Question of the Week: The Starbaby Effect

Whether we want to or not, we can’t help being influenced by the baby name choices of celebrities–highly publicized (and judged)  as they are. So today’s question of the week is: What name have you liked more or less after/because it was chosen by a celeb?

Is there some name a notable has plucked from out of the past and made to sound fresh again?

Is there an ethnic name you never would have considered before but would now that they’ve made it more familiar?

Is there a starbaby name that may have sounded outrageous when you first heard it but which you have grown to like–and even consider using yourself? (and yes, that’s Harlow and Sparrow illustrated above.)

Have you ever thought ‘uh-oh’ when one of your faves was used by a celeb?  Has this ever made you reconsider or dismiss that name out of hand?


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52 Responses to “Question of the Week: The Starbaby Effect”

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Betsy Buttercup Says:

June 5th, 2012 at 11:29 pm

I monitor Celebrity Baby Blog with dread. My favorite beloved name seven years ago when I was having my first baby was Violet, but I had a boy, then six months later Jennifer Garner had Violet Affleck and I was DEVASTATED because I knew it would become popular, so I discarded it. Lo and behold, I was right, and Violet is now relatively commonplace.

Now, after three sons, I’m supposedly at last pregnant with a baby girl (still can’t quite believe it yet). Ever since discarding Violet, I’ve been clutching to the name Clover as my treasured favorite for a girl, and all these years I’ve been terrified that some famous person would use it and turn it into something as “common” as Violet. Sure enough, last year Neal McDonough used it for his fourth baby, and just last week Natasha Gregson Wagner and Barry Watson used it for their first baby together. In neither instance was it used by anyone A-list like Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck with Violet; in fact even after looking them all up on IMDB I still don’t know who these “celebs” are. But the more times a name shows up on CBB, the more exposure it gets, the faster it starts showing up in maternity wards and preschool classrooms. Between that and Clover popping up in a bunch of other random places like books and a well-read mom blog and that JC Penny Mother’s Day ad that angered that conservative women’s group, plus how it’s the intersection of so many different trends right now (sounds like Chloe and Ava and Harper stapled together, plus nature names), I’ve just recently decided that I’m most likely not using this name after all. And I’d have to say that the “celebrity” exposure is approximately 50% to blame. Grrrr! I KNEW this would happen! Now what am I going to use?!?!

esrever88 Says:

June 5th, 2012 at 11:32 pm

I’ve always loved Agatha, so I was really pleased when Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany picked Agnes – if Agnes begins to rise a little (not TOO much though), maybe people won’t look at me so strangely when I mention Agatha! 🙂

colerz4 Says:

June 5th, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Ivy was my favorite girls name but when Beyone & Jay Z named their daughter Blue Ivy I knew I would never use it. It was popular enough before but adding Blue Ivy to the mix was too much.
I’ve always been a fan of Gwenyth Paltrow’s Apple, even though I wouldn’t use it I think it’s a sweet name.

Sunshine Kid Says:

June 5th, 2012 at 11:49 pm

I love that Ozzy’s son used Pearl Clementine for his daughter-so beautiful!

But apart from that I don’t really follow Celeb names, though some have made me cringe and some I wish would come a bit less common as they are adorable (Ava, for example).

Slootymama Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 12:09 am

We just named our 4week old Ivy Pearl. We weren’t influenced at all by Beyonce. In fact my husband and I can’t stand her. We just happened to love it’s vintage sound. And we had this name at the top of our list before Beyonce even gave birth. It did cause me to rethink the name fora bit, but ultimately we decided it was the perfect name for baby sis.

Slootymama Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 12:11 am

Oh and has for the mn choice I love pearls and it just seemed to go perfectly with Ivy. Even though I see it on the rise too seeing as even jack Osborne chose Pearl as well.

Educationmom Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 12:27 am

I actually just wrote about this! I actually really like Apple but my husband said no way. Lol

Poppy528 Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 1:02 am

I think I’m marginally influenced by celebs. There are a few that I give great kudos to: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s daughters Gloria and Ramona, Miss Hattie Margaret (looove this), Miss Agnes Lark (don’t really like the Agnes part, but I think it has great style), Vern Yip’s Vera Lillian Beatrice (i want to full-on rip off this name), Niki Taylor’s baby Rex Harrison is really sweet, and I love little Matilda Ledger. Harlow Winter Kate is the most chic & stylish name I’ve come across. I’m jealous of it, and I think it’s hard to match in awesomeness.

