This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: Would it Be Fun to Do a Family Pattern of Initials?

Nancy writes:
I have a baby name dilemma that I would love for you and your commenters to tackle.  We are expecting our second daughter in May.  We have a two and a half year old named Lucy, I am Nancy, and my husband is Kevin.  Our last name sounds like Strickland.  About a year after Lucy was born I realized that we had accidentally set up the possibility of a fun naming pattern:  K, L, M, N.  We are trying to decide whether to name this next baby a name that begins with "M" and stick with the pattern or not.  I would love your thoughts.  And have any readers chosen to do a pattern like this, or not chosen to, and have any regrets?  I like that it is a subtle pattern that can tie us all together. 
Some of our top names do begin with M (Mary, Marie, Miranda, Maggie), but we also like names like Dorothy, Evelyn, Annie, Nora, Celeste (which does not work with the last name), Caroline, and Beatrice.  There is no clear front runner yet.  For what it is worth, we are thinking of having a third child, and using the letter J or O would be fine with us if we do commit to the pattern.  Middle name will be my mother's maiden name, which sounds like Taylor. 
We would love some outside opinions and words of experience on naming quirks like this, in hopes that it will help us make up our mind!
Thank you so much!

It sounds fun to me! My dad pointed out after our fifth child was born that our kids' initials and ours were ALMOST in a unified clump. If we'd had more children after that, I would have been quite tempted to find initials that filled in the gaps. But if I found a name I loved that didn't start with one of the letters I wanted, I don't think I'd be willing to give up the name to get the initial.

I think what I'd do is begin by looking at names that started with the desired initial, and just see if it worked out. If it did work out, it would be fun; if it didn't work out, it would be fine, no big deal. The biggest downfall from my point of view is that I think I'd feel increasingly stuck: if it DID work out to fill in a gap, and then I had another child, I think I would feel like I almost HAD to continue the pattern, because I'd done it on purpose the previous time and now I was invested in the plan.

Does anyone else have experience with doing (or choosing not to do) a fun little pattern of this sort?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Baby Girl Roberts, Sister to Josiah and Tanner

Gail writes:
We have two boys already, Josiah and Tanner, whose middle names are Lewis and William, respectively, after hubby's grandfather and my dad. We are due with a girl in April. Our first girl.
Our last name is Roberts.

My first choice is Colby. I know it's mostly a boy name, but I don't like it on boys, I like it for a girl. And I don't want it with an ie at the end either. The problem is finding a middle name that works. I assume it needs to be girly, since the first name is unisex (or maybe even masculine to some people). But Grace is already in the family (and over-used) so that's out. Not much else seems to work.

Some names I'm considering: Annareese (hubby's mom {anna} + my mom {teressa}), Emerson, Rae (hubby's middle name is Ray), Josette.

If we don't go with Colby (Sadie was my first choice previously, but it's used by a close friend for her daughter, so I don't want to use that), hubby likes Carleigh (his dad is Carl). I would also consider Scarlett or Colette for first names, but still have the same trouble with finding middle names.

We usually use the middle name to name our child after someone, but this is possibly our last child, and we can't, say, name it after his mom and leave my mom out, and vise versa. We could name the baby after his dad, but the only feminine version of Carl we like is Carleigh, which won't work as a middle name for Colby, and between the two, I'd prefer Colby. I feel like I've been trying too hard. I want a name to just pop out at me and love it (like how it happened when I fell for Colby or Sadie as first names). As of now, everything seems like we have to force it to make it work. 

My husband tends to lean towards traditional names, and I'm usually the one for the unique. If we used Colby for the first name, I'd be more than fine with a traditional or simple middle name. 

Any suggestions???
Thank you so much!

When you named your first son, you used the name of your husband's grandfather as his middle name, without worrying that it would leave out your husband's other grandfather and both of your own grandfathers, and without combining names to make sure they were all covered. When you named your second son, you used your dad's name as his middle name, without worrying that it would leave out your husband's dad, and without combining the two dads' names to make sure you got both in (Carliam! Willarl!).

I don't think there's any reason why naming your possibly-last baby (especially since either of the first two babies could also have been the last) needs to make any difference to this pattern: go ahead and use one mother's name, without worrying that it leaves out the other mother, and without mashing their names together. None of the other honorees have had to share.

Or, you could use both names: Colby Anna Teressa Roberts.

If you only want to use one middle name, and if you go with your first choice of first name, I suggest choosing your husband's mother's name---to balance things out, and also since your most recent child was given your father's name and that way both sets of the children's grandparents are represented. (Which makes a good explanation for the mothers, too.)

Or, use whichever mother's name sounds better with the chosen first name. Colby Anna Roberts is nice if you don't mind the initials CAR, and so is Colby Teressa Roberts. I also like Colette Teressa Roberts, and Scarlett Anna Roberts, and Carleigh with either Anna (CAR again, which is kind of neat in this case since it would also be the first three letters of her name) or Teressa.

Or, if you like the sound of Colby Grace, Colby Rae is almost the same sound, so that seems like a good choice. Or you could ditch the family names entirely, and use Colby Faith or Colby Jane or Colby Paige.

Other names similar to Colby and Sadie (not all are good with the surname, but I'm leaving those in anyway for anyone else consulting the post for ideas):

Daisy (same sounds as Sadie, rearranged)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: When Do a Person's Flaws Rule Out Using an Honor Name?

Amanda writes:
Love your blog and read it nearly every day!  My husband and I have started having "when should we have children" talks and it looks like 2013 is the year! When I think of babies, I think of names, and thankfully we both love our family names and want to use honor names as often as possible.

But I have a question and would like your opinion because I am torn.  When it comes to an honor name, should the name be use based on your (the parent's) personal experience with the person being honored or based on the actual personality?  Let me be more specific - my grandfather's name was Everett and I have loved the name my whole life.   Hubby likes it too.  I have nothing but fond memories of my grandfather from when I was younger, though he was a bit more difficult in his old age the year before he died.  I was his only granddaughter and he was always so good to me.  However, I've since learned that he really wasn't that nice of a person - he drank a lot, went out "dancing till all hours," as my grandmother put it,  and my family thinks he was verbally abusive to my grandmother, who was beyond a saint.  She was the strongest woman I've ever known, and now I know why she had to be that strong.

I still love my grandfather and have amazing memories of fishing and playing baseball with him, but the more I learn about how he treated my grandmother and my father, I can't help but want to distance myself from him.  I'm not too worried about hurting people feelings with the name - my father could care less what we name our hypothetical children - but do I really want to name my son after a terrible husband and father but a wonderful grandfather?

Thank you so much for any insight!

Interesting topic. I think if I were you I might start by doing a little more gentle investigation (keeping in mind the reliability of each source you ask). "Family thinks he was verbally abusive" is hard to interpret, and could vary hugely from "He thought she needed him to be in charge of her, the way even good men thought two or three generations ago, even though it seems appalling now" to "He called her a stupid worthless bitch if she under-salted the soup" to "Well, no one ever heard or saw anything, but we feel like it's the kind of thing he would have been capable of and we're a generation that expects our parents to be perfect in every way or else get blamed in therapy." To me, it's a good sign that your dad wouldn't care if you used the name: if he felt his dad was a truly terrible husband and terrible father who abused him and his mom, it seems like he would mind the idea of his grandson having that name.

