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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Baby Girl Wilkerson

Laura writes:
Since I realized I was pregnant while reading your blog, it only seems fitting for you to help me name my baby girl. I am due October 16. I really thought I'd settle on a name as soon as I found out the baby's sex, but here I am at 37 weeks and our list keeps getting longer. The baby's last name will be Wilkerson, but I tend to prefer Italian or Italian-sounding first names since I kept my (very Italian) last name and I want both sides represented in her name. The middle name doesn't have to be Italian, it just has to flow well with her first and last (and not lead to offensive initials, something my husband's parents didn't consider). Here is the list of names we came up with:

Giana Rafaela (Does this name work? My dad's name is Ralph so I thought I'd try it out - I like it best with Giana but I'm not sure if it's too much or not)
Zaira Jane
Sabrina Eve (Open to other middle names)
Lucia Isabella
Adriana (Looking for a middle name that flows like Marie...but any suggestions are welcome)

I'd like some middle name feedback where indicated, and (if possible), a poll on just the first names, and a poll on the first / middle combinations (one per first name - pick your favorite if you suggest more than one). Which name do you like best?

Thank you so much for your help!

How much do I love Giana Rafaela? HOW MUCH? A LOT, that's how much. Beautiful. Oooo, I want so much to put it with YOUR last name. Imagine THAT lovely rhythm! But it's lovely with Wilkerson too. I don't think it's too much: Giana is an unusual but easy first name, and you can call her Gigi if you want to. CUTE.

But you have a ton of good choices here---I can see why you're having trouble narrowing it down. Have you tried some of the Narrowing Down tricks? Like, pretend you've decided on one name. Say to each other convincingly, "That's it. That's the name." Then see how you feel. Disappointed? Sorry not to be using another name? Satisfied and happy? This helped me to narrow down my girl name when I had a list that included everything from Margaret to Magnolia: I found that one name appealed to me greatly, but not when I thought of actually choosing it for an actual baby---and another name I thought maybe I shouldn't choose (in my case, because it was too unusual) ended up ripping my heart out when I thought of not using it.

Another good trick is to think of what you might like to name future children, and see which of your current names go best with that style.

Another trick is for you and the other parent to both make lists ranking the names. It doesn't have to be 1-5 (though it CAN be)----you can do it like this, for example:

Giana 1
Lucia 2
Sabrina 3
Adriana 3
Zaira 4

And maybe the other parent's list would look like this:

Giana 1
Zaira 1
Adriana 2
Sabrina 2
Lucia 3

And then you can see where your tastes intersect most.

And here is my most useful trick: which one seems like My Baby? Picture your baby daughter in your arms, and picture each name on her. Which name makes you feel a rush of MY BABY? I have some names I LOVE but they DON'T sound to me like "My Baby"---they sound like Someone Else's Baby whose name I LOVE.

I don't shrink back from using a lot of syllables in a name ANYWAY, but I think Italian names sound particularly beautiful when they're long. Seven syllables for Giana Rafaela seems PERFECT to me. So then a name like Sabrina Eve is just a little disappointing. I would lean more toward Sabrina Gabriella. Sabrina Mirella. Sabrina Gianna. Sabrina Elena. Sabrina Luciana. Sabrina Bianca.

Same for Adriana: the Adriana Marie sort of rhythm is so pretty (Adriana Nicole, Adriana Celeste, Adriana Clarisse, Adriana Corinne, Adriana Elise, Adriana Louise), but I want less French, more ITALIAN. Adriana Valentina. Adriana Rafaela. Adriana Caterina. Adriana Isabella. Adriana Marietta. Adriana Marilena. Oh so pretty!

Well, and yet I like Zaira Jane just the way it is, so go figure.

Okay, let's have a poll! [Poll closed; see results below.] The poll will be for the first names, and anyone who has a middle name preference to go with their first-name choice can leave it in the comments. I don't even KNOW what I'm going to vote for---I thought I liked Giana best, but then I kind of talked myself into all the others with the middle name stuff.


Poll results (216 votes total):
Giana: 129 votes, roughly 60%
Zaria: 7 votes, roughly 3%
Sabrina: 20 votes, roughly 9%
Lucia: 39 votes, roughly 18%
Adriana: 21 votes, roughly 10%


Name update 12-19-2009! Laura writes:
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response to my email - your advice was just what I needed! You made me realize that my tendency to pair a long first name with a short middle (and vice versa) was limiting my possibilities. I also really liked your advice about whether the name felt like it belonged to "My Baby". As much as I loved the name Giana Rafaela in theory, it wasn't My Baby's name...but Adriana Rafaela is, and it's perfect! Our happy, healthy, beautiful little girl was born at 1:09 pm on October 14, 2009, and she had a name by 1:15. Thanks again for all of your help!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl, Sister to Lilly and Kira! Reader suggestion FTW!

Baby Girl Morrow, Sibling to Blake, Mason, and Britton

Becky writes:
We are having baby number 4, due October 4 and are getting desparate to resolve the name issue.

Our oldest is a girl: Blake Christina Morrow
Our second is a boy: Mason Michael Morrow
Our third is a boy: Britton Matthew Morrow

A few of our baby name rules/quirks:
We have ruled out any names that start with B because we don't want Mason to feel left out.
I really really do not like names that are so trendy there are 5 kids with the same name in the Kindergarten class.
I need a name that is cute at 3 but can translate to the boardroom at 33. (I have a very cutesy name and am now a lawyer and I hate it - so that is just my quirk)

So here is where we are at:

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Mia Kate Caroline Morrow (to be called Mia Kate like Mary Kay).

Concerns:
Is it "unfair" or asking for problems to give this baby girl a "girly" name like Mia Kate and Blake a typical boys name? Blake is lukewarm to Mia Kate because "she gets a girly name and I have a boys name!" I respect that but also do I allow a fickle 7 year old to dictate what we name our baby? I guarantee when Blake is 16 she'll think having a "boys name" is cool...

