I mean … best isn’t exactly the right word. They’re the quirkiest, the most interesting, the names that made me think, all through 2019. Some of them might be influential; others point to trends that were already accelerating. And some probably won’t catch on, but thrill and delight those of us onomastically obsessed.
If you’re curious to see what topped my lists in the past, here’s a rundown:
- 2018 Best Celebrity Baby Names
- 2017 Best Celebrity Baby Names
- 2016 Best Celebrity Baby Names
- 2015 Best Celebrity Baby Names
- 2014 Best Celebrity Baby Names
- 2013 Best Celebrity Baby Names
And now, on to the best celebrity baby names 2019!
You might know Jonathan Tucker from American Gods, Westworld, or most recently, Showtime’s City on a Hill. But I hear his name and think twins! Jonathan and wife Tara welcomed twins India Moss and Hayes Taj last year. The names pay homage to the children’s diverse heritage. As the new dad described it in an Instagram post, the children are “.25 catholic .25 jewish .25 muslim .25 hindu.” The first names feel like fits-in choices; the middles seem a little bit bolder. And while the siblings’ names are different in style, there’s something compatible about the pair that’s tough to put into words. It reminds me of one of the highest profile twin BAs of all-time: Rumi and Sir Carter.
COLOR NAME OF THE YEAR
Color names won’t quit. Red leads the pack, from Rowan to Scarlett to Ruby. But lately, it might be Blue on the rise. And the stand-out color name from the hue of blue? Navy. It brings to mind all things nautical, and, of course, the military branch. The name also benefits from that great middle V sound. Jason Alden is the high profile parent who welcomed a daughter named Navy in 2019. Jason and wife Brittany also have a son Memphis; plus Jason is dad to Keeley and Kendyl from a prior marriage. Navy makes a logical sister to Memphis, with a certain bold and unexpected style to both choices.
BOLD BOY NAME
It’s tough to pick just one bold boy name winner. Gone are the days when girls’ names were creative, but boys’ names were classic. Now it’s a great time to name a son, with all sorts of options. Maybe that’s why Dan Reynolds, of Imagine Dragons, leapt to the top of my list. He’s named three girls already – daughters Coco Rae, Gia James, and Arrow Eve. Pretty fierce, right? Now he and wife Aja Volkman have welcomed son Valentine. Many will insist it’s a traditionally masculine name and that’s true – in English. It’s feminine in French. And all the associations with hearts and flowers have generally doomed it for boys in recent decades. But it has a great meaning, a powerful set of associations, and an edgy sound – perfect for their family’s bold, adventurous, world-changing vibe.
AMAZING NICKNAME AWARD
Actor Kieran Culkin – you know him from HBO’s Succession, as well as appearing alongside brother Macaulay back in the original Home Alone movies – and wife Jazz Charton welcomed their first child this year, Kinsey Sioux, called Zissou. Kinsey doesn’t appear in the current US Top 1000, but it fits, a successor to Kelly, Kaylee, Kylie, and Kinsley. Sioux feels more daring, reminiscent of alt rock legend Siouxsie Sioux. And the nickname the couple announced? It’s a stand-out choice, completely unexpected, a scissory mix of Z and S, with that perfect oo sound, too. The only time I’ve heard it before was 2004’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. It feels fresh and daring, and definitely among the noteworthy celebrity baby names 2019.
I’ve yet to write about Zissou, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
BEST RECLAIM NAME
What’s a reclaim name? It’s a name that doesn’t feel specifically feminine or masculine, but swings – sharply – to the girls. Until parents decide that it works for boys every bit as well, and reclaim it accordingly. This year’s top prize goes to Alanis Morrisette, for her son’s name: Winter Mercy. Alanis and husband Mario “Souleye” Treadway are also parents to son Ever and daughter Onyx. It’s a mix of meaningful word names chosen – apparently – without too much regard to gender, and they make a great trio.
Honorable Mention goes to country music’s Rodney Atkins and Rose Falcon, for their son Scout, a brother to Ryder. And a second shout out to Ricky Martin, who welcomed son Renn with husband Jwan Yosef, a brother for Lucia, Valentino and Matteo.
