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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Baby Girl or Boy Young

Jodi writes:
I am pregnant with our fourth little one, due on February 28, and we won't be finding out the sex. We have three girls so far: Philippa Violet (called Pippa more or less exclusively since birth), Romilly Alice (called Ro around the house), and Beatrix Joanna (called both Bea and Trix). If this one is a girl, we are more or less set on Juniper, called June or Junie for short. Our last name is Young, which is pretty easy to work with, but you have to watch the initials (Graham Angus Young might be a bit of a burden!)

If it's a boy, we have issues. My husband is English with a Scottish mother, and we lived in Scotland for a few years, so we definitely want to stick with names that are distinctly British, and maybe less common here in America although that's not a must.

I have had a long standing love for the name Gus, and the name Angus with nickname Gus has been a frontrunner for the last two girls, had they been boys. I love it, but it would definitely be a concession for my husband. Lately, even I'm not loving how Scottish it is compared to our girls' very English names. We've considered every other possible name that can be shortened to Gus, and Angus is really the only one we both like.

My husband's long-time favorite boys' name is Barnaby, and I'm loving it more and more with the nickname Barnes. BUT we've made a conscious effort so far to avoid duplicating initials and now that we have a Beatrix... well, it's no longer ideal. We might be willing to bend the rule for this one, but we'd rather find something that's a perfect fit if it's out there.

Recently we've been talking a lot about Simon. I love it, he just likes it, but I think it could work. It's a lot more common than our girls' names, but maybe that's better for a boy?

Other names we've talked about (and their issues), just to give you a feel for our taste: Thaddeus (but we don't love any of its nicknames), Graham (sounds a little too plain to his Bristish ear), Oliver and Sebastian (both getting too popular for our liking).

We'll use a family middle name, probably one of these: Merit, Hopkins, or Murray; but there are others if none of those fit with the first name we choose.

Can you tell we've thought about this *way* too much? I think having three girls has just made us insecure in our ability to choose a boys' name, and maybe all the ones we used to love have gone a little stale from years of disuse :) Anyway, I would welcome any thoughts on these names or additions to the list.

Just as with Friday's post, I have to beg for reader assistance: Is there a Brit in the house?

I'll tell you how I went about finding out the scraps I DO know, but this is for general knowledge since I'm not sure it's going to be helpful in this situation.
  1. FIRST, I picked up my copy of The Baby Name Wizard and looked at it bleakly: it lists names that "sound English to American ears," which is great for me because that's what I like. That's no help, though, for people like your husband who are from ACTUAL England. Thus my bleak expression.

  2. Suddenly inspired, I flipped to the BACK of the book and looked at the Resource List. I found this URL for England/Wales:

  3. I clicked on "Last five years top 100 boys names," but that's all Top 100, of course, and you're looking for something a little less common.

  4. I looked bleakly at my copy of The Baby Name Wizard again.

  5. I rallied. I like Top 100 and English-sounding; maybe you will too when I get done pressuring you.

So here is a list of names I think are good possibilities, chosen from the Top 100 U.K. names and/or The Baby Name Wizard's list of English names. None of them are even in the Top 1000 in the U.S., and they sound appealingly British to my U.S. ears, and none of them repeat initials with the other children's names.


Let's try each name with the sibling names:

Philippa, Romilly, Beatrix, and Alfie
Philippa, Romilly, Beatrix, and Alistair
Philippa, Romilly, Beatrix, and Archie
Philippa, Romilly, Beatrix, and Callum
Philippa, Romilly, Beatrix, and Corin
Philippa, Romilly, Beatrix, and Edmund
Philippa, Romilly, Beatrix, and Harvey

One of my two favorites from the list is Edmund. I think it's solid and boyish, and it has a good nickname. I like it with any of your middle name options, but especially with Merit: Edmund Merit Young (EMY).

I'm also drawn to Alistair. Alistair Young is fantastic, and Alistair has the same number of syllables and the same short-i sound as all the girl names. I like Alistair with Merit, too, but then the initials spell AMY. So I think I'd choose Hopkins: Alistair Hopkins Young (AHY). Love. it.

Time for the poll. I'll put your finalists in with mine, and put the whole poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see below.]

