The Baby Name Buff: Candy Edition

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. In the spirit of love and kindness, I’ll spare you all my extended tirade on why I personally hate and don’t celebrate this holiday. Instead, I’ll focus on the positive and highlight 15 unusual baby names inspired by the one redeeming aspect of Valentine’s Day: candy!

Boys

Mars
The top candy company in the U.S., Mars makes some of the best mainstream candy bars around, including Twix, Milky Way, and Snickers. Mars is also our neighboring planet, so this would also be a great boys’ name for space enthusiasts. And, of course, Mars is the Roman god of war, though I’m not sure gory battle is necessarily what you want to invoke when naming your child. Still, as Meatloaf hath taught us, two out of three ain’t bad.

Rancher
This name is unique for being somehow both preppy and rugged at the same time (prugged?). So, if Chuck Norris and Jackie Onassis (Kennedy) had a baby boy, this would be the perfect name for him. But, as we all know, Chuck Norris doesn’t need another person in order to have a baby; he can just will a child into being.

Werther
Whereas the name Rancher is only half preppy, Werther is a full-on khaki-wearing, trust-fund receiving, Starbucks drinking baby name. If you choose this name for your little boy, you’d better start saving up now for his exorbitant law school tuition.


Toblerone
Toblerone is one of the most scrumptious-yet-underrated candy bars around. Likewise, while I personally love the uniqueness of this stately baby name, I doubt we’ll ever see Toblerone in the U.S. top 1,000. Possible nicknames: Tobler (like the last name of this candy bar’s inventor) or Toby / Tobi.  

Cadbury
Part of me thinks this name is really cute. Another part of me thinks that, like the name Grigsby from last week’s Super Bowl LIII blog, you’ll be pigeonholing your child into a single career choice: butler. (Or, to be charitable, your kid might also be able to become a chauffeur.) But the biggest part of me is too busy wondering what the hell that disgusting gelatinous goop is in the middle of Cadbury cream eggs to really provide an objective opinion on whether or not this name would be a good pick for a little boy.

Patch
This is one of the cutest boys’ names I’ve come across in a while. The obvious cultural touchstone for this name is the movie Patch Adams, which makes this name an excellent option on a couple levels. First, there’s the allusion to the real-life doctor who brings joy to the lives of sick kids, and who wouldn’t want their own child to grow up to have that kind of compassion? Second, for anyone who adores Robin Williams (i.e. everyone) but wants a more zazzy name than Robin or William, Patch is perfect. 


Girls

Godiva
This is a great name for all you feminists out there. Legend has it that Lady Godiva constantly entreated her husband to stop over-taxing the people of the town of Coventry, to no avail. “Nevertheless, she persisted.” Finally, in frustration, her husband said he would reduce the taxes “when she rode a horse, naked, through the streets of the town at midday” (Harvard Magazine). Challenge accepted! And though many scholars believe that this story is a myth rather than actual history, naming your little girl Godiva could still set the tone for her to become a strong, independent woman. Plus, when it comes to chocolate, Godiva is the top-shelf good stuff; likewise, nothing but the best name for your little one. And finally, this name will always make me think of Queen’s rockin’ tune “Don’t Stop Me Now,” given the line: “I’m a racing car passing by / Like Lady Godiva.” There’s so much to love about this name! Possible nicknames: Godi and Diva (which could be pronounced Dive-a or Dee-va).

Valrhona
I love this name because it is very unique yet legitimately sounds like a name (unlike many other “names” that crop up on my blog lists, #sorrynotsorry). I’ve heard this name pronounced two different ways: Val-roan-a and Val-a-rona-a. I don’t know where that additional “a” came from in the latter pronunciation, but I’m a fan of the former sound. And, in case your kid wants a more mainstream nickname, Val works well, though Rhona would be a very nice, more distinctive nickname possibility as well. Another fun nickname option is Rho / Ro / Roe. (I like the Rho spelling the best, though I also like the Ro spelling because of the nod to Ro Laren from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and later Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.)  

Galaxy
I must confess that, candy lover that I am, I’ve never actually tried any of the Galaxy line of chocolates—gasp! I need to get on that. But Galaxy is a name I’ve loved for a long time; I adore any name associated with the cosmos. And Galaxy has several great nickname possibilities. First, there’s Gal, which puts me in mind of another great feminist icon: Wonder Woman. Second, there’s Alax / Alex, which is a bit more common for girls these days. (I myself have a sweet little niece named Alex.) And finally, the much less conventional nickname Axy / Axie could work as well. (Surprisingly, I also know a little girl with this name!) With the name Galaxy, the sky’s not the limit—the universe is!

