Naming a Girl: Cute, classic, or somewhere in-between
When we first meet Nymphadora Tonks, her introduction goes like this:Nymphadora Tonks: Don’t call me Nymphadora, Remus. It’s Tonks. 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.
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on September 21st, 2014 at 10:57 pm
Viola and Ada are lovely, but the others, goodness.
on September 21st, 2014 at 11:14 pm
Esther was on my list for a very long time, and I only bumped it as it sounds rather lispy with my last name. Ada is still currently a front runner for me; but the others?? No way.
on September 22nd, 2014 at 6:51 am
‘our childrens’ names will fit their future personalities and pursuits’
why do they have to? people seem too obsessed with making sure everyone else knows exactly who they are and why they are special, yet so few do anything worthy of recognition.
just another layer of the it’s all about me generation.
on September 22nd, 2014 at 7:48 am
@SunKissedChild – Ada and Esther are lovely!
@LeslieMarion – Yes, I’ll admit that I’m still sort of stunned by Bunny … but the picture in the post? Has me thinking it would make a darling nickname …
on September 22nd, 2014 at 8:17 am
I think Princess and Bunny should be reserved as nicknames.
on September 22nd, 2014 at 8:18 am
From this list I like: Ada and Hunter.
From this list I love: Margaret.
on September 22nd, 2014 at 8:19 am
I do strongly feel that Princess and Bunny are a bit on the strange side! There not right for names.
on September 22nd, 2014 at 8:36 am
Growing up in New England, I went to school with plenty of kids whose names were Bunny and Muffy and Chip and Trey. Of course those weren’t their “real” names, which were more likely to include a last name like Gardiner or Griswold, and a first name like Charles IV or Lion V or Elizabeth or Jane. Will there ever be a judge named Bunny? I doubt it. Your kid’s name shouldn’t limit but be limitless in his/her choices for identity.
on September 22nd, 2014 at 9:05 am
Ada, Viola, and Margaret are cute names. Bunny would be a cute nickname
on September 22nd, 2014 at 9:37 am
I agree with @jtucker. Princess and Bunny are fine as family nicknames. They are too cutesy for real life.
Princess is a title, and any little girl’s chances at being a really Princess are slim. Bunnies are sweet. I love them. Cat works, so why not Bunny? As a nickname. Most Cat’s are Catherines. Bunny is too Playboy Bunny, unfortunately.
One nickname I adore is Bitsie, but wouldn’t use it as a full name.
on September 22nd, 2014 at 10:44 am
As family nicknames, fine. Outside of that, no, Bunny and Princess don’t work, IMHO.
I have a young cousin who declared, at age 4, that her name did not suit her and she was choosing a new one. Her new name? Clare. Her parents respected her wishes. She’s now 11, and still chooses to be known by it. It isn’t legally her name, but she may choose to change it legally when she’s older.
on September 22nd, 2014 at 12:06 pm
I guess Bunny is a cute nickname, but it does make me think of movies where they make fun of WASPy people. But Princess? Yikes! I cannot stand when I see little girl stuff that says ‘I’m a princess’ ‘Our little princess’. I’m as girly as anyone else and love Disney princess movies, but for some reason, I cannot stand all the ‘I’m a princess’ stuff.
Ada is cute and I love Margot as a real name, but Margaret still sounds a bit clunky to me.
on September 22nd, 2014 at 4:41 pm
Bunny isn’t that bad but I don’t really like nicknames as full names so Bunny, Ellie, Gracie, Sadie, etc. I don’t see myself ever using.
She also shortlisted Disney which is now on my guilty pleasure list!
on September 24th, 2014 at 11:55 am
I do love Peter Andre, and kept up with his reality show until it ended so I knew already that Princess – bless her – absolutely hated her name. That’s why she’s never Princess round dad Peter’s house, she ‘Pringles’ or ‘Bista’ (with a very cute story behind them).
Viola has to be my favourite from the list, Violet is growing to be one of my favourite names.
on September 24th, 2014 at 1:39 pm
I grew up with a name that was very common at the time that didn’t fit me and I hated with a passion until I changed it when I was about to turn 22. (The name in question is Sherry. I was born in 1971. Very dated now… but even when it was current, I hated it because it never fit me at all.)
on September 24th, 2014 at 1:39 pm
(Oops… submitted too soon… My point being that even a really common, not all that cutesy name can really stink if it doesn’t fit.)
on September 24th, 2014 at 1:51 pm
@mipsy – Ha! I’m originally Amy, born in 1973. I *completely* understand how you feel. And you make a good point – there’s no way to know if your kiddo’s name will fit. I legally became Amy Abigail – Amy – when I was 28. I’ve never regretted it. And while I’ve known some lovely, smart, and accomplished women named Sherry/Cheri/Sheri, I tend to agree … it didn’t stand the test of time. Or maybe that’s because I hear Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons every time I hear the name …
on October 3rd, 2014 at 9:46 am
Princess and Bunny are pretty mean! I’m not opposed to word names by any means, I just think these cutesy, nicknamey ones are a bit condescending to girls older than 8.
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