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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Baby Boy Edison

Christy writes:
I had my big ultrasound this morning and we found out that we are having a second son. Yikes. Boy names are so hard, and I don't know how you managed to come up with four of them.

Our last name is really close to "Edison" and our first son is Soren Kyle. My husband is very proud of the fact that Soren falls somewhere in the 900s on the Social Security list for 2006 - he refuses to use a common name. We are NOT Scandinavian (mostly German and Irish), so I don't necessarily want another screamingly Scandinavian name, but I still want something that "fits" with Soren's name. Here's our measly list of possibilities:

  • Liam: I think it might be a little more trendy than my husband realizes, but he likes it and so do I. If I had to name the baby today, this would probably be my choice...but I don't love it.
  • Finnigan (Finn): This is my husband's newest fixation. My feelings about it are similar to my feelings about Penelope, his girl name obsession - part of my really likes it, and the other part thinks that perhaps it's just a bit too much for the world to handle.
  • Isaac: We had settled on this for a 2nd boy before this baby was ever conceived...and then this acquaintance/friend of my husbands who lives across the country used it - now it seems too common to him.
  • Richard: This is my father's name and also my husband's grandfather's name. I've never liked it, but recently it just keeps popping up in my mind - his grandpa is a great man who is dying and loves our first son and would be REALLY honored to have a namesake. If we used this, we'd probably use Alan, Grandpa's middle name, as well. My concerns: I'm not sure the world of names is ready for the return of Richard and not sure if it's too closely tied to the nn "Dick" in peoples minds. If we don't use it as a first name, I'd like to throw it in as a middle name, though I wouldn't eliminate an otherwise great first name that doesn't work with it.

Here are some of the girls names we were considering before we found out that we're having a boy. Maybe they'll spark some other suggestions? Here's the list:


That's all we've got. Help!

Indeed, let's not tell your husband that the name Liam broke into the Top 100 in 2006. It's a great name, and what he doesn't know won't hurt him---especially since, as you say and I heartily agree, boy names are SO HARD. Liam is good with Soren, and good with your last name: Liam Edison.

I think if you used the name Richard you could steer people away from the unfortunate nickname: people would WANT to avoid it. Perhaps you could switch your husband's grandpa's first and middle names, and go with Alan Richard? Alan is out of the Top 100 and seems to be in a holding pattern there. But neither Richard nor Alan seems like a good style match with Soren.

Here are a few more suggestions (ranking source: Social Security Administration):

Archer (not in Top 1000); Soren and Archer Edison
Callum (not in Top 1000); Soren and Callum Edison
Griffin (#242 in 2007); Soren and Griffin Edison
Jasper (#471 in 2007); Soren and Jasper Edison
Malcolm (#565 in 2007); Soren and Malcolm Edison
Oscar (#121 in 2007); Soren and Oscar Edison
Ruben (#245 in 2007; Reuben is #939); Soren and Ruben Edison
Tobin (not in Top 1000); Soren and Tobin Edison

From that list, my favorites are Jasper, Ruben, and Tobin. Jasper Richard Edison (JRE) sounds great to me, and so does Tobin Richard Edison (TRE). With Ruben, I might use Isaac: Ruben Isaac Edison (RIE).

Vote in the poll at right: [poll closed; see below] what would you name Soren Edison's little brother? That's a long list of options, so why don't you choose two or three if you want to.

[Poll results (266 votes total):
Liam: 36 votes, roughly 14%
Finnegan: 29 votes, roughly 11%
Richard Alan: 12 votes, roughly 5%
Alan Richard: 4 votes, roughly 2%
Archer: 28 votes, roughly 11%
Callum: 31 votes, roughly 12%
Griffin: 16 votes, roughly 6%
Jasper: 46 votes, roughly 17%
Malcolm: 18 votes, roughly 7%
Oscar: 14 votes, roughly 5%
Ruben: 9 votes, roughly 3%
Tobin: 23 votes, roughly 9%]

Name update! Christy writes:
Here is a long overdue update on my baby's (who is now nearly one and fast approaching non-babyhood!) name: Richard Alan. My husband's grandpa did die about two months before Richard was born, and it just seemed appropriate. He goes by Richard publicly, but we've taken to calling him Richie among our little family. The name has really grown on me.

Thanks for all your help!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Baby Naming Issue: Anna with an L

Anna's mom writes:
Help! I need some advice/help desperately. Although it's rather a moot point as my baby is a teenager. When she was born I educated myself as much as possible on baby names. I wanted timeless, beautiful, classic, and most importantly, a name that could not be teased. I chose "Anna Caroline".

