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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Baby Boy Face

Leigh writes:
In my desperate attempts to search the Internet for an appropriate name for my soon-to-be born son, I came across your website. My husband and I have gone round and round in our discussions about what to name him, and we're no closer to a decision than when we started. I am due at the end of August, and I really want to start referring to him as something other than "the baby" so I feel as though I know him when he's born! I'm a planner by nature, and it's driving me crazy that we don't have a name picked out.

There are a few considerations that I have when it comes to choosing a name. First, it has to sound right with our odd last name - Face. That means no "Happy", "Smiley", or anything else that's already a common or cutesy phrase. Second, it shouldn't rhyme with the last name. That rules out "Chase Face". Third, I have many names that I won't consider because they conjure up the image of certain students I've had in my teaching career or they are so common that I've had ten of them in my classes. I've been teaching for ten years, so there are too many to mention, but as examples, no "Tyler", "Garrett" or "Matthew".

I really think, rhythmically speaking, that the first name should have at least two syllables to go with the one syllable last name. Ideally, I would like a name with three or more syllables that can be shortened into a two syllable nickname. My husband's main concern is that it sounds cool when spoken across the loudspeaker at his future Little League baseball games. We have a daughter already and her name is Natalie Elizabeth Face.

I've suggested so many combinations to my husband, I don't know what else to do. He just doesn't seem to like anything other than Aiden, which to me sounds too much like other modern names (Jaden, Braden, etc.) Maybe if I can give him ideas from non-biased but interested individuals, he will be more open to considering them. I would really appreciate your input! Thanks for any suggestions you may have!

Teaching is a tough profession, baby-names-wise!

You're hoping for a 3-or-more-syllable name that could be shortened to a 2-syllable nickname, and the one that comes immediately to mind is Alexander, nickname Alex. That's unfortunately fairly common---but maybe all your Alexanders were bright students with pleasant, respectful personalities.

This discussion has brought to light something I hadn't realized, which is that most boy nicknames now are one syllable: Timmy and Tommy and Johnny and Ricky sound like children from another era. Still, I did find some boy names with contemporary two-syllable nicknames:

Elias, nickname Eli
Theodore, nickname Theo [suggestion withdrawn; see comment section]
Anderson, nickname Andy
Carlton, nickname Carl
Jameson, nickname Jamie
Tobias or Tobin, nickname Toby
Leonardo, nickname Leo
Jordan, nickname Jordy
Charles, nickname Charlie

Do any of those appeal? You do indeed seem double-cursed: the years and years of former students, plus a challenging surname!

I'll put a poll to the right [poll closed; see below], but I hope the rest of you will chime in with more suggestions.

[Poll results:
Aidan: 1 vote, roughly 0%
Elias/Eli: 23 votes, roughly 15%
Theodore/Theo: 28 votes, roughly 18% [suggestion withdrawn; see comment section]
Anderson/Andy: 20 votes, roughly 13%
Carlton/Carl: 2 votes, roughly 1%
Jameson/Jamie: 14 votes, roughly 9%
Tobias or Tobin / Toby: 14 votes, roughly 9%
Leonardo/Leo: 4 votes, roughly 3%
Jordan/Jordy: 2 votes, roughly 1%
Charles/Charlie: 18 votes, roughly 11%
Alexander/Alex : 31 votes, roughly 20%]

Monday, July 28, 2008

Baby Naming Issue: Someone Stole Our Name

Heather writes:
My husband and I have recently decided to start trying to start a family. My husband has a unique name, Lincoln Cash, which was given to him by his parents, at the time he was born his mother named him after two very special and important people in her life. The thing is a couple months ago my husband and I read in our very small town newspaper and baby was born and given my husband exact name. Turns out this baby's parents are friends of friends or my mothers and had overheard my mother talking about myself and my husband. My husband and I feel offended and disrepected by these peoples actions. His name has great meaning to us as well as his mother and now I fell I have been cheated the opportunity of passing that meaning along to our son. Please respond back to me when possible. I need help getting on and\or whether I'm all bent out of shape for nothing.
P.S. Due to my husband name being so unique he has been approached several times already about whether he has recently had a child. People are thinking that because this baby's name is Lincoln Cash that it is my husband son. What do we do? Thanks for your time.

Let's see if we can sort this out, issue by issue. I am afraid you are not going to like any of this.

* Names are many-time-use items. No one owns exclusive rights to a name---and it's a good thing, too, or we'd be resorting to random combinations of letters and numbers by now.