Every single human being is a mix of good parts and bad parts, no exceptions. Your grandmother may have seemed like a saint, but she too had a set of normal human flaws, just as we all do---things she managed to keep the family from knowing about, or things that don't make good stories, or things you'll find out later. It sounds like the things you're finding about your grandfather fall within normal range: maybe drinking too much, maybe going out dancing when your grandmother would have preferred him not to (there's nothing wrong with dancing late at night per se), maybe not being entirely nice to everyone. If it hadn't been those things, it would have been other things: maybe instead he would have smoked, forgotten birthdays, been relentlessly critical of his daughter-in-law, and spent all weekend watching sports when your grandmother would have preferred him not to.

Or perhaps more investigation will reveal that your grandfather's own set of flaws WERE beyond the usual realm: maybe he persistently called your grandmother names, and told her it was her own fault he slept with other women every night he went out dancing. Maybe the things you find out will change the way you think of him: you'll feel the good parts of his personality you experienced can't possibly make up for your new knowledge of the bad parts.

And that's where I think the line naturally falls: I think that if someone's personality/behaviors are bad enough that you shouldn't use that person's name, that's the point at which it will happen naturally that you'll no longer WANT to use the name. It feels icky to come up with an example, but I think it'll be a useful exercise if we do it quickly and don't think about it too much: imagine if you'd always wanted to use the name of an beloved uncle, and then found out he was a pedophile who'd put a secret camera in your childhood bathroom. I don't think you'd be writing to me wondering if you should let that bother you, considering what happy childhood memories you had of him; you wouldn't even WANT to use the name anymore, no matter how many years you'd loved it.

This is why when you ask me about your grandfather's name, I suspect it means his flaws fell within normal range. It can be startling and upsetting to learn such things about people we love, but so far you haven't told me anything that makes me think it would be inappropriate to use his name.

If you're shying away from the name because you think it's not appropriate to honor a person who had flaws, I'd urge you to reconsider: otherwise, you'll rule out every single honor name. But if as you learn more about your grandfather's particular flaws, you find you want to distance yourself from him, then it would not be a kindness or an honor to give your son his name. Emmett, Evan, or Elliot would also be nice choices.

Name Updates!

Update (and photo!) on Will the Name Marigold Become a Huge Hit?
Update (and photo!) on Baby Girl or Boy Marek-with-an-R, Sibling to Annabel and Emmaline
Update on Baby Girl Picks-with-an-H, Sister to Felicity

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Baby Girl Burr-with-a-D

Sarah writes:
I'm due with my first child- a girl- in early February, and desperately need your help in coming up with a name! My name is Sarah; my husband's name is Brendan, and our family name is Burr with a 'd'. Somehow, in the course of this pregnancy, we've become certain that this little girl is mellow and sweet. Thus, we really like short and sweet names for our little lady. But one problem is that we can't narrow down our list! We like:

Charlotte (nn Lotte)

a few disjointed thoughts:

We would have named this baby Everett Thomas if she had been a boy. We really favor strong Celtic names for boys (and plan on using these names for any future boys): Seamus, Cormac, and Finlay. For some reason, the same rule doesn't apply for girls' names: I ruled out Mairead, which I do love, as sounding a bit "too Irish", but we both love Margot (said the French, not German way) and similarly my husband ruled out Tegan for not sounding feminine to our American ears. The one Irish name that stuck was Fiona, but my husband isn't sold on it as being "the one" and neither am I.

We ruled out Chloe, Emma, and Sofie because they're currently top 10 names. My husband ruled out Jane, which I love, for being "too plain". My husband think's Elizabeth is too plain as well, but doesn't mind Eliza. Catherine was ruled out as a first name because my husband's sister, who he has a strained relationship with, is named Kathleen (goes by Katie).

Right now my husband's number one pick would probably be Margot Quinn (middle name being a family name- and he's said about Margot that "he thinks of her as a Margot, but isn't sure she'll look like a Margot") and my number one would be Nora, or else Rose. My burning question, in addition to "is there some fabulous name we're missing? One that is a bit traditional, feminine, sweet, but fresh sounding? Preferably a saint's name, since we're Catholic?" would be "what middle name could we use for Rose?"

Please help! I'm really waffling about here. It seems like every day I have a new #1, which is making it difficult to even visualize her having a name. Meanwhile, my husband is pretty certain about Margot but would be open to using Rose if we came up with a balanced sounding middle name.

Rose seems like the perfect option to me: short, sweet---but strong and versatile, too, if she ends up being less mellow than expected. For the middle name, I'd consider many of the names from your list (or names that didn't quite make the list), especially ones you love but don't want to use as a first name: Rose Emma Burr, Rose Catherine Burr, Rose Mairead Burr.

But when you asked for a sweet, feminine, fresh name that was also ideally a saint's name, the name that sprang to mind was Felicity. Felicity Rose Burr, maybe, or Felicity Quinn Burr, or Felicity Jane Burr.

The other sweet feminine saint's name that came to mind was Cecily. Or Camilla, or Flora, or Genevieve, or Josephine. Or Maura gives you a saint and also a moderately familiar Irish name. Or I have a soft spot for the name Winifred, with the very sweet nickname Winnie.

The name Nora makes me think of Cora, one of my favorite sweet names, and Cora makes me think of Clara. Those might have too much R with the surname, though. Oh...and Cora Burr-with-a-D might sound like corridor.

Willa would also be sweet, or Molly, or Faith, or Laurel, or Rosemary.

If Chloe is too popular, Cleo or Phoebe.

I'd also suggest this post: Narrowing down a list.

Name update! Sarah writes:
Writing in to update that I finally had my baby girl! We named her Margot Jane, a compromise between my husband's favorite (Margot) and one of my favorites, which he'd initially vetoed as a first name (Jane). We are smitten with her! Thanks to you and your readers for helping us name her. We're already brainstorming sibling names. :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Baby Boy Virus-with-a-K, Brother to Henry Palmer

J. writes:
We are struggling with coming up with a boy's name we like for our next child, a boy, due in the spring.  Our son is named after his grandfather's, Henry Palmer--and, we actually used his grandfather's middle names because their first names DID NOT work  It's a classic name and we discovered after his birth and naming that it was becoming quite popular in our demographic, much to our annoyance.  That said, we still love his name and it suits him perfectly.  We want our next DS to have a name that's equally connected to both of our families.  BUT, the thing is, the only names we have on the male side of our families that we liked we used for our older son.  Thus our options are--using a male name w/o the familial significance (which I'd prefer not to do); using a male name (of a family member) that we don't like; or male names of family members we never really knew or felt connected to; or names that NO one else would like.  We have three main criteria--we must have a "reason" for the name (eg family name; favorite disciple) and it must go with Henry and our last name (rhymes with Virus, starts with K sound). 

