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Monday, September 29, 2008

Name Update!

Update on Twin Boy Babies Miller! 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.

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl, Sister to Gabriel! Jennifer writes: "Thank you all for the fantastic and very helpful feedback on baby names. We were blessed with the early arrival of our daughter on September 9th and decided on Fiona Madeline."

Baby Girl ___ Faye Giesbrecht

Liz writes:
Ok, so we're having a girl, our first...and we've realized we like very few girl names.

Our last name is Giesbrecht, and her middle name will for sure be Faye, named after my best friend who passed away a few years ago.

We have a couple names we like, and just a few weeks ago, I had a brainstorm and am thinking of using my Grandmother's maiden name for our daughter's name.

The names we both like are :
Georgia (sweet Georgia Faye)
Madelyn (too common now, in my opinion)
Lily (husband's favorite)

and the maiden name....Ellington. Is that too weird? It sounds like the girl off of So You Think You Can Dance, Karington. I love the name and it sounds cute shortened to Ellie. . Ellie Faye...But could we ever call her the formal Ellington? It sounds masculine on it's own without the middle name...
Advice? Input? Any other names suggestions?

Ellington is a terrific surname name, and the great nickname Ellie makes it easy to use. If I were considering using it, my main worry would be coordinating it with the names of future siblings.

With the exception of Ellington, all the names you're looking at fall into a category The Baby Name Wizard calls "Antique Charm." The trouble is, this is a category many people like---so any name I might suggest (Adeline, Ava, Charlotte, Clara, Lucy, Lydia, Sadie, Violet, etc.) is either already as common as Madelyn or in danger of becoming as common as Madelyn.

Still. I'm adding Eliza Faye Geisbrecht and Clara Faye Giesbrecht, because I love them both. Let's take a vote! The poll is to the right. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results (273 votes total):
Georgia Faye: 79 votes, roughly 29%
Madelyn Faye: 9 votes, roughly 3%
Lily Faye: 19 votes, roughly 7%
Ellington Faye: 113 votes, roughly 41%
Eliza Faye: 26 votes, roughly 10%
Clara Faye: 27 votes, roughly 10%]

Name update 03-18-2009! Liz writes:
So sorry for being so behind on the update! Ellington Faye was born Oct 28, and we couldn't be happier with her name. Thanks so much for the suggestions and it was really neat to see how people voted (Ellington had a strong 41% lead, which did help us decide!) and how they weighed in with the name suggestions. We'll be back when it's time to name Ellie's future brother or sister!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Baby Boy Steven Walker Jordan III

Jennifer writes:
I need a great name for a third boy
steven walker jordan, III
dad goes by walker, which i LOVE
g-dad goes by Steve
i love Tripp but a close family friend already used that.
Is Walk a strech?
any idea are welcome.

I don't think Walk is a stretch, but it doesn't seem like it helps much, either: having a Walker and a Walk is like having a Steven and a Steve.

You have such a great last name, I'm tempted to suggest using it. Like, could you call him Jordy? But then you'd have Jordy Jordan when you needed to use his full name. That's...not ideal.

Other common nicknames for a III are Trey (from the French "tres" for three, which is pronounced roughly like the English word "tray") and Trace (from the Spanish "tres" for three, which is pronounced roughly like the English word "trace"). I particularly like Trace, and even more with your last name: I think Trace Jordan sounds like a really cool guy.

Name update! Jennifer writes: "Just wanted to let you guys know we chose Walk. thanks so much for all of your help!"

Friday, September 26, 2008

Baby Naming Issue: Should We Avoid Using the Name of a Sports Figure?

Melanie writes:
I'm due at the very beginning of October with our first, a boy, and though we're pretty sure of what we'll name him, I was wondering if you could help resolve some issues with your (and your readers') baby-naming knowledge.

I have loved the name Eli for about ten years, and was delighted when it sounded good with both our family-inspired middle name, Joseph, and our last name. My husband likes it too, especially the initials. He was called J.R. as a kid and likes the sound of E.J.

There's only one problem-- we live in the New York area, where Eli Manning is the reigning Super Bowl quarterback. My (rather large) family lives in New England, where Manning is one of the foils to the Patriots' nearly-perfect season. My family, especially my father (a one-time Patriots season ticket holder) have named pets after sports figures in the past, and I don't want it to seem that we named our son after the quarterback. So far, I have consoled myself by saying that people like my dad can call him E.J., but we've never fully committed. I'd like to think that I don't care what other people think if my husband and I love the name, but we've still been trying to find backups.

Another name that we love is Miles, but it's the name of a friend's pet. Colin has stayed on the list, as has Aaron, but I don't love either of them. Henry and Charles have been dubbed "old" by my husband. Female names that we liked included Leah, Lily, Natalie and Morgan. I like names that inspire intelligence, creativity and kindness, though I know that's a matter of opinion.

Because our last name can be difficult to pronounce and is uncommon, it's important to have an easy, short first name. I like classic names with some style. My husband prefers names that don't "sound old." We'd like to stay away from anything too trendy.

Could you please help? What do you think of the Eli issue? I'm hoping that I'm just paranoid and most people won't even make the football connection (or perhaps Brett Farve will steal the spotlight in the coming season). Could there be another name that does the trick and doesn't require an explanation or disclaimer?

I think you should use Eli. You love it. You agree on it. You want to use it. It's perfect with your surname and with the middle name you want to use.

I think the sports connection is tenuous at best, and not at all obvious. If you named him Babe Ruth, that would be different---but Eli? I don't think you'll need to volunteer an explanation that "it's not after Eli Manning." (Eli Manning's full name is Elisha, if that helps.) If I were you and my dad gave me any crap, I'd roll my eyes and say, "I've liked this name for TEN YEARS! It has nothing to do with SPORTS! Beezus!"

On the other hand, I'm not what you'd call "sporty." Perhaps some of you sports fans can help us out here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Name Update!

Name update on Baby Girl Brown! 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

Old Favorites

I went through an old box of diaries and other youthful crap last night, and one of my finds was a series of lists of my favorite baby names from 1984-1988. SCORE.

I'm going to list all the names, along with each name's popularity ranking the year I liked it (source for rankings: Social Security Administration) and any reason I remember for liking it.


Alexandra (#96)
Emily (#24) (I knew a very cute little toddler Emily)

Theodore (#213) (likely The Cosby Show)
David (#5) (crush)


Christy (#151; Kristy was #145) (liked a book with a Christy in it)
Emily (#24)
Jenny (#157; Jennifer was #3) (my best friend was Jenny)
Megan (#10)
Michelle (#22)

Darren (#161) (nice, cute, smart classmate)
Jonathan (#17)


Christy (#174; Kristy was #158)
Emily (#24)

Jonathan (#16)
Seth (#97)
Jimmy (#150; James was #7) (crush)



Christy (#207; Kristy was #181)
Emily (#19)
Jenny (#165; Jennifer was #4)
Megan (#12)
Miriam (#325) (I knew a cute toddler Miriam)
Saradonna (not in the Top 1000) (and I have no idea)

Joshua (#4)
Jimmy (#154; James was #8) (crush)
Seth (#89)
Jonathan (#18)
Andrew (#6) (crush)


Emily (#18)
Kristen (#36)
Miriam (#336)

Jason (#27) (crush)
Joshua (#4)
Jimmy (#162; James was #9) (crush)
Andrew (#5) (crush)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Karlie, Alexis, Zoey, and ___?

