Sweet Spot Baby Names: Romy, Francis and Quinn

For the Nameberry 9 this week, Abby Sandel of Appellation Mountain finds a group of sweet spot baby names--names that sound modern and new, but are still based in tradition.

After last week’s birth announcement for Rainbow Aurora, I thought it might be a quiet week.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Baby names trends are constantly evolving, but I’m struck by a theme in this week’s baby name news. It’s the continuing rise of Modern Choices with Roots. This week’s appellations weren’t as out there as Rainbow, but they’re not all conventionally established names, either.

Camden first appeared in the US Top 1000 in 1990. That’s the same year Riley debuted for girls. Isis arrived in 1994. Romy has never have made the charts.

And yet they don’t feel outlandish, do they? We recognize them as given names, and they’re easy to say and spell.

More parents are finding that sweet spot: a name that seems normal, but wasn’t shared by anyone else in your high school, and wouldn’t have been worn by grandma, either.

Of course, names don’t necessarily stay that way. Take Camden. He’s powerfully popular, suggesting that many parents might choose Camden because he’s different – only to discover that their son shares his name.

Vintage picks like Amelia and Henry remain stylish, but there’s more and more space for settling on a name that previously would not have been considered a name at all.

At the same time, our ability to explore history continues to expand. From saints’ names to royalty to records of every day folk from long ago, it is easy to imagine finding a name that will be history rich, but still stand out. If the pope could break new ground, surely parents can, too.

On to the most newsworthy baby names:

Quinn – Model Maggie Rizer and husband Alexander Mehran are now parents to two boys. Baby brother Quinn joins firstborn Zander – he’s Alexander III – at home.

Romy – While we’re talking model mamas, have you seen the website Romy & the Bunnies? Julia Restoin Roitfield is a model turned art director turned mom, and she named her style website after her young daughter, Romy Nicole. I think of Romy as short for Rosemary or maybe Romilly, but Sofia Coppola and Matt Lauer are among the many bestowing Romy as a given name.

Goldie Ryan – Footwear magnate Steve Madden and his wife Wendy went with this colorful choice for baby #3. Goldie Ryan joins big brother Jack and big sister Stevie. With retro picks like Sadie and Hattie in vogue, no wonder we’re hearing names like Goldie.

Camden William – If you’re counting, this is the third celeb birth announcement for a baby Camden in just a few months. Kristin Cavallari welcomed Camden Jack last August. Just weeks later, Nick Lachey became the proud papa of Camden John. Now Nashville’s Eric Gunderson and wife Emily have chosen the popular place name. Camden Gunderson is a little awkward, but Cam Gunderson could be great.

Riley Anne – It’s another Bachelor baby! Jason and Molly Mesnick met on the reality series’ thirteenth season and made headlines. Molly was actually the runner-up, but the couple ended up together nonetheless. Now they’ve welcomed a daughter, Riley Anne. Jason is also father to Tyler from a previous relationship. Riley is a name that’s just starting to fade for both girls and boys, but is still in heavy use.

Francis – There was a boomlet of babies called Benedict last month. Get ready for at least a few newborns named in honor of newly elected Pope Francis. He’s the first pontiff to answer to Francis. With over 250 predecessors, there are plenty of great papal names to consider: Leo, Felix, and Linus are my favorites. But Francis, Frances, Francesca, Frankie, Francisco, and all of the related names are rich with possibility, too.

Elizabeth Diana Carole – Speaking of the titled and mighty, did Kate slip and reveal the gender of the royal baby? Maybe. Now rumors are circulating that the future heir to the throne is a girl, to be named Elizabeth Diana Carole. It’s a likely guess. Some might dismiss it as slightly stodgy, but neither Diana nor Carole are traditional royal picks. I wonder if they’d go further and bestow a nickname on the future monarch. Queen Betsy, anyone?

ElisendeDo you follow Eponymia? If so, you’ve probably read her posts about the Diving Bells round-up of names from Old Quebec. I’m beyond fascinated with these gorgeous lists: Ludivine, Adeliska, Ismerienne, Bellefleur. There are over 22,000 possibilities at the original site. It’s absolute heaven for those who love obscure, elaborate choices.

Do you prefer names that weren’t in use until recently? Would you rather choose a name that people have been answering to for centuries? Is there any middle ground?

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28 Responses to “Sweet Spot Baby Names: Romy, Francis and Quinn”

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ScarlettsMom Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 1:31 am

I kind of love Goldie and Stevie as a sister set.

