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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baby Boy Cross, Brother to Mason and Merissa; Husband Wants Either a Junior or Another M Name

H. writes:
My due date is April 7th & I have a major issue with my husband wanting a Jr.  This is the 1st time I ever found out what we were having before they were born.  We are having a boy.
I have 2 children Mason Lee & Merissa Julia.  My husband wants Jeffrey Jason Cross Jr. or Jeffrey Ralph Cross Jr. or an "M" name.  I will never agree to either one of the Jeffrey's.  We already have a son, I don't like the idea of Jr.'s & most importantly I don't like the name Jeffrey at all!  He is the Jeffrey Jason & his Dad is Jeffrey Ralph.  Ralph is his grandfathers name.  If you could pick any boy "M" name, what would you choose?  I want to knock his socks of with an "M" name!  I loved when you chose Declan.  I did bring that name up, but of course my husband shot that down because it wasn't Jeffrey or an "M".  If it is any help me kids picked Toby & they actually agreed on it??!!  They don't agree on anything.  Of course my husband turned that down as well.

Thank you for your time

If you don't like the idea of a junior and you don't like the name Jeffrey, then that name is off the table. This does not mean that now you need to scramble to find something your husband likes better than Jeffrey. Instead it means that you and your husband now both need to work to find the name the two of you like best from the remaining candidates. Perhaps if it's very important to your husband, you might agree to use Jeffrey, Jason, or Ralph as a middle name.

(As an aside, a junior is given the same entire name as his father. So if you were going to have a junior, the child's name would be Jeffrey Jason Cross Jr. If your husband wanted instead to name his son after his father, the child's name could be Jeffrey Ralph Cross II.)

Do you agree to using an M name? If you don't, that too is off the table (or rather, is still on the table as an issue the two of you would need to decide on before you can go on to choose the name). I feel as if we've had a run recently on "one parent absolutely insisting on something the other parent doesn't want," and it's making me cranky. The decision is up to both parents, and both parents are responsible for finding the agreed-upon name. One parent may willingly choose to go along with the other parent's preference---but it isn't right or fair for one parent to make a declaration and insist the other parent submit to that declaration. If you are willing to use an M name, then we can find a good M name. If you would prefer to break the M streak, then that is fine too, and you and your husband would then both turn to the task of finding the name the two of you liked best from the entire pool of non-Jeffrey, non-M names.

If you like Declan, I suggest Malcolm. Malcolm Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Malcolm.

One of my own favorite M names is Milo. Milo Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Milo. Or Miles would be nice.

Another of my favorites is Miller. Miller Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Miller.

Miller reminds me of Meyer. Meyer Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Meyer.

Maxwell seems like a good brother name for Mason. Maxwell Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Maxwell.

The name Matthew is an enduring favorite. Matthew Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Matthew. Matthias would make it a little more unusual.

Or there's Merit/Merritt. Merritt Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Merritt.

But if you look through all the M names in the book and you don't find any you like, there are other ways to coordinate the sibling set. Mason and Merissa share not only an M but also an A and an S, so a name like Samuel would work very nicely. Samuel Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Samuel.

I've thought the names Mason and Sawyer would go together well: both surname names, and both tradesman names. Sawyer Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Sawyer.

Or something like Jacob: it repeats the number of letters and the vowel sounds of Mason, and J and M are close together in the alphabet. Jacob Cross; Mason, Merissa, and Jacob. (Jake Cross could sound like Jay Cross or Jake Ross, but neither is a negative/embarrassing mistake.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Girl or Boy Polanco: Finding the Perfect Name; Is Emerson a Boy Name?
Update on Baby Girl or Boy Fable, Sibling to Sawyer Benjamin!

Baby Girl Dry-with-an-F, Sister to Elliot and Emelia: Does She Have to Have an E Name?

Elizabeth writes:
Okay, I've never seen you post an email like this before, but I am writing to you for my sister, who has given me permission to horn in on her baby naming situation to ask for some advice on her behalf. I am such a huge fan of your blog, and long after I had my two boys, I've been checking in to see how you've solved the world's baby naming conundrums.

Okay, so my sister, whose last name is Dry with an F just found out she is pregnant with her third and final baby, a girl, who is due in June. Her first two children have really great names -- great, I think, because they are unique (i.e. not top 100) without sounding so unique that you say "huh"?  I call them classic unique -- Elliot Dallin and Emelia Mollie. Mollie was the middle name of our grandmother, Jane Mollie.

Now, my sister's husband thinks that they need to complete the package with another "E" name, because having two "E" names already, he thinks it's only fair that they name the third the same. He says that he's going to veto anything that doesn't start with an E. My sister isn't sold on needing an "E" name; she doesn't think it's necessary to keep going with the Es and in fact would lean the other direction, not an "E" name. So my first question on their behalf is whether continuing with the "E" names is necessary -- that is, will the third child feel left out if her siblings both have "E" names and she does not?

They don't have ideas in mind, although my sister likes Elisabeth, but thinks it's probably too common, and Emelia, who is four, has put her vote in for Elissa. My sister's husband suggested Elin.

And finally, having a last name like Dry with an F means you have to be a little bit careful not to for example, name the baby Frenchie or Frances. Oh, and my sister and her husband are looking for names to go with Dry with an F that are more than one syllable to even it out.

So, do you have any suggestions for either "E" names that fit the criteria that my sister would love and therefore would not require a veto, or other names that just go nicely with Elliot and Emelia that don't make that song "which one of these doesn't belong here?" start playing in your head?

We'd love your advice.


PS -- My sister added a few likes and dislikes:

I think M's top are
Eloise (Not my favorite)

and mine is
Esmee (I don't want people to say "Es-may" like the French way, so I was thinking about adding the extra e)

but I also like
Elisabeth (can't argue with a family-ish name)/Elis is cute

I pretty strongly veto
Eleanor (too popular right now)

I should find the family tree for middle name ideas.

I have mixed feelings, because on one hand I do think it would be nice to give the third child an E name, and on the other hand I'm annoyed at the idea of one parent declaring that he'll veto anything that isn't an E name. Surely this is a decision for the two parents to make together, not for one parent to refuse to consider anything else.

No, it isn't necessary to have a third E name. And as long as there is no reason for the third child to feel that her parents gave her a non-E-name on purpose in order to exclude her from the family, I don't see any particular reason it will be an issue. If it comes up, it seems as if the answer "Oh! We didn't do that on purpose, we just chose our favorite name each time!" would be fully sufficient to cover the situation for any child not determined to feel upset about it.

I would also recommend taking an approach where the first letter of a name is not given quite so much impact: "Yes, Annabel, that's right: Elliot and Emelia both start with E! And you and Emelia both have an A in your names, but Elliot doesn't; and you and Elliot both have a doubled letter in your names, but Emelia doesn't; and you and Elliot both have three syllables but Emelia has four; and all three of you have L's and E's; and you're the only one with an N, and Emelia is the only one with an M, and Elliot is the only one with a T..." and so on. (This is a pretty fun game to play with little kids.)

I think it also helps in this case that the matched initial is a vowel, so that the starting sounds are more El- and Em- rather than both being E-; and also that Emelia's name hits the ear as if it's Amelia. When said aloud, the sibling group is not going to have the same ear-catching impact as, say, Brian, Brittany, and Samantha: Elliot, Emelia, and Annabel (said aloud rather than seen written down) doesn't catch my ear at all. Even written down, I think the vowel initial of the third name softens the difference. So if they do decide not to use a third E name, I would recommend looking first among other vowel names.

There are other ways to tie a third name in, too. Both Elliot and Emelia have six letters including E, L, and I. Names on the non-E list could be examined for similarities along those lines. Lianna, for example, has the L and the I, and also has six letters, and also repeats the -lia of her sister's name. Or Laurel has six letters and the L and the E. Or Leslie has six letters and the E, the L, and the I. Or Lilian has six letters and the L and the I. Or Violet has six letters and the E, the L, and the I, and if anything makes Emelia the odd one out. Or Linnea has six letters and the E/L/I. And so on.

Effort could also be put into the middle name: the first two children both have six-letter double-L family names; it would be nice to find something similar for the third child.

I notice that all the current candidates are E names, so let's proceed on the assumption that your sister's husband has made this decision for them, and that what we're looking for is an E name.

My first suggestion is Erianna. It's feminine and pretty like Emelia, but not too similar. Elliot, Emelia, and Erianna.

My own favorite E name is probably Eliza. Elliot, Emelia, and Eliza. I THINK the different emphasis and vowel sounds (ee-LY vs. EH-lee) keeps it from being too similar to Elliot.

Or Elena would work well. Elliot, Emelia, and Elena.

Or maybe Ellis, or Ellison, or Everly, or Ellery.

Elsa/Elsie is pretty. Elliot, Emelia, and Elsa.

I'm not sure about the Esme situation. Does your sister want it pronounced Ehz-mee instead of Ehz-may? I am not sure how difficult it would be to get people to do that. Is it pronounced mee or may in the Twilight movies? If the goal is to get the mee sound at the end, I would spell it Esmie.

I love her idea of her naming the baby after you! That would be my top favorite, except I'd spell it the same as your name because I would get weary of correcting the spelling. Elliot, Emelia, and Elizabeth.

