The Meaning Behind Robert Downey Jr.’s Baby Name

11/05/2014 at 08:00 PM ET

Robert Downey Baby Name Meaning
Lionel Hahn/Startraks

Since Robert Downey Jr. and his wife, Susan, welcomed daughter Avri Roel on Tuesday, they’ve been showered with congratulations — and some questions about her unique name.

It’s pronounced Ay-Vree (think Avery without the extra vowel). There’s no special family history behind the first name, although the couple’s son Exton Elias, 2½, and Indio, his 21-year-old son from a previous marriage, also have memorable monikers.

But there’s a bit of a tale behind Avri’s middle name, Roel, which is derived from her grandparents’ names.

The first two letters of Roel are for The Judge and Ironman star’s father, Robert Downey Sr., and his wife Rosemary. They also are a shoutout to producer Susan’s mom, Rosie. The last two letters are for the actor’s mother Elsie and Susan’s father, Eliot Levin.

One thing’s for certain: The proud dad is thrilled to welcome his baby girl to the family. “Avri Roel Downey joined the party @3:22 a.m.,” he posted Wednesday on Facebook.

“She’s 7 lbs even, spans 20 inches, and is accompanied by a variety of Susan’s traits that have seemingly overwritten my ‘junk DNA.'”

— Elizabeth Leonard

Want more stories like this?

Sign up for our newsletter and other special offers:

sign me up

Thank you for signing up!

FILED UNDER: News , Robert Downey Jr.

Share this story:

Your reaction:

Add A Comment reserves the right to remove comments at their discretion.

Showing 36 comments

Jsilly on

Aww congrats to them! I really like both names 🙂

Nancy on

CONGRATS!!! Love the name and the meaning behind . . Robert you now have your hands full . . .mark my words . . LOL.

Hilary on

Junk DNA. I’m sure his oldest kid will love that.

maryhelenc on

Love it. Congrats to them!

guest on

Also, “EL” for election day in USA today!

veggiemama on

Sweet banes, Love the way they honored their parents.
Congratulations and lots of JOY!

anna on

I love how they derived her middle name!

Skiiy on

He has come such a long way! A true miracle given the shape he was in. What a joy to read this news. Love the name and the meaning.

Carolyn on

Why not just spell it Avery instead of a convoluted way that she will have to spell out for the rest of her life?

rowana on

Beautiful name! Congratulations to the Downeys!!

Paige on

Carolyn, did you not read the article? It’s not pronounced Avery, it’s pronounced Ay-Vree…hence the spelling. 🙂

Lilah on


leora on

Elro would have been better than Roel.

I love his sons’ names. Daughter’s name, no. It will be a tangle for her all her life….Ali? Avrey? Avery? Avi? Ari?

leora on

For you pedants about there, no one pronounces “Avery” with three syllables. It’s like “slavery.” It’s a two-syllable word. So “Avri” is pronounced exactly the same way as “Avery.”

lola on

I love how they came up with her middle name! Actually a beautiful name. A daughter for Robert Downey Jr., she is going to wrap your heart around her little finger. Congratulations parents.

Heidi Quayle on

what a beautiful name. He’s good at that! Still praying for his son as he fights for sobriety.

B on

Love the name!!! His kids have such cool, yet still normal, names!!

Kathryn Ossandon on

It’s a nice name. A bit different but pretty.

Stew on

It’s unique and pretty without being too weird. Congrats on all accounts!

Carolyn on

Paige, I did read the article and Avery is pronounced Avri. Avri seems a rather pretentious way of spelling the more common Avery.

Mandy on

Love the name. Congrats!

Lotte on

Not to rain on anybody’s parade, because the birth of any baby is still a happy and blessed thing, but WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH JUST SPELLING THE NAMES OF YOUR CHILDREN THEY WAY YOU PRONOUNCE IT? The parents might think they’re being all unique and what-not, but the poor child spends the rest of his/her life going: “No, it’s actually just…” Same with Lady A’s Hillary naming her daughter Eisele, and we’re supposed to understand you pronounce that as Iseley instead of Iselle. This one will likely make people pronounce it with a harder A, like the Jewish boy’s name Avi. Sometimes simple is the best way to go IMO.

