Knock Knox: The X & O roundup

Jul 14th 2008

The baby name world can now rest easy:  the Jolie-Pitt twins have arrived.  Everyone, please welcome Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline.

As we've discussed here before, Angelina Jolie is a rare style-maker in the field of baby names.  Fashion trackers wait on her name selections the way investors used to hang on every word from Alan Greenspan.  So will Knox and Vivienne get the same boost as Maddox and Shiloh?

Let's start with the most surprising of all the Jolie-Pitt baby names: Vivienne.  Surprising because it's perfectly traditional.  Vivienne is simply the French feminine form of Vivian, modestly common in the U.S. during Vivan's heyday in the 1910's-20's.  In fact, many more Viviennes have been born in the U.S. than in France over the past century.  Vivian is already a comeback name and the Spanish/Italian Viviana is hot too, so Vivienne simply fits in comfortably.

Knox is a step apart.  Most Americans associate it first with the gold of Fort Knox, second with Knox gelatine, and third with "Mr. Knox, sir" of Fox in Sox.  (A fine character name to be sure, but it's no Sylvester McMonkey McBean.)  Knox was a natural choice for the Jolie-Pitt family, since all of their boys have -x names and Mr. Pitt has a Knox in his family tree.

Despite the fashion power of the letter x, I don't see Maddox-like popularity ahead for Knox.  If you're looking for the next great x name, then, it's time to strike out on your own.  Below are some creative x names with potential...


...and while we're at it, some o names (male and female) as alternatives to Shiloh.



By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
July 14, 2008 10:07 AM

I am still partial to Colfax, which was my guess for the boy half of the Jolie-Pitt twins.

By AG (not verified)
July 14, 2008 10:10 AM

Although Vivienne is very traditional, I think there must something really zeitgeist about it because I've been seriously attracted to that name and to Adrienne for the past year. I actually pouted a little when I saw they chose that name because now I will have to scratch it off my list. I'm one of those name snobs who can't stand to be seen as trendy in any way. But it's a very beautiful name and good for them for having 2 healthy babies.

By Coll (not verified)
July 14, 2008 10:20 AM

I like Laura's alternatives, and am having one of those "aha" moments with Hendrix. I've never heard of anyone with that name, and I'm surprised at that even though I'd never considered it before. It's catchy and has the x and is for a revered musical figure. (Please, no one suggest that name to my husband).

I'm not so sure about Shadow as a child's name, though. I've known a lot of dogs named Shadow, and it's strictly canine territory for me at this point.

By sdh (not verified)
July 14, 2008 10:24 AM

I like Vivienne, but I do agree is it a bit out of place with the rest of the Jolie-Pitt names. And it's already a celebrity baby name -- Rosie O'Donnell has a 4 year old named Vivienne Rose!

By nikki (not verified)
July 14, 2008 10:48 AM

I know a 9-month old Hendrix! He is sometimes called Henny by his grandparents, who were not quiet about their dislike of the name.

I like, but don't love, the names of all the Jolie-Pitt children. Vivienne is probably my favorite of the lot. X names just don't do it for me.

By Jennifer (not verified)
July 14, 2008 10:51 AM

I know a baby girl born recently with one of Laura's picks...Marlowe!

By Kristen R. (not verified)
July 14, 2008 10:53 AM

I think Vivian/Vivienne got a boost already from the Ya-Ya Sisterhood books.

By nl (not verified)
July 14, 2008 10:54 AM

Love the name Marlowe..would consider it if only husband liked it. I also vote for Margot...think it's very cute with the O sound...

By Anna (not verified)
July 14, 2008 10:56 AM

"How ...boring?!" was my first reaction to those names. I guess I had expected something a little more spunky than the über-normal Vivienne, and something with more of a message like Pax and Shiloh.

By Nina (not verified)
July 14, 2008 11:06 AM

How about Dido and Consuelo?

By Birgitte (not verified)
July 14, 2008 11:37 AM

As long as it is not Carfax, it is okay by me! :-)

By maya (not verified)
July 14, 2008 11:38 AM

i'm not in love with knox.

knox pitt?

mmm...not so much.

i guess that knox jolie-pitt is better.

though i do wonder what all these kids with hyphenated names will do when it comes time for them to choose a name, should they marry.

