It’s August 16, and that means Mad Men’s third season debuts tonight. Check out the Mad Men Names list over at Nameberry. Midge might not make a comeback any time soon, but Joan, Peter and Betty all sound fresh to my ear. Bewildertrix has spotted Betty in a few birth announcements recently.

Speaking of television – I never miss 18 Kids and Counting, even though Arthur rolls his eyes/leaves the room/threatens to cancel cable. While it isn’t the life I’d choose, I envy them one thing – they got to name 18 children! In recent episodes, the 20 Duggars (parents Jim Bob and Michelle, plus Josh, Jana, John-David, Jill, Jessa, Jinger, Joseph, Josiah, Joy Anna, Jeremiah, Jedediah, Jason, James, Justin, Jackson, Johanna, Jennifer and Jordyn) have been visiting the Bates family.

The Bates have a mere 16 children, with one on the way. I had to go to Google their names, and here they are: Gil and Kelly are parents to Zachary, Michaela, Erin, Lawson, Nathan, Alyssa, Tori, Trace, Carlin, Josie, Katie, Jackson, Warden, Isaiah, Addallee and Ellie. The Addallee spelling is wacky, and Warden? But other than that, nicely normal names.

Then again, they started with a Z. That’s a much tougher letter for naming a big batch o’ babies than J. (And even the Duggars resorted to Jinger.) Speaking of unconventional names:

  • Naming a baby? There’s an app for that;
  • The Toronto Star brings us yet a(nother) girl named Finley. She’s little sister to Vaughan, Niav, Simon and Henry. I’m assuming Niav is a respelling of Niamh. It’s not unreasonable, but if you’re going to simple up Niamh, why not go all the way to Neve? Anyhow, the newest half-Portuguese, half-Jamaican baby with an Irish name is Finely Claire Maria – a nice combination, overall;
  • Nancy reports that a baby boy was named Aussie Trooper, inspired by the Australian parents’ love of their country and dad’s affection for Iron Maiden;
  • Then there’s Peaches Geldof, once oft-quoted as firmly against wacked out appellations like her own: Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa Geldof. More recently, she’s embraced her crazy name and suggested that future children might be Sparkle Starr or Magenta Sunset. Then again, she’s 20 – and I’m assuming this is a hypothetical conversation.

I mentioned the Duggars earlier. Another first-initial-sharing reality television family is also expecting their first grandchild. Kourtney Kardashian is about to make Kris a grandma, and Kim, Khloe, Kendall and Kylie aunts. (There’s also uncle-to-be Robert, a junior named after Kris’ first husband.) Kourtney has stated that the baby will not have a K-name.

Or any sense of privacy.

Since I’m on a television spree, may I mention my pet peeve? When writers get the names wrong. This usually happens when a writer names a 30-something Addison. Sure, it could happen. But she’s probably Melissa – her daughter is Addison. Anyhow, Drop Dead Diva, a cute little comedy with a twist, named their 20-something aspiring model Debbie. Why not Ashley or Nicole – or if they were going for alliteration overkill, Danielle?

More names coming to the small screen this Fall – hat tip to Parents Magazine’s September 2009 preview:

  • In ABC’s Cougar Town, Courteney Cox plays Jules, mom to 17 y.o. Travis;
  • Jenna Elfman is the pregnant Billie on CBS’ Accidentally on Purpose – no baby names yet. Her little sister Abby is played by an actress called Lennon – not sure if that’s her birth name;
  • Juliana Margulies plays Alicia, The Good Wife on CBS, and the good mom to Zach and Grace. They get the names exactly right – husband is Peter. Better still? One of her young (male) colleagues is called Cary;
  • Patricia Heaton plays Frankie on ABC’s The Middle. It sounds like her three kids have unusual appellations – Brick, Axel and Sue;
  • One more – Julie Bowen plays Claire on ABC’s Modern Family. Which is, believe it or not, a fictional show about filming a reality show. Kids include Manny, Haley, Luke, Lily and a girl called Alex.

Not terribly exciting, except for Axel, Brick and Sue. I like Axel, fret about Brick and would be happy to see a revival of Susannah or Susan.

What with all that weirdness and blandness, here’s a link to a list that will lift your spirits – Elisabeth of You Can’t Call It “It” reports on genteel names for the alumnae of two Southern girls’ schools.

A year ago today, I wrote about Aloysius. Little surprise, he remains underused!

That’s all for now – thanks for reading and have a fabulous 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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  1. Aloysius was the name of the nun who taught me one year at my Catholic school – Sister Aloysius we called her. I can’t imagine a boy with that name, although of course Sister had taken her name from the saint.

    New babies I’ve heard of recently are Minerva, Rosebank, Edith and Persephone (all girls).

  2. With regards to names that are too young or too old for a character, I’d like to make a distinction between names that are realistically possible but more likely to be seen on someone older or younger (such as the Debbie mentioned, and going the other way someone of a similar age being named something like Olivia) and those with names that you would be extremely unlikely to see on someone that age unless they’ve changed their name (such as the Addison in her 30s that you mentioned). For “outdated” names, one that I happen to like myself is Nancy.

    You also mentioned a young male character named Cary; I love seeing male characters with once-male-now-unisex-or-feminine names. (If you’re wondering, I’m the same guy named Kelly who e-mailed you awhile back.)

    1. Kelly, that’s an excellent point – Debbie is realistically possible. That’s very different than, say, a 30-something female Mackenzie. (Though I know one, and yes, it is her birth name.)

      I agree with you – Kelly, Shannon, Ashley, Cary – all more dashing on boys. I met a small boy called Courtney a year or so ago. We’d gotten out at a McDonald’s with a play area so Aly could stretch his legs. We were deep in southern Virginia, so I’m guessing Courtney was a family name. I didn’t have an opportunity to ask, but I’ve always wondered. And my husband went to college with a guy named Jeb from an old Kentucky family. He married a woman from an old Kentucky family and gave their kids old family names – one son is Catesby; I can’t recall the other at the moment, but I’ve always found their names charming.

      Maybe I should move farther South …

  3. Adalie is lovely, Sebastiane. I could even understand Adalee, but that extra “l” does deliver some eye strain.

  4. Naming characters younger names or names too old for them annoys me too. Yeah, I guess it could happen that we might meet a 30 something Addison, but not likely. I love Dexter, but the fact that the 30 something year old tom boy sister is named Debbie has always irritated me. I would expect that to be her mom’s name, that name would have already been considered dated by the time the character was born. I can’t wait for Mad Men to start, I won’t be as bored now when True Blood ends its season.

  5. Speaking of Susannah, I recently reconnected with someone from long, long ago and her daughter is a Suzanna and her son is Harrison (both under 4). Another long lost friend named her baby girl Cadence. And I met a new member of the mom group I belong to here in Raleigh with a baby boy Nolan – that one surprised me! Another mom in the group is pregnant with her second girl and announced she will be Maya (older sis is Caitlyn).

    Addallee hurts my eyes, but not my ears. I like the Addie names in general – I can see why they’re so popular. Warden and Brick are both semi-disturbing. With those names, they could be on the same, poorly-written show on opposite sides of the law. Aussie Trooper – wow.

    1. I know, JNE! I love Adelaide and Adair. Now if only Addison weren’t gaining so quickly … I do think Addie is the new heard-everywhere nickname – the new Maddie!

  6. Someone wondered why the model on Drop Dead Diva was named Deb. I have the answer. The show was inspired by Josh Berman’s grandmother and her name was Debbie. Mystery solved! By the way, love the show.