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Published: Thursday, 4/20/2006

'Suri' is only the latest in a long list of creative monikers bestowed by celebrities

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Maddox and Angelina Jolie attended a concert in England last summer.
Maddox and Angelina Jolie attended a concert in England last summer.
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Not one girl born in Lucas County last year had the name Suri.

Get ready for that to change.

Now that Toledo's own Katie Holmes and her fiance, Tom Cruise, have named their newborn daughter Suri, odds are that copycats will follow.

"I can assure you there will be a lot more, or versions of it," said Andrea Myers, a clerk in vital statistics at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department.

In finding such an unusual name for their baby - unique for the moment, at least - the couple known as TomKat became the latest in Hollywood to set apart their child with a creative call sign.

Suri has its origins in Hebrew, meaning "princess," or Persian, meaning "red rose," according to a statement put out by a Cruise spokesman.

(The word also has less beautiful qualities: it means 'pickpocket' in Japanese.)

There's certainly an exotic quality about the name, something parents from Hollywood to Northwood are looking for these days, according to Cleveland Kent Evans - talk about unusual names! - president of the American Name Society and an associate professor of psychology at Bellevue University in Nebraska.

The average young parents do not want their children to have a common name and think somehow they've committed child abuse if their offspring gets to kindergarten and there's another child with the same name, he said.

Add in the celebrity factor, he continued, and there's even more pressure to find a unique name that will validate the parents' self-image as creative people.

"I don't think that most of them are doing this just for publicity, but I think they're doing it because for them it's almost a sign that they are creative," Kent said.

The result is Gwyneth Paltrow naming her kids Apple and Moses. Or co-

median and magician Penn Jillette, who named his daughter Moxie CrimeFighter.

Tennis player Andre Agassi has a daughter named Jaz Elle. Angelina Jolie's adopted son is called Maddox, precipitating a boom in that name for boys.

Certainly this isn't unheard of - back in the '60s, Frank Zappa named his children Moon Unit and Dweezil - but it seems to be intensifying.

Which means the risk of children with funky names being teased should be less because of the sheer number of such monikers out there. For celebrity spawn like Suri, the risk is even less.

"If your parent is Tom Cruise or Gwyneth Paltrow, you're gonna be sent to nannies and sent to private schools, and you're not going to get the sort of teasing you're going to get in an elementary school in Toledo," Evans said.

"The only teasing I could think of [for Suri] is if the kids get taught ... the old song from Oklahoma! and talk about a 'Surrey with the Fringe on Top.'‚óŹ"

The danger level of that happening to TomKat's baby probably will be low, he decided.

"I certainly don't think most of these kids will be exposed to Oklahoma!"

Trendy, unique names may be the cat's pajamas for some people, but not John Smith. The 52-year-old from Sylvania Township is not at all bothered by having perhaps the most common of names.

"It's been easy for me because people don't get my name wrong, they can spell it, and it's very easy to remember," he said. "I'm a sales guy, so that all helps out."

Other people can do what they want, but Smith is happy with traditional names. Names are kind of like tattoos, he said. You want to pick one that will still be good when you're 85.

"Everyone can pretty much do what they want to do," he said. "I just think if you're going to name someone, a human being, and you realize that they have to live their life with that name, then you would think a little bit more about it. "

Contact Ryan E. Smith at:

ryansmith@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103.



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