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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baby Boy or Girl Klein

Kristen writes:
We need your help with baby girl names! We are due September 6th and dont know if we are having a boy or girl. I am going absolutley crazy with baby girl names. Our family last name is Klein and my maiden name is McHale. If we have a boy, we are most likely naming him Reed McHale Klein. I cant explain how we got to it but I like it because to me it is somewhat unique with natural elements -- I think of it as a mix betwwen River (which I love) and Grant.

For girl names, I constantly change my list. I am open to any and all ideas - If I had to define my style I would say that I want a name that feels a bit modern or fresh, not too long and not too trendy.

Here are the current names we have been considering:

Priya - currently top choice. (FYI - We are not Indian. All of the Priyas I know are Indian - does this matter? do you think the name is a crossover? I know Ione Skye used it as a middle name for her daughter Goldie) This might be my top choice.

Elise (nn: Lise or Lili)

Sylvie (I loved this name for a while but I keep thinking Sylvie Klein sounds too mature?)



We considered: Annalise, Annabel, Anya, Mila, Scarlett, Noelle, Siri, Mira, Mena, Margaux or Margot, Sinead, Alanna, Tessa, Fiona, Meadow, Zoe, Lola and Piper. Top contenders for this list for a while were Mila and Scarlett.

Some Family Names - which I would like to include (in original or derviative form) in some way (first or middle name):
Virginia (my mother and sister)
Carmella (my lovely grandmother)
Mary (Marin)
Elizabeth and all derivatives.

Please help!

Readers of this blog are probably getting tired of reading my primary piece of advice for first-time parents, and one day I will put it in its own post and then I can just link to it (in the meantime, here's one post where I discuss it), but for today here it is again: think now about future sibling names, to keep yourself from accidentally painting yourself into a corner. If you have a daughter and name her Priya, will you be able to find sibling names later on that coordinate well with it, or will you be stuck? The same for Anna: if you have a daughter named Anna, will you be able to find sibling names that you like with it? Same with Farrah. Same with Sylvie. Same with Elise. Same with any other name that makes it to the finalist stage. (This all assumes that you are considering more children later on, and that you'd like the names to go well together. Otherwise you can ignore this first piece of advice and go on to the second piece.)

I like The Baby Name Wizard for this: look at each style section in the back and see which ones contain a lot of names you like. Most of us can find one or two names we like in almost any category (this is how your list looks right now: a name or two from almost every category), but look for the categories where you like a LOT of the names. This will, I hope, keep you from the situation we see often on this blog: parents saying "We chose ____ for our first child because we loved it---but everything else we like clashes with it!" (Paul and I nearly landed ourselves in the soup with this one: if our first child had been a girl, we hadn't realized our girl-name choice was a complete anomaly for us and didn't go with any of the other names we like.)

My second piece of advice for choosing a name is to close your eyes and imagine a baby in your arms. Imagine calling the baby each name in turn. Which names sound like Your Baby? Most of us have long lists of names we love, but a much smaller list of names that we can picture on an actual child of our own. Finding a name that sounds like Your Baby doesn't mean it's necessarily the right name---but finding a name that DOESN'T sound like Your Baby is a good way to narrow the list down.

Finally, imagine the name on a school-aged child, a receptionist, a minister, someone who's a little plump and shy and wears glasses, etc. Does the name WORK?

Laura Wattenberg (author of The Baby Name Wizard mentioned above) has another great test: ask yourself if you would want the name yourself. After adjusting for age (many of the names currently in style wouldn't work on us even if the name would work beautifully on a child born now), this is a good test to see if a name works on a real person. Say aloud "Hi, I'm ____!" Imagine meeting someone and having THEM say "Hi, I'm _____!"

Name update! Kristen writes:
I am writing to update you on the name of Baby Klein. On September 4, 2011, we welcomed our baby girl into the world. As my husband and I held her close to us right after she was born, we ran through many of the names we had been considering. Priya - no. Anna - no. Nina - no. Elise - no. I was looking at our daugther and told my husband I thought Mila or maybe Eliza. He said, she is Mila. Juliette was the middle name I had been using for Mila throughout the pregnancy - so she became Mila Juliette Klein. Mila is now nearly 5 weeks old and we love her name. The funny thing is that Mila was my first choice when I initially found out I was pregnant. Thanks everyone for all of your help!!


