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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baby Girl or Boy Stark

Sara writes:
I am due December 3rd. We have chosen not to find out the gender ahead of time. Our 2-year-old son is Jonah Daniel, a name that we quickly agreed upon and never had a list of runner-up names. Our girl name (which we still like from last time) is Nora Josephine. We just liked Nora, and Josephine was my husband’s mother’s middle name. I like the family connection there.

I worry that I may have too many ‘rules’ – even though I can’t really figure out which ones I’d give up. My sister thought it was kind of a fun ‘word puzzle’, but I think even she has tired of it. So here it goes.

1) Our last name is an actual word, close to ‘Stark’, so let’s pretend that’s it. I’m Sara and my husband is Sean, so that’s a lot of S’s already. I’m not at all interested in any other names starting with an ‘S’. Also, if it ends with an ‘s’, it runs into the last name and sounds bad. So that knocks out a ton of good names.

2) Nothing with an ‘-ar-‘ in it because it sounds weird with the last name. Also shows up in lots of names.

3) Because our last name is short and kind of abrupt, I want at least a 2-syllable first name.

4) I also prefer names that don’t have obvious, kind of automatic nicknames, so no Benjamin, Alexander, Nicholas, etc. Although I know people can get nicknames for tons of reasons, I like the name to just be the name.

5) Not another J name.

6) I want a boy name that does not appear to be getting taken over by girls.

7) Not a name that is also an actual word. Since our last name is a word, that would be odd.

8) No ‘–son’ names.

9) Nothing totally unfamiliar or spelled ‘creatively’.

10) We’re not religious, and when Jonah is paired with some more biblically-associated names, it makes it seem like we are. Those types of names tend to be more the style I like, but it seems uncomfortable like we’re trying to pass ourselves off as something we’re not.

11) My husband and I have both been teachers for a combined 15 years or so, so a lot of names get vetoed just because of the strong associations. I can never have a Tyler, Dylan, Brandon, Levi, Dustin, Ben, Evan……..

I’ve looked at so many names and lists and haven’t had anything that jumps out at me. It makes me a little sad to think that I’ve probably already seen the name we’ll end up choosing and that we were just like “Eh… that’s ok... I guess.”

So… help??

We are totally open to new suggestions! Names that we maybe kind of like include:

Aaron -probably our top option right now, but I wonder if people’s pronunciations will bother me, saying it more (to my ears) like Erin, a girl name

Adrian - another name I think I like better on paper than when I say it out loud

Julian - even though it’s a J


I’ve thought maybe Leo, Milo, Nolan, Ezra, but Sean doesn’t really like them. He likes Owen, but me, not so much. He’s also said he likes names that sound ‘smart’, for what that’s worth. Neither of us are into the ‘tough’ sounding boy names.

And then (as if this hasn’t been long enough – feel free to disregard if it has), I really like the idea of middle names as a family name spot, and my dad comes to mind as one to name after. His first name is also my brother’s name, so I kind of feel like that’s ‘his’ to use in the future if he wants. But my dad’s (and his dad’s) middle name is Orville. Yikes. I go back and forth thinking “My dad’s a good guy, and lots of people have crazy middle names.” and “How can I slap an Orville on a baby?” Thoughts on that from you or your readers?

Thank you so much for ANY help, guidance, and suggestions!!

Let's start with the Orville question, because that has grabbed my imagination. Have you already talked to your brother about the first name that belongs to him and to your dad? He might not care one whit if you use it as a middle name, even if he has the full intention of using it for a future child himself, and maybe he will even be flattered that you want to use it, especially if you spin it to include him in the namesakeness. That would solve the Orville issue in one swoop, and that would be nice because otherwise I am conflicted. I agree with you exactly: on one hand, lots of people have unusual middle names; on the other hand, Orville.

The very first name that occurs to me for the first-name slot is out: Simon. It sounds smart to me, and I like it with both Jonah and a potential future Nora. You were very clear on NO S NAMES so I shouldn't even be mentioning it---but here I am, mentioning it anyway. Cheeky!