I also like Emelia's suggestion of Elissa. Elliot, Emelia, and Elissa. Maybe her given name could be Elisabeth and her nickname could be Elissa.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Baby Girl Merlot, Sister to Graham Joseph

Anna writes:
We are expecing our second and final baby - a girl in March and are in need of help with finding a middle name.  A little background, my name is Anna Mary (named after my paternal granmother), my husband's name is Eric Joseph and our son's name is Graham Joesph.  Our last name sounds like Merlot.

We aren't sold on the baby's first name, but we are pretty sure it will either be Brynn, Hollis, or Hadley.  Here lies the problem... since my son's middle name honors my husband and his father, I really want to incorporate my father's name somehow.  His name you ask?  Vyto Anthony!  We have tried Vita and don't prefer it. We also thought of Vianna (honoring my father, his mother and myself at the same time).  We are thinking a name simply starting with "V" will do the trick, but I would like to find one with a little more meaning if possible.   Other family names that can be incorporated with the "V" would be Brennan (or any similar variation) or Lee.  Can you help with any other suggestions? Is there another total direction to go in that we haven't thought of?  We just can't seem to find the right fit.

My first suggestion is to use the female form of Anthony: Antonia. I think it's a very pretty name. The main issue is whether your father will feel honored by that. My middle name is Nicole, which gives me a good parallel: I'm imagining if I had a grandson with the middle name Nicholas "after me," would I feel like it was after me? A little bit, but not a lot. Even less so if a grandchild's name shared only the first initial of my first name: I would not want to seem ungrateful for the intended honor, but the middle name Keegan (my first name is Kristen) doesn't seem like it would feel connected to my name at all. You can try this exercise yourself, too, since these feelings would vary considerably from person to person and from family to family: how honored would you feel by a grandson given the middle name Mario? a grandson given the middle name Alexander?

I prefer my second suggestion: since your son's name honors two male family members from your husband's side, could your daughter's name honor a female family member or two from your side? For example, you and your grandmother? Brynn Mary Merlot, or Hollis Mary Merlot, or Hadley Mary Merlot. (I also like Hollis Anna and Hadley Anna, but didn't want the initials to spell HAM.) This would partially honor your dad as well, since the name comes from his mother.

But if you are set on using your father's name, and you think he'd feel honored by the use of his initial, then I suggest the name Violet. It shares several letters and sounds with Vyto.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Name Updates!

Update (and photo!) on Is the Third Child's Name Too Different in Style?
Update (and photo!) on Baby Naming Issue: An 8th-Generation Hephzibah!

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?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Baby Boy Loochka, Brother to Sadie Lenore

Cindy writes:
I have just come across your blog and I am hoping you will be able to help us name our son, who is due on Feb. 22, 2013.
We will pay tribute to a family member by using the middle name Frank. Our last name is pronounced Loochka and we have a daughter named Sadie Lenore. (Lenore is a family name also).
We have found my name, Cindy, to be very close to Sadie, which we did not think of before, but now many people confuse us!
So, for that reason, we are shying away from names with the soft c or s sound. We are also hesitant to use "y" or "ie" ending.
We had a stillborn son named Isaac James, and this baby has managed through several pregnancy complications, so I do like to consider very strong sounding names.
We tend to avoid first names with the letter L, as it usually doesn't sound right with our last name, as does an "a" ending, or a "oo" sound like Drew.

I prefer short names, and even better, names that can not be shortened, or to use an already shortened name, like Theo. We love the name Theo, but sadly can not use it.
I also like the name Eli, but my husband will not go for it due to past experience with an Eli.
I like  the names Ben, Sam, Alex, but they are too popular. I don't want a totally unique name, but something that is not on the top 20 lists would be nice.
I like names with traditional spellings, so that my son will not always have to correct the spelling of his name.
I also love it when letters are not repeated, but I feel that now I am asking for a miracle, so I will be flexible on this point.
For example, before we named our stillborn son, we were in love with the name Bennett, but now I don't like the name as much because of the duplicates of e, n, and t. Also, Ben is very popular.

Thank you for any consideration you can give to this specific task.
Well, here we are with less than a month to go and still feeling a little lost in naming this little guy.
My goal was to end up with a list of three names to choose from. We aren't fairing very well.
The only two possibilities are Theo and Wesley. We brought Theo back on the list even though we thought we couldn't use it.
We are feeling as though it may not be right, and I don't know that I like the sound of Theo Frank.
I also wonder if Theo is an awkward name, with some people not hearing the "th" sound, or some unable to pronounce it properly or clearly.
Wesley is my husband's top pick at the moment, but we don't love the nickname Wes and wonder if in some ways Jeff and Wes are too similar in the way that Cindy and Sadie are.
I like Davis, with the nickname Davey, but my husband does not like Davis. Neither of us like Dave or David.

My husband is pretty definite on the middle name Frank to honor his grandfather, however, sometimes I think it is funny that this boy will have his great-grandfather's full name with Frank and the last name. I hear the middle name Frank and last name together and only think of this man.

Hoping for some fresh ideas from you and your readers!

I think this is one of the troubles with choosing both the surname and the honor middle name from one side of the family: it DOES seem a little odd to have someone else's name with another name tacked on the front! In my experience, though, the oddness wears off.

But since the honor name is also giving you troubles in other ways, perhaps it would be better to choose the first name first, and then find an honor name from your side of the family that goes well with it. If your husband is adamant about choosing the middle name, I suggest that you have slightly more say on the first name, to make things feel more balanced.

Was his grandfather's full name Frank, or was Frank short for Franklin? Franklin might be easier to work with, with some first names.

I would have said there'd be no trouble with people mispronouncing Theo, but that was before we talked about the pronunciation of Blythe! Perhaps some parents of Theos and Theodores can let us know how it's going.

Would you want to consider using Frank/Franklin as the first name? I realize that makes the "it sounds just like his great-grandfather" problem even worse---but I think Franklin is a great name, and also that the association would wear off even more quickly.

If you like Eli, I suggest Ian. Ian Frank Loochka.

Or Eliot. Eliot Frank Loochka.

If you don't like the nickname Wes, that does make Wesley seem a bit iffy. I think you could successfully get most people to use his full name---but I generally advise against a name if the parents dislike the nickname(s): it's so hard to know whether the child himself will want to use the nickname, and then you'd be stuck.

When I was talking in a group of parents at kindergarten pick-up about baby names, two of the women mentioned that they'd had TERRIBLE times choosing names with their husbands---agreed on NOTHING, with seemingly NO names they both liked. The two names finally settled on were Jared and Derek, and so now I have those filed in my mind as names that resolve impossible situations. Jared Loochka, Derek Loochka.

Or Dean. Dean Loochka; Sadie and Dean.

It has a double letter, but Everett seems a little like Theodore and Bennett to me, and it's my favorite so far with Sadie. Everett Loochka; Sadie and Everett.

Or Evan. Evan Loochka; Sadie and Evan. Maybe this one sounds too much like Jeff.

Or Nathan. Nathan Frank Loochka; Sadie and Nathan.

Name update! Cindy writes:
I would like to thank you and your readers for all of the great name suggestions, and particularly for the encouragement for the name Theo.
We did in fact name our little guy, Theo Frank, and we are very pleased with the name. He was born on Friday, February 15th, 2013, weighing 4 lbs 12 oz.
He truly is our "divine gift" or "gift from god" as the meaning for Theo also made it a wonderful choice.
Here is a picture of our beautiful Sadie and handsome Theo.
Many Thanks,
Cindy and Family


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Baby Girl Miller, Sister to Harley Anne

Lindsay writes:
I hope you can help us. We are expecting our 2nd daughter in February 17. She will join big sister Harley Anne and likely complete our family. Our surname is Miller and flows with most names which is nice.
A quick history on Harley. Both of her names are honor family names. Harley is my husband's grandfather and Anne is my sister's middle name. My sister named her daughter after our grandfather and my middle name (Ashton Brooke.) Very neat for the cousins to share this-named after great grandfathers and aunts. When I got pregnant I was immediately sure of 3 things:
1. I was having a boy.
2. We weren't telling potential names to our families.
3. If by some crazy chance it was a girl, she would be Emma Claire.
Then in the excitement of sharing pregnancy news with my family, I blurted out the girl name: Emma Claire since I wouldn't be using it...Big Mistake. They hated that Emma was so popular, they did love Claire, blah, blah. Of course then I found out I was having a girl and all they said for the rest of the pregnancy was "no Emma!" We had developed Harley Anne as our back-up name and now love it and couldn't imagine our daughter as anything else. We call her by a mix of both Harley and Harley Anne as I do like double names.
If we were having a boy this time around he would be Henry Thomas, not because Henry and Harley go so well together, which they do, but because both are family names and with names that have potential nicknames I have to like the nickname and I do like Hank. The problem for Baby Sister is that we are out of family names that we both love. My husband likes the idea of Mary as our 3 Grandmothers (one on mine and both on husband) were Mary, but Mary Miller is slightly sing-songy for me and it doesn't work with Claire without sounding like the magazine and I have come to love Claire. Nevertheless, I wanted to support  him so I identified Belle as a possible middle name with a family history (my great grandmother.) I keep coming back to Emma Claire but Emma continues to be so popular and the family story may have ruined it for me. What if she heard that and thought her name wasn't special? I love Audrey Claire and Audrey is a family name on my side, unique and goes with Harley. Of course husband doesn't love Audrey.
We definitely don't want a Harper, Harlow or any of the other popular H names. And if we aren't using Emma due to the popularity of it I would just as soon stay away from the other top ten of Isabelle, Sophia, etc. I could use Claire as the first name but struggling with a middle name to accompany.
So our options as they stand: Emma Claire; Mary Belle; and Audrey Claire with each of us pulling for one and my family rooting against the one we both like and keep coming back to.
Help us so Harley's baby sister can have a name of her own! Any suggestions welcome!