Christina writes:
Hello so I was talking with my girlfriend yesterday and she was asking me what i was going to name my baby and we are clueless:( She told me about you and i decided to give it a whirl . I am due next month and already have three girls and we are not sure what we are having and would love some help:) I have been throwing around ideas but none have made me say that's what i want to call my baby:) having 3 girls takes away a lot of girl names and all our friends have girls. my daughters are Karlie , Alexis and Zoey . I do have a couple ideas for girls i think the middle name is going to be Kae that is my husbands grandmas name that passed . some of my ideas for the first are Dani, ( after my hubby Daniel) Isabella, Ella, Jillian but i just cant get one to stick:) For a boy we like Nathan, Tyler, Nicolas, Zak ( Zak is the three first letters of the girls:) So any help would be great.

I like the girl name candidates you've come up with, but you say none of them are sticking yet. Let's find a few more options to consider:


Then let's put those in a big list with the boy name options and make a poll! Please vote for one girl name AND one boy name. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results, girl names (282 votes total):
Dani: 13 votes, roughly 5%
Isabella: 8 votes, roughly 3%
Ella: 23 votes, roughly 8%
Jillian: 37 votes, roughly 13%
Delaney: 29 votes, roughly 10%
Gracie: 14 votes, roughly 5%
Haley: 11 votes, roughly 4%
Laney: 18 votes, roughly 6%
Macy: 20 votes, roughly 7%
Piper: 68 votes, roughly 24%
Sadie: 32 votes, roughly 11%
Shelby: 9 votes, roughly 3%

Poll results, boy names (250 votes total):
Nathan: 63 votes, roughly 25%
Tyler: 54 votes, roughly 22%
Nicolas: 56 votes, roughly 22%
Zak: 77 votes, roughly 31%]

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Baby Girl, Sister to Harley Jane

Claire writes:
We are about to have our 2nd daughter and really need help with a name. We have a 3 year old named Harley Jane. My husband and I both love her name and agreed on it instantly! This time around, no such luck.

The only thing we have agreed on is the middle name: Diane (for my mother who passed away from cancer last year)

Hubby loves the name Kennedy. Me, not so much.
I love the name Lila. Hubby, not so much.

I mentioned the name Hannah, and while we both like it (and how it sounds with Harley), we aren't sure about both the girls having names beginning with "H". We do plan on having more children,so we don't want to lock ourselves into using only "H" names. And if we used the name Hannah, and have another child with a name beginning with something other than "H", we don't want them to feel left out.

We really need your help! Do you have any suggestions for our baby girl? I am afraid she will be born and we will call her baby girl for the rest of her life!

It's a good idea to think ahead about initials, especially if you'd feel trapped into having more H names. I think an even bigger issue for me in this situation would be that the names Harley and Hannah are different in both style and popularity. Harley is contemporary, creative, and boyish/androgynous; Hannah is traditional, conservative, and girly. The name Harley was #481 in 2007; the name Hannah was #9 (source: Social Security Administration).

As with the issue of initials, this is purely personal: some people like more matchiness than others. I like names to be roughly similar in style and popularity (though I don't let it stop me from using a name I Love Love Love), but you may not feel that way about it. And "Harley and Hannah" does have appeal: it sounds almost like a children's television show. But you can imagine what the show would be about, right? Harley would be tough and bold and outgoing; Hannah would be sweet and polite and scared to get into trouble. The appeal is in the contrast, and for siblings you may not want that.

I think the name Kennedy goes great with Harley, but if you're meh about it, I'm tossing it. And your husband is meh about Lila, so that one goes out too. Let's see if we can find some more options:

Aubrey; Harley and Aubrey
Avery; Harley and Avery
Darcy; Harley and Darcy
Delaney; Harley and Delaney
Ellery; Harley and Ellery
Ellison; Harley and Ellison
Emerson; Harley and Emerson
Jalen; Harley and Jalen
Larkin; Harley and Larkin
Merrit; Harley and Merrit
Rowan; Harley and Rowan

Some of those may be too similar for your tastes: for example, do you want a repeating "ar" sound, as in hARley and dARcy, or hARley and lARkin? It's a matter of personal preference: some people will love the way those names are very different and yet coordinated by a common sound; other people will find the common sound too matchy.

The two that stand out to me are Delaney and Emerson. Because I can't choose just one, I won't make you choose just one either: please vote for TWO choices in the poll to the right [poll closed; see below].

[Poll results (476 votes total):
Aubrey: 53 votes, roughly 11%
Avery: 65 votes, roughly 14%
Darcy: 18 votes, roughly 4%
Delaney: 68 votes, roughly 14%
Ellery: 22 votes, roughly 5%
Ellison: 22 votes, roughly 5%
Emerson: 78 votes, roughly 16%
Jalen: 4 votes, roughly 1%
Larkin: 32 votes, roughly 7%
Merrit: 41 votes, roughly 9%
Rowan: 73 votes, roughly 15%]

[Name update 10-21-2008! Claire writes:
Thanks to everyone for the help and all the great suggestions! We were really torn between Emerson and Merrit (although the hubby kept trying for Kennedy!).

However, we are pleased to announce that Emerson Diane was born on Friday, October 3! Mother and baby are both doing extremely well. We love her name and love her even more! Thank you!]

Monday, September 22, 2008

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl or Boy Haggerman!
Thank you so much for all of your advice and suggestions. It gave us so much more to talk about. This is Lucy's husband. We just wanted to let you know that my wife gave birth late last night/early this morning to a beautiful baby boy.

Owen Jasper Haggerman

We really hadn't thought of either names, but immediately fell in love with both as soon as we read them. Thank you again for all of the suggestions!

Many thanks,
Kevin, Lucy, Virginia, and the newest addition Owen

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Yoops! I almost forgot to choose a winner for the A is for Atticus giveaway!

The winner is Becky! Email me (swistle at gmail dot com) with your mailing info and I'll get the book on its way to you!

Orenstein Twins

Hannah writes:
I'm having fraternal twin girls arriving October 2! They will join big sister Cecelia Claire, age 3. Our last name is Orenstein, pronounced OR-en-steen.

For Baby A, we were considering Rosabel, my grandmother's name, for a long time. We're on the fence about whether to use it as a first name or a middle name – we like Rosabel Charlotte, Rosabel Olivia, and Veronica Rosabel. My husband, Nathaniel, prefers Rosabel as a first name. He likes the idea of the nicknames Roo – the initials of Rosabel Olivia Orenstein – or Rosie. I'm not 100% sold on it – I'm really loving the name Veronica right now.

For Baby B, we're so conflicted on what to choose! I really love the name Ava Catherine, but Ava is the #1 name in my state for baby girls at the moment, and popular isn't really our style. I would still consider it as a middle name, though. We also like Alexandra, Georgina, Julia, and Stella. We would also really like to use Eleanor as a middle name, if possible. Eleanor is Nathaniel's grandmother's name.

