GoldfishA fleeting thought …

I’ve often said that being named Suri or Apple or North isn’t the strangest part of a celebritot’s life.  I assume that the constant paparazzi and the globe-trotting is probably more of a challenge.  As time goes by, when you introduce yourself as Zahara Jolie-Pitt or Zuma Rossdale, you’re not worried about whether or not your name will be spelled correctly.  You’re worried about whether you’ll be accepted as an individual, or judged on the achievements or notoriety of your parents.  Odds are that most of the kids in their circles have equally outlandish names, and that they’d be recognized even if they were called Elizabeth Kidman-Urban and John Affleck.

Which is all to say that it doesn’t matter if stars name their children Sunday and Knox and Pilot because their life experiences will not include the same kinds of life experiences that we typically imagine.

But then I started thinking: if it doesn’t matter for some of us, some of the time, does it matter for any of us, ever?

And so I find myself wondering: do you feel pressure to make sure that your child’s name fits in?  Or are you comfortable if your kids’ names stand out?

Elsewhere online:

  • Speaking of standout names, The Art of Naming has a list of Cool Names for Girls.  I love lots of these – Clio, obviously, and also Saskia, Ondine, Elspeth, Lark, True.
  • NameCandy reports that Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka named their son Gideon after an artist.  Harper, as we all guessed, was inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Wisconsin is now home to babes called Byrdie Lulu, Stetson Cash, Rook Parker Cole, Annabelle Tilly, Dresden Jon, and Nova Jane.
  • Gardens of Girls from British family history, courtesy Elea.  Names that surprised me: Clematis Mary Claire, Lavender Mignonette, sisters called Bluebell and Buttercup, twin boys named Gladiolus and Hyacinth.
  • The top names for 2012 in French-speaking Switzerland are available here.  German favorites are here.  Italian parents’ top picks are here.  It makes me wonder about the most popular choices for Spanish-speaking families in the US.  The influence of Spanish is clear in the popularity charts, but wouldn’t it be fascinating to see them split out?
  • Yes, Verily is the name of a magazine But I can hear it as a child’s name, too – somewhere between Verity and Vera Lee.
  • Which reminds me – if you’re not following Clare on, you’re missing out on name news.  The three links above come straight from her site.
  • Angela has been examining links between the Pottery Barn Kids Catalog  and name trends.  I agree with her hunch: PBK doesn’t boost names at all.  You could safely name children from the catalog, with perfectly mainstream appellations.  What fascinates me is that there appear to be more and more outlier names making the personalized products on their pages.  I’ve spotted Blythe in recent months, and that’s not the only unusual choice.
  • I have some doubts about the etymologies attached to a few of these, but I’m also charmed by fiery names like Soleil, Auburn, Ember, and Ignacio.
  • A long list from an aristocratic Italian family via Nancy, complete with surprises like Zita, Gaetano, and Maria Immacolata.  Love it!

That’s all for this week.  As always, thank you for reading 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.

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What do you think?


  1. Thanks for the mention again! I’ve seen Verily as the name of an eyewitness source in a book about Girl Guides in the second world war (so born around 1920).

  2. Clio is really growing on me, Abby! : ) As is Clea, which I’m intrigued with. Guinevere and Mireille are some of my new crushes. Do you have to be French or somewhat associated with France to pull off Mireille? Such a gorgeous name.

    1. I’m not sure if you have to be French to pull off Mireille, but I think you would have to be patient. The pronunciation challenge would be constant … And yet, it might be worth it!

  3. I love the Cool names for Girls list.
    Henrietta was my cabbage patch doll’s name growing up and I’ve always loved it.
    Also love Lux. I lived overseas in Luxembourg for a couple years as a nanny and always thought Lux would be a cool name for a girl but now that my last name is Smith it sounds a little too much like locksmith! :/
    Also loving Lenore…

    1. Thank you for liking the list, Josey!

      And thanks to Appellation Mountain for sharing it! 🙂 Great summary as always!

  4. It’s funny that the Swiss list separates Luca and Lucas (which would have an identical pronunciation in French, I think) as two separate entries. If you add the number of times the two different spellings were used, Luca/Lucas would be by far the most popular baby name for the past three years in Switzerland.

  5. Yay for Ignacio, my son’s name! (It’s funny, that typo above is so frequent, people often reverse those two letters when they type his name.)
    The only lists of Spanish names used in the US that I have come across are on Babycenter en español, but they encompass Spanish-speaking families in the US and 22 other Spanish-speaking countries, and only those who log onto babycenter and share their choice, obviously…
    They are interesting nevertheless, but name styles vary widely among Spanish-speaking countries so it doesn’t tell you very much.

  6. I have actually come across Verily as a girls’ name. It appears quite a few times in the 18th century on Norfolk baptism records.

  7. Wow, I’m surprised at how many girls were named “Snowdrop” on the garden of girls list. It’s my favourite flower, but as a name it seems a bit too saccharine and I’ve always shied away from using it (poor Snowdrop…) Imagining it on lovely Victorian ladies does make it tempting though…perhaps the latin version Gala would work better nowadays?

    1. The Welsh use their translation for the snowdrop — Eirlys —as a girls name. It’s not especially common, but not unheard of either.