Pretty Girl Names: This week’s Nameberry 9

Some pretty girl names–and a couple of attractive boys’ too–are highlighted by Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel for this week’s The Nameberry 9.

It was a good week for gorgeous girl names. From current favorites to up and coming possibilities, pop culture gave us a quartet of new daughters with noteworthy names.

Beyond new babies, a literary character from none other than J.K. Rowling’s latest novel answers to a promising appellation, as does the teenaged vampire sweetheart from Halloween-themed box office winner Hotel Transylvania.

This past week wasn’t all about the girls, though. One classically named boy also makes the list of newsworthy birth announcements.

All of this reminds me that while the mainstream media prefers to focus on headlines like “Celebs Choose Crazy Names” or “Parents Try Hard to Be Different with Baby Names,” it is very possible to find something lovely and different without resorting to the outrageous. That’s something that berries have always embraced.

Of course, this was also the week that reality star Holly Madison promised that she wanted a “weird name” that “has to be very rare.” She’s due in March. Even if celebs play it safe for a few more months – and I don’t really expect anything outlandish from Claire Danes, Camila Alves, or Adele – there’s a promise that we’ll be hearing at least one spectacularly unusual baby name before too long.

On to this week’s nine baby names in the news:

Gaia – Are you reading J.K. Rowling’s post-Potter debut? Lisa Milbrand reports that A Casual Vacancy is chock full of great names, including this one, borrowed from a goddess. Gaia’s earth mother status makes her an option for parents attracted to nature names, but uncertain about Azalea or Oak. Plus, she’d fit right in with Maya. Emma Thompson named her daughter Gaia Romilly in 1999, but this is one high profile name that remains quite rare.

Olive – Did Drew Barrymore and Will Kopelman name their new daughter after an animated dog/aspiring reindeer Drew voiced in 1999? Does it matter? It’s a gorgeous name – vintage, sweet, but with an edge. And you can see the evolution of Drew’s style, thanks to a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone where she cited Ruby Daffodil as her top name for a firstborn girl. Drew’s still into word names and nature names, but she apparently moved on with the trends. Olive is also the middle daughter of design blogger Gabrielle Blair, a.k.a. Design Mom, and definitely a name on the rise.

Bettina – Over at Baby Name Pondering, Blue Juniper has zeroed in on Halloween names, including Boo. Boo can now be seen on the small screen as the nickname of aspiring ballerina Bettina, played by Kaitlyn Jenkins. But never mind the nickname. It is Bettina that caught my eye – a quirky throwback alternative to the evergreen Elizabeth, one that preserves the nicknames Betty and Bette, but discards Ellie and Eliza.

WilhelminaBaby number five is here for the Hanson clan! Taylor and Natalie never disappoint with their ahead-of-the-curve picks. Their older four children are Ezra, Penelope, River, and Viggo. This week they welcomed Wilhelmina Jane. At first glance she’s clunky, even clumsy. But in our era of Samantha and Alexandra, say this one a few times and you might be wondering why more of us aren’t calling our daughters Wilhelmina.

Olivia Mabel – If Olive is a stylish gaining name, Olivia is a solidly established choice. Eddie Vedder and James van der Beek both have an Olivia; now so does American Idol alum Carly Smithson. Smithson’s baby name still has a dash of the unexpected, thanks to that great granny middle name choice, Mabel.

Mavis – If Mabel appeals to you, how about Mavis? She’s the teenaged vampire daughter longing to see the world in the animated hit Hotel Transylvania. Not too long ago, Charlize Theron played a Mavis in indie flick Young Adult. She’s a bird name with that vibrant v sound – could Mavis be due for a comeback?

Sybella – Take one part Sibyl, add in a healthy dose of Isabella, and this name seems like an attractive choice for seeking the just-slightly-different. Sybella was most recently spotted in a Sydney birth announcement posted over at Aussie name blog Waltzing More than Matilda. Also spelled Sibylla, here’s guessing that the –bella ending will appeal to this generation of parents.

Summer Rose April Hernandez-Castillo – you’ve seen her on Dexter – is a new mom. Summer is something of a modern choice, but still a pretty one. And it seems nicely subtle that both baby and mom share seasonal names.

Alexander John – Designer-director Tom Ford is now also a new dad. Ford has been quoted as saying that if he had children, he’d be determined to keep it quiet. His son’s name is appropriately low-key, a pinstripe suit of a baby name.

What do you think of this week’s celebrity births? Have you heard any great unusual-but-not-outlandish names lately?

The illustration is via

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15 Responses to “Pretty Girl Names: This week’s Nameberry 9”

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skizzo Says:

October 8th, 2012 at 9:40 am

Alexander John is boring boring boring. No personality whatsoever.

Gaia is amazing, one of my favorite names. So much prettier than Maya imo.

