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The Truth About the Most Unique Celebrity Baby Names, From Dream and Saint to Coco and Chanel
Penn Jillette and his wife, Emily, had their reasons for naming their two children Moxie CrimeFighter and Zolten Penn—and no, it wasn’t to be purposely irritating.
Well, maybe a little.
“I love the name Moxie, I love that’s it’s a purely American word, and those are rare, and I love that it stands for old fashioned spunk and energy,” the comedian and illusionist explained his daughter’s name to People back in 2007. “EZ pushed for her middle name, ‘CrimeFighter” because EZ doesn’t have a middle name and thinks middle names are stupid. So, it’s just a joke. When she gets pulled over by the police she can show her license and say, ‘We’re on the same side, officer, my middle name is CrimeFighter.'”
So their son being called by a combination of his mom’s maiden name and dad’s first name barely raises an eyebrow.
But the point is, even though Moxie CrimeFighter sounds like a joke (which it actually partially is, intentionally, as a result of Jillette’s comedic ways), her parents picked out that name most carefully.
“I think it’s pretty cruel to give a kid a name that other kids are going to have,” Jillette also said, noting that he always felt sorry for the “Mikes and Bobs” of the world.
And that’s certainly a healthy way of looking at it in a world where Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian‘s decision to name their daughter Dream still got its fair share of Twitter criticism for being too wacky when the baby was born last week. (Even Kendall Jenner ranked it behind North and Saint Westthough, to be fair, she was under duress. Saint, as we were told at the time, came about because of mom Kim Kardashian‘s rough pregnancy, which at the end produced nothing short of a blessing. North started off as a rumor that was then deemed by Anna Wintour to be a “genius name.”)
Not that there’s anything wrong with Mike or Bob, not at all, but on the outside looking in it’s easy to dismiss an out-of-the-box name as being a curse upon the baby’s future life, whether it’s a childhood of teasing or a lifetime of misspellings and mispronunciations the kids has to look forward to.
Though Starbucks alone has proven that no one, no matter how simple your name, is safe from a misspelling down the road, the teasing thing could start and stop at home, once the adults realize that most people aren’t naming their kids to be funny. In fact, some of the most unique names have just as much personal meaning as the family names that are passed down or otherwise inspire monikers down the line.
For instance, a source told E! News that Janet Jackson‘s baby’s name will probably pay tribute to Michael Jackson in some way—and that could mean anything, from using her late brother’s actual first name to incorporating one of his song titles or a word that means something to Janet that no one else will get.
Personal oddities notwithstanding, Jackson didn’t venture too far off the map with his children, nicknames like Blanket aside. His eldest son Prince‘s legal name is actually Michael Joseph Jackson II, after the pop legend himself, while Paris’ full name is Paris-Michael Katherine (the middle name after her grandmother). Prince Michael Jackson II is a combination of all of the above.
And while those names are actually on the traditional side, look more closely at some kids’ names that could easily connote something else, and you may see more familial inspiration.
Coco Arquette is not named after Coco Chanel, for instance. Rather, dad David Arquette explained on a talk show in 2010, “It’s sort of an abbreviation of Courteney Cox—Coco,” emphasizing the first syllables of his then-wife’s name.
Meanwhile, Ice-T and Coco‘s daughter Chanelis inspired by the famous French designer, and is of course a perfect bookend to her mommy’s nickname (which was not inspired by Coco Chanel, but rather by how her little brother used to abbreviate her birth name, Nicole).
But though Coco knew before she even got pregnant that she wanted a daughter named Chanel, the light bulb doesn’t always switch on right away.
For Jeremy Sisto and wife Addie Lane, inspiration didn’t strike until a month after their son was born. Mom and Dad were feeling the “B” names, so they came up with Bastian, from NeverEnding Story, and his middle name, Kick, came from Sisto’s then-co-star Cheryl Hines‘ future husband Robert Kennedy Jr.‘s nickname—Kick.
Names hardly get more artisan than that.
Many celeb parents have chosen names that reflect their own heritage and often harbor a very deliberate meaning—be it spiritual, sentimental, inspirational or just plain descriptive.
Lisa Bonet and husband Jason Momoa named their daughter Lola Iolani (her first name generally translates as “strong woman” and her middle meaning exalted hawk in Hawaiian) and their son is Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha Momoa—nakoa meaning warrior in Hawaiian, mana meaning strength or spirit, kaua and po meaning rain and dark (apparently the weather out when he was born) and Namakaeha being one of Jason’s middle names.
A mighty moniker, indeed.
Kerry Washington and her husband Nnamdi Asomugha, who is of Nigerian descent, named their son Caleb Kelechi—Kelechi meaning “glorify God” in Igbo and can refer to a child who brings blessings and happiness to his parents. Daughter Isabelle‘s middle name, Amarachi, is also Igbo and means “God’s grace.”
And sometimes parents do pile on the names in order to be able to mix their own vision in the moment and pay homage to their roots. Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale‘s eldest son, Kingston James McGregor Rossdale, is named after the Jamaican capital, but McGregor is Gavin’s middle name and, well, James is very English. Meanwhile, despite speculation they were inspired by Malibu’s Zuma Beach, Gwen later admitted that they swiped son Zuma Nesta Rock‘s first name from her No Doubt bandmate Tom Dumont. Nesta was Bob Marley‘s middle name, fitting in with the Jamaican vibe, and Rock solidifies the whole endeavor.
Their third son, Apollo Bowie Flynn, could be inspired by the Greek god or the space mission named after the Greek god—either way, Gwen has called him her “miracle baby.” And while it seems like middle name Bowie is a rock ‘n’ roll homage, that was actually Gavin’s mother’s maiden name, and Flynn is Gwen’s mom’s maiden name.
A photo posted by Gwen Stefani (@gwenstefani) on
Most importantly of all, if you’re going to go outside the ever-expanding box, parents should at least make sure they’re in agreement about their kids’ names—to prevent it becoming a point of contention down the road.
“Basically one day he just said, ‘If it’s a girl I think her name should be Apple,'” Gwyneth Paltrow explained to Oprah Winfreyin 2004 about then-husband Chris Martin‘s baby name suggestion in the early days of her pregnancy. “And I just, it sounded so sweet, and it conjures such a lovely picture for me, you know apples are so sweet and they’re wholesome, and it’s biblical and it’s just, they’re so…and I just thought it sounded so lovely.”
Fast-forward to 2015 when Howard Stern asked about the name, Paltrow simply said, “Chris named her.”
Now 12-year-old Apple Martin apparently still loves her name, according to her mom, but not every child born beholden to their parents’ whimsy has chosen to keep the joke going.
Whoever’s idea it was, Téa Leoni and ex-husband David Duchovnynamed their son Kyd, seemingly as in “Hey, kid!” Or as in, the 14-year-old now goes by his middle name, Miller (Duchovny’s mom’s maiden name).
However, that’s an especially unfortunate turn of events for Jeremy Sisto. When explaining his son’s name, he revealed at the same time that they had wanted their daughter Charlie Ballerina‘s name to be Charlie Kyd—”but David already named his kid that so I decided against it.”
At least it’s fairly up for grabs now should the opportunity arise.