Poll results (256 votes total):
Angus (Gus): 18 votes, roughly 7%
Barnaby (Barnes): 24 votes, roughly 9%
Simon: 37 votes, roughly 14%
Alfie: 3 votes, roughly 1%
Alistair: 69 votes, roughly 27%
Archie: 9 votes, roughly 4%
Callum: 51 votes, roughly 20%
Corin: 6 votes, roughly 2%
Edmund: 34 votes, roughly 13%
Harvey: 5 votes, roughly 2%

Name update! Jodi writes:
Thanks so much to you and your readers for all your help with our boys' name situation. In the end, we didn't need it! We welcomed our 4th *daughter*, Juniper Lucy Young, early Wednesday morning, and I guess we will never know what she would have been called had she been a boy :)


Karen said...

Alistair Hopkins Young. love it!

Graham and Simon are also long-time favourites of mine, but yes, perhaps a little plain compared to the sisters' names.

I'd also like Alfie if it weren't for that current news story. I'm sure most people will now have strong associations with the name.

Hope T. said...

I thought of Callum before I even read Swistle's reply. It is British, Scottish, and perfect with the sister's names.

Karen said...

How about...?


Zazz said...

I love the name Angus, and Angus Young is the name of a famous guitarist (famous in Australia anyway). Not sure if that's a good or bad thing!

What about Hamish?

Zoo said...

I love Callum. LOVE. And the nickname Cal is cute for a little boy. My husband's middle name is Eamonn - but now that I type that out I'm thinking it's Irish? Oh well. I also like Alistair but I know a little boy named Alasdair so I'm accustomed to that spelling (his dad is Scottish).

Also, anyone who is an AC/DC fan will totally make the Angus Young connection, which may or may not matter. :)

Frazzled Mom said...

The first name that came to my mind was Nigel. I was not sure if it was actually British or just sounded British to me. So I went to which says it is English. There you go. My second though was Callum, which I find appealing. However this is extremely popular in the UK, and I sense it may soon become popular in the US too - that often happens. But I could be wrong, and I'm only going by "a feeling."

When it came time to vote, I voted for Alistair. When I first heard of this name a year or two ago, it seemed too fancy for a boy. I was persuaded otherwise, after watching a TV show, where the host was traveling around the world checking out the bars. I think the show is "Three Sheets to the Wind." Anyway, they host was in Gibraltar, and there was an incredibly handsome, and masculine bartender named Alistair. He epitomized British masculinity, and with that face to the name, I grew to like it. Any who, I'm unsure of nicknames for Alistair, which may be important to you since all of your girls have nicknames.

I think Alfie is cute, but maybe a little too cute and juvenile sounding for my tastes. I would consider Alfie as a nickname for Alfred, which according to my source (see above) can be English, French, Scandinavian, German, Polish or Dutch. Alfred was my husband's grandfather's name, and IMO just old enough to come back soon.

bellaf said...

Oh my, I love Alistair. I don't even know why but I do. Couldn't help but vote Alistair then. But I also love Barnaby, Archie, Simon, Callum and Gus and all your girl names too! Seems like you can't go wrong.

Jodi said...

Oh, I can't tell you how perfect the timing is with this post! I am just 5 days from my due and we're still just as unsettled on boys' names as when I sent Swistle my e-mail. Plus this will be a great distraction for me while I sit and will labor to start :)

Mostly our top contenders are the same, but we have been back to toying with Augustus as a full name for Gus instead of Angus (we did know about the AC/DC guy, which is a con rather than a pro for us). Plus my family are having some issues with the beefiness of Angus. Sigh.

I was also glad to see other names we have been considering on Swistle's list. Archie is a recent favorite of my husband's, but he will only hear of it as a nickname for Archibald, which I'm having a hard time swallowing.

We both love Edmund (big Narnia fans!), but he likes Ed as a nn and I prefer Ned or Teddy. Harvey is actually my grandfather's name, and I wondered about using the nn Harry with it. Too much of a stretch?

As for Callum, I know it is perfect on paper, and I do love it in theory, but I taught in Scotland for a few years and one year had a Calum/Callum in every one of my 5 or 6 cleasses, so it unfortunately sounds very 'done' to my ears now :(

Alistair is another we both really like, but it is the lack of nns that we get hung up on. Any ideas?

Thank you all so much for your comments already. I will be reading them and watching the poll with great interest. Hope this extra bit of info is helpful :)

Kathleen aka Coffee Mom said...

I know it might sound a bit weird, but a nn I like for Alistair is Lister or even List. Sometimes I will play around with the letters and come up with something. Stal, Trail, Rail, Railar. Might be a bit ???

Jess said...

I think Harvey is distinguished and sweet and it has familial significance. Harry may be a bit of a stretch but I do love it and if it makes or breaks the name for you, I'd use it. How about these for nns:


Best wishes and I just love your daughter's names (and Juniper too)!


Kate said...

