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Take an obscure literary reference, add in a heroine from a cult classic film, and the result is this possibility.

Thanks to Bertram Bergamot for inspiring Alabama as our Baby Name of the Day.

Place names are having a moment, from London to Brooklyn. Elaborate, Southern belle names like Magnolia feel right at home in 2014, too.  Plus, we’re wild about names that start with the letter A, for our sons and daughters alike.

Add it up, factor in a pair of high profile birth announcements, and Alabama could be huge.

Alabama: Literary Roots

Back in 1932, Zelda Fitzgerald – glittering jazz age wife of the legendary F. Scott – published a novel of her own.  Like her husband’s work, it was heavily autobiographical.  Her heroine, Alabama, marries a painter who becomes wildly successful.  Alabama struggles to make her own mark.

Save Me the Waltz was a commercial flop.  Critics panned it.  And so that intriguing character name never caught on.  Zelda never wrote another novel, either.

And yet, something about this story makes a case for considering Alabama a lost literary name, along the lines of Valancy.

Alabama: The Place, The Band, The Football Team

Alabama is the Heart of Dixie, the American South.  It’s the place where sweeping change took place, as the fight for civil rights swept through Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham.

The name of the state and the river running through it comes from a Native American tribe.  Records from the Hernando de Soto expedition in 1540 refer to the Alibamo.  Variant spellings abound.  The Alabama people were part of the Creek Confederacy.

There’s no consensus on the meaning of the name.  Some suggest that it was borrowed from Choctaw, and has a meaning like “clearers of the thicket.”

Today, Alabama is also synonymous with football.  The Crimson Tide of the University of Alabama is legendary, as is former Coach Bear Bryant.

Southern rockers Alabama scored a string of hits in the 1980s.

Using Native American names – especially the names of tribes – is controversial.  And yet, it seems like this one has so many layers of meaning, that it might warrant an exception.

Alabama: Indie Darling

I had to come all the way from the highways and byways of Tallahassee, Florida to Motor City Detroit to find my true love.  If you gave me a million years to ponder, I would never have guessed that true romance and Detroit would ever go together.

Before Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino wrote the screenplay for True Romance.  Those two sentences are spoken by Alabama as the movie opens.  It typical Tarantino – edgy, violent, imaginative.

It was also a disappointment at the box office, but quickly became a cult classic.  Patricia Arquette played Alabama, opposite Christian Slater – wearing the equally remarkable name Clarence.

Alabama: A Wearable Rarity

Not so long ago, two high-profile birth announcements suggested that Alabama might be on the rise:

  • Former Miss USA Shanna Moakler and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker welcomed a daughter named Alabama in 2005.
  • Actress Drea De Matteo and musician Shooter Jennings named their daughter Alabama Gypsyrose in 2007.

But the name never caught on.  27 girls received the name in 2007.  And then, the trend reversed.  As of 2013, there were just 14 newborn Alabamas.

Maybe there’s just too much baggage, between the Native American ties and the civil rights legacy.

And yet, if you’re after something determinedly Southern, completely unexpected, and with a certain edgy, indie vibe, Alabama could a name to consider.

Do you think Alabama is wearable, a successor to Georgia and Savannah?

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. It seems very cool and funky, but also quite strange (“Sweet Home Alabama”, etc). Bam or Bam-Bam would make a very different nickname for it.

  2. Alabama is on my GP list. My family has lived in the state since before it was a state, so it’s obviously quite meaningful. I just can’t imagine naming a person Alabama.