Marky on

Everyone I know pronounces Avery as Av-ree. I have never known anyone that named either a son or a daughter Avery, and pronounced it Av-eh-ree. That being said, it is their child and in the USA, they get to name it whatever they like. Very happy for this couple…he has made such a turn-around, and she seems to really be good for him; congratulations!

Anonymous on

Lotte- To be fair, Hillary S. has explained that Eisele is spelled the way it is because it’s a family name. Also, it’s really not that bad having to spell and/or pronounce your name all the time. I have to do both with my last name (and having to correct people’s pronounciation of it always makes me laugh- because it really isn’t THAT hard to pronounce!) and it doesn’t really bother me.

Marlene on

leora, “slavery” is certainly not a a two-syllable word and “Avery” is also a three-syllable word in the standard pronunciation. “Avri” however is a two-syllable word with emphasis on the long vowel ending, which “Avery” does not have. I’m sorry you don’t pronounce all the syllables in words. It’s certainly your prerogative, but a person who is comfortable with a dialect other than yours is not necessarily pedant.

Mickey on

Instead of complaining about the way these famous people spell their children’s names, why not just be happy for them? Seriously, the anger and TALKING ALL IN CAPS over how someone (that you will likely never meet) has chosen to spell THEIR child’s name is really quite silly.

I am just so pleased for RDJ – he seemed so very lost just a short time ago, and now, he really seems to have pulled his life together. He seems genuinely happy in his career and with his family.

Leni on

Leora – Avery is definitely three syllables and most people pronounce it correctly. They (we) are not being pedant. The people who pronounce it as a two syllable word are being lazy.

SAR on

I like Robert. I’m happy for him and his family. He’s never had a baby girl before, so this is probably a new experience.

carla on


Her name is AV-RI, two syllables. How is that not being spelled the way it is pronounced?

Anonymous on

Avery is a two syllable name, said Ayv-ree. It’s French, it’s not said phonetically. Which does make Avri silly, it implies it’s said more av-ri? And how are they saying Roel? Like Joel with an R? That’s awful.

Laurie on

Leora, slavery is pronounced as two syllables in British English and as three syllables in American English according to the dictionary I looked in.

Anonymous on

People, some names can be pronounced more than one way, and it seems Avery is one of them. 🙂

Anonymous on

I wuld just say congratulations ?… Now i’m laughing : im French and there is NO way Avery / Avri is a french name (i do love to look at french baby names lists though, don’t really understand how names end up being labelled french). As for Roel : this is the name of my boyfriend, a very cmmon dutch name. It’s pronounced a bit like “Rule”.

Marie on

I wuld just say congratulations ?… Now i’m laughing : im French and there is NO way Avery / Avri is a french name (i do love to look at french baby names lists though, don’t really understand how names end up being labelled french). As for Roel : this is the name of my boyfriend, a very cmmon dutch name. It’s pronounced a bit like “Rule”.

Guest on

So happy for them! Congrats.

Emily on

Congrats to Robert and Susan! My cousin did the same thing with her daughter’s middle name that they did: baby’s middle name is Isabelle after my uncle Isaac and aunt Bella.
Honestly, I get why they spelled Avri like that (at first I thought it was a Hebrew name pronounced Ah-vree since RDJ is Jewish) because my cousin Avery does get annoyed when people say his name too fast and miss the middle syllable. I don’t see another way they could spell Ay-vree with it looking just plain weird on paper with too many vowels. To me, Ayvri, Aivri, and Ayvry are all just too confusing to look at. Lest we forget the spelling tragedy of Lyndsy Fonesca’s first name? Aimee? Emmalee instead of Emily? Who was it that named their kid “Reignbeau”?
Come on, Avri isn’t the worst unique spelling of a name thats out there!