Having lived in Scotland for a bit, I'd say that Alistair is almost as Scottish as Angus, rather than more English, in tune with the girls' names. It's very, very common there - the ones I knew had to use first and last names at the school we were at to be distinguished from one another. Callum is very Scottish as well. That said, I don't think the Scottish names go badly with your daughters' names. I think Angus would be perfect were it not for your ambivalent husband.

Lacey said...

I think your family name Merit is great! I would even use that as a first name.

Kate said...

Forgot to add - they all went by Ali, pronounced Allie, like the girls' name. Not that that's a prescribed nickname in for Alistair in the States, but it seemed like a Jen - Jennifer connection to me, as in people there didn't even ask before shortening it to Ali. Could be a problem if you were to move there again - I'd come up with your own nn and use it before someone gave him Ali.

Anonymous said...

I really like Angus for you! Have you considered August nn Gus as well?

Susan said...

I must say, Jodi and her hub came up with really cool girl names, and I love all the nicknames. It makes me want to have three girls and copy the names! And the only problem with the boy name here is that there are so many cool choices that sound perfect with the girl names. I wouldn't have considered Alistair, but as I read the comments, it's growing on me by the minute. The girls have such great nicknames, it would be nice if the boy did, too, but on the other hand I think it's okay if he just has a strong plainer name -- you know, the thorn among the roses or whatever. But "Al" seems too plain. "Ed" (for Edmund) or "Cal" (for Callum) seem fine. I also find the Narnia connection a big plus, and especially for the Edmund and Lucy characters, which are the ones I'd want to remember in a child's name. The scene in "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" where Edmund gets "un-dragoned" is memorable. (I'm afraid the name "Eustace" is ruined for me forever!)

Jodi, be sure to tell us what you decided as soon as the baby is born!

Mavis said...

I love, love Edmund with your girls. I think it's an absolutely stunning choice. If you both love Edmund, then I say don't let the nn get in the way. Just wait until your sweet boy is born and arrive at the nn organically. He will probably seem more like a Teddy or Ed to you, thereby making the compromise much easier and more natural.

I also ADORE Thaddeus and can easily see one on your bunch. I love the nn Teddy for Thaddeus as well.

I'm due a day after you wtih my third girl, but am scheduled to be induced this week. Best of luck to you. Can't wait to hear what you choose.

Anonymous said...

What about the nickname Alex for Alistair? My partner and I were considering that if our kid was going to be a boy (we're having a girl). While a little bit of a stretch, Alex draws from the root of Alistair, so I think it's legit...
- Elise

Elizabeth said...

I live in London, England (but am Canadian originally). You have lots of good options; I'll just add a couple of thoughts which may be more personal opinion than based on hard fact:

1. Alfie seems to becoming more common here. I have a young son (age 2) and it is a name I hear fairly frequently at the playground etc...

2. I really like Alistair. Whether this is a pro or con for you, I don't know, but I think most Alistairs are older now (30s, 40's +)...I haven't met any kids or babies named Alistair.

3. I suspect Callum might be too popular in N. America for your liking. It seems like a popular name to me.

BTW - I'm going to vote for Simon in the poll.

Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Callum and Harvey are my two favorite choices. Callum Hopkins Young is my fave choice, though if you were still open on the middle name side of things, I LVOE the flow of Callum Barnaby Young. Though, it you really wanted three syllables (and you have it so far with the girls so why not go for it) then Sebastian or Barnaby would be my picks.

Such interesting and exciting names - I love the Juniper pick also!

bellaf said...

Yes. Why not August nn Gus?

Anonymous Midwest Girl said...

I was going to come here and say Callum (which I haven't really heard before here in the US) but saw how common it is in your classes...but then I saw the "August" suggestion and LOVE it!!!!

August Merit Young
August Hopkins Young
August Murray Young

Philippa, Romilly, Beatrix, August
Pippa, Ro, Bea, and Gus


Steph the WonderWorrier said...

I really like the name Alistair, so my vote is for that too. I think "Ali" is the common British nickname for it; but you could probably come up with something else. I also love classic Edmund, so that's a great choice too.

Anonymous said...

Agree re: Edmund. I also think it can be nice if Mom and Dad have different nicknames for a kid, even if one nickname doesn't present itself as the right choice organically. Teddy-to-everyone-else will always be "Ed" to his dad. I don't know; I think that sounds kind of nice--something special and shared.

Patricia said...

I like Edmund, but not especially Ed, and so voted for anther name until I read that you're considering the nn Teddy for Edmund. I love Teddy! We named our first son Edward and called him Teddy. I'm changing my vote to Edmund, which I think goes perfectly with your daughters' names.

