Names in a Dog-Eat-Dog World

September 29, 2011 § 5 Comments


Mike Myers

Buster. Rex. Lucky. Princess. Spike.

Count Mike Myers’ baby name as a first for me (he and wife Kelly welcomed son Spike two weeks ago). I’ve never met a baby Spike, and until now my only association with the name was on dogs (usually vicious), or as a nickname on Christine “Spike” Nelson from the popular Canadian series Degrassi. In the 1980s, the character (called Spike because of her gelled hair “spikes”) got pregnant at 14. One of the series most loved characters, she returned for the modern reboot which starred her adolescent daughter Emma, which currently airs all over the world. There’s also American film directors Spike Lee (born Shelton) and Spike Jonze (born Adam Spiegel). There was also 20th Century American bandleader Spike Jones (born Lindley), who was known for punctuating his musical numbers with bells, gunshots, whistles, and outlandish vocals. Spike is an English term for “long, heavy nail.” Ouch. It’s also an American football term to describe slamming the ball into the end zone.

Turns out, in 2008, 23 babies were named Spike in England and Wales, so it’s not as brand new as I think. And thanks to Abby at Appellation Mountain for pointing out that Spike rhymes with Mike (how did I miss that??) This might explain it.

We do live in what some would call a dog-eat-dog world, but are we really naming our children after pets, or just popularizing some of the more out there nicknames as given names, since as a culture we’re prone to nicknaming people anyway? (Though it should be noted that Nancy told a story once about her father, who had three family dogs growing up in the 1950s – Baron, Jett, and King. Ironically, these are three of the trendiest names out there right now; not overdone, cool, strong, sophisticated and playful.)

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About A Name: Haven

September 29, 2011 § 4 Comments

(c) OK! Magazine, September 2011

I’ve been waiting for Jessica Alba to explain her six-week-old daughter Haven Garner‘s name choice! Turns out, it’s as sweet and meaningful as I expected. She told OK! Magazine:

“When I delivered Haven she was born still inside the amniotic sac, which is rare. When I was in recovery we still hadn’t chosen her name. Cash picked her up and said she came into the world in her ‘safe haven’ and it clicked right then for both of us…The doctor had never seen anything like it before. He grabbed the nurse and said: ‘Look at this!’ I was in the middle of pushing and he told me to hold on a minute and not to push! He was wearing basketball shorts and a T-shirt and said: ‘Oh I have to get my scrubs on for this!’ The sac burst on its own after she came out. It was a trip.”

The word haven is from Old English, and means “safe place.” And it’s not even the first time this year that a celebrity used the name – alice + olivia designer Stacy Bendet named her second daughter, born in April, Scarlet Haven. In December 2003, former Nip/Tuck star Dylan Walsh welcomed daughter Stella Haven, the same month that US soap stars Mick Cain and Schae Harrison welcomed son Haven Jude. Former Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel welcomed daughter Haven Katherine in 1991.

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About A Name: Indiana

September 27, 2011 § 11 Comments

(c) Lucasfilm Ltd., 1989

Please forgive my absence – a week of personal upheavals made blogging about names seem secondary. Alas, I’m back, and this time I’m dipping into the geographical baby names trend with a polarizing stunner: Indiana.

With this name, you either love it, or you hate it (I love it). The Indiana Jones factor can seemingly go both ways – there are parents who love the idea of the fictional adventurer, afraid of nothing but snakes, as the namesake (or easiest connection) for their child, and there are others who just can’t stomach the storied Harrison Ford character being almost all people think about when they see or hear the name. Created by George Lucas, Indiana was a nickname for the character as well – real name Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr.

What’s interesting is that, although Indiana Jones is male, the name, with it’s feminine -ana ending and similarity to another geographical choice, India, is in use for girls as well (including the form Indianna), and is even eclipsing use for boys. Yes, Indiana is a US state, but like many geographical names, the place itself is hardly the top reason parents select it. For boys, I’d assume that Dr. Jones is the primary inspiration, while for girls it’s simply the sound of the word that attracts people. Plus, Indy (or Indie) is a growing nickname choice, whether because it’s also what Indiana Jones is called in the films, or ‘indie’ music (ironically growing more popular by the day), or even IndyCar – another bit of inspiration plucked right from middle America. (Many people named Indiana will admit they’ve actually been called ‘Jones’ as a nickname for much of their lives.) Also available? Dee and even Diana. (A stretch – Diana and Indiana are completely unrelated names; Diana is Latin for “divine” and plucked straight from Roman mythology.)

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About A Name: Aubrey

September 22, 2011 § 6 Comments

(c) Bob D'Amico / ABC

One of the funniest shows on TV is Modern Family. I don’t catch it as often as I’d like but when I do, it freaking kills me! In advance of the third-season debut last night (I just might have watched US X Factor, instead…), and following their second consecutive Emmy win on Sunday for Best Comedy, they announced the recasting of Cam and Mitchell’s daughter Lily. Formerly played by twin girls Jaden and Ella Hiller, the role is now played by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons. (It’s also the name of another TV funny girl, 27-year-old Parks & Recreation star Aubrey Plaza, and former American pop star-turned-Playboy model Aubrey O’Day – also 27.)

