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Monday, August 30, 2010

Baby Girl or Boy Smelker

Jordan writes:
We're due with our first child on Sept 21st and we CANNOT figure out a boy's name. We've got a girl's name picked, but are struggling MIGHTILY with t'other. And since apparently everyone and their mom thinks I'm having a boy (up to and including the lovely woman behind the counter at Qdoba, who couldn't speak a lick of English, but nevertheless assured me that it was indeed a niño) I suppose we had better get a good name picked.

Ok, the important info is as follows: our last name is Smelker, we're partial to the middle name Loren (after my husband's dad...we've thought about using it for a first name, but aren't sure...) and I'd like to avoid anything that ends in -er. We don't want anything too popular or common, but also want to stay away from the really esoteric names like Dweezil or Pilot Inspektor. My current favorite is Phineas, which husband also likes, but he's thinking more for middle name while I'm thinking first name. (We'd go with the nickname Finn...) Husband's current and long-time champion favorite is Abram, which for some reason I can't STAND. (Well, I know one reason why I can't stand it--the nickname Abe makes me want to chew tinfoil.) Other names we like include:

Sullivan (husband likes this one--I can't help but dislike both the alliteration and the nickname Sully.)

Of course, none of these has yet proven to be "the one", but hopefully they give you an idea what we like!

These things are hard to predict, of course, but I'd say Emerson is going to be like the name Mackenzie: first used for both boys and girls, but now used almost exclusively for girls. It's unfair in both cases, I know, since both -son and Mac- are supposed to indicate a BOY---but not in the U.S., they don't. (See also: Allison, Madison, Mckayla, Mckenna.) Grayson/Greyson is still considered a boy name, but is getting girled into versions such as Gracen and Graceyn.

Instead I suggest Anderson or Harrison: they have the rhythm of Sullivan (without Sully or alliteration) and the -son ending of Emerson and Grayson. Edison, too: sounds like Emerson, but so far the Eddie nickname is keeping it all boy. And I think my favorite -son name is Lawson, but that may or may not be because of a cute boy I went to high school with who went by his surname Lawson. Ooo, or Carson, I like Carson: it was being used increasingly for girls in the late '90s but since then has been dropping like a stone for girls and rising up for boys.

Emerson makes me think of Emmett: despite the matching Em- beginnings, Emmett isn't being used for girls so far.

Aaric and Arden together made me think of Aidric. I like how it blends Eric (getting to be a bit of a Dad Name) and Aidan (one of the Caden/Jaden/Hayden/Brayden cluster) in a way that gets rid of the slight problems with both.

You like Phineas and Fintan, so I wonder if you'd like Finian or Griffin.


beyond said...

(I wish you had revealed your girl name pick!)
I LOVE Phineas and am keeping my fingers crossed that your husband will come to think it is the perfect first name for you, too. I quite like Fintan too.
(I like Arden, but I think it's going to the girls, not sure if this is a concern for you.)
The mn Loren works for either girl or boy.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Please, please name him Emerson. It is definitely a boy's name, and I get so sad thinking that my son will be surrounded by girls with the same name! More boy Emersons! That said (ahem), I also really like both Phineas and Finian for you, too.

Peyton said...

I really do like Phineas, but I wonder if you might like Avram better than Abram—at least it gets rid of the nn Abe. (Personally, I think they both—Abram and Avram—sound really Jewish, but if it's only the nickname that makes you dislike it, or you actually are Jewish, hey!)

Patricia said...

Anonymous, I'm so sorry to have to tell you that Emerson was used for far more girls than boys in 2010: 632 boys were named Emerson, ranking #437 nationally, while 1006 girls were called Emerson, ranking #321. And as with most of the names ending in 'son' that are being used for girls, some parents changed that to 'syn' (260 girls named Emersyn) or 'sen' (53 girls called Emersen). I too wish that the surname names would stay in the boys' column, but parents of girls keep stealing them! I think the Ralph Waldo Emerson connection, plus the name ending in SON, make it a fine name for your little boy.

From your list, Jordan (a name that started out male and crossed over), Arden is another name that's crossing over. It's still not a popular name, but in 2009 more than twice as many girls (167) were given the name as boys (69).

Grayson (2237 boys given the name in 2009) -- and Graysen (107)-- is still predominantly male, with only 107 girls called Grayson, 22 Graysen and 17 Gracin. 895 boys were called Greyson. I think it's 'safe' to name a boy Grayson (I'd use the predominant spelling). However, I think a first name not ending in 'n' would go better with the middle name Loren (so nice for your son to have his middle name after a grandfather).

Thus, I think Eric (standard spelling) would be a good choice for you. With Smelker being an unusual surname, I think a more usual first name would work best.

Eric Loren Smelker

I really like that name for you.

Patricia said...

Correction: Emerson was used for more girls than boys in *2009* (SSA stats).

Patricia said...

I want to add that I don't think Eric is "a dad name" at all. Eric ranked #95 in 2009 and is classified by Wattenberg (Baby Name Wizard) as a "new classic". I highly recommend using a familiar name with Smelker and think Eric, a well-known but not presently overly popular name, is a good contrast with your less usual surname.

Swistle said...

Patricia- I agree the name Eric is a new classic and highly usable (and in fact it was our runner-up choice for one of our boys)---but it was #13 in the mid-'70s and has been on a steady descent ever since. Such a huge number of guys my age were named Eric, it's like Jason: still definitely usable, but it's the same name as an extremely common name in the previous generation---the name of, therefore, the dads. A SLIGHT problem, as I said, but an issue worth considering.

Also, in this particular case I dislike the smacky sound of Eric Smelker. (For some reason Aidric doesn't give my ear as much smack sound---I think because of the strong DR instead of the soft R.)

