Celebrity Names Blog

How I Met Your Mother Plays the Baby Name Game

Did you catch Monday night's episode of How I Met Your Mother? It was titled, appropriately, "Baby Names." Our ears perked up in the opening scene when a couple began to argue about what to name their newborn daughter; in the first thirty seconds both Tiffany and Vodka are vetoed. Throughout the rest of the show, our star couple, Lily and Marshall, debate the name of their future child. Emily, Lisa, Rob, Johnny, Jeremy and Tara are discussed and quickly eliminated. It's a familiar scene, and we understand it well.

By episode's end, the new parents have decided to name their baby girl Esther, which was trendy in the early 1900s. It was also the name of Dickens' leading lady in Bleak House, and it did garner some celebrity status as the name of the heroine, played by Judy Garland, in Meet Me in Saint Louis. It also fits in nicely with the current crop of girls given "old" names like Charlotte, Eleanor, Grace and Stella. As for Lily and Marshall, they conclude that picking a gender-specific name is just too complicated and opt instead for the androgynous Jamie.

But as far as we're concerned, the more interesting gender bending name game is going on off camera. Let's talk about the character named Robin, which, by the way, is another name that swings both ways. Robin is played by the Canadian actress Cobie Smulders. It gets better; Cobie is a nickname. Named for her Dutch great aunt, she was born Jacoba Francisca Maria Smulders. Spelled Coby, it's sometimes a nickname for Jacob. And of course there's flashy basketball star Kobe Bryant, who was named for the famous beef. Like Jamie, Cobie is another "ie" name that is comfortably gender neutral.

We just wish the writers had thought to have Lily and Marshall fall in love with the name Cobie instead. It would have been a fun wink to die-hard fans who know their cast trivia.

Do you like the names Esther and Jamie? What about Cobie? Do you think it works equally well for boys and girls? Or has Kobe Bryant taken the name for the male team?



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October 28, 2010 10:47 AM
By dylan (not verified)

This is especially funny, given how many babies have been born on that show within the last two years:
Satayana for Alison Hannigan
Shaelyn Cado for Cobie Smulders
and just recently, Gideon Scott and Harper Grace for Neil Patrick Harris
They are all probably a little baby name-crazy.

October 28, 2010 5:29 PM
By Alex (not verified)

Love the name Esther, but then I have a weakness for Biblical names. According to an Iranian ideologue, Starbucks should be boycotted all over the world, because part of their logo is the Jewish queen, Esther.
Jamie is not for me. The "ie" ending suggests a French feminine name, but in my mind it is a diminutive for James, about as muscular a masculine as you can get. Cobie, I feel is neither here nor there, vaguely reminiscent as it is of a girlie misspelling of a Japanese city, a Panamanian military installation or a steak.

October 28, 2010 9:40 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I love Esther...it is my two-year-old daughter's middle name, after my grandmother & my husband's grandmother. I would've considered it for a first name (I know a super-cool high school-age Esther) but hubby wasn't as keen.

October 29, 2010 8:54 AM
By Elm (not verified)

Well, if it's purely a matter of taste, then, I have off-and-on tried to see if I could wrap my head around Esther, and discover the aesthetic of it, but It really doesn't do anything for me. I just think "Ess-turd". It is also a name that, at least when I was in school, that Chinese parents frequently gave their daughters, which, at the time the name was laughably out of style. What made them choose it, I wonder? Jamie is kind of a blah name for me, to feminine for boys and okayish for girls but it doesn't really say anything to me. Cobie looks like a misspelled Colby, but I suppose it is an imaginative nickname for Jacoba.

October 30, 2010 2:23 PM
By Jamie (not verified)

my parents named me jamie to go along with the "J Theme" in my family-- we have jodie (my sister), janet, jean, judy, jen, and jocelyn just on the girls side.

i have never really "loved" my name-- it sounds really nasally with all the vowels. but i do get compliments on it. my parents also purposefully gave both my sister and i names that could not necessarily be gender defined because they felt overly girly names would put us at a disadvantage.

the biggest problem with my name in particular? being called "jaime" (like "hi-me") i live in california so i get that a lot.

cobie seems fresh, a nice alternative. but i am a little biased... most people don't seem to love their name.

October 30, 2010 10:06 PM
By Essy (not verified)

i was disappointed by the suggested names in the show, they weren't really on the pulse of names, I mean Lisa and Tara? it would have been understandable if Marshall had thrown them out but Lily did. but oh well, in the end, there is no name because Jamie was vetoed by Lily in the last clip.

for some reason Kobe and Cobie weren't pronounced the same in my head but since namecandy pointed it out, they are.

October 31, 2010 1:34 PM
By Zoe (not verified)

Was anyone else really annoyed about how the baby's father wanted to name her Tiffany after his mother? He's at least 35, which means his mom was born around 1950. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the name Tiffany come about in the 70s?

Also, someone please tell me I wasn't the only one who screamed "NO! NO!" at the screen when Marshall and Lily decided to pick a gender neutral name?

Jamie is perhaps the only name that I can stand on both boys and girls.

November 1, 2010 1:53 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I found Lily's first suggestion of Tara to be quite fitting. Alyson Hannigan played Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Willow was a woman who fell in love with a witch named Tara. I don't doubt that the callback wasn't on purpose.

November 2, 2010 12:42 PM
By Erin (not verified)

I do like Esther a lot. Not a big fan of Cobie, Coby or Kobe or any of the others that were considered. I have a hard time imagining any real life couple that seriously considered using Esther before deciding on Jamie. The two are oceans apart in my mind.

November 2, 2010 1:39 PM
By Heather A (not verified)

I like the name Jacoby, but then I'm a big Jacoby Ellsbury fan. I've no idea if he ever goes by Coby.

November 2, 2010 5:14 PM
By Sarah (not verified)

I once worked with a woman named Esther. She was in her late 20s, I was in my early 20s. I do like "old lady names" in general, but hers sounded extra old-fashioned. It came to grow on me - she was a bubbly, smart woman who loved her work. Esther suited her down-to-earthiness but was unique enough to make her stand out. I don't know if I'd name my baby Esther, but I hope it finds a little resurgence someday.

As for gender-neutral names, not a fan! Jamie being my least favorite!

November 3, 2010 11:33 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

My name is Jamie, after my father, James. Personally, I've never like it fits me but I'm not against it! Jamie is a beautiful name, but I prefer Jameson or Jamison. My full name is Jamie Elizabeth and my mom has always called me Jamie Beth. As for Esther, It a little hard to say and sounds much older than Grace or Stella.

November 6, 2010 8:22 AM
By Sarah (not verified)

I absolutely love the name Esther! Unfortunately it does not sound great with my last name. I'll probably try to get it in as a middle name. Personally, I'm not to keen on Jamie.

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