Zooey Deschanel explains naming her daughter ‘Elsie Otter’: ‘I love otters’


As we learned yesterday, Zooey Deschanel named her daughter Elsie Otter. I really just… CANNOT with that name, I’m sorry. I know it’s not my baby and I know it doesn’t concern me at all, but can we all agree as a society not to name our children after woodland creatures? No Otters, Bears (coughKateWinsletcough), Beavers, Sheep, Cows, etc. Some of you thought that Zooey was perhaps pranking the world by releasing a fake name for her baby. Nope. Zooey was on the Today show yesterday morning and she was asked point-blank about the baby name. She confirmed it with a twee, hipster giggle, saying:

“I love otters… she’s going to love them. We just really liked the name Elsie, and then we both love otters because they’re so sweet and also smart. They use tools, they keep their favorite tools, they hold hands while they sleep, there are so many amazing things about otters. They’re wonderful animals.”

[From Today]

I actually agree with her that otters are cool animals and that otters are pretty amazing overall. But that’s no excuse for naming your child OTTER. Peak Twee has officially been reached. Or has it? Perhaps Zooey’s first choice was calling her baby girl Banjo Otter and her husband was like, “Nope, that’s my line in the sand. We’re not naming the baby Banjo Otter.”

Here’s the Today Show interview. I used to really like Zooey, just like I used to really like New Girl. But New Girl went off the rails several seasons ago and Zooey just… ugh. She sort of plucks my last nerve here.


Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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79 Responses to “Zooey Deschanel explains naming her daughter ‘Elsie Otter’: ‘I love otters’”

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  1. Sara says:

    I love giraffes so I called my child LongNeck.

  2. Esteph says:

    I’m an asshole…I thought “poor girl, she is never going to use her middle name”. I know I hate my name, and I always go by my nickname. In this case, I never let my dad live it down that he gave me a horrible name

    • GlimmerBunny says:

      My middle name is “Wild Strawberry” in Swedish. Needless to say I was embarrassed my entire life. Things are NOT names!

      • Hollz says:

        I don’t know how accurate google translate is, but what came up is very pretty (prettier then what came up for Strawberry anyway…IMO, of course :) )

      • Tove says:

        Glimmerbunny – then your middle name must be Smultron and I LOVE it. Sweden has so many enchanting stories about their mythical woods filled with these tiny strawberries. What a cool name! (Source: I’m swedish ;)

      • manita says:

        Were you named after Ingmar Bergamn’s film? I hope you were! That would be awesome.

  3. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Oh, for the love of Mike, I really like horses. Should I name my daughter Olivia Horse? That is just … None of my business, I know, but please.

    • Mimz says:

      GNAT , I still *cannot deal* with this name. It’s ridiculous.
      I think Koalas are super cute. Must I call my child “AnniKo Ala Cutie Pie” ???

    • Lucrezia says:

      Just use a different language.

      For horse lovers: Phillipa, Pippa, Rose, Rosalind.

      It works for otter too: Vydra/Vidra sounds pretty awesome, and it’s the Russian/Polish/Czech way of saying otter.

      Koala is a bit trickier since the only people with a word for that critter were the Aboriginals, so you don’t have a lot of options. But since there are several Aboriginal languages, variants include: Kooelwong, Colo, Coloo, Coola, Colah, koobor, Koolah and Kaola. Kaola sounds pretty, imo. But I’d stay away from Koolah … it sounds like a brand of freezer-bag.

    • shirleyfiddle says:

      But Mare wouldn’t be too bad, lol.

  4. Crumpet says:

    Maybe she is part Native American.

  5. Caro says:

    I love Otters too though. So I can’t come down on her. They’re a magical kind of adorable.

    • Linn says:

      I used to love otters but than I learned that (sea)otters rape and drown baby seals.

      I like the name Elsie but no to the otter part of the name.

      • Bluebear says:

        This is what I first thought of, too. Are they cute? Yes. Do they brutally rape and kill baby seals? YES! Don’t name your kid after adorable rapist baby killers!

    • aha says:

      I agree, I think many kids have issues with their name, like my nephew (Samuel Adam), but once she gets over it, I think it could be very cute. But then I’m not one to be offended by everything, and there are a lot weird names out there.

  6. Patricia says:

    Yeah but Zooey, this isn’t about what animal you like. This is the NAME of a tiny new PERSON in this world.

    This kind of attitude makes it seem like she only sees her child as an accessory, and only sees her child in terms of herself. I may be reading too much into it, but I don’t see any respect for your child as a person when you name them as if they are a silly little stuffed animal with a bow on top. Selfish and short sighted.

    • Belle says:

      Yup. She’s one of these women for whom a child is just another fashion accessory, like a new Birkin bag. In my crowd we call those poor kids “f*** trophies”.

    • Annie says:

      That’s what I thought too. No respect for the child. What does the fact that one loves any animal have to do with naming their child? … I love milkshakes. Is that a reason to name my child that?!? SMH

    • Josefa says:

      Zooey popped a new baby in this world just a few weeks ago and people are already tearing her apart and calling her a bad, selfish mother.