By Mari (not verified)
July 14, 2008 12:02 PM

Vivian/Vivien/Vivienne were all on my list when I had my oldest daughter a few years ago. My husband did not care for the name - he associated it with the (male) punk character Vyvyan Basterd in the 80s tv show "The Young Ones"; my mother associated it with Vivian Vance who played Ethel on "I Love Lucy"; my sister associated it with the Julia Roberts prostitute character Vivian in "Pretty Woman". Only my grandmother loved it because of the Vivian Leigh "Gone With The Wind" association.

It does seem like an extremely traditional choice for the Pitts, but I love it still...and Vivienne is my favorite spelling -- perhaps because all the letters are used twice. How many names can do that?

Anyway, in light of these developments, I am quite pleased that I didn't use the name. I'd be crying in my coffee right now. It's going to absolutely surge in popularity.

As far as Knox... this is more in line with what I expected. I like that it has a family connection. It's cool and tough.

Congrats to the gorgeous family!

By Amy Nicole (not verified)
July 14, 2008 12:02 PM

my friends and i like to name things, like our ipods and phones. coincidentally, maddox and hendrix are two of those names. :)

By hyz (not verified)
July 14, 2008 12:03 PM

Not sure if that X list above is supposed to be unisex or all boys, but I see Calix as more likely female than male--DESPITE the Greek meaning ("very handsome"), and possibly being in the "On with it's head" tradition of Aidan/Caden (Alex/Calix), and having the possible nn of Cal. Ok, maybe I'm convincing myself it *could* be masc. But I still see the nn "Callie" as more obvious for it, which sounds feminine to me, plus my first thought on hearing it was the botanical calyx, which seems quite feminine to me, PLUS has the knockout scrabble letter YX combination, making it even more appealing than "just plain X" to a certain set of parents.

I also agree that Shadow is pretty firmly canine in my mind (black lab, specifically), and Hendrix isn't toooo far behind (also for black labs, ironically enough--it fits right in there with the labs I've known named Ziggy, Marley, Satchmo, etc.).

By Sister Melinda (not verified)
July 14, 2008 12:25 PM

Hendrix has the charm of being nicked to Henry, if it turns out that the little one's personality just isn't a good match for the full name.

"though i do wonder what all these kids with hyphenated names will do when it comes time for them to choose a name, should they marry."

Really? It's not that complicated--generations of families have managed hyphens and compound surnames without serious befuddlement. The Spanish tradition is to keep the paternal component upon marriage; but I'm sure the Jolie-Pitts will be like other 21st-century hyphenated kids, and choose whatever part they *want* to keep--all of it, some of it, none of it--when and if they wed, when and if they name their own children.

By LaurieLw (not verified)
July 14, 2008 12:41 PM

My husband had a hyphenated name when I met him. I had always known I would take my husbands name, what ever it was so I could have a cohesive family unit (my personal choice). Our kids also have hyphenated last names. I am assuming they will either keep their last names, take their spouses name or combine their name to make a new hyphenation.

Regarding the Jolie-Pitt choice of Vivienne, I felt that pang of dread. I have recently been in love with the name Vivienne and the nickname Vivie. However, since I don't have any upcoming children to name, I am just going to sit back and see how it is received.

By Elizabeth in Canada (not verified)
July 14, 2008 12:46 PM

My thoughts are that I'm not in love with either Knox or Leon. I think John Knox, so Knox has a religious bent for me. However, Knox is apparently a family name on Brad's side, and I'd be interested to know why they chose Leon.

As for Vivienne Marcheline, I think it's wonderful she's honouring her mom. Yes, Vivienne is much more mainstream than I would have suspected, however the name put together makes perfect sense to me: Vivian from "alive" (Latin), so - Marcheline lives on.

By Wendy (not verified)
July 14, 2008 12:56 PM

another o name that I like...


X names


I love Pax...before the Jolie-Pitt took it, I considered it as a middle name for a daughter.

Alex is another good x name although not original. The others I can do without....

Vivienne is very pretty and I think it will make it into the top 1000 this year. Vivian seems like a good alternative to the ever so popular Lillian and the attention this spelling is getting with the Jolie-Pitt twins will undoubtably cause it to soar.

By another amy (not verified)
July 14, 2008 1:02 PM

I like V names but Knox...not so much. I was surprised by the choices. But healthy babies are good babies, no matter what they are called!

By TS (not verified)
July 14, 2008 1:42 PM

I was so disappointed when they chose Vivienne! It was my back-up name for my baby girl that is going to be born (hopefully) in about five weeks. I had it solidly picked for potential baby girl #2 if I didn't use it for this baby. Ack!

