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Today’s Middle Names Don’t Even Need to Be Names

January 25, 2020 Clare Green
middle names

Middle names today can be anything you want them to be. The proof: In a thrilling second act to Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden announcing the birth of their daughter Raddix, her middle names have been revealed as Chloe Wildflower. It’s quite the combination!

If you’re thinking, “that’s not a name!”, you’re right…to a point. Wildflower has never appeared on the USA’s charts for first names, and we’d hazard a guess that it hasn’t been used much in the middle spot either. There’s least one precedent, though: the stunningly-named Poet Wildflower Hecate was in our birth announcements back in 2013.

Diaz may have taken inspiration from her bestie Drew Barrymore, whose memoir Wildflower was published in 2015. There could also be family style at work. Raddix’s cousins – the children of Benji’s brother Joel Madden and Nicole Richie – also have bold non-traditional word names, Sparrow James Midnight and Harlow Winter KateThey’re part of a wider trend among parents – and not just celebrities.

Why do people choose quirky words as middle names? They’re fun, and can balance out a mainstream first name (or not, in Raddix’s case), but hide if needed. With little history of use as names, they also tend to be gender-neutral.

Be inspired by some of the best word middle names from celebs and Nameberry readers. We’ve left out the better-known ones, both classics like Rose and modern favorites like Gray. We’re talking here about words that make you step back and say “I never knew that could be a name!” Of course, any of them could also be a first name, if you dare.

Animal names

Nowadays, once-wild animal names like Wolf, Fox and Bear have become, if not exactly common, no longer eyebrow-raising. There are even two celebrity children named Charlie Wolf (Zooey Deschanel and Lauren Conrad’s sons), and where they go, other parents are undoubtedly following.

But the whole animal kingdom is fair game (as it were) for middle names. Zooey’s other child is Elsie Otter, and there’s also singer Amy Lee’s son Jack Lion and actor Amy Locane’s daughter Paige Cricket. On the cuddly side, rapper Macklemore has Colette Koala, Bryan Adams has Mirabella Bunny, and Babyberry Lyra Rosemary Rabbit was named after her grandmother’s favorite animal.

Bird names

Bird baby names like Wren and Lark still sound fresh and can create lovely combinations, but some parents think even further outside the birdbox. Babies announced on the Nameberry forums include Juniper Owl Owendell, Zinnia Rhiannon Rook, brothers Bruno Hummingbird and Peter Nightingale (and their stunning sisters Sabina Mayflower and Dorothy Wildrose) and Betty Nightingale, Susannah Sparrow and Eugenia Sparrow, and Nikolai William Excalibur Crow. (He’s the brother of Poet Wildflower Hecate, mentioned above. And let’s not leave out their other sibling, Isolde Mauricette Marie Jose!)

Country singer Rodney Atkins and his wife Rose used Falcon – mom’s maiden name – for both their kids, Scout and Ryder.

Botanical names

Beyond well-used Rose, parents are now turning to fresh botanicals like Sage and Briar as middles (as well as first names). But some Berry parents have gone one step further. Over the years, we’ve seen Clementine Bluebell, McKinley Mahogany Ivy, Emmet Amaranth, Louise Mimosa, Larissa Orchid Celeste, and Levi Cedar (and his tree-named sister Brynn Aspen). Clementine Clara Honesty is both a flower and a virtue name.

Middle names good enough to eat include Oliviana Clove, Theodora Plum, and Vincent Thyme (who has botanical siblings Frida Tulip, Pomeline Bluebell, James Heather, Rosemary Gwen and Hemlock Otto).

We also love nature names more common on girls, used for boys, like Robin Tunney’s son Oscar Holly, and Babyberries Lee Sorrel and Rupert Willow (who has a sister named Maria Marigold).

Color names

Gray (or Grey) and Blue have established themselves as stylish, flowing middle names. But there are plenty of other color names available. Casey Wilson named her son Max Red (his brother is Henry Bear), and we’ve seen Babyberries Ella Ruby Green and Alfred Harley Green, Marley Indigo and Thomas Indigo James, and Gus Gold (which was a family surname).

Terms of endearment

If cute is your style, what could be cuter than using an affectionate nickname as a middle name? Jamie and Jools Oliver are pros at this, with their daughters Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo. Tobey Maguire and Jennifer Meyer’s daughter is Ruby Sweetheart. Several celebs have used Love, including Terrence Howard (Qirin Love), Lisa Marie Presley (Finley Aaron Love) and Robin Thicke and April Love (Mia Love) – after mom’s surname, of course. There’s also Babyberry Antonia Darling, named after her parents’ love for Peter Pan.

Royal names

Names with royal meanings like King and Royalty have risen from obscurity to become a huge trend, and Reign in particular is now a well-used middle name. LilKim may have accelerated the process when she named her daughter Royal Reign in 2014, and Nick and Lauren Carter liked it so much they used it as a middle for both their children.

In wider royal vocabulary, singer Ciara passed her own middle name on to her daughter, Sienna Princess, and Tisha CampbellMartin went Russian with her son Ezekiel Czar.

Wildcard names

The most dramatic middle names we’ve seen include Slash Electric Alexander (Amber Rose’s son), Beatrice Danger (Jess Wexler’s daughter), Levi Blaze (Sean Paul’s son), River Rocket (another Jamie Oliver special) and Berrybaby Caspian Sage Adventure.

Victoria and David Beckham named their daughter Harper Seven after the number on her dad’s football shirt, while Michael “Flea” Balzay of the Red Hot Chili Peppers used a cool music word for his daughter, Sunny Bebop.

At the gentler end of the scale, special mention goes to starbabies Ode Mountain (Jena Malone And Ethan De Lorenzo), Cypress Night (Jack Huston and Shannan Click), Petal Blossom Rainbow (Jamie Oliver again!), and Babyberries Violet Whimsy and Cora Sunshine.

All of these names may seem somewhat eccentric now, but who knows, one of them could be the next Maverick and appear on a name chart – or playground – near you.

About the author

Clare Green

Clare Green writes Nameberry's weekly round-up of the latest baby name news, including celebrity announcements, unusual naming stories, and new statistics from around the world . Clare, who has been writing for Nameberry since 2015, lives in England, where she has worked in libraries and studies linguistics. You can follow her personally on Instagram and Twitter.

View all of Clare Green's articles

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