When I read that you like Emma and Mary, the name Emery/Emory came to mind. Emory Claire Miller; Harley and Emory.

Since you were considering Henry for a boy, I wonder if you would like Henrietta for a girl? It has the nicknames Henry and Hattie and Etta and Hennie. Harley Anne and Etta Claire, perhaps.

Mary seems like such a startling style change from Harley. And I agree: putting it with Claire immediately brings the magazine to mind. But I love that one name could honor three grandmothers! And the magazine isn't a negative association. But it's too bad I can't add "And the two names will hardly ever be said together, either." Hm. Mary and Claire share the same middle sound; I wonder if Mary could take the middle name slot instead of Claire, or if that would be too painful at this point? Mary coordinates so well with Harley's middle name Anne. But it doesn't settle into the middle name position as well as Claire does. Well, it's a dilemma.

Do you have any more grandfather names to consider?

Your family would likely come around to the name Emma, but I agree that the name story is one that would require some spin (or ideally silence, but your family sounds quite vocal). And as with the name Mary, the name Emma seems a bit startling after the name Harley. I wonder if you'd like a variation such as Emlyn? Harley Anne and Emlyn Claire.

Or Emerson? Harley Anne and Emerson Claire.

Or Emberley: Harley Anne and Emberley Claire. The spelling Emberly was slightly more popular in the U.S. in 2011, according to the Social Security Administration: 62 Emberlys and only 15 Emberleys. I prefer Emberley because of the connection to the artist Ed Emberley. There's also Emberleigh, which makes me think of Everleigh/Everly. Harley Anne and Everly Claire. With all these options, though, the double -rley endings might be too much. Maybe Emberlyn instead? Harley Anne and Emberlyn Claire.

Audrey has been increasing in popularity (it was #43 in 2011), but Audra is still uncommon (not in the top 1000 in 2011). Harley Anne and Audra Claire.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Boy or Girl Sherman, Sibling to Amelia and Noah!
Update on Baby Boy Bieber!

Baby Girl Fl@nagan, Sister to Benjamin Thomas

Helen writes:
Thank you for this wonderful blog- it's the first blog I've ever followed, and it's shown me how fascinating baby naming can be! My husband and I are expecting a baby girl in early June, and we keep coming up against naming dilemmas. I would love some help from you and your readers. My name is Helen, my husband's name is Will, and we have a two-year old son named Benjamin Thomas (we always call him Ben). Our last name is Fl@nagan. This little girl will probably be our last child.

The too much rhythm dilemma: My husband and I both love the name Anna, but I've had negative reactions from a few friends about the repetitiveness of Anna Fl@nagan. Some people feel it's OK, but others have had a pretty negative response. It's hard to know when a bit of a beat is too much rhythm. Of all the names we could pick, should we pick one that's so similar to her last name? I wish I had your magical polling skills at my fingertips! Longer names that could be shortened to Anna don't quite fit for us (e.g., Annabelle, Annaliese)- neither does using a first and middle name most of the time... We'd use the nickname Annie, but would also use Anna a lot of the time.

The too much "Be" dilemma: My husband's all-time favorite girl name is Beth. He would want her to have the full name Elizabeth to fall back on, but would want to call her Beth most of the time. I'm OK with Beth, although I wonder if it's a bit dated...  My main dilemma with Beth is its similarily to Ben. Again, of all the names we could pick, should we pick one that's so similar to her brother's name?

The too many nicknames dilemma: When considering the name Beth, I realized that I quite like some other nicknames for Elizabeth: Eliza and Eli. But can we name her Elizabeth and both call her very different nicknames? My husband is OK with Eliza, but strongly prefers Beth. We are both nicknamers, so I doubt that we'd use the full name very often, even if we planned to. Would this end up being confusing for all of us?

Related to this, another name we've considered is Rebecca. If we went with this name, my husband would want to call her Becky and I would want to call her Becca. Oh, and Sarah has also come up- he would want to call her Sarah, and I would want to use the nickname Sadie. For both Rebecca and Sarah, neither of us are huge fans of the name/nickname the other one prefers.

Yesterday, the name Dana came to mind-- as a name somewhat similar to Anna, but without the similarity to her last name. Not sure if this is just a passing thought...

We're quite flexible about our little one's middle name. I'd like an M name for family reasons-- We're considering Marcy (it combines sounds from special family member's names), or Mae (although Elizabeth May is a famous politician in Canada). We aren't likely to use her middle name very often.

We've still got some time to plan, so any extra ideas for first or middle names would also be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!

I think Anna Fl@nagan is the kind of name where it's very difficult to tell if it's Not Right or if in fact it's Extra Awesome. I have the same uncertain feeling about names with strong alliteration, such as Christopher Cranson, or even stronger connections such as William Williamson. It's like there's a line somewhere between "Hm, no, that's too similar" and "Similar on purpose = memorable and striking!" Here it's not so much the rhythm as the rhyme: Ella Fl@nagan would have the same rhythm but no issues, while Anna Fl@nagan leads to the Anna-Flanna issue.

In this situation, though, the thing that would stop me from using it is that Ben and Anna together sound like banana. That too is the sort of thing that could in fact be Extra Awesome, but for myself I felt weary of it almost immediately, and wouldn't enjoy it as a continued joint nickname, recurring conversation topic, or running joke. And since a common Anna-related nickname is Anna Banana, and there is already rhyme with Anna Flanna-gan---well, again, for someone else it could even IMPROVE things, and if you found you were delighted with the idea then I would be delighted with it TOO and would genuinely enjoy it very much for your family and would have a wonderful time keeping an eye out for banana-themed merchandise to add to your fun family in-joke.

I think Ben and Beth would be too matchy as given names, but cute/fun as nicknames for Benjamin and Elizabeth. If you might have a third child, would you feel pressured to choose another name with a similar nickname?

I suspect that it works fine for two parents to use two different nicknames for their child, but I don't know from personal experience so I'm hoping others will chime in here. It doesn't seem like it would be confusing for any of you---only for people outside the family, who might think to themselves, "Wait, who's this Eliza she's talking about? I thought her kids were Ben and Beth." But it seems as if that would be rather minor, with no big negative consequences to the occasional mix-ups---and it also seems like you'd get in the habit of mentioning it: "These are my kids: Benjamin (we call him Ben) and Elizabeth (we call her Beth and Eliza, so she answers to both)."

My guess is that in some cases, what happens is that the plan is to use two different nicknames, but that one nickname ends up fitting the child better. And of course the child herself may have an opinion on the subject, or may choose yet another nickname.

All of this is for names where both of you are okay with the other parent's nickname choice. For the names where you both actively dislike the other's nickname choice, that seems like a different situation and would make me cross the name off the list. But that can be completely personality-based: it would bug me to keep hearing a nickname I disliked, and it would bug me even more in times when my husband and I were not getting along as well, and I'd be cheesed if my daughter decided later she only wanted to be called by the nickname I disliked. But the next person might not have any of these issues.

Now to find some more suggestions to consider. I've already mentioned Ella, which seems similar to both Anna and Elizabeth but avoids but the rhyming and Be- issues. Ella Fl@nagan; Ben and Ella. But maybe Ella is too close to Helen.

Eve has simplicity and long roots in common with Anna. Eve Fl@nagan; Ben and Eve.

Or Clara seems even more similar in style to Anna, and is also similar to Sarah. Clara Fl@nagan; Ben and Clara.

Or Cora. Cora Fl@nagan; Ben and Cora.

Or Jane. Jane Fl@nagan; Ben and Jane.

Or Rose. Rose Fl@nagan; Ben and Rose.

Or Ruth. Ruth Fl@nagan; Ben and Ruth.

Or Lena might work well. Lena Fl@nagan; Ben and Lena.

Oh, or Leah! Leah Fl@nagan; Ben and Leah. I also like the spelling Lia.

Or Lucy. Lucy Fl@nagan; Ben and Lucy.

Or Julia. Julia Fl@nagan; Ben and Julia.

But perhaps what we need is something more similar to Benjamin, where both of you agree on both the long form and the short form. Maybe Josephine, with the nickname Josie. Josephine Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Josephine; Ben and Josie.

Or Charlotte, with the nickname Lottie. Charlotte Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Charlotte; Ben and Lottie.

Or Eleanor, with the nickname Nora. Eleanor Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Eleanor; Ben and Nora.

Or Abigail, with the nickname Abby. Abigail Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Abigail; Ben and Abby.

Or, wait, maybe Bethany? It has the Beth your husband likes, and some of the sound of Anna, but it avoids the rhyming issue. Bethany Fl@nagan; Benjamin and Bethany; Ben and Beth, or Ben and Annie. That's my top choice.