That said, these are the family names we have to work with: Kermit, Gordon, Forrest, Bartholomew.  So far, our list for consideration includes: Peter, Kermit, Bartholomew and Forrest.  Peter would be our first choice by a long shot, it's the name of my partner's favorite disciple, but it also happens to be the name of a disliked, distant relative.  We thought about going with the names of favorite theologians--but my favorites are Reinhold and Martin (Buber), neither of which really work for us.   Oh, and if we did go with one of the odder choices I worry that our next child may be resentful that his brother got a perfectly normal, mainstream name (which is why we aren't just going with Kermit...).

I know you're flooded with questions but if you have the time (and we're interesting enough)...

I can see how you're stuck: you want a name that has family significance AND that you love---but there AREN'T any names that meet both preferences. You find the name of someone you love, but you don't love the name; so then you find a name you love, but it doesn't have the right kind of family significance. At such times I think we have to stop spinning, throw our hands up, and say, "What we want does not exist. And so, given that situation, what is our second choice?"

I think it's going to come down to which is more important to you: using a name you love, or using a name with positive family significance. This is a common choice to have to make: it's rare that the people important to us coincidentally have names that match our own personal tastes. This is why those families with a Grandma Ellie are all fighting to honor her, while Grandma Mildred's name goes completely uncontested---despite the fact that Grandma Mildred was awesome in every way and Grandma Ellie was an irritable old bat. It's one of the things that make honor names so honor-y: we use them for love and significance, not because we would have chosen the names anyway.

If I were you, I would go with a first name you love. The love becomes the reason for using it, and a very nice reason it is, too: "We gave you this name because we loved it so much." And perhaps you will find a name you love that has significance of a non-family variety, as with the idea of using disciple/theologian names. (I suggest Lewis, if you like C.S.; or George, if you like MacDonald.)

Then in the middle name position, I'd use the name of a beloved family member (if the child has one parent's surname, then I'd use a name from the other parent's family to give him the connection to both sides you're hoping for), accepting the dislike of the name as the cost of honoring someone important. Or, if you don't want to accept that cost, I'd use another name you love.

If the relative named Peter is a distant one, I think the favorite-disciple thing can trump it. If anyone in your family says, "Oh, after second-cousin-once-removed Peter?," you'd just say, "Oh! No, it's after Partner's Favorite Disciple." Peter is not such an uncommon name that there has to be an obvious connection, and Henry and Peter is a nice combination.

Edited to add: I just had one final thought: you mention looking at the names of male relatives, but are there any names of female relatives that would work (unisex names, names with feminine/masculine versions, surnames)?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Baby Girl Holland, Sister to Valerie and Savannah

C. writes:
Hello! I'm hoping you can help us out with naming our baby girl, due Feb. 2013. Hubby and I just cannot seem to agree on a name.

One thing we do agree on is the middle name: Valeska. It was my grandmother's name. He loves the name, and initially wanted to use it as a first name (Valeska Rose was his choice), but I already have a daughter named Valerie Marie, and for me they are just too close, plus Valerie is called "Val" much of the time, and I feel like we'd end up with 2 Val's. So - to the middle name goes Valeska, and we're both fine with that.

As some additional background, he also has a daughter from a previous marriage, Savannah Grace. The baby's last name will be Holland.

I really like the name Elle. I think Elle Valeska is lovely, and I especially like how Elle sounds with Holland.  I also have a relative I'm close to whose name is Anne Valeska, and I feel like Elle Valeska is a sort of homage to her. He says he can't get past the fact that "he's just saying a letter." (L)  He likes Audrey and Emersyn, both of which I am not fond of. Audrey is too popular right now, and I don't care for it with Valeska. And I just don't like Emersyn. I feel like we need a simpler name to go with Valeska.

Some other first names I like: Blake, Drew, Isla

So, what do you think? Is Elle strong enough to stand on its own? What other names do you recommend?

Thanks so much!

If you love the name Elle but it's not enough for him, and if you have an Anne you'd enjoy honoring, then I suggest the name Annabelle. You could still call her Elle if you wanted to, but your husband would have more to say. But perhaps the name is too similar to her sisters' names: the Elle very close to Val, but even more the -annah of Savannah with the Anna- of Annabelle.

Another option is Stella, which eliminates the sound-alike issues. Stella Holland; Valerie, Savannah, and Stella.

One fun way to tie all three girls' names together would be to use a name with a V sound in it: Avery, Victoria, Evelyn, Eva, Violet, Genevieve, Ivy, Veronica, Silvie. But there is already a V in the middle name, so that does result in quite a bit of V. My favorite is Eva Valeska: Eva is relatively simple, and similar in some ways to Elle.

I don't think I would use Blake or Drew; they seem too boyish with the only-for-girls names Valerie and Savannah. Isla is great with Valerie and Savannah, but seems geographical with the surname (Isle and Holland).

His choice of Valeska Rose suggests to me the idea of swapping the names: Rose Valeska gives you the simplicity you'd prefer, while using a name he loves. And while Rose is very common as a middle name, it is still relatively uncommon as a first name. Rose Holland; Valerie, Savannah, and Rose.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: Differentiating Nicknames for Two People With the Same Name

Taylor writes:
So I have another somewhat unusual question for you.  You helped me name my second son Asa who was born in April.  I didn't mention this in my naming update to you, but Asa was actually born with an unexpected rare genetic condition that results in a pretty significant facial difference and blindness. He may have other issues that will reveal themselves in the future (e.g., developmental delays), but, currently, he is a healthy and happy baby boy.

My question for you and your readers is below. Asa is a somewhat unusual name and one of the reasons we chose it was because it is unique. When Asa was born, my friend and neighbor told me that if she and her husband ever had a boy they had always planned on naming him J0hn Asa. I don't believe in "claiming" names or preventing others from using the name you have chosen for your baby, so I told her I thought that was a beautiful name and I hoped she used it. She is now pregnant with a boy and has again informed me that they plan on naming the child J0hn Asa. However, in passing the other day, she referred to her baby as Asa, which indicated to me that they plan on calling the baby by his middle name. If my Asa had not been born with a facial difference and a disability, I would be totally fine with her using that name. Happy even--I feel like it validates my choice! However, given that we are neighbors and our kids will all go to the same schools and play together, I am worried that other children will distinguish between her Asa and my Asa by calling mine "Blind Asa" or something worse.

I recognize that kids are mean and they may call him names regardless, but, for some reason, I am really worried about this particular scenario and not sure how to handle it. Any thoughts?  Feel free to tell me I am being oversensitive!