By Tamara (not verified)
July 14, 2008 1:51 PM

I have heard of Caro (CAR-o) as a nickname for Caroline.

By Keren (not verified)
July 14, 2008 1:58 PM

Knox - if he ended up at school in England chances are he'd be called Knob. Which wouldn't be good.

Vivienne - V is very popular now isn't it. I'm slightly disappointed. Still love Pax though.

By Kate, mom of T, G, and J (not verified)
July 14, 2008 2:08 PM

Off topic here, but I saw an -aden name this weekend I'd never seen before -- Graden (baby boy).

By Tirzah (not verified)
July 14, 2008 2:58 PM

Having done the exercise where I had to name 17 kids, I believe that the more kids you have, the less you maintain a consistent style. I think almost everyone is attracted to more than one style of names. The more names you have to dole out, the more you are likely to move away from your original pick. So it makes sense to me that she likes edgy names and traditional French names. I think it's great that she has an opportunity to use both types of names.

By Birgitte (not verified)
July 14, 2008 3:18 PM

OT - Am I crazy for loving the name Carmine? Does it sound too much like Carmen? I don't want my son to be mistaken for a girl. And what kind of nicknames could I use?

All my other name choices turned out to be in the top 100 which I would like to avoid as the rest of the family have some rather unusual names already.

Sorry for hijacking (or in the light of this thread, should it be hijaxing?)

By JKE (not verified)
July 14, 2008 3:26 PM

I actually know a Knox--a guy about my age that I was in a summer program. He'd be about twenty-one or so. Not a very nice guy, so the association is not one I care for, but I still like his name--even if I thought it was really odd the first time I met him a few years ago. ;)I do like the edge of a lot of the X names, though. Maddox, although I'd never use it; Colfax; Hendrix; Lennox; Fox.

I'm also a fan of Jericho, Juno, Marlowe (for boys!), and Harlow, though again, probably never use any of them. Winslow I might actually use--it makes me think of the Eagles "Take It Easy" and Winslow, Arizona, plus gives the cool Win nickname that can be an homage to my grandfather Winfred.

By Eo (not verified)
July 14, 2008 3:40 PM

I have to admit to a bit of a partiality to "--x" names, although certainly NOT to "Codex" or "Knox". The one thing that slightly redeems Knox for me is that it is a family name. Even the most eccentric surname-as-a-first-name can work for me if there is a sentimental reason for using it, like family connections, however tenuous.

"Colfax", Elizabeth T., is an inspired suggestion! I would never have thought of it, but love the sound of it. And it goes elegantly with "Lucia"...

Even when we first started shortening "Benjamin" to "Banks", I actually toyed with the idea of spelling it "Banx"!!! What a damaging admission. But then I recovered, musing that it made it a little too close to the name of the ubiquitous shapewear company. Or a staid, Central American financial institution...

Don't some "Rebecca's" breezily shorten to "Bex"? That I like. Has that devil-may-care Aussie quality. "Oscar" = "Onx"?? Probably not.

By BrooklynBabe (not verified)
July 14, 2008 3:45 PM

Well, I have an almost-3-year-old named Knox, and I've always loathed Angelina, so today is not a happy day for me. I preferred the usual reaction of "Notch? Nash? What's his name again?" to the reaction I now expect: "Oh, yeah! Like Angelina's kid!"

I'm hoping the name doesn't become hot, and judging by the preliminary reaction, it doesn't look like it will. "Knox Leon Jolie-Pitt" is a real trainwreck of stuttering meter and stumbling consonants. Even the first two names together, "Knox Leon," sound grating to me. So I think, subconsciously, that may turn people off the name. Plus, sometimes mixed-ethnicity names work... and sometimes they don't. "Knox" is so English and "Leon" is so French that they seem to clash -- regardless of how you pronounce "Leon."

Knox is a really difficult name, anyway, and the silent K occurs in only one other plausible first name, also pretty difficult and obscure: Knute.

So the harsh Anglo-Saxon quality of the unpopular silent K+n combination will mitigate against the runaway popularity of the X-names in this case.

I hope.

By Sarah S (not verified)
July 14, 2008 3:50 PM

I admire their naming style, and like most of their kids' names, including the two newcomers. I've been hooked on Vivianne (that's how it sounds, not sure if that's the correct spelling) since I saw the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, and Vivienne is just as beautiful, if a bit more "normal." I think Knox is cute, different, and unexpected.

