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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Baby Name to Discuss: Paloma

Okay! You guys wanted to talk more about the name Paloma.

It's a Spanish name, uncommon in the United States. It didn't get into the Top 1000 at all until 1993, and it's hovered in the 800s and 900s since then. (Source: Social Security Administration. Commenter Catherine thinks it's "...elegant and cosmopolitan sounding, familiar enough that it's hard to mess up (pronunciation or spelling)..." The Baby Name Wizard says it's "Lush and romantic."

Commenter Patty asks: "I know Paloma can mean dove, but anyone else concerned that it also translates to pigeon?" I've heard pigeon used as a term of endearment, and in fact that improves the name Paloma for me: I'd use Pigeon as a cute family nickname.

Commenter ZestyJenny asks: "Are we allowed to use Paloma if we are of Scandinavian/Mutt/very white backgounds?" For my own baby-naming, I'm disinclined to use a name such as Pablo or Thijs even when I like the name. Part of it is that I like names to be coordinated, and so I don't want to paint myself into a corner: if I use Thijs for one baby, I know I won't want to use Oliver for the next one. Also, my surname is ethnic, and so names of another ethnicity sound clashy to me, and names of the same ethnicity sound...too ethnic. But both of these reasons will vary hugely from family to family.

So what do YOU think of Paloma? Do you agree with Catherine and The Baby Name Wizard about the impression the name makes? Are you worried about the potential "pigeon" translation? Would you use it in your family?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Update! Baby Boy/Girl Johnson

Update! on Baby Boy/Girl Johnson. Amy writes:
It's another BOY! Gabriel Matei
My husband wasn't fond of Ivan and actually had chosen one of your ideas (Gabriel) as a favorite without seeing your polls. Thanks for all the input and the votes!! -Amy

Update! Baby Girl ___ K. Tsai

[Let's try this out as a new way of doing updates. I'll do a separate post with the update, with a link back to the original post. I'll also change the original post to include the update. We'll see if this works better.]

Update on Baby Girl ___ K. Tsai! 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...


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Baby Girl Mendoza

Veronika writes:
Our second child is due September 21st. 2008. We are expecting a girl.

Her last name will be Mendoza, but since I am not Mexican (the father is) I do not want anything too Spanish sounding (ie. Paloma, Marisol, etc.). However, I want it to go well with the last name.

Also, we named our first son a name which has a different pronounciation in English than in Spanish. So, I pronounce his name differently than his preschool teachers and friends. I do not want to repeat this problem where the pronounciation is different in each language.

Our list right now includes:

Ana Carolina, Naomi, Luciana, Lucia, Antonia, Annalisa, Daniela.

Thank you for your advice!

It looks like you have a really good list there. I especially like the way the A-ending ones sound with your surname. Let's go straight to the vote! Poll is to the right. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results (264 votes total):
Ana Carolina: 34 votes, roughly 13%
Naomi: 45 votes, roughly 17%
Luciana: 39 votes, roughly 15%
Lucia: 64 votes, roughly 24%
Antonia: 17 votes, roughly 6%
Annalisa: 34 votes, roughly 13%
Daniela: 31 votes, roughly 12%]

Techy Stuff

Hey, if you click the "name updates" thing down in the righthand margin (under "Posts Updated With the Name the Parents Decided On"), does your browser crash? My friend Giselle says that ever since we got above 14 updates, clicking that link makes her browser consistently crash. Test pls and report, kthanx.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baby Boy, Brother to Luke and Samuel

Leslie writes:
I am 37 weeks pregnant with my third boy and husband and I can't agree on a name. Our 17 month twin boys are named Luke and Samuel. I don't want another plain name, but husband is set on something solid not trendy. Our last name has an OR so names like Forest, George, Ford do not work well. All names we like. I love the name Tate, but husband thinks we are setting our son up for years of torture. Does the word Taint ring a bell? Husband likes the name Truman, but too formal for me. I also like the name Truett, but husband not so much. Another name I like is Crew, although I don't know if we are "cool" enough to pull that off and husband thinks it's too trendy.

We both prefer 1 syllable names, we don't want another L or S name, and we both like names you can shorten or nickname like Oliver/Oli. Is Oliver becoming too popular? A few names we can't use: Wesley, Cade, Cody, Asher, Elijah. Please help! We'll take any suggestions? This baby might arrive early.

