The names celebrities give their babies can breathe life into a forgotten name such as Matilda or Violet, and add new luster to vintage Hollywood names such as Harlow and Ava.
For example, the year before reality TV star Nicole Richie gave birth to her daughter and named her Harlow Winter Kate -- inspired by actress Jean Harlow and model Shalom Harlow -- only 28 baby girls shared the unusual name.
In 2008, the year Richie gave birth, that number shot up to 133, more than doubling again the following year to enter the official Top 1,000 (as determined by the Social Security Administration), rising to number 778 in 2010, when 349 baby girls were named Harlow.
For a celebrity baby name to make it big seems to take a combination of parental star power and intrinsic name appeal: Reese Witherspoon's Ava caught on in a major way, for instance, but son Deacon's name was perhaps too quirky or religious to become popular.
Read on to discover the most influential celebrity baby names right now.
Heather Locklear first revived the slumbering (it had been out of the Top 1,000 for two decades) name of gorgeous Hollywood star Ava Gardner in 1997, but it really started to climb after Witherspoon used it for her daughter in 1999, and jumped all the way to number 5 last year.
When Teri Hatcher named her daughter Emerson in 1997, there were nearly six boys for every girl that received the name. In the most recent count, thanks to Hatcher's influence, there were 1,000 female Emersons born, and only 612 boys.
This place-name that mixes reggae with royalty entered the Top 1,000 in 2006, the same year Gwen Stefani used it for her son, and has now risen to number 214.
The names of the Brangelina brood are mixed in terms of the influence they've had. Maddox, Pax, Zahara, and Vivienne have caught on, but Shiloh and Knox have not. Oldest son Maddox's name is still the most influential of the bunch; it entered the Top 1,000 in 2003 and is now number 180.
This quirky, old-fashioned name evoked her late dad Heath Ledger's home country of Australia. Obscure when Michelle Williams gave birth to the little girl in 2005, the name Matilda entered the Top 1,000 after a 45-year hiatus and is now a hipster favorite.
Use of the name Ryder has more than tripled since Kate Hudson chose it for her older son in 2004. Infant son Bingham's name is unlikely to have the same widespread appeal.
This romantic name, chosen for her daughter by Salma Hayek in 2007, has risen 250 places on the popularity chart, to number 152.
The vintage name Violet has become a star since Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck gave it to their eldest daughter in 2005. Number 372 then, it's now closing in on the Top 100. We predict little sister's name SERAPHINA will also become much more popular. Although it's not yet in the Top 1,000, the use of the obscure angelic name has doubled in the two years since Garner and Affleck chose it.
Will and Jada Pinkett Smith gave their daughter this graceful name 11 years ago; now it's risen from number 760 to 290 and seems sure to go even higher, along with big brother Jaden's name, the popularity of which has also been influenced by Britney Spears's Jayden.
A few other celebrity baby names destined to be influential but too recent to make the Top 1,000 list are Clementine (Ethan Hawke), Romy (Sofia Coppola), and Story (Jenna Elfman).
And then there are those celebrity baby names that may have attracted a lot of attention but not many real-life namesakes. Why? Although the children may be high-profile and adorable, their names fall on the wrong side of the line between distinctive and weird.
Apple - Gwyneth Paltrow & Chris Martin
Bronx - Ashlee Simpson & Pete Wentz
Egypt - Alicia Keys & Swizz Beatz
Huckleberry - Bear Grylls
Ignatius - Cate Blanchet
Monroe (for girl) - Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon
Moroccan - Mariah Carey & Nick Cannon
Moxie - Penn Jillette
Ptolemy - Gretchen Mol
Sparrow - Nicole Richie & Joel Madden
Sunday - Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban
Suri - Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise
Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond Satran are the creators of the baby name site Nameberry and the authors of ten bestselling books about names, including Cool Names for Babies and The Baby Name Bible.
Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.