* If someone younger than your husband has the same name, that is irrelevant to whether or not you can use the name for your child. I will say this again, because this is important: it is irrelevant to your future use of the name. No one has cheated you out of anything; no one has stolen anything from you: they don't somehow own the name now, nor do they own the meaning of the name you hope to pass on to a future son. Names are many-time-use items.

* People who choose the same name have no obligation to use it for the same reasons. One person's reasons don't invalidate another person's reasons: if another family uses the name with a different significance in mind, it does not suck the significance from your husband's name. Their use of the name does not make the people your husband was named for any less important to his family.

* Many parents have special reasons for choosing a child's name. Having special reasons for choosing a name doesn't create a greater claim to the name. Everyone else is still allowed to use the names, even if they don't have the same special reasons. They may even use it if they have ZERO special reasons.

* The other family did not name their baby Lincoln Cash in an attempt to offend and disrespect you. Can you imagine them sitting in the hospital, thinking, "You know what would really offend those people? Giving our baby his name! Let's do it! *rubbing hands together with evil glee*." Naming a baby after someone is considered a serious compliment and a high honor. At the very least, it's a compliment to the name. It is never, ever done as an insult. Your reaction (feeling insulted and offended) is inappropriate.

* In answer to your question about what to do when someone asks you if that child is your husband's baby: you answer, "No."

The thing is, I believe you agree with me already. I will show you what I mean:

Your husband was not the first to have his name, any more than that new baby is. In fact, you say he was given the names of other people. Did your husband's mother steal the names of those special and important people, would you say? Did she take away the significance and meaning the parents of those special/important people felt when they named those two long-ago babies? Should the parents of those special/important people have been offended and insulted that your husband's mother used their babies' names for her baby, your husband? Should those two special/important people have been furious with your husband's mother, because now they could not pass on their own names themselves?

Of course not. She did not steal the names. She did not sap the names of significance and meaning. She did not insult and offend the special/important people's parents by reusing the names they had used for their babies. She did not prevent the special/important people from using the names themselves. She chose a name she liked for her baby. That's what this other family has also done. And that is what you will do, when you name your future babies.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Baby Naming Issue: International Names

Mariana writes:
I am writing to enlist your help in search of the perfect international boy's name.

I live in Brazil and I am expecting my first, a boy, in September. My husband is also Brazilian. Growing up, I lived in Chile, England and Brazil, and through travel and studies became fluent in French, Spanish and English. As an adult, I spent 15 very happy years in New York, where I built a good career for myself as a graphic designer, and created strong and lasting friendships. I have since relocated to Brazil, but I go back very often, for work, and to see friends. I aso travel extensively for work in Europe, Canada and the rest of the US, and my husband and I have friends in many places. We truly feel the world is a small place and we hope our boy will grow up to be quite a traveller himself. In fact, we plan on enrolling him in a bi-lengual school as soon as possible.

With such an international lifestyle, I have always wanted a name that could work in English, French and Spanish, and of course our native Portuguese. By that I mean a name that could be understood and pronouced easily in any one of those languages, withouth spelling changes or adaptations. And which doesn't feel immediately "foreign" in other countries.

For girls it was easy - Julia, Helena, Olivia and Alma were at the top of our list. For boys, however, we're stumped. There's Gabriel and Daniel (far too many around us already), Oscar (a little odd here in Brazil, and doesn't go with our last names), and the only one we like, Bruno. My favorite boy's name, the one closest to my heart, is Pedro - but that has such immediate "latino" implications, which is exactly what I don't want. I also tend to like short names, rather than longer ones.

To further complicate matters, I have a Rumanian last name, Ochs, and my husband an Italian one, Corsi. We find them impossible to combine! My husband's name is Gustavo (which we have to shorten to Gus when we're in the US), and he has a 7-year-old son from his previous marriage named Artur (Brazilian spelling for Arthur).

Any suggestions would be tremendously appreciated!

Are you sure there are too many Daniels for your tastes? It has all the hallmarks of a great name: long roots, good nickname, flexible image (that is, it doesn't call to mind any particular type of person/profession), easy to spell and pronounce. It works with both surnames, and also with the name Artur.

Gabriel, too, seems like an excellent choice: the long roots! the good nickname! the flexible image! good with the surnames and sibling name! Popular names, yes, but a GOOD kind of common: timeless, enduring, classic, traditional---never-wear-out kinds of names. More than two kids named Maverick in town and things get a little awkward, but you can easily have a couple of Daniels or Gabriels in every classroom.

