Mara Matilda, Messiah, Everest, and Ivete: Names in the News
Nameberry 9 by Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain
A few months ago, the most controversial name in all of name-dom was Blaer. Because Iceland assigns genders to names, a girl given the name Blaer was unable to use her given name, even though her mom had rafts of evidence suggesting that Blaer should really be considered gender neutral.
Now we’re all focused on Messiah.
If you missed the headlines, Messiah’s parents went to court when they couldn’t agree on a surname for their son – his or hers. The judge made that decision. Plus she went one step further, and changed his first name. Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew declared that Messiah was a title, a title that had only been earned by Jesus Christ.
Martin is mom’s surname.
The Blaer case ended happily, and I’m guessing that Ms. Martin will appeal and have her son’s birth name restored to much fanfare.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, most of us would agree that Messiah is a lot to live up to. But the little guy isn’t alone in his challenge. We’re big on big names these days.
The US welcomed more than 700 new Messiahs in 2012, along with nearly 500 boys called Moses, and over 800 Mavericks. Parents aren’t afraid of names that convey great expectations for their sons.
More than anything, the controversy makes me think of this: if you’re a name nerd, the rise of Messiah is old news. So is the popularity of Elijah and Isaiah for boys and Serenity and Genesis for girls, or the fact that Jackson is a more popular choice than John.
To the uninitiated, all of those things probably come as a surprise.
Other than Messiah, the nine names that made headlines last week were:
Winnie – Yes, this is little Miss Fallon’s second appearance here in as many months. But I can’t resist. Learning that Winnie was named after the lake where her parents got engaged? Poetry. Plus, it explains why Nancy and Jimmy went with just Winnie. The full name of the New Hampshire lake is Winnipesaukee – “beautiful water in a high place.”
Mara Matilda – A great name story is the kind of thing you just want to repeat, isn’t it? Or, in this case, re-tweet. Nancy picked up on this great find @NYCTaxiCabTales. Remember Mara Wilson in 1996’s Matilda, the adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel? A Norwegian couple loved the movie so much that they named their daughter Mara Matilda – and repeated the tale to their Big Apple cabbie.
Helene – I missed the arrival of actor French Stewart’s new daughter earlier this month. She has a truly lovely name – Helene Claire. It’s quite, well, French, and a logical successor to stylish choices like Genevieve and Vivienne.
Maud Elizabeth Daphne Marina – As if the birth of Prince George wasn’t enough, the royal family has welcomed another nicely named child. Lord and Lady Frederick Windsor are new parents to a daughter, the first grandchild for Prince and Princess Michael of Kent. If it all makes you think of tea and scones and the English countryside, think again. The parents live in Los Angeles, where Lady Windsor – Sophie Winkleman – has been seen on Two and a Half Men as Zoey. Hollywood connection aside, Maud is 42nd in line to the throne.
Xano – Another television actor is a first-time parent. Jason Gann plays a dog called Wilfred opposite Elijah Wood on FX. Now he and wife Alejandra Varela are originating the role of parents to Xano William. Xano is a diminutive form of Alexander in Portuguese, so I’m guessing his first name is a nod to mom.
Ivete – While we’re talking Portuguese names, I’m captivated by Ivete, the given name of Latin Grammy Award winner Ivete Sangalo. The singer is huge in Brazil, and she just finished a few performances in the US. Ivete is part-Ivy, part-Juliet – and I can hear her working well in English.
Cairo – From Brazil to … Illinois? Despite wearing the name of the legendary Egyptian city, Cairo Alwin Trimble was an American political figure, born in nineteenth century Princeton, Illinois. He passed the unusual name down to his son, so we can only assume that he didn’t hate it. It definitely is one of the Strangest Names in American Political History, but I like it quite a bit.
Everest – Speaking of unusual, I was delighted to hear that George Lucas and Mellody Hobson gave the name Everest to their new child. But wait – Everest is a girl! Does Everest work for a daughter? I’m not sure, but with nickname possibilities like Evie, it could wear just fine.
Amy Belle – BET alum and Extra correspondent A.J. Calloway and wife Dionne named their new addition Amy Belle. Belle is a very of-the-moment middle, but Amy was a surprise. No word on why the couple went with a 1970s throwback name for their daughter, but it sounds surprisingly fresh in our Lily/Zoe moment.
Have you heard any great names this week?
