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Monday, January 31, 2011

Baby Girl T (Rhymes with Kayla), Sister to Sebastien and Georgia

Elissa writes:
We would love you and your reader’s help. We have our third baby due in early March. We have a boy and a girl and have, with previous naming decisions and personal preferences, painted ourselves into a bit of a name corner (although of course my husband doesn’t think so) so we are calling on you, and your fabulous readers to give a little assistance.

This has turned into a bit of an essay so I have broken into subheadings, please feel free to edit unreservedly.


By way of background:

Our first born, a son, is Sebastien Gordon [Sebby] (French spelling in honor of French Godmother, middle name is my maiden name), our second born is a daughter, Georgia Grace [Gigi] (First name ending in “a” as per family heritage – Mediterranean, where female names always end in an “a”, middle name – loved it and wanted a G name to go with my maiden name). So after two children I thought I was done and really thought anyway, if we do have anymore that we would have a boy (3 generations of mine and husband’s family only has one girl in each family, no matter how many children), so I used all my favourite G names on Gigi’s big names (as she calls them) and then was really really shocked that we are having a second little Miss.

Added to this background is that it took us 6 days to name Gigi and Sebby after birth and this time we don’t have that luxury (birthing in a third country – need to get birth details, translations, passports and visas ready ASAP).


Rules:

So basic rules are,

· First name ends in an A,

· Middle name begins with a G (Husband does not think that this is as necessary as I do),

· We like traditional names, but not really into names that are incredibly popular.



Complicating Factors:

First name preference is to not start it with S or G.

As first name ends with A and so does last name, first name we have to be really careful those two names don’t rhyme, this also cuts out all ending in an “a” middle names, like Gemma.

I really only like Gabrielle (Greer as a stretch) as a G middle name. I don’t like but have considered Genevieve, Gwen, Gwyneth, Gretchen

I am not into kre8tive spellings of names but will consider different spellings if there is a reason.


Further complicating Factors – which would be great to incorporate but probably too difficult:

Our children, from when they have been told, have been calling this baby Lulu. It has kinda stuck we have thought that it would be nice to try to have this as a possible nn for her first name, in this light we have thought of Tullulah, Louisa, Lucinda, Eloisa (this is very close to my name so is out). I have not really been struck by any of them.


Our list:

Our list includes the following, which I think gives an idea of our likes:

Clara

Annabella (with Greer- not Gabrielle)

Miranda

Amelia/ Emilia?Amalia

Isla (Husband not really on board with this)

Viola

Ilona

Helena (Husband not keen)

Amaya (out there for me- but I love the evocative meaning of “night rain”. However, with Georgia meaning “farmer”, and the meaning for Sebastien currently escaping me, I am not sure I should really focus too much on meanings when I haven’t in the past.)

I really like all the names on the above list but don’t feel any of them is “right” (perhaps because I am yet to see our little girl). All of them I go through phases of thinking is better than the other (currently my favourite on the list is Emelia, but that could change tomorrow).


So that is about it, please help as you can!

I'm not sure about the middle name. My feeling is that there is no reason at all to feel obligated to continue that theme after only two children, especially if you don't LIKE any more G names. On the other hand, if it's important to you I think it can be done. But...again, if you don't even LIKE any more G names...and there's no particular REASON to match a middle name initial...and we get so few chances in our lives to choose baby names...and if you already have a lot of other requirements you're trying to meet...AND it can't end in an A...well, then maybe this little detail could be dropped. It isn't as if the older children will say, "Guess mom and dad ran out of LOVE when they ran out of G NAMES, nyah nyah!"

Possible G names:

Garland
Garnet
Gillian
Ginger
Giselle
Gwyn


Lulu can still be the children's special nickname for her, even if it isn't part of her official name. Or, if you decide not to do a G middle name, her middle name could be Lou or Louise: adorable AND fun to say with the first name AND gives you the Lulu.

Possibilities (with Kayla as the stand-in for the surname):

Bianca Giselle Kayla; Sebastian, Georgia, and Bianca
Eva Louise Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Eva
Evelina Louise Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Evelina
Fiona Louise Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Fiona
Liliana Louise Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Liliana
Lydia Lou Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Lydia
Minerva Louise Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Minerva
Nora Lou Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Nora
Philippa Louise Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Philippa
Viviana Louise Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Viviana
Willemina Louise Kayla; Sebastien, Georgia, and Willemina

Bianca is the only one I didn't use Lou/Louise with, because of the initials BLT.

I like how Liliana Louise and Lydia Lou give you repeating initials, as with Georgia Grace.

Philippa Louise probably wins for cutest nickname possibility: Pippa Lou. Well, or maybe Willemina with Willa Lou. Or Minerva with Minnie Lou. Well, Lou just makes a very cute middle name, especially with a shortened first name. And I love combinations like Sebby, Gigi, and Pippa.


Name update! Elissa writes:
Apologies for not getting back to you earlier... Terrible of me but we moved countries and it just slipped my mind. Hopefully this photo of Emiliana Gabrielle makes up for it. She is a wonderful nearly 9 month old and still gets called Lulu nearly exclusively.

Thanks for all your assistance. Although we loved some of the suggestions, particularly Pippa, think that seeing names like Evelina, Viviana and Liliana made us think.. Emiliana. It is a bit of a mouthful but we love it as her big girl name.

Thanks again.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Baby Boy Mikalik

Anne writes:
My husband and I are expecting our first child March 4th. He is a boy and his middle name will be Davis in remembrance of my husband's mother, who's maiden name was Davis. Our last name is Mikalik, pronounced mick-uh-lick.

We could easily named quadruplets if we were having a girl, but boy names have us stumped!

I love the names Cowen, Eliot, and Wyatt. I also like some "m" names like Malachi, which doesn't sound very good with the last name.

My husband likes Hucksley and Aiden.

One name that we both like is Korbin, but we aren't totally sold.

We both want a name that is uncommon, but not too weird. I am not a fan of one syllable names.

Any suggestions?

Thank you so much!

Since you like Cowen/Cohen and Korbin, I wonder if you'd like Corwin or Callan or Camden?

If you'd like to avoid commonness, Aiden is out: combining only the three spellings in the Top 100 (Aiden with .76%, Aidan with .27%, and Ayden with .24%) gives us a name that outranks the number one boy name in the U.S. (Jacob, with 1%). And it seems even more common than it is, because of the rhyming names Brayden, Caiden, Hayden, Jaiden, etc.

The name Eamon has a similar sound, but it's not even in the Top 1000. Eamon Davis Mikalik.

If you do use Korbin, I recommend spelling it Corbin (unless, of course, you have a specific reason for spelling it with a K): a common technique for feminizing an androgynous name is changing a C to a K (Kamryn, Karsen).

Eliot and Wyatt make me think of Everett, but I'm not sure I like that tumbling rhythm: Everett Mikalik.

If your husband likes Hucksley/Huxley, I wonder if he'd like Hartley or Harris or Haskell or Hatcher.

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl, Sister to Will, Kate, Spencer, and Jack!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Little Boy Six, Brother to Audrey, Layla, and Julian

Heather writes:
I too am having a dilemma with choosing a name for our soon-to-be son. We are adopting a toddler boy from China, hoping to have him home early summer.

We already have three bio children, twin girls, Audrey Elizabeth and Layla Marie, and a son, Julian Oliver. When we decided to adopt we immediately knew we loved the name Roman (it was a runner up with Julian). But once we decided to adopt from China, my husband sort of backed away from it because by definition the name means "From Rome". He didn't see it fair to bring a Chinese boy to America and name him a name meaning from Italy. Plus then we found out several people in our family don't really like it either--which isn't a deal breaker as no one really liked Julian and we love it. Also, we probably won't use a Chinese name for various reasons, especially since we feel his Chinese name will always be his to have, just not what we and everyone calls him. So, after sort of pushing Roman to the side, (though we still love it) we've made a short list of:

Nolan
Jeremiah
Malachi (nn Chi {pronounced Kai})--Nice, subtle Chinese feel
Beckett
Easton
Wesley
Roman--still had to include it

The first/middle name combos we like the best are (probably in order of favorite to least favorite):
Nolan Beckett
Jeremiah James
Roman Beckett
Roman Wesley
Wesley Easton--Love that this means from the West to the East (and back again)
Easton Beckett
Malachi James

Trouble with Easton is that it sounds so much like Ethan (our neighbor boy). I like classic yet modern names, not too trendy, not too unusual.

Also, the "B-rated" list, mostly that I liked but husband did not so much:
Emmett
Griffin (love nn Finn)
Hayden
Jonas

And names that I cannot use: Noah, Micah, Nathan, Owen, Joseph, Ethan, Benjamin

So do you think Roman would be a deal breaker for our little Chinese boy? Does the name really evoke a certain feeling or geography that won't match our son? Any other suggestions? Oh, and our last name is Six.

Thanks!!

Hm. This is a tough one, and I suspect answers will be all over the spectrum. To me, the name Roman definitely does bring to mind Rome and the Romans---but on the other hand it's sounding more namey all the time. I have similar (though opposite, because it's connected rather than clashing) qualms about the name Easton, what with references to Eastern medicine and Eastern religions and so forth: it's not like it's a flagrant connection, but it comes to mind. It does seem better in adoption situations to avoid names that deal with geography, but if I met a boy from China named Roman I would maybe blink once---it's not like I'd think "WHAT WERE HIS PARENTS THINKING??"

For a name that's similar to Roman but doesn't have a geographical connection, I think Nolan from your list is the best. My favorite with the other siblings' names is Wesley.

I don't feel any need to add to your list at all: those names look like really good candidates. Let's have a poll instead (over to the right). [Poll closed; see results below.]

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Name Updates!

Update (with photo!) to Baby Girl Tom, Sister to Rowan and Griffin!
Update (with photo!) to Baby Girl or Boy Coe-Thériault!

