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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Baby Boy Joseph Michael O. (I've Gone Ahead and Decided)

Kate writes:
We are about to have baby number 4 but are unaware of the gender as yet. We both have Irish heritage and have used Irish middle names for our first 3 children. They are Eliza Bernadette, Thomas Patrick and Charlotte Mary. Our surname is a bit tricky...starts with an O and is a bit like elephant.

My husband and I are having real trouble with a boy's name for this baby, but have managed to agree on Isabelle (although I quite like Maggie) for a girl. My husband only likes 3 boy's names:

1) Henry. I don't like the way this name is said in our country...very nasal and almost a 'HInry'. He says we can name him Henry but call him Harry, an English tradition. I am not so keen on this idea, as I think it will require constant explanations for the child. Think I would prefer the name Harry itself but he is not so keen.

2) Joseph. He would probably be Joe at our place (Thomas is Tom or Tommy unless he is in trouble!), which is okay but I don't love it.

3) James. Every second boy we know is called James and once again i don't particularly like the way it is pronounced here..the 'a' is really dragged out.

Personally, I prefer names like:

Patrick (already used as a second name, but not sure this is a huge issue)
Hamish (Scottish form of James which is fine as my husband's family also originates there).

My father was Michael which we would consider as an Irish middle name but it is not a necessity.

I would love your advice here! Thanks for your time.

Oh, it is so tricky to choose a name with another parent, isn't it? Paul and I would sometimes go almost crazy: he'd choose a name I thought of as "total 1980s" and then I'd choose a name that would make him say, "Is that even a NAME?"

So. The only three boy names your husband will consider are Henry, Joseph, and James. My favorite from the list, given the details you provide, is Joseph: I love the nickname Joe, and wish I could use it (another of our kid's names is too similar). I think the nickname Joe is similar to the names you like, like Sam and Max and Jack: boyish and short and a guy's-guy name. Cute for a little boy, but grown-up enough for a man.

Then I'd use Michael as the middle name: Irish AND grandfather-honoring is perfect. Joseph Michael is a terrific name, solid and manly with a great nickname. I suspect it's the kind of name you might feel a little "meh" about using, but with time would love more and more. I'm getting a little sentimental just thinking about a cute little toddler boy named Joe!

It's also very good with your other children's names: Charlotte and Eliza, Thomas and Joseph. Very, very good. You don't need us at all! Great work!

Anyone have any other comments or suggestions for the upcoming cutie? (Awww, JOE!) (Or Isabelle!)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Name Contest

Speaking of names, we're playing "Guess Swistle's Real Name!" over at the main Swistle blog. Come play! There are (pitiful) prizes!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Baby Naming Emergency: TRIPLETS! TOMORROW!

Isabel writes:
Ok Swistle,
we've got a baby naming emergency on our hands!

I'm going in for my C-section in TWO days to deliver my triplets, and I don't have all the names!

One of the girls will be Schuyler (pronounced Skylar) Audrey, named after 2 little girls whose stories have really touched me.

The other 2 girls' names are fluctuating madly! We have one first name picked out - Charlotte - but the middle name depends on what we choose for baby C's name.

The name choices for baby C are:
Hannah (which I think is too common, and I don't like it very much)
Helena ( said He-LAY-na, not HEL-en-a.)

I liked the middle name Leigh, but I think it only goes with Hannah? Obviously I can't pair it with Hadleigh. So, I need middle name suggestions for Helena and Hadleigh, as well as, you know, which one we should choose!

Oh yeah - Charlotte's middle name! I like Eleanor, but I don't want to use it if we pick Helena - I think those are too similar. So, if you think we should go with Helena for baby C, what middle name should we give Charlotte?

Our last name begins with a J and ends in an N.
Thanks a TON for the help!

This is from yesterday, so it is actually ONE day until these baby girls will be here! They will be born TOMORROW! Here's what we're working with:

Triplet the First: Schuyler Audrey

Triplet the Second: Charlotte Eleanor, unless Triplet the Third is Helena, in which case we may need a different middle name

Triplet the Third: Hadleigh or Helena (I took Hannah out, since Isabel isn't sure she likes it anyway)

I like the name Hadleigh better with the name Schuyler, and I like the name Helena better with the name Charlotte. So I think either name works well, and I'm putting them both in the poll.

If you go with Helena, I think it's still fine to use Eleanor with Charlotte, and then you could use Leigh with Helena: Schuyler Audrey, Charlotte Eleanor, and Helena Leigh. But you could also do Charlotte Estelle. Charlotte Amelia. Charlotte Mae (the middle name Mae has been a favorite around here recently!).

If you go with Hadleigh, how about Jane as a middle name? That's my favorite middle name for girls right now, because it's so cute and sassy and strong. Then you'd have Schuyler Audrey, Charlotte Eleanor, and Hadleigh Jane. It might be a little bumpy with your J surname, though. Maybe Hadleigh Elise? Hadleigh Adele?

But I don't want to take too much time flipping idly through my baby name book when BABIES are going to be BORN! I'm turning it over to the whole team: go vote in the poll [poll closed; see below] for Helena or Hadleigh! But here is your second task: If you vote for Helena, please put in the comment section a middle name for Helena AND a middle name for Charlotte (since if Triplet the Third is Helena, Isabel doesn't want to use Eleanor as Charlotte's middle name). If you vote for Hadleigh, please put in the comment section a middle name for Hadleigh.