Beautiful, no? Problem is, our last name starts with an "L" and now she is signing all of her papers "Anna L." HOW DID I MISS THIS???? As far as I know she has not been teased, and I am hoping that the rising popularity of names like Annalisa will help. It's funny because as I search baby sites, middle names beginning with "L" such as Lee, Lynn, and Louise are often recommended for the name Anna. Do these people not know or care that their daughters will be called Anna L.? Or am I making a much bigger deal than I should out of this?

I've touched on the problem of "Annal-" names (especially when the second N is knocked out, as in Analyn and Analise), but hadn't thought of it with L-surnames. Hm. (*thinks*) Well, I think for me this falls into the category of things I would want to be forewarned about but wouldn't necessarily consider dealbreakers. Other things in this category include initials that mean something but not something bad: EMT, LID, HI, IQ, etc.

If your daughter is deliberately signing her name this way, and she's made it to teenagerhood without anyone noticing the issue, I'd say it's a relatively safe thing. But what about the rest of you? If your surname started with L, would you avoid the Anna-type names? If you have a non-L surname, and you used Anna for a first name, would you avoid L middle names?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Changing a Baby's Name

Isabel writes:
It's Isabel again! Surprise! :)

So there's something Luke and I have been considering for awhile... should we change Brody's name? He's never seemed much like a Brody to us, but now that he's home we really can't deny it. Brody just doesn't fit the boy! We've already looked up most of the process - where we are it's pretty easy, and inexpensive, to do.

We're considering the name "Kemp." It really fits him, and the meaning is fitting - it means "fighter." We'd probably keep his middle name the same - Nathaniel.

We were thrown a curveball at delivery (we thought we were expecting 3 girls!) and didn't have much time to consider boy's names. We're really regretting that now.

So what do you think? Should we change his name? If you think we should, should we go with Kemp, or another name? Should we keep his middle name, or go with another one. Our last name is 2 syllables, starts with J, ends with N.

If you're pretty sure the name doesn't fit, this is the moment to change it: it's early days, and you have an excellent and understandable reason for wanting to do it. Everyone else will probably still be too distracted by the fact of the triplets and by the "two surprise boys" element to really care what you do with the names. If his name doesn't fit him and you decide you want to change it, I think you should do it immediately.

On the other hand, I can understand a hesitation. Announcing a baby's name is a big deal, and it's assumed to be a permanent choice. Changing it at this point is almost certain to result in at least a little kerfuffle: a few people will be disappointed or upset, and there will be paperwork to do (doctor's office, insurance cards, etc.). Some people's relatives would make a stink about it, pretending not to be able to remember the new name, or saying over and over that they just can't understand why you had to change it. But if you change it now, when he is only 2 months old, most people will soon forget he was ever any other name.

I'm in favor of the change in this case, for two reasons: one, you sound pretty certain that the name was the wrong choice; two, I'm very interested in the concept of changing a baby's name, and so out of pure self-interest I'm eager to know someone who did it. Perhaps you could write a guest post on how you found out what would need to be done, and how it went when you did it, and what you thought of the decision afterward, and what other people thought of the decision afterward.

The name you're considering for the rename is Kemp. When I hear that name, I have two immediate associations: Jack Kemp, and hemp. Neither one is, to me, a dealbreaker.

Let's try the name with your other two children's names: Schuyler, Alexander, and Kemp. One problem I see here is that the name Alexander is so much more common than the name Kemp: Alexander was the 15th most popular boy name in 2007, and it's been in the Top 200 almost constantly for the last 200 years (source: Social Security Administration). Kemp, on the other hand, hasn't even been in the Top 1000.

What about knocking his middle name into the first-name position, and using Kemp as the middle name? Kemp is a nice match for Alexander's middle name Kale: Alexander Kale and Nathaniel Kemp. Alex and Nate make nice brother nicknames. And the popularity of the name Nathaniel has been very similar to the popularity of the name Alexander over the years. Using the middle name may also help calm any upset over the name change.

Let's put up a poll for this, over to the right [poll closed; see below]. We'll vote on whether or not you'd change the name at this point, and whether you think Kemp or Nathaniel or "other" is the best choice for the new name.

[Poll results:
Change it to Kemp Nathaniel: 14 votes, 7%
Change it to Nathaniel Kemp: 167 votes, roughly 84%
Change it to some other name: 4 votes, 2%
Don't change it: 15 votes, roughly 8%]

[Name update! Isabel writes:
sorry it took me so long to get back to you on this! As you can imagine, things are pretty crazy with triplets at home!
Anyway, we decided to go with the name Nathaniel Kemp. It's perfect! Thanks everyone for your suggestions!]