Baby Naming Issue: The Protocol of Using a Namesake Name

Traci writes:
My question doesn't deal with specific names, but I'm hoping you and your readers will want to tackle it anyway. Both of the names we have picked out are names with great meaning to my husband and I. Recently, I've started having nervous second thoughts, not about the names themselves, but about family ramifications and protocol.

The details:
For a girl, we are planning to name her after our mothers (my mother's for a first name, his mother for a middle name.) My mother is still living, his has passed away. The names sound beautiful together, and we love them. My mother is very easygoing and I am 99.9% confident that she will be honored if we name our child after her. Still, are we obligated to inform her beforehand? (We'd like for it to be a surprise. Is this a bad idea?)

For a boy, we would like to name him after my grandfather who has passed away. I had a special bond with this grandfather , and this is well known in our family. After he passed away, he left some personal family treasures to me, which caused some hurt feelings from other family members, particularly his daughters, (my aunts) I'm wondering naming a child after him might cause hurt feelings in the family, or be perceived as snobbish in some way. Similarly, should I talk to them about it before naming this child?

Finally, are there any other points of etiquette with regard to naming a child after a family member (living or dead)? We would appreciate any or all advice as we are considering family names very strongly...

Thank you so much.

I would like to be able to wave these concerns away with a pfff sound: to say, "Don't be ridiculous, of COURSE your mother will be honored! And your aunts might even feel somewhat mollified about the inheritance issues when they see further evidence of how much you loved their dad." And I do think that's the advice most likely to be true. But I am a writer on the internet, so I've been made painfully aware time and time again that if there is a situation in question, there will be not just one or two people but a whole GROUP of people offended and angry about it.

This is due not to The Evil of the Internet, but rather to the way the Internet lets us so easily collect data from an enormous pool---without being able to compare the size of the sample to the size of the pool we took it from. If we get twenty comments on this post and ten of them say "I would BOIL WITH RAGE if someone used my name without asking me first!!," we don't know if that's ten people out of twenty or if it's ten people out of seven billion. This makes it impossible to confidently say to you, "No, keep it a wonderful, wonderful surprise for your mother, OMG she will be so happy, this is so much fun, be sure to let us know if she CRIED WITH JOY!!": I have to keep in mind the few people who would be offended and furious by something that is widely considered a very touching honor.

Sigh. The world can be a hard place to live.

Well. Here is what I will say instead: If you think your mom is 99.9% likely to be pleased, I would go with that. And yes: surprise her. I think that after this many years, if she were the sort to be upset/unhappy at having a baby namesake, you would know. She would have said things in other contexts (birth announcements, friends' children, any discussion involving namesakes or how she chose your name) that would have given you a feeling for it over time.

And in the case of your grandfather's name, I will say the same: Use it. If you knew for a fact that using his name would injure your aunts' feelings, I would then advise you to gently prepare them for the idea that you were likely to do so, to cushion the news---and yet I would still say you should use the name. Your intentions and motivations are GOOD: you're not naming a child to rub anything in their faces, and if you WERE trying to rub their faces in anything, "naming a baby" would be a pretty silly way to do it. Furthermore, since your grandfather has already died, they can't even grouse that this is a way to kiss up; and since they're presumably done having/naming children, they can't grouse that you're stealing a name they wanted to use. (It is making me tired, thinking of all these ways people could misunderstand each other. *world-weary sigh*)

You asked about other points of namesake etiquette, and aside from various cultural/family/religious traditions (which people generally already know, if those traditions apply to them) the main thing I keep in mind when considering family names is whether another family member might feel like they have a bigger claim to the name. For example, if my brother were a Jr., I'd be hesitant to name a child after my dad: seems like my brother should get first dibs. I might discuss such a namesake with my siblings anyway, even if there were no Sr./Jr. issues, just to see what's what and to avoid unpleasant surprises/misunderstandings.

In most cases, though, I think discussions of dibs and claims tend to be ugly and inappropriate: a certain birth-order grandchild doesn't have dibs on a grandparent's name, for example, and two or three or even ALL the grandchildren can ALL use the name without it getting used up. And things get even trickier, because of course a person can call all the dibs they want and be as nasty and hurt-feelingy about it as they can, but if they never have children, or never have a child of that sex, or if the child's other parent doesn't agree to the name, those dibs are meaningless---and especially silly if it caused someone else not to use the name.

Whew. In short (TOO LATE), I think it is delightful that you want to use family names, and thrilling to imagine the happy surprises, and I fervently hope that when you announce the names of your children there will be rejoicing throughout the land rather than bitterness and family strife.


Name update! Traci writes:
I wrote awhile back about the protocol for using a namesake name. (You responded here.)
The baby is a boy, and so we named him after my grandfather, Clayton. As you may recall, I was a little nervous that some of the aunts would find the name pretentious or flaunting my special relationship with him, and I'm happy to say that has not happened. Instead, they were quite pleased, and proud! Not only this, but my grandfather's sister (my great aunt) was so thrilled she was moved to tears! We love Clayton's name, and are so happy we used it. Thank you to all of the commenters and to Swistle, who encouraged us to follow our hearts. I've attached a picture!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Baby Boy or Girl Four, Sibling to Jonas

Jennifer writes:
I'm hoping you can help me with a name for our second baby (due 2/22/11, gender unknown). Due to a miscommunication at birth, my older son was named by the NICU nurses. When I met him a few hours after birth, he had a big sign over his isolette stating his name was Jonas. All the other relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, etc.) had already met him, so it really had already become his name. And frankly, as long as he was breathing, all else seemed unimportant at the time. Its a name that suits him perfectly and we are very happy with it, but for baby #2, we'd like to name him/her ourselves.

Our last name sounds like "Four"
The other 3 of us have names that start with "J", but I really don't want a fourth J name. It just seems like too much. Do you think this is fair to a second - and last - baby? (for what its worth, the three J's all have birthdays within 4 days of each other, and this baby will be born a whole different month).
We like names that are less popular, trying to avoid something in the top 100. Hubs and I both grew up with ridiculously popular names.
We want to avoid anything that is gender neutral
We need something that is at least 2 syllables and can't be easily shortened to one syllable (because last name is only one syllable)
My husband would like a name that has a good song associated with it - I consider this criteria negotiable. :)
I really like flower/nature names, but am not set on them.

Some of the names that we've considered and discarded:
Juniper (J criteria)
Violet (the idea of a purple baby reminds me too much of my son at birth)
Everett (hubby likes it, I just don't)
Audrey (our next door neighbors and good friends have an Audrey)

Still considering, but just don't feel great about:
Lucy (hubs has red hair, not sure if I could name a red headed girl Lucy, too type-cast)
River (too gender-neutral?)
Vera

Can you help us out?

Can you tell us more about the miscommunication? That is, did you intend his name to be Jonah but the nurses thought you said Jonas, or was it that you intended a completely different name altogether, like Griffin or Keegan? (Both Griffin and Keegan might work as brother names.)

Yes, I think it's fine to break from the J thing. If you had three children with J names and were planning a fourth and final child, I might reluctantly suggest you stick with Js---but I don't think parent initials are as noticeable. And if you LIKE a J name (if, for example, you love the name Juniper), I don't think you need to let the unintended J theme stop you.

The name Jonas sounds very good with other biblical names such as Ezra, Asher, Levi, and Elias. I love it with Gideon, and I think Gideon is such a great and underused name. I also like it with Reuben and Simon and Gabriel---though Gabriel shortens easily to Gabe. It's great with Judah (which gives your husband Hey Jude), but perhaps too similar, and also a J, and also shortens easily to Jude---so, er, pretty much wrong in every way, now that I think of it.

If you like River but want something more distinctly boyish, I wonder if you'd like Forest? It has an old-timey style lacking in the more contemporary River, which also makes it go well with Jonas.

The name Everett makes me think of the two other names I've mentally filed it with: Emmett and Elliot.

Or Griffin or Keegan, from above.

For sisters, I'll dip once again into the biblical names: Lydia, Tabitha, Claudia, Adah, Esther, Miriam, Naomi. Miriam in particular seems unfairly neglected.

For something more along the lines of Juniper and Violet, I like Acacia, Azalea, Briony, Calla, Ember, Emerald, Hazel, Ivy, Magnolia, Marin, Verena. Or Felicity, but maybe that's too alliterative with the surname; or Iris, but maybe "two syllables ending in S" is too similar to Jonas; or Beatrix, but it shortens easily to Bea/Bee.

For something more similar to Lucy: Eliza is pretty, or Phoebe, or Cecily, or Annabel? Or Clara or Cora. Of those, I think only Phoebe has the sass of Lucy; the others emphasize more the sweetness. More sass: Molly, Ruby, Sadie, Georgia.

Question Update!

Updated question on Baby Twin Girls McKenzie! The twins' first names have been selected---but do you think they go with the middle names? (The new part of the question is at the end of the original post, after the answer.)

Baby Boy Queen, Brother to Ryan Aubrey

Stephanie writes:
We're having our second baby, a son, who is due February 1st and we are completely stuck for a name! We gave our daughter a name that feels special to us, and now are having a hard time finding something to fit the new baby. I thought I'd email since we're running out of time...

Our daughter is a year and a half, and her name is Ryan Aubrey. We settled on 'Ryan' pretty early on - although we did keep it a secret until she was born. We didn't decide on her middle name until we were at the hospital. The name, 'Aubrey' didn't have any special significance for us, we just thought it was pretty, and were looking for something feminine for balance.

But now that we're having a son, we can't think of anything we love. We agree that we want something distinctly masculine, but not common. We have an evolving list, but are not sure that any of these names are the one. I'm hoping someone could suggest something great we may not have thought of yet! Here are a few we haven't vetoed yet:

Brady
Carver
Cole
Colton
Conrad
Dalton
Donovan
Garrett
Grayson
Holden
Kellen
Landon
West

Please let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks so much!



