Last week’s post was all about the trendsetting Pinkett-Smith family and their son Jaden Christopher Syre, named after mom Jada. This week the spotlight turns to daughter Willow Camille Reign, after dad Will. While plenty of parents chose appellations that honor loved ones, crossing gender lines opens up some inventive options for girls’ names.
At first glance, this is easy for girls’ names. There are plenty of traditional equivalents, like Charles/Charlotte or Alexander/Alexandra. But what if you’re trying to name a daughter after your brother Chad? Or you adore your uncle Patrick, but you can’t imagine calling your little one Patricia?
Parents have grafted together some unusual choices over the years. There are just add –ette or –elle names, like Danette and Donelle; ends-in-ie choices, like Artie and Bennie; and double names, from Bobbie Sue to Rayanne. Some may be carefully chosen, but Markie or Hughette can sound like afterthoughts, hastily cobbled together when the parents heard the words, “It’s a girl!”
Sometimes parents just pass on the masculine moniker, but there is a world of options for naming a daughter Pinkett-Smith style. It’s not just Will and Jade, either. Emeril Lagasse called his daughter Meril.
Jaden Christopher Syre Smith turns 13 next month. Smith is Hollywood royalty, the son of actors Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, and his name is often cited as one of the reasons Jayden, Caeden, Hayden, and company became an epidemic among boys’ names.
Overlook the rhymes-with-Aiden qualities of Jaden Smith’s name for a minute, and there’s something else notable about this young actor’s appellation. While girls have been named after their fathers since ancient days, Jaden is one of relatively few boys to be named after his mother.
You may need to be creative to name a daughter after your favorite uncle, but that can create an opportunity, too. Grandpa Donald might fume if you reject Donald in favor of the more stylish Donovan for your son. But honor grandma Donna or aunt Dawn with a little Donovan, and chances are she’ll be thrilled.
Based on the most popular names of the 1970s and 80s, here are some thoughts about how you might name a son, Pinkett-Smith style. The girls’ list is up next week. Add your additions and suggestions in the comments!
The question of the week: How would you go about honoring a namesake?
In choosing a name, there’s nothing more meaningful than paying tribute to a beloved family member, ancestor or friend. Namesake names can connect your child to her heritage, and convey the essence of a loved one, bestowing their most admirable qualities on your child. Personal heroes of the past or present can form the basis of worthy namesake names as well.
Would you approach this by:
- Using the name verbatim as a first name?
- Modernizing or modifying it in some way? Changing Mildred to Millicent of Millie, for example? Finding another name with a similar meaning?
- Using it as a middle name?
- Considering the honoree’s middle or last name if you didn’t love their first?
- Would you ever consider making your son a Junior or a II or a III?
- Would you use the name of an ancestor you never knew?
- Would you consider the name of a personal hero?
So have you honored a namesake in your child’s name–or would you in the future?
Some of those characters eventually have fictional children of their own. Mad Men couple Pete and Trudy just welcomed daughter Tammy. 90210’s Jen has a brand new son called Jacques. In honor of the two new arrivals, here’s a look back at some notable small screen births.
Everyone was watching I Love Lucy when Ricky and Lucy welcomed Enrique Jr. – Lil’ Ricky – in 1953. The show was a sensation, but Richard was already a Top Ten mainstay, and even Ricky was in the Top 100 before the baby’s arrival.
The first influential television baby probably came from 1964’s Bewitched, a sitcom with a supernatural twist. Bewitching wife Samantha’s name caught on, as did daughter Tabitha, who arrived in the show’s second season.
There’s more than one way to add a child. The Brady Bunch’s six kids became seven when Cousin Oliver came to stay during the show’s final season. While his name is the height of fashion today, it didn’t catch on until decades later. The character did lend his name to Cousin Oliver Syndrome – the phenomenon of adding a younger child to revive a fading show.
For a number of years, when I wasn’t writing about names, I was writing about antiques and collectibles for a syndicated newspaper column. But of course when I was thinking about antiques, I was still also thinking about names.
Looking at the field of antique furniture, for example, I found that when it came to early British cabinetmakers, the names were relatively unexciting. George Hepplewhite. Robert Adams. Thomas Chippendale. Thomas Sheraton. Nothing too juicy there.
But with the Early American cabinetmakers and clockmakers it was quite a different story. Lots of antiquated Biblical names, more than one Chauncey, Ebenezer and Lemuel, a few virtue names rarely heard in modern times (Prudent, Noble), a couple of Latinate names and a Greek god—in other words a variegated picture of American Colonial and Federal era nomenclature:
Some prime examples:
- Abel Cottey
- Abiel Chandler
- Abner Toppan
- Ansel Goodwin
- Asa Holden
- Chauncey Boardman, Jerome
- Duncan Phyfe
- Ebenezer Knowlton, Tracy, Parmalee
- Elbert Anderson
- Eli Terry
- Elias Ingraham
- Elijah Booth, Sanderson
- Eliphaler Chapin
- Elisha DeWolfe, Jr
- Elnathan Taber
- Enos Doolittle
- Ephraim Haines, Downes
- Everadus Bogardus
- Garvan Carver
- Gawen Brown
- Gerrard Hopkins
- Gideon Roberts
- Heman Clark
- Hercules Courtenay