Unusual Names: This week’s Nameberry 9
Never mind the number nine. Last week’s news was abuzz with reports that baby number seven billion had joined the world on Monday. The exact calculation is imprecise, so a number of newborns were dubbed Baby Seven Bil. (Presumably some bear the name William, but I’ve yet to hear of one called Seven.)
So here’s the question: in a world of seven billion and counting, is any name really strange? A few weeks ago, a back-to-school ad showed lunchboxes and assorted school supplies bearing names like Ethan and Emma and Grace, but also Gigi and Miko and Cairo. Even the most ordinary classroom is home to some pretty extraordinarily unusual names.
This week’s list is a nod to the tremendous diversity out there in Namelandia. It gives us pause – how do you pronounce Saiorse? Is Ellington a boy or a girl? But it also creates space to use nearly any name under the sun.
Banjo – Waltzing More than Matilda mentioned some of the Australian candidates for the seven billionth birth. Among them was a baby Banjo, likely inspired by poet Banjo Paterson. (Though Paterson’s given name was actually Andrew.) The name feels a little bit out there in the US and Europe, but he’s pleasingly patriotic in his homeland. Aussie actress Rachel Griffiths used the name for her firstborn, son Banjo Patrick.
Agile Intuition – Speaking of names that make perfect sense at home, Isadora posted a list of names found in a book about Chinese orphans – all girls. The book gave the girls’ names in translation, and the list is captivating. Along with Agile Intuition, there’s Magnificent Dragon, Merciful Sea, and Double Vitality. Like the recent story about Indian girls taking part in name-changing ceremonies, it is a reminder that meaning trumps other considerations in many cultures.
Blank – At the other extreme, Nancy has been sharing stories of babies never given a first name – despite growing up in loving families with parents, and even siblings, with given names. It doesn’t seem to have done any harm, though it did cause some confusion, and one not-named fellow was sometimes referred to as Blank Gatewood. Mrs. Gatewood apparently objected.
When listed with Agile and Blank, Bronze seems almost ordinary. A boy called Bronze Quentin was spotted by For Real Baby Names in a Louisiana birth announcement. He sounds like a character from The Hunger Games. Then again, there are plenty of kids called Scarlett and Gray.
Everard – Lou at Mer de Noms mentioned Guy Fawkes Day, a commemoration of a failed coup d’etat in 1605. I find Guy intriguing, and Lou’s list of his fellow conspirators suggested some other appellations, including Ambrose, Catesby and Everard. History aside, the names are downright dashing.
Coraline – From the distant past to the shopping mall, Pottery Barn Teen has introduced a new furniture collection called Coraline. It is curious – a mainstream company embracing a name invented for a spooky story by celebrated sci-fi writer Neil Gaiman. That’s probably a sign that Coraline is catching on. Coco also appears in this edition, scrawled on a chalkboard. Is it Coraline’s nickname?
Jessica – In the world of celebrity, there were two birth announcements week, both completely unexpected. First, long-time bachelor Hugh Grant is a new dad. Mom is Chinese actress Tinglan Hong, known as Ting. Their daughter’s name? Jessica.
Tristyn – Speaking of unexpected dads, will Justin Bieber be singing lullabies? The pop star’s rumored love child is a boy called Tristyn. Let’s quietly sidestep the brewing scandal, and look at the spelling. Conventional wisdom has long held that adding a ‘ ‘y’ is the quickest way to make a masculine name feminine. But Tristyn, as well as Jordyn and Layne, all appear in the boys’ US Top 1000.
Have you spotted any unusual names this week? Did your local press name any local kids the seven billionth baby?
