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Friday, January 29, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: A Problem With the Name's Meaning

Eilidh writes:
Hello! My husband and I have Emmett, who is 6, then Alice, who is 4, and Leighton, who is 2. We have an issue with naming our last baby, a boy. We both love the name Shane, and it is our very first choice. However, the meaning is "God is gracious". This is where our issue is. Both my husband and I are non-religious, and we aren't raising our children with a religion. We don't want to give him a name tied to a religious meaning, and it can mean a lot to someone. We're both very Irish, and love those sort of names. We'd love some help! Thanks so much!

P.S.: If the baby was going to be a girl, he would have been Rowan. Is that any help?

Oh, easy one! I know exactly what you should name your baby: Shane.

About the meaning---I getcha, I do. But baby name meanings are not the actual meanings of names. Generally meanings are based only on the root words from which the names were formed. Other meanings can be totally arbitrary. Baby name books frequently disagree on what any particular name means.

Meanings are fun and may even significantly enhance a name for the parents, but that's it. Rowan means "little redhead," but if your baby had been a girl she needn't have been a redhead to possess that name, nor would your giving her that name have meant that you wanted her to be one. And the name Leighton means "meadow settlement," but you're not rearing Leighton as a meadow settlement and no one should think you were.

Shane in particular has a very tenuous connection to its meaning: Shane is the English version of one possible pronunciation of the Irish name Sean (the English version of the other possible pronunciation is Shawn). Sean, in turn, is the Irish version of John. The name John is a contracted form of the Hebrew name Johanan. And it's Johanan that means "God is gracious" in Hebrew. [Source for all this stuff: Oxford Dictionary of First Names.]

To me, this means that if you were rearing your children in that religion, you could think pleasantly of Shane's several-times-removed connection to that meaning. But the name Shane has, well, almost NOTHING to do with the name Johanan. The name Shane HAS no meaning. Name your son Shane! You love it, and the only real meaning of that name to you is going to be "Our Baby."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Baby Boy With a Long Hyphenated Surname

Jenny writes:
We need baby name help. Our baby boy is due in February---he will be our first---and we're having so much trouble deciding on a name. The main obstacle we're encountering is finding a good balance to our long, hyphenated last name (2 syllables-3 syllables)---we don't want first/middle names that are too long or cumbersome, and we can't have a name that ends in 'son' because our last name ends in 'son'. Also because of our last name, we'd prefer a first name that sounds like a first name and not like another surname (like Walker, Garrett, Parker, etc).

Right now, we're leaning towards 'Gatliff' as the middle name. It's a family name, and unusual, and goes way back on my side. The first name is where we're stuck. We prefer old-fashioned or hippie-ish names that are not terribly popular or preppy. Our top runners are Elijah (Eli) (but it's getting awfully popular), Miles, Ezra, Oliver, and Micah.

Names we've thought about but one of us has ruled out include Charlie, Owen, Julian, Asher, August, Wyatt, Sawyer, Gideon.

A last note: names we love for a future daughter include Ruby, Emmeline (Emme), and Hazel. I'd like the names of our kiddos to all be of the same 'genre', if possible.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Help?? :)

It's so useful to know the future possible girl names!

Archer (a little surnameish but Archie is so cute with the girl names)

My favorite is Arlo Gatliff. Arlo and Ruby! Arlo and Hazel! So cute and sassy!

A slightly less daring choice with a similar sass is Milo Gatliff. (Milo and Ruby, Milo and Hazel.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baby Boy Raymond

Christina writes:
I am pregnant with our first - a boy. And we have not discussed names seriously since the first week I knew I was pregnant and I'm starting to panic that we're just going to keep procrastinating and make a rash decision.

- My husband's name is Marc and he would like that to be the middle name for our son, since it's 2 generation tradition in his family to have the father's first name be the firstborn son's middle. I'm okay with it, but having a hard time finding names that flow nicely with Marc as a middle.
- I prefer somewhat unique multisyllabic names that have clear spellings/pronunciations.
- My husband seems to prefer strong masculine names, but doesn't like many of the biblical ones I do.
- Daniel, Douglas, Edward, Timothy, Joseph and Adam have already been taken by other family members.
- We do like many of the more modern names, but some of them (like Wyatt) are just a little too out there for us.
- Also, since our last name ends with a "man" sound, I don't think we should choose a first name ending in -on or -an sounds (e.g., Roman, Jackson).

I originally was inclined to name him Thomas after my father, but when I told my mom and sisters, they all reacted badly as we have many many Toms in the family already. Thomas Marc is also a tad boring.

Any suggestions are most welcome. I'm not finding the baby books or celebrities to be very inspirational.

Let's play a game! I'm going to take the boy name section of my copy of The Baby Name Wizard, open it to a page at random, and choose one boy name from that page. I got pages 214-215, and I suggest Louis. Louis Marc Raymond. Let's play again! Pages 190-191. I suggest Franklin and Frederick. Franklin Marc Raymond. Frederick Mark Raymond. One more time! Pages 242-243, and I suggest Stephen. Stephen Marc Raymond. This is a good way to get a list going when it's hard to make a list; each parent can choose a name from each page.

Looking up the name Thomas, I notice the name Theodore. Theodore Marc Raymond.

I nearly suggested Edmund, an excellent strong masculine name that doesn't see the light of day often enough---and then I realized EdMUND RayMOND.

