North West: Behind Kim and Kanye’s baby name

by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have reportedly named their newborn daughter North,  and less than 24 hours after the announcement, all directional jokes have officially been cracked.

Although that won’t stop anyone from continuing to make them for the rest of little North West’s life, the obvious problem with the otherwise-attractive name.  Which begs the question: Did Kim and Kanye choose the name despite or because of its punniness?  We’re betting the Kim resisted choosing a name that was inherently a joke, but Kanye refused to alter course.

North West had surfaced months ago as Kanye’s name of choice but was pooh-poohed as just another absurd rumor.  And Kim herself, in a Jay Leno interview in March, declared that North was out of the question – but added that she did kind of like Easton.  And she also said that they weren’t tied to a K name, that their list was in fact half K and half not.

Early reports following the baby’s June 15 birth said the name definitely began with a K, and was given variously as Kai Georgia Dona, Klementine Star, and Kaidence Donda.  Some people actually suggest that the baby be called Kimye or Kardashia.

But now it seems that in the end Kanye got his first choice: North (no middle name) West, with the nickname Nori – Japanese for seaweed.

Nameberry predicted North to be one of the major trend names of 2013 back in November, along with related names such as Winter, January, and Snow.  And in recent polls, 85% of our readers prefer the name North to South, which has been used even less frequently as a first name.

Other celebrity babies with directional names include Marley Shelton’s daughter West, Jenna Fisher’s son Weston, and two Eastons, one of each gender – Jenna Elfman’s son and Elisabeth Rohm’s daughter.

North was given as a name to 13 baby boys in 2012, according to official U.S. records, and doesn’t appear at all on the records for girls.  The Social Security Administration lists only names given to five or more babies, to protect privacy, so in fact there may be four baby girls recently named North….or North West may have a truly unique name.

Will the couple’s choice of North influence the popularity of the name, the way Kourtney’s choice of Mason propelled that occupational name to Number 2 on the boys’ chart while turning the ancient Penelope into a trendy name?

The trans-gender quality of the choice complicates its popularity potential.  If the baby had been a boy and named North, the name would undoubtedly have become much more popular.  But its high-profile use for a baby girl is likely to dampen its rise as a boys’ name. .At the same time, North is a more challenging choice for a non-celebrity baby girl, even one who doesn’t have the last name West, so it’s unlikely to zoom up the charts the way such celebrity baby names as Violet and Ava have.

Not every notable baby name becomes popular.  Suri and Apple are two well-documented choices that have not caught fire with the general populace.  North and Nori could well follow suit.

And then there are those celebrity babies with joke-y names who grew up to change them.  Zowie Bowie, son of David, became Duncan Jones and Free Carradine, child of Barbara Hershey and David Carradine, changed his name to just plain Tom.

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10 Responses to “North West: Behind Kim and Kanye’s baby name”

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nikkiolle Says:

June 21st, 2013 at 9:44 am

I am very upset at this. North was on our top list for boys, now it is ruined. I think it wouldnt be so bad if his last name wasnt West. Its an awful punny name and makes it way worse. North is fine for a girl, and North Kardashian would have been stylish, but North West makes the name a never ending celebrity joke and probably less useful for the general public because of the pun.

MaScha2 Says:

June 21st, 2013 at 10:09 am

It makes me sick that they would use an innocent child as a publicity stunt. There is nothing the Kardashians won’t do for attention from a sex tape to a fake marriage. They have crossed a line this time. Watch them trademark this name and try to build a brand from it. I feel sorry for the innocent baby.

spotlightstarlit Says:

June 21st, 2013 at 11:57 am

I wonder if after this round of publicity blows over if Kim might make headlines again for changing her daughter’s name. Hopefully not to Knorth.

southern.maple Says:

June 21st, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I sincerely hope that they did not actually name that poor girl North West. What an awful joke.

Mila Says:

June 21st, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Perhaps her nickname could be Kompass.

lemon Says:

June 21st, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Honestly, I think everybody else should use North. It’s a darn cool name! And, it would sound great with most other last names! All things aside, I think it was a novel choice for Kim and Kanye – if they had gone Hispanic and given the baby Kim’s last name. If the baby was named North Kardashian, we would still be talking, but we’d be criticizing Kim for “branding” her child with her publicity statement of a last name instead of making a joke of her child by naming it after something you’d find on a compass. I mean, really, which would you take? I’d take the Kardashian name over a direction.

North West is a spectacle of a name, no question about it. Say what you will about Kim Kardashian, but she strikes me as fairly savvy and smarter than a rock, so the fact that she named her child a direction is rather appalling, if not shocking. Kanye, well, I just keep picturing him telling Jay-Z that his daughter is named North West and Jay-Z silently mocking him and gloating about his far superior name choice (i.e., Blue Ivy Carter). How opinionated sisters Kourtney and Khloe didn’t get in on this and tell Kim her choice (though I generally agree it was Kanye’s choice) was ridiculous, I will never know. This whole thing stinks of suspicious activity to me.

Kanye not including even a smidgeon of his mother’s name stuns me, too. I even thought they’d name the baby after themselves, using variations of their middle names. Noel and Omari. Noella Mari West? Attractive, no?

I hereby urge Kim to take back the reins on this baby naming disaster – or get Kris to knock some sense into Kanye and convince him to use a K name – and legally change the little lady’s name to Kita. It starts with a K, it means “north” in Japanese (so Kanye can still call her North West when he needs a boost), and it’s a statement name without being ridiculous.

notcinnamon Says:

June 21st, 2013 at 10:32 pm

North won’t go as high as Nori will, from the exposure.

KTook76 Says:

June 22nd, 2013 at 4:31 am

Speaking as someone who’s maiden name is West, this name has to be some kind of piss-take. Until I hear some reasonable explanation come out of Kim or Kanye’s mouths I will continue to think this is just another step in demonstrating how ridiculous this whole ‘celebrity’ family is. They are truly becoming a caricature of themselves and, honestly, it’s just simply embarrassing now. Very disheartening that they, in one foul swoop, destroyed the brilliant name of North!

Pam Says:

June 22nd, 2013 at 8:31 am

So many great ideas and sensible thoughts here! Nikkiolle, I definitely feel your pain. North is a great name and I would be very upset if I’d planned to use it for a son. But just think, it would definitely be worse if you’d already done so!

Lemon, Kita is brilliant!

Notcinnamon, I totally agree: Nori is the name that will catch on, at least to some extent. My favorite local sushi place is called Nori!

And Spotlightstarlit, I’ve been thinking the same thing — given the lack of commentary on the name, I wonder if there will be a “stunning reversal” in which the name is revealed not to be North after all! Gotta be some Baby Name Regret going on over there.

MissyLynn Says:

July 30th, 2013 at 10:16 am

@Lemon I totally agree with you! Although I feel obligated to point out that Kardashian is not a Hispanic name, it’s Armenian in origin.

And as you mentioned- Kita would have been perfect!

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