Singer, TV and advertising star Zooey Deschanel kept the name of her new daughter a secret for three months. That’s an eternity in celebri-land. But the enchanting Deschanel and her husband, Jacob Pechinik, revealed the little girl’s name this week. And it’s… Elsie. Sweet indeed. And for a middle name? Well, that’s Otter — as in sea otter. It’s a lovely, quirky alliterative appellation — just what you’d expect from the lovely, quirky actress. Otters, the couple reminds us, are “sweet and smart.” So Elsie Otter.
With Elsie Otter, Deschanel both follows — and doesn’t — the trend of celebrities giving their children unusual names. (Hey why not? They’re going to have unusual lives.) Elsie is not uncommon. Often a diminutive of Elizabeth, Elsie comes from the Hebrew and means “promise of God.” The name has been climbing in popularity since the turn of the century. In 2005, according the the Social Security Administration, Elsie ranked 924th in popularity among girls’ names. In 2014 it had climbed to 336. Zooey, by the way, doesn’t rank in the top 1000 for any of the past five years, despite all J.D. Salinger did for it.