Let's also have a poll over to the right about Anna Fl@nagan. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results for "What do you think of the name Anna Fl@nagan?" (433 votes total):

Too rhymey - 218 votes (50%)
Not too rhymey - 129 votes (30%)
Not too rhymey, but BenAnna/Banana bothers me - 62 votes (14%)
I can't decide - 24 votes (6%)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Fifth C Name for a Boy

Megan writes:
Hi there!!! I am currently pregnant with baby number 5!! My due date isnt until September 3rd but I am a PLANNER!! My husband and I already have 4 wonderful boys that all start with the letter "c"... Oldest to youngest we have Colin James, Connor Stephan, Camden Matthew and Carson Andrew... All of our boys middle names are from other family members!! We already have a girl name picked out ( Chloe Elizabeth) !! Big problem is no boy in sight.... It has to start with a "C" of course but we really have no direction as to which way to go.. The only name we even kindof agree on is Charlie, my husband would like to use William as a middle name (after his stepdad) but Charlie William sounds way too proper for me... Please help with baby boy names using "c" !!Thanks so much!!

I think Charlie is great, and to me it sounds friendly rather than over-proper.

I also like the way it adds a new sound: it still starts with a C, but it's a Ch- sound instead of Ca- or Co-. I notice when I try out other C names, most of them sound too similar to a C name you already have: Calvin seems too close to Colin; Callum seems too close to Camden and Colin; Cameron seems too close to Camden; Carter seems too close to Carson; Caden seems too close to Camden.

Christian would also be nice for this: the Cr- sound is quite different from the Ca- and Co- sounds.

Or Clayton adds a Cl-.

Caleb might work well, though it's hard to tell without a surname to try it out with. It adds a new vowel sound and a new consonant sound.

Cabot would also be nice, and adds TWO new consonant sounds.

Or Corbin. Ooo, or Cormac.

Or Colby or Coleman.

Casey is a nice friendly name. Casey William.

If you aren't trying to keep all the names to two syllables, I suggest Callahan, Cade, Clark, Case, Chance, or Chase.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How Do You Pronounce the Name Blythe?

My mom has brought up another issue with the name Blythe: how is it pronounced? I haven't even considered that it would be pronounced any way except with a voiced TH (as in bathe or breathe or tithe, as opposed to an unvoiced TH as in bath or breath or Ruth). My mom thinks it can be pronounced either way, or that maybe it's correctly unvoiced because the word blithe has an unvoiced TH. But neither of us has ever known a single person named Blythe, so we're not getting anywhere discussing it. (I've also never heard Blythe Danner's name said out loud, or heard people talking about Blythe dolls, or seen an Anne of Green Gables movie with someone saying Gilbert Blythe.)

So let's see if we can figure this out with a poll over to the right. We need extra-long poll options here, as when we tried to figure out the pronunciation of Rowan/Rowen, because some of us actually KNOW a Blythe and some of us have only seen the name in print: I remember reading a book about a Phoebe and thinking it was pronounced "foh-EEB." I know this makes the poll bulky, but I think it's worth it. [Poll closed; see results below.]

[Edited to add: I'm not sure our poll is worth anything, considering the percentage of people who can't hear the difference between a voice and unvoiced TH. I can picture us all totally in agreement and yet voting opposite options!

Try this exercise. Say "this," but say the "th" part for a few seconds before ending in the "iss" part: the "th" kind of buzzes the tongue. Now say "think," and do the same thing: say the "th" part for a few seconds before moving on to the "ink" part. Now it's just breath/hissing, like a whisper. The word "this" has a voiced TH; the word "think" has an unvoiced TH.

Or try it at the end of the word: say "bath," but let the end sound go on for awhile. Now say "bathe," and let the end sound go on for awhile. First no buzzing; then buzzing. Bath is a non-voiced TH; bathe is a voiced TH.

Or try it with breath/breathe. First say "Take a breath," and extend that TH sound. Now say "Just breathe," and extend that TH sound. Different, right? Breath doesn't buzz; breathe does. Breath is the non-voiced TH; breathe is the voiced TH.]

Poll results for "How is the name Blythe pronounced?" (531 votes total):

I know a Blythe; it's like bathe - 75 votes (14%)
I know a Blythe; it's like bath - 85 votes (16%)
I know at least one pronounced each way - 4 votes (1%)
I don't know a Blythe; I thought it was like bathe - 187 votes (35%)
I don't know a Blythe; I thought it was like bath -  180 votes (34%)

The extremely small number of votes for "I know at least one pronounced each way" is possible support for the theory that the poll is thrown off by so many of us not knowing/hearing the difference between the two ways. If the two pronunciations were used about 50-50, as the "I know a Blythe" categories suggest, it seems likely that more people would know one of each---rather than, as in the comments, knowing SEVERAL Blythes, all of whom pronounce it the same way. Or perhaps its regional?

Baby Naming Issue: Where Do You START?

Joanna writes:
Hi!  My sister sent me the link to your blog after I found out I am pregnant with my first. I have been reading it frequently in my free time.  The task of picking a name is completely overwhelming. I don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl. We each wrote down a list of our top 5 girl and boy names, then showed each other.  Our last name is Howard. Both of our girl lists had Miriam and Harper. And I like the combination of Harper Miriam (or Margaret, his grandma's name) or Miriam Harper, and we actually both really like the double H initials. But the girl names really aren't the problem.

We have NO idea where to start with boy names.  Our boy lists had one name in common, which was Max, but I'm not in love with it.  We both like Silas, but again, not in love with it.  I suppose my question is, how do you even start the name process?  I tried baby wizard, but I think I like too wide a range of names.  

My only dislikes for a name is that it can't be too unusual that he/she would have to spell/pronounce it for everyone (I had a difficult last name before I married, and that was a pain), and I would prefer it not to be top 10, though I don't mind top 100. We lean towards Biblical names, both of ours being slightly Biblical (mine Joanna, his Benjamin). But it's not a must.  I like vintage and older names, but again not a must.  I JUST DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START?  

Our initial lists had:

I picked,
Ezra (which husband immediately vetoed)
Parker (wild card, I had to add a fifth)

He picked,
Connor (I vetoed)
Donovan (I vetoed)
Clay (I vetoed)
Jarvis (I vetoed because all I think of is Ironman)

Clearly, I'm a bit pickier and I veto more names than husband. Please help give us direction.

Thanks so much!

This is a great topic for a group setting like this. I can tell you how I started, and other people can say how they started, and perhaps one or more of those ways will be ways that would work for you too.

The first baby has its own special challenges (I wrote a post just for first-time parents), because everything is wide open: you can choose from EVERYTHING, and for many people it's the first time they've given much thought to baby names. Even those of us who read baby name books to name our childhood dolls are in it For Real for the first time---and/or are seeing how different it is when there's another person saying, "Nope, no, no, nope, no way," etc.

I started by getting a baby name book that wasn't a baby name dictionary (as in, it was a book that didn't seem to be padding the list to get the biggest possible number on the cover: "1,000,001 Baby Names If You Count Algratroid and Grinn!!!") and going through it and writing down every name I could imagine considering. That is, if I found a name that I didn't think there was any way it would beat out the other ten I'd already written down, or it didn't seem like it fit with our style, but I still liked the name well enough to notice it, I wrote it down. I tried to work on it in short enough sessions so that I didn't start skimming.

This was time-consuming. But I did it in the early stages of the pregnancy, usually starting about 5 minutes after getting a positive pregnancy test, and it helped to get through those lonnnnnnng early months when it's all worry and very little action. And I wrote the lists in my journal, so it's fun to see some of the names I wrote down: "Dutch" for my firstborn, for example.

One reason I write down all the names instead of just the names that seem most likely is that sometimes seeing a large list of EVERYTHING I like can help me better narrow down what I REALLY like. Also, it gives the other parent a lot of names to cross off, so they feel like they're having a say. Also, it can be fun to use a not-quite-our-usual-style name as a middle name. Also, sometimes I would find that although I'd thought I liked one style, my list was mostly made up of a different style---or that whenever I went over the list, I was more drawn to a different style, or tended to cross out all the names of a particular style. (Also, I like baby naming, and so I tend to err on the side of spending MORE time doing it.)

For me, when I did the "make a big list and work from THAT instead of from the name book" idea, I usually ended up crossing out until I ended up with a list of about a dozen names that were real candidates. Then Paul would cross out or circle some. Then we'd get down to a few real finalists, and we'd start ranking them and I'd spend a lot of time thinking about it and check in periodically with a less-interested Paul to see how HE was feeling about the choices. Sometimes I'd add a new name to the list, or leaf through the name book some more. I'd analyze every name that came up in every book, movie, and TV show. I looked for more possibilities in the credits, or in celebrity magazines. I looked up names in the Social Security data base to see how popular they were. I went through the family trees to see if I saw anything interesting. (This stage drives Paul a little nuts. I try to courteously involve him as little as possible, just as I appreciate when he doesn't subject me to ALL the talk about the various advantages and disadvantages of each of several drill presses he's considering.)

I would also play little games with the names we'd narrowed it down to. Like, let's say I had Max on my list. I'd look in The Baby Name Wizard under the name Max, and see what she suggested as brother names. I'd pick my favorite of those five names and go look IT up, and then pick my favorite of THOSE five names, and so on.

