The Nameberry 9: Sherlock, Selina and Joan

In the Nameberry 9 this week, Appellation Mountain‘s  Abby Sandel discovers some forgotten classics and some interesting  new possibilities among the newsiest names.

It’s been a quiet week for celebrity birth announcements.  If Uma has named her daughter, she isn’t telling.  Reese isn’t due for a while, and neither is Tori.

But there’s no such thing as a quiet week in name news.  Influences are everywhere, and this week’s announcement of the 2012 Primetime Emmy Award nominees got me thinking about the small screen, and the many names boosted by a TV series.

Of course, it isn’t a straight line.  It often takes years to tell which names will have long-term influence, and which will fade away.  Kimora and Miley are sliding.  Others are holding on strong – Alexis is still solidly established in the US Top 50 decades after Dynasty left the air.

It isn’t that we name our children after television characters, not exactly.  And yet the connections are impossible to deny.  Could it be that a popular series is one of the best ways to convince parents that a new name is mainstream, and worthy of consideration?

Most of this week’s newsiest names have a link to the small screen:

Dylan – The original Beverly Hills, 90210 launched a long-running franchise, and helped propel the name Dylan into the US Top 100.  He hasn’t left since the series premiered in 1990.  Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts and his wife Allison just chose the name for their new son, Dylan Jay, a little brother for Madeleine Leigh.

Selina Seinfeld alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus is nominated for an Emmy for her role as Selina Meyers, Vice President of the United States.  Selina has fallen out of the Top 1000 in recent years, and the more popular spelling, Selena, is also dropping.  But that could make her the perfect pick for parents seeking an alternative to Isabella.

Mary – Speaking of fading, why have we turned our backs on the evergreen Mary?  She’s regal, she’s storied, and she’s an intriguing character on the smart, sophisticated, smash hit Downton Abbey.  Instead, it seems like the British import is more likely to boost Sybil.

Joan – I’m still waiting for Mad Men to help resuscitate Joan.  If the sharp, savvy character played by Christina Hendricks can’t convince parents to consider this feminine form of John, I’m not sure what will bring her back to wider use.

Sherlock – Speaking of Joan, there’s another (yes, really another) Sherlock Holmes-inspired project headed to television this Fall.  This time, the show is set in New York City, with Lucy Liu playing his slightly re-invented sidekick, Dr. Joan Watson.  There’s already a successful BBC series, the Robert Downey, Jr. movies, and a long string of adaptations featuring Arthur Conan Doyle’s enduring detective.  But Sherlock has never popped as a boy’s name – though he’s recently made an appearance on the Nameberry ticker.

Dixon – Speaking of names that haven’t caught on, I’m always a little surprised that the new 90210 didn’t do more for Dixon.  Now another show is giving the name to a character.  Vegas debuts this Fall, with Dennis Quaid as the new sheriff in 1960s Las VegasDixon is the name of the sheriff’s son.  Between his stylish sound, and all of his television exposure, could Dixon be the next Logan?

Arrow – I’ve been on the watch for Arrow ever since this noun name appeared in a recent Nameberry birth announcement.  Now that Archer is on the rise, could Arrow be far behind?  Sure, it is a little bit superhero – at least two comic book characters have answered to ArrowNow there’s a television series based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow.

Brave – While we’re talking noun names, maybe Pixar’s Brave will encourage parents to consider Merida – but could it also boost BraveEponymia included both Brave and Bravery on her 2011 Rarities list.  Blogger Rubyellen has four girls, named Soul, True, Glow, and yes, Brave.

Anneau – Let’s end with a random spotting from the tag cloud, one that seems fresh and different for a girl born in 2012.  Anneau is the French word for ring.  More subtle than Jewel, less common than Annabelle, and yet perfectly wearable.

Would you ever use a name that you first spotted on television?  Does it matter if the name is classic, or one that feels strongly associated with the character?


