“Why Do the Rich and Famous Give Their Children Such Ridiculous Names?” –Peaches Geldof

I want to thank David Kates for calling my attention to a quote from the late Peaches Geldof in a column she wrote discussing Apple, the name Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin selected for their daughter about ten years ago:

“Why do the rich and famous give their children such ridiculous names? Mine has haunted me all my life, and will continue to do so. I am named, as you may have noticed, after a fruit. I’m not Jane or Sarah or Samantha: I am Peaches.”

I’m always amazed to read celebrity birth announcements in People, Us and other entertainment (gossip) columns and blogs and like Nameberry which treat ridiculous baby names as though they are cute, charming or fashionable and portray the A-list celebrities who give ridiculous names to their children as brilliant trend-setters and visionaries.

I read David Kate’s “Dad-in-Training column all the way through and couldn’t figure out what his point of view was about baby-naming except that he seemed to think that picking a name was an important decision for parents to make. Now there’s a novel idea!

P.S. Just read a news item about Peaches Geldof which informed me that forensic investigators have turned up evidence that her recent death might have been caused by a heroin overdose. Sad, isn’t it?

Drew Barrymore Goes Against the Grain by Naming Her 2nd Daughter, Frankie

At a time when the top-ten girls’ names are packed with glamorous, female movie-star names (like Sophia, Ava and Olivia) that end in the letter “a,” movie star Drew Barrymore and hubby Will Kopelman are naming their baby daughter Frankie. Although Frankie isn’t a major “movie-star name” the name was made famous by singers Frankie Avalon and Frankie Goes to Hollywood (a British boy-and-girl band from the 80s). I should probably also  mention that Frank Sinatra’s “rat pack” called him Frankie, which is no small thing.

Frankie is a familiar form of Frank and similar in style to Billie (a name made famous by sultry blues singer Billie Holiday and tennis star Billie Jean King) Jackie (a name made famous by action/adventure movie star, Jackie Chan; “the Great One,” TV’s Jackie Gleason; and the Brooklyn Dodgers’ incomparable Jackie Robinson. As you can see, Frankie is a name that can be used for any gender.

Giving girls “strong” names that end in the letter “a” is a very well-entrenched trend. So don’t believe Nameberry if they tell you that Frankie Barrymore Kopleman proves that unisex names are now “in.” What it proves is that Drew Barrymore likes to go against the grain. Consider the fact that she named her first daughter Olive rather than top-ten name Olivia.


5 Baby-Naming Pitfalls to Watch Out for

I thought I knew all the basic “rules” of baby naming. But when I read Bhadra Kamalasanan’s article, I realized there are a few “pitfalls” I hadn’t considered. So here is Kamalasanan’s list of pitfalls and how to avoid them, with a focus on providing examples for each. (By the way, I’m purposely using Kamalasanan’s topic headings and examples–except when no examples are provided.)

