First up, we’re expecting … three baby bluebirds. The mama has built a nest in the tiny herb garden Arthur latched onto our postage-stamp sized balcony. Since they’re growing amongst our herbs, I’m calling the three eggs Basil, Coriander and Rosemary. I’ve been trying to talk to Mama Bird about names, but she’s not interested.

On to news about naming human babies:

  • This week’s Toronto Star profile couple named their daughter Zaphyn Athena. On the one hand, I find Zaphyn eye-poppingly bizarre. On the other hand, plenty of parents say they want something original and unlikely to be shared by another child, only to end up calling their kids Makenzi or Ava Rose or Jaidyn. At least this duo actually landed on something truly unusual;
  • Also from the Department of the Eye-Poppingly Strange: Yes, My Chemical Romance’s lead singer named his little one Bandit Lee. Yes, he could’ve gone with Helena. Yes, we’ll all be waiting for a quiet little announcement 23 years from now that Bandit Way has petitioned the courts to be known as Barbara. Or not;
  • Hip-hop and R&B artist T-Pain welcomed a son named Kaydnz Kodah. I’ll admit that I love Kodah. But Kaydnz? Yikes! Older sibs are Lyriq and Muziq;
  • On the other hand, Family Matters and Celebrity Rehab alum Jaimee Foxworth welcomed a son. Her little guy was given the stunning normal name Michael Douglas Shaw, Jr., after dad;
  • Trendier, but still nicely restrained, former ER star Parminder Nagra welcomed Kai David;
  • No word yet on a name, but Kimora Lee Simmons and Djimon Hounsou welcomed a son. I can only imagine that the mother of Ming Lee and Aoki Lee will not disappoint with her next baby name pick;
  • And while he’s not a baby, anyone else wondering if recent third time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves will inspire parents?

Out here in the non-celebrity-studded ‘burbs of Washington D.C.:

  • Friends of ours welcomed Maeve, a little sister for Ailis;
  • I discovered that my son’s classmate India has a big brother named Miles;
  • And I had a chance to quiz the mom of two year-old Carsten about her pick. As I suspected, they liked it because her first name is Carrie. But it also fit with a family tradition – her husband’s middle name is Christopher. (Carsten is related to Christian, so it links up in a nicely subtle way.)

A few posts you might’ve missed:

  • My shameless addiction, Celebrity Baby Blog, did a brief article on nicknames versus formal names, citing Victoria Recaño’s Maximilienne, nn Emme; Amy Poehler & Will Arnett’s Archibald, nn Archie and Amanda Peet’s Frances, nn Frankie;
  • Over at Nameberry, Linda wrote about some Hidden Gems – names that rank in the US Top 1000, but not too high. I loved Seamus, Cassius, Libby and Marin.
  • Also at Nameberry, Pam posted a list of possible Names for Twins using the most subtle of links – two names that are distinct, but share the same meaning. She had some great suggestions, like Esme and Imogen, both meaning beloved, or Asher and Felix, both meaning happy.

While I’m on a Nameberry kick, remember that we’re a mere 23 days away from the release of Beyond Ava and Aiden: The Enlightened Guide to Naming Your Baby. I realize there won’t be Harry Potter-esque lines and midnight release parties, but I’ve already advised my local bookseller to put mine on pre-order.

Lastly, a look backward – last year, the Name of the Day was Piper – and a sneak preview – this week, I’ll be writing about Aurora, Maurice, Zara, Francis and Dove.

Thanks for reading!

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. What a seriously random thing to stumble across…

    I am the father in the aforementioned article about my daughter Zaphyn. The name is unique, yes, but no more unique than naming a boy ‘Tony’ rather than Anthony, or the multitude spellings of Crystal.

    We did not chose the name very lightly, also up for the running was Lillyanna, named for my wife’s sister. As seen in the article its a shortning of an Egyptian name, from a Bible story dear to my wife’s heart and though we changed the spelling from Zaphenath-Paneah to simply Zaphyn, its no more odd than naming a child Noah, Yale or Jason…common enough names, Jason is even a greek name itself! Nevermind the unisex names of Ashley, Courtney, Taylor and Logan.

    Athena was of my choosing, for my love of Greek mythos and one of my favourite goddesses. Could have easily have been Zaphyn Aphrodite or Zaphyn Demeter… Zaphyn Anne or Zaphyn Rose or something had no real connection for us, family history or otherwise.

    We all have strange names when it comes down to it, ours maybe a little in left field, but that does not make us crazy Canadians any more than the next person. Zaphyn will either LOVE her name or HATE it…but no one would ever confuse it and I doubt she would have the problems that I have being called Jason all the time.