      You know absolutely nothing about how she treats her baby. Absolutely nothing at all. You’re in no place to judge her mothering skills.

      • Patricia says:

        For the record I never called her a bad mother.

        She put this out there for the world to see and yes, I do interpret naming your child after your favorite animal to be a selfish move.

      • Josefa says:

        I’ll admit I was too harsh and read your comment incorrectly as you always refered only to the action of naming her daughter after an animal. But you did say it makes it seem like she only sees her daughter as an accesory – and I do think that’s a pretty harsh thing to say about a new mother.

        I’d never name my child “Otter”, but I think it’s way too early to jump to conclusions about how she sees her daughter based only on that.

    • justagirl says:

      Yes to the idea of her only seeing her child in terms of herself, “I love otters…she’s going to love them”….it just sounds so clueless, and it allows no room for her child to have her own likes & dislikes, which are not hereditary traits.

      She really has shown no respect for her child with the name, nor appreciation for autonomy…. is Zooey a carbon-copy of her mother’s likes/dislikes?

  7. ABBESS TANSY says:

    So Zooey has officially joined the Celebrities Who Name Your Child Awful Club. Free membership but very few amenities.

  8. Sway says:


  9. MG says:

    I love Otters too, but come on! She had 9 long months to think of a name and that’s the best she can do?!?! It’s a name for crying out loud, it’s important!

  10. Tifygodess says:

    There used to be a cartoon on Nick Jr called PB&J Otter and I swear that cartoon was the first thing I thought of when I heard her babies name.

  11. lower-case deb says:

    my brother loves Toto (the band) so much that his twins daughters have three names (not including surname) culled from almost all of the women names in Toto songs.

    i hope no son of his is going to be Toto. because it’s mostly known here as a bidet brand.

  12. JKL says:

    Who cares? It’s a middle name. I basically never use mine.

    • lucy2 says:

      I can’t imagine she’ll choose to use it, but you know she’ll be teased by other kids when they know it, and anytime she’s written about publicly, you know she will be identified as “Elsie Otter.” Poor kid. I kind of hope she grows up to be as non-twee as possible and hates otters (they’re awesome but she’d be entitled to) just to rebel against her mother.

    • ab says:

      right? I don’t know why everyone seems to be losing their shit over this. they gave her a normal first name and a “kooky” middle, when she grows up she’ll be elsie o. and it’ll be fine.

  13. We Are All Made of Stars says:

    Mkay so now explain the name Elsie? :)
    I kid, that’s actually my grandmother’s name, quite accidentally. She was supposed to be named Elsa, but the hospital botched the spelling. She remembers being made fun of by a schoolteacher for having the same name as Elsie the Cow.

    And I don’t understand all the furor about Otter. It’s a middle name, and it’s not really that weird. Chillax, people.

    • Tara says:

      People need the fury. It doesn’t matter that all names are strange until they’re standardized by common usage. They need to feel superior, and this seemed easy.

  14. Lindy79 says:

    Is she a closet Cumberbatch fan?

  15. Size Does Matter says:

    It makes me think of Ado Annie’s song I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No from Oklahoma. But I’m sure I’m in the minority on that.

    “I always say come on let’s go,
    Just when I otter say nix.”

  16. Elisabeth says:

    she just guaranteed that her daughter will loathe otters

  17. Rhiley says:

    I fall in the camp of being one who used to like Zooey a lot, but now just I can’t with her. She was great in Elf and 500 Days of Summer, and I really like She & Him’s first album. I thought she and Ben Gibbard seemed like a very nice, low key couple, but something changed. I think the fame just kind of got to her and she wanted more of it, which is fine, but people don’t have to stick with you on the ride.

  18. dr mantis toboggan says:

    Sounds like the name of a Mexican drug Lord who controls the waterways. “El sea otter”

    • yellow says:

      Or a dilapidated dive bar/mexican restaurant on the beach… “Let’s head down to the El Sea Otter”!

  19. CFY says:

    I keep thinking her baby is a new character on Daniel Tiger…

  20. MP says:

    Children are people not animals or produce. If you want to name your child after something that is special to you, isn’t there any actual person dead or alive in the world or in your family that you love and could use as an inspiration. That name would have meaning to you and your child would have a human name. Win-win.

    • JenniferJustice says:

      Agreed. Stupid and shortsighted to name your child something they will carry with them for the rest of their lives lest they legally change their name when they’re old enought to do so. What sounds cute right now when they’re a baby isn’t how to name a child. I find it disturbing that so many people, #cough#celebrities!#cough# use a completely dependent/defenseless child for some on-going joke. It’s not cute. It’s not funny. It’s really immature and yes, cruel.

  21. Jayna says:

    I think beavers are cute with their front toothies. It doesn’t mean I will give my child Beaver as her middle name.

  22. GreenieWeenie says:

    Peak Twee? I was thinking the Apex of Asinine.