In my experience so far, the standard way to differentiate between two children with the same first name is to use the last name: Alyssa Thomas and Alyssa Young, for example, or Alyssa T. and Alyssa Y. When I think of our household, I realize there is also a second method, which is to call them Swimming Class Alyssa and William's Friend Alyssa. This is where the concern about a name such as "Blind Asa" comes in. However, as I think of other cases where we use descriptor names such as Swimming Class, all of the descriptions are non-derogatory, and based on who the person is to us or what they do, not what they look like. We might have "Middle School Alyssa" and "Alyssa From The Park," but not "Ugly Alyssa" and "Alyssa With The Bad Clothes"---or even "Blonde Alyssa" and "Old Alyssa."

This hasn't been deliberate: we didn't have to say to ourselves or to the children anything like "Hey, we should come up with pleasant and non-physical ways to tell the two Alyssas apart!" It was natural to think of these descriptors. It gave me a startled/shocked feeling to think of anyone of normal disposition using a differentiating name such as Blind Asa---or letting it slip past if they heard someone else (such as a child who might not yet be aware of social issues such as these) say it. Although it's impossible to protect our children from unkindness, this is the variety of unkindness that would not be tolerated in the current cultural climate. I can't picture it just evolving as the standard way any regular person would differentiate between the two boys named Asa. I find I have trouble even typing it, let alone imagining myself or a teacher or a parent saying it.

I think too that it's something you could mention here and there for as long as both boys do share the same circle of peers. I would, for example, put in a word to each of your Asa's teachers, because I'd think they would be very open to hearing such concerns and could then keep an especially sharp ear out for it. (I suspect, though, that they would already be on high alert for such things.) A very stern and pointed "Do you mean Asa B.?" can nip things in the bud---if things bud at all.

It might even be possible to mention the issue to your friend, if the conversation turns in a direction where such a comment feels it would be natural---though it doesn't seem worth it to force it if such a conversational direction never occurs. A brief and casual "I'm a little worried the kids will call them Asa and Blind Asa" might alert her to the issue as well: it's unlikely she'd choose a different name at this point (thought it may be a new thought to her that her own child's differentiating name could end up being "John Asa" instead of the Asa she may prefer), but she too could be alert for any situation where instant correction was needed.

One more reassuring thought is that your Asa and her Asa will likely be in different grades at school, if your district uses the usual September-birthday cut-off. Your Asa, born in April, will start school a year before her Asa. A difference in grade can make a huge difference in peer groups and play circles.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Baby Name to Consider: Peace. Baby Names Meaning Peace

R. writes:
As we approach this holiday season, and as reports of violence and simple cruelty seem to run rampant, the need for peace is more prevalent than it has ever been.  It has started me wondering if Peace itself is a usable name.  I am already a fan of virtue names---Felicity, Joy, Hope, Faith, Grace.   However, is Peace just stepping a bit too far?
I've only ever heard it used as a name in a book by Louisa May Alcott, Eight Cousins.   It was the name of her great-aunt.  The great-aunt's sister was Plenty. 
The full name would be Peace Eliza S_____son. 

Any thoughts? 

Oh! We have a commenter here named Peace, so I'll be eager to hear her firsthand report! She's recommended her own name before, though, so I think we can start with one vote in favor.

Without that endorsement, I would have said absolutely not. The name's sentiment is wonderful, but the sound-alike slang word "piece" (nice piece, piece of that, piece of ass) seems like it would be irresistible and unavoidable.

More specifically to your situation, I wouldn't pair it with a surname beginning in S: Peace S____ is either too hissy with the double S, or else it can make the first name sound like Pee.

I do think Peace might work very well as a middle name. For a first name, I'd instead consider Serenity or Harmony. To get a little further off the beaten path, names like Accord or Truce or Calm or Amity or Tranquility might work. A name like Eden gets across the concept of a perfect world. A name like Haven gives the feeling of rest and safety. And of course there's the name Pax, which is the Latin word for Peace.

Let's have a poll over to the right about the name Peace. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Baby Boy or Girl Mack; Names That are Like Addison

Rachel writes:
My sister has been following your blog for quite some time. I recently learned that my husband and I are expecting our first child in May. As someone who has always been fascinated by names, I am surprised by how difficult this decision has been. We do not know the gender yet and plan to learn the gender at a family gender reveal party in the coming weeks.

Our last name is Mack, yet some of my favorite names begin with an M (Mason and Macy) though we are trying to avoid alliterative names.

We would love to honor close family members who have since passed on with variations of their names-- Carl, Eleanor, and William.

You may notice from our short list that we prefer unique names as opposed to the very common names such as Michael, David, Jennifer, and Katie.

Some of our top names for boys are:


Some of our top names for girls are:


Also, I love Addison but wouldn't use it as a colleague has used that name recently. I wonder what names are similar to Addison...

Many thanks,

Ah! I think the first thing we should tackle is the concept of unique/common names. Jennifer and David, for example, are RAMPANT among parents but practically unknown among the wee set. Meanwhile, Mason was the second most common name for U.S. baby boys in 2011.

It can be difficult to make this switch---to think of the common names from our own peer group (Jennifer, Michelle, Jessica, Brian, Jason) as "the Mom and Dad Names." It can lead to unpleasant shocks: how can it be that when we'd never met one single Charlotte in our whole lives, our daughter is going by Charlotte M. because there are two in her class this year? We'd have been better off if we'd named her Jennifer: there isn't a single one of those in the entire school (except for half a dozen of the staff)!

Do you have friends with children in daycare or preschool? Those class lists can be very helpful for seeing what people are currently naming babies in your area. Or you can browse The Social Security Administration's baby name web site, which is great for finding a name's current standing or for seeing how it's trending. For example, here's what Hudson and Addison have been doing recently:

(screen shot from The Social Security Administration)

(screen shot from The Social Security Administration)

Next, let's look for some names similar to Addison. Similarities can be subjective, so there may be some names on this list that won't seem similar to you at all---but it's a starting point. And I'm including some that won't work with your surname (the M ones, just for starters), because this seems like a good reference list for other parents as well:


Your lists look good to me. If it's mostly hard to PICK something, I suggest leafing through Baby Naming Advice for First-Time Parents to see if any of the advice applies. Sometimes it can help to make little mock groups of sibling names, to see which groups sound more like your family: is it easier to imagine being the parents to Camden, Riley, and Teagan, or to Caleb, Charlotte, and Nora? If you choose Riley for a daughter, does that rule out a very feminine name such as Charlotte for a future daughter? and if so, which style do you prefer?

I notice a lot of -son names on your list: Mason, Hudson, Anderson, Addison. And then I added some more to the like-Addison list. If you plan to have more than one child, and if you would rather not duplicate endings, this is an area where I'd suggest spending some time making sure you're using your very favorite of the -son names.

Because you like the name Mason and Caleb, I might add Cason. Maybe Cason William Mack.

Instead of Macy, I wonder if you'd like Lacey or Darcy or Lucy?

And as with the -son issue, if you choose Keegan, that rules out Teagan and vice versa. Which would you prefer to use? Or would you want to consider Reagan or Regan for a girl? Elena and Nora are both similar to the honor name Eleanor; would you want to use Eleanor as the name and one/both of those as nicknames?

