Gwyneth Paltrow named her child "Apple" thus upping the ante for weird names in Hollywood. One wonders if she is a huge fan of Steve Jobs, or just thought with a last name of "Martin" that the name sounded like an exotic drink. In the last twenty years parents have certainly stretched to find names more exciting than Jennifer and Jason. "Dakota" has become popular for both boys and girls, even among people who are not of any known Native American tribe. "Montana" is sure to experience a spike after the wild success of Miley Cyrus. "Miley" itself, is a very common Hawaiian name, when spelled "Maile" like the fragrant South Pacific vine. Baby name books do strive to have more ethnic names than they used to. "Kumar" of the Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, fame, is a fairly common Indian name meaning Prince. Funny thing though, I think more non-asian people name their kid "Prince", than Kumar.

Misspelling names is a wonderful American pastime. Proud Gaelic names such as Sean and Carroll resurface as Shawn, Shaun, and Carol. Jennifer has morphed into Gannifer, Jenifer, and Genifer. Even something as plain as "Forest" I have seen spelled as "Forrestt" by a very young mother. Weird names in this case come from wacky mothers. My friend Jay had a mother who wanted to spell her son's name: "J". Lucky for him the nurses at the hospital talked her out of it.

I've seen the name "Justin" spelled "Justen" and used a girl's name. Once names go female, they rarely come back to male. Carey, was once an exclusively male name. Spelled Carrie, it's almost exclusively female now. Terry, turned into Teri. While little Teri's about, male Terry's tend to be grown men. Carroll O'Conner of Archie Bunker fame was two generations back from all the little female "Carols." One wonders if Glenn as in Glenn Close will start to overcome the female Glen's.

Some common names come from the bible. These names have been names for so many thousand years that even non Jewish people are likely to name their kids David or Joshua who were warriors of the old testament. Elizabeth was an aunt of Jesus, and Mary or Maria, or Marie one of the most common names for girls of all time, was the mother of Jesus. There has been a resurgence of old fashion virtue names such as Grace and Faith, as fundamentalist Christianity grows in popularity. For reasons I don't know other virtue names such as Constance and Prudence have not come back.

When a name drops out of use it becomes quaint and old fashioned. When I was a kid, Karen and Betty were popular names. I haven't met a little Karen or Betty in twenty years. Maybe Karen sounds too German, WWII made German names less popular. Betty, I'm very sad to see drop in popularity. It's a really cool name, easy to remember, easy to spell, and pretty.

In Hawaii a lot of Asian immigrant families want to give their kids "American" names that are not necessarily "Christian," because many Asians are not Christian. For that reason there are a lot more Melvin's and Charlene's in Hawaii than in the Bible Belt. Ironically neither of the two men I met named "Christian" were Christian. Neither went by Christ either. I think its dicey to name a child Christian for that reason. There's no accounting for religious belief once the child is of age.

Some names like Jefferson or Kelley are family last names. When a woman comes from a prominent family sometimes she likes to retain a connection to them by using her last name as a child's first name.

Weird names come from many places.