I noticed the name Mia is #15 on popularity. Do you think this name is overused or is going to be overused? Even though its #15, I haven't heard or seen it around much in our Midwest area.

I know we (and probably other people) will call her Mia from time to time which is fine but how does "Mia Morrow" sound? I love it because it goes with Mason Morrow but it also reminds me slightly of a stripper.. I don't know why - maybe because I lived in Vegas for years. Does anyone else think Mia Morrow is too goofy sounding? I am crazy about the stripper connotation. If it is a concern, is it tempered enough by using "Mia Kate" as the first name? so all of her official documents would say "Mia Kate Morrow"

In addition, my husband is a little lukewarm to Mia Kate but he realizes that I give birth, I rule.
So back up names, that I like well enough are:

Eliot Elizabeth Morrow
Quincey Kate Morrow
Presley Kate Morrow
Kevyn Kate Morrow
Finley Katherine Morrow (my hubby's absolute fave!)

I know they go so great with the other kids names, but I am not bonded to them like Mia Kate - I don't know why. Do all the kids names have to "match?"

Help!

You haven't just gone a little androgynous here, like Cameron or Jordan, you've gone for something close to shock value. At this point, I think it could be startling to suddenly switch gears and go for a distinctly cute, feminine, non-boardroom name. On the other hand, no, of course the children's names don't all have to coordinate. There are no strict naming rules, and whatever name you choose will become the child and it won't seem like "a name" anymore---and as you have found, the boardroom is still open to people with cute names.

If you do decide to give her a coordinating name, Finley, Presley, and Quincey are all excellent choices. Some more possibilities:

Ashton
Chandler
Fisher
Galen
Garnet
Hollis
Keaton
Langston
Marshall
Merrit
Miller
Sterling
Wallis
Winslow

(A name I thought at first would be excellent was Drew: it gives you two one-syllable girl names and two two-syllable boy names; it's a boy name despite Drew Barrymore; and I just like the way it sounds with all the other names. ...Until I put it with your surname and immediately started singing "Drew Morrow! Drew Morrow! I love you, Drew Morrow! You're only a day away!")

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baby Boy Morgan

Gwen writes:
I'm due in 2 weeks with my 2nd child, a baby boy (But he's likely to come early as his sister did.) I have an 18 mo daughter, Kate Harlow. We thought we had a name nailed down for most of the pregnancy and JUST noticed that, Houston, we have a problem! Our top name was Leopold, with him going exclusively by Leo. I can't believe we just noticed the Kate & Leopold connection. Is it too much, or do you think it could work, especially since I doubt he'll ever go by Leopold? We were thinking Leopold Gray, since we love Gray but feel it's a little too close to Kate - especially when you're yelling it across the house. Our second choice is Graham, but hubby isn't as enthusiastic about that, and we still haven't nailed down the spelling - Graham or Graeme?

We were also looking at Jude (Feel it's becoming too common), Fallon (Is it too far out there?), Callum (Both of us used to LOVE but our enthusiasm is waning), Arlo (I love, hubby's not too sure), Devin, Elliot, and Max (All 3 of which - too common?). Our last name is M0rgan.

Help!

I am going to focus on your original question, because in my opinion it eliminates the need for the other questions. I don't think the Kate & Leopold thing is a problem. When you mentioned it, I felt a faint twinge of possible familiarity but couldn't place it. I said to Paul, "Do you know of a Kate and Leopold connection?" and he said he didn't. So then I looked it up and found the movie from 2001. Well. Hm. Anyone who had seen the movie could very well make the connection, it's true. Hm hm hm.

Well, as someone who didn't see the movie, of course I think it's not a big deal. I say use the names you love, and if anyone says, "Oh, like the movie?" you can blink at them blankly and say, "...No."

But we definitely need more opinions here. Maybe everyone but me saw the movie, or maybe not everyone saw it but those who DID see it retain a very strong impression of the two names. So let's have a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Then let's have a second poll [poll closed; see results below] to see what people think you should name him if you decide against Leopold. I suggest using Leo. It's a perfectly good stand-alone name and eliminates the Leopold problem, and you were planning to call him exclusively Leo anyway. If you don't want to use Leo on its own, my vote is for Arlo, a name I think is dramatically underused, or for Elliot, a name I'd use in a heartbeat if Paul and I weren't both so stubborn about our preferred spellings (he prefers Eliot; neither of us will budge).


Poll results, Kate & Leopold being a problem (262 votes total):
Yes, dealbreaker: 41 votes, roughly 16%
Yes but not a dealbreaker: 61 votes, roughly 23%
Heard of it but no: 134 votes, roughly 51%
Never heard of it, so no: 26 votes, roughly 10%

Poll results, what to use if not Leopold (208 votes total):
Leo: 75 votes, roughly 36%
Graham: 32 votes, roughly 15%
Graeme: 5 votes, roughly 2%
Jude: 19 votes, roughly 9%
Fallon: 4 votes, roughly 2%
Callum: 11 votes, roughly 5%
Arlo: 14 votes, rougly 7%
Devan: 3 votes, roughly 1%
Elliot: 30 votes, rough 14%
Max: 15 votes, roughly 7%


Name update 10-02-2009! Gwen writes:
Thanks for all of you (and your readers') help! I went into labor - no joke - while I was watching "Kate & Leopold". Our 6 lb, 2 oz Leopold Gray was born Sep. 29 and is doing fantastic!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy Grande! The update contains two new questions about the chosen name.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy Kil!

