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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Baby Boy or Girl Woodward

Jen writes:
My husband and I are expecting our first baby in late June. We decided that we'd let our first child remain a surprise but I am having an incredible time planning for a name without knowing the sex. I'm a big planner, so it makes me nervous that my little one could arrive any day and I won't have names picked out.

We have a few on our list. My husband and I have very common first names beginning with J and our last name is Woodward, so we want something a little unique but not crazy. I don't have first OR middle names picked out but here are our favorites:

Boys: Asa, Everett, Ian
Girls: Peri (after my father, Perry), Norah, Iris, Imogen

I'm not 100% on any. I know this is a lot to ask, but HELP ME! Also, we have pets named Cash, Stella and Finn

Thanks a ton!

Well, you are starting out right by having the foresight to have an excellent surname. We discussed another Woodward baby back in February (that post has been updated with the chosen name, BTW!), and one thing we noticed was that practically EVERY first name sounded awesome with it. Let's check your current candidates:

Asa Woodward
Everett Woodward
Ian Woodward

Peri Woodward
Norah Woodward
Iris Woodward
Imogen Woodward

My first picks from your lists are Ian and Imogen. I love both names, and they're great with your surname. (If anyone is unfamiliar with the name Imogen, here's the pronunciation: IH-moe-juhn.)

Really, I don't even feel like finding more name choices: I like what you have. I would pick middle names from your lists, too: Ian Everett Woodward (IEW) and Imogen Norah Woodward (INW). I would like, actually, to choose Ian Perry Woodward or Imogen Perry Woodward (I would spell it your dad's way), but that gives you I. P. for initials. Perhaps Everett Perry Woodward and Norah Perry Woodward. GOSH, Woodward is a great surname!

Let's see what Mairzy thinks!
Ah, you planners. The world runs smoothly because of you, but it is hard to enjoy the adrenaline rush of a deadline, isn't it? Good thing you have Swistle with her spreadsheets and analysis, and Mairzy with her deadline-induced inspiration, to help you!

To begin with, you should use the name Asa if it's a boy. Why? Because August won't let me use it, and I want somebody to. Of course, there is the danger than Asa will be mispronounced as Assa, making it difficult to live through the teen years.

Everett and Ian are both attractive names. Ian is the most common of the three, judging from the SS list and little boys I've met with that name. (I thought I'd discovered the name "Ian" all for myself when I was about thirteen, but that turns out not to have been the case.)

Other suggestions, taken from Cool Names for Babies by Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz:

Giles (although the soft G would blend with y'all's names)

As for girls, on principle I'd say no to Peri, because Swistle and I both spend weekends at protest rallies waving signs that say "Hey Girls -- Hands Off Boy Names!" and "RIP Avery (m)." That said, as far as taste goes, I think Peri is a cute little name for a girl. Maybe because it reminds me of Periwinkle, which is feminine. Not that I'm endorsing it, mind you.

My primary association with Imogen is Imogene Herdman from The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, not an image that calls up sophistication. However, according to Cool Names, it's in the Top 100 in England. What could be more sophisticated than European? Also, for what it's worth, Imogen and Iris show up all through the book. Here are some other suggestions:


For our children, we chose middle names that honored family or friends, or names important to our faith. Not knowing that much about your family and beliefs, my suggestion is that you can use one of the standard Middle Names in use these days: Grace, Joy, Rose; James, Michael, Scott, Blake. Or you could use one of the names you've already discussed, and pair it with one from the lists above: Iris Adair, Imogen Frances, Nora Adeline; Ian August, Everett Giles, Asa Bennett.

Maybe this will help your planner's spirit get things all in order. Or it could be your first lesson in parenthood: forget flexible, be fluid! Best wishes!

Thanks, Mairzy! Let's take it to a vote in the poll at right [poll closed; see below]. We have a lot of names in this post, so I had to be arbitrary to keep the poll reasonable: I used the parents' list plus my favorites from Mairzy's list. And because there ARE so many choices, you may need to do a write-in down there in the comment section---especially if you want to play around with middle names.

SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT RULES: Because we don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, please choose your favorite boy name AND your favorite girl name.

