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Friday, September 30, 2011

Baby Girl Herrason, Sister to Ava Gabrielle

Kelly writes:
My 2nd daughter is due October 28th. My first daughter's name is Ava Gabrielle Herrason. We chose Ava Gabrielle by putting my favorite name & my husband's favorite name together. I just loved the name Ava, & Gabrielle is my husband's cousin. Of course that is not really the best way to pick a name for a person. In the end, I am not sure how well "Ava Gabrielle" actually flows. I had a bit of regret about her name as I realized 1. what it means to have a Top 5 popular name (knew the name was popular, but wasn't prepared for the disappointment when another cute little girl has my daughter's name) and 2. that Ava Gabrielle doesn't actually flow as well as I thought.

For our second daughter, I am pretty much set on the first name of Charlotte. I am hoping you agree that Charlotte goes well with Ava. I think it also goes well with our last name, Herrason (simply by the way it sounds & also because Charlotte & Herrason are both english names..). I really love that Charlotte is a classic, romantic sounding name. Another reason we like the name Charlotte is because we just moved to Louisiana from Asheville, North Carolina, which is about 2 hours outside of Charlotte. So, the name Charlotte is also special as that is where she was conceived (or the general area). I understand that Charlotte is becoming more popular, but no where near as popular as Ava. I have decided I will be ok with a top 100 name (although I probably would not again pick a top 5 name!)

As for a middle name, I have fallen in love with the name Charlotte Claire, but (as with Ava Gabrielle) mostly because Charlotte & Claire both ended up being finalist names for me. I am worried that I am possibly putting together two of my favorite names versus really picking the perfect middle name to go with Charlotte. Although, another reason I like Charlotte Claire, is that my husband & I may possibly call her CeCe/CC. I was pretty set on Charlotte Claire, but then last night I woke up worrying... Picking a name for a person is a stressful job! & I just want to do it right! So, I guess I am e-mailing you to see what you think of the middle name Claire with Charlotte. I Think it flows well, but is that just because I am in love with the name? Does it look ok to have the middle name start with the same letter as the first name?

Just to also let you know other considerations - I thought of Claire as a first name but realized there are a few too many Claires in my extended family & also, the name is Very popular in my area (almost to the point that it is boring..). I had a pretty long list with my first girl & kinda worked from there with this one. Another middle name I like is Anne as it is my middle name. But in the end, I just don't love it as much as I love Claire. I also love Grace as a middle name... But I know a celebrity recently named her daughter Charlotte Grace & I would hate to completely take that name.

Also, -if I have a boy in the future, my top names are Grant, Jack & Bennett. That could change, But I do think Charlotte somewhat goes with those names. Also, I know it is important for the whole family to have names that sound "good" together... well my husband's name is Jeff/Jeffrey, & I am Kelly. Perhaps Charlotte isn't totally fitting with the more Irish Kelly, but I think it does work with Jeff/Jeffrey.

At this point, I am pretty set on Charlotte as the first name, but would consider suggestions. hmm but did I mention, I have been calling her Charlotte & have already started ordering things with the name Charlotte on them? :) I possibly just want some reassurance LOL! Even if you don't end up posting my "story", I would Love a response from you!! Also, my first daughter was 2 weeks early and I suspect this one may also be early, so any suggestions after mid-October will be useless.

It sounds to me as if you're set on both parts of the name, and that this is just last-minute doubts. I think Charlotte Claire is great, and that Charlotte goes great with Ava and with Herrason.

Name update! Kelly writes:
Charlotte Claire arrived on October 19th at 11:18pm weighing 6lbs 8.2oz & measuring 19.25 inches. Her birth was amazingly beautiful & peaceful. We are so in love with our sweet baby girl Charlotte! I am So happy with the name we gave her. The name seems to fit her perfectly! We all mostly call her Charlotte, but we love the option to call her CC . Our family & friends love the name also! Thank you for posting about us. I loved reading all the positive feedback!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Middle Name Challenge: Annabelle ____, and a Poll to See if Leigh Works

Jennifer writes:
Hello Swistle and readers! I am Jennifer, my husband is Kyle, and we are expecting our first child in March 2012. We do not plan to find out the sex. I have a question that I would LOVE to see as a poll! We are weird and have already chosen baby names for all possible children! We don't think we will have more than three total, so we have three boy names and three girls names! The boy names were easy- first would be Samuel Gene (we both love Samuel, and Gene is my hubby and FIL's middle name), second Wesley Jon (my grandpa's middle name and dad's first name), and third Issac Wade (love both the names). You can see there is a two-syllable/one-syllable pattern, which we love!
Girls were a little harder. Our SECOND girl name is Emmeline Claire, and third is Philippa Kate. We just adore these, and love the similar three syllable/one syllable theme.
Here is my question! Our first choice girl's name (which my hubby is in love with and I love but am not quiiiite sold on) is Annabelle Leigh. Some of you may already know the problem- "Annabel Lee" is a poem by Edgar Allan Poe in which the main character, Annabel Lee, DIES. this a deal-breaker? Several people I've spoken to have made the connection immediately, and I am unsure if giving my possible daughter the accidental namesake of a dead EAP character is terrible! We can't find another middle name that we LOVE with Annabelle, though Jane is a possible contender. Please help! I would love to see poll numbers and general thoughts on this! Also, if you have a (very preferably one-syllable) middle suggestion, please let me know.
P.S. Our last name is German and phonetically sounds like HERkit.

I would not have made the connection, but I also haven't read much Poe. I think I read The Tell-Tale Heart in high school and that was it. Oh, and I watched the episode of The Simpsons that spoofs the poem about the raven. So it is not exactly surprising that it wouldn't ring a bell for me, and I think you're right that what's needed here is a poll. Let's have one over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Even if the poll comes back with a high recognition factor, I think it might be okay---unless you plan to call her regularly by first and middle. The different spellings help, and it also helps that Lee/Leigh is such a common middle name.

But I think I might change the middle name regardless, because of the way the L ending of Annabelle merges with the L beginning of Leigh. I like Annabelle Jane a lot. Or Annabelle Kate, if you want to gamble on not having three girls. Other possibilities:

Annabelle Eve
Annabelle Faith
Annabelle Grey
Annabelle Jean
Annabelle Jo
Annabelle Joy
Annabelle June
Annabelle Lou
Annabelle May
Annabelle Paige
Annabelle Quinn
Annabelle Reese
Annabelle Rose
Annabelle Ruth
Annabelle Sue
Annabelle Tess

Name update! Jennifer writes:
I wanted to give you an update on our daughter's birth- and name! Annabelle Jane Hirchert was born on March 5th, 2012, at 12:35pm, exactly one week before her due date. She is a petite 6#12oz and 18.5" long. We decided that the Annabelle Leigh connotation was too eerie for us, so Jane it is! We hadn't noticed the Philippa Kate connection in our other girl name option, so if it ever comes to a third girl, we may reconsider that name then. In the meantime we are loving our little Annabelle Jane! Thanks to you and your readers for all the advice and opinions- I printed out the post and all the responses for my pregnancy journal.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: A Name Similiar to the Name of a Lost Baby

Michelle writes:
Good morning. I have a bit of a baby name conundrum and could really use some help. We are trying to come up with a baby girl name and have a name that we love, but there is a problem. We love the name Claire Elizabeth Welter (whatever first name we choose, the middle name will be Elizabeth. It is my middle name, it was my great grandmothers name, it was my great, great grandmothers middle name, etc. My grandmother always expressed an interest in passing this name down. I love it, so I would like to do that). My husband and I both love the name Claire. This should be an easy decision. However, my sister-in-law lost a baby to Trisomy 18 about 3 years ago at 26 weeks. They named their baby girl Blair Elizabeth. My husband is worried that Blair and Claire are too similar, especially since the middle names would be the same. The more I thought about it, the more I agree with him. However, a number of people that I have talked to didn’t seem to think that it was a big deal. My question is, should we even continue to consider this name, or should we move on to other names? We do have a short list of other possibilities (Ellie, Amelia, Charlotte, and Lyla) but both just love Claire so much. We have a two year old son named Jack Ryan already, so our only real criteria beyond the middle name is that we do not want the name to start with a J. Thoughts?

Thanks so much!

My opinion is that it's too close, but let's have a poll over to the right to get a group opinion. [Poll closed; see results below.] At first I thought it might be okay (it's been several years; it's not exactly the same name), but as soon as I imagined being a family member hearing the name of the new baby, I flinched hard. If it were just the first name I would already be hesitating, but the one-two punch of first and middle seems too painful---and unfortunate for your daughter, too, to have her name so evocative of a family tragedy.

I think it can be very hard to move on and choose another name after something like this. The natural inclination is to compare each new option to the unusable name and find it wanting, instead of choosing which usable option is the favorite. One mental trick I've found helpful is thinking of other situations that would render the name unusable. For example, in your situation I might think "If our surname were O'Hare, we wouldn't be able to use Claire" or "If my husband's first wife's name were Claire, we wouldn't be able to use it" or "If my husband hated the name Claire, we wouldn't be able to use it." I'm not sure why this works for me, but I think it's because it reminds me that there are many reasons names can be ruled out, and that we all have our own groups of such names.