Isabel writes:
Well, we had a few big surprises with the babies! First, they arrived 1 1/2 days earlier than expected (2 am monday morning!) and not only that, but we now have 1 little girl and 2 boys! Since we only had 2 eggs, we thought 2 were identical (B & C) and they looked like girls when we checked... well, it turns out that not only are they boys, but they are not even identical!
We named the babies:
Schuyler Audrey
Alexander Kale (Alex)
Brody Nathaniel

Thanks again!

Congratulations, Isabel and family! What a surprise!

Poll results, even though they turned out to be irrelevant:
Hadleigh: 42 votes, roughly 52%
Helena: 39 votes, roughly 48%

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Baby Boy: Boone, Major, Andrew

Caroline writes:
My husband & I are expecting our first child (a boy) in 9 weeks. We are stuck between 2 names:

Boone Andrew
Major Boone

Obviously Boone is a family name, as is Andrew. Major has been my husband's favorite name for 10 years, after the president of his college.

We are truly stuck and would like some objective opinions. We have not shared any names with family.

So, it looks like what we're working with here is three names (Boone, Major, and Andrew), trying to choose the best combination.

I like the name Major, too. Here is where the name gives us trouble: it sounds like a military title. Using a surname name as a middle name enhances the effect: Major Boone sounds exactly like a military officer in a movie, kicking around the....who do majors kick around? Privates? That sounds rude, kicking privates. Also, it seems Swistle is not exactly up on her military terms.

I don't suppose your husband would consider bumping the name Major to the middle name position? Andrew Major sounds terrific, and gives the name Major a chance to shine. In most cases, putting a name in the middle name position diminishes it (a valuable thing when you want to honor someone whose name you dislike); in this particular case, I think it improves it. It's a seriously difficult first name, but a seriously cool middle name.

Boone Major works almost as well, if you don't mind those first two initials. (And speaking of initials, Boone Andrew's initials would be BAR.) Actually, I like Andrew Boone, too. That leaves only Major Andrew out of the running, so I guess we'd better put that name in as well, even though now I'm sold on Major as a middle name.

Let's put it to a vote: the two names Caroline and her husband are considering, plus all the other combinations. Vote in the poll at right [poll closed; see below], or freestyle in the comment section below.

[Poll results:
Boone Andrew: 6 votes, roughly 6%
Major Boone: 0 votes, 0%
Andrew Major: 52 votes, roughly 55%
Boone Major: 5 votes, roughly 5%
Andrew Boone: 31 votes, roughly 33%
Major Andrew: 0 votes, 0%]

Friday, April 25, 2008

Baby Name Etiquette: Someone Else Used the Exact Same Name

Big Dreams writes:
I have a baby girl name I have been in love with for years. Whenever I think of my future daughter (no kids yet, but soon hopefully) I think of her as "the name I love". The first name is a name I think is perfect and sweet and the middle name was my grandmother's middle name. I have told some people about my love for this name, but not everyone.

This last Summer my cousin had a baby girl, and used my name! First and middle! It was absolutely a coincidence (the first name is actually a family name for my cousin's wife, whereas I just like it and the middle name was his grandmother's middle name as well). My question is, can I still use the name? If I use the first name and not the middle name does that make it any better?

I feel weirdly protective of the first name, but the middle name is Mae. If we scrap the first name (which will break my heart a bit) do you have any names that work well with Mae? I like unique names (can't be in the top 200 baby names in the social security site at minimum) and I really like old fashion names like Violet and Ruby, but my husband likes slightly more traditional names. So we're looking for unusual but not weird, sweet sounding girl names that work with Mae as a middle name. Our last name starts with C.

What if you said something to your cousin such as, "Girl Child's name is, by crazy coincidence, the very name I had in mind for my daughter. First AND middle!" and then maybe you could see where the conversation went. I'd try early on to steer the conversation in the direction of "If I did have a daughter, how would we nickname them to tell them apart?" as opposed to in the direction of "You own this name and I can't use it without your blessing." (Because they really don't own it: names are not single-use items, and they probably weren't the first ones to use it either.)

It's possible they'll be like, "Oh, cool!" and then you can use the name without further worry. Or in any case, you'd come out of the conversation with a better idea of how cheesed off they'd be if you used it, and they'd have a heads-up that it was a possibility.

If you do use The Name You Love, I do think it makes things a little easier if you don't also duplicate the middle name. Perhaps you could use the first name, and reserve the middle name Mae for a possible second daughter?

If you choose instead to give up The Name You Love, Mae is a nice flexible middle name. I think you could make a list of girl names you liked, and then just go down the list and see which ones sound good with Mae. I spent a few minutes picking names and trying them out, and I notice that names with more than one syllable sound especially good: Josie Mae, Priscilla Mae, Alice Mae, Laurel Mae, Francesca Mae, Penelope Mae, Rosemary Mae. As long as your last name doesn't create a Sentence Problem (with Mae sounding like "may"), you're all set. Oh, and I'd avoid month names such as April Mae.

If you decided for sure not to use it, you could write again---telling us The Name You Love---and we'll try to find names we think are similar.

If anyone has any advice and/or experience on duplicating names within a family, we'd love to hear it---especially if someone in your family successfully (i.e., no bloodshed or possessive feud) duplicated a name. Or answer this: If your cousin wanted to use the same name you'd given your child, what would be the best way for your cousin to handle it?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Baby Girl Story ___ B.