  1. Attention-Seeking Initials. Kamalasanan uses Bhumika Chaudhary as an example of an “initial problem.” However, few North Americans would be troubled by having B.C. as initials. I can see how that might suggest “Before Christ,” but that’s not likely to be a major source of embarrassment. Probably a more appropriate example would be B.J. (an off-color expression which perfectly illustrates initials you don’t want to inadvertently give your child).
  2. A Lifetime of Correcting People. Kamalasanan cites Anyta as an example of the kind of name that will cause spelling problems that are likely to be a constant source of annoyance to your child. For example, every time Anyta gives her name to a bank clerk, a new teacher or a hospital nurse, it would be more efficient to introduce herself as “Anyta with a y” than to correct the inevitable misspelling. However, I would been much more impressed if Kamalasanan had also suggested that parents avoid names whose pronunciation is likely to be mangled. For example, the correct pronunciation for the Irish girl’s name, Siobhan, is sha-VON. (Go figure!) I’ve written a post about Irish names that are almost impossible to pronounce correctly, unless you’re an Irish baby-name expert.
  3. Embarrassing Email Addresses. This is one “pitfall” that I haven’t written about (and neither has anyone else, as far as I know). There are two ways that email addresses are commonly created. If your child’s email address is created by putting the initial of his first name in front of his last name, then Frank Arty’s email addresse would be farty@email.com. However, if your child’s email address is created by putting the initial of his first name after his last name, than Frank Arty would have nothing to worry about. But using this second type of email address, Ron Bone would have big problem (pun intended), because his email address would be boner@email.com. Since it took me about 15 minutes to come up with two examples to illustrate this “pitfall” Kamalasanan has warned us about, I’d guess the likelihood of coming up with a name for your child that produces an embarrassing email address is about one out of a million. That explains why nobody but Kamalasanan has written about this “pitfall”—as far as I know. Unfortunately Kamalasanan doesn’t provide any examples, so we’ll never know if this is a common problem or was simply added to “pad” Kamalasanan’s brief list of pitfalls.
  4. Knotty Name Pairings. Kamalasanan has discovered another pitfall I wonder about. I’ve written about sibling names that go well together (for example names, from the same ethnic source), but Kamalasanan warns about names that don’t sound well together when you, for example, call both of your children to lunch. According to Kamalasanan, “you don’t want it to sound like a wild [call] from the jungle”. Because Kamalasanan gives no examples of any two names that would sound like Tarzan’s “African yodeling,” I think North Americans can safely dismiss this “pitfall.” Conceivably this may be more of a problem in languages other than in English. So if the names your neighbors call their children at dinnertime sound like “calls of the wild” avoid giving your children those names and/or take Kamalasanan’s fourth pitfall seriously.
  5. Over-Popular Names. As soon as you’re expecting, you start to notice parents pushing baby prams or carrying their baby in a sling or back pack. And you have to know the name of each baby you see. You read the baby announcements in your local paper and the names you like best turn out to be among the top-ten boys’ and girls’ names in your neighborhood or on your block or in your newspaper market. Kamalasanan recommends you avoid picking a top-ten name for your baby. I suggest you avoid a top-25 name. That way, you’ll pick a name you actually love rather than a copy-cat name you think you love. (Another way of making this point is that if you think you love a name that is on the SSA top-ten list, it may not be “true love.” You may have been influenced more than you know by the personal survey you have been conducting.

Dear Bruce: Nobody Has the Right to Pass Judgment on “Game of Thrones” Names

Dear @Mercurial Jane,

I assume you took offense after reading my recent post: “Surprise: “Game of Thrones” Fans are Naming Daughters Daenerys and Khaleesi (as Well as Arya)” In that post, I commented that Daenarys and Khaleesi are likely to be misspelled and mispronounced by most children and adults who are not familiar with Game of Thrones.  I wonder if you noticed my comment that Arya was likely to work better as a baby name than Daenarys and Khaleesi, because it looks and sounds like Aria and won’t be as hard to spell or pronounce as either Daenarys and Khaleesi.

it is likely to be frustrating and annoying for children whose parents give them names of characters from Game of Thrones (or any movie or TV show) that are likely to be mangled and likely to get them teased or bullied. (I also mentioned Katniss (a name from The Hunger Games) as another impractical baby name because it is also likely to be misspelled and mispronounced.)

I hope you’ll agree that the child who has been victimized by a name he or she doesn’t like is one person who has a legitimate “right to pass judgment.”Another person who has a right to pass judgment would be a baby-name expert whose mission is to help parents make intelligent baby naming decisions by avoiding names likely to subject their children  to embarrassment or teasing. Sorry to inform you that teasers and bullies will go right ahead and make children with strange-sounding names miserable without asking for your permission.

I hope you realize I’m not criticizing Game of Thrones. I’m simply pointing out that not every name mentioned in a TV show or movie will make a great name for children. And to pick a name that will be a pleasure for the parents and the child, parents need to distinguish between what works well in the TV show and what is likely to work well in the real world.







Linda Rosenkrantz’ Article About Greek and Roman Mythological Names Is Worth a Read

I enjoyed reading Linda Rosenkrantz’s article comparing Ancient Greek and Roman mythological names, even though it doesn’t contain many names you’re likely to choose for your next baby. However, I agree with Rosenkrantz that Diana, Juno (and perhaps Venus, Victoria and  Minerva) are worth considering.

I found the article interesting because I didn’t get the impression that Rosenkrantz was trying to “promote” any of these mythological names. Instead, she lets us know which of them have been used by celebrities for their own children (for example, Tina Fey named her daughter Athena and Kelly Rutherford named her son Hermes). The truth is that few of the names for mythological gods and goddesses she writes about are often used as names for humans. I find it interesting that biblical names for flawed humans are much more often used than the names of Greek and Roman deities, who in many respects were perfect and exemplary.

P.S. Rosenkrantz’s article about nicknames continues to be one of my favorite Nameberry articles.