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Baby Naming Issue: Nicknames

Jennifer writes:
This isn't really a baby naming problem as we have no baby to name at the moment but, I'm curious as to how you feel about choosing a name based on possible nicknames or shortening of the name...

My son's name is Liam & I feel rather strongly about not shortening boys' names so Liam works really well in that regard. Girls' names I have no problem with longer names that can be shortened to use in day-to-day life; in fact our girl name for Liam was Gabriella which would have been shortened to Brie (not Gabby or Ella).

I thought I was pretty safe with choosing Liam and having this "issue" with shortening boys' names AND nicknames...turns out my in-laws (why is it always the in-laws??) started calling him Li-Li the DAY HE WAS BORN! I cannot stand how that sounds, how it feels to say it (I never myself ever called him that), what it makes me think when they call him that...I like nothing about it yet still they managed to come up with a shortened/nickname for my unshortenable/unnicknameable boy name! Thankfully as he outgrow his newborn-ness they stopped calling him that, because seriously, could you imagine a 12 year old being called Li-Li by his Uncle? Talk about embarrassing...and of course, I apologize in advance to anyone who uses this & loves it, I just do not!

So, do you have a preference for length of names & nickname-ability for gender? I like the shorter boy names & longer girl names - plus they sound better with our last name! Admittedly, my name is a longer name and way obviously shorten-able so I could totally be biased...

And totally off topic - do you ever use the Must Sound Good When I Scream It name test? I especially use that when testing out how the first & middle names sound together :)

Oh, what a very interesting topic! I LOVE to talk about nicknames, because I am sooooo inconsistent: sometimes I will say one thing Very Strongly, and two minutes later I can say the opposite thing just as Strongly.

And I'm picky about nicknames: I consider some nicknames "legitimate" and some nicknames NOT, and who gets to decide what makes a nickname legitimate? ONLY ME. I will claim it "just IS that way," but then I will make a ruling in the opposite direction on a similar issue (or even the SAME issue!), and I won't bat an eye when I say it "just IS that way," too.

Where were we? Oh, yes! The first issue you bring up is the maddening one of people using nicknames when you don't want them to, which is something we touched on in the post about the name Devereaux. I think it's almost impossible to prevent a determined Nicknamer from nicknaming a child---and as you've found, they can nickname ANYTHING. If you'd named him the letter L, they'd have called him Elly-Elly-L or whatevs. But aside from the very determined (and why IS this so often the in-laws?), the trends are on your side if you want to avoid nicknames: never have there been so many Jameses and Williams and Elizabeths NOT going by Jimmy and Billy and Beth. (Okay, fine, I have no idea if the "never have there been" part of that sentence is true.)

Shoot, I've lost my place again. Oh, yes! You wanted to know if I had a preference for nicknameability of names, and if it was different preference for boys and for girls. So far, what I've noticed is this: I don't mind if a name has a nickname, as long as I LIKE the nickname. I've rejected names that I loved in their full forms but disliked the nicknames of: I knew I could control what I called the child, and that I would have some control over what my friends and family called the child---but that I would have zero control over what the child wanted to be called, and that the child might choose the very nickname I hated.

I notice that I tend to prefer shorter, more common boy names: of my four boys, none of them goes by a name-based nickname yet (I say "name-based" because we're the kind of family that calls people Hedgehog and Blue and Fry). I tend to prefer longer, more elaborate girl names: I call my girl by her long name, but almost everyone else in the family calls her by an approved nickname and/or by the non-name-related nickname that occurred spontaneously when she was a baby. Because I liked playing around with nicknames as a child, I do like girl names with nickname potential.

You also asked if I use the Scream Test to judge a name's suitability. I use something similar, which is the Nag Test. I say the name in this sort of sentence: "Name, did you go potty?" "Name, did you finish your homework?" "Name! I said to put away your shoes!"

Friday, June 20, 2008

Baby Girl or Boy Voisey

Karla writes:
I emailed this to a friend of mine, and she told me to send it your way! :)

I have three four-year old surviving quads:

Boys: Ezekiel (Zeke) Silas, Basil Joseph
Girl: September Kay (and her identical twin, whom we lost, is named Adeline Nicole)

Our last name sounds like Voisey.