Dove
I like this name because it is short and sassy. But doves are also a symbol of peace, which is another lovely layer to this name’s impact and meaning. The only possible drawback is that people might think of the soap instead of the tasty candy, but those aren’t my kind of people anyway. And, despite this name’s brevity, I think Doe could be a nice nickname option for people to fawn over.

Kit-Kat
I know what you’re thinking. “Kit-Kat as a name for my baby girl? Gimme a break!” But hear me out. First, this candy bar is named after a person, so naming your kid Kit-Kat would really just bring things full circle. (Candy bar imitates name imitates candy bar.) Second, both Kit and Kat are already nicknames in use for Katherine / Catherine. Third, as I noted with the name Blue-Jean in my David Bowie Edition blog post, hyphenated first names are on the rise. And finally, Kika would be an adorable nickname.

Pixie
Yes, Pixy sticks are a total trash candy—just colored sugar in low-quality paper tubes. But Pixie is by far my overall favorite name on this list. This name conjures images of mythical woodland sprites, so it’s the perfect name for your sweet little fairy. Also, since there’s not a parent among us who doesn’t ask themselves daily, “Where is My Mind?,” this hip name’s allusion to the band The Pixies is also quite appropriate. (And yes, I changed the spelling; Pixie looks so much better than Pixy, but maybe I’m biased because I’m Vickie with an “ie” instead of a “y.”)


Gender-Neutral

Aero
Like the Galaxy treats, this confection from Nestle is yet another candy bar that I’ve regrettably never tried (yet). But I really like Aero as a cooler spelling alternative to the increasingly-popular name Arrow. The Aero candy bar is known for its light, bubbly texture, so this is a great name if you’re hoping your little one will have a peppy personality.  

Hawk
This name is a shout-out to all my northeast PA peeps. Gertrude Hawk is a chocolate company based in Dunmore, PA that is most famous for their filled chocolates called Smidgens. This name of course also brings to mind famous skateboarder Tony Hawk. So, if you are from NEPA, love Gertrude Hawk chocolates, and also enjoy skateboarding, then Aero hits the holy trifecta of all your naming requirements.

Spree
It took a while for this name to grow on me. But names with an “ee” sound at the end, like Bree, have been popular for a long time, so why not Spree?

What do you think is the sweetest name on this list? Let me know in the comments.


Photo credit: Andrew_Writer




The Baby Name Buff: Super Bowl LIII Edition

I want to preface this blog by confessing that I don’t give a rat’s tail, let alone an entire rat’s ass, about football. First, football is super violent, so right there I’m not a fan. Second, even though many would argue that competition is the cornerstone of a well-functioning capitalistic society, I hate watching sports competitions because I don’t like to see how sad one of the teams is when they lose. This sentiment is especially true for ultimate showdowns like the Super Bowl, where one of the teams that worked so hard to make it to the final game will eventually have to feel the deep sting of the jaws of defeat. And finally, I think football is just plain boring.  All that said, football is the most popular sport in the United States, and I’m sure there are many parents out there who would love to name their child in honor of their favorite football team or player.

This Sunday, Super Bowl LIII pits the Los Angeles Rams against the New England Patriots. (And yes, I had to look that information up online because, again, I’m all out of rodent posteriors to dole out when it comes to football.) And while even the best sports analysts cannot say for sure which team will win Super Bowl LIII, I am about to reveal whether it was the Patriots or the Rams who won the coveted title of Baby Name Bowl 2019 champion by inspiring the best, most unique baby names. Let me tell you, folks; it was a close game indeed, so get ready to take up residence at 1 Edge-of-Your-Seat Drive.

Also, before we begin the competition, I’d like to extend a hearty thank you to my football-loving brothers, John Gundling and Alex Gundling, for helping me with players’ name pronunciations. Your help with this endeavor almost makes up for all the times each of you tried to talk to me about football’s even more boring off-shoot, fantasy football. But only almost. And I’m grateful for this handy list of Rams and Patriots Starters, Specialists, and Key Reserves from CBS Sports.com for providing an easy way for me to find out who is playing in Super Bowl LIII.

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First Quarter
[The Patriots started the first quarter strong, taking a decisive lead over the Rams.]