Here was the difficulty I had with this one: the names you've used for your first two children are of a different type than the names on your current consideration list. Luke and Samuel are old, traditional, classic, solid, well-known, all-boy. Forest, Ford, Tate, Truman, Truett, Crew---those are a completely different breed. Luke, Samuel...and Truett. Luke, Samuel....and Forest. They don't click into place. This makes finding a good third name a slippery business: what can fit with the first two, but be more to your current tastes?

Oh, the name Oliver! I love it so much, and it may be the answer to the problem. It is indeed getting more popular, but it hasn't yet gotten out of hand: it was #140 in 2007. To put that ranking in perspective, that makes it less common than names such as Omar, Nolan, Oscar, Preston, and Sebastian. (The name Luke was #46 in 2007, and the name Samuel was #25.) It is, however, rising slowly but surely, and I've noticed lots of people saying they love it. I'd feel safe using it because, like the name Henry, it may get popular but it's not trendy: it's a classic, traditional name with long roots, so it ebbs and flows but it doesn't spike and vanish. I like it with your other boys' names: Luke, Samuel, and Oliver. Nice!

I don't suppose you'd want to consider the #1 most popular boy name in the United States? The name Jacob is solid and not trendy, and it has a good nickname, and it's excellent with his brothers' names. Luke, Samuel, and Jacob. Luke, Sam, and Jake. That is one of the most perfect sibling groups ever. And even in the #1 slot, the name Jacob was only used for 1.0955% of baby boys. That means that if your local school has 30 children per classroom, the average will be only one Jacob per 6-7 classrooms. And if the classes are more like 20 kids, the average will be only one Jacob per 10 classrooms. That's not bad.

How about Calvin, shorted to Cal? Luke, Samuel, and Calvin. Luke, Sam, and Cal.

James. Luke, Samuel, and James. Luke, Sam, and Jim. Luke, Sam, and Jamie.

Frederick. Luke, Samuel, and Frederick. Luke, Sam, and Fred.

Anyone want to give me a hand here? This is a tricky one. Let's do a poll over to the right [poll closed; see below] with the few I came up with, but also leave your suggestions in the comment section. Remember: nothing that starts with L or S.

[Poll results (282 votes total):
Oliver: 115 votes, roughly 41%
Jacob: 93 votes, roughly 33%
Calvin: 33 votes, roughly 12%
James: 34 votes, roughly 12%
Frederick: 7 votes, roughly 2%]

[Name update! Leslie writes: "Just wanted to let you know that we went with the name Ian Wesley. Thanks for your help. All of our friends and family thought we were going to go with Oliver...which was a close 2nd!"]

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Baby Girl Parrott

Nicki writes:
Our baby is due in 2 weeks and we have yet to agree on a name...I would truly appreciate your help, even though we've kept all of our possible choices secret, even from family! While we had just one name all set and ready to go for a boy, we are indeed having a girl. Our last name is Parrott, so that rules out a few names (Polly especially comes to mind). My husband is not opposed to alliteration, but the more I think about it, I'm not sure...I mean, Baby Name Wizard mentions that it can sound like a cartoon character (the "Jenny Jumps" example), and a co-worker of mine whose preteen daughter's initials are P.P. did admit that kids at school call her that, and she of course hates it. And what is the absolute favorite name of my husband's, that would be mine if I wasn't so worried about these things? Paige.

Loren is the middle name of my husband, his late grandfather (who was special to me as well), and first name of his great-great grandfather, so we plan to use it eventually--either middle name of our next child if it's a boy, or now as a first name, with Evelyn as the middle name (my late grandmother). Having the middle name be after someone in the family, whether a grandparent or parent, is very important to me, and hubby agrees.

So, our top picks for first name so far:
Paige (hubby's favorite)
Natalie (my favorite)

I like the idea of a name that can be shortened to a nickname, and both of us would prefer to stay away from the "Top 10" names. Some names we like that are already used by cousins are Madeline, Morgan, Carly, Lily, Julia. Speaking of cousins, one just had a baby earlier this summer with a similar name, Laurel Edith, to our plan of Loren Evelyn...would that be too weird? And am I obsessing too much about the P.P. thing? Because Paige Parrott does sound fun and playful, I just want to make sure she's still taken seriously when she's older, when she's in the "real world".

Thank you so much for such a fun blog! Looking forward to hearing from you!

One of the most useful things I read in The Baby Name Wizard was this question: "If you were starting life today, knowing everything you know about the world, is this the name you would want to represent you?"

