Zooey Deschanel on daughter’s name: ‘nobody had the middle name Otter’


The shot above is of Zooey Deschanel celebrating her 100th episode of New Girl Wednesday night at the W Los Angeles. How cute is that dress? The shape and simple black bow embellishment makes it both sophisticated and fun. I even like the pink shoes and clutch, although the 80s girl in me would have gone with red. Zooey is back at work on New Girl after a six-week maternity leave; her character Jess returns next week. Megan Fox, who has been filling Jess’ quirky shoes, has been well received. Promoting her return to the show on Ellen yesterday, Zooey mostly gushed about how cute her seven-month-old daughter, Elsie Otter Pechenik, is. In addition, Zooey discussed Elsie’s unusual verbal skills and why she is named after a semiaquatic, albeit darling, animal:

Zooey Deschanel‘s daughter Elsie Otter isn’t quite talking yet, but sounds are definitely happening.

The actress tells Ellen DeGeneres on Thursday that the 7-month-old “makes a lot of little, like, pterodactyl kind of noises.”

“Like ‘ahh, ooh, ahh.’ And a noise that sounds like choking,” Deschanel says of Elsie. “She’ll be like ‘ah, ah, ah.’ And I’ll be like, ‘What’s wrong?’ and she’ll be like, ‘Ha, ha, ha!’”

The star also explains why she and husband Jacob Pechenik went with such a unique middle name for their little girl, joking, “In a sense that we’re all mammals.”

“We thought Elsie is a classic name — a lot of people have grandmas and aunts named Elsie,” she shares. “And then we were like the middle name can be a little bit like wild.”

“We both found that we had a mutual love for otters,” she jokes further. “There were some more normal middle names… but I realized that nobody else likely had the middle name ‘Otter.’ ”

[From People]

Babies discovering the sounds their bodies can make is a very amusing time in their infancy. They sound like a broken sound effect machine but are so impressed by their own noises. You are constantly running in to see what’s wrong with them and they just look at you like, “how about that, huh?”

If I am being honest, I don’t mind the name Elsie Otter that much. I should mention I never get too worked up about what people name their kids. Yes, Elsie Otter together is precious or, as Kaiser said, sounds like a children’s cartoon character, but I like the name Elsie. Zooey is not showing photos of Elsie so having a quirky name for her kid makes for good press. Plus, the whole ‘adorkable’ thing is Zooey’s shtick anyway. If the story about how both she and her husband love otters is true then more power to them, it will make a nice connection between the three of them. I don’t have a lot of room to complain, though; I tried to get my son named after my favorite rock star and my daughter named after my favorite car. You will be glad to know both got vetoed.

Here is the clip from Ellen:

At the Vanity Fair party after the Oscars

Photo Credit: WENN Photos

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72 Responses to “Zooey Deschanel on daughter’s name: ‘nobody had the middle name Otter’”

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  1. lilacflowers says:

    Nobody else had the name “Otter” because nobody else considered it a name for a human.

    • paleokifaru says:

      Glad to see so many others with like minded judgment this morning!

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      No one likely has the middle name “A$$hole”, either, but that is no reason to give it as one.

      Good grief, these people…Apple, Pilot Inspektor, Otter. And I thought I had it rough with an old Nordic name. Poor kids

      • Ariana says:

        My nephew is named Nickel. No reason was given other than my bro in law liked the way it sounded with his last name. Kindergarten must be strange these days….a bunch of (K)Aidans, Emmas, Bellas, and then….Otter and Nickel.

      • paleokifaru says:

        Some friends of mine taught at a school with brothers named Emillionaire and Amillionaire…but I believe the spelling was worse.

    • raincoaster says:

      I can’t wait till Elsie Otter grows up and becomes a death metal star.

    • kariodi says:

      One of my husband’s good friends last name is Otter.

  2. cr says:

    “but I realized that nobody else likely had the middle name ‘Otter.’ ”” There would be a reason for that Zooey, it’s not something most people would have given as a name to their child.

  3. T.Fanty says:

    I like Elsie. It’s tough coming up with a name that both parents like. I wanted to call elder Fantling Lavinia, and have her go by Vinnie, but Mr. F vetoed it. He wanted to name her after Keith Hernandez, which I vetoed. Good for them, for coming to a consensus.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      I love Lavinia. Rats.

      • T.Fanty says:

        Sigh. I still do. I like girls’ names that can convert into boys’. I like the flexibility it gives the name-owner.

    • krtmom says:

      When I hear the name Elsie I think of a cow! Anyone else remember Elsie the cow (Borden Milk) ?