FQ: Rams

Tanzel—inspired by Tanzel Smart. I love, love, LOVE this name as pronounced in Smart’s case (Tan-zell). It’s like Denzel (also an amazing name) but with a fun and funky twist. I also like this name because I’m a fan of gender-neutral possibilities, and I think this name could work well for a boy or girl. Possible nicknames: Tan, Anz, Anzel, and Zel / Zell. Or, if you are looking for a unique alternative to the Germanic name Hansel, you could change the pronunciation slightly to that end (Tan-suhl).

Blythe—inspired by Austin Blythe. The correct pronunciation for this player’s last name sounds like the word “blight” to me, which obviously is not a good connotation. However, if you pronounce it instead like the last name of Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables, then I’m a huge fan. And, as a bonus, that pronunciation would make this the perfect name for someone who both loves football and adores Anne of Green Gables (in other words, no one). Blythe, though not in the top 1,000 just yet, is gaining steam as a name for both boys and girls. Possible nicknames include Bly, Ly, and Lythe.

FQ: Patriots

Deatrich
—inspired by Deatrich Wise, Jr. This name is great for those who love both old-timey movies and football, though there’s probably not a ton of overlap between those two fandoms either. Possible nicknames: Dea, Deat, Eatric, and Trich / Trick. I like the Dea or Dee nickname for boys or girls and the Trich / Trick nickname for boys.

Duron—inspired by Duron Harmon. At first, I guessed that this name was pronounced as it is spelled (Du-ron), and I was not loving it, since it reminded me of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, and I don’t think anyone wants to name their kid after a big, freaky, evil tower-eye entity. But the actual pronunciation (Duh-ron) definitely won me over. Normally, even with short names, I’ve got at least one nickname idea, but I feel like Duron is perfect as is for a little boy’s name.

Edelman—inspired by Julian Edelman (pronounced Ed-uhl-min). Though I’m not quite as into this name as some of the others on this list, I do like that Edelman can be gender neutral and presents a lot of great nickname options, such as Edel, Del / Dell (or Della for a girl), Elm, and Elman. And, in case your child hates having this unique name, they can always fall back on the super-boring nickname Ed. You don’t have to call them that, of course—parent’s prerogative.

Elandon—inspired by Elandon Roberts. Originally, I assumed the pronunciation of this name was E-lon-don, and I therefore figured this would be the right name for those who secretly wish their child was actually a Lord of the Rings character or a dinosaur.  But my brothers (and Roberts himself, pronouncing his own name in a video) corrected my incorrect assumption; this name is actually pronounced E-lan-din, which to me is a more sophisticated and more interesting version of the overused but still reasonably cool gender-neutral name Landon. Possible nicknames: Elan, Landon, Ando, Andon, or Lando.

Keionta—inspired by Keionta Davis. Another gorgeous name, Keionta (pronounced Key-on-tay) would actually make a terrific name for a boy or a girl. Possible nicknames include Kei (pronounced Key or Kai), Eion (pronounced Eon), Ion (pronounced Eye-on), or Onta (pronounced On-tay, rhymes with Dante).  

Final Score @ the end of the First Quarter: Patriots 5 vs. Rams 2
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Second Quarter
[In the second quarter, the Rams capitalized on the Patriots’ flagging energy, gaining several points for a marginal lead.]

SQ: Rams

Ndamukong
—inspired by Ndamukong Suh. Undoubtedly the most unique name on this list, Ndamukong, pronounced En-dom-ah-ken is especially interesting for its meaning: “house of spears” (Baby Name Wizard). So, if physical or emotional strength is something you feel is especially important to foster in your little one, or if you’d like your child to grow up to value protecting others, this name might be right for you. Possible nicknames include Endo, Dom, Muko (pronounced Mah-kah or Moo-ko), Khan, and Kong.

Zuerlein—
inspired by Greg Zurlein. While some may find Zurlein (pronounced Zur-line) a bit questionable for its similarity to the German word Fraulein (meaning miss or unmarried woman), unique baby name hunters are always obsessed with names that start with Z, so perhaps this name could work for some people. I’m honestly not as in love with this name as many others on the list, but I can imagine how this name might be alluring for others as a baby boy’s name. Possible nicknames include Zeur and Erl / Earl.

Reynolds
—inspired by Josh Reynolds. Pronounced Ren-uhlds, this is another name that is great because it works for a boy or a girl and has lots of cool nickname possibilities. For a girl, I like the nicknames Rey / Rae or Ren / Wren. For a boy, possible nicknames are Rey / Ray or Nold / Noldy.  

