Actress Melanie Vallejo, and her husband Matt Kingston, welcomed their first child a few days ago and have named their son Sonny. As well as her work in theatre, Melanie has been on several television shows, including playing Madison (the Blue Ranger) on Power Rangers Mystic Force. She is best known for her role of Sophie Wong on the popular drama series Winners & Losers. Matt is an advertising executive.
Carmen writes in to say that she is a fan of the Australian fantasy TV series Cleverman on the ABC, which stars Hunter Page-Lochard in the title role. The TV series takes several themes from Australian Indigenous culture and blends them with current ideas in Australian society and politics. The “clever man” is a shaman in Australian Aboriginal culture, and in the show he becomes an Indigenous superhero with mystical powers.
Carmen would be interested in seeing a blog post on the names of the characters in the show, and she also wonders whether there will be any increase in the use of baby names from an Indigenous Australian background because of the show’s influence.
I wonder too, and whether we will even find out, as there is so little data gathering in Australia. Cleverman screens in the US as well, so we’ll see if there’s any impact there.
Koen West: The titular Cleverman. Koen is a Dutch name, a form of Conrad, as well as an Irish surname sometimes used as a first name. It also brings to mind the Jewish surname Cohen, used for the priestly line, and perhaps also the Zen riddle called the koan. It feels both cross-cultural and religious (Koen West has both white and Aboriginal family members).
Waruu West (Koen’s half-brother): Waruu means “crow” in the Gamilaraay language from New South Wales and southern Queensland. In Aboriginal myth, Crow is one of the ancestor spirits.
Nerida West (Waruu’s wife): Nerida means “water lily” in an Aboriginal language; a reasonably familiar name in Australia.
Alinta West (Waruu and Nerida’s daughter): Alinta means “flame” in the Kaurna language from South Australia and has been used in a previous TV show.
Linda West (Waruu’s mother, Koen’s adoptive mother)
James “Jimmy” West (Koen and Waruu’s uncle): The previous Cleverman before he chose Koen as his successor.
Dr Charlotte Cleary (Jarrod’s wife)
Blair Finch (male, Koen’s friend)
Ash Kerry (Blair’s girlfriend)
The hairypeople are inspired by Aboriginal legends from the north-east of New South Wales: in some stories they are dwarfish and in others giants; they have been used as bogeyman figures.
In the Cleverman universe, hairypeople are humanoid, but with DNA sufficiently different to make them a separate species. However they share cultural similarities with Australian Aborigines, including language, relationship to the land, and the Dreamtime. They are long-lived, strong, fast, and tough, and notable for the thick hair which grows all over their bodies. They have unusually bright blue eyes and long hard fingernails that can cut through flesh.
In the TV series, hairypeople remained hidden from humans for 80 000 years, only emerging a few months before the story begins. After discovering they exist, the Australian government regards them as subhuman and enacts laws to keep them contained. Some hairypeople choose to pass as human by shaving off their hair and wearing coloured contact lenses.
Names of Hairypeople Characters
Araluen (female): Araluen is a small town in the Southern Tablelands region of New South Wales. Its name means “water lily” in the local language, as there were once many billabongs covered in lilies in the area.
Boondee (male, Araluen’s husband): A boondee is a heavy-headed club in the Euahlayi language from the Lightning Ridge area of far northern New South Wales and south-west Queensland.
Djukara (male, Araluen and Boondee’s son)
Latani (female, Djukara’s sister): A Polynesian name used on the Australian island Norfolk Island. It may be deliberately multicultural, as Latani wishes for hairypeople and humans to live in harmony. It sounds similar to tarni, meaning “waves, surf” in the Kaurna language of South Australia.
Jyra (female, Latani’s sister)
Harry (male): Because Harry sounds a little like hairy?
Maliyan (male): Maliyan means “wedge-tailed eagle” in the Gamilaraay language. In the show Maliyan is violent, suitable for someone named after a bird of prey.
Mungo (male): Lake Mungo is a dry lake in south-west New South Wales, famous as a site where the oldest examples of Australian human remains have been found. The lake is named after a Scottish saint, whose name probably means “dog lord” in British.
Kulya (male): Kulya is a native vegetable similar to sweet potato grown in Western Australia.
Lena (female): Lena is a word for “water” in the Palwa language from Tasmania.
Kora (a woman from the spirit world): Kora means “companion” in the Awabakal language from the mid-north coast of New South Wales.
Siobhan and her husband are expecting their third child in a few weeks, who will be a sister to their son Douglas and daughter Lucinda (often called Doug and Lulu).
Their front runner is the name Phoebe. It has a sentimental connection, as Siobhan’s mother is named Fiona, so both names have a similar sound, and the nickname Fi can be used for either name.
