Celebrity Names Blog

Creative Girl Names, Traditional Boy Names: The Afflecks Are Just Like Us!

Creative Girl Names, Traditional Boy Names: The Afflecks Are Just Like Us!
Photo Credit: Fame/Flynet

The name of the third Garner-Affleck baby was a highly anticipated announcement. After all, what would follow the slightly unusual, lightly thematic, easily pronounceable Violet Anne and Seraphina Rose Elizabeth? Jennifer talked baby names on TV, including fun details about her daughters’ soft spot for Disney-inspired names. 

And today! The announcement! A boy: Samuel Garner Affleck.  

Samuel: It’s a strong, pleasant, popular name that comes with a natural nickname (Sam) and pet name (Sammy). With Biblical roots, it’s got long-standing popularity and is recognizable around the world among speakers of various languages. It’s old name, but far from stale. Like other names whose changes in popularity happen over long periods of time, it won’t sound dated any time soon. Judging by its current placement of #24 in the top 1000 boys’ names, lots of other parents in the U.S. agree that Samuel is a great choice for a boy.

Which makes it kinda boring for celebrity kid. 

If you're like us, you may be disappointed with the name's apparent lack of creativity. Of course, Samuel sounds great with Violet and Seraphina, and it’s not like Jen and Ben are under any obligation whatsoever to choose an unusual baby name. But this celebrity couple made such a style statement with their daughters' names that we expected, well, more creativity from them in their choice of baby name the third time around. Even with a family like the Afflecks, whose charm is in their apparent relatability and normalcy, we’re conditioned to expect something more unusual. 

When Violet was born in 2005, her name was number 372 and rising. It currently ranks at number 123, far below Samuel's popularity. Seraphina has never ranked within the top 1000 names.

But lo and behold, the Afflecks are just like us after all! All across America, parents are getting more creative with names. But they tend to be much more willing to be creative with their daughters' names than with their sons'.

It's very common for parents to choose more unusual names for girls, while sticking to more common, traditional names for boys. Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick picked unusual names, Marion and Tabitha, for their twin girls, after chosing the ultra-traditional James for their son. Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott named their son Liam, which was ranked number 89 when he was born in 2007, and got more creative with Stella (number 184 in 2008) and Hattie (not popular enough to rank in the top 1000). Over at our sister site, Babynamewizard.com, girls' names are looked up about 50% more than boys' names.

What do you think? Why are parents more apt to choose creative or unusual names for their girls and more traditional names for their boys? Does the "image" of a name seem more important for girls than boys? Share your thoughts!

-- K.L.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

February 29, 2012 9:23 PM
By Namejunkie (not verified)

I think the image matters more for the boys. My sons are named Philip and Kevin (they are in their 20's) & my daughter is named Teal. I was more concerned that my boys had traditional guy names. Strong, unequivocally male named boys was my concern. Girl names can be more unique without compromising their 'image'.

March 1, 2012 1:55 PM
By Abby@AppMtn (not verified)

This is crazy-making, isn't it? In some cases, I think it is the dads vetoing creative names for boys. And yet I can see myself using James, Joseph, William, or Henry even though I'd never use Elizabeth.

Then again, it isn't new, right? Fewer girls have always received the most popular names, and there's long been more volatility in the most popular girls' names. Could it be that our willingness to see new names, like Jayden, rise to the Top Ten, is a signal that things ARE changing?

March 2, 2012 12:42 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think that it is easier to come up with creative girls' names than it is to come up with creative boys' names. Girls (despite being paid unequally, etc.) have a whole host of stereotypes to cling to. Whichever stereotype appeals to a parent more tends to be the type of name they cling to. A tom-boy can be named Ashtyn, Brooke/Brooklyn, etc and nobody will blink an eye. There are more traditionally feminine sounding names (those that are romantic)- Isabella, Tiana, Juliette, etc. Each of these type of names fits an image of girls Americans hold in their heads. Even traditional names fit a commonly held view of what girls can be- Elizabeth, Anne and Mary (in all its variations) make sense, no matter who you talk to.

Boys just do not have that luxury. And the idea that boys cannot be less masculine than girls is prevalent in our society. For the most part, traditional or old-fashioned names fit the bill for that viewpoint, probably because the androgynous names have been partially or mostly claimed by the tom-boy image girls names. It is becoming easier to see girls being named Jaymes or something like that, but it would never be incredibly widespread, I do not think and therefore the masucline association sticks. Ed names are just never going to seem feminine at all, not matter how finely the androgyny line is carried. Edward, Edmund, Edison and the like just are not condusive to that.

I do think that boys' names are fighting back. Tracy was subsumed by girls a little while back and so Trace becomes the male alternative, at least where I live (sounds masucline and is not Tracy). Ashley went away for boys, so other Ash names came into being- Asher comes to mind, and sometimes just Ash itself. There are quite a few examples of boys trying to take back some of their names by tweaking them.

March 6, 2012 3:30 PM
By Patricia (not verified)

I don't find the Affleck daughters' names THAT unusual or "creative". As I recall Violet was named after a great-grandmother somewhere in one of the parents' family tree. Her middle name Anne is totally traditional. And it has been reported that she wanted to call her baby sister Sarah, so Jennifer came up with Seraphina to make that well-used traditional name less usual. (I'm guessing that Seraphina is called "Sera" at least some of the time by her sister and parents.) Seraphina's middle names are, again, very traditional -- and one is a flower name like her sister's name.

I find the Afflecks' name choices traditional (or nearly traditional) and sensible -- with the girls given clearly feminine names and their son, a solid male name. Perhaps one could say they made "creative" choices by NOT choosing outlandish (eg. Apple)or masculine-sounding names for their daughters, as is currently very trendy for "star babies".

March 12, 2012 6:06 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Like Patricia above, I'd be wiling to bet that Seraphina is known as 'Sera' (pronounced Sarah) at home. Can you imagine using a four syllable name everytime you call your child! Sera, Sam, and Violet sound like a pretty solid sib-set to my ears. The pronunciation of Sera with the unusual spelling is a nice link between the relative unusualness of Violet and the everyday of Sam.

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