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on August 18th, 2013 at 11:23 pm
Very cute story with Winnie. Marina and Helene are among my favorites. I like Everest, but for a boy. Denali would be cute on a girl, though.
on August 18th, 2013 at 11:51 pm
Love the stories behind names. I, too, am infatuated with Matilda, and Mara Matilda is adorable. Mara Wilson has talked about how bizarre she feels it is for people to still think of her as a movie star, as she has a totally normal life now– I wonder if she saw that story?
Everest on a girl is terrible– on a boy it’s cute though. It’s too close to Everett and Emmett to be girlie.
Are you pronounced Ivette eye-VETTE? I was pronouncing it like Yvette. EE-vette.
on August 18th, 2013 at 11:51 pm
Are you pronouncing*
Sorry for the typo!
on August 19th, 2013 at 12:08 am
I love the name Ivette! (I’m pronouncing it EE-vette, if it’s eye-VETTE then nevermind lol)
on August 19th, 2013 at 12:19 am
I knew an Ivette in graduate school. I always thought it was EYE-vette.
on August 19th, 2013 at 2:48 am
To clarify pronunciation…
Ivete is pronounced EE-vete
And the nickname Xano in portuguese is pronounced Sha-nu, and not like Xane
on August 19th, 2013 at 4:28 am
I really like the name Messiah as long as you aren’t in a crazy Christian town/city I’m sure its not that bad I’m not even Christian but I think Messiah has the same ring to it as Isaiah’ Micah and other biblical names and I love the nickname Mes or Messy x
on August 19th, 2013 at 10:17 am
Messiah is a dreadful. Can you imagine how difficult living with a name like Messiah which isn’t used at all and holds such strong religious connotations, whether your Jewish, Christian or Muslim? It’d be awful!!
I love Minnie, Mara Matilda, Ivete, ad Cairo.
Everest is strange for girl.
on August 19th, 2013 at 10:35 am
I have an 18-year-old cousin Mara, whose name was also inspired by Mara Wilson… It’s a great name.
on August 19th, 2013 at 1:52 pm
I agree with the judge that Messiah is a title and it only belongs to Jesus, BUT I don’t think she should have changed the baby’s name. We live in a country where we have freedom to name our babies how we like.
I love the cuteness of Winnie Rose, and the story that goes with it. And I like Mara also.
Maud is NMS. To me it is to abrupt and doesn’t sound royal to me…but I’m a peasant..what do I know 🙂
on August 19th, 2013 at 3:41 pm
I’m a fan of Ivete Sangalo (yes, I’m from Brazil), and her name is pronounced like EE-vette in Portuguese.
on August 19th, 2013 at 4:10 pm
The movie Matilda gave me terrible nightmares as a kid, so I could never use the name. It’s cute for someone else though.
Amy is a timeless classic, although I am hopelessly biased. She was my favorite of the Little Women sisters.
on August 19th, 2013 at 5:23 pm
@EmilyVA – It’s nice to hear nice things about Amy. It’s actually my given name. 🙂 I was born in 1973, when EVERYONE was named Amy, and I hated sharing.
@PeachthePrincess – Thanks! I should have added a note on pronunciation.
@Ana – Thanks for the note about Xano. I think Alejandra is Chilean, though, isn’t she? I couldn’t confirm … Would it be the same pronunciation? I haven’t a clue …
@BabyNameCrazy95 – I think you’re right about Messiah’s sound. It just seems like a name with Isaiah, etc. so popular.
@alphabetdem – Interesting about Mara! It seems like she definitely has some namesakes out there! And she was great in the movie, which I saw for the first time ages after it was in the theaters, so I think it must still be in rotation …
on August 19th, 2013 at 8:50 pm
I actually like Everest on a girl….Everett for a boy Everest for a girl. It’s different without being out-there. Nicknames like Eve and Evie give it a feminine touch.
on August 19th, 2013 at 8:58 pm
I met a very wonderful family yesterday, both parents are Latin teachers at my local high school. They have one daughter and two sons; Ithaca Solis, Iliad Ignis, and Icarus Bellator. All their first names are from Greek mythology. Solis means sun in Latin, Ignis means fire, and Bellator means warrior. I instantly fell in love with these names! Although I’m not crazy enough to name my children such unique names, I still love it! The passion behind the names is what I love!!
on September 9th, 2013 at 4:07 pm
Aren’t mountains usually referred to in the feminine? So then Everest for a girl works perfectly!
Without even reading its paragraph I’d made the connection with Mara Matilda. I love alliterative firsts and middles – plus it makes for an even monogram with last initial in the middle!
on September 2nd, 2014 at 4:58 am
Haha my name’s Amy, and I was born in 2000.. I don’t know very many other Amy’s and only one is close to my age
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