By Guest (not verified)
July 14, 2008 3:58 PM

I second Echo, though I'd never use it. I know of an 18ish year old female twin set Echo and Raven. Also a 16yo Shadow, and baby boy Lyric.

By CB (not verified)
July 14, 2008 3:58 PM

Hmmm, future flop reality show... "The -x Brothers"?

By C & C's Mom (not verified)
July 14, 2008 4:17 PM

I actually really like Knox - I even tried to get my dh to consider it a few weeks ago, but I was unsuccessful.

What I am not crazy about is the combination of boys' names in the Jolie-Pitt family - Maddox, Pax, Knox are too much when put together. Zahara, Vivienne and Shiloh do not sound like siters to me, but they certainly don't hit you over the head with a theme.

By another amy (not verified)
July 14, 2008 4:32 PM

I love Echo.

Tirzah has a point with naming lots of kids. It would be hard to stick with a theme.

the Knute comment made me laugh--a few weeks ago I met a woman who wanted to name her son Knute but her husband wouldn't do it. So they named him Rockne. I thought that was pretty impressive for rural Alabama. Not that I like Rockne much more than Knute, nms.

By yet another Jenny (not verified)
July 14, 2008 4:35 PM

Naming all the boys with an "x" name seemed pretty cool to me until I tried to say it out loud in an everyday context. Try saying "Time for dinner Pax and Knox." Do you feel like something is caught in your throat?

The Jolie-Pitt name i adore is Zahara. So pretty and so great for an African girl (I really don't get adopting a child from China and naming her Sydney Jessica).

By Sister Melinda (not verified)
July 14, 2008 4:37 PM

On the silent K- names Knox and Knute--you'd *think* those were the only ones, but my preschooler had her own ideas. The week she learned about silent K, like in Knee and Know and Knight, my four-year-old announced that she was "Knell"--Nell with a silent K. She wrote it like that for a few months too, after she saw the startled reaction it got from her teacher. (She's 8 and she's over it now, but we still have friends who remember her as Knell.)

I figure it'll be her goth name someday, "Death Knell." And really, there are so many worse possibilities, I'd be grateful!

Another possible silent K name would be Knight; or Knick (ha!).

By CB (not verified)
July 14, 2008 4:40 PM

Will there be an off with its head spin off, Nox? Ouch!

By c.Elizabeth (not verified)
July 14, 2008 4:56 PM

And why not? Nox means night, and I like the way it sounds. Plus it's already in my list from when I went overboard with the 17 name challenge and did every letter.

By Patricia (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:00 PM

Birgitte, the only Carmine I've known is a middle aged woman. So I thought you were loving the name Carmine for a *girl" before I read the rest of your post. I think Carmine would look and sound feminine to many people. I wouldn't use it for a son.

By Anna II (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:11 PM


"Knox Leon Jolie-Pitt" is a real trainwreck of stuttering meter and stumbling consonants.

Couldn't agree more.

By Eo (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:15 PM

BrooklynBabe, you hit on it-- what's annoying is the disregard for the sound and combo of all those dissonant syllables. The actual name "Knox" can be great in another context.

By the way, I apologize for so baldly stating my initial non-affinity for the name. I just didn't expect anyone reading this would have a child named Knox. Just goes to show you can't make those assumptions-- there's a wonderful variety of namers out there...

AND, given the perspective of you and others, I really am beginning to see the appeal...

By BrooklynBabe (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:15 PM

Sister Melinda, kudos to your girl for appreciating the joys of the silent K! And "Knell" is indeed the perfect ready-made Goth name.

c. Elizabeth, the root "nox" also means "harm," and it's probably the more easily recognized definition because it appears whole in the word "noxious." So it's a double-edged sword, and one I did consider before I named my son.

There's one issue with the name "Knox" that the Jolie-Pitts probably never considered. I thought when I named my boy that I had taken into account every possible mangling, mockery, or funny nickname -- "Hard Knox Life," "Knox Three Times," "Knox Gelatin," "Fort Knox," "Knox-ville," "Ob-Knox-ious," "Knox-Knox joke," etc, etc.

I forgot one thing: the most common way to make a nickname is by adding an "-ie" to the end of the name. So naturally "Knox" became "Knoxie." Which was fine until I heard my husband call "Knoxie!" across the playground -- and realized it sounds a whole lot like "Nazi."