Sarabi Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 1:14 am

Why oh why do people keep using the name, Clementine? It’s my name and I fear it’s about to explode.

Sarabi Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 1:18 am

And Betsy Buttercup, Clover is a beautiful name. Stick with it!

grackym Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 5:50 am

I loved hearing Tori Spelling name her daughter Stella a few years back, but it’s become fairly popular in Australia where I live, so I doubt I’ll use it. I’d love for a celebrity to use Edith so that would be more usable for a future child 🙂

AvianaGrace Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 6:11 am

I’ve never cared about popularity so I’m always happy if a celebrity uses a name I like. I think it makes it more usable. Like Agnes? People hated it until Agnes Lark came along. I really hope a celebrity uses one of the names on my list!

karateleshi80 Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 6:44 am

I love the names Ava and Harlow. My hubby doesn’t like Harlow though he said it sounds too much like Harlot and he said its already starting to be overused (he knows at least one person with their kid called Harlow) and we have heard the name called out at our local shopping centre a few times. I think Claudia Schiffer called her daughter Clementine. I like the names Pearl, Gloria but wouldn’t use them for my kids names.

ricamaca Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 7:52 am

I like to pretend I’m not influenced by celebrities, but I can almost guarentee that I really am. I think we all are. There’s so much exposure when they choose names, that you hear them over and over (especially when you stalk nameberry 😉 and they manage to wiggle themselves into your brain. I remember being apalled at the name Max for a baby 10 years ago. (My family has a dog named Max) But now? I’m soooo sad my family used the name for our dog because I’m positively smitten with Max.

ashlee3570413 Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 8:20 am

Years ago I said I would name my little girl Harper Elizabeth. I checked the social sercuity listing for Harper and it was in the 500’s now Harper is trendy. (Probably because of the Beckham’s). When I was pregnant with my son last year it was on my list for a girl. If I ever have a girl I will no longer use the name!

miloowen Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 9:41 am

No now, and no when I was actually having children. While there are names on my list now that weren’t on my list in the 80’s and 90’s and vice versa, I don’t believe I’ve ever given a hoot what other people name their kids, except when I have to struggle to pronounce the made-up ones in my classroom.

Growing up in the same town where Katharine Hepburn lived helped cement my fondness for the name Katie/Kate, which I used for my daughter’s nn, until she decided at 15 she was more Gunsmoke (Kitty) than Hepburn, lol.

jeniferbraun Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 10:04 am

I have love, love, LOVED Agnes for a long time, and I knew I was pretty much entirely alone there. People looked at me like I said I liked the name Brunehilde for a little girl.

When Agnes Lark appeared on the scene, I was pretty happy — it “validated” my affection for the name, so to speak. And it seems to be making the name more widely acceptable.

Of course, the one person whose acceptance of the name is crucial to my plans, DH, is not on board with Agnes. Yet. 😉

tavn Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 10:09 am

There are 5 celeb names on my list: Maddox, Harlow, Honor, Haven, & Nahla.

Maddox – I hadn’t heard of this name until Angie gave it to her little guy. But I instantly loved it and have loved it ever since. I don’t like it BECAUSE I like Angie or anything like that…I like it because I just like how it sounds. This is one of the few names DH and I agree on.

Harlow – Another one that I hadn’t heard of until little Harlow Madden was born. But for the exact same reasons above, I like it. It’s another one that DH and I agree on.

Honor – Everyone’s used the word “honor” before, so I was aware of the word, but had never considered it a name until Jessica Alba put it on her little girl. At first, I didn’t like it. But it’s REALLY grown on me. No one else seems to like it, though, so if I ever use it, it’ll probably be in the middle name slot.

Haven – This is one that I liked LOOOOOONG BEFORE Jesica Alba gave it to her second little girl. Haven has been on my list as long as Maddox has. I was actually quite VERY disheartened when I heard that’s what Jessica had named the baby because now EVERYONE was going to say, “You only like it because Jessica Alba used it” or “Oh, that’s Jessica Alba’s daughter’s name”. NO! It was MY chosen name FIRST. She just happened to have a baby before me. 🙁

Nahla – I’m not a fan of that spelling…I prefer Nala. This is another I liked before it was used, but I wasn’t as passionate about it as I was for Haven.

