Nameberry’s Linda Rosenkrantz has written another article about naming trends that is worth a look. She suggests that ever since Patricia Arquette and Nicole Richie selected iconic Hollywood movie star Jean Harlow’s surname as their daughters’ first name, the idea of using celebrity surnames as first names has come into fashion.
So now Rosenkrantz has provided a list of what she calls her “nominees for the best celeb surname possibilities.” Which creates the impression Rosenkrantz has sifted through long list of celebrity surnames and is recommending these names.
Before I comment about the list of recommended celebrity surnames, I’d like to briefly discuss place names that may or may not work well as baby names.
Some place names don’t seem appropriate for use as baby names. (Monongahela is one place name that would make any baby given that name an “unhappy camper.”)
Some place names are commonly given to babies, so it’s not so hard to understand that the name London or Boston might refer to a baby girl or boy as well as to a city. But when you hear London and Boston mentioned on an airport PA system, It’s possible that a guy named Boston may have left his lap top in the security area. So the possibility for confusion still exists.
Some place names started as names for people, like Georgia and Charlotte. Other names, like Virginia, and Caroline (Carolina) have been used for babies for centuries, so confusion isn’t a problem. And those place names work very well for people.
Likewise, some of the surnames Rosenkrantz recommends are already names (e.g., Moss is a nature name; Slater is a trade name; and Bowie honors American frontiersman, Jim Bowie.) So they’re not terribly confusing–precisely because they don’t owe much of their appeal as names to celebrities like Kate Moss, Christian Slater, and David Bowie.
Finally, don’t be surprised to discover that some of the recommended names may not work well as names for little boys or girls because they don’t come across as recognizable names for people (like Monongahela).
With that introduction, here are some comments about how Linda Rosenkrantz’s recommended list of celebrity surnames are likely to work for your children:
Alba–Comment: Rosenkrantz points out that Alba (like Blanche and Jennifer) means “white.” Alba reminds me of bland Melba toast—rather than a charming name for a beautiful baby girl. I’ll leave it to you to discern if it sounds like a first name for a beautiful girl or nothing in particular.
Aniston–Comment: Rosenkrantz suggests Aniston might work as a variation of Ann. And because Jennifer Aniston is sooo popular (thanks to her long-time association with “Friends”) this idea could work; but the idea seems fairly far-fetched.
Bello–Comment: Although Bela means “beautiful,” Bello brings to mind a loud, unpleasant noise often associated with movie battle scenes or a blazing fire in a barn full of cows. An association with beautiful Maria Elena Bello won’t save this name. It sounds awful.
Bettany–Comment: Bethany is a fine traditional name; I wonder why Rosenkrantz thinks parents will switch to Bettany, which suggests a girl named Bethany who has become addicted to gambling.
Blanchette–Comment: Blanche is a traditional girl’s name that means “white” (like Alba and Jennifer). The “ette” ending in French suggests a young female. So Blanchette might work as a diminuitive pet name for a baby girl but may not be appropriate for an adult woman.
Bowie–Comment: David Bowie was Christened “Davy Jones.” But for career purposes, he selected a new surname, Bowie, to honor frontiersman Jim Bowie (and, perhaps, the Bowie knife). If you’re into guns and knives, the name could work. But not so much because of the association with David Bowie as with Jim Bowie.
Moss–Comment: The name Moss is a nature name which may create the impression of a meek and mild (aka shy and quiet) little boy or girl. But Kate Moss doesn’t add a lot to the appeal of this name on a day-to-day basis.
Paisley–Comment: Paisley is a cute name that refers to a particular kind of Scottish fabric design (which could be described as having “lots of squiggles”). The name has positive connotations (particularly for a girl’s name) before you add Brad Paisley into the equation. For me, this is the best of the bunch, but not because of the association with Brad Paisley as much as the appeal of those squiggles.
Slater–Comment: Slater is a trade name which refers to someone who earns a living as a roofer. Not the most glamorous or charming name I can think, of although it works OK because it’s a real name; but not because of the association with Christian Slater.
Tatum: Comment: Google “Tatum” and you get actress Tatum O’Neal and actor Channing Tatum. Tatum O’Neal legitimizes “Tatum” as a first name for a girl. I’m not sure what the hunky Channing Tatum does for the name. Does he turn it into a name for a boy? I have no idea. Seems like a confusing idea to me. I’d stick with the Tatum O’Neal association and use the name for a girl.
Winslet–Comment: I love the name Kate and would recommend it in a heartbeat. But although Winslet may be the surname of a very talented actress, it may not come across to most people as a recognizable first name for your daughter.
Urban–Comment: Urban is a name chosen by 8 popes. Pope Urban VI was listed as one of the “10 Worst Popes.” He was quoted as complaining that “he did not hear enough screaming when his Cardinals were tortured.” So Urban doesn’t strike me as a great moniker for your son (despite Keith Urban’s good looks). The word “urban” refers to a bustling and possibly crowded and dirty and crime-ridden “city” environment. Why burden your son with that name?
As you can see, Linda Rosenkrantz’s list of celebrity surname recommendations includes some OK ideas and some questionable ideas. (For me, the surname that works best is Paisley—not because of the association with musician Brad Paisley, but because of the association with unique and charming Scottish designs.)
Jumping on the celebrity bandwagon isn’t always a useful way to find a charming, endearing name that will work well for your child. And you run the risk of being teased as a “celebrity groupie.”