Name update! Stephanie writes:
Thanks for posting our question, and we appreciate all the great comments ;)

Our son, Garrett Conrad Queen was born on Thursday morning, and we're all doing great!

Thanks again

Friday, January 21, 2011

Baby Girl Jen_____, Sister to Eliot

Faith writes:
I'd love to get some help with baby girl names. We have a son, Eliot Lee, and our baby girl will be born on the 27th (as in NEXT THURSDAY!) We had settled on two possibilities if the baby was a boy (Graham or Tobin) but are somewhat at a loss now that we know she's a girl. Our last name is two syllables and starts with Jen--.

When we were first married my husband and I agreed that we both liked the nickname Winnie. My husband really liked the name Winsome but it seems to fanciful to me. We though Winifred was a better option to keep Winnie but now I find myself unsure if it's too stuffy. It would solve a lot of problems if I was 100% sure of Winifred but I'm not. The problem is that I'm not 100% on any other name either and we have less than a week (eep!)

I find myself being drawn to 3-syllable names but it's not a deal-breaker. In general I like classic but not super popular names that have the option of cute nicknames. My husband suggested naming her after me (Faith Margaret) which I think is sweet but don't really want to do but I think Faith for a middle name might be nice.

The two names at the top of my list were Vivian and Naomi. My husband's name starts with N and I kind of think it might be nice for her to have her own initial. But if we went with Naomi I'd like to find a middle name that starts with R so the two of them have the exact same initials as a way of honoring him.

Some other names we've discussed include:

Rosalie (husband thinks it's too frou-frou)
Louisa (husband thinks it's too frou-frou)
Evangeline (Too long and too matchy-matchy with Eliot)
Eliza (LOVE it but it feels too matchy-matchy with Eliot)
Alice
Pauline
Ada
Adeline
Matilda
Imogen (the alliteration with our last name seems too cute. Also, it seems like a lot of people here in the States would mispronounce it)
Mae

More possibilities for Winnie are Gwendolyn and Gwyneth and Guinevere. They do tend to produce something more like Gwinnie/Gwennie, but I think you could make it Winnie---or maybe you'd also like Gwinnie?

Or there's Winter, which is not as fanciful as Winsome and not as formal as Winifred. Or my favorite might be Wynn/Wynne: it's a good grown-up name that passes the "Would it work on a doctor or a lawyer?" test, but also goes easily to Wynnie. ...No, my favorite is still Winifred, but my SECOND favorite is Wynne.

If you go with Naomi, I like the repeating O-sound of Rose: Eliot Lee and Naomi Rose. Naomi Rachel would be pretty, too, or Naomi Rae, or Naomi Rain, or Naomi Reese, or Naomi Robin. Or Rosalie might be too frilly for your husband as the first name, but maybe he'd like it better as a middle name: Naomi Rosalie. Or perhaps Naomi Faith to honor both father and mother?


Name update! Faith writes:
I wanted to drop you a line and update you on our baby girl!

We decided to name her Naomi Catherine with Catherine being in honor of my MIL. Objectively speaking I might not have picked the name Catherine since it seems a little long to follow Naomi but I have a wonderful MIL and love that our daughter shares this connection with her. We actually find that we call the baby Nomi most often which is what my three year-old christened her. :)

Thank you again for all of your input and for the input of your readers. I loved reading your feedback and all the comments!

Baby Girl Myers, Sister to Olivia, Griffin, and Ainsley

Michelle writes:
We're expecting baby #4(girl) on 2/20/11, she'll join Olivia Grace(age 9), Griffin Caleb(age 5) & Ainsley Faith(age 3). Our last name is fairly common, Myers, so we like different, but not totally weird first names. We're pretty much in agreement that this baby's middle name will be Hope, b/c we feel it flows well w/the other girl's names we have. Olivia has become VERY popular since our naming & I'm not one for "popular" names, so we're trying to stay away from them. I also don't care for gender neutral names or anything that starts with a "B"( the whole initial os "BM" bothers me...). B/c our other 2 girls both begin with vowels, we're rather torn if this should influence our decision this time. So, a name that starts with a vowel, not too popular, not gender neutral & goes well with the middle name Hope. We really like Charlotte, but are concerned about how common it is becoming.........Help, we're really stuck over here!!!!! :)

Let me start by putting in a good word for my top-favorite baby-naming resource: the Social Security baby name site. The problem with trying to avoid popular names is that they are often already popular before we start hearing them, due to the fact that babies are not mingling in many social circles. Let's see, for example, the chart for the name Olivia:

(screen shot from the Social Security baby name site)
(click it to see it larger)


To you it seems as if the name suddenly got way popular after you used it, but if Olivia is 9 years old, you would have been choosing her name about 10 years ago, in 2001. And in 2001, the name Olivia was already in the Top 10, with a clear climbing path behind it: even in 1998 or 1996, it was clear the name was popular, and getting more popular very quickly. So this website is my top-favorite resource for avoiding surprises later on.

If you are collecting opinions about the vowel thing, I think it's unnecessary. I don't think anyone will even notice, especially with a consonant-initial boy name in there. If it's fun for you to try to coordinate (as with the middle name), then by all means! But if it's limiting you in a way that's making you stressed and giving you trouble finding names, then I will assure you there is no reason to force yourselves into that corner.

Assuming you DO want to use a vowel, here are some possibilities:

Abriella
Acacia
Adele
Adeline
Amabel
Anastasia
Annika
Arabella
Arden
Ariadne
Astrid
Athena
Aurora
Averil
Elena
Eliza
Ellery
Ellison
Elodie
Elsa
Elsbeth
Ember
Emeline
Emerald
Emlyn
Iliana
Imogen
Iris
Isadora
Isla

I included a few names that start with a long A, but I mostly leaned toward the ones that started with a short-A, to further separate it from Ainsley. I did the same with names that included a Z sound: I left a few in, but mostly avoided them. I avoided -ly endings completely.

If you like one of the names on the list but don't feel it goes well with Hope, other middle name possibilities are Charity, Honor, Joy, Mercy, Patience, and Serenity.

Baby Girl or Boy Schmidt, Sibling to Regan and Reece

Caroline writes:
My husband and I couldn't be more opposite when it comes to baby naming... well, in lots of things actually but identifying our child is simply the most crucial issue at this moment. He offers names based on who he knows or what famous person shares the name (i.e. our in utero nickname for this child is "Pancho" named after a 1980's race car driver!) regardless of the ridiculousness of the name. In fact, I think he likes the idea of naming the child after someone else and I tend to avoid that entirely. I want someone to say "what a great name" when they hear of our child's arrival but not wince or scratch their heads wondering where in the heck it came from. And I do not want a name that has been used by someone we know (even if only an acquaintance) - it's no fun.

Our different personalities and naming preferences aren't the only consideration. This little one is due Feb. 28th and will be little sister or brother to my daughters Regan Olivia & Reece Elizabeth. The girls are from my prior marriage - and both names were/are perfect. Although more Regan's have popped up, both names are relatively unique in our area and I loved them paired with a older, more traditional middle name.

So, the first issue is how to come up with a name we can both LOVE. Second issue is whether we stick with the R's - which seems a bit weird to me because they won't share last names, former marriage, etc. On the other hand maybe we should go with the theme so none of them associate themselves as being from a different family. Ugh - husband says I'm way overthinking it! It's his first child so I want it to be something we share, not an R name he is forced into by default!

We do have a girl name and a boy name we both like... he seems sold, but I've not had my Ah-ha moment with the girl name. Our last name is Schmidt.

Weston Zachary - my idea, he came around to it and he is pretty set on it now. Middle name is a must as this is after my brother who passed away.

Carson/Carsyn Rose - pretty sure I threw it out there and he instantly liked. Rose is after his mother and we both agree this shall be the middle name of a girl. I've read your suggestions of using Rose for a first name, but I'm not keen on that mostly because I don't want "Rosie" and the confusion will be too difficult as his mom is living and we see them often!

Names that have been eliminated for various reasons just to give you an idea of our tastes... Sheldon (yes, he seriously loves this despite the "sh, sh - iness" with our last name); Raylin (too close to Regan, but was always his favorite girl name). I like Charlotte (but again the sh-sh sound), Kendall (but know a family with a baby Kendall), Cameryn (for a girl, but this is my niece), Mason (simply too popular).

Thank you Thank you Thank you!!!!

And:
About a month ago I emailed you about Baby Girl or Boy Schmidt and the drastically different ideas my husband and I have about baby naming...

Since then we've made progress, but I need some opinions.

First, we love the name Weston for a boy. BUT, I'm struggling with the middle name. I lost a younger brother 10 years ago and always knew if/when I had a boy his middle name would be Zachary after my brother. Husband is of course on board with this, but I also know that he always anticipated a baby boy with his middle name (which is his father's name... wait for it... Ivo - it's a name that appears to be native to his hometown!!). I think we should use TWO middle names, he thinks I'm ridiculous and says he's totally agreeable to Zachary. But, I just can't shake the feeling that this is his only child and he might regret not having a "namesake" (even if it's shared). So, is giving a poor child 4 names to spit out unreasonable, unfair or inhumane?

Issue number two... I told you that my daughters from my first marriage are "R's" and I was unsure of whether to continue this trend. Let's just say that if it's a boy I'm totally ok with Weston (or a non-R name), but my girls have said "Mommy, it has to be an R if its a girl, so she's just like us!" How can do anything else, right? Right. Except there is only 1 R name that I've come across that I like/love. Renna. Before you judge, the middle name will be Rose (regardless of first name) so you have to say it all to be sure it passes muster... Renna Rose. My fear? That I'm predisposing this sweet little angel to a future in pole dancing. My friends who have been quizzed say I'm overthinking it and that's not at all where their minds go... but once you say it...

