Naming a Girl: Cute, classic, or somewhere in-between
When we first meet Nymphadora Tonks, her introduction goes like this:
Remus Lupin: Nymphadora Tonks, who prefers to be known by her surname only.
Tonks: So would you, if your fool of a mother had called you Nymphadora.
I think “Nymphadora Tonks Syndrome” whenever someone – usually a woman, but not always – feels that her name projects a wildly inaccurate image. It might legally be her name, but it Just. Isn’t. Her.
You’re forgiven for getting it wrong. As parents, we can’t know whether our childrens’ names will fit their future personalities and pursuits.
This week has been all about girl names – from the daffy to the buttoned-down – and the expectations they might bring.
The nine most newsworthy baby names this week are:
Bunny – Katie Price has welcomed baby number five! The British glamour model-turned-singer and reality star is mom to Harvey, Junior, Princess, Jett, and her latest arrival, baby Bunny. Canadian rocker Bryan Adams has a Mirabella Bunny. And it’s not unknown as a given name in the US. But it is awfully cutesy – though other high-profile British birth announcements have included Buddy Bear and Dixie Dot, so maybe Bunny isn’t so out-there by English standards. Still, this one feels more like an affectionate nickname than a serious contender for the birth certificate. Bunny’s dad is Katie’s current husband, Kieran Hayler.
Princess – During her recent pregnancy, Katie mentioned that she had to name her second daughter “something crazy” because she’d called her first born Princess Tiaamii Crystal Esther. Perhaps Princess would have had other ideas. Just as Bunny’s name made headlines, Katie’s ex, Peter, shared that Princess dislikes her frilly name. And the color pink. Arabella can always be Ari or Belle, but how do you tone down Princess Tiaamii?
Peggy – Katie shared her shortlist, and apparently Bunny might have been Peggy. Freckle-faced Peggy is straight out the past, a friend for Betsy and Polly. They’re vintage nicknames that feel fresh and sweet for a child. But we’ve all known plenty of women of accomplishment who have grown up to answer to Peggy and Betsy and Polly, too.
Margaret – Speaking of Peggy, she’s traditionally a nickname for the enduring Margaret. Rumor has it that Margaret is the #1 name for a future Windsor, should Will and Kate welcome a daughter next year. It’s a well-used name in royal circles, and the name of the current queen’s late sister. No word on what the future monarchs might call Margaret privately, but from Peggy to Maggie, Maisie to Margot, there’s no shortage of possibilities.
Ethel – Yes, it’s another name from Katie’s shortlist! Is Ethel so clunky she’s cool? British singer Lily Allen has an Ethel Mary. And Ethel was once a Top Ten staple in the US, ranking in the Top 100 through the 1930s. Could Ethel ever make a comeback? I’m wild about Edith, and of course there’s the next name on this list …
Esther – If Princess does change her name, I’d root for her third middle, Esther. Esther has gone from frumpy to fresh in recent years. With Harper’s ‘r’ ending, Luna’s celestial vibe, and plenty of vintage appeal, Esther is more popular than you might guess. As of 2013, the name ranked #228!
Ada – Since we’re talking all things British, and looking at antique names that wear well today, how about Ada? British Baby Names recently covered women in science, and topping their list? Ada, as in Ada Lovelace, mathematician, daughter of Lord Byron, and the world’s first computer programmer. Ada is also proof that a name can be sweetly vintage and strong, too.
Viola Philomena – Let’s head back to the US, where actress-singer Megan Hilty is a new mom. The Broadway star and Smash alum named her daughter Viola – a cousin to the stylish Violet, with a musical tie, too. Viola exited the US Top 1000 back in the 1970s, but she’s been slowly inching her way back into use over the past few years. Philomena’s story is similar. Together, the combination is lush and unexpected.
Hunter – Is this the anti-Bunny? For every parent choosing a cute name for their kiddo, there are others opting for surname names that feel gender neutral, even masculine. File Mad Men’s Kevin Rahm and wife Amy Lonkar in this camp. Their new daughter is Hunter. No word on whether it is a family name, but it definitely feels fierce.
Would you ever consider a nickname-name like Bunny? A dramatic one like Philomena? How ‘bout surname names like Hunter? I’m definitely more classic than cutesy, but I’ll admit it: as a nickname, I kind of love Bunny.