Actors Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney, co-stars of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, welcomed their second son on April 5 at their home in Los Angeles. The couple named their boy Leo Grey McElhenney. Get the story behind this celebrity baby name from Linda Rosenkrantz and Pamela Redmond of Nameberry.
Leo is a short but powerful lion-related name that is growing in popularity, at its highest point now since the 1950s. It definitely got a bit of a bounce as Leonardo DiCaprio's well-known nickname. Leo has a lot more going for it: its image of animal strength, an energetic "o" ending, a zodiac reference, and some interesting namesakes, from Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy to characters on The West Wing and Grey's Anatomy to the roaring MGM icon. It's an international hit as well—Leo is currently in the Top 10 in both France (where it's pronounced LAY-o) and Sweden.
The middle name Grey provides a soft contrast to Leo and is part of a growing color-name trend, from Scarlet to Violet to Rose. Blue has been a unisex middle name option since Cher used it for her son Elijah in the 1970s, and since then there have been star babies named Jackson Blue (Maria Bello), Molly Blue (Veronica Webb), Jagger Joseph Blue (Soleil Moon Fry), Raquel Blue (Joe Don Rooney), and the Frenchified Ella Bleu (Kelly Preston and John Travolta). Could Grey be the next Blue? It's possible. Lisa Rinni and Harry Hamlin used the alternate spelling Gray for their daughter Amelia's middle name.
Axel Lee is the name of Leo's big brother (all of 19 months)—an excellent match in terms of image. Influenced by heavy metal rocker Axl Rose (who was born William), this popular Scandinavian form of the Biblical Absalom, has been growing in popularity along with other names featuring the powerful letter 'x'. Will Ferrell and his Swedish wife Viveca Paulin named their third son Axel.
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.
Photo: Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson via Helga Esteb/Shutterstock