The Nameberry 9: Newsiest baby names of the week

An interesting mix of names is highlighted in the Nameberry 9 this week by Appellation Mountain ‘s Abby Sandel, drawn from the Grammys, new starbabies, and the pages of Charles Dickens.

A fellow berry recently mentioned that Coraline wasn’t accidentally invented by Neil Gaiman for his story. In fact, as thetxbelle pointed out, Coraline peaked in France in 1996 – about half a dozen years before Gaiman reversed two letters in Caroline to name his literary heroine.

It happens more often that you might think. Parents believe they’ve created Aidric by combining parts of different names, only to stumble on a ninth-century saint by the same name.

The two celebrity births to make baby name news this week fit that pattern. They seem stunningly original and terribly familiar all at once.

If mix and match baby names isn’t your style, there are a few other appellations grabbing headlines this week, thanks to the impending Oscars, Grammys, and a few literary classics, too.

This week’s nine newsiest baby names go from the modern to the medieval and everywhere in between:

Exton Elias – Since Robert Downey, Jr.’s firstborn was named Indio, we were expecting something wildly inventive from the actor and his wife Susan. Instead, the couple settled on Exton, a place name that has never been on the baby naming map, but feels an awful like Jaxon, Axton, Maddox, and a bunch of other just-add-x baby names in favor in recent years. If his first name fell short, his middle name is rich with meaning. Robert Downey, Sr. was born Robert Elias, the son of Russian immigrants.

Elliotte Anne – Actress Marla Sokoloff has grown up on television, graduating from sitcom Full House to legal drama The Practice. Her new daughter’s name owes something to medical comedy Scrubs, one of the first place we heard Elliot on a girl. With built-in nickname Ellie, it is easy to see this one’s crossover appeal, and she fits in with Violet, Scarlet, and Juliet. Or make that Violette, Scarlette, and Juliette.

Bérénice – From the modern to the medieval, and the small screen to the silver, let’s talk about Bérénice. She’s an ancient name, found in the New Testament and the Egyptian royal family from ancient days. We know her as Veronica or Bernice, but the original form has remained in steady use in France. File her somewhere between Beatrice and Vivienne. Now that French-Argentine actress Bérénice Bejo has earned an Oscar nomination for her role as Peppy Miller in The Artist, will we hear more of this ancient name?

Adele – Speaking of medieval appellations ripe for revival, songstress Adele helped push her spare, classic name back in to the US Top 1000 for the first time in over four decades last year. She’s up for a slew of Grammy Awards this year. Even if she doesn’t take home the prize, her name remains a winner.
Jagger – While we’re talking tunes, do you think Jagger is the next Marley/Presley/Lennon? He combines Mick’s legendary swagger with a strong, masculine sound. Jagger seemed to have missed his moment, but the international pop hit from Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera could reverse that trend.

ThompsonTom made last week’s list thanks to Super Bowl QB Tom Brady, but Thompson caught my eye this week thanks to Grammy-nominated husband and wife duo Keifer and Shawna, better known as country music’s Thompson Square. If Exton is the new Jaxon, could Thompson – or Thomson – be an update to Jackson?

Alba Joy – It isn’t just musicians’ surnames. A handful of parents have adopted contemporary actors’ surnames as given names, too, with Aniston and Winslet among the more popular. At first glance, Marginamia’s birth announcement for Alba Joy had me wondering if Jessica Alba was now keeping company with Jen and Kate. But the new parents seem more likely to be focused on the Spanish and Italian meaning – dawn – instead.

Estella – From pop culture to the literary world, Nook of Names celebrated Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday with a thorough round-up of every character name that might possibly work for a child, including surnames and nicknames. Zephyr, Dodger or Granger, anyone? My favorite Dickens name has to be Estella, Miss Havisham’s ward in Great Expectations. Of course, the lawyer in the story is called Jagger

Dora – Think it is crazy to name a baby after a literary character? Charles Dickens named at least one of his ten children after a fictional figure he created. Youngest daughter Dora shared her name with Dora Spenlow, the young bride of David Copperfield, published shortly before Miss Dickens’ birth. She appeared on Nameberry’s list of Floradora girls just last week where she was warmly welcomed.

Do you choose names based just on sound, or are you more interested in the associations – literary, musical, theatrical or other?

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21 Responses to “The Nameberry 9: Newsiest baby names of the week”

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ebenezer.scrouge Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 3:06 am

My sisters name is Adele Louise and she is ten though she jokes that Adele stole her name

minorbeatrice Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 3:42 am

I’ve been thinking about the possibility of Berenice making a come back. Is she ready to follow Beatrice or is she going to stay with Eunice?

New names I found a few days ago: Esmerine.

minorbeatrice Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 3:43 am


Malk Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 6:18 am

It’s sad that most peoople’s first thoughts for Alba is Jessica Alba. It’s a gorgeous name, rich with meaning in several languages, but I’m wary of using it because everyone will think I named her after the actress.

ebenezer.scrouge Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 7:30 am

My sisters name is Adele she’s ten and jokes that the singer “stole” her name

chelseamae Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 8:21 am

Jaegar Grant is that name of my new baby cousin, he is just one week old today… I am not a big fan of the spelling but love the name Jagger/Jaegar!

