About Two Names: Moroccan & Monroe

October 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

(c) Fresh Air Fund/WireImage.com: Monroe and Moroccan Soctt Cannon made their debut this weekend, names on trend.

After plenty of teasing, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon introduced their twins, Moroccan Scott and Monroe, in an interview with Barbara Walters this week. Mariah, whose gorgeous name and popularity has made her a name inspiration – Mariah shot like a bullet into the US Top 100 as a young Mariah Carey emerged on the music scene. The name has remained there ever since. A variation on Maria, which is Latin for “star of the sea,” Carey’s opera singer mother was inspired by the song “They Call the Wind Mariah” from the 1951 Broadway musical Paint your Wagon.

When she announced the names of her twins, born April 30th – their parents third wedding anniversary – she took care that the names meant something to her as her name had meant something to her mother, and the Divine Miss M certainly ensured they shared her first initial! The names are also connected phonetically by the middle r’s in their names, creating a way too perfect set of nicknames – Roc & Roe. A clothing label in the making, right there.

Monroe was named for Marilyn Monroe, whom Carey has always admired, and she wasn’t given a middle name because when Mariah was born, she wasn’t either. Former Baywatch star Gena Lee Nolin also reference Marilyn when she announced the name of her daughter, born 2008, Stella Monroe, and why Good Charlotte bassist Paul Thomas came up with Willow Monroe for their daughter in November 2010.

Though it feels a bit like Marlo and has an elegant, classy exterior, Monroe’s use these days has been fairly unisex if historically male, with enough qualities that keep it masculine enough. It began as a surname – the ancestors of the Scottish Munros are said to have originally come from Ireland, apparently from a settlement by the River Roe in County Derry; their name is therefore supposed to be derived from Gaelic “bun Rotha” (mouth of the Roe). It was the Scottish spelling of the surname which inspired the middle name of Canadian Olympic Champion speed skater Catriona Le May Doan’s daughter, born Greta Munro in 2004. In 1990, Spandau Ballet’s Gary Kemp and British designer/actress Sadie Frost welcomes son Finlay Munro. (Kemp’s two younger sons are Milo Wolf, 7, and Kit Frank, two-and-a-half; Frost had Rafferty, Iris, and Rudy Indiana Otis with actor Jude Law.)

Monroe has also become essentially All-American, as James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States. He wrote the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, policy which forbid foreign interference in American affairs, and helped define the country’s place in the world. In 2008, Isaac Hanson of the band Hanson welcomed son James Monroe, who, like his father and brother (Clarke Isaac and Clarke Everett) goes by his middle name. It’s popular in the middle, as well, with the never-fading tradition of using surnames as second names to honour family heritage. This name has enough pop culture usage that even if it’s not a surname in your family tree, it stands up. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler welcomed his only son, Taj Monroe, in 1991. Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix welcomed son Jagger Monroe in 2004, and in March 2010 Jenna Elfman welcomed her second son, Easton Quinn Monroe.

As a male first name, Monroe peaked in the late 19th Century, and dropped out of the US Top 1000 in 1960, standard considering James Monroe had long since died, in 1831. Now it seems that first name use on girls could surge (it’s yet to reach the inside of the Top 1000.)

In 2003 when former pro baseball slugger Mark McGwire and his wife, Stephanie, welcomed triplets daughters in 2010, they, like Mariah’s kids, shared a first initial with him. Each was given a trendy M name – Monet Rose, Marlo Rose, and Monroe Rose. McGwire’s sons are 24-year-old Matthew with first wife Kathy, and Max, 9, and Mason, 7, with Stephanie. But Carey’s not likely to add more M’s to her brood – she emphatically rules out ever being pregnant again in her interview with Walters!

Moroccan Scott is an interesting choice, as the name Moroccan doesn’t seem to flow all that well. We’re used to names being nouns, but adjectives come from name meanings, they aren’t usually actual names. Just months earlier, former pro boxer Mike Tyson actually beat them to it, naming his newborn son Morocco Elijah in January. And Nick and Mariah’s explanation for their son’s name was a bit…let’s say it’s rare that people are inspired to name their children after rooms in their house. Granted, the Moroccan Room is Mariah’s favourite room inside her Manhattan penthouse, so named because of the decor. It’s the room where Nick proposed, which is forgivable, but you sense that even she won’t be using the name in it’s original form that much – his nickname, Roc (and his sister’s – Roe), was announced almost instantaneously. Scott is also Nick’s middle name, and it’s his maternal grandmother’s last name.

Geography names are common place, with new inspirations springing up all the time. Retro selections like China, Austin, Kenya and Paris have made way for choices like uber-popular Georgia, Brooklyn, Zealand and London. Morocco is even newer, but perhaps it was inevitable when Rocco (German and Italian for “rest”) came in so strong in the early part of the last decade. Rock names in general are definitely trending up these days. For what it’s worth, Monroe is a geographic name as well – though each city in the US with it as the name is after the former President.

In many ways these names stand out on purpose, which is perfect for someone like Mariah Carey who wants to stand out – if that’s not you, chances are these names don’t even register with you, anyway. Monroe is a lot like Charlize on a girl these days – people will almost always ask you if it’s Monroe “like Marilyn?” But Marilyn has also made this name practically indistinguishable as a male or female name, which is kind of cool – one legendary human can transform a name entirely. I love that about names!

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