The problem is that different people want different things. I don't want a distinctive name myself, but I notice Faith Popcorn and Parker Posy and Picabo Street haven't had theirs changed---and many people dislike their own plain names and even get them legally changed to something more distinctive. Still, the "would you want this name?" test is a good Thinking Exercise when considering names for a baby.

If I were you, I'd come down on the side of not using Paige/P.P.---but you might come down on the other side of it, as might your daughter someday. Perhaps a good "have it both ways" decision would be to use Paige as the middle name: she can use it as a nickname if she likes it, and so can you. You've said it's important to you to use the middle name slot for a family name, and I'm in that camp, too---but what if you used a family name for the first name instead? Loren Paige Parrott has family significance, and also has the name Paige but without the P.P. problem.

I'm going to pretend, though, that I can see you shaking your head no: you want to use the middle name slot for family names only. From your list, then, my favorites are:

Loren Evelyn Parrott (LEP)
Natalie Evelyn Parrott (NEP)
Mallory Evelyn Parrott (MEP)

(I think it's fine that a cousin has a baby named Laurel Edith. Even if you see each other all the time, the names are different enough that at worst they'll cause minor, occasional confusion.)

Okay, everybody, let's vote! Pick a name for Baby Girl Parrott! Poll to the right as usual! [Poll closed; see below.]

[Poll results (266 votes total):
Loren: 87 votes, roughly 33%
Paige: 17 votes, roughly 6%
Natalie: 74 votes, roughly 28%
Parker: 2 votes, roughly 1%
Makenna: 4 votes, roughly 2%
Makayla: 2 votes, roughly 1%
Ella: 11 votes, roughly 4%
Mallory: 44 votes, roughly 17%
Bridget: 7 votes, roughly 3%
Claire: 18 votes, roughly 7%]

Monday, August 25, 2008


If we've tackled your baby-naming problem on this blog, and now your baby is born, would you email me (swistle at gmail dot com) and let me know what name you decided on so I can update the entry? My original plan was to email each question-submitter later, but that gives me the nervous tummy (term credit: Tessie): what if something Went Wrong, and there I am prying for sunshiney details? And also, the emails tend to be lost in the wayback of my inbox, and I didn't come up with a good system for organizing the ones I've already answered: the to-be-answered ones are in a spreadsheet, but then I delete them, when perhaps it would be better to move them to a "contact later" section. Fine, I'll do that from now on. Well, but then we're back to the nervous tummy. So could you please drop me an email with the baby's name? I think that would be best.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Baby Girl Brown

Amanda writes:
Hi there! I am due with girl #2 on Sept.3 and my husband and I are beyond stumped about what to name her. With my first pregnancy I had my heart set on a particular girl's name (Anneliese) but he loathed it. We fought about it for the entire 40 weeks, and then after a 40 hour labour, while I was still soaked in sweat, I pleaded, "Can we PLEASE call her Anneliese?" And he still refused. In the end we went with "Avelyn" (pronounced with a soft "a", like Evelyn, but with an A) and it suits our daughter (now two years old) way better than Anneliese ever would have.

All that back story is to say that this time around, I don't have a front-runner, so while we're not fighting about what to name the next baby, we're not coming up with any clear winners, either. We seem to have very different tastes in names, my hubby and I. One thing that's really important to me is that her name be uncommon (but not strange) and unique (but not too "out there" like Muse, or Lyric, or Harmony, or something). I love Avelyn's name because it is feminine, but uncommon. A little twist on an old-fashioned name. So, something else like that might be good.

Here are the names I am liking:

Alida/Elida (pronounced Al-eye-dah)...hubby HATES this one
Elise...he doesn't really like this one either
Evanie (probably too close to Avelyn, in that their nicknames would be Avi and Evi, but I REALLY like this one)

Here are the names my hubby likes:

Aliyah (just reminds me of the singer who died in the plane crash)

By the way, we have the world's dullest surname: Brown. Which is also why I'd like a first name with some flair/uniqueness to it.

HELP US, please!!

I thought your labor/delivery naming story was going to have a totally different outcome! Your husband is one tough cookie! I think it's safe to say he's not going to cave on any name he doesn't like no matter what, so we might as well take Alida/Elida and Elise out of the running right this minute before we get our hearts set on them any further.

And is he a little crazy to unshakably loathe Anneliese but like Annalie? Yes, I think so.