[Poll results:

Boy names
Asa: 25 votes, roughly 12%
Everett: 54 votes, roughly 26%
Ian: 49 votes, roughly 24%
Isaac: 32 votes, roughly 16%
Bennett: 29 votes, roughly 14%
Elias: 16 votes, roughly 8%

Girl names
Peri: 21 votes, roughly 10%
Norah: 64 votes, roughly 32%
Iris: 28 votes, roughly 14%
Imogen: 39 votes, roughly 19%
Bryony: 14 votes, roughly 7%
Eliza: 35 votes, roughly 17%]

[Follow-up! Jen writes:
Hi Swistle!

Well, the baby arrived a full 18 days earlier than expected! We're now the proud parents of a beautiful little girl - Nora Perry Woodward. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and help - we have a great list for the next one!



d e v a n said...

I LOVE the name Norah, but with no h. Nora just seems more feminine. I like the idea of honoring your father, but Peri just reminds me of something not befitting a little girl's name. SO many of the boy's names are awesome too! Ian! Everett! Asa!!!
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Um, when I think "Peri," I think "perineal" (which is your crotch), but I'm a nurse, so maybe that's just me. If I ignore that association, I think it's a super cute name.

Swistle said...

Devan and Anonymous- Ha ha! I am REALLY glad you mentioned this. I tend to be oversensitive to such things (I don't really like to mess with ANY name that starts with "Annal-," for example), so I thought I might be way over the line with Peri associations. But if the first two commenters BOTH mention it, then I feel in good company!

Mairzy said...

I actually thought of peri bottles myself... if this is Jen's first baby, then she's about to find out all about them... but thought, surely I'm the only one. :)

Jill said...

I have lately fallen in love with the name Norah and saw it here and went all squee! Norah! So cute.
And is Imogene making a comeback? My mom's grandma was an Imogene (we say IM-a-jeen) (same as Imogen? not the same?), and I've always considered it one of those old lady names that hasn't quite taken the turn back to popularity.

Jill said...

Oh! And that reminded me. My mom's friend is a physical therapist who works with the elderly, and whenever I see her she always talks about her 'old ladies' and tells me their names. She currently sees several Avas, a couple of Adas, and an Iris, so her facility is clearly on the cutting edge of baby names.

Queen of Carrots said...

Peri by itself refers to a fairy in Persian mythology; it's apparently used as a woman's name in the Middle East. (And I know this not because of my deep knowledge of Persian folklore, but my devotion to Gilbert and Sullivan: *Iolanthe, or, the Peer and the Peri.* Chances of anybody making that association right off the bat are slim, though.

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I voted for Ian and Norah because they're my favourite names on the list. :-) I like Imogen as well.

I agree with the above, I'm not so sure about using "Peri". Why not save Perry for a middle name for a son, or if you reach your child limit and only have girls, maybe save it as a last resort? It's cute... it's great to honour family... but I just can't get on board personally. Especially with great name ideas like Norah or Imogen!

For middle name ideas, my family also uses family members names for middle names. For your son, Perry is a fantastic option for middle name as mentioned above.

For a daughter, why not figure out the first name you like best, and then run through a list of female family members and see what name fits nicely with the first name? That's how we determined the middle name for my youngest brother; tried all of my uncle's until we felt one of their names fit best with the first name we liked. Or, you could pick a particularly close female relative and use their middle name (like a mother, grandmother or favourite aunt).

Anonymous said...

FYI: Peri is a fairly common name in Jewish communities. It is either stand-alone, or used as a shortened version of Perl (pronounced PEAR-UHL).

I think Everett is nice, but very formal. It kind of sounds like an old prospector, as in "We Swistles have worked this land ever since Great Grandpa Everett Woodward came here from back east during the real estate bubble of 2006."

Norah is really nice, but be ready for "OH! Just like Norah Jones!."

Not on the list, but have you considered Emmett or Emery?

Anonymous said...

So I know a little Bryony and it is next to IMPOSSIBLE to get people to say this name right. It's a tough one to wrap your tongue around. She gets BYrony all the time, even BRIony (rhymes with macaroni). So I would stay away from such difficult pronounciation. Love the Emery idea above!

F8hful Lo said...

I voted for Nora(h) and Bennett. I love those names, especially Bennett, but I would be afraid the people would call him Ben. I also like the use of Perry for the middle name regardless of gender. It works. Good luck!

