This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Middle Name Challenge: Baby Girl Paloma ____ Alamillo

Christine writes:
I am European Caucasian (mostly Italian and Polish) and my husband is Hispanic/Spanish/French. It's really important to me to pick a name that can be pronounced easily in both Spanish and English. Our last name is difficult enough (it's pronounced AL-a-mee-oo). Naming our first daughter was easy- Eva (pronounced like Ava) was a name I've liked since before I was married, and Juliana is a family name (my husband's uncle Julian raised him). We also decided on our second daughter's first name before she was conceived. We decided on Paloma, and we both really really love it. The problem is her middle name. The more I think about it, the more I begin to dislike all our options. I would like to keep the middle name a family name, as that is tradition in my family, but it's really limiting my choices. Please tell me what you think- I think some of the names are really pretty, but I'm very concerned about the name being "too much" for my side of the family. Here are my options so far:

Paloma Caroline Alamillo
Paloma Carolina Alamillo
Paloma Josephine Alamillo
(these three are among my favorites, although my husband has vetoed these)
Paloma Genevieve Alamillo
Paloma Christina Alamillo
Paloma Marie Alamillo (my middle name, my mom's name, sounds great, but boring?)
Paloma Mariela Alamillo (version of Marie, but too much?)
Paloma Terese Alamillo
Paloma Pauline Alamillo
Paloma Elizabeth Alamillo
Paloma Sophie Alamillo
Paloma Sophia Alamillo
Paloma Helena Alamillo
Paloma Jeanne Alamillo
Paloma Meredith Alamillo
Paloma Anne Alamillo
Paloma Rose Alamillo

Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

My favorites from your list are:
Paloma Christina
Paloma Marie
Paloma Mariela
Paloma Rose

Christina, Marie, and Rose would all be easier on your family, but Mariela is so beautiful. Marie was a common middle name a generation or two ago, but I get the impression it's much less common now; Rose is more common in this generation but/and sounds wonderful with Paloma.

What does everyone else think?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Baby Girl Compton

Courtney writes:
Hi!! We are expecting another girl Dec. 15th... Our 4 year old daughter is Berkley Noel...
I wish I could use Noel for this one but dont want to b/c its already our daughters middle name. especially since her birthday will be close to Christmas. Its My middle name as well. OUr last name is Compton and the names on the list are: Raegan, Colbey, Justine, Quinn, Mallory, Helene, Id like to use Christine as the middle after my great, great grandmother. I'd like a nice C name, but it doesnt necessarily have to start with a C at this point!! WE are getting so close and still have no name!!!!! I guess I am trying to come up with something as unusual as our daughter Berkley, ( dont think I could pair it with something like "Allison"

I realize this idea may be a little silly, but since Berkley is similar to a city in California (Berkeley), I got out the atlas and looked for cities in California that start with C and would make good girl names:

Cambria (makes me think of Cambrey or Cambrie)
Ceres (the look of the word also makes me think of Carys)
Claremont (or you could spell it Clairemont)
Creston (it's almost Kristen)
/ atlas as baby name book

Some more unusual C names:

More suggestions for the Comptons---starting with C or not?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Baby Girl Acosta

Megan writes:
We are due with our first baby, a girl, on Christmas Eve and have not found that perfect name. We like classic, slightly old-fashioned names, nothing too preppy. Our last name is Acosta (pronounced with a long "o") so we are eliminating names with a long "a" ending. Tops on our list right now is Evelyn. It sounds soft and feminine and has cute nicknames like Eve and Evie. I really like it but I'm not sure it's perfect. Other names on the short list are Ivy, Sadie, Josephine, Lucy, Penny, and Hazel. I like the rhythm of the long "e" sound with our last name. Other names we really like but are a bit too expected are names like Grace, Emma, and Kate. I'm hoping you can suggest a few more names and one will strike that perfect chord.

I suggest Genevieve. It has the Eve/Evie nicknames you like (and also Gen and Genny if you want them), it has the long E sound you like, and I like it with your surname: Genevieve Acosta.

My second suggestion is Penelope. It gives you Penny as a nickname (and also Nellie if you want it), it has the long E sound, and I like the repeating long O sound with your surname: Penelope Acosta.

If you like Grace but it's too common for you to want to use it, you could use Gracelyn. Gracelyn Acosta.

You could do the same thing with Emma: Emmalyn Acosta. Or Emlyn: Emlyn Acosta.