Nathaniel Marc Raymond would be nice.

Or Nicholas Marc Raymond.

Or Jeremy Marc Raymond.

Jonathan Marc Raymond.

Help me out, you guys; I'm stuck on this one.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Baby Girl, Sister to Jacob Gavin

Jenna writes:
I know this is very late notice, but I'm hoping for some outside advice and suggestions.
I wish I had found your blog a couple months ago!
I am due with a baby girl in a couple days, but it looks like she will probably be late like her brother was.
My name is Jenna, my husband is Josh, and our son is Jacob Gavin (Gavin is a family name I've always loved).
We did not intentionally choose a "J" name for him and don't want to continue with the "J" names.
I always said that it was a good thing he was a boy, because my husband and I could never agree on a girl name. Well, I was half joking, but now I'm due to have a girl and she still doesn't have a definite name! I need help!
Some requirements are:
1. It sounds good with our names, even though it doesn't start with a "J". I especially want it to go well with Jacob/Jake.
2. It cannot end with an "S" or "S" sound because our last name starts with an "S".
3. Nothing made up/no creative spelling
4. Not too popular, but not too weird. Jacob is so popular (which I don't seem to mind with my son), but I would like something less popular for our daughter. Top 100 would be OK, but probably not top 10.

Names that I have suggested:
Peyton (this has always been a favorite and is a family name)
Cara (my son suggested it and I love it, but hubby doesn't)
Eva (I love it, but it does not go with our last name as it has an "eve" sound in it)
Brenna (I love this too, but it's out because it rhymes with my name)

Other names that I like, but are too popular right now

Names my husband has suggested
Miriam (I really don't like this)
Elise (which is nice, but runs together with our last name)
Megan (I think it's OK)

Possibilities that we both like:
Addison (a little too popular right now for me)

We are thinking of using Malia for a middle name since we recently moved to Hawaii and it is Hawaiian for Marie which is my middle name as well as my mother's and my grandmother's . However, I'm OK not using it if it doesn't go with the first name.
I really would like to try and honor my grandmother with a middle name and her name was Anita Marie, so maybe another version of Ann or Marie (I've never cared for Marie, I think because every other girl I knew growing up had the same middle name!)

I love the old classic names that don't go out of style, but I also like names that you don't hear all the time. I would love a name that is feminine, but still strong and not too cutesie, and it needs to go with Jacob. I just think there is a name or name combination that we haven't thought of. Maybe we have thought of it, I just want to know which sounds best! With the move and everything I just feel like I haven't been able to focus on names and now she's going to be here! Please help!
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Baby Naming Story

I liked this story of how a baby's name was chosen, and I thought you might like it too. It's from Through the Looking Glass, and Annika has generously allowed me to reprint an excerpt here:
So I wanted to tell the story of how we came up with our daughter’s name. Only it’s not much of a story, unlike her brother’s name. But I can’t think of anything else to talk about, and I get twitchy if I go too long without updating, and Will’s mom is here entertaining Sam (he is in HEAVEN) so I don’t have anything to distract me other than a ridiculously good-natured baby who is happy to just lay on her Daddy’s chest. So naming it is.

With Sam we were still discussing names the day before I went into labor. This time we settled on names when I was 20 or 21 weeks pregnant (though it’s not as if that stopped us from discussing them over the remaining time). We picked two girl names and two boy names, and almost immediately narrowed the boy name down to one (sort of–our favorite boy name was the two names combined as first and middle). The girl names were a favorite from the first time (which I am convinced would be Sam’s name were he a girl) and Grace. Each name had a middle name after one of my grandmothers.

My name is the Swedish diminutive form of Anna, which is a form of Hannah, which means grace. My mother’s name, Nancy, is a form of Anne, which is a form of Anna, et cetera. My step-sister is named Hannah... Read the rest of the story at Through the Looking Glass.

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl Brown! And they are now expecting again, so you can continue to leave girl name ideas on that post or on this one!

Baby Boy or Girl Rivera

Heather writes:
My husband and I are expecting our first baby right around Valentine's Day. We have a boy's name picked out, Charles Anthony, after my husband's grandfather and great uncle. Plus, they are both saint's names, which my husband also prefers. However, we are having trouble picking out a girl's name. My husband is very partial to family names, and his favorite girl name is Anna Maria, after various female relatives of his, although he would accept a variant of this, maybe Annemarie or Marianna. I don't mind using the family names for a first boy, but I don't really want both name options to come from his family!

His family is from Spain, so perhaps a girl's name with a Spanish flavor, but not one that is too common in the U.S., would be nice. Our criteria are: at least one saint's name, classic--definitely no place names like Madison or Savannah, and not a top-10 name. Unfortunately, several of my favorite names just seem too popular, such as Emily and Abigail. Jillian, Claire, and Margaret are others I like, but they also out b/c they are already in the family. The list of names we both agree on for a girl is pretty short. Our first choice is Elizabeth Anne, with nn Libby, but I wonder if the name is too vanilla, besides Elizabeth being pretty popular right now. Another option is Evangeline Marie, but we're not quite sure about it. I do like all the nickname options it gives, though. Our last name starts with an E and is similar to Rivera.

Other names I like are:


Middle name will probably be something like Marie or Anne, although other suggestions are welcome!