Perhaps if you have another daughter later, you could use Claire as her middle name (it's what I'd be suggesting for this daughter if the name Elizabeth weren't already set). Or perhaps a name like Clarissa would work: it has much of the sound of Claire, but I no longer get a strong flinch from Clarissa Elizabeth.

Or do you like Cecily, Celeste, Cora, or Corinne? Or Abigail?

Or Rose. Rose Welter; Rose Elizabeth Welter; Jack and Rose. I love that. I like the repeating Z sound, and Rose has the sweet simplicity of Claire. [A commenter points out that Jack and Rose are characters in a movie. I wonder if Hope would work? Hope Elizabeth Welter; Jack and Hope.]

Or Eve. Eve Elizabeth Welter; Jack and Eve.

Or Lucy. Lucy Elizabeth Welter; Jack and Lucy.

Or Grace. Grace Elizabeth Welter; Jack and Grace.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Baby Girl Francis, Sister to Edward Russell

Stephanie writes:
Hi Swistle! I am a long-time reader (both blogs!), only part-time commenter, I'm afraid. I am hoping you can lend some advice on our current naming pickle.

So, the basics: my name is Stephanie and my husband is Taylor, our last name is Francis. We have a 2 year old son named Edward Russell--he was named before we even got married because of the immediate need to cure my husband of his thoughts of getting a junior. :) Edward is my husband's first name,my father-in-law's name (he goes by Eddie), and his father's name. My FIL is a junior, but I wanted to kiss my MIL every time we went through the first boy naming thoughts that she didn't make my husband a third--Taylor is his mother's maiden name (and quite useful as a name to go by, since his father was already Eddie). Our son's middle name is my father's name (and his father's name) so it's a neat, round about 4th generational thing for both names. Our son goes by Edward because I liked Ward and my husband liked Ed and neither of us could stand the other's choice, so Edward it is. When we "need" a nickname, we go with E.

I'm currently 15 weeks (I KNOW, plenty of time!) and we just found out that this one is a girl which has thrown me for many a loop, one of which being that I loved our boy name. LOVED it. It was Nathaniel Jack--Nathaniel is a name that my husband and I have loved for a long time, one of those rare finds where we both like the full name and the nickname, Nate, and it also happens to have been my husband's grandfather's name. Jack is my maternal grandfather's name and my maternal uncle's name, and also we both like that name very much. It would have made my mother very happy to have her side honored (she's sensitive to that sort of thing). Oh well, maybe next time!

Anyway, now we know it's a girl and now we have a slight naming predicament. I have always thought my first daughter would get my middle name, Katherine, which was passed down from my mom (she was named after both of her grandmothers). (You can tell, we are really big into family names around here.)

For first names for a girl, I want to honor a close friend's mother who passed away several years ago. This is actually my husband's best friend's mom, with whom I worked after college and she really just had a big impact on my personally and professionally. So her name was Caroline and we are planning to ask our friend for permission to use the name for our daughter--we are fairly confident he will say yes. I had always thought Caroline Katherine, but a few weeks ago I started un-warming to that combination.

Now that we are having "real" discussions about this, my husband reveals that he just really does not like the name Caroline itself. He doesn't like that it doesn't have any easy or good nicknames (he also doesn't like it because it's too close to our alma mater's rival university--Carolina--which is, yes, a pretty petty reason, though I do understand his point). Also, I'm really unsettled on Katherine as a middle name if Caroline is the first name. It just doesn't flow to me anymore.

So if we use Caroline as a first name, do you have any nickname suggestions and middle name suggestions? There are ZERO family names we would want as a middle name. His family has really terrible female names (think Hilda Pearl and the like) and there's just nothing we both like on my side. My paternal grandma's name is Ruth and I thought that was pretty, but a) he doesn't really like Ruth, b) my sister has already "claimed" it (and I don't feel strongly enough to fight over it) and c) my mom would be upset if my dad's side got honored again before/over hers. (Seriously, this is a true issue. I know. Trust me. But it it is.)

On the slim chance that our friend tells us he would prefer we didn't use Caroline, our backup name is Rebekah (nn Bekah). My husband LOVES it. LOVES. IT. I like it very much, and his love for that name is so strong that I do not have a desire to push back against it since I also like the name very much. I am not crazy about that spelling, but my husband STRONGLY prefers (he REALLY LOVES THIS NAME) this spelling to the more common Rebecca. My biggest contention with the spelling is just that it's NOT the most common and so it's likely she would have to correct people frequently. However, it's certainly an ACCEPTED spelling and doesn't look made up, so I'm okay with it. Again, he feels so strongly about it, I don't feel compelled to fight this battle.

If we used Rebekah, I do think Katherine goes well/okay with it. I'm happier with that flow than Caroline Katherine.

The other possibility that I thought of yesterday is the compromise Rebekah Caroline. I actually think that is prettier than Rebekah Katherine. Anyway, my concerns/issues--both pro and con--for this "compromise" name are: 1. I do so love the name Caroline itself. I think it's beautiful. 2. It would pretty much give both my husband and me what we want, although him moreso--I really want to honor Caroline and he loves (have I mentioned that he LOVES THAT NAME? It's kind of weird, actually.) the name Rebekah. 3. My mom. As mentioned, she is sensitive. I worry that she will be upset/get offended if I don't use Katherine or some other family name from her side. 4. I don't want to "shove" Caroline to the middle name--is that "honoring" enough? I don't know if that question makes sense, but hopefully you know what I mean. 5. On the other hand, if we use Caroline as the middle name, that does give a little more room to our friends to also use that name either as first or middle (to clarify: I don't know that they want to at all).

Anyway, this is a very long question now with lots of extra information and questions along the way. Nicknames/middle names for Caroline? What do you think about Rebekah Katherine versus Rebekah Caroline? What do you think about just skipping Caroline as a first name and doing the "compromise name"?

My husband just deployed for 6 months (so he will not be here for the birth! Hurray!) (That was a sarcastic "hurray" lest you or anyone think I am ACTUALLY excited about my husband missing the birth of our first daughter.) so we are at a little disadvantage in that we can't say the names aloud to each other and such, but we are both very much "get it sorted out" people which is why we want to get this name settled rather early on. So we can move on to more important things like surviving the next 6 months. :)

Thanks so much for your consideration and help!

Is it important that Katherine be the middle name, or could it instead be the first name? It goes so beautifully with Edward, and has such nice nickname possibilities. Then Caroline could go in the middle name slot, which is a nice place for a name that has significance but one of the parents doesn't like it enough to use it as a first name. Katherine Caroline Francis.

If Katherine should be in the middle name slot, though, then I would drop the name of the husband's best friend's mother LONG before I would drop the name that came down through your family. There are other ways to honor important people in our lives, so although you greatly respected your former co-worker, I don't think it's as crucial that you show it with your daughter's name.

Or perhaps just not with THIS daughter's name: another possibility is to save Caroline for a possible future daughter's middle name. The middle name slot is still considered a large honor, and in fact in many situations I think it works better. This idea does mean risking it not being used at all, since you might not have a second daughter---but it's my favorite option here, because I think the struggle to use the name Caroline is the main issue tangling up this current child's name.

So where are we? We have eliminated Caroline as a first name because your husband doesn't like it (unless nicknames such as Caro, Cary, and Cara would change his mind), which also relieves us of the task of finding middle names other than Katherine to go with it. And I'm strongly advocating against giving up the long-standing family name in favor of the friend's mother / co-worker name, which means we don't need to find first names to go with the middle name Caroline. This leaves us with ______ Katherine Francis.

I think Rebekah Katherine is wonderful (I love the repeating K), and meets all the preferences. It uses a family name from your mother's side; it uses part of your name you've always thought you'd use for your first daughter; it uses a first name you both like; it's wonderful with Edward Russell. And it gives you something to look forward to with the next child either way: if it's a boy, you can use Nathaniel; if it's a girl, you can use the middle name Caroline (or perhaps by then your husband will have warmed to it: Edward, Rebekah, and Caroline is a wonderful sibling group).

Name update! Stephanie writes:
I wrote a loooooong time back for help naming our baby girl (Rebekah; Caroline versus Katherine for middle name, essentially). Rebekah Caroline was born 2/24/12 (what a lovely birthdate for number nerds like us!) at 8 pounds, 5 ounces (the exact weight as her brother!) and 20 inches long. I really appreciated everyone's input and the discussion from the post. I ended up actually bringing up the Katherine versus Caroline issue with my mom and it turns out that Rebekah is actually a down-the-line family name on her side, so we went with Caroline for the middle since I felt like I wasn't "dissing" her or her family as much knowing that my daughter would have a family name no matter what. My husband got to come home early from Afghanistan to be here for the birth, which was the best thing ever. She is a fantastic baby and a great snuggler and just the most delicious thing ever. I have a very difficult time not devouring her daily. Thanks again to you and your readers for your input and help!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Could Hildegard Work as a Middle Name?

C. writes:
I feel somewhat premature in sending this as I am not due until April, and we won't even have a shot at knowing gender until thanksgiving, but we plan on having several children, so it's bound to come up eventually, and I'm feeling surprisingly settled about everything save this last sticking point, which I have made no progress on for months.

