Noun Names for the New Year: Dahlia, Deacon, Dior and Velvet

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

We’re just days into the new year, and there’s so much to anticipate.

What will Zara Phillips Tindall, the least conventionally named of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren, name her first child?  When the 2013 data is released, will Jacob still be the most common name for boys born in the US, or will Mason unseat him?  Which fictional character names will take us by surprise?

But this week, I’m thinking about a very specific question: of all the unconventional word name possibilities, which will go from sounding wacky and way out there to mainstream in 2014?

Kids called Willow, River, Scarlett, Genesis, Serenity, and Cash are nothing new, but not so long ago those all sounded as outlandish as Apple or Bear.

Earlier this week The Tennessean reported that the majority of Americans are completely fine with kids called Messiah.  That’s pretty tolerant – if we can handle Messiah, surely Pilot is no big deal.

And yet, I wonder about the power of noun names to influence our choices.  Nancy recently shared a quote on nominative determinism – an elaborate way of saying that your name determines your future.

Will calling your child Forest make him outdoorsy?  Will Aria love to sing?  Can Cash expect to hit it big on Wall Street – or maybe Vegas?  Is Valor brave and Honor honorable?

Plenty of parents must be hoping this is true.  Or at least they’re untroubled by the possibility.  Because we’ve been borrowing from the dictionary with abandon as 2013 slipped into 2014.

Crimson – If Scarlett and Ruby are mainstream, why not Crimson?  I think it works well for a daughter or a son, though this week’s uproar is about a newborn boy named Krimson Tyde.  Yes, the parents are huge University of Alabama football fans, and they’re hoping that junior shares their loyalties.  It is easy to be dismissive of choices like this, but let’s face it – an awful lot of kids are named after coaches and quarterbacks.  Crimson fits with color name trends, and even Krimson isn’t so crazy in our age of Kayden and Kroy.

VelvetAustralian actors Zoe Tuckwell-Smith and Damon Gameau recently shared their new daughter’s luxe name – Velvet.  Once I’d have dismissed Velvet as showy and over-the-top, but my reaction to the news was positive.  (Aussie baby name blogger extraordinaire, Anna Otto, agrees.)  Scarlett, Violet, Velvet.  A dozen girls received the name in the US in 2012, so she’s an under-the-radar possibility for daring namers, or Elizabeth Taylor fans.

Dahlia RaeTop Chef judge Gail Simmons is a new mom!  She and husband Jeffrey Abrams went with the vintage, lady-like botanical Dahlia for their new daughter.  The flowery first name is punched up by gender-neutral modern middle Rae.  It’s a great combination, and one that hits the familiar-but-not-common sweet spot.

Dior – I know.  You’re not convinced.  The first 2014 baby born in Connecticut was named Dior.  (Am I the only one who spends January 1st waiting to hear stories of New Year babies for the names?) Dior is one of those extravagant choices, like Chanel or Armani.  And yet, forget the designer label and isn’t her sound attractive?  Harper, Piper, Summer, Juniper … why not Dior?  On sound alone, j’adore Dior.

Deacon – Looking for proof that wacky celebrity baby names become totally mainstream?  Look no further than custom art from Small Words.  Kim recently painted a piece for Deacon.  I remember hearing comments like, “Ava is a nice name, but what was Reese thinking when she named her son Deacon?”  Now he seems right at home with Turner and Cash and Anna Rose and Will Ford, all names appearing on Small Words’ artwork in recent weeks.

Fox – First there was the character from The X Files.  Then maternity concierge Rosie Pope helped out the parents of a baby boy called Fox on her reality show.  Now it seems like Fox is the new Max and Leo combined.  Bree recently spotted this name on her wanderings at Apartment Therapy, that bastion of stylish nurseries and nicely named children.

Ava Blue Beyonce and Jay-Z have not stopped parents from considering Blue for their babies.  Ava Blue appeared in a recent birth announcement.  When it comes to choosing middles, Rose might be most parents’ go-to, but Blue is the bolder possibility of the moment.  Which reminds me … in a few weeks, we enter the Year of the Horse on the Chinese Zodiac, but did you know it will be the Year of the Blue Horse?  Even more reason to consider the colorful middle.

Ara – Traditions change, not only in the US, but all over the world.  Korean families once delegated name-choosing to the grandfather, but these days the parents are exercising their own creativity, especially when it comes to naming girls.  Ara means sea, and was chosen by one couple for their daughter’s name.  It’s quite lovely, and if we’ve adopted Kai for boys, wouldn’t Ara make an interesting sister name?

Zephyr – Let’s end with a name from British Baby Names’ 2013 round-up of Telegraph and Times birth announcements – the mythological Zephyr, the gentle west wind.  With choices like Zachary and Xavier in the US Top 100, Zephyr starts to sound more approachable.  Zeph reminds me of Jeff, now firmly in dad-name territory, and Zephyr shares his –r ending with Carter, Parker, Hunter, and lots of other mainstream choices for boys.  Zephyr is still a daring, eyebrow-raising kind of choice – but so are plenty of other names that wear well in 2014.

Which noun and word names do you think we’ll hear more of in 2014?  Are there word names that you might use?

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