Nickell—inspired by Nickell Robey-Coleman. I initially thought this name was pronounced like the coin, and even then I thought the second “l” at the end really elevated this name. But my brothers both confirmed the name is really pronounced Nigh-Kell, which I love even better; it has a very lyrical cadence. And I also like the possible alternative spellings Nykell or Ny’kell. Possible nicknames include Ni / Ny (pronounced Nigh), Nike (rhymes with Mike), Nick, or Kell.

Saffold
—inspired by Rodger Saffold. Though taken from the last name of a bulky dude, I really like Saffold as a girl’s name option, mostly because Saffo (a sweet alternative spelling of Sappho) would be an adorable nickname.

Talib—inspired by Aqib Talib. First, I want to throw a shout out to the parents of Aqib Talib for their genius in rhyming their son’s first and last name without having it come off as hokey or Dr. Seuss-like. Kudos. Second, as a first name, I find Talib (pronounced Tuh-leeb) attractive because it is succinct and somehow whimsical. Possible nicknames include Tull, Tal (rhymes with Hal), Li / Lee, or (for a girl) Leeby or Libby.    

JoJo—inspired by JoJo Natson. Much like rhyming first and last names, repeating names are hard to pull off without sounding corny or gimmicky, but—for some unknown reason—I really like JoJo. Maybe it is because my mom’s middle name is Jo, so I have a fondness for that name and therefore don’t mind hearing it twice in a row. Or maybe it is because I really like the girl’s name Josephine (Dawson’s Creek lover over here!), and JoJo would be a cute nickname for that. Regardless, JoJo works well as a boy’s or girl’s name and would also be a great pick for anyone who loves the 90s R&B duo K-Ci and JoJo. This name might also be the choice of the day if you let your four-year-old little girl choose her younger sibling’s name, given the extreme popularity these days of the obnoxious yet wholesome kids’ singer, JoJo Siwa.

SQ: Patriots

LaAdrian—inspired by LaAdrian Waddle. First, I like LaAdrian (pronounced Luh-Ay-drian) because Adrian is a gender-neutral name, so LaAdrian also works well for boys or girls. Second, I’m a big fan of names without a space but with two capital letters somewhere in the name. This trend can even make pedestrian names kind of cool, like MaryAnne or KateLynn. Possible nicknames include LaAdri, Adrian, Dree, and Rian (pronounced Ryan or Ree-anne).

Karras—inspired by Ted Karras. Pronounced Care-iss, I actually like this name option for a girl. It’s like a cool combo of the well-trod name Carrie / Karrie and the currently trendy name of the protagonist from The Hunger Games, Katniss. Possible nicknames: Carrie, Air, or Riss.

Grigsby
—inspired by Nicholas Grigsby. To me, this name sounds super English, so it would be a perfect pick for all the Anglophiles out there. Another convenient benefit of the gender-neutral name Grigsby is that your child can also double as your butler. Possible nicknames: Grig (or Greg), Rig, Igsby, or Bee.

Final Score @ the end of the Second Quarter: Patriots 8 vs. Rams 9
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Third Quarter
[After an exciting, back-and-forth quarter, the Patriots regain a slight lead.]

TQ: Rams

Whitworth—inspired by Andrew Whitworth. Many people are now using the last names of famous writers (especially poets) as first names, such as Tennyson or Byron. Since I was an English major in college, I’m totally down with that trend. Along those same lines, Whitworth invokes both Walt Whitman and William Wordsworth; since I really like both those poets, I love this unconventional name for a little boy. (Additionally, I think a hybrid poetry style of Whitman and Wordsworth would be really neat, so hopefully your child will invent that writing style combination if you name him Whitworth.)  Possible nicknames: Whit, Twor (rhymes with Thor), or Earth (like the ending sound in this name, but I like this spelling better than Orth).

Ebukam—inspired by Samson Ebukam. I would argue this name is the second most unique name on this list, after the aforementioned Ndamukong. Pronounced Uh-boo-kum, I like the staccato sound of this gender-neutral name. Possible nicknames include Ebu (pronounced Uh-boo or Eee-boo), Uka (pronounced Ooo-ka), or Kam (pronounced like Cam in Camden or Cameron).