Thanks so much!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Baby Naming Story

I liked this story I read of how a baby's name was chosen, and I thought you might like it too. It's from Kirida dot com, and Mona has generously allowed me to reprint an excerpt here:
We decided our second baby’s name this weekend and a choir of angels sprung forth in our house. Well, actually I went, “AHHHHHHHH!” which is as close to cherubic as you’ll get in our hotbed of hedonism and Cinemax favorites. For a few weeks, Mike has been set on the name Chase, which is a fine name in itself. It’s French, it means “hunter.” It also represents the damn bill I get every month. I told Mike no, I would not have Chase as a son. It doesn’t fit our family and it’s not like the company would lower my interest rate if I sent in a birth certificate with my next payment, like hey you guys, can’t we do something? I mean, meet me halfway, I named my son after you! What are you going to do about my reward points?!?

I loved “N” names–Nolan being my favorite. I also loved Simon which is still an awesome name to have. Simon was the smartest of the three chipmunks. Simon liked to take baths and do drawreeeengs, you cheeky monkey!

So there was a war between Chase and Simon. Mike kept saying that our son’s ass would get beaten at the park with a name like that, which makes me wonder what kind of freaking park we would take our kids where names are reason enough for a beatdown. Wouldn’t he be beaten down for something else? Like winning the spelling bee and showing punks how to spell “paternity test”? Still, it was pretty contentious. Mike doesn’t backdown and the more I fought against Chase, the more he was convinced that it was the BEST. NAME. EVER. (Which again, is a great name, but not for me!)

We did the logical thing which was to ask our three-year-old what he thought. I mean, this kid has a lot of opinions. He’ll walk up to me and say, “Mommy! I like your susu (chamorro word for BOOBIES)” Then using his little toddler finger, points to my right boob and adds, “THIS ONE.”

So we said, “Nathan, which do you like more–Chase or Simon?” Read the rest of the story over at Kirida dot com.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Baby Girl Bliss

D. writes:
We are expecting a little girl (our first child) February 13. Her last name will be Bliss. We had originally decided on Harper (perhaps Harper Ann Bliss), but have been feeling less sure as of late and are exploring other options (in heated conversations!). Other finalist names are: Adelaide, Auden, Delilah, Emerson, Clementine, and Greer. We've ruled out (but I like) Quincy, Matilda, Phillipa (or Pippa) and Helena. Please help!

Let's have a poll! It's over to the right.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baby Boy, Brother to Audrey Josephine

Rachel writes:
We're expecting our second child, a boy on February 11th. Our older daughter is Audrey Josephine, initials AJK, a tradition from my husband's side of the family for the first born to have those initials. She was super easy to name, my Grandmother had passed away before I was pregnant, and since her name was Josephine that was easy... and believe it or not I had a dream that I was having a daughter and that she would be named Audrey when I was about 20 weeks, and after that there was no question about it.

This time, it's not been so easy. Boys seem much harder to name! I want to use my father's name as a middle name, Randall, which (although my dad is great!) is not my favorite name. I really like James for a first name, my husband doesn't. We both kind of like Daniel, but that sounds awful with Randall as a middle name. My husband likes Jonah, and I do, except that it reminds me of the Jonas Brothers. I'm not sure if that is a deal breaker or not. Other names that I've liked that my husband hasn't been too excited about: Owen, Milo, Samuel, and Adam. He likes Eli and Atticus a lot, and I do not. It would be nice to get some other names in the mix for us to consider, any suggestions would help a lot!

To me, the Jonas Brothers wouldn't be a deal-breaker for the name Jonah. I think it's because the Jonas Brothers are more like Thejonasbrothers, as if it's all one word---the way Mel Gibson is Melgibson and I don't think of his name as actually being Mel.

The Baby Name Wizard lists Owen as a brother name for Eli, which makes me feel as if your tastes are very close together and we just need to find the one name that works. Other brother names for Eli: Noah (similar to Jonah but no Jonas Brothers association), Levi, Jake, and Caleb.

Oh, and look! The brother names for Jonah also include Eli and Noah and Caleb! The other two brother names are Micah and Asher.

Noah Randall K.
Levi Randall K.
Jacob Randall K.
Caleb Randall K.
Micah Randall K.
Asher Randall K.

Do any of those appeal?

Brother names for Noah are Eli, Owen, Jonah, and Caleb, and only one new option: Ethan. Caleb has an interesting brother option: Elijah. That's sort of Eli merged with Jonah. And Elijah's brother names include Isaiah and Josiah. Samuel's brothers include Benjamin and Simon.

Ethan Randall K.
Elijah Randall K.
Isaiah Randall K.
Josiah Randall K.
Benjamin Randall K.
Simon Randall K.

I particularly like Simon with Audrey. I think Simon has the intellectual image of Atticus, and also improves the name Randall. So Simon would be my first choice. But I think a lot of the others work very well too: Audrey and Benjamin, Audrey and Ethan, Audrey and Caleb.

Name update 02-07-2010! Rachel writes:
Thanks for the advice and feedback!! Jonah Randall was born at 3:02am on February 4th. He was 8 lbs, 11 ounces, and he was 21 1/2 inches long. I think I just needed to hear from people who weren't related to me!

