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The Nameberry 9: This week’s newsiest names, from Mabel to Maxim

There are some weeks when even name mavens like Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel  have to dig deep to find nine newsworthy names, but of course Abby always comes through. Here are The Nameberry Nine for this week.

It finally happened.  After weeks and weeks of effortlessly identifying nine newsworthy names, this week I was stuck.  There were two celebrity births, a nicely named girl and boy, but neither was the newsworthy delight I’d anticipated.

Suddenly I understood the laments of expectant parents everywhere: there are all of these names, nice enough names, but they’re not the right ones for us.  It was a Name Drought, a feeling of deprivation in the midst of plenty.  While waiting to learn our second child’s gender, I had a similar feeling.  We had a girl’s name all set, but if our daughter had been a second son?  We might still be calling him Baby.

Then I gave in to the siren song of the Gap Casting Call, and after wading through 763 pages of adorable kid pictures, I found floods of names to love, like boys called Leland, Thaddeus, and Giacomo.

There was even more to marvel over.

How many ways can we respell Riley?  Is a B- plus a –k sound the new hot pairing?  (Prompted by a boy called Becton just a page over from a girl named Breckyn.)  Is Kimsey a family name?  And what if Epiq decides to be a math teacher instead of a recording artist?  The combo that still has me puzzled is Chastity Electra.

Let’s start this week’s list with nine newsworthy baby names culled from the Casting Call:

London – Berries know that place names have long histories of use, Gap Casting Call kids of both genders wore lots of geographic appellations.  There was Paris, of course, and Sonoma, and a little girl called Arlington – anyone in Washington DC will wonder about that one.  But London seemed very present, worn by both genders and occasionally respelled Londyn.  With the Summer Olympics heading our way will this be the most popular place name for 2012 babies?

Towner – Let’s hear it for obscure literary references!  Rowan at Eponymia actually noticed the girl called Towner first.  Remember the 2008 much-discussed novel The Lace ReaderTowner was the novel’s main character.

Joseph Blue – A super-traditional first name paired with a daring and unexpected middle – what’s not to love?

Johara – The name might be based on a Swahili word for jewel, or might just be a Johanna/Tara hybrid.  Either way, it feels both modern and rooted.

Maxim – Oh, if not for the racy men’s magazine, Maxim would be a star.  The Russian form of the fast-rising gladiator Maximus, he’s an alternative to the much-used Maxwell.  Better yet, a maxim is a precept or axiom, lending him a sort of intellectual vibe.

Connolly Just when it seems like all of the possible surnames have been appropriated, there’s another option.  Connolly has a brother named Harrison.  He succeeds because he sounds something like Colin and Connor and yet is completely different, too.

Also in baby name news:

Mabel Ray Bruce Willis welcomed daughter #4 with new wife Emma Heming, and the most notable thing was that, well, the name wasn’t all that weird.  Mabel joins older half-sister Rumer, Scout, and Tallulah.  Then again, maybe dad’s style hasn’t changed.  Daughter Rumer was born in 1988, a decade before baby Mabel was born on Mad About You.  She’s still not returned to the US Top 1000, but something tells me that’s changing.  Sarah at Name Soiree pointed out that Dermot Mulroney also has a daughter named Mabel – middle name Ray, born in 2008.

Leo Grey – Actors Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame are impressive baby namers.  Leo Gray feels effortlessly cool, without trying too hard.  He’s the anti-Blue Ivy.  But then, we expected something on-trend without being too bizarre from the couple.  Leo’s big brother is Axel Lee.

Nova Star – The Teen Mom influence on baby names has been one of the biggest surprises in recent years, but the rise of Bentley is undeniable.  (Bentley ranked #515 in 2009.  In 2010, the year the world met Maci Bookout and her newborn son, the name jumped to #101.)  The most recent installment of 16 and Pregnant featured expectant mom Briana rejecting Luna and Bliss before settling on Nova.  It makes for a great name, but perhaps the middle name makes the whole thing a little too spacey.

Have you ever gotten stuck when trying to name a child?  And are you following the Gap Casting Call names?  If wonder if seeing my favorite name on a Gap kiddo would make me more or less likely to actually use it … what do you think?

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13 Responses to “The Nameberry 9: This week’s newsiest names, from Mabel to Maxim”

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saskiaplum Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 12:14 am

The only b+k name I find even remotely appealing is Beckett. The rest mostly make me cringe.