The second name that occurs to me is ALSO out: Karl. It has the "ar" sound but otherwise would qualify, and I think the repeating "ar" is good here. I would like to take a moment to highlight the name Karl, in fact, because it is SO UNDERUSED. I was out and about and heard a mother talking to her adorable, pumpkin-sweater-wearing, rosy-cheeks-having, 1-year-old boy and calling him Karl, and I thought "!!!" It's great. Timeless! Smart! Girls are not stealing it! ALMOST NO ONE IS USING IT. It's one of the few names I thought of where I didn't think, "Oh, but they've probably had a bunch of students with that name already. Karl! Consider Karl!

Some QUALIFYING possibilities:

Caleb Stark; Jonah and Caleb
Elliot Stark; Jonah and Elliot
Emmett Stark; Jonah and Emmett
Ethan Stark; Jonah and Ethan
Henry Stark; Jonah and Henry
Ian Stark; Jonah and Ian
Malcolm Stark; Jonah and Malcolm

I also had Everett and Oliver in the list originally, but are those too much like an "ar" sound? Anyway, I like them both: Everett Stark, Oliver Stark.

Name update 12-07-2009! Sara writes:
I just wanted to let you know that we had a baby girl, Nora Josephine, on December 3 (her due date, no less!) so all my worrying about boy names and rules ended up just being for fun, I guess. :) I really appreciated all the feedback and suggestions from your readers, and we went into the birth thinking that we'd probably go with Aaron or Simon (gasp - breaking my #1 rule). We realized that if I set aside my 'no more S names,' that really was the name we liked best. And I also talked with my brother about his name, and he was totally fine with us using it if we wanted, so we had our two options for middle names there, too. But in the end, little Nora made the decision easy for us. Thanks so much!! :)


Erin said...

I love Caleb and Everett and Malcolm for this baby, with Jonah and perhaps a Nora. Everett Orville has a lot of V sounds though. But very good suggestions from swistle, although I am not a big fan of Karl personally, for this sibset or generally. While an Erin, I actually do like Aaron for a boy, but most people do not pronounce the two differently. (However, my friend who is married to an Aaron insists she pronounces our names differently despite no one being able to tell). A couple other suggestions to play with (some of these have nicknames but I don't immediately think of the nn, and know people that go by the full name of all of these):


None-nicknamey at all:
Garrett (not -ar but -air like Aaron)
Eric (instead of Aaron)?

Fran said...

I love Caleb and Emmett!!

-R- said...

I like the suggestion of Ian. Just please don't use Orville if you use Ian. Ian Orville is too much for a baby! =)

janet said...

The one name that popped into my mind for this challenge was Desmond.

StephLove said...

From names you have under consideration I like Owen best.

From Swistle's list: Elliot and Ian.

New idea: Ethan

StephLove said...

Oh, now I see Ethan on Swistle's list. Scratch it being a new idea. I can't seem to come up with one. Each time I think of something, I run up into one of the rules, names without nicknames being the hardest.

Roz said...

Kyle is a great name and is very similar to Karl and doesn't have the "ar" sound

KL said...

Just a note on the Biblical names for whatever it's worth: I have a very religious/Christian background, yet I would never assume that the parents of children named Jonah/Isaac/Aaron (etc) were religious. Just in case that makes a difference to you :)

Of the suggested names I like Miles, Everett, Emmet, Julian (although I might hesitate to use it with Jonah), and Malcolm.

Jenny said...

I actually like Orville. I think it has a contrarian edginess to it that could well make it a burgeoning hipster name in the vein of Felix and Oscar. Family namesake plus flight pioneer = winning combination. I'm not sure I'd do it as a first name, but I think in the middle spot it's fabulous.

I don't think the two J names are fatal - Julian would be very nice, and different enough that I don't think the names run together. Certainly no more than Nora and Jonah, which I find a bit actually find a bit tongue-twisty to say due to their two syllable o-ah sound.

Some boy names that meet your criteria that you maybe have not encountered on lists because they are a bit more out there:
Tristan -- except for the whole coopted by girls thing, argh! I am still in denial about it because it's such a BOY name to me.
Lysander - not sure if an "er" sound is objectionable to you as repeating the "ar" in Stark.
Rudolph - though Rudy is a nickname, and I know I know about the reindeer issue, but I think it sounds awesome with your last name.
Theron - like Aaron, only not gender-ambigous in speech.