  4. Who ARE these people? says:

    “We’re all mammals” is at a much higher plane than “We’re all Africans.”

  5. Jen43 says:

    Since it’s middle name, it doesn’t really matter. i would have assumed it’s a family name if I didn’t know the ridiculous truth.

    • JKL says:

      Exactly. I don’t know why people get so worked up about it in the comments. “Diminishing to her daughter as a person”? That’s a bit much for a middle name; most of my friends wouldn’t know mine, nor do I know theirs. Much ado about nothing.

  6. cannibell says:

    “I tried to get my son named after my favorite rock star and my daughter named after my favorite car. You will be glad to know both got vetoed.”

    I think I’ve said this here before, but when I worked at a daily paper in a small city the first thing I did every morning when I got to work was call Carla at the hospital to get the names of the newly-born babies (and their parents, grandparents and siblings). Saddling a kid with what we came to call “Therapy Names” was an all-too-frequent occurrence. (We also knew exactly what soap operas some moms (and dads?) were watching.) Pairing an off-the-wall middle name with a more traditional one is actually a very sensible way to give a kid an off-the-wall name. Under all that twee, Zoey is pretty sensible.

    • lower-case deb says:

      a colleague at work honestly named his baby daughter after the band Megadeth.
      (now i’ve said it, thirteen years for now Meg Adetha will do a google search (or whatever will be in vogue) and will stumble upon this very comment.)

      Hi Meg!
      hello from the past!

    • Goats on the Roof says:

      I work in a children’s hospital, and some of the names I see make Elsie Otter look positively conservative in comparison. But yeah, I agree. Zooey did the right thing in making Otter the middle name.

    • T.Fanty says:

      I teach in a suburban college, and the thing I always see is “unique” ways of spelling conventional names. Sometimes, I’ll be struggling to pronounce a tangled mess of constants, and my student will say “oh, that says Caitlin.” #noitisn’t

    • susanne says:

      I saw a girl on the news with the name cash monet. And then there were the siblings named Hennessey and Alize. I figured it was mom’s cocktail of choice when she conceived (hopefully not during the pregnancy).

    • kariodi says:

      My second year of teaching, i had a student named Loquacious. I asked him, “Are you”, and he just looked at me and said, ” Do you think that is the first time I’ve heard that?” He was a nice kid.

  7. lower-case deb says:

    well… i mean there are Robins and Ants (Antony), Bears (Bjorn), Kitty, Lady Bird, Newt, etc.
    El Sea Otter is just another one of those I guess.

  8. Patricia says:

    I still think Zooey is a smacked-ass and naming her daughter was basically all about what she wanted and not about what her daughter would want.
    I’m very open to creative naming, but this is just annoying and diminishing to her daughter as a person.

    • Esmom says:

      Well isn’t that the truth about any child? No one gets to pick their own name. 🙂

      • Patricia says:

        Exactly, no one gets to pick his or her name. That is why it’s up to the parent to be serious about it and give a name that is respectful of the new life they are bringing, a name that is for a person to carry through adulthood.

        Zooey seems like she thought she was naming a new baby doll, not a human who will live most of her life as an adult and who would want a respectable name to carry.

        If she wanted to name something “Otter” in any way she should have gotten a cat.

  9. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I don’t dislike her, but she dresses like a child. So twee. And apparently thinks like one, too, since I can imagine asking a three year old to name a baby and ending up with Otter.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes! And better asking a three year old than a four year old because the kid would be likely to end up with Poop or some other bodily function for a name. 🙂

  10. Respect says:

    The walking and talking definition of twee

  11. Marianne says:

    I don’t think its that bad either. I mean if names like “Robin” for example can become popular, I don’t see why another animal name can’t. Besides, its a middle anyway. They rarely get used as it is.

    • Bridget says:

      Robin the name didn’t originate in reference to the bird, it’s the feminine form of Robert.

  12. Lucy2 says:

    No one else used “Otter” as a name? Perhaps there’s a reason for that.

  13. Micki says:

    …”I realized that nobody else likely had the middle name ‘Otter.’ ”…
    Thank God for small mercies

  14. kai says:

    Oh come on, Hecate, tell us what you wanted to name your kids!! Bono and Toyota? Sting and Opel?

    • Esmom says:

      Haha. Axl and Volvo? This is fun.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        Jagger and Chevrolet? (Was it Ramona Quimby whose doll was Chevrolet?)

        I actually knew a girl named Chevelle. And I know two kids (a boy and a girl) who were each named Jarrett after Dale Jarrett the race car driver.

      • Ryan says:

        Let me throw Sebastian & Camaro in there.