All right. Let's get started. I LOVE the name Avelyn. LOVE IT. Am adding it to my personal Girl Name List. That's beautiful. Let's find some sister candidates.

How about Amelie? It's close to Annalie, and I see that three out of the four choices on your husband's list feature combinations of the "uh" sound and the "lee" sound: Leah (lee-uh), Aliyah (uh-lee-uh), and Annalie (ann-uh-lee). Amelie seems like it might be just his style. Avelyn and Amelie. Amelie Brown.

Here's a name I've been saving for a special occasion: awhile back a friend sent me the name suggestion Briarley, which she said she'd wanted to use for her own child but the association with the one Briarley she had ever known would have been a little awkward (they didn't have a "name my child after you" level of friendship). I penciled it into my naming book and this seems like the moment to bring it out. What do you think? Unusual, beautiful. The only problem is I'm not sure it works with your surname. Briarley Brown. That's a lot of "Br" for a single name to carry.

Ariadne, perhaps. Beautiful, classic, but unusual. Avelyn and Ariadne. Ariadne Brown.

Have you considered Elodie? Your choices Elida and Elise made me think of it. Avelyn and Elodie. Elodie Brown.

Isadora gives you the cute nickname combination Avi and Izzy. Avelyn and Isadora. Isadora Brown.

My friend Mairzy and I are totally split on this one: I love the name Minerva and she doesn't. I think it's particularly good here: Avelyn and Minerva. Avi and Minnie. Minerva Brown.

Rosalie. Avelyn and Rosalie. Rosalie Brown.

Mariel. Avelyn and Mariel. Mariel Brown.

This may be too many choices---it was really hard to narrow it down at all. There are so many names that are good with the surname and sibling name, and it was hard to stop leafing through the book looking for just! one! more! Poll is to the right. [Poll closed; see below.]

[Poll results (465 votes total):
Amelie: 170 votes, roughly 37%
Briarley: 36 votes, roughly 8%
Ariadne: 7 votes, roughly 2%
Elodie: 110 votes, roughly 24%
Isadora: 55 votes, roughly 12%
Minerva: 5 votes, roughly 1%
Rosalie: 50 votes, roughly 11%
Mariel: 32 votes, roughly 7%]

[Name update! Amanda writes:
Baby girl Brown arrived and after much deliberation we decided on the name Jolie Grace. We are pronouncing the name Jolie with a soft 'J' and the accent on the last syllable, so it has a bit of a French flair to it.

Sorry we didn't end up using any of your suggestions...I liked them but the ol' hubby thought some of them were a little too "out there". He's such a stick in the mud. :)

The name suits her perfectly and she's a dream baby.

Thanks for your help!

Amanda Brown]

Friday, August 22, 2008

Celebrity Baby Names: Zuma Nesta Rock

Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale had their second boy, naming him Zuma Nesta Rock. Would you like to give an opinion on this name? I know you would.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Baby Boy/Girl Johnson

Amy writes:
I came across your blog on a search to find a name for my second child that would fit with the first. I have a son named Nicolae Farley. I am Romanian and Nicolae is a family name. Farley is my husband's grandfather's name. I realize this is an odd name never thought of the problem I would have naming my second.

We do not know the sex of the baby, so have to consider both genders. My husband is German/Swedish and I wouldn't mind chosing a name from that ethnicity. I don't think I want to go with all my children's names beginning with 'N.' Our last name is Johnson so nothing that would match that or ryhme with it.

I had considered Ivan if it was a boy since it is a variation of my great-grandfather's name (Ivanti) and David for the middle name since it is my father's middle name and my father-in-law's name. For a girl, I have considered Evalina or Annalise but am not quite sure that will work with Nicolae. My maternal grandmother's name was Margaret and I'd love to use it, but am concerned it may not be a good match or sound odd with Nicolae. I really am not concerned about middle names matching. I really dislike names like Hayden/Conner or Ceirra/Jayden.

Any advise or suggestions would be great!

Swistle's friend Mairzy writes:
Scene: Swistle and Mairzy are in their virtual office, sitting at their virtual desks. Swistle is doing a little on-the-job field research: she's flipping through "The Baby Name Wizard." Mairzy has broken open the certified-mail envelope that brought their latest virtual payment and is eating the toffees, leaving the fudge for Swistle. Suddenly an email comes in. Books and toffees are forgotten: Swistle and Mairzy gear up to solve another name dilemma and make the world a little better place for babies.

