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Friday, January 25, 2013

Baby Girl or Boy Edgerton, Sibling to Eliza Cynthia; Culling a List

Gabi writes:
Hi there!

So...apparently we are very indecisive people when it comes to names.  There are so many names I love I find it hard to discard anything off our list until I’m sure it doesn’t fit. Needless to say, this has left us with way too many possibilities! Your blog helped us name our first daughter, Eliza Cynthia, now 3, and we have been extremely happy. It was a hands down favorite of yours and your commenters, and that was all the encouragement we needed to pull the trigger. We get compliments on her name all the time. Now we are expecting our second in early March and are seeking guidance once again. Gender will be a surprise, which of course makes the name choosing a bit harder. I don’t believe that there is one perfect name out there for any given child, but I do want to have it narrowed down to a handful of possibilities before the baby is actually born!
            There is really only one condition we have to stick to which is that the middle name will be Dow no matter what the sex (family name, usually given to first born son, but seeing as how we may never have a son…). Other than that we are open. Our last name is Edgerton…rather long and sometimes difficult to pronounce (think edge, as in edge of a sword rather than Edgarton or Eggerton, which we get a lot). As you will see from our lists I’m not sure we have a clear favorite when it comes to naming styles. Name popularity bothers me less for boys names than for girls names, but in either case a name being popular is not a deal breaker for us. I would be interested to hear if you can detect a theme and then identify those names that don’t seem to fit--this would be a hint to me that they made the list because they are interesting rather than “our style”.
            Anyway, without further ado, here are our (already extensively culled) lists:


Hazel (current front-runner)
Gwenyth (nn Gwen; husband doesn’t like)
Josephine (another favorite, nn Joey)
Campbell (nn Benny…don’t know why, but this makes perfect sense in my head)
Aila (another favorite)


Jacob (nn Jack; current front-runner and a family name…yes I realize its uber popular)
Asa (another favorite)
Alexander (another favorite)

Thanks in advance!

Oh, what a fun request! I can see this as a regular feature called "Cull My List!" Okay, if I were culling your lists, here's how I'd do them (in my own order of favorite):



How's that?

Here's what I did: I paired each name with Eliza, but also looked at the group of names to see which ones stood out as likely style outliers. So for example, in the girl name list, Amy is the only one that feels like a Mom Name, and Campbell and Hadley are modern boyish surname names in a sea of traditionally female first names. I took out Aila because "Aila and Eliza" seem very similar to me: Aila is almost like just removing the Z from Eliza. And yet Aila is also too DISsimilar with Eliza, reminding me of more modern names such as Kayla. I also took out Gwenyth because your husband doesn't like it. And so on.

Then I tried each name with the surname. Most of them were fine with the surname, but when I said them all at once in a list, I noticed that some seemed better than others. Alexander Edgerton seems like I went on saying it for quite a long time; it reminded me of Laura Wattenberg's remark in her book The Baby Name Wizard that she liked the name Kennedy but that Kennedy Wattenberg sounded "like someone falling down stairs." Owen Edgerton feels like it runs together. Logan Edgerton seems like the non-matching G's would make it even more difficult to get people to pronounce the surname correctly. And so on: all of these would be completely fine if you used them, but the goal was to cull so I erred on the side of culling.

Sometimes I ended up putting names back on. For example, I took out Josephine and Nathaniel for being too long, and Anna for being a bit run-together with the surname---but then I put them both back in because of how well I thought both names went with Eliza and how minor the other issues seemed in comparison to that. And then when I was re-reading the lists, Josephine and Nathaniel didn't seem too long anyway, and Anna seemed rather striking with the surname, and anyway this is what makes my own lists end up LONGER when I'm done.

I also took out Simone just because I felt like it didn't fit the list somehow, but then when I tried it with Eliza I was kind of blown away by that combination: Eliza and Simone! Now that's probably my favorite of the girl names. It is not perhaps ideal with the middle name Dow, but I didn't take that much into consideration: since the middle name is absolutely set, I assumed that all the names on your lists were acceptable to you with the middle name.

I probably would have eliminated Hazel if it weren't a front-runner. It has five letters like Eliza, and four of the five are duplicate letters, and the matching Z's were immediately noticeable. These issues could make the names beautifully matched, or could really put the pressure on if you might need to name a third child.

One thing that's fun about having someone else cull a list is that their choices can reveal to you your own preferences: if your heart sank at seeing I culled a particular name, that might mean it should be immediately UNculled.

Would anyone else like to try their hand at culling the lists?


Anonymous said...

Eliza is a traditional, classic "English" name so I want to pair it with something similar.

Girls: That gives me Hazel, Anna, Josephine & Madelyn. However, I'm going to remove Madelyn because it (and names similar to it) are so super popular right now.

Gwenyth is Welsh & technically wouldn't be a bad fit, but it does feel uber-feminine compared to your other names so I will leave it out.

Campbell, Aila & Hadley all feel too modern and/or surname like with the rest of your list. I also took into consideration that the middle name is also a surname. For example, Campbell Dow Edgerton sounds like it should be Campbell, Dow & Edgerton-just too much like a law firm.

