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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Baby Boy Smith

Therese writes:
For years, when anyone would mention baby names I would always reply that I was very fond of classic family names. I really love that most people in my family can say who they're named after and why. For instance, I love being named after my mother and paternal grandmother. I love that my niece is named after me and my paternal grandmother. Now you say, what's the problem here? Well, all of the lovely family names that I would like to use are very traditional and sort of plain. Again you say, what is the problem? Well, I met, fell in love with, married, and am now carrying the baby for a man with the last name SMITH! Honestly, the day we met my first thought was "What in the hell will I name my children with the last name Smith, John and Mary sure won't work?"

As I mentioned, I am now pregnant with our first child, a boy due in May. We are so very excited but neither one of us can come up with a name. I always wanted to name a son John. This is the name of my grandfather and he quite frankly is one of the greatest people I've ever known. This feels even more emotional to me now as he passed away just this fall and my husband and I both agree it would be a great honor to use his name. However, we also both agree that we can't have a son named John Smith. We feel like it would be setting our child up for a lifetime of mocking, definitely not what we're going for in a name. We can definitely use John as a middle name but aren't finding a lot of first name option that "flow" well with it. We have also considered using John as a first name but calling him Jack or by his middle name. However, we both generally prefer to actually call the child by his first name and we still have the dilemma that the child's legal name would be John Smith so we're not really fond of that option either. Feel free to persuade us differently if you think we should be.

One additional issue is that the other family name that we absolutely love is Andrew. This is my husband's, his father's and grandfather's middle name. Pefect you say, name the child Andrew John Smith. Yes, sounds great. Only one problem. My husband has a nine-year old brother from his dad's 3rd marriage. That child's name is Andrew (middle name not John, but starts with J) Smith. My husband is 25 years older than this particular brother and they now live in a different state but we do try to maintain a relationship with him. As I mentioned, I love family names but using Andrew in this situation just seems really weird and not at all an appropriate use of the family name tradition. Probably another middle name option, but not a first name.

So, as you can see all of our brilliant name choices seem not doable in this situation. Neither my husband nor I can even seem to must up any excitment or energy for finding a name at this point because well if feels hopeless. If anyone has an idea, hopefully it's you. Do you have any good suggestions?

I think you might be able to use the name Andrew, saying lovingly to your husband's brother that you wanted to name the baby after his uncle. But it would definitely depend on the particular boy and on various other family dynamics. [Clarification, because it's causing confusion in the comments section: the relationship between the two Andrews would be uncle/nephew, not brother/brother. It's confusing because the first Andrew is so young, but he's the baby's uncle. I wouldn't come down on the side of naming two brothers or half-brothers the same name, but I think it's great when someone names a baby after the namer's sibling---that is, after the baby's aunt or uncle.]

Do you like the name Anderson? Anderson John Smith is smashing.

I am particularly sorry about the name John, because it's one of my own favorites and you have such a good family reason for wanting to use it. Oh, woe! I don't suppose Johnathan would work? Johnathan Andrew Smith, perhaps?

Okay, okay, let's not panic. Let's brainstorm.

1. Does your grandfather have a middle name that's less common? You could reverse them. Like, if his name were John Harrington Surname, you could name your baby Harrington John Smith.

2. What about your grandfather's surname? Any first-name potential there?

3. How do you feel about hyphenated first names? It's not all that common in the U.S., but you do find the occasional John-Paul or whatever. If your grandfather's middle name were, say, Robert, you could do John-Robert Smith. Or you could do John-Andrew Smith, to name your son after both of your grandfathers. I used to know a little boy who had a hyphenated first name, and it only seemed awkward at first---then it just seemed absolutely natural.

4. You could give your son your grandfather's name as his middle names. Er, perhaps I could clarify that sentence a little. If your grandfather's name was John Robert Surname, you could name your son Firstname John Robert Smith, or Firstname John Surname Smith. From my own experience, I can say it's not too much of a hassle to have two middle names.