There’s one more name. It’s a celebrity’s last name, but that’s not why I like it. It’s Alba. I LOVE Alba. I know it’s been Jessica’s surname for years, but I’d never considered it before The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Maddox and Harlow will most likely be used on my children. I think Maddox has become popular enough that it’s not “Oh, you just used it because of Angelina Jolie”, but Harlow still worries me a bit. Alba WILL be used. DH and I both agree and it’s our favorite girl’s name.

11eleven Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 10:14 am

I think it’s stupid not to choose a name because of a celebrity. And Violet is not a popular name at all.

tavn Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 10:22 am

I guess I could name some more names that have had some slight influence on me. I probably wouldn’t actually use these names, but I still like them…
Hudson [Hawk]
Clementine [Hawke/Osbourn]
Matilda [Ledger] (I lied…I’d use this one)
Violet [Affleck] (another I may consider)
Knox [Jolie-Pitt]
Pax [Jolie-Pitt]
Seraphina [Affleck] (I’m surprised no one’s mentioned this one yet…I think this had a HUGE impact on baby namers)

namelover77 Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 10:22 am

grackym- I think singer Lily Allen recently used Edith for her daughter.

I love the name Shiloh, and I am really hoping that Brangelina’s daughter isn’t going to make it super popular!

morgandawna Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 10:43 am

When I was in high school (late 90s), I had visions of naming a daughter my maiden name, Maddox with the nickname Maddie. By the time Angelina Jolie used the name Maddox for her son I’d pretty much grown out of my idea but that definitely sealed the deal. I figured anyone that didn’t know me before I got married would automatically assume that the name was celeb-inspired.

tavn Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 12:26 pm

@11eleven: When a name hits the top 100, it’s considered fairly popular. Violet was 101 last year. It may not be extremely popular, but to say it’s not popular at all is extremely inaccurate.

thelifespark Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 12:29 pm

tavn I loved Alba after reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, too. Still love it and it is high on my list of baby girl names.

Harlow is another one I love. I had never heard it until Harlow Madden but I immediately fell in love with it. I love the r sound with the long o sound at the end. I like the way it feels and sounds. Everything about it appeals to me.

kgcg31 Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 12:48 pm

My husband and I had thrown around the combination of Sage Willow for a few years . . . So, I was pleasantly shocked when Pink (who I’m a fan of) named her daughter the also lovely Willow Sage. We still may use it, we definitely prefer Sage in the front spot . . . But what are the odds?!

kittyx2 Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Please stop giving credit to Nicole Richie for the name Harlow; Patricia Arquette & Thomas Jane named their daughter Harlow Olivia Calliope back in 2003. (And they are talented actors; what the heck is Nicole Richie known for?)

Kibby Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I have loved Adelaide for years, but now Katherine Heigl used it recently for her daughter…. I dislike her and it has put a damper on the name for me now, expecting the popularity to go even higher now too and it was already poised to follow Addison and Addie based names. Too bad….

Flick Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

The only ones I would really consider (that are my style), would be Clementine, Matilda, Knox, Winter….

Celebrities honestly don’t give me a lot of inspiration. In fact, I’m inclined to think they snoop around name boards, lol. When I first got into the naming community a number of years back, celebrity taste in names were generally pretty tacky but the past few years, they’ve gotten more on trend with everyone else – they do seem to branch out a bit more, but vintage / nature / surnames are what a lot of people are using and they seem to be doing the same.

TheDivineMrsM Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 4:17 pm

This keeps happening to me via television shows! First it was Emma (my favorite book and character) then Friends totally ruined it! Next came Gilmore Girls pretty much killing any chance I had at using Lorelei and still being unique. I prefer old fashioned/literature based names, but this is getting difficult.

I love the Affleck’s choice of Violet, and I’m glad it is becoming popular. I have loved it since seeing Willy Wonka as a child, “Violet! You’re turning violet, Violet!”

lindseywhite03 Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Ughhhh YES! I was so so so unbelievably ticked off when Angelina used Knox for her twin boy. It had been quite uncommon and it is my maiden name so I was all set to use it for my first boy. it was perfect for me: edgy, unique, and meaningful. Now it is overused, super common, and lacks the originality for people to think it has a special meaning. Even a little boy at my church has the name. Ugh, ugh, ughhh! I was so upset! I have thought about using it anyway- but it doesn’t really excite me anymore 🙁 I have considered doing Lennox instead and have his nn Knox (my name is Lindsey so its like a combo of my first and maiden names) but hubby isnt going for it :/

moxielove Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I admit that little Mathilda Ledger helped “rehabilitate” that name for me, although it was/is a name I was drawn to for so many other (cultural, literary, heritage) reasons.

