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Shining a spotlight on celebrity baby names.

Ella & Alexander

george clooney baby names

Ella and Alexander are the fashionable classic baby names of the newborn twins of George and Amal Clooney.

Ella is an internationally popular name for girls, Number 17 in the US and all the way up at Number 6 in England. Also very popular at the turn of the last century, Ella has a couple of different origins and meanings: It’s a German name meaning “completely” as well as an English name meaning “fairy maiden.”

The ancient aristocratic favorite Alexander is Number 11 in the US and 22 in England. A Greek name meaning “defending men,” Alexander originated as a nickname for the mythological Paris, who defended a flock of sheep against robbers. Alexander has been widely used by royalty, most famously as Alexander the Great and also in Scotland.

Ella and Alexander have both been chosen for their children by several other prominent celebrities. Ella Bleu is the name of John Travolta and Kelly Preston’s daughter, and Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Alex Rodriguez, Eric Clapton, and Mark Wahlberg all have daughters named Ella.

Singer Ella Fitzgerald brings a jazzy feel to the name. Ella is also popular in Scandinavia and New Zealand.

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have an Alexander, who is called Sasha, the common Russian nickname for the name. Other popular short forms are Alex, Zander, Zan, and Xan. Famous Alexanders include Hamilton, Graham Bell, and Pope.

The fashionable classic is a new style of name well-favored by parents who want to combine deep history with current style. Other examples of fashionable classic names include Emma, Sophia, and Charlotte for girls, James and William for boys.

Sienna

Call Sienna pretty, as pretty as more traditional picks like Sophia and Ariana.

But the name also feels modern, putting it in the company of choices like Savannah and Brianna. We first heard Sienna in the US in small numbers starting in the 1960s, but it didn’t crack the US Top 1000 until the mid-1990s.

Spelled with a single ‘n’, Siena is an Italian city. The Tuscan capital has long been a popular destination for tourists. Clay from the region produces a pretty red-brown color, known as burnt sienna.

The Italian city – or even Saint Catherine of Siena – may have influenced some parents to use the single ‘n’ spelling, but it’s always been less popular in the US than Sienna.

What explains the name’s rise? It coincides with the introduction of the Toyota Sienna minivan, but that seems an unlikely cause. British actress Sienna Guillory might have kickstarted interest in the name, but again, the timing isn’t quite right.

Instead, Sienna seems to be inspired by the runaway success of Sierra, a Top 100 choice in the 1990s.

So it’s a color name, a place name, and a modern-sounding, feminine possibility that bridges the traditional and the new.

Then along came actress Sienna Miller, and suddenly the name skyrocketed into wider use. It’s hovered around the Top 200 in the US for a decade. Elsewhere in the English-speaking world, it ranks even higher.

The name might have been starting to cool off slightly. But now that singer Ciara and husband Russell Wilson have welcomed daughter Sienna Princess, interest in the name seems likely to accelerate once more.

Seine

If you’ve ever been to Paris, you know all about La Seine, the river that winds through the city, splitting it into Rive Gauche and Rive Droite – the Left and Right Banks.

Even as we’ve fallen for River as a baby name, and considered the name of famous rivers like Afton and Thames, the Seine has been overlooked.

But there’s a fascinating story to this name.

It comes from Sequana, the GalloRoman goddess associated with the river, as well as the springs in Dijon that form the river’s source.

There’s also an ancient tribe known as the Sequani, though it’s not clear if the names are related.

It was believed the goddess could heal any number of afflictions. The Romans built temples at the springs.

Now she’s mostly forgotten, though the river that bears her name remains world-famous.

Bradley Cooper and Irina Shayk recently named their first daughter Lea de Seine Shayk Cooper. No word yet on the middle name’s origin or meaning. Shayk hails from Russia; Cooper was born in Philadelphia. Perhaps it’s a reference to Paris, or maybe we’ll learn there’s something else behind the intriguing middle name.

If you love the City of Lights, Seine might make a more original choice than Paris – and one less likely to be associated with the headline-grabbing Hilton sister. It’s also a slim, trim middle name possibility.

Batel

Jenna Jameson helped put a new name on the map with the arrival of her first daughter: Batel.

Good morning from Mommy and Batel! We are both feeling great this morning ??

A post shared by Jenna Jameson (@jennacantlose) on

Batel looks a little bit like the word battle, but it isn’t so. It’s Hebrew. Bat means daughter; el means God. The elements are shared in more familiar names like Bathsheba, Elizabeth, and Eliana.

There’s no question where Jenna took her naming inspiration. Her boyfriend, Lior Bitton, is Israeli. The former adult film star has announced her conversion to Judaism in advance of the couple’s marriage. While the name doesn’t appear in Israel‘s Top Ten, it’s in use.