  23. OTHER RENEE says:

    If she loves otters so much, couldn’t she have just decorated the kid’s room with them and be done with it?

  24. Dragonlady sakura says:

    I love chocolate and cats, so my kid is herby named Snickers Calico. Don’t any of you ladies steal it. 😙

    • BlueNailsBetty says:

      My daughter will be named Myrtle Tollhouse Cookies. My son will be named Robert Chicken Fried Steak.

    • Lucrezia says:

      Hmmm. You don’t mention loving kids, so just cut out the middle-man and get a Calico cat called Snickers :P

      I did that myself … my dog is called Malteser. (Wiki tells me the US equivalent is Whoppers?)

    • WinnieCoopersMom says:

      I call Layla Christmas Twinkle!

  25. Josefa says:

    People make such a fuss about celeb baby names. She could be called Jennifer or Natalie and her classmates would still tease her about whatever thing they can think of. If it’s not the name it’ll be her nose or her height.

    I know several people with weird names. They either own up to it, come up with a nickname or go by their middle names. A lot of them don’t like their names at all, but they’ve never considered suicide because of it. It’s really not a big deal.

    • JenniferJustice says:

      No, but you’re saying and proving they dont’ like their given name and are embarrassed by it. I don’t think her daughter will commit suicide, so as long as she doesn’t go into some deep depression, but is only mildy humuliated all her life, it’s okay? I’d rather name my child something she isn’t embarrassed at all about.

      • Marianne says:

        I think Josefa’s point is that if someone wants to make fun of you they will. And even relatively “normal” names can be made fun of. My friend’s sister Kristina, used to get called “Krustina”. My friend’s 8 year old daughter decided she didn’t like her name Cassidy, because it was pointed out to her that “ass” was in the name.

  26. sarah says:

    The film she’s promoting sounds like some white-savior bullsh*t, that uses an “exotic/scary” culture as a foil for it’s white-western characters, not into it, so sick of this story dynamic.

  27. Lucrezia says:

    I thought it was weird at first, then I stopped to think about other animal names. No-one sees anything wrong with Robin (type of bird), Caleb (Hebrew for dog), or Philip (Greek for “horse lover”) these days, but they also must have sounded incredibly weird the first time they were used.

    Then again, I know a Lion (she’s French … the Anglicized version would be Leonie, which sounds fine) and a Dragon (he’s Croatian I think? The Anglicized version is Derek, which also sounds perfectly normal). So perhaps I’m just accustomed to unusual animal names.

    • OTHER RENEE says:

      No excuse.

      BTW Caleb means faithful or whole hearted in Hebrew. It’s Biblical. Dog is “kelev”.

  28. Morse0412 says:

    Honestly- I dont hate it. At least she had the common sense to give “otter” as a middle name. I think on the scope of bad celebrity baby names, this is minimal. Elsie is a completely normal girls name and is on trend with the current rise in “fussy old lady” names. Would I use the middle name Otter? No. But again, its just a middle name. I guarantee most people won’t even know it is her middle name. 99% of the people who know me don’t know my middle name. I just think people are overreacting to this name.

    Its not like she named the baby Polka Dots Otter Blue Bird or something.

  29. Dr. Funkenstein says:

    I love hippos, but I wouldn’t name my child after one. Just sayin’.

  30. Konspiracytheory says:

    “I love otters…she’s going to love them.” Hello, narcissistic much? Your child is not an extension of you, she is her own individual! Grrrr…

  31. Cyn says:

    That’s one dedicated Cumberbitch!

  32. Fluff says:

    Zooey loves otters… but not as much as she loves being ~~quiRKy*~

  33. Marianne says:

    I would side eye it more if she used Otter as a first name, but its a middle. It probably wont even be used much. And Elsie is really cute. I also kind of find it funny how “E” names seem to be popular. We have Keira Knightley choosing “Edie”, Carey Mulligan choosing “Evelyn” and now Zooey with “Elsie”.

  34. Wellsie says:

    Just me, or was she barely able to explain the basic premise of the movie? And what the hell is she looking at on the ceiling? Earth to Otter lover, helllooooo!?!

  35. ashley says:

    guys, calm down. We’ve heard WAY weirder. I kind of like it, and even if i didn’t, I’d probably be disappointed if she gave her child a completely normal name. I mean This is Zooey! Also, ZOOEYYY I LOVE U DON’T LISTEN TO THESE PEOPLE I’M YOUR #1 FAN

  36. Grant says:

    Otter is weird yes, but at least it’s prefaced by “Elsie.” This name doesn’t offend me so much as, say, North West does. I mean–two years later and still… WTF?

  37. Maria A. says:

    Interesting. It just occurred to me that what you’re criticizing Zooey for would have been perfectly fine in another context: as a Native American name.
    Seriously, look up Native American names and you’ll find a lot of names not too unlike the ones you’re making up out of fun.
    It’s all about context, I guess.

    • Harrison says:

      Okay, sure. Let’s change the context and go into make believe territory. That makes sense. If she had given birth to an actual otter, then everyone would be sorry for criticizing her.