Also, relevant to your concerns, Aaron and Jonah together would strike me a very Biblical sibset, though I'm not religious either. Likewise, Caleb and Ethan when paired with Jonah, though they definitely sound good.

Jenn said...

From Swistle's list I like Caleb and Malcolm the best
I also suggest
Kyle (so underused! and a great name!)

Jennifer said...

What about Neil?

It sounds smart to me. Fits with your other rules.

Just a friendly suggestion!

Anonymous said...

I really like Ethan! No easy nickname there and sounds great with Jonah.

Carmen said...

I had many of the same rules when we were trying to choose a boy's name. The most important one for me was that there be no nickname. The names we ended up choosing from were:


I think those three follow your rules. We chose Kieran for our son.

Anonymous said...

what about Brock?

Meg said...

I think Orville or "Orvie' is seriously cute, even for a first name. I's adorable.

I'm really liking someone's suggestion of Miles. Miles Orville Stark :)

Other suggestions:

Oscar (although it has the "ar" I don't see an issue personally)

Just as side note, I don't pronounce Aaron and Erin any differently, not sure if I'm in the minority on that one but just wanted to mention it.

Good luck!!

Rayne said...

Brian Orville Stark
Eric Orville Stark
Nathan Orville Stark

lili said...

I'd like to suggest:

Cassian (cash-en)

They all match your criteria and go nicely with Jonah :)

Good Luck!

Carolyn said...

I like Vaughn, and know a teacher who gave her son this name.


d e v a n said...

Emmett or Ian are both great!

Missy ~ said...

I love your rules, because they are very similar to the rules I had - esp no nickname and no ending in S (we have a last name that starts and ends with S - really limits the choices). Here are a few more to consider:

Vincent (although can be shortened)

PS - I LOVE the name Julian. I wanted that for each of my boys, but DH vetoed it.

Best of luck!

Katie said...

I really like Ethan, and Ian, as suggested. Others: Liam, Ashton, Kevin, Paul, Devin

Hillary said...

I like Nathan.

Lisa said...

Ooooh, I also LOVE Nathan.

I was going to suggest my boys' names.

Austin - Probably bad school rap, right?

Gavin - Too tough?

Anyways, they have served my guys well.

Good luck.

StephLove said...

Aaron has been growing on me over the course of the day. Thought I'd mention that.

Hannah said...

What about Abram or Bennett? I think both work well with Jonah and a potential Nora and follow your rules.

Sara said...

Hi! I'm the Sara with the name rules. :) Thanks so much for all your thoughtful suggestions!!

I've jotted down some more of them for my 'not eliminated yet' list, which gives me:

Aaron - interesting to hear that people generally don't say Aaron/Erin differently, sort of confirms my worry on that one.



El(l)iot(t) - I like this name, but it bothers me that I can't decide what's the 'right' way to spell it. So many ways look equally ok. Also, anyone know of girls using this?

Ethan - there are kind of a lot of them around here, but it's a nice name.


Kevin - maybe

Oliver - I do like. I don't think the -er endings are a problem with our last name, it's more of the -ar at the beginning emphasized syllable that gets me, like in Carter, or Marshall, or Karl (sorry, Swistle. Maybe someone else will read your defense of Karl and choose it) :)


Simon - I know, I know. It goes against my very first rule, but I really do like this name and had just moved on because of the 'S'. Then Swistle had to go and suggest it and then I start thinking 'maybe it wouldn't be soooo bad...' Of course, with a middle name of Orville, he would be SOS, and maybe that would be so bad. :)

Anyway, thanks again. My husband is not home yet, but we'll have a great starting place for some constructive naming work tonight.

I imagine we'll go into the birth with four or so choices that we're happy with, and I can fully see us making the 'It's a boy!' (if necessary) phone calls with the name phone call coming sometime later.

Anonymous said...

Oliver! Oliver!!

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Great suggestions so far!!

What about Rex? It sounds "smart" to me and it's different and DEFINITELY boyish.

Anonymous said...

What about


Christine said...