My grandmother's name is Hildegard. She is an amazing woman, and ever since my now husband met her, we have joked about naming children after her. Sometime around when we began trying to conceive he made the comment that he was '100% absolutely in favor' of using the name Hildegard.

And I became unsure. It is just so very much of a name. It is so very unapologetically German.

To put it in perspective, our last name is 'Ford'. We would probably pair it with the first name Alice, possible nn Liss/Lissy. Potential sibling names / other names we like include Hazel, Lynn, Nell, Ada, Liam, Tobin and Daniel. The only other Germanic name we've even remotely considered is Clara, and it isn't a huge favorite. Other family names we would consider as honor names for siblings include David, Robert, Jean, Grace and Minona. I look at those lists, and think that while they could use some combinatorial tweaking, they are pretty consistent and a good starting point. But none of them sound anything at all like Hildegard.

On the other hand, all by itself, I like the contrast and rhythm of 'Alice Hildegard Ford' - it's just when compared with potential sibling names that it seems so out of place.

Finally, we live in a fairly rural area, and I somewhat doubt that our children will be exposed to many other international sounding names amongst their schoolmates. This is pretty low on the list of concerns, but I suppose it's still on there.

Neither of us like the concept of multiple middle names, and I do not like Hilde at all, so we're in an all or nothing situation.

Am I worrying too much? Should I just say 'pah, it's an honor name, she can use an initial if she doesn't like it' or is that a lot of Germanic syllables to thunk down on one child alone?

Thank you! I've had a ton of fun reading your blog.

p.s. We think it's very important to ask the honoree in question, as my husband was named after a relative who later admitted to hating his name, but we don't want to ask if we're going to change our minds and not use it, which might account for my eagerness to have it settled.

I would myself say "Pah." I can even see it being fun as an adult to have a very unusual middle name. A similar name in my own family tree is Willemina, and I'm imagining someone saying idly, "What's your middle name?"---and me being able to say "Willemina" instead of "Nicole." THAT would wake them up a bit!

I see what you mean about it not coordinating with other possible honor names, but I think it would seem silly to give up on the idea of honoring someone you and the other parent very much want to honor, and instead honor someone else, just because in a group of siblings the middle names wouldn't coordinate. I'm pretty far up on the spectrum of liking first names to coordinate in sibling groups, and even I don't care much if the middle names coordinate. It's NICE if they do, just because of the pleasing tidiness, but it's not any kind of deal-breaker---and the coordination of them all being honor names is already pleasingly tidy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baby Girl Pereversoff, Sister to Katie Jane Violet

Lisa writes:
We really need help naming our soon to arrive baby girl. I'm 2 weeks 4 days away from D-day and my husband and I cannot agree on one single name. We already have a two year old named Katie Jane Violet - Jane after my Mom and Violet after my husbands Mom, so this go around is all about what we like best since we've honored our Mom's. As such, I think we're just having a really hard time with the lack of rules.

Here is our small, small list of maybes:

My husbands last name is Pereversoff, so the shorter the first name, the better. I love a middle name of Jude (all time favorite music is the Beatles) - but then the initials BJ are a little mockable. The biggest hurdle is that I'd love an Ella, but my cousin already has a daughter named Ella. That brought me to loving the name Anabella, but one of my Grandma's names is Anna, so would I need the middle name to be Ruth after my other Grandma to not offend? And then where would it end, cause the husband wants his Grandma's name - Dora in the mix. And since I already think for this one we should do whatever we like best, that's just an argument I'd rather avoid.

If we pick Quinn, I'm not sure Jude goes that well with it.

I think I just need more options. I'm hoping you can help to find us something that we both love!?

Thank you!

Do you think your cousin would be okay with another Ella? Ella Jude Quinn would be a nice complement to Katie Jane Violet. Or would Ellie be a little better? Ellie Jude Quinn Pereversoff.

Or perhaps it would be better to put Ella in the middle name slot, just to be sure: ____ Ella Jude might be pretty, or ______ Quinn Ella.

I see you like Isabella, and I'm wondering if you'd like Isadora. Downside: it's long, and so much more formal/uncommon a name than Katie. Upside: it honors your husband's grandma without provoking the dah-dah-dah-dah-dah-DORA song, and Izzy and Dorrie would both be sweet with Katie. Isadora Anna Ruth. I know you didn't want to go down this path, though, so this is more just playing around with possible honor name combinations for fun. (Ooo, or Annie would be so sweet with Katie. Annie Jude Isadora Pereversoff; Katie and Annie. That's one grandma from each side. ...Okay, I'll stop now.)

I don't think that the name Annabella would force you to start honoring all the other grandmothers. If I were in that situation, I think I might be tempted to declare merrily to everyone that no, it was just a coincidence that it had the "anna" in it as MANY girl names do---and then I'd whisper privately to my Grandma Anna that it WAS after her but I didn't want to be stuck honoring ALL the grandmas SHHHHH don't tell! The biggest downside of Annabella is it's such a long name. Annabel takes off a syllable, but it sounds like it's the -ella that appeals to you.

Do you like Lila? It has some sounds in common with Ella, and it's short. Lila Jude Quinn Pereversoff; Katie and Lila.

Or Lily. Lily Jude Quinn Pereversoff; Katie and Lily.

Even better: Lucy. It coordinates well with Katie in both style and formality; it's a Beatles reference; it's short. Lucy Ella Quinn Pereversoff; Katie and Lucy.

Or Abby, which has all the upsides of Lucy except the Beatles reference (unless Abbey Road counts?). Abby Jude Ella Pereversoff; Katie and Abby.

Or Molly, another maybe-Beatles reference. Molly Jude Ella Pereversoff; Katie and Molly.

Or Josie. Josie Ella Quinn Pereversoff; Katie and Josie.

Sophie. Sophie Jude Ella Pereversoff; Katie and Sophie.

Grace. Grace Ella Jude Pereversoff; Katie and Gracie.

Laney. Laney Jude Pereversoff; Katie and Laney.

Elsa might be enough different to not step on any cousin toes, but similar enough for you to like it. Elsa Jude Pereversoff; Katie and Elsie.

Same with Emma. Emma Jude Pereversoff; Katie and Emma.

I know very cute sisters named Katie and Emily. Emily Jude Pereversoff; Katie and Emily.

Name update! Lisa writes:
Thought I'd send you an update to a blog response you posted for me. We've just had our baby girl (yesterday morning) and we named her Quinn Ellie Jude Pereversoff - Katie and Quinn. Thanks so much for your help!

Name Update!

Update on Baby Naming Issue: Looking for a Boy Name From a Folk Song!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Baby Boy Wall-Ridges, Brother to Harriet Lucille and Matilda Corinne

Bethany writes:
Hi! My name is Bethany. My wife's name is Kathryn. We generally go by Beth and Kate although by our full names as well. Our last name is hyphenated and rhymes with Wall-Ridges.

We have identical twin daughters, Harriet Lucille and Matilda Corinne. They are known to everyone else as Harriet and Matilda but at home we often call them Hattie and Mattie, because we are evil. They are 4 and so far do not object but I'm sure they will!

We are due to have a son in very early November. He will be the only one in our house with a penis for the foreseeable future. Even our dogs are female and this almost certainly our last child. So we want his name to be strong but not overpowering, if that makes sense. Our girls names are of course pretty old fashioned and classic names with kicky nicknames. Since he will almost certainly be the only boy in our family we want his name to feel special without singeling him out. I hope this makes sense!

Our girls are named, in assorted ways, after our mothers (Kate's mum's first name is Corinne, my mum's middle is Lucille). So we'd like to cover our dads with the boy. Happily they both have Edward somewhere in their names so that will be our sons middle (i see its your sons name as well!)
but for first names we are a bit...stuck.
Here's our shortlist. Please let us know what you think!

Henry (but we are not repeating initials, how else are we going to label anything?)
Phillip but i hate Phil
Frederick but I hate Fred/Freddy
Andrew but hate Andy (see a pattern here?)
note that Kate doesn't hate these nicknames but she doesnt like them either.

Seymour out of left field but like it
Caspian totally doesn't fit with our girls but I LOVE)

thank you!

I think Caspian might fit very well with the girls' names. I agree it sort of SHOULDN'T fit well, and yet I'm finding it DOES for me: Harriet, Matilda, and Caspian. Oh, I think I know what it is: I think it's that for me, all three are book names. (Harriet from Harriet the Spy and Harriet You'll Drive Me Wild; Matilda from the Roald Dahl book; Caspian from Narnia.)

Atticus gives me that same feeling. Harriet, Matilda, and Atticus.

It's too bad about Henry---I do love that name. I wonder if you'd like a name I think of as belonging to the upcoming batch of similar names: George. George Edward Wall-Ridges; Harriet, Matilda, and George. Georgie or Geordy are both very cute nicknames.

I also love James from your lists. Harriet, Matilda, and James. Really, really nice.

Do you like Simon? Harriet, Matilda, and Simon.

Or Ian, one of my own top favorites. Harriet, Matilda, and Ian.

Or Felix? I think it's got a lot of the quirky charm of the girls' names. Harriet, Matilda, and Felix.

Same with Arlo, which has been on my love list ever since Arlo's Theme Song.

Or Charlie is also adorable but a little less uncommon: Harriet, Matilda, and Charlie.

Ooo, how about Wesley? Harriet, Matilda, and Wesley. I really like that, and I love the nickname Wes.

Or Ezra: Harriet, Matilda, and Ezra.

I think my favorites are George, Ian, and Wesley.

Name update! Bethany writes:
Thank you so much for using our question!
we loved reading all of the answers/comments especially yours. We got a TON of ideas and in fact we did not decide for sure until he was two days old. we went to the hospital with Felix, George, Caspian, Quinlan and Wesley. We thought Wesley was most likely, but then our little guy was born and we brought Mattie and Hattie to see him, and we asked them to tiebreak between Quinlan and Caspian (he just didnt look ike a Wesley). They started calling him Q! So his name is
Quinlan Edward. we LOVE it, love that he's our 5th, love that we can just call him Little Q and Baby Q, and we are so happy. thanks again for all the help!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Baby Girl Sharp, Sister to Owen

S. writes:
We are expecting a girl this November. If this baby was a boy we had 3 names we easily agreed on. Leo, Arlo and Eli. Eli was the name I wanted with our 3 yr old son. I agreed to let m DH make the final decision and our son's name is Owen.:) Which was on our top 5 list. We seem to be having a harder time agreeing on girl names. It's agreed that I get the final say this time but we need to agree on a top 5. We won't pick a name before she arrives as we both believe we need to meet her first. DH has a #1 name that we loves and wants and some he is ok with.

I seem to like a lot of names but seem to fall out of love with names quickly. Especially since most of names get vetoed by my husband.:( My list changes often but these names are ones that I seem to go back to. Our last name is Sharp.

My list









DH dislikes all these names except Lola and is Ok with Fiona.

DH list

Marla (this is the name he wants)


Josephine (I like this for a mn and like Josie for a nn)





Tessa (which we both don't like with our LN. Too "s" heavy)



I do like some of his names. I really want our top 5 list to be fair as I will most likely be the one to sacrifice. With your help I was hoping to eliminate a few, get new name options, and to get some honest opinions on our lists. We have 2 months to go so there is still plenty of time for us to get serious.:)

Thanks Swistle and followers. I hope to receive some great advice and hopefully some new names.

I think I'd start by going down each list name by name and brainstorming names that seem similar to you in sound or style---the goal being to see if names that appeal to one of you result in similar names that appeal to both of you.

Here's how my list would look after brainstorming your lists:


Eloise and Eliza and Elsie seem so close, I feel like working more in that area. Elena. Louisa. Elodie. Elsa. Leslie. Lindsay. Elise. Eleanor. Esmé. Lydia. Elspeth. Hazel.

And you've got Amelia, and he's got Mia---often used as a nickname for Amelia. It seems like you guys are so close to agreeing!

Name update! S. writes:
Our little girl arrived Nov 21, 2011

Our top 6 ended up being Clara Josephine, Stella June, Ivy Sophia, Isabel Quinn, Maggie Elizabeth and Eliza Quinn.

After we met her we knew she was either a Clara Josephine or Eliza Quinn and it took us almost a week to decide. But we decided on Clara Josephine.

Thank You for your help everyone!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Middle Name Challenge: Evangeline ______

M. writes:
I'm due any day with a baby girl. For years my husband and I have been set on the name Evangeline Mae for a girl. Recently a family member lost a baby girl and used the middle name Mae. We feel that we can no longer use that name, as it would only open wounds/cause family conflict. We also LOVE Evangeline Lily, but feel we can not use that name either because of the connection to the actress Evangeline Lilley which all of our family and friends know and love. We're looking for a short middle name that's not too unusual. Some middle names we have considered: Marie, Arianna, Rose, Juliana (my husband likes it, but I hate it). Please, please give suggestions! Right now I'm feeling so stressed and distraught that at the last minute we can't use a name that we have loved and planned on for so long. Thank you!

I think I would start by looking for names like Mae (in sound or in style), and then by looking for names like Lily (in sound or in style). The mindset, though, is not "Which is better, Mae/Lily or this new choice?" but rather, "Since we can't have Mae/Lily, will this be nearly as good?" Without a surname it's hard to tell if these will work with the rhythm or with the initials, but it'll be a list to consider.

Names somewhat like Mae:


Some of these may be way too close to Mae, but I included them all so we could mull them over. (I left Kate and Kay/Kaye out, since Evangeline Lilly plays Kate on Lost. I left out Jane and Lane because they seemed to similar to the -geline/-line of Evangeline.)

Names somewhat like Lily:


I left out Lilah and Layla and Lucy and Libby and Lydia and Ellie and others, because I thought they might be too evocative of Lilly. Some of the ones I left in might ALSO be too evocative of Lilly: it got very hard to draw the line.

Name update! M. writes:
Thank you Swistle and all of your readers for helping us choose a middle name! We went with your advice and used a middle name similar to Mae, Evangeline Marie. As one of your readers pointed out, we liked that Marie was also french like Evangeline and a classic name. We were between Marie and Grace (as suggested by many commenters) and went with Marie because we have a 1 syllable last name and thought having a 2 syllable middle name would flow better. Again thank you so much! She was born 9/22/11.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Account of Baby Name Regret

Bethany writes:
I wanted to write to you to share this name-journey with other readers who might feel the same other sense of unease with name and encourage them to keep calling their baby a variety of nicknames and name variations, rather than starting to feel gloomy about choosing the wrong name.

My darling girl is twenty weeks old, and it has honestly taken me this long to come to terms with her name and feel quite proud of it. I did not experience the sort of baby name regret that is mentioned occasionally on your blog, but I did not feel so at peace with the name we selected for our daughter. It just didn't seem to stick the same way her brother, Daniel Henry Hyde, seemed to stick with me instantly.

I think its taken four months to get to know her as Elsa Catherine Haid, and four months for me to put away the other names (Eliza, Anneliese, Elise, Elissa, Joanna, Mirabelle, Beatrice, and more) that weren't chosen. I think it took four months of calling her Elsa Kate, Elsie, Elsa Catherine, Elsabug, my sweet Elsa to make it feel natural.

Elsa was my husband's #1 choice and he feels such pride when others comment on the name's beauty. It was not my first choice, but I do really like the name now, especially when I call her Elsa Kate, which is how I introduce her to others.

The advice you and your readers gave sent us in different directions. I was first concerned about a name that would sound good with the German vowel pattern of our last name. You and your readers helped me see that its not such a big deal. I really liked the suggestion of Elsa Jane for the way it sounded, but having no connection to any Janes and wanting a bit of a namesake, we named her Catherine, which is my paternal grandmother's middle name. I enjoy that she was born the same week Catherine Middleton married William, and it was fun to hold my little Elsa Kate and watch the wedding.

So in conclusion, I'd like to implore your readers to not get stuck in the muddy waters of baby name regret. At first, I started thinking about how I the name Elsa was too much like Melissa and Elsie was a lot like Kelsey (both names I don't really like) instead of focusing on my daughter and the beauty of her name. I thought about the name Elsa meant I can't have an Eliza or an Elissa or Elizabeth. I should have been thinking about how wonderful and special it is that her father lights up when he says her name, that its a lovely name, and that its a name she can be proud of since its sturdy and timeless and classy and feminine.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vote Again

If you voted this morning in the triplet-name poll, you'll need to re-vote: the parents wanted their surname removed from the post and poll, and poll questions can't be edited.

Baby Boy-Boy-Girl Triplets

A. writes:
Hi, we are expecting BBG triplets in a couple months and are debating between (1)Andrew, Wyatt & Everly or (2) Sawyer, Wyatt & Everly. Could you please tell me which name set you prefer?

Thank you!

I prefer Sawyer, Wyatt, and Everly, for four reasons:

1. Andrew and Wyatt together bring Andrew Wyeth immediately to my mind.

2. [Edited] With your surname, Andrew makes me think of a sound-alike celebrity's name.

3. I think Sawyer and Wyatt are particularly well-coordinated brother names, better coordinated in style than Andrew and Wyatt.

4. I like how Sawyer, Wyatt, and Everly are all surname names and all have a Y---but without seeming at all matchy.

Let's have a poll over to the right to see what everyone else's favorite set is! [Poll closed; see results below.]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Baby Girl ______ Sights Flemming-with-a-D, Sister to Gavin

Katy writes:
My name is Katy (short for Katharine, but I've always been "Katy") & I am nearly 38 weeks pregnant. My husband Brian and I expect to welcome a baby girl to our family pretty much any day now!

Before I go any further, I should note that our last name starts with a D and rhymes with "Flemming." When we got married, I moved my family name (a german name that sounds like "Sights") to the "middle" position, my husband legally changed his middle name to my family name and our son has my family name as his middle name also. So this baby girl will have my family name as her middle name. I love that we all share both of our family names. I do find it harder to chose names because I love the idea of finding first & middle names that just "go together!" but the middle/last combo was decided years ago when we got married and changed names!