Don’t like Olive or Wilhelmina, even if they’re quite unusual these days. Olive oil comes to mind, and Wilhelmina is too clunky.

littlemissmariss Says:

October 8th, 2012 at 9:49 am

I love Olive!! Unfortunately, my man doesn’t. He does like Olivia though, less “old lady like” as he put it. I absolutely adore Olivia Mabel!!! Mabel is another name on my list vito’d by my SO. Unfortunate, as I have so many family members with the middle name Mae that I’d love to honor them all with keeping it in the family as a middle name, but plain Mae is boring to me. I love Mabel, and I love Maeve. And Mavis!! Oooh!

I am head over heels for Wilhelmina as well!! Ahh, so beautiful! I just love all of her siblings names as well! Unique, but not out there. So beautiful!

Gaia isn’t my style, but I definitely see the appeal. I guess the only thing that throws me off it a bit is how it sounds like “guy-uh”, and as I tend to like ultra feminine names, the guy part doesn’t appeal for me. Its nice though!

I’d so love to see more baby Wilhelmina’s, Bettina’s, Mavis’s, Olive’s, etc… so beautiful! I’d have to admit I’d be a little sad to see some of them become popular, as I do want to use the names on my list without them being overly popular, but still.

I love the one boys name here too, Alexander John. Alexander is on my list, loooove it! I have a cousin I’m fairly close to named Alex though, so I’m not sure if it’ll ever be an option.

Love this weeks Nameberry 9! <3

mayday_fridaybabe Says:

October 8th, 2012 at 10:41 am

I don’t think Alexander John is boring at all! It’s strong, masculine and timeless. A subdued, unpretentious name combo that isn’t desperate for attention or trying too hard to be different.

Summer Rose is pretty. A bit modern, but charming.

Bettina is lovely. I may use it in the middle as a homage to my late grandmother, Benita.

I really loathe Mavis and Olive. I don’t get the appeal to them at all.

thelifespark Says:

October 8th, 2012 at 11:56 am

I love love love love Mavis. My number one girls name is Maeve but I love Mavis so much I’ve considered using that and having Maeve as a nn so I can have both.

Also love Olive. I used to be among those who hated it but it slowly grew on me and now I just love it. My family hates it tho.

I’m not fond of Olivia but I like Mabel a lot. I nixed it from my list though because I like Maeve/Mavis more and they were too similar.

WaltzingMoreThanMatilda Says:

October 8th, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Sybella is quite fashionable in Aus., Antonia Kidman (Nic’s sis) has a daughter with this name, and so do a couple of other celebs. It seems to be a popular name for businesses connected with fashion.

I do like Bettina, although it was the name of my German teacher in high school.

MeleriHaf Says:

October 8th, 2012 at 3:16 pm

When I was young, I learned to type (on an Atari!) from a computer program called “Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing”. I hated it. In my eyes,Mavis Beacon was a strict, mean, computer-lady. Now the name Mavis reminds me of the kind of person who shushes people in libraries when they’re not being noisy and makes mean comments about one missed comma on an otherwise brilliant English paper. I can’t help it. It might be a lovely name. I just can’t dissociate it from Mavis Beacon. Isn’t it funny how that works?

upswingbabynames Says:

October 8th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Ah, Sybella reminds me of Sibella (I would say them the same) which reminds me of a Richard Thompson song. A song to pair with a name is usually a bonus for me, as long as I like the song. For that reason I slightly prefer Sibella.

nat108 Says:

October 8th, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Hahaha! I didn’t know Bettina was an actual name! On Will & Grace, Jack didn’t like Will’s friend’s name (Claire) so he renamed her Bettina.

Danica Says:

October 9th, 2012 at 5:36 am

Bettina is quite common here in Denmark, though far from popular for babies these days.

I have loved Mabel ever since they used it in Mad About You.
Mothers Always Bring Extra Love

aunt_ning Says:

October 9th, 2012 at 6:43 am

melerihaf, I had the same thought about Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing! Not something I could name my child lol

jc54 Says:

October 9th, 2012 at 10:46 am

I really like Summer Rose. It is a name I might use! The others are way too old lady for me.

GrecianErn Says:

October 9th, 2012 at 2:43 pm

One of my BFFs named her daughter Sybella almost 5 yrs ago. She wanted it as her “confirmation name” for her Catholic confirmation in the 90s. Her mother told her “no way, if she liked it so much, she could name her daughter that.” And many years later, both she and her husband loved the name.

Sybella goes by Bella mostly, but it’s an rarely heard name that suits a great child. 🙂

Fudgeethewhale Says:

October 13th, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Just posted in another blog about no one making mention of HENRIETTA B DOUGLAS. Baby girl born to Alex Borstein (Family Guy) and Jackson Douglas (Gilmore Girls). I read about it on Alex’s twitter. According to they already have a son named BARNABY. What a cute subset!

loveshelbylee Says:

November 1st, 2012 at 12:21 am

My Mom is German and she has two cousins who lived nearby her named Bettina 🙂 I think its a really cute name.

Joana Says:

June 18th, 2013 at 6:45 am

Linda and Bela are Portuguese words for beautiful 😉

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