Or if my list felt too short or nothing seemed quite right, I'd brainstorm to see if I could find names that had things in common with the name. For Max, I'd consider Sam and Jack because they were one-syllable names with the same vowel sound and general style. Then I might see how I felt about Gus and George, or about Matt and John. For Silas, I'd consider Simon and Elias. I'd see if I could put a finger on what it was I liked about the name, and then see if there were other similar names I might feel more decisive about.

If I were making a brainstorming list from your list, it would look something like this:


If this is starting to feel overwhelming and stressful, then this may not be the method for you. One of my friends does zero with baby name books, and instead waits for the name to occur to her. She's going along and thinks, "Adam. How about Adam? Yes, Adam. With...James. Yes, James, that would be nice, and that's my husband's grandfather's name. Adam James. How nice!" My mother-in-law was the same: Paul was named by that method, as was his sister. "Way more time and effort" doesn't necessarily pay off in a proportionately better name; in fact, it can lead to more stress and uncertainty.

Or you could do a shorter version of my method: instead of writing down EVERY name you even KIND OF like, only write down the ones you really like. Instead of then making the list longer, make it shorter: toss out the ones where you know you wouldn't choose that name over another name on your list. If you get down to a couple of names and neither of them feels right, THEN maybe try brainstorming for similar names.

With one of my pregnancies, we did something like this: I wrote down a list of a dozen or so names I really liked. I showed the list to Paul. He picked his favorite from that list. We used it. That was a good way, too. You could both make lists, and choose one or two or three from each other's lists, and make those into a new list.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Baby Naming Issue: What If You Like the Way a Name Sounds, But Not How It Looks?

M. writes:
I have been a long time reader even before I was expecting.  I am due in six weeks (mid Feb) with our first baby which is a girl.  Our last name is Price and we live on the East Coast.  We hope to have another child after this one.  Naming a child has given me a lot of anxiety, so I didn't really start thinking about a name until 20 weeks, and I knew the gender for sure.  I do like the name Lucas for a boy.  For boys names I don't mind more common names and prefer something masculine.  For girls I would prefer if the name not be in the top 10 at least.  I lean toward more feminine names and don't usually like unisex names.  I also don't prefer when people add in a "Y" to make the name look unique or different ie. Jordyn or Emersyn.  I personally get confused with a name like Carys.  For a long time I could never figure out how to say it.  We have had very few contenders for our girl.  I would like a name on Monday and then hate it by Sunday.  Elizabeth has come up a number of times for us, but I am not sold on it. 

I have listened to what you have said many times that "there will be no perfect name."  It is interesting to me the name we seem to be landing on based on everything I just said in the above paragraph.  I like the name Bryn.  However with our last name, I didn't like the a one syllable first and last name.  So someone suggested Brynley.  The more and more I think about it, it has really grown on me.  I like that we could call her Bryn and Brynley.  I would like her to have the option to go by Bryn when she is older as well. 

Here is the problem.  I can't decide between the spelling Brynley or Brinley.  Brynley just looks so confusing to me with the "y."  Will people constantly be confused how to pronounce it?  As a teacher for 10 years I think about this a lot.  I liked that my name growing up was easy to say and spell, but with all the crazy names nowadays is everyone having to tell people how to do this?  I don't want people to look at her name and think to say it BRIAN (like the boy)-Lee.  That would be annoying to me as a kid.  I do like the shortened form Bryn and it doesn't seem hard to figure out.  With Brynley the "Y" just seems like we are trying to be different like Jordyn or Emersyn.  In the end I just don't like how it looks, seems like there are two many "y's" or something.     

Brinley seems to make all these issues go, but it just looks SO masculine to me.  I don't like looking at it.  I don't like looking at Brin either. 

I don't like Brynleigh or Brynlee. 

Should we go back to the drawing board even if I really like how a name sounds, but don't like how it looks?  Could you give me some advice that might ease my mind with this name and a spelling.  Am I crazy and over thinking this?

If you're asking my own personal opinion, I greatly prefer the spelling Brinley. It doesn't look masculine to me, and I get the same "too many Y's" and "maybe trying to be different" reactions you find you get with Brynley. Also, even though I know Brynley is pronounced the same as Brinley, my mind keeps wanting to say Bry- to rhyme with try and cry.

But if you hate the way Brinley/Brin looks, that's a significant issue---one that I'd say trumps the issues with the Brynley spelling.

It may be that these issues will mean the name isn't the right choice. I'm still unhappy that Paul and I had to scratch the name Elliot off our list because neither of us would agree to the other one's preferred spelling (he preferred Eliot). But it really did come down to that: the name didn't work for us because of the way it looked.

Or, maybe it means going back to Bryn. I think Bryn Price is a 1-1 combination that works, like Brad Pitt works, and it lets you use the spelling you prefer without running into the issues that come up when you add -ley. You could choose a middle name that would work nicely for calling her both when you wanted something longer, like Bryn Louise or Bryn Marie.

Or we could find some similar names. Finley, for example, or Quinn or Wynne, or Brenna. Hey, maybe Brynna? Brynna Price gives you a 2-1 pattern instead of 1-1, and you could still use Bryn. My mind does briefly do that rhymes-with-try thing, but I don't think it would KEEP doing that. And as with Brynley, I DO know how it's pronounced: I wouldn't actually think it might be like brine-ah, it would only be a momentary brain flicker when I looked at it.

Or there's Braelyn? Or I'm trying to remember the little girl my mom knows who has such a cute name along similar lines. I'll email her and add it in here later. It might actually BE Brinley or Braelyn. (Edited to add: It's Braelyn.)

Or Kinley is cute, or Kinsley.

Or Briony, pronounced either BREE-ah-nee or BRY-ah-nee.

Or Corinne is similar in sound to Bryn, but with two syllables. Corinne Price.

Or Karenna. Karenna Price.

Or Katherine would be so pretty. Katherine Price.

Or Marin? I'm thinking of it pronounced like MARE-rin, rather than like Marin County. Marin Price.

Mirren is similar and I love Helen Mirren. Mirren Price.

Or Linnea, with nicknames Linn and Linnie.

Elizabeth also seems great to me. Elizabeth Price is such a good name. If it's not quite right, maybe you'd like Eliza or Elsa or Eloise or Ellery. Or you could name her Elizabeth Brynn Price and still call her Brynn sometimes.

But I think Brynna is my favorite option: an extended version of Bryn, which is what you wanted from Brynley, but without the same issues.

Let's also have a poll over to the right to see how we as a group are divided on the spelling Brinley vs. Brynley. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Name to Consider: Blythe

L. writes:
The name Blythe has that spunky feel that I love, and I love the happy, joyous meaning. It seems classy and sophisticated. But, in practice, it's difficult to say and sounds a bit like "blight" to me. Curious to see what others think of this name.

I too am curious to know what people think of the name Blythe! I've seen it on a few name lists recently, which makes me think it may be coming into style. My own opinion is affected by how difficult I find the name to say aloud: for a name with only one syllable, it has so many sounds.

I looked it up on the Social Security Administration's web site, and I see it hasn't been in the Top 1000 for the entire online portion of the data (1880-2011). I looked in the individual year files for each decade, to get a sample of how many Blythes were born in various years):

1880: (none in data base)
1890: (none in data base)
1900: (none in data base)
1910: (none in data base)
1920: (none in data base)
1930: 7
1940: 8
1950: 22
1960: 22
1970: 50
1980: 47
1990: 73
2000: 60
2010: 85

And in 2011, there were 105.

The Oxford Dictionary of First Names says it's a modern coinage, most likely based on the word blithe. To me it sounds French and elegant and wealthy (gold cigarette case, fur cape, lovely long neck with hair in a French twist)---but quite elderly, like Blanche: the hair I'm picturing is white. That's the sort of impression that turns on a dime when the next batch of babies start receiving the name: I remember when the names Eloise and Ruby seemed elderly to me, and now not at all!

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

(Also see our follow-up post: How Do You Pronounce the Name Blythe?)

Poll results for "What do you think of the name Blythe?" (605 votes total):

I love it! I'd want to use it! - 67 votes (11%)
I like it! I'd want to consider it! - 126 votes (21%)
I like it for someone else's baby - 242 votes (40%)
No particular opinion - 26 votes (4%)
Slight dislike - 93 votes (15%)
Strong dislike - 51 votes (8%)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Middle Name Challenge: Emerson ____ Greenwald

Nicole writes:
We have two weeks left to name baby girl Greenwald, and I'm still stuck on a middle name.  We decided to go with Emerson as her first name, although it has NOT been well received by our families.  Apparently, everyone thinks it sounds like a boy's name.  But, I keep thinking about naming her something else, and then meeting a little Emerson weeks later, and I just know I'd be filled with regret.  Anyway, to balance out the "boyish" quality of the name, I want to go with something ultra feminine and sweet for the middle name.  We love Emerson Rose, but it feels like Rose is all over the place right now.  Do you have any names that are short and sweet like Rose?

The problem is nothing sounds right to me...  Here's our current list of middle names.  I was thinking maybe you could do a poll on your site? Or give us your honest opinion on these?  I think it would help... I've become obsessed and it's not helping me sleep any better!

