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Friday, February 29, 2008

Baby Boy Devereaux ___ C.

Alicia writes:
I'm having a dilemma... Baby #2 is a boy, and due in 3 weeks. (Ohmigosh!) I'm a single mommy, with a 3 1/2 year old daughter already. Her name is Taryn Emma, and her middle name was chosen at 4:30am after 24 hours of labor because I panicked when I realized she didn't have one yet!

Anyway, Baby Boy will be Devereaux. I was trying it on and despite some initial family protesting, it's grown on me too much to let go now. However, he has no middle name (surprise, surprise). It's getting close now and that panic reflex is kicking in hardcore.

I don't have any family names or specific naming traditions to honor. Last name is a single syllable and starts with C. I like unique names and names that are creative. Also creative spellings. His name will be unique and creative already, so I don't want to go overboard...

A few of my possible ideas are:

Keiran / Kiernan / Teirnan

What do you think...?

Your opinions, and those of your readers, are appreciated!!! :-)

One idea would be to repeat what you did with your daughter, and see what comes to you during labor. That does make a good story!

Another idea would be to give him a middle name that parallels your daughter's middle name, by choosing something common. I like the idea of giving common-first-name kids an unusual middle name, and I like the idea of giving unusual-first-name kids a common middle name. It's a good chance for parents to indulge an urge for a name they wouldn't usually consider a serious candidate. I'm looking over the most common names, though, and I don't see anything that works. Devereaux Jacob? No. Devereaux Ethan? No. But Mairzy mentions Devereaux John, and I do like the sound of that.

Let's take a look at your list:

Devereaux Vin
Devereaux Kaeden
Devereaux Keeley
Devereaux Kyler
Devereaux Draven
Devereaux Teagan
Devereaux Tynan
Devereaux Keiran
Devereaux Keirnan
Devereaux Teirnan

I think of Keeley as a girl's name, and so I'm taking that one out. Vin brings to mind the dreamy Vin Diesel---but, like Von, it clumps itself with the surname. My favorites from your list are Devereaux Kaeden and Devereaux Keirnan. If your surname starts with a hard-C sound, I'll bet the K sound is good with it. And with a 1-syllable surname, I like the descending rhythm of 3-syllables, 2-syllables, 1-syllable.

Since Devereaux is a French name, what about looking for more French? Devereaux Gerard is nice. Devereaux Jerome. Devereaux Julien. Devereaux Luc. Devereaux Lucien (LOO-shun). My favorite from this list is Devereaux Lucien, because of the rhythm: I don't know your surname, but I think a first-syllable accent for the middle name would probably go better than a second-syllable accent like Gerard or Jerome--names I prefer.

Say---you wouldn't want to move Devereaux to the middle name position, would you? A 3-syllable middle name sounds terrific with a 1-syllable surname. Lucien Devereaux. Taryn and Lucien.

Okay, let's ask Mairzy:
Devereaux turned out to be an interesting case. It was familiar enough that I was sure I'd met at least one person with that name. But when I searched, it wasn't in any of my baby name books, nor could I find it on (it offered only Devereux, which is similar but pronounced with a "-roo" instead of "-roe" on the end). It's primarily a surname -- just as Cooper, Courtney, and Tucker were once upon a time.

Aside from the spelling, which will drive everyone crazy all his life, it's a name that should fit in quite well in today's world. As for a middle name, here are Mairzy's Laws of the Middle Name:

1. It should flow rhythmically with the first name. I'm a stickler for rhythm, which is ironic because I'm a white girl with none in my body. (Swistle and I had a long discussion about "Eve" as a first name -- I had trouble thinking of a middle name that didn't sound choppy with it. We finally agreed on Eve Linnea.)

2. Middle names should be supportive, not dominate. Names that have been worn out as first names work well as middle names (Michelle, Maria, Scott). Also, names that are milder in sound work well (Anna, Janelle, John). It's my theory that you can tell when a name is on the downside of its trend peak when it starts showing up as a middle name.

3. There are all kinds of exceptions to these Laws.

In keeping with Law #2, I thought most of your suggested options were too elaborate. Devereaux is such a flashy name that it doesn't need a hefty middle name. My suggestions may not be what you're looking for as far as style, but maybe the rhythm will suggest to you another name you like. Since I don't know your last name, I was working with "Cobb."

