The Nameberry 9: Hitting the perfect balance

 This week, Abby Sandel, of Appellation Mountain, gathers interesting but not outré names from sources ranging from the Old Testament to Cirque de Soleil.

The end of the year is fast approaching, and with it comes year-end lists.  Are Isabella and Jacob top of the tops, or does that distinction belong to Sophia and AidenHow about Liam and Charlotte?

It is an interesting debate, but for parents seeking inspiration, it isn’t necessarily helpful.  Often we read lists of the most popular names as a collection of those to avoid, lest our little Charlotte complain that she’s one of three in her kindergarten.

And yet, few of us are daring enough to consider a completely unique name.  Yes, celebrities are embracing Bear and Spike and Bing, but they’re rather bold choices outside ofHollywood.

Surely there’s middle ground between Skylark and Emma, Gitano and Noah.

This week’s Nameberry Nine is a round-up of choices that strike that balance.  They’re not eye-poppingly unusual, but neither is your child likely to ever share one of these names.

Zaia – This one appeared in Isadora’s post about Cirque du Soleil appellations up at Bewitching Names earlier this week.  Zaia feels like an exotic spin on Maya and Mia.  My impulse is to rhyme Zaia with Maya – approachable, but definitely different.

Cadeau – The French word for gift, Rowan spotted this on an Olympic athlete – a guy from Liberia!  At first glance, Cadeau is both outrageous and too cutesy, but for a daughter, she shortens to Kate/Cate or Cady.  I think that’s just enough versatility to give the name potential.

Dinah – She’s as straightforward as Emma or Nora, as vintage as Pearl, with something sassy about her, too.  I spotted Dinah on Zeffy’s list at Names from Yesteryear, spanning the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but she’d right at home circa 2012, too.

Adler – Design maven Jonathan Adler is now creating diaper bags with Skip Hop, so maybe that’s why Adler has been on my radar recently.  Or perhaps it is just a good moment for a restrained surname name with a masculine meaning – Adler comes from the German for eagle.

Miriam – As tailored as Madison, as vintage as Beatrice, as enduring as Mary, Miriam has a lot going for her.  Best of all?  She’s hovered around the 300 mark for decades, suggesting that while she’s not as rare as some of the names on this list, she’s definitely not heard on a regular basis.  Names4Real spotted her in Pennsylvania recently, paired with a sweet and literary middle: Miriam Alice.

Harvey – He’s not just for imaginary rabbits in Jimmy Stewart movies anymore!  Or at least I’m convinced that’s the case after reading Marginamia’s post.  A friend mentioned that she knows someone who has Harvey at the top of her shortlist, too.  With everyone considering Henry, names like Harvey seem bound to get more attention.

Avalon Lou at Mer de Noms recently posted a round-up of Disney names.  She mentioned new original series Frenemies is going to include a character called Avalon.  Part-Ava, part-Allison, all Arthurian legend, with just a lingering whiff of Toyota,  Avalon remains very rare, but I’d love to see her used more often.

Hale – Another name I’ve been thinking about for ages, Hale appeared in a Name Soiree post recently, as Hale Lewis.  He’s right at home with Gage and Cade, but has an edge that’s more Colonial – and substantial – than some of today’s trendier picks.

Patton Patrick is an Irish saint, an enduring classic that no longer surprises.  The related Patton appeared on a list of surname picks at Nook of Names earlier this week.  Part-military general, part-comic, Patton feels fresh and wearable in 2012.

Spot any great names this week?

Please note: We’re going to be on CafeMom’s Ask The Expert all this week answering questions about baby names. Join us there!

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19 Responses to “The Nameberry 9: Hitting the perfect balance”

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Tressa Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 2:10 am

I came across an Aislynn recently. She was in her 20s and I thought her name was very interesting.

linzybindi Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 7:59 am

Miriam is so beautiful and vintage sounding. Very lovely choice…plus it is Biblical which usually helps it to be more likable.

LOVE Avalon! I actually had a hairdresser with a daughter named Avalon. She pronounced it ave-ah-lon (like have) and called her ave-ah for short. Avalon is also the name of my favorite music group…they are contemporary Christian. Also, the Frankie Avalon connection is fun too!

punkprincessphd Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 10:35 am

I like the idea of Cadeau, but can’t fathom how one would get “Kate” – it’s pronounced with a short “a”, as in Cadd-O. Maybe Caddy (as in Caddy Woodlawn), but please not Katy or Kate. That just makes Francophones cry.

shieldsc Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 11:21 am

I know a Zhaia — she pronounces it “Zay-uh” and I’ve always wondered what the story is behind her name.