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Everett Perry Woodward


Iris Norah Woodward

Anonymous said...

How does one pronounce Asa? Have never encountered it before, but I like the look. Ay-sa?
For the record, I grew up with a Bryony and have always loved the name. I would encourage its use! Spelling it Briony would maybe reduce the confusion about how its pronunciation.

Tallyaya said...

My Grandpa's name is Everett, so needless to say that's the boy name I voted for! I've always loved that name & if our new baby were a boy instead of a girl I think it's the name we would have used.That being said, I also love the suggestion of Emery! Great name!

As for girls names I LOVE Norah, with or without the H.

Anonymous said...

These are all great suggestions - I am running them by my husband and testing them out on the baby in utero...if it kicks, maybe that's a sign? :)
Emery, Emmett, Eliza, Bennett are all out. Believe it or not, I have a niece and nephew with Emmett and Eliza (so perhaps Everett should be out as well?). One of my good friends, but not good enough for tribute is named Bennett.
Asa is pronounced (hard A - sah).
I've got 3 weeks to go but have a feeling this one might be arriving early. I will keep you posted. Thanks for the help!!

Brooke said...

I feel like Asher should be on the list too!

best of luck!

Swistle said...

Brooke- Ooo, I really like Asher too. I think it might be amusing with the last name here: Ash, Wood. Well, or maybe that's not funny. It seemed funny at first, but now not so much.

Anonymous said...

Great names!! I just wanted to throw in the fact that I know 2 GIRLS under the age of 1 named Asa. So that may be going over to the girly side. Sadly.

Leslie said...

I love Iris and Asa. Iris Norah Woodward (or Iris June Woodward) and Asa Perry Woodward would be fantastic names! All of your choices are good, though, so your little one will be well-named no matter what you choose. Best of luck with everything!

Mairzy said...

Re: girls named Asa. Looks like another poster to paint for this weekend's rally.

Still Awake Sarah said...

As a person with somewhat personal experience with the name Giles, I say pick another name.

Only 50% of people I meet can say it correctly, and you would be forcing your child to say "It's said, Jiles not Guy-iles" for the rest of his life.

Other than that, it's a nice name and one cannot go wrong with the patron saint of goat herders :)

mayhem said...

I love Iris June Woodward! It sounds very botanical. I would picture that name for a girl with parents who like to hike or garden!

Iris and Ian are my favorites. They also seem pretty nickname-proof, if that's important to you.

CandiDurbin said...

My Daughters name is Immagin prounounced emmajin....close to your emogen

fmwoodward.: said...

Well, I am the proud mother of an Everett Woodward, so I think that sounds great! He's 10 months old and we adore his name because he was named after his deceased grandfather and deceased great-grandfather. However, there are some *issues* associated with it that we never considered:

1. People sometimes pronounce Everett with three syllables (ev-er-rett). This drives me nuts because I prefer two syllables ("ev-rett").

2. There's no easy nickname and this blows some people's mind. Ev is way too middle-aged insurance salesman and Rhett is so tied to Gone With The Wind in my mind, that it's unusably melodramatic. Our Everett's middle name starts with J, so we have E.J. on the back burner as a potential nickname if he ever desires one, though I honestly prefer the full Everett to all of these.

3. Everett Woodward is a very tree-ish name. I think Everett kind of suggests Evergreen when paired with Woodward. My husband and I like that, but it may be too hippy-ish for some.

Out of your girls names, I like them all (though i prefer Peri as a nickname---maybe Persephone nn Peri?) except Norah which is too common for my taste. Since I spent a fair amount of time contemplating names that sound good with Woodward, I'm happy to share our runner-up names from last year:

Boys: Henry, Marcus, Frederick, Dean

Girls: Virginia nn Ginny (would have been Everett's name if he was a she), Cordelia nn Delia, Josephine nn Josey, Evelyn nn Evie.

As you can see, we're into nicknames for girls, but not for boys.

I'm also thinking I should make my way back here when I'm pregnant with number two, so that this blog will have Baby Woodward #3 to name!

F8hful Lo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
F8hful Lo said...

Yay! I am glad to see that we helped them find a name to love. Nora Perry is beautiful! Congratulations.