Unexpected Baby Names in the News: Buster, Neal and Finola

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Confession: I’ve been Twitter-stalking Kendra Wilkinson.

The reality star and her football-playing husband Hank Baskett III have welcomed a baby girl, a little sister for Hank IV.  Normally I’d wait patiently for the name announcement, but a) Kendra recently shared that she’d shortlisted Maxwell until Jessica Simpson used it for her daughter and b) Kendra’s former roommate Holly Madison named her daughter Rainbow.

This could be a seriously headline-worthy name.

Kendra hinted the couple has a favorite, and it is something along the lines of Maxwell – familiar, but usually reserved for boys.  I’ve been pouring over the Geezer Names for Girls list ever since.  Lyle? Chauncey? Rudy? Jules?  Or is something more obvious, like Addison or Ashton, names mentioned by the couple previously.

After talking about Sophia and Noah for days, I’m ready for something unexpected.

I’m not alone.  There’s a boomerang effect a few days after the new US data comes out.  At first, all the talk is about the Top Ten, and the fastest-rising names, and how the questionable career choices of Miley Cyrus have negatively impacted her given name’s popularity.

Then we turn to the edges of the list, where the delightfully daffy surprises await – along with maybe a few future favorites.  The six girls called Argentina, plus five each named Happy, Kleopatra, Cassiopeia, and Bronte.  The eight boys who will answer to Talmadge, plus the five boys who will be known as Calvary, Gaspard, and Trax.

Even the headline-grabbing names that weren’t outlandish were still completely unexpected.  On the season finale of Once Upon a Time, Snow White and Prince Charming gave their baby boy a significant, but vanilla name – suitable for the palace accountant, but maybe not the storybook prince.

The nine most newsworthy names from the past week were:

BusterDuana cautioned parents against using this name for their baby-on-the-way, and I totally get her thinking.  Arrested Development’s Buster Bluth isn’t exactly a role model, and even he was really named Byron.  Or am I wrong – is Buster retro cool?  He had a moment in the early twentieth century thanks to vaudeville child star-turned-Hollywood silent film comic genius Buster Keaton.

Atlas – Looking for proof that our ideas about what makes for an acceptable baby name change?  Nancy’s post on American Gladiators nails it.  The cast of Gladiators answered to tough guy and gal names like Atlas, Blaze, Diamond, and Titan, from its 1989 debut through seven seasons.  An astonishing number of those names can now be heard on a playground near you.

Finola Leo General Hospital alum Bradford Anderson and wife Keira welcomed a second daughter.  My first thought? Another General Hospital alum, Finola Hughes, known for playing Anna Devane in the 1980s and 90s.  But it’s also a name from Irish myth, and a spin on the ever so popular Finn.  No word on the boyish middle, but it’s definitely a surprising choice.

Juna MeredithFinola is a great name, but I really love this one – the name of Bradford and Keira’s firstborn daughter.  It’s a tiny bit more conservative than Finola Leo, I think, and has a nice balance of classic and current sounds.

Apple – The most controversially-named celebrity kiddo in years celebrated her tenth birthday last week.  Olive is racing up the charts, but Apple remains a rarity.  Just 27 girls were given the name in 2013.  I always wonder – if not for the negative press, would Apple have caught on?

Neal – What would you name a fairytale prince, the first son for Snow White and Prince Charming?  In the Once Upon a Time season finale, the fictional couple played it super-safe with Neal.  Neal isn’t just a random pick, of course – Neal Cassidy was a significant character in the series, also known as Baelfire, the son of Rumplestiltskin.

Pepper – Apparently, Drew Barrymore and husband Will Kopelman considered lots of names for baby #2, but found that Olive was a tough act to follow.  The couple landed on Frankie – a name that pays homage to Will’s mom’s maiden name, Franco.  But they considered Pepper – a name I’ve liked ever since I first saw Annie, and one that’s more popular than ever in the US.  But is Pepper something like Buster – cute for a child, but tough to wear over the long haul?

MatisseMadeline, Madison, Matilda … why not Matisse?  It’s more wearable than Picasso or Rembrandt.  Anna spotted a Matisse Jade, along with Calliope, Indiana, Alba, Axl, and Ned in her recent Australian birth announcements round up.

Paisley – Ten years ago, Paisley was a pattern, a Persian design popularized during British rule of India, and woven into shawls produced mainly in a Scottish mill town known as Paisley.  But she’s rocketed from obscurity to the US Top 100 for girls – and in Wyoming, she ranked #5.  How high will Paisley climb?

Do you prefer the more popular names, or are you more interested in the unusual names on the fringes?  What would you call a fairytale prince?  And is Buster wearable – or should he be left to the Bluth family?

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8 Responses to “Unexpected Baby Names in the News: Buster, Neal and Finola”

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rollo Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 1:06 am

Calling a kid Buster is unkind there are so many names why one like this? As for Pepper I think it would make a great nn but only a nickname! We had an Aunty Ethel who was always called Pep. A testament to her fiest,y upbeat personality which I loved.

miloowen Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 7:58 am

I wonder how many kids are really named Atlas because of the Tea Party’s fetish for Ayn Rand?

lesliemarion Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 8:23 am

Buster is more tenable than Draven!

peach25 Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 9:39 am

Atlas shows up on our family tree mid-1850s. NMS, although I would consider it for a big dog, along with Thor, also a family name from way back. It’s always fun to see these names among all the Williams, Johns, Samuels, etc.

Anotherkate Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 10:03 am

I know one of those 8 talmadges! Family name in his case. I love it!

jessiemay Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 11:52 am

I’m guessing Finola’s middle name Leo is something of personal significance as Juna’s middle name Meredith is in honour of Bradford’s hometown in New Hampshire. I’ve only very recently heard it on a little girl as a nickname for Leontine, and I think with names like Nico, Juno and Clio it actually works kinda well on either!

Abby Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 2:04 pm

@peach25 – How glorious to have a family tree dating back so far!

@anotherkate – Small world, isn’t it? And yes, Talmadge is the kind of family name that screams to be used as a first.

@jessiemay – Interesting note on Meredith – thanks! I’ll be curious to hear if they share a reason for choosing Leo. And yes, as the mother of a Clio, I can say that Clio, Leo, and Theo all feel potentially unisex to me – there’s Cleon for boys, and Leontine and Leocadia and Theodora and … well, yes, I agree!

@lesliemarion – I kind of think so, too. I keep saying Dexter, Chester, Buster … though with Buster, I think I a) would assume it was a nickname and b) would hope he had a very buttoned-down middle name, just in case …

@miloowen – I hadn’t thought about the possible political implications of Atlas … interesting thought.

@rollo – I tend to agree – I’d love to meet a Paulina called Pepper … or maybe Margaret?

beatific Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Given that names like Piper, Poppy and Pippa (I know this is often a nickname but not always) are rising in popularity, I think Pepper is perfectly wearable on its own!

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