by Linda Rosenkrantz
It’s become a Nameberry tradition. In celebration of Mother’s Day, we honor a dozen moms who not only have raised highly successful offspring, but who also happen to have—yes—memorable names themselves. Here is this year’s list of the Top 12, including the mom names of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex– now followed by a much wider group of also-interesting also-rans.
The mother of nine children, of whom Mark is the youngest, Alma, nee Donnelly, has a distant link to Nathaniel Hawthorne in her genetic history. The soulful name Alma is, like Agnes and Agatha, finding its way back onto birth certificates after a long hiatus, partly due to appearances in several movies and TV shows, from The Hunger Games to American Horror Stories. Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano named their daughter Alma Bay, and Gal Gadot also has an Alma.
Better known to the world by her nickname Tina, but born Celestine Ann Beyincé, Knowles gave a version of her maiden name to her older daughter. Long popular in France, Celestine was also the name of the painter Degas’ mother.
Most people hearing Ben Affleck’s mother called Chris assume that it’s short for Christine or Christina, but she was actually born Christopher and was an honored public elementary school teacher for 30 years. And yup, Christopher is a boy name rarely heard for girls, but according to one source there have been more than 7,000 baby girl Christophers since 1880.
Activist Cynthia “Cindy” Germanotta and her daughter, born Stefani, united to launch a non-profit group called the Born This Way Foundation in 2011, to mentor kids in self-confidence and careers. The name Cynthia has roots in classical myth, reached the US Top 10 in the 1950s and 60s, and could come back–but sans this mom’s dated nickname Cindy.
Much in the news of late, new grandmother Doria Ragland has been and done many things—as makeup artist, business owner, yoga instructor, and social worker. Doria, much more rarely heard than Daria, is of Greek origin and means ‘of the sea’ or from the city of Doros. Will the royal mother-in-law give it a bounce?
Puerto Rico-born Guadalupe Rodriguez Lopez was an encouraging and motivating stay-at-home mom to her three daughters. Guadalupe is a perennially popular name in Spain that has also had a presence in the US, now ranking at #724.
In addition to being a Lufthansa flight attendant, Kirsten’s mom has been an artist and gallery owner. The Spanish version of Agnes, Inez is suddenly in the air, especially since it was used by Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds for their daughter in 2016. Though not in the US Top 1000, it is #664 on NB and 75 in Sweden.
Australian-born Jules Mann-Stewart has been a top script supervisor for over 30 years. Long a female nickname for Julie and Julia, Jules has stepped forward as a girl’s possibility, a la TV personality Jules Asner, who was born—yes—Julie.
Another Aussie, Leonie Hemsworth is the mother of three hot and handsome actor sons as well as being a teacher of English. One of the old leonine Leo-related names that have started to sound fresh again, Leonie was chosen for their daughter by Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel. Although it doesn’t rank on the SS list, Leonie is #660 on NB, 15th in Germany.
Watts’ mother has been an antiques dealer and costume and set designer. Her Welsh name, pronounced muh-VAHN-wee, has the sweet meaning “my lovely little one.” Musician John Cale used it as the middle name for his daughter Eden.
Pilar Bardem is a well-known, award-winning, Spanish film and TV actress, also known for her outspoken political views; her son dedicated his Oscar to her. This wonderfully strong Spanish name, with literary cred via Hemingway, is now # 346 on Nameberry.
Zenobia Xenakes, who goes by the name Jeanne, was born in Piraeus, Greece and now works for a brokerage. Zenobia—the middle name of Tina’s daughter Alice—has literary ties to Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edith Wharton as well as to Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles. Definitely has comeback potential.
Some other interesting celebrity mom names: