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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Baby Girl Rothschild

Taylor writes:
I am due with a baby girl in early March. Our son's name is William Jack (goes by Will) and I love the flexibility of a cute nickname and more formal given name. Will is named after 3 men in our family. I knew the namesakes would be special, but was unprepared for the significance Will's name has held for our family! When we discovered it would be a girl this time, I knew I wanted to give her a name that would likewise bless some of the women in our family.

It's become a bit of a puzzle. Here are her namesakes: My mom, Karen Lee, and my MIL, Leslie Anne. Also a possibility, my grandmother, Rae. My mom's maiden name (and grandmother's last name) is Taylor, which is a possible mn, but it is my first name. I'm not interested in naming her after me, and I fear that's how it would appear.

My husband and I are pretty set on calling her Annie. Another favorite name was Lucy, but Lucy seems very nicknamish to me (not a fan of Lucille, Lucia, Lucinda, etc). So our dilemma now is to build the name around the nickname.

Since "Annie" obviously will be a nod to the MIL, I want to honor my side of the family with the mn.

My husband's current favorite is Anne Katherine. My husband doesn't like the name Karen--too dated, so I did some research and discovered Karen is a form of Katherine, and they have the same meaning (pure). I think Anne Katherine is very pretty, but I am not sure about Anne. Some days I think it is sophisticated and elegant and others I wonder if its too plain. Also, I am not sure about the flow of the this name, seems a little choppy or something.

I really like Annabel as well. Annabel Lee and Annabel Rae were early contenders, but I have reservations on each...Annabel Lee is a poem by Edgar Allen Poe, definitely on the creepy side. Also you get "Annabelly" if you say it fast. Annabel Rae is iffy since our last name is similar to "Rothschild"... the double R is a mouthful. Annabel Katherine makes for a really long name when paired with "Rothschild". I like the idea of a 1 syllable mn with Annabel.

Another idea I had was to name her Annabel Kay, using similar logic as Katherine...Kay being a form of Katherine/Karen. I could even spell Kay, "Kae" to try and eke out a nod to my grandmother, Rae. But Kay seems a bit...old- but-not-in-a-cute-way to me. Am I taking this too far??? I feel like I've over-thought it, and I am not sure if these roundabout ways of namesaking are too much of a stretch. I hate to announce her name and then have to go in to a 20 minute explanation to her namesakes.

Any thoughts would be appreciated!

All right, let's see. You're going to call her Annie, so we want a first name that gives you that nickname. And then we want a middle name that honors your mother Karen Lee (or perhaps your grandmother Rae).

Since your mother-in-law gets the first-name slot, but with her middle name, it would be neat if your mother's middle-name slot used her first name, for balance. Your husband doesn't like the name Karen, so my first suggestion is Kara. I think it's beautiful, and it has a more contemporary sound than Karen. I think the flow would be better if you used the first name Anna instead of Anne: Anna Kara Rothschild. One thing that's nice about this name is that both grandmothers' names have been modified, and in very similar ways. Also, I like the rhythm of Anna Rothschild better than the rhythm of Anne Rothschild, though of course some will prefer the rhythm the other way.

A second possibility would be to name her Leanna. You could still call her Annie (or Lee), and it blends the two grandmothers' middle names. Give her the middle name Rae, and little Leanna Rae Rothschild is covering all the name bases.

Anyone else want to help out? What are some more ideas, ideally of the sort that won't make the namesake think, "This is 'after me' HOW?"

Name update! Taylor writes:
Thank you for all the great feedback on my naming dilemma! I appreciated all the creative ideas/combinations as well as the comments that said, "just use the namesakes' actual names...don't make it so complicated". Reading all the feedback helped me identify my favorite first name and how to best honor my mom--by using her actual name and not a variation.

Annabel Karen "Rothschild" was born March 13 at 3:23 am! Annie is beautiful and her name fits her perfectly. Best of all, both Grandmas felt so honored by our choice. (My mom cries every time she tells someone her granddaughter's name).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Baby Boy Morales

Courtney writes:
We are due in early March with our second baby boy and we need help picking a name.

Our two-year-old's name is Caden James Morales.

There are several names that I really like--and my husband seems to have no strong opinions this time around.

I like Asher, Corbin, Cael, Zane, and Lucas. I am afraid that Lucas seems too traditional after a more contemporary name like Caden--and I am afraid that using another "C" name of Corbin or Cael will lock me into "C" names if we decide to have a third baby. Zane is the only name my husband isn't really thrilled with, even though I love it. My concern with Asher and Cael is their Hebrew and Gaelic that strange with our last name?

Any thoughts, suggestions?

My favorite is Lucas. I think I'd go with Lucas Zane Morales, so you can use that name you love that your husband doesn't like. Caden James Morales and Lucas Zane Morales. Yes!

Let's see what everyone else thinks with a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see below.]

Poll results (264 votes total):
Asher: 82 votes, roughly 31%
Corbin: 32 votes, roughly 12%
Cael: 14 votes, roughly 5%
Lucas: 136 votes, roughly 52%

Name update 03-26-2009! Courtney writes:
Just wanted to say thanks for all of your help and your readers help for baby names! Our son, Zane Rylan was born on March 4th, 2009. He was 7lbs 4oz and 20 inches long. My husband finally saw the light and now loves the name Zane...and Rylan was a reader's suggestion that we fell in love with. Thanks again!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Baby Girl Newsome

Jennie writes:
Our baby needs a name and we are having a hard time making a final decision. Please help us Swistle! The last name is Newsome and a possible choice for a middle name is Leigh (we are open to suggestions for the middle name). The three choices my husband and I have narrowed it down to are: Kaelyn, Hailey/Haley, or Aubrey. Also, I like the name Allie. :) Thank you for your help Swistle!

My favorite is Aubrey. But I'm also very influenced by recently hearing the cutest nickname ever for the name Haley: Halo.

Let's find out what everyone else likes best! To the poll! (To the right!) [Poll closed; see below.]

Poll results (287 votes total):
Aubrey: 180 votes, roughly 63%
Hailey/Haley: 86 votes, roughly 30%
Kaelyn: 21 votes, roughly 7%

Monday, February 23, 2009

Name Update!

Update on Baby Naming Issue: When One Parent Insists! Rachel writes:
Anna Gabrielle Cooper was born on February 18, 2009. Thank you so much for all the input and advice! Ultimately, I realized that naming my daughter Anna could be a tribute to how I've overcome my eating disorder, just as much as it is a tribute to my husband's late sister. Now that Anna is here, my immediate association is with my beautiful little girl, not with anorexia. (BTW, my husband fully agrees to give my opinion priority when naming our next child.) Once again, thank you!

Quick Poll: Annabel

What is your favorite variation of the girl name Annabel? Poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see below.]

(P.S. You may be wondering how I choose which variation to use in the question itself, and if this means that's the variation that's MY favorite. What I'm doing is choosing the one the Oxford Dictionary of First Names lists as the first version of the name.)

Poll results (340 votes total):
Anabel: 16 votes, roughly 5%
Annabel: 112 votes, roughly 33%
Anabelle: 56 votes, roughly 16%
Annabelle: 145 votes, roughly 43%
Anabella: 3 votes, roughly 1%
Annabella: 8 votes, roughly 2%
other (leave in comments): 0 votes

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 :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Girl or Boy Guhndail! Jenny writes:
Meredith Jane was born on 2/16/09. Thank you for the input; the name is perfect for her!

Update on Baby Boy H.: Cooper, Harrison, or Charlie! Rachel writes:
A belated update....our son Harry was born on January 8th. We named him Harrison but are calling him Harry. Thanks for all the comments and voting from everyone. Even though Harry wasn't the popular choice, reading everyone's comments helped us decide.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Finding a German/USA Baby Boy or Girl Name

D. writes:
We're due February 27th and don't know what we're having. My husband is from Germany and I am of German descent. Since we may be living in Germany at some point, we're looking for a name that would work well in either Germany or the States. We're a fan of modern German and Scandinavian names (meaning no Gertrudes or Rainers), and don't mind something a little unusual.

We're down to two boy name finalists. We're leaning toward Lukas Alexander at the moment, but Carsten Matthias is another possibility.

We're totally flummoxed on girl names, as we don't tend to like the same ones. My husband likes very feminine names (Daniela, Liliana), but they don't do much for me. I really like the names Corinna and Anja, but can't bring my husband totally around. Karina is a potential compromise. We also keep coming back to some version of Annelie (Annalee? Anna Leigh?), but can't come up with a spelling that works well in both places (also, my husband has a good friend whose daughter is named Amelie, so he's concerned they're too close). And we can't even get to a middle name until we get closer to a first name, though I like Jane and Mae (my mother's middle names) as companions to a longer first name.