5. I realize this is getting REACHY, but that's what brainstorming is for: you could switch to a family hyphenated surname incorporating your maiden name. All of you could have the last name Maiden-Smith or Smith-Maiden. John Maiden-Smith or John Smith-Maiden isn't nearly as much of a problem as John Smith, and may not be a problem at all.

6. I will try to tear myself away from the name John long enough to suggest that you look in your family tree for surnames that would make good first names. My own surname is too clunky with surname names, but a name like Smith might be great. Anderson Smith, for example, or Harrison Smith.

7. Those -son names come from literal usage (Johnson is John's son), so if your husband's name works for this you could make a -son name out of it.

Maybe none of these ideas make sense with the available names---we should really be talking about this over coffee and doughnuts, with a couple of legal pads and a stack of baby name books.

Name update 05-01-2009! Therese writes:
His name will be Jackson Fitzgerald Smith and he'll go by Jack. Like many of the commenters suggested, we really liked Jack because it's a traditional nickname for John plus it's just a great boy name. We chose Jackson as his official name b/c we were concerned that Jack by itself might be too informal as an adult. Fitzgerald was a lucky find for us. My father's name is Gerald, he doesn't like it and would not really want it to be "carried on" so to speak. I just happened to be researching Irish and Scottish names (as that's my family's heritage) and discovered that Fitzgerald loosely translates to "son of Gerald." It was a perfect find.

This is even more poignant now as my sweet father passed away just 3 weeks ago from a short battle with cancer. From his final diagnosis, he was adamant that he would make it until after the baby was born. Unfortunately, his body didn't cooperate. I know he will always be with us in heart and spirit but I'm so excited to have a very tangible way for him to be a lasting part of our son's life!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Baby Naming Issue: Unisex Names

Gina writes:
My friend Liz is expecting her third and this time, she's not finding out the sex until the little one shows up. She's due in early May and NOTHING she suggests suits her husband. Her two children are Melayna and Gavin. She tends to like things that are a little less usual, but not hard to spell or pronounce. Since she doesn't know the sex, she's been trying to fall in love with non-gender specific names, but hasn't had any luck. Being a stay at home mother out in the boonies of a four year old and a two year old, she has a hard time getting time to get on her dial up connection, hence me crying out for help on her behalf. Any suggestions for good siblings for Melayna and Gavin? Any good choices for unisex names?

A name I think is cute for both boys and girls is Casey. It helps that in my high school, there was a nice-popular cute boy named Casey and a nice-popular pretty girl named Casey. Melayna, Gavin, and Casey.

My friend Mairzy will wince (this was on her boy name list until girls started using it), but another good one is Avery. Melayna, Gavin, and Avery.

My own wince name is Riley, which I prefer for boys but have to admit is pretty cute on a little girl. Melayna, Gavin, and Riley.

She could choose Sam, and then use Samantha/Samara if the baby is a girl or Samuel/Samson if the baby is a boy. Melayna, Gavin, and Sam.

I first heard Parker for a boy (Parker Lewis Can't Lose!), but I think it's just as good for a girl. Melayna, Gavin, and Parker.

I think of Rowan as feminine because the first time I heard it was when Brooke Shields used it for her daughter, but it's just as good for boys, maybe better since it sounds like Roman and Ryan and so forth. Melayna, Gavin, and Rowan.

Larkin is another one that seems feminine to me and yet is just as good for boys. I think I would spell it Larkin for a girl, Larken for a boy. Hm, or maybe the other way around, now that I see it typed out. Hard to say. Melayna, Gavin, and Larkin.

Lee is a name I consider underused. I'd probably spell it Lee for a boy or Leigh for a girl, but I'm not sure---I might go with Lee either way. Or, as with Sam, they could decide on Lee as the nickname, and go with Liane or Leeanne if the baby is a girl, and Leo or Leon if the baby is a boy. Melayna, Gavin, and Lee.

Or she could choose the nickname Jo/Joe, and go for Josie/Josephine for a girl, Joseph for a boy. Melayna, Gavin, and Jo/Joe.

Reece works for both boys and girls. I would spell it the Reese Witherspoon way for a girl, and Rhys for a boy. Melayna, Gavin, and Reece.