Robey—inspired by Nickell Robey-Coleman. In addition to donating his first name as a formidable team member for Baby Name Bowl 2019, Nickell Robey-Coleman also contributes Robey (pronounced Ro-bee) as a cute alternative to the much more common boy’s name Robby. This name could potentially work well for a boy or a girl. And, as with the nickname Ed for Edelman (above), if your kid is all about fitting in with the crowd, he or she could always go by the extremely-common nickname Rob. Or, if your kid likes the uniqueness of being named Robey but still wants a nickname, you could go with Ro / Roe, Obe / Obi (like Obi-wan Kenobi from Star Wars), or Bey / Bae. Or, if your child has trouble listening, you could call him or her Obey for short so you can reiterate a command for them to listen every time you say their name. (I kid, I kid.)

TQ: Patriots

Sony—inspired by Sony Michel.  While this name is unique, I’m feeling a bit lukewarm about it. On the one hand, if I could disassociate this name from the electronics brand, then I could admit that this is a short, cute name. On the other hand, I unfortunately can’t stop thinking about TVs and stereos (yes, stereos—I’m old, okay?) when I hear this name. So, if you are the kind of person who would also name your kid Electronica or Magnavox (actually, I’m kind of liking that last one…), then maybe the boy’s name Sony could work for you.

Shaq
—inspired by Shaq Mason. I was a little surprised that Shaq (pronounced Shack) has never been in the top 1,000 names in the U.S., but I didn’t check the longer / more formal version of the name (Shaquille), so maybe that name is in the top 1,000. In any case, I like Shaq because it is a nice, single-syllable name with an air of coolness about it. The only downside is that there are no obvious nicknames. Then again, the lack of nicknames could be an upside; for those who are like my Aunt Sally and don’t like nicknames at all, for any name, Shaq could be a nice choice.

Dont’a—inspired by Dont’a Hightower. Before discussing this name, I’d like to take a moment to appreciate how badass the entire name Dont’a Hightower is. This guy sounds like he should be a superhero instead of a football player. But back to the point at hand, Dont’a is a unique version of the extremely-popular boy’s name Dante, which peaked in the U.S. in 1997 (#200) and is still fairly common at #318 as of 2017 (Social Security Administration: Popular Baby Names). Possible nicknames include Don and T’a / Tay for boys and Dawn, Donna, T’a / Tae, or Taya for girls.

McCourty—inspired by Devin and Jason McCourty. Twins Devin and Jason McCourty (ESPN.com) co-donate their last name (pronounced Mick-cort-ee) as a possible first name for a boy or girl. As with LaAdrian (above), I like this name for the no-space, double-capital aspect. But I’ve noticed that, while last names as first names has been a huge part of the unique baby name boom of the last 10-20 years, last names starting with Mc have not often been included in the last-name-as-first-name trend, and I think they should be. Possible nicknames for McCourty include Mick, Mic / Mike, Court / Cort, Tee, or Ty (pronounced like tie in necktie).

Harmon—inspired by Duron Harmon. Like several other players in Baby Name Bowl 2019, Duron Harmon is a very valuable player for contributing both his first and last name to the game. One of my all-time favorite baby girl names is Harmony, so I love Harmon because I feel like it is the male version of Harmony. It also has an elegant sound along the lines of lovely sounding (if antiquated) names like Harlan. I can’t think of any nicknames for this one either, though.

Final Score @ the end of the Third Quarter: Patriots 13 vs. Rams 12
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Fourth Quarter
[In the exciting final quarter of Baby Name Bowl 2019…keep reading to find out what happened!]

FQ: Rams

Aqib—inspired by Aqib Talib. Aqib (pronounced Uh-keeb) joins many other names on this list as a nice choice for its brevity and striking sound. And, as one of my own nicknames in high school was Keeb (because of my pointy ears), I like the possible nickname Qib (with the same Keeb sound but a cooler spelling).  

Joyner
—inspired by Lamarcus Joyner. Another naming trend I like a lot is taking existing and more common names and adding something onto them to make a longer and more unique name. (Examples: Maxton or Kateliss.) Joyner is in that family of names, so I enjoy this option at lot. I would most like this name for a girl, and then the more common name Joy can be a nickname, if desired.  

Natson—inspired by JoJo Natson. While my favorite contribution from this player is his first name (discussed above), Natson joins a well-regarded set of boys’ and girls’ names ending in –on, by far one of the most popular trends when it comes to picking or creating unusual baby names. Also, I really love Nat as a nickname.