      • Lucy says:

        Sebastian would have been a nice name, though! It’s very common in my country (Argentina), as it is in many others. But yeah, tell us the names!!! 🙂

      • Lady D says:

        What kills me is families that give 2 kids the same name. I know a family with 2 Micheals, and a family with 2 Terrys. The Terrys are brother and sister.

    • spidey says:

      I can add a Porschea

    • Hecate says:

      These suggestions are so much better than what I had picked out. I think I need to rename my kids.

      Hey, kids – come here… and bring your birth certificates and the White Out.

    • Miss M says:

      Pink Floyd/Queen and Mustang/Cadillac?

  15. Amy Tennant says:

    I love otters. Who doesn’t? Maybe the big scandal is she’s actually Benedict Cumberbatch’s kid…. I think Elsie Otter is kind of adorable. My grandma was Elsie, and Mrs. Hughes on Downton Abbey is Elsie. Anyway, considering it’s Zooey, I think it’s actually less quirky of a name than I’d have expected.

    I love her talking about “pterodactyl noises.” My son used to make this sound we called his “baby dinosaur” impression. He just turned 12 this week. It goes so fast!

  16. Ryan says:

    It’s just a series of letters that makes a sound. Who cares? Otto is an “acceptable” name. Otto & Otter are practically the same.

    • kariodi says:

      One of our very good friend’s sons middle name is Otto. It is a family name for them. And their son’s name is a palindrome.

  17. Birdie says:

    Nobody else has the middle name frog as well. For reasons.

  18. Esther says:

    if you love otters never read about their sex lives, specifically how male otters treat female otters.

    not for the faint hearted:

  19. ell says:

    and for good reason zooey, it’s an awful name!

  20. Squiggisbig says:

    At what age is she going to hang up the whole Twee thing? Very cloying.

  21. Lucy says:

    Oh Zooey, bless your heart. Still can’t help but like her a lot!

  22. GlimmerBunny says:

    My parents actually chose my middle name for the same reason: nobody elese had it and they thought it was cute/quirky. My middle name is Smultron, which means WILD STRAWBERRY in Swedish. It’s such an embarrasing name and people always think I’m some kind of hippie.

  23. Rainbow says:

    Don’t like the dress sorry. I hate bows.

  24. TheGrandSophy says:

    In a previous career as a high school teacher, I taught two students with the first names of Winsome and Dinner.

    I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

  25. Boston Green Eyes says:

    Somewhere in England, Benedict Cumberbatch is taking a bow!

  26. emma says:

    El Sea Otter!!!

    Also, Megan Fox’s character is super annoying on New Girl. Like the super hot B that doesn’t have to be nice to anyone because she is hot. I guess that’s what they were going for. But she is not likable at all to me.

  27. Dr. Funkenstein says:

    “File Cabinet” has a nice ring, maybe it’s not too late.

  28. Eeeeee says:

    Only 6 weeks maternity leave? That’s so short! Is that standard in the United States? If so my heart goes out to all you mom’s who are back at work so quickly–you must be exhausted!

    • Minxx says:

      Yes, it’s a standard in the U.S. And belive it or not, it’s not mandated by law except (if I remember it correctly) if a company employs more than 50 people – and we’re talking about unpaid maternity leave.
      Of course Zooey could have taken all the leave she wanted, but she probably has to be back to work filming her series, hence the very short maternity leave.
      I’m so glad I live in a country where we have ONE year paid maternity leave. First 6 months is 100% paid, later it’s less but not by a lot. And they can’t fire you while you’re on maternity leave (naturally, employers hate to hire young women as a result of this law – they try to hire on a non-permanent basis to avoid it, but once you have a permanent position, you’re golden 😉 . We have paternity leave too …

  29. A says:

    I’ll bet it was Lexus and Ax’l
    met and actual Lexus once…and many Axls hehe

  30. Pants says:

    Honey, no one has the name otter for a reason…

  31. shannon says:

    Very practical imo. If you wanna do crazy, stick it in the middle, then the kid has options. I wouldn’t choose ‘otter’ as a middle name, but Elsie’s not my kid, so …

  32. Minxx says:

    Well, nobody else had the middle name “Piglet” either and it’s a really cute animal too.
    Oh, Zooey.. think of your child for once, it’s not a pet, it’s a human being!
    I hope Elsie’s middle school pals don’t find out her middle name!
    We named our son Julian, but for middle name we gave him something more conventional in case he hated his first name and wanted to use middle instead. My hubby definitely didn’t want to go with family middle names, which are very old-fashioned, WASPY- style. I like them, they’re unique, even a bit excentric but as a kid, he was very self-conscious about it.