I was just looking up a French actress named Ludivine on IMDb and wondering whether it was a popular or obscure name in France!

Elenath Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 1:37 am

I doubt William and Kate will name the baby Elizabeth Diana Carole. Perhaps there will be another name before these but not just this. Someone just put the most likely names together and decided this was it…

sarahmezz Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 2:19 am

I thought Maggie Rizer’s son was named Quinnlann?

I’d be pretty shocked if William and Kate’s baby is named Elizabeth Diana Carole. Elizabeth may be used in the middle spot, but I doubt Diana and Carole will make an appearance at all. My money is still on Alice, Charlotte or Victoria for first name if baby is a girl.

Abby Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 3:02 am

@sarahmezz – You’re right! He’s Quinnlann Clancy. She initially announced it as Quinn on Twitter. His full name came out after this post was filed. Otherwise, I would definitely be talking about Quinnlann – AND Clancy! Clancy knocked me over when I heard it last night …

name-obsession Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 5:15 am

I am, and likely always will be, a fan of names that have been used for a while. Give me a name worn by grandma over something like Rainbow or Isis any day.

sarahmezz Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 6:52 am

@name-obsession – I wish your comment had a like button! I completely agree.

Ysaline Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 8:18 am

I’d love to see a royal baby named Mary or Victoria. Whatever they choose, you just know there’s going to be a spike in popularity for that name worldwide.

Ludivine is not an obscure name in France, though it’s still pretty rare in Quebec. Ludivine had a sharp spike in popularity in the 1980s and continued to be fairly popular through the 1990s, so most Ludivines are now young adults. I’ve perused that web site with 22,000 old Quebec names many times; although some are the names of obscure saints, many are invented names inspired by ancient Greek, Latin and saint names. I think using the same methodology – collecting names from old gravestones – would yield fascinating results in just about any region or country.

Heatherann Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 8:44 am

Isis is the dog in Downton Abbey. I like the name for a little human too.

UselessKitty Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 9:48 am

I love Isis, but would probably save it for a pet cat. I only like Romy as a nickname for Andromeda, which I love!

Thanks for sharing the website with the names from Quebec. I love old french names that are underused. I live in a french community and the same names get used over and over again. I would love to find some uncommon french names to add to my list.

namesage Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 10:21 am

I grew up with an Isis and was always surprised it never caught on more. I do have to throw out there that it seemed like it was difficult for a lot of her little classmates to pronounce, as so many small children have trouble with the s sound. So all I hear when I see it written is Ithith.

I love both Quinlan and Quinn, but was definitely disappointed by the spelling Maggie Rizer chose. I wondered if there was some reasoning behind it, such as it was a family name or something like that. Hope so.

Goldie as a nn for Marigold is a guilty pleasure of mine, and I love to see my guilty pleasure names on someone else’s babies so I was particularly thrilled with this birth announcement!

As for Camden, while I do like the sound of it, it’s quite popular in the Midwest where I live and has a very Caden/Jaxon type of feel to me. Not much of a fan.

Now Romy on the other hand…LOVE IT. It’s on my short list as a nn for Rosemary. I feel like it has lots of the qualities I’m looking for in a little girl name! So let’s keep it out of the spotlight, ok? 🙂

elrock13 Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Isis is super cute! I love it! Romy I’m not as excited about. I’ve always found this name kind of ugly sounding. I think Rosemary is a far pretty choice.

EmilyVA Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I read about Elizabeth Diana Carole in Us Weekly. Speculation ran that Carole would be in honor of Kate’s mother Carole and Prince Charles Carole being a form of Charles. I was disappointed that there was nothing creative about it but not surprised. I would be surprised if Diana was not somehow honored. She may have caused his grandmother pain, but she was his mother. Alive I think the chances of her being honored would have been far less, but I think her death has left the stigma far behind her. I personally thought they would go with either Charlotte or Caroline Elizabeth Diana. For a boy I like Arthur.

encore Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 1:55 pm

I like Camden. And I really like Elizabeth Diana Carole for the little princess!

JH Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I doubt Kate and William will name their baby girl that…if it is a girl. I would hope they’d be a little more creative than that.

To answer the question, I prefer older names. I’m naming my baby (due next month) after my grandpa and will include family names for each of my children. I wasn’t named after anyone and always wanted to name my kids after someone. I just can’t jump on the bandwagon of new, made up, or word-type names. Classic names are classic for a reason.

