India, Maven & Knute: Controversial Baby Names in the News

The Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain

Don’t you love a good baby name controversy?

If you’re in the UK, ITV’s This Morning provided a delicious one last week. The show is exactly what the name implies – a morning talk program with chatter and discussion about current topics, something like The View.

Co-host Holly Willoughby recently introduced the topic of baby names. Guest Katie Hopkins – a reality show villain turned media personality – went on a rant about the names that she dislikes, adding that her children aren’t allowed to play with kids with certain kinds of names.

Hopkins was dismissive of lots of choices, including geographic ones – despite the fact that her daughter is called India. (“It’s not related to a location,” she protested.) Her other children are Poppy and Maximillian.

Another panelist characterized Hopkins as cruel and snooty. I’m inclined to agree. And yet one thing she said struck a chord. She characterized names as shortcuts.

I’m afraid that might be uncomfortably close to the truth.

Names like Nevaeh and Jayden, Jaxon and Makayla can get quite a reaction on baby name forums. Do we carry that same judgment when we meet the children who wear those names?

It’s worth a thought, especially in a week when the birth announcements ranged from the classic to the surprising.

AceJessica Simpson’s new baby boy has a powerful name, the kind that brings to mind heavy metal rockers, World War I flyboys, and winning hands at poker. But Ace has more history than we might imagine, and was given to almost 500 boys last year. Compared to her daughter’s name, Jessica played it safe for her son.

KnuteJessica and fiance Eric are known for being big into family names, and Ace’s middle is no exception. Knute comes from Eric’s Swedish grandfather. It’s a stand-out name, a Scandinavian import worn by kings. Football great Knute Rockne opted for the silent K, but baby Ace’s middle is pronounced ka NOOT.

Keane – While we’re talking about K names, what do you think of Keane? He appeared on Ren’s recent list of K names.  If you’re disappointed to learn that Finn is so popular, Keane could be a less expected option.

Logan – Would you let strangers determine your baby’s name? How ‘bout choosing between your two finalists? Jennifer James and Mark Dixon did just that, leaving it to their fellow patrons at a New Haven coffee shop to vote on Logan or Jackson for their son. Logan won handily. Could the popularity of Hugh Jackman’s X-Men character Wolverine – also known as Logan – be giving this name a boost?

Willem Jan – A European royal family announced a new arrival this week. No, not that one. Instead, Willem Jan is the newest member of the House of Orange-Nassau, a son for Prince Floris and wife Aimee. Willem Jan joins sisters Magali and Eliane, and his full name is Willem Jan Johannes Pieter Floris.

Willa – Look out, Ella. Willa has been quietly on the rise in recent years. Now the new season of True Blood includes a character named Willa, daughter of the dastardly governor of Louisiana. Lisa makes a case for this classic, literary name’s use.

Sloane – Another rising name in the news this week comes to us from Wimbledon. American Sloane Stephens was defeated in the quarter-finals, but at just 20, she’s poised to return. Her tailored name brings to mind the lovely Sloane Peterson from 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but also London’s stylish Sloane Square.  (Thanks to Kelli for pointing out this story.)

Maven SonaeAva meets Mason meets the next big thing in word names? Tracy Morgan and Megan Wollover have welcomed a daughter. A maven is an expert in a specific field. As a word, maven has Hebrew roots, and was popularized in the US by a series of radio commercials for herring in the 1960s. Strange beginnings, maybe, but I think this one works.

Lucy ThomasEli and Abby Manning have also welcomed a new little girl, a sister for Ava Frances. First James, now Thomas – are masculine middle names a new trend for girls? Or are the Mannings honoring a loved one with Lucy’s middle?

Do you find yourself judging names? And what do you think about some of the trends in this week’s list – unisex middles, word names, unusual names borrowed from the family tree?

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required


23 Responses to “India, Maven & Knute: Controversial Baby Names in the News”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

iamamiam Says:

July 6th, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Being honest with our opinions on the forums–where the names are possibilities and have not yet been given to the child(ren)–is completely different from actively avoiding children with names that we perceive as lower/working class. The latter is completely indefensible, in my opinion. There are many names I don’t care for, but judging a person in any way for their given name is ridiculous. I may dislike other parents taste but would never use that as a mechanism for prejudging a child.

Abby Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 6:16 am

A very important point, iammamiam, and nicely said.