Baby Boy or Girl Parker, Sibling to Kaitlyn, Sydney, and Jackson

Katherine writes:
hi there. my husband and i are expecting our fourth baby on october 2nd. we have two girls and a boy and decided for the first time to not find out the sex of this baby. we have a boy name picked out already, but are having a hard time with a girl name. my husband is convinced this baby is a boy, so we don't even really talk about girl names anymore, but i think it would be wise to have one just in case he's wrong : ) our children's names so far are kaitlyn margaret (margaret after my husband's grandmother), sydney nicole, and jackson david (david after my husband). if this next baby is a boy, his name will be william kerry (kerry after my dad) and we will call him liam. somehow, we've managed to have all two-syllable names, so i'd like to stick with that for this last baby, even if it's just the nickname.
our two top names at the moment are - sophia, and we would call her sophie (my husband's pick) and nora (my pick) my mother's middle name is jean, and so is my mother-in-law's, so i like the idea of doing nora jean. i don't think my husband is completely sold on jean, though, so i really don't know where we are on this...
other names we had on our list are:
olivia
penelope (call her penny) - started as kind of a joke, but it's still on the list
whitney (maybe not, with sydney?)
abigail
ansley
neriah (i LOVE the meaning of this (lamp/light of the Lord) but don't think i'm bold enough to use it)
i wish there were more biblical girl names that i liked - i considered esther, but i don't like it with our last name, parker.
ok, so there you have it. i'm sorry this is so long! any help you have would be great.
thanks so much!


I love Nora Jean, too, and I was thinking it seemed like such a natural fit, and then I realized why it sounded familiar: Norma Jean was Marilyn Monroe's real name. Well, but that's not a very strong association---I only know it because of the Elton John song "Candle in the Wind" ("Goodbye, Norma Jean / Though I never knew you at all..."), and that song is, what, 35 years old?

I can add a few more biblical girl names to consider:

Jordan
Junia (2-syllable nickname Junie)
Lydia (2-syllable nickname Liddy)

I think Jordan is particularly nice with Kaitlyn and Sydney. You could still use Kerry as a middle name: Jordan Kerry Parker. Or you could put Neriah there, since you love it but feel a little nervous about using it: the middle name slot is excellent for slightly-too-nervous names. Jordan Neriah Parker. Or Jordan Whitney Parker would be nice, if you love Whitney but think it's too close to Sydney for the first-name slot.

Or perhaps Lydia, since then all your girls would have a Y and everyone would have different initials. Lydia Jean is nice. Or Lydia Kerry.

I guess my own first choice would be Lydia Jean, but I'm unduly influenced by liking to give everyone a different first initial (it's so handy in my household for labeling things). If it weren't for the initials thing, I think my first choice would be Jordan Neriah.


Name update 10-05-2009! Katherine writes:
hey there! thanks so much for all of your help... we had decided about an hour before the baby was born that if it was a girl, she would be named nora jean. however, our little boy, william kerry parker, was born on october 1st and we couldn't be happier. : )
thanks again!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Baby Girl, Sister to Max

Kim writes:
My husband and I are trying to figure out a name for our baby girl, due 10.5.2009. Her big brother's name is Maxwell, but he is always called Max.

Names I like and thoughts on them:

Lily - I love this one, but my husband doesn't. Also it's popular, we know people who have just used it or want to. But, I like the idea.
Cailin - This is one both my husband and I could be happy with, but I worry about it being too trendy and the same as all the other Jaylyns, Braylyns, etc.
Vivian - Another one both my husband and I like, and was his grandmother's name so has special meaning. It is one of the only 'antique' names he likes. My only problem with it, really, is that I don't care so much for 'Viv' and am not sure I can get over that. 'Vivi' is kind of cute though.
Ivy - Husband absolutely hates, but I really like.
Hazel - Ditto to Ivy.
Eva - I like, but maybe too close to 'Ava', of which we know a lot.
Brooke - I like. Kind of 80s.
Kate - I like. I'm not wild about 'Katherine'. I like that it's a classic name, but I feel like I want something more.
Kyla - Husband likes. I hate.
Josephine - I love this one, but don't really care for any of the nicknames - Josie, etc. Our last name is long and I think it's too much of a mouthful to use as a first name, but this was my grandmother's name and I would really love to use it as a middle if it works out.

Newer ones we have thought of but haven't discussed much are Grace and Nora.

I think my favorites are probably Lily, Ivy and Hazel, but our top two (because we could actually agree on them) are probably Vivian and Cailin right now (which Josephine for the middle), with Kate at a distant third. I would love any thoughts on any of these from the list and any new suggestions that are similar to my taste.

Thank you!!


Taking out the names that one or the other of you dislikes, we are left with these:

Cailin
Vivian
Eva
Brooke
Kate
Josephine
Grace
Nora

My first suggestion is one I'm sure you've already thought of, which is to name her Katelyn and call her Kate. Katelyn (or Catelin or Caitlyn or Katelin) manages to avoid being clumped in with the Braelyn/Jalen/Kaylin group, and gives you a longer version for the nickname you like. Katelyn Josephine is lovely.

I would be interested in collecting impressions from the readers on the spelling Cailin. My eye went right over it, assuming it was Caitlin---but I don't know if it would be that way for everyone. Even when I realized it wasn't Caitlin, it looked to me like Caitlin-missing-the-T. I think I would go with a spelling such as Kaylin or Kaylen or Caylin to make it more clear, but I'm not sure.

I think Vivian Josephine is perhaps the best name of all (especially with the family connection), but am reluctant to lean on it too hard in case you decide against the nicknames. Vivi is super-cute.

Other combinations I like a lot: Nora Josephine, Eva Josephine.

I think you've got such a good list to work with here, I hate to muddy things up by adding suggestions. Let's have a poll over to the right [poll closed; see results below]---and we can discuss the spelling of Cailin in the comments section.