I am due in August. We don't know the gender, and we won't find out. Here are some of the names that I like so far:

  • Stella, although it sounds alot like Ella, and Ella is so popular now. What about Estelle?
  • Sabine Adele: Does that sound like Sabina Delle?
  • Iris Adele (We lost a daughter, Adeline, and thought Adele to be an appropriate middle name in remembrance of Adeline. We are not set on that though.) But I don't like the sound of IriS VoiSey. What do you think?
  • Ivy, but I don't like IvY VoiseY
  • And for the last one; the one that I would love to name a girl, but think it may be pushing a little close to weird and not-nice-to-name-an-actual-kid; Scout. (My absolute favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird The main character's name is Scout).

  • Maybe Cyrus---but does the "s" pose a problem with Voisey?
  • Soren

I do have a few rules. For instance,
  1. The name cannot end with the sound, "v" or "f", because then it sounds like our last name is Oisey.
  2. I don't know if I would have chosen Basil again, because I don't like the two "z" sounds in his name: BaZil VoiZey. On that note, no z sounds in the first name.
  3. I hate how many names are too similar to other people's kid's names. I love Lila. But my cousin's baby is Layla. I love Greta, but a friend of ours just named their baby that. I don't love Mabel, but I was wondering if I could grow to like it, because my hero-great-aunt is named Mabel. My husband's cousin just named her kid that. Ergh. I might be pretty picky about that. We wanted to name Zeke Silas, but I have a friend whose kid's name is Simon. Too close. And I love Alita, but our pastor's kid is that. I don't want anyone to have the least not anyone I know.

So let's see. We have Ezekiel, Basil, and September. Because the boy names are a different style than the girl name (it is the same way in my family), let's address the two possibilities separately.

If the new baby is a girl. I love the name Estelle, but September and Estelle sound too different to me. I don't think it's crucial to have the style match, but it's my own preference to get close. September is unusual, a noun name. Estelle is also unusual, but in a different direction: old-fashioned and classic.

But what goes with September? Well, the name Sabine is pretty great with it, I think in part because the matching initials tie them together, and also in part because Sabine is more exotic than some of the other candidates. "Sabine Adele" does sound like "Sabina Delle," but I think you don't need to consider this unless you find you regularly call your kids by first-and-middle.

Iris is also good: it's classic/old-fashioned, but it's a noun name like September. (Ivy would be the same, but I agree with you about the repeating Y sound.) My favorite from your list, though, is Scout. You're right that it's unusual, but I think Demi Moore and Bruce Willis paved the way for the rest of us using it, and To Kill a Mockingbird is such a strongly positive association. Also, September and Scout are similar in style. Scout Adele Voisey. I think that's the best one. You could also consider Harper, after the author of the book.

I am not sure, though, that I would give her a middle name in memory of her sister. It's a sad explanation for the name. I'm trying to imagine if my middle name were after a sister who had died, and it seems like it would be a sad thing. On the other hand, Adele is a beautiful name, and I can't really imagine how I'd feel about it if it were me, let alone how she'd feel about it. If you went with it, you wouldn't hear boo from me OR my goose.

If the new baby is a boy. Let's try out the two candidates:

Ezekiel, Basil, and Cyrus
Ezekiel, Basil, and Soren

I prefer the name Cyrus with the other two names. Ezekiel and Basil are both in the old-fashioned style category, and so is Cyrus; Soren has more of a contemporary sound to me, with the -en ending. I think Cyrus Voisey sounds fine: it's a little on the S-filled side, but still works. Soren Voisey sounds good, too, if you go that route.

Let's do a poll [poll closed; see below], and since we don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, you can choose one girl name AND one boy name. The comment section is awaiting further name possibilities for the family to choose from.

[Poll results:

Girl names (145 votes total)
Estelle: 5 votes, roughly 3%
Sabine: 24 votes, roughly 17%
Iris: 33 votes, roughly 23%
Ivy: 2 votes, roughly 1%
Scout: 49 votes, roughly 34%
Harper: 32 votes, roughly 22%

Boy names (104 votes total)
Cyrus: 56 votes, roughly 54%
Soren: 48 votes, roughly 46%]

Name update! Karla writes: "We ended up having a boy, and we named him soren micah."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Baby Name to Discuss: Honor

Jessica Alba and Cash Warren had their baby girl this week and named her Honor Marie. During my last pregnancy, I came upon the name Honor in a novel and lovvvvvvvved it. I immediately added it to my girl-name list and considered it a strong candidate: I love virtue names, and I love the way the name Honor looks.