Mannion
—inspired by Sean Mannion. Pronounced Man-yin, this is yet another name ending in –on and is thus a name likely to be popular with many baby name enthusiasts. This name could work well for a boy or a girl, with possible boys’ nicknames Manni / Manny, girls’ nicknames Ann or Anni, and gender-neutral nicknames Yin or Ion.

Lamarcus—inspired by Lamarcus Joyner. While I would like this name much better if it followed the two capital letters in a single name trend discussed above (LaMarcus), this name has…..wait a minute…the referee has just thrown a penalty flag. According to the rules of Baby Name Bowl 2019, as set out in the TBNB charter in January 2019, no names that have been in the U.S. top 1,000 between 1900 and the present can appear on this blog (including during Baby Name Bowls). The referees have confirmed that Lamarcus was in the top 900s from 1982 to 1984. Therefore, Lamarcus is ejected from the game!!! What a stroke of bad luck for the Rams. In a game this tight, this is quite a blow! This ejection puts the Rams ahead by only three points as we see what the Patriots have got in this final quarter.

FQ: Patriots

Cordarrelle—inspired by Cordarrelle Patterson. Cordarrelle is tied with Tazel for Most Valuable Name (MVN)—i.e. my favorite name—of Baby Name Bowl 2019. Whether pronounced as in the case of Patterson (Core-daryl) or more like Corduroy (Cor-duh-rell), this name is just plain awesome. I can’t even say why—I just love it! Possible nicknames include Core, Cordy, Darrelle / Daryl, Drell, and Rell.


Develin—inspired by James Develin. It’s easy to be down on the name Develin (pronounced Dev-a-lin), as are most of the people on the name boards and sites I frequent. Yes, this name invokes the Devil, and I suspect the Devil tops even Hitler in the Western imagination for the most scary, evil entity imaginable. But, let’s face it: all kids are at least partially little “devils,” so it’s not like the name would be completely off base, am I right? To be more serious, though, I like the sound of Develin because it is a longer, more fluid version of the gender-neutral name Devin / Devon, another name I like pretty well.

Cannon—inspired by Marcus Cannon. Well, everyone, it looks like Baby Name Bowl 2019 is going into overtime, as this final name from the Patriots ties the game up 16 to 16.  Despite this name’s militaristic association, it is a promising baby name option because it joins Duron, Elandon, Harmon, Natson, and Mannion as yet another potential baby name ending in –on. While this name…hold on folks! The referees have issued another penalty flag. What’s going on here? Oh no! The boy’s name Cannon has been in the top 1,000 every year since 2003. Cannon is ejected from the game! I repeat, Cannon is ejected from the game!!!!!

The Rams win Baby Name Bowl 2019! The Rams wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin!!!!!!!!!

Final Score: Patriots 15 vs. Rams 16

The Baby Name Buff: David Bowie Edition

On January 10th, 2016, the world lost a true music legend. David Bowie was one of the most prolific musical artists of all time, with a career spanning from 1967 until just before his untimely death. He is hands-down my favorite musical artist. While Bowie is well known for his songwriting innovations, he is perhaps remembered most for his outrageous and unique stage personas, such as the Thin White Duke or Aladdin Sane.  It is therefore fitting to search his life and music for unique baby name possibilities.

So, whether you are a hard-core Bowie fan looking for a name as fantastical as Ziggy Stardust himself or a more moderate fan looking to tip your hat to Bowie without choosing a name that will give your parents a heart attack, this list of Bowie-inspired baby names is sure to deliver.

Ormen
The compelling opening line of the first and title song on Bowie’s final album, “Blackstar,” references the “villa of Ormen.” As a baby boy’s name, Ormen will work well for anyone interested in Norse heritage or parents looking for a short, strong boy’s name. Possible nicknames: Orm or Ore.

Labyrinth
A classic 80s flick directed by Jim Henson, Labyrinth is a fun fantasy romp starring David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King. And while it might seem strange to name your kid after a movie in which Bowie’s tights-clad man-package is super conspicuous throughout the film, the gender-neutral name Labyrinth has a fanciful appeal and beautiful sound. There are also many great nickname possibilities: Labby, Abby, Byri, or Rin for girls and Byrin or Byron for boys.