Alistephe Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 6:47 am

I honestly felt like slapping that woman across the face! Do you really want to “use a shortcut” rather than spend 10 minutes getting to know the child behind the name?

TheFutureMrsB Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 9:39 am

What about the opposite end. Do people automatically assume someone with an “old” name to be/have pretentious parents? I’ve gotten that a lot when I’m out with my younger in-laws, Hazel and Edith. And someone I worked with said she will never hang out with a “II” or Jr. Let alone maybe a “IV, because its “stuck up” to name a kid after yourself.
Either way you judge it take 5 min to talk to the kid and you’ll see they are not their name.

Aurra Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 9:59 am

Katie Hopkins is just trying to get attention, whether negative or positive.

Maerad Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am

I watched that!

I was wondering what on earth she’d have done with my year group. The ones who were always late and had never done their homework were called Charlotte, Nathan, and Emma. Wonder what she’d make of that…

I did love her children’s names though – Poppy, India and Maximillion (although I prefer just Max) and it was so funny when she claimed that India wasn’t related to a geographical location. Not sure what she’d make of my name choices though. I love Angela, Eliza, Felicity, Alice, Simon, Alexander. All good in her book, but I also love Kaylee, Dante, Cairo, Nairobi, Jenner, Tyler (she had a real thing against Tyler).

I think it’s one thing to hear ‘Nevaeh’ and think ‘oh, I really dislike that name, her parents might have been a bit young’ or to see a ‘Krystynah’ and think ‘oh I really hate that spelling, I wonder if her parents went to college’. And a completely different thing to say my daughter Rosalie can’t play with your Nevaeh/Krystynah/Tyler/Ayden because their names indicate that they are ‘naughty’ or ‘messy’ or even ‘poor’. It’s absolutely ridiculous!

tfzolghadr Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 11:11 am

I love Keane! It’s such a wonderful, strong, handsome name. I’m quite stunned that more people don’t use it…

milasmama Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 11:21 am

Pointless, deliberate snobbery. Katie Hopkins has a bit of a reputation as a fake too, which doesn’t help my opinion of her.

I agree with iamamiam that having opinions on a forum is very different to avoiding a child in real life. I think people do form opinions about parents the names, but to suggest names = personality traits in a child is ridiculous. And having preconceived notions about a name is different to dismissing friendships with a child or their parents before you’ve even met them.

I really feel that in the end, it is Katie and her children who will miss out.

Abby Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 11:27 am

@Maerad – Yes! That’s a huge leap, and a troubling one. My daughter Clio can play with all the Nevaeahs she likes. She actually has two friend with names that fit into the trendy, creatively spelled category – and yes, their moms are MUCH younger than me. But the girls haven’t got a clue … but then, this is the US. Is it different in the UK? I doubt it – Anna May made a nice point about knowing doctors called Kylie …

tori101 Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Ah that episode of This Morning was hilarious. The presenter’s Holly Willoughby’s reaction to Katie Hopkins, was the funniest thing! Defiantly youtube it!

In all honestly I totally agree with Maerad I do thing ‘oh gosh why did she name her child Nevaeh?’ But then I would ever say to my child you cannot play with Nevaeh as she could be ‘poor’, ‘naughty’ or ‘messy’ I mean in all honestly the child could be an angel and the parents where simply experimenting with the trends. Or believed that hey that name is beautiful. Just like little Imogen could be a dreadful bully.

raqkel Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 12:26 pm

“India is not related to a location” has got to be pretty insulting for folks living in the country India… and to the rest of humanity that recognizes India as a location.

I can’t take her seriously.

boyandgirl Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 12:47 pm

I guess I didn’t realize how differently names were viewed in Britain as opposed to the US. While it isn’t my favorite name, Tyler received a lot of hate from this lady. Personally, I see Tyler as a preppy name not low class. My nephew is Tyler and he is brilliant and athletic and has impeccable manners. Regardless, you can never place that burden on an actual child. We are created equal in God’s eyes.

amylette Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Sure there are some names that I associate with a certain kind of person but I’d never judge based solely on a name.

maggiemary Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I don’t want to lower the tone of the blog, but having done a bit of digging (i.e. asking my family in the UK) about this Katie Hopkins woman, I discovered she is someone who was photographed in a “compromising situation” in a field with a married man. Having learned this, she’s hardly someone to lecture about class, as behavior doesn’t get more classless than that really.

juliacharlotte Says:

July 7th, 2013 at 7:20 pm

I still can’t get over the fact that her daughter India had a different meaning then the place, so Brooklyn and London, and Paris can’t?? How extremely hypocritical, I don’t care what their child’s name is but I would definitely not want my children to play with her’s despite their names if this is how they are raised…

iwillpraise Says:

July 8th, 2013 at 1:17 pm

My brother-in-law and his wife are considering Logan as an option for their child (we find out this Thurs if it’s a boy or girl) due in November. All my FIL can say is…”Aren’t there any better names out there than the one from the cartoon character, Wolverine??” His reaction makes my husband and I laugh. Unfortunately for poor first-time opinionated grandpa, the family is very movie oriented and there may just be a media influenced name he’s not too sure about in his near future. I think they are still in the first stages of the naming process though, so we’ll see.

I could totally go for Maven- well, as a middle, that is. With a meaning like “expertise”, I can really see it going far with lovers of intellect or a parent wishing to instill wisdom or brightness; the same category as Claire, Minerva, or Hugh. Sound-wise it’s very similar to Mavis or popular Maeve. I like Maeva myself.

As far as Thomas goes, it could very well be an honorary [maiden] surname; but masculine names actually becoming a girl-middle-name trend? I hope not. It’s not very pleasing or attractive.

iwillpraise Says:

July 8th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

*P.S. Lucy and Ava are a truly adorable sibset!!!

StrixOniro Says:

July 8th, 2013 at 4:46 pm

I sometimes associate names with a certain personality type or class… but I would never judge someone completely based off their name. I don’t care for the names of some of my friends/acquaintances, but does that make me like them any less? Of course not!

Maerad Says:

July 8th, 2013 at 5:13 pm

@Abby I am British and as stated the children in my year who were the ‘worst’ were called Charlotte, Nathan and Emma.

The names she REALLY hated – Brooklyn, London, Brendan and Tyler – are all popular in the US and not in the UK. Which means they are much less common here and in some cases they are used primarily by younger mums. But she really isn’t someone the British public listen to (at least, not the ones who read real newspapers) and my parents, and my friends parents, would never have dreamt of reacting like that to a child because of their name.

The most ‘chavy’ person I know (he’s 18, just had a baby with his fiancée, I grew up with him and we are very different people) but he named his daughter Isabella-Rose Annmarie. A name which this Katie woman claims is fine…

So yeah, I know no Logans, one Brendan, no Nevaehs, no Tylers etc. They are just not common names here (I know a lot of Aidans and Isabellas) the children I see most often are called things like George, Astrid, Vivienne, Holly, Hugh, Laurence, Martha etc. So here a Logan really stands out where as a Poppy or a Max (her children’s names, admittedly India is unusual) doesn’t, which might be where her response is coming from when considered from a cultural perspective. For example, although I love the names Kayla and Kaylee it is unlikely I would use them here because I am not brave enough to give my child a name, that in the UK, which is so uncommon. I am more likely to use something like Angela or indeed Poppy.

But the point is, I have met a Brendan and a Jordan and a Sammi-Jo. And I am friends with all of them and my parents encouraged my friendship with them. Despite the fact that my name is really Caroline and my sister’s is Frances. Names which Katie would say meant we were in a better social sphere (despite all attending the same school!) actually the weirdest names I’ve encountered in the UK were all from students in Private/Public Schools…
(Public in the UK means schools like Eton)

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

July 8th, 2013 at 6:51 pm

I do notice that whenever people have a list of rules regarding baby names, their own children’s names end up breaking it.

I’m still scratching my head as to what else India refers to except the country … I have checked the dictionary and the encyclopaedia, and they both insist that India refers to the Indian subcontinent and nothing else except things related to the country India.

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

July 8th, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Still celebrating being able to comment – woot!

Cheele Says:

July 9th, 2013 at 3:54 am

I do believe Maven was on one of, if not, THE very first poll I ever posted on here. Most of you all thought that I was crazy. Well looky now. Mwahaha… *ahem*. Loved that name for a couple years but have since moved on. Perhaps I should revisit it.

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

July 10th, 2013 at 11:02 pm

In further non-news, Katie Hopkins also hates redheaded babies (“harder to love”), breast feeding mothers (“bonkers”), parents who place their birth notices in the “Telegraph” (children will become criminals), overweight women, leggings, and a store named Primark.

Either name snobs are all completely barking mad, or this lady is a serious attention-whore.

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.