George and Amal Clooney became the proud parents of twins this morning, June 6, when Amal gave birth to a boy named Alexander and a girl named Ella. In an era which has seen some truly unusual celebrity baby names, these names are refreshingly normal.
Alexander is an ancient name that means “defender of men.” It is one of the most popular names for boys and is consistently ranked in or near the top 10 in Western countries. The most famous Alexander was Alexander the Great, who conquered the known world in the 4th century B.C. Due to fame from his great deeds, the name spread and remains popular to this day. Both “Alex” and “Xander” are nicknames for it.
Ella is currently the 12th most popular name for girls in the United States. It is of German and English origin and means something akin to “beautiful woman” or “beautiful fairy.” Ella is an old name that fell out of fashion for most of the 20th century before receiving the spike in popularity it enjoys today. Nameberry speculates that Ella became popular again because it sounds classic and modern at the same time.
Prior to the announcement that Amal had given birth, speculation was rampant as to just what the Clooneys would name their babies. Some popular choices were Nicholas, after George Clooney’s father, for the boy and Nina or Baria for the girl. Others hypothesized that the Clooneys would choose a Lebanese name, like Khalal or Adele, to reflect Amal’s country of origin.
George Clooney joked that Amal would not let him name the children “Casa” and “Amigos,” after his tequila brand, “Casamigos.”
“My wife says I can’t name them Casa and Amigos. That’s the one thing I’m not allowed to do. It was just a thought. I mean, you know, it’s a family business.”
While George made his comment in jest, many celebrities have opted for non-traditional–and sometimes even downright bizarre–names for their children. The original offenders are Gwneyth Paltrow and Chris Martin, who named their daughter “Apple”–making her full name one letter shy of being “Apple Martini.” Superstars Jay-Z and Beyonce named their daughter “Blue Ivy,” and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West were not to be outdone–naming their daughter “North,”as in, “North West.” Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf named their son “Pilot Inspektor.”
The naming trend towards the special or unique has trickled down to the general public, and more people than ever are opting to give their children unusual names. According to the Social Security Administration, at least three people named their daughters “Strawberry,” “Paizlee,” or “Nimrat.” And more boys than you would expect are running around with the names “Coyote,” “Rocket,” and “Cosmo.”
But when it comes to naming their newborns, parents might want to reconsider this trend and consider following the Clooneys’ example of a traditional baby name instead. Research has found that people with bizarre names, uncommon spellings, and names that do not match their gender fare worse in society. They may struggle with low expectations by teachers and employers–people are less inclined to trust someone named “Pirate” to do well in an academic or professional setting than they are a someone named “Jenny,” and since children tend to live up to the expectations set for them, these bizarre names ended up handicapping the children. According to the study, one-in-five parents regretted the unusual name or unique spelling they had chosen. Once the novelty wore off, it just wasn’t fun anymore.
In an era of strange baby names, George and Amal Clooney opted for traditional names that are refreshingly normal.
[Featured Image by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images]