A baby-naming tactic I use is to make some lists, as you have---but then wait until I know the sex of the baby before getting serious. I find it very clarifying to be dealing with only one set of names, and with a baby who now seems more vivid to me as a little boy or as a little girl. (And then if there is a surprise at delivery, you still have the other list to work with.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baby Boy or Girl Weilly-with-an-R, Sibling to Frances Cecily

Leah writes:
We are trying to come up with a girl name for our second child due in February (if it's a boy we will go with either Jonas Levi, James Oberon or William (Liam) James - we both love all 3 names just need to meet the baby first to see what fits :)). However we have a much harder time with girl names. With our first we had whole lists of boy names we both loved but did not like any of the same girl names. We took 3 days (after she was born) to name her and both absolutely love her name (Frances Cecily) it fits her perfectly and we love how it sounds. We call her Frances, Francie and Chezzy - we also call her by both names "Frances Cecily". Her last name is Irish - Weilly but with an R. We plan to have at least 2 more children after baby #2, so we don't want anything that eliminates one of our boy choices. My name is Leah, husbands name is Robert (Rob)

Ok, on to our current list (in no particular order):

Erin - family name, we both like it but worry it may sound "dated" or not fit well with Frances
Jane - also a family name (and my middle), we could certainly use it as a middle, Rob is unsure of it as a first name.
Charlotte - we both like it a lot, it is popular which doesn't bother us in theory, however we know 3 baby girl Charlottes in our circles already...
Elise - Rob's long time favorite girl name, I don't mind it, but am on the fence 
Marlowe - another Rob favorite that has personal meaning to him, again I'm not sure about it and feel it doesn't fit with Frances
Sylvie - a new addition to our list that I like a lot and has grown on Rob.
Sadie - A Rob favorite, I like it, but not 100% sold that it would fit our daughter...
Helen - A family name, Rob likes - I don't really but am seeing if it grows on me

Other names that we tossed around:
Louisa - we have a cat named Louis - would it seem like we named her after the cat?
Georgia - both like, but don't love
Regan - growing on us, but does it fit with Frances?
Eliza - an alternative to Elise that I like better, but we know a lot of Ellies and if we do an El name maybe stick with Rob's favorite?
Genevieve - we both like it but don't really like the obvious nicknames and I'm very much a nickname person
Hester - Rob loves, it could grow on me, but I'm not sure if this is too out there still?
Thea - I like it, but feel it needs to be short for something longer - maybe Anthea?? Theodora isn't really clicking for us.

Combinations we both like but aren't 100% sold on:
Erin Jane
Sylvie Jane
Charlotte Elise

Do you have any ideas for us? Combinations to try? Do these names work with our boy choices as well as with Frances Cecily? Thanks a bunch!

The first suggestion that comes to my mind is Harriet. Frances Cecily and Harriet Jane.

The name Erin does seem like a Mom Name to me. It's still useable now, but it's different enough from Frances that I think I'd prefer it as a middle name anyway.

Marlowe doesn't seem like a good fit with Frances, either. I'd put that one on the middle name list too.

Same with Regan: good middle name candidate, but I think it's too different in style to be the first name.

Jane is one of my favorites. It's great as a middle name but I love it as a first name. Frances Cecily and Jane Elise.

I think if you had a grandfather named Louis, Louisa would be a sweet honor name. But in the case of a cat named Louis, I don't think a single person will think the name Louisa was chosen as an honor name. They might remark on the similarity of the two names (although as I reflect on my own circle of friends and family, I find I know very few of the pet names), but they won't think you thought long and hard about which family member to honor, and in the end decided the cat would be the best choice. It helps that many people have had the experience of using a name for a pet and then later realizing that name falls within their naming style for children as well. It helps, too, that the names are so different in sound:  LOO-wiss and loo-WEEZ-zah. They're visually very similar, but the two names won't typically be seen written down together. And if I may switch to a Delicate Tone of Voice, how old is the cat?

Eloise would take the name a step further from the cat's name. Frances and Eloise.

If your husband likes Elise but you're not quite sure, I suggest Alice. The sounds are almost identical, and I like the style of Alice better with Frances, too. Frances Cecily and Alice Jane, or Frances Cecily and Alice Marlowe, or Frances Cecily and Alice Regan.

If he likes Hester and you're not quite sure, I suggest Esther. Esther Jane, maybe, or Esther Louisa

If Genevieve is not quite right, I suggest Josephine---very similar sounds, but a new set of nicknames to consider.

Thea could also be short for Dorothea or Althea. But I think of it as a stand-alone name, and I think that's my favorite version of it.

A few more possibilities:

Beatrix (I think Beatrice is a better fit, but I'm not sure about the matched endings)

Name update! Leah writes:
We had our baby! We had a boy, as it turns out :). His name is Jonas Barnaby and he's a total sweetheart.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Baby Ashleigh-Wertman: Charles, Arthur, or William?

A. writes:
I love your blog and check it everyday for inspiration and just to read your insight. I wrote to you last May regarding my interest in using one of my students' names as a possible middle name for a future child. A month later I got pregnant! So your advice and the advice of your readers on that topic may be put to good use very shortly if we have a girl.

I'm writing because we're having some trouble with boys' names. The troubles that we're having seem to be the same that we've been having for months and months, so I thought it might finally be time to ask for some help.  

I am due in March and we are not finding out the sex of the baby ahead of time. We'd like to go to the hospital with two full girls' names and two full boys' names ready to go and then decide after the baby is born. If this baby is a girl, her first name will be either Eleanor or Margaret. The student's name that I wrote to you about back in May (with an "e" added to the end, as several readers suggested) will be used as the middle name if the baby is a girl and looks like an Eleanor. If she looks like a Margaret, then her middle name will be Linnea.

Even though I'm still a little nervous about the potential awkwardness if we do decide to use the student's name as a middle name, I am so much more stressed about naming this baby if it's a boy. Obviously, we'd like something that would compliment Margaret and Eleanor since it's possible that we'd use them as names for future children. We seem to be narrowing down our list pretty closely, but I have "problems" with all of our choices. This bothers me because I have no such "problems" with either of our girl names. Here are our top three contenders for boys: 

I like this name a lot and when I imagine having a child named Charlie, I swoon a little. It seems like a name that is well-liked, that won't be too popular (although it's more popular in my state than in the US as a whole), and a name that carries some weight with it. I'm a science nerd, so I love the idea that he'd have a nice normal name, but that inwardly I'd know that I'd named him for Charles Darwin. The two concerns that I have are: 

1. Would the nickname Charlie sound bad with our last name? Our last name is Ashleigh-Wertman (not spelled exactly that way, but you get the idea). Does the "ee" sound a the end of Charlie sound bad with the "ee" sound at the end of Ashleigh? 

