General Question

ubersiren's avatar

How come we deem some celebrities' baby names as "strange" and similar ones "normal?"?

Asked by ubersiren (15140points) May 26th, 2009

I remember when Gweneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple, and I thought it was the cutest thing in the world. Many other people thought differently. I heard a lot of “who names their kid after a fruit!” But what if she had named her Brandy (liquor) or Olive, or Ginger, or Candy, or whatever else… would it have been as big of a deal?

Would your opinion of the name “Apple,” for instance, have changed if it was a child in your kid’s school, or someone you had just met instead of a celebrity?

Also, I suppose my question could apply to non-celebrity baby names as well. I guess I just don’t get why people have such distaste for any uncommon name.

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104 Answers

ubersiren's avatar

I don’t like that fluther puts a question mark at the end of the sentence automatically. If there are quotes around the last word, it makes it grammatically incorrect. Punctuation belongs inside quotes. So, I end up with both.

chyna's avatar

I would hate if my parents had called me Moon Unit or Dweezil. On the other hand, I like River and I would guess some people don’t like his name.

Likeradar's avatar

I would still think Apple is a weird name even if it were just a neighborhood kid. Same with Pilot Inspektor, Kal-El, Audio Science, etc.

There’s nothing inherently “bad” about these names, it’s just that they have probably never been used before. And I think it shows a detachment from reality on the part of the parents. Perhaps these kids will grow up in a bubble, but likely second grade will suck. It’s as if the parents did not stop to think outside their whims and maybe even what will get them press to consider the future of their children.

knitfroggy's avatar

I personally don’t see anything wrong with Apple. It’s different, but so what? To each his own I say. I was going to say Pilot Inspektor or Kal-El were much weirder, but @Likeradar beat me to it! :)

zephyr826's avatar

I like names that can translate into different languages, and as a teacher, I’m partial to names with logical spellings. So I guess that makes me a “traditionalist”.
One of my students just told me her aunt named her newborn Zeppelin (I assume it’s a girl, but you never know.)

casheroo's avatar

I’m not sure. I know that I love the name Olive, but Apple seems so ridiculous to me. I can’t even explain why I feel that way! Maybe because Olive has been used as a name for a long time it seems, so maybe thats why it’s more accepted. But the reasoning around it becoming acceptable is something I’d love to know.

My son has a “weird” name, and sometimes I get comments about it. Nothing negative though. It’s becoming increasingly popular (it won’t let me have a link, so here’s the chart)
Popularity of the male name Cash Year of birth Rank
2008 253
2007 329
2006 381
2005 680
2004 797
2003 968
Note: Rank 1 is the most popular, rank 2 is the next most popular, and so forth. Data are not shown for some of the years you specified because the name Cash was not in the top 1000 names for those years. Name data are from Social Security card applications for births that occurred in the United States.

It bothers me immensely that his name is becoming more popular.

Ivan's avatar

Names are really arbitrary anyways. Who gets to decide what’s appropriate for a name and what’s not? Sure, you can argue that the kids will be made fun of in school, but that wouldn’t be the case if this whole notion of ‘name appropriateness’ was abandoned. I don’t see anything wrong with “Apple.” I, personally, like original names.

chyna's avatar

@casheroo Next time go with Moon Unit. I don’t forsee a rise in popularity on that one.

Likeradar's avatar

@chyna Or perhaps Jermajesty.

chyna's avatar

@Ivan On a side note, I knew a girl named Fonda Peters. I swear!

YARNLADY's avatar

This question has caused me to examine my own view. I too, find Apple strange, and Olive not. Maybe it’s what we are used to. I once thought Awon and Atu were strange names for twins, but I got used to my neighbor boys being named that.

Both my sons and three of my Grandkids are named after fictional characters, and that doesn’t seem strange to me.

I cannot get over a mother calling her son “Stone, it’s time for dinner” (Stone Phillips).

chyna's avatar

@YARNLADY I have always wondered about Stone Phillips. I kind of thought maybe his full name was Stonewall.

ubersiren's avatar

I can sort of understand Kal-El and Moon Unit etc. because they are made up words in themselves.