I know the name Emily is common but I don't care, I love it---and in my area, it's not used much. Emily Acosta.

A name with the flavor of Emily but much less common is Felicity: Felicity Acosta.

This one has no tie-in, I just thought of it: Jillian Acosta.

One of my own favorites is Annabel: Annabel Acosta.

Sadie and Penny make me think of Molly: Molly Acosta.

I have a soft spot for the name Noelle used at Christmastime: Noelle Acosta. I like it as a middle name if not as a first: Genevieve Noelle Acosta, Felicity Noelle Acosta, etc.

More suggestions for the Acostas?

Name update! Megan writes:
We named her Evelyn Marie, born 12/14/09! She goes by Ev and Evie a lot too. Thanks so much for your help back then, it was very encouraging to hear positive feedback on our "vintage" name choice!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baby Boy F., Brother to Chloe

Jenelle writes:
I am due December 12th with our second child, a boy and we are having the hardest time deciding on a boys name. We have actually been trying to choose a boys name since we had our daughter 4 years ago and with only a couple weeks to go, we aren't getting any closer to a decision.

We do know that:

- His mIddle name will be David, after my husband.

- Our last name is one syllable and also the name of a major US car manufacturer.

- Our daughters name is Chloe, which was in the 30's the year she was born, but is now in the top 10 (where we live in Canada). Not crazy about that, but we expected it. We would like to avoid a top 20 name if possible.

- If this baby had been a girl, her name would have been Lila, Elise or Cora.

Two names we do like, but aren't sure about:

Nolan - My husband and daughter are both in love with this name, but I don't know. I like that it is not super popular here and that the only Nolan we know is 14, but it feels a little blah to me.

Eli - I am very drawn to this name. I don't think DH loves it though. It wouldn't be Elias, Elijah or Elliot though, just Eli.

Names we really liked, but have vetoed for various reasons:

Wesley - I love it, my husband hates it

Liam - Top 10 name where we live

Levi - 2 brand names?

Grayson - getting too popular, I don't like how it is being used for girls now (Gracyn)

Owen - way too popular in our area

Evan, Tate, Lucas - Close friends children

Max, Wyatt, Caleb , Asher - just don't seem right

James, Matthew, Joshua, Alexander, Andrew- names of our 30 year old friends and still in the top 20 here.

Names we cannot use because of our last name:








I would really appreciate any help that you and your readers could provide! Thank you!

How about Oliver Frederick? I'm half-kidding because I just posted about it a few minutes ago, but I think Oliver David would be great. Chloe and Oliver.

The names Greyson and Nolan make me think of the name Gavin. Chloe and Gavin. Gavin David. I like it!

Or Garrett/Gerrit. (I prefer the latter spelling, but I think the former is easier.) Chloe and Garrett. Garrett David.

Liam and Nolan make me think of Simon. Chloe and Simon. Simon David. My favorite so far.

Owen and Levi and Eli and Evan make me think of Ian. Chloe and Ian. Ian David. My second favorite.

Let's have a poll over to the right [poll closed; see results below], and more suggestions in the comments section.

Poll results (168 votes total):
Oliver: 50 votes, roughly 30%
Gavin: 37 votes, roughly 22%
Garrett: 9 votes, roughly 5%
Simon: 51 votes, roughly 30%
Ian: 21 votes, roughly 13%

Oliver Frederick

I had a dream Sunday night that I was in the hospital, in labor, expecting a baby boy, and that I just realized we hadn't chosen a name. AHA HA HA HA HA!! AS IF! The pregnancy test stick is not even COOL before I'm making name lists! But anyway, that was the dream.

So I was thinking over possibilities. Would we use the name Oliver now, since our cat Oliver has died and the cat was the only thing stopping us from using the name last time? Would we use Frederick? But that would mean repeating an initial, and although I'm WILLING to do that for a name I MUST HAVE, I'd PREFER not to. Plus, my parents dislike the name Frederick.

So then, in the dream hospital, I thought of putting Frederick in the middle-name slot to eliminate the problems with it, and I came up with Oliver Frederick, and I like it enough that it's making me feel a little woeful that I WON'T have another boy to name, and so I am hoping to persuade one of YOU to use it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Baby Boy Kench

Gayle writes:
My husband and I need help choosing a name for our first son. We already have two little girls, Avis Abigale and Melody Alice Elvira. (Melody has two middle names just for fun.. no specific reason.) That really is sort of our naming style – we find a name we like and we use it. All the in depth stuff, like meanings, or initials, or family approval, or naming after a family member, etc, isn’t that important to us.