Thanks again!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Baby Girl or Boy Parker, Sibling to Alexandra and Keegan

Christie writes:
I have a 3.5 year daughter named Alexandra Brielle, but we call her Allie 99.5% of the time. We also have a 1.5 year old son named Keegan Gregory (Gregory is my husbands middle name). Keegan and Alexandra seem so different, but the Alexandra was picked in a last ditch effort to name her. I still don't love her name. My husband liked it when he picked it and he loves it now, I was so frustrated that I ended up agreeing and never could come up with anything I liked better. I do like the nickname options she has, and I like that she has a good grown up name to fall back on. So if all else fails, I guess that would be a good thing to duplicate in another girls name... nn options, nice adult full name. I LOVE my sons name. This time around, I still can not find one girl name that I more than kinda like. Not one girl could I picture as MY BABY.

Our last name is Parker.

Boys names I love (in this order)

Boys Middle Names
Nathaniel (family)
Nicholas (family)
Michael (family)
James (just kinda like it)

Girls names I kinda like:
Genevieve (Genna/Jenna) (this is the only that doesnt get deleted off the list everytime we start over... but I still dont love it)
Elisabeth (Lissa) I dont like the beth part but I like that its long like Alexandra... friend suggested Elisabelle and I like the sound, but i'm just not sure here...
Claire (does this fit with Alexandra?)
Anneliese (I dont like the nicknames and I know people will try to call her Annie/Anna or even worse Elise)
Emmeline (Emmie... dont know about this one)
Madeleine (Maddie... lots of little Madison's running around with this nickname, and I am sure about the full name)

Girl Middle Names
Nicole (family)
Arianna (husband likes)

Names that I can't use...
Ashleigh (no Ash names)

Names that we have discarded...
Kieran, Logan, Luke, Landon, Lincoln, Caleb, Tiernan, Callum, Connor

Sophia, Ava, Samantha, Gabrielle/a, Amelie, Embry, Emerson,

Feel free to bring up the discards if you think they fit. I mostly need girl suggestions, but I would love opinions on what fits with Keegan the best as far as the boys name go.
Also, after this baby... we may end up trying one more time... so if you could pick the two best boy names and two good girl names, that would be even better!

For a girl, I suggest Anastasia, Cassandra, Penelope, Philippa, or Philomena. They're all nice long Greek names, like Alexandra, and in fact I think they favorably emphasize the ancient-Greek elements of Alexandra.

Or to go a different route, perhaps Felicity, Arabella, Clarissa, Josephine, Evangeline, or Susanna: all long and feminine like Alexandra, but without the Greekiness. I also like Annabelle as the first name.

I notice all your boy names are Celtic; I wonder if you'd like Celtic girl names?


To narrow down the boy names, you could choose your favorite of Lachlan, Declan, and Cullen, since they all have the same ending. Since you have two each of Ls, Ds, and Cs, whichever name of those three you choose, you could choose a second boy name from the names starting with the other two letters. So, for example, if you choose Declan, that would rule out Lachlan and Cullen (same ending), and then it would rule out Deacon (same starting letter) and you'd choose from Liam and Camden. If you chose Lachlan, that would rule out Declan and Cullen (same ending), and then it would rule out Liam (same starting letter) and you'd choose from Deacon and Camden. My own favorites:

Keegan, Declan, and Camden
Keegan, Declan, and Liam
Keegan, Lachlan, and Camden

Or of course you could choose none of the -lan endings and go with something like Keegan, Camden, and Liam, or Keegan, Liam, and Deacon. There are so many good combinations.

For middle names I like Declan Nathaniel, Camden James, Liam James, Lachlan James, Deacon James, Cullen Michael---but I think most of the middle names match up nicely with most of the first names.

I would use Callum (from the discard pile) over Cullen, because I'm worried that Twilight's Edward Cullen will have a long effect on the name Cullen.

Nickname: Savvy

Lara writes:
Hey! I'm emailing on behalf of a friend, who recently heard the name Savvy (that's s-a-v-v-y, not s-a-w-y) and loved it. However, she would prefer to use it as a nickname for something rather than a proper name. The only name we can think of is Savannah. Are there any other names out there that Savvy would be a good nickname for?


I looked in the index of The Baby Name Wizard to find all names starting with "Sav," and found this list:


Well, hm. If it's the SOUND she likes, she could use a name that gives a similar nickname such as Sabby or Saffy or Saphy.


And of course she could make up a name. Saveela. Savayla. Savella. Savona. Saveena. Savika. Savrina. Savira. Savinna. Savayna. Saverra. Well, I am not very good at making up names, but maybe she is.

I do think, though, that the name you thought of is the best way to get the nickname: Savannah/Savanna is the clearest route to Savvy.

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Boy or Girl Dunham!
Update on Baby Girl, Sister to Griffin Michael!
Update on Baby Naming Issue: Mixing Two Naming Styles! (That's the one with Airyn, Brylee, Madesyn, Frances, Russell, and Marjory.)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Baby Girl, Sister to Griffin Michael

Erinn writes:
We are expecting our second child in January (the 25th). My name is Erinn, my husband is Mike and our son is 3 and his name is Griffin Michael. Our last name sounds like "March" but starts with a "b". This time around we are having a girl and for some reason we are really having trouble coming up with a name.
I would like a name that is similar to Griffin...somewhat unusual but not bonkers, easy to pronounce and no creative spelling. I have suggested Hadley and Berit, which my husband has rejected, and he has suggested Samantha, which I don't mind but I don't love. We both think Hailey is OK but not great. I don't want an extremely popular name (which sort of eliminates Hailey and Samantha), but I don't want an invented name either. As for middle names, I was thinking of using Dayle, which is my middle name. That is not a requirement however, it would just depend on how it goes with the first name!
I realize this is a problem of too many possibilities, but I just feel like our baby's name is out there somewhere, we just haven't considered it yet. We need help!! My son has suggested Billy Chomper and that just doesn't seem like a viable option.