@Ivan: VGA.

@YARNLADY: Yeah, I wonder why we think that way. I like Stone, by the way, but I would definitely do a double take if someone introduced himself as that name. And I wouldn’t think twice if someone said her name was Crystal!

YARNLADY's avatar

My Uncle’s name was V

Sunybunny's avatar

Apple: weird but in a good way, and definitely very cute. I don’t have a problem with anyone naming their baby anything they like, but when a name gets too weird I start to feel sorry for the kid. For example an ice skating coach I know named her daughter sequin, and what is worse the mothers name is Christel. eek! When names get too weird not only is teasing a problem, but the kid is never going to be able to find personalized stuff at tourist shops (that would be me… sigh). A third problem with really weird names is when they interview for a job and the first thing the interviewer sees is the name they are going to have some pre-conceived notions ( I mean could you take someone seriously if their name was Ducky?) on the plus side a ‘Cash’ ‘Sequin’ or ‘Apple’ will really stand out in the interviewers mind!

DeanV's avatar

I’m so naming my kid “Windows”. Or “Linux”

Jeruba's avatar

Naming a child “Olive” is not directly analogous to naming a child “Apple.” The very old—indeed, medieval—names Olive, Oliver, and Olivia come from the Latin for the olive tree, with a connotation of peace (as in olive branch). Ginger and Candy can be given names, but they are much more commonly nicknames.

@ubersiren, some punctuation belongs inside quotes. Periods and commas, yes. Colons and semicolons, no. Question marks only if the question mark is part of the quoted material. In this case the question mark belonged outside the quote.

casheroo's avatar

@Sunybunny Other than being named Cash, my son has a very Irish name, so I don’t think he’ll be judged harshly for him first name at all. I think if I had gone crazy with it, then interviews would be an issue. But, when I named my child, I knew he’d do amazing things, and surupass any expectations people will have of him because of his name.

@yarnlady My grandfathers name was JG. He had to give himself a real name, for documents and whatnot, so he chose James (a family name) and his middle name was his father’s name (i think) Letter names are interesting.

Ivan's avatar

@Sunybunny

“the kid is never going to be able to find personalized stuff at tourist shops”

The horror!

ubersiren's avatar

@Jeruba :I was definitely taught that it is supposed to be inside the quotes. I just looked it up, and it is apparently an American thing. In Canada and Europe it would be placed outside the quotes. I guess that’s telling of American schools.

I get what you say about Olive being of an older origin. but do you think most people know that and that’s why we feel the way we do? Or is it just the fact that it’s uncommon altogether?

@Ivan: hahaha.. I thought the same thing. It reminded me of a bit Penn Jilette did on his radio show. Is it more traumatic to be the only Penn in class, or is it more traumatic for a kid to raise his hand along with 4 other kids when the teacher asks for “Dave.” To be unique, or to be washed out… I say be unique.

tinyfaery's avatar

I never really think about it. A name, is a name, is a name. What I take issue with is parents spelling common names in ridiculous ways, like spelling Tiffany like Tiphanie. I have no idea why this irritates me so much.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Moxie Crimefighter Jillette!

Now there’s a name for a gal!

MacBean's avatar

@tinyfaery That bothers me, too. I think it annoys me because they’re trying to make their kid fit in and stand out at the same time. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, people!

Aethelwine's avatar

I almost wish I would have named my daughter something “strange”. She has one of the most popular names, Emily. Being one of at least 3 Emilys in her class, she must go by Emmy, Emily 2, Em, Emma or Emily W. This bugs the crap out of me!

ubersiren's avatar

@aprilsimnel : That’s exactly why he was talking about names the day I was listening to his show. I love him, and I love Moxie for a name.

@jonsblond: Yeah, you never know the fluctuation of the popularity. I thought our son’s name was quite uncommon, and it is, but it’s rising rapidly (Lincoln). It’s almost like you have to resort to wackiness to remain unique.

