Celebrity Names Blog

The Baby Name Apple: Why All the Hate?

The Baby Name Apple: Why All the Hate?
Fame Pictures

With the announcement that Steve Jobs has retired as CEO, Apple is all over the news.  On the baby name beat, though, Apple is rarely away from the headlines. Whenever a news outlet wants to run a story on "those crazy celebrity baby names," Apple leads the list of usual suspects. A sample sentence, culled from a story posted yesterday: "Some of the most renowned celebrity baby name flops include Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin who named their daughter Apple."

We're wondering, why all the hate? Is it time to re-evaluate Apple as a name? 

Paltrow and Martin's daughter is named Apple Blythe Alison Martin. She was born in 2004, and perhaps this partly helps explain the notoriety of the name. In 2004, the parenting blogosphere was just coming into being, and with it, our cultural obsession with celebrity babies and their names coalesced and snowballed. Gwyneth's first child was born to A-list parents right around the time celebrity babies became celebrities themselves, so it makes sense that her unusual name would get a lot of exposure.

But that doesn't explain the hate for what seems to us an unusual but perfectly nice word name, or as Gwyneth herself put it, a "pretty noun." As Gwyneth explained on Oprah: 

When we were first pregnant, her daddy said, if it's a girl I think her name should be Apple. And it sounded so sweet, and it conjures such a lovely picture for me, you know apples are sweet and they're wholesome, and it's Biblical and ... I just thought it sounded so lovely and... clean, and then I just thought perfect and then she was born and it became an international outrage. Which I found pretty surprising because there are people named Lily or Ivy or June, or you know, lots of pretty nouns.

Other pretty nouns used as baby names? Haven, Jessica Alba's choice; Clementine, chosen by Rachel Griffith and Ethan Hawke; and Luna, chosen by Constance Marie. We could also include Natalie Portman's Aleph

Perhaps Apple differs from these names by virtue of summoning up the name of Apple computers, a company that recently beat out Exxon as the most valuable public company in the world. This isn't the connection people mention, however. (And did you know that Apple computers wasn't the first company with Apple in the name? In 1968 the Beatles formed the company Apple Corps; their album covers and other materials make use of the iconography of the Granny Smith apple. Gwyneth is best buds with Paul McCartney's daughter Stella, so this association is surely not lost on her.) 

Some of the wrath against Apple might come down to the different tastes of Brits vs. Americans. As Laura Wattenberg showed, American names favor formal, full and traditional names, whereas British birth certificates are rife with cute little names like Alfie and Poppy. Apple's father is English, and Apple and her brother Moses live in England for part of each year. Don't forget the Olivers, the British pair who crafted such baby names as Poppy Honey Rosie, Petal Blossom Rainbow, and Buddy Bear Maurice, which may sound nursery-rhymey to American ears but which nevertheless have, we think, a certain appeal. To us, Apple is like these names: sweet, fun and cute. It's not for everyone, but it's not crazy.

What do you think of Apple as a baby name? What "pretty nouns" do you like for names? Do you love a name everybody else hates? Tell us below!

--L.R.

Comments

August 26, 2011 10:45 AM
By HiLary (not verified)

I think Apple is a "pretty" noun. It made me start to think of other such nouns and if they would ever work as names. A few I liked:

Apricot
Plum
Nectarine

August 26, 2011 10:59 AM
By Molly (not verified)

I agree, I've never actually thought Apple was such a terrible name. It might not be one that grows well but for a little girl it seems sweet and wholesome. I've always wondered why Macintosh (and 40 creative spellings there-of) never became a name with at least a little popularity given all the Mackenzies and Makayla out there.

August 26, 2011 11:01 AM
By AngelaAiea (not verified)

Apple Martin is a little too close to Apple Martini for my taste.

But as far as celebrity baby names go, no, it's not the weirdest thing out there. It's just an unusual choice, and from an A-list power couple. (The Oliver's choices are stranger, but they are not nearly as famous.)

I still think the weirdest celeb baby name is Shannyn Sossamon's son Audio Science.

August 26, 2011 11:18 AM
By Deborah (not verified)

I think it may partly be because "Apple" is such a common word. Also, it doesn't fit with some of the more popular names feeling wise..such as the "ee" sound ending which we find in, Mackenzie, Kinlee, Abby, Kaylee, to name a few. Lily and Ivy do fit with that ending. That being said, I don't think it is a terrible name. It is sweet and wholesome and I can't think of anything bad to say about it. Would I name my daughter Apple? Nah, it's not my style.

August 26, 2011 1:52 PM
By Wozzy (not verified)

Perhaps it is because Gwyneth is the living embodiment of pretension and naming her daughter "Apple" is seen as another example of that. It's also worth noting that one of Chris Martin's bandmates named his child Apple before the Martins.