For further suggestions, I have to turn to my readers: I've never even been out of my own country, except for brief drives through Canadian customs and right back out again. I'm hoping some of you are more well-traveled than I, and can offer some helpful suggestions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baby Boy Clayborne ___

Josie writes:
I have a two part question. We are expecting our first child- a boy- in August. We have decided on one of the names- Clayborne, and will call him Clay (family name). My husband thinks this is better as a middle name and I hate the idea of using the middle name as the name he will go by. I think this will lead to a lifetime of confusion and always having to explain that your first name is something else but you actually go by the middle name. So, my first question is, what do you think of going by the middle name?

And the next question is what to pair it with. Our original plan was to name him Clayborne Walsh (also a family name) but we are having second thoughts about Walsh. Other possibilities are more common family names: Joseph, Andrew, Charles, Robert.

Our last name is common and goes with anything.

So, do you think Clayborne works better as the first name or middle name and should we stick with Walsh or change it to one of the other names- either as first or middle. (Clayborne Joseph, Joseph Clayborne, etc.) We are going to call him Clay regardless.

Thanks so much!

Sometimes when parents decide to call a child by the middle name, it's because they feel obligated to use a family name as the first name, but they don't actually like the name or want to use it---or perhaps it's a Jr/III name that would cause confusion. So they call the child by the middle name, and that makes sense to me.

Sometimes when parents decide to use the family name as the middle name, it's because they don't like the family name and don't want to use it. So they tuck it into the middle-name slot, and they call the child by the first name but have fulfilled the obligation to use the middle name, and that makes sense to me.

But in your case, you like the family name, and you want to call him that, and you're going to call him that no matter what. So it doesn't make sense to me to put it in the middle-name slot: there's no reason for it, and that's what would cause the confusion. I think you should give him Clayborne as his first name.

Now, about the middle name. I think Walsh is a great middle name, and especially with Clayborne: Clayborne Walsh. Nice! But if you're feeling ho-hum about it, let's take a look at the other options:

Clayborne Joseph
Clayborne Andrew
Clayborne Charles
Clayborne Robert

My favorite is still Clayborne Walsh.

But let's vote! Poll over to the right. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results:
Clayborne Walsh: 115 votes, roughly 69%
Clayborne Joseph: 19 votes, roughly 11%
Clayborne Andrew: 20 votes, roughly 12%
Clayborne Charles: 4 votes, roughly 2%
Clayborne Robert: 9 votes, roughly 5%]

[Name update! Josie writes:
Wanted to let you know that our baby boy was born last week and we ended up naming him Clayborne Joseph. And we literally didn't decide on the middle name until a few hours after his birth.
thanks for your help.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Surprise Baby Boy ___ Richard

Leah writes:
I've been lurking around your blog for a few months now so I know what good advice you & your readers usually give and believe me, do I ever need it!

Here's the deal. I'm due to give birth to our 3rd child in about 2 weeks. Throughout this whole pregnancy (or at least for the past 20+ weeks of it) we've believed that this baby was a girl, so of course we picked our name accordingly. And we had such a good name picked out, too. Abigail Elizabeth. Love it. But...

My Dr. ordered a second ultrasound last week to assess placental site (I'd been having some light bleeding, luckily everything is OK though) and while assuring us that everything looks great in there, they also told us that our supposed little girl is actually a boy! My husband and I are thrilled, of course (especially as we already have 2 beautiful girls. Isadora, called Izzy, age 4 and Arabella, called Bella, age 2), but now we can't for the life of us think of what to call the little guy!

We want his middle name to be Richard after both of our grandfathers, but we CAN NOT agree on a first name that we both really like (there are 2 in the running so far, but that's it), and neither of us likes Richard enough to make it his first name.

Names we both actually like but can't use as they're already being used by close family and friends include: William, Jacob, Scott, Preston, Oliver (so sad about this one, as it's the one boy's name that I've loved forever, but my sister stole it last year).

Names that we can use and also both agree on are sadly few. In fact there only 2 so far, and I don't really love either one. They are; Harrison and Camden.

And there are some others that we both kind of like but we don't think they sound good with Richard (Kevin, Brad and George come to mind. I don't know why, but any of those names paired with Richard just rub me the wrong way)! Names that go with our last name aren't a problem, at least, as pretty much everything sounds OK with it (rhymes with Lake).

So,we both prefer somewhat classic boy names & if you or your lovely readers could come up with anything better I'm all ears!

Please help!