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25 Responses to “The Nameberry 9: Sherlock, Selina and Joan”

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Mara_lyn86 Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 12:39 am

I love Mary, Sybil, and Joan. For Mary I usually go for the international variations, but Mary is a nice, strong name. Joan reminds me of Joan Jett and Joan of arc and I love the classic sound. It is on my list actually for girls, at least as a middle name.
I don’t like Dylan and arrow seems too out there to become really popular right now.
Merida will probably shoot up within the year or two. It is a lovely name and the movie is awesome.

Poppy528 Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 12:56 am

Selina is Catwoman’s real name, very pretty.

I gagged a little at the sibset named Soul, True, Glow, and yes, Brave. Yuck they sound like nail polishes.

Abby Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 5:36 am

@Mara_lyn86 – I agree completely about Joan. And I’ve yet to see Brave!

@Poppy528 – Nice point about Selina. It feels like she should be more popular …

SugarPlumFairy Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 6:10 am

Arrow and Brave/Bravery are two of my favourite word names!

Mary and Joan are timeless classics. I also like them as double firsts, like Mary-Charlotte or Joan-Chloe.

rachel27 Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 7:59 am

I really like Arrow, actually- maybe even more then Archer. Mary and Joan feel a bit boring to me, still- I actually knew quite a few Marys growing up (perhaps because I was born in Boston) and so the name seems more overused than fresh.

midwesterner Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 8:00 am

I believe Enoch entered the Top 1000 again this year – in part due to the popularity of the the show ‘Boardwalk Empire’.

Saracita00 Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 9:39 am

I have a big crush on Sherlock. However that name seems inextricably tied to the character, and yes it matters. It would be pitiful to be named for a character whose author became tired of writing him. If there were some other historical use of the name that could decrease the detective to a fun anecdotal connection, I would use it in a heartbeat. But Sherlock is Holmes at the forefront of everyone’s association with that name, and with remakes of the story being at a high, I doubt that will change any time soon.

Dixon looks great with that X in it, but spelling aside it sounds like a name that is just asking for dirty slang schoolyard teasing. It’s just…bad. Awful. Horrific. No kid needs to deal with that.

I think Arrow truly has a chance of becoming more popular. It has the now-hot O-sound at the end and seems a natural follow-up to names like Hunter, Gunnar, and Archer, while being infinitely cooler.

Joan just sounds unpleasant to me, likely because it rhymes with some rather negative words like moan and groan. It’s just not a good image (and yes I realize that the people who are against “violent” names are going to croak at this comment after my previous paragraph. Sorry folks, to each their own. I think Arrow has a great sound and heroic image; and as inspiring as Joan of Arc may be she just can’t overcome that dowdy sound to me).

Interesting lineup this week, thanks.

GoodHope Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 9:57 am

It wouldn’t bother me to use a name I first heard on television as long as I feel the name has the legs to stand on its own, independent of the character who bore it. For me, that usually means finding other associations for the name, so I’d be fine with Joan, Mary, and Selina (Catwoman, woo!), but Sherlock is too one-note for me.

Anneau is really appealing, but I think the similarity to a slang term for a certain body part will keep Dixon from making any big leaps in popularity. It also reminds me of the Mason-Dixon Line, and it would be comical to have playgrounds full of Masons and Dixons, at least to me.

I really don’t like Arrow and Brave at all. They’re both trying too hard.

poods Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 11:05 am

I truly can’t see Dixon catching on. At risk of being crude, it is literally pronounced “Dick’s in”. I agree with Saracita00. The teasing would be traumatic, not just in childhood, but probably even into adulthood. Could you imagine being a Dixon in a fraternity? ::shutters::

KAM Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 11:56 am

I’m not a big fan of any of these- except for Sherlock, mostly because of my affinity for the character. It might work as a middle name. Dylan, I don’t like. Silena, unfortunately, makes me think of a snotty mean girl, like Brittany or Tiffny does. I still think that Mary has been overused. But I love a combo from one of my favorite tv shows (Once Upon a Time): Mary Margaret. Joan is okay, but it seems too old for a little girl. Sherlock, again, I love. Dixon …. Interesting. Reminds me of the South, and since I’m not from there, probably wouldn’t use it. Arrow- that’s kinda cool, for a word name. Not big fan of them, but some can work. Still, I wouldn’t use Arrow. Brave sounds more like a title than a name. And Anneau …. I don’t really like it. Merida is beautiful though!