Then I said it out loud to Paul, and I realized I didn't like the way it sounded out loud. Onner. And then within about 5 minutes we'd made allllll the jokes: "Honor, thy father and mother," "Love Honor, and obey," "Defend your Honor," "Medal of Honor," "Code of Honor," "Honor system," and OMG ETC. And I realized that Honor could not be on our list, just as the beautiful name Hope can never be a serious contender for our family because we WOULD NOT STOP making "jokes" (quotes indicate non-funniness of such jokes) even when NO ONE, not even US, thought they were funny. We cannot stop.

My mom is the opposite. She doesn't like virtue names and she doesn't like the way the name Honor looks, but she DOES like it said outloud: "Like Connor, without the C," she said. She also pointed out that it's a great name for people who like names such as Anna and Andrea pronounced with more of an O-as-in-octopus sound instead of the A-as-in-apple sound more typical in the U.S.

And my friend Mairzy says: "It's still a little out in left field. But it's a good left field: the sound is similar to Tori and Nora, and the meaning is faultless. Its drawbacks are that it's a bit pretentious (almost impossible not to intone the name in an impressive bass voice) and doesn't have any good nicknames. Still, when I read that Jessica Alba had used the name for her daughter, my first thought was, 'What a good name!' So I guess that's my final verdict."

I'm interested to know what YOU think of the name Honor. I'll put a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see below.]

[Poll results:
Love it, would use it: 8 votes, roughly 6%
Love it but wouldn't use it: 23 votes, roughly 16%
Like it: 41 votes, roughly 29%
Neutral: 24 votes, roughly 17%
Dislike it: 34 votes, roughly 24%
Hate it: 10 votes, roughly 7%]

Monday, June 16, 2008

Name Problem: Other People Don't Like the Baby's Name

Alicia writes:
It's me, with the baby Devereaux again. I have a name advice question. I was obviously in love with the name Devereaux even while still pregnant. I adore even more now that my little man is here, and it totally fits him, too! But a couple issues have come up.

First: My mother insists on calling him Devvie. Bleh. Every time she says that I cringe with the thought that if it were to stick somehow, everyone's going to think I have a Debbie unless I correct them. All the time. Ick.

We had talked about calling him Dev, but it seems to be a little choppy. I've started calling him Devo (And how cute is Dev'eaux?) but I just can't seem to get my mom converted... What do you think is the best way to deal with this? My mother says it's just natural flow, Devvie is what comes out without thought.

And Second: I know that I just have to buck up my defenses and not let it get to me, but when people ask me what I named the baby, I get that, "*pause*... Oh. *sneer*" with a barely-concealed disgusted look. All the time. Or, perhaps even worse, "Hm. Well... That's nice. *silence*"

What would you suggest is the best thing to say to these people? There's NOTHING wrong with the name I picked for my baby, and luckily I'm not so insecure as to think there is. But it's getting on my nerves, really.

I appreciate your opinions!!! :-)

This is rough. It's one reason baby-naming is so tricky: you need to choose the name YOU love, but on the other hand it's not unreasonable to consider the reactions of family, friends, and society, because the baby will be living with that name among those same family, friends, and society.

In your case, you're finding that family, friends, and society are not fans of the name you love. I think there are a couple of approaches for dealing with this, and I think the approaches are different for friends/family than for strangers. Let's start with friends/family. The options are:

1) Allow people to make the modifications they feel are necessary to get the name to sit comfortably. Allow your mother to call him what she wants to, for example. It rankles---of course it rankles--but trying to make the child's grandparents call him a certain name is a little like trying to force the child's high school friends to call him a certain name. If his grandmother's nickname causes any confusion for other people, you can say, "Oh, that's just Grandma's special name for him---we actually call him ______." One set of my grandparents called me Kris their whole lives, even though NO ONE ELSE did, and to me it just ended up being "their special name for me." I didn't like being called Kris, but I liked THEM calling me Kris, if you see the difference. Your son may feel the same way---and if he isn't, HE can tell Grandma.

2) Or you can have it out. I'm thinking of something along the lines of something said in a very kind, understanding, affectionate tone of voice, something like, "Oh, mom. I know you don't like the name. But it IS what I named him. And I'd like him to be called _____." You see why the tone is key. Imagine saying this with hand-on-hip attitude, and you can see how lifetime feuds start up. If she says, "But this just comes naturally!" you'd counter with, "I know. But I'd like him to be called ____." Or you could try, "Oh, ick. Every time you say that, I think you're calling him 'Debbie'."