Devereaux Kane Cobb
Devereaux Grant Cobb
Devereaux Cash Cobb
Devereaux Quinn Cobb
Devereaux Tucker Cobb
Devereaux Zane Cobb
Devereaux Lee Cobb

Kane, Cash, and Quinn run into alliteration with your last name. That bothers some people (I'm married to the president of the Anti-Alliteration League), and others don't mind. My favorite combination is Devereaux Grant, which makes for a pretty snazzy name.

My favorites from Mairzy's list are Grant and Lee.

This is tricky to vote on, because there are so many options here. I'm going to list a heaping handful of them, but please do say so in the comment section if there's one you'd like to vote for that isn't in the poll to the right [poll closed; see below].

[Poll results:
Think of one during labor: 1 vote, 2%
Something common to parallel Emma: 8 votes, 16%
John: 12 votes, 24%
Kaeden: 2 votes, 4%
Keirnan: 2 votes, 4%
Lucien: 5 votes, 10%
Gerard: 2 votes, 4 %
Jerome: 1 vote, 2%
Grant: 17 votes, 34%]

[Follow-up from Alicia:
Hi Swistle! I just wanted to let you know that Devereaux was born on Easter Sunday, a whopper of a kid (2 days late) at 9 lbs 3 oz. *grin* I want to thank you for all your comments and ideas for his middle name. In the end, my grandfather got all sentimental on me and I ended up going with Alix as the middle name, as it's his as well and this is the only boy in the family. :-) Thanks again. - Alicia
Congratulations, Alicia!]

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Baby Girl ___ Evenia Woodward

Dawn writes:
My partner and I (two women) are having our first child in May, the 17th to be precise...and we cannot decide on a baby name. We know that she is a girl, or so they tell us...and that she is crazy active! The only things we are pretty set on are her middle name, which will be Evenia and her last name which will be Woodward...we do not want to name her Bridgette as it is our dog's name. We are also trying to stay away from the names that end in the eee sound that is so popular like Katie, Jenny, Chelsea...those types of names.

We have narrowed it down to five names...but could be easily swayed if something better came along...the five are:
Grayson (her mother's maiden name)
Emmerson (my favorite uncle's middle name)
Lorelei (from the Gilmore Girls, not a family name)
Layla (also not a family name but we dig it)
Annalice (which seems to keep popping up in our daily lives and so we sort of feel like it's a sign. Also it's a great combo of my partner's Grandmother's names Ann and Alice).
I'm also a fan of Lily and Georgia...LOL
Help us please!

I lean immediately in the direction of Annalice: I love it already, and you have good feelings about it, and it has family-name connections. But I would spell it Annalise: I know it compromises the Alice part of it, but every time I see Annalice, all I see is LICE.

A digression: I have noticed a certain problem when working with Anna-blend names. It is a delicate problem to bring up, and it is not one that I want the search engines finding when searchers are searching for something quite different. And so let me bring it up this way. If you are starting a name with "Anna" and you are going to combine it with something starting in L, keep in mine that "Annal" bears a resemblance to things considered retentive. It is especially important not to, for example, drop that second N, as an actual acquaintance of mine did, spelling her daughter's name Analyn. It's a really pretty name, but it makes me think of that episode of Arrested Development where David Cross's character wants to be known as an "analrapist" (combining the words "analyst" and "therapist"). WATCH THOSE WORD BLENDS, is what I'm saying. Especially if we are going to work with ice or lice. End digression.

It is also wise, I think, to take initials into account, which is why when I think of it, I put initials after suggestions. In this case, where we have "EW" for the second two initials, some initials to be aware of are: DEW, EEW, FEW, HEW, JEW, MEW, NEW, PEW, and SEW. For me, this eliminates Emmerson. (Side note: if our firstborn had been a girl, we almost certainly would have named him, or rather her, Emerson. True story.)

I would also eliminate Grayson. The girls already have way more names to choose from than the boys, and in general they should keep their cute little hands off the few good boy names remaining, or else those of us with many boys to name are going to LOSE OUR MINDS.

Lily is a great girl name, but to me it pales in comparison to some of your other choices.

This narrows it down to:

Annalise Evenia Woodward (AEW)
Lorelei Evenia Woodward (LEW)
Layla Evenia Woodward (LEW)
Georgia Evenia Woodward (GEW)

My favorite from those four is Georgia. I love the sound of Georgia Woodward. And for an active little sprite, I like the high energy levels of a name like Lorelei. But with your reasons for using Annalise, I think Annalise is still in the lead.