-R- said...

The only person I know named Priya is Indian, but I love the name. I think you should use it if you love it.

StephLove said...

I love Anna Carmella for you. Or Anna Catherine (call her Anna Kate perhaps), or Amelia Josephine is lovely, too. I think any of these would go well with Reed if you want to use it for a future boy.

Marjorie said...

I think Swistle has great advice! I would also think now about what sounds good with Reed since you are planning to use that name if you ever have a boy.

It seems like your family names are VERY traditional, but the names you like more unique/less common. I think you need to figure out what direction you want to go with for your family. Maybe using your favorite names for 1st names and family names for middle names?

Nook of Names said...

I have to disagree about worrying too much over sibling names. So what if they don't all necessarily 'go' together? Each of them is/will be an individual and their name deserves to be considered individually.

Don't forget that one day, they'll all be living their own lives with their own families, and who is going to care then what their brothers and sisters are called?

We don't (well, most of us don't) worry about whether our children's names 'go' with ours as their parents, so why lose sleep over this issue with the kids?

I do, agree, however, with considering how your child will 'wear' his or her name, and imagining them at different stages in their life and engaged in different activities is a great way to weigh a name up.

To the names under consideration:

Priya. Lovely. Love it. Does it matter you're not Indian? Nope. Why should it? It's not as if most of the names English speakers use are all of Old English origin -- and we all share one Earth, after all. Having a name like Priya might make your daughter take an interest in the world, and want to travel one day to see the land from which her name comes.

Sylvie. Beautiful. Rich. Evocative. Too mature? Not at all. It works lovely for a baby, a little girl and a woman. In the UK Sophie is one of the most popular names at the moment, Sylvie slips right in next to her -- just that bit different.

Looking at all your thoughts, and what you say, I'd say go your heart. I suggest Priya Virginia or Sylvie Carmella :D.

Good luck!

Christine said...

I like Priya a lot. And it doesn't smack me as exclusively Indian at least in sound. If you want to save Reed for a boy it might be too much "ree" sounding. But otherwise use it. You might also like Freya. I also love Silvie or Sylvie and don't find it too mature.

Good luck!

Magic27 said...

My view of Sylvie is no doubt coloured by the fact that I'm in France (which I guess isn't a concern for you), where the name is very much in the old-fashioned-but-not-enough-to-be-coming-back category. It's a lovely name, but I can no more imagine it on a baby than I can, say, Judy or Veronica. But it is a lovely name and I think it would be a fresh change in a non-French country.

M.Amanda said...

I like Priya with any of the middle name options that does not end in -a. I don't know many Indian people and don't remember hearing it before, so I wouldn't think it odd for a non-Indian family to use it. However, if you want something more European, Freya is Scandinavian. Unless I'm pronouncing one or both incorrectly, they sound pretty close.

Incidentally, I did a search to double check whether I was pronouncing Priya correctly and ended up at's Priya page. At the bottom are pictures submitted of children that carry that name. Two pictures of "Priya" and neither looks at all Indian....

Patricia said...

I find Priya at this point in time very strongly associated with India. Since you're not Indian or have any strong associations with India, I would be hesitant to use it.

I like Sylvie, Anna and Elise from your list. Any of them seems to fit with Reed if you later have a boy and stick with that name. I don't find Sylvie too mature with Klein -- maybe Sylvia Klein, but not Sylvie. I like the sentiment and uniqueness in naming your daughter Sylvie Carmella. I think in this country Sylvie wouldn't be perceived as an 'old' name, but as a name similar to the currently very popular Sophie.

Anonymous said...

Margot is lovely.

Anonymous said...

With Klein, you may want to use a name with more than one syllable. Elise Klein is pretty, but if you were to call her Lise, Lise Klein sounds rather abrupt. That was my thought when reading your boy's name too: Reed Klein. Although I don't love River, a two syllable name does flow better with your surname: River Klein.

Anonymous said...

