Years ago, I wrote a post with some naming tips for minimalists. But — as Abby of Appellation Mountain astutely pointed this out in her comment to that post — “minimalism” as applied to baby names could be about capturing a namestyle just as much as it could be about reflecting a lifestyle.
So today I’m giving minimalism another go. This time around, though, it’ll be a list of baby names that fall somewhere between short/simple and modern/stylish.
All of these names have made gains recently (Hank and Linus included!). For more details on usage, click through to see the popularity graphs.
When a major celebrity chooses an uncommon baby name, there’s a good chance that name will become trendy.
Seems like this might be a modern phenomenon, right? Maybe tied to the rise of the Internet?
Nope. In fact, I bet you’ll be surprised at just how far back it goes.
Let’s take a look at celebrity baby names through the decades, focusing on those that inspired debuts on the SSA’s baby name list. (To debut, a rare names needs to be given to at least 5 babies of one gender or the other in a single year.)
Which baby name was the very first to debut on the charts thanks to a celebrity baby?
The answer depends on how strict you want to be about spelling.
If exact-spelling debuts are what you want, the first I know of doesn’t appear until the late ’40s.
If variant-spelling debuts are okay, though, there’s a celebrity baby name from the early ’40s that inspired a whopping six of them:
In October of 1941, actor/comedian George Jessel (43 years old) and showgirl Lois Andrews (17) welcomed a baby girl named Jerilyn.
The name Jerilyn itself had already been on the list for a few years, but usage rose significantly in both 1941 and 1942:
1943: 182 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 558th]
1942: 325 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 397th]
1941: 135 baby girls named Jerilyn [rank: 608th]
1940: 10 baby girls named Jerilyn
The popularity of similar names like Jerrilyn and Jerelyn also increased, and six other variants appeared on the national list for the very first time in either 1941 or 1942 (asterisks denote debuts):
I was skeptical about this one for a while, as I’d never heard of George Jessel before. Was he really high-profile enough for his baby to have that sort influence? Turns out he was indeed a popular entertainer from the ’20s until at least the ’50s. He’s the one responsible for the “Garland” part of Judy Garland’s stage name, and some sources even claim he invented the Bloody Mary.
Even more variants of Jerilyn (e.g., Gerilynn) debuted during the ’40s and early ’50s, when young Jerilyn was being mentioned in newspaper articles and appearing on TV and in films with her father. Here’s a fundraising film from 1953, for instance, featuring both George and Jerilyn.
Jerilyn Jessel’s influence on the U.S baby names was impressive, but, technically speaking, she didn’t put “Jerilyn” on the map.
The first exact-spelling celebrity baby name debut was Yasmin, which appeared on the list in 1949.
In December of 1949, actor Rita Hayworth and her husband Prince Aly Khan welcomed a baby girl named Yasmin. The same year, the baby name Yasmin appeared on the SSA’s list for the very first time.
(The name Yasmin was late addition to the post. Thank you, Becca!)
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1950s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In October of 1951, actors Tyrone Power and Linda Christian welcomed their first baby, Romina, who was named after the church in Italy (Santa Francesca Romana) where they had married in 1949. The same year, the baby name Romina appeared on the SSA’s list for the very first time.
In September of 1953, Power and Christian welcomed their second baby girl, Taryn, whose name was likely inspired by “Tyrone.” The same year, the baby name Taryn debuted on the list.
In November of 1956, boxer Floyd Patterson and his wife Sandra welcomed a baby girl named Seneca. The same year, the traditionally male name Seneca debuted on the list as a female name. Patterson said the name was inspired by a street in Brooklyn.
In October of 1958, singer/actor Rosemary Clooney and actor José Ferrer welcomed a baby girl named Monsita — their fourth child. The same year, Monsita debuted. It fell off the list the very next year, though, making it a one-hit wonder.
Honorable mentions from the ’50s include:
Liza, which became more popular after Liz Taylor named her daughter Liza in 1957.
Tyrone, which became more popular after Tyrone Power named his third child Tyrone in 1959. The increased usage could also have been influenced by the death of the actor himself the same year, though.
At least four of the baby names that debuted during the 1960s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In September of 1961, singer of Nat King Cole and his wife Maria welcomed identical twin baby girls named Timolin and Casey. The same year, the baby name Timolin debuted on the list.
In September of 1965, actor/director John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands welcomed a baby girl named Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes. The same year, the baby name Xan debuted on the list.
In October of 1967, singer Eddie Fisher and actress Connie Stevens welcomed a baby girl named Joely. The same year, the baby name Joely debuted on the list.