Any help or creative thinking you could provide would be much appreciated!

I'm going to flip right to the German/Dutch and Scandinavian sections of The Baby Name Wizard to help me out here.

Actually, no, I'm going to do that second. FIRST, I'm going to do some perfunctory research into what names are currently popular in Germany. I don't trust BabyCenter: they publish an annual list of "the most popular names in the U.S." that includes only the names their readers report using, as opposed to the list put out by The Social Security Administration which is based not only on the entire country (rather than on a non-random sample), but also on actual usage (rather than reported usage). But their European twin BabyCentre claims to have collected "official statistics" to come up with this list of the top ten names around the world, including this list from Germany:

Top 10 Boy Names in Germany, 2007:

Top 10 Girl Names in Germany, 2007:

Any one of those names would work in the U.S. just fine.

All right, now back to The Baby Name Wizard. First, boy names. You've got Lukas and Carsten. Here are a few more I like from the book and/or from the BabyCentre list:


Now, girl names---again, using the Baby Name Wizard and the BabyCentre list:


This is too many choices. I'm getting muddled. What I'm fervently hoping is that we have some readers actually LIVING IN GERMANY who could give us some input. Awhile back we were talking about French names, and I loved hearing from people living in France who could say things like, "Yeah, that's a typical French name---but it's, like, a DAD name, not a current baby name." These things are so obvious in one's own culture, and so difficult in an unfamiliar one. Jess Loolu is in the middle of a big cross-country move or I'd force her to ask her German husband Torsten for input. (And if you need a little breather between unpacking boxes and setting up utilities, Jess...)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Baby Naming Issue: Teasing

It's common for baby name discussions to bring up the "teaseability" element of a name. Will Dirk be called "Dirk the Jerk"? Will Cooper be called "Cooper the Pooper"? How about Bart and Huck---will anyone replace that first letter with an F? Will Ivy be called Poison Ivy? Will Clementine get heartily sick of hearing "Oh my darling"?

There are a few basic stances on this subject. Some people consider a bad rhyme/association a deal-breaker. Others say, "Kids will get teased no matter what, and it might as well be about their names." Whatevs. Today, this part of the subject is moot. Here is what we are interested in today: DO kids get teased about their names? Or is that just something parents imagine/worry will happen?

I'm going to put a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see below.] It is a LITTLE tricky, so pay attention. If you had a "teaseable" name (rhymed with a "bad word" or potty term, had an obvious association such as "poison" with "Ivy," etc.), did you get teased about it, and if so how badly? If you had a NON-teasable name (Jennifer, for example, or Michael, where there's no obvious tease problem), did YOU get teased about your name ANYWAY ("Michael Smichael!" "Mike bike!"), and if so how badly?

I'm wondering a couple of different things here: (1) Do teaseable names GET teased? and (2) Are children such little nutjobs that they'll even tease the non-teaseable ones?

Poll results
(263 votes total):
Teasable name, teased a lot: 5 votes, roughly 2%
Teasable name, teased some: 14 votes, roughly 5%
Teasable name, teased a little: 24 votes, roughly 9%
Teasable name, not teased: 7 votes, roughly 3%
Not-teasable name, teased a lot: 12 votes, roughly 5%
Non-teasable name, teased some: 44 votes, roughly 17%
Non-teasable name, teased a little: 69 votes, roughly 26%
Non-teasable name, not teased: 88 votes, roughly 33%

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Baby Boy Huck

Caroline writes:
I'm pregnant with a boy and my husband and I would love to call him Huck, but we're not sure how to use the name. We're deciding between Huck William MN LN and Henry (nn Huck) MN LN. The middle name would be my maiden name (one syllable) and our last name (two syllables, starts with H).

My husband thinks that if we want to call him Huck, we should make that the first name, otherwise it won't "stick." He prefers "Huck William MN LN", with the idea that if our son feels uncomfortable using Huck in formal situations, he can use H. William, or just Will/William. I prefer Henry (nn Huck) since I'm much more comfortable giving my son an unusual name as a nickname rather than as a first name, and because I prefer 3 names (Henry MN LN) to 4 names (Huck William MN LN). Also, I think that since Henry and Huck sound similar, it would be easier to move back and forth between them than it would be to move between Huck and Will.