Except that this time, there wasn't too much for us to do. Here are my thoughts, and please forgive the sticky toffee-stains on it.

If you keep your current choices, you won't go wrong. Ivan is a good compromise between global and "normal American." Annaliese is a beautiful name, with German roots, and a top choice on this blog. Margaret pairs with it well, although it does make for a very long name.

Other suggestions (most courtesy of Behind the Name):

Margot (as a form of Margaret)


Still, with all these in front of me, I like your suggestions best. Go for what you've got!

Best wishes!

Thanks, Mairzy!

My favorites from Mairzy's lists are Francesca and Gabriel---but I agree with Mairzy that I like Amy's choices even better. I love the name Ivan with Nicolae; and Margaret is a great name and also a family name, so that's my first choice for a girl. Maybe Margaret Evalina?

Let's do a poll over to the right [poll closed; see below]. Since we don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, please choose one boy name AND one girl name.

[Poll results: 180 votes for boy names, 184 votes for girl names

Boy names
Ivan: 93 votes, roughly 52% of the boy name votes
Adrian: 10 votes, roughly 6% of the boy name votes
Gabriel: 22 votes, roughly 12% of the boy name votes
Sebastian: 20 votes, roughly 11% of the boy name votes
Julian: 24 votes, roughly 13% of the boy name votes
August: 11 votes, roughly 6% of the boy name votes

Girl names
Evalina: 31 votes, roughly 17% of the girl name votes
Annalise: 38 votes, roughly 21% of the girl name votes
Margaret: 19 votes, roughly 10% of the girl name votes
Claudia: 18 votes, roughly 10% of the girl name votes
Francesca: 16 votes, roughly 9% of the girl name votes
Margot: 41 votes, roughly 22% of the girl name votes
Johanna: 21 votes, roughly 11% of the girl name votes]

[Update! 08-29-2008 Amy writes:
"It's another BOY! Gabriel Matei
My husband wasn't fond of Ivan and actually had chosen one of your ideas (Gabriel) as a favorite without seeing your polls. Thanks for all the input and the votes!! -Amy"]

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Due Date Special: Baby Boy Baitinger

Kristina writes:
Hello. I am due 8/20/08 and we still just can't find that "perfect" name. For some reason I just can't decide on what to name our son. We seem to go back and forth with names. We really like the name Simon, for some reason it just stood out to me. It isn't a trendy name, and it isn't just seems classic. We aren't looking for a trendy name, or one that is really popular now. I teach, so coming by names that I haven't already dismissed is getting pretty hard. My husband also likes the name Gabriel, and Matthew. Two very classic names as well. The other name we have thought of is Quinlan. It is a name that I've never heard before, but I really like the sound of. (I seem to go for names with more than one syllable in them.) So, this is what we have so far, and we just can't decide!!

A. Simon Gabriel Baitinger (It is pronounced Bite-ing-er)
B. Matthew Simon Baitinger
C. Quinlan Matthew Baitinger

Our 2.5 year old daughter is named Olivia Grace. I really think that Olivia and Simon go well together, and liked the idea of both names having a "G" middle name. We didn't do a family name for Olivia, and decided not to do a family name for this one either. AAGGG!! I lie awake at night knowing that I am running out of time to get it together!! Even if I had 2 names that I really loved narrowed down, it would make going into the delivery room a little easier!! Please help us with some suggestions!!

I think you have some great names there, and even if time were not of the essence I would hesitate to confuse the issue by adding more options to consider. I know that when I'm expecting, I agitate about the name even after we've narrowed it down to the final choice: nothing seems quite perfect enough for me to feel settled in my mind about it. Then later, I can't believe I ever waffled at all, when it is SO OBVIOUS that this is the perfect name.

Well. One technique I find useful when I'm wavering between a few choices is to pretend that the decision has been made. So, like, pretend the decision is final, and it's going to be Simon. Do you feel disappointed about the loss of other names? Try it with each one. What if the decision were made, and it were Matthew? Quinlan?

Another technique Paul and I use is ranking: we each separately try to put the names in order by favorite, even if more than one name has to share a slot. So, for example, maybe for you Simon and Quinlan are tied for first place, and Matthew is your second-place choice; and your husband might find that he likes Simon and Matthew tied for first place, with Quinlan as his second-place choice. Then you'd know that Simon was first for both of you, so it would be the best choice for you together. Or, if your husband's top choice was Matthew, and his second choice was Simon, and his third choice was Quinlan, you might be able to compromise on Simon Matthew or Matthew Simon.