We're open to all combinations, new suggestions, and whatever you have to offer. Thanks in advance for all your help!

I love Rosabel: it's beautiful and unusual; there's a family tie-in; and the popularity of the name Isabelle means the sound of the name is likely to be a big hit. Olivia is my favorite of your middle name choices, and "Roo" and "Rosie" are both great nicknames.

But I'm no good as a tie-breaker here, because I also love Veronica Rosabel. And if you use both grandmothers' names as middle names, it gives a very pleasing balance.

Wait---you're having two girls. Could you use Rosabel AND Veronica? Rosabel Olivia and Veronica Eleanor? The name Eleanor runs into your surname a little (EleanOR ORenstein), but I think that kind of thing is fine for a middle name, especially when there's a good family reason to use the name.

Looking at your other candidates, they all look too strong and sassy to pair with Rosabel: Rosabel and Georgina. Rosabel and Ava. Rosabel and Stella seems like it might lead to people saying Rosabella accidentally. Rosabel and Alexandra might work, except the name Alexandra is so much more common: Rosabel hasn't hit the Top 1000 any time in the last 200 years, while Alexandra's been in there solidly since 1938---and in the Top 50 since 1988 (source: Social Security Administration).

How about Alessandra? It's similar to Alexandra, but less common and it increases the femininity to be a better match for Rosabel. The name Lissandra seems even better to me, and less prone to people mishearing it as Alexandra: Rosabel and Lissandra. Lissandra Eleanor Orenstein. You could use Leo as a nickname, to go with Roo.

Or maybe Clarissa? Or..... Well, I'm finding what you probably found, which is that Rosabel is a tough name to coordinate, and especially as part of a twin set where the coordination or lack thereof is going to stand out even more glaringly than with other siblings.

I think there are two good options here:

1. Go with his first pick (Rosabel) and your first pick (Veronica). Rosabel Olivia Orenstein (ROO) and Veronica Eleanor Orenstein (VEO). Cecelia, Rosabel, and Veronica. This is my favorite option, because I like the way you both get your first choice. I also like the way HE'S the one who wants YOUR grandmother's name promoted to first-name status: that evens out any potential family ruffles about whose family name is more favored.

2. Shift Rosabel to the middle name slot, like Eleanor. Pick two of your remaining choices, perhaps Veronica and Julia, or Georgina and Stella, and pair them up with the middle names. Maybe Georgina Rosabel Orenstein (GRO) and Veronica Eleanor Orenstein (VEO); Cecelia, Georgina, and Veronica.

What do the rest of you think? Are there more options here? What would you do?

[Name update! 10-02-2008 Hannah writes:
Thank you to all your readers for your help! Rosabel Olivia Orenstein and Eleanor Veronica Orenstein were born on October 2, 2008. They're both healthy, beautiful girls and their names suit them perfectly!]

Friday, September 19, 2008

Baby Boy Boos

Cyndee writes:
Boys are difficult. At least this one is proving to be already - and he isn't due until October 10.

His two sisters - 10 yr old Hannah Lauren (emphasis on REN) and 2 yr old Avery Lynn (Lynn after both our mothers) were very easy to name, but boy's names seem to be harder than childbirth itself!

It could be a problem with our last name - Boos (pronounced "bows", not "booze"), but that's just something we have to work around.

The other problem is that we just can't seem to agree on anything, and even the names I've come up with I'm not all that thrilled about when I think about them for any length of time. Names I like (in no particular order): Dexter, Charlie, Lewis, Oliver... well, that's really about it, and I'm not that keen on any of them. My husband is terrified of picking a name that will cause teasing (I'm sure the last name has already taken care of that), but I think what he doesn't understand is that our son will not be in school with a bunch of Steves, Brians, Matthews, etc. All the other boys will have similarily sounding names and if they're going to tease, it will have to include everyone.

Any suggestions? I seem to like more odd-type names, geeky perhaps, which would be cute for small boys, and then hopefully be quirky without being too out-there for adult males. I'm not sure what my husband likes in a name, only what he doesn't like - which seems to be anything I like.

I don't want to make unfair sweeping generalizations (I'm sure there are plenty of husbands saying, "Honey, come on, we need to talk about names" while their wives roll their eyes and make exasperated sounds and act like their husbands are hormone-crazed crazycakes to be bringing this up so often), but there does seem to be a common problem of the man wanting to do none of the thinking and all of the vetoing. Well. We're hardly going to be able to solve that worldwide problem right this second, are we? I should stop fussing about it and turn my energies instead to making a list....that your husband can reject. Okay, I'll stop!

Geeky/quirky brings to mind:

Elliot Boos; Hannah, Avery, and Elliot
Emmett Boos; Hannah, Avery, and Emmett
Simon Boos; Hannah, Avery, and Simon
Wesley Boos: Hannah, Avery, and Wesley

I thought of Leo and Milo, too, but the -o names don't work as well with your surname. Then I thought of Henry, but it's almost a mix of the two sisters' names: "Hannah, Avery, and Henry" makes my eyes struggle to untangle the three names. And I thought of Everett, but rejected it for being too similar to Avery.

Or perhaps what's needed here is a name that would feel comfortable and familiar to your husband---a name that was around in our own youth but hasn't yet gone out of style?

Alec Boos; Hannah, Avery, and Alec
Christopher Boos; Hannah, Avery, and Christopher
Eric Boos; Hannah, Avery, and Eric
Evan Boos; Hannah, Avery, and Evan
Jonathan Boos; Hannah, Avery, and Jonathan
Kyle Boos; Hannah, Avery, and Kyle

Those don't have the geek chic going for them, but it sounds like maybe those geek chic names appeal to you but then don't settle into serious contenders. How about a familiar, nearly tease-free first name for your husband, with a quirkier middle name for you?

Alec Dexter Boos (ADB)
Christopher Elliot Boos (CEB)
Eric Lewis Boos (ELB)
Evan Wesley Boos (EWB)
Jonathan Everett Boos (JEB)
Kyle Oliver Boos (KOB)

Let's have a poll! It's over to the right! [poll closed; see below] Vote for your favorite, but also pipe up with your own combinations.

[Poll results (203 votes total):
Alec Dexter: 29 votes, roughly 14%
Christopher Elliot: 45 votes, roughly 22%
Eric Lewis: 6 votes, roughly 3%
Evan Wesley: 67 votes, roughly 33%
Jonathan Everett: 26 votes, roughly 13%
Kyle Oliver: 30 votes, roughly 15%]

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Middle Name Challenge: Baby Girl Hannah ___ #2

Joslyn writes:
I'm due on Sept it could be *any* day now as I am already dialted to 3 and this is my 3rd child.

We do not know the gender of this baby and we've picked out a boy's name for sure but we've been struggling with a girl's name.

We've finally decided on the first name of Hannah for the baby if it's a girl, because we had so much trouble with choosing the first name hubs has decided to let me have full reign over the middle name.

This makes me nervous for several reasons, now since I have no rules I have no idea where to begin.