Let's have a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results (227 votes total):
Casey: 37 votes, roughly 16%
Avery: 29 votes, roughly 13%
Riley: 33 votes, roughly 15%
Sam: 14 votes, roughly 6%
Parker: 23 votes, roughly 10%
Rowan: 35 votes, roughly 15%
Larkin: 9 votes, roughly 4%
Lee: 4 votes, roughly 2%
Jo/Joe: 6 votes, roughly 3%
Reece: 37 votes, roughly 16%

Name update 05-05-2009! Gina writes:
Well, after hearing your comments about how the other names are really gender specific, she decided to go ahead and come up with different names for a boy and a girl. We now have a little Ava Madison!

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy W___en! Bess writes:
We ended up naming him Archer. We were in the delivery room, 10 minutes after he was born, and we couldn't think of anything we liked better. Now, we are very happy with his name! Thanks for all the comments. I didn't get to read this until he was born, but I appreciate that most of you like the name. Hopefully it won't be too trendy. I agree with the person who said that a lot of people have it on their list but don't use it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Baby Girl Korph

Jenna writes:
We are having another girl. We were all set with a boy's name - Logan, after my husband's late grandfather who he was very close to. Our 2 and 1/2 year old daughter's name is Zoe which we chose years before we even conceived (because I'm baby name CRAZY) and it was set in stone very early on. It's a name I've always loved and we liked that it was two syllables, easy to spell and pronounce yet difficult to shorten (though, of course, we now call her "Zo" from time to time).

Our last name is the challenge-- Korph (well, okay that's not EXACTLY it but my husband is all Google-shy). So many challenges: the single syllable, the guttural sound, it's just hard to find first names that aren't too clunky with it.

Names we like so far:
Lea(h) (uh, that's it that we agree on. We like it but don't LOVE it.)

Names I like: husband is iffy on all of them
  • Michaela- I like the way Michaela Korph sounds but I just don't think I can go with a name that's spelled so many ways like Michaela (I don't like the other possible spellings, Mikayla etc.)
  • Elena- My husband's cousin named her daughter "Elaina" but they call her "Laney" and my husband and her aren't close so I don't really think it's an issue.
  • Eliza- I've always loved this name, husband doesn't like "Liza" as an inevitable nickname and is a little gunshy about using another Z name lest we look like we're hooked on Zs. (I, clearly, AM hooked on Zs. Also, Xs, though my husband has totally ruled out Roxanne and Maxine. Killjoy.)
  • Twyla- I was a dancer in my pre-mom days and I adore Twyla Tharp (a choreographer). Husband thinks we could MAYBE name a dog Twyla.
I've been trying to find more soft sounding, two or three syllable names that are hard to shorten, not too trendy or crazily spelled. We don't want anything TOO unusual because we'd rather her not have to carefully spell out her first AND last name ALL THE TIME to everyone.

As far as middle names go, it would most likely be either Logan, for the late grandfather, Louise, after my mother, or my maiden name which is, basically (remember my Google-shy husband?), Marshel. But I'm not too worried about middle names.

Thanks in advance!

Eliza seems perfect to me. It's great with Zoe: it goes with it while still being distinctly different from it. The Z just...ties it in.

Phoebe would be good, too. And Lila, which is something like Leah and something like Twyla and something like Eliza. Or Delilah, which is something like Lila.

Both of you like-but-don't-love the name Lea(h), so I'm poking around for some more names like that one. There's Alia, which is part Aliza and part Leah. Lena and Lana both similar---but you mentioned a family member nicknamed Laney, and they might be too close to that.

Tia is sweet, and Adele is sweet plus pleasingly old-fashioned, and I love the name Liane or Liana. Another one on my own list is Linnea. Oh, and Eva. Oooh, or how about Willa? Willa has the cool W instead of the cool Z. Or Elsa? Leonie? Lorelei? Stella? Ruby?

Or Liesl, which gives you the Z sound without an actual Z---but that's probably too peculiar a spelling. Josie does the same thing with less of a spelling problem---but those sounds might be too similar to the sounds in the name Zoe.

My favorite is Eliza from your list. Anyone want to pick favorites or list some more possibilities?