PS And repeating Reed Klein several times, I started hearing "ReKlein" (recline). On the other hand, I agree that the full name Reed McHale Klein sounds impressive.

Trudee said...

I would say that Priya seems like the outlier here. The others seem more similar (more your "style" perhaps?) and seem to go better with Reed (if that matters to you).

I was going to suggest that you reconsider Annalise since it brings together Anna (from your shortlist and your honour list) and Elise (from your shortlist). It also seems like you prefer a French flavour.

But, if not, what about Mia? It has the same sound as Priya and is similar to Mila, which you also considered. I think it sounds modern and fresh but not long. Mia Virginia Klein. Mia and Reed. Or there's Leah/Lia as well. Leah Carmella. Leah and Reed.

Amy said...

Friends named their daughter Pria but obviously changed the spelling. Their second daughter they named Greta and they seem to go well together despite being different styles.

Pria Kate?

Although my favorite would be Elise Carmella

Patricia said...

According to a Wikipedia article, "Priya is the Sanskrit word (Priyā female and Priya male) for "dear, beloved". It is a common given name in India, Nepal and some countries in Europe."

Priya is also the name of a chain of Indian restaurants - Priya Indian Cuisine - located around the US, including Farmington Hills, MI; Hartford, CT; Chico, CA, Chicago...

You may be interested in Abby at Appellation Mountain's take on the name, as well as the comments that follow:

Prolific baby name authors Rosenkrantz and Satran say on their Nameberry website: "Origin of Priya: Sanskrit, "beloved". Traditionally given to Indian girls born in August, Priya -- pronounced pree-ah -- denotes someone with an individual brand of beauty."

Patricia said...

Baby Name Wizard has a very positive take on Sylvie: "Sylvie may sound like a nickname, bit it's the full French version of Sylvia. That makes it a kindred spirit to Sophie, and a promising alternative if you love that name but want something less common. Sylvie was hugely popular in France and Quebec in the 1960s, but American parents don't hear that. Here it's old-fashioned and unexpected with a sense of fun"

Nameberry authors proclaim, "Although Sylvia seems to be having somewhat of a revival among trendsetting babynamers, we'd still opt for the even gentler and more unusual Sylvie."

Nameberry includes Sylvie in their list of "Cool girls' names from around the world," while Nameberry users place Sylvie in these appealingly named lists:
# Girl Names For Adventurous Parents
# Unusual girls names that aren't "too modern"
# Lovely Names
# Ballet Names (Girls)
# Offbeat but Familiar
# Interesting Names for Girls
# Sweet and Spunky Girl Names

It seems that Sylvie could be the perfect name for your baby girl.

Anonymous said...

I wondered if you were Indian when I first read the name Priya. She may get that a lot.... I LOVE Farrah.

Anonymous said...

Name Lady had an interesting post and comments about cultures "owning" a name (She says for the most part, no group "owns" a name based on their common use of it. Food for thought since you are considering Priya.

Chaya said...

Please name your daughter Priya. I will love you forever. It is an absolutely beautiful name that is one of my favorites, and I have no idea why it's not popular. It's gorgeous!
As for it being Indian, don't worry about it. My name is very Hebrew, and when I was younger I was regularly asked if I was Jewish (the dark brown curly hair/dark brown eyes didn't help). For some reason it stopped when I got older, but I still field questions all the time about its origins as it's not popular. The thing is, people love exotic names for girls, so as long as it's pretty (which it very much is), go for it!
Just be aware you'll need to find exotic names for the rest of your kids. I can imagine an Anna being a bit jealous of her sister Priya's name.
As for middles, I love:
Priya Virginia
Priya Kate
Priya Elizabeth
Priya Josephine
Priya Elise

Good luck!

Sylvie said...

Ooh, had to comment because I'm Sylvie and my sister's name is Elise. We love both!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't use Priya, the cultural association is very strong.

What about Ginny Carmella? Full name could be Ginevra, Geneva, Genevieve?

Or Evi Carmella?

Chantelle said...

Leah Carmella is beautiful! All the other posters on this site have amazing ideas every time... I will definitely be emailing when it is time to name my own children. :)