Poll results (243 votes total):
Cailin: 8 votes, roughly 3%
Vivian: 110 votes, roughly 45%
Eva: 24 votes, roughly 10%
Brooke: 6 votes, roughly 2%
Kate: 11 votes, roughly 5%
Katelyn: 33 votes, roughly 14%
Grace: 12 votes, roughly 5%
Nora: 39 votes, roughly 16%


Name update 10-06-2009! Kim writes:
Just wanted to update you - Vivian Josephine was born on 9.30. We
were pretty sure about it by the time the post came up, but I was
second-guessing myself, so I was so glad the majority liked that one -
it made me even more positive we made the right choice. Our little
Vivi is doing great. Thanks everyone for all the help!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Baby Boy-Girl Twins, Siblings to William

Patty writes:
I'm pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl, and have no idea what to name them! Our 16-month old son is William Ryan, or Will, and we're having a hard time with the twins' names. I don't want anything too cutesy or matching. For the boy, my favorite name is Henry, but my husband doesn't like it. We tend to like traditional or old-fashioned names (Sam, Ethan, and Owen are a few I like). The top contender right now is Thomas, which means Twin and was my dad's name, but I'd rather use it as a middle name. For the girl, our top pick right now is Hannah, but if we do end up with Henry, I'm not sure we want to do two H names. Other girl names we like: Lauren, Emma, Emily, Caitlin. I love Grace, but already have a Will, so don't want to use that! Our last name starts with a B and is 3 syllables. Any suggestions?


My twins were my hardest babies to name! I wanted a LITTLE TIDGE of matchiness, but not TOO MUCH. And none of the boy names we liked seemed to go with the girl names we liked---or else they went too much. What we finally did was separate the two decisions: we thought to ourselves, "If we were having a girl now, what would we name her? And then if we scooted forward in time to the next pregnancy and found we were having a boy, what would we name him?" And then we went with those names.

Unfortunately this turned out to mean zero matchiness, but we hadn't been able to find any that had the right tidge anyway. Elizabeth and Edward (the pseudonyms I use for my twins on my blogs) would have been the perfect tidge with their matching initials and matching whiffs of royalty but utterly distinct sounds.

Oh, hey---would those be good possibilities for your twins? Elizabeth and Edward? Elizabeth Grace and Edward Thomas, perhaps---that would be a good way to use the name Grace without the Will & Grace problem. Gosh, I LOVE that: William Ryan, Elizabeth Grace, and Edward Thomas. Or if you don't like Edward, maybe Edmund?

From your lists, here are some pairings I like:

Emma and Sam
Sam and Hannah
Ethan and Hannah
Lauren and Owen
Ethan and Emily

Just for fun, and because you and I have Lauren, Emily, and Ethan in common, here are some sets we considered for our twins:

Eric and Lauren
Eric and Genevieve
Eric and Anna
Eric and Jane
John and Emily
John and Eliza
John and Lauren
John and Genevieve
Eric and Claire
Eric and Emily
Charles (Charlie) and Genevieve
Charles (Charlie) and Elizabeth
Charles (Charlie) and Jane
Alec and Genevieve
Ethan and Genevieve
Ethan and Jane
Malcolm and Genevieve
Jonathan and Genevieve

Your husband doesn't like the name Henry but you both like Hannah, so here are a few more boy names to try with Hannah:

Hannah and Caleb
Hannah and Daniel
Hannah and Elliot
Hannah and Emmett
Hannah and Evan
Hannah and Gavin
Hannah and Isaac
Hannah and John
Hannah and Nathaniel
Hannah and Oliver

Go nuts, everybody: choose sets of twins from the parents' list of possibilities, choose boy names to go with Hannah, or choose whole new sets from thin air.


Name update 10-05-2009! Patty writes:
Well, the babies arrived last week, and as we waited for me to be wheeled into the OR, my husband and I finally came to an agreement on names: Samuel Thomas and Lucy Elizabeth were born on 9/29/09 and are doing great!

Thanks for your help!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Baby Girl, Sister to Lilly and Kira

Katherine writes:
We are having a baby girl due September 29, and we're still really stuck on the name! We currently have two little girls- Lilly Samantha and Kira Madeline, who we had no trouble naming. Their last name begins with a C and ends in -ing. We want our baby girl to have a shorter first name and a longer middle name like her sisters. I'm leaning toword two syllables, to go with her sisters, but I'd be fine with one as well. Right now we are thinking about Alexandra and Charlotte for a middle name, but the big issue is the first name. My top two are probably Maya and Faith, but I don't totally love either of them. I also really like the name Halle (I like that spelling rather than Hallie) but I'm worried it sounds to similar to Lilly. I love the name Hunter as well, but I don't think it really goes with our others. Some other names we've considered are:

Bryn (my husband likes it, I don't)
Abby (It seems too much like a nickname to me, and I don't love Abigail)
Taylor (not sure if it goes with the others...and I don't love it)
Nina
Leigh ( I LOVE this name, but I don't like the idea of having two kids with the first initial)
Lea/Leah (same problem as Leigh)
Becca (I like Becca, I hate Rebecca, and Becca feels too much like a nickname)

I also love Allison, Hannah, and Natalia, but these all seem too long to go with Lilly and Kira. I want them to be about the same length. I also love the name Niamh, which is Irish, and both my husband and I have Irish backgrounds, but I worry about naming my daughter something so uncommon that so few people will be able to pronounce.

I love the names Veronica and Victoria, though I think both are too long to go with Lilly and Kira.

I love Sydney as well, but again it seems to long for me, visually.

Thank you so much!!


I leaned heavily on the "Short and Sweet" section of The Baby Name Wizard (still linking to old edition because it seems like I need to link SOMEHOW to the book---but what the hey, Amazon.com? Ever going to list the second edition?), and then added a handful more your list brought to mind:

Alia
Anya
Ayla
Beck
Beckett
Bria
Britt
Cleo
Esme
Eva
Mia
Mila
Romy
Tessa
Tia

My favorites from that list are Alia, Bria, Britt, Mila, and Tia. I love the names like Anya and Eva and Romy, but I wonder if those sounds are a little heavy with Lilly and Kira (the book listed Roma instead of Romy, which is even heavier).