We've also ruled out some alternatives like Huxton/Huxley/Hudson MN LN (which fit better with Huck than Henry does, but we don't like the names) and William Huck MN LN.

What do you think? Or is Huck too weird altogether?

My personal preference would be your idea of using Huck as a nickname for Henry. Or maybe as a nickname for the name Hugo? The name Huck isn't a traditional nickname for either Henry or Hugo, but I think you could get away with it.

A bigger potential problem, I think, is using an H first name with an H last name. Does Henry H____ sound okay? How about Huck H____?

Let's put a poll over to the right and see what everyone else thinks. [Poll closed; see below.] There are four options:
  1. Name the baby Huck William Middlename Lastname, call him Huck (or H. William if he doesn't like Huck)
  2. Name the baby Henry Middlename Lastname, call him Huck
  3. Name the baby Hugo Middlename Lastname, call him Huck
  4. And your final option, which was when you asked if Huck was too weird altogether.

Poll results (288 votes total):
Option 1: 34 votes, roughly 12%
Option 2: 187 votes, roughly 65%
Option 3: 9 votes, roughly 3%
Option 4: 58 votes, roughly 20%

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl or Boy Fink! Heather writes:
We have not had baby boy #3 yet but we have selected his name. My father in law passed away very unexpectedly on January 20th after complications due to a hospital stay for minor out patient surgery. He was only 62 and very healthy so it was a shock to us. My FIL loved Harley motorcycles, riding them and being outdoors. I am not a fan of the name Harley so we decided to go with the name Ryder as our own inside tribute to the great man "Paw Paw" was.

Baby #3 will be named Ryder Donald Fink. First name at tribute to the hobby Paw Paw loved and the middle name Paw Paw's first name. We love it as our personal tribute to him and now our baby will carry on a piece of the grandpa he will not be able to know.

Thank you so much for the name ideas and the polls. Carter had been our choice until we lost Paw Paw.

Thank you again!

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl Ava or Rowan! Ashley writes:
Thanks for your help! The poll and everyone's comments were really helpful. Little Rowan Mae was born on February 9, the day of the full "Rowan Moon!"

Quick Poll: Michaela

Quick poll: What's your favorite spelling of the girl name Michaela? The poll is to the right. [Poll closed; see below.]

Poll results (375 votes total):
Makayla: 29 votes, roughly 8%
McKayla: 20 votes, roughly 5%
Michaela: 249 votes, roughly 66%
Mikayla: 67 votes, roughly 18%
other: 10 votes, roughly 3%

Friday, February 13, 2009

Baby Boy or Girl Birchall

Gillian writes:
My husband and I are expecting on February 20th. I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re having a boy simply because we can’t find a girl’s name that feels right! If we have a boy, we’re going to name him after my grandfather, Frederick.

We’ve come close with a few girls names but we’re not sure that any of them have hit the mark. We want a traditional name that is easy to pronounce. We will likely use the middle name Elizabeth, which is a family name. The name should flow with her last name, Birchall. We’d also like it to have two versions: a shorter softer version for a nickname, and a longer solid version that will be more fitting if she wants to be taken “more seriously” as an adult. So far we’ve come up with Josephine (Josie for short), Gretchen (Greta for short) and Hollis (Holly for short) but we’re still feeling unsure, especially because these names all seem to be already popular or increasing steadily on the naming charts.

Any suggestions??

It's hard to avoid popular, isn't it? The trouble seems to be that we all pretty much like the same names at the same time, so the only way to choose a name no one else is using is to choose a name that everyone---including you---dislikes.

I was thinking about this just the other day when I was making my list of girl names I like. About a dozen years ago I had a co-worker named Georgia, and I felt SORRY for her because of her name. Also, I went to school with a girl named Ruth, and I thought that was as unspeakably awful as her red hair. And now both names (AND the red hair) look good. These things go in waves, and we are floaties unable to resist.