Emerson Nicole (my name)
Emerson Sofia (hub's favorite)
Emerson Rose (overused middle name?)
Emerson Victoria (my favorite, but hub says it's too long)
Emerson Amelia

Here's my list:

Emerson Abigail (EAG)
Emerson Anne (EAG)
Emerson Claire (ECG)
Emerson Chloe (ECG)
Emerson Elena (EEG)
Emerson Ella (EEG)
Emerson Eve (EEG)
Emerson Faye (EFG) (fun three-in-a-row initials!)
Emerson Fiona (EFG)
Emerson Hope (EHG)
Emerson Jane (EJG)
Emerson Joy (EJG)
Emerson June (EJG)
Emerson Kate (EKG)
Emerson Kay (EKG)
Emerson Linnea (ELG)
Emerson Louise (ELG)
Emerson Lydia (ELG)
Emerson Mae (EMG)
Emerson Meredith (EMG)
Emerson Noelle (ENG)
Emerson Sabrina (ESG)

Emerson Victoria doesn't seem too long to me (it's only one syllable longer than your husband's first choice), but I like long girl names. I also like that 3-4-2 rhythm, and would add Emerson Felicity and Emerson Elizabeth.

I love the idea of using your name as her middle name. It bugs me a little that the tradition is so common with boy names and not with girl names.

If this helps, I will say that it doesn't matter very much what you choose. We had it down to three middle names for Henry, and I lay awake agonizing about it---and then I thought, "Does it make any difference in any of our lives which middle name we choose of those three?" and answered myself "No. We can just pick one." And indeed it didn't matter much: I have to think for a second to remember what his middle name is, because the subject comes up so rarely after the birth announcements are sent out. And with Elizabeth, I wanted an entirely different type of middle name than we ended up choosing (we went with Paul's favorite as part of a naming compromise), and that doesn't matter much either. In fact, I've come to like her middle name very much, and I just go ahead and call her Elizabeth Jane and and Elizabeth Louise (and Elizabeth Marie and Elizabeth St. Claire, even though those were never on the list---they're just fun to say) whenever I want to anyway.

Let's have a poll over to the right with your finalists. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Baby Twin Boys Mattke: Milo and Oliver?

Nicole writes:
We are expecting twin boys (our first children) in early May!  We are very excited, but are having some problems with choosing names.  My name is Nicole, my husband is Sam, and our last name is Mattke (pronounced Matt-key).  Almost all of my favorite names are for girls, so that's one of the issues that's made naming twin boys difficult.  I'm looking for names that sound good together and maybe some that are linked somehow, but NOT "twinny" names (ie Jaden and Jalen-- ugh!). 

My husband and I don't have the same naming taste AT ALL, so I was shocked when we agreed on a pair of names we both were happy with: Milo and Oliver.  I liked how one ended with an "o" and one started with an "o", and we were thinking of having both of them paired with "s" middle names: Milo Samuel (after my husband) and Oliver Scott (after my dad), thinking that Milo would be the first baby to be born since he'd be his father's namesake, and we'd refer to the twins as "Milo and Oliver".  Well, our first mistake was telling these name ideas to my very vocal and opinionated family.  Not a single person has liked the name "Milo", making me concerned that we are the only ones who will like his name and he will go through life disappointed or frustrated with it.  (I have a brother named Torry who detests his name and don't want my sons to feel that way, if we can help it!)  Also, nearly everyone has said, "Oh, like Milo and Otis?" from the movie from the 80's about a dog and a cat.  Do you think this will come up throughout their lives?  Would it help enough if we switched the birth order, so that Oliver is the one born first and we call them "Oliver and Milo" instead?

I'm not sure if no one being thrilled about those names has tainted them too much for me to use or not.  Maybe you could suggest another pairing of names that we'd like better?

Other names I've liked are:

Finn- my very favorite boy name, but I found out a close friend (who isn't pregnant yet) wants to use it if they have a boy because her husband's middle name is Finley-- so sad for me because this is the name I loved most
Luca- love it but not sure if it sounds too bad with our last name; very Italian with a German surname that doesn't seem to flow very well?
Jack- too popular
Henry- too popular
Charlie- too plain
Graeme- husband doesn't like it, rhymes with Sam so don't think I'd want Graeme and Sam
Malakai (Kai)- our friends just used it

It's just hard for me to love boy names!

For girls, I love

Please help-- picking names for twin boys is much harder than I expected!

Thank you!

My very first suggestion is one you've already thought of: say "Oliver and Milo" instead of "Milo and Oliver"---at least at first, until people get used to the names. I think that might nip the problem in the bud entirely. I also like the way that name order emphasizes the way one boy's name starts with Oli- and the other boy's name ends with -ilo.

But if the question continues to crop up, the answer to "Oh, like Milo and Otis?" is "...No." Slight pause, slightly confused/amused expression, and then a mild "No." The tone should reflect the slight amusement you might feel when contemplating that anyone might actually name twins after two animal characters in a children's movie, combined with the slight confusion you feel that someone is asking you if this is something YOU did. Especially since one of the names has nothing in common with the movie name other than starting with the same letter, and that letter isn't even pronounced the same in both names---so if you HAD wanted to name them after the cat and dog, you would not have succeeded.

You could make the difference even greater by naming them Miles and Oliver---but I'd be disappointed to lose the O theme. Or you could change to Leo and Oliver, or Theo and Oliver. I suspect, however, that the question will die down very quickly: it's the kind of question that gets asked upon first introduction, but not again after that. And even if the Milo & O____ format makes people think of the movie, it isn't a negative association. If anything, it gives a pleasant "buddies" feeling to the two names.

You don't have to switch their birth order to switch the order in which you say their names: we don't always say the names of non-twin children in order of age. If you want Milo Samuel to be the older twin because he's his dad's namesake, then have him be the older twin and still go ahead and say his name second. But I will also add that a friend of mine who had twin boys deliberately gave the dad's name to the secondborn twin, so that they would each have something special: one is the older/firstborn twin, and the other has the dad's name.

I see what you mean about not wanting to give your child an experience like your brother's, but the name Milo is not a strange choice for a boy; I don't think it will be an issue. In the meantime, I would use your brother's situation as a reason to not take your family's strong opinions too much into consideration: they chose your brother's name, and that did not turn out well.

Or, to put it more kindly, their tastes are not the same as yours---and different tastes isn't something you need to adjust for. If a friend with sons named Ian and Charlie tells me she doesn't like a name I'm considering, I might pay attention because I know our styles are similar, so her input is meaningful to me. But if my friend with sons named Addison and Jayden doesn't like my name choice, I can comfortably disregard that, because I know we just have different styles: a name that pleases her is not going to be one that makes sense for me to use, and vice versa. And to add a vote to the other side, Milo was one of our three finalists for our youngest child. (Oliver would have been a fourth finalist, but unfortunately I had made the mistake of naming a cat Oliver. We considered it anyway.)

I am not sure what you should do about the name Finn. I am thinking about how you will feel if you give up the name and then your friend never has a son. If it's your top favorite name, and if your husband loves it too, and if your friend is not even pregnant, it feels too severe to have you give up the name as if only one child at a time could have it. Even if she later has a son named Finn, the two boys wouldn't be very close in age. But only you know if using the name would cause a rift in your friendship that wasn't worth it. Could you use, say, Griffin, and then call him Finn as a nickname? Or do you like the name Ian? Or Quinn?

We did a post awhile back where I got a little carried away and made a long list of names for boy twins. I wonder if any of those would work? I'm just going to post all of them again here:

Frederick and George
Edmund and Henry
Simon and Frederick
Simon and Isaac
Isaac and Frederick
John and Daniel
Elliot and Malcolm
Louis and George
Milo and Emmett
Milo and Malcolm
Oliver and Benjamin
Oliver and Henry
Daniel and Jonathan
Ian and Rhys
Ian and Leo
Davis and Harris
Ruben and Rhys
Rufus and Ruben
Rhys and Aidric
Felix and Aidric
Calvin and Sullivan
Calvin and Malcolm
Anderson and Sullivan
Anderson and Harrison
Keegan and Declan
Daniel and Declan
Simon and Oliver
Milo and Felix
Wesley and Henry

Friday, January 11, 2013

Name Updates!

Update (and photo!) on Baby Girl or Boy Reese, Sibling to Harper and Rowan!
Update (and photo!) on Baby Girl, Sister to Olivia Margot and Lila Grace!
Update (and photo!) on If the Ultrasound Says Girl, Do You Need a Boy Name?