We want our sons name to be as distinct as the names Avis and Melody. For example, Avis, Melody, and Jayden/Cayden/Grayden/Hayden is not the kind of name we’re looking for. We really like more turn of the century names, but not names like Henry or William. More outlandish names like Cornelius or Augustus (although we’ve vetoed both of those.)

Here are some names we’ve considered, to give you an idea of the names we’re looking at:
Cornelius, Augustus, Benedict, Clement, Barnabas, Eustace, Florian, and Percival.

As you can see, these names are pretty ‘out there.’ We feel like they really aren’t names you can wear in the 21st century without getting made fun of. They sound like characters.

So we’re looking for names similar in style to these, that go with our daughters names, but that could work for a little boy in the 21st century, not just the 19th. Also, we’d really like his middle name to start with an A, because my husband and I both have middle names that start with an A, and completely by accident, so do our daughters. So we liked that unexpected connection and want to continue it.

Oh, and our last name is one syllable and rhymes with Kench, so longer first names would go better with that, I think.

I think you could use Augustus pretty comfortably, especially if he went by the nickname Gus. Avis, Melody, and Augustus seems good to me. If it seems like too much, maybe August? Avis, Melody, and August.

Cornelius makes me think of Corbin and Cormac. Benedict makes me think of Bennett. Eustace makes me think of Edmund and Euan/Ewan. Florian makes me think of Finian and Julian.

But some of the names I'm reminded of are a big style change from the originals. In STYLE, I'm reminded more of names such as Julius, Rufus, Felix, Hugo, Jasper, Lucius, Phineas.

Well, here's the list all together:

Aidric; Avis, Melody, and Aidric
Angus; Avis, Melody, and Angus
August; Avis, Melody, and August
Bennett; Avis, Melody, and Bennett
Corbin; Avis, Melody, and Corbin
Cormac; Avis, Melody, and Cormac
Edmund; Avis, Melody, and Edmund
Ewan; Avis, Melody, and Ewan
Felix; Avis, Melody, and Felix
Finian; Avis, Melody, and Finian
Hugo; Avis, Melody, and Hugo
Jasper; Avis, Melody, and Jasper
Julian; Avis, Melody, and Julian
Julius; Avis, Melody, and Julius
Linus; Avis, Melody, and Linus
Lucius; Avis, Melody, and Lucius
Phineas; Avis, Melody, and Phineas
Rufus; Avis, Melody, and Rufus
Sebastian; Avis, Melody, and Sebastian
Silas; Avis, Melody, and Silas

I think my favorites are Aidric, Edmund, Felix, Hugo, and Jasper. With some A middle names:

Aidric Alistair Kench
Edmund Ambrose Kench
Felix Arlo Kench
Hugo Augustus Kench
Jasper Atticus Kench

Name update 12-10-2009! Gayle writes:
Hi Swistle,
thanks so much for all your help (and for the people who posted, also)
Our son was born on Nov 28th at 5:02 PM (yum, a hospital Thanksgiving!) and we went with Leander Aidric - we loved your suggestion of that name.
Again, thanks so much!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Naming Issue: Allegra!
Update on Baby Twin Girls Armstrong!

And if your question is up and doesn't have an update, send an update! Oh we are so interested to hear!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Baby Naming Issue: Someone Just Used the Baby Name You Had in Mind

Delia writes:
I have a question that I am sure you have come across many times before, but I would like to hear your thoughts / your readers thoughts on it. It has to do with naming a child with the same name as one used in your social circle (or close to it). DH & I have been together for 5 years and recently decided to start trying for a baby. In our 1st year together we talked about kids and we decided back then already that if we have a son, we would call him Ethan - we both love the name, it sound good with our surname and it just felt (and still does feel) 'right'. Fast forward to the present and we found out today that some colleagues/ friends that had a baby boy last week have named him Ethan. Now, sure, it's not like we had a claim staked on the name and we didn't advertise the fact that we had chosen that particular name, but it feels like if we were to now name our child the same it would be kind of odd, even be seen to be 'copying' them. That being said, we are not as close with this couple or other friends of theirs that we also used to socialize with as we once were and speak to or hang out with them outside of work (we all work at the same company). I am of the opinion that if we aren't that close then it shouldn't matter, but DH feels the name should be up for review. Should we just abandon the idea of using Ethan and go back to the drawing board, or should we stick with it even if their is a bit of the weirdness factor thrown in?

