Rowan, Willow, Linden, and … Maple?
Yup, thanks to Jason Bateman and Amanda Anka, our Baby Name of the Day is Maple.
When they welcomed firstborn Francesca Nora five years ago, Jason and Amanda made the list of celeb parents who choose stylish-but-sane names for their offspring. The second time around? Maple is being lumped with Apple and Blue Ivy.
Given the popularity of nature names, I’m not entirely sure that’s fair. Maple comes from the Old English mapultreow, which translates to maple tree. Some suggest that it links back to a word for knob or offshoot, but that’s far from certain. Unlike many a nature name, a maple is just a maple.
A maple leaf, on the other hand, is the national symbol of Canada. The trees have long been admired for their strength. French settlers along the Saint Lawrence River adopted the maple leaf as their emblem. It took. The first mayor of Montreal embraced the maple leaf as a symbol; it was added to the coats of arms of both Ontario and Quebec in the 1860s. Coins and military uniforms used the symbol, too. Though it wasn’t until 1965 when the Canadian flag was introduced, with its distinctive eleven-point leaf, that the government officially endorsed the iconic maple leaf design we know today.
That could explain some of the motivation for baby Bateman’s appellation: I can’t confirm where Amanda was born, but her dad – singer Paul Anka – is a native of Ottawa.
There are other associations, of course. Maple is frequently used in musical instruments from guitars to cellos to drums, making her a cousin to Cadence and Harmony.
Sound alone also makes Maple quite current:
- M remains a popular letter. Madison and Mia both rank in the US Top Ten, and plenty of other M-names – Maya, Madeline, and Mariah spring to mind – in the Top 100. It’s also the first letter of two enduring classics, Margaret and Mary.
- That long a is the vowel sound that has dominated our age, found in names as different in style as Ava and Hailey, Kaylee and Grace.
- Her -l dominated ending is also current, from Abigail to Gabrielle.
- That first syllable has been catching on, with parents considering the short, sweet, complete Mae or May as a first and middle name. In 2010, Mae re-entered the US Top 1000 for the first time in forty years.
- Then there’s Irish appellation Maeve, up to #536 in 2010, as well as other up-and-comers, like Mad About You-inspired Mabel, retro Maisie, and mademoiselle Maëlle.
- While this little Maple will celebrate a February birthday, I can’t help think of fall leaves when I hear this name – which links Maple to one more Top 100 choice: Autumn.
All this talk of Mae- names makes me think of one more: Arrested Development’s Maeby, niece to Jason Bateman’s character, Michael Bluth.
Maple feels like a winning choice in the middle spot, and a possibility as a given name, too. Like Cedar , this one also strikes me as truly gender neutral, still up for grabs for parents seeking an unexpected nature name for a son – even though this little starbaby could help put Maple on Team Pink.
Overall, Maple is not truly shocking – instead, she’s right on trend, her sound and her style compatible with today’s most popular names. Yet she’s likely to make daffiest celeb baby name lists – if only because we all expected Francesca’s little sis to have a more conventional appellation.