2. I have never been able to find a satisfactory answer to the question of how to posessify (is that a word?) names that end in an "s." Is it written Charles' or Charles's? And how should it be pronounced?  I know that this may seem like a minor point when choosing a child's name, but for some reason it really stresses me out to think of my poor kid being corrected by teachers right and left because different style guide writers seem to have different opinions. Am I over-thinking it? How do parents deal with this? I'm kind of a stickler for grammar rules, so I'm really frustrated that I can't seem to find a single answer that everyone can agree on when it comes to this topic. 

I love this name. I think it's interesting and unusual and that it sounds very smart and quirky. It's also a name that appears a few times in my husband's family so he's warmer to it than most of my other quirky suggestions. The troubles: 

1. My first name is like "Garden" (but without the "G"). Does Arthur sound too similar? I'm already not a fan of repeated initials within a family and on top of that the repeated "Ar" sound at the beginning of both names seems a bit much. When I say my name, my husband's name, and the name Arthur all together, it sounds a little weird to me for a family. If I throw in some other names (like, if we used Arthur for a second or third child) then it sounds a little better, but when it's just the three of us I worry that it will sound too matchy. Also, I'm a little worried about flying together. With our long hyphenated last name, the only way to differentiate between my husband's boarding pass and my boarding pass is with the one or two letters of our first names that show up. One time, an airline employee scanned my boarding pass and then my husband's and the machine made a beeping sound. She said, "Oh wait....oh, I see, Ashleigh-Wertman, A. and Ashleigh-Wertman, B. Okay, you can go through." But what if it had been me and my son flying? They would both have shown up as Ashleigh-Wertman, A and would that have been a problem? From her reaction, it sounded as though the concern may have been that someone could have just tried to copy the same boarding pass and use it for two people or something. Flying has already gotten to be such a headache . . . but surely there are fathers and sons with the exact same name, so it can't be an insurmountable issue, right? 

2. The other trouble is that it's really hard for me to stay neutral on this name. With many other names, I can picture the name on lots of different kinds of people. But with Arthur, I can really only picture it on a smart, studious, nerdy person. My husband and I are both smart, studious, nerdy people, so the association is not a bad one for us, but what if our kid is drastically different from us? Will we have saddled him with a name that just won't fit his personality? I don't know any Arthurs under the age of 60 (besides the cartoon Aardvark on PBS), so it's really difficult to figure out how this name will be received by others. 

This is a nice, classic name that has stood the test of time pretty well. I like the way that it sounds and I can imagine it on a ton of different personalities. The troubles: 

1. It's so popular! I know that even the most popular names aren't as popular as they used to be and that William certainly isn't a "trendy" name in the sense that it will sound dated in a few years, but it's really hard for me to choose the #3 name in America (and #2 in my state!) for my child. I mean, according to the SSA, I was one of only 14 baby girls in the United States  who received my first name in the year that I was born. Last year, there were over a thousand times as many Williams.  I know that, statistically speaking, that would still make it very unlikely that he'd be one of three Williams in his class or whatnot, but it's certainly more likely than if he had a name that was at least out of the top 10. Especially since this is our first child, I'm not exposed to playgroups and daycares that would give me a better sense of how common this name is in our area, so I'm very nervous about bestowing it on my child. 

2. I can't find a nickname that I like for this name and "William" on it's own sounds a little heavy for a baby. I don't like Bill or Billy. I could get on board with Will, but probably not until he was at least a little older. I may be juvenile, but "Willy" sounds a little too much like a euphemism for a penis. I like the name Liam, but my husband had a really bad experience with a Liam, so we'd never use it. I know that William on it's own isn't a terribly long name and that it's fine to use it in it's entirety, but my husband's family is REALLY into nicknames, so I'd like to at least like some of the options. 

My other trouble is that I feel like I associate Charles and Arthur together. Like, if we decide to go with Charles, I'd want the first-middle combo to be Charles Arthur and if we went with Arthur I'd want the first-middle combo to be Arthur Charles. (William seems to be its own entity in my mind...) So I feel as though if we have a boy and go with either Charles or Arthur, it will rule out the other one for a future sibling because it will be this boy's middle name. Maybe I need to start looking into other middle name possibilities, but for some reason I feel really stuck on these two as a "pair." 

So ultimately I need some help with answering some of my naming questions and I also need some help with prioritizing/getting over my naming concerns. Before narrowing down to these three, our closest runners-up were George, Leo, Ian and Isaac. I think we'd be willing to resurrect some of these if the problems with our top three seem insurmountable, but of course each of these was eliminated for it's own issues and I think my husband has grown so tired of the naming discussion that he'd rather not re-hash any of the old names. 

Of course, if you have any fresh suggestions I'd appreciate hearing them too!

I'm going to start with the question about making a name that ends in S possessive. A person is singular, and so a person's name is a singular noun, and singular nouns ending in S are made possessive by adding an apostrophe-S. So if Charles has a hat, it's Charles's hat---just as it's Jacob's hat or Isabella's hat or Tess's hat. The final letter of the name doesn't change anything: it's always [Name]'s hat. In the case of Charles, it would be pronounced with a repeating Z sound. With time and practice the Z sound of the apostrophe-S gets diminished (shorter and quieter) so it's not quite so zizzley: Charlez-z hat.

The one exception to this rule is Jesus (probably because three Z sounds in a row didn't sound dignified enough for prayers): it's Jesus' hat and it's pronounced the same as Jesus ("In Jesus name, Amen"). This exception has caused two thousand years of people not being able to remember what to do with Charles's hat.

Once you've memorized this, a new problem emerges: will you be able to stand it when no one else seems to know the rule---including, as you mention, some of his teachers? There was a baby James in the daycare classroom where I used to work, and that experience showed me that it can be painful to know something few others know. I once saw someone write "Jame's." On something that was then laminated. That baby James is in high school now, and I am still agitating about it.

But if your son mostly goes by Charlie, it's going to be Charlie's hat anyway. And swooning when you imagine having a son named Charlie is a very good sign for the name. It does seem unfortunate that the -leigh in his surname will echo the -lie of his nickname; only you will be able to decide if you want to give up your favorite name over it. I've found I can say it in a sing-song way that makes me think it's definitely not going to work (CHAR-lee-ASH-lee WERT-man), OR I can adjust the way I say it a little to make it completely fine: "Hi! My name is Charlie [pause, then mush the surname together] AshleighWERTman." Or he could introduce himself this way: "Hi, I'm Charles Ashleigh-Wertman! Call me Charlie!"

Let's move on to Arthur. I'm dismissing the airplane ticket concerns completely. As you say, surely fathers and sons with the same name have traveled together and have not been prevented from flying, and each ticket has its own code number. If you have a boy AND you use Arthur AND you are buying airplane tickets, I would suggest explaining the issue at the time of purchase and asking the airline what you should do to make that part of the boarding process easier and less confusing for airline employees.

Arthur does sound a little like your name, but as with the repeating -lie/-leigh issue, I think only you can decide if this bugs you enough to give up the name. If you prefer Charles anyway, using Arthur as the middle name or saving it for a possible future son seems like an excellent plan.

My other primary association with the name Arthur is King Arthur. You could play that up a bit to diminish the aardvark-only association.

