What’s in a name? Kristina Chetcuti asks as she goes through last year’s list of baby names.

In 2015, couples must have had some fond memories of romantic days spent in the sun, sipping whisky and having a marvellous time being in love.

So much so that they gave their newborns names to remember such days. Which is how in 2015 we have a baby called Xemx, a baby called Jack Daniel, another one called Love and a baby Marvellous.

And if you find this incredible and you’re shaking your head and going ‘No, no’, well, be careful, because we also have a baby called Lele.

These are all real names, registered with the Public Registry for babies born in 2015. The complete list of babies’ first names, seen by the Times of Malta, included original ones such as Leta Storm, which sounds very much like ‘lethal storm’ and the baby could well have been born on August 8, the day a freak storm hit Malta.

There’s Delyth, which in Welsh means neat and pretty, but when read with a Maltese pronunciation it means, err, murder. The name Ala may also have a similar problem as it sounds very much like the Maltese ghala – why? Washing soap seems to have been a source of inspiration for 2015 names: we have Aria, Ava and Ariel.

Even trickier is perhaps the gay-friendly name of baby Dyk. Maybe the inspiration was Paul Van Dyke, the dance music DJ, or the internet acronym for Did You Know. There’s also a Wictor and an Oliwia. No, the ‘w’s are not typos. It could be that the person manning the Registry desk on the day had just been to the dentist and pulled out his two front teeth.

There’s Xemx, who, let’s hope,will be of a very sunny disposition

Father registering baby: “We’re calling her Olivia, please”.

[Toothless] Clerk registering the baby: “Ah, a wery nice name, Oliwia.”

Then we have the use of Maltese phonetics to spell names such as Alix instead of Alex and Mixhal instead of Michelle. They will probably grow up to be friends to two baby girls called Defne.

Last year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting was clearly a muse. The Queen of England’s visit to the island results in nine babies called Elisabeth and one Elisabetta. There are nine baby Georges, and there’s evena Camilla.

Nouns once again enjoyed some popularity. There are babies called Faith, Hope, Love and Gift. There’s a Prince, a Princess, and why, there is even a Sultan.

There’s Xemx, who, let’s hope, will be of a very sunny disposition, and also wisq sabiha (so beautiful), for she’ll grow up to the soundtrack of The Tramps.

And we mustn’t forget baby Saga. The parents probably discussed various baby names for endless hours until one day the father said: “I wish this saga was over!” And at last, the mother beamed and whispered, “Saga!”

The baby list has the obligatory tongue-twisters, which, with each passing year, are becoming more of a challenge. Here’s a selection of the best of them: Thisseanne, Shaznolee, Zanishielle, Zashielle, Zeshinzer, Zhayouna, Zadeyshia, Zaleishia, Zakishyia-Ann.

There was also an increase in popularity of three-lettered names. You may be used to classics such as Eva, Eve, Lee, Zoe or Amy. There’s also Ema, Eli, Ela, Ena and Ana, which are not so uncommon. But last year there were some very original contributions, like Izz and Vuk, Una and Ada, Aya and Jad.

Here’s a sleep-inducing rhyming list of the rest: Lia, Mia, Nea, Dea, Lea, Zea, Kea, Nya, Nia, Sia, Ria, Joy, Roy, Mae, May, Kay, Kim, Tim, Tom, Teo, Leo, Kai, Jai, Zen, Ben, Yen, Yan, Ean, Dan, Jan, Jak, Jax, Max and Zak.

There were of course a good number of babies named after people in celebrity circles. When studying the list, you can always tell who won the year’s Malta Eurovision: last year eight babies were called Amber. There was also a baby called Tenishia, after the internationally renowned Maltese DJ duo.

Probably because of the Pope, Francesco was also popular, with 16 babies named after him. Archbishop Charles Scicluna may be happy to know that there was one baby named after him – although, admittedly it could have been for Prince Charles – and three others were called Charlie (possibly after last year’s craze of the #CharlieCharlieChallenge).

Away from the local scene, footballers’ names still dominate the list of off-the- beaten-track names for boys. Baby Goncalo was most likely called after Gonçalo dos Santos, a Portuguese footballer who plays for Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb.

When studying the list, you can always tell who won the year’s Malta Eurovision

There’s Neymar, named after the Brazilian footballer who plays for FC Barcelona and is the captain of the Brazil national team. One baby was called Felipe Gabriel, after Fellype Gabriel, a Brazilian attacking midfielder who plays for Palmeiras. Then there’s baby Andre Danilo after the Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Real Madrid and baby Rafael Mina after the Ecuadorian footballer who plays in the Ecuadorian Serie A (there are, indeed, people who watch the Ecuadorian Serie A).