This is why my policy on names that are popular (or increasing in popularity) is "Good! That means a lot of people will like it!" And then I just cross my fingers that it stays "popular" without getting "trendy," because trendy is a whole different bowl of soup.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Okay, let's look at what you've got so far:

Josephine Elizabeth Birchall (JEB), nickname Josie
Gretchen Elizabeth Birchall (GEB), nickname Greta
Hollis Elizabeth Birchall (HEB), nickname Holly

Because you like the boy's name Frederick (and would/might use it for a future baby, if this one is a girl?), I'd lean toward using Josephine or Gretchen, both of which seem excellent as sibling names for a Frederick. And because "Gretchen Birchall" is a little difficult for me to say, my first choice is Josephine. Here are a few more girl names to consider:

Agatha Elizabeth Birchall (AEB), nickname Aggie
Augusta Elizabeth Birchall (AEB), nickname Gussie
Eleanor Elizabeth Birchall (EEB), nickname Ellie or Nora
Florence Elizabeth Birchall (FEB), nickname Florrie
Georgia Elizabeth Birchall (GEB), nickname Gigi or Georgie
Henrietta Elizabeth Birchall (HEB), nickname Hen or Hennie
Lydia Elizabeth Birchall (LEB), nickname Liddy
Virginia Elizabeth Birchall (VEB), nickname Ginny
Wilhelmina Elizabeth Birchall (WEB), nickname Willa or Mina

Let's vote! I'll put a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see below.]

Poll results (299 votes total):
Agatha (Aggie): 9 votes, roughly 3%
Augusta (Gussie): 3 votes, roughly 1%
Eleanor (Ellie/Nora): 64 votes, roughly 21%
Florence (Florrie): 5 votes, roughly 2%
Georgia (Gigi or Georgie): 34 votes, roughly 11%
Gretchen (Greta): 17 votes, roughly 6%
Henrietta (Hen, Hennie, Hettie): 6 votes, roughly 2%
Hollis (Holly): 19 votes, roughly 6%
Josephine (Josie): 92 votes, roughly 31%
Lydia (Liddy): 28 votes, roughly 9%
Virginia (Ginny): 14 votes, roughly 5%
Wilhelmina (Willa, Mina): 9 votes, roughly 3%

Name update 03-08-2007! Gillian writes:
Thank you so much for the suggestions and all the help in picking out a girl's name. It turns out we needed it! Our beautiful baby girl arrived on February 26th and we named her Josephine Elizabeth. We've had lots of comments on her name and everyone loves it. Most importantly, so do we! Thanks again.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Twin Baby Girls O'Neill

Corinne writes:
I'm Corinne, my husband is Vaughn, and we have two daughters at home, Gemma Evangeline Claire and Ivy Susannah Vivienne. Gemma is six, Ivy is three, and we're expecting identical twin daughters. We know for a FACT that their first names will be Abigail and Sophia, it's the middle names we're struggling with! Our surname is O'Neill, but we don't let it bother us that most -a names sound awkward with it, we're not about to restrict our full list because the vowels just so happen to sit next to each other!

We're going to be continuing the tradition of the double-middle-names with these girls too, and we're struggling to find combos which fit!

We would really like to use Genevieve somewhere, for his aunt, and Hilarie (like Hilary) for my best friend. We like Lorelai, Romilly, Dahlia, Brooke, Isabel/Isabelle, Elizabeth, and Penelope. Any insight you could provide would be much appreciated!

Gem and Ives were easy to name, Gemma's full name has been on my list for years and Ivy's came to us early in the pregnancy, but Abby & Soph's names are giving us more trouble than ever before!

I'm going to start by giving each girl one of the two names of honor. I prefer Genevieve with Sophia, since both have a French sound, and I prefer Hilarie with Abigail.

First I did some combinations with the name-of-honor in the first middle name slot:

Abigail Hilarie Brooke O'Neill (AHBO)
Abigail Hilarie Dahlia O'Neill (AHDO)
Abigail Hilarie Elizabeth O'Neill (AHEO)
Abigail Hilarie Penelope O'Neill (AHPO)

Sophia Genevieve Elizabeth O'Neill (SGEO)
Sophia Genevieve Isabel O'Neill (SGIO)

I also tried with the name-of-honor in the second middle name slot, but didn't like anything I came up with as well as the first list.