In June of 1968, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed a baby girl named Maryum. The same year, the baby name Maryum debuted on the list.
In March of 1969, singers Cher and Sonny Bono, welcomed a baby girl named Chastity. The same year, the baby name Chastity debuted on the list. In May of 2010, Chastity legally changed genders and adopted the name Chaz.
Honorable mentions from the ’60s include:
Dodd, which became more popular after Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee named their son Dodd in late 1961.
At least eight of the baby names that debuted during the 1970s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In August of 1970, boxer Muhammad Ali and his wife Belinda welcomed twin baby girls named Rasheda and Jamillah. The same year, the baby name Rasheda debuted on the list.
(An Ebony article from 1971 misspelled her name “Reeshemah.” The same year, there was a spike in the usage of Reeshemah and a dip in the usage of Rasheda.)
In 1971, comedian/activist Dick Gregory and his wife Lillian welcomed a baby girl named Ayanna. The same year, the baby name Ayanna debuted on the list.
In July of 1973, Dick Gregory and Lillian welcomed a baby boy named Yohance. The same year, the baby name Yohance debuted on the list.
In March of 1974, musician/producer Quincy Jones and actress Peggy Lipton welcomed a baby girl named Kidada. The same year, the baby name Kidada debuted on the list.
In August of 1975, singer Tito Jackson (of The Jackson 5) and his wife Dee Dee welcomed a baby boy named Taryll. The same year, the baby name Taryll debuted on the list.
In April of 1975, singer Mary Wilson (of The Supremes) and her husband Pedro welcomed a baby girl named Turkessa. The same year, the baby name Turkessa debuted on the list. Turkessa was just 3 babies away from being the top baby name debut of the year. Here’s how Mary came up with the name:
Pedro brought me a beautiful plant. I asked him was it was called. “Turquesa,” he replied, “Spanish for turquoise.” So we named our daughter Turkessa.
In November of 1975, singer Diana Ross (also of The Supremes) and her husband Robert welcomed a baby girl named Chudney. The next year, the baby name Chudney debuted on the list. Here’s how Diana came up with the name:
Friends kept suggesting popular names like Courtney, but so many girl babies were getting that. I suddenly thought of something I liked very much — chutney. Only I didn’t know how to spell it — I put a ‘d’ where the ‘t’ should have been on the birth certificate. And that’s how my little girl became Chudney!
In 1978, Puerto Rican dancer/singer Iris Chacón and her husband Junno welcomed a baby girl named Katiria. The same year, the baby name Katiria debuted on the list. Most of these babies were born in New York.
At least three of the baby names that debuted during the 1980s were inspired by celebrity babies, and at least one was inspired by a celebrity grandbaby:
In September of 1984, singer Gladys Knight didn’t have a baby, but her son James (b. 1962) and his wife Michelene did. They welcomed a boy named Rishawn. The next year, the baby name Rishawn debuted on the list. It was one of the top debut names of 1985, in fact.
In November of 1986, football player Willie Gault and his wife Dainnese welcomed a baby girl named Shakari. The next year, the baby name Shakari debuted on the list.
I wrote about Condola a few months ago, but here’s a recap: In December of 1986, actress Phylicia Rashad and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad welcomed a baby girl named Condola. The next year, the baby name Condola debuted on the list.
In December of 1987, filmmaker/actor Woody Allen and actress Mia Farrow welcomed a baby boy named Satchel. The next year, the baby name Satchel debuted on the list. He now goes by Ronan, and rumor has it that he is *possibly* the biological son of Frank Sinatra.
At least three of the baby names the debuted during the 1990s were inspired by celebrity babies:
In July of 1991, actors Demi Moore and Bruce Willis welcomed a baby girl named Scout. (And in August, that famous image of 7-months-pregnant Demi ran on the cover of Vanity Fair.) The next year, the baby name Scout debuted on the list, for both genders.
In February of 1995, actor Michael J. Fox and his wife Tracy welcomed twin baby girls named Aquinnah and Schuyler. The same year, the baby name Aquinnah debuted on the list. (I wrote more about the name Aquinnah a few years ago.)
In July of 1998, model Christie Brinkley and her husband Peter welcomed a baby girl named Sailor. The same year, the baby name Sailor debuted on the list as a girl name. It had debuted as a boy name the year before.
Honorable mentions from the ’90s include:
Seven, which became more popular after Erykah Badu named her son Seven in 1997.
Zion, which became more popular after Lauryn Hill named her son Zion in 1997.