We have a three year old named Gavin and we love his name. It took a LONG time to settle on his name and because I feel very superstitious about "definitely" picking a name before a baby is born (and about telling anyone the name choices), we actually went into the hospital with three names in mind (Kevin, Sean & Gavin ... the last of which was only added to the mix about a month before he was due to be born) but in the midst of a 37+ hour labor we both admitted that each of us had begun to think of him as Gavin in our minds so we settled on that moments before he was born! [True confession, I also loved that everyone we told his name to in those first few weeks told us how much they LOVED the name Gavin and it was very nice to get such enthusiastic affirmation of the name we'd chosen]. It was chosen mostly because we just really liked it ~ but I like connecting names to other things and immediately went out and bought a copy of Sir Gawain & the Green Knight to give to my son in the future.

Although we knew the gender of our first child, somehow in the midst of agonizing discussions about names for him (we have seemingly different "styles") we threw out a few girls names and at the time we agreed that we both really liked Cora & Molly (truthfully, I loved Cora SO much more than Molly and I had pretty much decided from the moment that Gavin was born that if he had a little sister, she'd be named Cora)
Fast forward to today, however, and lo and behold we know a "Cora" who has been a child in my son's daycare the past few years. Somehow, knowing another little girl named Cora has caused us both to have such a strong association with this one particular girl, that it makes the name harder to consider (especially for my husband... I think I could get over it, but he really can't get back on board with Cora). And Molly was used by a cousin and by a friend of ours (spelled Mollie) over the past three years and suddenly it doesn't seem right this time around.

Since the first week we started seriously discussing names a few months ago (when the ultrasound tech told us it was a 95% chance of a girl), we keep coming back to the name Heidi. I loved the book as a child (and I love names that have literature connections and read that post on your blog about 15 times for inspiration!) We both really like Heidi, but for some reason neither of us can quite say: "I love this, this is her name!" I wonder a lot if Gavin & Heidi are good sibling names? Gavin is so Celtic sounding and Heidi is so German sounding (although with our two family surnames, I guess that is appropriate!). I am also REALLY hoping this little one gets my husband's thick, dark brown hair and green/hazel eyes and I have a hard time not thinking of a "Heidi" as a blonde with blue eyes (which is unlikely given our genetic contributions!) Finally, although I really like my name "Katy" I have struggled with it sounding too "young" as I've grown older. I think of Heidi as a spunky little girl's name so I'd love to hear your opinion on whether Heidi is name that she will "grow into well" and whether it transfers to the professional world. (and also whether it's too "70s" as one baby name book suggested)

The only other name we've come close to agreeing on is Tessa or Tess. (but not short for Therese or Teresa, just as a stand alone name)

We do both agree that we like names whose spellings make it easy to know how to pronounce and that we like names that are both not too unusual that someone will look at us and say "is that a name?" or too popular -- we'd likely rule out names in the top 15 of baby girl names.

My husband also likes (and I REALLY don't):
Jodee (although I do have a cousin named this and I adore her)

I'm lukewarm on his suggestions of:
Marissa (although I like Maris and Marin)

For my husband, any name we choose also has to pass a test of "sounding like she could play women's professional soccer" (don't ask me exactly what that means but it does rule out names like Margery & Adaline apparently)

I really like (and my husband does NOT like):
Gretchen (his grandmother was Margaret & even my trying to convince him that this would be a way of naming a baby after her didn't help!)
Ada (my husband's other grandmother was named Aida ... pronounced "Ida" so this is a little tricky since the family might wonder why we didn't just name her Aida)
Polly (my grandmother's name)
I also like the nick name "Nell" but my husband only agrees to that if if comes from the larger name "Janelle" and I really prefer that it come from "Eleanor"

Can you see how we have seemingly different naming "styles"!!

For some reason I keep thinking we'll happen upon a name that we just both LOVE and will know that it's the right one... but we're getting down to the wire (and I'm having lots of pre-labor contractions as I type this) so I'm sending this one email to see if you or your readers have any name suggestions for us that go well with the sibling name Gavin and blend our two styles of names!

Oh and this is our last baby (unless the absolute unexpected happens) so the only thing we'll be naming in the future is a dog!

Sorry for the long email, feel free to edit if you decide to post!
Thanks so much! I love reading your blog and have come back to it many sleepless nights during these last few weeks of pregnancy but since I've never seen anyone ask about the name Heidi, I thought I'd try emailing!


P.S. I do just want to add that although the ultrasound tech gave us a 95% chance of a girl, I have serious doubts about the gender sometimes and I keep peeking in the "boys" section of the baby name book to have a back up "just in case" this little one surprises us!! Is it crazy to have a back up boy's name?

I don't think it would be at all crazy to have a back-up boy's name: I am always in favor of more name-hunting! At this point in the pregnancy it seems best to prioritize: FIRST get a solid girl name (or solid list of several to choose from) and THEN continue the fun with a boy name search. When I'd start to get stressed about choosing a name for the non-indicated-by-ultrasound sex, I found it comforting to think that if the baby WAS the sex we weren't prepared for, it would be such an amusing and startling surprise and such a great story, everyone would be distracted by THAT for awhile---and besides, we'd have a perfect reason for needing a little extra time to find a name.

Your husband is suffering from a common affliction among fathers-to-be (not ONLY fathers, but it does seem more heavily weighted toward fathers), which is that he's thinking about girl names from his own generation, rather than shifting to the current batch of baby names. You, on the other hand, have successfully shifted. This is the main difference between your lists: not so much style as timing.

I like the idea of making sure a name can work for various types of women, though I don't like the idea of picking just ONE type. The idea behind "Does it work for a stripper or a Supreme Court Justice?" (which I modify to include less-unlikely professions such as manager, receptionist, teacher, lawyer, bookkeeper, check-out clerk, bank executive) is to make sure we're taking into account that a child could be any of many different temperament types and skill-sets. It's good to keep the athletes in mind, but also to remember the introverted book-reading types, the drama club types, the pink and glitter types, the nature-loving types, etc. Another thing to keep in mind is nicknames: it's difficult to picture a Cordelia or a Marjorie playing soccer---but the picture changes if I imagine her teammates calling her Deels or Jory or Flemming.

I seem to be coming down pretty hard against your husband's side here. Dear, dear, I don't mean to: he has some very nice names on his list, and wanting her name to work on a girl who plays sports is good thing to keep in mind. I think it's just reminding me of Paul back when we were first naming our babies and he kept suggesting names like Wendy, Tracy, and Tamara. Those are indeed fine names, and they were perfect fits for the girls we knew when we were in high school, but I was ready to move on to Eve and Elena and Emerson and Lauren and Olivia. KEEP UP, BOYS.

I love the name Cora. A name that feels similar to me is Clara. Clara Sights Flemming; Gavin and Clara. So pretty.

Another possibility: the rhyming name Nora. It reminds me of your Nell option, and it too can be short for Eleanor but works even better than Nell as a stand-alone name. Nora Sights Flemming; Gavin and Nora.

Maura and Laurel have similar sounds as well. I particularly like Laurel, especially since you have Laura on your list. Laurel Sights Flemming; Gavin and Laurel. Would the initials LSD bother you?

I think Heidi might be a very good compromise name. It's a name from my own high school, and yet I feel ready to hear it again---unlike many of the other names of my peers. Heidi Sights Flemming; Gavin and Heidi. But I'm not sure I like it with the actual D-surname, without the Sights in between.

There's also Idey or Eidey (stand-alone, or else short for Eidelyn/Idelyn), which share many of the sounds of Heidi and also give you a tie-in to Grandma Aida-pronounced-Ida. But this may fall into the "Is that a name?" category you're talking about.

Ivy, too, has some of the sound of Heidi, without the potential '70s problem, and I love the repeating V sound with Gavin. Ivy Sights Flemming; Gavin and Ivy. This is one of my favorite options.

Holly falls into this same category as Heidi for me: sure, it was used in my generation, but it's more the "1970s owls" category than the "1970s bangs" category: I still want it around. And it's similar to your old favorite of Molly. Holly Sights Flemming; Gavin and Holly.

A good compromise category might be The Baby Name Wizard's New Classics: these are the names that I was struggling to describe using owls and hair, but really what they are is names that work at our ages AND at our kids' ages. Wendy, Tracy, and Tamara aren't on there, but Kevin, Sean, Tessa, Holly, Alicia, Samantha, and Marissa are. Other good possibilities: Bethany, Cara, Bridget, Clarissa, Jocelyn, Lara, Laurel, Leslie, Meredith, Sabrina.