Simone I ruled out for feeling too French next to the very English feel of most of your names.

Amy technically fits, but it does feel very dated. However-I think Amelia would be perfect.

So, my culled girl's list leaves us with Hazel, Anna & Josephine with Amelia nickname Amy as a possibility. Personally, I think a short list of 3-4 names is about the perfect size to take to the hospital.

Boys: I used a similar process of looking for classic English-sounding names, which left me with Jacob, Alexander, Andrew, Matthew, Owen & Nathaniel.

Normally I would have eliminated Jacob for the same reason I removed Madelyn. But-I personally believe you should never eliminate a front runner both parents agree on.

Asa I was torn on. It feels very different compared to the other names, but you did call it a favorite. In the end I removed it since I left Jacob & Alexander in. & the problem Swistle had with Alexander Edgerton isn't a problem for me.

Logan would make a great brother name to Campbell, Hadley & Aila. Since I removed the girl names, I decided to remove Logan too.

Calvin I was torn on. It fits all the initial criteria and it fits well with Eliza. But it also feels dated/old manish in a way none of your other boy names do. So in the end I removed it.

On 2nd review, Matthew has kind of the same dated feeling as Amy for me, so I eliminated it also.

I also decided I had a couple of problems with Owen. The initials will spell ODE & for some reason this bothers me (though Anna & Amelia/Amy would spell ADE and that doesn't bother me). Owen can also be used as a surname, leading to the law firm problem (Owen, Dow & Edgerton).

This left me with Jacob, Alexander, Andrew, & Nathaniel and meets my ideal of a 3-4 name list to take to the hospital.

Anonymous said...

Oops, forgot to include Sabine in my post above. I removed it for the same reason I removed Simone-just doesn't feel "English" enough compared to the majority of names on your list.

Anonymous said...

I love Calvin! Just think about Calvin and Hobbes and it won't seem old-manish :) If I was culling this boy's list, Calvin would be it, especially with the cute nickname Cal. If I had to pick a second choice, it would be Matthew. It's sort of an underrated classic! I love the name Asa but Eliza and Asa sounds too similar in my mind. For girls I would strongly suggest avoiding unisex or surnamey choices since she'll already have the middle name Dow. Next to Eliza Cynthia, some of your choices come across as very unfeminine by comparison. I agree with the first commenter, I get law firm when I hear Campbell Dow Edgerton. Aila and Eliza is tongue twistery for me. I imagine trying to say Aila-and-Eliza or Eliza-and-Aila and it sounds funny, like a stutter. My favourite is Hazel your front runner. It has the z in common with Eliza but it's not the sort of pattern you'd have to keep up, more a pleasant tie in for sisters. I also think Anna Dow Edgerton has a great rhythm and works well with Eliza. So that's my culled list: Calvin and Matthew, Hazel and Anna!

StephLove said...

My culled versions of the lists:

Hazel, Anna, Josephine, Simone

Jacob, Alexander, Andrew, Matthew, Owen, Nathaniel

I didn't actually cull that boy list much. My favorites are Hazel and Alexander.

Jen said...

Not that you need more names but if your husband doesn't like Gwenyth, would he like Gwendolyn? Or is it the nn Gwen he doesn't like?

If I were culling the list, I would end up with:
Anna, Josephine, Sabine, and Simone
Alexander, Andrew, Matthew, Calvin, Nathaniel

I mostly used reasons reasons others have already mentioned (how it sounds with Eliza or outliers). Jacob I eliminated only because of the nn Jack. I don't think it would be impossible to get people to use Jack but I also don't think I've ever heard of anyone using something other than Jake for Jacob (even though it seems like more of a logical nickname than Jack for John).

Janelle said...

My top for you are:
Josephine, Anna, Hazel, Madelyn
Calvin, Andrew, Jacob

I eliminated using the same basic pattern Swistle & others listed: looking for classic English names that sound pleasant with the surname.

I do think that the spelling Madeline would look better with Eliza, but that's just personal preference.

Arden Ashley said...

I'm not great at culling, but I'll give my personal opinion.

I think the girl names that sound best with Eliza and Edgerton are Hazel and Hadley. I think they sound wonderful together. I know a Hadley Elizabeth and so the sounds of Hadley and Eliza ring nicely to my ears and overcome the style mismatch. Hazel and Eliza just go awesomely together -- but we aren't planning on more than two kids... If you want a big family, I agree with swistle that it might get complicated.

I love the sounds of Hadley Edgerton and Hazel Edgerton. I don't think any of the others on your list come close.

I like Andrew and Nathaniel for the same reasons (how they sound with Edgerton and sister Eliza).

Anonymous said...

I love your lists! my favourites of your girl list are Hazel, Anna, and Sabine for style and sound with Eliza and last name. I agree that Campbell is much too masculine with Eliza and so is Joey as a nn for Josephine.

i dont think you can go wrong with your boy list! just choose your favourite when he is born!

Eva.G said...

If I had to pick, for girls I would choose Anna or Hazel. I don't think you can go wrong with either, and especially like the repeating 'z' in Eliza and Hazel.