Although Siobhan isn’t sure that anything will be better than Phoebe, she is still looking as this is their last child, and would like a great sibset. Siobhan loves sibsets that have a “matchy yet mismatched” sort of feel – ones that go together well, without seeming too obviously a set.
She likes names that are familiar but underused or have a slightly dated feel, and a cute nickname is a bonus. If the baby had been a boy, he would have been named Montgomery and nicknamed Monty.
Other names that are still on the list are Eva, Edith, and Cecilia, and Siobhan has no idea what the middle name will be at this point.
Siobhan welcomes people’s input and ideas.
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I know what you mean about those matchy-yet-not-matchy sibsets – I like them too, as they can be charming and unexpected. To me Douglas and Lucinda seem slightly hipster and vaguely Scottish, and Phoebe does fit in with this, as it’s something of a favourite in Scottish songs and ballads.
The names all have quite different popularity profiles: Douglas is a classic which peaked in the 1920s and is now in limited use; Lucinda is a modern classic which has never been popular but is fairly well used; while Phoebe is a retro name which has been popular since the 1990s, but never reached the Top 50. I guess you could say all of them are under-used in some sense.
What makes Phoebe special for you is that you connect it with your mother, and I don’t think you can go past a name that has some kind of meaning or positive association for you. It sounds as if it is the FEE in the name, or the potential to use Fi or Fee as the nickname, which is the main drawcard. There are other names which could give you the same sound and nickname, but perhaps you have already considered and rejected them.
Felicity can also have Fee has the nickname, and it doesn’t seem wildly different from Fiona. Like Fiona it peaked in the 1970s, but never became very popular, making its profile similar to Lucinda – a modern classic which is underused, but remains in reasonable use. It somehow reminded me a little of Montgomery, too.
Another one is Josephine – the original long form for the French nickname Fifi. Josephine is a classic which peaked in the 1910s, so quite similar to Douglas. It hasn’t been popular for many decades, yet has remained in constant steady use, so is very similar in popularity to Lucinda.
A third one that occurs me, and is perhaps something of a stretch, is Daphne. It’s a Greek name like Phoebe with a strong PH in it ending in an EE sound, and it peaked in the 1920s like Douglas. Like Phoebe, it’s a retro name as it has recently come back into fashion but is still underused and has a similar popularity level to Douglas. Fee seems like a cute nickname for it, and more modern than Daph and Daffy.
When you are completely stuck for a middle name and literally have no ideas, then family names can be a good option – although as you are already using a spin on a family name upfront, you might find this a bit much. If so, the unused names on your baby name list can be a go-to resource. It’s especially safe for you as you are not planning on another child and don’t have to worry that you might be “name stealing” from a future daughter.
From your list, I think Phoebe Cecilia is very elegant. I admit that I’m probably very biased though, as I have Cecilia as a middle name on my own name list! I think I would prefer it matched with a longer name like Cordelia or Vivienne, but something short like Phoebe Jane or Phoebe Kate would also work well.
To recap, I think Phoebe makes a great addition to your family and has a wonderful association for you. It’s not the only name you could use that fits the bill, but I think Phoebe is probably where your heart lies. I don’t think you would have any serious problem finding a middle name to go with Phoebe.
Good luck with your name search, and do let us know what name you eventually use!
Readers, what do you think of the sibset Douglas, Lucinda and Phoebe (Doug, Lulu, and Fee)? Can you think of any other names that could complete the sibset and also honour Fiona?
Uraz and Jessie – both girls
Alice Margaret Lois
Emmeline Jean (Jemima Jane)
Grace Allegra (Cooper)
Harriet Fay (Lennox)
India Willow (Alana, Bohdi, Ryder)
Masyn Patricia June (Jhett, Parker)
Sage (North, Indigo, Juniper)
Tallys Ellia “Tally”
Albie Arthur (Oliver, Edith)
Anthony Niko Fereti Kuno Samuel
Arthur David (Harry)
Ashton Devine (Riley, Jayden)
Campbell Barry (Grayson, Nina)
Dane Jobe (Taj, Bree)
Denholm Lindsay Haddon
Edward Tennyson “Ted” (May)
Fergus Eugene (Harry, Oscar)
Jenson Judd (Curtis)
Julian Jesus Juan
Levi Casey Nils
Raife Johann (Ahvoka)
Theodore Edmund “Teddy”
Tobin Mostyn (Cade)
William Lockyer Lachlan (Chloe, Amelia)
(A wild dog or possible dingo on the slopes of Mount Buffalo in the Victorian Alps)
These are name stories from The Best Gift of Life website, as mothers interviewed are asked how they chose their childrens’ names. There are so many places to find a great name, from books you disliked, movies you didn’t watch, and baby name phone apps you hated!
Many of these names have been featured in the Birth Announcements section of the blog, so may seem familiar.
