What’s In A Name

It’s old news that celebrities, ever eager to be original have given their babies some bizarre names over the years. There’s Sylvester Stallone’s son, Sage Moonblood, actor Jason Lee’s son Pilot Inspektor, singer songwriter Bob Geldof’s daughter Fifi Trixibelle, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s son Buddy Bear, and rapper T-Pain’s son Kaydnz Kodah to toss off a few.

“What’s in a name?” Juliet asked her star-crossed lover Romeo (chosen by David and Gloria Beckham for one of their sons), assuring him that it is he she loves, regardless of the fact that he bears the name Montague, hated by her family.

A lot. Well, there’s the need to be different – or not. The desire to ensure that your child does not become the Jennifer or Madison or Jacob of the generation. Maybe it’s a character-building thing: Stand up for your name when the Michaels and Jakes and Isabels of the world taunt you on the playground. Or maybe the time-honored desire to keep a name in the family. Or a television character, celebrity or sports figure of whom you are enamored (Cullen, as in Edward Cullen from “Twilight,” moved up from 485 to 297 on data published by the US Social Security Department).

Having a child or grandchild (you do not get a vote on the latter) in the coming months? Here are some trends you can choose to keep up with or avoid.

The Bird Thing. The newly married Nicole Richie and Joel Madden named their son Sparrow, and according to multiple baby name sites, birds are in. Lots of Larks, Wrens, Hawks and Doves expected, but not many Robins. And keeping up the Nature trend . . .

Flowers are Blooming. Flower names are old, way old, but they circle in and out as new varieties take center stage. Fading blooms: Lily, Rose and Daisy. Currently blossoming: Azalea, Dahlia, Poppy, Lotus, Lilac, Acacia, Marigold, and Camellia. Add to the garden Magnolia, the name of a very adorable budding beauty born just a few days ago to the son and daughter-in-law of a friend of mine.

Fruits? Well, I don’t know. Has our collective ear yet adjusted to Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s Apple? I think it’s a safe bet that Prune, currently most chic among names for little Parisian girls, will not like Nicole, Simone, Bridget and Amelie – popular names of yore – survive a trip across the Atlantic. It’s true translation – Plum – is gaining a toehold.

The L Names. There’s a popular name to the sound of L. The estranged (deranged?) Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva named their daughter Lucia, and so did reality couple Amber and Rob Mariano. Carnie Wilson named her daughter Luciana. Heidi Klum and Seal debuted daughter, Lou. Maya Rudolph and Paul Thomas Anderson named their daughter Lucille. Actress Judy Reyes welcomed Leila Rey and Lisa Loeb is mother to Lyla Rose. Also booming: Lola, Lulu and names like Delilah and Tallulah, which feature their Ls internally.

The X Factor. Supposedly Xs and Zs are big letters in pharmaceutical names, but here they are for little boys: Felix (total comeback out of nowhere), Dexter (yes, another name that had been written off), Rex, all forms of Max – as well as some new choices, such as Maddox, Paxton, and Jaxon.

Doesn’t Seem Possible But . . .Jewish surnames, specifically Cohen and Jacoby, have become hot among Middle American, distinctly non-Jewish parents.  Miller is also rising.  Good to know.

The most popular names in 2009, the latest year for which the Social Security Administration has data?

For girls:

1. Isabella (replacing Emma at number one; is there a “Twilight” effect there, too?)
2. Emma
3. Olivia
4. Sofia
5. Ava

For boys:

1. Jacob (number one for 11 years in a row)
2. Ethan
3. Michael
4. Alexander
5. William

It has always been a mystery to me how all of a sudden there is a spate of new names that are suddenly everywhere. What is not a mystery is why many couples will not tell anyone what they are naming their babies until the deed is done. They do not want anyone’s opinion on such a personal decision.