Well, are you SURE? If we spelled it Billie Chomperr it would look more feminine. Here are some other suggestions:


Name update 01-10-2010! Erinn writes:
Well, I'm excited to see all the excellent suggestions...but Griffin's little sister was born last Tuesday (three weeks early)! Once the pressure was on, we came up with Piper Dayle. Thanks so much for all your help!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Baby Boy, Brother to Rachel Lynn

Toni writes:
I'm due January 22, 2010 and we don't have a name yet. We're having our second child, a boy, and have possibilities narrowed a bit- here's what we'd like/need:
My first child is a girl, named Rachel Lynn.

1. We've decided on the middle name James.
2. We lean more towards traditional type names- no creative spellings, no trendy names, etc
3. I' wanted to stay away from some of the more popular names, but (as in #2) don't want to get too trendy/creative
4. Our last name has a strong B sound, so we're trying to stay away from B sounds in the first name
5. To us, it seems like two syllable first names work best with our last name
6. The only possibility that we have both agreed up so far is Ethan, but I don't think we're sure of that...

I'd appreciate your help!

Oh, Ethan is nice! Or maybe Evan? Rachel and Evan? Or Ian: Rachel and Ian. My favorite of those possibilities is Evan: Evan James.

Or Andrew: Andrew James, Rachel and Andrew.

Lucas: Lucas James, Rachel and Lucas.

Simon: Simon James, Rachel and Simon.

Edmund: Edmund James, Rachel and Edmund.

Eric: Eric James, Rachel and Eric.

Stephen: Stephen James, Rachel and Stephen.

Nathan: Nathan James, Rachel and Nathan.

Calvin: Calvin James, Rachel and Calvin.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baby Naming Emergency!: Baby Boy Snow

I emailed Nichole today asking, "Is it too late? Have you already had him?," and she emailed back:
Ha! Your timing is so funny.... I had "him" yesterday and "he" is still NAMELESS!!!!! Any suggestions? :) Our current list includes Andrew, Reid, and Benjamin but DH and I can't agree on anything. We'd love some help!! We leave the hospital tomorrow and would like to have a name by then but we're not required to have one until Sat. Thanks!

So I haven't FINISHED-finished this post, it's still in draft form and I haven't double-checked all the names to make sure they fit the requirements, but I'm going to post it right away because I want us to help name this baby as soon as possible!

Nichole writes:
We are in desperate need of naming help for our second son. It has been a tough pregnancy and I've been on bedrest since week 17 - now at week 36 we have finally hit our goal and are allowing ourselves to begin naming our son. I could go into labor at any time and since we didn't feel comfortable discussing names until we knew for sure this pregnancy would turn out ok, we are just now realizing we can't agree on ANY names!!! Our first son is named Parker and our last name is Snow. We do not want a first name beginning with P (my husband's name starts w/ a P and that is confusing enough for some people!), and since "Snow" actually means something, we don't want a first name that has meaning too (example: Tanner) or anything that is cutesy or sounds like a sentence (example: Landon Snow!) We also do not want a first name that ends in S as we feel it is too "hissy" (example: ThomasSnow, JamesSnow). No names ending in an "o" sound - it just sounds silly w/ our last name (example: Milo Snow, Leo Snow). No traditionally boys names that girls are taking over (Elliott, Morgan) or too-trendy names (Cayden/Jayden/Hayden/Aiden). My thought is we need a first name with at least 2 syllables since our last name is so short and kind of harsh... but maybe I'm wrong? Would love to hear your thoughts! Last restriction is my own weird one: I would prefer a non "er" ending name as I feel having a Parker and an Archer or Asher is too similar in structure. I am soooo picky with names and am driving my husband CRAZY!!! I'm not into creative spellings or "unique" names, but on the other hand my husband will not go for anything too common (John, Matthew, Ryan, etc). The ONLY 2 names we are considering is Andrew (my fave, but too common for my husband), and Barrett (his first pick, I'm not crazy about it). I am so worried that I will have this baby and we won't have picked out a name in time!! To sum it up - no "er," no "P," no "s ending," no "o ending," no names the girls are taking, no too-trendy, probably two syllables, and something uncommon but not weird. Thank you all so much in advance!!

I'll use this as an opportunity to push an unusual and underused name: Karl. Karl Snow. Parker and Karl. That's my favorite.

If the more Z-like S-sound of Charles doesn't bother you as much with Snow, or if you didn't mind going straight to Charlie without using Charles, I'd suggest Charlie. Charlie Snow, Parker and Charlie. Jazz fans may think of Charlie Parker; most people will just think the names go perfectly together and not know quite why.

If Andrew is too common for your husband, maybe Anderson? Anderson Snow, Parker and Anderson.

And I know you say not Elliot, but OH I love Elliot, and it's so dashing with your surname: Elliot Snow, Parker and Elliot. I know some girls are using it, but I think it's still Boy.

Or if not Elliot, maybe Everett? I don't think the girls have gotten to that one yet. Everett Snow, Parker and Everett.

