Sunday SummaryMessage boards abound with this defense of newly coined names: every name was made up at some point.

While that’s true, my comeback has always been this: yes, but most of those responsible for invention were poets and authors of considerable talent.  We mere mortals probably can’t invent names like Will Shakespeare.

But a recent spotting has me wondering.  Maybe our reaction to invented names is so intense because names aren’t made up.  Not really.  They’re introduced.  And introducing anything new is dicey.  We don’t know how to say it or spell it.  We’re not sure what it means.  We might stumble over gender.  Names aren’t created as much as they’re discovered and understood, integrated into the fabric of our language.  It might be very difficult to wear one of those jagged, new names that hasn’t been washed down to wearable smoothness by the sea of language.

And so I’m watching names that have evolved in my lifetime with special care.  I mentioned this post featuring Atreyu earlier.  And then I found this birth announcement from Colorado for Atreju.  It’s a defensible spelling – think of Anya/Anja and Maya/Maia/Maja.  The novel-turned-movie The Neverending Story was originally written in German, and Atreyu was spelled Atreju.  Are the parents German?  Superfans of the novel?  Or are they adapting Atreyu?

Invention and novelty seem to be unstopped baby name trends in our era.  The same birth announcements featuring Atreju also included Alaska, Greidan, Daxio, and Cymberlee.  Yes, Cymberlee seems like a mangling of Kimberly, but then again, the name’s original spelling would have been with a C.

Elsewhere in baby name trends online:

  • Are you playing the Sibset Name Game at YCCII?  I finally chimed in during the 800s: Coraline Lilith Mina, Juniper Elissa Sky, Campbell Kenna Blair, Gibson Remy Van, Arlo Hendrix Heath.
  • There’s a new novel called The Shining Girls which gives the name Harper to a boy and Kirby to a girl.  I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my summer list.
  • Dear Ladbrokes, I sincerely doubt that Kimye will go with a name that is as dated as Krystal, Kirsten, Kara, Kacey, or Kaitlin.  I’m not clear that it will be as out there as Kashmir or Kougar, but I’d bet on one of those before I think they’d use Kristen.  Digital Spy is reporting that Cleopatra is a possibility.  I can hear it – Cleo Kardashian-West.  Or Kleo Kardashian-West.  Suddenly I know how all of those moms of girls called Penelope felt …
  • Interesting to see how place names have changed since 2012.
  • Is Abigaill a ridiculous spelling?  I really like The Name Lady’s answer and find the comments mildly horrifying.
  • Stella, Cedar, and Jules.  Seriously, I read Design Mom just for the names.
  • Need name news all the time?  Follow Clare on
  • Jack and Emily are tops in Ireland.  Yawn.  But check out the authentically Irish picks in the Top 100.
  • Flemish parents really can go quite wild with baby names, can’t they?
  • Loving Jem Richmond as a little brother for Bugsy.
  • From the wayback machine: Signe was featured in 2008, followed by Acacia in 2009, Orlando in 2010, Cleon in 2011, and Vada last year.
  • A delicious rarity takes center stage at British Baby Names.
  • These Google docs showing combined spellings of the 2012 name data are pure genius!  S. Onomastic posted the girls’ list here:  New entries to the Top 100 include Aaliyah, Elena, Adalyn, Lyla, Kaelyn, Jordyn, Aniyah, Maci, Carly, Callie, and Kaydence.  Spelling counts!

Lastly, I’m hearing that the links on these posts aren’t working correctly.  I’m stumped!  I can’t duplicate the error myself.  If you’re having the same problem, try this: look in your browser bar, and see if “” is included in the address.  If you delete it, it should leave you with the correct link.

That’s all for this week!  Visit Nameberry tomorrow for this week’s celebrity baby round-up, and have a great week!

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. This is totally random but I thought you might be interested… I live in Alberta, Canada and the government has just created an App for baby names. It allows you to see basically every name used in the past year and back to 1980 when they started keeping records. The list is kind of weird because there are so many ties – for example, Elsie, Willa, and Roxanne (among many others) are all listed as #613 with 6 babies being born with that name. Our top ten are pretty similar to the US (although Liam has been #1 for 3 years now). You can also search for any name to see how many people have used it every year since 1980 – all from your phone. I’m not sure if other places have apps like it – but I am way over-excited about it, especially since Canada doesn’t compile national statistics like the US does. If you want to check it out, the app is just called Alberta Baby Names.

  2. I have trouble with the links in the emails (not even clickable), but if I come to the website, then I can get most of them.

  3. That’s such a good point about names being introduced, not made up. Also, people often forget that the names that Shakespeare etc created often didn’t get used as personal names until much later. They had time to get used to Jessica as a fictional character before they ever met a real life person named Jessica. These days you meet a baby Khaleesi before you’ve even seen one episode of “Game of Thrones”. It tends to throw people a bit.

    (Your links all look fine to me Abby so you must have fixed whatever the problem was. Elea is probably right, because I always paste the URL directly from the page itself – I think WordPress itself advised me to do it that way when I started out).

  4. I had exactly that problem with my links doing the same, Abby. Even ones from my own blog! I couldn’t work out why they weren’t working when every time I edited them, I could only see the correct link. I eventually realised that when I was copying a link via another source (i.e. going onto google and copying the link from the search results) it would automatically insert my blog address in front of the URLs. I’ve now found that if I actually load up the URL page and copy the link from the browser bar then all the links work fine.

    Hope that helps!

      1. Yep, all the broken links were missing the https:// at the beginning. Looks like you’ve fixed it now. 🙂

  5. PS: All links which appear without the strike through line work fine.

    Check how the others look when you edit a post. Maybe the links lack something (http?) or have an extra http at the beginning? There must be a difference when you copy&paste them into a post.

  6. I don’t know about the “all names were invented” argument. After all, “real” names have roots in actual words, which is what gives them meaning.

    So I’d say there is a huge difference between something that evolved from language and modern invented names, which are basically just alphabet vomit.

    (But yes to the Shakespeare VS bored teen girl argument.)

  7. Kamila has been by prediction for Kim’s baby since she was married to Kris! I guess Kanye is more likely to go further afield that that, but Kamila seems to line up perfectly with Kim’s taste.

  8. I adore Cleopatra, do you think it is usable in the real world? If not, any other similar sounding names?

    1. I think it’s usable, but probably everyone would shorten it to Cleo.

      I like the related Greek name Clea, which simply means “glory”. I’ve seen a couple of babies recently with the name.

      Names that remind me a bit of Cleopatra are Calliope, Chrysanthe and Andromeda.