the name game

My friend Sarah was lamenting in a recent blog post about the strange and torturous ways parents name their children. Bekah and I were very considerate of our children's egos when thinking of what to name our kids. Our first question was "Would this name be twisted and ridiculed by a 5th grader?" We came to the conclusion that 96% of possible baby names could indeed be a source of teasing by mean spirited 5th graders we asked a second question... "How could they make fun of this name or that name? What is the least amount of damage we could do?"

Unfortunately, not all parents are as considerate. For example: Sarah's recent post. Or, this article I found on MSN a few months ago.

The Name Game

Unique baby names are the power accessory of the newly born rich and famous

There's a new pout in Angelina Jolie's household -- and it's not Brad Pitt's. Jolie welcomed an adopted Ethiopian daughter named Zahara Marley Jolie. The name evokes romance, desert sands and reggae and starts with the exotic letter Z. For the well-heeled and the well-known, creating a splashy and inventive baby name is not just a birthright but a tradition. Witness the recent crop of baby names to adorn celebrity offspring: Pirate (Korn frontman Jonathan Davis' son), Moxie Crimefighter (the daughter of Penn and Teller magician Penn Jillette) and Lola (Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards' newborn). They're in good company: Chris Rock, Madonna, Carnie Wilson and Jennie Garth also call their little girls Lola, whether it's on the birth certificate or not (in Madonna's case, Lola is a nickname for Lourdes). Even veteran Live 8 musician-activist Bob Geldof has a full house, flowering with daughters Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Pixie, and their half-sister Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.

So Traditional and Retro, They're Hip Again

If you don't fancy calling your tyke Orlando or Bloom, don't despair. This trend toward sensible names is actually quite popular. Yes, Julia Roberts hit the mother lode with twins Hazel Patricia and Phinnaeas Walter, but she's not alone. Many celebrities have stuck to sensible, even normal names, fit for a regular Joe. Look at what Jon Stewart named his little guy: Nathan. Former teen heartthrob and NYPD star Mark-Paul Gosselaar welcomed a boy, Michael Charles.

Who's Done It: Plenty of people have, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick and their son, James Wilkie, Mary-Louise Parker and Billy Crudup and their son, William Atticus.

The Latest Twist: Use a nickname properly; ideally the shorter and friendlier the better. That's what worked for Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards' daughter, Sam J., and one of news anchor Soledad O'Brien's twins, Charlie.

Blast from the Past: Tom Hanks' son, Chester, and Tracey Ullman's daughter, Mabel. Janet Leigh's daughter is a screamer: Jamie Lee Curtis.

Twin Sets

Julia's picks brings us to our next category: twins.

Who's Done It: Some parents like their twins' names to match -- and some don't. Geena Davis stuck to the letter 'K' for sons, Kian and Kaiis, while actress Peri Gilpin placed a common 'A' in back for daughters, Stella and Ava.

The Latest Twist: If matching monikers don't work for you, you can take a cue from Marcia Gay Harden, who picked the intrepid Hudson for one twin, and the striking Julitta for the other.

Blast from the Past: Jane Pauley and Jane Seymour aren't twins, although they sound like they could be. In 1983, Jane Pauley named her duo Ross and Rachel, while Jane Seymour named hers Johnny and Kris, after friends Johnny Cash and Christopher Reeves.

Keep It Simple

Primitive vowel sounds pack major ooh-la-la and mimic baby's first words. What's the upside? Your future kindergartener will thank you for picking a name that's easy to say, spell and write. In addition to all the Lolas, other bisyllabic babes include Heidi Klum's picture-perfect Leni, Courtney Cox-Arquette's chic Coco and Passion of Christ star Monica Bellucci's tempting Deva.

Who's Done It: Both John Travolta and Ben Stiller elected Ella for the leading ladies in their lives. Celebrity moms Heather Locklear and Reese Witherspoon took the A train with Ava, and Kate Winslet named her daughter Mia.

The Latest Twist: Other letters to consider include 'O' (as in Oona and Oscar) and 'Z' (for Zahra, Chris Rock's second daughter and Zen Scott, Corey Feldman's son).

Blast from the Past: Steven Tyler rocked with daughters, Liv and Mia, and son, Taj.

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Names

Rocco, Romeo, Roman. Latin names conquer like no other, especially when your son is named Aurelius (Elle MacPherson's emperor) or Magnus (Will Ferrell's tiny elf).

Who's Done It: Rocco may be Madonna's boy-toy but both Jon Bon Jovi and Victoria Beckham fell in love with Romeo for their sons.

The Latest Twist: Remember, you don't have to be in Rome to do as Cate Blanchett, Debra Messing, and Harvey Keitel have done -- just go ahead and name your son Roman.

Blast from the Past: Dean Martin crooned Dino for his son.

Get Back to Nature

Flowers, trees, and fruits are blossoming on celebrity lips, thanks to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin's daughter, Apple Blythe, and Claudia Schiffer's daughter, Clementine. Naked chef Jamie Oliver cooked up Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo for his daughters.