My own first choice is Simon. I think it's terrific with Olivia and with your surname. I think any of the other names sound great as a middle name with it: Simon Gabriel, Simon Matthew, Simon Quinlan. If it were up to me, I would use Simon Gabriel, and I would save the name Matthew Quinlan for a future boy.

Let's take a vote on the three candidates you list above---the poll is over to the right [poll closed; see below].

[Poll results:
Simon Gabriel Baitinger: 116 votes, roughly 81%
Matthew Simon Baitinger: 17 votes, roughly 12%
Quinlan Matthew Baitinger: 11 votes, roughly 8%]

Monday, August 18, 2008

Twin Boy Babies Miller

Teresa writes:
I have recently given myself a naming delima, and am hoping you and your beautiful, charming readers will be able to help.

My husband and I are due to have our first children on Sept. 18th, twin boys (YAY!). Early in my husband’s and my relationship, we talked hypothetically about names for children, and future expectations. Now that the pregnancy has actually materialized, I am reconsidering one of the options I originally thought was great.

We agreed that if we had twins, the girl(s) would have my initials, and the boy(s) would have his initials with the first boy being named after him. I am still happy with naming our first son after his father, but I am now thinking that giving both boys the same initials is too cutesy. My husband still likes our original name choices, but I wanted to ask your opinion to see if there was something we were missing.

Our original name choices were: David Lloyd Miller, Jr. (DLM); my husband’s name – non negotiable, and Duncan Lucas Miller. While I love, love, love the name Duncan, Lucas does not seen to fit so well, it is just the best “L” name I could find. Also, it may seem silly, but I am concerned as to the feelings of the child not named after his father, even though he was part of the first pregnancy, will he feel left out or slighted in some way? So, I am considering the name Adam Mac Miller (AMM). Adam, because he was the first man God created and Mac because it means “son of”, so his name would mean first man son of Miller.

For reference, other names we like are: Stockton, Bradford, and Maximilian.

What do you think; are the names David and Duncan okay together? Am I overreacting to think the child not named after his father will care? Is there a great name out there I am missing? I need help!

I have a friend who, as it happens, was in your exact situation: she was expecting twin boys, and they wanted to name one boy after the father but were afraid the other boy would then feel less special---especially since she was having a c-section, and so the birth order would be arbitrary. I'll tell you what she did, because I thought it was genius: they named the SECONDBORN twin after his father. And they gave the firstborn twin a significant family name from the mom's side of the family.

I'll just let the amazingness of that sink in. Isn't that GREAT?

If your husband is going to insist on the firstborn as his namesake (honestly, men and their names---you hardly ever see women doing this kind of thing), then I don't think using Adam for the secondborn helps. If you're using it mainly for its significant meaning, and its meaning is "first man," what does that mean when it's for the second boy? It almost seems like saying, "What's special about YOU is that we're naming you AS IF you had been the firstborn twin! Because being FIRST is what is special!" Instead of giving the secondborn his own specialness, it re-emphasizes that being first is what's important.

If you love the name Duncan and don't have a significant family name from your own side of the family you like as much or more, I think you should stay with Duncan. (I like Lucas with it, too.) David and Duncan are good together, and it follows the naming system you and your husband agreed on, and people love a little gimmick in twin names: you'll get a lot of positive reaction to the matching initials.

What do the rest of you think?

[Name update! 09-29-2008 Teresa writes:
I just wanted you to know that our twin boys arrived mostly healthy, but small on September 4th, and came home soon after in perfect condition. Your readers were incredibly helpful and my husband and I took a lot of what was said into consideration. Ultimately, we decided to split my husband's name between our boys and chose the names Stockton Lloyd and Duncan David; Stockton and Duncan. Neither boy is named exactly after my husband, and nobody shares initials, but they both have strong names that honor their father. We are very happy with the names (and the boys) and want to thank your readers for all their help, they really did make a difference.]