Name update! Katy writes:
First of all apologies for having taken SO long to update you on the name of our little girl!
(It's been a busy three months with two kiddos and in the midst of it, I wound up back in the hospital with gall bladder surgery so I've been playing "catch up" on nearly everything!)
Secondly, thank you so much for posting my letter and for your very thoughtful response! And thank you to the many people who commented and offered suggestions as well. What you wrote as well as the many comments helped me to fall even further in love with the name Heidi however, I still kept feeling like I would need to see this baby to settle on that name.
After you printed the letter I made a huge list of every single name that was suggested by you as well as all the other names that were given in the comments. I grouped them by the ones I loved, the ones I didn't like (or couldn't use because I work in an all-girls school and they have the wrong connotation) and ones that I wanted to think about. I showed the list to my husband and after several long conversations, we settled on three that we could agree would be wonderful names: Heidi, Tessa & Leah (thank you to "Erin" who commented and suggested this name)
Despite my hopeful projections on Sept 12th, when I wrote the letter, our little girl took her sweet time and didn't arrive until Sept. 28th. During the 36+ hours of laboring in the hospital, we were still so undecided that my husband kept offering other ideas and we even started to throw Mira into the mix of names. I knew, though, that I would need to meet my daughter to decide ultimately (which drove the nurses crazy as I felt so protective of wanting to decide on our own, we wouldn't even share our top names with the nurses/midwives/my mother during the entire labor).
Finally, though our little girl was born ... and as much as I LOVE the name Heidi, even from the first moments of seeing her, I wasn't sure that was her name... she spent the first ten hours of her life as "Baby Girl" and while we cuddled and she nursed I kept trying out our names to see what fit...(Admittedly, I really wanted to look at her and know she was a Heidi, but something about her tiny little face, wouldn't let me settle on that!) ultimately she let us know that she is a Leah. So I'd like to introduce you to our darling Leah. I think that Gavin & Leah wind up working well together and it really is a name that just seems to "fit" her in a way that the other names didn't!
My only slight naming regret is that in our discussion of the name, we never imagined that a name spelled Leah would be pronounced any other way except "Lee-uh"... and for the past three months I have been asked about the pronunciation (and had to correct people ~ even close family members!) because many people pronounce it "Lay-uh" (or "Lee").
So thank you again for all your advice. Attached is a photo of our little Leah at about 2 months in a beautiful handmade dress from the mother of a friend of mine!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Other People are Using an Unwanted Nickname

Autumn writes:
My problem is a little different than the typical name indecision issue you cover at Swistle, but I hope you and your readers can give me some advice.

I love names, and I spent a long time picking out the perfect name for my first son. I settled on Edison Byron. I wanted my son to have his own unique name, but I also wanted to honor my Dad, who doesn't have any sons of his own. My Dad's name is Edward but he goes by Ed (or Eddie with my Mom). I thought Edison was perfect, since he could go by Ed / Edi.

So what's the problem? This baby is the first grandchild, so naturally everyone is excited. My sister told me while I was pregnant that she was going to have her own special name for my son. I told her I'd wanted veto power over any nicknames she wanted to use, and she became very upset that I was so controlling. She said that what she wanted to call my son was her decision. I let it drop and figured I'd deal with it later, especially since she lives far away and likely won't see Edison very often. Just recently she came to stay for a few weeks to meet her nephew and help me out. While she was here, she decided that referring to Edison as Ed or Edi was "too weird", because that's my Dad's name. My sister decided that she will call him E, and now my mother has started to use that nickname!

I don't like the nickname, for 3 specific reasons. One, I picked Edison with the intention that my son would either go by his full name or Ed / Edi in honor of my Dad. Calling him E entirely routes around that. Second, I have a strong preference for other E names and am considering an E theme, and I love the name Beatrix with the nickname of Bea...but I would hate to have an E and a Bea. Third, (though less important) the name E just sounds more edgy than my own style (though it fits really nicely with my sister's style).

How do you and your readers typically handle family nicknames? Should I try and stop this nickname, or should I not worry about it? Since I understand that it's a little weird to suddenly have another Ed in the family, are there other nicknames I can offer that will still honor my Dad?

Thanks for your help!

This is a very tricky issue, because on one hand I can vividly imagine how teeth-clenchingly annoyed I'd be if someone was calling one of my kids a nickname I didn't like---and on the other hand, I don't think much can be done without being more aggressive than I'd ever want to be about such a thing. It's so easy for other people to say "It's YOUR baby and YOU get to decide..." or "Don't LET them..." or "You need to INSIST that they..." when the scenario is happening in their imaginations (which is also where we tell off our boss and that mean girl in high school), but much harder to do it in real life---especially when nicknaming rights are a grey area.

I can't tell from your letter whether you've already explained your reasons to your mom and sister. If not, that's where I'd start: I think it's easy for people to object to being told what to do, but much harder to persevere when they've heard the perfectly understandable reasons not to. I would particularly emphasize the potential future-sibling-name problems and the honoring-dad-with-the-nickname issue (and in fact might skip the style one). I would do the whole thing calmly and nicely (tone should be requesting/explaining rather than demanding), perhaps with quavering voice and tears threatening to brim. I think I'd start with your mom, since I think she'll be easier to convince and then she might be able to help with your sister (and also because later in this post I'm going to discuss the possibility of allowing your sister to keep using the nickname, in which case you'd only need to talk to your mom about it).

(I'm not accepting your sister's argument that it's weird to have another Ed in the family. Plenty of children are named after other people, and it might be a little odd at first but then everyone gets used to it. Plus, if Ed/Edi is too weird for her to get used to, she can call him Edison. Her argument that she wants to have her own special name for him holds way more sway.)

If they know your reasons and are doing it anyway, I'm stumped. I've heard stories of people teaching their children rude comebacks, or using ultimatums such as "You can't see him unless you call him what _I_ want you to call him," but for me those would be "only in my mind" techniques. I'm imagining if my much-disliked mother-in-law had insisted on calling one of my children a name we had a specific and reasonable reason for objecting to---but even THEN I don't think I would have used the destruction of a family relationship as my threat of choice. Maybe I could have managed something like a wincing "Oh, I'm sorry, but we REALLY don't want him called that." Again, I'm not sure parents DO have full nickname control---or if they do, it doesn't last past the point where the child can make his or her own decisions about what he or she wants (or is willing to be) called, at which point perhaps your son will (politely!) tell his aunt he'd prefer to be called Edi.

This is the part where I suggest that another possibility is to allow his aunt to call him E. I generally dislike the nickname Kris and generally wouldn't want anyone to call me that---but one set of my grandparents DID call me Kris, and my aunt (their daughter) still calls me Kris sometimes, and it's just different: to me, when THEY use it, it's "their special name for me," losing all elements of "a nickname I dislike." I can imagine a boy might really enjoy being called E by his aunt, even if he didn't want other people to call him that.

It's different, though, if the nickname catches on, as it looks like it might if your mom is already using it. Again, this is where your sensible reasons seem like they'd come in handy: you have legitimate concerns here, and perhaps even if your sister won't change (which might be okay or even better than okay), you can persuade your mom and others not to join in. If someone new calls him E, you can say, "Actually, he goes by Edi: E is just his aunt's special nickname for him."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Baby Boy Marchese, Brother to Reed, Evelyn, and Lucy

Sarah writes:
I'm 37 weeks pregnant and we have no name for our son. We have a son Brian (father's name) Reed and he goes by Reed, a daughter Evelyn Anne (she sometimes goes by Evie), and a Lucy Margaret. Our last name is Marchese (Mar-k-z) which is Italian but as you can see we haven't really gone the Italian route with any of our names. Each of these names we really love and this time we are really struggling to find a name we both love and agree on. My family keeps making fun of me because I have so many "rules" about this name but I would really like something that goes well with Reed, Evelyn and Lucy. First, I really don't want an "L" name because Lucy is right before this one. I also don't want a name that ends in a "y" since we have a Lucy and Evelyn goes by Evie sometimes. And finally I don't want an "R" name because I would rather both boys not begin with the same letter. OK so maybe I do have a lot of rules but in my hormonal brain it all makes sense.

Here are a few names on my list:
Nathan (call him Nate)
Gabriel (call him Gabe)
Noah (one of my brothers names which I love but not sure I want to use)

Here are a few of my husbands picks:
Jude (which I like but then we have a Lucy and a Jude which makes me automatically think of the 2 big Beetles songs)
Oliver (We just had a friend that had an Oliver so that's kind of off the table)

As you can see these lists aren't that long. We are just really stumped! I've never been this close to my due date without a least some idea of what we would name our child. We've been searching baby name books and the internet with no avail. Please help!!!! Oh and our names are Brian Acra (family name) and Sarah Elizabeth.

Thank you!!!!

Looking at the three sibling names, I thought of how comfortably all three names would go in the credits of an old black-and-white movie. Trying to think of what other names would fit in that line-up (more brainstormy-type thinking than actual reality, as you'll see), I immediately thought of Grant and Clark. Grant Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Grant. Clark Marchese (maybe too many shared sounds with surname); Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Clark.

Or Nolan, or Spencer. Nolan Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Nolan. Spencer Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Spencer.

Or John, or Jack. John Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and John. Jack Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Jack.

Or Hudson, or Holden. Hudson Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Hudson. Holden Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Holden.

Or Davis, or Harris, or Dean. Davis Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Davis. Harris Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Harris. Dean Marchese; Reed, Evelyn, Lucy, and Dean.

I also like Gabe from your list, or the similar name Gage. Or James is excellent, I think.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Baby Boy or Girl Axel Fur, Sibling to Atticus and Avner

M. writes:
We are expecting our third child mid-September, though I think it will show up sooner. We don't know the sex of the baby and I don't have any strong feelings either way.

