Solid with Sparkle: Amelia, Athena and Isabelle Amarachi
Snooki is looking for another Italian name. David Arquette promised to name his baby something normal. Kerry Washington honored her daughter’s Igbo heritage with a distinctive middle, and blogger Dana Miller borrowed a street name for a deeply meaningful choice.
For many of us, we know the characteristics we’d like in our child’s name long before we arrive at the actual name.
It seems sensible. It’s the way we shop for a car – seats six, good safety record – or a couch – stain-resistant fabric, big enough to fill up the family room, convenient delivery available.
But it isn’t the same at all, is it? When it comes to naming our children, we’re not completing a checklist that gets us to good enough. The standard is higher – we’re looking for a certain magic.
Sometimes that means abandoning a standard we set earlier in the search. Other times it might require an unconventional approach. Or maybe it means turning to the internet for inspiration – three of the nine names in this week’s list are crowd-sourced!
This week’s names are deeply meaningful, and all have some spark that makes them stand out – even though they’re slightly more traditional than many a headline-grabbing birth announcement. It is easy to imagine that the names satisfied the parents’ wish lists, and maybe delivered a little more, too.
Amelia Savannah Joy – Let’s start with an update from a crowd-sourced baby name story from a few months back. Remember the couple who launched NameMyDaughter.com? No, they didn’t name the baby Chthulhu All-Spark – despite the fact that it was the name that garnered the most votes. Thank goodness the parents added a footnote about veto rights if the winning name was too outlandish. Plus, Amelia still has plenty of geek cred, thanks to Doctor Who companion Amelia Pond, the girl who waited.
Isabelle Amarachi – Kerry Washington hit the right note when she and former Oakland Raider Nnamdi Asomugha welcomed a daughter earlier this month. Isabelle is as typical a 2014 name as you can choose, but that lovely middle name is Igbo, in honor of dad’s heritage. Together, the two names make for a nice balance of the conventional and the unexpected.
Mary, Mary, Mary, and Mary – Speaking of honoring heritage, what happens if every significant female relative in your family tree is named Mary? And then you have four daughters? You call them all Mary, of course! Mary Frances – Francie, Mary Marjorie – Maisie, Mary Jane – Janie or JJ, and Mary Teresa – Tessa are the four daughters of Brian and Mary Heffernan – yup, she’s Mary, too. The restaurateur family owns several Northern California eateries, and were good enough to share their home through a DesignMom Living with Kids profile. I love it when parents make meaningful family names work.
Mabrey – Blogger Dana of Housetweaking was already mom to boys Layne and Everett when she found out she was having #3 – their first girl! Mabrey’s name came from the most unpredictable of places – a country road by a rural airport where her family would sit and watch planes take off and land. Proof that great ideas for stylish and significant names are everywhere, even on the road signs around us.
Charlie – David Arquette and Christina McClarty promised a normal name for their first child together, and sure enough, they went with Charlie West. It’s a casual choice, but a far cry from eyebrow-raising celeb picks like Pilot or North. It matches well with his half-sister’s equally nickname-style name, Coco. But had David also suggested that they might try to honor his grandfather, comedian Cliff Arquette. Cliff’s most famous role? Charley Weaver. Clever!
Pearson Michael – Toronto Star columnist Kristin Rushowy interviewed the parents of a toddler called Pearson. It’s a big name in Toronto – worn by a former prime minister. But for Pearson Carbonell, it’s simply his mother’s maiden name, a family surname that had all-but died out. His middle name comes from St. Michael’s, the church where his parents were married, making Pearson Michael rich with family history.
Josh – The San Antonio Spurs’ Tony Parker and French journalist Axelle Francine haven’t told us how they came up with the name for their new arrival. It’s Josh – and apparently, it’s just Josh, not Joshua. If there’s a middle, they haven’t shared that, either. I’ve met boys who are Jake instead of Jacob and Nate instead of Nathaniel, but this is my first only-Josh spotting.
Winter Finnegan – We started this week talking about Amelia, the baby nearly known as Chthulhu. Now Lydia Netzer’s new novel includes a couple naming a baby through crowdsourcing. Everybody’s Baby won’t be out ‘til July, but I cannot wait to read it. It’s fiction, but the actual baby name was chosen by an online poll! If Winter Finnegan seems tame, think again – it shortens to the oh-so appropriate WiFi, a name that walked away with nearly 40% of the vote.