Andrea writes:
We are pregnant with our first baby girl in June. We have decided on Story for the first name, but cannot for the life of us come up with something that fits for a middle name. Our last name begins with B and is 2 syllables.

The issue we’re having is that Story is kind of “odd” in the circles we run in, but we love it! Most people can’t seem to get on board with Story…I guess maybe because it’s a noun?

We’ve considered:

Story Love
Story Maria (Maria is a family name)
Story May
Story June
Story Belle

Thanks in advance!

You have come to the right person. I can tell you why people are having trouble getting on board with the name Story: it is because "Story" is not a name. Of course it IS a name if you name your baby with it, but as with names such as Apple and Poet and Moon Unit, we consider them "words" and not "names." That is why they create a stir when used as names.

I think you know all this already. You'll soften the reaction you get from your family and acquaintances if you acknowledge that you know it. Something in a kind, understanding tone of voice, something like, "We know it's very unusual, but we just love it, and it's such a pretty sound!"

Because it IS a pretty sound! A VERY pretty sound! Say the name Story until it loses its "word"ness, and the surprise is that it's not already a common girl name. It sounds like many other girl names already in use: Dori, Kori, Lori, Rory, Tori.

Word names do present a middle name problem. Any usual name is going to clash---but a second word name is overkill, and confusing. I think the middle name choices you have so far (except for Maria) all fall into the word name category: June and Belle and Love and May ARE of course often used as names, but when they're put up next to Story they shift back into words. The mind struggles to make sense of what it is seeing: is this a name, a product, a location, a command, a library event requiring pre-registration?

Maria is a usual name, and like all usual names, it's going to seem to clash with a word name. One way to reduce the apparent clash is to choose an established name that reminds us of Story, and try it on with the middle name.

For example, let's use Rory: Rory Maria. Well, that's beautiful! Now that we're using a two usual names together, we can see it more clearly. Say it a few times (Rory Maria, Rory Maria, Rory Maria) and then switch in Story: Story Maria. Lovely. Story Marie is lovely, too.

Let's find more options the same way. How about Anne? Lori Anne, Lori Anne, Lori Anne---Story Anne. Nice.

Tori Leigh, Tori Leigh, Tori Leigh---Story Leigh. Nice.

Kori Lynn, Kori Lynn, Kori Lynn---Story Lynn. Nice.

Dori Elizabeth, Dori Elizabeth, Dori Elizabeth---Story Elizabeth. My favorite so far.

I think the key here is to keep the middle name very obviously a girl name. If you see Story Love, you wonder what you're looking at. If you see Story Elizabeth, you have a hint.

I KNEW my friend Mairzy would enjoy tackling this one. Here's her take:
You're probably tired of hearing that "Story" is an, um, unusual choice. (Well, it is unless you're a celebrity, a form of life not known for its responsible parenting choices.) I can see the appeal in the name: pretty word, whimsical meaning, universal concept -- not every culture celebrates Liberty, Mercy, or Charity, but every culture prizes a Story.

But although it looks good in abstract -- or in print -- it would be a hard fit for a real person. A second-grade Story will be sick to the point of nausea of hearing "What's your middle name? Book? Time? Paige?" By eighth grade, she'll react with hostility to the question, "Is that your real name?" By the time she's applying for a job, she may have made peace with and embraced her name... or she might just write down "Jane."

I know a Cinnamon, whose short answer about her name is, "My parents were hippies." I knew a Spring, who replied dubiously, "I don't know, my parents liked it?" I knew an Honor, who said, "My father blessed me with this name, and I try to live up to it," which sounded a whole lot more rote than heartfelt if you ask me. Parents always have to remember that even though they may love a bold new name, it doesn't mean the child herself will.

When it comes to a middle name, I strongly -- on steroids, even -- discourage using an equally whimsical name like "Love" or "Belle." Instead, I'd suggest using a more classic name. Just in case she ever wants to fall back on normal for a while. Fortunately Story has a great rhythm, so it's easy to match:

Maria (as you'd mentioned)

You probably can get away with using the name Story in today's naming world. Just resign yourself and your daughter to the same questions, over and over. Cultivate an empty smile and pat response. And instill in your daughter a love for the name.

Thanks, Mairzy! My favorites from that list are Story Elise (SEB) and Story Annaliese (SAB). I like Story Olivia even better, but it gives the initials SOB.

Let's have a vote! Go to the poll at right [poll closed; see below] and choose your favorite middle name for the name Story.

[Poll results:
Maria/Marie: 11 votes, roughly 12%
Anne: 4 votes, roughly 4%
Leigh: 8 votes, roughly 8%
Lynne: 8 votes, roughly 8%
Elizabeth: 38 votes, roughly 40%
Elise: 22 votes, roughly 23%
Annaliese: 4 votes, roughly 4%]

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Baby Boy James C___ F.

Lori writes:
My husband's (deceased) father was named James Cornelius and my husband is James Christopher, so it important to him to name our son James C______. Our last name is two syllables that starts with an F and ends with an S, so an additional middle same that ends with an S is just too ssssssssss. I have combed through baby books trying to find the perfect C name and come up empty every time. We are partial to traditional names (even names that may feel stodgy to some people). For example, I love the name Augustus.