Some other possibilities:

Adrian Snow; Parker and Adrian
Brady Snow; Parker and Brady
Brenden Snow; Parker and Brenden
Evan Snow; Parker and Evan
Gabriel Snow; Parker and Gabriel
Gavin Snow; Parker and Gavin
Henry Snow; Parker and Henry
Keegan Snow; Parker and Keegan
Kyle Snow; Parker and Kyle
Larson Snow; Parker and Larson
Marshall Snow; Parker and Marshall
Mason Snow; Parker and Mason
Ridley Snow; Parker and Ridley
Ruben Snow; Parker and Ruben
Wesley Snow; Parker and Wesley
Wilson Snow; Parker and Wilson

P.S. Karl! Karl Snow! Baby Karl! Parker and his little brother Karl!

Baby Naming Issue: Two Middle Names and a Hyphenated Surname

Bridie writes:
We are due in just a few weeks and wondered what you thought about giving a child multiple middle names when the last name is hyphenated and both of the middle and the first name are longish. Basically, if we included the names we'd like to, we'll end up with a little girl with a 16 syllable name! We are absolutely committed to our first name (Penelope) and the first second name (Alexandra) is a tribute both to my beloved and deeply missed BIL who died this year and to my husbands father, so we'd like to keep it, too. The wild card is the second middle name: Magnolia. This, we both loved and had originally wanted for a first name, but friends and family deemed it to weird... So. Our baby's full name would be Penelope Alexandra Magnolia Cotter-Taylor. Is that too long? Too over the top? What do you think?

As long as we're clear that this is purely a matter of opinion, I'd say that name is too much. It's long enough to start being a little bit funny. I think if I were you I would save Magnolia for a possible later daughter---perhaps as a middle name, or perhaps you'll decide you want to use it as a first name after all: I think it's a great first name, and a good sister name for Penelope.

I think we ought to put this question to the vote---there's a poll over to the right.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Dutch Names

Erika writes:
Hi, my name is Erika and my husband's name is Kirk. We are having our first child, due in January.

My husband does not want any repeats of names from his family or mine, save for the middle names. Turns out his family boy names are all traditional and rather ho-hum, like Ed, John, Paul. He would like the middle name to be Lydia or Marie after his grandmothers if we have a girl. I am of Dutch heritage and would like to preserve some of this heritage in the name of our kids if possible. One girl's Dutch name I like is Marika. My maiden name is VanStralen. However, I do like Biblical names, as well. Our last name is Bode, pronounced Bodee with a long "o". I would also not like a name that is in the top 20 currently.

Thank you for taking the time...we would love suggestions!

Does your husband mind looking farther back in the family trees, or is it just current family he doesn't want to repeat? If he wouldn't mind some long-gone family names, I suggest looking in your own Dutch family tree for ideas. Or, if your husband would prefer, you can look in mine.

In my own Dutch family tree, there's Derk for a boy, which my family would all be more tempted to use (he's our Crossed The Sea ancestor) if it didn't rhyme with jerk. Perhaps this is not as big a risk as we think, considering the popularity of Cooper-rhymes-with-pooper. In your family, the bigger problem is that Derk rhymes with Kirk.

There's also Hendrik, which is like a combination of Henry and Eric, and in fact you could call him Henry for short. In fact, I wish I'd thought of this when naming my own children, since both Henry and Eric were on our finalist list, and since we have not only Hendriks but Hendrikas (one of whom was our other Crossed The Sea ancestor) in our family tree.

I have many ancestors named Willem, which is a good way to get the nickname Will without going into the Top 20 (William was #8 in 2008, according to the Social Security Administration).

Ooo, and here's a Gerrit! Again, a name we're familiar with (Garrett) but with a Dutch spelling that reflects your heritage. We would have considered this name if the Gerrit in my husband's own Dutch family tree hadn't been such a jerk.

For girl names I see a lot of women named Hanna, which has a top-20 equivalent in the biblical name Hannah (#17 in 2008, according to the Social Security Administration), but I still think it's worth considering: a good Dutch name that's nevertheless familiar. (I seem to be ignoring your requirements one by one, first the family names and now the Top 20.) Hanna Marie Bode.

I also have Willemina, which I think is a more U.S.-palatable spelling for Wilhelmina. I like this name anyway and would consider it for a future daughter, and it's enhanced by its excellent nickname possibilities: Willa and Mina would both be contemporary yet unusual choices. Willemina Marie Bode.

Here's Cornelia, with the cute nicknames Cory or Neely or Lia, rather than, say, Corny. Cornelia Marie Bode.

Some other English-friendly Dutch girl names:
Anna (Anna is also biblical)
Johanna (Joanna is also biblical)

Some other English-friendly Dutch boy names:

Not everyone likes to do this (I remember a comment on a another post that claimed that if the spelling of an Italian name were altered by even one letter, it wasn't an Italian name anymore---perhaps people in Italy never use alternate spellings), but in our Dutch-origins family, we've translated Dutch names into English. For example, Dutch names starting with J are pronounced in Dutch as if they start with the English letter Y: Janna is more like Yonna. But because our family now speaks English, we translate it into English and pronounce it Janna, like Anna with a J. (Another translation option would be to spell it Yonna.)

We've also translated the boy's name Jan, which is the Dutch cognate of the name John and is pronounced Yon, by spelling it Jon and pronouncing it John. In our opinion this is a good compromise between on one hand wanting to honor our Dutch heritage, and on the other hand speaking English and living in the United States (where Jan is a girl's name pronounced to rhyme with van). Every family would have to figure out their own opinion on what's okay to change and what's not.