I had never heard Pax or Shiloh as first names and I absolutely love them both. I would definitely consider Pax for a son, but for some reason feel that Shiloh is too connected to the Jolie-Pitts.

Several months before Nicole Richie named her son Sparrow I threw it out there for a potential daughter in the theme of bird names (Lark, Wren, Robin etc) but I would never actuslly use it (but would love to meet someone else’s daughter Sparrow lol!)

I absolutely adore the sibset Gloria and Ramona, and Ramona remains at the top of my list for another daughter, but I wasn’t influenced either way (towards or away) but Maggie Gyllenhall using it. I hope it doesn’t “take off” in a trendy way.

CountryLizB Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 7:54 pm

namelover77- Lily Allen named her daughter Ethel Mary, not Edith.

auroradawn Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I don’t really follow celebrities, but I can’t deny they have an impact on naming. I’m just glad to see that some of them do have good taste! The one celebrity choice that definitely has influenced me is Agnes Lark. I had never really liked the name Agnes, though it has several wonderful literary associations in Dickens novels, but now it suddenly seems usable–even cute. Agnes Lark is a wonderful combo.

corsue Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Betsy Buttercup, 11eleven and Tavn: I wouldn’t consider Violet very popular. It may be in 101st place, but only 2,872 girls were given the name. My concern would be that its popularity has been increasing since 1998.I think popular names are no longer the top 100, because there is a smaller percentage of children born with a top 100 name nowadays compared to 50 years ago.For example, in 1961 the top 44 names had 10,000+ names while in 2011 only the top 10 did. Clover isn’t even in the top 1000, so I wouldn’t worry about that one at all. I, too, don’t know who the celebrities are that were mentioned as having given their kids that name. It’ll take a while before most people are familiar with the name. I say use it.

Norseberry Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 9:52 pm

I love Violet, Seraphina and Otis now since celebs have used it.

Betsy Buttercup Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Corsue and sarabi – Thanks guys but even before the starbabies of the past year, I was starting to be at a place where I was trying to convince myself I still liked Clover. It started because it’s way too close to uber-common Chloe, then I realized that -er ending names are trendy (Harper and Piper). I liked it for the cute magic woodnymph in a meadow vibe, but it seems like now the predominate vibe it has is that of trendy Chloe sound-alike, and sound-alikes are themselves a (gross to me) trend.

So then I searched online for people who’ve actually used the name, and in almost every case their other children’s names were trendy in a way I really dislike, which gave more weight to my new view of the name (the only exception being the girl who writes the blog “no big dill” whose fifth daughter is named Clover and whose other children have awesome names).

Also it keeps popping up in all these Nameberry articles as a hot name:
so we can’t ignore that either!

The starbaby factor just makes it that much more likely that it’s going to be a normal, blending-in choice in the next five years or so (about how long it takes to really see starbaby influence imo). And I really wanted something extra special and more than a little “out there” for my only daughter after three sons. My first son’s name was pretty unusual seven years ago, but now it’s super common, which kinda bugs me a lot. Whereas my other two sons have strong but kinda crazy names that are rarely to never heard here, and I’m still super excited about them. I only get to use one girl name and I don’t want to regret it!

Oh and I think Clementine is an awesome name and is NOT going to get too popular. It’s one I love hearing people use. Go for it!

sabrinafair Says:

June 6th, 2012 at 10:38 pm

The only one I can really say I loved because of of a celeb made me think it was nice is Brooklyn on a boy. The others, Harlow, Sparrow, Shiloh, Etc I liked way before those children were born.

bex.marie Says:

June 7th, 2012 at 1:24 am

I’m worried the celebs are going to use and ruin the name I have picked out for a boy. I love Casper and its a family name on my husbands side. Now with J.Lo dating a Casper and some celebrity named their kid Caspar, I’m worried it’ll be too popular and ruined before I get to use it.

melissaintlouis Says:

June 7th, 2012 at 10:17 am

Violet may not be popular in general, but it is in certain social circles. I can think of three friends with little Violets off the top of my head.