Supacase's avatar

I don’t have a problem with Apple. It makes some sort of sense that I just can’t find in Moon Unit, Pilot Inspektor or Kal-El. I honestly have no idea why. I don’t think I would have a real problem with Pilot on its own, either. I think the difference for me is people trying to find unusual names that are cute vs someone making up something, seemingly to get attention.

@ubersiren, I also learned the puncuation as @Jeruba did and I am American. Check out the MLA Formatting and Style Guide at Purdue University’s OWL site; look at the section about quotation marks.

Jeruba's avatar

@ubersiren, I thought it might be a nationality difference. But again, American style is not to put the question mark consistently either inside or outside the quotes. It depends. Examples: How often do you hear the word “paradigm”? She asked me, “When will you be home?”

Darwin's avatar

We had a family member named Nebelow. He ended up committing suicide. No one knows if it was because of his name or not, but I’m sure it didn’t help. However, we also have something like seven living people named Robert. That makes getting together at family reunions somewhat confusing. “Did anyone see Robert?” “Yes, he was drinking a beer over there.” “What?! Robert’s only 12!” “Oh, you mean that Robert. I thought you meant another Robert.”

And Kal-El isn’t really too bad. I suspect a kid with Superman’s other name, Clark Kent, will also get a bunch of razzing, maybe even more than Kal-El.

augustlan's avatar

I like unusual names like Apple (and Cash!), but I don’t like weird names like Dweezil. I tried for unusual with my first daughter, and within 5 years of her birth it was the #1 girls name. Hasn’t left the top 5 since. :(

Sunybunny's avatar

Casheroo: In the case of Cash and Apple I meant the idea of sticking out in the interviewers mind as a compliment. In a sea of Jack and Jills a name like Cash could help him be remembered. (I actually meant it as a sort of compliment and am actually considering it for the boy I am in the process of adopting!) And your right, what someone does is way more important than their name!

Ivan: As a kid who could never find personalized stuff at gift shops I know firsthand it can be very frustrating, then again I’m not everybody.

MacBean's avatar

@Sunybunny: You’re not alone! I think pretty much everyone I’ve ever known who has an unusual name (or a “normal” one with an odd spelling) has complained about not being able to find keychains and pencils and things like that with their names on them.

augustlan's avatar

@Sunybunny Including one of my children, and I wasn’t even trying to give her an unusual name! :)

Sunybunny's avatar

@augustlan when I read your comment I quickly skimmed through the names I included in my post that wouldn’t be deemed unusual, and I found Christel. if this is the name you are refering to, your right, it is not unusual at all, I know at least five Christel s. The only reason this is funny is that she is an ice skating coach, and named her daughter sequin. both christels and sequins are things you commonly decorate ice skating dresses with. It looks like I’m going to be defending my post alot, oops

MacBean's avatar

http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/

Fun times! The name my parents gave me was in the top 5 the year I was born. It’s popularity has decreased steadily since then and it’s now in the 130s. The name I use didn’t even show up on the charts until 1999. Its popularity has increased, though. But it’s still ranked at 340. I’m okay with that.

augustlan's avatar

@Sunybunny No, no! I was just saying one of my girls can’t find personalized things. She’s not named any of the names you listed… no worries.

augustlan's avatar

@MacBean Dammit… your link confirms that daughter #1’s name is still in the top five. When I named her Madison, I’d never heard of anyone in real life with that as a first name. Pisses me off royally.

MacBean's avatar

@augustlan No matter what you named her, the popularity would’ve shot up. Everyone wants to be like you. :D

augustlan's avatar

I’m just that cool, huh? Maybe you should tell my kids. :D

Sunybunny's avatar

@augustlan In that case maybe we should get together lol

cyndyh's avatar

I’ve always liked unusual names. Some of them strike a better chord than others though. Of all the things you could pick why Apple? Why Coco? (That sounds like a panda’s name.) On the other hand I love Moxie Crimefighter and Moon Unit.

We have some unusual names in our family. The unusual male names are all nicknames though (Put, Bunny), and the unusual female names are given (Skyla, Latice, Brandywine, etc.).

