Zooey Deschanel superfans, gather ’round. Everyone’s favorite New Girl has finally made her big baby name announcement, striking that fine balance between awesome and strange.
We all know Deschanel is the quirky girl on the block (becoming so known for her quirkiness in Hollywood that it’s become comical), which is why most fans of the 35-year-old actress have been waiting in anticipation to find out what her new daughter will be named. Will it be extra quirky? Will it be extra cute? Will she shock us all and name her baby Gladys just because she can?
The answer lies somewhere between column A and column B. Deschanel and her producer husband, Jacob Pechenik, are now the proud parents of 3-month-old Elsie Otter, as they confirmed to People at the New York City Rock the Kasbah premiere last week. Elsie is Deschanel and Pechenik’s first child, born in Austin this past July, the same weekend the couple announced their surprise wedding.
So how did they choose her name? Deschanel and her husband explained to People that it has a certain ring to it when you say it all together. “It’s Elsie… Otter. Like the animal — sea otter.”
Leave it to Deschanel to come up with a seemingly restrained baby name combo with a hidden, quirky meaning. Unlike other eccentric celebs who have gone “all the way” with their baby name choices — think Kim and Kanye’s North West and, of course, Michael Jackson’s Blanket — Deschanel seems to shoot for the traditional in her daughter’s first name choice. Elsie, a shorter variation of Elizabeth, peaked in popularity in the 1890s, with current estimates at number 339 in Scotland and 740 in the United States.
Then we have Elsie’s middle name, Otter, which registers off the charts. And by “off the charts,” we mean: Good luck finding Otter on any traditional baby name list. Even after consulting the BabyCenter and U.S. Government Social Security database, Otter has very little backing as a baby name. This can only likely mean what we all think it means: Deschanel appears to have chosen her daughter’s unconventional middle name after an (admittedly cute) animal.
For those of us who look to celebrities for gossip, fashion and even baby naming styles, this presents us with a fun, new baby naming trend on the horizon. While Kristin Cavallari is making waves for allegedly planning to name her new daughter after a dog, Deschanel has opted to use the animal inspiration a little more discreetly. In summation: Choose a sweet and somewhat popular first name that won’t get your child picked on in school, and then go crazy with the middle name people are less likely to hear.
Parents, if you have a penchant for weird baby names, or if you have a family name being passed down that you don’t know what to do with, this may be the answer you have been looking for. Save your child the hassle of learning to write a difficult name (or explaining it later in a job interview), and take notes from this creative new mom. A traditional first name plus a quirky middle name equals an unforgettable baby name combo.