August 26, 2011 2:54 PM
By Renmac (not verified)

There's a long tradition of naming girls after plants/flowers and months, so those don't seem as odd. Apple is the embodiment of a 'common' noun as well: A is for apple. And biblical? Because of Eve? The fruit that caused the fall of mankind? Not really an association I'd be calling attention to. The Bible doesn't mention that it was an apple, anyway.

August 26, 2011 5:07 PM
By Emily (not verified)

I don't think Apple is a terrible name at all. It isn't my style but to each their own. I just think it's odd to name your child after a food.

August 26, 2011 7:16 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think Apple is blech as i prefer old fashioned names. That being said, it is unique. The poster who said that a bandmate of Chris Martin had a child named Apple before he and Gwyneth did is wrong. Members of Coldplay and their children:

Chris Martin- Apple (2004), Moses (2006)
Jonny Buckland- Violet (2007), Jonah (2011)
Guy Berryman- Nico (2006)
Will Champion- Ava (2006), Juno and Rex (twins- 2008)

No other Apple in sight, and definitely not one that pre-dates Martin and Paltrow's Apple.

August 26, 2011 9:32 PM
By Erinne (not verified)

It's not exactly my style, but I think Apple is a very cute name. I know a little girl named Basil (I've never asked, but I assume it's more like the saint than pesto), and honestly, I find it a lot weirder than Apple. Whatever though, I've never understood how people can get that worked up over other people's children's names.

August 27, 2011 5:14 AM
By Abby@AppMtn (not verified)

I like Apple. It fits with our long tradition of using nature names for girls. Plus, Apple sounds like a name - an imprecise definition, I know, but in 2004, Abigail was in the Top Ten, and gaining. If Laurel is a name, why not Apple? I like your suggestion that Apple became enshrined as the go-to wacky celebrity baby name because of the rise of our interest in celeb babies in general.

August 27, 2011 3:57 PM
By Melissa (not verified)

I actually think Apple is a very sweet name for a little girl, though possibu harder to pull off for an adult. But really, it's simple and lovely, easy to spell and pronounce, uncommon and yet familiar. Isn't this the kind of recipe for success parents look for?

I named my cat Apple, because I figured the hate for Apple as a baby name would never die down, thus I wouldn't be able to give it to a real kid without setting her up for ridicule. But I do like it a lot, especially for the Beatles connection.

August 27, 2011 11:54 PM
By mk (not verified)

I wouldn't name a child Apple, but I don't find it weird. Cherry, Olive, and Clementine are used a names, so why not Apple?

Tangerine also sounds like it could be used as a name, though I wouldn't use it personally.

And she can always switch to Blythe or Alison if she doesn't like Apple.

August 28, 2011 4:06 PM
By rusty (not verified)

I usually don't think of Apple as a "pretty noun", but that's mainly because of the hard "p" sound followed by the uhl syllable. But I don't get Apple Martin heading up every crazy celebrity baby names list. I think Bandit Lee Way or Pirate & Zeppelin Davis are a "crazier", but their parents aren't as well known.

@Renmac, apples are also mentioned in other verses, for instance:
Deuteronomy 32:10

In a desert land he found him,
in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
he guarded him as the apple of his eye,

August 28, 2011 4:21 PM
By Sarah A (not verified)

I don't find Apple weird, personally. Like pp have mentioned, if Olive, Clementine, Rose, Ivy, etc. are legitimate names, than Apple really shouldn't get so much hate.

August 29, 2011 12:21 AM
By Faith (not verified)

I think the Olivers' "sweet, fun, and cute" names are so derided because they aren't going to age well. They won't be pwecious widdle babies forever; they're going to grow into adults with careers.

August 29, 2011 8:58 PM
By elleireland (not verified)

What great comments. I just thought she'd use an old-English name like her own and her mother's. Like Guinevere, or Genevieve, or Phoebe....something Shakespearean. Apple seemed so......abrupt. And does sound like Ap- pull. But she's a darling little girl with parents who adore her, and I hope she has a wonderful life.

Jonny the bandmate wins the style war though, with Violet and Jonah. Rock on.

August 30, 2011 12:48 AM
By Wozzy (not verified)

I stand corrected about another member of Coldplay having a child named "Apple." I read it a long time ago and got my facts mixed up. It was actually Coldplay's agent who has a child named Apple who pre-dates the Martin's child. It's still kind of lame and unoriginal for a supposedly original name.

http://www.youjustmademylist.com/?p=30

August 30, 2011 1:08 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Not my personal style, I'm more traditional, but I think it's a sweet name. There are so many girls' names that are flowers and other botanticals, why not? Our daughter's nickname in utero was Appleseed, reminds me of that and thus has very positive connotations for me.