Here is some background. We already have two boys named Atticus and Avner. Their last name is both of our last names and rhymes with Axel Fur. We didn't plan on having two A-names for the boys and are a little self-conscious about it. We've been pretty adamant that we *don't* want another A name, although in the last few days I've been softening as there are so many great A names! (I also acknowledge that our banning of A names has probably made them even more attractive this round.)

We've done what you don't suggest and know what the middle names will be. The boys have middle names that honour family members (my FIL and my deceased brother) and we'd like to honour a dear friend who is no longer with us. Her middle name was North and we'd use that for a boy. If we have a girl, we're going to saddle the poor thing with two middle names--our friend's first name (Azra) and Joan (which was my Nana's name and also is the middle name of both my mother and my sister). Yes, we're thinking of being crazy and giving the poor child FIVE names! One first, two middle, two last. It's over the top, but I kind of don't care at this point. I am NOT having another child, so let's blow our load on this one!

I've got a long list of girl names that I like and that I think would fit--Harriet being the top contender as far as I'm concerned, with some other names being Lois, Alice, Agnes, Margot, Ivy, Iris, Hazel--but we're still searching.

Boys names are so hard! I feel like there are so many things that we have to consider that no name will work: no A name (but they're the best!), no name that sounds like a last name (as the mn sounds like a ln and he'll already have two lns, poor soul), something not too common, a real name, nothing poncey or with too many syllables. I want it to be strong, a little tough, but something that would go with his siblings. For example, I came across the name Tiernan and thought, that's a good name, but then realized it sounded like a yuppie child's name. I want a name that would be as home on the oil rigs as the theatre as the doctor's lounge. (I know Atticus doesn't necessarily fit that, but...that was five years ago!) Some names that we've been talking about are Ivan, Silas, Callum, Orson (a last name, but I love the meaning: little bear/bear cub, as this baby has very much been one in utero). A names that are suddenly very attractive because they are verboten are: Ansel, Ambrose, Amos, Anders, Arlo.

In the past we have a strong list of about eight names and wait until the baby was born to name him and are hoping to come up with lists that we're both happy with. Also, just to make things even that more difficult, we'd prefer a name that doesn't lend itself to nicknames.

So, as you can see, we're a mess. I would love to hear your thoughts and access the hive mind of your readers.

Thanks so much!

It was my mom who brought my attention to the fact that many people have "favorite initials": one or two initials that tend to be heavily represented in their name lists. One of my mom's is K; one of mine is E. (Most people also have a couple of least-favorite initials.)

If you were planning more children than three, I think I would be encouraging you to avoid A names this time around lest you paint yourself into a corner. But if you're pretty sure you're stopping after three, and if A-names tend to be the ones you love most (rather than ones you feel pressured into using), I find it appeals to me to think of you with your three little A-name children. I think it can be a fun family thing---and with only three, it hasn't gone far enough to seem odd. And it looks to me as if your A-name list is more consistent with your style than your non-A-name list. I think you could go either way: if the favorite name starts with an A, or if the favorite name doesn't start with an A, there are good things about either decision.

My attention was caught by Orson, because although I don't like the way it flows with the other names, I DO like the bear thing. I Googled bear names, and found this list, which has several good possibilities. (Watch out on this and other bear-name lists: the verb "bear," as in "many famous people bear this name," leads to many sorting errors.)

More suggestions, non-A or A, bear-related or non-bear-related?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Ivy vs. Ivee

Brooke writes:
Hi! My name is Brooke and my husband is Brian. Our last name is similar to Peterson.

We are still in the preliminary baby-growing and baby-naming stages (16 weeks) and have not yet found out if our baby-to-be is a girl or boy.

If it is a girl, my top name choice is Ivy.

Brian has agreed to this name, but he wants it to be spelled Ivee. He knows someone named Ivee and does not know anyone with the name Ivy.

I love Ivy, but I pretty much loath Ivee. He feels the opposite. He thinks it would be weird to name a little girl after a plant. I feel like it would be even weirder to give her a made up name...or at least a made up spelling for a name.

We have a short list of other names that we can agree on - Nora, Sarah, Eden, Eve, etc. - so it is not like Ivy/Ivee is our only choice.

But, since it is my favorite and he has actually (amazingly!) agreed to it, I don't know if I should settle for a spelling I dislike or just give up on my sweet Ivy and go with another name.

Or...maybe it will be a boy and we can wait to worry about this issue until another pregnancy.

Should I settle for Ivee? Should we move on and keep looking at other names?

Thanks so much!

I'd start by seeing if you can find out if your husband's mind can be changed on the issue of whether or not it's weird to use a plant name. Ivy, Rose, Violet, Lily, Willow, Daisy, Heather, Holly, Iris, Jasmine---these are all plant names that people use as-is, without having to alter the spellings. We do the same with many other noun names: Hope, Grace, Autumn, May, River, Ruby, Faith. I would first see if your husband feels the same way about the spelling of these other names, or if it's just that he's not used to Ivy as a name. It isn't that we never change the spellings of noun names ("Brooke" is a convenient example; Lilly and Saige and Skye also come to mind), but Ivy is in the category of names we as a culture don't consider weird to leave as it is.

Your husband knows an Ivee, which certainly influences his feelings. The Social Security Administration may be of assistance here: in 2010, there were 1,073 baby girls named Ivy, and 13 named Ivee. Another 61 were named Ivey; another 33 were named Ivie. The spelling Ivy is clearly the main spelling. This is not to say that the main spelling must be honored; it is only another suggested argument against his feeling that Ivee is a more natural spelling of the name.

Because I so strongly side with you about spelling it Ivy, I'm reluctant to even mention these possible compromise spellings: Ivie, Ivey.

Name update! Brooke writes:
I followed one commenter's advice and left the name conversation alone until we learned the sex of our little one.

We learned that we were having a boy, so the Ivy/Ivee conversation has been tabled. I am sure it will come up again if/when a future pregnancy brings us a girl, but for now, I have just left it alone.

My long list of potential boy names was largely vetoed and we didn't make a final decision until we met our little man, but we are so happy with our choice. His name is Samuel Birger (BRR-jer). Birger is my dad's first name and I love that Sam has this connection with his Pops.

Many thanks to you and your readers for all of the comments and consideration

Monday, September 5, 2011

Baby Name to Consider: Tolliver

In a book I'm reading, a character named Tolliver is briefly mentioned. This name seems to me to have huge potential, and yet it's extremely rare in the U.S.: not even five babies were given the name in 2010. (The Social Security Administration gives out name data only for names given to five or more babies; Tolliver is not in their database, so it could have been given to one, two, three, or four babies---or to no babies at all.)

Periodically we have a parent mention that they like the name Oliver but the other parent doesn't like it, or they don't like the nickname Ollie, or they don't like the orphan/cat association, or it's way too common. Tolliver has the potential to solve any of those four problems, as well as solving any problem where the initial O would be difficult but the initial T would not. For parents looking for a highly-unusual-but-not-weird-or-made-up name (a common request here), Tolliver feels familiar despite its rarity because of the popularity of Oliver. And it's an old established surname name, so it fits in there as well---and would be especially perfect for a family with Tollivers in their family tree.

As to whether it might cause confusion to have Tollivers mixing with Olivers, I think a very close comparison study would be Madelines and Adelines. Probably there is the occasional confusion---but not enough to mean only one of those names can be used.

Mull it over a bit, say it out loud a few times, picture it on some real people of various ages, and then let's have a poll over to the right to see what we think of it. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results (295 votes total):

I love it! I'd use it! - 14 votes (5%)
I like it! I'd consider it! - 31 votes (11%)
I like it for someone else's baby - 92 votes (31%)
No particular opinion - 26 votes (9%)
Slight dislike - 85 votes (29%)
Strong dislike - 47 votes (16%)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Baby Boy Morrison

Veronique writes:
My husband and I are about to have our first child, a boy, and having a really hard time with his name. We have a lot of names we like, but we haven't agreed on one and he is due any day now (Monday to be exact - although I think it may be a bit later than that.).

One name we have both liked from the start is Austin. Although a coworker of mine just named his son Augustus, so now I'm worried it too similar ... it is a very small office. Although, my husband says I shouldn't worry about it.

Other names we like are:
Ethan (although we just realized how popular it was so have nixed it)
Sebastian (not sure I like it with Morrison)
Miles (I love this name, husband isn't crazy about it - especially with our last name)
Julian (but our friends just named their son it, so don't think we can).

My dad's family is from France, so I would love a French name that can easily be pronounced in both languages. We haven't had much luck finding them, two options we're considering are:

Phillip/Phillipe (not crazy about the nn phil though)

Would love to hear your thoughts on the names we've thought of or ones you suggest. I like names that are a little different, but my husband is a bit more traditional. We don't have any set middle name, it will really depend on what we choose as the first.


I do think Austin is far enough from Augustus that it's not an issue. Augusten and Augustus might be too close, but Austin and Augustus are so different, not just in sound but in style (and I wonder if they might be planning to call him Gus?). If you've both liked it from the beginning, this could be the best choice.

A friend of mine has a son named Phillip and they call him Pip. My mom and I agreed that this makes us want to use the name Phillip, just so we can use that fabulous nickname.