Name update 09-28-2009! Katherine writes:
Eden Alexandra arrived Friday, September 25, at 9 am. She is a beautiful, delicate little girl and her name fits her perfectly. Thank you so much, all of your suggestions and the comments from the readers helped to narrow down what we really wanted and it was a comment from a reader that put Eden in our head and made us fall in love with it. Thank you!!

Baby Girl Toms

Susan writes:
I just stumbled upon your blog and would love some help coming up with names for our third child (a girl!).
Our children's names are Elisabeth (nn Ellie) and Jackson (nn Jack) and our last name sounds like "Tom's". We like names that can be shortened into cute nicknames but will also be strong adult names. We have been somewhat unlucky in choosing names/nicknames that we thought weren't too popular or trendy only to discover that the year we had our children, those names jumped up the rankings; this time around, we're hoping to do a better job! We do like classic names, which I know by definition are more popular, but as long as we're out of the top 10 or 20 list, I think we'd be okay with the choice.
So far, the only two names we can somewhat agree on are:

Catherine Rose (nn. Caty or Catie or Caitie?) This is the name my 4 year old daughter has picked out and stood by for the past 4 months, and actually it is what we almost named her when she was born.

Ainsley Rose (nn? Would Annie work? Other ideas? We don't want Lee...)

Any input or other ideas? (Rose is a family name and will most likely be the middle name.)

There is, as you've found, no good way to prevent a name from getting popular around the time you use it: we all tend to like the same names at the same time. One way to improve your odds is to check out the Social Security Administration trends: type in the name you're considering and look at, say, the last 50 years. A name like Jack didn't get popular in one single leap: it stayed pretty steadily where it was until the early 1990s when it began making a series of small but significant leaps each year.

The name Jackson went up even more dramatically starting in the late 1980s and early 1990s, traveling from #521 in 1986 to #241 in 1991 to #136 in 1996 to #72 in 2000.

The nickname Ellie only hit the Top 1000 in 1992, but then went rapidly up in popularity (click to see the picture bigger):

(Picture screen-shotted from the Social Security Administration.)

Look at that fast mover!

So anyway, all that is to say that if you want to avoid the name everyone thinks is unusual but then it turns out to be pretty common, look for the rapid (or even steady) risers. Any name that hangs around looking bored for a few decades and then goes whooshing upward should be avoided.

The name Catherine looks pretty safe, losing popularity steadily year by year. The nickname is another story, and harder to figure out. The spellings Cate and Catie and Caitie aren't in the Top 1000, but Kate is rising. Also, there are many, many, many Caitlyns, Katelyns, Kaitlyns, etc. already using that set of nicknames, so it's a little tricky to tell how many you'll have in your area.

Ainsley doesn't have much data, but it hit the Top 1000 for the first time at #481 (in 2001), and that's a big jump. It's pretty much stayed in the 400s since then, but I've been hearing it disproportionately often on people's name lists so I wouldn't be surprised if it was poised for another big leap.

Okay! On to the suggestions:

Anna Rose Toms, nickname Annie
Elisabeth, Jackson, and Anne; Ellie, Jack, and Annie

Joanna Rose Toms, nickname Jo
Elisabeth, Jackson, and Joanna; Ellie, Jack, and Jo

Mary Rose Toms, nickname Molly
Elisabeth, Jackson, and Mary; Ellie, Jack, and Molly

Margaret Rose Toms, nickname Meg (the nickname Greta is rising)
Elisabeth, Jackson, and Margaret; Ellie, Jack, and Meg

Sarah Rose Toms, nickname Sally (the nickname Sadie is rising)
Elisabeth, Jackson, and Sarah; Ellie, Jack, and Sally

Susanna Rose Toms, nickname Sukie
Elisabeth, Jackson, and Susanna; Ellie, Jack, and Sukie


Let's have a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]


Poll results (202 votes total):
Catherine (Catie): 63 votes, roughly 31%
Ainsley (Annie?): 21 votes, roughly 10%
Anna (Annie): 26 votes, roughly 13%
Joanna (Jo): 5 votes, roughly 2%
Mary (Molly): 16 votes, roughly 8%
Margaret (Meg): 38 votes, roughly 19%
Sarah (Sally): 11 votes, roughly 5%
Susanna (Sukie): 22 votes, roughly 11%


Name update 10-19-2009! Susan writes:
A huge thank you to you and your readers for all of the naming advice! Catherine Rose was finally born on Oct. 14th and our older daughter is thrilled that we used the name she picked! We, too, love that there is a "story" behind her name.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Baby Boy Jones

Kate writes:
I have been reading the blog for awhile now and never thought I would actually need to write in for help...but alas here I am. My husband and I found out we are having a boy - due September 29th. Initially when we found out we were having a boy we were somewhat on the same page with names so decided to take a break over talking about it at every moment (okay that was more me) since we knew we still had 20 more weeks to decide. Well now we are fast approaching and when the discussion resurfaced we are TOTALLY on the wrong page. We have a couple of names we like but I don't think any that have totally wowed either of us. Neither of us are opposed to going into the hospital with a top three but we can't even agree on those at this point.

The last name is Jones so everyone keeps telling us we can go way out there with the first name but part of the problem is I have always liked somewhat more traditional names, I am not really into some of the more "invented" names if you will. With that said I don't want the name to be the most popular name out there either where every kid on the playground has the same name as my little boy. The only other hang-up is the syllables in the name - it may sound crazy but I prefer to have at least two syllables in the first name since our last name is so short. Some names we have discussed haven't so I am not opposed to going the single syllable route, just prefer more than one.

So without further ado here is the list we are working with:
- Gavin
- Isaac
- Everett
- Elliott
- Graham
- Charles
- Emmett
- Marshall
- Mitchell

Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated!