Our daughter's name is Abigail Elizabeth. I was not aware of the popularity of the name Abigail in 2000 when she was born and would like to avoid a repeat of having 3 - 4 children with the same name in his class. I like names that lend themselves to nicknames, but I don't like nicknames as the legal name.

If you've already been through the baby name books, we might be of scant help---but we can at least get a C-name vote going, and perhaps it will tip you toward a candidate.

Let's start by considering both Christopher and Cornelius. Perhaps you want to avoid making a Jr., in which case Christopher is out. But Cornelius is an unusual choice, and distinguished. It reminds me of Augustus. And it's a nice way to honor your husband's father. It does end in S, but I don't think it's overly hisssssy.

Some other contenders:

James Cabot
James Callahan
James Calvin
James Campbell
James Cedric
James Chapman
James Charleston
James Christian
James Clayton
James Clifton
James Conrad
James Currier

I think ANY of those would be nice. I avoided more contemporary C names like Caden and Carson and Carter and Coleman and Connor only because you said your tastes ran more towards unusual/traditional---but Caden etc. would be good, too.

Vote in the poll at right [poll closed; see below] to help James's parents choose him a middle name, and leave your remarks in the comment section. I hate to split the vote into such small pieces, but I think we'd still better have a lot of choices. HOWEVER! I'll make it so you can vote for more than one if you have several favorites.

Edit: I didn't realize it when I wrote the post, but the baby will be called by his middle name.

[Poll results:
Cabot: 23 votes, roughly 11%
Callahan: 20 votes, roughly 9%
Calvin: 32 votes, roughly 15%
Campbell: 22 votes, roughly 10%
Cedric: 6 votes, roughly 3%
Chapman: 7 votes, roughly 3%
Charleston: 5 votes, roughly 2%
Christian: 34 votes, roughly 16%
Clayton: 22 votes, roughly 10%
Clifton: 6 votes, roughly 3%
Conrad: 22 votes, roughly 10%
Cornelius: 12 votes, roughly 6%
Currier: 5 votes, roughly 2%]

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Baby Boy/Girl ___ James/Rose L.

Jana writes:
Baby #3 is due in 4 weeks and we have yet to decide on a name - yikes! The gender is unknown so we've got to come up with boy and girl names. Generally, we like to go into the delivery room with two name choices per gender and then we decide which one to use once we've seen the baby's face (and genitalia!).

We would like to use James as the middle name if it's a boy (my husband's middle name) and Rose for the middle name if it's a girl (my mother-in-law's middle name - don't ask). Our last name is quite ethnic sounding and similar to "Lombardo".

So far, we really like Matthew, Connor and Evan as first names for a boy and Elizabeth, Callie and Cassidy as first names for a girl. We tend to shy away from trendy and dual-gender names, but we also don't want anything too common. And even though Matthew and Elizabeth are in the national Top 10 lists, they do not seem to be all that popular in our part of the country.

Our other children are named Sydney Anne and William Murray (we call him Liam).

Any thoughts and/or suggestions?

Well! *rubs hands briskly* We have our work cut out for us: two girl names and two boy names, and Swistle left this in her inbox for 2 weeks so had to change "due in 6 weeks" to "due in 4 weeks" and so now things are getting A LITTLE DESPERATE. Let's see if we can hurry.

Girl names first. You've got Elizabeth, Callie, and Cassidy already. Consulting The Baby Name Wizard for sibling names, I'll add Aubrey, Morgan, and Jocelyn.

Elizabeth Rose (ERL); Sydney, Liam, and Elizabeth
Callie Rose (CRL); Sydney, Liam, and Callie
Cassidy Rose (CRL); Sydney, Liam, and Cassidy
Aubrey Rose (ARL); Sydney, Liam, and Aubrey
Morgan Rose (MRL); Sydney, Liam, and Morgan
Jocelyn Rose (JRL); Sydney, Liam, and Jocelyn

Now boys. You've got Matthew, Connor, and Evan already. I'll add Ian, Aidan, and Simon.

Matthew James (MJL); Sydney, Liam, and Matthew
Connor James (CJL); Sydney, Liam, and Connor
Evan James (EJL); Sydney, Liam, and Evan
Ian James (IJL); Sydney, Liam, and Ian
Aidan James (AJL); Sydney, Liam, and Aidan
Simon James (SJL); Sydney, Liam, and Simon

The voting is going to be a little different this time [voting closed; see below], so pay attention, please, class: You're going to vote for TWO boy names and TWO girl names. There are twelve names in the poll, six for girls and six for boys, and you're going to choose the four names (two girl, two boy) you think the family should bring to the hospital with them.

[Poll results:

Elizabeth: 49 votes, roughly 25% of girl vote
Callie: 50 votes, roughly 25% of girl vote
Cassidy: 22 votes, roughly 11% of girl vote
Aubrey: 33 votes, roughly 17% of girl vote
Morgan: 19 votes, roughly 10% of girl vote
Jocelyn: 25 votes, roughly 13% of girl vote

Matthew: 44 votes, roughly 22% of boy vote
Connor: 41 votes, roughly 21% of boy vote
Evan: 51 votes, roughly 26% of boy vote
Ian: 11 votes, roughly 6% of boy vote
Aidan: 25 votes, roughly 13% of boy vote
Simon: 27 votes, roughly 14% of boy vote]

[Update! Jana writes:
Hi there,

I just wanted to let you know the final outcome of
our baby name dilemma. Evan James L_______ was born
on Thursday, May 15th (the winning name from your blog

Thanks so much for helping us contemplate names for
our new little addition.