For friends or cousins or aunts who keep bringing it up in a way that seems pointed or passive-aggressive, "I just can't get used to that name!" or whatever, you could use that kind/understanding/affectionate tone and say, "I know. But it IS his name, so...."---and trail off, the implication being a pleasant but firm " shut up about it now, kthanx loveya." Sometimes what's needed is a reminder that the decision has been made and the time for input is officially over.

Now, for strangers whose reactions are not good when you tell them the name. There isn't much that can be done about that, since what we're talking about here is what we're IMAGINING they're thinking. Unless they actually SAY they're disgusted by it, we have to allow for the possibility that it's something else: maybe they've never heard the name before and don't even know yet what they think of it, or they couldn't quite hear it and are too shy to ask for it to be repeated, or maybe they really like to know babies' names but then don't have any comments to make once they hear them, or maybe they deliberately don't comment on baby names because they think it's the parent's choice and that a stranger's opinion is meaningless.

Of course some of those people are indeed being total pineholes, and also patting themselves on the back for not saying what they really think. We're not going to be able to cure them of THAT. There really isn't anything you COULD say, though it's kind of fun to think about it:

Them: *unpleasant expression* Oh, um. That's an....interesting choice.

You: I resent the implication of your facial expression. You do realize I as his parent have the full right to name him whatever I please. I could have named him Sanitarynapkin and you would not be able to say Word One about it. So shut the heck up about my son's perfectly normal, appropriate name. I mean, what is it you hope to accomplish with that sneer? Are you hoping I'll say, "Oh, no, this total stranger doesn't like my baby's name! I'd better rush right out to the courthouse and get it changed to something this stranger approves of!" Clearly not. So wipe that expression off your ugly face. Pinehole.

But unless they actually say, "Ug, what a weird name," you can't really respond with anything except a tight-lipped smile. The thing is, SOME people are going to dislike ANY name. If they don't think it's too unusual, they'll think it's too common. They'll think it's too girlish/boyish, or not girlish/boyish enough. It'll remind them of someone or something they don't like, or they'll think it has an ugly sound or an unfortunate rhyme.

Names are an excellent example of "You can't please everyone" because you literally CAN'T. So EVERYONE is going to encounter SOME negative feedback, no matter WHAT name they choose for their baby. Here is the question for us today: What to do about it?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Baby Girl Evie Taylor

Mrs. Taylor writes:
I like more unusual names, but prefer if they can be read and pronounced correctly. So the name that I am debating over for a girl is Evie which I really like, but I want it to be said like "Stevie" and not "levee". I'm worried that it would be pronounced wrong her whole life (which I have had to deal with and it gets old).

So I'm wondering what you think of the name and also if Evie is a stand alone first name or makes a better nickname. I like the idea of using it as a nickname, but I can't find any names that I like as much that it could be a nickname for. I have thought of Evelyn, but then that lends itself more to Evie said like "levee".

My other idea is a first name that starts with E. and middle name starts with V., then she could be "E.V." and we could use Evie as nickname. But again I don't really like any of them as much. This will be for our first child so no sibling names to worry about yet.

So what I am hoping to discuss.
  1. What do you/readers think of Evie and can it work as a first name, not a nickname?
  2. How do you most likely think that people would pronounce it the first time they see it?
  3. Any other names that it could be a nickname for, or an E. first name, V. middle name?
  4. Middle names for Evie Taylor.

Hope this isn't too confusing!!!

Thanks so much for your help.

It SHOULD be clear-cut: Evie should be EE-vee, and Evvie should be EH-vee. But my eye does sometimes get confused: I think because I see the "Ev" first and say it as in Evelyn and Evan, and then I see the "ie" and tack it on. So even though I KNOW it's EE-vee, I might stumble over it.

I did a little test just now: I wrote the name on a piece of paper and showed it to Paul, and I said, "How would you pronounce this?" He immediately said it the EE-vee way. Anyone who has someone nearby to run the test on, will you run it too? And let's make a first poll for test results: Did they say it EH-vee (like Evan and Evelyn), or did they say it EE-vee (like Eve)? Let's get an idea of how serious a situation we're dealing with.

Now, to the other issues. I prefer Evie as a nickname, but I also think it works as a stand-alone name. What I would do is name her Eve and call her Evie: I love the name Eve and think the nickname Evie is an excellent way to use the name without calling the "Adam and Eve" thing QUITE so quickly to mind. You could also name her Eva and call her Evie, although that seems less natural to me. I realize the mind balks a bit at the idea of a nickname that's longer than the given name, but banish the balk! It's totally legit: John can be Johnny, Scott can be Scotty, Rose can be Rosie, Ann can be Annie, Lynn can be Lynnie, and Eve can be Evie.