Friday, August 15, 2008

Baby Girl Foster

Carmen writes:
Hi Swistle,

I am due in September with our second child, a girl, and my husband and I are having great difficulty choosing a name this time around. We don't have any family name traditions, and have only a few restrictions:

a) I don't want names that people automatically shorten into cutesy nicknames (e.g. Timmy, Tommy, etc.) because then the poor child has to convince the world to call him something else when he becomes an adult. (The same would hold true for a daughter - I just can't think of an example at this moment.) I know that the parents should be able to avoid this with a bit of work, but I know my parents. And his parents. It's just easier to avoid the situation all together.

b) And of course, the initials also shouldn't spell anything crazy. This seems like a fairly standard restriction though.

c) We'd like a name that is not really in the top 20 or so of current names - in order to avoid the situation of 3 kids in one class with the same name.

d) I'm not a huge fan of the current trend of crazy spellings of normal names.

The name we chose for our son was Kieran James. No nicknames, fairly uncommon, not crazy initials. Girls names are harder as there aren't any so far that I really really love. I sort of like Jemma, but my husband does not. And Alexa, although I'm not sure if the 'x' makes the name sound a bit 'hard'.

How about Calla? Or Lyra? And predictably, I have no thoughts on middle names...

I guess the other complicating factor is that our last name is Foster. That makes names that end in 'er' impossible as they just sound ridiculous: Spencer Foster. See? Too funny.

So. Can you help me, O Wise and Wonderful Swistle?

As you know, I love the book The Baby Name Wizard with all my baby-naming heart, and so I do love when it slips onto a problem like a well-worn glove. In this case, not only does the book have entries for both Calla and Lyra, but it puts both names in the same two categories: the "Little Darlings" category (short-and-sweet names) and the "Why Not?" category (for names that are not being used much despite having so much going for them). Let's find some more choices from those two categories:

Little Darlings
Ada (Ada Foster; Kieran and Ada)
Britta (Britta Foster; Kieran and Britta)
Eva (Eva Foster; Kieran and Eva)
Lila (Lila Foster; Kieran and Lila)

Why Not?
Elsa (Elsa Foster; Kieran and Elsa)
Geneva (Geneva Foster; Kieran and Geneva)
Jill (Jill Foster; Kieran and Jill)
Joy (Joy Foster; Kieran and Joy)

(It's Eve that's in the Little Darlings list, not Eva, but I think Eva has a better rhythm and fewer Adam jokes.)

The name Kieran has a strong K sound and a strong vowel sound and a strong N sound, and I found a lot of names got tangled with it when I tried to pair them as siblings. Try for example Caris, a name from the Why Not category that I think is great with your surname: Caris Foster. But now put it with Kieran: Kieran and Caris. Or try Kieran and Ellen. Kieran and Kara. Kieran and Kira.

I can't tell if the name Calla is like that or not. Is "Kieran and Calla" lovely and coordinated, or is it tangley? I like the name Calla a lot, and it's terrific with your surname, so we'll include it in the list and let everyone vote on it with the others. Let's also include Lyra--which may or may not have a vowel tangle with Kieran, I can't tell for sure.

Calla (Calla Foster; Kieran and Calla)
Lyra (Lyra Foster; Kieran and Lyra)

That gives us a nice long list. Let's put a poll over to the right and vote on it! What should Kieran Foster's sister be named?

[Poll results (207 votes total):

Ada: 21 votes, roughly 10%
Britta: 16 votes, roughly 8%
Eva: 17 votes, roughly 8%
Lila: 35 votes, roughly 17%
Elsa: 12 votes, roughly 6%
Geneva: 14 votes, roughly 7%
Jill: 15 votes, roughly 7%
Joy: 10 votes, roughly 5%
Calla: 46 votes, roughly 22%
Lyra: 21 votes, roughly 10%]

[Name update 10-10-2008! Carmen writes:
Thank you so much to you and your readers for your advice and suggestions; it certainly gave us more options to talk about. At least as much as I could convince my husband that we needed to STILL TALK about names! I had our little baby girl on Sept 29th and we named her Alexa Lenore. I agreed with your readers and really wanted Calla, but in the end my husband didn't like it as much. Lyra was also nice, although we realized later that we were pronouncing it incorrectly (like Leer-ra, rather than Lie-ra) and only really liked it that way; we didn't want her to spend her life having to tell people how to pronounce her name. So. Alexa it is. Her middle name is the same as mine, as her brother's name is the same as my husband's.