Yay! Congratulations!]

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Family Name Obligation

Erica writes:
If a couple has one child and chose to name that child after a parent (the child's grandparent), are they expected to name future children after relatives as well?

To be less vague about it, my daughter is named after my mother who passed away and my husband's mother (she is alive and well). If our next child (who is still hypothetical at this point) is a boy, should we feel obligated to name him after our fathers?

I don't think we feel obligated to do so, but I'm wondering what convention dictates on this.

The short answer: No, you're not obligated, but you're smart to take it into account as a potential issue.

In your particular case, you've made things even easier by using both grandmothers' names the first go-round. It would be a touchier situation if you'd used one grandmother name, and now had to think about the other grandmother wondering if she'd be similarly honored.

If you HAD set up a situation where you'd used one grandmother name but not the other, and you DIDN'T plan to use the other, I'd suggest making that clear early on. Not, of course, by saying, "Just so's you don't get your hopes up: we hate your name, and anyways we don't like you much either." But something more along the lines of discussing the names you ARE considering, with nary a mention of the grandmother's name.

You could even take it a step further, if you wanted to make extra-double-careful-sure that no one would be taken by surprise later: "With Mary Jane, we really wanted to use my mom's name: I was missing her so much, and wanted my daughter to feel a connection to the grandmother she wouldn't know. But with this next baby, we're not planning to use any family names---so the options are wide open!"

Um, that would all be in the hypothetical situation where you hadn't used both grandmother names. In your actual situation, where you're wondering about, for example, grandfather names, it depends on the grandfathers involved. Do you think they might expect it? If you think there's a chance they would expect it, it wouldn't hurt to pull out the "not planning to use any family names" line from above.

Pitch in on this, everyone. Did you use a family name for your first baby, and then feel pressure to use more family names? Did anyone (*shudder*) mention it to you, like that they were disappointed, or that they expected it? Did you avoid using family names because you didn't want to start up those expectations? Did you use another family name because you didn't want to hurt someone's feelings?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Baby Girl, Sister to Claire

Kari writes:
I am pregnant with baby number 2 and we can’t seem to agree on a girl name. If this baby is a boy, he will be Everett Eli. For a girl, we have no idea. Our first is Claire Elisabeth. I love the name Ingrid for a girl, but it is out by association with an ex-. We like Lucie Jane, but I wonder how that fits with Claire or if it is too trendy. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

When I am in doubt, when I know not which way to turn---that is when I find I do in fact know which way to turn, because I turn to The Baby Name Wizard. You have a girl named Claire already, so let's look at sister names: Elise, Caroline, Isabel, Leah, Hope. Ooo, nice! I especially like Elise and Hope.

And since you have a boy name chosen, we can look at sister names for Everett, too, just to see what sorts of names might be similar in style: Genevieve, Cora, Adele, Estella, Antonia. More good pickings. I love Genevieve (first runner-up for our girl), and I like Estella, too, although I think I'd go for Estelle.

You're worried that Lucie/Lucy might be too trendy, so let's take a look at that. I'm going to quote from The Baby Name Wizard because coincidentally it addresses that very issue: "The numbers may look modest, but don't be fooled. Lucy's a stealth hit among affluent, trend-setting urbanites who appreciate its sweetness and absolute lack of pretension." The name Lucy was the #152 most popular baby name in the U.S. in 2006 (source: Social Security Administration), and that doesn't include variant spellings such as Lucie. (For comparison, Claire was the #86 name in 2006.) I think Claire and Lucie are great together.

Let's ask Mairzy!
I like the name Lucie very much. It's sweet and cute. It will always sound a little cute, but she'll be growing old with Lily, Emily, and Kaylie, so the cuteness won't stand out. It can grow up ("For more information about our Angel Tree project, please see Lucie Jones.") and I like it with Claire. My comments on the name are:

1. If it's going to be a full name (not a nickname), then I approve of the -ie spelling. It signals that it's a full name in and of itself.

2. A little Lucie might want a longer name to take her through adulthood. But the only options I've found are Lucinda, Lucille, and Lucia. The first two I don't like, and the third one is formidably elegant, with built-in pronunciation headaches. Not, come to think of it, that any of those are reasons not to use those names. ("I'm sorry, Lucie. I knew you would want a longer name, but years ago I found out that Mairzy didn't like any of the options, and that was that.")
Other suggestions along the Lucie line, not all of which I love personally, but most of which I've seen work well on a little girl:

Laura Jane
Annie Jane
Violet Jane
Louisa Jane
Lilly Jane
Nora Jane
Mercy Jane
Ella Jane
Stella Jane

Stella is a name I'm trying to like, because it's a great name... just a bit stale. And Mercy? I know, it's still an old-lady stretch. But I like the name -- mostly because of the meaning -- and my husband gives me the crooked-eyebrow look every time I mention it. So I'm offering it to the world. Is that a crooked eyebrow I see?

Best wishes as you bring up two girls!

I especially like Violet and Lily with Claire.

Mairzy and I disagree on the spelling of Lucie/Lucy: I think "Lucie" looks like the nickname, and that "Lucy" looks like the complete name. I do, however, like the way the spelling Lucie looks with the name Claire: I think it's visually pleasing the way the L, C, I, and E all repeat.

Okay! Time to vote! Pick a favorite from the poll to the right [poll closed; see below], and leave comments/suggestions below!