Australian/Canadian couple Meagan and Brad have four children: North, aged 7, Indigo, aged 5, Juniper, aged 3, and Sage, aged 1. North was named in honour of Canada, while Indigo’s name was inspired by the Third Eye chakra. Although Juniper and Sage’s names aren’t explained the family love the outdoors, so nature names seem in line with their interests.
Jessie and Adrian from Tasmania have two children named Liffey, aged 2, and Jarvis, aged 7 months. Liffey’s name was chosen before she was even born, as Adrian and Jessie had visited local landmark Liffey Falls and loved their serenity; they agreed Liffey would be a sweet name for a girl if they ever had a daughter. Jarvis was named after Jessie’s dad’s home town – Jervis Bay is in the coastal region of the Australian Capital Territory, and pronounced JAR-vis.
Leah and Colin had a little girl named Eva James at the start of the year. Eva is named after Leah’s grandmother that she had a special bond with, while the middle name James is after her father.
Lucy and Hayden live in New Zealand, but their son Mickey Memphis, aged 2, was born when they lived in Australia. Mickey was the name they were always going to use, regardless of their child’s gender, and Memphis is due to Colin’s love of blues music. During labour Lucy was listening to the radio, and the song Hey Mickey came on, which seemed like a thumbs up to their choice.
Jaimi and Jarrud have two sons named Ziggy, aged 4, and Jango Sting, aged 1. Ziggy’s name came from watching the TV series The Wire, which has a character named Chester “Ziggy” Zobotka. The suggestion started as a joke, but soon they agreed it was the perfect name. Jango’s name was inspired by bounty hunter Jango Fett from the Star Wars franchise, while his middle name Sting was after the rock star (Sting was considered too harsh-sounding to be a first name).
Chenoa and her husband have two children named Baylee and Isla [pictured]. Because their surname begins with M, they wanted their first child’s initials to spell BAM, as their “womb name” was Bamba. In a tragic twist, Chenoa learned her father only had a few weeks to live just weeks before the baby was due. Chenoa’s dad Allan had a vivid dream of a boy in the family named Baylee, so that was the name they chose; Allan is Baylee’s middle name, spelling BAM. (Baylee was induced early so that he could meet his grandfather). Isla was named with the idea of isle, island, and as they often call Baylee Bay, they have two water-inspired names for their children.
Kate and Lachie are from Sydney, but live in the Cayman Islands. They have two daughters named Olivia, aged 5, and Eadie, aged 3. They loved the elegance of the name Olivia, while Eadie was named after seeing Sienna Miller portray the actress/model Edie Sedgwick in the film Factory Girl.
Amber and Johnny have two sons named Franklin Ray, aged 3, and Hugo John Austin, aged 1. When pregnant with their first child, Amber was at the movies with Johnny and a trailer for the movie The Watch came on, with Jonah Hill portraying a character named Franklin. That reminded them they loved the name Franklin, and Ray is after Johnny’s father. The second time around names were harder. Johnny suggested Hugo after he had been using a baby name app, and John was in the middle in honour of Johnny himself. The second middle name Austin was Amber’s brother Jesse’s middle name – Jesse died not long before Hugo was born.
Adele and Matthew have three children named Ryland, aged 6, Reid Alex, aged 4, and Pearl Lavender, aged 1. Matt chose Ryland’s name as Adele was too much in shock over not having a girl to think of anything. Reid was the only boy name they agreed on for their second child, and the middle name Alex was after Ryland’s imaginary friend. Pearl was the girl’s name Adele always wanted, but it took until the third child to convince Matt. The middle name Lavender was a suggestion by Ryland, who was keen to have a sister since he already had a brother. His suggestion for a boy was Shame, as he thought it would be a shame to have a third boy!
Holly and her best friend Chase became parents to Otto Henry Rowu last year. Holly had a baby name app on her phone which she was going to delete as it kept suggesting names she hated such as Laddie Boy and Paulina. Then it suddenly came up with Otto, which she unexpectedly loved. Henry is after a family friend who passed away. The second middle name Rowu is an Aboriginal word, pronounced like roar-war. It’s the name of a native flower which grows in the sand, and was chosen by a family friend who is Yolngu. Holly is raising her toddler nephew Theodore, and by chance Theodore and Otto sound like a perfectly matched sibset.
Danielle and Chris have two sons named Emmett and Myles. Danielle read Twilight, and although she wasn’t a fan of the book, did love the name of the character Emmett. Meanwhile Chris loved Dr Emmett Brown from Back to the Future, so readily agreed. The second time around was harder, as their chosen name Peyton didn’t match well with their surname. They saw Myles in the credits of a movie, and both loved it immediately, so the decision was made.
Journalists Ben Fordham and Jodie Speers welcomed their second child on October 1 (their wedding anniversary) and named their daughter Pearl Nellie [pictured]. Pearl is a little sister for Freddy, nearly 2; Freddy’s birth was covered on the blog.