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on November 7th, 2011 at 3:17 am
I know a girl (and super hot, awesome really bad cool girl named Tristan and have always thought it was the name of a bad-ass.) Um, Banjo is a decent middle name. Do love Cora/Coraline!!!!
on November 7th, 2011 at 10:30 am
Adding a “y” doesn’t make a name feminine, those gender rules don’t exist in english language. And that’s why there are boys named Jayce, Kamryn, Devyn, Camdyn, Ashtyn, Landyn, Justyn, Gavyn, Kadyn, etc…
Not a huge fan of any of the names this week. Bronze is kinda out there, but I’ve seen cooler names on 4Real this week.
on November 7th, 2011 at 11:26 am
Thanks for the mention. Bronze Quentin does sound like a character in the Hunger Games. 🙂
Let’s see. Unusual names I’ve spotted recently are two baby boys named Abacus and Milky and a baby girl named Affinity.
Have a good week.
on November 7th, 2011 at 11:40 am
I really hope Cora doesn’t become popular! That’s our next potential girl name! It was originally Coraline, but I wanted to use the nn Cora, and my husband prefers to name babies what they will be called. Plus, I was already leaning toward Cornelia/Cordelia as the given name and he would have none of those. 🙂
Contrary to popular belief, Gaiman did not invent Coraline…it was around before…
on November 7th, 2011 at 1:17 pm
I love Coraline and Everard.
I met an insane sibset this week. Story, Paige and Poet. Story is a 7 year old boy, Paige is a 5 year old girl and Poet is a 10 month old girl.
I wonder what they would name a fourth child? Read or Bard?
on November 7th, 2011 at 2:24 pm
@TrustedWriter – Very true! But there is a great story about Gaiman intending to call his character Caroline, reversing the vowels and then deciding to keep it. So, not new to the universe, but discovered by the writer. I love stories like that.
@i.heart.nerds – Story, Paige & Poet? Wow! There’s always Fable or Sonnet or maybe Stanza. 🙂
@Names4Real – ABACUS? Wow.
on November 7th, 2011 at 5:14 pm
I was filling out an online form this week and it requested a first name, “if you have one.” I’m used to seeing that for middle names, but for a first name? Just so odd! I thought of that when I saw your mention of Blank and people who aren’t named. I don’t really understand how one goes about living without a name as it seems so central to, well, being for me!
I love Coraline. I love Caroline, too, but Coco? A divine nickname if I’ve ever seen one. Coraline really dresses up Coral, too. PB Teen actually has some great names in their catalogs – Amelie, Camilla, Coraline, Hana, Lilac, Lulu, Parker, Preston.
And, wow, Milky? That’s a crazy one, Names4Real!
on November 7th, 2011 at 8:48 pm
I love Everard. There was a character in Harry Potter named Everard. It just rolls off the tongue and sounds amazing. I don’t think I’d ever use it but it’s gorgeous.
on November 7th, 2011 at 9:52 pm
A girl baby named Serenity and a middle school girl named Kestrel.
Sarah A Said
on November 8th, 2011 at 1:52 am
This is a really interesting topic Abby, “the tremendous diversity in Namelandia”. I’ve actually thought about it a lot as many of my friends, family, and neighbors give their 3rd generation immigrant children decidedly non-English names – Kareem, Rumaysa, Yash, Amani, Faris, etc. If there is room for Mackynzie then why not Maaria? 🙂
I absolutely love Everard. 3 syllable boys names tend to sound luscious to me, probably since we don’t hear them often enough.
on November 8th, 2011 at 6:11 pm
oh wow — I **love** Kestral for a girl. Or a boy. I just love that name!
I think it’s hilarious that Jessica makes this list. It is such a ubiquitous name for my age group but I haven’t heart it on a baby forever. Love how names go in cycles and sometimes all you need to do to be “different” is float along to an entirely different timeline!
on November 9th, 2011 at 6:12 am
Thanks for the shout out to baby Banjo – I love it when parents give their child a nice unusual name, even if I wouldn’t necessarily choose it myself.
Love Everard, such a handsome name.
on May 14th, 2012 at 10:29 am
I actually quite like Bronze!
I didn’t think it was even legal not to have a first name – how on earth do they go about getting mail, differentiating themselves, etc? Or are they planning on letting the child choose their own name at an appointed time? How bizarre.
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