Name update 06-12-2009! Jenna writes:
Our baby girl, Eliza Louise Korph was born on May 19th, 2009 and we finally chose her name a week before she was born. Everyone's suggestions were so great, I could name another 10 girls with the lists your readers came up with! We finally settled on Eliza and it really helped tip the scales that so many of your readers said they loved it too.

Thanks so much for your help!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Baby Boy W___en

B. writes:
We have no idea what to name our son. We have a 3 year old daughter named Eleanor Claire, who we call "Ellie Claire." We came upon her name very easily, as it is a family name that we liked. With the boy name, our ideas have been all over the map. We think we will use the name Allen as a middle name, as it is a family name in both our families.

Mom has liked names such as Lachlan, Archer, Teague. Dad dislikes Lachlan, accepts Archer, and is lukewarm on Teague. Dad's choices have been all over the place: Fred, Prescott, Graham. Mom liked Graham, but finds it too common among her social circle. Mom does not like Fred. Prescott seems too much like a last name to use as a first name unless you had some good reason.

To make matters more difficult, our last name is a common first name. Dad has a first name that is a very common last name, so he has had trouble his whole life with people switching his first and last name. He is ok with a last name-sounding first name, as long as it's not as common as his. (His is about as common as Smith.) Also, our last name ends in "en", so "en, an, in" sounding names are out.

Mom is leaning towards Archer Allen W___en at this point, but wonders if Archer is the new Aiden? Is it getting too popular all the sudden? I've never heard of anyone having the name, but I see it mentioned on your blog quite a bit. We actually found it in a book and liked it. I never knew others were doing the same thing!

Do you have any other names that we might consider?

Thanks for all your help in our situation!!

Archer does have potential to get popular: it's not yet in the Top 1000, but sometimes names climb fast, and this is one a lot of people are mentioning as on their lists. Still, I think it's worth considering, if you both like it. It's hard to avoid names that are getting more popular: name fashions seem to affect almost all of us.

Jasper is another name that could get a lot more popular---but it's another one I think is worth considering.

Do you like Frederick better than Fred? Ellie Claire and Freddy Allen, perhaps.

Milo would be cute. Ellie and Milo.

Gosh, I feel stumped on this one. And you're due so soon, you may have already had the baby, so let's just post this and let everyone else have a chance to tackle it.

Name update 04-27-2009! Bess writes:
We ended up naming him Archer. We were in the delivery room, 10 minutes after he was born, and we couldn't think of anything we liked better. Now, we are very happy with his name! Thanks for all the comments. I didn't get to read this until he was born, but I appreciate that most of you like the name. Hopefully it won't be too trendy. I agree with the person who said that a lot of people have it on their list but don't use it.

Baby Girl or Boy Campbell

Michaela writes:
I've been fond of names for most of my life. At eight, I named my first two cats Zanzibel and Sylvester! Probably a decision which greatly disgusted their cat sensibilities, but I was ever so pleased. My husband and I are expecting our first child (gender unknown) but I'm not feeling no such certainty with my name choices. I'm very lucky I am to have a very open-minded husband - he didn't bat an eyelid when I suggested Zanzibel as a plausible name!

More realistically though, our last name is Campbell, and we like to use either Dianne (his mother's middle name) or Lynn (from my mother's middle name Lynette) for a girl, and Derrick (his dad's middle name) or Dominic (my dad's first name since he goes by his middle name). I'm fond of long vibrant first names for a girl that aren't intuitively reduced to a nickname, but I don't want something that feels too flowery, stodgy or pompous (i.e. I don't really like names that end in -ia, like Cecelia or Alexandria, or names like Eleanor and Elizabeth). But conversely, I'm attracted to short names for boys that (to me) have a strong, resilient and earthy feel, but I don't want one that feels too lightweight (I'm not being difficult on purpose, really!)

We're hoping you can suggest some names similar to these names we like (but don't love).
Girls: Veronica, Felicity (I like the upbeatness of this), Juniper, Meredith, Gillian (but not Jillian or Lillian), Angelica (bordering on fussy for me)
Boys: Reid, Jon, Noah (too popular), Ross, Tom, Adam

I'd love to hear your thoughts, and anyone else who might add some comment, advice or insight please feel welcomed to!