And is it to rhymey with Regan & Reece? I really think the R will bond them and in families with stepchildren I think this is really important.

I'm due Feb. 28th and I saw you were at/near these due dates.... please help. This will be the 3rd and last for us and I had no idea how difficult it would be to name this sweet one!!

Thank you!

I can give personal-experience feedback on the two middle names issue, because my kids have two middle names and so do I. And this is my feedback: it's not as much hassle as I'd expected. On forms where it matters (applications and registrations, for example), I try to make it very clear: writing the middle names one on top of the other on the middle name line, or even making brackets with labels "middle names" and "surname." I chose ahead of time which name I wanted as the default (for me it's the second of my two middle names, but for the kids its the first) if a form only let me use one name/initial, so paperwork is consistent. The hassles have been things like occasionally needing to correct a form where the information has been entered as if the second middle name is the first of two last names, or where the first middle name has been entered as if it's a second first name, but I think that's happened maybe four times total in the twelve years since we named our first child. AND, it hardly ever comes up: middle names show up mostly on forms and never in introductions, so he'd be Weston Schmidt when he's saying it or writing it on his homework. It sounds to me like your reasons for using two middle names outweighs the small hassle, so I'm voting yea on that one.

About the R names. That IS pretty cute and compelling, to have the girls wanting her to have an R name. Do you think they'd settle for an R middle name? Renna Rose seems fine to me (I will probably suddenly realize what you're alluding to and then feel very silly!), but it's too bad Renna has the same number of letters as the other two, in addition to all three starting with Re-: I don't think they sound so much alike, but they look alike. Regan, Reese, Renna. Well, I wrote that out to illustrate the problem, but actually that's kind of cute. I don't know WHAT I think! Let's see what everyone ELSE thinks!


Name update! Caroline writes:
After all the concern about baby girl names, we needn't have worried... We welcomed Weston Zachary Ivo Schmidt to our family on Feb. 23, 2011. He is absolutely perfect and honoring both of our families with his two middle names worked out perfectly as well! Although my husband was concerned about having mouthful of names, as soon as he held Weston he proudly called him by all FOUR names without hesitation! I've attached a pic of our little guy... thanks for the advice!!

Name Updates!

Update (with photo!) to Baby Boy Perez, Brother to Maggie Suzanne!
Update to Baby Boy or Girl S_____l!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Baby Boy, Brother to Theodore

F. writes:
I can't believe that even though i am now 9 days overdue with our second son we still haven't quite hit upon the right name for him and so i am writing to you for some help. Our first son is called Theodore Magnus, both names we absolutely love and luckily we knew very early on that we would call him by those names. Infact we would actually love to name our second son Magnus but feel that we can't now given that we have already used it as Theodore's middle name.

We are looking for boys name that work in both Engand and Norway as i am British and my husband is Norwegian ( and currently live in Norway) Many names don't translate due to the different pronunciation of certain letters ( i.e. I becomes E in Norwegian and J becomes Y ) and the 3 different letters in the Norwegian language Å,Ø and Æ, sadly make names like Torbjørn unusable because in the Uk no one would know how to pronounce it, even though i love it.

So far we have Tobias, Jonathan ( despite the different pronunciation in Norwegian being Yonathan), Ruben, Albert, Sebastian and Jacob on our list but we just can't seem to decide on any one of them. My son seems to think the new baby will be called Jonathan and i think Ruben goes well as a second name....but we would love any suggestions that you have to help us make a decision.

My husband has just suggested Sebastian Aurelius but i feel that it is a bit much especially as we have a double barreled surname! What do you think?



Name update! F. writes:
We finally decided to call our baby Sebastian Tobias...phew, thank you for all your help.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baby Girl or Boy Luke-With-a-D

Melanie writes:
Help! My husband and I are expecting our first baby, gender unknown, at the end of February (Feb. 27). Our last name sounds like Luke but starts with a D instead of an L. We are set if this baby is a boy, but I just KNOW that it is a girl and in that area we are in trouble!

I really like classic, "pretty" girls' names that aren't TOO popular. Of course, the name I have loved since I was a child is Emily, which has been #1 or #2 on the SSA site for ten years! I still like that name, but it just feels so "used" to me that I am not sure I can use it. (And I don't think it really works as a middle name, but I would definitely consider it for that slot). Another name I love is Elizabeth, but my husband dislikes this name (he says he would consider it for a middle name, but not a first).

Some other names we have discussed:
Penelope - this name has been slightly soured for me by people's reactions. We aren't telling anyone our name choices, but someone mentioned this concidentally and called it a "weird" name. I like the nickname Penny but husband doesn't. Really loved this name before I was pregnant, but with the combo of the "weird" comment and husband's dislike of Penny, I'm less enthusiastic.
Elinor - Husband's grandmother's name. I LOVE this one too, he won't use it as a first name, but willing to use it as a middle.
Grace - Husband's grandmother's middle name. I know this is popular as a middle name, but is it used a lot as a first name? I love the nickname Gracie and I think Grace is so pretty. One problem - Husband's sister had a baby a year ago and her middle name is Grace. His cousin also had a girl a year ago, and ALSO has the middle name Grace. (All after the same grandmother). If it was just the cousin, I wouldn't mind, but my SIL and BIL seem to call their baby by the first and middle name fairly frequently. It's not like there would be confusion, necessarily, but I am worried about accusations of "copying" SIL.

It seems like we have thought of and thrown out a million other names. As you can see, we are going around in circles. At this point, none of these names really feel like the baby's name to me, and definitely not to my husband, who is a classic vetoer. I am hoping you can suggest some names that I haven't thought of. I am really feeling sad that I haven't hit upon "the" name yet - I love baby names and have been thinking about them forever (long before I was pregnant), so I can't believe that I am 8 weeks out with no idea what this baby will be named!!

Help!!

The Emily situation is both better and worse than you think. Worse because it was #1 for twelve years in a row, from 1996 until 2007. Better because in 2008 it was #3, and in 2009 it was #6. Also better because in terms of percentages of baby girls being given the name, there's been a very significant drop, from a high of 1.36% in 1999, to 0.76% in 2009---that's getting close to being cut in half. And also better because despite its long popularity it still doesn't feel used-up to me. Used, sure, but that's true of all the traditional names and even the ones people think of as unique. Used UP, no.

However, if it DOES feel used-up to you, there are lots of possibilities that are a little less common. Emeline, for example, is similar to Emily but is surprisingly unusual. Or there's Emilia, Emlyn, Emryn, Emery, or Emerson. My favorite is Emeline because I think it captures more of the style of Emily. There's also Adeline and Amelia.

Since you also like Elizabeth, I recommend Eliza.

Grace is a popular first name: it was the 17th most popular girl name in the U.S. in 2009. The Social Security baby name site is great for this: not only can you see a name's current popularity, you can see if it's falling or rising---and how rapidly. Grace, for example, looks like it has settled: after a rise, it's been floating in the space between #10 and #21 for a decade. This makes it look to me as if it's not going to get super-super-popular, but is instead going to stay nicely popular. However, if your husband's grandmother has already been honored twice via the use of her middle name, perhaps there are other family members who could be honored? It seems so unfair that the family members with currently-popular names get such a disproportionate amount of honoring-via-namesakes.

Penelope is a name that seems highly unusual and yet I don't think it will seem that way for much longer. Look at this:

(screen shot from the Social Security baby name site)
(click it to see it larger)


An underlined lowercase A means the name was not in the Top 1000 that year. I cut it off at 1994, but those underlined lowercase As go back to 1974. Penelope was nowhere in sight, and now look at it go: up almost 700 rank places in 9 years, and I'm eager to see where it will be when the 2010 statistics come out in May. It's good news for people like me, who prefer to use more common/familiar names: Penelope would have been out of the question for me back when my first child was born in 1999, but if I were to have another child now, I'd feel able to use it. (And in fact, when I was expecting in 2007, it was one of our frontrunners until we found out we were having a boy.) If your husband doesn't like like the nickname Penny, maybe he'd like Nellie or Pip.

It's even more unusual than Penelope, but I wonder if you'd like the name Felicity? It has the same rhythm as Penelope, but more of the early-American style of Emily. It's pretty and feminine and underused, and it would work with any of your possible middle names (though because I prefer not to spell anything with initials, I'd avoid FED---perhaps this is a good moment to go through your family tree looking for other women you love whose names would be good middle-name candidates).

More possibilities:

Annabel
Cecily
Clara
Clarissa
Cora
Eva
Fiona
Genevieve
Lia
Lillian
Liviana
Phoebe
Violet


Name update! Melanie writes:
Baby name update for you! Our baby GIRL was born March 2. We decided to name her Emily Elizabeth, thanks to your reassuring comments about the popularity, and all the commenters who said that Emily was a great, classic name. In particular, one commenter mentioned how special Emily would feel when I told her I had loved her name all my life, and when I read that I started crying. That's when I knew she had to be Emily!! Elizabeth, her middle name, is after my grandmother. Thanks for all your help!!!
Melanie

P.S. I attached a photo too! I love the photo updates myself, so I had to include one. :)

Baby Boy White

Melina writes:
My husband and I are expecting our first child on February 15th. We had a name for a daughter so of course, we're having a boy. I'm French and my husband is English so we were hoping to find a name that worked well in both languages and was unique as well. So far here are our contenders:

1- Rowan (we both like it)
2- Kinsey (my grandfather's name however I worry it's a little too feminine now)
3- Remy (or Remi) - I love it, my husband is not a fan
4- Desmond
5- Oscar

I feel like we're stuck on these names and don't seem to be able to think beyond them. We don't have a middle name either however feel we could combine any of the names above. Any help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

I don't know French (despite 2 years of it in high school), so I won't be able to make a list of names that would work in it, but before turning the question over to the commenters I'll mention my current favorite French boy name: Pascal. It's highly unusual, but after a minute's thought it's more "Hey, why isn't this name used more often?"