I do have some self-imposed stipulations:

1) the name needs to have 4, 5, or 6 letters

2) I don't want the middle name to sound like any of my other kid's names: Daniel Joseph and Amelia Elise (so no names like Danielle or Annelise)

3) I'd like to avoid anything that rhymes with Cherry or ends with the "ry" (like Rory) due to our last name

4) I also don't want anything that ends in the same sound as Hannah (like Matilda)

5) Since my name is Joslyn I would like to NOT use the name Lynn

6) She might end up having to go by this middle name if she's one of 16 Hannah's in her class going through school so nothing too out there (though I love the name Calliope, which doesn't fit my rules ;-) )

Thank you in advance for all your help!!

We've looked at middle names for a baby Hannah in another post. Here was the list I came up with for that baby, taking out the names that don't have 4, 5, or 6 letters:

Hannah Claire
Hannah Faith
Hannah Jane
Hannah Jeanne
Hannah June
Hannah Kate

In the original list I omitted Hannah Mae for sounding like "anime," and the mother omitted Hannah Belle for sounding like "Hannibal." I omitted Hannah Jo because it wasn't good with the surname, and it doesn't meet your requirement for number of letters so I've left it out of this list as well; I omitted Hannah Noelle for the surname reason, but that one would work for you. One commenter mentioned that "Hannah Claire" sounds like "Han Eclair."

I like Hannah Catherine and Hannah Margaret, but they're too many letters.

Without your surname, it's tricky to find more middle name options---but perhaps those will get you started.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Baby Girl or Boy Haggerman

Lucy writes:
Hi, I am due at the end of September and my husband and I STILL haven't picked a name out for the little one. We don't know what we are having, so we really need boy and girl suggestions. We already have a daughter named Virginia Leigh. Leigh is my middle name as well as my father's (his spelled Lee). We usually call her Virginia, but sometimes use Ginny as well.

Lately, we have really been diggin more modern names. I am afraid of choosing something too modern because Virginia is such a classic, traditional name. Should we choose something more classic for this one as well?

For a girl, we like (but aren't in love with) Rosalie and Fiona. Some more traditional names for a girl that we like (but again aren't in love with) are Elizabeth and Margaret. I think we have decided on Jane as the middle name. I love the name Millicent, but my husband is on the fence about this one.

As for boys, we both like Edmund, but think it sounds too harsh with our last name (Haggerman). What do you think? We haven't thought of middle names either. We have also tossed around Braden. Braden might be out though, because I am afraid people might think it is supposed to be Brandon. Am I just being weird now? My husband and I really need help with boys name, especially ones that go with Virginia.

We need your help!

I like ALL your girl names, and I like them all with Virginia. I think if you were suggesting names such as Kaylee and Jaiden I would gently steer you toward something less contemporary, but your choices work. Other names to consider:

Annabel Jane Haggerman (AJH), Virginia and Annabel
Clara Jane Haggerman (CJH), Virginia and Clara
Eliza Jane Haggerman (EJH), Virginia and Eliza
Felicity Jane Haggerman (FJH), Virginia and Felicity
Violet Jane Haggerman (VJH), Virginia and Violet

On to boy names. Hm, Edmund Haggerman. I think you're right that it's a mouthful, but would you call him Ed? Ed Haggerman sounds great, as does Eddie Haggerman. I'm trying to make this work because I like the name Edmund. Would you consider Everett? Everett Haggerman.

As for Braden---may I gently steer you toward something less contemporary? Braden is a name that fits more with the Kaylees and Jaidens, less with the Virginias and Edmunds. A name I think balances beautifully between contemporary appeal and traditional roots is Owen. Owen Haggerman.

What do you (and I mean all of you, not just Lucy) think of the name Jasper? I've been toying with that one for awhile. Jasper Haggerman. This is getting disorganized; let's make a list.

Everett Haggerman, Virginia and Everett
Owen Haggerman, Virginia and Owen
Jasper Haggerman, Virginia and Jasper
Garrett Haggerman, Virginia and Garrett

This is going to be a long poll, but I think we're up to the challenge. Since we don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, please choose one boy name AND one girl name. The poll is to the right. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results:

Girl names (250 votes total):
Rosalie: 40 votes, 16%
Fiona: 25 votes, 10%
Elizabeth: 16 votes, roughly 6%
Margaret: 20 votes, 8%
Annabel: 32 votes, roughly 13%
Clara: 40 votes, 16%
Eliza: 28 votes, roughly 11%
Felicity: 27 votes, roughly 11%
Violet: 22 votes, roughly 9%

Boy names (250 votes total):
Edmund: 37 votes, roughly 15%
Everett: 50 votes, 20%
Owen: 94 votes, roughly 38%
Jasper: 37 votes, roughly 15%
Garrett: 32 votes, roughly 13%]

[Name update! 09-22-2008
Thank you so much for all of your advice and suggestions. It gave us so much more to talk about. This is Lucy's husband. We just wanted to let you know that my wife gave birth late last night/early this morning to a beautiful baby boy.

Owen Jasper Haggerman

We really hadn't thought of either names, but immediately fell in love with both as soon as we read them. Thank you again for all of the suggestions!

Many thanks,
Kevin, Lucy, Virginia, and the newest addition Owen]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Woolener Twins

Tiffany writes:
I'm due to have twins in early October. At the ultrasound last month, we found out that baby A is a boy. And baby B is...shy. :) We have come up with a name for baby A: Henry Fox. I'm in love with Henry (although a little worried about its popularity). Someone recently suggested Fox to us because my husband's name is Todd and it apparently means "fox" in Old English. I know it's a little different, but I thought it was a cute and different way to honor my husband. I do need some feedback on the name. What do you think?

Now for baby B. We need help coming up with a name for either a boy or a girl. I don't necessarily want the twins' names to "match", but I do want them to go together. I want "classic names" - especially since my husband and I have such dated 70's names (Todd and Tiffany). :)

For a girl, we like:
  • Kate - I just don't love any longer form of Kate. I'm trying to fall in love with Katharine, but I go back and forth on this one.
  • Grace - One of my husband's favorites. I like it, too.
  • Stella - I love this one.
  • Julia - I love the Julia/Julie option.
  • Sylvia - My husband isn't completing sold yet on this one. I'm trying to get him to see that it has the same style and sound of Sophia and Julia, two names he loves.
  • Elizabeth - We'd probably call her Izzy.

For middle names, we are considering:
  • Susannah - a variation on my mom's name (Susan) and my middle name (Suzanne)
  • Louise
  • Jane
  • May/Mae - a family name
  • Eva - a family name
  • Anne - a family name
  • Charlotte
  • Rose - family name
  • Katharine - if we don't use it as a first name
  • Claire

For boys, either first or middle:
  • Lewis (my husband's late grandfather's name)
  • Matthew (my husband's middle name)
  • William
  • Lucas
  • Colin
  • Simon
  • Owen
  • Stuart (middle only)
  • Sullivan
  • Finn
  • James/Jameson
  • Charles (middle only)
  • Samuel

I'm totally open to more suggestions if you can derive some sort of style out of this collection of names! Our last name is Woolener (3 syllables), which totally nixes two of my favorite names: Oliver and Eleanor. :(

Thanks for your help!!