The name is virtually unknown in the US, but a high profile birth announcement might be enough to inspire a few parents.

Besides baby Batel, Jenna is also mom to sons Jesse Jameson and Journey Jette with her ex, Tito Ortiz.

Racer

Speed Racer

Lara Bingle and Sam Worthington are the parents to sons Rocket and Racer. They’ve taken a page from Robert Rodriguez. The director named his four boys Rocket, Racer, Rebel, and Rogue.

But is Racer really such an outlandish choice?

Foot racing is as old as time; then came chariots and horses. Now we tend to think of car races, but of course there are plenty of ways to go fast.

The word comes from Old Norse, and originally referred to rushing water. It’s been used to mean “people who participate in races” for centuries. For today’s generation of parents, it probably brings to mind Speed Racer, an animated series from Japan. The character debuted in the 1960s, but has been imported, rebooted, and reinvented ever since.

In the US, only a handful of boys have been given the name – fewer than 100 over the last decade. And yet, we’re naming our sons Ryder and Ryker, Chase and Ace. Racer fits right in with those popular picks. It’s edgy and cool, but not completely outside of current trends.

Just as Rocket has steadily risen in use, it’s very possible we’ll hear more of this name in the coming years.

Hal

Benedict Cumberbatch and wife Sophie recently welcomed a second child. While the couple has yet to officially confirm the details, word is that the new addition is named Hal Auden Cumberbatch.

Hal joins older brother Christopher Carlton Cumberbatch, and if that feels like a short-long mismatch, no worries. Big brother answers to Kit.

With Hal the famous family went with the nickname on the birth certificate. But nickname for what?

Harold is often associated with Harold, but it is also associated with Henry – via Harry – in the Middle Ages.

Shakespeare referred to the future King Henry V as Prince Hal in his historical dramas. That makes this nickname name more literary than you might expect.

There’s also Arthur C. Clark‘s HAL of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame, actors Sparks and Holbrook, the dad on Malcom in the Middle, and there Green Lantern’s alter ego.

As an independent name, Hal ranked in the US Top 1000 every year from 1880 through the 1970s. In recent years, it’s become very rare. But with mini names like Max and Kai, and vintage nickname choices like Jack and Gus in favor, why not Hal?

Marlow

Amber Tamblyn and David Cross recently revealed that their daughter’s real name is Marlow Alice. They’re the latest in a string of celebrities to embrace the name. Sienna Miller is mom to Marlowe Ottoline. Jason Schwartzman named his firstborn daughter Marlowe Rivers. And comedian Rob Corddry went with Marlo for his younger child.

And yet, so far, the name remains outside of the US Top 1000.

Surname spelling Marlow fits right in with Harlow, as well as nature names like Willow and Meadow.

Marlo has a different vibe. It brings to mind Marlo Thomas, star of 1960s television staple That Girl and now a tireless supporter of St. Jude‘s Children’s Research Hospital. That makes it a midcentury charmer.

But Marlow and Marlowe both fit right in with so many surname names for girls in the current Top 1000. While neither spelling charts just yet, both are on the rise. Marlowe was given to 220 girls in 2015, with an additional 80 girls named Marlow.

It’s an on-trend name that’s just about to follow other fast-rising favorites, like Harper and Everly, into wider use.

The ‘e’ spelling seems likely to be more popular, thanks to our familiarity with famous Marlowes. There’s poet and playwright Christopher, as well as fictional detective Philip.

Between the on-trend sound and the many high-profile parents embracing this name, Marlo/w/e is one to watch!

 

Beau

Beau makes a great choice for a boys’ name today. It’s brief and brisk, with a bold sound. But unlike some modern favorites, Beau‘s history is considerable, too.

It comes from the French word for handsome. This makes Beau a brother for Belle, a sound that has dominated girls’ names in recent years.

You’ll sometimes hear Beau used as a nickname for a third-born son. Think Lloyd Vernet “Beau” Bridges III, or Joseph RobinetteBeau” Biden III. It’s also short for surnames like Beauregard.

But just plain Beau is the fast-rising choice favored by parents. It’s more than doubled in use over the last five years alone. That’s not counting names starting with the Bo– sound, from spiritual Bodhi to surname Bowen and musical Bowie.

Reality stars Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott have welcomed their five child together, son Beau Dean. The couple has a knack for choosing – and boosting – on-trend baby names. They are also parents to Liam, Stella, Hattie, and Finn.

If you’re looking for a short, sweet, and complete name for a son, Beau is one to consider.

Marchesa

Marchesa might not be a household name, but it’s a surprisingly on-trend choice.