In your case, I'd say it's pretty clear you can go right ahead and use the name. Ethan is a fairly common name, and at the very earliest the boys will be nearly a year apart, so I don't think anyone will make a connection as they might if the name in question were Edgar. If you feel a little awk, you can spread The Story of His Name: every time you tell what his name is, you can say that when you and your husband were in your first year of marriage, before you even knew when you would have a baby, you decided on Ethan as your boy name. Tell this story with stars in your eyes, and everything's fine: you've made it clear that your choice has nothing to do with anyone else's choice.

Any tips from the rest of you? Have you been in this situation, and what did you do?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Baby Girl Kempt

Nathasa writes:
I’m writing you for baby advice! I’m due on November 26th (Thanksgiving baby!) with my third child and second daughter. My husband and I have two other children; Joanna Aisbet and Henry Fraser. We pretty much had our list of names narrowed down about four months ago, to either Catherine, Caroline, Rebecca, Grace, or Alice. But about a month ago I suddenly discovered Gaelic names, and I’m in love with them.

So now my number one choice is Niamh (pronounced “Neeve”), with Siobhan (“Shuh-von”) and Aoife (“Eef-uh”) close behind. My husband loves the name Niamh and is totally for it. So here are my issues.

First of all, neither my husband nor I have a drop of Irish blood in us. Is that totally weird to use an Irish name? My family certainly thinks so. Both of our mothers are campaigning for one of the original five, and neither my mother nor my mother in law, (or any of my other family for that matter) likes Niamh whatsoever. Both of our parents are very involved in our childrens lives, so this is a factor for me.

Secondly, of course, we live in Maryland, not Dublin. I know that if we choose Niamh, she will have to constantly be spelling and pronouncing her name for people. I had to do that all my life (My name is Nathasa, with no “h” after the “s”, and the first “h” silent), and it wasn’t much fun.

Third, I don’t know if it really works with Joanna and Henry. When I say it out loud, it sounds nice. “Joe-ann-uh, Hen-ree, and Neev”. But that’s just me. I really don’t know if it does. Also, our last name is one syllable: Kempt (Kem-t). It sounds fine with two syllabled Joanna and Henry, but I don’t know if it really flows with one syllabled Niamh.

It seems like there are way more strikes against Niamh than for it, and we should just go back to the other finalists we’d originally picked, but we keep coming back to Niamh. We both love it, and none of the other names seems just right.

But I’m worried, with so many things not going for the name. What do you think? I’d love people’s insight – I’m really stressing.

And if not Niamh, then any other suggestions? Also, we haven’t even begun to think of a middle name, and off the top of my head, nothing sounds good with Niamh (another strike, UGH!). We don’t want it to be an Irish name, but no American names really work, that I can think of.

Please help!

Thank you so, so much.

I think that if you both love Niamh, and if you keep coming back to it despite being aware of the various issues, and if no other name seems right, that you should use it. And definitely it seems as if your parents shouldn't make a peep after using the name Nathasa in their own baby-naming days.

Would you like the name as much if it were spelled differently? Because you could spell it Neeve or Nieve or Neve and take that issue off your list. It's common for a name from one country to be spelled or pronounced differently when used in another country: we say Wilhelmina with a W sound even though in German it's a V sound; the name Kieran is Irish, but in Ireland it's CiarĂ¡n; and we use Owen instead of Eoghan. It's a matter of translating a name from one alphabet/language to another, so that it can be spelled and pronounced.

If you do use it, several of your other options would make nice middle names: Neeve Caroline Kempt, Nieve Rebecca Kempt, Neve Catherine Kempt.

Another option is to use Niamh as the middle name, eliminating pretty much ALL the problems---well, except the one where you like the name Niamh better than all the other options. I like it best with Rebecca: Rebecca Niamh Kempt. It's good with Caroline and Catherine, too, except that the N sounds blur together a little---not a dealbreaker, I wouldn't think, considering how infrequently it would cause a problem.

What does everyone else think? Use Niamh or not? Spell it the Irish way or the English way? First name or middle name, and what combination?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Baby Twin Girls Armstrong

Amy writes:
We are Andy and Amy Armstrong and we are expecting twin girls on November 17th.
We have two children - my oldest from a prior marriage:
Chase Larkin 14 yr old son and together Larkin Murphy 4 yr daughter

We don't want any name that begins with A

My great-grandfather's name was Larkin Timothy Murphy hence the family name I used as my children have different last names which I didn't like - so they share my family name.