I love the name Henry Fox! Henry is the middle name (and pseudonym) of one of my sons, and it was ALMOST his first name. Henry is indeed getting more popular (from #126 in 2000 to #91 in 2007, according to The Social Security Administration), but I don't worry about it getting TOO-too popular. Even if it DOES get very popular, it would be a classic, long-rooted, traditional boy name that was experiencing one of many recurring times in the sun---not a trendy, flash-in-the-pan name. And I think Fox is cute with it.

Let's turn our attention to Baby B. First, let's say Baby B is a girl. Well....pretty much ALL your girl names sound good with Henry! Kate is a fine name just as it is, if you don't like any of the names it's a traditional nickname for.

Henry and Kate
Henry and Grace
Henry and Stella
Henry and Julia
Henry and Sylvia (perhaps your husband would prefer Silvia?)
Henry and Elizabeth

All good. With your surname, I think the best options are Kate Woolener, Grace Woolener, and Elizabeth Woolener. Stella Woolener, Julia Woolener, and Sylvia Woolener are harder to wrap the mouth around.

Middle names. The one-syllable first names Kate and Grace go best with the longer middle names; I think both are best with Louise, but I like the family connection to the name Susannah so would probably choose that. The longer name Elizabeth is good with the shorter middle names; I like any of them, but my favorites are Jane and Claire. With Stella and Julia, I like Mae. With Sylvia, I like Claire.

I don't even WANT to mention this, but feel duty-bound to say that the middle name "Claire" CAN lead to The Eclair Problem with first names that end in A. Anna Claire, for example, turns into An Eclair. Even Sylvia Claire, which I have just recommended, could be heard as Silvie Eclair. Still! I would not let that stop me! Eclairs are delicious, and small children are more familiar with Twinkies.

Kate Susannah Woolener (KSW)
Grace Susannah Woolener (GSW)
Elizabeth Jane Woolener (EJW)
Elizabeth Claire Woolener (ECW)
Stella Mae Woolener (SMW)
Julia Mae Woolener (JMW)
Sylvia Claire Woolener (or Silvia Claire Woolener) (SCW)

Now let's say Baby B is a boy. With the name Henry, my favorites from your list are William and Simon: Henry and William, Henry and Simon. Because you're going with a fun middle name for Henry, I'd choose something fun and slightly matchy for the other boy: I like Finn. Henry Fox and William Finn. Henry Fox and Simon Finn. Hm, that was a little quicker than the girl section, wasn't it!

William Finn Woolener (WFW)
Simon Finn Woolener (SFW)

But I'm just choosing names from lists and putting them together how I like them. Now you guys can take a turn: look at the lists and put together a girl name! put together a boy name! What do you like best for Baby B?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Baby Girl, Sister to Abigail

Melissa writes:
Hi! We're expecting #2 on October 6th (or, if you believe the doctor, more likely in late September), our second girl, and are sort of stumped on the perfect name. (Although we still agree on the perfect BOY name we picked out the first time around, pretty well ensuring that we will never have boys to name. Oh well.)

We tend to the very traditional on naming and prefer names that have meanings we like. Any name that's likely to get shortened needs to have a "good" nickname that we can establish early on. My husband is Jewish, so using the name of a living relative is off the table, although we'd love to find a name with family meaning otherwise. Not a lot to choose from there on the girl side, unfortunately - we're not big on the Doris, Helen, Mary category (traditional but meh).

Daughter #1 is Abigail Claire - Abigail means "father's joy" (which she absolutely is) and Claire is after my grandfather (Clarence). We loved it as soon as we hit on it, and 2 1/2 years later it's still the Perfect Name. We sometimes wish Abigail weren't so popular (we didn't know - I swear!) but we still love the name. So now we need to match it!

Our front-runner first name right now is Caroline (my grandmother's middle name), which we might shorten to Callie if we get the urge. I also love Margaret (with Maggie or Meg as the short options), Madeleine, and Amelia (would be Mia for short). My husband likes Hannah, Rachel and Sarah. We're considering Elizabeth for the middle name, although I'd also love Emma, especially since it's too popular to use for a first name!

Help us find the perfect name! Thanks!

All of your options look great to me. Let's put them in a list with the sibling name so we can take a good look at them:

Abigail and Caroline
Abigail and Margaret
Abigail and Madeleine
Abigail and Amelia
Abigail and Hannah
Abigail and Rachel
Abigail and Sarah

Abigail and Amelia seem too similar to me for sisters---but then, I get confused if I'm reading a book and two characters have names that start with the same letter.

My favorite, I think, is your frontrunner. Abigail and Caroline is a great combination, and the nicknames are cute together: Abby and Callie. I like Caroline Elizabeth, and I also like Caroline Margaret.

But I don't see how you could go wrong with any of the names on your list. They're all great girl names. Let's put it to the vote and see what everyone else thinks. Poll is to the right. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results (215 votes total):
Caroline: 122 votes, roughly 57%
Margaret: 20 votes, roughly 9%
Madeleine: 20 votes, roughly 9%
Amelia: 20 votes, roughly 9%
Hannah: 13 votes, roughly 6%
Rachel: 12 votes, roughly 6%
Sarah: 8 votes, roughly 4%]

[Name update 10-21-2008! Melissa writes:
Thanks to everyone for input on daughter #2's name. Caroline Amelia was born on October 3rd, healthy and gorgeous, and her name suits her perfectly! The middle name was up in the air until the last minute, but Amelia finally won out over Elizabeth. Her big sister is very proud of "her baby Caroline" and so are we!

Thanks again!]

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Many Spellings of a Name

I had to alter the following email pretty dramatically, because there were statistical charts that were no way in heck going to fit in this post. I've put my snips in brackets so you get the gist though not the statistics themselves. Ashley writes:
Hi Swistle,

I know that you probably don't care... but I have been bothered by something on your Naming website. When you refer to the SS stats, you don't consider all spellings of a name! Take the name Madeline. Yes, it doesn't seem as popular when you look at Madeline. Now consider [the number each of babies named Madeline, Madelyn, Madelynn, Madilyn, Madeleine, Madalyn, Madalynn, Madilynn]. It is almost three times as popular when you count all the spellings! It's a Top 20 name when you adjust for multiple spellings. And names like these also add difficulty for the child in having to spell his/her name constantly. I know why the SSA does it the way they do ... it's very subjective when you start getting into pronunciations. Is "Miah" pronounced like "Mya" or like "Mia"? Who knows?

I take the Top 1000 Names and give it my best shot, though. Because I really don't want to choose one of those names that escapes notice due to a million spellings. The Top 1000 actually boils down to 649 names when you lump them together. I haven't done Boys yet for 2007. But I thought I'd share my girl list... The column on the far left sums the amounts next to the spellings.

[Here Swistle removed an ENORMOUS CHART.]

"Don't care"? Is there such a thing as "don't care" when it comes to baby names?