Originally a male name, Aubrey is now the 44th most popular name for girls in the US, from a climb through the Top 1000 that began in the 1970s. To me, that clearly indicates it was influenced by the popularity of Audrey Hepburn, one of the shining film stars of the 1960s, as an alternative to a popular choice with the same lovely sound and a long history. Audrey, which has been a Top 200 US name for over 100 years, grew steadily thanks to the Hepburn factor, and today sits below Aubrey for girls born in the US at 52. The Hepburn factor surged again for Audrey in the late ’90s, which only pushed Aubrey even higher on the girls list because it’s such a viable alternative to a name that can often feel overused. In the last 10 years, Aubrey has cracked the Top 100 twice in Canada.

Wikipedia claims that the 1972 song by easy rock band Bread, called Aubrey,” is the primary reason the name exploded through the ’70s as a girl’s name, but it certainly has little to no effect on it’s popularity now. Of all the (awful) songs by Bread, this one hasn’t stayed on the pop culture radar at all (and only peaked at 15 on the Hot 100 charts when it was released).

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Revving Up…

September 20, 2011 § 9 Comments

Chaplin-Le Rêve

19th Century French artist Charles Chaplin's Le Rêve (The Dream), on display at Musee des Beaux-Arts in Marseille

In the last week, Reverie, thanks in part to Girls Gone Child, has become a bit of a buzzword. (It’s also a middle name of one of Kristen’s daughter’s at marginamia, and I think I kinda like it!) I’m new to the blog world and have never followed Girls Gone Child before now, but those babies are cute, I’m a sucker for photos, and damn can she write. Boheme, the name of her other daughter, has also become a bit of a buzzword, primarily because few have seen it in use as a first name before.

Anyway, I thought it odd that I should suddenly see this influx of Reverie all over the Net, then yesterday stumble upon a boy named Revel Young – Scott Ian, guitarist for Anthrax, had a son June 19th with Pearl Aday, the adopted daughter of ‘Bat Out of Hell’ Meat Loaf (who incidentally does NOT have a name I would choose to honour on one of my kids.) Over at Nameberry, the name Revel is listed for girls, a name to express a parent’s joy in their child, or as a non-traditional Biblical selection. Of course, since the Book of Revelations tends to describe how the world just might come to an end, it’s not a strong choice. As a nickname Rev, which as part of the cliched phrase “rev up your engines” seems fit for a little boy, loosely means to “ramp up” or, more basically, “start your engines.” It could also take on religious undertones, as Rev. is the common shortform of Reverend. “To revel” means to take great pleasure or delight in something (like your baby), and sounds like rebel, perfect for a tattooed metal musician.

For little girls, Reve, pronounced the same but from the French word for “dream” is a solid stand-alone, or a sweet nickname for the now anglicized Reverie – which means “daydream; a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts.”

Abby Sandel from Appellation Mountain did a post for Nameberry yesterday that wondered if blog babies like Reverie and Boheme had the power, like celebrity babies or literary figures, to influence name trends, and I think they do. Not the same power, of course – blogs are still a niche market – but there is certainly enough out there for little Rev- babies to start popping up all over the place!

What other choices are out there?

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About A Name: Jude

September 20, 2011 § 5 Comments

Yeah, another four letter name. But they are just so trendy these days!

This one goes out to Paul McCartney – soon to wed again (his fiancee, Nancy Shevell, was spotted shopping for wedding tiaras yesterday in New York). With this classic rock song, The Beatles helped to let this name grow from the Bible to the pop culture-infused unisex name it is today.

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About A Name: Finn

September 19, 2011 § 9 Comments

(c) Fox

So what is it about this long trending name that makes me want to write about it now? In a word, hockey season. I’m Canadian, it’s in my blood. My home team, the Vancouver Canucks, kick off their NHL preseason on Tuesday night, and their mascot, Fin, an orca whale, will no doubt be in the house to entertain the crowd. Either that, or it’s also the third season debut of Glee, which I can’t get enough of, and fellow Canadian Cory Monteith plays Finn Hudson, confused yet lovable singing quarterback.

I also noticed that Finn isn’t quite yet ready to fall off birth certificates around the world, and has even begun to appear for girls and with alternate spellings (both big signs that a name is still ascending in popularity). Actress Autumn Reeser (The OC, No Ordinary Family) selected the name for her son Finneus “Finn” James in May, and Australian TV reporters Jemma Chapman and Tim Richardson just welcomed son Finn David on September 1st. Belgian TV host Erika van Tielen had son Finn on August 12th, and Australian Olympic Champion freestyle skier Alisa Camplin chose Finnan “Finn” Maximus for her son, who passed away ten days after birth in March. (So, so sad.)

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