That doesn't mean there isn't room to consult The Baby Name Wizard. Her sister-name ideas for Annalise are Lisbeth, Julianne, Arabella, Mariel, and Renata. Sister-names for Georgia are Charlotte, Lucy, Josephine, Virginia, and Violet. The only one of those ten I'd add to the list is Josephine (Josephine Woodward is almost as good as Georgia Woodward), but the initials need to be considered.

Plus, I'm totally lying, because I would also add Arabella. I love that name. I can't picture using it ("Arabella, find your shoes," "Arabella, feed the cat"), but I love it. I would add it just so I could keep looking at it.

My friend Mairzy says:
You've got several good options, all of which would serve a girl well. Just choose your favorite.

My personal preference is to avoid names like Grayson and Emmerson for girls. There are so many girl names, and ever-fewer of the softer boy names (see: Reece, Avery, and the latest I came across, Vaughn), that it seems a shame to borrow any more. Grayson, additionally, will have to identify herself as a girl all her life. (I know at least two girl Emmerson/Emersons, so it's not as likely to be a problem with that name.)

Annalice is hands-down my favorite, with family-name bonus points. As for the spelling, see Swistle's comments above. Annalise Evenia (I'm pronouncing it ee-VEN-ya) is quite the mouthful, but I knew of a Victoria Olivia who lived a happy, if polysyllabic, life.

You can see why Mairzy and I are friends: we came to our conclusions independently, but both of us are against losing more of the already-sparse boy names, and both of us prefer the Annalise spelling. Mairzy felt confident enough to refer to my "comments above"---without having seen what I'd written.

Time to vote. Go to the name poll at right, [poll closed; see below] and/or leave your name recommendations in the comment section.

[Poll results:
Annalise: 42 votes, roughly 48%
Lorelei: 16 votes, roughly 18%
Layla: 3 votes, roughly 3%
Georgia: 22 votes, roughly 25%
none of these: 4 votes, roughly 5%]

[Update! Dawn writes:
Hello there,

I wanted to update you and let you know how helpful your baby naming was for us...we were the post from Feb. 26th Baby Girl ____ Evenia Woodward.

We went with Georgia and we love it.

Thanks so much to you and your readers!

Dawn, Amelia, and Georgia :)


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Baby Boy ___ John

Kate writes:
Here's my baby name dilemma: I have one child - his name is Greyson James and he just turned 2. Grey is a family name (so is James), and we just lengthened it. I thought it was an "original" name, but now I'm seeing it everywhere! Okay, back to the topic at hand. I'm due to have another baby boy in April (nine weeks away - yikes!). We love using family names and we're considering naming new baby after my recently deceased grandfather - Wesly. To spice it up a bit, we're considering Weston. I thought I was firm with this naming thing, but I've recently been doubting my decision. We've decided the middle name will be John, after my husband's father. I'm not set on Wesly or Weston, nor on using a family name for the first name. I need some ideas - Help! I'm not someone who cares if my boys' names "match" or sound good together. I'm sooooo picky and have a hard time finding ANY name that I even remotely like!! BTW, if it was a girl, we were going with Eliza (love the name!). If you can offer any advice, that would be great. Thanks so much :)

Oh, there are so many interesting issues here! I have to be careful not to get distracted by the mention of the problem of creating an original name and then finding out it is not, because that is a VERY INTERESTING topic to me.

Greyson is a great surname name: it sounds like Jason and Mason, so it's familiar---but it's more modern, and it has the cool nickname Grey. In sound, it's the male version of the popular girl's name Grace. I think Wesley John is terrific with it. (I would spell it the usual Wesley instead of the adverby-looking Wesly.) Not only does it parallel nicely with Greyson James, it has the nickname Wes, which I love. Greyson and Wesley. Grey and Wes.

You've got the same good stuff going on with the name Weston. Greyson and Weston is if anything better-coordinated, and you still get the good nickname Wes, and you avoid the problem of the spelling of Wesley. The doctoring on both family names is roughly equivalent: Grey to Greyson, Wesly to Weston. Furthermore, my friend Mairzy and I noticed that The Baby Name Wizard recommends the name Grayson (she spells it the A way) as a brother name for the name Weston, so apparently we all agree.

Now for some more possibilities. For starters, there are the brother names in The Baby Name Wizard for the name Grayson: Easton, Keaton, Brennan, Dawson, Brody. Any of those strike your fancy? I find "Greyson and Easton" difficult to say. I like Keaton, even though it comes out "Keet'n" when I say it. Greyson and Dawson is maybe a little matchier than you'd like? But I do like it.