Canasta
While Bowie certainly wrote bawdy songs about getting it on, he was also great at capturing the deep, soul-connecting aspects of sex. One song that does just that is “Lady Grinning Soul” from Aladdin Sane. In one line of the song, the speaker talks of the “lady’s” card-playing prowess (and, perhaps metaphorically, other types of prowess…), citing how she’ll “beat you down at cool Canasta.” Nicknames for a baby girl named Canasta include Cana, Ana, and Asta.

Mandolin
Speaking of gorgeous Bowie songs about sex, “Wild is the Wind” is perhaps one of the loveliest songs I’ve ever heard in praise of the beauty of lovemaking, despite Bowie’s over-the-top moaning that I’ve dubbed as “ghost Bowie.” The name Mandolin comes from the lines: “You / Touch Me/ I hear the sound / Of mandolins.” While this name could work for a boy or girl, I tend to think of it primarily as a girl’s name. Possible nicknames: Mandi, Andi /Andy, or Dolin / Dolyn. You can also consider the alternate spelling Mandolyn, which makes this name a more unique version of the fairly popular name Gwendolyn.

Cygnet
While the song from which this name is taken, “Cygnet Committee,” has decidedly dystopian lyrics, don’t let that association dissuade you from using this interesting, gender-neutral name. If nothing else, a cygnet is also a baby swan, and that’s just adorable. Possible nicknames include Cy and Ygne (pronounced Igne).

Hessian
Bowie’s “An Occasional Dream” is a bittersweet ode to a love lost and is often thought to be about Bowie’s actual former girlfriend, Hermione Farthingale. This name is taken from the line “And we’d speak of a Swedish room, of hessian and wood.” The gender-neutral name Hessian is a newcomer to the existing fabric-inspired names that are all the rage today, such as Cotton, Jean, and Velvet.  Possible nicknames include Hess, Essi, and Sian.  

Jingo
“Oh by jingo!” This refrain from Bowie’s haunting song “After All” provides a short, cute, and very unique baby boy’s name. Possible nicknames: Jin, Jing, or Ingo.

Lodger
In 1979, Lodger joined Low and Heroes as the last album in Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy. Admittedly, I’ve never been much of a fan of any of the albums in The Berlin Trilogy; Bowie pushed the musical experimentation a bit too far for my tastes, and there are way too many instrumental pieces for my liking. (I’m a lyrics girl all the way!) That said, Lodger is an awesome boy’s name—the cooler, more quirky cousin of the overly-popular boy’s name Logan. And, to really push the Bowie influence, Lo (a tip to Low) could be a good nickname.

Rebel
One of my favorite Bowie songs, “Rebel, Rebel,”begins with the couplet “You’ve got your mother in a whirl / She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl.” As such, Rebel couldn’t be anything besides a gender neutral name. As a bonus, if you name your kid rebel, maybe when they reach the normally-rebellious teenage years, they’ll actually not rebel, just because they don’t want to do what you named them to do. (There’s layers of reverse psychology going on here…). Possible nicknames: Reb, Ree, Ebbie, or Ebel.

Brixton

Brixton is the English town where David Jones (i.e. Bowie) was born. Names ending in “ton” are some of the most popular names around, and anything with an X in it is sure to be of interest to unique-name hunters. So, the gender-neutral name Brixton fits the sweet spot of being unique enough for hipsters who want to name their kid something “before it was cool” but not so crazy as to traumatize your grandma. Possible nicknames: Brix, Brick, Rix, Rick, and Ixto.

Update: The SSA popular name tool is a bit finnicky, and it turns out this name ha has actually been in the top 1,000 since 2015! The name is all the way up to 776 as of 2018.

Stardust
From hipsters to hippies, Stardust (a la “Lady Stardust” and “Ziggy Stardust”) is the perfect name for any tree-hugging couples’ little nugget, boy or girl. Possible nicknames: Star, Tara, and Ardu.

Magic
Bowie has many common motifs in his music: love, space, dystopias, and…magic! “Magic Dance” from Labyrinth is one obvious example. But one of my favorite Bowie songs with the term “magic” in it is “The Supermen” from The Man Who Sold the World. The song opens “When all the world was very young / And mountain magic heavy hung…” Beautiful! Though the (male) basketball player Magic Johnson (real name Earvin Johnson) is perhaps the most famous person to adopt this moniker, Magic is a gender-neutral baby name. Possible nicknames; Magi or Agi / Aggie.

Bowie
After Bowie’s death in 2016, this name had an uptick among true and poseur Bowie fans alike. Yet I was surprised to find that Bowie still has not broken into the top 1,000 names in the United States. (I wouldn’t be surprised if it is more popular in England, though.) While Bowie is most often cited as a boy’s name, in the true spirit of Bowie’s own gender-bending ways, I think this name would be great for girls as well.