The names you like for boys are a somewhat different style than the names you like for girls. We have the same situation in our family, and so I struggled a little naming our girl: should we force ourselves to choose names that matched our boy names in style? or should we use the style of girl name we liked? We went with the girl name we liked.

Because the name Oliver was on my list, and because the boy-name style you like is the same as the boy-name style I like, I wonder if you'd like some of the other boy names from our list:

Charles/Charlie Richard; Izzy, Bella, and Charlie
Leo Richard; Izzy, Bella, and Leo
Henry Richard; Izzy, Bella, and Henry
Milo Richard; Izzy, Bella, and Milo
Elliot Richard; Izzy, Bella, and Elliot
Eric Richard; Izzy, Bella, and Eric
Malcolm Richard; Izzy, Bella, and Malcolm

From that list, my favorite candidates are Charles/Charlie, Leo, and Milo. But let's see what everyone else thinks! Vote in the poll at right, and choose up to two favorites!

[Poll results (228 votes total):
Harrison: 21 votes, roughly 9%
Camden: 7 votes, roughly 3%
Charles/Charlie: 40 votes, roughly 18%
Leo: 32 votes, roughly 14%
Henry: 31 votes, roughly 14%
Milo: 43 votes, roughly 19%
Elliot: 32 votes, roughly 14%
Eric: 6 votes, roughly 3%
Malcolm: 16 votes, roughly 7%]

[Update! Leah writes:
I'm very happy to announce that our little man was born 6 days earlier than expected, at 8:17 a.m. on July 23! He's 8lbs 7oz and 21 inches of pure perfection.

And as for his name?

Well, I really fell in love with your suggestion of Milo, but the husband kept vetoing it whenever I brought it up. His reason? The freaky 1998 horror movie of the same name. He said he wouldn't ever be able to look at our son without thinking of the creepy kid in the movie if we named him Milo. I fought hard for this name, but in the end decided it wasn't worth it if it upset the husband so much (poor guy was almost in tears when I insisted that since I was the one who had to carry and birth the boy I should be able to name him whatever I wanted).

So when I finally let go of Milo I liked the idea of using Charles/Charlie a lot too, but again the husband said no. Apparently Charlie was the name of the kid who used to bully him in grade school & brought back too many bad memories or something. He was never this opinionated when we were naming the girls, who knew he'd be so picky about boys names?

Finally I saw the suggestion of one of your readers (Christa, I think it was) for Owen. At first I didn't love it (not like I did Milo *sigh*) but the more I thought about it, the more it grew on me, until finally I was convinced it was the name I wanted. Thankfully Hubby didn't have any bad memories/associations attached to this one, & so Owen Richard he is!

Thanks to everyone for the helpful suggestions!]

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pet Names: Do We?

Do we names? Well, let's see if we do or not!

Katie writes:
I know this is not really what you do, but I’m done having kids. So now it is on DOG NAMES! I was wondering if you and your readers could help us. We are getting a West Highland Terrier (Westie) and need some suggestions. The good news: it doesn’t need to match a middle name (unless we want to) and it doesn’t really matter how it sounds with our last name. Our names are Katie, Matt, ZoĆ«, Aynsley, and Camden – so that is our only stipulation, it can’t sound too much like any of those. We don’t know if it will be a girl or a boy.
Thanks for you help!

Well, the first thing I did was go online and find a picture of West Highland Terriers:


And that was also the last thing I did, because I'm not up to speed on puppy names. I don't hang out with a lot of young dogs, so I don't know which names are the Hot Trends, or which ones are So Last (Dog) Year.

But I'll bet we've got some puppy name enthusiasts among us. Go ahead! Name that puppy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Baby Naming Issue: Should We Avoid Duplicating Initials?

Christa writes:
My husband and I are expecting our second baby, it's due in about 2 weeks. We think we have our names picked out, but I am afraid that we have run into a problem. Our first baby girl, Addison Jane, is 2 years old. We both love her name and agreed on it right away. The names we picked for baby number 2 are Liam James or Alexis Ann. We would most likely use Lexi/Lexie as an occasional nic-name until she was old enough to choose what she wanted to be called. We are planning on having a third, and maybe fourth child, and the other boy name we love is Lucas (no middle name yet). That would leave us with a possible 2 A-named girls and 2 L-named boys. And it is totally a coincidence, those are just the names we love.

