The Baby Name Apple: Why All the Hate?
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!