    Most who hear the name just love it, then ask how to spell it…

    Maybe I am biased with my daughters name but we love it, so does our circle of family and friends, maybe it will catch on like wild fire and be the new Sarah 😉

    1. Ah, 2009 is a strange place indeed. Hi, Justin.

      My daughter is Clio, so I’ve got a soft spot for all things mythological myself. And while Zaphyn wouldn’t be my choice, I do think you landed on something truly unusual. Which is better than all those parents who say, “We wanted something unusual, so we name her Emily Grace.” Ahem.

      Thanks for your candor.

  2. Kimora Lee Simmons named her son Kenzo Lee Hounsou. Personally I would have preferred Kenji or Kengo to Kenzo, but Kenzo isn’t a bad name. It fits well with her daughters’ names. It’s alot better than Pilot and Audio Science. I really love Japanese names, but Kenzo is not one I would have thought of.

    Another Celeb baby: Love this one. Cassius is one of my favorite boys names.

    Zaphyn is horrible but LOVE Athena.

  3. I love your potential bluebirds names! (All we’ve got is Theodore the chipmunk living under the back porch) [yes, Josie’s a hge Chipmunk fan, Theodore’s her favorite] I hope you spend the summer enjoying them!

    Helio floats my boat. Warm, freindly feeling, and an “o” ender? yep, Winner! it’s made my long lists but I’m still working on his reaction. (So far? Helium) Bah!

    At least odd Zaphyn has the stunningly awesome Athena to go by. Maybe as an adult she’ll be Z Athena? Would work for me.
    I have yet to catch up at CBB or Namberry, I am so far behind on everything! I missed this place most, though.
    Nice sum up, as always!

  4. Okay, I’ve been holding back for awhile now, but every week leaves me wondering: what in the hell is wrong with people in Toronto?!? Matheson “sounds like a girl,” was bad enough, but Zaphyn?? Arrrgh! Maybe it’s the extreme cold, maybe it’s the cultural obsession with hockey, but something is seriously impairing these peoples’ naming judgement. This example emphasizes the parent’s almost deranged need to be “unique,” while offending me with the bizarro corruption of classic Greek names. The final insult is that it sounds like a boy’s name.

    1. I’ll admit, Allison, that I’ve been wondering if there’s something that I don’t know about Toronto, either. But I think it might simply be this – Toronto is almost shockingly cosmopolitan. I’ve spent time in New York and San Francisco, and I live in Washington DC – and I think Toronto rivals any of those cities for the sheer number of cultures represented. (My aunt and uncle live there – have for years. My aunt works for the library system, where nearly every branch houses collections in multiple languages.) I married into the Canadian part of the family, so until I’d been there, I think I would’ve expected Toronto to be more like, say, Des Moines.

      I can only imagine that this column would read the same if it were written in nearly any big city – after all, they’re looking for stories about unusual names. And if the column were penned in, say, the ‘burbs of Calgary, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting.

      Which doesn’t change the fact that Zaphyn is pretty wildly weird.

  5. Helio is a guilty pleasure of mine. I’ve never heard of the racer guy, but one of the characters in the 4th season of the Sailor Moon anime series is named Helios, after the Greek sun God.

    I’m a sucker for mythological names. The only issue I can find is that people will think his name is Ellios as in Ellio’s pizza because the H is sometimes silent.

    Muziq and Lyriq are ridiculous spellings of Music and Lyric and Music doesn’t sound like a name to me. Kaydnz is even worse. The “K” makes it look feminine, and the spelling makes me think his parents are illiterate. It gives me a headache. I’ll admit I sort of like Kodah, but without the “H”. I would never name my child Kodah though.

    I love Kai David. Cute name! I like that Ms. Nagra mixed a modern name with something classic. It has a nice flow. David Kai would have flowed better, but other than that, it’s great.

  6. Basil, Coriander and Rosemary – love the babies’ names. What’s the momma’s name? I’m sure you’ve named her too – after all, I I named the mockingbird that wouldn’t let me sleep when we moved to our current house. 🙂

    I’ll be looking forward to reading about the five names you’ve selected for the week.

  7. I like the sibling names in your circle — Ailis and Maeve, Miles and India. I actually like Carsten a lot, too. It’s so much more interesting than Christian or Carson.

    I’m planning to buy “Beyond Ava and Aiden” when it comes out. I’ve decided now that I’m pregnant I can justify spending money on baby name books (though my husband keeps pointing out that I know PLENTY of cool names without having to buy books of them). I also really want to get the second edition of Laura Wattenberg’s “The Baby Name Wizard.” I wonder how different it will be from the first edition. I’ve spent some time looking through the first edition at a bookstore, but I figure I may as well wait and buy the most updated copy.

    Speaking of baby name books, if anyone has particularly awesome ones to recommend, I’d love to hear about them.