A little history: Jane is my middle name as well as both of my grandmother's first names, James is my husband and both of our father's middle names, and Ann is both of our mother's middle names. My name starts with a C, my husband's name begins with an S, and our last name begins with a K, ends with an S and is one syllable. His side of the family has a tradition of naming the first boy S-name James K___s. We do not like any S names, so far, but you might come up with one we didn't see, and we would consider it for a second boy. My husband originally picked the name Liam and is in love with it, so we are tied to that.

My husband can be a little picky, he seems to relate certain names with certain things. Names that are out are: Mark, Michael, Patrick, Jennifer, Claire, Jessica, and Katherine. I know that all the names we like are pretty popular, but to be honest, we have liked those names for years - even since before we were married. I would like to think we go for trendy first names with a classic middle name. And we have picked the middle names we did for family connections, so first names are all for 'fun'.

I like Jocelyn, he doesn't. I like Ellen (Elle/Ellie for short - I know, not too trendy), he hates it. Other that what we have, I'm not sure what he likes.

My question is: Should we look for other names to replace Alexis and Lucas (Luke)? Should we be worried about the possibilities? Could you help with possible suggestions?? It's hard to look for more names when we already love the ones we have picked out.

Thanks for your help!

If you think you might want more than four children, you could briefly consider whether you'd feel "stuck with" using A/L names for additional children---but on the other hand, you might very well have one girl and three boys, or four girls, or some other combination that doesn't lead to two A girls and two L boys anyway.

I've found, too, that with each pregnancy, my name list changes. We had a girl name picked out for our first baby (a boy), but we didn't use that girl name when we had our girl years later. We had two boy names picked out when I was expecting the twins (a girl and a boy), but we didn't use the unused boy name when we had another boy two years later. It's possible that some of the A/L names you've chosen now won't be candidates once those future babies actually arrive on the scene.

I have given this some mulling, and here is what I think: use the names you love. I think you're smart to consider the issue ahead of time so you don't get backed into a corner, but I don't think you're going to get backed into a corner.

[Name update! Christa writes:
Hi Swistle,

Thanks for you encouragement. You were right, we shouldn't worry about it too much.

We had a boy! Liam James was born July 24th weighing 6 lbs and 4 oz. It has been busy around here with a slightly jealous 2 year old and a new born!

Thanks again,


Monday, July 14, 2008

Baby Girl ___ Elizabeth/Kate E.

Heather writes:
Throughout our 7 year marriage, my husband and I have had a fairly easy time agreeing and compromising and negotiating on just about everything - until we started trying to name our baby girl. We have discovered that we are world's apart on girl names - names I like, he hates and vice versa.

After months of debate, reading and re-reading of the Baby Name Wizard book, (which I have recommended now to about 10 different people!) we have finally agreed on the following names as "potentials". Even getting this many that we both would consider is a huge step.

Now about our family -

We have a 21 month old named Alex Aiden. We like a lot of the suggested sister names from the BNW for Alex, Alexander, Alec, etc.

Our last name is two syllables and starts with E. A lot of names sound sing-songy with it, or they kind of run together.

We are planning on using Elizabeth as a middle name because it's all over our family tree. The only exception might be if we name her Emily - then we were thinking about using Kate as a middle name.

We are not that concerned about popularity of the name (obviously, since Emily is a contender).

We are totally open to other suggestions.

So here is our hard fought list:
katelyn (kate for short)
madilyn (maddie for short)

We'd love some help and an impartial opinion! Thanks!

Good list! Lots to work with!

The only change I suggest is the spelling of Analise: because of the word spelled by the first four letters, I recommend spelling with two Ns instead: Annalise. (My favorite spelling of the name is Anneliese---but that's also the hardest one to spell, and in fact I had to look it up just now to make sure I had it right.)

Let's look at each name with your son's name, and we can also check out the initials of each name (using Elizabeth as the middle name with all choices except Emily, for which you'd use Kate).

Alex and Annalise (AEE)
Alex and Anna (AEE)
Alex and Cara (CEE)
Alex and Emily (EKE)
Alex and Katelyn/Kate (KEE)
Alex and Lauren (LEE)
Alex and Madilyn/Maddie (MEE)
Alex and Molly (MEE)
Alex and Sarah (SEE)

My favorites from the list are Cara Elizabeth and Emily Kate, although I also think it's super-cute the way Lauren gives use the initials (and potential nickname) LEE. Let's take a poll [poll closed; see below] to see what the rest of you think!