I also like the way the Eve/Eva idea pushes the mind to the correct pronunciation of the nickname: if someone knows the child's given name is Eve, they won't be tempted to pronounce the nickname Evvie. So this is my top choice. Eve Taylor and Eva Taylor are both excellent choices, and I think the movie E.T. is old enough that her peers won't have seen it or even heard of it.

I admit a fondness for your clever E.V. solution. I don't usually lean toward initial names, but this one has sass. Most people find they are drawn again and again to names that start with certain letters, and one of my letters is E, so I find lots to love here. Plus, Verity and Victoria are both on my list of names I like but don't want to use as first names. Erin Verity Taylor. Elena Victoria Taylor. Eliza Violet Taylor. Emily Victoria Taylor. Well, clearly this is my personal playground---but it's still not what I'd do if I were you. If what you love is Evie, I think we should get you Evie.

If you want something longer than Eve/Eva, I think Evemarie is pretty. You could also go with Genevieve. Evemarie Taylor. Genevieve Taylor. Nice.

If you decide to go with straight Evie, let's look at some middle names. I like to use the middle name to honor a relative, so if you've got anyone you want to honor, now's the moment. It's also a good place for names you like a lot but have ruled out as first names. I notice that there are a lot of middle initials that work with E and T to spell a common word or acronym: EAT, EDT, EMT, ENT, EST. None of them are a huge deal---more in the "good to take into account, but not necessarily dealbreakers" category.

Well, and the main thing here is to choose your ROUTE. Will you name her a shortish name such as Eve or Eva and call her Evie? Will you name her a longish name such as Evemarie or Genevieve and call her Evie? Will you give her the initials E.V. and call her Evie? Will you go with straight Evie?

And that's what I think we should vote on here: the ROUTE. We'll make that a second poll: the first poll is a survey to determine pronunciation issues, and the second is to vote on which direction you think the Taylors should go to get the name Evie. [Polls closed; see below.] If you want to be more specific and vote for a particular long/short/initial name, you can put that in the comment section. And if you're feeling chatty, you can get into the middle name issue there as well.

[Poll results:

First poll (pronunciation):
EE-vee (like Eve): 135 votes, roughly 89%
EH-vee (like Evan): 17 votes, roughly 11%

Second poll (route):
Shortish name (like Eve or Eva): 83 votes, roughly 50%
Longish name (like Evemarie or Genevieve): 37 votes, roughly 22%
Initials (E.V.): 12 votes, roughly 7%
Just go with Evie: 33 votes, roughly 20%]

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baby Girl Brown

Suzanne writes:
I just discovered your blog. Can you help us come up with a name for baby #2 (if it's a girl)? We have a daughter named Allison. And if we have a boy he will be named Peter. But if we have another girl she may go nameless because we just can't come up with something. Here is our list of "rules".
  1. Must be two syllables or more. A one syllable first name would just sound silly with our one syllable last name.
  2. Cannot be a color (e.g. Amber, Violet, Ivory)
  3. Should not begin with B. I am open to this but hubby is not.
  4. Prefer not begin with A since we already have an Allison. This is still somewhat flexible. We just don't want to end up with a housefull of "A" names.
  5. Prefer something that has a built in nickname option (For example Allison --> Allie or Lillian --> Lilly or Katherine --> Kate, Katie, etc)
  6. Needs to "mesh" with Allison. In general the style should be the same (i.e. nothing off-the-wall like Rainbow or Sunshine).
  7. Cannot ever be confused for a boy's name (e.g. Taylor, Samantha (Sam), Patricia (Pat), Carson). I understand this is a growing trend, we just don't like it.
  8. Should be relatively esy to spell and pronounce. It's okay if there are some alternate speliings (Allison, Alison, Allyson) but we want a name that 95% of the time, reasonable adults would be able to spell with no trouble.

Some names we have considered are:


Names that are out (due to family or ex association are):


I'd love to get your readers help. Thanks so much!!

I like your idea about avoiding using the same first initial. This is especially wise early on: the Duggars did not at first intend to use J names for every child, but they thought, "Well, our first three are all J and won't the fourth feel left out?" And then when they were expecting a fifth, they couldn't let THAT one be the only one without a J. And look where that has got them.

It looks to me like you've already got a good list. My favorites are Heidi, Megan, and Caroline. I'll add a few more choices:


I think all five of those go well with Allison---although most of them fail the "clear nickname" guideline. And Lindsay might also fail the "easy spelling" guideline, since it can also be spelled Lindsey. Well, still! I'm adding them! Let's take it to a vote! Poll is thataway ----> [poll closed; see results below]

That's a lot of choices, now that I look at it. So why don't you choose two or three favorites instead of just one, if you want to.