Then I made a second list, adding in some other names, and that's when I got a little...carried away:

Abigail Hilarie Adele O'Neill (AHAO)
Abigail Hilarie Britta O'Neill (AHBO)
Abigail Hilarie Carys O'Neill (AHCO)
Abigail Hilarie Celeste O'Neill (AHCO)
Abigail Hilarie Clarice O'Neill (AHCO)
Abigail Hilarie Constance O'Neill (AHCO)
Abigail Hilarie Eleanor O'Neill (AHEO)
Abigail Hilarie Elise O'Neill (AHEO)
Abigail Hilarie Eliza O'Neill (AHEO)
Abigail Hilarie Emmeline O'Neill (AHEO)
Abigail Hilarie Esme O'Neill (AHEO)
Abigail Hilarie Ida O'Neill (AHIO)
Abigail Hilarie Imogen O'Neill (AHIO)
Abigail Hilarie Iris O'Neill (AHIO)
Abigail Hilarie Jean O'Neill (AHJO)
Abigail Hilarie Laurel O'Neill (AHLO)
Abigail Hilarie Lucy O'Neill (AHLO)
Abigail Hilarie Madeline O'Neill (AHMO)
Abigail Hilarie Marianne O'Neill (AHMO)
Abigail Hilarie Matilda O'Neill (AHMO)
Abigail Hilarie Pearl O'Neill (AHPO)
Abigail Hilarie Violet O'Neill (AHVO)

Sophia Genevieve Amabel O'Neill (SGAO)
Sophia Genevieve Averil O'Neill (SGAO)
Sophia Genevieve Beatrice O'Neill (SGBO)
Sophia Genevieve Cora O'Neill (SGCO)
Sophia Genevieve Delilah O'Neill (SGDO)
Sophia Genevieve Ella O'Neill (SGEO)
Sophia Genevieve Elsa O'Neill (SGEO)
Sophia Genevieve Estelle O'Neill (SGEO)
Sophia Genevieve Flora O'Neill (SGFO)
Sophia Genevieve Harriet O'Neill (SGHO)
Sophia Genevieve Helene O'Neill (SGHO)
Sophia Genevieve Isadora O'Neill (SGIO)
Sophia Genevieve Joy O'Neill (SGJO)
Sophia Genevieve Romy O'Neill (SGRO)
Sophia Genevieve Rosalie O'Neill (SGRO)
Sophia Genevieve Sylvie O'Neill (SGSO)

And that's with me deciding to use both of the two names of honor, and also deciding which girl gets which name of honor, and also deciding that the names of honor go in the first of the two middle name slots. Imagine all the possibilities if we took out one or both name of honor, or switched them, or put them in the second slots, or put one in the first slot and the other in the second slot. No wonder you're having trouble! This is not just a baby-naming challenge, it's a MATH challenge.

So let's sic everyone else on it, too. Come up with your own combinations, everyone!

Name update 06-07-2009! Corinne writes:
Hello again!

Just wanted to update you on the birth of our twin girls! They arrived several days early on February 7th, 2009.

Abigail Genevieve Dahlia was born at 7:09PM, and
Sophia Madeleine Eilidh was born at 7:10PM.

We REALLY appreciate your help choosing names for our girls, my husband's mother, Eilidh, died suddenly on the 3rd, so we decided to scrap the use of Hilarie for Eilidh. It's pronounced AY-lee, and it's Scottish. My friend Hilarie's okay with the decision, her middle name is Madeleine (which we went with so we wouldn't have two rhyming middle names--Hilarie Eilidh) and she's Sophie's godmother.

Thanks again,
Corinne, Vaughn, Gemma, Ivy, Abby, and Sophie

Friday, February 6, 2009

Baby Girl Vahsstill

Jane writes:
Hello! We've been narrowing down names for our soon-to-be-born little girl. The last name is Germanic/Dutch and sounds like VAHSS-till. I don't want to give too many specifications because we'd like to be surprised. I'm kind of hoping for a "never once considered" suddenly blooming as The Ultimate Choice. Suggestions?

Boy names are difficult because there are so few; girl names are tricky because there are so MANY. There are so many STYLES: there are the gender neutral ones like Cameron and Bailey, or you can go ultra-feminine like Alissandra and Arabella. There are the modern names like McKenna and Cadence, and there are the old names like Margaret and Victoria. Ack! It can be overwhelming!