Name update 02-03-2010! Erika writes:
Just wanted to let you know in January 18th we had a baby boy! Thank you for your comments and suggestions on your blog. It was so fun to read it and see everyone's responses. We've named him Tyler Van Bode. My husband was fussier about the first name and didn't want Van as the first name so I gave it up for his middle name.

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Girl or Boy, Sibling to Lily Beth!
Update on Baby Girl Shore!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Baby Girl or Boy, Sibling to Lily Beth

Katie writes:
I need help with some name suggestions. My husband and I are expecting baby #2 on January 8 and have not found out the sex. We have a 3 year old girl, Lily Beth. We did not find out the sex with her either. Lily was the only girl name we could agree on and Beth is my mom and I's middle name. Our boy name choice was Jackson Dean, but that is not an option this time around (too many Jacks around now). Will Gregory was also an option, but not so this time around. So, we're starting at square one with Baby #2's name.

We seem to have middle names picked out already though. If it's a girl, the middle name will be Lane (my mother-in-law's maiden name) and if it's a boy it'll be Dean (my father-in-law and husband's middle name). Our last name is pretty standard and most names flow well with it. We tend to like kind of old-fashioned names. Some options on our list include:

Evelyn "Evie" (I have a friend with a daughter named Evangeline who they call Evie. I'm not sure what the etiquette is on that. Would we be copying? They'd be 3 years apart in age)
Lucy (We don't necessarily want a Lily and Lucy though. Also, Lucy Lane is a lot of L's.)

Grant (my dad's cousin's name is Grant and I'm not sure if it would be weird to use his name. We're not particularly close and we wouldn't be naming the baby after him, per say)

So far, we just haven't found anything that we absolutely love or that we can agree on. Most of the options listed above are names I like. My husband hasn't contributed a lot to the lists, just vetoes what I come up with. Ha!

Thanks for any help and advice!

I think an Evelyn-Evie born three years after a Evangeline-Evie is fine. I know some people are more sensitive on this issue than others, though, so if you think your friend might mind you could feel her out by mentioning that you're considering the name. Evelyn Lane is both pretty and strong, and is my first choice from your list.

I agree with you that Lily and Lucy is not an ideal sibling pair. Chloe and Gracie both work well with Lily, although any name that ends in an "ee" or even an "ah" sound will run together with Lane, making it sound like Elaine. That's not really a problem since we rarely say the first and middle names together (and since Elaine is a perfectly nice name), but it's the sort of thing I'd want to have thought of beforehand in case it WAS a problem. Gracie Lane, for example, sounds the same as Grace Elaine. Lucy Lane could sound like Loose Elaine.

Eleanor is similar to Evelyn, and you could pick between Ellie and Nora as nicknames. Eleanor Lane.

I wonder if you'd like the name Georgia? It's one of my own favorites. Georgia Lane. (A little too much like George Elaine?)

Or Esther. I think this name is so underused. Esther Lane.

Another of my favorites in the old-fashioned section is Clara. Clara Lane. (It sounds the same as Claire Elaine, but again, I think it's a minor issue.)

Beatrix goes exceptionally well with Lily, I think. Beatrix Lane.

I was going to try to coerce you into using the name Millicent, but then I realized that would give you a Lily and a Milly.

My first choice of your boy names is Everett. Everett Dean is terrific.

I think it's fine to use Grant even though it's your father's cousin's name. It may be a little awkward, yes, but the awkwardness will quickly pass. Grant Dean, though, seems choppy.

I also think you should reconsider Will Gregory---that's a very good name. Or Dean Gregory? Or Dean Jackson. Lily and Dean is wonderful.

I like Milo with Lily. Milo Dean.

Or Isaac? Isaac Dean.

Name update! Katie writes:
Hi, Swistle! Thanks for posting my question and offering some suggestions. I enjoyed reading them and the comments, even if it ended up being after the fact. We had a baby boy on December 21! His name is Henry Dean and he was 6 lbs. 11 oz. Had he been a girl, the name would've been Maggie Lane.

Baby Boy, Brother to Magnus Joseph

(I have a number of questions in my inbox I'm not going to get to in time, so I'll post them for anyone who would like to work on them.)

B. writes:
We're expecting our second little boy in January. Our last name is two syllables and starts with D and ends with a short "a" sound. Our son is Magnus Joseph. Magnus was originally kind of a joke between my husband and me but ended up becoming his name... and we love it! It's a good strong Scandinavian boy name, and we'd like to give the second boy a strong name as well. So far we are mostly decided on Gunnar for the first name but cannot decide upon a middle name. A biblical/traditional/old fashioned middle name that sounds good with Gunnar, doesn't leave him with weird initials (e.g. G.O.D.), and has a nice rhythm. I like Martin/Martyn and Maxwell and Alexander (though Gunnar Alexander could be a little too much "er"). I like the sound of single syllable names such as James or Jones, but I'm not sure I like either of those enough to use them. My husband is thinking about using Joseph for this baby's middle name, but I'd like to come up with some other options to offer him. We just can't decide on a middle name!

Any middle name suggestions?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Baby Girl Seagrave

(I have a number of questions in my inbox I'm not going to get to in time, so I'll post them for anyone who would like to work on them.)