I still love the name, but boy was that a curveball!

By Another Guest (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:32 PM

Any name can be turned into a taunt if it is said the right (wrong?) way or taken to heart.

My husband was pushing for Fox if we have a third boy. I've already nixed it. Seems too much like a soap opera character name to me (or X-Files!).

An O-ending name that was on our shortlist for our second son was Arlo. I thought for sure we'd name him that if he was a boy. He was a boy, but after meeting him, he just didn't seem like an Arlo. I was also partial to Waldo, but it seems too soon after the Where's Waldo craze to be named Waldo.

Oh, and our children have both our last names as last names but not hyphenated. I'm assuming when/if they marry they'll figure out what they want to do with their spouse. It's not really that big of deal.

By Birgitte (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:32 PM

Wow Patricia, I never even heard of it as a girls name before. Ok, back to the drawing board, again.

LOL@Knell, she sounds like one cool little girl!

By BrooklynBabe (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:34 PM

Eo, I don't mind if anyone reacts negatively to the name. It can be polarizing, and I knew that going in. I sure don't take it personally, and I'm raising my boy with a good sense of humor so he won't take it personally either. Anyway, I think the personality makes the name, and once people meet the little charmer, they warm to the distinctive name too.

I really agonized over the musicality of my son's name, considering alliteration and meter. I don't want to post his last name in a public forum, but I will say his full name is mellifluous -- and contains a palindrome to boot.

And while this is the first time I've posted, I've been reading this site since its inception... and I was also a big fan of "Baby's Named a Bad Bad Thing," so I knew Knox wasn't one of the best-loved names. Rebel that I am, I just didn't care. :^)

By Amy3 (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:42 PM

BrooklynBabe --I feel for you, sharing your kid's name with one of the Jolie-Pitt clan! And I agree that Knox combined with Leon and Jolie-Pitt just doesn't sound good. Too bad they either didn't take that into consideration or didn't care. I keep hoping they'll opt to call him Leon, as I think that flows much better with the ln.

I totally understand why you don't want to post your son's whole name online, but I have to say I'm thrilled there's a palindrome there. I'm such a huge fan of them and, dorkily, try to start my day by getting up at a palindrome time-of-day (today it was 5:25).

By Sister Melinda (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:45 PM

"Any name can be turned into a taunt if it is said the right (wrong?) way or taken to heart."

This should be a black-boxed sticker on the front cover of every baby name book! There is NO taunt-proof name. But the good news is, there ARE taunt-free classrooms wherever excellent teachers enforce civility, and taunt-resistant kids whose parents have given them a strong sense of personal identity; and that's about as good as you can hope for.

By vivians mom (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:49 PM

oh..I am so sad.

I am due in one day with our third daughter.. My husband and I choose Vivian Day as the name. This was no easy feat. Our second daughter's name wasn't agreed upon for 6 weeks and it came only after a lot of discussions and some disagreements. Only a year later did it seem to fit her.
When we decided on Vivian, we both had tears in our eyes, we really love it. It encompassed everything we were looking in a name: classic, feminine, strong, nickname potential and familiar but not over used.

Laura had stated that it was gaining popularity- which worried me. I spent a couple of hours reading through all the comments on this site around vivian, but felt like it was a good bet. It may get a bump, but would never really be common.

I like rare names. My oldest daughter, who is 7, is named Ellery- when Laura put that name out there a few years later, I was a little worried. But, at least in my region, I
haven't heard of another child named Ellery.

How common is Vivienne/Vivian going become? Am I looking at another Isabella or Sophia or gulp..Jayden? (all very popular where I am from).

We love the name, don't want to go back to the drawing board, but at the same time don't want to have a name that is trendy and overused.

I would really appreciate anyone's thoughts on this. I am torn and can feel this baby coming!

By J&H's mom (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:51 PM

I know I'm embarassingly in-tune with pop culture, but I think moms wanting to be hip would be better off avoiding Juno.
I think it's so tied to the teen mother character from the movie right now that it's lost that artsy-cool vibe it had just a few months ago.

By Wendy (not verified)
July 14, 2008 5:55 PM

Brooklyn Babe -- my sympathies that your unique name "Knox" is now a celebrity baby name... I imagine that part of the appeal to you was the lack of other Knoxes in the world.

May I ask why you chose it? Family name by chance?