Since you aren't giving any hints about where your preferences lie, what I'll do is give you a list of my own current favorite girl names. And then I hope readers will do the same, so you'll have a nice broad spectrum to consider.

This isn't a complete list of my favorites. These are more the names that jump out at me when I go through The Baby Name Wizard. There are many other names that, if I were to give them a moment's thought, would be on this list in a heartbeat. My own daughter's name NEVER CAUGHT MY EYE in a million perusals of baby name books; I never noticed it until I saw it in a magazine when I was pregnant. So, anyway, my partial list:


Hm. I seem to prefer the first half of the alphabet.

All right, now your turn, commenters! Leave a list of your favorite girl names for Jane to search through.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I don't usually send you over to my usual blog, but we're doing a giveaway in which the prize is a custom Name Painting by artist Rachael Rossman. That seemed like the sort of thing you namey types might want to know about.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Baby Girl Ava or Rowan (Edited)

Ashley writes:
I am due with a baby girl in 4 days and my husband and I are still undecided on a name. About a month ago we narrowed it down to either Ava or Rowan. We love both names equally, but for different reasons. I had originally fallen in love with the name Ava because it is short, sweet, feminine sounding, but strong and not too girly for my tastes. Once I did some research and found out how popular it is though, it lost some of it's appeal for me. Then we came across the name Rowan and learned that it has many interesting meanings and associations with it- being a tree traditionally thought to bring good luck, and a Celtic name for the full moon in February, which is exactly when she's due. We are very nature-oriented people.I thought- perfect! But, it sounds harsher to me, and I am afraid we will constantly encounter people saying, "Isn't that a boys name?" Or "hmm, that's a different name." Two other considerations....we have a very difficult to spell last name (so not sure if a gender-neutral name like Rowan will add to the confusion), and I've always wanted to give my daughter the middle name of Mae, after my grandmother who I was very close to. The combinations we are talking about are either Rowan Mae or Ava Rowan....Ava Mae was on the table for a while, but I'm not sure I like the combination of two 3-letter names...they sound a little too similar to me. I love both name combinations, but we are torn between choosing a name with a lot of meaning behind it, or one that we just think sounds really beautiful....any suggestions? Help!!

This is going to sound like a really, really lame suggestion, but I'm going to suggest it anyway: I suggest choosing the one you like better. I know, right? Lame? But! When naming my own children, I had to have this revelation several times. I'd be debating the relative merits of two names, this one or that one, this one or that one---and then I would think, "Well...which one do I LIKE BETTER?" and it was as if it were a BRAND-NEW concept for me each time. As someone who has made a hobby of baby names, I think I sometimes get distracted by my lists of pros and cons.

I can offer pure opinions, if you like, but of course those are only about what _I_ like better. Still, it's fun, so I'll do it. Here are my opinions:

1. I think the name Rowan is beautiful, and a solid choice, and unusual without being TOO unusual.

2. I think the name Ava is beautiful, and a solid choice, and its popularity wouldn't rule it out for me.

3. I like the combination Ava Mae. I think it would be fun to call her "Ava Mae," too, as a nickname or when there's more than one Ava in the room. I like "Ava Mae" better than "Ava Rowan."

4. I like the combination Rowan Mae. I think it ups the femininity of the name Rowan, without being a style clash.

[Edit: You know, I've had another thought about how to make a decision. Think of what names you might want to use in the future, and see whether Ava or Rowan sounds better with those names. If you love the boy name Ryan, perhaps that's a reason to go with Ava instead of Rowan. If you love the girl name Aoife (pronounced almost like Eva), perhaps that's a reason to go with Rowan instead of Ava. Even if you're planning to have one child and no more, this is a helpful exercise to see which name better lines up with your tastes.]

A poll will, of course, only show you what other people like better---but again, fun, so let's do it. I'll put a poll over to the right [poll closed; see below], and everyone can choose which name they prefer, Ava or Rowan.

Poll results (266 votes total):
Ava: 122 votes, roughly 46%
Rowan: 144 votes, roughly 54%

Name update 02-17-2009! Ashley writes:
Thanks for your help! The poll and everyone's comments were really helpful. Little Rowan Mae was born on February 9, the day of the full "Rowan Moon!"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Baby Naming Issue: When One Parent Insists

Rachel writes:
I'm due 2/10/09 with my first baby, a girl. My husband and I are having such trouble reaching an agreement on her name! He would like to honor his sister, Anna, who passed away when she was seventeen. I'm all for honoring - I think it's a beautiful idea. The dilemma is that Ana (spelled with one N) is a common abbreviation for anorexia. After struggling with anorexia for close to a decade, I don't feel comfortable using Anna/Ana for my daughter. I don't want to be reminded of a horrible disease every time I call my daughter's name!