August 30, 2011 4:19 PM
By Elisabeth (not verified)

I think maybe the reason people dislike Apple so much is that it's a fruit, and you tend to group it inside your head with bananas and oranges -- and both of those sound pretty ridiculous as names, no? 'Hi, I'm Banana Jones' sounds silly, and so does just about every other fruit (or, indeed, any food item) I can think of, whether or not they also sound like feminine names. Papaya Jones? Uh, no. Mango Jones? Melon Jones? Grape? Raspberry? Cherry (yikes)? Peach? (Maybe Peach would work as a nickname).

The only other fruit I can think of that is also an acceptable name is Clementine, but the word 'clementine' is exotic enough that you don't immediately make the fruit association. Plus, Clementine fits right in with a whole pile of girly-names like Caroline, Adeline, Josephine, and Christine. Cherry is the other fruit that is sometimes used as a name, but I'd argue that it's not an acceptable one, for obvious reasons. I know a woman whose given name was Cherry, and she hated it so much she legally changed it.

For the record, I'm not saying I hate the name Apple. It's sort of cute. I'm just trying to put my finger on why nearly everyone finds it such a bizarre choice, and I think it's the food item thing. Foods just don't make good names.

As for other noun-names that work, I'd say most of the flowers (Rose, Daisy, Violet, Lavender etc) and a good number of trees (Rowan, Willow, Ash, Juniper). I think all the months would be OK, too. For example, although January is a little more offbeat that April, May or June, I'd argue it is just as pretty. Seasons work too, although Summer, Autumn and Winter sound more like actual names than Spring and Fall.

August 30, 2011 4:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Years ago I knew a high school student named Apple though her given name was Apollonia. She always went by Apple.

August 30, 2011 7:14 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

There IS Peaches Geldorf and Mango and Quince might work, but a lot of other fruit names would be hard going. How about Almond, though?
The following food or medicinal herbs also seem to me to work OK as names. Some if them are used already.
Amaranth-
Aubergine-
Berry-
Cassia-
Coriander-
Clover-
Cress-
Geranium-
Ginger-
Lavender-
Mace-
Marigold –
Marjoram-
Mentha-
Mintie-
Nemesia-
Rosemary-
Rue-
Saffron-
Sage-
Salvia –
Tansy-

August 30, 2011 7:35 PM
By Elisabeth (not verified)

I've been giving a bit more thought to other 'pretty nouns' that could double as names, and for the most part, the only tangible object nouns I can come up with are flowers and trees. Can anyone think of more?

Once you get into the realm of abstract nouns, there are loads more. Virtue names like Hope, Patience, Prudence and Capability often work. I don't love all of these (for some reason, the name Hope annoys me), but plenty of them are pretty. Positive 'state-of-being' names like Joy and Liberty are good, too.

August 30, 2011 9:29 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Elisabeth: Olive is also a fruit and a name.

The name Pomona means "apple" and Cerise is "cherry".

I always thought the horror over Apple as a name was stupid.

August 31, 2011 12:28 AM
By Elisabeth (not verified)

Ah yes, of course, Olive. I forgot about that one.

Pomona and Cerise are not English words, though. There are plenty of words we, as English speakers, nick from other languages to use as names, so I don't think those count. I'm trying to think of full-on English language nouns that don't sound ridiculous as given names.

I looked through the above list by one of the Anonymouses of foodstuffs-that-are-also-names, and most of them happen to be plants/spices or flowers as well as foods. There aren't many fruits or vegetables. We don't eat rosemary or basil on their own, although we spice our foods with them (and they're perfectly common names). I suppose we might eat candied ginger. But I'm looking for straight-up foodstuffs that can double as names, and there aren't many. Ginger, Olive, Clementine, Cherry....and now Apple, I guess.

Anyway, I agree that Apple isn't all that bad -- like I said, it's sort of cute -- and at any rate it's a whole lot better than Banana.

Isn't Mace something you spray in someone's face if they attack you?

August 31, 2011 12:40 AM
By Kira (not verified)

My daughter has a tree name - Sequoia - which happens to be our state tree. One memorable individual thought the Toyota company had created the name, and that I'd named my daughter after an SUV.

August 31, 2011 11:21 AM
By mk (not verified)

What about cheese? Colby and Bree are also names (though the cheese is spelled differently). Bree always makes me think of the cheese.

I speak French, so naming someone Cerise sounds the same to me as naming her Cherry. Mace is spice made from the covering of nutmeg seeds, so falls into the spice name category.

I could see Lemon used as a first name since it is a also a surname. Actually, Lemon as a name makes the most sense to me.

August 31, 2011 2:03 PM
By Elisabeth (not verified)

But a 'lemon' is what you call a car that keeps breaking down. I can't imagine using it as a person's name!