Name Update!

Update to Baby Girl or Boy Freedman, Sibling to Camille!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebrity Baby Name: Faith Margaret Kidman Urban

The name of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban's new baby is not a remarkable name: it's Faith. What makes it remarkable is the pairing of the new baby's name with the name of her sister, which is Sunday.

Sunday and Faith. Granted, it would be VERY DIFFICULT to come up with a sibling name for a child named Sunday, and that's one good reason not to USE a name such as Sunday. Sunday and Olivia? No. Sunday and Tuesday? No. Sunday and Genevieve? No. Sunday and June? No. Sunday and Kailey? No. Sunday and Sydney? No. Sunday and Heather? No. Sunday and Penelope? No. But I would also have said "Sunday and Faith? No."

Sunday is a highly unusual word name, reportedly inspired by Australian Sunday Reed, in a category with names such as Pilot and Apple. Faith is also a word name, but well-known and Top 100 and traditional/Puritanical, in a category with names such as Hope and Rose. The difference in style is masked by the association of the word meanings; it's easier to see with examples such as Tuesday and Faith, or Wednesday and Grace.

However, now what they have is not only a sibling set but a THEME, and so it would be EASY to come up with suggestions for the couple's third child together. For a boy: Church, Bishop, Deacon, Christian, Temple, Benediction. For a girl: Trinity, Hosanna, Epiphany, Spirit, Angel, Miracle.

Baby Girl, Sister to Avery Caelyn

Jenna writes:
My husband and I are expecting our 2nd daughter February 2011. We can NOT agree on a name...or any names really. Our 2 year old daughter is named Avery Caelyn. We heard Avery on a baby show about half way through the pregnancy & agreed. Her middle name came in the hospital, 3 days after she was born. I literally opened a name book and pointed until he said "Yeah, that one."
Our naming strategy is pretty similar to everyone else's: I list them, he has veto power. And he remembers names he already said no to, I've tried it. I would love to use a family name- he said no. We tend to pick more modern girl names- boy/unisex names, surnames & places- but we are not opposed to girly names. I heard once that if you name a girl a unisex name, they will be more successful in life because people tend to give credit/praise/expectations/opportunities to male names- even with no other point of reference. If we were having a boy though, he was going to have a more traditional, masculine name- Jon, Cason, Elliot [the only family name I was able to keep on the list] or Alec, with the middle name Richard- there are 9 Richards in our family from our daughters to our grandparents- both sides big popular name. We are open to suggestions and yays or nays for our ((short)) list. We want it to work well with Avery without being matchy. I like same 1st initial, but it's not high priority. And I like same syllables, also not high priority. It cannot end in a T- or Tr- sound because of our last name. Also, our last name is one that you do not hear often...it has an 'x' in the middle of it- and some people say it sounds like pretzel. My name is Jenna & my husband's is Richard- soo her name cannot be similar to these.

Our list:
Jaycee/Jacy- "Ok" according to him
Kylee- My current favorite- though it changes daily.
Macy- Like Jacy
Graceson- Strong second to my favorite
Kaylee/ie/eigh- Almost too popular
Ashtyn- His absolute favorite- he calls her this now.
Morgan- I have cousin with this name, but i like it anyhow.

Vetoed names/ Names we cannot use (acquaintances, cousins)
Leah
Hannah
Emerson
Carly
Amaya
Londyn
Ellison/Elliot
Jensen
Taylor
Any flower/spice/herb names.
Any color names.
Any "outdoorsy" names.
Most nouns.
Any emotion or inspirational word (faith, hope, grace)

Our biggest challenge: I do not LOVE any names that we have heard. We love our daughter's name, Avery Caelyn. He picks one and can "go with it" I keep looking and reading. None of them have been it. And no, We have not even considered talking middle names yet.
Please help!!

And:
I need to amend my list.
We need to add Logan to it. I love it. I just can't seem to find a middle name.
He's said "It's one we agree on. Ok"

And:
Ok...I'm obsessed this is my third email to you. Sorry.
Our new list-
Logan
Gracen
Erin

My newest dilemma- Is Erin too different from Avery?

Thanks again!

And:
Ok Swistle. THIS is my last email...I have 8 weeks left..we'll see right?
I guess I'm just trying to get the best answers?opinions? from you and your readers.
Last time I added Erin to the list (we love it!) only, he wants to spell it Aaryn or Arynn. Erin is pronounced "EHrin" not "AIRin" he says. The A(s) will give us the pronouciation we want; AIRin.
I like it because it gives both girls A-names and makes it more masculine (like Avery).

Thoughts?

Also, her middle name will be Leigh (unless her name ends in an -ee sound). My husband's middle name is Lee and since this will be our last* and he didn't get his boy** I thought he should have a big part of her name.
*ask me again in 3 years.
**see *.

I'd say Erin is okay with Avery but not great. Erin was in the Top 100 for girls from 1971 until 2004 (source: Social Security Administration). Avery has been in the Top 100 for girls since 2003, and until the late 1990s was used more often for boys. So they're both boyish girl names, but Erin is now a common Mom Name, while Avery is next-generation (jumping into the Top 100 the year before Erin dropped out) and single-spelling androgynous (though getting more Girl every year).

This could be a regional thing, but where I live the name Erin is pronounced like AIR-rin, to rhyme with Karen. If you want AIR-rin you can spell it Erin: at worst, there are two ways to pronounce it. However, in your case I think your idea of using Arynn improves the fit: it makes the name more modern, and it gives you the two A-names you were hoping for. Furthermore, both names would have the same number of letters, and three of those letters would be the same. The Arynn spelling would give you some small hassle, but not as much, I think, as Aaryn, and not more than Gracen/Gracyn. And Arynn Leigh works very nicely. My only concern, and maybe this is nothing to worry about, is that both alternate spellings make me think of Aryan, a very unpleasant association but maybe not one that would come to most people's minds.

Gracen/Gracyn is also a very good match: like Avery, it's used for boys (usually spelled Grayson or Greyson) and it's a recently popular name (more recent than Avery, but it's "this generation" as opposed to "last generation"). And again, Gracyn Leigh is a nice fit.

To me, the name Logan still sounds utterly Boy---but I see it was used for about 700 girl babies last year along with over 14,000 boys. (It's falling for girls and rising for boys.) If you do use it, I suggest using a middle name that is used exclusively for girls: Logan Grace or Logan Rose or Logan Joy. Oops, all three of those are on the veto list (for being flowers/inspirational). Maybe Logan Louise or Logan Nicole or Logan Simone or Logan Leeanne (this also gives you Lee) or Logan Elise or Logan Celeste.


Name update! Jenna writes:
Our 2nd daughter came 5 days late! She didn't have a name for a few days and my entire list went out the window!! My husband stuck with Aerin, but I had a whole new list of names come to me when I met her! Wren was her name and I knew it within an hour of her birth but he said no...our compromise? I saw it on a list you did for one of your other readers- Emryn. Emryn Leigh was born on 2/20. Big sister Avery is ecstatic!Thanks for everyones help!!!! Still love reading your baby name blog Swistle!!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Baby Twin Girls Bow-Lee-Ew

Amy writes:
I am pregnant with fraternal twin girls that are due in late February, although they might come earlier as apparently twins can do all kinds of unexpected things. Our last name is phonetically pronounced Bow-Lee-Ew and its background is French although neither of us speaks French.

My husband and I initially thought that naming twins would be easier because we get two kicks at the can so to speak. However, it has turned out to be much more difficult than we anticipated – at least for girls. Early on in the pregnancy, we mutually agreed with no tears, anger or resentment that if they were boys, the twins would be named Thomas and Grant. We love both names equally and would have had a difficult time picking one over the other if we were to have ended up with one girl and one boy. We like that these names compliment one another while retaining their individuality.

As you can see, we ended up on the other end of the spectrum without even one name that we can mutually agree upon. To make matters worse, we really want to find names that we feel as strongly about as Grant and Thomas. We want to love the names equally and feel that they are “right”. We really don’t want to pick one name that we love and another that fits with the name that we love.

To make matters worse, it appears that we have different naming styles when it comes to girls. I consider my naming style to be classic (and unfortunately I seem to like the popular names). My husband on the other hand seems to like names that were popular in the 80s and early 90s. I have struggled hard to try to merge the two styles and the only consistency that I can come up with is that my husband seems to like shorter names ending in ah or eeee and there are some classic names that can work with this. Unfortunately, I really prefer formal names that can be shortened to cuter nicknames. It is very important to me that the girls have names that would suit them as professionals, although I would love it if they had cutesy variations that they could use as children.

This brings us to the twin considerations. I really dislike rhyming names for twins. I would prefer the names to be similar lengths/syllables although choosing two different three syllable names (as an example) is not necessary. If one girl’s name can be shortened into a nickname, I feel that it is fairly important that the second name have a nickname as well. I would prefer that the names not begin with the same first letter although this would be less applicable if the names are otherwise dissimilar.

Finally (and this seems to be the biggest stumbling block of all) is the popularity factor. We have agreed on names that we “could” use. However, the names are both very very very popular right now. I don’t so much care about the girls knowing other girls with the same names, but what I would like to avoid is the names “dating” the girls. For example, the name Jennifer dates to the 1970s to me and the name Linda to the 1950s. I guess what I am saying is that I would really prefer the names to be timeless and this is perhaps the most important criterion of all to me.

Based on the above, I am sure that you have come to the conclusion that I am anal-retentive and obsessive about this topic (both true) and for that I apologize.

With that disclaimer out of the way, the names that my husband and I agree would work are Emily and Sophie.

Other names on my list that my husband dislikes because he calls them “old lady names” are: Catherine (Cate), Josephine (Josie), Eleanor (Nora), Clara and Eliza. Other names that he has vetoed for celebrity connections or other unknown reasons include Ellery, Elodie, Calista (Callie), Isla, Rachel, Maya and Tessa. Oh, he also vetoed Violet as well which made me cry. Names that I love, but have vetoed myself due to the trendy factor are Charlotte and Abigail.