For boys, I choose Calvin and Nathaniel. I LOVE Calvin particularly! It's a very favorite boy name for both my husband and I, so I am partial :-) I don't think it's too "old man-ish". It's never left the Top 200's and is currently very slowly climbing back up and sometimes stalling, so I would interpret it as coming back into style, but (hopefully) not racing up the charts rapidly.

Also, would you consider just Jack instead of Jacob? I really love Eliza and Jack together!!

The Mrs. said...

For another daughter: Hazel or Simone! (Hazel edged, pun intended, out ahead of Simone just because it goes SO WELL with Eliza).

For a son: Alexander all the way! It sounds wonderful with Eliza, and Alexander Edgerton has the same dignity as Eliza Edgerton. Alexander also comes with great nickname options... Zander, Xander, Alex, Al, Lex, X, etc.

Nice lists! All the best to you as you prepare to meet your newest addition! Please let us know what you decide.

Anonymous said...

I love Asa for a boy.

For a girl, I agree that you should go with something feminine to balance out the middle name Dow and match the prettiness of Eliza Cynthia. I like Amelia a lot. Anna seems like it might run together with Dow...have you considered Annabel? It shares the -bel ending with Campbell, which might get you to Benny. I actually think Hazel is a little plain or unisex in comparison, but I can't decide if that's just a personal association. Josephine, on the other hand, doesn't strike me as too boyish at all, so long as you like the full name in addition to the nickname Joey, you leave your daughter with the option of deciding how frilly she wants her own name to be, and to adjust at will.

Or, if you're at all interested in trying to feminize Dow...Meadow? Or Dove? Tweaking honor names seems less odd to me when you're already doing a gender swap.

Kim said...

Eliza and Hazel are great sister names.

For a boy I love Alexander or Zander with Eliza, continuing with the 'Z' sounds.

Eliza and Zander

Speaking of 'Z' sounds, what about Zane? Sounds great with your surname too.

Zane Edgerton

Good luck!

Another Erin from the 80s said...

Why don't you use Jack as the first name? With a first name of Jacob, I would automatically assume Jake as a nickname.
I love the z connection between Eliza and Hazel. I also like "v" sounds with Eliza.... Such as Calvin or Vivian.

Leslie said...

You have a lot of great names on your list! If I had to try to narrow the list down, though, here's my take:

For girls my favorite is Hazel. I'm tempted to stop there because it's such a favorite of mine (and sounds great with Eliza), but a close second would be Josephine. Both names match the wonderful "elegant and a little bit spunky" vibe I get from Eliza.

For boys, Calvin is my favorite, followed by both Nathaniel and Alexander. Again, I think these names follow the same "classy and dashing" feeling, and I like the sounds of the names with the surname (and Eliza).

Really, you can't go wrong, but they are fun name lists to play with! Best of luck, and let us know what you decide!

Shannon from NY said...

I will give it a try:

Hazel (current front-runner)
Kept this because it's your top name at the moment and I think it sounds good with Eliza. Both having Z's doesn't bother me.

Josephine (another favorite, nn Joey) - very good style match with Eliza. Sounds good with the middle name Dow.

Anna - I think it's also a good style match for Eliza. Feminine but not frilly.

Madelyn - good style match, good with the middle name. Spelling Madelyn instead of Madeline makes it feel (to me) a bit modern compared with Eliza.

Amy - I'll be an outlier and not eliminate Amy. I know it's a mom name and has a dated feel because of its recent decades of popularity, but since it's an old name that has come in and out, it does not feel as dated to me as a name that was only popular for 5-10 years or so. I think it's fine for a child today (I might even feel it's refreshing to meet a baby named Amy). Of course, it does not feel current like Eliza does so you could eliminate it for that reason.

Gwenyth (nn Gwen; husband doesn’t like) - somehow I don't see as a sibling name for Eliza (although it doesn't clash at all), and your husband doesn't like the nickname (even if you don't call her that, she may want to use it).

Aila - I like this, but does seem modern with Eliza - and I am not sure if you say it Ay-la or Eye-la.

Campbell and Hadley - with Eliza I'd prefer a name that is not unisex. If I heard Eliza and Benny I'd think they were a sister and brother.

Sabine - very interesting, but as others have said, not as English sounding as your other names.
Simone - also more French than English, compared with your other names.

The boy list is harder:

Nathaniel - I think it's my favorite with Eliza and sounds good with Dow.
Calvin - I think it's great with Eliza.
Jacob - good with Eliza. As long as you're fine with it being so popular, I don't think it matters.
Asa - I like this.. maybe a little too similar to Eliza in -za/sa endings but I don't think that's a dealbreaker.

Alexander - I just culled it because of being such a long name with Edgerton but I'd keep it on the list if it's one of your favorites. - long names are not a big deal.

Owen, Andrew, Matthew: No real reason not to use any of these. I just got more of a "sounds great with Eliza" feeling from some of the others.

Logan - this is the name on your boy's list that I think stands out the most as not a style match just because last-name-as a first (on boys and girls) is so popular right now.

Congratulations - hope you update and let us know what you chose.