Baby Girl Hart, Sister to Landon and Adaline

Kelley writes:
We have 2 children named Landon and Adaline.  I had a long list of names for each, and arrived at their names with no hesitation.  With our third, there is none that have that strong feeling of, “This is THE one and only name for her!”  My sweet grandma’s name is Emily, and so I was going to do Emma Grace.  I am sure you know the extreme popularity of that name!  I have seen 2 recent postings on facebook of people who just named their baby Emma Grace or are going to name her that with their baby due in March. 
2 of the names I have gone through, and liked, are Makenna and Madaleise.  I still don’t have that 100 percent tug at my heart that either of those are the one!  I am wondering if a name with a letter L in it would go well, since we have Landon and AdaLine. Also, my name is KeLLey and my hubby’s name is PhiLip.  So, we all have an L in our names.  Our last name is Hart, so a lot of names go easily with it.  I don’t like any common names, nor any top names.  I like uniquely beautiful names. If he was a boy, his name was most likely going to be Jensen Nolan.  I fear this baby will end up with a name that I just have to settle with, instead of love.  We would like to have one more child in the way future. Can you help us name our little girl, about to arrive in March, which is also the same birth month as mine? Please?
Also, forgot to mention, but Giada is a really cool name and she is so gorgeous.  It just doesn’t go with Hart.  Both sides of our family have strong Italian roots as both of our grandpas were 100 percent Italian.  If you look at either one of us, you would think no way.  Our children both have that nice olive complexion, while we are both fair-skinned.  Sorry for the rambling.
I wanted to let you know too that I have thrown around Emmaline as a name, but don’t know if that would be a bit much to have Adaline and Emmaline?????????
What do you think about Isla Marie... too popular again?  I just don’t want a popular name or a current trendy name.  I am telling you, this little girl is not going to have a name.
Well, on this Christmas day, after spending hours a week trying to settle on a name, I believe we have decided on Makenna Emmalyn Hart.  I was looking back on your posts from 2009 and noticed someone who named their daughter Mckenna Emmaline... and so I decided to go with something similar.  It puts me more at ease now!  Thanks so much for your site.  You sure do have a gift with words!
I am ultra indecisive still.  I like Makenna, but the more I say it, the more it does not go with Adaline.  See, they will only be 20 months apart, and I just have this stubborn thing going through my mind that I want their names to go well together.  They will be sharing a room all their life, at least that’s what I am saying now.  I just want their names to harmonize somehow.  I like Emmalyn as a first name, but I think my husband’s sister would go crazy since she is naming one of her twins Analyn next month.  Do you have any suggestions of a name that sounds beautiful with Adaline?  About 7 weeks left till c-section.... heeeeelp!

I think of Adaline as a sweet pioneer girl name, and Makenna as a modern surname name. This does not mean, however, that they don't work as sister names: as a pair they fall into a category that is neither super-coordinated nor clashy, but more in between. And Makenna fits perfectly with Landon, and with Jensen if you want to use it later, so Makenna seems like a good choice for this sibling group.

If it doesn't quite sit right, however, it could be that your taste in boy names is more modern/surname, and your taste in girl names is more pioneer/vintage. Your attraction to the name Emma Grace supports this theory. In that case, I might look in the Antique Charm section of The Baby Name Wizard to find more options to consider:


Adaline and Emmaline do seem too similar to me, with their matched endings and rhythms---but if you were in love with the name, I wouldn't think it was wrong to use it. I'd caution that it might make you feel obligated to choose another -line name if you were to have another daughter later. Madaleise, too, seems very similar, with the repeating -adal- in the two sister names.

Isla is a very pretty name, and I like it with Adaline: they're different, but not at all clashy. The spelling Adeline was the #288th most popular girl name in the United States in 2011 (source); Isla at #268 is a nice fit, popularity-wise. (Landon is #34, but I think it works fine to have different styles/popularities for the girl/boy names in a family.)

Emilia might be a good way to honor your Grandma Emily without using Emma. Emilia Hart; Adaline and Emilia. And I worry less about name popularity when the pay-off is getting to use a family name.

Giada and Madaliese make me think of Nadia. So pretty and underused! Nadia Hart; Adaline and Nadia.

If you would enjoy finding a name with an L in it, I think that would be fun; but I definitely don't think you need to do that if it adds to your stress. Also, if you do use a name with an L in it now, will you be able to use Jensen later on, or will you feel like you have to keep going with L-containing names?

I think I would notice that both children had a D sound in their names before I noticed the L sound. A few more D names to consider (though again, this could make you feel uneasy using the name Jensen later):


I started that list on a whim, but a lot of them seem like they'd work really well. 

(Your sister-in-law didn't ask for my advice, and so it would be inappropriate for me to give it. But for anyone who has come upon this post while researching the name Analyn, I would strongly suggest adding a second N to avoid the series of those first four letters.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baby Girl Hanger, Sister to Nathaniel: The Grandparents Hate the Chosen Name

Carrie writes:
Hello, I've enjoyed reading your blog, especially when trying to come up with a name for my 3 year old son and now my daughter, who is due on March 8th and will likely be our last child.  I realize you probably get inundated with requests like mine but would appreciate any feedback you or your readers could give.  I normally have lots of ideas for baby names and had no trouble coming up with my son's name. However, I am at a loss about what to name my daughter, and finding a name has become stressful instead of fun.

My husband and I had decided on a name, Eleanor Charlotte Hanger.  We chose Eleanor because we like the name and Charlotte after my dad Charles.  However, my mother's and parents-in-laws' reactions were so negative about the name, that I doubt we will use it.  While I know it's our child to name, I really don't want to name our daughter something that 3 of her 4 grandparents hate and will refuse to call her (or have started to call her Eleanor Rigby).  I shouldn't feel this way, but their reactions have dampened my enthusiasm for the name.  I suppose this is a good example of why it's probably best to wait until the baby is born to tell everyone his/her name.  My husband just wants me to find a name I like and is more interested in weighing in about what he likes and doesn't like than coming up with suggestions.  So, it's back to the drawing board but I haven't found anything I love.

We tend to like names that have some history, have traditional spellings, and aren't within the top 50 of the SSA list for first names.  We are less picky about popularity for middle names, but I am trying to avoid Grace, which is a family name, because it is so often used as a middle name.  We prefer to have names that have possible nicknames.  I'd like for our daughter to have a serious but feminine name that could work well whether she is a ballet dancer, doctor, or marine biologist.  We live in the South if that helps for context.

We used family names for our son, Nathaniel Hall Hanger, and he goes by the nickname Nate.  I like the 3-1-2 rhythm of his name.  If he had been a girl, we would have named him Charlotte, but that was four years ago, before I was aware of how popular Charlotte is and before Charlotte jumped down to the under 30s on the Social Security list. If this baby were a boy, the baby's name would be Theodore with the middle name Charles or Stone.  Charles and Stone are family names.

My husband and I have been toying with the idea of naming the baby Susannah, which is a family name.  However, I'm not sure about the middle name and don't love the association with the song O Susannah.

Other names we have considered are Margaret (a family name), Josephine, and Penelope (but I'm worried that it's growing in popularity).   I like Eve, Louisa (I love the sound of Louisa Charlotte), Frances, and Alice, but my husband does not.  I still like Charlotte but am bothered by its popularity.  I also like the names Claire and Julia but worry that they are too popular.  I like the name Vivien, but my old coworker, with whom I'm still close, is named Vivien, and my husband thinks it would be weird to use the name since while we are close, we are not so close that I would name my child after her.  Vivien also seems to be rising in popularity.

Names we like but cannot use because of friends' children or my son's friends are Evelyn, Eloise, Lucy, and Madeleine.

New ideas or suggestions from our list for a name that would work well with our son's name would be appreciated.

Thanks so much,

I think the name Susannah is lovely and underused, and I like the way it repeats the rhythm/syllables of Nathaniel. But if the association with the song bothers you, I think it would be best to avoid the name. Perhaps it will work as a middle name.

If you do use it, you could repeat the rhythm of your son's name with a one-syllable middle name. Grace is indeed a common middle name, but the family-name connection might make it worth it. Nathaniel Hall and Susannah Grace. Or you could use Eve. Or Claire. Or Stone would be an interesting choice.

Savannah would be similar in sound, but seems quite different in style---and loses the family-name connection. 

If you like Eleanor, Ellen and Nora are similar.

If you like Charlotte, Violet is similar in sound and style, and less popular (though rising).

If you like Claire, there's also Clara and Cora.

I notice you mention popularity often. Here is the trouble: almost all the names you like are in style, and therefore fairly popular. This is natural: very few of us prefer out-of-style names, just as very few of us are wearing plaid bell-bottoms and feathered bangs. If you would like to make popularity your main priority, we will need to look at names that are currently out of style.

In which case, Louisa's your girl. It's a great underused traditional name, it repeats the syllables and rhythm of Nathaniel, and it lets you use Charlotte in the middle name position where popularity is much less important. It's too bad your husband doesn't like it. Might it grow on him with time and nagging?

The name Eliza is similar in sound and style, but is also more popular (#255 in 2011, to Louisa's #956), and rising (though it took an encouraging little dip in 2011; perhaps it is slowing/stopping). Nathaniel and Eliza.

I think the best possibility might be to go back to the name you already chose. I can see how the name feels ruined (especially if the rejection happened recently), but it's also completely classic for the grandparent generation to dislike their grandchildren's names at first hearing; my guess is that they wouldn't like many other names on your list, either. We could try to please them by choosing one of the names they consider stylish (perhaps a fresh new sound such as Kimberly or Ryan)---and then our children would have "mom and dad names" and stand out among their peers.

No, naming style moves on. I am practicing getting used to that truth NOW, because I know I will have trouble with it when my own grandchildren are being named. "SHIRLEY, DOLOROS, OR CRAYOLA??," I'll say privately to Paul. "They've narrowed it down to SHIRLEY,  DOLOROS, OR CRAYOLA??" And I can picture myself two days after the baby is born, saying to Paul, "What a GREAT NAME! I can't believe I never considered it! Why did I never even SUGGEST it on the name blog?? It's ADORABLE!! It's the best name ever!!"

Nicknames can be a good way to help grandparents transition to the names currently in style. Would they like the name any better if they could call her Ellie or Nora or Lennie or Nell? (Attempts to call her Eleanor Rigby should be squashed with a wince and an "Oh---please don't.")

