Meanings of Names: The Nameberry 9–Blythe, Bridger and Bram

This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel looks  at the sometimes hidden meaning of names –the associations that often go beneath and  beyond their literal meanings.

It’s easy to look up the meaning of a name.

Sure, they can be subject to debate.  Do Libby and Betsy really retain Elizabeth’s meaning?  But meanings are right there, a few keystrokes away for anyone with internet access.

It is much tougher to nail down associations.  The name Cecilia means blind, but my first thought is the Simon & Garfunkel song.  Caleb means dog, but all of the Calebs I’ve known have been cute little boys.

If meanings rarely change, associations are always shifting.  We forget a book or a movie, or a song falls out of fashion.  Bridget was once a generic term for a maid, but today it is a perfectly acceptable name for a daughter.

This week’s nine most newsworthy baby names all have strong positive associations, though none of them are in the US Top Ten – yet.

On to this week’s baby name news:

Elijah Joseph Daniel – It’s a second son for Elton and David, and little brother for Zachary Jackson LevonZachary and Elijah are great brother names – mainstream choices that aren’t invented, but feel very current in 2013.  Both boys share the initial J in the second spot, and their extra middle pays homage to one of dad’s smash hit songs.  Plenty of boys have received Daniel as a name, but few have a story like little Elijah’s.

Knox Addison – Actress Amanda Righetti and her husband Jordan Alan have welcomed a son named Knox Addison.  From a preppy character in Dead Poet’s Society to a JoliePitt kid, Knox has taken quite the journey.  He’s a stylish, fast-rising name.  Knox’s edge is softened with the increasingly feminine Addison in the middle spot.  It’s a dashing combination.

Magnus – I met my first baby Magnus about eight years ago, when it seemed like an almost outlandish choice.  But now Magnus is everywhere.  Smart Bites for Baby cookbook author Mika Shino is mom to a Magnus, too.  Magnus means great – and he feels like a bold, grand name, too.

Blythe – A Swistle reader asked about this one.  She’s another short, feminine-but-not-frilly name for a daughter, a sister for Brooke and BlairBlithe is an archaic word meaning happy, seldom heard in regular speech.  She makes me think of Shakespeare, but is her sound too close to the word blight?  I spotted Blythe in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, suggesting that she might be catching on.

Max Alice – When I saw this Australian birth announcement, my first thought was Maxwell Lue, Maxwell Drew, and now Max Alice … is Max going to the girls?  But on reflection, I think Max Alice feels more feminine.  Waltzing More than Matilda reported on the new arrival, daughter of a wildly successful Russian-Australian entrepreneur and his fashionista wife.  Girls answer to Alex, and the zippy, retro Maxine is a fabulous name.  Why not just Max?  It worked for Jessica Alba.

Carrie – Traditionally a short form of Caroline, does Carrie stand on her own?  Blue Juniper points out her many faces – stylish singleton Carrie Bradshaw, now back on television in a CW prequel; the tragically telekenetic Stephen King character, ready to reappear in a remake of the horror film this Spring; and Claire Danes’ heroine on Homeland.

Alabama – As place names go, Alabama should work.  She fits right between Savannah and all of those Al– names for girls.  There’s Alabama Worley, Patricia Arquette’s character in True Romance.  She and Christian Slater tangle with drug dealers, gangsters and eventually live happily ever after. Alabama feels fresh and unexpected, a big name.  Drea de Matteo and Shooter Jennings used the name for a daughter; so did Shanna Moakler and Blink-182’s Travis Barker.

Bridger – If you live in the Mountain West, you’ve probably met a boy named Bridger.  It’s a fascinating name, likely inspired by the Bridger Mountains, found in Montana and Wyoming.  The same birth announcements that gave us Alabama also included a Bridger Albert Marshall.  It’s a rugged, outdoorsy name for a boy that feels unexpected in much of the country, though he’s made the US Top 100 in states near the mountain range.

Bram – Lists of most popular names continue to come in from all around the world.  Last week saw the release of data from the Netherlands, where Bram has risen to claim the #2 spot.  He’s part-Stoker, part-Abraham Lincoln.  As short as Max, Gus, Cole, or Finn, Bram makes for a perfectly unexpected name in the English-speaking world.

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23 Responses to “Meanings of Names: The Nameberry 9–Blythe, Bridger and Bram”

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Flick Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 12:33 am

Max Alice is seriously puke-worthy.

Knox Addison, on the other hand, is really awesome, I love seeing Addison on a boy where it belongs and it goes really well with Knox.

MissusAytch Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 12:38 am

Bram is a longtime favorite. Glad to see others loving it.

Alabama Worley is one of my favorite movie characters, but while I love the name in theory and for her character, it’s a bit much for a baby IMO. The nickname Bama is super cute, tho.