My grandmother was Violet Murphy and my father in law is Dan. We have quite a list going and I am trying to narrow things down prior to birth and would like input that is positive vs the debate friends and family can start.

My mothers maiden name was McBrayer but any form of that is better for a boy than girl I think?

So the list in no particular order is:

  • Violet
  • Dani
  • Murphy (I keep hearing this is a dog name which irritates me but I think middle name for this)
  • Harper
  • Carson (name we had in mind when Larkin was born but waited until we saw her to name her)
  • Camryn (same as above)
  • Lily
  • Marley (again with the dog comments)
  • Keely
  • Kylie
  • Zoe
  • Lauren
  • Rory
  • Finley

The Irish theme is strong obviously but I am open to suggestions. I don't want the girls to have sing/song names as they are individuals.

Oh fun! Okay, I'm going to start making some pairs:

Harper and Keely
Harper and Kylie
Camryn and Marley
Carsyn and Marley
Harper and Marley
Harper and Lily
Harper and Rory
Harper and Finley
Rory and Finley
Harper and Camryn
Kylie and Zoe
Keely and Zoe
Lily and Lauren
Lauren and Camryn
Keely and Marley
Zoe and Lauren
Camryn and Zoe
Rory and Zoe
Finley and Kylie

Well! That's not very helpful, is it! No wonder you're having trouble narrowing it down!

I changed the spelling of Carson to Carsyn to make it go with Marley, but I didn't do much more of that in case you hate that spelling. I think otherwise Carson makes it look like boy-girl twins, or makes it appear that there is an expectation that one girl will be tomboyish and the other girly, as in twin-based sitcoms.

I think Harper goes with a LOT of the names on the list.

I wondered if Lily/Lauren and Lauren/Camryn and Keely/Marley and Finley/Kylie would be too matchy for you because of similar sounds, but put them on the list anyway because to me they're just the right amount of matchy to please people who like twin names to coordinate, without sounding like sugar-and-spice.

I think Murphy and McBrayer would make an excellent pair of middle names. Harper Murphy and Keely McBrayer. Lily Murphy and Lauren McBrayer. Rory Murphy and Finley McBrayer. And so on.

I'm reluctant to add any MORE names to the mix, since you have so many good ones already and since with twins there is a huge increase in number of combinations for each added name. But for father-in-law namesakes, I wanted to add Dania, Daniella, and Danica. Violet and Daniella is a nice pair, and Danica goes with a lot of the names on the list: Danica and Camryn, Danica and Harper, Danica and Zoe, Danica and Marley, etc.

Everyone, please say your favorite combinations and let's see if we can narrow it down a little. I think my favorites are Rory and Finley, Harper and Keely, and Harper and Marley---but gosh, I don't know, every time I look at the list I change my mind.

Name update 11-18-2009!
Amy and Andy are proud to announce their two beautiful baby girls born Tuesday, November 17

Brin Murphy Armstrong
born 12:07 pm
6 pounds 12 ounces

Erin McBrayer Armstrong
born 12:08 pm
5 pounds 3 ounces

Everyone is doing great!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baby Girl or Boy Stark

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) Not another J name.

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

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

8) No ‘–son’ names.

9) Nothing totally unfamiliar or spelled ‘creatively’.

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

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

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

So… help??

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

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

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

Julian - even though it’s a J


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

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

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

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

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

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

Some QUALIFYING possibilities:

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

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

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

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baby Girl or Boy, Sibling to William and Clara

Rachel writes:
I love your baby name blog and can't wait to write you for myself someday, but for now I'm writing for my sister (with her blessing). She and her husband are expecting their third baby (gender unknown) at the beginning of December--the 4th to be specific.

They've got a son, William Charles (age 3.5 years), who is named after two family members, and a daughter, Clara Grace (not quite 2), whose first name is a family name and whose middle name was chosen for the religious significance.

If I get another niece, my sister wants to name her Anna (which is a family name) and my BIL wants to name her Hannah. Both of them love their own choice and strongly dislike the other's choice, which makes everyone want to pull their hair out since the names are SO similar. Any third suggestion to pull them away from the Anna/Hannah debate? My suggestions of Ava, Lydia, and Lila were rejected. They like Elizabeth and Eleanor for a middle name, but my sister doesn't think Eleanor goes well with Anna or Hannah. (And they don't want to move either of those family names to the first name slot.)