I'm not familiar enough with French to know which names sound good in both languages, but using the France section of The Best Baby Names in the World, From Around the World and the French section of The Baby Name Wizard to help me (some of these are in there, some of them I thought of when seeing names that were in there), I suggest this list:


(In many cases, you'd need to decide whether to use the French spelling or the U.S. English spelling; I leaned toward the U.S. spellings when making the list.)

I have to keep myself from over-pushing the name Pascal. It's French and almost unused in the U.S. (only 28 new baby Pascals born in 2010, according to the Social Security Administration), but I think it could really work well here.

My other favorites from the list with your surname: Everett Morrison, Frederick Morrison, Gage Morrison, Hugo Morrison, Luke Morrison. Adrian and Fabien seem closest to Julian and Sebastien.

If Ethan is too popular, I wonder if you would like Ian? It's more like "Yun" in French: here it is on Forvo---it's like the "i" is still there, but swallowed.

Would your husband like Milo any better than Miles? On Forvo it sounds more like mee-lo.

Name update! Veronique writes:
Austin Henri Morrison has arrived Tuesday at 7 AM - almost right on time. I've attached two photos of the him, he sure is a cutie. Thanks again for the post and suggestions, it was all very helpful and appreciated.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Baby Boy Lucas, Brother to Seraphina Lily, Arabella Poppy, and India Violet

Rose writes:
I desperately need your help! My name is Rose, my husbands name is David and our last name sounds like Lucas. I have 2 & 1/2 year old twin girls named Seraphina Lily and Arabella Poppy, and a 9 month - yes, 9 months old!!! - old baby girl named India Violet. We call the girls Sephy, Bella and Indie about 75% of the time. We have a baby boy due on the 7th of October - can you imagine the look on our faces when we fell pregnant not even 3 months after Indie?This baby will definitely be our last!

So anyway, we are having a horrible time trying to name him. I think it's hard because our girls have such unique, gorgeous, princessy, names. For example Seraphina, Arabella, India and John sounds strange (not that I even like the name John). We know that his middle name will either be Henry or James after my father, depending on which sounds better with the first name. I'm also not sure on whether we should choose a name with a nickname as the girls all have nicknames.

A name we loved for India was Emerson "Emmie", as Emerson is David's, mothers maiden name. I know that Emerson is a 'uni-sex' name, but is it masculine enough for a boy? It could possibly be an option. Emerson James Lucas...

Here are a few names we have considered:
Oliver - But I'm not a big fan of the nn Ollie.
Jude - I really like, but I don't know if it fits with the girls names.
Elliot - My husband likes it, but I am worried I would call him 'Elle/Ellie'.
Max - I love Max, but I think it sounds too much like a nn and my husband doesn't love it.
William - We both quite like the nn Liam, but Liam Lucas doesn't sound any good.

So there you have it. Please help us!

Name update: Rose writes:
Sorry I didn't get back with a name update sooner. Unfortunately our sweet baby boy was stillborn on the 30th of September 2011. We named him Emerson James.

We had decided we would wait until he was born to name him, and had the names Theodore 'Theo', Judson 'Judd' and William 'Liam' on our list. However when we saw him we knew he was an Emerson! The twins refer to him as 'baby Em' and love to look at the pictures we have of him.

Thank you for your wonderful suggestions, even though we did not use them.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Baby Girl Pinkerton, Sister to Celia Rose

Amy writes:
My name is Amy and I'm 27 weeks pregnant and have a C-section scheduled for the 16th of November. I feel like I am going crazy trying to pick out a name. We have a three year old girl Celia Rose, and are expecting another little girl. I am so behind on everything to get ready for this second baby, which is so unlike me. I am usually so decisive and ahead of schedule! Yet for some reason this time my husband and I just can’t seem to pick a name! HELP!!

We thought we’d found her name three times now. The first name picked was Evelyn, but the longer we both thought about it the less we both liked it. The second name we liked (I think I liked it more than he did) was Phoebe, but once again a few weeks later we started re-discussing the name. Finally I really thought we had it when we settled on Charlotte, but both girls having a C name started to bug me, not to mention that Charlotte is a very long name to go with our rather long last name (Pinkerton) and the final straw was when my sister named her new dog Charlie.

So it seems that once again we are back to not having a name picked out. My husband doesn’t have a ton of ideas of his own, so it’s mostly me making endless list while trolling the internet that he later shoots down. We do not want a popular name (I am an Amy from the 80’s and my husbands name is Jack) and I guess I don’t want another C name- it makes me worry about the possibility of needing another C name if we had a third baby girl. I’d also like a name that had a nickname since I never had one but it’s not a deal breaker.

I have a list of lots of names we like ok, but I so love my first daughter’s name Celia, and it seemed that as soon as it was mentioned we both loved it and never looked back, I’d hate to feel like we settled on something we just like “ok” for our second girl!

As far as middle names go we really like Grace, but have thought of using Ann as well since it is my mother and my sister’s middle name. We’d also thought of trying to find another flower middle name to go with Rose but that’s harder than we thought it would be, not to mention the trouble I’d be in if we had a third girl!

Anyhow here are the names still currently on my list:

Charlotte- which I really do love, but I just don’t think it’s for us.

Evelyn- I love the nickname possibility but I just don’t LOVE it.

Everly- Just found this on your website; I like it but need more time to think about it.

Phoebe- My husband’s least favorite of the “almost” names.

Emma- I can’t help but think of the show Friends.

Genevieve- I love this name too- but a good friend just used it!

Vivian- This name was my top pick but the husband vetoed it.

Juliet- cannot find a great middle name for it and its meaning (down-bearded youth) kind of bugs me. It does have great nickname possibilities though.

Eleanor- I love this name and my husband loves this name. Unfortunately we named our dog Eleanor so it’s not like we can use it now! UGH! Not to mention my good friend is naming her baby Nora.

I really would like to have a named soon because it’s making me crazy. I could use all of this time I’m spending hunting for names on finishing (or starting- ha) the baby’s room! Thanks for your help!

You've got Evelyn and Genevieve and Vivian and Everly, and this is making me think you like E and V sounds, which makes me wonder if you'd like Eve. I think it has a lot of the sweetness and charm of Celia. Eve Pinkerton; Celia and Eve. Or Eva, unless that would make you feel pressured to use -a names for a future daughter. Eva Pinkerton; Celia and Eva.

Or Geneva. Geneva Pinkerton; Celia and Geneva.

I think Violet would work well, too. I think of it as similar to Charlotte, because of the similar endings and sweet vintage sound. It's also similar to Juliet and to Vivian. Violet Pinkerton; Celia and Violet. Then you'd have a flower name as the first name, and could freeform for the middle name. Violet Ann? Violet Grace?

Anna would be pretty. Anna Pinkerton; Celia and Anna. I like that a lot. Anna Grace, maybe. Celia Rose and Anna Grace. Or Anna Charlotte. Or Anna Juliet.

Or if you'd like something a little fancier, Annabel. Annabel Pinkerton; Celia and Annabel.

If you like Everly, you might like Ellery or Emery.

Eliza is pretty and underused. (But like Eva, it might make you feel pressured to choose another -a name for a third girl.) Eliza Pinkerton is so charming I can hardly stand it---I wish that were my name! Celia and Eliza.

Or Eloise has much of the same sound as Eliza, but without the -a ending. Eloise Pinkerton; Celia and Eloise.

Another -a name possibility is Fiona. Fiona Pinkerton; Celia and Fiona. You know, I started this post feeling like your surname would be difficult to work with, but I'm changing my mind completely: it adds both dignity and whimsy, and that's a combination that's both valuable and hard to find. I feel like pressuring you to have three little girls and name them Celia, Eliza, and Fiona. (I put them in alphabetical order because I like that, but also look how the 'i' moves from fourth-letter to third-letter to second letter! And all three names have five letters and three syllables! HAVE THREE LITTLE GIRLS AND GIVE THEM THESE NAMES.)

I think Grace would work wonderfully as a first name. Grace Pinkerton; Celia and Grace.

I want so badly to suggest Ivy and Iris, but the I.P. (sounds like "I pee") initials kill it for me.

Beatrix Pinkerton; Celia and Beatrix. I love the name Beatrix and wish more people would use it so I could swoon more often.

Alice Pinkerton; Celia and Alice. I just noticed what great twin names these would be: they're made of the same five letters, rearranged.

Meredith Pinkerton; Celia and Meredith.

Elsa Pinkerton; Celia and Elsa.

Elena Pinkerton; Celia and Elena.

Name update! Amy writes:
Thank you and all your readers for all of your help and suggestions! I was totally stressed out about finding the perfect name. After reading your wonderful response and all the comments I fell in love with one of your suggestions. My main concern was that my husband wouldn’t like it. So I had him read your reply when he got home and tell me if he liked any of your suggestions. Amazingly we both ended up picking the same name. I was surprised and THRILLED!! After several weeks of “living with the name” we both still totally loved it and it became our second child’s name! So I am happy to announce that our sweet little Eliza Grace was born November 16th. We are completely in love with her name and it fits her perfectly. Thanks again!