Thank you for posting my question. I'm sorry that we didn't get to use your suggestions in the end, but we're happy with Alexa and it suits her. Although you may have noticed that by using it, we didn't follow our own rules. There IS a cute nickname (Lexi) but neither of us hate it, so we overlooked that fact. Also, her initials are ALF. Presumably by the time she's in school no one will remember that stupid sitcom, right?]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I was thinking about the Aiden, Brayden, Caden, Hayden, Jaden thing. Now that more people are noticing it as a batch of rhyming names, it's getting common to hear people rejecting the whole group of names because of it: each name is popular in its own right but also seems more popular because of its rhyming friends.

That's the weakness of rhymers, but also their strength. If you want a name that's unusual but less likely to raise eyebrows, you can choose a name that rhymes with a familiar name. Instead of Jason, use Cason or Greyson. Instead of Emma, use Gemma. The rhyme---and the way you can say calming things such as "It's like Jason with a C"---gives the name a familiar, reassuring sound even if it's the first time your mom has ever heard it.

Back to weaknesses, though: as everyone with a rhyming name can tell you, it means a lifetime of minor misunderstandings: Anna keeps having to tell people her name is not Hannah, and Alyssa has to keep saying it's not Melissa. Well, but pretty much all of us have to do something over and over with our names: I have to say it's Kristen "with a K and an -en," and my friend Sara has to say "without the h."

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Baby Girl Anna/Annalise Cooper

Melinda writes:
Hi. We are due on 8/14/08 and we are just now narrowing down our name choices. This has been one of the hardest things for my husband and I to decide on. I love the first name Annalise, but my husband really likes just Anna. I could go with Anna, but Annalise is so beautiful and distinct.

Our 2.5 year old son is named Nathan. I'd like to include my late Grandmother's name, Maxine or a form of, in the middle name. I'd be happy with a middle initial of M. Our last name is Cooper.

1) Anna Maxine Cooper
2) Annalise Maxine Cooper

We would love your suggestions!

Thanks so much!

Here is the nice thing about going with the name Annalise in this situation: the name Anna is a nickname for it, so both of you can use the name you prefer.

I love both names. I think Annalise Cooper has a slightly better rhythm, but that's completely subjective and someone else is probably thinking, "Hm, well, Anna Cooper has the better rhythm." Nathan and Annalise sounds great, and so does Nathan and Anna.

Maxine is a terrific middle name, sassy and strong with an appealing vintage sound. I like the way the ee sound in Annalise repeats with the ee sound in Maxine.

In fact, I don't even have any additional suggestions for you to consider. I think you've chosen two terrific names, and since your husband can still call her Anna, my own vote is for Annalise. On the other hand, if he carries the day with his choice, Anna is a beautiful, classic, never-fail name.

Let's take a vote! Which would you choose, Anna or Annalise? Poll is over to the right.

[Poll results:
Anna Maxine Cooper: 46 votes, roughly 21%
Annalise Maxine Cooper: 174 votes, roughly 79%]

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Y-Spelling Phenomenon

Steph writes:
I'm wondering what people think of what I like to call "The Y-Spelling Phenomenon". This is the trend of using the letter Y when spelling names that typically have no Y in them.

Examples (these are ones I've actually seen):

-- Ryver instead of River (which I have trouble with, because I keep wanting to pronounce it "Rye -- ver" ("Rye bread")
-- Madisyn instead of Madison

Some names I personally love spelled with a Y ... for example Alyson and Kathryn ... but I wonder if that's because they are more widely used spellings now, and so I'm okay with them because I've been exposed to them all my life? Is the "Y" substition the baby naming wave of the future or just a current fad to go along with the need to make popular names "unique'? I'm wondering how many of us who read the blog like this trend, or don't personally find it to be their taste? Also, what are some of the "Y Spelling Phenomenon" names that other readers have encountered?

I don't mind it for some names (in fact, I do think at times it can look down-right great!), but I am beginning to feel this is naming fad that's overused and not necessarily necessary.

How far is it going to go?? "Mykynzy" for Mackenzie??

This whole thing is a future teacher like myself's nightmare!!

Just something I thought we might ponder!

Good one, Steph! Let's talk about it! Do you guys like Y spellings and think they make a name "a different name" (that is, you'd say that the name Madison is way overused, but the name Madysyn is a different name and not overused)? Or do you think of it as taking an overused name and making it ALSO difficult to spell? And what Y spellings have you encountered?

[Poll results: What do you think of Y spellings?
I call them "misspellings": 127 votes, roughly 95%
I like them: 6 votes, roughly 5%]