Names on his list that I have vetoed include Cleo, Justine, Maureen, Bailey, Kayla, Bree and Dawn. I do like his suggestion of Chloe, but dislike that it is commonly used as a dog’s name and is so popular where we live.

The name Norah is appealing to both of us although I do wish that it had a nickname variant. My husband is also coming around to my suggestion of Hillary although I don’t want him to choose it just to avoid talking about the issue any further. We are also both ok with Tabitha and Meredith. Sabrina is also on the mutual list, but I don’t love it and we do know of a baby who has the first name Sabrina and shares our last name.

Names we would be uncomfortable using due to friend/family/pet connections include Lily, Audrey, Mia, Rose and Olivia.


Some questions for you and your readers …

1. Are Emily and Sophie “trendy” popular names that will someday date the girls to the 2010s or are they classics that are just more popular for the time being?

2. Are there any alternatives to Emily and Sophie that are classic but less popular? (Note – I have a hunch that my husband dislikes names like Ellery and Elodie because he has never heard of them before and thus thinks they are weird.)

3. Do Norah and Hillary work together? Are there any other names that would work with Norah or Hillary? Do any of the other names that remain on our mutual lists work with Norah or Hillary?

4. Are there other names that are like Norah and Hillary (e.g. somewhat classic, but not overwhelmingly popular)?

Suggestions are truly welcome as I want these girls to come into the world with names that we feel as great about as Thomas and Grant. Thank you for reading what is probably the longest inquiry you have received thus far.

I agree: Jennifer sounds like the '70s, Linda sounds like the '50s. But here's where I disagree: I don't think you should try to avoid that. Certainly, avoid trendiness spikes if possible (though it's not always possible), but names naturally rise and fall over the generations and I think it's a doomed goal to find a name that doesn't. Even a name like Elizabeth, which I consider the epitome of a timeless name, has nicknames that follow generational trends: Betty and Bess and Betsy, Liz and Beth, Libby---and now Ellie, which I resist because it's not a traditional nickname for Elizabeth but which my friend Mairzy says I must try to come to terms with because people are doing it anyway.

(As an aside, the name Linda was in the Top 100 from 1936 until 1978, and in the Top 10 from 1940 to 1965. And Jennifer was in the Top 100 from 1956 until 2008, and in the Top 10 from 1966 until 1991. ((Source: Social Security Administration.)) So Linda is actually more like a 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s name, and Jennifer is more like a 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s name. I'm not sure how this is relevant, except to say that time-stamping is complicated.)

Furthermore, have you ever read women's fashion magazines? They're constantly assuring us that we can buy a "timeless" blazer or a "timeless" skirt or "timeless" accessories that will be WELL WORTH the high price tag because we'll be able to wear them ALWAYS. And then the next year, some feature that seemed timeless, when it was in style, reveals itself to be not in fact timeless at all. It is the same with names. Right now people are saying they like "timeless" names---but these are names that one generation ago would have been kah-razy out of place among the Nicoles, Melissas and Michelles, and two generations ago even more out of place among the Barbaras and Deborahs and Susans. Names generally feel timeless to us when they come back into style after we no longer remember the generation that had them; it's not that they never belonged to a generation. And when a name is in style, as when a certain cut of blazer is in style, it's hard to believe it ever wasn't, or won't be.

So! Does it work if I tell you I release you from that requirement you're trying to meet? We don't know how the current crop of baby names will be remembered, or how firmly they will be bound to this generation of babies. Of course we CAN cut out names that are likely to be trendy, as long as we keep the word "trendy" (names like Madison, Kaylee, Cadence) separate from the words "popular" or "common" (names like Elizabeth, Emily, Sarah, Anna). And Emily, in the Top 100 since 1973 and in the Top 10 for nearly two decades so far (source: Social Security Administration), might be even trickier to time-stamp than Jennifer and Linda.

Which leads me to my second point, which is that there is no shame in liking common names, and in fact "common names" are generally a mix of the trendy names you'd like to avoid and the timeless names you're looking for. I don't think you should force yourself away from names you love just because they are more popular than you'd prefer---and anyway, you're cutting out names because of commonness when some of them are LESS common than names you're keeping. So can I also release you from that---from the obligation to find a name that isn't common, just because uncommon seems like it must be "better" somehow? If I could make one rule for baby-namers, it would be "Don't arbitrarily limit your options." There is no moral or ethical reason not to use Emily and Sophie if you love those names, and making up reasons you can't use them ("People might be able to guess the generation in which she was born!" and "Too many other people think it's a great name!") is going to leave you panicky and without any name candidates.

But to clarify: are you saying you both love and agree on Emily and Sophie, and it's only the popularity/time-stamping that bothers you? Or are you saying those are "fine" with both of you, and more like fallback choices? If the former, my work is done after I convince you not to make arbitrary and unnecessary rules (I have duct tape if I need it). If the latter, we need to keep looking.

[This second email came in when I was at this point:] Amy writes:
I just wanted to give you an update as I am now home from work and going a bit out of my mind. It seems that my husband and I have decided that Emily and Sophie are too popular though they are still on the shortlist.

We are also leaning towards Norah being one of the names. So, we are in the position that I really didn't want to be in which is loving one name and finding another to go with it. I still like the name Hillary but my husband is meh on it. He feels it is a name for a snobby girl. Fresh Prince of Belair anyone? In my class the snobs were Kellys and Karens so I don't get the snob reference, but even though he will let me use the name (he says it doesn't matter to him so much), but I really do want him to love the name.

What I like about Hillary is that it is strong yet feminine and also uncommon but recognizable. So another name that meets those characteristics would be great.

We are still tossing around the names Meredith, Tabitha and a few others from our list, but I am still searching for the name for Baby B as I have pretty much decided that Baby A will be Norah if we go with that.

Thanks in advance.

Need I emphasize again what a mistake I think it is to throw out a name due to popularity alone? But if that's the task at hand, I will see what I can do. I will warn you that Norah, Nora, and Eleanor-called-Nora are all climbing fast in popularity: it's possible you're taking the same problem but just changing the time-stamp. (I feel so conflicted, because on one hand I want to keep telling you how little I think this matters, and on the other hand if it matters to you ANYWAY I want to help you find what YOU want!)

There is nothing wrong with first choosing one name we love, and then choosing a name that goes with it: that's exactly what people do when they have their children one at a time instead of in pairs.

I think Norah and Meredith are beautiful together, or Eleanor and Meredith (same number of syllables) called Nora and Merrie or Ellie and Merrie.

I also like Hillary and Meredith.

Nora and Eliza would also be a very nice pairing.

I like the similar rhythms of Eleanor and Imogen.

Another possibility is to name the girls Eleanor and Margaret (SWOON) and call them Nora and Greta, and they'd also have Ellie and Maggie if they preferred.

Or Eleanor and Josephine (same number of syllables), but call them Nora and Josie. (I am kind of ignoring your husband's "old lady names" declaration, since this only shows that he is out of touch with the baby names situation, and because he might like the names better if he likes the nicknames.)

If he likes Cleo and Chloe, it seems like Clara isn't far off---but Nora and Clara might be too similar. Sophie and Clara would be pretty.

For a moment I thought Norah and Ellen would be pretty, but then I wondered if it would sound as if they'd split the name Eleanor between them.

A more current version of Maureen would be Maura. Not with Norah, but maybe with another of the candidates. Maura and Ellen? Maura and Rowan? Maura and Emlyn? Maura and Carys?

Pulling names from nowhere now: Celeste and Noelle. Philippa and Imogen. Fiona and Madigan. Holly and Laurel. Marin and Bridget. Annabel and Emeline. Phoebe and Stella. Felicity and Genevieve. Simone and Corrine. Cecily and Beatrix.


Name update! Amy writes:
After much discussion, my husband and I decided on the name Nor.ah without much arguing. Deciding on the second name was much harder. Although we both love the name Emily (perhaps even more than the names we eventually chose), it just didn't go with any of the other names that we like. It turned out that this was the reason for my hesitation about using the name and not its popularity. The name Gra.ce had been suggested to me by several people including swistle readers, my mother and my husband. Eventually, it grew on me and I now couldn't imagine our Baby B having any other name. I was worried to read that another swistle twin mom had used Gra.ce has her second twin name and thought that maybe it was the go to name for second twin girls. However, I have decided to let popularity issues go and have no regrets about our baby girls Nor.ah and Gra.ce.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Baby Girl Barone

Tiffany writes:
I have been following your blog ever since I found out I was pregnant back in July. I am due Feb. 10th with my first child and it's a girl. My husband and I seem to have completely opposite tastes in girl names. I have been to a ton of baby name websites and have purchased 5 different baby name books in search of a name that fits for us. I am willing to compromise a little with him but the problem is that it has been like pulling teeth to get him to come up with any names he likes. However, most of the names I throw out, he has almost immediately rejected. I am hoping you and your readers can come up with some other name options for us!

Here is a little background information. We both had common names growing up and are looking for something a little more unique. I am against any top 10 name. My name (Tiffany) seems to be one of those classified as an 80s name that went out of style pretty quickly so I am trying to avoid current names that will have a similar fate. Our surname is very Italian, Barone. My favorite names have been generally been of Italian/Latin origin; very feminine and flowy. The few names he has come up with have been more American and less girly. If we were having a Boy we seemed to agree that it would/will be Roman Joseph Barone (middle name in his honor), so we want something that will sound ok with Roman. The other boy name we both like: Dominic.