I usually choose names because of the way they sound or how they make me feel. I think associations effect my opinions on names only when it is a negative or silly association like Dora the Explorer or Kermit the Frog, which is unfortunate!

linzybindi Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 8:26 am

I work at a daycare and we have two kids named Jagger! They are 2 and 3 years old. I still don’t like this name very much…it just doesn’t have a nice sound. Especially poor little Jagger Joseph Blue…but I digress on that one.

LOVE Adele! I have been loving on this name for a while because I had a great aunt named Della. I was trying to think of a way to adjust Della into something fashionable while getting away from the “ella” sound. Adele is a lovely choice.

Elliotte bothers me because of the spelling. If she would have gone with Elliette I think i would like it more. But the “e” on the end with the “o” in the middle is awkward for me.

Sarah.Jane Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 8:37 am

I had a lady tell me the name of her six year old son once. I said, that’s cute, I know a little boy with that name.
Her response was that the family must have copied her because she invented the name.
She got quite aggressive so I didn’t bother saying that 1) the boy was older than her son 2) that he was named after his grandfather.
I think that unless you know your child cvsegkuvdf chances are pretty good that the name has been used somewhere at some time.

I can’t stomach Elliott on a girl. It is such a great boys name!

notsoclevername Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 9:10 am

I concentrate most on the meaning and then on the history of a name. The history part is where associations might come in. Sometimes if there is a negative association I’ll scrap the name but if it sounds so beautiful to me and the meaning is very appealing I’ll keep it on my list. I agree with lp, Eliotte on a girl just doesn’t sit well with me. Jagger is too trendy for my taste.

Abby Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 9:49 am

@Sarah.Jane – That’s fantastic! And I think it happens all the time …

@minorbeatrice – Esmerine is gorgeous!

@malk – It is sad, isn’t it? And yet that is exactly where my pop culture-soaked brain when … Still, the more I think about it, Alba really is gorgeous.

tavn Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 10:25 am

I’m really afraid of Alba becoming popular.

On one hand, I’d wish it would gain some sort of attention as a stand-alone name rather than the actress’ surname, because then the association to Jessica Alba would die down some. Think of how Harlow has gained popularity and most people think of it as a name more than Jean Harlow.

On the other hand, I feel like I have this little gem in using the name Alba, and I don’t want it taken from me because then she’ll just be another little Alba.

Alba Johanna Leigh is our top girl name pick.

Kibby Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 11:36 am

I am surprised that Whitney didn’t make this list, her name was far newsier than Adeles this week, for a sad reason though.

miloowen Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 11:47 am

It’s funny that Alba is being talked around now…when it’s such an old name on the Continent. My state-sponsored nanny (from when I took my seven-month-old daughter to the Bologna Book Fair)was a nineteen-year-old linguistics student from the University of Bologna named Alba. She was brilliant, and we discussed languages and names often. It’s a name I’d have used if I had married an Italian or Spaniard, but it never went with my surnames….

Adele/Adela is another name that I’ve loved back from my bookfair days. I was a librettist and heavily involved in the opera world, and the lovely administrative guru of Barcelona’s Teatre del Liceu was named Adelina, a name that she wore with great dignity.

I was just looking at all the Dickens names in honour of Charles’s birthday. Who can forget the horrible James Steerforth? And the fact that little Davey was called “Trot” by his aunt….My favourite of all is Pip, not because I like the character — I didn’t — but just love the name.

TracyLeighann Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 11:50 am

I’m in the minority here..but I like Eliot on a girl. I don’t care for the spelling in the blog.

AmandaChristine Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

We focuses on sound first, and then history/associations. History can be a deal breaker, but the sound is most important.

Abby Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 1:45 pm

@Kibby – I thought of that myself late last night! Tragic and completely newsworthy. But in the interest of having posts finished, fact-checked, edited, and in the queue to go live on schedule, I actually finish these on Saturday. So Whitney might make next week’s list … though there have been some great write-ups on the topic already.

@tavn – Alba Johanna Leigh is beyond lovely!

PeachThePrincess Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 2:31 pm

The french version of Berenice is BEYOND lovely! My grandmother always had told me the story about the princess Berenice and her hair and the constellation… good to know that now it’s reborn!

thetxbelle Says:

February 13th, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I know a petite Bérénice and she’s adorable, also Racine’s “Bérénice” is a sad yet beautiful play that goes with this name!

Thanks for the Coraline update too 🙂

ebenezer.scrouge Says:

February 23rd, 2012 at 3:29 am

My sister is named adele

luweiaeclare Says:

March 13th, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I’ve always liked the name Esmer, though not Esmerelda, as it’s a bit much, but my reactions have been negative (sounds like Esme with an r) but now, Esmerine gives it a more substantiate full name! Thanks, berries!

Jiinxsay Says:

August 3rd, 2012 at 1:16 am

love Robert Downey Jr! i think Indio & Exton sound AWES together, in fact i think
Indio Exton could stand on it’s own!!!

@luweiaeclare, i LOVE your name :O always into names i’ve never heard before! i’m all over the map. soooo many to love, the “Bérénice” gives me great ideas!!! can you imagine the sweet nn of calling her Bayray? <3

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