I know what you mean, and I do think it's a good idea for parents to take multiple spellings into account, especially if the popularity of a name is a big consideration. But I think it's too subjective to decide what's "a different spelling" and what's "a different name." Looking down your list, I disagree with many of your combinations: I think, for example, that Madelyn and Madeline are different names, and that Emily and Emmalee are different names, and that Sierra and Ciara are different names. And other people would go the opposite direction and say you should have combined more, and that Isabelle and Isabella are the same name. None of us are "right" or "wrong," we just have different opinions about what makes names "different."

Because it's so subjective, the only method that makes sense is to list every spelling separately but make the data available (it's available at the Social Security baby names site) so parents can add spellings up the way that makes sense to them---which is exactly what you did. I rarely do so on this blog, though, because in most cases the adding up makes only a fraction of a percentage point of a difference in the popularity of the name. For example, the spelling Khloe adds only .0209 percentage points to the .5085 percent Chloe population, bringing their combined total to .5294% of the baby girls born in 2007 (source: Social Security). And I'll bet if we took a vote, we wouldn't get a consensus on whether they were "the same name" or "different names."

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy, Brother to Luke and Samuel! 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!"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Book Review: A is for Atticus, by Lorilee Craker

Here is something I think is a really good baby-naming tip: When searching for a name for your baby, look at your bookshelf. Favorite characters and favorite authors make great choices.

The book A is for Atticus claims to be based on that idea, but it is not. A book-length list of a bunch of characters and authors is pointless. If they're not YOUR favorite characters and authors, who cares what their names are or what the author thinks of them? What, are you going to leaf through it and think, "Oh, Alexander! I like the name Alexander! And oh, there was an Alexander 'in Shakespeare,' so it's a LITERARY name! Score!" No.

The writing style of the book annoyed me, too, but of course that's entirely subjective: some of you would read it and die of love, because people are drawn to different writing styles and that's just the way things go. Here's a sample:

"Isabella: Though there have been a tidal wave of Isabellas in recent years (it's cemented in the top 5), I still can't help but view it as gloriously beautiful and somehow interesting, although there is now an Isabella in every classroom nation-wide."

Let's ignore word choices such as "cemented" and "somehow" and "can't help but" and "Though/although"---those are perfect examples of choices that annoy me but might make you say, "What exactly is the problem with those?" Let's instead go directly to "in every classroom nation-wide." Even in 30-student classrooms, an Isabella per classroom would mean that over 6% of baby girls were being named Isabella. In our 20-per-classroom area, an Isabella per classroom would mean 10% of baby girls were being named Isabella.

In 2007, which is the highest percentage of Isabellas so far, the percentage of girls named Isabella is still well under 1%. Those babies aren't even in classrooms yet (the rate for the current first graders is significantly lower), but if they WERE, and even if we rounded up to 1%, they'd be in those classrooms at an average rate of one Isabella per six to seven classrooms. Yes, some classrooms will have several Isabellas--but then other classrooms will have ZERO Isabellas to compensate for that. In my son's 21-student class this year, there are THREE children named Noah, and that does not mean the birth rate for Noahs is 27%. It means: (1) that flukes like this are unavoidable, and (2) that there are many zero-Noah classrooms compensating for this fluke.

Exaggerations and inaccuracies of this sort PLAGUE the book. I can almost overlook the excessively thesaurisized language (it really is okay to use the verb "named" again and again---there is no need to resort to "dub" and "hailed"), the wearying repetitions of certain pet expressions and words (who among us wants to cast the first stone in THAT arena? also also great great just just okay okay well well), the incorrect plurals (bouquet of daisies, yes, but a group of women named Daisy are Daisys), the lame unnecessary adjectives ("minivan-driving moms"---sigh), the peculiar rhetorical questions ("Could a name sound more made-up than Briana?"), the inappropriate assumption of motives ("John Travolta and Kelly Preston spelled it Bleu to act all French"), the clunky sentence chunks divided by commas ("And although Amelia continues to ascend, possibly hitting the top 50 anytime [sic], it will always have the feel of an heirloom, no matter how popular it gets.").....

Er, where was I? Oh, yes! I can almost overlook all those annoyances, but I can't STAND it when perceived statistics ("It seems like the name ____ is EVERYWHERE") are presented as if they are the same as actual statistics.

Don't even get me started on her attributing baby name trends to celebrities, when in fact most of the time those celebrities were just swept up in the same trend as the rest of us. GAH.

Well. I am willing to send this book on to one of you, if you don't mind a few dog-eared pages and if you think you can get over the problems and read it as a fun baby-name book. If only one of you wants it, it's yours! If more than one, I'll choose one "Yes, I want it!" comment randomly. You can still comment on the post without being entered: I'll choose from comments that specifically mention wanting the book, not from all comments.

Two Name Updates

Baby Boy Clayborne ___ has an 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.

And we also have an update to Naming Etiquette: Who has Dibs on a Family Name? Elizabeth writes:
It turns out the baby was a girl, so the question did actually apply. We used my grandmother's name (the sacred name), Genevieve, for the middle name. So her name is Margaret Genevieve and we call her Greta.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Baby Boy, Brother to Alexandra

Britta writes:
I'm so glad you agree that naming a boy is difficult. We have an 17 month old daughter whose name is Alexandra Rose. A lovely name, I think. She is generally called Ally, although I love all of her nickname-potential, including Alex.

So, I'm pregnant with a boy, due at the end of September. While we named Alexandra by 22 weeks, we absolutely cannot decide on a name for this little man. I like Luke. We both like Luke. In fact, if Alexandra was a boy, she would have been Luke. That, my husband says, means we cannot name this baby Luke. Because we already used it. Or because its a second-hand name or something. Whatever - I know - but I'm married to him. What's your opinion on this? (I think if I kicked and screamed, he'd go with Luke, but I would like us to both love our baby's name. Not merely tolerate it!)

He likes Michael Patrick. I hate it. The whole thing. Too Irish. Too boring. Too "Patrick." I like more unique names. My suggestion was Beau. Of course, I've made many suggestions, but my husband is very picky on boy names.

Finally, after some pouting that we'd never name this tyke, my husband suggested John Lawrence. Which I like -I like the nickname Jack. And it's a good, strong name. But again it is sooooo boring. My own name has never been in the top 1000 names and I love my name. My husband's name is James - he is contsantly battling off people calling him 'Jim' and answering for the other 3 James/Jims he works with. I understand boy names sometimes need to be "stronger" and less unique, but JOHN? That must be the lifetime record holding most common name ever. I suggested Peter. No luck. I re-suggested Luke. Nothing. Come on! Those are Bible names. I'm not being crazy, here.

So, please help us! If it helps, the other girl names we agree on (you'll see a trend) are Rebecca and Victoria.

Here is what I think: you should use Luke.

But! I've known other people who consider a name "used up" if it was a finalist for a previous baby, and so I'm not unfamiliar with that concept---and I know what you mean about wanting your husband to be on board with the name, not just giving in. Besides, if my entire advice is "You should use Luke," then this post is over already and I am not ready for that.