[Poll results:
Annalise Elizabeth: 16 votes, roughly 10%
Anna Elizabeth: 13 votes, roughly 8%
Cara Elizabeth: 34 votes, roughly 21%
Emily Kate: 24 votes, roughly 15%
Katelyn Elizabeth: 10 votes, roughly 6%
Lauren Elizabeth: 25 votes, roughly 16%
Madilyn Elizabeth: 6 votes, roughly 4%
Molly Elizabeth: 23 votes, roughly 14%
Sarah Elizabeth: 8 votes, roughly 5%]

Heather writes:
Just wanted to let you know...

Emily Kate arrived (2 weeks early!) last night [07-15-2008] at 10:43!

Thanks to you and everyone for the comments!


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Celebrity Baby Names: Jolie-Pitt Twins

Well, OBV we have to talk about the new baby twins of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. What do you think of the names? The boy is Knox Leon, and the girl is Vivienne Marcheline.

Boy names in their family: Maddox, Pax, and Knox.
Girl names in their family: Zahara, Shiloh, and Vivienne.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Baby Name to Discuss: Moses

Rachel writes:
I have two kiddos; Lucy Allison and Asher Scott. Seriously, I thought we were being all original when we gave them those names. Sad, no? At least they're classics.

So, we are thinking about having a third and I must know...

Is naming a child Moses a bad idea?

I remember when I was in high school, and heard for the first time of a baby being named Noah. I was SO SURPRISED. This is not the way I would have put it at the time, but my reaction was basically "OMG, religious much??" Like, why not just name him Peace That Passeth Understanding Smith and be done with it?

And of course now a scant twenty ten (*cough*) years later, Noah is a perfectly ordinary name, used by even completely non-religious people, and there were two Noahs in my son's class last year. The names Isaac and Isaiah and Elijah are similar: formerly they would have been used only by particularly religious families, and now they are used by anyone.

I have a feeling Moses will be the same way. Right NOW it sounds a little...celebrity, because of Gwyneth Paltrow---but I suspect that will wear off and then we will have another name to add to the boy category. And thank goodness, because that category is MIGHTY SKIMPY.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Baby Girl ___ K. Tsai

Michelle writes:
hello! a friend of mine sent me a link to your blog knowing that we're still trying to figure out a name for baby #3. we'd love your help! we found out that we're having a girl and can't seem to settle on something we both like. i'm due in three weeks!

our other children's names are michael and allison. we call them mikey and allie. the "t" is silent in our last name, and is pronounced "sigh". so here's where we're at:

* my husband's top pick is lauren kara tsai. i like it too, EXCEPT that lauren doesn't really shorten into a nickname (besides laurie, which i don't think we'd use since saying it and spelling it wouldn't be any shorter than lauren itself), and i would like to have a cute nickname for this baby since both her siblings go by nicknames. the other reason i'm not thrilled about lauren is because her siblings (ages 4 and 2) will be calling her "warren" since their "l's" sound like "w's".
* we'd like to have the middle name start with a "k" since both her siblings have "k" middle names. just something to link them all together. i do like cara, but kara looks a little weird to me. so we're also stuck on middle names as well.
* prefer not to have the name begin with a P, M, or A since those already in our family and we'd like each child to have their own letter.
* we'd like a clearly girl's name that is easy to pronounce and is spelled traditionally. this is because my husband has a name he really hated growing up and wants to spare his children the angst, and also because our last name is a little tricky-- no need to make it even more complicated for the poor kid.
* cannot begin with an "s" since something like "sophie tsai" sounds too cutesy and/or silly.
* husband doesn't like names that sound too "harsh".
* i tend to like "j" names, but haven't found one that isn't too common-- like jennifer or jessica.

some names we've tossed around:

* emily
* olivia (husband doesn't like)
* cara
* julie

names we can't use due to close friends or family already using them:

* joanna
* jenna
* naomi
* megan
* kaitlyn
* kayla

looking forward to hearing your suggestions! thanks!

My friend Mairzy and I both like these kinds of names, so I immediately called her in on it. Mairzy writes:
As fun as the exotic names are, sometimes it's nice to slip back into comfortable basic names. I enjoyed hanging out with Allison and Lauren this time around.

My top choice would be your husband's: Lauren is a good name. I have a sister named Lauren, and we (the family) call her La. It's not a nickname that would carry a girl through her life, but it is short and cute. I don't know if "Wa" is any improvement over "Warren," but at least they grow out of it.