I enjoyed the recent photo of your family and naming story from the Philadelphia Inquirer (the link for which I posted over at Baby Name Wizard blog).

I hope your baby comes soon! Best wishes to your lovely family.

Swistle said...

Here's the link to the Philadelphia Enquirer story, for anyone who's interested:

Anonymous said...

I love your name choices!

I have always wondered - how do you pronounce Romilly? I hear "ROE-milly", is that right? I love the look of it, anyway.

As for the boy, I am leaning towards August or Edmund, but any of your choices are good ones. But I can't help thinking "How about Milo?" Milo Hopkins Young, good!

Lara Jane said...

I immediately jumped to August as did so many of the other posters! I'm guessing you've already nixed the idea, as you said you'd gone over this already.

Edmund is a gorgeous name, you can't go wrong.

I also like:
Alfred or Frederick (Freddie, Alfie for either of them)
Theodore (Teddy, Theo)
Arthur (Art or Artie)
George (Geo, Geordie/Jordy, Jory)

You have great taste! I'm sure your baby's name will be perfect!

Jodi said...

We pronounce Romilly with a short 'o', like CD-ROM, but her nn is Ro, like 'Row your boat' which is actually how the nn originated, thanks to her 18-month-old (at the time) big sister :)

Thanks about the article :) I can't believe how many people we know saw it. No one we know reads the paper, but apparently all their parents do! I'm wondering if it was wise to go so public with our name choices, but at least we got a free family portrait out of it.

August is one that's been considered and rejected, sadly. It seems to be more widely used in America than in the UK, so much so that my mother-in-law said it sounded like a girls' name. So, as much as I like it, it doesn't fit our 'British-y' requirement. Augustus doesn't quite fit the bill there either, but at least it's more classical than 'old-time America'.

You've all really got me loving Edmund again, and working the Teddy angle on hubby ;) But Susan, wasn't it Eustace that got dragon-ed and undragon-ed?

Thanks again, everyone, for all the input!

Zoo said...

If you like the nn Archie, what about the full name Archer?

I also meant to say in my earlier response that I LOVE your girls' names and nicknames. Beautiful! And, I really love Barnaby with the nn Barnes. Adorable. I would have the same "rule" with myself about not repeating first letters, but I'd almost have to forego that rule for such an awesome name.

Alice said...


I was so delighted to see the article, and now this post! (Megan let me know of both.)

My favorite for you is Simon (Si is the only NN I know for this name...and I like it, I think it would fit right in).

I also love Edmund (NN Teddy is sweet for a young boy, also nice to have Ned/Ed/Eddie in reserve).

I am sure you have considered, and thrown out, Clive, but it is a nice British name, and could pay tribute to C.S. Lewis. It is, perhaps a little more tricky to say, with the e merging into the y of your last name, but not so onerous that I'd throw it out completely. So...

Clive Merit Young
Merit Clive Young
Simon Merit Young
Simon Hopkins Young

Best wishes! Can't wait for this little one to arrive.

brooke said...

Hi Jodi,

I read the ivillage name boards and I have seen a few of your posts before :) How exciting that you are so close! I feel like that this baby will be a boy. Personally, I love Edmund for your family. It is such a charming name and Teddy is all boy! This is my top pick.

The others:
Barnaby - This name isn't really my style, but I LOVE the nn Barnes. It really saves the name imo.

Simon - Great name. Sy is handsome and fits many personalities. Two of your kids already have one syllable nn, would you want a third one syllable nn?

Angus/Augustus - Angus isn't too beefie to my ears. I think it is an awesome nmae!! No one would think twice about Angus being odd since your husband has Scottish roots.

Harvey - Another great name. I do think that Harry is a stretch, but people aren't too picky about nn.

New names:

Lewis - I know that this is super common in the UK, but it isn't used much is the states. Lewis Merit sounds so smart!

Oscar, nn Ozzy - any chance? If any family could have an Ozzy your's would be it!

Boyd - Gaelic for blonde. This seems fitting for your kids!


Cormac - I love the nn Mac

Desmond - too fancy?

Fergus, nn Gus - I am sure you have thought about this, but I thought I would suggest it

Wallace, nn Wally or Ace - this is a Scottish name, but the nn Ace would be so American.

Good luck!

C C Donna said...

My husband's English cousin named his son Finlay and our English friends have Harvey and Charlie.

Jodie said...

Love the name Lucy!!

I know you're already had her, but I was looking at baby names myself and came across your blog post. I smiled when i read it because my name is Jodie and my birthday is February 28.