Taz Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I think Joan will rise to greater popularity after people hear June enough & want something similar.

I love Joan…so many great Joans out there & such a strong name!

Mary is pretty great too!

Annou bothers me for some reason. Ring? That just seems strange to me.

originofnames Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I rather like Archer, its fun, smart, strong, and modern at the same time. I’m don’t think Arrow can keep up with it.

Abby Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 4:50 pm

@GoodHope – HA! I hadn’t thought about playgrounds filled with kids called Mason and Dixon …

Maybe Dixon is unwearable … maybe in the middle spot.

@Saracita00 – I think that’s a good point about Arrow’s -o ending. Milo, Hugo, Arrow … Not exactly the same vibe, but the same sound, to be sure.

Flick Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 5:01 pm

There’s a Bravery on another site I frequent and I’ve grown to really like it.

I think Mary is great and as classic as it is, it honestly stands out these days.

I’m always weary of word-names from other languages unless it has an established use as a name.

Kyri Laina Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I can say that I’m definitely influenced by TV shows, and books too. My two favorite girl names are from them:

Veronica- the main character from the TV show “Veronica Mars” (aka BEST SHOW EVER!) played by Kristen Bell

Stephanie- main character in the Stephanie Plum book series by Janet Evanovich. Played my Katherine Heigl in the movie.

redtulips Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I have to admit that I have a bit of a name crush on Sherlock. I absolutely love the books too. To bad that it is a little unusable

birdymadeline Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 7:01 pm

My two grandmothers’ names are Mary and Joan. I’d love to hear them more!

calliewalker718 Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 7:39 pm

The name I’m most curious about from this fall of new tv shows is “Rayna” from Nashville. Connie Britton the actress that plays her is pretty buzzworthy and I’m wondering it there may be a spike in popularity.

Of course, the show may get cancelled in one season however…

southern.maple Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 8:06 pm

I know a Dixon in his twenties, and surprisingly he has not been traumatized by his name. He got a few “dick” comments in middle and high school but that was it.

pam Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Calliewalker, I love Connie Britton! I was a big Friday Night Lights fan. I didn’t know about Nashville and now I will watch…whatever happens with the name Rayna. Thanks for the tip!

mrstrivette Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 10:37 pm

You NEED to make Arrow a unisex name in your database! My little Arrow Milena most definitely is NOT a boy! 🙂 So glad to see that Arrow made the blog though!! 🙂

bex.marie Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 11:19 pm

I was just thinking that Arrow would be awesome for a girl!
I love Sherlock too, but with such a popular character it would be hard to use. I will defintely use it as a middle name though. All the other names are okay, just not my style. 🙂

miloowen Says:

July 24th, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Most Sherlockians agree that the Holmes brothers were probably John Mycroft Holmes and William Sherlock Holmes, the new Masterpiece Mystery series notwithstanding. I can’t stand the Robert Downey, Jr version — Mycroft never once in the canon referred to his brother as Shirley!

I love the names from Downton Abbey and have come to love names such as Mary, Joan, and Barbara, just because you never hear them anymore. Love Edith and Sybil too. Although this year I had a student who was Mary Josephine and went by Mary or Mary Jo.

Whenever I hear Dixon, I think of Picard and his detective, Dixon Hill. I think I would crack up if I had a classroom with a Mason and a Dixon.

Honestly, I prefer the old virtue names rather than these new names after Disney cartoons and the like. Brave? Really? What if your kid is a coward?

The Nameberry 9: Back to Basics? – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

August 24th, 2012 at 6:29 am

[…] Abby Sandel wonders if maybe we’re overthinking the naming process, and in this week’s The Nameberry 9 she gives some examples of celebs who have gone back to […]

Funinthesun Says:

May 8th, 2013 at 4:09 pm

We named our son Sherlock – we loved the name and thought of how brilliant it would be when he’s grown up – no-one will forget him. So far the reaction has been really positive. We paired it with very traditional middle names and it works really well. I love the fact that our little boy has really grown into his name. He totally owns it 🙂

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