[Poll results:
Lucy/Lucie: 58 votes, roughly 63%
Hope: 1 vote, roughly 1%
Elise: 19 votes, roughly 21%
Genevieve: 2 votes, roughly 2%
Estelle: 1 vote, roughly 1%
Violet: 6 votes, roughly 7%
Lily: 5 votes, roughly 5%]

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Baby Girl Cheng

Leanne writes:
Our baby name dilemma is choosing a name for a second daughter. I feel like we either used or rejected all our potential names girls’ names for our first daughter and now we can’t find anything we like for number two. Our surname is Cheng and as our future daughter would be of Chinese ethnicity it would be good if the name wasn’t overtly connected with a particular country (ie. not distinctly Irish, Russian etc) although it’s fine if it’s a name that has crossed over into regular English use. Our first daughter’s name is Gabriella Grace and it would be good to have a name with a similar feel (but not matching). If it’s a boy we are thinking of Ethan which we think goes pretty well with Gabriella. We are not planning on using any family names this time around as we already used Grace (my MIL’s name) and while everyone else seems to have Emilys and Williams in their family tree, mine reads like a list of the worst names in history (seriously – Maureen, Frank, Mildred, Doris, Arthur, Edith, Norman – Urgh!)

We tend to like classic names and biblical names. Actually, that’s not entirely true – I tend to like names that are a bit more unusual (Willow, Autumn, Bliss, Keiko) and my husband likes any girl’s name that was in the top 50 twenty years ago (Jennifer, Sarah, Rachel) but classic and biblical names tend to be where we find the most agreement (hence – Gabriella Grace).

Some of the names that we like but have rejected are:
  • Emily (Beautiful but WAY too common)
  • Isabelle (Beautiful but WAY too common and too matchy with Gabriella)
  • Alexandria/Alexandra (Great name but I couldn’t live with her forever being called “Alex”)
  • Annastasia (Great name but I couldn’t live with her forever being called “Anna” or “Annie”)
  • Cassandra (I like it but my husband hates it)

Other names that we couldn’t do:

Olivia/Sophie/Hannah/Lily/Rosie/Ruby/Caroline/Ellen/Audrey (We have close friends/family who have already used these names)

The one name we are still considering is Taya (a diminutive of Dorothy) which we both like but my concern is that it sounds too modern to go with Gabriella (and a possible future Ethan) and that it is one of those fad names (along with Mia/Maya/Mya/Tia/Kaia) that in 20 years time is going to sound horrendously dated.

Can you help us? I am terrified this child will come along and we will end up naming her something that we don’t like that much just because we don’t have anything better. We are adopting so I can’t give you a due date but we are hoping it will be some time this year.

I see you don't like nicknames (no Alex, no Annie), and the good news is that the trends are fully on your side. When I was growing up, I had a friend named Elizabeth who had a TERRIBLE TIME trying to make people call her Elizabeth---and furthermore, I remember people being annoyed that she was trying, like she was being pretentious or something. But now, there have been three Elizabeths in my kids' classes, and all three went by Elizabeth without anyone blinking an eye. In fact, you'd be in more trouble if you WANTED to call an Elizabeth "Liz" or a James "Jim."

On the other hand, I'm totally with you about not wanting to take the chance. My daughter's pseudonym is Elizabeth, and one of the only reasons it's not her real name is that I was nervous about nicknames---not so much about nicknames other people might give her (I was planning to use soft words and a big stick to talk them out of it), but about nicknames she might give to herself. So for now, let's look mostly at names that don't BEG for nicknames: we'll take out Annastasia/Annie, Cassandra/Cassie, Isabelle/Bella, and Alexandria/Alex.

No, wait. I'm putting Annastasia back in, but I'm spelling it the traditional way: Anastasia. I think the double N invites the nickname Annie, but that with a single N it's less of an obvious leap. Plus, I love the name, I love it with your surname, and I think it's great with Gabriella.

I'm not familiar with Taya as a short form of Dorothy, and I don't see it in the Oxford Dictionary of First Names. But in any case, I don't think it's good with Gabriella or with your surname.

Emily is, as you say, very common (it's been the #1 most popular girl name in the U.S. since 1996, according to the Social Security Administration). Although, a funny thing about that: there hasn't been a single Emily in all my kids' classes so far (that's 9 classes including preschool). There have been multiple Isabellas, Abigails, Emmas, and Noahs, but not a single Emily. So if you love the name, it's worth looking into whether it's as popular in your area as it is in mine---which is to say, hardly popular at all. It's a great name, which is why it's so popular, and it's great with your surname.

Perhaps not as great with Gabriella. Emily is a feminine name, but Gabriella is practically festooned with lace and roses. I, too, am a fan of extra-feminine names (I have one girl and four boys, and my one girl has the most feminine name I could find). I'd consider Clarissa: it's one of my top favorites, it's great with your surname, and it's good with Gabriella.

And speaking of being good with Gabriella, let's see what The Baby Name Wizard thinks would be good sister names. "Gabriella" isn't listed, but the sister names for Gabriela are Daniela, Natalia, Angelica, Mariana, Iliana; and the sister names for Gabrielle are Alexandra, Brooke, Natalie, Noelle, and Jocelyn.

Any of those appeal? I could go for Angelica (Anjelica Huston is a bitchin' namesake and argues for the spelling Anjelica), Iliana, or Noelle.

