What's in a Name? Tiffani Thiessen's Daughter, Harper Renn (June 16, 2010)
Nameberry.com editors Pamela Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz — who penned the books Baby Name Bible and Beyond Ava & Aiden — are blogging for UsMagazine.com about why celebs choose the names they do, and what they mean.
When Tiffani Thiessen and Brady Smith named their new baby girl Harper, they were right in step with one of the hottest current naming trends — using surnames-turned-boys names for girls — of which Harper is a prime example.
Harper is a true 21st century name, hardly heard of for either sex before the mid-2000s. It entered the girls' popularity list in 2004 at No. 887, and by last year had leaped up to No. 174, with every indication that it will climb even higher, and this was partly due to its prominence in the celebrisphere. Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopoulis led the way in 2005, and they were followed by Lisa Marie Presley, David Spade, Dave Grohl and Martie Maguire — all parents of pink-clad Harpers.
Another contributing factor has been its use as a female character name in such hot TV shows as Gossip Girl and Wizards of Waverly Place.
The first time Harper got female recognition was via Harper Lee (born Nelle Harper Lee), whose only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is also responsible for the success of another currently trendy name Atticus, honoring its upstanding lawyer-father hero, Atticus Finch.
A number of other celebrity parents have followed this surname-to-boy's name-to girl's name trend, including Sara Gilbert and Diane Farr (with daughters named Sawyer), James Barbour (Hudson), Ali Wentworth and George Stephanopolis again (Elliott), Daniel Baldwin and Angie Harmon and Jason Sehorn (Avery), Scott Baio, Melissa Etheridge and Stella McCartney (Bailey) and Elizabeth Rohm (Easton).
The Smiths were a lot more original with their daughter's middle name choice, the highly unusual Renn, which may have some personal significance for the couple. It does bear an family resemblance to Wren, the bird name that is becoming an increasingly popular middle-place choice.