It seems to be more acceptable to name daughters unusual names. Sons seem to get more traditional names. The girl names always seem so much more spread out on those list of top names than the boy names.

MacBean's avatar

“It seems to be more acceptable to name daughters unusual names.”

Probably because society takes men more seriously. They need serious names. After all, that is your HEIR, not a PET or something pretty to look at.

chyna's avatar

I have a name that most people don’t have. I don’t like it and wish I had a normal simple name.

casheroo's avatar

@MacBean I’m looking at the list of names in the 130s, and I just can’t picture you as any. Numbe 340 suits you perfectly.

Darwin's avatar

I have a “normal, simple name” that is a bit old fashioned and unfortunately rhymes with a number of perjoratives. I wish I had a different name. It was quite popular the year I was born, but has become much less so (but still in the top 1000).

cyndyh's avatar

@MacBean : That probably has a lot to do with it, yep. There’s still the other end of things. People want to name their girls something different, special, unique while their boys are expected to fit into a certain role.

I have a normal name and always wish I had a more interesting name.

chyna's avatar

@cyndyh Funny how we all want what we don’t have.

cyndyh's avatar

I think that’s just the way of things. :^>

Darwin's avatar

I want curly hair. My daughter wants straight hair.

The grass is always greener, isn’t it?

ubersiren's avatar

@Jeruba and @Supacase : I totally agree with you… you’re right. I just wasn’t taught that way. MLA definitely says that it depends, but other sources say either way is acceptable but the way you say is the original correct way to do it..

http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/GRAMMAR/marks/quotation.htm

Also, I like Pilot, too. I think it’s actually kind of cool by itself.

knitfroggy's avatar

Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii is the weirdest name I’ve ever heard and it’s not even a celebrity kid.

drClaw's avatar

Come on people! Michael Jackson’s son is named “Blanket” and if someone as down to earth as he is names their child after inanimate objects then it must be normal…. right?

casheroo's avatar

@drClaw What’s wrong with naming your child after an inanimate object?

Likeradar's avatar

@drClaw I’m slightly ashamed to admit I know this, but the kid’s name is Prince Michael Jackson II. Blanket is a nickname.

Darwin's avatar

@Likeradar – Thnak you for that. I was pretty sure the kid’s name was not Blanket, but then I thought maybe I had missed an offspring.

drClaw's avatar

I don’t mean to say naming your child after any inanimate object is wrong or even strange, but you have to admit that when celebrities name their child things like Blanket, Apple (which I for one like), Crimefighter, Moon Unit, Rocket, the list goes on that you have to at least question the reasons behind the name.

My mom was a hippie and she had a lot of friends that gave their children names like the ones mentioned above and just as I question celebrities reasons behind I questioned whether they were choosing names with their children in mind or if their reasons were subconsciously more selfish.

Darwin's avatar

@drClaw – Frank Zappa did have a reason for giving his kids unusual names. He was certain that his reputation had made the last name Zappa a major target, so he tried to defuse the situation by giving his kids strange first names.

I am sure he was among the many Americans for whom the FBI had a “potential Commie” file.

Likeradar's avatar

@Darwin That was his explanation? So when little Moon Unit goes to summer camp, people who just know her 1st name will know exactly who she is… making her a target. If she were Cindy or Anne or Beth or whatever, she would just be who she is until people knew her last name. Major logic fail, Frankie.

elijah's avatar

I like different names like Cash, Apple, Moxie, Dexter, Talula. To me those are cute and interesting. I also like old fashioned names like Sophia, Grace, Madelyne but they are to trendy. I do not like names like Blanket, Toaster, Lafondawanda, Lexus or Pilot. Those are weird. I don’t like anything super common like Ashley or Tyler. I also seriously hate when things are spelled different like Mykal.