Oh good I saw someone got Oliver, I saw Orville and read it as Oliver and started thinking how much I like that name. I don't hate Orville as a middle name either for what it is worth. It seems like you've already gotten a number of names so I would vote: Oliver "Dad/Bro's name" (I'm going to guess that they would be more likely to be flattered than not, especially since you're using it as a middle name; and I really liked both Simon and Emmett. Simon Orville Stark is great. Great Great. Even if it does start with "S". Good luck!

Steph the WonderWorrier said...

Love "Connor" as a sibling to Jonah, and to a potential future Nora too.

Jonah, Connor and Nora. They compliment each other immensely well.

Simon is fabulous too.

As for Aaron -- yes, I've never heard it pronounced differently than "Erin"... BUT... it's well-established as its own boys name, and if you say, "this is my son, Aaron", people will clearly know the name. If it's what you really love, I wouldn't let the fact that "Erin" exists deter you.

Anonymous said...

This is a sticky situation!
What about:
... I don't have my baby name list on me so I have run out of names!
good luck tho:)

Karen said...

I'm a big fan of Aaron, Simon, and Malcolm.

But I do pronounce Aaron the same as Erin unless I'm thinking about it. Actually, maybe I pronounce Erin like Aaron. I pronounce both with a long A, rather than a short A for Aaron and a short E for Erin.

I think El(l)iot(t) will generally be assumed to be a boys name but, yes, it is now fair game for girls. Kinda like Ryan or Drew.

Your brother may very well feel weired about naming after himself, so I don't think you need to reserve his name for him without consulting him first. If you do use Orville, I wouldn't pair it with Oliver. Sounds like a cartoon character: Oliver Orville.

Since Jonah was our boy name for our second (who arrived a girl), maybe you'll like our first's name:


Anonymous said...

Our oldest is Nora Grace and her little bro is Henry Isaac. We also considered using Charlie for our little guy but I feel like it breaks a rule and am too lazy to read them again. Maybe too "gone to the girls"? Really like Nora Josephine, why didn't I think of that? Nora Grace is easier to yell, though! :)

Jan said...

I like Aaron, Elliot, and Simon from your current list.

Other suggestions:
Derek Stark
Gideon Stark
Dylan Stark

Not that you're asking for feedback on girl names but Jonah and Nora are too similar sounding in some way to my ear.

Amber said...

Must comment on the Biblical sibset names. I DO think that the person must be religious if more than one child has a Biblical name. So, Caleb and Aaron along with Jonah definitely says religious to me! Just FYI!

No worries about all of the rules...I have a lot myself! :) What about the name Cohen (or spelling Koen). If you like Nolan and he likes Owen, seems like a good compromise! I love this name but can't use it myself for a VARIETY of reasons :)

Susan said...

I don't think a person must be religious to choose two Biblical names, though I admit I would wonder if PERHAPS a person were Jewish or Christian if I heard two Biblical names, particularly from the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) such as Jonah, Josiah, Abraham, Elijah, Obadiah, etc. I certainly don't think anyone would ever think a family was trying to "act religious" by using such names, and especially not now as more and more of them are becoming mainline.

Tracy H. said...

From Swistle's picks I like Oliver a lot, love Elliot (yes, I have heard it mentioned for girls, don't know if it will make the turn though) and Simon. Since you are reconsidering an "s" name how about Sullivan? Gideon, Miles and Conrad also come to mind. Good luck and you know with all of this fretting over boys names you are going to have a girl!

Kit said...

I think Emmett, Colin and Julian all have that 'smart' vibe your husband likes.

Anonymous said...

I add my vote to the Gideon group. What a FABULOUS name! For our next my husband wants Jonas and I want Oliver, but I may switch my vote. Gideon rocks.

And we have an Elliot and a Hyrum already.

Rayleen said...

I couldn't believe it when I saw Swistle had suggested Simon, it was also the first name I thought of! I love it and would use it, but my husband has strong adverse feelings about it. Then my next thought was Caleb! Which my husband also vetoes, but I really like it.
Good luck!

Sarah said...

I say Aaron and Erin completely differently. Aaron starts with "air" and Erin starts with "ehr." I don't think I've ever met anyone who pronounces them the same, actually.

Karen said...

First off, totally love Nora Josephine. Beautiful name, and a great sibling name for Jonah Daniel.