Abby@AppMtn said...

Why not name him Bram? Or Abram, but use the nn Bram? I'm not sure if you're going for something longer, but Bram seems like Finn - short, strong, but not so masculine you feel like you'll need to dress him in a camo onesie. (But you COULD.)

If you are concerned about the name being perceived as feminine, I agree with Swistle - Emerson and Graysen are out.

I have a dear friend named Aric, so I love seeing the A-spelling, but I'm not sure I've ever seen Aaric before. It doesn't look wrong (there's Aaron, after all) but it is more respelling that I would do.

Suzanne said...

I LOVE Phineas and had it picked out as a name I would definitely use some day ever since I read A Separate Peace back in middle school. Fin is an adorable nickname and even though Julia Roberts used it for one of her twins I've never met a kid in real life named Phineas, so it's still different without being crazy. Phineas Loren Smelker is great.

My other favorites are Carson and Anderson.

Patricia said...

Suzanne, I too have never met a kid name Phineas, and that's why I see it as too unusual to pair up with Smelker. To my ears, an 'odd' first name seems to be more so when paired with an unusal surname. It seems to make the entire name sound a big strange: Phineas Smelker (sounds like a character in a peculiar children's novel or movie).

As for Eric Smelker or Aidric Smelker, I don't hear much difference in sound between _-ric Smelker or _-dric Smelker and like either of them. Aidric would be a way to use a less usual name, yet one that sounds somewhat familiar because of AIDan and eRIC.

No offense meant to Jordan and her husband regarding their surname. You *could* put just about any name with it, but I personally think a more usual sounding name makes the total name -- such as Eric Smelker (or Aidric Smelker) -- sound better.

One last comment: I've never heard the name Fintan before, but see that something like 17 American boys were given the name last year. Where did Fintan come from? I like Swistle's suggestions of either Finian or Griffin better, although those are Celtic-type names, I think (no time to look them up right now), so that, again, I wonder if they're a good match for Smelker.

Just some things to consider when searching for that special name for your baby.

StephLove said...

I like Phineas Loren Smelker. How about Matthias or Josiah? I think it might have the sound you are looking for. I think Josiah Smelker sounds great.

Jordan said...

Beyond, I'm not sure why I didn't include our girl name pick--it's Breña Daynes. (Breñ's from a song by an artist my husband and I both love, so we want to keep the spelling the same. Daynes is a family name.) Unfortunately, my husband seems more and more set against Aaric (note: this is the Norwegian spelling...I'm part Danish and husband part Swede, so we have been looking at Scandinavian inspiration) as he apparently knows too many guys named Eric. I'm excited about all the suggestions I've seen so far, though, and can't wait for him to read this as well!

Sunk Costs said...

what do you think about Abbott? it's a short, modern A-name without the potential for the 'Abe' nickname. Or a name like Wyman or Whitman that has a masculine -man ending?

TaraRhode said...

i do love Phineas!!! and Abram, nn Bram... i met a toddler Bram once with curly blond hair and huge, brown eyes who was the sweetest most energetic bundle of happiness. (o:

Erin said...

What about Anders? or Ansel? (going with the scandinavian feel here) Marlon?

Otherwise I like Griffin or Phineas. I think of Emerson and Arden and fully female names at this point.

What about instead of Graysen, just Gray? Gray Loren Smelker sounds rather dashing I think.

And, I noticed the repeating K sounds with both Eric/Aaric and Aidric, don't love either of them with Smelker.

Carolyn said...

I love Griffin from Swistle's list, and Fintan from your list.

Good luck!

brooke said...

Congrats on expecting! Boys names can be very tricky. I wanted to echo that the nn Bram is a great alternative to Abe. Bram is very modern and handsome. Phineas Smelker is a bit much for me. Two unusual names, etc. I do think that Griffin, nn Finn is a good suggestion. Also, if you are wanting a nn, Lock is a fun nn for Lawson.

Here are a few more:
Elliot, nn Eli
Gabriel, nn Gib
Colman, nn Cole
Dexton, nn Dex
Cormac, nn Mac

Good luck and happy naming!!

PS I know of 2 little girls named Arden, sorry!!

Frazzled Mom said...

I really love Lars are a nickname. It would work for Lawson. I like both Lars Smelker and Lawson Smelker.Unfortunately I don't care for Lawson Loren... too bad. Maybe Loren with the nickname Lars? It's a bit of a stress, but it does offer your son an out if he doesn't like how Loren sounds like Lauren.

I really think Aidric is a great choice - and I really like Swistle's reasoning behind it.

Sandy said...

Perhaps Arren? But, maybe not with the middle name Loren.

The Mrs. said...

What about:

Ruston (Russ or Rusty) Loren Smelker
Hawkins (Hawk) Loren Smelker
Lawson (Law) Loren Smelker
Watson (Watts) Loren Smelker

Best wishes to your growing family!

Janelle said...

I really LOVE Swistle's suggestion of Anderson/ Andersen. It has a Scandinavian feel (and NN Anders even more so) and I think it also nails that classic-but-unusual category.

Abbott is another fabulous suggestion from the comments.

I must say, Abram/Bram Smelker reminds me too much of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, so I would stay away from it for that reason. (Maybe this will help you convince your husband?)

Good luck! You've got a great list to choose from.

Anonymous said...

I think the name Eric is a great one to use. The repeating C/K sound in both the first and last name does not bother me actually. I think it makes the name sound "strong".

Eric is a great name to use as it is familiar, has a great meaning, sounds great on a child and grows well into a name for a Man all while not being overly popular or trendy (it never cracked the top 10).