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Names in the News: Elektra, Raja, Goliath and Keats

May 30, 2018 Clare Green

By Clare Green

This week’s news includes some of the rarest names of the year, what’s hot in Australia, what’s banned in Italy, and a girl named after a piece of candy.

Lovely Leigh names

Do you love names ending in -leigh? They’re not a new trend – parents have been using Ashleigh and Kayleigh for decades – but the sheer number of leigh names has boomed over the last few years. Here’s a rundown of all the names ending in -leigh (and just -eigh) used for girls in 2017, from Ryleigh to Zaileigh.

If you’re more of a -ly or -ley person, don’t feel left out: here are the most stylish names with those endings.

Unusual names from Utah and beyond

You may know that parents in Utah are especially inventive when it comes to baby naming. (If not, have a quick read of these posts about Mormon naming trends and traditions.) Some used almost exclusively in Utah in recent years include Mckay, Mckell, Quinlee and Packer. This great essay by Haley Swenson (middle name Star) gives food for thought about why Utah parents, and specifically Mormons, name their kids they way they do. Plus anecdotes, of course.

But it’s not only Utahns who use new names. 1100 names in the 2017 charts appeared for the first time. This article at Quartz has helpfully lists all the top debuts. Several of those -eigh names are on the list, like the highest entry Camreigh).

Even more unusual names spotted at the bottom of the charts? But of course. Goliath, Keats, Keanu, Mowgli, Bender…that would be quite some dinner party.

Celebrity baby names: daring and mainstream

The daring namers in the celebrity world this week were actor Katy Mixon and Olympian Breaux Greer. They’ve just announced the name of their daughter, Elektra Saint. Like Prince Louis, she shares a middle name with her big brother, Kingston. Clearly Katy and Breaux thought Saint was so nice, they used it twice.

At the other end of the scale, America Ferrera chose a Top 30 first name for her son, Sebastian Piers (he shares a middle name with dad, Ryan Piers Williams). She had already hinted that she wasn’t going to use anything as unusual as America, and Sophie correctly guessed she’d choose something fairly mainstream.

Australia’s new Top 100

If you’re looking for an unusual name in Australia, don’t name your baby Oliver or Charlotte. The topped the charts in Australia in 2017, according to the latest McCrindle Report.

While a lot of the top names feel familiar – Olivia and Ava, Noah and William are all up there at the top of the list – there’s actually quite a bit of difference between the US and Aussie Top 100. They only share about half their names.

Top-100 names in Australia but not the US include modern Aussie favorites like Lachlan and Matilda; laid-back nicknames like Billie, Frankie and Nate; and a lot of names that overlap with British tastes, like Harry and Freya. There are a few gender swaps: Darcy is #60 for boys, and Riley is #44 for boys but is below the Top 100 name for girls. To Americans, names like Tyler and Jessica may feel less than fresh, but some names that are still up-and-coming in the States have already made the Top 100 in Australia, like Bodhi and Olive.

More news from down under: blogger Constance Hall has welcomed a son, Raja. I hadn’t heard of Constance until I read this positive reaction to his name by a Hindi speaker, but she deserves to be on every name-lover’s radar. Her other children and stepchildren are BillieViolet, ArloLove (oh, Arlo is in the Aussie Top 100 too), Zeyke, Sunny (a boy), and twins Rumi (boy) and Snow (girl). That’s right, she’s so cool she used Rumi before Beyoncé. I take my hat off.

Italian naming blues: Blu and Benito

Thinking of giving your child a unisex name? Think again in Italy. Parents in Milan have been told to change their daughter Blu’s name because it goes against a decree that a child’s name must correspond to their gender. The couple plan to challenge the order, seeing as a) times change and b) she’s not the only baby Blu to have been born in Italy. There were 5 others in 2016 and 5 in 2015, according to Istat’s handy name-search tool.

Another Italian couple have been summoned to court because their toddler son is named Benito, after his grandfather. The problem? Their family name is Mussolini – as in the fascist leader Benito Mussolini. (They’re not related.) I don’t know whether they can be legally obliged to change his name, or whether it’s more of a precautionary welfare check, but it raises some interesting questions.

It’s a tough call: give up a name you love, and potentially disappoint Nonno…or give your kid the same name as one of the most controversial figures of the twentieth century? In a world where many parents try to avoid sharing names even with minor celebrities, most of us in this situation would probably be thinking of at least moving it to the middle spot, or finding another way to honor their loved one.

Are there any names you had to strike off your list because of a bad surname combo?

A name good enough to eat

Someone who knows about surname combinations is Reese Cupp.

When Mr and Mrs Cupp were expecting their second daughter, they “took the humor and ran with it” – and eight years later, Reese still loves her name (and her candy namesake). She came to light through a competition to find the biggest Reese’s fan.

So here’s an alternative question: are there any names that would make a winning combination with your last name? And would you be like the Cupps and run with it?

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

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