If I could COMPEL you to use the name Isaac, I would. Isaac Jones! It's wonderful! Modern yet ancient! And I love how both names have an S that sounds like a Z.

But I also love your other options. If I had to pick a Top Three list for the hospital, I'd choose Isaac, Elliott (which I'd spell Elliot and my husband would spell Eliot, and neither of us would budge, and that's one of the main reasons we didn't use it ourselves), and Emmett.

Let's have a poll over to the right to see what the rest of us think [poll closed; see results below], and we can put our Top Three lists in the comment section.


Poll results (229 votes total):
Gavin: 30 votes, roughly 13%
Isaac: 56 votes, roughly 24%
Everett: 36 votes, roughly 16%
Elliot: 43 votes, roughly 19%
Graham: 13 votes, roughly 6%
Charles: 6 votes, roughly 3%
Emmett: 27 votes, roughly 12%
Marshall: 10 votes, roughly 4%
Mitchell: 8 votes, roughly 3%


Name update: Elliott

Name Update!

Update on Baby Powers, Sibling to Poppy and Paisley!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Baby Boy, Brother to Luke, Liam, and Jack

Cori writes:
Hi! We are having our fourth BOY and his expectant arrival is September 18, 2009! We are struggling with a boys name (have lots of girl names!!) and would welcome your expertise and opinion! Our other three boys names are Luke Hunter, Liam Cole and Jack Logan.

Some of the names we have been considering are Max, Cooper, Cole, Gage. I like Levi or Lincoln for a middle name however not for a first name as there seem to be too many “L” names! I really liked Noah or Nolan but no one else likes it and especially Noah for an older man! I am completely open to suggestions!

Our last name starts with a “W” so if that helps! Please help!!:)


Here's what I looked for:

1. Two syllables, to balance the 1-, 2-, 1-syllable pattern you have so far.

2. Names that sounded like nice boys, the way I think the first three names do.

3. Something that coordinated but also stood out: there will be four boys to tell apart, after all.


Callum
Henry
Keegan
Owen (maybe too much W with your surname?)
Riley
Samuel

Let's have a poll over to the right [poll closed; see results below], with your suggestions and mine. I'm presumptuously removing Cole from your list: since it's the middle name of another of your boys, and since you'll have FOUR boys, it seems like a good idea for each boy to get his own two names.


Poll results (201 votes total):
Max: 22 votes, roughly 11%
Cooper: 26 votes, roughly 13%
Gage: 13 votes, roughly 6%
Callum: 21 votes, roughly 10%
Henry: 39 votes, roughly 19%
Keegan: 3 votes, orughly 1%
Owen: 44 votes, roughly 22%
Riley: 13 votes, roughly 6%
Samuel: 20 votes, roughly 10%

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Baby Boy Grande

Zoë writes:
Hi Swistle! I’m Zoë, and my husband is Jamie. (Zoë Isabelle and James William Martin). We are expecting a baby boy on September 21st, and we still can’t decide on a name for him. This is especially important because he is our first son (we have three girls) and he will be our last child.

Our girls are Mathilda Rosemary (Rosemary after Jamie’s mother, who passed away about a month before she was born), “Tilly,” and our twins, Hazel Beatrice and Amalia Claire. Beatrice and Claire are both after family. Our naming style seems pretty consistant; names that have a classic, slightly old fashioned feel, but not too common. Amalia was most popular in 1924, and Mathilda and Hazel 1918, respectively. But we just can’t seem to agree on a boy’s name.

We’d initially agreed on Henry, which we both liked, but we don’t want a very common name, and Henry is number 78 and on the rise. So that’s out. The same goes for Benjamin, which we’d thought about, but it’s number 25. Popularity (or, for us, lack of it) is very important to us. We want a name that’s somewhere in the middle – not a name that people do a double take when they hear, but we don’t want him to be one of five in his class.

Other names we’ve thought about are Owen (too popular), Griffith (I liked it, he didn’t), Toby (vice versa), Oliver (too popular), Grant (our last name is Grande), and Julius (too popular). I also really love Jack, and Jamie does too, despite it’s popularity, but I feel like it has to be short for something, and neither of us likes Jackson. And we also discussed Trevor and Fletcher, both of which are more modern and popular and don’t really go with our daughters names, but we kind of like them.

Oh, and we really want to honor both of our fathers (Lyle and Earnest) in the middle name, but we don’t particularily like either of their names.

Oh my, we are in a pickle here. If you could help us with a classic, early twentieth century name that isn’t too common now, as well as finding some way to honor my dad and Lyle, that would be amazing.

Thank you so much!

Let's talk for a minute about commonness. The name Jacob (not on your list, I know, but stay with me) is the number one most popular boy name in the United States, and it was given to 1.0355% of boys born in 2008 (source: Social Security Administration). This means that out of 100 boys, approximately 1 is named Jacob. Assuming a class size of 30, where 15 are boys, that gives you roughly one single Jacob per SEVEN classrooms.

And that's the most popular boy name in the U.S.! The name Julius, which is on your too-common list, was given to only .0501% of boys born in 2008. That's 5 boys named Julius for every 10,000 boys---or roughly 1 Julius for every 667 classrooms.

My point is that if you want a classic and non-double-take name, I think you're dramatically over-limiting your options---even if you want it to be quite uncommon.