If I get another nephew, they both like Elijah for the Biblical character, but my sister doesn't think it goes with the sibset. They're thinking of Patrick for a middle name, which my sister doesn't like well enough for a first name but wants to use in the middle name slot to honor a family member.

Their last name, which my sister does not want included in the post, is four syllables with the emphasis on the second syllable.

Thanks, Swistle!

I love the Anna/Hannah debate! Let's see if we can find some other possibilities to consider:


My favorites are:
Eliza Eleanor (William, Clara, and Eliza)
Lucy Eleanor (William, Clara, and Lucy)
Molly Elizabeth (William, Clara, and Molly)
Rose Elizabeth (William, Clara, and Rose)

I think Elijah is coming mainstream enough to go with William and Clara, especially if he goes by Eli. It's not quite the same style, but it's not a jarring clash. If they continue to be unsure of it, perhaps they could use it in the middle name slot. Some other first-name possibilities to consider:


My favorites are:
Daniel Patrick (William, Clara, and Daniel)
Nathaniel Patrick (William, Clara, and Nathaniel)
Samuel Patrick (William, Clara, and Samuel)

Name update 12-17-2009! Rachel writes:
Thanks so much for your help with a name for my sister's new baby. We loved reading your suggestions and the comments. In the end, the Anna/Hannah debate was moot, because I have a new nephew! My sister and I both *loved* your suggestion of Nathaniel, but my BIL had a bad association with the name. Elijah Patrick was born December 1st, weighing in at 8 lbs 2 ozs and measuring 21 inches. Thank you again for your help!

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl Ogawa!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Baby Girl or Boy Edgerton

Gabi writes:
We are expecting baby #1 in a couple of weeks (actual due date is November 19th) and I would love some feedback on the names that have made our "short lists". Sex of the baby is unknown. Although we've all been referring to the kid in-utero as Baby Edge, our last name is actually Edgerton. The middle names have been set from the beginning: if boy, the middle name has to be Dow (a family name); if girl the middle name will be Cynthia. Other than that there are no restrictions on the names although I would prefer not to name the kid something that is too associated with Catholicism or some other religion that we are not. I am of Eastern European Jewish heritage and my husband's family has been in the States since colonial times, from the British Isles before that. We have narrowed our lists to 6-7 for each, I can't see any pattern in the names we like, though I would be interested in any you can decipher. I am open to suggestions of pretty variations on any of these as well as completely new suggestions that we may not have thought of. Here are the lists (in no particular order):

Girl: Mikayla (would call her Ayla for short); Eliza; Anika; Madelyn; Lyla; Anya; Samantha (would call her Sam for short)

Boy: Henry; Andrew; Asa; Ryan; Owen; Jonah


I love Eliza Edgerton so much, I am having trouble drumming up motivation to look further. Well, although I also like the initials you get from Anika or Anya: ACE seems like a fun nickname she could access in her high school years if she wanted to.

For a boy, my favorite is Henry Dow Edgerton. I also wonder if you'd like Isaac Edgerton.

What does everyone else think? Favorites? Additional suggestions?

Name update! Gabi writes:
Your blog helped us name our first daughter, Eliza Cynthia, now 3, and we have been extremely happy. It was a hands down favorite of yours and your commenters, and that was all the encouragement we needed to pull the trigger. We get compliments on her name all the time.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Name Update!

Name update on Baby Girl, Sister to Kendal Essa!

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy Wootton!

Baby Girl H., Sister to Harrison H.

E. writes:
I’m writing for baby-naming advice! I’m due on November 18. We already have a son, Harrison. This baby is a little girl (and our last). We didn’t decide on our son’s name until our last day in the hospital and we would like to name this little girl before getting to the hospital, but we can’t agree.

Here’s some background about our naming tastes:

I knew I wanted to call our son Harry, which we do. I know that Harry is the traditional nickname for Henry (I felt that Harry was a nickname and needed a “real” name behind it). But, Henry was way too popular in our crowd and so I went with Harrison. It isn’t quite as traditional as I would have wanted in a perfect world, but it certainly (I feel) is still traditional (even if it isn’t a William, etc.). My husband and I both go by names which are also surnames and so that is a nice similarity that Harrison has, too, not that we are requiring that of this girl’s name. We also really like the alliteration that Harrison has (our last name starts with “H“). I know that many people detest alliteration, but, at least with Harry’s name, we think it sounds quite nice. Also, I do NOT want a name that is popular (heavily used) either overall or within our particular demographic. I do not want anything trendy or that will be associated with this time. I don’t want a unique name simply for its uniqueness, but I don’t want anything too popular either. I prefer classic/traditional/timeless names.