Betsy Buttercup Says:

June 7th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

The way I see it is it goes like this:

starbaby -> public awareness (amazement/mocking phase) -> public interest (fantasizing/searching on nameberry phase) -> public usage by few -> more public awareness -> public usage by many (and perhaps eventual popularity)

Violet is now at #101 on the popularity list. In today’s naming field with so many plausable contenders, that’s pretty danged high! And like melissaintlous said, it may not be something that pops up in multiples in every classroom, but in certain social circles, there might be multiple Violets in a grade.

I doubt Clover would ever reach top 10, but I think it could work its way up the top 1000 in the next few years. And if it did, I believe it would be one of those retrospectively grossly trendy and dated names. The thing it has going against it is that it’s pretty much been unheard-of until recently, but it hits so many of the phonic trends (which are SO big now, the soundalikes I mean ) and stylistic trends of today (Chloe soundalike, -er ending, nature name, Cl- beginning, “O” sound) and also isn’t the most mature name for a grown woman. So even if it never even reaches the top 500, I think in twenty years it’s going to sound very trendy and dated to this era. And so will a lot of other starbaby names, I think.

PS – Clover has been the biggest name on the front page of this site basically all day today!

CaraMichelle Says:

June 7th, 2012 at 5:01 pm

I’m sad Brynn has become so high, b/c Bethenny Frankel used Bryn on her baby. I read the name Brynn in a mystery book, and I fell in love with it, and by the time I have kids (5-10 years) I hope it will not be as popular.

nat108 Says:

June 7th, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Shiloh had been at the top of my list since I was little and found it in the Bible one Sunday. I was so upset when Brangelina used it, I’m not even that interested in it anymore

Taylorrichelle Says:

June 15th, 2012 at 10:50 am

I think if you love a name, use it!!! It does not matter if somebody thinks you “stole” it because you heard it somewhere once or twice. There’s a reason you initially thought you could name your child that name! It means something to you and/or your partner. I say just do it and if anybody gives you any flavk( which they won’t!) tell them to f*** off:) you decide nobody else!!!!??:) happy nameberrying!

KittieKate Says:

June 19th, 2012 at 2:29 am

Two names I LOVED after they were given by celebs: Lily Rose (Vanessa Paradis & Johnny Depp) and Ivy Blue (Jay-Z & Beyonce)

aevery Says:

June 21st, 2012 at 5:54 am

I love Seraphina since Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner used it for their daughter!

ClarinetNinja1986 Says:

June 30th, 2012 at 12:42 pm

I loved the name Ava even more when it was used by Richie Sambora and Heather Locklear. I also loved Tyger Lily when it was used by David Bryan and his wife, Lexi.

whimsytraveler Says:

August 8th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Violet has been a favorite girls’ name for me ever since Jen Garner and Ben Affleck named their daughter that. I definitely want my own little Violet! Hearing it so often in relevance to her turned me onto the name. My only concern would be if the poor girl would react badly to ” you’re turning violet, Violet!”, which I think would be hard to avoid in childhood and even afterwards. Emma has always been my choice for a firstborn girl, but not necessarily because of Friends. That is my favorite show but I wasn’t inspired by its own Emma.

cannebella Says:

March 13th, 2013 at 3:19 pm

I love both the names Noah and Mason. But because Kourtney Kardasian and Megan Fox used these names for their sons’ I’m not that fond of them any more however they are still on my list.

jessieo Says:

June 9th, 2013 at 1:17 am

I had Delilah and Ruby secretly hidden away for over 15 years, and finally when I’m ready for kids they are out of the question, with Delilah rising in popularity and Ruby being used everywhere I look. Is Ruby’s popularity Tobey McGuires fault?

ThadsMom Says:

January 27th, 2014 at 7:35 pm

Caius was on our list for this baby. Until Rachel Zoe ruined it for me with “Kaius” and some other minor celebrity used “Cai” for a girl. It seems on the rise. Annoying.

taliesin Says:

January 28th, 2014 at 12:04 am

probably Knox and Violet are the two names that celebs used that I like but hadn’t considered before.

oh, and Everly.

jem Says:

January 28th, 2014 at 6:59 am

I’m really sad about the huge popularity of Penelope (after a Kardashian used it): it’s been my favourite name for almost a decade.
I’m hoping that Clementine and Beatrix won’t rise too much. Seraphina was a favourite, too, but I don’t think the Affleck/Garner child has caused it to have too much of a rise in popularity, really.

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