But I can still take on the challenge! Here is a list of names that were common in the time period you want, but AREN'T common NOW (source for 2008 name rankings: Social Security Administration):

Frederick (#523)
Walter (#393)
Louis (#351)
Carl (#490; Karl is #864)
Theodore (#295)
Warren (#509)
Stanley (#653)
Russell (#406)
Harvey (#913)
Everett (#383)
Rufus (not in Top 1000 in 2008)
Leon (#502)
Edmund (not in Top 1000 in 2008)
August (#482)
Franklin (#467)
Calvin (#228)


Here are a few more to consider; these were around (though not common) in the time period you have in mind, and I think they have the right sound:

Cyrus (#512)
Gideon (#534)
Wilson (#537)
Malcolm (#546)
Emmett (#547)
Abram (#548)
Aldo (#569)
Wade (#591)
Jefferson (#599)
Clark (#698)
Sullivan (#706)
Sterling (#872)
Arlo (not in Top 1000 for 2008)

Now it's a matter of seeing which names from those lists go well with your surname and with the sibling names. I think I'd use both grandpa names as middle names: I favor using people's actual names to honor them (in my experience, even a bleah name has grown on me with time because of the family connection), and I don't mind the use of two middle names for this one child since it's your last chance to use the names. A few sample possibilities:

Frederick Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Frederick
Everett Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Everett
Rufus Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Rufus
Edmund Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Edmund
Franklin Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Franklin
Calvin Earnest Lyle Grande; Mathilda, Hazel, Amalia, and Calvin


Would anyone else like to give opinions on which names work best, or opinions on the middle name situation?


Name update 09-26-2009! Zoë writes:
Hi, Swistle! Thank you so much for posting our name dilemma. When people suggested John with Jack as a nickname, we decided to do some more research to find out what other names we could use as a full name for Jack. And we agreed on Jasper (#452, but also popular at the turn of the century). Earnest and Lyle just weren’t appealing to us, though, so we’ve gone with both of our fathers middle names instead (both of which were on your suggestions list!). Jasper Franklin Louis Grande was born a day early at 8:07am on Sunday, September 20th. The girls are already referring to him as ‘Baby Jack.’ We’re very happy with our decision.. how do you think the name sounds? Thank you so much for your help!

Best,

Zoë

P.S. My father’s middle name is pronounced “Loo-ee,” but we’re not sure if we should pronouce Louis in Jack’s name that way or as “Loo-iss.” Which you think sounds better? Just wondering:)

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Girl Ronderger!
Update on Baby Boy or Girl P!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Baby Boy Kil

Sarah writes:
My husband Dave and I are due with our second son on September 15th. We've never found ourselves in agreement about names. Our 21-month-old son, Isaac Zygmunt, was two days old before we named him. (Dave suggested Isaac after Sir Isaac Newton, and I readily agreed since it was what I'd wanted my parents to name my youngest brother. Zygmunt is after Dave's long-deceased grandfather, and also the middle name of both Dave and his dad.) We call him Ike. I like the idea of his new baby brother getting a fun nickname, too, but it's not a requirement.

In my opinion, our last name, Kil (pronounced "kill") can be a bit hard on first names. Ones that end in "-en" or "-an" often create an unpleasant combo. For example, Dave recently suggested the name Roman, and I pointed out that with our last name, it would sound like "roam and kill."

Dave, a geek, looks to scientists and mathematicians for name inspiration. (Hence Isaac.) But even more, he loves what he calls "gladiator/warrior" names--Apollo, Leonidas, Maximus, Sinbad. These strike me as names better suited to pets or comic book heroes. Dave loves the idea of Maximus "Max" Kil, but it just sounds too violent to me.

I like the idea of using names from our families. We could name the baby after our dads, Charles and Richard, who both died shortly after Dave and I started dating. I like the nickname Charlie for a little guy. (My dad went by Chuck, which sounds like more of a grown-up nickname to me.) I'd rather not use Richard as the first name because Dave says he'd want to shorten it to his dad's nickname, Dick. (No offense to a great guy.)

Probably my favorite at the moment is Arlo. It first appealed to me in high school, when I noticed a couple famous people with the name. I've been thinking about it again recently, but I held off on suggesting it until a few days ago. Dave didn't shoot it down, but I think he was just being polite because I built it up so much. I tried to sell him on the idea that it sounds similar to Apollo. It's also an Italian variant of Charles, which I enjoy knowing, since my dad was half Italian.

I have long liked the name Atticus (from one of my favorite books, To Kill A Mockingbird). Dave has expressed that it's cool because it has that ancient Roman sound he likes, but I wonder if it's just a little too unusual to actually saddle my kid with.

Dave also likes Xavier; while I find it vastly preferable to his other picks, I don't love it. Names which have been suggested and not outright disagreed upon are Abraham (Abe) and Asher (Ash).

Besides Zygmunt, our grandfathers had/have very common first names, but niftier middle names that might be worked in somewhere: Gardner, Martin, Roland. Oh, and David might be all right, too.

Can you come up with a name that will somehow marry our disparate tastes? Many thanks!


I'm with you on Maximus Kil. The child has geek genes, you said? A name like Maximus Kil is not going to work if he turns out intellectual, quiet, bookish, or skinny. In fact, I can't picture it on a burly football player, either. Or on a doctor. Or on a computer programmer, a teacher, a psychologist, a scientist, or anyone except a pro wrestler or video game character.

The name Atticus leaps out at me from your list, but I wish it had a nickname. It seems like a lot of name for everyday use. But it would make a terrific middle name. Perhaps for this boy you could switch the family name to the first position and do Charles Atticus. Ike and Charlie.

I love Arlo and hope your husband will go for it. I like Arlo Richard, since it puts the name of honor in a non-nickname position.

Another first-name possibility is Edison. I've said it aloud a few times with your surname and I don't think it presents problems there. Ike and Ed is adorable.

I also suggest Augustus. Ike and Gus.

Or Quintus: Ike and Quin.

Archimedes is a lot of name, but the cute nickname Archie makes it more manageable. Ike and Archie.

Darwin is a GREAT boy name, but Darwin has come to represent all of evolutionary theory. The name may now be too steeped in meaning for regular use.

Linus. Ike and Linus.

Tycho was the name of a famous astronomer, but doesn't he sound more like a gladiator? Ike and Ty. [Edit: I've been saying it TIKE-o, but apparently it's TEEK-o. Thanks, Karen! I think Ike and Teek is great.]