Based on what you know of them, do you think they really will refuse to call her Eleanor? Most people get over their initial reactions when the baby has been on the scene for awhile (in fact, those same people can sometimes be found talking about how they always loved that name). Right now, they are panicking because they dislike the name and there's still a chance you might change your mind; once it's a done deal, it would require a very unpleasant disposition indeed to continue to make negative remarks about it.

And surely a grandparent would not persistently refuse to use the name of a small child they love, hurting her feelings and confusing her? Yes, yes, I'm sure we can produce stories where this has occurred (Paul's grandfather wouldn't acknowledge his birth or name for an entire year because Paul wasn't named after him); and I, in turn, will feel safe labeling those people as manipulative, unkind pineholes. I suspect your parents and in-laws don't fall into that category, but will instead fall neatly into appropriate behavior as soon as the name is no longer negotiable. (And if I am wrong, perhaps it really would be a good idea to pass all names by them first, to avoid future pain for your daughter.)

In the meantime, does anyone have any fresh suggestions? Or a soothing story about grandparents who came around to a baby's name after initially disliking it?

Name update! Carrie writes:
Hello, thanks so much for your help naming my daughter who was born on March 4th.  I appreciated all of the reassurance from you and your readers as well as the very helpful suggestions.  If we ever have a third, we have a great list of names thanks to everyone.  We decided to go to the hospital with two names:  our original choice, Eleanor Charlotte, and what we ended up with, Susannah Eve.  We were pretty set on Eleanor Charlotte but wanted to see her first.  The baby made a very quick and somewhat dramatic appearance.  Based upon her entry into the world and spending a some time with her, we decided that Susannah Eve fit her better.  We have actually started calling her Eve for now, but it will be interesting to see how nicknames develop.  The grandparents seem to like her name although my mother does not like Eve.  However, we really don't care because we think the name fits her perfectly.  My son (Nathaniel Hall, nn Nate), husband, and I couldn't be happier with our new addition.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Baby Naming Issue: Drama Over Cousins With Similar Names

Jodie writes:
I am 33 weeks pregnant with my fourth boy (and last child). My name is Jodie, my husband is Michael, our last name is Pack. Our older children are Conner Michael, Nolan Bryant, and Gavin Claude. I am supposed to have an early c-section at the beginning of February because I have placenta previa, so this is kind of last minute - sorry! Since this is our last boy and we are very picky with names, finding a name for this baby has been a struggle. We found one that we (especially I) absolutely love though. Bennett Fisher. I really want Fisher to be the middle name (it is my Grandma's maiden name and she just passed away last June, right before we found out we were pregnant. I think Bennett Fisher Pack sounds great. I like names that are 2 syllables, easy to spell, recognizable but not so unique that they sound made up. I am not a nick name person - we would not call him Ben.just Bennett. I wanted to have a name with an 'n' in it, because all the others do. I don't want a name that ENDS in 'n' because that offsets the symmetry in my family. See how OCD I am? I also seem to have names free of blends so far (no Cr, Bl, St,.names roll off the tongue easily). I LOVE Bennett - it's meaning, it's anglo-slant (I seem to gravitate towards Irish, Welsh, Scottish, English type names), and it just seems to fit.

HERE's the PROBLEM! My sister just had a baby last week. She told me a few months ago she wanted to name her baby Benjamin and call him Ben. At the time she told me I got a little worried because we had just landed on Bennett. I let her know that we had sort of landed on Bennett, thinking it would be OK - after all, it's not the SAME NAME and we wouldn't call our kid Ben. She said she was fine with it, but then my other sister (who loves drama) called me and said she was actually really upset about it and wanted me to change my name. I'm a pleaser. I tried to find another name for a few days, but nothing else fit like Bennett. I told her we would be going with Bennett no matter what, and she said she wasn't mad. But now my drama-loving other sister says I should not bring it up with her because it will stress her out (meaning I shouldn't tell her we are still going to call him Bennett). My husband and my parents think it's a non-issue and I/we should name our baby whatever we want. Last night my husband and I talked about it and decided that we are willing to look at other names to keep the peace, but if nothing else jumps out at us, we're staying with Bennett.

Sorry, that was long.

So, other names we have considered are:
Wyatt (I like it, not sure if I love it)
Jasper (I don't love the p's in Jasper Pack)
Lennox (seems to out there to me, but my husband likes it)
Elliott (I don't like it at all, but my husband does - seems too feminine to me and I don't like unisex names)
Derek (too 80's?)
Jared (too boring and common?)
Zander ( I like it but my husband isn't familiar with it - makes him think of Zoolander)

We are absolutely done having children. If this was a girl, her name would be Charlotte, so maybe that's why I like Bennett so much (the 'tt' ending).


Sometimes when I am reading a mystery novel and a solution begins to reveal itself, I will think, "Wait. But that can't be it, because Mr. Picklan wasn't there that night!"---and I continue to be fooled, not realizing that the ONLY reason I know Mr. Picklan wasn't there that night is that Mrs. Roberts SAID SO. If that little snippet of testimony turns out not to be true, the whole case collapses.

That is what I am reminded of here, where one sister is telling you (1) that the sister who says she's not upset IS in fact VERY upset, and (2) that you should not confirm this with the sister because it would upset her, and (3) that you are further supposed to keep your child's name a secret (for how long, I wonder?) because it would upset her.

What if we snipped off that little snippet of testimony? Then what we would have is a situation that almost couldn't be more ideal:

* Your sister had several months' warning that you were intending to use the name Bennett, so if that bothered her she had plenty of time to either (1) change her name choice or (2) tell you she wasn't okay with it;

* She then found out you were definitely going to use it, and again she had a chance to speak up or change her own name choice if she wasn't okay with that; 

* Then she went ahead and named her son Benjamin, with full knowledge that in a month you would be naming your son Bennett;

* And now you will name your son Bennett, already knowing the issue with your nephew's somewhat-similar name.

Didn't that work out well? In many situations, things get much more jumbled. Sometimes everyone keeps names a secret, so then your sister could have named her baby Benjamin with no idea you were planning to use Bennett, and right now you could be having a secret crisis over what you should do now. And then maybe when your sister found out you were planning to use Bennett, she could have FREAKED OUT HUGELY, threatening and weeping and acting so hysterical you felt there was no way you could use the name Bennett now, unfair as that might be.

But neither of those things happened. She had warning; you had warning; everyone was okay with everything. The only suggestion that everything is not as it seems comes from the testimony of your other sister who, as you tell us, loves drama. I have had contact with people who love drama, and you have many years of experience with your sister, so I think if the two of us sat down and discussed the possibilities, we would come up with quite a few likely scenarios that didn't involve there being an actual problem. For example, I can picture something along the lines of your drama-oriented sister working hard to elicit a very mild statement from your mother-to-Benjamin sister about how, sure, she kind of wishes the two names weren't so similar but it doesn't really matter---and turning that into "She's REALLY UPSET. She wants you to CHANGE THE NAME. No, don't even talk to her, she's TOO UPSET."

"Piffle" is what I say to the idea of you changing the perfect name based on that. You have two options, as I see it:

1. Go to your sister (the one with the new baby Benjamin) and say something like, "Listen. I know the times we talked about this before, we left it that we were both okay with the similarity of Benjamin/Bennett. But you know Sister and how she loves drama, and she's been going around freaking everyone out saying YOU'RE freaking out, and I don't want to take her too seriously because you know how she is, but on the other hand I wanted to make sure we got one last chance to have a frank talk before I go filling out birth certificates." You'd need to be aware, though, that what you'd be doing here is saying something like "If you have ANY slight dislike of this situation AT ALL, just mention it and I won't use the name." And I doubt you'd like to say that. This discussion could only have taken place effectively when EITHER of you could have changed your name choice.

2. Use the name, without getting sucked into the drama. If the drama is snipped out, we have a non-situation here: everyone knows you're using the name, and no one objected even when they had ample chances to do so. Probably neither you nor your sister thinks it's ideal that the two names are similar, but neither one of you thinks the other one should have to give up a name over it---and that's the appropriate reaction. It doesn't seem like a good idea to try to get your sister to manufacture/express an inappropriate reaction instead, especially since that would leave you with two choices: (1) choosing another name instead of the one you want, or (2) going with the name on purpose anyway, against her now-explicitly-stated wishes. No good!

I would also like to point out that this is not just a situation about your sister being okay with the name you're using: it's about BOTH of you being okay with the other sister's name choice. If it is important that she be okay with your baby's name, it is no more important than it was for you to be okay with her baby's name. Did she repeatedly solicit your assurances that it was okay for her to still use Benjamin for her baby? No? Then probably she does not expect you to repeatedly solicit her assurances that it's still okay for you to use Bennett. She had her baby a few weeks before you will be having yours, but since both of you knew the situation well ahead of time, the order of birth is irrelevant to this particular situation: you both said you were okay with the other's name choice, and now you will both go ahead and use your own name choices. With time, the issue is likely to fade completely, and the two cousins will most likely grow up thinking it's neat.

(And if she really IS upset about it, she had/has two options: (1) Discuss it with you, rather than with the sister who has nothing to do with choosing the names, and/or (2) Find a different name for her child, back when you said you were definitely using Bennett.)