Unusual Names: The Nameberry 9, from baby Rex Harrison to a girl named Casper
There’s been no shortage of baby name news in recent days, and the names make for an eclectic bunch. The week ended with Nameberry’s twelve trends to watch in 2012 post, a mix of what’s in, what’s out, and what isn’t nearly as unusual as you think it might be.
But the biggest trend is one that isn’t limited to a calendar year. For decades, beginning before the birth of most of today’s parents, there’s been ever increasing freedom to choose your child’s name. Gender matters less. Tradition can be overlooked. Even a name’s status as a given name is less of a concern today, as parents look to the phone book and the dictionary for inspiration.
Except, of course, when they don’t. For just as some parents are seeking out modern hero names or borrowing from the animal kingdom, others are discovering vintage options, those found on their family trees, or those that reflect the circumstances of their child’s birth.
It is an anything-goes moment in baby naming. The only thing that isn’t okay these days, it seems, is choosing a name without a backstory.
From the outrageous to the antique, and everything in between, this week’s Nameberry Nine is quite a list:
Press – She rhymes with Bess and Tess, and brings to mind musical surname Presley, but new parents Shayne Lamas and Nik Richie are referring to the media with their new daughter’s moniker. Shayne Lamas, daughter of actor Lorenzo Lamas, and an aspiring model/actress herself, is best known for winning The Bachelor Season 12 and appearing with dad on Oxygen reality series Leave it to Lamas. Shayne reports that she and Nik initially referred to their baby as Press as something of a joke thanks to all the media attention Shayne’s pregnancy generated. Apparently the nickname stuck, and the couple decided to put Press on their daughter’s birth certificate.
Rex Harrison – This next starbaby name brings to mind My Fair Lady. Appropriate enough since mom is model Niki Taylor. Taylor and husband Burney Lamar are also parents to daughter Ciel, and Niki has sons Jake and Hunter from a previous relationship. Rex Harrison was, of course, a British actor known for his work on stage and in films, including starring opposite Audrey Hepburn in the 1964 musical My Fair Lady, for which Harrison won an Oscar.
Casper – After years of rumor, we have official confirmation that Pilot Inspektor’s little sister is Casper Alice. Jason Lee and wife Ceren Alkaç kept Casper’s name quiet, maybe because of the flap created when Lee and his ex, actress Beth Riesgraf, announced Pilot’s name. The reaction to the friendly choice has been surprisingly positive, perhaps because we were expecting something far less mainstream, or maybe because Casper is on trend with choices like Harper and Piper. Plus Casper has a pretty middle name that anchors an unconventional first name choice.
Speaking of Alice, the literary lovely is rumored to be among the top picks for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which could mean that the world would see a future Queen Alice of England. We’re getting ahead of ourselves, of course. The royal couple has yet to announce any happy news, and their firstborn could easily be a prince. Alice, a top twenty staple a century ago, has been rising rapidly. Tina Fey’s older daughter is Alice Zenobia, and Nameberry named the letter A the Now Vowel. A little princess answering to Alice would surely spark a craze.
Noa – From England to Israel, this is the top girls’ name over the last decade according to their Central Bureau of Statistics. Israeli parents are comfortable with gender neutral names, but this isn’t a case of girls borrowing from the boys. Instead Noa is a separate appellation from the Biblical Noah. She’d be right at home with Mia and Zoe in theUS.
Noam – The top Israeli name for boys is scarcely heard in the US, perhaps for fear that he’d be confused with a garden gnome or corporate spokesgnome for an online travel site. That’s too bad, because Noam is quite stylish. From a Hebrew word meaning pleasant, he’s a two-syllable name that sounds like an awful lot like the ever-so popular Noah. Anyone expecting all-boy triplets? I’m waiting to meet a happy trio of brothers called Felix, Asher, and Noam.
Dovahkiin – Do you like video games? How much, exactly? Video game company Bethesda Softworks made this tantalizing offer: give birth on 11/11/11 and name your child Dovahkiin, after a character in the company’s new release Skyrim, and receive free games for life. A family did indeed welcome a baby boy on November 11, and opted to take Bethesda Softworks up on their offer. Little Dovahkiin also has the middle name Tom, just in case he turns out more banker/lawyer than dragon-slayer.
Yoby – Actress Connie Britton, best known as Tami on Friday Night Lights, is a new mom. The name seems wildly different at first glance, something better suited for an animated character. But Yoby is actually short for Eyob, a traditional name in Ethiopia, related to the Biblical Job. Britton adopted her new son from an orphanage in Ethiopia. Yoby isn’t so different from Brody and Cody and even Jacoby.
Blithe – Let’s go to the movies for this week’s ninth name. Actor Jonah Hill is poised to be this generation’s Elisabeth Shue with his new flick The Sitter. Just like Shue’s character took her charges on a wild trip through Chicago, Hill is poised to traverse Manhattan with three kids in tow: Rodrigo, Slater, and Blithe. Blithe comes from an archaic word meaning cheerful, making her a member of another Nameberry 2012 trend: adjective names.
Spotted any interesting names this week?
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on November 21st, 2011 at 3:00 am
I actually think Casper is quite pretty on a girl. It gives off less of a “friendly ghost” vibe when put on a girl and paired with Alice. I quite like it.
And I am SO happy to see someone finally recognizing Noa as a girls’ name and not as a bastardization of the biblical Noah. I think Noa is such a darling name. Short and sweet with such a natural, almost whimsical meaning of movement/motion. Love it!
I realize Ciel is just a sibling to Rex Harrison, but I LOVE the name. Such a stunning sound and a lovely meaning.
on November 21st, 2011 at 8:55 am
I love Ciel, but dont like the boys names: Hunter, Jake, Rex. Really boring.