[Poll results:
Heidi: 22 votes, roughly 9%
Amanda: 2 votes, roughly 1%
Megan: 30 votes, roughly 13%
Whitney: 18 votes, roughly 8%
Carolyn: 7 votes, roughly 3%
Caroline: 53 votes, roughly 23%
Jenna: 27 votes, roughly 12%
Holly: 15 votes, roughly 6%
Lindsay: 10 votes, roughly 4%
Laurel: 23 votes, roughly 10%
Melanie: 25 votes, roughly 11%]

Name update 01-19-2010! Suzanne writes:
I'm late to respond but Baby #2 ended up being a BOY. So all of these great suggestions never got any use. Peter David was born July 1.

However, we are now expecing baby #3 and we are having the same issues all over again! I'm not sure my brain can take it!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Nicknames for the Fourth (IV)

EB writes:
My husband is a third, and if we have a baby boy, we will name him as a fourth, IV. My question is: What are some nicknames that we can call him having to do with the number four? For instance, a third might be called Trey, and a fifth might be called Quin. I have never heard of what a fourth might be called.
If you know of any good names for a fourth off the top of your head or if you don't mind querying your readers, I would so appreciate any help you can give.

Oh, I'm so glad that someone has given me the opportunity to show off about a little-known naming rule! This rule was a huge source of conflict between me and my high school boyfriend (he was a III). Here is the rule: Only popes and royalty keep their placeholders permanently.

Let's say Ronald Jones Sr. has a son named Ronald Jones Jr. and a grandson named Ronald Jones III. And then let's say Ronald Jones Sr. shuffles off this mortal coil. As of his death, Ronald Jones Jr. becomes Ronald Jones Sr., and Ronald Jones III becomes Ronald Jones Jr. This means that in most families, there is no need (or only a brief need) for a IV, and this is one reason there are so few good established nicknames.

However, perhaps you have noticed that this naming rule is unfamiliar? It's because people (MALE people) get all possessive about their dangley little suffixes, and also because they like the idea of their Illustrious Name stretching onward for generations, and how does anyone know how MANY generations unless we keep adding numbers? If you tried to apply the naming rule correctly at this point, you'd just confuse everyone. "But I always thought you were Ronald Jones JUNIOR!," people would say, shocked and alarmed. "But wait! Shouldn't your son be V?" The mail mix-ups would be astonishing.

This means we need nicknames for a IV, and there really aren't many, are there? Unlike III, which gives us cute foreign variations such as Tres/Trey and the cute short form of triple "Trip," the foreign versions of the number four tend to be more like "Quatre," and the short form of quadruple would be "Quad." Not much to harvest there. And even though "IV" could be pronounced "Eye-vee," I don't think we want to go that route either.

I wonder about Ivan. It's a stretch, but so is "Trip," really. Desperate times call for desperate measures, is what I'm saying. Ivan is a nice name, and it's a neat visual play on IV.

Got any Dutch or German in your background? The Dutch/German word for four is "vier," pronounced like "veer to the left." Vier is...well, it's unusual, name-wise! But it's a good sound and I think it works. You would of course be constantly explaining it, but people are likely to (1) understand and (2) like it.

Or I wonder if you could just call him Fourth. It has a good sound, if you say it out loud. It makes me think of the boy's name Ford, which I like (Douglas Adams fan).

I think if it were me, I would go for a different sort of nickname, based on the name instead of on the ranking. Your husband's rank gets all the cute nicknames, unfortunately for your future son. If I wanted a four-related name, though, my top choice is Fourth.

Does anyone else have nicknames of the sort we're looking for, related to the number four?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Name Update

I've been trying to figure out a way to handle it when parents write to let me know what they ended up naming the baby. I always change it in the post, but how to let you know which posts have been updated?

My mom had the genius idea of using TAGS, which usually I don't use so hadn't thought of. I'll be using the tag/label "name update." So in the righthand column of the blog, below the Blog Archive, there's a category for "name update." Click on that, and you'll see all the posts that include the name the baby ended up with.

I'm also going to STOP writing "[Edited:...]" in the post titles. It was messy and not very helpful. I ALWAYS update each polled post with the poll results, so there's no need to say so, and now we have a different method for marking the ones with the baby's name updated.

Now. If you had us tackle a baby-name problem, and you've had the baby and named him/her, email me and tell me! We're dying to know!

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!