It’s ambitious. It might even be insane. But we’ve decided to launch a Name of the Day feature here at AppMtn.
Kicking us off is a J-name heard more and more often. With nature-name roots and a fashionable sound, it is easy to understand why.
Our Baby Name of the Day is Juniper.
Juniper is a fresh choice, a nice alternative for parents who fear that Willow is too common. Willow ranked #529 in 2006; in just three years, she’s risen to #315. Juniper is just as buzz-worthy, but has yet to crack the Top 1000.
The similar Heather was a Top Ten name from 1972 to 1987. And Juniper is awfully close to former #1 sensation Jennifer.
But it isn’t a given that Juniper would be a girl’s name. Derived from the Latin juniperus, it refers to an evergreen shrub. St. Francis of Assisi had a faithful follower known as St. Juniper.
In the early eighteenth century, Junipero Serra was a Majorcan-born missionary to Mexico. His work eventually took him all over California, founding countless missions. Junipero took his name from the thirteenth century Franciscan.
Thornton Wilder won a 1928 Pulitzer Prize for The Bridge of San Luis Rey. His narrator was the initially fortunate, but later ill-fated, Brother Juniper. It was made into a film twice; in the 2004 edition, Gabriel Byrne played the monk.
So how did this nature name go to the girls?
First came 1968’s single “Jennifer Juniper” from singer Donovan. In 1993, Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson co-starred in the quirky rom-com Benny and Joon. Joon was short for Juniper. Factor in the vintage charm of June and the goddess Juno, and it isn’t so surprising.
Since then there’s also been:
- The Cartoon Network’s The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, the animated tale of a tweenaged monster-fighter;
- Early dad blogger Jim started writing Sweet Juniper back in 2005. Juniper is his firstborn, big sister to Gram. I love dozens of things about his blog, but above all, I love that they’re living in Detroit;
- Plus a smattering of characters from young adult fiction.
One possible downside to the appellation is that juniper berries are used to make gin – but it isn’t quite like naming your daughter Chardonnay.
And, of course, should your darling daughter find her name a bit too hippie chic, she can always be known by the throwback, calendar girl nickname June or the spunky retro Junie.
Note: This post was originally published on May 5, 2008 – the first ever Baby Name of the Day! It was significantly revised and updated for a re-post on April 25, 2011.