HEADLINES FOR DAYS AWARD
No matter how you feel about the Kardashians, they can always be counted on for a sensational birth announcement. The name typically follows a few days later, keeping us all on our toes and we speculate. (And nearly always get it wrong, wrong, wrong.) I do think there’s much to admire in their naming approach. But even if you think that’s crazy talk, we can al agree on this: Kim Kardashian and Kanye West generated headlines for days with the arrival of their fourth child, son Psalm, earlier this year.
SO UNCOOL IT’S COOL AWARD
The coolest names are given with confidence. And if you’re Krysten Ritter, fresh off playing superhero Jessica Jones on Netflix – you can name your kiddo anything you like. Ritter and partner Adam Granduciel welcomed son Bruce this year. Yup, Bruce. Maybe it’s a Batman reference – his second middle is Knight, after all. Maybe it’s a family name. Or could it be that the couple is so very cool they’ve chosen a name they just plain love?
Honorable mention goes to Oscar Isaac and Elvira Lind’s son, Eugene, named for Isaac’s mom Eugenia.
BEST LITTLE BROTHER NAME
Jenna Bush Hager excels at finding ways to honor loved ones with her children’s names, while still leaving space for her kids to have identities of their own. Daughters Margaret Laura “Mila” and Poppy Louise were recently joined by little brother Henry Harold, called Hal. Mila, Poppy, and Hal don’t immediately sound like textbook siblings. And yet, knowing the care the couple puts into passing down family names, the trio sounds perfectly matched. Another bonus? They all blend the current and the classic in slightly different ways.
BEST LITTLE SISTER NAME
Jessica Simpson’s first two children’s names raised some eyebrows. First came borrowed-from-the-boys Maxwell Drew, and the slightly out-there combination Ace Knute for her son, both with husband Eric Johnson. But the couple hit exactly the right note for their new arrival, daughter Birdie Mae. It’s on-trend, but still slightly different. And there’s a sweetness about the name, too, that’s gentle and light without crossing the line into saccharine. It’s one of my favorites of the year, but then, I do like bird names in general quite a bit.
Honorable mention goes to Billie Piper’s new daughter, Tallulah, a little sister for Winston and Eugene, as well as Nick Carter’s new arrival, Saoirse, a sister for Odin.
ALL IN THE FAMILY AWARD
While we’re talking about families, how about those celebrity couples who pass down names from their trees? Camille Guaty and husband Sy Rhys Kaye welcomed their first child together, a son named Morrison Rafael. Morrison comes from Morris, Kaye’s grandfather. And Rafael honors Camille’s dad. It’s a strong combination, a mix of the personal and the stylish. It’s a surprising combination that works, and ties together both families’ histories with grace.
Honorable Mention goes to McLaurin Clement, a grandson for Robin Williams. The late actor’s son Zak welcomed his first child with fiancee Olivia June this year. McLaurin was Robin’s middle name; they’re calling him Mickey for short. And just one more … Kobe and Vanessa Bryant welcomed a fourth daughter. Capri Kobe joins Natalia, Gianna, and Bianka. They’re referring to Capri as Koko. it looks like she’s named for dad.
I’ve yet to write about Morrison, but you can read about Rafael here.
TOTAL PACKAGE AWARD
Sometimes a name combination strikes me as exactly right. They’re interesting, a little bit different, but not too far outside of what we consider mainstream. This year’s award goes to Lauren and Josiah Duggar. The reality television family named their daughter Bella Milagro. Their birth announcement explained that the name means “beautiful miracle”, and while I’ll quarrel with some meanings, that one feels pretty rock solid. The couple chose the name, in part, because their previous pregnancy ended in miscarriage. So it’s just gorgeous and glorious. As with the Kardashians, the mega-sized Duggar family isn’t for everyone. But I think this name just plain nails it.
Honorable mention goes to Danielle Fishel – you probably know her as Topanga from Boy Meets World and Girl Meets World. She and Jensen Karp named their son Adler Lawrence. Adler is the German word for eagle, and while it’s a surname, you wouldn’t hear it as a first there. But in the US, while rare, it feels exactly right for a son. And that middle! It’s classic and sadly underused.
