The Nameberry 9: Newsy names from Maple to Rembrandt to Cadet

This week, Abby Sandel, of Appellation Mountain, outdoes herself in seeking and finding some truly novel names for The Nameberry Nine..

This week in baby name news, an actor named his second daughter after a tree. One movie brought an invented name to the English-speaking world by way of Japan. Another film started out in the imagination of a New Jersey-born novelist, took the audience to Paris, circa 1931, boosting a name that is popular throughout modern-day Europe. And an English pop star debuted a high-fashion handbag named in honor of a daughter named after a rather high-minded novel.

For every name that is clearly tied to a culture of origin – Maeve or Svetlana or Hiroshi – there is a growing pool that feels like fair game for parents from any background. This week’s names fit that mold, mostly because it is almost impossible to make them fit any one specific category. They’re global, eclectic, and stylish – just like the names that many of us are seeking for our children today.

Many of them are also shape-shifters. Is Sylvie a nature-name, a next-wave vintage appellation, or a nod to French heritage? How about Jed – is he a Biblical boy or a little wrangler? The answer is frequently yes, yes, and yes for these nine baby names in the news:

Maple – We’ve been taking girls’ names from the garden for generations. Now parents are turning to the arboretum. We have Willow and Rowan and the latest newcomer, Maple, a daughter for Jason Bateman and Amanda Anka. Does it pay homage to Anka’s Canadian roots? Or is Maple just a modern spin on vintage Mabel? Big sis Francesca Nora is usually referred to by dad as Frannie, so we’ll have to wait and see if Maple has a go-to nickname, too. I’m charmed by the idea of Frannie and Mae.

SylvieSophie is no longer an old lady feeding the pigeons on a Brooklyn parch bench. Instead, Sophie and Brooklyn are enrolled in the same kindergarten. Baby Bateman’s middle name could prove more influential than her first. Sylvie fits right in with Ava and Sadie and Vivienne, too. From the Latin word for woods, Sylvie is also a more subtle choice than many nature names. Maple Sylvie is a double-dose of outdoorsy.

Arrietty – Classic young adult novel The Borrowers first appeared in 1952, but is getting attention again thanks to the US release of an animated Japanese adaptation from 2010. Coming soon to a theater near you, The Secret World of Arrietty (illustrated) is mostly faithful to the original plotline of Mary Clark’s enduring work, including the name of the teenage daughter. Search Arrietty on the Nameberry forums and you’ll find some amazing combinations. I’m stuck on Isadora Arrietty. She’s a modern spin on Harriet, a cousin to Romilly, Bellamy, and other names that feel feminine and elaborate, but not quite frilly.

Hugo – He’s made this list before, but when the most-nominated movie at the Academy Awards takes its title from a fashionable boy’s name? That’s something to talk about. Hugo is up for eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Cadet – This one appeared at Name Soiree as a boy’s name. On the one hand, he’s a synonym for Junior, tough to wear when you’re sixty-something. And yet I find this one appealing – more interesting than Cade and Cayden and not quite as militant as Cannon. Like the Welsh Cadel, boosted by 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans of Australia, Cadet feels wearable – if maybe just a little bit spacey.

RembrandtDo you follow Names from Yesteryear? Blogger Zeffy is brilliant about mining history for interesting options, but she also finds some truly intriguing and novel suggestions. Rembrandt feels like a big name for a baby, but she points out that short form Remy is perfectly wearable. If kids can answer to Tennyson and Winston, why not Rembrandt?

Harper – Spice Girl turned fashion designer Victoria Beckham has named a handbag in her fall line after new daughter Harper Seven. She’s not the first celeb mama to turn her baby’s name into a brand – House of Harlow, anyone? Could this be one more signal that Harper is headed for the US Top 100, or will parents tire of the name’s constant presence in celebrity gossip?