Update: 5/15/19–as anticipated, Bowie broke into the top 1,000 boys’ names in 2018, at #982. But I’ve seen Bowie floated around as a girls’ name much more often lately, so be on the lookout for this name to bust onto the girls’ top 1,000 scene sometime in the next few years.

Ziggy
Speaking of Bowie-inspired names that I was shocked have never made it into the U.S. top 1,000, I couldn’t believe that Ziggy hasn’t made the list. “Ziggy Stardust” is my all-time favorite Bowie song, and Ziggy Stardust is probably my favorite Bowie album as well (though it is hard to choose)! And, once again, while Ziggy is largely known as a boy’s name, I’d love to see some little girl Ziggys running around in the future. (Fun fact: Ziggy was actually my first pick for my son’s name, but my husband wasn’t having it…boo!)

Ibiza
In the hit Bowie tune “Life on Mars,” Bowie references “…the mice in their million hordes, from Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads.” Ibiza adds some Spanish flair to all of today’s popular place names like London, Berlin, and Cairo (all of which, uncoincidentally, have ties to Bowie as well). While this name could work for a boy or girl, I’m feeling Ibiza as a girl’s name, with possible nicknames of Ibi / Ibby, Biz, and Biza. Shout out to my uncle, Tom Gundling, for finding this Bowie-inspired name gem. (Uncle T is an even bigger Bowie freak than I am, if you can believe that!)

Wonder
Bowie’s 90s music was a step up after some of his questionable albums from the 80s. One of my favorite of his albums from the 90s, I’m Afraid of Americans, boasts the earworm “Little Wonder.” Given that many new parents are often in awe of the arrival of their little one, Wonder is a cool name possibility. This name would be especially meaningful for parents of a rainbow baby or those who struggled to conceive.  

Disco
In my opinion, Reality is one of Bowie’s most underrated albums, and “Bring Me the Disco King” is just one of many fantastic, funky tracks from this glorious compilation. And while Disco might seem like a really out-there name, even for unusual name enthusiasts, other musical-genre names like Jazz have been in the public eye for a while now. I mean, Cisco is a great name, so why not Disco? This name would work well for a boy or a girl. And, if paired with a middle name that starts with a J, you could use the cutesie nickname D.J. (which is also the title of a Bowie song from the aforementioned album Lodger).

Blue-Jean
Another burgeoning trend in the baby-name world is hyphenated first names. One of Bowie’s most popular hits, “Blue Jean” could work very well as a girl’s name, with B.J. as a nickname (though I’m not unaware of the possible sexual connotation of that nickname, so maybe not…)

Amlapura
Amlapura, a city on the Indonesian island of Bali, is the focus of the song of the same name by Tin Machine, a band Bowie fronted in the 90s. While Amlapura is a beautiful island getaway destination for many today, the Tin Machine song deals with some heavy and disturbing topics. Even so, and not to diminish those issues, Amlapura is a gorgeous-sounding girl’s name with many great nickname possibilities, like Ami, Amla, Lapu, and Pura.

Ricochet
This song from Let’s Dance is one of the few 80s Bowie songs that I really love (though I was only introduced to this tune fairly recently by my aforementioned Uncle T). This name could work for boys or girls, though I’m feeling it as a boy’s name. Possible nicknames: Ric / Rick / Ricky / Ricki, Rico, or (my personal favorite) Chet / Shea.

These are only 20 of about 200 Bowie-inspired names I’ve found, so look out for some more David Bowie name editions in the coming months. In the meantime, let me know in the comments what your favorite names are from this list.

Photo Credit: Ron Frazier







Welcome!

Welcome to The Baby Name Buff (TBNB)! This blog is for all the baby name lovers out there. More specifically, this blog is devoted to discussing truly unique baby names, meaning that almost all the baby names on this site are names that have not been in the top 1,000 names in the U.S. Social Security name database any time between 1900 and the present. So, if you’re looking for that one-of-a-kind name for your little one, or even if you’re not expecting but just love discussing unique baby names, you’ve come to the right place.

Each week, I’ll post a new TBNB edition, taking my inspiration from a variety of sources, including music, movies, TV, nature, and more. Stay tuned for the first edition, coming soon!

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”  — Anne Shirley, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables

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