Corinne writes:
Help! We are expecting our second daughter in January 2010 and we have no clue what to name her!

My first daughter is Sadie Helen Seagrave and she is 3 ½ now. Helen is after my grandmother, and Sadie is from a Beatles song :o) I had Sadie’s name picked before I even got married. I was hoping for a boy so it would be easy (Charles IV with a nickname of Casey) but no luck. I definitely want it to sound good with Sadie, but not too similar (I love Sydney and Cassidy… but Sadie said “the baby needs her own name, she can’t be the same as me!”)

It would be nice to do “Jane” as the middle name (after my husband’s mother) but it’s not critical.

Some of the names I like are:

* Calleigh
* Taylor
* Cameron
* Kendra
* Hayden

These are names I like, but my husband doesn’t:

* Aubrey
* Chloe
* Delilah
* Paige
* Jocelynn

Baby Girl Spencer

(I have a number of questions in my inbox I'm not going to get to in time, so I'll post them for anyone who would like to work on them.)

Beth writes:
We are having our 2nd girl January 5th. With the first one, we had NO issues with name.. With this one, we can't agree for anything! Our first child is 3 1/2 and her name is Isabella Geraldine (Geraldine after her great grandma who passed away). We call her Isabella, not fond of Bella, Izy, etc. We're not fond of nicknames.

My favorite name is Sayde Grace followed closely by McKinley Grace. I'm partial to Grace for a middle name, so they'd both have "G" middle names. I like Sayde because my grandma was Vadie. My husband just says to name her Vadie but that would be a little too odd for me.

My husband changes weekly; Scarlett, Regan, Madeline (long I) and Claire are the latest.

The only name we both kinda like is Ava but it's a little to short for me with Isabella and I think I'm thrown by the "A" in both like if I say "Isabella and Ava" that's a lot of A sounds.

Our last name is Spencer.

Also on our list were:
Anna Kate

Any thoughts or new suggestions? :-)

Baby Girl Shore

(I have a number of questions in my inbox I'm not going to get to in time, so I'll post them for anyone who would like to work on them.)

Catherine writes:
I'm due with a baby girl on January 4 and we're still stuck on a name! Our first two children were easy to name - Delilah Caroline (4) and Benjamin Jacob "Ben" (2). This time around, we've used our favorite names and don't want to use a "runner-up" from a previous pregnancy. (We want to love our second daughter's name just as much as we love Delilah and Benjamin!) We have a few rules:

1. No word names. Our last name is Shore, so anything like Daisy Shore or Georgia Shore sounds like a beach.
2. No one syllable names - they sound choppy with Shore. I'm willing to bend this one if we fall in love with a great one syllable middle name, but we would like to avoid this if possible.
3. Nothing starting with a D or a B. We'd like each child to have their own initial.

Here's our current list:


We're not 100% sold on any of these. Popularity isn't a big issue, but I'd like the name to "fit" with Delilah and Ben. I'd love to hear some suggestions, as well as opinions and comments on our current list. Thanks, Swistle!

Name update 01-05-2010! Catherine writes:
Adeline Olivia Shore arrived on January 2, 2010! We reconsidered our original list and fell in love with the name Adeline again. It fits her perfectly and we're happy to have found a great name for her.

Baby Naming Issue: Esme or Eliza?

Britt writes:
I'm hoping you can help me. My husband and I are adopting and so are in the process of weeding through my 300 names-long list to find the perfect fit for our new little one. We seem to be doing fine with boys, but are having more trouble with girl names. We have a short list to choose from - all classic but slightly less-used names. Here's the problem: we're thinking ahead and trying to plan which names we would use in combination with each other for future children. Both Esme and Eliza are at the very top of our list, but we would not want to use both because they seem very "matchy". The only factor that might help us decide which to use is the popularity of each. Right now Eliza is at #328 and Esme has not broken into the top 1000. However, I have been seeing Esme more and more and am worried that it will become the next Emma. (Not to mention the Twilight series and its impact on the name!) So, with all your experience with names (and maybe with the help of your readers) maybe you can help us figure out the future popularity of these names? We appreciate your help and love your blog!

I am pretty sure it was The Baby Name Wizard that brought to my attention the way an unusual name can FEEL more common than it is. That is, if you hear the name Maverick two times in a year it seems like it must be WILDLY POPULAR, but you can hear the name Jacob twenty times without hardly noticing. A less-common name can make more of an IMPRESSION, and so a name like Maverick, which was #511 in 2008 (source: Social Security Administration), might get tiresome on the ears sooner than the #1 most popular name in the United States, just because it is more noticeable.

(This can also work the other way, incidentally: a name can feel all boring and used up when actually no one is using it anymore and it's less common than the "unusual" names.)

My guess---and I hesitate even to guess---is that Esme won't get as popular as Emma, but I think there is the possibility of it being more noticeable than the more familiar Eliza (which I would have guessed was more common than it is) and therefore SEEMING more common. And there is the danger that a generation of teenagers is going to grow up and start using the names they've "always loved," and that some of those names will be from the Twilight craze.

I'd choose Eliza, and it's because Eliza seems so much more stable to me: Esme seems more likely to make a sudden startling move. I also prefer the easier spelling/pronunciation of Eliza. But my main reason for choosing it is that it would go better with other names I like, so it's not a fair comparison.

What do the rest of you think about the futures of the names Eliza and Esme?