Pretty Girl Names: This week’s Nameberry 9

October 7, 2012 Linda Rosenkrantz

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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