Selah, which became more popular after Lauryn Hill named her daughter Selah in 1998.
At least five of the baby names that debuted during the 2000s (the decade) were inspired by celebrity babies:
In August of 2001, singer Shania Twain and her husband Robert welcomed a baby boy named Eja. The same year, the baby name Eja debuted on the list (as a girl name).
In August of 2001, actors Tisha Campbell-Martin and Duane Martin welcomed a baby boy named Xen. The same year, the baby name Xen debuted on the list.
In March of 2003, singer Toni Braxton and musician Keri Lewis welcomed a baby boy named Diezel. The same year, the baby name Diezel debuted on the list.
In June of 2005, magician Penn Jillette and his wife Emily welcomed a baby girl named Moxie (middle name CrimeFighter). The next year, the baby name Moxie debuted on the list.
In September of 2006, model Anna Nicole Smith and her partner Larry Birkhead welcomed a baby girl named Dannielynn. The next year, the baby name Dannielynn debuted on the list.
Honorable mentions from the ’00s include:
Massai, which became more popular after Nia Long named her son Massai in 2000.
Rocco, which became more popular after Madonna and Guy Ritchie named their son Rocco in 2000.
Denim, which became more popular after Toni Braxton named her son Denim in 2001.
Maddox, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie named her adopted son Maddox in 2002.
Carys, which became more popular after Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas named their daughter Carys in 2003.
Stellan, which became more popular after Jennifer Connelly and Paul Bettany named their son Stellan in 2003.
Apple, which became more popular after Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their daughter Apple in 2004.
Coco, which became more popular after Courtney Cox and David Arquette named their daughter Coco in 2004.
Zahara, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie named her adopted daughter Zahara in 2005.
Moses, which became more popular after Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin named their son Moses in 2006.
Kingston, which became more popular after Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale named their son Kingston in 2006.
Suri, which became more popular after Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes named their daughter Suri in 2006.
Shiloh, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their daughter Shiloh in 2006.
Pax, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their adopted son Pax in 2007.
Harlow, which became more popular after Nicole Richie and Joel Madden named their daughter Harlow in 2008.
Knox & Vivienne, which became more popular after Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt named their twins Knox and Vivienne in 2008.
Honor, which became more popular after Jessica Alba named her daughter Honor in 2008.
Nahla, which became more popular after Halle Berry named her daughter Nahla in 2008.
Bronx, which became more popular after Ashlee Simpson and Pete Wentz named their son Bronx in 2008.
Ireland’s top baby names of 2013 were announced a few days ago.
According to data from the Central Statistics Office, the most popular baby names are Emily and Jack.
Here are Ireland’s top 100 girl names and top 100 boy names of 2013:
47. Charlotte [tie]
47. Millie [tie]
52. Alice [tie]
52. Eabha [tie]
59. Eve [tie]
59. Zara [tie]
63. Maria [tie]
63. Megan [tie]
84. Aimee [tie]
84. Tara [tie]
86. Hanna [tie]
86. Katelyn [tie]
86. Lilly [tie]
86. Ruth [tie]
90. Alexandra [tie]
90. Poppy [tie]
92. Amber [tie]
92. Mollie [tie]
92. Victoria [tie]
98. Aoibhe [tie]
98. Laoise [tie]
18. Liam [tie]
18. Darragh [tie]
51. Sam [tie]
51. Tadhg [tie]
60. Ronan [tie]
60. Andrew [tie]
68. Benjamin [tie]
68. Cormac [tie]
76. Shay [tie]
76. Alan [tie]
79. Logan [tie]
79. Anthony [tie]
92. Martin [tie]
92. Ruairi [tie]
92. Brian [tie]
96. Danny [tie]
96. Edward [tie]
98. Oran [tie]
98. Sebastian [tie]
98. Hugh [tie]
New to the top 100 are Sadie, Sienna, Fiadh and Poppy for girls and Kai and Kayden for boys.
(Names that were new on the 2012 list but that have since dropped out of the top 100 are Amelie, Evie and Maisie.)