Six – Speaking of Harper Seven, remember Six on 90s sitcom Blossom? The unusually-named best friends had all sorts of adventures, but neither character name caught on. Six is back in the spotlight thanks to the actress who played her, Jenna von Oy, now expecting her first child in June.

Jed – All this counting brings to mind that family with nineteen kids. Nope, not the Duggars. Instead, it is the Bates family of Tennessee, dear friends to the Arkansas mega-clan, who have welcomed child number nineteen. Son Jeb Colton is the fourth Bates to receive a J-name. The family also includes Jackson, Josie, and Judson. The Bates say that his name means “beloved friend of God from Coal Town.” While that’s a stretch, Jed Colton fits right in with the Bates boys’ cowboy names. There’s also Trace, Warden, and Lawson.

Do you prefer names that tie to your family’s heritage, or do you lean towards names that are hard to pin down?


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13 Responses to “The Nameberry 9: Newsy names from Maple to Rembrandt to Cadet”

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skizzo Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 1:24 am

I think the boys names here are terrible, sorry. I like unusual boys names, but Cadet, Remembrandt, Jed? Hugo is ok, but has been around for ages and is hardly an interesting name…

kewitzler Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 7:01 am

Mary Norton is the author of The Borrowers and the creator of Arrietty.
Love Sylvie…

Dantea Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 8:35 am

Love Arrietty (air-ee-et-ee)! I think it’s so cute!

chelseamae Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 9:16 am

So many great names! Maple was one of my favorite names for a boy since I was in highschool. I love the idea of Rembrandt, not loving the nickname Remy though. I’d probably go for Brandt if anything. I know a Jed who’s probably around 28 years old, a bit short for my tastes but such a strong name for a boy/man.

Lola Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 10:21 am

I like Remy all by itself, no need to elaborate! 🙂

Arietty has been a favorite character of mine since I found “The Borrowers” when I was 7. Josie’s reading it now.

Maple feels ridiculous as a human name. It’s heavy & ungainly. I’d hate to be named Maple! And Jemima’s unusable? What?!?
Hugo’s a love because he’s strong & simple, like Leo & Rex. I adore strong, simple boy names!

Overall, I prefer names that honor my heritage & family over other names. But Sylvie’s a love despite that. Sweet, lovely Sylvie!

Can’t wait to see “The Secret World of Arietty” either!

Cool post!

Zeffy Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 11:41 am

Thank you for the mention 🙂 My favourite has to be Arrietty.


February 20th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Jed…as a young 25 year old even I know “let me tell ya a story about a man named jed…” the beverly hill billies…it just screams country…and not in a laura ingalls wilder type way…it sounds like you’re missing teeth and have a pet chipmunk….not my taste at all…

pam Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Missing teeth and have a pet chipmunk??? That’s quite a characterization, Reeljagkb, and I’m laughing out loud. I’d like to see you create a user list of other names that fall in that category! But I don’t see Jed that way at all — to me he’s the strong, quiet type and very good-looking. And has all his teeth!

Saranel Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I know a little maple who is about 2. She is adorable and her name fits her. When I first heard it I thought of maple syrup but she really makes the name her own.

CourtneyMarie Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Every time I hear about the name Harper in the news, a little part of me dies. I’ve adored this name since I first read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and now I’m worried that it’s going to be waaaaayyyyyy too popular to use by the time I’m ready to have kids.

jpruitt76 Says:

February 20th, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Frannie and Mae make me swoon…but I am really not digging Maple. I do adore Sylvie. Would have rather seen Sylvie Maple as a sister to Francesca Nora.

leffie Says:

February 22nd, 2012 at 4:11 am

Maple Sylvie? Plus Canadian heritage? – oh dear, together they sound and look too much like Maple syrup to me. Maybe that was the intention… separately I do like them both

Haili73 Says:

June 25th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Arriety…I’ve always liked Aria and I loved the song I played in piano called Arietta…so unique and almost musical. Love it. (that name is what got me interested in the movie at first- the fascination with Thumbelina people started later…)

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