Can anyone else think of a suggestion? Leave it in the comment section, and/or vote for one of the suggestions in the poll to the right [poll closed; see below].

[Poll results:
Anastasia: 17 votes, roughly 27%
Clarissa: 6 votes, roughly 10%
Angelica/Anjelica: 12 votes, roughly 19%
Iliana/Eliana: 10 votes, roughly 16%
Noelle: 18 votes, roughly 29%

Also 14 write-in votes for the name Claudia. That puts Claudia up there between Anjelica and Anastasia in popularity with the voters.]

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Middle Name Challenge: Baby Girl Hannah ___

Sara writes:
As you may know, we have had some trouble in the last week or so in choosing a name for our baby girl, who is due this August. Although friends of ours (my brother's in-laws) have used our name, we have decided to stick with the first name Hannah. I am absolutely in love with the name Hannah Grace, but Hub is not keen on the middle name. He will accept it, (I think) but he reasons that is sounds like a product; as in: "I need to go to the store for some Hannah Grace". Since he still brings up that he is not a fan of the middle name of our first daughter, I would like to at least come to middle ground here. So please help me!!! The only stipulation I have is that the middle name can not begin with an "O" based on our last name. If you were saying her first name, middle initial and last name, it would sound something like "Hannah Obedient." Our other children are named Edmund Mason and Caitlyn Renee if that helps.

Normally when I'm choosing a middle name, I like to choose something that has significance to me (a favorite author's name, a favorite relative's name), or something that didn't quite make our First Name list (too unusual for us, a name that doesn't fit with sibling names), or something that in some way balances the first name (a traditional middle name to balance a contemporary first name, or vice versa).

In your situation, where you already know the first name is common in your group, I'd shoot for a different goal: I'd be looking for a middle name that sounded good when I needed to use it to differentiate MY Hannah from THEIR Hannah. Something short and easy to say---very similar to your first choice of Hannah Grace.

Hannah Claire
Hannah Faith
Hannah Fay
Hannah Jane
Hannah Jeanne
Hannah June
Hannah Kate
Hannah Sue

Go on and vote in the poll to the right [poll closed; see below], but also leave your comment below: What would you choose as the middle name for Hannah?

[Poll results:
Hannah Claire: 41 votes, roughly 38%
Hannah Faith: 4 votes, roughly 4%
Hannah Fay: 4 votes, roughly 4%
Hannah Jane: 29 votes, roughly 27%
Hannah Jeanne: 0 votes
Hannah June: 9 votes, roughly 8%
Hannah Kate: 20 votes, roughly 18%
Hannah Sue: 2 votes, roughly 2%]

[Update! Sara writes: "Although I was set on Grace for a middle name, Hub changed his mind in the delivery room and we settled on Lynne. named Hannah Lynne. Thanks for the help. :)"]

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Baby Girl ___ ___ La-GARE-y

Rachel writes:
We are less than a month away from having a baby girl and though we've been trying for months to come up with a name, no luck yet! I'm starting to feel the pressure. We already have two boy names we love: Nicolas (shortened to Nico) and Atticus. Our last name sounds like la-GARE-y but is filled with many more vowels (three i's). It's Fijian, though we have no cultural connections to Fiji, and usually mispronounced and misspelled. We'd like to use a family name if possible as a middle name, but it's not our top priority. We would like to avoid a name that's becoming extremely popular (top 25 or so). Here are the girl names we've considered:

Zoë: This is probably #1, but my main concern is how it sounds with the last name. Is it too sing-songy with the double "ee" sound? Would the umlaat be annoying? Is it getting too popular? My husband likes the spelling Zoey better (which I don't like). Grace is our first pick for a middle name, but Mae would be an alternate--it's both my grandma's and mine.

Beatrix: Love the "x" and that it's old-fashioned sounding. Bea and Trixie could both make for cute nicknames (though Trixie might be a little much). One of our families loves it, the other hates it.

Fiona: Worried about Shrek connotations and Fiona Apple.

Grace: Love the name, but it's just getting so popular.

Eva: I like it as is. Am worried about pronunciation (we like "EH-va," not EVE-ah"). Husband wants long version to be Evaline, which is cute but I don't know that it is a good match for our pronunciation of Eva or if that matters. Also, Ava is getting super popular. Husband is worried that Eva sounds too "Germanic."

Nico: Husband's favorite, even though we like it for a boy. Long version Nicolette or maybe Nicola. I'd like to save it for a boy and can't decide if Nicolette is too frilly.

Agnes: We both like the name, but husband has bad connotations due to "Agnes of God."

Middle names we've considered: Grace, Mae, Pearl (husband's grandma's middle name).

As you can tell, we're finding faults with every name we come up with (and there aren't many we agree on). Help!

I LOVE the name Beatrix. LOVE! IT! I think it's sassy and strong and feminine. It brings to mind the independent, strong-willed, artistic Beatrix Potter. I would use the nickname Bee, which I think is so adorable it almost makes me keel over---or possibly the nickname Bix, which ditto. And when she's in her cynical cool stage in high school, she can go by Beat. Plus, it's great with your last name. LOVE THIS NAME. WANT YOU TO USE IT. FORCING SELF TO MOVE ON TO OTHER POSSIBILITIES.

The name Fiona was a finalist for my one girl child. I love the name, and it's great with your last name.