Of all the girl names in the current top 100, these five saw the biggest increases from 2012 to 2013 in terms of rank change:
Fiadh, +64 (146th to 82nd)
Sadie, +62 (139th to 77th)
Poppy, +46 (136th to 90th)
Lexi, +33 (89th to 56th)
Sienna, +32 (112th to 80th)
And these five saw the biggest increases in terms of number of babies:
Anna, +56 (296 babies to 352 babies)
Lexi, +54 (127 babies to 73 babies)
Sofia, +50 (155 babies to 105 babies)
Sadie, +42 (84 babies to 42 babies)
Fiadh, +39 (78 babies to 39 babies)
Of all the boy names in the current top 100, these five saw the biggest increases from 2012 to 2013 in terms of rank change:
Kayden, +44 (135th to 91st)
Shay, +27 (103rd to 76th)
Kai, +24 (109th to 85th)
Leo, +21 (84th to 63rd)
Anthony, +20 (99th to 79th)
And these five saw the biggest increases in terms of number of babies:
The most popular baby names in Ireland came out a few days ago.
According to the Central Statistics Office, the country’s top names are Jack for boys and Emily for girls.
Here are the top 100 girl names and top 100 boy names of 2012:
Baby Girl Names
Baby Boy Names
34. Julia [tie]
34. Zoe [tie]
45. Eva [tie]
45. Layla [tie]
50. Abigail [tie]
50. Eve [tie]
50. Isabella [tie]
54. Aine [tie]
54. Clodagh [tie]
64. Amber [tie]
64. Caitlin [tie]
64. Sofia [tie]
71. Elizabeth [tie]
71. Lena [tie]
71. Mary [tie]
75. Aimee [tie]
75. Lilly [tie]
80. Eimear [tie]
80. Maya [tie]
82. Isabel [tie]
82. Orla [tie]
86. Brooke [tie]
86. Clara [tie]
91. Daisy [tie]
91. Katelyn [tie]
93. Ailbhe [tie]
93. Amelie [tie]
93. Natalia [tie]
93. Sara [tie]
97. Hanna [tie]
97. Laoise [tie]
97. Ruth [tie]
100. Madison [tie]
100. Maeve [tie]
100. Maisie [tie]
100. Rose [tie]
27. David [tie]
27. Fionn [tie]
34. Ben [tie]
34. Max [tie]
48. Mark [tie]
48. Robert [tie]
54. Alexander [tie]
54. Leon [tie]
68. Benjamin [tie]
68. Cormac [tie]
73. Donnacha [tie]
73. Jakub [tie]
76. Filip [tie]
76. Killian [tie]
86. Dara [tie]
86. Jason [tie]
89. Martin [tie]
89. Peter [tie]
93. Niall [tie]
93. Tomas [tie]
95. Edward [tie]
95. Stephen [tie]
New to the top 100 list are Isaac, Danny and Logan for boys and Evie, Amelie, Hanna, Maisie and Rose for girls.
Some of the specifically Irish names in the top 100 are…
A reader named Allison and her husband Dawson are expecting 5 (!) little ones. Three will be boys, two will be girls, and their surname will sound a lot like “Barber.” Here’s more from Allison:
We have twins Holden Patrick (Holden is from Catcher In the Rye and Patrick is my father’s middle name) and Theo Drummey (Theo because we liked it and Drummey is a family name.) I’m Irish and my husband is Canadian but doesn’t really have a name preference (other then if he had his wish our first daughter would be Jasmine Atlanta). As you can see I like to have my heritage in the names but I know from my family that names spelled in Gaelic form don’t usually go over well with the western way we pronounce things. At the same time I really like simple classy names and names with meaning… We have a large mix of name choices the only thing we knew is we don’t want any Winifreds or Paulinas or Alfreds or Richards, we also would like to stay away from Liam, Aidan, Maeve, Finn, Brigid all family names that have been taken. We are stuck! Here is our list of names so far, completely mixed up…
Tadgh- pronounced Tighe
Cian- pro. Keean
Callum- pro. Kaylum
Caoimhe- pro. Keevah
Thea (I know we can’t use this because of Theo but I love it!)
Family Names: (we would use these as middle names)
Thank you! Any help is appreciated! :)
First of all, congratulations!
I think Holden and Theo have great names. Of the options listed, the five I like best with Holden and Theo are Benjamin, Christian, Maxwell, Kate and Cecilia, though I like many of the others as well.
I’d be wary about using names like Tadgh and Caoimhe because, where I am, names like these require explanation. Things will probably be tricky enough with quints…why add extra complication? :) But perhaps Allison and her family live in a place where Irish names are common and this isn’t an issue.
Here are some other ideas:
It’s hard to talk about middles before the first names are in place. I’d probably use short middles with long firsts and vice versa (e.g. Cecilia Pearl, Kate Patricia), just for balance. And I’d avoid the combo Jasmine Pearl, as that’s a type of tea. It’s delicious, but still.
Which of the above (3 boy names, 2 girl names) do you like best with Holden and Theo? What other names would you suggest to Allison?