And then there is baby Schneider, possibly named after the surname of Bernd Schneider, a retired German footballer. But if the parents are still young, they would not remember him, so maybe the baby was called after Schneider Electric, a European corporation that specializes in electricity distribution and energy management. All this talk of electricity bills and energy and power stations can influence parents’ whims.

Formula One leaves its mark on baby Massa, named after Felipe Massa, the Brazilian Formula One driver who currently races for Williams. There’s a baby Carleshian, whose name has an uncanny similarity to the surname of Kim Kardashian, that girl who is best known for balancing a champagne flute on her bum last year.

There were also eight babies called Cataleya, which seems to be one of the world’s fastest-rising girl’s names this decade, inspired by none other than a beautiful assassin in the 2011 movie Colombiana. But why call a baby after a character in a movie when you can call them after the whole thing? Like baby Milagros, for example, named after the South American telenovela, which runs on one of the Italian channels.

Hollywood always leaves its mark of course. There’s Ashton after Ashton Kutcher, the former husband of Demi Moore. Baby Diaz got her name from the surname of actress Cameron Diaz, who in 2015 starred in the Jewel of India hit. And there is also good old baby Angelina Joyce.

Lucky for the teachers who’ll have these children in their classroom in three years’ time, the bulk of the names are traditional: Amy, Ella, Leah, Maya, Valentina, Emma, Martina, Jade, Julia, Elisa and Elena are among the most popular for girls (and, may I add, there’s also four babies called Kristina in the list).

Luca, Matthias, Adam, Ben, Benjamin, Beppe, Alexander, Thomas, Zack, Liam, Luke and Noah are among the most popular for boys.

However, the list of completely creative ones is always on the increase, and some names cannot be traced back to any context or to any particular meaning. These include pioneer names like Ajson, Bitania, Kelzen and Clayona Carrielis.

The mind boggles. Love, I need a Jack Daniel.

The Times of Malta only had access to the list of first names of babies born in 2015. Due to the Data Protection Act, no other information, including surnames and addresses, was made available by Identity Malta.

Some odd 2015 Maltese baby names and their possible meaning

• Aizon: no specific meaning, except that it is the name of a private company which aims at integrating environmental and cultural activities into sustainable economic development.

• Azalea: flowering shrubs in the genus rhododendron.

• Thwayya: Arabic for ‘star’ – the new Stella and Soleil.

• Gliven: according to the Urban Dictionary, this is a slang word for an abortion.

• Feras: slang for a handsome man who is extremely intelligent.

• Ebtisam: there is no meaning to this, but there is “a friendly and reliable” dental practice in London which carries the name.

• Dhikshita: an Indian name meaning materialistic, determined and stubborn.

• Magd: there is no meaning, but it is an acronym for Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry.

• Ragd: an acronym for Rapid Adventure Game Development.

• Jack Daniel: the American distiller and the founder of the Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey distillery.

• Cerelia according to names’ websites this means cereal, as in breakfast cereal.

• Hayken: no meaning, but it is the name for a 44-metre luxury motor yacht.

• Mirco: the Kiss Me Licia generation will have fond memories of this name.

• Roksanda: after Roksanda Illnicic, a Serbian fashion designer.

• Chase: the boy is going to have some problems in the schoolyard when children want to play Chase.

Some 2015 Maltese baby names inspired by locations

▪ Davor: a place in Croatia

▪ Easton: a hundred places in the UK are called Easton

▪ Adelide: after South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital

▪ Isla: our Senglea

▪ Lia: our Lija

▪ Joao: the capital of the state of Paraíba in Brazil

▪ Massabielle: the most sacred grotto at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes

▪ Rancy: a commune in the region of Bourgogne in eastern France

Does the Public Registry have any control over names?

Article 242 (1) of the Civil Code (chapter 16) states: “The director shall not receive any act which is not written in clear and legible characters, or which contains abbreviations, or which may appear to him to be otherwise defective or irregular.”

The law to date does not impose specific limitations on the names that can be given to children. There is no list of acceptable or unacceptable names. Nor is there one of names that have been refused. In case of any doubts about a name. It is the Director Public Registry who will decide whether that name is acceptable or irregular, and his decision is based on what is requested at law.

Single letter names and initials are not acceptable. Names that are an insult to society are considered irregular, and the Director Public Registry has the authority at law to refuse to register such a name.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us