For the middle name, I think Orville is cool/funky and a nice tribute to your dad. As far as the first name your dad/brother share, I'd only hesitate if you were considering it as the first name. I think they'd both be flattered by the choice, and even if your brother has a son he names "the third," the cousins' names will still be very different. And maybe it's just me, but I can't even think of the middle names of most of my cousins...

I like Simon too! Hey, rules are made to be broken, right? :) Other favorites from this list: Julian, Aaron, Elliott, Caleb, Ethan, Henry, and Oliver (but not with Orville). I don't think SOS initials are that bad (I kind of like it!), plus it'll look like SSO if monogrammed onto something for him.

Also, I agree with Sarah's comment about the pronunciations of Aaron and Erin. I say and hear them differently, too.

As far as having two "biblical names," I wouldn't worry about it. It's a big book with a LOT of cool (and crazy) names in it. If you were going to go with Jonah and Judah, I might think your family was going for a matchy-match religious theme, but none of the ones here strike me as being overly religious. I'd be more "concerned" if you were very religious but obsessed with names like Damien and Judas. :)

Good luck on whatever you and your husband decide! Don't forget to send us an update. :)

The Cochran Fam said...

I couldn't hep but notice that Jonah and Nora both end with the "uh" sound. If this baby is a boy and you use Nora in the future, would it matter to you that one name would have a different ending sound than the other two? I don't think it's a problem and it wouldn't matter to me. Just a thought. Here are some boy names with the same ending as Jonah and Nora:

Joshua (oops, a "J" name)
Jeremiah (again)
Micah (love this one!)

Sara said...

Original poster back again.

I'm glad to hear some more people hear/say Aaron and Erin differently. I was starting to think that maybe I was just exaggerating things in my head. :)

Gideon is kind of interesting, but for me, mostly brings to mind the group that leaves bibles in hotel rooms.

Thanks for the thought about the ending sounds of Jonah and Nora, but if there was a third kid, I think I'd purposely want to not have the same ending sound. That would be a little too much matchiness for me.

And yes, maybe it will just be a girl, and things will be easy, although the checker at Target last night said I was definitely TOTALLY having a boy. Haha...

marly said...

I think the most important thing to remember in giving a name is that it is a gift. The best gifts you can give are ones that reflect the person you're giving it to. Have your top 2-3 names and then wait until your baby is born and see which one fits him or her best. Think how much that will mean to your child to hear that story as they grow up. And that's another point I would make. I'm passionate about names and have talked to people all over the country about theirs. The best ones have a story behind them. Give your child a great name story!

Portia said...

I actually think Orville is a cool, fun middle name -- wouldn't use it as the first name, but great in the middle!

That said, my only suggestion for first names is Theodore, which is awful with Orville. It also has some nicknames, but the trend is so strong for kids to go by their full names that maybe that wouldn't be a problem.

Kathy said...

I like Ansel or Emmett. Both great names that could work well in the sib set, and with Orville.

Anna said...

I still like Julian from your original list.

From the amended list I like Conor would spell with one n my brother is Connor. Elliot & Isaac.

Jonah & Conor
Jonah & Elliot
Jonah & Isaac


Jonah & Patrick
Jonah & Lance
Jonah & Arthur
Jonah & Ambrose
Jonah & August
Jonah & Bruno
Jonah & Caspian
Jonah & Troy
Jonah & Bryce
Jonah & Darwin
Jonah & Fabian
Jonah & Harvey
Jonah & Ira
Jonah & Leon
Jonah & Mateo
Jonah & Pablo
Jonah & Reuben
Jonah & Tobias
Jonah & Vann

mjb said...

Swistle - your defense of Karl was funny since I'm married to a Carl - I don't know many others but they totally pop up in movies and ads all the time, maybe because it's a generic name that isn't used much in real life. I may be writing in one day for help if he really (as he claims) wants a junior!

Anonymous said...

Not sure if you're still reading these comments but, first of all congratulations on the birth of your daughter! Secondly, excellent choices - we've son Jonah Alexander & daughter Amalia Josephine. I Swistled in May for a similar reason - - we were stuck on a boy's name to go with Jonah. We had our girl & Nora was on our list as well. I am back here helping a friend with baby names & I came across your post. I thought it was uncanny how similar our kid's names are.