Believe it or not, I’ve never written about just Bella – or Milagro. Check back for updates.
EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE AWARD
And now it seems like Ace is the next name that we’re going to be hearing lots. Josh Altman of Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles and wife Heather welcomed son Ace David. Country music’s Ryan Calhoun and wife Chrissy named their son Ace Chadwick. AndI feel like I’m missing a few! It looks like Ace is the next of the epic boy names to follow Maverick and Legend straight up the charts.
DELIGHTFULLY DAFFY AWARD
Amber Rose isn’t exactly Kate Middleton, so I wasn’t expecting her second son’s name to be, you know, George or Louis. But she and ex Whiz Khalifa took a fairly conventional route when they welcomed son Sebastian in 2013. But now Amber and partner AE Edwards are the proud parents of Slash Electric Alexander. I’m filing it with choices from past years like Gravity Blue, names so bold and daring that they’re only at home with high profile parents. Are they a little out there? No doubt. But there’s some charm to them anyhow, a sort of “go big or go home” approach to celebrity baby names 2019 that has its appeal.
I’ve yet to write about Slash, but check back for updates.
PERFECT BALANCE AWARD
Okay, you knew it was coming! I’m giving Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor the Perfect Balance Award. What’s the difference between this and the Total Package? Well, Archie Harrison qualifies for the earlier prize. But it’s the decision around the child’s surname – and title, or lack thereof – that suggest a delicate calibration. Archie feels impeccably British; Harrison feels decidedly American. And the choice to use the family’s traditional surname, rather than Sussex, feels like a deliberate effort to make little Archie’s life as normal as it can be when your great-grandmother is among the world’s longest reigning monarchs.
BORROWED FROM THE BOYS AWARD
Every year brings a handful of girls whose names seem more suited to a son than a daughter. While it can cause frustration among parents naming boys, my advice is this: don’t sweat it. We’ve seen girls called Ryan and Jordan and Cameron and Peyton and Rowan … and boys still continue to wear those names without a blink.
This year’s award is a tie! Both Willow Palin and Hilary Duff welcomed daughters named Banks. But get this: Willow Palin had twins. Banks’ twin sister is Blaise. In the meantime, Kandi Burruss named her daughter Blaze … but only after deciding against naming her daughter Banks. Confused yet?
I think both names – fiery Blaze or saintly Blaise, and preppy, edgy Banks – both feel very wearable for boys, but for this list? They’re all girls.
Read more about Blaise here. I’ve yet to write about Banks, but check back for an update.
COME TALK NAMES WITH ME AWARD
I’ve put most of television host Daphne Oz’s children’s names on a list over the years. Philomena Bijou was the Total Package Award in 2014; and in 2017, I gave Domenica Celina the Romanza Award. Daphne and husband John Jovanovic are also parents to son Jovan Jr., and now daughter Giovanna Ines. They’re calling her Gigi. It’s Italian and Spanish and French, a joyful borrowing from across Western Europe that feels both traditional and eclectic. My only hesitation? Did she mean for it to be so close to her husband and son’s names? Or was that a coincidence?
It all makes me wonder how they arrived at such elaborate, but wearable names for their daughters. I’d love to ask lots of celebrities about their name choices, but when it comes to actually talking the ins and outs of baby naming? I think Daphne Oz would be the most fascinating conversation – and Giovanna Ines the first name I’d like to know more about. At least for this list of celebrity baby names 2019!
I’ve yet to write about Giovanna or Ines, but check back and I’ll update when I do.
READERS CHOICE AWARD
This list isn’t complete without one final award, and that’s the one chosen by you. In a series of contests, Appellation Mountain readers voted for one boy name and one girl name, both of which appeared on celebrity birth announcements in 2019, as a favorite.
This year’s winners? Theodore, son of NBC News’ Richard Engel, takes the boys’ prize. And the girls’ contest was won by Violet, daughter of musician Tim Lopez. Both names are at home in the pages of People magazine – or on a neighborhood playground near you.
That’s my list of the most intriguing Celebrity Baby Names 2019. What would you add? Are there any on this list that you especially like?