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Novel New Names for New Babies: From Briar Rose to Titan Jewell

November 9, 2014 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

I’m a sucker for tradition.

My personal shortlist is packed with moldy oldies: Caradoc and Marguerite, Edith and Asa.  If forced to choose Jaxon or James, Eden or Elizabeth, I’d go with James and Elizabeth, no question.

And yet there’s something appealing about the idea of choosing a completely novel name for your new arrival.  This week’s high profile birth announcements were all about the modern and the new.

It’s fitting for children who are going to grow up in a new world, one where tablets have always been digital, instead of stone.

Choosing a brand new name for your brand new baby is forward-looking, but there’s more than one way to go about it.  There are truly novel names, invented by the parents.  Others are older, rare names that feel fresh.  And some are word names can combine the best of both approaches.

This week’s fresh, new baby names in the news are:

Avri Robert Downey, Jr. sure does love those high value Scrabble letters!  He and wife Susan Levin recently welcomed Avri, a sister for Exton.  Downey is also dad to older son Indio.  Avri is a respelling of the popular Avery, emphasizing a two-syllable pronunciation.  It’s a sleeker look, one that reminds me of Hebrew masculine names like Avi and Ari.  The spelling was given to 30 girls in 2013, and we’ll likely meet even more in the future.

Roel – While Avri is simply a four-letter version of a stylish name, the new Miss Downey’s middle is four letters packed with meaning.  Ro honors Robert’s dad, Robert Sr., as well as his stepmother, Rosemary, and Susan’s mom, Rosie.  The -el comes from Robert’s mom, Elsie, plus Susan’s dad, Eliot.  It’s an awful lot of meaning wrapped up in a short, unexpected, and completely invented name.

Marlowe Jenna von Oy was a child star, appearing on Blossom as Blossom’s BFF Six in the 1990s, and she’s been acting ever since.  Now she and husband Brad Bratcher are parents to two daughters: toddler Gray and new arrival, Marlowe.  Team Marlowe is a popular one with actors – Eva Amurri, Jason Schwartzman, and Sienna Miller have all chosen the name in recent years.  Blogger Heather Armstrong has a Marlo, and so does comedian Rob Corddry.  Jenna credits Gray with choosing her little sister’s name.

Monroe Marlowe’s middle is Monroe.  Two surname names with ‘o’ endings might clash, but there’s something charming and quirky about the combination Marlowe Monroe.  And Monroe – as in Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon’s daughter – is another name rapidly gaining.  It first cracked the US Top 1000 for girls in 2012.

Briar – Something old, something new.  Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen’s daughter is Briar Rose.  If that feels familiar, it’s probably because of the Brothers Grimm.  Their Briar Rose was the basis for Sleeping Beauty, though thanks to Disney, we usually think of her as Princess Aurora.  Briar has yet to chart in the US Top 1000, but has been gaining for years.  It’s the kind of under-the-radar nature name ready for use.

Titan Jewell – Speaking of names with history that still scream modern innovation, Destiny’s Child alum Kelly Rowland and husband Tim Witherspoon recently welcomed their firstborn, son Titan, as in Clash of.  Just like Marlowe, Titan first charted in the US Top 1000 in 2012.  In Greek mythology, the titans were the ruling gods before the rise of Zeus and the Olympians.  Gemstone middle Jewell softens the powerful first.

Beau – Once upon a time, Beau was a Southern gentleman, a rarity put on the map by 1936 bestselling novel turned 1939 blockbuster Gone With the Wind.  Now Beau is among the most stylish of choices, with that vibrant, twenty-first century ‘o’ ending.  Coronation Street’s Tina O’Brien chose the name for her son with Adam Crofts.  Speaking of Gone With the Wind, O’Brien also has a daughter called Scarlett.

Duncan – Let’s stick with names made famous by books and their adaptations for a minute.  A Series of Unfortunate Events debuted in 1999.  Author Daniel Handler published the series under pen name Lemony Snicket – who also serves as the books’ narrator.  Now Unfortunate Events is set to become a Netflix series.  As a given name, Duncan has never risen higher than #377.  Of course, long before Mr. Snicket came long, Duncan was worn by two Kings of Scotland – one of whom appears as a ghost in MacBeth.

Dinah – Along the same lines, Lifetime is set to make a mini series out of Anita Diamant’s bestselling 1997 novel, The Red Tent.  It’s the story of Dinah, a minor Old Testament figure who becomes the main character in the book.  Dinah feels a little bit like Briar or Beau – there’s history to this name, but it’s been long dormant.  Just fifty newborn girls were called Dinah in 2013.  Could a successful mini series change that?  I’m hopeful!


What are your favorite new names –  truly new, newly revived, or newly become names?

About the author

Abby

Abby Sandel is nameberry's Senior Editor and resident Name Sage. Look for her baby name news round-ups every Monday, and her Name Sage columns on Wednesdays. Abby is the creator of the baby name blog Appellation Mountain and mom to Alex and Clio. For a chance to have your questions answered, contact Abby at namesage@nameberry.com.

View all of Abby's articles

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