Name update 09-25-2009! Sarah writes:
Both you and your readers provided excellent ideas. When we saw Augustus/"Gus," Dave and I were both excited. It really was perfect for both our tastes. The next day Dave's enthusiasm for it waned, but I'll be keeping it for possible future use.

Our new little guy was born on the 15th, and after a couple nameless days, we were getting frustrated. I liked a number of names but had no absolute favorite; Dave had been campaigning for Maximus since before our first son was born. I told Dave we should go with Maximus. He got nervous about my sudden change of heart, so it took another day before we officially committed to Maximus Richard, "Max." I can't imagine him as anyone other than Max now and feel that he'll mold the name to who he is.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Quick Poll: Victoria or Veronica?

On Facebook the other day (and if you're not my Facebook friend, why NOT? Don't you want me to send you VIRTUAL GIFTS?), a discussion got started about which name we preferred, Victoria or Veronica. I like both but am not sure which I'd use first for a baby. Let's have a poll over to the right [poll closed; see results below] that assumes a world in which you MUST name your baby girl one of those two names---which would you choose?


Poll results (301 votes total):
Victoria: 193 votes, roughly 64%
Veronica: 108 votes, roughly 35%

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Baby Girl Ronderger

Nana writes:
Have you ever had a Nana write to you? I am going to have a granddaughter on September 9. My daughter and son-in-law just can’t come to an agreement on a name. They have a two year old son and found a name they both loved right away. His name is Camden James. Naming a child is such an big decision, so it’s important that they find a name that they both LOVE with neither having to compromise. Jessica, my daughter likes the newer, trendier names. This is her list: Emerson, Ellery, Zoe, Elizabeth, Sophia, Sadie, and Ava. Justin likes familiar, non-"made-up" names: Abigail, Ashley, Leah, Sydney and Natalie.

Originally, they both liked Natalie but Jessica is not so keen on it anymore. Also, they don’t want the nickname of gnat, and with a 3 syllable name, it’s inevitable that the child have some sort of nickname. (I suggested Talie but it was nixed) Justin’s favorite is Abigail…but it’s off Jessica’s radar. She thought he’d like Elizabeth…more traditional…but “no” was his answer.

(I personally like Sydney, Elizabeth and Natalie but a Nana can only express that opinion once.)

Jessica was ok with Ashley (with hopes that no one would call her Ash) but her cousin just named her daughter Ashlyn two weeks ago! (we are a close family) That takes the specialness out of it. I should also mention that R names are out as their last name is Ronderger.

So, Great Swistle, Jessica and Justin hope that you and your court (faithful followers with wise suggestions) can think of the perfect name for “Little Miss No Name” so that my dear granddaughter won’t have to be raised in the hospital until she is old enough to choose her own name! (I’ve heard that mom can’t leave until baby is named)

I’m so happy you’re there for us!


Here's how I made my list: I took the names that would have been familiar to me back when I was in high school, and then I sifted through for ones that didn't make me groan, "Oh, not THAT name AGAIN!"

Audrey
Bethany
Bridget
Brynna
Claire
Claudia
Elise
Emily
Holly
Jillian
Jocelyn
Laurel
Lindsay
Melanie
Meredith
Molly
Noelle
Sabrina
Sarah
Victoria

The trouble is, this list is likely to please Justin and not Jessica: someone who likes newer names (I would suggest Avaleigh and Brinley) is going to find the above list PRETTY DULL. Perhaps the first name could be something familiar and older, and the middle name could be something less familiar and newer? Molly Emerson Ronderger would be cute.

Can anyone help here? Familiar names that are more FUN, perhaps?


Name update 09-10-2009! Nana writes:
Baby Girl Ronderger arrived today! She has a name….AND….I’m very excited to say that Jessica and Justin picked her name from one of YOUR suggestions….faithful Swistle followers!!!!

The Naming Winner is Tracynicole22 !!!

Addison Grace Ronderger is 6lbs, 12 oz, 17 ½ inches long is lovely (she and mommy are healthy, too) and looks quite like her big two year old brother, Camden.

So THANK YOU to ALL who gave those wonderful suggestions. This has been so much fun!

Nana

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Unsolicited Assist: J Names for Baby Duggars

Michelle has not emailed me to ask, but I thought we might help the Duggars name their 19th child. Here's what they've used so far, divided into a Girl List and a Boy List:

Jana
Jill
Jessa
Jinger
Joy
Johanna
Jennifer
Jordyn-Grace

Joshua
John-David
Joseph
Josiah
Jedidiah
Jeremiah
Jason
James
Justin
Jackson


Jana and Johanna are very close, as are Joseph and Josiah, and Jinger is stretch, but it was when they finally used Jennifer I knew they were out of ideas. But there are still plenty of nice J names yet, even if we assume names like January and Juniper and Jaden don't fit with their style:

Jacqueline
Jane (probably too close to Jana)
Jean
Jemma
Jennica (probably too close to Jennifer)
Jezebel (KIDDING, kidding)
Jocasta
Jocelyn
Joella
Josephine
Julia
Julianna
Julissa
June

Jacob
Japheth (JAY-feth) (probably too close to Joseph)
Jared
Jaron (probably too close to Jason)
Jasper
Jeffery
Joel
Jonas

I like an "oo" sound for their next girl, since they don't have that yet---maybe June or Julia. For their next boy, I think Jeffery.

What would be your pick for next girl and next boy?

Quick Poll: Baby Boy Reese

Remember Baby Boy Reese? His mom writes that with only days left to go, they have narrowed it down to three names:

Thompson Jaros Reese
William Jaros Reese Jr.
William Thompson Reese

Sisters are Jillian Faye and Meredith Elizabeth. Let's have a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]


Poll results (215 votes total):
Thompson Jaros Reese: 71 votes, roughly 33%
William Jaros Reese Jr.: 37 votes, roughly 17%
William Thompson Reese: 107 votes, roughly 50%