Baby Name of the Day: Maple

by appellationmountain on February 20, 2012

A red maple tree between a bunch of pines

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 MaĆ«lle.
  • 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.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

maple May 28, 2014 at 2:23 PM

I think that name is perfect. I wouldn’t have thought anyone would ever name their child maple but, my mother named and me Maple.

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T January 4, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Oops hit submit too soon! Anyway, big sister Bayard “Bay” is obsessed (so far) and I like that they both share formal names -that happen to be of French origin as well- with famous civil rights figures (Bayard Rustin and Maya Angelou) and nicknames from nature/ trees.

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T January 4, 2014 at 1:43 PM

I just had my second baby on December 31st and to our surprise, it’s another girl! We were between Roseline (my choice) and Marguerite (his choice) and settled on Marguerite on the condition that her nickname can be Maple.

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melissa December 1, 2013 at 5:46 AM

I love the name. My daughter’s name is Annabelle Maple Sunshine. The Maple is to connect her to her Canadian roots as her father and I are both Cdn ex-pats living overseas.

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appellationmountain December 1, 2013 at 7:21 PM

Melissa, that’s such a nice connection to your heritage! And I love the combination of vintage Annabelle, followed by unexpected nature names.

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Rosy February 23, 2012 at 12:08 AM

I think Maple is absolutely awful, and such a let down after lovely Francesca. I mean, would YOU want to go through life introducing yourself as ‘Maple’? I sure wouldn’t. Also, Maple Bateman is quite the tongue-twister…

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Sarah A February 22, 2012 at 12:35 AM

I like Maple. And I think you’re spot-on with all the reasons she works. But I agree with C in DC that the shock of Maple is her sister is Francesca. If I were Maple and my sister were Francesca, I’d feel like I got the wrong end of that deal. But if I were Maple and my sister were Melody or Willow? Well that would be peachy keen.

And yes, Maple Sylvie Bateman lacks rhythm AND looks like maple syrup. Sylvia Maple Bateman would have been a much prettier choice.

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Katherine February 21, 2012 at 11:24 PM

I met a Maple who was probably in her 70s or 80s a few years ago. I was intrigued then, although I don’t care for it now.

Most tree names definitely say boy or girl to me. Maple is girl, Cedar is boy. Another commenter mentioned Aspen (boy) and Birch (girl). I don’t know why…

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Julie February 22, 2012 at 2:59 PM

It’s funny how our perceptions work, because the Aspen I know is a girl and Birch is a boy. :)

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C in DC February 21, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Maple Bateman’s a bit much, although Mabel Bateman would have been even harder to say fast. I think the shock of Maple is really that her older sister is Francesca. Sylvie or Sylvia Bateman wouldn’t have drawn hardly any comment.

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waltzingmorethanmatilda February 20, 2012 at 10:54 PM

I think Maple is attractive and unusual, but doesn’t sound bizarre. I must be the only person who doesn’t hear Maple Sylvie and think maple syrup. It makes me think of forests of maple trees (Sylvie = woods, forest).

When it comes to patriotic monikers, I kind of feel they are beyond criticism.

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Julie February 21, 2012 at 3:18 PM

I guess I’m more orientated to a name’s sound, because I didn’t think Sylvie = syrup thing either.

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The Name Station February 20, 2012 at 4:11 PM

As per Amanda Anka’s IMDB page, she was born in New York. And I totally agree with you that the name sounds on-trend.

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appellationmountain February 20, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Hmmm … the Canadian tie pales …

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The Name Station February 21, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Not necessarily – Anka definitely went to the US where the money (and Sinatra) was, but he’s always a proud Canadian in interviews. But I did a post in defense of this name, and admittedly the couple may have fallen in love in Vermont, for all we know :) Lots of maples there, too!

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Julie February 20, 2012 at 4:07 PM

I know of children named Aspen and Birch, so Maple gets a “why not?” from me.

I don’t really My only complaint this particular name is it’s sing-song rhythm. My little one is playing with this caterpillar that plays “Oh My Darling Clementine” and now I’m hearing it as…
MAY-ple SIL-vee, MAY-ple SIL-vee,
MAY-ple SIL-vee BAY-ate-man!

If her name was Maple Silvia or Maple Vivienne instead, it would have been a favorite.

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Nicole February 20, 2012 at 9:45 AM

I think Maple is a wonderful nature name.. kinda reminds me of Myrtle, but much prettier. I dont agree on the gender neutral though, I feel that it leans towards girl for me. Great post!

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Emily February 20, 2012 at 9:42 AM

I actually like Maple and don’t see why people think it’s so “out there.” Maple is only one letter off from Mabel! Although Maple Sylvie does kind of remind me of maple syrup…

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namefancier February 20, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Love this post! You did a better job of defending Maple than I did.

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Diana February 20, 2012 at 9:28 AM

There’s a baby Maple in my neighborhood my daughter’s age (so ~a year and a half). Sweet kid, hipster parents (they own a chain of cupcake bakeries). I thought it was an adorable name. The dual nature meaning and the nod to the “sweet” profession of the parents.

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appellationmountain February 20, 2012 at 5:04 PM

That is a fun, subtle connection for a baker’s child! I always wonder what it is like to having a truly unusual name go Hollywood …

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British American February 20, 2012 at 9:10 AM

I like Maple – especially if you have a Canada connection. (Which I don’t, so I probably wouldn’t use it myself.) The similarity in sound to Mable and they nickname possibility of May / Mae makes it sound like a name. That makes the name sound girly to me – though in the middle for a boy could work too.

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dreadedjaws February 20, 2012 at 8:25 AM

I don’t mind Maple, particularly in the middle. As a first name, for me, it’s surprising any way you slice it. However, let me just say that I find the combination Maple Sylvie a little to reminiscent of maple syrup; I wish the middle they chose didn’t start “sy.”

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British American February 20, 2012 at 9:11 AM

I agree about Sylvie making me think of Syrup too.

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appellationmountain February 20, 2012 at 5:03 PM

I’ve mentioned it before, but I have a semi-long-lost-friend (don’t you love Facebook?) who named his second child Ada Maple. Love that combo!

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Photoquilty February 20, 2012 at 7:49 AM

Well…even with all the pros you listed, I can’t be swayed. It’s another of those times when it sounds like a celebrity trying too hard.

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