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Many expectant parents love the look and sound of an exotic name for their baby-on-the-way, but can’t quite pull the trigger when it’s time to sign the birth certificate. If this sounds like you, nameberry.com co-founder Pamela Redmond-Satran says that you can have your cake and eat it too.

“Middle names used to be either placeholders — the Anns and Lynns and Lees of the 50s and 60s — or a way to honor Great-Uncle Philip (in hopes that he’d leave you all his money),” she explains. “Today, middle names are often a place to use a wilder name than parents might want to use in first place, and one that may have ethnic or other individual significance.”

Heidi Klum and Seal did just that one week ago today, when they welcomed daughter Lou Sulola. An African name, Sulola honors Seal’s heritage just as the couple’s sons Henry Gunther Ademola Dashtu and Johan Riley Fyodor Taiwo have done with their own middle names. Likewise, Lisa Bonet and Jason Momoa paid homage to dad’s Hawaiian roots with son Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakacha.

Ione Skye and Ben Lee paid tribute to India with Goldie Priya; Pronounced pree-ah, the name is Sanskrit for beloved and means an individual type of beauty. Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio went a similar route with Luka Bodhi, with Bodhi being Sanskrit for “awakening” and a Buddhist term that means an escape from the cycle of birth, karma, and death. Spirituality has factored into the middle name selections of other celebrities, like Golden Brooks and D.B. Woodside‘s daughter Dakota Tao.


Click below to learn which celebrity baby middle name Pamela feels is “the most head-turning” in recent history.

There are other approaches to selecting a middle name, of course. Bronx Mowgli — son of Ashlee Simpson-Wentz and Pete Wentz — was named after the hero of Disney’s The Jungle Book and “has one of the most head-turning middle names in recent celebrity baby naming history,” Pamela notes. Color names are also increasingly popular, as evidenced by Soleil Moon Frye‘s daughter Jagger Joseph Blue and Kelly Preston and John Travolta‘s daughter Ella Bleu.

Other noteworthy celebrity baby middle names include Sparrow James Midnight, son of Nicole Richie and Joel Madden; William Wolf, son of Sarah Shahi; Ezekiel Czar, son of Tisha Campbell-Martin; and Petal Blossom Rainbow, daughter of Jamie Oliver.

In addition to her work with nameberry.com, Pamela has co-authored ten baby-naming books with Linda Rosenkrantz. Their newest title, Beyond Ava & Aiden, is available now.

— Missy

What is the most exotic middle name you’ve ever heard? Did you or would you give your own child an exotic middle name?