You're right about the cheeses. I know a few Briannas who go by Bree (not Brie, though), and acquaintance of mine recently named her baby Colby...although I can't say I endorse it. Every time I look at him I think of the cheese. At least fruits make you think of sweet, fresh things; cheese is often a bit stinky.

August 31, 2011 6:53 PM
By Stephanie (not verified)

Apple is an ok name. I actually dislike Moses much more than I dislike Apple. I feel like there is a certain appeal to it- they can say, "We knew she would be the Apple of our eye." I think that is totally adorable actually. Plus, it is true, not many people can say bad things about apples, the fruit that we eat- apples themselves conjur up the images and feelings Gwyneth Paltrow mentioned. I think the problem with Apple as a name, to our American ears, is that it is such a very mundane word and so absolutely unheard of on people. Like an irony that just won't go away. I can think of other nouns that I like as names as well:

Sage, Rose, Lily, Jasmine (the flowers could go on forever, I will stop there), Sapphira, Silver, Myst, Dawn, Olive, Raine, Ginger, Pepper, Berry, River, Phoenix, there are a lot of noun names that work perfectly well as names.

August 31, 2011 9:26 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

The character Liz Lemon on 30 Rock is often called by her last name. I can see it working.

Tons of nouns can work as names.

August 31, 2011 10:51 PM
By Elisabeth (not verified)

Stephanie, I agree that there are many, many nouns that work very well as names, but I was specifically trying to think of food items (that are not also flowers, plants or seasonings) that can double as names, and I don't think there are that many. My whole point was that I think the reason we find 'Apple' a bit weird is that there are relatively few food names that work.

I still say Lemon Jones is not a name anyone would want to have.

September 1, 2011 7:03 AM
By Zoerhenne (not verified)

I think Apple as a name is a bit odd but not as wacky as some. I don't think of the computer company at all when I think of little Miss Martin. I think my objection is that it is a noun. In my head it would be like naming a kid Table or Chair or something such as that. I know there are fruit and other noun names out there. I guess I've just gotten used to them. Apple is just not a name to me.

September 1, 2011 4:29 PM
By Jude (not verified)

Ya know, at first I hated it. But it's grown on me. It is sweet and biblical. I applaud her for choosing something lovely and different.

May 15, 2012 8:13 PM
By Laney (not verified)

I like the name Apple, though I like unique names. Our daughter's name is Kerrigan and our son's name is Mason, we call him Mase. So when it came to our daghter on the way I wanted a name ending in n, I heard the name Lemon and fell in love. We are still debating over the spelling, I like it spelled Lemyn so we can call her Emy and she can choose if she wants to go by the very unusual name. But I also don't want it mispronounced because of the spelling, so maybe the traditional spelling, Lemon, would be best.

June 15, 2012 9:06 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I suppose I do understand what the child will grow up to have to face with the name Apple, seeing that I've been named it as well. And I can tell you, it isn't very nice.

July 5, 2012 6:42 PM
By Nikki (not verified)

I just have to say, if people can name their little girls "Olive", why all the fuss over "Apple"?

November 15, 2012 10:20 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Paltrow and Martin's daughter is named Apple Blythe Alison Martin. She was born in 2004, and perhaps this partly helps explain the notoriety of the name. In 2004, the parenting blogosphere was just coming into being, and with it,porno porn porn porn watch porno our cultural obsession with celebrity babies and their names coalesced and snowballed. Gwyneth's first child was born to A-list parents right around the time celebrity babies became celebrities themselves, so it makes sense that her unusual name would get a lot of exposure.

January 3, 2013 9:10 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

When we were first pregnant, her daddy said, if it's a girl I think her name should be Apple. And it sounded so sweet, and it conjures such a lovely picture for me, you know apples are sweet and they're wholesome, and it's Biblical and ...zuuporn I just thought it sounded so lovely and... clean, and then I just thought perfect and then she was born and it became an international outrage. Which I found pretty surprising because there are people named Lily or Ivy or June, or you know, lots of pretty nouns.

July 4, 2013 8:47 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I like the name Apple, I can see myself with a little Apple and I dont see people around me hating it! my daughter watches strawberry shortcake -theres lemon, strawberry, plum etc. my little pony has a Pony called Apple in it.
Also Beyonces kid is going to love watching Blues clues!!

August 14, 2013 7:44 PM
By Scottie001 (not verified)

Actually, Apple is one of my personal favorite name. If I would have to give name to a baby girl, I will definitely consider using Apple along with other name. - Scott Safadi

August 15, 2013 1:14 AM
By Scottie001 (not verified)

Actually, Apple is one of my personal favorite name. If I would have to give name to a baby girl, I will definitely consider using Apple along with other name. - Scott Safadi

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