The Swedish golf champion, Annika Sorenstam, has spurred a lot of interest in the Scandinavian endearment form of Anna. Some will remember it as the name of Pippi Longstocking's friend; Trekkies might associate it with a Star Trek Voyager character. Would make a sweet namesake name for an ancestral Ann.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer won the Heisman trophy in 2002. His surname-name has a double image—as an athlete and a Mad Men executive type. It also has a Wild West persona via the legendary frontiersman Kit Carson, and is associated with two TV hosts: Johnny C. and C. Daly.
Colt is a perfect jock name, associated both with Colt McCoy, Cleveland Browns quarterback, and an entire football team. Colt is one of the short, sharp powerboy names many parents are choosing more often these days, but it has actually been around since the 1980s.
Danica Patrick is the attractive race car driver who was the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race. Danica is a Slavic name meaning "morning star" and would make a unique and accessible spin on the somewhat faded Daniella. Many of us first heard it on Danica McKellar, who played Winnie on The Wonder Years.
This name has long been identified with boxing champ Evander Holyfield, but it's also an ancient name prominent in Greek and Roman mythology. In classical lore, Evander was an Arcadian hero who founded the city in Italy that preceded Rome. Could make a more distinctive alternative to Alexander.
The growing popularity of this surname version of Jacob is due largely to the high esteem for this Boston Red Sox center fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, the first Native American of Navajo descent in the Major Leagues. Coincidentally or not, there are also two football star Jacobys—Ford and Jones.
Kobe Bryant (middle name Bean), the longtime L.A. Lakers high scorer, was named after the famous beef of Kobe, Japan, which his parents took note of on a menu. Basketball fans shot it onto the popularity lists in 1997 and it has been there ever since, reaching as high as #222.
If you're a soccer mom-to-be, you might want to consider the name of the US soccer superstar Landon Donovan, of the Los Angeles Galaxy. His inspiration has helped make Landon, a fast-rising surname name, rank as high as #36 and surpass its once more popular rhyming cousin Brandon. It has been chosen by two musicians—Josh Gracin and Travis Barker (whose own middle name is Landon).
Lleyton Hewitt, the Australian tennis star, has inspired many namesakes on his native turf, but this unusual spelling of Leighton is not likely to catch on here, especially since Gossip Girl's Leighton Meester is indeed a girl. The double L beginning is typically Welsh, as in Lloyd and Llewellyn.
Baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan was named Lynn at birth, after his father. Nolan is a cheerful, friendly traditional Irish surname with the appropriate meaning of "champion," and recently reached its highest popularity point at #122. Another celebrity with the name: designer Nolan Miller.
Indiana Colts star Peyton Manning holds the record for most MVP awards in the NFL. His athletic image has allowed his name to hold onto its masculine edge, even as the girls' team has tried to namenap it. The Manning family in general excels in all-star names—Peyton's sportsmen brothers Eli and Cooper and dad Archie.
The name of the rising young golf pro from Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy, is a Gaelic classic. Anglicized from Ruairdhri, the name of two medieval Irish kings, Rory is still popular in Ireland and Scotland. It's a name that could work well for an athletic boy or girl: the young heroine of Gilmore Girls was known as Rory.
The 2006 Olympic silver medalist, Sasha Cohen, was a poster girl for the wintry Russian unisex nickname for Alexander/Alexandra, which got even greater public exposure via First Daughter Sasha (full name Natasha) Obama, the youngest child in the White House since JFK, Jr.
Thierry Henry is the French pro footballer who plays for the New York Red Bulls in the Major Soccer League. Pronounced almost like Terry (TYAIR-ee), it's the opportunity to add a bit of foreign flair to a typical jock name. Another bearer of the name: designer Thierry Mugler.
The name of a heavenly planet and Roman goddess of beauty and love, the incarnation of female perfection, was considered a tad too intimidating for baby name use until Venus Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, put an athletic, contemporary spin on it.