For one thing, I want to talk about the name John. Paul, too, says the name John is boring. In fact, he says it is the epitome of boring. I think it SEEMS boring because it is so familiar and because it is used as a stand-in for Man's Name (John Q. Public, John Doe, etc.), but that in actual usage it is a surprisingly satisfying name. I think many names seem exciting during the pregnancy and later seem ordinary (or worse, disappointing in their unusualness: e.g., "I had no idea Landon was so common! I thought we were choosing something unique but we know two other Landons already!"), but that the name John would be the opposite: with time, you would grow more and more surprised by it.

Also, while the name John FEELS common, it is not particularly. Cast your mind around to the children you know. Anyone named John? Many boys named John are named after relatives and called by a different name---and currently, many boys named John are given the name only so they can be called Jack. Actual boys named and called John? Few.

I also like the name Michael. These solid, classic boy names---I know what you mean about them not being very exciting to choose, and they're not very exciting to announce, either. But with time, they sure do sit well.

Would it help if you got to choose the middle name? Many a happy compromise has been reached in this way. Your husband gets the common name he wants, but you get to choose something more unusual for the middle name spot.

In the meantime, let's have a poll. It's in the righthand margin. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results (207 votes total):
Luke: 154 votes, roughly 74%
John: 43 votes, roughly 21%
Michael: 10 votes, roughly 5%]

[Name update! 10-04-2008 Britta writes:
We went with your advice and welcomed Luke Timothy into our family on October 1. Big Sister Alexandra is learning to say "Luke."]

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Baby Girl

Lola writes:
I'm in need of your and your crowd's help! I found out today I'm scheduled for a c-section at the beginning of this coming week. My baby girl will arrive in days and we are still unsure about her name.

Our last name is very difficult to pronounce, most people cannot say it correctly. It starts with "O" and has to "Ks".

Names we both like a lot but we can't use are Danielle, Michelle, Brooke, Hailey, Nicole, Gabrielle. We also like the name Kayla but I question if adding yet another K to the combo it's a good idea. I like the names Allison, Jacqueline and Amy too but my husband doesn't at all.

We'd like a name that's easy to spell and with a unmistakable pronunciation. I'd like an "american" kind of name. Her name cannot start with B or with H because of the initials. We'd like a name outside the top 20, unique yet recognizable.

The name we like the most is Arielle, which is far from matching our criteria! It has two pronunciation, and we only like the less common one (it can be pronounced air-ee-uh or ar-ee-el. We only like ar-ee-el.) To make matters worse, the most common spelling is Ariel, but we are choosing the less used and less "american" one. Soundwise, we feel it works very well with our last name, we like that is uncommon and sweet and without harsh sounds. But, I'm afraid I will be submitting my daughter to a life of correcting her name's pronunciation and spelling.

What do you think? And if this was to be her name, which middle name would you suggest?

We also like the name Megan. Does Arielle Megan flow well? Does Megan Arielle flow better? Or which middle name would go well with Megan?

And if not Arielle nor Megan. Which other names would you suggest?

We need help!!! Thank you, thank you.

Not enough time to answer this, so let's just put it up for discussion!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Celebrity Baby Names: Election Special

Of course one of the things I want to know about the candidates is what they have named their babies. And if you have more info (for example, if you know more of the middle names, which were harder to find), DO TELL.

Sarah Louise Heath Palin gets the most buzz on this topic, obv. She's co-named five children:
  • Track (boy)
  • Bristol (girl)
  • Willow (girl)
  • Piper (girl)
  • Trig (boy)

Barack Hussein Obama II has co-named two children:
  • Malia Ann (girl)
  • Natasha (called Sasha) (girl)

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. has co-named four children:
  • Joseph Robinette III (called Beau) (boy)
  • Robert Hunter (called Hunter, the child's mother's maiden name) (boy)
  • Naomi Christina (called Amy) (girl)
  • Ashley Blazer (girl)

John Sidney McCain III has co-named five children:
  • Sidney (girl)
  • Meghan Savannah (girl)
  • John Sidney IV (called Jack) (boy)
  • James (boy)
  • Bridget (girl)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bursting With Naming Issues!

Katie writes:
My husband and I are expecting Baby #2 in a few weeks. We do not know the sex, which is driving me CRAZY! We have no girl name at all because we totally disagree on girl names. Well, actually we both like Anna. But have heard that "Anna Banana" is all she'll ever hear, which isn't so great. Care to comment on that one? (otherwise my favorite girl names are Caroline and Madeline. My husband's are Brianna and Savannah--and we both HATE the other person's choices and will not budge! Suggestions?)

But, this really isn't my main question. I have two other questions about our boy names:

1. Our boy name, Andrew, was chosen a long time ago (when pregnant with our daughter). It was always, always my favorite boy name without question. But, now we live up the street from an Andrew, who is my daughter's 2-year old friend and will be in her preschool and who we see ALL THE TIME. And, well......he isn't MY Andrew. And he screams and bites and his mom is always screeching his name. SCREECHING! And it is kind of ruining the name for me. I like the nickname Andy, but not Drew and neither nickname sounds particularly great with our last name, which starts with a D (and it gets to D sounding with the nicknames). Also, it would be very confusing to have two Andrews running around, since we hang out every day. Is this name permanently ruined for me? What are the chances that we'll always live right near these other people? And if so, will it just be too confusing? And will the name ever regain its favored status in my mind? Or will I always hear the screech and see the biting and screaming Andrew?

2. Also, the middle name we have selected for a boy is "Wesley." This is based on the place name where my husband and I met. Is this weird? Would you find it weird to be named after a place your parents met? Because I kind of think it is kind of.....strange... now, but my husband really loves the idea. What do you think?

I'm going to take the last question first, because it has captured my imagination. I say no, it's not weird to name a baby for the place the baby's parents met, and I say it's sweet. I tested it out to see how I'd feel if my parents had done that with my name---but then I couldn't remember where they met. Er. But I imagined it with a few cities and states I knew they'd lived in and colleges they'd attended, just to get the idea, and each time I thought of one, it seemed cool to me. I even started wishing they HAD named me after where they met. (A related issue is babies named for where they were conceived, and THAT would totally skeeve me out. Even "where my parents honeymooned" is icky to me: I don't want my name reminding them of...those memories.)

Up-to-the-minute update: I'd emailed my parents to ask where DID they meet, and my dad just emailed back. He pointed out that if one child is named after the place where the child's parents met, it may set a precedent: will the next child have to be given a special place name as well? He further points out that associations and feelings may change over time. He may be tactfully referring here to the idea that the parents may, for example, split up and no longer consider the place they met to be a place of sweet romance and new beginnings but instead a place of ill fate and inevitable disaster. Or whatevs. But that's a danger with any name honoring someone or something: perhaps there is a falling out with the dear friend or relative, or perhaps the beloved college changes educational philosophies, or perhaps the favorite author ceases to be a favorite.

Okay, now on to the other naming issues!

I think Anna is one of the most perfect girl names there is, and if you agree on it and you don't agree on any other names, I think you should use it. I do think the nickname Anna Banana is inevitable, and I'm sure a lot of Annas get pretty sick of it---but did you see that custom-printed M&Ms ad where they show "Happy Birthday" and "Anna Banana" printed on the M&Ms and a cute girl having a birthday? That made me think that although it may be a little tiresome, it's still pretty CUTE. (I can just picture all the Annas clenching their teeth as they read this.)