Noa is actually a gender neutral name, that spelling is used for boys in France for example. Although I suspect it is not the case in Israel. Other popular male choice in Israel is Ariel, I love it on a boy
Casper I’ll always associate it with the ghost, who happened to be male, so it’s a little hard for me to swallow on a girl.
on November 21st, 2011 at 9:12 am
I love Casper for a boy do it makes me sad to see it on a girl.
on November 21st, 2011 at 9:55 am
Alice is lovely, but paired with Casper; it just feels like Rose. Filler Girl name. Casper is all boy to me and is weird on a girl.
I love Rex! Paired with anything. Rex Harrison as a set doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Harlot, I mean Harlow as a celebri-tot. Rex is fabulous!
I’m not surprised to hear someone picked up Dovakiin. Nice to see Tom in second. Shoulda been Thomas, though. In case he really is more lawyer than handyman.
Not a bad haul this week. All I’ve got is new friend Mary’s little guy: 18 month old Enzo. Met them at the candy store back in July, just realised they live at thetop of our street! 😀
Thanks for a great read!
on November 21st, 2011 at 10:55 am
LOVE Enzo, Lola – what a great name!
on November 21st, 2011 at 12:26 pm
I met a man with two little boys named Zion and Asher. I thought that was a cute sibset 🙂
on November 21st, 2011 at 1:01 pm
Here’s what I wonder about Ciel – beyond the general “is it tough to pronounce” question – is it perceived by others as religious? When I learned the Our Father in French, I seem to remember that ciel means heaven, as well as sky.
on November 21st, 2011 at 3:16 pm
Press, as a name, is a fail for me. None of the images conjured up in my head are a pleasant association for a baby girl (or a grown girl for that matter!)
Rex, not bad. Harrison, not bad. Rex Harrison… I don’t know, it just seems odd to had a child a full name from somebody else.
Caspar Alice… I actually find this name sweet, quirky, soft, and fun. Much better than Pilot Inspektor (really, why even bother with a middle name if you’re just going to use it like this!). Caspar isn’t a very commonly used name, so it works fine on a girl (even if it’s not my own personal preference), and I love it paired with the classic Alice (which is also sweet, soft and fun).
I’ve known that Noa was a girl’s name for quite awhile, and actually like it. With enough parents already taking over boy’s names for their daughters, I don’t think that any parents need to feel worried over naming their daughter what is traditionally a feminine name 🙂
Noam I tend to pronounce more “nohm” then “NO-ah”, but I like either pronunciation.
Dovahkiin… REALLY?! I guess it sounds vaguely Slavic… and they did give the child a decent middle name (prefer Thomas or even Thom – but they didn’t ask me!).
I would prefer to see Yoby as a nickname, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. The overall name has a familiar feel (Toby and Colby immediately come to mind).
Blithe is a name that I adore. I think sister/sister siblings of Blithe and Tatum or brother/sister siblings of Tate and Blithe would be cute 🙂
on November 21st, 2011 at 3:17 pm
*to had a child = to HAND a child
on November 21st, 2011 at 7:35 pm
How can you mention Noam without reference to Chomsky? That’s my first connection, and I think it makes for a nice middle name.
Caspar Alice is interesting, and I suppose I can see this name working for a girl as well as a boy because of the Cass nickname. Hm. (I might like Pilot better, though, but I wish his name was Pilot Henry or something. Ah! I know – I’m nuts.)
I adore Ciel Taylor and Rex Harrison as siblings. With Hunter and Jake? Eh. But as a select set, they’re divine! Ciel is so girly and glam, and Rex is hardcore and tough. The names are nearly opposite, but both have strong and richly positive meanings, to me at least. I don’t find Ciel overly religious, Abby, though I see you’re point. I do confuse the name with Ceil (SEAL), as in short for Cecilia, though. It’s still pretty!
on November 21st, 2011 at 7:37 pm
Two things in addendum to my previous post:
(1) I meant Noam as a middle name, though I know someone with Chomsky as her middle.
(2) I always seem to make grammatical errors on blog comments! That should be “your” not “you’re” point, Abby. Whoops!
on November 21st, 2011 at 9:02 pm
@lemon – I know what you mean about Pilot. I wouldn’t object to it (as much) if it didn’t have a mis-spelled word/name making it a “cutesy” (more like crazy!) job title.
on November 21st, 2011 at 9:12 pm
Casper on a girl? Rex Harrison? I think people have lost their minds.
I love the idea of a Princess Alice of Cambridge, though. I think the other suggestions of Edward, Philip, Michael, or Rose are stretching it. Edward’s taken by the Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Edinburgh is not that popular and French kings are named Philip, not English kings, and only the Greeks use Michael. Rose is fine for a middle but there won’t be a Queen Rose. They might call her Victoria Rose with Rose as the familiar name, though. The Duke of Windsor was David because it was one of his middles, as was Mary, the Princess Royal.
I’m thinking the boy’s name will be a surprise, but we could see Elizabeth Diana Rose or something for a girl.
on November 21st, 2011 at 11:44 pm
So if they named one child Press, will the next one be Paparazzi? I think Story would have been cuter and still refer to all of the attention they supposedly received. But having never watched the Bachelor or Living with the Lamas, I’ve never heard of either of the 2 parents.
on November 24th, 2011 at 5:05 pm
@gabby1 LOL in Paparazzi for a little brother of Press =)
on November 27th, 2012 at 11:53 pm
I loved this post because it sums up all the reasons I think I would be fine naming my next little boy (due in Feb) Hobbes Frederick. Hobbes fits the surname as first name trend, and as Abby pointed out–there aren’t any rules any longer. Seriously, Press as a name??
My little Hobbes (if I ever get hubby on board) wouldn’t even cause a ripple on today’s playground.
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