Who's Done It: The big boy of OutKast's Big Boi is Bamboo. Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith welcomed Willow, Jude Law and Sadie Frost handpicked Iris, and Forest Whitaker dove deep for Ocean.

The Latest Twist: Animals are finding themselves at the head of pack with Erykah Badu's daughter Puma, and Scary Spice Melanie Brown's Phoenix Chi. Colors are also boldly going where no Crayola has gone before. U2's The Edge has a Blue Angel, and Sylvester Stallone has a daughter named Scarlet.

Blast from the Past: John Mellencamp named his son, Speck Wildhorse. Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon's daughters, Amber Rose, Saffron Sahara, and Tallulah Pine sound tame by comparison.

Translation Not Lost

Foreign names can be a way to add worldly allure to an otherwise average Steve, Joe, or Sophie. Don't care for Ernest? Then how about Ernesto? David and Victoria Beckham named their latest kicker, Cruz, and Mira Sorvino found grace with Mattea Angel. Both Liv Tyler and Sherry Stringfield picked Milo for their sons.

Who's Done It: Kelly Ripa opted for Joaquin for her third child, and Crossing Jordan star Jill Hennessy explored new territory with Marco.

The Latest Twist: You can also borrow words from other languages. Catherine Zeta-Jones chose Carys, from the Welsh word for "love." Rob Thomas feels right at home with firstborn, Maison.

Blast from the Past: Jon Voight's daughter, Angelina Jolie, became a future Tomb Raider.

The Reilly Factor

Last names can come first in the name game, as Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn found with daughters Finley Faith and Avery Grace. Soledad O'Brien's other twin is named Jackson and NYPD Blue's Charlotte Ross found Maxwell arresting.

Who's Done It: Patricia Arquette heralded Harlow Jane and actress Thandie Newton picked the unusual Ripley.

The Latest Twist: Celtic names like Finnigan, Delaney, and Sullivan all sound cool riding in front and work for both sexes. Maybe that's why Holly Marie Combs (Piper from Charmed) also found Finley enchanting for her son.

Blast from the Past: Sean Penn named his son Hopper (after Dennis), and Lisa Marie Presley has daughter, Riley.


There's nothing like a good book, author, or character for finding inspiration. Some parents even turn to the dictionary. Dixie Chick Natalie Maines embraced Beckett Finn, while Brendan Fraser held out for Holden, the beloved hero of Catcher in the Rye.

Who's Done It: Law & Order SVU star Christopher Meloni's Dante, Australian-born actress Rachel Griffiths' Banjo (named after the Down Under poet).

The Latest Twist: Some parents even turn to the dictionary for common words and terms. Erykah Badu picked lucky number, Seven, and former deejay turned actress Shannyn Sossamon tuned into Audio Science. Actor Rob Morrow looks forward to the day after with Tu Morrow.

Blast from the Past: Demi Moore was inspired by British author, Rumer Godden, and the character of Scout, from To Kill a Mockingbird, for two of her daughters. Her own name was rumored to come from a beauty magazine.

Occupied by a Name?

Like the form says, state your name and occupation, or borrow somebody else's. Davis and Jillette may have caused waves with Pirate and Moxie Crimefighter but they are not alone. Kate Hudson liked Ryder, Jason Lee flew solo with Pilot Inspektor, and Reese Witherspoon found her calling in Deacon. With names like these, can little Actors, Dancers, Teachers and Drivers be far behind?

Who's Done It: Christie Brinkley searched far and wide for daughter, Sailor, and Spy Kids director Robert Rodriguez launched sons, Racer, Rebel, and Rocket.

The Latest Twist: Take a cue from Jason Lee and change a letter so the spelling isn't perfekt.

Blast from the Past: Most people have heard about Moon Unit, Dweezil, and Ahmet Rodan, but did you know Frank Zappa has a daughter named Diva Muffin?

Gucci, Gucci, Goo

Pick an object. Any object. And don't forget to check the label. Popular brands that have found their way onto birth certificates in recent years include Lexus, Canon, and Porsche. Sports fans can root for Espn at little league ballgames.

Who's Done It: Toni Braxton tried on Denim for her first son, Nelly has a daughter, Chanel, and Slash has an heir named Cash.

Blast from the Past: Long before these ordinary words found themselves turned into monikers, there were John Travolta and Kelly Preston's son, Jett, and tennis legend Arthur Ashe's daughter, Camera.

The Latest Twist: Just make sure to have positive associations and memories to go along with whatever word or object you choose.

Here's looking at you, iPod.

And you thought your parents were weird.

1 comment:

  1. Ok Ok just remember, you came within inches of being named Phillip. Hush and do not complain! On the flip side, last week I had to call and talk to this gentleman--his name (real name) Horst Krappenschfitz. He was an older german man. wanna bet they called him horsecrap in grade school?