Darwin's avatar

@Likeradar – He was thinking more of being under surveillance and being stopped more often than usual for minor traffic infractions and being asked to let them search the vehicle. However, he himself did not drive.

ubersiren's avatar

Blanket seems weird to me I guess because nothing close to that has been used as a name before. Ex: bed, pillow, towel…. But fruits, plants, food items have often been chosen as names. My question is why we seem to select certain names above others to be normal. Rose, Lily, Holly (my name), Fern seem normal, but Daffodil, Cedar or Tulip would get some looks. Why is that? They’re all equally pretty, right?

mangeons's avatar

I don’t think Apple is strange at all, I think it’s really cute. : )

But, on the other hand, I think Olive is a much weirder name for a person.

Likeradar's avatar

@Darwin I still don’t understand how having the name Moon Unit or Dweezil could help with that… oh well.

Darwin's avatar

@Likeradar – He was paranoid that the establishment was out to get him. Besides his older daughter is always called Moon, not Moon Unit, so that’s a bit better.

Why do people always focus on just the two kids? Zappa had four:

Moon Unit (called Moon),

Dweezil (originally registered at birth as Ian Donald Calvin Euclid because the hospital staff refused to write Dweezil on the forms – he had it changed legally to his family nickname Dweezil),

Ahmet Emuukha Rodan (called Ahmet and named after Ahmet Erteg√ľn, one of two brothers who founded and headed Atlantic Records), and

Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen (called Diva but so named because she was screaming louder than all the other babies in the hospital nursery.).

chyna's avatar

@Darwin I didn’t know he had 4 kids. I lost track of him after his first two.

Darwin's avatar

@Chyna – Yes, he had four, and all of them are successful and creative people. Fortunately none of them inherited his nose.

chyna's avatar

@Darwin He does have a honker!

ubersiren's avatar

Yeah, Ahmet did some stuff for MTV for a while. I’d never heard of Diva Muffin Tin or whatever… crazy.

Darwin's avatar

Ahmet has done music, movies, TV shows (he was also host of Robotica), novels, and scripts.

Diva is a musician as well as a fashion designer who lives in LA.

Moon is married and has a daughter, Mathilda Plum Doucette. She has been a singer, stand-up comic, magazine writer, and actress and has published one novel.

Dweezil is married with two daughters, Zola Frank Zappa and Ceylon Zappa. He has done some acting but is first and foremost a musician and composer.

You may now consider yourself fully Zappa-ed.

casheroo's avatar

I used to have the biggest crush on Dweezil.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Darwin Good Grief! and I thought my oldest son might be considered strange when he chose the name Fox for his coming of age name.

Darwin's avatar

What is wrong with the name Fox? My husband’s totem is Eagle.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Darwin Nothing is wrong with it, but he was only 12 at the time, so I was a little concerned. He dropped all other names, and uses Fox as his only name now, but his children and wives carry the last name of his adopted father.

cyndyh's avatar

I always liked Frank Zappa’s nose. Did you ever see the episode of the Monkees with him and Mike doing a role reversal interview? Mike wore the nose and glasses pretending to be Frank who wore the took pretending to be Mike. Funny stuff.

Darwin's avatar

@cyndyh ; Frank Zappa’s nose was an important part of his image and made him a very striking figure. But can you imagine it on an otherwise pretty girl? Barbra Streisand notwithstanding, it could be a major focal point for angst.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@cyndyh – And that clip made me a Papa Nez fan forever and ever.

cyndyh's avatar

@Darwin: I had a friend like that in high school. Yeah, everything she ever felt was all about her big snoz. It’s about the only time I can think of that “angst” is an understatement.

@aprilsimnel: Yeah, you have to love him after that. :^>

Bobbilynn's avatar

My son’s name is Gage! I’m not a celebrity

MacBean's avatar

I’d put “Gage” in the same category as “Cash.” Definitely not common, but not exactly weird, either.

casheroo's avatar

Cash is better
sorry couldn’t help it.

Aethelwine's avatar

Little Gage from Pet Sematary was sooo cute! Until, well…you know what happens.

Sorry @Bobbilynn. I always think of that movie when I hear the name Gage. :)

MacBean's avatar

Cash is my favorite character in As I Lay Dying. If he grows up to be one of those snobby intellectuals, he can try to pass it off as a literary name.

chyna's avatar

@jonsblond Me too! And I could never finish that book. Too spooky for me.

casheroo's avatar

I’ve never read that. Should I? Maybe I’ll add that to the mix of..“after Johnny Cash? or “Cash MONEY!!” questions.