I quite like the name Arlington, I wonder if they call her Arli/e ? 🙂

Maxim/Maximus/Maximilian all make me swoon. Maxwell on the other hand does nothing for me.

I don’t particularly care for Connolly or many other Irish surnames turned given names. Surprising as I’m Irish but I just find actual Irish names so much more appealing.

I don’t find Mabel pleasing to the ear at all. I want to like it, I love clunky, vintage names but I’m meh.

When Briana picked Nova I was – pleasantly – surprised. And then? Nova Star. What? A Nova is basically an exploding star. So she named her baby “exploding star”?… lovely..

amberdaydream Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 4:03 am

Actually, a supernova is an exploding star. Might sound violent but it would actually be quite a pretty sight, as long as the explosion is a good few light years away. Lol :). Nova is from Latin “novus” which means new. So it’s basically ‘new star’. I like Nova. I’m not mad about Star but it’s not a crime.

I love Connolly! I don’t know if I’d ever use it, but it’s really appealling!

Mischa Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 10:28 am

It’s a sad commentary on modern life that a show which glamorizes teenage motherhood has such an influence on baby naming. I’ve noticed a number of teenagers “trying to get pregnant” on another website and it just makes me sad. Bentley is this generation’s brand name replacing Tiffany. Arlington sounds nice if a bit pretentious until I think about Arlington Cemetery outside of Washington where numerous military and political men and women are buried. Naming a child “Towner” seems over-the-top to me and I hope the book remains obscure so the name doesn’t catch on. Last but not least: wouldn’t it be wonderful if Mabel Ray and Leo Grey married later in life? Ha! Just kidding!

rachel27 Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I agree, I like Arlington a lot but it seems a bit weird since it is so synonymous with “cemetery” in my mind.
I do like Leo Gray a lot… Gray is one of my favorite middle names, I think it’s perfect.

danahc Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I’m not a fan of Mabel, but it is definitely better than other names I’ve heard. Nova reminds me of the piece of crap car my grandfather used to drive (a blue Chevy Nova).

saskiaplum Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Actually a nova explodes too. In a supernova the whole star explodes and dies and in a nova the outer layer of the star explodes, so while I guess the concept of “new star” is accurate and kinda nice the name as a whole is a little too sci-fi/stripper to me.

vaness1 Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 5:15 pm

I really love Mabel and Leo, and both have been on my lists for a long time (rare because they change often). I don’t particularly like Ray, but I agree, Gray is effortlessly cool. Leo Gray is a perfect combo.

roe121 Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

I heard a b+k name in church today: Berkin/Burkin. We’re in the midwest so maybe these people don’t know that their son is named after an expensive trendy purse..I hope they didn’t intentionally name him after a purse.

roe121 Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I heard a b+k name in church yesterday: Berkin/Burkin. We’re in the midwest so maybe these people don’t know that their son is named after an expensive trendy purse..I hope they didn’t intentionally name him after a purse.

miloowen Says:

April 9th, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I like Leo and I love Maxim. I prefer Amabel to Mabel but Mabel is still cute. I really don’t like Ray as a middle name, but Grey is awesome.

The other names are feh. Arlington would really upset me if I had a loved one buried there, but I guess if that were the reason you chose it, perhaps not.

bluish5 Says:

April 10th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I think where Nova doesn’t work for me is that it’s the name that is given to the female lead by Charleton Heston in “Planet of the Apes.” “I think I’ll call you Nova … yes, Nova,” said in super creepy Charleton voice. And I don’t think people necessarily choose to follow/idolize teen motherhood, but these young girls are the ones leading the trends in naming. I image a lot of 25 year olds were naming their child Bently the same time Maci was. It’s like language — it tends to all bubble up at the same time.

KourtneyQ Says:

April 23rd, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Interesting names! Joseph Blue is a wonderful combo, Blue must be the new “it” middle name choice. Towner for a girl is a big surprise, not really liking it but maybe it’s a family name. I know a boy named Breckin and a little girl named Berkley, so the B-K thing must be gaining in popularity here as well. Leo Grey is also a strong combo and Grey is an original middle name pick.

MissusAytch Says:

December 15th, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Glad she didn’t pick Luna. It’s already getting so popular and it’s my favorite at the mo.

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