I, too, love J names. Here are a few others to consider:

* Jillian (or Gillian)
* Julianna
* Jessie
* Janae
* Jane

For middle names, K is a versatile letter. Kate is pretty much the denim middle name: it goes with everything. Kayla is another easily-matched one. Other K possibilities:

* Kathleen
* Kay (nice and short, although still rather middle-aged in style)
* Kelly
* Kimberly? If you used a short first name like Jane?

My favorite choice would be Lauren Kate. Best wishes on #3!

Thanks, Mairzy! And I agree: Lauren is a great choice. It's true that Laurie isn't shorter than Lauren, but a lot of nicknames are like that: Jimmy for James, Annie for Ann, etc. And it's great with the sibling names. And the "Warren" thing will be short-lived.

I love the name Emily even more. Love love love. It's been high on my girl list with every pregnancy. Michael, Allison, and Emily. Mikey, Allie, and Emmie. Emily Kay Tsai. Love.

For J names, how about Jacqueline? Jacqueline Kay Tsai. Michael, Allison, and Jacqueline. Mikey, Allie, Jackie.

And I like Jillian. Jillian Kay Tsai. Michael, Allison, and Jillian. Mikey, Allie, Jill.

Or Josephine. Josephine Kay Tsai. Michael, Allison, and Josephine. Mikey, Allie, and Josie.

My top two choices (tied) are Emily and Jillian.

Let's take a vote! Poll over to the right! [poll closed; see below] (I like Cara and Julie, but am leaving them off because they don't have nicknames; I'm leaving Olivia off because one parent doesn't like it.)

[Poll results:
Lauren/Laurie: 23 votes, roughly 14%
Emily/Emmie: 72 votes, roughly 43%
Jacqueline/Jackie: 7 votes, roughly 4%
Jillian/Jill: 39 votes, roughly 23%
Josephine/Josie: 27 votes, roughly 16%]

[Update! (08-29-2008) Michelle writes:
hello again!

so sorry for the belated update-- but baby lauren kara tsai is now here! caught us by surprise by coming 16 days early, but we've been enjoying every minute of her. yes, even the 4 am minutes. :)

we did end up going with our original name, though i DID make a valiant effort to sway him toward "emily" on the ride to the hospital since i've fallen in love with the nickname "emi". but no dice. but now that she's here, she just *looks* like a lauren to us. still no nickname for her, but maybe she'll come up with one herself if she decides she wants one!

thanks again for all the suggestions! emily will definitely be high on the list should #4 be coming along someday...


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Celebrity Baby Names: Sunday Rose Kidman Urban

Let's discuss the baby name Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban chose: Sunday Urban.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Baby Girl G., Sister to Lance

Sarah writes:
I need baby name help and I know that you are an expert so I would love some ideas. Our surname is one syllable and starts with G. We are expecting a baby girl in August and we already have a 2 year old boy- Lance Edward (initials spell LEG and though he has the same first and middle name of Lance Armstrong, he isn't named after him). Lance is named after Lance Mountain my husband's favorite skateboarder and Edward is my grandfather's name.

I have consulted the Baby Name Wizard book for sibling names that go with Lance, but I didn't really like their suggestions. My maiden name is Hannah which I originally wanted to use but the husband vetoed it. Other family names my husband didn't like, but I did were Emma and Anna. We each kind of have names we like, but aren't 100% sold on them and are open to any and all suggestions. I like the name Lily (lance and lily, it sounds nice together, and I don't mind the names being kind of nursery rhyme like- like jack and jill) and he likes Olivia (i do like olivia, but I don't know if I am ready to commit to it). I have been trying to find middle names that went with either name to see if I would prefer one name over the other, but no such luck.

I worry that both Olivia and Lily are too common of names and I don't want our daughter to be like me growing up, Sarah was really popular growing up and I hated being one of many Sarah's in school because unlike all my other friends I was always known as Sarah Hannah and not just Sarah and also my husband's name Jeff was fairly common and what is even weirder and off topic is how many couples we have met that are Jeff and Sarah, it is kind of freaky! Anyways, I like Olivia and Lily, but I am open to all suggestions or if that is too much to ask for I will be happy with middle names for Lilly or Olivia.

Thank you so much for your time and for your consideration.

Okay! So you want to avoid overly-common. I'm going to open a new browser window for The Social Security Administration's Baby Name site, because that's my favorite tool for seeing which names are likely to get more common, and which are likely to get less common.

