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

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.

ConnollyJust 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 RayBruce 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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About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz

Linda Rosenkrantz is the co-founder of Nameberry, and co-author with Pamela Redmond of the ten baby naming books acknowledged to have revolutionized American baby naming. You can follow her personally at InstagramTwitter and Facebook. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed New York Review Books Classics novel Talk and a number of other books.