What's in a Name? James Van Der Beek's Daughter, Olivia

Celebrity Moms Sep. 29, 2010 AT 4:00PM
What's in a Name? James Van Der Beek's Daughter, Olivia Credit: Amy Graves/WireImage.com

Nameberry.com editors Pamela Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz -- who penned the books Baby Name Bible and Beyond Ava & Aiden -- are blogging for UsMagazine.com about why celebs choose the names they do, and what they mean.

Dawson is a dad. Yes, James Van Der Beek, most famously known for his role as Dawson Leery on Dawson's Creek, and wife Kimberly Brook now have a daughter they've named Olivia.

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Olivia is a rich, romantic Latinate name related to the olive tree, first used by Shakespeare for a central character, a noble lady, in his 1601 comedy Twelfth Night. And it has since been used for characters on such TV shows as diverse as The Waltons, The Cosby Show, Sesame Street, Grey's Anatomy and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Not to mention the super popular children's book series, Olivia the Pig.

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For years it was associated first with Gone With the Wind's Olivia de Havilland, and then with Australian-born singer Olivia Newton-John.

Olivia has been popular in the United States since at least 1880 (it was the name of Mark Twain's wife), but never has been as wildly prevalent as it is today. Olivia currently ranks at No. 3 on the Social Security list of top baby names, given to more than 17,000 baby girls last year.

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Its widespread popularity extends to Britain, where it was No. 1 in 2006 and 2008, as it was in several areas of Canada; it's also in the Top 10 in Australia, New Zealand, and Finland.

Nor will Ms. Van Der Beek be the only Olivia in the celebrisphere. Other notables who have chosen the name include Justine Bateman, Chelsea Noble and Kirk Cameron, Joely Fisher, Wanda Sykes, Lori Loughlin, Byron Allen, Eddie Vedder, Joe Piscopo, Beverly DeAngelo and Al Pacino, and Denzel Washington.

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No middle name has been announced for this Olivia, but with seven syllables in her first and last names, that may well have seemed like enough.

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