And finally, William. I have heard of people using Wills as a nickname. For a baby, Baby Will or Baby William seems like a natural nickname. And I found with my own babies that other nicknames just emerged on their own: we spent a lot of time calling a baby Sweetymuffin and Bippy-Louise and Pluffybuns and Froggypants, and by the time those names sounded wrong, the child was old enough for more classroom-friendly nicknames. As long as you've got Will ready for later on it sounds like you're all set.

I don't think I'd use Charles and William in the same sibling group, because of the strong association I have with the royals. But the two names are great together, and I wouldn't feel at all critical of a family that DID decide to use them together (or who used, say, Charles and Elizabeth, which should have the same level of association for me but somehow don't); it's not as if the names belong exclusively to the royal family.

It sounds to me as if you like the name Charles best, and that Charles is the name that best meets your preferences and priorities. Beyond that, all of your questions are questions you have to find your own answers to: they're all issues of personal taste, so my answers aren't necessarily going to be the same as yours. Do YOU mind the repeating -lie/-leigh sound? Do YOU mind the problems with making Charles possessive? Do YOU mind the popularity of William? Do YOU want to use both Charles and Arthur as first names or do you want to work on finding new middle names? You're definitely on the right track to be considering these questions, but another person's answers might increase the uncertainty rather than decreasing it. If it helps, I'll say this: not one single issue you raised sounds like a deal-breaker to me. Every single one of them seems like an issue where you could think it over, decide what you think, and go with that. And at this point, that seems like a good idea: instead of agitating over all the issues, think to yourself "Which of the three names do I LIKE BEST?"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Baby Boy Macon-with-a-B, Brother to Abbot

Emily writes:
First let me apologize for this, my second request for your help.  But we are three weeks away and really starting to panic. Your expertise could really help!

We have lists and lists of names that we have dutifully voted on together (in a far more civilized process than I ever would have imagined), only to get down to 5-10 choices that we cannot commit to.

This baby boy will our second child and definitely the last.  His older brother is named Abbot James (middle name and initials honoring my several men on my side of the family).  My husband's name is Seth, last name sounds like Macon with a B  (the boys have his last name). My name is Emily (I kept my maiden name for a variety of reasons).

Our rules (okay maybe just mine):

1. Simple, yet unique names that are generally familiar to the general public.  Word and surnames in this category are great!
2. Nothing in the top 100, but preferably nothing in the top 1000
3. Must go with middle name Michael (honor name for husband's dad)
4. Must not conflict with last name that is a breakfast food and could already lead to some measure of playground ridicule
5. Should sound good with Abbot, but this is not a deal breaker
6. We also like nature and virtue names

If we had a girl, we were probably going to name her Delphine (my family is French) or some flower/British sounding name.

Our list so far: 

Townsend (I love this name, husband thinks it is too pretentious)
Lark (Too girly? We may use this as a second middle name)
Auden (don't love having kids with two A names though)
Thaddeus (probably out because we can't think of a cool nickname...hate Thad and Tad)
Barrett (husband lives in fear of child being called Barry)

None of these is a slam dunk for either of us, which only leads us to keep searching for a new name (vicious cycle). Time is growing short (been fighting early labor signs for a month now) and we know we need to commit to something, but can't bring ourselves to hone in on one of these names.

Can you help us break the cycle or even suggest a new name that gets us out of the rut? Thanks so much for considering our plight!

I'm trying each name on the list with your surname, and I'm afraid I'm running into issues left and right: there's something about combining a very unusual first name with a whimsical surname that leads to comic results. Fairfax _acon. Pryor _acon. Bright _acon! Oh dear!

Bishop is probably the worst of the list with a brother named Abbot. Bishop _acon is already an amusing name, but Abbot and Bishop is a little like naming them Sailor and Fisher, or Forest and Ranger, or Harper and Piper: the theme makes the effect even more comical.

Lark definitely seems too feminine to me; in the United States, it is currently used only for girls and never for boys. And with the surname, I can't imagine it.

The only possible name on the list is Gideon. (Thaddeus would also be an option, but not if you hate the nicknames.) In your shoes, I'd be ready to just go with that: you're having so much trouble, and if this is the only name that (1) you both like and that (2) doesn't result in an amusing combination, I think it's a winner. It's good with the brother name and it's good with the surname, and you're running out of time.

I looked around for more suggestions, but I didn't find anything that seemed better than Gideon while also meeting the other preferences. Maybe Desmond. I'd certainly avoid B sounds, church-related names, word names (Sterling, Forest, Abel), and whimsical names. I might also avoid names ending in the same -on/-en/-in sound as the surname.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Name Update!

Update (and photo!) on Baby Naming Issue: The Pronunciation of Vivienne!

Baby Boy or Girl Pen-ya, Sibling to Dalila

Katherine writes:
We are due January 4th with our second, and probably last, child. Our daughter’s name is Dalila (Dah-lee-la, which is the Spanish pronunciation/spelling for Delilah) Patricia. Both her first and middle name are family names.

Because we are keeping the gender a surprise, we need a boy and a girl name. We have the girl named picked out: Mariella Lucia (Loo-see-ah). Again, we chose these names because they are family names or hold a special significance to us. We will likely call her “Mimi” (Mih-mee) for a nickname, since this was what my great-grandmother went by as well, but one thing we really like about the name is that there are lots of nickname options in case Mariella doesn’t fit her personality, or if she doesn’t like using her full name when she’s older.

If it's a boy, the first name will be Jerico, after my husband. We love the name and it’s a bit of a cultural/family tradition to have a “junior” so we are set on the first name.

Our problem is that we don’t know what to do for a middle name and I am starting to panic!! Our son will need either a nickname to go by or to use his middle name so there isn’t confusion about having two people named Jerico in the house. If we could come up with a nickname we liked, then we would likely choose a sire name for a middle name from my side of the family (Ash or Bramhall are what we’re considering right now).

Finding a nickname is proving to be a problem because we hate all the nicknames, at least that we can think of, for Jerico. Jerry, Jer, Jay, Jo(e), Rick, Rico or Junior are all completely out! My husband is called Eric and Jerico equally so we think using either could get confusing.

That leaves us with trying to find a middle name that we could either make a nickname with using a combination of Jerico and the middle name, or to find a middle name that we’d like our son to go by. I thought we could maybe use Lucian (masculine of Lucia, our girl middle name) but for a variety of reasons that name is out.

I’m freaking out and I would really appreciate any suggestions you have, but I also value your readers’ opinions as well! I’ve been reading your blog for years and I’ve seen many a name problem solved and I’m hoping that we could get a bunch of suggestions and one might turn out to be “the one”.

Two things to consider:

First, my husband is Dominican so we prefer names that work in English or in Spanish, but it’s not a deal breaker.

Second, I don’t like really common names - I tend to like the more unusual. My name is Katherine and I hated having 7 other Katherines, Kates, Katies, etc. in my class in school so while I wouldn’t completely rule out popular names, I’d more easily fall in love with something that isn’t in the top 10.

