Behind the celebrity baby name “Sparrow”

Last month, socialite Nicole Richie and musician Joel Madden welcomed their second child, Sparrow James Midnight Madden, who arrived a little after midnight. (Sparrow’s older sister, 20-month-old Harlow Winter Kate Madden, was born in January.)

Nicole and Joel had this to say about Sparrow’s name in the most recent issue of People:

How did you pick Sparrow’s name?

N: We have different tastes in names. Sparrow was one we both liked. I liked the way it sounded with Harlow, and there’s the Captain Jack Sparrow connection.

J: It reminded me of the Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue.” My worry raising a son in Hollywood is what will he have to struggle for? I wanted to give him a name that he’s going to have to stand up for. I love it; I think it’s a beautiful name.

I do appreciate Joel’s reasoning. I like that he was thinking beyond style in considering the potential value this name might have for his son. He wants Sparrow to be able to defend himself, and his identity, when he’s older.

That said…I don’t know if an unusual name is the best way to teach a child how to “struggle for” something. Because an unusual name could potentially mess with a child’s self esteem.

What are your thoughts on the name Sparrow? (Does gender matter?)

Update, May 2011: Sparrow debuted as a boy name in the SSA data in 2010, likely thanks to celebrity baby Sparrow.

Source: Update: Meet Sparrow James Midnight Madden!

3 thoughts on “Behind the celebrity baby name “Sparrow”

  1. All I can think of is “A Boy Named Sue”.

    Harlow does make me think Jean Harlow but it also is far to close in sound to Harlot and Harlequin (as in the Romance books). I think if you did a poll most people would say their gut reaction is that Sparrow is a girl’s name.

  2. I did think of Jean Harlow…and even the song “Vogue” by Madonna plays in my mind every time I see that name. Harlequin brings to mind the Joker’s mislead lover/side kick from the bat man series.

    However, I see Sparrow, and my gut reaction is ‘little brown bird’, course, that may just be my forestry background talking. Something to fight for seems a bit harsh for a baby, sparrow also makes me think of pipsqueak or someone who is small and weak or easily over powered. Not so much hyper masculine.

  3. It’s obvious Joel is a liar! He chose the name because he wanted to be appear ‘cool’ . They all compete on who can come up with the ‘coolest’ most original name. Bronx, Kal-el, Apple, Sparrow, poor children! There are other cool names they could have chosen that are not ridiculous. I for one, like very uncommon old names, i have not heard of one celebrity going with this theme, except Angie Jolie with Vivienne.

    Harlow i do like though,but Sparrow? It would have been awsome if they had gone with the theme of old hollywood, and chosen something like Marlon / Brando / Marlo, Gene, Charlton etc. but oh well.

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