Celebrity Names Blog

New Baby Alert: Catherine Bell + Why Ronan is Hot

New Baby Alert: Catherine Bell + Why Ronan is Hot

Army Wives star Catherine Bell and her husband Adam Beason have welcomed a son named Ronan Bell, PEOPLE reveals. They also have daughter Gemma.

The pair have a knack for choosing traditional, international names just as those names first heat up in the US. Gemma, for example, was the name of Italian poet Dante Alighieri's wife, whom he married in 1285 (while still crushing hard on a girl named Beatrice). Gemma is popular in Austrailia but didn't enter the US charts until 2008 at #888. Gemma's rank in 2009? #568. That's a stupendous jump for one year. Undoubtedly, its overlap with Emma bodes well for this one's continued ascension.

Ronan, meanwhile, is an ancient Irish name meaning "little seal," a name borne by saints and an ancient king. Already popular in Scotland, Ireland and Canada, Ronan debuted on the US charts in 2001 at #861 and by 2009 was up to #566. (Ronan is also a character in both Harry Potter and Stargate: Atlantis, and Mia Farrow's son.)

But the Ronan story is actually more complex. It's part of a cluster of names whose myriad derivations probably account for their growing appeal. Take Ronin (US chart debut in 2007, 2009 ranking #811). In feudal Japan, a ronin was an often highly respected samurai with no master. Or Ronen: Hebrew for "song and joy."

Filling a similar sound niche is Rohan, a name sometimes pronounced like Rowan, and other times with a hard "h." A Hindi name, Rohan derives from the Sanskrit for "ascending." It's also a place name in Lord of the Rings. And of course, all the names share sounds with the celebrity-trendy name Roman. (Celebrities who have chosen the baby name Roman.)

What do you think of Ronan? What do you think of Ronan and Gemma?



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August 23, 2010 11:20 AM
By Elle (not verified)

I really like both of these names. I think Gemma is just adorable. I don't even think of it as being related to Emma. To be it is a lot more fancy sounding than Emma and a totally different style. I get what you mean about the sound but I never think of the connection that way. Probably because I don't like the name Emma! LOL!

I do really like Ronan. I think this is a great sounding name. Very masculine. However, I don't care for the meaning and it has the very trendy "n" at the end.

I think Gemma and Ronan make a lovely sib set.

August 23, 2010 3:05 PM
By Miri (not verified)

Another variation that does not appear in your list is Ronen. It has a much nicer meaning in Hebrew: song and joy.

I actually really like Ronen and would have used it had it not clashed with our last name.

August 23, 2010 7:16 PM
By Lane

Thanks, Miri; I added Ronen.

August 24, 2010 1:25 PM
By Nenya (not verified)

Ronan was actually one of the boy's names on our list when we were going through names for our that was born in September of last year. We didn't end up using it, but I still like it!

August 24, 2010 4:00 PM
By Tirzah (not verified)

My husband is Japanese and he says that Ronin actually has negative connotations. A samarai without a master has no honor and can't be trusted since he has no loyalties.

August 25, 2010 5:26 AM
By Top 10 Name of the 70s (not verified)

There is, of course, Ronan Keating from Boyzone - most recently outed for cheating on his wife.
Whilst Ronan is "heard of" here in Australia (there is one in my 7yo's class) we so have not followed your "Roman" trend. I know Cate Blanchett has used it, but no-one else has!!
Interesting you should mention "Gemma" as being popular in Australia. True once - but not now! I would put Gemma firmly in the 1970's-80's era. We have always had lots of Emmas (it's a classic here - not unusual or "hot" at all) but Gemma/Jemma has been out for decades.

September 3, 2014 6:08 AM
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