am

I love Haven. It’s a simple, cool name and a safe place. I love it! I don’t understand the love of Harper. It was kinda cute before everyone started abusing it now I quite detest it.

livia Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 11:57 am

I really like Hudson. Not usually my style, but I find this to be really sweet and solid-sounding.

chi1127 Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Geeks and their humor. LOL! I’d have to say that most of those crazy names in the poll is just geek humor coming through. However, I find when I start hearing popular names popping up on children everywhere, they completely lose any appeal they once had. Of course, I couldn’t even go by Rachel W., so that probably influences my taste.

Giinkies Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I have a double name and it’s fine now. When I was younger, at 10 years old I declared I wanted people to only call me by the first half of my name because I didn’t like it, but now it is fine. My parents wanted to call me Rose Marie but decided that combo was too common and choose another name instead of Rose.

peach25 Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I have always liked “Haven” ever since I found a used copy of an AA Milne book inscribed to a little girl in the 1930s.
I was going to name my new kitten “Harper” in honor of Harper Lee ( too many “Scouts”), but I’m thinking now I’ll go with Zooey to go w/brother kitten Zorro.
Armistead Maupin goes by “Teddy” with family and friends.

Abby Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 7:44 pm

@peach25 – What a great find! Haven must have been a true stand out name in the 1930s. Do you think it could have been for a boy?

@Glinkies – Glad to know you’ve settled into your double name. I always wonder how many people keep using both names into adulthood – I know some who have dropped one half or the other …

@chi1127 – I know what you mean – I do find that when I hear a name used more often, it loses something. That doesn’t mean they’re not great names, but it does diminish their appeal for me.

JenniferMariska Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 8:07 pm

I know a little boy named Haven who is about 7 years old.
Also there’s a Gaia in J.K.Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy.”

jacquigirl Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 8:15 pm

I think its important for me to choose a name out of the top 10, but after that, it doesn’t bother me. For example, I love the name Anna. At number 35, there were around 5,550 girls named Anna in the US in 2012. Divide that into 50 states (I know its not exact by any means) and you have 111 girls for each state. In my state (a very small one), there are about 170 towns. You get about .65 of an Anna for each town. In California, there are about 480 towns, which means there is about .23 of an Anna in each town. The fact that Anna is at number 35 does not make Anna a super popular name. What are the chances of having an Anna in your class if there are only .65 – .23 of an Anna in you town?
It bothers me when parents seek a name out of the top 1000. Like Jen said, that ensures a lifetime of spelling and pronunciation problems. I just don’t see the point. Also, the Nameberry community aside, most people cringe or shake their head when they hear a name that uncommon. Most people would much rather hear Sophia than Saskia, Chloe than Cassia, or Ava than Amity. I’m not saying I feel that way, but I do like to think about what the non name-nerds out there think.

northern_wildflower Says:

January 20th, 2014 at 8:39 pm

For my husband and me, it was important to pick a name outside the top 100, both nation- wide and the state we live in. We were surprised to see that some names were relatively uncommon in the U.S. as a whole, but becoming popular in our state. Also, alternate spellings of names to make them seem less common do not count for us.

peach25 Says:

January 21st, 2014 at 12:03 pm

@abby Pretty sure this Haven was a girl because the book was in library at girls’ camp in NC!

RainbowBright908 Says:

January 21st, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Maria Eduarda! Beautiful! I know someone with a furbaby named Gaia. Beautiful name with really awesome associations. I also love the name Olympia, which sounds similar to Olympiada.

Well said, @jacquigirl 🙂 I’ve tried to drill this exact logic into my hubby’s head. He is insistent on looking outside the top 200. Megan was #199 in 2012, and only 1544 girls in the entire US were given that name. There’s very little chance little Sophia will have to answer to Sophia M. her entire school career- only about 1 in 100 girls was given that name, so it’s highly unlikely she’d have another Sophia in her class, ever.

My little one experienced her first encounter with a toddler who shares her name. His first full given name is the nickname we usually call our daughter. She thought it was *SO COOL!* that she met another kid with her name, that she would not stop yapping about it the whole drive home.

In defense of common names, it’s all the more reason to do like I did, and find an uncommon nickname, or like several friends of mine, go by your middle. Or you can be like my husband- go by your terribly common name, and let your uniqueness shine through your personality. If Olivia is your favorite name, go ahead! Use it. A top ten name today is nowhere near as common as it was 30 years ago. As nameberry bloggers are always quick to point out, names usually become popular for good reason. 😉 I still love the name Jennifer, even if I have at least half a dozen mommy friends named Jennifer.

katybug Says:

January 21st, 2014 at 10:47 pm

@jacquigirl, your logic is sound except for the fact that like minded people tend to gather in the same neighborhoods, attend the same houses of worship, work in the same offices, join the same organizations, etc., so baby names are not as every distributed as the numbers might seem. For example, my son’s name is Conrad, which was given to 275 baby boys the year he was born. Not exeedingly rare, but not common or trendy by any stretch. I never expected to run into another child with his name, but lo and behold, there’s another Conrad that lives in our neighborhood and is just 4 months older than my son. The boys were even enrolled at the same day care center! Now I’m pregnant again and many of my favorite names already appear on our day care center class lists. It just goes to show that self-selection extends to what we name our children.

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