I had had a second boy’s name picked out for years: Edward, “Teddy.” (I actually wanted Theodore, “Teddy,” for awhile, but then switched to Edward). I LOVE the nickname and the “real” name and think it matches perfectly with Harry. Of course, we’re having a girl.

Here are our respective lists of names:

My list:

His list:

My thoughts on each of the names:


Pros: I love this name (and saw that you were a fan of it in 2007). The traditional but not at all popular nature of the name appeals to me. How adorable would it be to send out birth announcements with a quote from Much Ado About Nothing (my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays) whose main character is a smart and sassy Beatrice? The name is ranked 833 on the social security index of names for 2008.

Cons: This name is not popular with family members that I have floated it out to. My mother feels that it is much too “Victorian” by which I suppose she means excessively frilly and/or feminine, outdated, etc (she hates the Victorian era of decorating by the way, as do I). My husband has outlawed the nickname “Trixie” (which I think is adorable) because of its illicit connotations, but by choosing the BeatriCE spelling over the BeatriX, I think I’ve eliminated this possibility anyway. Also, the only Beatrices that family members can think of are “Aunt Bea” from The Andy Griffith Show and Bea Arthur (of Golden Girls fame) not exactly the image one immediately wants to bring up. Yet, I think “Bea” would be an adorable nickname. Finally, my father noted that the most famous Harry (today anyway) is Harry Potter and the most famous Beatrice/Beatrix is Beatrix Potter and therefore I must have a strange obsession with Potter names. Interesting, but I don’t think the observation should hinder my use of the name. Finally, I’ve only recently become enamored with this name and I’m afraid that if I use it, I’ll come to regret it in the future (though I probably like it the best of all the names right now).


Pros: It is traditional but not staid. It sounds similar to Catherine and Charlotte, but isn’t nearly as popular (in my perception).

Cons: It has been pointed out to me that a popular nickname for Caroline is Carrie. I didn’t know this, but I absolutely despise the nickname Carrie, not to mention it would be weird to have children named Harry and Carrie. Furthermore, Caroline is easily confused with Carolyn and it may be annoying to have to constantly correct people. It is ranked 94th on the SS list which isn’t too high, but certainly very much more popular than some of the other names that I’m considering.


Pros: I’ve always like this name. I think you can’t go wrong with it. This name would have the least amount of disapproval from extended family and of the names on my list is the one that my husband likes the most.

Cons: I greatly prefer the British spelling (Catherine versus Kathryn or Katherine), but I would inevitably want to nickname her—either Cate or Catie, but I feel like these names look odd spelled with C, but that it would be odd to switch from a Catherine to a Kate or Katie. It is ranked 149th, though Katherine is 45th, Katie is 128, Kate is 139, Kathryn is 190 and Kathy is 992, so if you added all of those together I’m sure that it would be a much higher ranking.


Pros: Solid, traditional name but with a more fresh sound. Charlie would be a wonderful nickname for it.

Cons: I’ve loved this name for a long time and therefore was disappointed when it was used for a character name on Sex and the City. I don’t want people to think that we named our daughter after the show. Also, the name is very popular and will only continue to become more popular (I think), which is a negative in my book. (I’d prefer a less popular name, but not at the expense of kr8tif spelling!). In addition, I think it will become more popular in our demographic than in other demographics. It was ranked 87th (which is fairly high) and is on an upward trend (it has been in the top 300 since 2000, but just broke the top 100 in 2008).


Pros: I feel that this name is still in the traditional vein, but sounds newer (at least to my ears) than names that never fully fell out of popularity such as Elizabeth and Catherine. The –nor ending sounds strong to me. If we went with Eleanor, I would most likely nickname her Ella. It is currently ranked 256, which is much lower than some of the other names we’re considering.

Cons: I know that this name is popular in the NPR set these days (and has been for several years) along with the most common nicknames for it, Ella and Nora. However, we only know one Eleanor and she lives out of state, so though it is popular, I am aware that it isn’t anything like Jennifer in the 70s. That said, Eleanor was somewhat a late addition to the list and I haven't had as much time to live with the name as with the C names.