Thank you for your help!!

If you'd like him to be a junior, the middle name is easy: it's whatever his father's middle name is. Is that a name that would work for everyday use?

Since you either hate or are already using every reasonable nickname for Jerico, I think the next possibility to consider is not using Jerico as his first name. Sharing a name is a little complicated; sharing a name he can't use any form of seems even more challenging, and not very pleasing. Perhaps it would be better to use Jerico as his middle name and give him a first name he can be called by.

A third possibility, as you mention, is to give him the first name Jerico and then never use it---calling him instead by his middle name, which would be whatever name you would have used for his first name if you weren't naming him Jerico. You haven't mentioned any candidates other than Jerico, and I'm not familiar with names that work in English and Spanish, so this would be a matter of going through baby name books and making a list, just as if you were starting from square one. Or both Ash and Bramhall seem like very good choices, using "Ash" or "Bram" as his everyday name. (Ash does give him the initials JAP, which I would probably prefer to avoid.)

A fourth possibility is to call him by his initials: either first and last (J.P. is cute) or first and middle (J.B. is also cute).

A fifth possibility is to give him the first name Jerico, then a family name for the middle name, and then call him whatever you want: Skip, Chip, Trip, Kip, Ike, Jack, Zeke, Jake, Scott, Cole, Josh, Bo, Abe---whatever nickname you like. Nicknames don't have to be attached to a name the child actually carries, and an unconnected nickname is particularly common/understandable when a child is named for someone else in the same household. You'd put on the birth announcement something like "Jerico Bramwell Pen-ya (Jeb)" and everyone would understand why. You could even use it as an opportunity to get both family names in there: "Jerico Bramwell Pen-ya (Ash)."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Baby Girl or Boy Reese, Sibling to Harper and Rowan

Rebecca writes:
Returning customer here, hoping for some inspiration. Or something like that. Here's the low-down; we are expecting baby #3, gender unknown, on 12/28/12. Our last name is Reese, my husband's name is Benjamin, I'm Rebecca, and we have 2 girls, Harper Grace and Rowan Kate. We're about 4 weeks away from meeting this baby and our baby name spreadsheet (my husband insisted we get 'serious' and make a spreadsheet) is feeling lackluster, and really, kind of all over the place. 

My only 'rules' when it comes to naming are that you must be able to look at the name and pronounce it (no crazy spelling), nothing that sticks out weirdly with siblings' names (Harper, Rowan, & Bob would be a no-go), and preferably nothing that starts with an 'H' or an 'R'. 

Here's my predicament: when thinking about names for this baby, I realized there is one girl name that I have loved since my first pregnancy, but never had the guts to use; Scout. It made me question if I would regret never using this name if this were to be our last child. I have loved the name Scout since first reading 'To Kill a Mockingbird' in 7th grade. Here are my qualms with the name:

-our firstborn's name is Harper, not after Harper Lee, but I also don't want to be to 'theme-y'.
-I can definitely envision a cute toddler girl named Scout--a 35-year-old woman, not so much.
-is it just too weird?

I feel like I already think of this baby (if it is a girl) as Scout in my head, so maybe that should give me an inclination. I would prefer to use it as a first name, and give her a more feminine middle. Here are a few of our possibilities, as well as the rest of our list of girl names:

-Scout Eleanor
-Scout Noelle
-Scout Madeline
-Lola Jane

Basically all over the place, right? I know. Here's the boy names we have so far--I like most of them, but I don't have that 'aha! its love!!' feeling about any of them. I think I want something different, but not completely crazy (the middle name would most likely be Benjamin, after my husband).


Please tell me how nutty I am. Any and all advice/suggestions are welcome! 

Thank you, Swistle!!

Because my primary association with the name Harper is the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, I would not recommend using the name Scout for the sister of a Harper. I also think Scout seems too nicknamey with your other girls' names, and I agree it's not a name I would want for myself as a grown woman, and just as a final blow I don't think it works well with the surname.

However, I notice both of your daughters have one-syllable middle names; Scout might be a perfect middle name for a third girl. It's common for parents to think of a fetus by a certain nickname (Peanut, for example, or Bean, or Bear), and less common to be able to use it nicely as part of the actual name like this.

I'm looking over the other girl names on your list, and I don't see anything that seems right with sisters Harper and Rowan. Madeline seems too feminine, Eleanor is a completely different style, Sawyer seems too boyish, Navy seems too unusual. Maybe Lola or Ivy---but Lola Scout seems like too much distinctiveness for one name, and Ivy Scout seems like too many nouns.

Or actually, maybe Noelle. At first it seemed too different/feminine, but when I say the three names together I start to change my mind: Harper, Rowan, and Noelle. I can see those as sisters. Harper Grace, Rowan Kate, and Noelle Scout.

Or I wonder if you'd like Stella? It has some of the sound of Noelle, but has a better rhythm with the middle name Scout: Harper Grace, Rowan Kate, and Stella Scout.

The name Isla comes to mind. Harper, Rowan, and Isla.

Or maybe Imogen would be better: Harper, Rowan, and Imogen.

Or Madigan would be nice: Harper, Rowan and Madigan.

Or Averil---I like the way it gives each girl an R sound. Harper, Rowan, and Averil.

Or Finley: Harper, Rowan, and Finley.

Or Ainsley: Harper, Rowan, and Ainsley.

Or Darcy: Harper, Rowan, and Darcy. But maybe Har and Dar are too similar.

Or Delaney: Harper, Rowan, and Delaney.

Looking up the name Harper in The Baby Name Wizard (Rowan isn't there for girls; I hope it will be in the next edition), I see she'd recommend Marlowe, Piper, Scarlett, Tatum, and Emerson; I think Marlowe, Emerson, and Scarlett would work well. And you're not going to find Nickname-Conservative Swistle endorsing this, but I've heard of people using Scout as a nickname for Scarlett. But maybe the name Scarlett Reese would bring Scarlett and Rhett too readily to mind?

From the boy name list, my favorite is Everett. Other names similar to Everett: Elliot and Emmett and Evan.

Some of the others seem choppy to me with the surname. I do think 1-1 syllable names can work (Brad Pitt and Sean Penn are excellent examples), but I can't tell if Jude Reese and Finn Reese work.

Sawyer from your girl name list is another possibility. Sawyer Benjamin Reese; Harper, Rowan, and Sawyer.

Griffin would be nice, and you could still have Finn as a nickname. Griffin Benjamin Reese; Harper, Rowan, and Griffin.

Or Grady. Harper, Rowan, and Grady.

Or Malcolm. Harper, Rowan, and Malcolm.

Or Wilson. Harper, Rowan, and Wilson.

Name update! Rebecca writes:
Hello again!

Just wanted to give you a name update...we had a baby BOY(!) on December 21, 2012. After a few hours of debate & hoping to just look at him and have some divine inspiration for a name, we decided on Everett Benjamin. Thanks to you and all of your wonderful readers for the input, we appreciated it so much!