Aethelwine's avatar

@chyna I hate to say that’s one of King’s books I haven’t read yet. Better than the movie? (stupid question I’m sure, but I’ll ask anyway).

@MacBean Cash is definitely a better name than Vardaman!

chyna's avatar

@jonsblond It scared the life out of me and I couldn’t watch the movie past a certain point either. King is my favorite author, so that tells me how good he was at delivering this story. I had many nightmares after reading the book.

Aethelwine's avatar

@chyna I’m in the mood to be spooked. Looks like I may be reading that one next. I need to catch up to Blondesjon anyway, he’s read all but two of King’s books. :)

chyna's avatar

@jonsblond Which two? I think I’ve read them all.

Aethelwine's avatar

@chyna Looks like it’s only Rose Madder. He finally read Cujo.

aprilsimnel's avatar

“Hello. I’m Johnny Cash.” ::wild applause::

Every time I hear “Cash” as a name, that’s what I remember from watching variety shows as a little kid. I think Cash is a great name.

casheroo's avatar

@aprilsimnel lurve for your love.

chyna's avatar

@jonsblond I have not read Rose Madder either. Forgot that one. Cujo was really good.

MacBean's avatar

@casheroo—Faullkner is not for everyone. But, personally, I say you can’t go wrong with a book where a kid accidentally bores holes through his dead mother’s face.

@jonsblondPet Sematary is SO MUCH BETTER in book form. As a rule, SK’s short stories transfer to the screen much better than his novels, but I thought that one was a particularly bad adaptation.

augustlan's avatar

I second @MacBean‘s SK book/story/movie opinion. edit: Pet Sematary is one of my favorite SK books. And Rose Madder was one of my least favorite SK books of all time. The only books of his I haven’t read are most of the Darktower/Gunslinger series… just not my cup of tea.

chyna's avatar

@augustlan I have not read the Darktower series either. I couldn’t get into them. The Stand is my all time favorite of his.

MacBean's avatar

I can’t get into Darktower, either. I have them all. I just… can’t… get… through… them. And The Stand is my favorite, too. :D I even liked the miniseries.

elijah's avatar

I love As I Lay Dying. Great book :)
I’ve read all of Stephen King, the only movie that did any of his books justice was Misery. The Dark Tower series is wonderful. I really am not into sci fi stuff (I hate the hobbit, harry potter, and vampire/ wizard/ magic books) but I really like that series. I couldn’t wait for the next to come out. I’m sad it’s done :(

DeanV's avatar

@elijah: Great book, but a terrible band…

elijah's avatar

Meh, I don’t think they suck but yeah they aren’t the best. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them LOL.

augustlan's avatar

@elijah The Shining? Shawshank Redemption? The Green Mile? Don’t feel bad, I forgot all of these movies when we were talking about this a while back. :)

cyndyh's avatar

@MacBean : Not only boring holes into a dead mother’s face. The same author gave us a castrated simpleton finding a condom wrapper under his sister’s window in The Sound and the Fury. You gotta love the guy for the stuff that sicks with you like that.

I also loved the Dark Tower series. I think some people find some of the books harder than others to get through because they all have a different sort of style and focus. If you’re a fan of one style the next one might grate on you.

Aethelwine's avatar

@augustlan How I remember. :)

elijah's avatar

@augustlan yes you’re right. The shining was great, but I don’t really like green mile. It’s not that its bad, but it just wasn’t “Stephen King” enough for me.

Dorkgirl's avatar

My sister-in-law taught at a school where two boys were named Limonjelo and Orangelo…really, orange Jell-o and Lemon Jell-O. I kid you not. So, not just celebrities name their kids odd things.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i think there are plenty of weird names, but i don’t see why anyone would criticize them. at some point, every name was completely unique. even ‘typical’ names like emily or joshua were firsts at some point.

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