Pros: It starts with H so it would have the alliteration with our last name that we liked with our son’s name. I’ll admit that I like it the best of all the feminine names that begin with the letter H. It also fits into the pattern of surname as last name that everyone else in our family has.

Cons: I’m afraid that it is too popular (at least among the people that we’ll interact with)-- ESPECIALLY now that the baby name wizard herself included it in her top ten list of baby names for the year 2019 (prediction for Parents magazine). The two authors of Freakonomics listed it as a prediction for a top ten boys name in the future. I’m simply afraid that it will continue to rise in popularity and become the next Madison/X-aden, etc. It sounds too trendy to me, especially since Lisa Marie Presley just named a daughter Harper (not the kind of name-giving company I want to keep). (Other celebs with a Harper include Paul Simon and George Stephanopoulos.) Finally, since this will be our only girl there is a part of me that really wants to give her a feminine name. Last year it was only ranked 297, but it has had a quite steep rise in popularity (in 2007: 439, 2006: 508, 2005: 743, 2004: 887) which I know can often signal a future spot in the top 10.

Moreover, I’m afraid that people will think it is an homage to Harper Lee. It isn’t that I don’t like Harper Lee, it is just that I wouldn’t name a child after her. (Plus she didn’t use Harper as her name in real life, but was called by her first name Nelle.) Also, it clearly falls into the –er trend in names AND the medieval trade name category (of which I am not a fan). Finally, this is the name most likely to be disliked among extended family.

That said, my husband REALLY wanted to name our son Henry but gave in and went with Harrison. Perhaps I should let him have his Harper?

Any thoughts?

Wow, I bet you’ve never had someone write you an email this long, huh? Sorry about that. Even after we decide on a first name, then we’ll have to tackle the middle name (ack!), but I promise I won’t bother you with that one.

Generally I think people should spend more time considering more issues before choosing a baby name, but I think at this point, 2 weeks before the due date, it is time to simplify. I think I would start by considering what is most important to you: the alliteration? the uncommonness? the timelessness? the name being a surname name? how your family feels about it? what other people might think the namesake is? These are all important issues. You and your husband could each make a list ranking them. My husband and I like the ranking style where more than one thing can have the same ranking; for example:

Uncommonness 1
Timelessness 1
Family 2
Surname 3
Alliteration 3
Namesake issues 4

It sounds to me as if your wish to have a timeless/traditional name is warring with your wish to have an uncommon name that will not increase in commonness. Many names that stand the test of time are more common than not---and if they weren't common, they wouldn't belong to this time in addition to the other times, and so wouldn't be timeless. And since many parents are looking for the magical mix of traditional and unusual, any name that finds that mark is likely to get more common. This can lead to tremendous disappointment, with every parent wishing the culture and the other parents hadn't ruined their choice by making it popular.

I'm with you on wishing to avoid names that are going to spike in popularity. I think it helps to remember that there is no predicting it: you can look at trends, you can consider influences, but you're already totally on top of that. You're educated enough on the rankings, and now you're at the point where you have to take a risk and choose the name you want most and hope for the best. And if the name does spike? Well, you did all you could, considering none of us can see into the future.

It seems like it might be easier if you left your family out of the discussions. Many people will say some pretty critical things during a name discussion that they would never say, think, or feel if presented with a baby and told the name---and many people who dislike a baby name on first hearing will grow to love when it becomes inextricably woven with the dear baby. Furthermore, people a generation older than the current parent generation tend to have radically different perspective on what names sound good and what names don't. We say "Henry" and they say, "Ewwww, old mannish!" We say "Eleanor" and they say "Ewwww, old ladyish!" Just as THEIR parents said, "Jennifer? I've never heard of it! Why can't you use a normal name like Barbara?"

My top recommendation is Helena. It's got Shakespeare, it's got ancient, it's got feminine, it's got alliteration, it's got uncommon (500s/600s). I'm pronouncing it heh-LAY-nah, in which case you've got the nice nickname Lena (LAY-nah). Or it can also be pronounced like Helen with an "ah" on the end: HEL-len-ah. I like it with Harrison/Harry, and I also like it with the middle name Harper and think HHH would be an excellent monogram.

Another H name I'm fond of is Henrietta. Since you both liked Henry, I wonder if you'd like the way-less-common girl version? It's very uncommon yet completely familiar. It has the cute nicknames Hennie or Hettie or Nettie, or sassier nicknames Etta or Henri or Ree.