CatPai Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 3:35 pm

I’m excited by this article. I’m due with twin girls in July, and I’ve grow tired of all the granny names. While I lean towards classic, I tend to like easy to say and spell also. Quinn, Goldie and Francis are defiantly sweet to me. I’m over suggestions of Mavis, Clementine and the like…

GrecianErn Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 3:39 pm

as one of 9 Erins, Aarons, Erics and Ericas in a single chemistry class, I have not and will not go for the popular name.

I married into an extremely common last name too, so the chances of our kids having a similar name to someone else increase.

Our son had an uncommon, but easy name when he was born almost 5 years ago… now it keeps popping up on “Cowboy or Western” lists – never saw that coming. 🙂

from this list, I love Romy. That’s it. Our name choices have to be past the top 50 on the State and National lists. After #100 is even better. A few of them are super common, but in the 200s… it’s funny.

skizzo Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 4:16 pm

@JH: you do know there are classic names without being overused right? Clarence is a classic yet its not overused like William or David…

larkub101 Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Does anyone else cringe at Isis Sidney? I mean I like Isis and Sidney both separately, but this is a terrible case of run-on name. Isisidney. That’s really how I see it, otherwise it’s cute!

tori101 Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I’m with name-obsession I’m a classic’s girl. I’d rather name my child a ‘grandma’ or ‘granddad’ name rather than something that has literally been created.
I mean Camden just sounds trashy, Riley as a first name for a girl is dreadful. I mean Catherine Riley or Elizabeth Riley I like but Riley Elizabeth I hate because Riley is an Irish boys name and feels masculine. Romy feels like a nickname and lacks the formality of nicknames like Evie to work as a given name in my honest opinion. Quinn is rather cute though as is Isis. But Isis Sidney runs together I agree with larkub101 it’s cringey.


JH Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 6:53 pm

@skizzo, of course I am! I didn’t say I only like popular classic names. Just classic names in general. 🙂 The more popular a name gets the less appealing it is to me. I am a history nerd (I was a history major in college…told you, nerd, haha) and love older names.

katie8765 Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I really dislike Riley (any spelling variation too) on a girl. I absolutely adore it on a boy, I hate to see it go to the girls side.

EmilyVA Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I like Isis. I think it’s a great name and classic in the way Athena is classic. My sister had a friend with this name and I think its cool. I do think that I would not use this name with any S name in the middle. I would consider Isis classic, but not popular.

UniqueNameLover Says:

March 18th, 2013 at 9:07 pm

I love the name Isis. Very beautiful.

AnuthriumInvidia Says:

March 21st, 2013 at 12:33 pm

My good friends named their daughter Isis.

wickedjr89 Says:

October 31st, 2013 at 9:11 pm

I’m sorry but I can’t get over Camden. I live in South Jersey, we have a Camden county and city, the WORST place you can be here. People know, if you have to go to Camden (does have a nice hospital..only good thing) you get the heck out ASAP! It’s full of murder, drugs and crime all around. Never go into Camden after dark, or at all if you don’t have to! It’s THAT bad! I think anyone that grows up here, if they name their baby Camden (never heard of one thankfully!) that they must HATE their child with a passion! If you are named Camden and come here from elsewhere you may just have to explain that your parents weren’t criminals and didn’t hate you! You will be made fun of as well i’m pretty sure of it. I’d feel terrible for anyone named Camden here.

On a better note, I adore the name Quinn! 🙂

wickedjr89 Says:

October 31st, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Camden makes number 2 on the most dangerous cities in the US http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/neighborhoods/crime-rates/top100dangerous/

JessDeLove Says:

December 12th, 2013 at 4:00 am

Camden Town is also a really vibrant part of London where rockers hang out and you can see lots of live music. It was named after 1st Earl Camden in 1795. Naming kids after areas of a city sounds odd if you are from that city, as you use the word in such a pedestrian way i.e. ‘I’m going to Camden this evening’ in the same way that you would say ‘I’m going to Costco this evening’. But I guess if you don’t live near a Camden that’s fine. If I disassociate the word Camden from all connotations of Camden Town in my mind I can see it makes a nice name.

moxielove Says:

June 10th, 2014 at 8:34 pm

My daughter was ***thisclose*** to being an Isis. It’s the name of my favorite Bob Dylan song. I love so much about it and definitely don’t consider it a name like Rainbow which is firmly a noun name with definite hippie connections.

However at the last minute I worried about her having a lisp :/ and trying to say things like “This is Isis’s ice cream” and we went with Petra.

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