The name Olivia is in the Top Ten right now, and has been since 2001. The name Lily is less common (#27 in 2007) but on the rise:

1990: #583
1995: #319
2000: #124
2005: #39

As you know, I'm not opposed to common names. But I also understand wanting to avoid them. Here's the problem: it looks to me as if you LIKE common names, as I do. Here are the names you and/or your husband like, with their 2007 popularity rankings:

Olivia: #7
Lily: #27
Hannah: #9
Emma: #3
Anna: #25

Lily and Anna look like your best bets for "no repeats in the classroom," although of course there are always flukes: in Rob's class last year there were two Noahs, a name ranked #24 the year Rob (and those Noahs) were born---and yet there were NOT two Jacobs (#1 that year), Michaels (#2 that year) or in fact two of any other more-popular name.

If you want something SIMILAR to the names on your list but less common, how about:

Annabel (#798) (Annabelle is #196)
Clara (#228)
Eliza (#334)
Fiona (#352)
Flora (not in the Top 1000)
Georgia (#296)
Josephine (#224)
Lena (#453)
Violet (#231)

A caution: these names are rising in popularity. The names on your list fall into The Baby Name Wizard's "Antique Charm" category, and that's where most of the names from that list of suggestions fall, too. That style of name is popular right now, and it's hard to tell which name will be the next Isabella (from #895 in 1990 to #2 in 2007) or Ava (from #953 in 1990 to #4 in 2007).

Let's look at the names with the sibling name (I won't include the names from your list that either you or your husband have rejected):

Lance and Lily
Lance and Olivia
Lance and Annabel
Lance and Clara
Lance and Eliza
Lance and Fiona
Lance and Flora
Lance and Georgia
Lance and Josephine
Lance and Lena
Lance and Violet

I agree with you about Lance and Lily together: I think it's sweet without being sing-songy. The names both start with L, but after that they're completely different and so they avoid matchiness. If you plan on having more children, will this make you feel trapped into using only L names? If not, then I think Lance and Lily is great.

I also like Lance with Clara, and with Eliza, and with Fiona, and with Lena. I would choose a favorite, but I can't: I think Lily, Clara, Eliza, Fiona, and Lena are ALL great.

Let's vote! The poll is over to the right. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results:
Lily: 58 votes, roughly 35%
Olivia: 19 votes, roughly 11%
Clara: 33 votes, roughly 20%
Eliza: 26 votes, roughly 15%
Fiona: 16 votes, roughly 10%
Lena: 16 votes, roughly 10%]

Friday, July 4, 2008


The Pay it Forward contest is over. My computer geek brother made me a customized random number generator, and I used that to choose Mrs. M.

Congratulations, Mrs. M! Email me (swistle at gmail dot com) with your mailing information, and I'll get your book on its way to you!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Pay it Forward Contest

I am entering my own Group Effort Pay it Forward Contest. That is, I am running a Pay it Forward contest on this Baby Names site, and it is a separate contest from the one you can also enter at the Swistle site.

The complete and overly-exhaustive rules are over through that link, but the basic idea is that to enter this contest, you leave a comment on this blog before noon on Friday July 4th, U.S. Pacific Time. If you win, I send you a prize. When you get the prize, you run a Pay it Forward contest on your own blog. If you don't have a blog, I will choose a second commenter, and that will be the winner of your Pay it Forward contest.

The prize for the Baby Names Pay it Forward will be a copy of Laura Wattenberg's excellent baby name book The Baby Name Wizard. If this isn't a prize you're interested in, don't despair! Go over to the list of other participants---there's sure to be a prize or two in there you're interested in winning.

The comment can be anything ("Me me me!" "You are SO RAVISHINGLY BEAUTIFUL!" "I am entering"), but if you feel tongue-tied, why not leave the most unusual baby name you've ever encountered?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Baby Naming Issue: Masculine and Feminine Versions

Lola writes:
In your opinion, what type of rule applies to male/female form of a name within a family?

I'm expecting a baby girl in a few months and we like the name Danielle. Our 10 years old nephew's name is Daniel (nickname Dani). We are a close family, we live 1/2 hour away and spend most holidays together. On the other hand, they will be 10 years apart...

Thank you for your input!

This is especially tricky since they're using the feminine nickname (Dani) instead of the masculine (Danny).

Here is the thing: If I were you, I think I would choose not to use the name Danielle in this situation. But so much depends on how fond you are of the name Danielle. Is it the name you've cherished all your life, the only name you both agree on, and the name that makes you think, "That's my baby"? Or is it "a name we like"?

I don't think it's worth the hassle, but I can see how someone else could think otherwise. What do the rest of you say about it? Would you use the name Danielle in this situation?