I've offered my husband other names that sound similar to Anna. I really like Julianna and Angelina. I've also suggested Annelise, Susannah, Angelica, Annika, Annabel, Hannah, and Andrea.I also told him I would be okay with using Anna as the middle name (I like Isabel Anna and Gabrielle Anna), but he's still refusing to budge.

Don't get me wrong, I totally understand why he wants to use Anna. He was really close to his sister and was completely devastated when she died. I just don't feel comfortable with using the name because of the connotations it has for me. Do you think this is the type of situation where I just need to bite the bullet and go for it, or should I stick to my guns? What would you do here?

This is a mesmerizing problem. I've been thinking about it for several days and can't see an easy way out of it. Most of us would probably agree that one parent shouldn't insist on a name the other parent doesn't want---but when one parent IS IN FACT insisting, what's the other parent to do? Even if every single one of us unanimously agrees he shouldn't insist, that's not any help to you if he IS insisting.

As you've pointed out, his reason for wanting to use that particular name is a good reason: that is, he's not insisting on the name Anna because he's "always liked it," he has a genuinely good and understandable reason for wanting to use it. His reason is a touching one, and that makes me softer toward him than I might usually be.

But let's strip away some of the sentiment. What is his GOAL here? Will naming a daughter after his sister make his sister "live on" in any literal sense? Will it lessen the pain he feels when he thinks of her death? Will it make him miss her less?

The symbolic act of naming a baby after an important person is a pleasing one, but it is ONLY symbolism. How important is this symbolism to him? So important he's willing to steamroll right over his living wife---the living mother of this living child---for the sake of it?

If you want an "in your shoes" opinion, I THINK in your shoes I'd fold and I'd use the name Anna, and I would just really, really hope that the dear sweet baby would in time erase any associations I had with anorexia. But that's because I don't really see another way out of this situation. You suggested using an Anna-combination first name; he said no. You suggested using Anna as the middle name; he said no. You explained your extreme aversion to the sound of the name; he is unmoved. Sticking to your guns doesn't seem like it's going to change anything, and this can't remain in perpetual stand-off, with both parties refusing to budge: the baby is going to be born and she will need a name.

In the speech I would give to accompany my folding, I would go on AT LENGTH to him about what a huge deal this was to me, because if I WAS going to be forced to do something he should not be forcing, I would want credits applied to my account for a future disagreement. I would also arrange that this meant I could name a future child 100% on my own, with him not even having veto power. (I would not intend to USE that power, because I LIKE to agree on a name and would NOT want to force him into using a name he hated---but I would want to own that power: not only for the fairness of it, but also to point out to him what an enormous thing he was currently asking of me.)

That's just my guess, though; I don't really know what I'd do. And marriages are so very different, what makes sense for one marriage may be an utterly foreign language to another. But...I'm not sure what your other option is, after you've explained your point of view and he's ignored it. Steal the birth certificate? Fight to the death? Best two out of three thumb-wrestle?

Name update 02-23-2009! Rachel writes:
Anna Gabrielle Cooper was born on February 18, 2009. Thank you so much for all the input and advice! Ultimately, I realized that naming my daughter Anna could be a tribute to how I've overcome my eating disorder, just as much as it is a tribute to my husband's late sister. Now that Anna is here, my immediate association is with my beautiful little girl, not with anorexia. (BTW, my husband fully agrees to give my opinion priority when naming our next child.) Once again, thank you!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Name Update!

Name update on Baby Boy or Girl "Drizzle"! Angie writes:
I just wanted to thank you and your readers for all of your great suggestions and helping us with our baby girl names! I did decide to put Penelope back in the hat thanks to your poll and comments, and we decided to wait to see the baby to make up our minds. After all of that, on January 23 at 1:37pm I delivered a 8lb 11 oz baby BOY and we named him Henry Isaac. He is the sweetest thing ever and we and so blessed to welcome him to our family.
Thanks again!