Here's what my friend and fellow name aficionado Mairzy thinks:
Greyson is actually a pretty versatile name. It's contemporary along the lines of Riley, but can sit with the dignified crowd such as Harrison. Extra points for being a version of an actual family name. Both Wesly (although I'd spell it Wesley to save headaches) and Weston are good names. They don't call up images of ultra-cool, but speaking as someone who married a geek myself, ultra-cool is overrated.

To get started, I used a very technical baby-naming strategy: I looked at Weston and said, "Hm. That rhymes with Preston. Preston is a good name." And then I went from there.

* Preston John (I have a nephew named Preston, so that's my association. However, it's also a Britney boy's name, isn't it? Which isn't nearly so heartwarming.)
* Coleman John
* Spencer John
* Garrett John
* Sawyer John
* Emmett John

I searched with the assumption that you (the parents) have already considered more ordinary boy names like Matthew, Andrew, Cody, Ryan, etc.

My favorite of the lineup is Spencer, but that may be because it's too flashy to use with my own last name so it seems to glitter more than the rest of them. :)

My favorites from Mairzy's list are Coleman and Sawyer.

Since we seem to be on a roll with surname names, I flipped to the "Last Names First" section of The Baby Name Wizard and wrote down the ones that jumped out at me:


My favorites from there are Keegan, Lawson, and Sullivan.

In my opinion, the best names are the ones you've already thought of: Wesley John or Weston John. Those are solid, cool names with family meaning, and they're great with your first son's name. I think some doubt about the chosen name is common even if the name is perfect, and that you won't regret either of these choices. I think Wesley is better with John, and Weston is better with Greyson, so it's a draw.

Readers, you have a lot of names to pick through here. Use the name poll to the right [poll closed; see below], and then weigh in freehand: one of the family names? one of the names Mairzy and I mentioned? a different name entirely?

[Poll results:
Wesley: 43 votes, roughly 52%
Weston: 24 votes, roughly 29%
Spencer: 5 votes, roughly 6%
Coleman: 1 vote, roughly 1%
Sawyer: 4 votes, roughly 5%
Keegan: 1 vote, roughly 1%
Sullivan: 2 votes, roughly 2%
none of these: 2 votes, roughly 2%]

Name update: They chose Weston.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Baby Girl ___ Ann Hall

LOTS of submissions coming in, YAY! My plan is to use submissions roughly in order of Baby Imminence. If they keep coming in, that may mean soon we'll be prioritizing "women in labor" submissions, but let's not count babies before they hatch.

Today's baby-naming challenge is from Melissa, who writes:

I e-mailed you...oh, maybe back in August wondering if I was pregnant (and you thought I was)...and I WAS/AM so now comes the fun part. Baby girl is due at the end of April and my husband and I are still trying to pin down a name. Our son is Owen Martell (same middle name as my husband's) and so we already decided if we ever had a girl that her middle name would be Ann (same as mine). Our last name is extremely dull...Hall...and presents the challenge of everything sounding like a dorm on a college campus somewhere.

We have some ideas but I want to see what you come up with first:) Thanks!

First, can we all take a moment to appreciate Swistle's astonishing powers? I knew Melissa was pregnant FROM ACROSS THE INTERNET!

This is a fun naming situation to tackle, because we have so much information to work with: we have a middle name, a last name, and a sibling name.

Let's start where I always start, which is seeing what The Baby Name Wizard suggests as sister names for the name Owen: Ava, Lily, Isabel, Maya, Emma.

Pretty! And certainly those are good starting points. Consider:

Ava Ann Hall (AAH)
Lily Ann Hall (LAH)
Isabel Ann Hall (IAH)
Maya Ann Hall (MAH)
Emma Ann Hall (EAH)

Of those five, my favorites are Lily Ann Hall and Isabel Ann Hall. Add to Owen: Owen and Lily. Owen and Isabel. Yes, I'd say those pass the sibling name test.

I consulted with my friend Mairzy, and she says:
You'd think that with ordinary names like Ann and Hall, this one would be a breeze. As it was, I had to search quite a while to come up with ones I thought would work. I never realized how many names end in A, which doesn't work with Ann.


My favorite of the lineup is Molly.

Molly Ann Hall (MAH). Owen and Molly. Nice! I like it!

I also like to consult The Social Security Baby Name Site, to look at names that are of comparable popularity to the names already used by the family. The name Owen has been climbing steadily:

1992: #476
1997: #224
2002: #94
2006 (the 2007 data won't be out until May): #58.