Baby Post Offers 10 Names that Supposedly Celebrate Spring; Most of Them Don’t


Altogether, Baby Post lists 10 “spring” names, most of which are tributes to wells or water. The few names which have some connection to spring (the season) are, for the most part, names you’d be unlikely to consider using.

Apple This fruity name was both shocking and ludicrous when Gwyneth Paltrow gave it to her daughter ten years ago, and it’s still ludicrous, but no longer seems shocking. Does it celebrate spring? Not really. It celebrates apples.

Bradwell According to Baby Post, this name means “from the broad spring,” so it has nothing to do with the spring season. Besides, it’s a clunky name few people would consider using.

Claire or Clare I like this name. It means “bright and clear.” It has nothing whatsoever to do with spring. So, don’t pick it to celebrate spring. Pick it to celebrate clear thinking or clear eyesight. Or just because you like it. Between Claire and Clare, I prefer the former—but I won’t pout if you disagree.

Daisy This name celebrates the spring season and is a fine, old-fashioned name that calls to mind the old song that starts like this: “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, true. I’m half-crazy all for the love of you.” Although daisies look fresh, this name comes across as rather dated. But, even so, it’s probably the best spring name on Baby Post’s list.

Kelby Here’s another name that celebrates fountains or springs. It’s kind of cute. It’s also kind of odd.

Maxwell I never knew that Maxwell means “Max’s well or spring.” It’s yet another name that has nothing to do with the spring season. But like Claire, I think it’s a usable name—unless you’re looking for a name that celebrates spring, the season.

Aviv and/or Aviva These names (Aviv for boys, Aviva for girls) mean “springtime” in Hebrew. Aviva is a fairly common name in Israel. It’s also a “Jewish name” given to North American girls whose name begins with the letter “A” (like Anne or Alexandra) as part of a Jewish naming ceremony when they are born. Girls named Alexandra may tell Israelis to call them Aviva when they visit Israel, but most of them prefer to be called Anne or Alexandra in America or Canada. So, Aviv and Aviva are unlikely to be used by many North Americans–as their every day names.

Weldon Here’s an Old English name that means “the hill near a spring.” As you can see it’s about a hill near water rather than about spring (the season). I suppose it’s not an bad name, if you’re into wells, like Anne Donahue of Baby Post.

Verdi You’ve probably heard of Giuseppe Verdi, an Italian opera composer whose name translates in English to Joe Green. Verdi is Italian for Green and was probably included on this list of supposedly “spring names” because Baby Post was better at finding names about water than about the spring season. Would you name your son or daughter Green? If not, don’t name your son or daughter Verdi.

Laverna Supposedly this French name means “born in spring.” So it’s a name that celebrates spring (the season). Unfortunately, it reminds me of Laverne and Shirley, two funny TV characters from the late 70s and early 80s who worked as bottlecappers in a Milwaukee brewery. They wouldn’t be my first picks as namesakes for my daughter, which is why even though they have a connection to the spring season, Laverna is only worth considering if you are desperate to find a female name to celebrate the spring season and Baby Posts’ 7 water names and 3 “spring names” are your only options.

If you want to come up with some more usable spring names, here are some names you might want to consider for baby girls. April, June, Lark, Laurel, Lily, May, Poppy, Robin, Vera, Violet, and Wren. Of the names my spring list, I think Lily, April and Robin have the most appeal.


A Most Amazing Trend: The Rise of Boy’s Names Ending in “N” from 1960 to 2012

I just read an article on Baby Center by Stacie Lewis which revealed an amazing statistic. She claims that 36% of boys’ names end in the letter “n.” This came to the attention of several people in the year 2009 because Robert T. Gonzalez noticed that 40 of the top-1,000 boy’s names rhymed with Jaden.

But this isn’t a 2009 phenomenon. I just counted the number of boys’ names  among the top-100 names listed in order of popularity by the Social Security Administration for the year 2012 that ended in “n.” I counted 38 (or 38%) of the top-100 names. And of those top-100 names, five rhymed with Jaden—which projects out to about 50 names in the top-1000 that rhyme with Jayden (which confirms that 2009 was not a fluke).

Lewis’ article focuses on her son Ieuan’s unusual (and universally mispronounced) Welsh name (it’s pronounced YIGH-an). But what interested me more was a chart that showed the increase in popularity of boys’ names ending in “n” from the 1960s through 2012. It’s worth a look.