Amal and George Clooney named their new twins Ella and Alexander. As People reports, neither appears to be named after a family member, but both are names that have been rising in popularity over recent years.
Alexander has moved from the 20th most popular boy's name in 2000 to the 11th most popular in 2016. During the same time, Ella has jumped from 265th to 17th among girls names according to the Social Security Administration.
According to Behind the Name, Alexander is a Latinization of Greek words that mean "defending men." It was an alternative name for the mythological hero Paris, who along with Alexander the Great and a handful of Biblical characters has contributed to the name being popular for more than two thousand years. The continuing popularity of the 2015 musical Hamilton, which centers on another famous Alexander, might help the name build on its recent uptick in fashionability.
The name Ella got its start as a nickname, actually a few separate nicknames. It is a common diminutive form of Eleanor, Ellen, and Helen. According to Behind the Name, Eleanor likely got its start in the 12th century with Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was first Louis VII, the king of France, and later Henry II, the king of England. She was named Aenor after her mother and was referred to by the phrase alia Aenor (the other Aenor). Ellen and Helen are alternative spellings of the same name tracing back at least as far as the Helen who was the daughter of Zeus in Greek mythology.
While the names Alexander and Ella were already rising in use, the prominence of the Clooney's is likely to bring the names further into the spotlight.