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Musical Baby Names: and more newsy names this week

January 30, 2019 Clare Green

By Clare Green

This week’s news includes baby names inspired by volcanoes, rivers, footballers, Beatniks, Norse myth…and some very original inventions.

Musical babies: Jacob, Phoenix and Gekyume

The starbabies of the week come from all over the musical spectrum – including country and rap – and their names are varied in style too.

At the modern classic end of the scale is Jacob Bryan, Carrie Underwood’s newborn son. His older brother is Isaiah Michael, so it looks like Carrie and her husband have continued the theme of biblical + family name.

In full-on country music style, Angaleena Presley of Pistol Annies named her daughter Phoenix Joeleena Jean. According to her dad, Phoenix was a committee decision by the whole family, Joeleena combines a family friend’s name, Tony Joe, with Leena from mom’s side, and Jean honors a great-grandmother. The result? Lots of country cool.

(Bonus namey fact: Angaleena was pregnant with Phoenix in the video of a song about names!)

And then there’s Gekyume. By all accounts, the rapper XXXTentacion had a stormy relationship with his girlfriend. But she’s chosen to give his posthumous son a name he invented before his death last summer. It looks like the family is calling him Yume for short.

Super Bowl everyman names: Tom and Greg

The Super Bowl is imminent, and these parents are prepared. They’re big fans of the New England Patriots, especially quarterback Tom Brady. They already have a son named Brady, and now they’re expecting another boy, who they’re planning to call…Tom. Would you name two children after the same person?

Another football pundit predicts wave of babies named Greg this season, after Los Angeles Rams player Greg Zuerlein. However, the odds are not so much in Greg’s favor. The nickname on its own reached the Top 100 in the 1960s, but is rare on birth certificates now. The full Gregory is ticking over nicely in the Top 400, but the really successful football-inspired names are ones that feel modern and on-trend, such as Carson.

American Girl names: Blaire

Wherever you stand on American Girl dolls, they have some eclectic names. We talked about them here on the blog a few years ago, and since then more have joined the ranks, including Nanea, Camille, Willa and Luciana. The doll of the year for 2019 is Blaire. (Thanks to Maryann Parada of the American Name Society for sharing the story.)

Blaire has a backstory for our times – she learns how to reduce her screentime – and very much a name for today. More modern-feeling than Claire and more clearly feminine than Blair, Blaire leapt into the US Top 1000 in 2016. It will be interesting to see if the doll has any impact on the name.

Say it right, spell it right

The spelling of names is always a contentious topic. (If you don’t believe me, look at all the discussion on posts like this one.) Sometimes there really is a strong argument for using a rare spelling over the most popular one – like this girl named Cassady after Neal Cassady, a founding figure of the Beat Generation.

However a name is spelled, it’s important to say it correctly. So in advance of the 2020 US elections, here’s a handy guide to pronouncing the prospective candidates’ names, including Kamala, Kirsten and Julián.

Scandi name news: Hekla and Wolf

What volcano names can you think of? Etna has occasionally been used for girls. So has Rainier for boys, with a large proportion of them in Washington state where the mountain is. Shasta, a California volcano, was trendy for girls around 1980.

In Iceland, the most popular name for girls in 2018 was Hekla. That’s the name of one of the country’s most active volcanoes, meaning “cloak”. (It rolls off the tongue better than Eyjafjallajökull.) It’s followed by Embla, a name from Norse mythology that’s crying out for more love from English speakers. Top for boys were international Aron and Scandi favorite Kári, and here’s the full Top 10 list. If you’re into Icelandic names and naming laws, you’ll love this recent episode of the podcast The Allusionist, which is all about them.

Speaking of Scandinavian name laws, Finland has just relaxed its regulations, allowing more names from other cultures, and more forenames (just in case you want multiple middle names). However, not everything goes. Names still not permitted in Finland include the mythical name Fafnir, the surname Topelius, the English Wolf, and the word name Tuhka (“ash”).

Call me a river

From volcanoes to rivers: a man from Dundee, Scotland has named his daughter River Tay after the river in his hometown. It’s a neat way to get in a subtle honor name, as it will only show up in situations where her full name appears. On a side note, River’s twin brother Tony, presumably named after dad Anthony, has a different birthday as they were born on either side of midnight.

Nameless for years

Parents: how long did you take to choose your child’s name? Some people have names picked way before their babies are born (or even conceived), while others take days, weeks months before finalising.

Not many take sixteen years.

But that happened for this girl in Idaho. Her mother put a placeholder asterisk on the birth certificate, then nicknamed her Punky and never got around to registering a legal name. At 16, she was refused a driver’s license without a name, so she chose her own. I must say, Tamara George – a Top 500 name in her birth year, plus a family middle name – is a much more mature choice than I would have made at that age! What about you?

A right royal name change

On the topic of children deciding on their own name…you know when you carefully pick a name for your child, and then they go and introduce themselves as something completely different? Yeah, that happens to Prince William and Kate too.

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