Athena – Think that you’d never name your baby based on online feedback? I tend to agree … but then there’s this family, who named their daughter Athena a few years ago after running an online vote. Now they’re expecting a son, and they’ve invited the public to participate. Better still, the parents – he’s a Google engineer, she’s a nurse practitioner – will donate $1 to Save the Children for every vote received. It’s bold, but it isn’t necessarily as much of a risk as Chthulhu-Amelia, since we’re voting from a short list of parent-approved favorites.
Did you have a list of criteria for your child’s name? Did you stick with them, or change your mind? And, oh my goodness, how relieved are you that they didn’t name that little girl Chthulhu?
About the author
View all of 's articles
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
on May 4th, 2014 at 11:13 pm
Chthulhu? How did that even get in there at all? Yikes!
on May 4th, 2014 at 11:42 pm
I’ve been seeing this “Chthulhu All-Spark” all spark all over the internet. He also said that he removed several STDs and sexual positions from the suggestions.
The least Mary could have done was use variants of the name:
on May 5th, 2014 at 5:29 am
Yes, we did have criteria that we stuck to. As a bilingual family (English/German) we wanted a first name that was known in both languages, was pronounced the same (or as close to the same as possible) in both languages and didn’t have any major negative connotations in either language. That did mean crossing a few favourites off our list, but we were still left with a short list of several names we both liked. The name we ended up with – Oskar – couldn’t have been more perfect.
on May 5th, 2014 at 6:42 am
I feel like the crowd-sourcing isn’t actually a bad idea if you keep the choices down to the ones you really love. And even if you don’t use the winner (it should always be an option to back out), the results could still help you in your decision. Like if the winner is Ava, and when you find out, your subconscious is disappointed that it’s not Catherine, then you’ve established that you love Catherine more than Ava.
Being a horrible decision maker myself, I can see how it might be nice just to have a poll tell you what to name your baby (assuming it’s out of a few that you chose).
on May 5th, 2014 at 8:34 am
I can’t imagine how I would feel if I found out I’d been named by people unknown to me on the internet. The least parents can do is pick a meaningful name for their child. If you can’t be bothered to do that, just exactly how do you think you’re going to parent? By kickstarter?
After all, many people on the internet think that the world is full of alien lizard people too. What does that tell you about the collective consciousness of our times?
on May 5th, 2014 at 11:01 am
We had requirements: family middle names, exact middle names if one was a girl, nothing in top 100 in our state or top 50 nationally, and they had to be easy to pronounce. Nicknames are optional. And we each had Veto power over any name, unlimited times, preferably with an explanation, but its not required – I still have no idea why my husband hated “Madelaine” 8 years ago. (Can you tell that we’ve talked baby names a lot?)
We have the 5th most common last name in the world. Both my husband and I were labeled with our last initial or name all through school. We didn’t want that for our kids. We wanted them to be themselves, however they choose. I actually went to high school with 2 boys with the exact same first name, middle initial, and last name. The only difference was one ended in -son, the other in -sen.
We have Weston, Keegan and Sebastian. All perfectly suited to our criteria and to the boys.
I think that using a group consensus is a smart idea. You could find names you’ve never thought of, or as @larkub101 said – you could discover your true preferences. So long as the Veto Rule applies. 🙂
on May 5th, 2014 at 9:55 pm
We used the following criteria: family middle name from mom’s side as all would carry dad’s family surname, all first names would start with a different first initial from one another and from mom and dad, and any common nicknames had to start with the same letter as the formal name (i.e., no Margaret, nn Greta). Beyond that, we both just had to agree on the first name and all three names had to flow well and the initials not spell anything silly or offensive.
We ended with Norah, Lucy and Henry. If we end up having a fourth, we’ll stick to that criteria…although I think I’ll want to make sure we don’t use another name ending in “y” to balance out the sib set.
I know of a family where the grandmother was Mary and each of the three granddaughters were named Mary and went by their middle names. I always thought that was lovely. The youngest was Mary Britt and went by Britt. I always thought that was a lovely combo of traditional and modern.
leave a reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.