Let's look at 2006, when it was #58. The girl names in that same popularity range are Zoe, Riley, Sofia, Maya, Kimberly, Andrea, Megan, Katelyn, and Gabrielle.
  • I think "Owen and Zoe" has too much O-sound.
  • I think of the name Riley as a boy's name even though I realize it's for boys or girls, and I don't like it with Ann: too much like Raggedy Ann.
  • I'm a fan of the name Sofia (of that spelling particularly), and unlike the Owen-and-Zoe combination, I think Owen and Sofia has a good level of O-sound.
  • Let's leave aside Maya, since we already considered it in the Baby Name Wizard section.
  • I'd like to eliminate Kimberly, Andrea, Megan, Katelyn, and Gabrielle: Kimberly is from the Moms generation (MY age); Andrea is from the kids-I-babysat generation; Megan is from the 1990s; Katelyn is such a perfect name, the number of girls with one spelling or another of it is legion; and I haven't liked the name Gabrielle since a co-worker of mine bragged incessantly about her "amazing" daughter GOB-briella, saying the name every single time in a reverent tone of voice usually reserved for referring to deities.
For me, the stand-out from the SSA's site research is Sofia. Sofia Ann Hall (SAH). Sofia Hall. Owen and Sofia. That's my pick.

Vote in the poll over to the right [poll closed; see below], and/or leave your suggestions in the comments.

[Poll results:
Lily: 27 votes, roughly 38%
Isabel: 6 votes, roughly 8%
Molly: 14 votes, roughly 20%
Sofia: 19 votes, roughly 27%
none of these: 5 votes, roughly 7%]

Edit: There is a general feeling in the comment section that with a surname such as Hall, the first name should be more unusual. Generally, I agree: a simpler surname can handle a more complicated first name. But I noticed, when I was looking through names, that the more unusual names enhanced the "college dorm" feeling: Lisandra Hall, for example, or Geneva Hall. Both sound EXACTLY like dorms.

Still, there is a middle ground: more unusual than Sofia and Lily, but not quite as dormy as Lisandra and Geneva. How about some of these?

Cecily Ann Hall (CAH)
Eliza Ann Hall (EAH)
Josephine Ann Hall (JAH)
Rosemary Ann Hall (RAH)
Constance Ann Hall (CAH)
Cordelia Ann Hall (CAH)
Genevieve Ann Hall (GAH)
Ruby Ann Hall (RAH)
Penelope Ann Hall (PAH)
Margaret Ann Hall (MAH)

[Update from Melissa!
Although we didn't end up going with any of your suggestions (I think we already had our name in our mind), it was great to hear all of the ideas.

Our daughter is Delaney Ann Hall yes, "Delaney Hall" sounds like a dorm somewhere but we wanted something unusual to balance out our last name Hall and we liked it with our son's name, Owen.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Baby Boy D. Jones

Amy Q writes:
My sister in law had a baby ….on Saturday and they have NO NAME. They don’t have a clue what to name him. So…boy, his brother is Dawson and they are one of those families that want them to have the same first letter. Not my style…but each to their own right? So….a boy D name, that goes with Jones. Super Baby Namer to the rescue?

Oh, dear, they're INSISTING on the same initial? That's so limiting---and it can really trap them if they have more kids than they thought they would, or if they suddenly find The Name of Their Dreams and it starts with a different letter.


Well, onward. As you say: to each their own. And it DOES narrow a large field down to a more workable size.

A boy D name that goes with Jones. I consulted with Mairzy, and she suggests:

Darren Jones
Dillon/Dylan Jones
Devin Jones
Donovan Jones

I suggest:

Daniel Jones
Drew Jones
Dane Jones
Darian Jones
Del Jones

My favorite book The Baby Name Wizard (by Laura Wattenberg) suggests these brother names for Dawson: Parker, Dalton, Nash, Chandler, Grayson. Just in case they want to reconsider that first-initial thing.

I'm personally a big fan of the name Del, but I know it doesn't float everyone's boat: for starters, it looks like it's short for something when it isn't. And I really like the name Daniel, but it's not a style match with the name Dawson.

With Dawson, my favorites from the lists are Dillon/Dylan and Darian. You can vote between those two names over on the right [poll closed; see below], or cast a vote for another name (one already mentioned, or one not yet mentioned) in the comment section.

[Poll results:
Dillon/Dylan: 93 votes, roughly 54%
Darian: 15 votes, roughly 9%
Either one: 1 vote, less than 1%
Neither one: 64 votes, roughly 37%)]

[The baby is named! Dustin Lee Jones.]