Reality television star Lauren Manzo and husband Vito Scalia recently chose the name for their firstborn, daughter Marchesa Anna.

My Markie Girl ?

A post shared by Lauren Manzo Scalia (@laurenmanzo) on

As a given name, Marchesa is virtually unknown. It’s the Italian feminine form of an aristocratic title. The masculine equivalent is Marchese. In English, it’s Marquess and Marchioness; in French, Marquis and Marquise.

Marquis has appeared in the US Top 1000 for boys, but that’s not the reason Manzo and Scalia settled on the choice for their daughter.

Instead, the couple almost certainly learned of the name thanks to fashion house Marchesa, founded by Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig in 2004. The pair took inspiration for their label’s name from Marchesa Luisa Casati, an early twentieth century patron of the arts known for lavish parties.

Not only does Marchesa fit right in with boys called Messiah and King, it feels like a bolder sister for Francesca and Isabella, too.

Another reason it might wear well? Marchesa is pronounced with a ‘k’ sound – mar kay suh. The Manzo-Scalia family intends to call their daughter Markie for short. With other high-profile children answering to Hattie, Frankie, and Winnie, Markie seems like a natural choice.

Viola

Lukas Forchhammer is the frontman for Danish pop band Lukas Graham. Last September he and girlfriend MarieLouise “Rillo” Schwartz welcomed their first child. While they announced the birth via Rillo’s Instagram, they didn’t immediately share the name.

Good morning ?

A post shared by Marie-louise (@rilloschwartz) on

During the 59th Grammy Awards, we learned that their new daughter’s name is Viola.

Viola sounds appropriately musical for a singer’s daughter, but it’s actually the Latin word for violet. It’s also a serious Shakespearean name, thanks to the heroine of The Twelfth Night.

Fun fact: the instrument takes its name from the Medieval Latin word vitula – stringed instrument. In turn, Vitula appears to have been the name of a minor Roman goddess of joy and exaltation.

Viola was even a favorite from the late nineteenth century into the 1920s in the US, making the name a vintage revival candidate. But it remains rare today, while Violet reigns as the undisputed Top 100 favorite.

But Viola has increased in use in recent years. It’s still outside of the US Top 1000, but 188 girls were given the name in 2015. Actors Megan Hilty and Brian Gallagher welcomed daughter Viola Philomena in 2014. Emmy-winning actress Viola Davis helps keep the name in the spotlight, too.

If you’re looking for a name that’s on-trend and unexpected at the same time, Viola is one to consider.

Eissa

Eissa, the name chosen by singer Janet Jackson and husband Wissam Al Mana for their newborn son, is the Arabic form of Jesus. Pronounced eye-sa, Eissa is widely used as both a first name and a last in the Arab world. Also spelled Isa, Issa, and Essa, it’s becoming more visible throughout Europe too. But in the U.S., Eissa was used last year for only six baby boys.

Like Jesus, Eissa means “the lord is salvation.” The name of the Christian savior has many variations around the world, including Yasu, Yeshua, and the popular Joshua.

The most famous bearer of the name was probably Isa Celebi, a 14th-century Ottoman prince.

Throughout her pregnancy, Jackson had said the name would be a tribute to her brother Michael. Michael Jackson‘s middle name was Joseph, also the name of both Janet‘s and Michael‘s father, which means “Jehovah increases” and so may be a subtle link to the name Eissa.

Ines

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have revealed the name of their second child together: Ines.

As with daughter James, the celebrity couple waited several months before sharing the news. It comes on the heels of the girls’ first public appearance, to watch dad receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame earlier this month.

The name comes from Agnes, via the Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish. Depending on the language, it’s typically pronounced with a long ee sound, and the emphasis on the second syllable.

Inez made a splash in the early twentieth century, briefly entering the US Top 100 during the same era as Juanita and Lola. The ‘s’ spelling has always been relatively rare. The name means pure, though it’s also associated with the Greek word for lamb.

The couple made headlines with their unorthodox choice of James for a daughter, though it has already proved trendsetting – and Ryan later explained that it was the name of his late father. No word yet on whether the saintly, traditional name has personal ties for either parent.

Another burning question: will other parents follow suit? The name – in all three forms, Agnes, Inez, and Ines – has trended upwards slightly in recent years. But they remain well outside of the US Top 1000, despite Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany’s daughter Agnes Lark, and an adorable animated character in box office franchise Despicable Me.

Of course, plenty of other I names, like Isabella, Isla, Iris, and Ivy are also rising favorites in recent years, with celebrities as well as parents across the English-speaking world. That raises the possibility that Ines will fall right into step with other rare-but-rising names, like Ivory and Irene.

What do you think of Ines? Do you think this belongs on our list of hottest celebrity baby names of the year?