My hubby LOVED Miriam for our second daughter. But since our first is Madelyn, I just thought they were too matchy. He wanted to use the nickname Miri (yes, like Zac and Miri!). Cute, but not for me.

appellationmountain Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 11:27 am

You’re right, punkprincessphd … Cato, maybe? Umm … Okay, I give up! I still like Cadeau for a girl, but I’ll concede that Cady is a stretch.

vivtaliesin Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Great List. Never thought of Hale before, but i LOVE him!!

ellieberry Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Lisa Simpson’s future daughter was named Zia on a new episode of the show last night. Very close to Zaia!

lemon Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

This is a great list! I’ve always thought Avalon was really cool, and Patton is definitely fun! Dinah is such a sweet name for a girl, and it reminds me of Alice’s cat in Alice in Wonderland.

Also – Hale. It might catch on like Cullen because it’s a Twilight Sage surname (Rosalie and Jasper Hale, I believe), but it is very handsome in an easy-breezy way, like Flynn.

I think names like Zara, Naya, Cadenza, Nina, Della, Anders, Calder, Sela, Naomi, Leon, Oscar, Isolde, Finola, West, Roan, and Sutton could be on this list, too.

Nyx Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I know a Miriam Susana, but she’s in 3rd grade. She’s got a wonderful group of siblings: Carmen Elizabeth (g), Gabriel “Gabe” Alexander (b), Benjamin “Benji” Martin (b), Stella Grace (g)

While I like Dinah, I prefer Delilah for a biblical name… although it’s getting really popular…

I’ve always loved Avalon! It’s such a sweet name, and I don’t understand why I don’t see it used more. Names with a similar feel that I have heard used: Aravis (first-grade girl – name from a character in The Chronicles of Narnia series) and Caemlyn (infant – place-name from the Wheel of Time series, similar to King Arthur’s Camelot).

skizzo Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Cadeau sounds very masculine to me, it also looks and sounds like Beau. I don’t see it working on a girl at all, plus the “noun” name in french is masculine.

jpruitt76 Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 10:11 pm

LOVE Miriam. And I have actually always thought Cadeau would make a great name for a little girl (with Cady as the nickname). I know I read it once in a book and, as a staunch francophile, it always stuck with me.

Adler has grown on me in the past few years. It’s one of the few surname names that I could see on a boy or a girl…probably b/c the only Adler I know in real life is a pretty little 6 year old girl. I think it’s a family name for her.

Sarah A Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 10:26 pm

I absolutely love Miriam. My sister is Maryam, but I confess I much prefer Miriam.

I only like Dinah if it’s pronounced like Deena.

Shh about Harvey!! If we ever named a son Eugene after my FIL, Harvey would be his brother. I can totally see Harvey riding Henry’s coattails.

Avalon is pretty but it’s also the car we drive so I don’t see it as very ‘namey’.

evergreen Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 10:31 pm

I love Miriam and have been waiting for it to make a comeback.

Big fan of Avalon, and with Ava’s popularity I am surprised we haven’t seen more of it.

Adler has potential, especially with the Addie option as a nickname for girls.

I have a real soft spot for Dinah, has a funky retro vibe a la Dolly, Betty.

Zaia, though not for me is a great alternative to Maia. I also like Zia, I know of a man called Zia, who I believe is from Afghanistan.

Great names, as usually love the blog, and love my daily dose of nameberry 🙂

CountryLizB Says:

December 12th, 2011 at 11:21 pm

@punkprincessphd
You can get Kate from Katherine and Katherine is pronounced with a short “A”, too.

Lola Says:

December 13th, 2011 at 11:39 am

I adore Dinah & Harvey, just… *swoony*!

Latest spotting? A 15 year old Dolores! Beautiful girl, our newest babysitter. 😀

loraena Says:

December 13th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Aside from the odd/tragic story of Dinah in Genesis, it is a great name and and would be perfect with siblings Ruby & Frances. The biblical association is too sordidly strong me though.

I grew up with a Miriam – she’s around 30 now. I also babysat an infant Miriam about 10 years ago.

Titus245Mama Says:

December 14th, 2011 at 8:58 am

I love Dinah and Miriam. I, too, have avoided Dinah due to the tragic story in Genesis. When I discussed the name Miriam with my family before the birth of our first child (7 years ago) everyone thought of my Great Aunt Mim and said it sounded too old. I think of the little girl who watched over the baby Moses, and it sounds young and fresh to me.

Friends of ours named their baby Norah last week. I think it hits the perfect balance. 🙂

giants1990 Says:

December 15th, 2011 at 8:44 pm

My last name is Adler. Adler Adler? WDYT? LOL.

becochic Says:

December 19th, 2011 at 1:09 am

My Avalon just turned 1. I do see it catching on, regardless of the fact that people associate the name with cars, towns or other places. Anyone who reads knows what Avalon really was / is. 😉

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