It’s been such a busy summer, with the arrival of babies North and George.

And yet it seems like there’s always another high-profile birth just around the corner, doesn’t it?  I can’t decide if all of this talk of baby names makes it harder to choose names for our non-celebrity off-spring … or if it increases our feeling that we really are free to choose any name we love.

Elsewhere online:

  • I didn’t know that Captain Crunch’s name was Horatio!  Lots of other fun factoids here at Mental Floss, via Baby Name Pondering.
  • This list of names ending with -w names ranges from staples like Andrew to would-you-dare names like Shadow.  It’s always interesting to filter names this way, isn’t it?
  • The comments on this post at Nameberry are fascinating: Would you name your baby after a celebrity?  I often come across people who insist that they aren’t named after a fictional character/celebrity/song or didn’t take that as inspiration for naming a child.  And yet, the timing suggests that they wouldn’t have been familiar with the name otherwise.  For example, there’s someone in the comments who says that Miley isn’t associated with a celebrity for her.  I suppose that’s possible, but it isn’t likely, is it?
  • Alison gets it exactly right in her piece for The Daily Mail.  As the mom of a 10 year old George, pondering the increasing popularity of her son’s name, she writes: “I guess we all think we are individuals, but perhaps as a herd, we humans were unwittingly prompted in the direction of the name George at the same time.”
  • We’ve been talking about Jimmy Fallon’s new daughter’s sassy, retro name, too.  All the chatter about Winnie reminded me of this post from The Land of Nod’s blog, featuring a family with four girls: Francie, Maisie, Janie, and Tessa.  What a great quartet!
  • Which reminds me … we headed to a popular Mexican restaurant in Cathedral Heights for lunch yesterday.  (Cactus Cantina, for any DC residents/visitors.)
  • Oh, how I love Elea’s UK birth announcement round-ups.  Sisters called Ida and Isobel?  My day is complete.
  • One of my favorite combos ever – Adaire Adeline Frances, from North Dakota.  Funny how they aren’t individual names that I would consider at all, and yet together, I think it is perfection.
  • Cavalia – wearable?
  • Another reason to love the name Susannah – so many nicknames.  My favorites are Suki, Sosie, and Zuzu.  I’d probably use Zuzu.  I’d save Sosie for Sophia.
  • This essay on renaming yourself as an adult, by Robbie Blair, is stirring.

One other important note for this week – if you haven’t entered to win a week’s worth of names, head here and comment!  I’ll announce the winner on August 3rd – and I’m very much looking forward to the list.

As always, thank you for reading, and have a great week!

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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. Funny, I feel like George (my 3.5 year old son’s name) is in a different league of names I don’t mind sharing — the same way I feel about Henry (of whom I know 6 under 3!) and other sort of granddad names I can only imagine are in honor of either a real life old guy or the general idea of one. Long established, well-loved (even if in a different era) names are nice for me to see, and my own little George is so tickled to meet others, old or young.

    On the subject of Shadow: I know of a tween Shad0e. Erm…

    1. That’s a nice point, Stefanie! I don’t mind have my son Alexander share his name, but if my daughter Clio were one of two in her class, I think I’d be stunned. Though I think and hope I’d be pleasantly stunned rather than irritated.

    2. wait, is it spelled like that? Shad0e? or
      is that what you mean? How is that?

      I can’t understand.

  2. I’ve loved George for a long time. I’m glad the royal pair decided to use it because usually people tell me it’s too old-sounding, even folks who love old-fashioned names. So I’m happy about that.

    As for naming a child due to a celebrity, I feel there’s a few things to consider with that. First, some people may actually have liked the name prior to the celebrity’s popularity even when it is an unusual name. They may tend to like the celebrity BECAUSE of how much they like the name (I loved Gwyneth before the actress became famous or I had heard of her, or anyone else using it, for that matter). Some people may only become aware of a name due to a celebrity but it’s not the same as naming them FOR the celebrity. It’s one thing if I use Barrett because I like it and another because I’m honoring Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Just as some people use the name Daniel because they like it and some for a very specific association with the Biblical character. As for the names becoming popular around certain times, consider how the celebrities got their name. Generations embrace certain values and movements that identify them compared to previous generations and names have a feeling to them, or at least as they are presented to us by people we know and stories, songs, etc that make us more likely to use them or less likely. So I don’t think it’s ALL due to the celebrity.

    1. I agree with you completely, Dellitt. I think celebrities, high profile fictional characters, song titles, etc. take names that are already on trend and accelerate their use. In other cases, they introduce a name that fits so well that it catches on – and it isn’t that we’re naming *after* the celeb, but that we wouldn’t have thought of it otherwise.