As you say, the name Grace is getting popular: #17 in 2006 (source: Social Security Administration). Still, it's a name with long roots, and that makes it popular as opposed to trendy: it's a name that will rise and fall over millennia, not a flash-in-the-pan we may never see again. If the popularity bothers you, I agree it would make a good middle name.

If you want the name Eva pronounced a way other than EE-vuh, I think you're going to go bat-crap crazy trying to make it happen. If what you're looking for is AY-vuh, use Ava---but again, you're right on about popularity (Ava was #5 in 2006). If you want EH-vuh (like Evan without the N), then.....Evva, maybe? Evaline is darling.

Let's get you some more choices to consider. The Baby Name Wizard suggests these sister names for the boy names you like: Gia, Halle, Anika, Ivy, Elle (for Nico); Beatrix, Artemisia, Athena, Paloma, Anaïs (for Atticus).

Hey, it's Beatrix! I love Athena and Gia, too. I think Halle and Elle are difficult with your surname. I'm not sure how to pronounce Anika--is it an-NEEK-uh, or AN-ih-kuh? Either way, it may be too similar to the name Nico, if you think you might use that boy name in the future.

Ivy is one of my top-favorite girl names---but when I mentioned it to my kids, they went to "Poison Ivy, she's poison, don't let her touch you!" in 2 seconds flat. My mom was skeptical of my results (we both LOVE the name); she was teaching third grade at the time and mentioned the name experimentally to her class, and they made the same immediate leap. I'm hoping the name will soon become more common so that this will be less of a problem.

From your list, then, I'm taking Beatrix (use it use it use it), Fiona, Grace, and Evaline. From the sister name lists, I'm taking Athena and Gia.

I asked Stephanie G. of The Wonder Worrier to weigh in:
This is FATE!
My own middle name is "Mae". M-A-E, Mae.
So, with just a pinch of bias, I say choose Mae for the middle name. Here are my reasons:

1. It's short.
2. It flows with a wide variety of first names.
3. Although it's an easy-to-pronounce name ("May"), it has the added bonus of an unusual spelling with that "–ae" ending.
4. I love to see people using a family name as a middle name.
5. It's MY middle name, and I'm a pretty cool cat.

Now let's move on to the first name!
I like your name ideas very much, my favourites from your list are Fiona and Zoe (FYI – for our reader's visualization and help with pronunciation, I am using "LaGAREy" as the last name beside my full names below).
Fiona: This name has grown on me, as there was an ADORABLE little girl in the childcare centre I used to work at named Fiona. Fiona Mae LaGAREy flows really nicely. I think the Shrek franchise has helped rather than hindered this name – more people will be accepting of Fiona without finding it too outdated or strange (they'll feel like they've heard it recently, but not all will realize its because of Shrek), and the Shrek franchise will not be as popular when your child reaches school-age (let's be realistic, it's no Little Mermaid, haha!). And if Shrek does last, in her future as a five-year-old who might be princess-obsessed, she'll appreciate that her name is a princess name!
Zoe: I prefer this spelling to "Zoey" (sorry to your Hubby). Zoey looks like "Zoo-ey" to me. I don't think Zoe is too sing-songy either, I think it's sort of cute when a name slightly rhymes with the last name (plus, you don't say both names together ALL the time, it'll just be an introduction thing – and think of her friends later, she'll always be "Zoe LaGAREy", easy to say and memorable!). I feel like Zoe is a well-known enough name to not have pronunciation or spelling issues, and yet I don't see this as an overly popular/overused name. Just be prepared, you can spell it with the dots over the E (in layman's terms), but I see that being dropped before long, especially if you're located in North America. For Zoe I would choose Grace as the middle name for better flow, but Mae is still a solid choice.
Beatrix LaGAREy is a no for me. I think of Bellatrix LeStrange from the Harry Potter series, and also Trixie is a little too ... lady of the night ... for my tastes. Or something better suited for a pet than a child.
Nico (Nicolette, Nicola... or another option: Nicoletta) is lovely, but if you have your heart set on it for a boy, you might not want to use it yet for your first child (because maybe the second will be a boy and you might regret having already used it; conversely, if the second is a girl too you can still choose Nico then, but at least you gave it a try at using it for a boys name). I see the nickname Nico as a more masculine nickname, but that's just personal preference.
Here are a few other suggestions that I feel are a similar style to the types of names you're coming up with (these are from my own head, haha):
  • Chloe Mae
  • Olivia Mae
  • Gwendolyn /Gwenyth (nn Gwen) Mae
  • Sofia/Sophia Mae (nn Sophie/Sofie)
  • Ava Grace (becoming very popular though)
  • Claudia Mae
  • Alexa Mae / Alexa Grace (for a name with an "x" in it – or perhaps Alexandria or Alexis)

Nice stuff, Steph!---even though you disagree with me on Beatrix, which NOT ALLOWED. Let's pluck Gwendolyn and Claudia from that list above and add them to our contenders.

Voting time! Vote in the poll over to the right [poll closed; see below], and leave your comments below.

[Poll results:
Zoe: 15 votes, roughly 13%
Beatrix: 43 votes, roughly 38%
Fiona: 20 votes, roughly 18%
Grace: 4 votes, roughly 4%
Evaline: 14 votes, roughly 13%
Athena: 1 vote, roughly 1%
Gia: 5 votes, roughly 4%
Gwendolyn: 7 votes, roughly 6%
Claudia: 3 votes, roughly 3%]