I notice that your husband's other choices both end in -anna. Are there any ending-in-anna names you like? Adrianna, Arianna, Elianna, Gianna, Joanna, Julianna, Lianna, Lilyanna, Marianna, Susanna?

And both your choices have the -line ending. Are there any ending-in-line names your husband might like? I used Think Baby Names (annoying site alert: tons of flashing, intruding ads, and they split the result list into many pieces so you have to keep clicking to new pages and seeing more ads) to find Adeline, Emmeline, and Evangeline (there were a lot of others, but it was names like Darryline and Gayline, which, what?)

About the name Andrew, that situation sucks. Well, what do you think? IS the name ruined for you? I asked Paul, "Hey, Paul, if we decided for sure on Genevieve [current top girl name on our list], and then we got to know another couple..." and I laid out the whole thing, and ended with "Would the name be ruined?" We both thought about it. First we both said, "Welllll, I dunno. Depends." Then we both said, "Yeah, probably. Yeah, ruined."

Would the rest of you like to give opinions on these issues?

1. Is it weird to name a child for where the child's parents met?

2. What do you think of the name Anna? Is "Anna Banana" a dealbreaker? (Everyone named Anna, I'm particularly interested to hear from you on this: is it just kind of an eye-roller, or is it a constant torment and you literally wish you had a different name?)

3. Would that situation with the other Andrew ruin the name for you?

[Name update! 10-04-2008 Katie writes:
We named him Andrew afterall. Andrew Wesley. Thanks to all your readers who assured me it wouldn't be weird to be named after the place your parents met. And sure enough, my perception of the name has changed favorably to my sweet newborn and not the snotty kid down the street! Thanks Swistle fans!]

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Baby Girl, Sister to Gabriel

Jennifer writes:
I am two weeks out from having baby #2 (a girl), with a 2 year old toddler son named Gabriel.

My dilemma is that my husband will not focus on having a worthwhile and productive discussion about the name for our impending arrival. So I seek outside input on a variety of combinations that I like, and perhaps this might help spur a decision making discussion for the two of us. Our last name is a crisp one syllable name.

Here are some that I'm mulling over:

Keira Madeline
Keira Allison

Madeline Fiona
Madeline Jane
*Is Madeline just too popular these days?

Fiona Madeline
Fiona Jane

If there are other names that one might suggest to include as a new combination(s), I'm certainly open to it.

Thank you very much for your input!

Fiona! Choose Fiona! ...Er, I mean, let's get started on a discussion of the options!

Fiona is my favorite from your list, I won't try to hide it. It's a steady resident of my own personal Girl Name List, and I think it has a lot going for it. It's uncommon but completely familiar, and that's a hard combination to find. I think it's beautiful, feminine and strong, and I love it with Gabriel. Gabriel and Fiona. I think either middle name is good with it.

In my opinion, Madeline is not excessively common. It was #61 in the U.S. in 2007 (source: Social Security Administration), which makes it less common than the names Brooklyn, Destiny, and Nevaeh. Furthermore, its popularity is holding steady: it's been hovering in the 60s/70s/80s rankings for the last thirteen years without any big lunges toward the top ten.

The name Keira, in contrast, was #1004 in 2001, but #128 in 2007. It's a less common name than the name Madeline---and yet that's a much more alarming leap in popularity. I'm also less certain of the name with her brother's name when I say them aloud: Gabriel and Kiera.

Let's put your six options to the vote. Poll is to the right. [poll closed; see below]

[Poll results (254 votes total):
Keira Madeline: 15 votes, roughly 6%
Keira Allison: 10 votes, roughly 4%
Madeline Fiona: 13 votes, roughly 5%
Madeline Jane: 42 votes, roughly 17%
Fiona Madeline: 49 votes, roughly 19%
Fiona Jane: 125 votes, roughly 49%]

[Name update! 09-29-2008: "Thank you all for the fantastic and very helpful feedback on baby names. We were blessed with the early arrival of our daughter on September 9th and decided on Fiona Madeline."]

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Baby Boy Spies

Wendy writes:
Hi Swistle folks!

My family could really use your help! We have a wonderful little boy named "August Josiah" who will be about 2 2/3 years old when his new baby brother is born. We just knew the new baby was a girl (doh!) and have the most perfect girl's name picked out. Now we are at a loss. We need something that goes with August (or Gusto or AJ as he is often called), but have a few rules...

1 - We want something relatively unique, but nothing that sounds like a name out of the 1960s

2 - It can't be the name of anyone we know (or relatives that are still living)

3 - Not the name of a month! Silly us - we didn't mean for everyone to associate August with the name of the month!

4 - Would like something that matches the 'strength' we think August Josiah has. We don't want the new baby to feel like second fiddle!

We have to be pretty careful with the initials, given that we keep liking names that start with "A"! :) Alliteration would be nice too, but we know we can't be that picky!

Any help you can give us would be awesome.

[I asked Wendy how the surname is pronounced, and she answered:]
It is my husband's name and the family originally had spelled it "Spiess" (more or less rhyming with ice). However, when they dropped the extra S to sound less German, the pronunciation moved to rhyme with bees. I pronounce it so that it rhymes with eyes because that is how easiest to convey it over the phone and for others to remember it. Long story short, I will let my boys pronounce it however they choose to! :) Sorry for no clear answer on that one!

The Baby Name Wizard recommends these brother names for the name August: Julius, Everett, Leopold, Forest, Theodore. My favorites from that list are Julius, Everett, and Theodore. Forest with August seems too noun-y to me.

All three of those names are strong and unusual. Let's try them out with your surname and with the sibling name:

Julius Spies (JS); August and Julius
Everett Spies (ES); August and Everett
Theodore Spies (TS); August and Theodore

Gosh. All of those are good. Let's find some more options:

Edmund Spies (ES); August and Edmund
Foster Spies (FS); August and Foster
Frederick Spies (FS); August and Frederick
Hugo Spies (HS); August and Hugo

Those combine nicely, too, I think. Edmund Theodore Spies. Frederick Julius Spies. Hugo Everett Spies.

Voting is in a poll to the right [poll closed; see below] as usual, and feel free to build some combinations in the comment section.

[Poll results (262 votes total):
Julius: 22 votes, roughly 8%
Everett: 106 votes, roughly 40%
Theodore: 50 votes, roughly 19%
Edmund: 26 votes, roughly 10%
Foster: 23 votes, roughly 9%
Frederick: 9 votes, roughly 3%
Hugo: 26 votes, roughly 10%]

Name update 01-29-2009! Wendy writes:
We have a name update for you! We ended up digging up a great family name from my husband's side "Carsten". It satisfied all of our criteria. However, Carsten was born (on December 27th), with red hair! Most of the names we had on our list brought up images of blondes and brunettes. While in the hospital we picked a name that wasn't on our list and honors his Irish heritage and the other half of the family, Patrick. So, it is with great pleasure we announce the arrival of Carsten Patrick Spies!