      It’s hard to unravel how much is changing ideas about appealing sounds and how much is the power of familiarity. Emma comes to mind – the name was rising rapidly when Gwyneth Paltrow brought the beloved novel to life. I loved the book, loved the movie – and Emma continued to skyrocket, all the way to #1, with LOTS of people citing the book. And really no one citing the movie.

      The point about liking celebs because we like their names is intriguing. I’m sure that’s part of it, but I’ve never given it a lot of thought.

      1. well, I was watching something on the news recently and this woman talked and I remember just freaking out over how cool her last name was, then in addition her first name was great and I had a generally positive response to what she said. It doesn’t hold in every case, I’m sure. But think who your favorite actors and actresses are and how many of them do you like or love some part of their name (or a character’s name, I suppose) and of your least favorite, how many do you not?

  3. I rather like Cavalia (and the male Cavalier) as names. They intrigued me when I first came across them, but with a last name that begins with Cava- it would be a bit ridiculous! I think they could be wearable! Cavalia isn’t too far from names like Camellia, etc and the V is stylish. Cavalier could go along with Maverick and Knight. 🙂 Great round-up!

    1. A very nice point about Cavalier and Maverick. The boys would then both be named after NBA franchises! 🙂

  4. I agree – how can Miley NOT be associated with Miley Cyrus? Impossible. Also find it hilarious that people thought of Penn Jillette when the post-writer obviously meant Penn Badgley.

    My girls were not technically named for celebrities but they both have celebrity names. Scarlett could be for Scarlett Johannson and Sosie is only named Sosie because I read an interview with Kyra Sedgwick where she mentioned her daughter’s name. I still cringe when my husband tells people she’s “named after” Sosie Bacon because it’s technically not true. LOL I just heard of the name because of her.

    1. That’s the thing, right? Just because you name your daughter Tabitha after hearing it on Bewitched doesn’t mean that you are naming your child after the fictional bitsy witch. BUT if not for her existence, you would never have considered Tabitha. Names have to get on the menu somehow, and celebrities are a perfectly valid route.

      And yes, I kept thinking HUH? to the Penn Jillette references. Am I the only just-turned-40-something who watched Gossip Girl? Oh, and John Tucker Must Die … he’s in that one, too.

      1. I’m a little annoyed at these comments, honestly. Celebrities do not have a monopoly on names. No, my automatic association with the name Miley is NOT Miley Cyrus. I knew a dog named Miley growing up, and there was a girl in my high school named Mai Li. As for Penn, I run through Penn State and a host of other associations before arriving on Sean Penn or Penn Jilette, and I have no idea who Penn Badgley is. As hard as this may be for you to believe, not everyone keeps their finger as close to the pulse of pop culture as you do, and frankly it’s a little insulting for you to insinuate that anyone who admits to not obsessively following celebrity culture is accused of lying. Seriously? I’m an academic in an intense doctoral program who also has friends, family, hobbies — you know, *a life*. It’s great that you have the time and inclination to read tabloids and listen to the Top 40, but not all of us choose to — or have the luxury to — spend our days that way. Please try to understand that different people have different points of reference. You do not get to decide what is “possible” or “likely” for another human being to have experienced in their lives. You do.not.know. Period. Presuming otherwise is just rude.

        1. that’s a little harsh.

          But I do agree in essence, with you. Especially Penn (who is Penn Jilette, Badgley, and I never even knew about a Bacon girl). I think of William Penn, before I even think of Penn State. Or possibly Pennsylvania, but usually after William Penn.

          Still, even though some people don’t have the pop culture reference, some people ARE very influenced by pop culture. I became aware of Talia (pronounced tah lee uh) because my students were a fan of a singer with that name. Now, I don’t know a thing about her, but that’s how I became familiar with that prn. (I had heard of Talia of course, ‘tall ya’ or ‘tal ya’, but not ‘tah lee ah’) And I know people who know a lot more about celebrities than I do and it would affect their name decision based on who the celebrity is and what their association is with them.

        2. Hi Illeana –

          I’m always delighted when I see a first time commenter. But frankly, the level of vitriol in your comment is disturbing, and out of place at AppMtn. You’ve indicated that you are insulted that I’ve judged others, but it seems like you’re eager to do just that.

          Conversations about names seem innocent, but they can be explosive with assumptions about race, class, religion, and other sensitive topics. It’s certainly one of the reasons names fascinate me – names seem like a small detail, but we reveal much in our choices, and how we wear our names over our lifetimes.

          My one standing request is that we all write with a generous spirit. (It came up a few years ago, and is on my About page, and here:

          If you’d like to talk about names, you are most welcome here. If your intent is otherwise, then perhaps there’s another place in this vast online sea for you.