News presenter Alison Ariotti, and her husband Gerry, welcomed their second child early this year and named their daughter Louisa; Louisa joins big sister Mila, aged 3. Alison is the weekend news presenter on Nine News Queensland. Gerry is an anaesthetist.
Two new babies for football players from the Adelaide Crows in the AFL:
David Mackay and his wife Sarah welcomed their first child on September 26 and named their son William Alexander. David has been playing for the Crows since 2008.
Nathan van Berlo and his wife Jess welcomed their first child on September 19 and named their daughter Zara May [pictured]. Nathan began playing for the Crows in 2005, was captain from 2011-2014, and retired at the end of this year’s season.
Name Blind CVs
Numerous studies demonstrate that certain names are more likely to be chosen for a job than others. Not only is it harder to get a job if your name isn’t Anglo-Saxon, but there is a preference for names that are common and easy to pronounce.
Because of this unconscious name bias, several major public and private employers in the UK signed a pledge last year to remove applicants’ names from CVs, and this applies to universities as well. This year, the scheme is being trialled in Victoria, which may also remove gender, age, and location from applications. Taking part is voluntary, and so far WorkSafe, Victoria Police, and Westpac are among those who have signed up for it.
Big Earning Names
Employment company LiveHire looked through its data set of 70 000 profiles to see which names made the most money. The top male earners were Stuart, Donald, Gregory, William, and Kenneth, while women named Heather, Joan, Carolyn, Kerry and Megan earned the most. Meanwhile, names that were struggling financially were Ethan, Francis, Lucas, Samuel, Joshua, Beverley, Amelia, Ruby, Isabella, and Dianne.
LiveHire says these results are for fun, and don’t have any scientific basis. In most cases the high earners have names that peaked in popularity several decades ago, while the Joshuas and Rubys are still young and have not had time to establish themselves in their careers. Older struggling names are possibly more common amongst those from a lower socioeconomic background. LiveHire says there is no need to change your name in order to earn more.
The Smartest Names
Genealogy website Moose Roots collected almost 15 000 names of great philosophers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, inventors, artists, and composers to identify their most common first names.
The top names of genius men were John, Robert, William, Charles, David, James, Richard, Johann, George, Paul, Thomas, Peter, and Joseph (the Beatles all had four fab genius names!). The smartest women were Mary, Elizabeth, Maria, Anne, Margaret, Susan, Ruth, Anna, Alice, Dorothy, Jane, Helen, and Charlotte.
Far from demonstrating that these names are necessary for genius, they just show the most common names over time, with names such as John, William, Mary, and Elizabeth being highly popular for centuries. I fully endorse naming your child after a wonderful namesake if you want to, but think choosing one with a more unusual name, such as Linus or Octavia, would be a lot more distinctive.
The Most Successful Names
Professor Albert Mehrabian from the University of California, has written a book called The Baby Name Report Card, based on extensive surveys of how people perceive names (or how they perceived them in 2002 anyway).
People thought the most successful-sounding women’s names were Jacqueline, Morgan, Elizabeth, Katherine, Victoria, Lauraine, Susan, Catherine, Kate, and Madeleine, and the most successful men’s names were Steven, Ross, Christopher, James, Robert, David, Kenneth, Parker, Thomas, and Madison. Who were these people who thought Madison seemed like a successful man, rather than a 10-year-old girl?
Names that people thought were bound for failure were Wilma, Weeza, Virgie, Trixie, Tina, Swoosie, Suzee, Soosie, Sissy, and Mush for women, and Rufus, Rude, Butch, Alfie, Gary, Normee, Bud, Petie, and Phonso. A definite prejudice against short forms and names nobody has ever heard of can be detected.
There’s nothing wrong with choosing a baby name that a lot of other people like, but the crowd tends to be very conservative, and somewhat behind the trends.
Brand Names – in Line with Baby Names?
Research on brand names showed that in the 1970s and ’80s the letter K was a favourite for leading brand names, such as Kellogs, Kit-Kat, Kodak, Kmart, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. K stood out as memorable, because it is a plosive sound (like B, hard C, D, G, P, and T), and looks distinctive. However, it turns out that there are trends in brand names as well.
New research shows that the most common letters for the top companies in the Fortune 500 begin with A (such as Apple and American Express) and J (such as JP Morgan and Johnson & Johnson). This correlates with the most popular baby names of a few years ago, where names such as Alexander, Amelia, James, and Jasmine were the most common.
If brand names and baby names do come into fashion at the same time, not only does it explain why Kevin and Kristen flourished at the same time as Kodak and Kmart, but it suggests that leading brands in the near future will begin with A, E, J, K, and L – the most common initials of popular baby names last year.