Names on my list:
Luciana (This is the only name we can semi-agree on, both not sold. I am scared that there will be too many Lucys and that it will be almost impossible to avoid as a nn)
Madalena (not thrilled about the nickname Maddie)
Livia (nickname Livie, but husband says no because he thinks it's looks like we forgot the O)
Sofia (too popular)
Gianna (We both like, but I don't like the nn Gia)
Lydia (I love but I don't know if it will become too popular, he seems ok with)

Names that I like but husband vetoed: Serena, Noelle, Gemma, Liviana

My Husbands list:
Juniper (his number one choice, when we have thrown it around to friends and family they have been very against this name. I'm not sure if it is too out there for us and I hate the nn June and I also think it would not match any future sibling names including Roman)
Audrey (just ok to me)
Avery ( I dislike)
Clara ( I am ok with but a little old sounding/too popular)
Meryl (I vetoed)
She-Ra ( He better have been joking!!)

Names that are out because of close friends/relatives' baby names:
Chloe, Sophia, Addison, Cecily, Holiday, Charlotte, Ella, Madalyn, Makayla, Hailey, Alaya, Hope, Leah, Zoe, Isabella, Tabitha

Additional info: We aren't too concerned about middle names. We aren't big on traditions/naming after people. We don't want a B name.

We are excited for any input/help! Thank you!

Oh, man. This sounds like Paul. I had to say to him things like, "I'm about to suggest a girl name I really like, and I want you to NOT react immediately: just THINK about it for awhile first." I had...moderate success with that.

If you have The Baby Name Wizard, I suggest you and your husband individually go through the categories in the back and find the categories you each like most. Then, each of you go through the other one's sections and see if you find anything you like.

You could also take each name from his list and see if there's a fancier version. Like Clara: would he go for Clarissa? would you? Or Claudia? Or Cleo? Or Celeste? I realize we're getting farther from Clara with every step, but this can be a good way to brainstorm names. Meryl might lead you to Marissa or Minerva.

If you like Livia but he objects to it as a headless Olivia, it's really too bad he rejects Liviana. I think that extra syllable distances it from Olivia, and you'd still have the nickname Livvie.

If he likes Juniper and you like Madalena, I wonder if you'd both like Magnolia?

Madalena with no Maddy: Marilena.

Gianna with no Gia: Gigi. I don't think I would have gone naturally to Gia, though, anyway. Are you thinking of using the more Italian pronunciation of something like JON-nah, or the more U.S. pronunciation gee-AH-nah? Gianna is rising pretty rapidly, though, if you're trying to avoid common names. I wonder if you'd like Imogen?

I know of a baby girl named Silvia, nickname Silvie, and it's a surprisingly fresh and adorable name. I think removing that Y is what transforms it from Old Broad to Little Sweetie, and emphasizes the pretty silver/silvery sound of it.

Lorelei, maybe?

I mentioned Minerva in passing, above, but I really like that one. Minerva Barone, with the nickname Minnie if you want it. I have three associations with that name. One I have only from commenters on this blog, who have told me that Minerva is the name of a birth control pill. I worked in a PHARMACY and still didn't make that association with the name---and children certainly wouldn't know about it. The second association is stronger: Professor Minerva McGonagall from the Harry Potter books. She is an excellent association for me: strong and smart and good. The final association I have is with the Roman goddess of wisdom---and since she's associated with the owl, I sense a CUTE NURSERY THEME. (For a second I thought, "Oh no! Roman goddess and they like the name Roman! Conflict!" Hee! I think I need one more cup of coffee. Or possibly one fewer cups.)


Name update! Tiffany writes:
Hello again! I wanted to update everyone that our little girl was born this month and we luckily finally agreed on a name! Right when we saw her we knew she was a Luciana. The full name we went with was Luciana Juniper Barone. Since the first name was my original suggestion, DH got to pick his favorite name for her middle name. Her nickname will be Lucy and DH will call her Junebug. Thanks again for all the help and suggestions. Your blog and followers are great!

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Girl While!
Update on Baby Girl S., Sister to Oberon Elwood!
Update on Baby Girl Cor___n, Sister to Daniel and Peter!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Emergency Baby Naming Session: Baby Boy K_____, Brother to Evangeline

Cherie writes:
HELP!!!! I am scheduled for an induction on the 1/14/11 if I don't go into labor before then and we don't have a name. The truth is, he has had SEVERAL names and none have stuck. The worst part is...My husband got me to agree on something (in a moment of complete panic!) that I am SOOO not okay with, and now he won't back off it! I can't bring myself to concede and go with DH's name, even with COMPLETE control of the middle name! Our last name is two syllables and starts with K.

A brief history...

We have an almost three year old named Evangeline and we call her Evie. We love how her name is not too common but not unfamiliar. It was hard agreeing on a name, but once we found Evangeline, we both "knew" that was it. Our taste in boy names it quit different though. Evangeline to us sounds ethereal, timeless, elegant, and has a kind of ambiguous European sound. It also is a variant of an important family name and that is very important to me. For boys, however, we generally like outdoorsy and masculine sounding names. Our biggest "name rule" WAS that it isn't too popular (probably anything over 200). Also important is a good NN, but not a deal breaker. That leads us to Jack...

As I said, he has had several names. Months six through nine we had been pretty set on Ranger. We love the idea of this name. It is not common and VERY outdoorsy but still fits with a lot of the current name trends. We had so many bad reactions to it we started to second guess ourselves. So we decided to give him a "safe" first name and use Ranger as the middle but still call him Ranger. That way if he grows up and hates it, he can go by his first name. That is how we came to Jack. We had briefly discussed it early in the pregnancy but dismissed it due to it's overwhelming popularity (esp. considering Jackson, Jax, and Jaxon). However, it is also a family name, and would work well for a "safe" name. DH liked it more than me and brought it up again. I agreed to it, on the pretense that we would be calling him Ranger and not Jack. HOWEVER... I started liking Ranger less, and he started liking Jack more. Now he is COMPLETELY STUCK ON JACK...and I can't BARE the thought of naming my son that. It doesn't feel right in any way. I also don't like how it works with Evangeline.

Now I don't know what to do. Do I settle for Jack because DH is suddenly so in love with it, or do I stick to my guns and fight for another name? There isn't really anything else we agree on. The only other name he really likes now is Leif...and I HATE it. We both kind of like West but it doesn't work well with our last name. I like Sawyer, Mason (popular I know but it doesn't feel as trendy to me and I have ALWAYS loved it AND it was one of the names we agreed on early in the pregnancy), and Archer. All are borderline too popular/trendy but I would WAY rather use one of them than Jack. BUT if I had to pick a name on the spot it would either be Mason, with an important family middle name or...Xavier with the NN Zane. DH grew up in the South West and can't get over the pronunciation of Javier rather than Xzavier. Xavier, to me, has all the same qualities as Evangeline. They sound SO nice together and they both come from Saint's names! Evangeline and Xavier...And Zane and Evie both sound so fun, light hearted, and adventurous. To me they make the perfect sib set.

Long email I know. Do I push for Xavier or Mason? Do I try to find a name from scratch? Do I settle with Jack? HELP!!! I'm working on barrowed time!

Don't panic. Don't pick a name on the spot; don't give in just because time is running out. (Perhaps read the post from earlier today.) As I understand it, you'll be pressured to name the baby before leaving the hospital, but you DO have longer than that to register the baby's name, it's just a little more hassle. Does anyone know the legal details on this? "It took us four weeks to choose the right name for you!" makes a way better story than "We ran out of time so we panicked and chose something neither of us really like."

In the meantime, tell your husband Jack is out (this is not the kind of situation where one spouse should hold the other to an agreement), and that another name needs to be decided on. Right now he is working in "MAKE HER CHANGE HER MIND!" mode, and he needs to be switched out of that before he can reasonably discuss or come up with other names.

Names to consider:

Ace
Arrow
Barnaby
Bosley
Calder
Callan
Canyon
Dover
Drake
Fisher
Forest
Forrester
Gideon
Grove
Houston
Jude
Lennox
Magnus
Merrick
Miller
Oakley
Orion
Raiden
Redford
Redmond
Rockford
Rowan
Sherwood
Slater
Thatcher
Tillman
Turner
Walker


I'll keep working on this in "make list first, check to see if each name works later" mode and re-publishing as I go: it got caught in my spam filter and has been there since Tuesday and it seems best to publish as soon as possible so we can all work on it together.

Baby Naming Issue: Baby Name Regret 3

Lucy writes:
I'm looking for some advice and hoping you can help me out.

I'm the mother of two beautiful girls. My eldest girl, Sofia, will be three in April and my youngest, Liliana, is 4 and a half months old. Within a few months of being pregnant with Sofia we chose her name and I have never regretted it despite the popularity of it.

It was an entirely different scenario with my youngest. Since my husband and I are both of Italian orgin, we wanted another Italian name, but this was not easy to find this time around. Alot of names were tossed due to negative associations or because they were already in the family. Fast forward to a few days before my due date and still no name. We decided on Giulietta.

However, right after I had the baby, I felt that the name was not right. My husband agreed to change it a month later. However, due to the pressure and not knowing what I really wanted, I chose another name I am not happy with. I was not happy with the name when we registered her but since my ocd was acting up my husband thought i would have doubts about any name.

Three and a half months later and I continue to have problems. I find it hard to say her name. In fact i try to avoid it if i can. I'm embarrassed to say her name when people ask me. I find that the name is too long and frilly for me as well as old fashioned. I don't even like hearing it! I thought that i could use the nickname Lily but I'm embarrassed about that since its so popular right now. I'm also feeling that Sofia and Liliana/Lily don't match that well but I don't know if that's just me.

My husband gave me the opportunity to change it a couple of months ago to anything i wanted but i still haven't been able to do that. There are names that have grown on me such as Francesca and Elena but i know he's not keen on those. I now realize that I like short classy timeless names. I also didn't want any thing to popular. I recently realized how perfect Clara would have been but a friend just called her newborn Clara. I just don't want a lifetime of not being happy with my daughter's name and dreading saying it. I'm really having a tough time with this and I think about it almost all the time.