MirandaSings Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 12:42 am

My sister’s name is Blythe! I’ve always thought it was perfectly lovely, and because she’s such a cheerful, happy person, I think its meaning is perfect too.

cosmic_dusts Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 2:53 am

Bram is my top name for a boy, I love it!

KrissyKat Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 3:29 am

Love Bram!

skizzo Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 6:55 am

Knox Addison is great, I love seeing male names gone pink, return to their original gender.

Magnus is still awful.

MinnieAbby Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 8:20 am

I love Blythe! I agree with Flick, Knox Addison is nice for a boy.

southern.maple Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 10:45 am

If Elijah isn’t in the top ten when the 2012 stats are released in May, I’ll be very surprised. Bram has started to grow on me lately. I love seeing Addison on a boy.

Jenna5128 Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 10:52 am

Disagree on Bridget being usable. I am a case study of why it is not. It is so unusual that it begs for mocking as a child. I was “Bridget the Midget” until I was a teen and then “Frigid Bridget” as a teen (the lack of a perfect rhyme didn’t stop the boys) NO ONE can spell it. I spend every day of my life correcting people. In today’s email world, this means I constantly miss emails because I tell people over the phone what my email address is, and they still don’t listen and arbitrarily add an extra “t” or change the “e” to an “i”. The name has been a headache since birth and for what? Pick Blythe, or Blair or my sister’s name Brenna or a thousand other cute B names.

Mischa Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 11:05 am

I had to say: thank you for my Monday laugh. The baby photo is hilarious!

Max Alice – good grief is all I can say

Knox Addison – sounds like the name of a banker

Elijah Joseph Daniel – a little heavy on the Bible names

I only like Blythe.

CaraMichelle Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 1:17 pm

I’ve always been fond of the name Blythe, and I rather like Knox Addison.

Two more “newsworthy names.” Today Prince Georg Friedrich and Princess Sophie of Prussia became parents! Sophie gave birth to boy twins – Carl Friedrich and Louis Ferdinand.

linzybindi Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 1:57 pm

LOVE Blythe!!! If I ever have a daughter this will be her name.

I also really like Magnus, Bridger, and Bram.

strawberrytree Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Max Alice is dreadful. I really dislike Bridger as well. Not crazy about Alabama…too country for me.

Love Blythe! Love seeing Addison on a boy. Really digging Bram and Magnus too. There`s a baby Magnus in our playgroup and it`s adorable on him.

twentyeightist Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Blythe is a favorite of mine too. I think Bridger is sort of cute, not sure I’d use it, but it isn’t heinous. Bram is absolutely my favorite on this list.

auroradawn Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I know a guy named Bridger, now in his mid-thirties. His dad loved stories of the old mountain men, so he named his son after Jim Bridger. The Bridger Mountains are probably named for him, too, hmm? I always thought it was a pretty cool name. I heard they would have named a second son Colter, after John Colter, member of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

HerMajesty Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I have resently come to love the name Carrie, so it is a plesant surprise to see it here. Bram is nice, and I like Blythe, but it reminds me too much of a play I was in a few years ago.

Abby Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 8:19 pm

@CaraMichelle – Awesome news! Thank you.

Good to see Bram getting so much positive attention.

@auroradawn – Yes, the Bridger Mountains are named after Jim Bridger … so maybe all the boys are named after Jim! And Colter is pretty awesome.

@Jenna5128 – Interesting – I don’t know any Bridgets in their 20s or 30s or 40s. I do know a little Bridget. She’s 7 – so I suppose she still had middle school to contend with …

annagrace80 Says:

January 21st, 2013 at 10:09 pm

I’m the swistle reader that asked about Blythe!! I love this name, but I think the sound and pronunciation throws people off. Blythe with a voiced th sound like tithe or Blythe with an unvoiced th sound like Ruth, bath, etc?
We will be pronouncing it with the softer th sound like Ruth. Perfect non-frilly girl name IMO!

arreisenlaluz9 Says:

January 22nd, 2013 at 10:15 pm

How bizarre. I actually knew three sisters named Brooke, Blair and Blythe!

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

January 23rd, 2013 at 3:43 am

Max as a girl’s name threw me for a loop – but you’re right, it’s just like calling a girl Alex, so if you accept one you must accept the other.

Love Magnus and Bram!

Annie85 Says:

January 26th, 2013 at 11:20 am

I seriously don’t get the appeal of Maxwell or even just Max on a girl. I mean, what’s so bad about Maxine?
Magnus is a cool, yet daring choice.
Carrie is pretty, but I prefer Carey for a girl, like Carey Mulligan.

40 Blogs You Must Read to Avoid Making a Baby Naming Mistake | Newborn Care Says:

February 3rd, 2013 at 8:41 am

[…] Meanings of Names: The Nameberry 9- Blythe, Bridger, and Bram […]

40 Blogs You Must Read to Avoid Making a Baby Naming Mistake Says:

February 4th, 2013 at 6:56 am

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