My Favourite Names of 2011

December 22, 2011 § 5 Comments

Trends are always changing. Names you love might fall out of favour, you might have loved a name so long it’s actually lost it’s meaning – or the importance of that meaning has been overshadowed by something else. No matter what we’d like to think about our ability to name beyond trends, as our own lives change we, too, are changing. When I was younger I loved the name Jacob. I wasn’t sure why – I just saw the name everywhere, I liked how it sounded. But from affections like these grew my interest in names, and now Jacob just wouldn’t cut it. Why? It means nothing to me, and it’s been everywhere for a while.

We might also hear a name as we go through our lives that we’ve never heard before, for one reason or another, and we fall in love with it. Maybe it’s connected to something else we love, however fleeting, and we embrace it.

The trendy names this year that I was especially digging (and please don’t leave without sharing your own faves!):

Arlo. Easy. I’ve loved this name a while. It’s one of my names. This year, it entered into unisex territory as the son of Toni Collette, born in April, and daughter of Johnny Knoxville, born in October.

Willow. When Pink and Carey Hart named their daughter Willow Sage in June, this long-appreciated name stepped even further into the spotlight. I’ve always loved the nature qualities of this name, and have always been into names like River, but I’m only lately having a true appreciation of Willow. It’s such a pretty name. I may never use it, but I like it a lot!

(More after the jump.)

Zuzu. When former Top Chef contestant Tania Petersen welcomed daughter Zuzu Audrey in January, it was like a revelation! I’ve always loved Z names, and It’s A Wonderful Life is my favourite movie of all time. I wandered Hollywood Blvd. for two days looking for Jimmy Stewart’s star on the Walk of Fame! All I can think about is Zuzu’s petals and I fall in love with this name over and over again. In the film, Zuzu was a nickname for Susan (Hebrew for “lily”), which was a massively popular name for girls in the 1940s.

Z Names are making a big surge this year, and Zuzu gets to be a small part of that. The name has definitely begun to be sighted and appreciated, but scarcely talked about until now. And Tania welcomed her daughter in January, just after the holidays, when Zuzu is born anew with every seasonal airing of the classic Jimmy Stewart film.

Pippa. Duchess Catherine’s sister Pippa Middleton became the celeb du jour after the royal wedding, and this name is bumping up considerably as a result. Philippa is growing with it, and in December 2010 CSI star Emily Procter welcomed daughter Philippa (Pippa) Frances – but didn’t announce her name until this year.

I like this name’s sprightly, happy vibe. I like that it’s somewhat Scandinavian, too – I’ve always liked the look and sound of Nordic names.

Bear. I would totally be willing to use this as a middle name; I really love it’s connection to nature, and living in Canada’s West, where bears are a common and emblematic animal, I feel even more connected to it. This year, actress and animal activist Alicia Silverstone and husband Chris Jarecki chose it as a first name for her son Bear Blu, born in May – and she caused a bit of an uproar. Let it be known, I’m on her side!

Joni. This name’s been gaining traction a while; I’ve always loved Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, and have always liked this name! It’s a Hebrew name that looks Greek, a variant of Jane that means “God is gracious.” This year, country musician Zac Brown welcomed his fourth daughter, Joni Mason, in February, sister of Justice, Lucy, and Georgia Sloan. In July, actress Denise Richards adopted newborn Eloise Joni Richards, the middle name for her mother who died of cancer in 2007. Joni has that trendy four-letter appeal and like Juno or June is a J choice that could be going somewhere.

– Hattie. First of all, full disclosure: I might have turned up my nose to this name, if I hadn’t fallen in love with the combination Hattie Margaret McDermott. But this name has serious legs, and maybe because others feel the same way I do about Tori Spelling’s name choice. It fits right in with the old-fashioned names trend, a long-standing pet form of Harriet. While Harry trends mightily for boys, Harriet doesn’t feel as likely to do so. Haddie, too, potentially a pet form of Hayden or Hadley, which are both on the rise as female names, is seeing the light. Haddie Braverman (portrayed by Sarah Ramos) is the second grandchild on the hit US show Parenthood, which I’m really into these days!

Flynn. Little known fact: When Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr were expecting son Flynn Christopher, born in January, they thought for sure he’d be a girl. In April, Bloom revealed what Flynn’s name would have been had he been born female: “I was convinced we were going to have a girl because my grandmother actually passed when Flynn was conceived and she was really dear to my heart. Evelyn was my grandmother, on my father’s side … I was thinking … we’re going to have a girl, it’s going to be called Evelyn.”

When he was born, the couple selected trendy (especially in Australia, where it’s floated around the bottom half of the Top 100 for about a decade) Flynn, because it is phonetically similar to Evelyn. (Score another for the old-fashioned names trend, Evelyn is hot right now!) And as we know, Christopher honoured Kerr’s high school boyfriend, who died in a car accident as a teenager. The name brings to mind a ‘swashbuckling’ Errol Flynn, some have said – which I wonder about. Legendary film star Flynn did more than play sailors and pirates – is the swashbuckling angle more attributed to Bloom’s Pirates of the Caribbean roles?

Just the letter L off from another trendy name, Finn, Flynn is Irish Gaelic for “ruddy complexion.” I like Finn from a phonetic standpoint, and have nothing at all against L, so Flynn is certainly a favourite of mine this year. I do think it’s use is going to expand.

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§ 5 Responses to My Favourite Names of 2011

  • Zuzu is ADORABLE! It’s like a cross between Zara and Lulu, and “It’s a Wonderful Life” is my favouritest Christmas movie ever.

    I love Bear and Flynn, but I’ve gone right off Pippa since the wedding. Hattie Margaret is sweet.

    I’ll let everyone know what were my favourite Australian celeb names of 2011 next year, but from overseas I liked:

    Clover Elizabeth McDonough
    Mateo Lev Colicchio
    Diesel Dean Daigle (it’s daring!)
    Agnes Lark Bettany
    Phoebe Sylvia Rachel True-Frost
    Cleo Schwimmer
    Clemency Florence Rose Silverton

    • The Name Station says:

      I think Diesel Dean sounds great, it’s just Diesel Daigle I can’t handle!

      Agnes Lark is just gorgeous, and Clover Elizabeth I love, too!

      I also loved the combos Max Ellington Nixon-Marinoni and Penelope Athena Richmond, but this wasn’t entirely Max or Penelope’s year as far as trends go so they didn’t make the list.

  • I’ve always really like Hattie, from before the Tori Spelling baby. I know a few who were born Harriet, and at least two who are simply Hattie (both Hatties are in their first year of Uni!)

    As for my favourite celeb-used names from last year (avoiding repeats):
    Lourdes; Beaux; Delphine Malou; Sid and Zephyr.

  • Bertha says:

    I had a Zuzu Audrey in 2008, I still love it, but get some ignorant remarks from time to time, usually from people with dull names!

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