My questions too you and your readers are:

Is the name Lily too popular? Does name regret get better with time? Should I try to find a new name that I will enjoy saying? Does anyone have similar experiences they can share?

ANY help would be greatly appreciated at this point!

It's okay to change a baby's name, if after the baby is born you think of the name that you wish you'd chosen. Changing it to another name you're not sure about is, as you've found, a bad idea---especially because in my opinion, changing a baby's name one time is okay, but twice is...well, I won't say "totally out of the question," but that's the basic line of my thoughts. The only thing I can think of that would seem okay would be changing back to the original name.

Use the nickname Lily to help you with the feelings that Liliana is too long. Lily is short/classic/timeless, it's great with Sofia, and there is no reason to be embarrassed about its popularity any more than about the more-common Sofia's popularity: short/classic/timeless names tend to be common, but that is because they are excellent and well-liked names. And regardless of ANY of these issues, you don't have a name you like better ANYWAY, even after hunting carefully for a long, long time.

So this is the time, I'd say, to stop with all this: stop looking for names, stop trying to find names you like better, stop agitating about the name you chose, stop wondering if a different name would be better. Those are all activities for before the baby is born, and now she is 4.5 months old and has already been named twice, so I decree it is time to stop. When you feel your mind turning toward the name search, say to yourself, "No, Lily has already been named."

Baby Naming Issue: Baby Name Regret and Baby Naming Issue: Baby Name Regret 2 might also be of use.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Syndicated Column Consults Us!

A representative of a syndicated column (details kept undercover until column runs) writes:
I'm just wondering if you might have a minute (or about 10) to chat with me about baby naming in the 21st century (the "baby background check")

Specifically:

1. How much online research do you think parents do about baby names nowadays?

2. Do you advise expectant parents to google the names they're considering before they actually decide?

3. In the pre-internet days, it was hard to tell if someone had the same name (especially someone of ill repute) but it seems that can be accomplished fairly easily, with a few google searches. Do parents think about this when they are considering possible names? Have you heard of any parents who changed their minds about a name after googling it? (maybe they found out that their baby name was a porn star or a reality star or just someone with a ton of google results?)

4. Do you advise parents (or hear about parents) reserving their future baby names URLs, signing them up for a Facebook account, getting them a Twitter handle or a blog?

5. Have you ever heard of parents ditching a name because the URL was taken already? ("Oh, I can't get JohnDoe.com - we'll have to name the baby James!")

6. Any other thoughts on the subject of babies and social media?

Thank you so much!

1. The huge number of online baby-naming resources/forums makes me think parents must be doing a lot of research online. I used baby name books to make lists, and then looked up the finalists online to check for "name interactions" (i.e., characters from TV shows). I also looked up names on the Social Security Administration website to check popularity of names.

2. I do think it's a good idea to search online. It saves a lot of "Oh, like from _____?" surprises. A friend of mine named her son Sawyer after finding it in the surnames section of a baby name book, and was displeased afterward at how many people thought she'd gotten it from the show Lost---which she'd never seen. I think it's also a good idea for people with a child or children already to search for combinations of sibling names: sometimes two names sound so good together, and you realize only later that there was a reason for it (such as a celebrity couple or two characters in a popular book). These things might not be dealbreakers, but it's nice to know beforehand rather than to get it as an unpleasant surprise after the baby is born.

3. Sure, we've had some baby-name questions where the parents say they were going to use a certain name and then discovered someone famous (or a famous character) had that name, or even the same first/last-name combination. We've also had questions where the parent was planning on a name (Kate, for example), and then the sudden publicity of someone else with that name (Kate Middleton, for example) causes them to rethink it.

4. I don't see any reason for parents to rush to sign their infant's name up for Facebook and Twitter and blog URLs. I wonder if this happened more in the earlier days of the internet, when it seemed like such a thing would be more important? I remember various lawsuits over people trying to get money out of celebrities and business by buying up those URLs, but that seems to have died down. Also, I think the focus is turning away from "grabbing dibs" and toward protecting our children online and keeping their actual identities separate and safe from their online identities.

5. Ha ha! No, I've never heard of parents choosing a different name because that name's URL was already taken.

********


If you have time, perhaps you could give the columnist more answers to work with. If you can, include the number of each question you want to work on, to help her organize the information.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Baby Twin Girls McKenzie

Erin writes:
I'm Erin and my husband Hayden and I are expecting twin girls after years of TTC. The girls are due on the 28th of February, but in reality they could come much earlier than that, so I would really like to get their names sorted out. However my husband and I can't agree on names!

The only name that we both love (I have always loved it) is Sophia. I am pretty set on it, but we have a dog named Ciara. Do you think that Sophia and Ciara are too similar?

We have decided that the girls middle names will be Jane and Isobel after family members, but we will just sort that out later.

Anyway, we want a name that:
- Does not end in an 'a' or an 'uh' sound.
- Does not start with an E, H, C or S.
- Sounds good with either Isobel or Jane as the middle name.
- Is not misspelled, masculine or 'trendy' (like Camryn).
- Sounds good with Sophia.

We don't care about the popularity of the name, but we want a name that is similar in popularity to Sophia (ie. We would prefer something like Alyssa [but we can't use that] over something like Audrina).

Names we have considered/like but are out are:
- Isabella
- Ava
- Madeleine
- Mia
- Chloe
- Olivia
- Audrey

Oh and our last name is similar to McKenzie.

No, I don't think Ciara and Sophia are too similar.

Your "out" list is devastating, because most of those are the very names I'd suggest. Sophia and Isobel would be perfect, for example: similarly common but similarly exotic; same number of letters and syllables; so good with your surname. One of the few remaining in the Top 10 is Emma, but that starts with E and ends with A.

It would be helpful to know whether the restrictions (starting letters, ending sounds) are actual restrictions or just preferences in search of the ideal. Are you trying not to repeat the parents' initials as well as not repeating the children's? And are you trying not to repeat the DOG'S initial? And so very many girl names end with -a, especially the ones that are a similar level of femininity to Sophia. It seems like you could be unnecessarily eliminating huge groups of names that might contain a name you'd love enough to be willing to compromise on the beginning or ending.

It would also be helpful to know how set you were on those middle names if you found a first name you LOVED that didn't work with either of them. In general I think it's significantly easier to choose the first names FIRST, then go looking for middle names that work with them.

[Note: I initially ended at this point, because I considered the restrictions too...restricty...to work with. But then I thought maybe I was just too tired, and I should try again in the morning. So the first two comments in the comments section on this post are BEFORE my suggestions: if I make a suggestion and they appear to be re-making it, it's that they hadn't yet read anything after this point.]

Names that work with your restrictions (no E, H, C, or S; no ending in -a or similar sound):

Abigail McKenzie; Sophia and Abigail
Alice McKenzie; Sophia and Alice
Annabel McKenzie; Sophia and Annabel
Grace McKenzie; Sophia and Grace
Lillian McKenzie; Sophia and Lillian
Lily McKenzie; Sophia and Lily
Louise McKenzie; Sophia and Louise
Lucy McKenzie; Sophia and Lucy
Molly McKenzie; Sophia and Molly
Natalie McKenzie; Sophia and Natalie
Noelle McKenzie; Sophia and Noelle
Rose McKenzie; Sophia and Rose
Ruby McKenzie; Sophia and Ruby
Violet McKenzie; Sophia and Violet
Zoe McKenzie; Sophia and Zoe

Names that break some or many of your restrictions but I want to mention them anyway:

Catherine McKenzie; Sophia and Catherine
Cecily McKenzie; Sophia and Cecily
Charlotte McKenzie; Sophia and Charlotte
Claire McKenzie; Sophia and Claire
Clarissa McKenzie; Sophia and Clarissa
Elena McKenzie; Sophia and Elena
Elise McKenzie; Sophia and Elise
Eliza McKenzie; Sophia and Eliza
Ella McKenzie; Sophia and Ella
Eloise McKenzie; Sophia and Eloise
Hailey McKenzie; Sophia and Hailey
Hope McKenzie; Sophia and Hope
Lila McKenzie; Sophia and Lila
Marissa McKenzie; Sophia and Marissa

Some of these are not really in the same popularity ballpark as Sophia, but I tried to stay with names that felt more popular than they were. For example, I'm always surprised at the ratings of Catherine and Eliza, because they feel much more common than they are.

For the most part I disregarded the dog's name.


Updated question! Erin writes:
I wrote to you not too long ago about naming my twin daughters. I'm the one who had all of the 'restrictions' LOL, I'm sorry I was such a hassle! But anyway thanks for answering it, as we have decided on names! However, now that we have decided on first names, we are struggling to decide which baby should have which middle name.

So the girls are going to be Lily and Sophia. We have the name Jane and Isobel chosen, but my problem is that I love Lily Jane and Sophia Isobel, but then I feel as though Lily Jane is sweet and short, and Sophia Isobel is beautiful and long. I don't mind Lily Isobel and Sophia Jane, but I don't like the sound of Lily Isobel as much.

Does Lily Jane and Sophia Isobel sound okay for twin sisters?



Name update! Erin writes:
I am happy to announce that the girls were born on the 2nd of Feb, and are doing wonderful!

Now for their names. After reading the responses from my second question, I was sure that the girls would be Sophia Isobel and Lily Jane. A couple of days before they were born I just fell out of love with Lily (mind you, this was after we had ordered letters for their names for the nursery). I read over my question, Swistle's answer, and everyone's comments, THEN I made my hubby do the same ;-) However we then both decided on a name for Sophia's sister, and we are very happy with it!

So, the girls are Sophia Jane and Grace Isobel. We are calling Sophia, Sophia, and Grace, Gracie. We are in love with our Sophia and Gracie, and I believe they are the perfect names for them!

Thank you everyone for helping us!