While past generations liked to pay homage to their ancestors by naming their newborns after aunts, uncles, and grandparents alike, this generation of first-time parents is getting creative. Say good-bye to the sweet-Sophias and precious-Prestons, and say hello to a new era of children with bizarre baby names, consisting of both letters and numbers.
We’ve got a list at the bottom of this story — including the recently unveiled name of Olympian Usain Bolt’s daughter, and the ever-evolving story of Elon Musk and Claire Elise Boucher (Grimes) naming and renaming their baby.
But first: Why do parents do it?
Bizarre Baby Names: A Glimpse Into Individualism
A psychology professor at San Diego State University, Jean Twenge, examined the names of over 325 million American babies born between 1880 and 2007 and discovered that more than 30% of boys were given a top-10 name in 1950, less than 10% of boys were given a top-10 name in 2007. However, names are more complicated than that.
According to Twenge, unique names have been on the rise in the US, something reflective of the American culture.
“As American culture has become more individualistic, parents have favored giving children names that help them stand out – and that means more unique names and fewer common names,” Twenge tells BBC News.
Twenge sees this particular trend hitting a specific demographic — Millennials. The generation that prides itself on individualism is giving their children stranger and stranger names. Twenge told Time this generation was raised with phrases that entertain the idea of being different. And these celebrity baby names are just that — different.
Importance of a Name
Jane Pilcher, a sociologist at the University of Leicester, told BBC names are at the core of our identities. Beyond legal importance, Pilcher said “They are also part of our social cultural identity. They mark who we are in gender terms, ethnic terms and other ways.”
Gendering-names seem to be a thing of the past, with parents selecting more gender-neutral names. Since most of the individuals having and naming children now are Millennials, this may mean an uprise in obscure and gender-fluid names.
Lauren Friedman, a writer for Forbes and a Millennial herself, said that “In this new social landscape, gender stereotypes are outdated, and in many cases, just plain insulting. We’re choosing unisex names for our daughters, using gender neutral pronouns to refer to our friends, dressing our newborns in pink and blue.”
Usain Bolt, Elon Musk and Other Famous Namers
Even famous-faces like Cardi B and Offset’s daughter Kulture or Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West’s children North, Chicago, and Saint bear ungendered and unusual names. Now Olympic athlete Usain Bolt and longtime girlfriend, Kasi Bennett, revealed the name of their baby: Olympia Lightning Bolt.
The name seems to reflect Bolt’s life more than Bennett’s — as an Olympic athlete (Olympia) who’s been called the fastest man alive (like a lightning bolt) — but fans loved his personal message to his girlfriend on Instagram.
While Bolt and Bennett’s name for Olympia may seem over the top, Elon Musk and Grimes went for a name that was quite inhuman — X Æ A-12.
Many couldn’t believe just how bizarre Musk’s baby name was, but Grimes confirmed the name herself and we bet no one could have guessed the real meaning, or even how to pronounce it:
It seems that the name was a little too bizarre for California law, which requires names to be written “using the 26 alphabetical letters of the English language.” While the dashes were allowed, the numbers were not. Grimes announced that the name changed, but the change hardly alters the complexity of the pronunciation: X Æ A-XII. Yes, they chose not to succumb to typical naming methods and swapped the numbers with Roman numerals.
Could celebrity names get more bizarre than the latest Musk child? Check out the list below to find out for yourself.
Celebrity Kids with Bizarre Baby Names
1. Raddix child of Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden
2. Kal-El child of Nicolas Cage and Alice Kim
3. Cricket Pearl and Birdie Leigh children of Marc Silverstein and Busy Philipps
4. Aleph child of Benjamin Millepied and Natalie Portman
5. Bear Blaze child of Ned Rocknroll and Kate Winslet
6. Apple child of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow
7. Suri child of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes
8. Geo Grace and Dusty Rose children of Adam Levine and Behati Prinsloo
9. Elsie Otter child of Jacob Pechenik and Zooey Deschanel
10. Stormi child of Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott
11. X Æ A-12 child of Elon Musk and Grimes
12. Olympia Lightning Bolt child of Usain Bolt and Kasi Bennett
Bizarre Baby Names — Sources
Parents ‘making-up’ baby names like Elisobelle to give tots ‘unique’ social media identity
Millennials Are Giving Their Babies Increasingly Strange Names
Baby Names Are Getting Weirder, And It’s Not For The Reason You’d Expect
The Most Unusual Celebrity Baby Names: Gravity, Pilot Inspektor, Fuschia, and More
Millennials And Gender Fluidity — What Smart Brands Are Doing And Why
Buzzfeed News: Grimes Explained