What’s in a Name? Jeff Gordon’s Son, Leo Benjamin

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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.

NASCAR star Jeff Gordon and his wife Ingrid Vandebosch picked two classic names for their baby boy, just as they did for big sister Ella Sofia.

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Gordon has been quoted as saying how much effort they put into making their choice, telling motorsport.com, "You talk about names a lot when you're pregnant for nine months…Leo was one that came up and we loved it…Gordon is not the easiest name to put a name with…you need either a single or triple syllable name to make it work…and then you start running into the initials…You have no idea how much goes into this."

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Leo is the Latin word for "lion" — as used for the famous roaring Leo the Lion symbol seen at the start of every MGM movie. Its distinguished human namesakes include six early Emperors and thirteen Popes, including Leo the Great, whose courage convinced the Hun invaders to spare the city of Rome.  In literature, it's associated with the great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, and of course, is also a sign of the Zodiac.

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The name has always been well used in this country, most popular in the early 19th century, when it was in the Top 50; right now it ranks at No. 209, probably helped by its connection to Leonardo Di Caprio. But it's far hotter in other countries, such as France, where it's No. 9, and Sweden, where it's No. 16. Related name Leon is even more popular in Europe — it has actually been the top boy's name in Germany in several recent years.

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Benjamin, the middle name choice, works well with Leo. An Old Testament Hebrew name, it entered the Top 20 this year for the first time. It was recently picked as a first name for their son by Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady.

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