Thank you in advance.

Okay! Let's start with long vibrant girl names that aren't too pompous, stodgy, or flowery, and don't end in -ia, and don't have an automatic nickname. Some of these suggestions do HAVE a nickname or two, but I don't think they'd be automatically reduced to one if you (and the child) used the long version.


And now for some short, strong, earthy boy names:


Name traits such as strength and stodginess are highly subjective, so you may find yourself going through my list saying, "Whuh? But that's, like, the stodgiest of all stodgy names!" or "Ack, that makes me think of the skinny little weakling I went to school with!" This is why it's so nice to have a big group to offer other options: in the comment section we'll get other people's ideas of non-flowery girl names and resilient boy names.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Name Update!

Name update on Baby Boy Matthews! Molly writes:
Thank you so much for all of your suggestions, and for the helpful poll. We were on the fence right up to the last minute. We hadn't considered the name Grant at all until your poll, and when it became a front-runner and we chatted about it some more, we decided that we liked it quite a bit. When we went into the OR for the c-section, we had narrowed our options down to Grant and Quinn, and agreed to see what he looked like before tagging him with a name. Once we got a good look at him, we agreed that he is definitely a Grant.

Thanks again for all of your (and your followers) helpful advice!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Baby Boy Beerdin

Hollie writes:
We are expecting baby boy #2 at the end of April. Our son Andrew was named very easily, I had a dream about it before I was even pregnant, hubby liked it, and we were done. This time, it's not so easy. We are having a very difficult time finding names we both like, and have narrowed it down to two. Unfortunately we're not sure EITHER goes well with our last name! Our last name is BEER-din. My top choice is Evan, which leaves us with Evan Beerdin, kind of rhyme-y. My husband does not like the name Evan very much. His top choice is Caleb, which I like, but am even more concerned because Caleb Beerdin said fast sounds like Cayla Beerdin. And the dreaded b-B with the last letter of Caleb and the first letter of Beerden. Hubby loves the nickname Cal, which I don't care for and wouldn't use much but he would.

If it weren't for the last name issue, I would go with my husband's top choice because I like Caleb very much. But the last name thing stops me. I love this blog, and told my husband I was going to get objective opinions from you all! So I would like to know, is Caleb just NOT going to work due to our last name? Is Evan too rhyme-y? Do we need to go back to the drawing board all together? Please help!

Ooo, good one. I'll put polls to the right. [Polls closed; see results below.] There will be THREE of them. One will be a vote on whether Evan Beerdin is too rhymey because of the an/in endings. Another will be a vote on whether Caleb Beerdin sounds too much like Cayla Beerdin because of the b-B blend. And another will be a vote: Evan, Caleb, or back to the drawing board.

Poll results:

Is Evan Beerdin too rhymey? (338 votes total)
Yes: 114 votes, roughly 34%
No: 224 votes, roughly 66%

Does Caleb Beerdin sound too much like Cayla Beerdin? (340 votes total)
Yes: 277 votes, roughly 81%
No: 63 votes, roughly 19%

Help the Beerdins out (321 votes total):
Evan: 110 votes, roughly 34%
Caleb: 45 votes, roughly 14%
Back to the drawing board: 166 votes, roughly 52%

Name update 04-23-2009! Hollie writes:
oh yay! I'm excited to see it on there--alas baby arrived early! Now I'm just excited to see the majority of people agreeing with ME, since ultimately I won the debate! Evan Jack was born 4/16/09, almost 2 weeks early. And I didn't want to get into too much detail in my email, but Calvin--the obvious choice for an alternative to Caleb, was the name of our best friend's Dalmatian, who just passed away last year at 13 years old. Major name association there! ;-)

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy Fetterman! Stacy writes:
Thanks so much for all of the wonderful suggestions! Brooks Allen Fetterman was born on April 15th. I got lucky and after not being able to agree on anything my husband decided Brooks had grown on him. I say the baby makes the name and although it wasn't his first choice I know he will love it later.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Baby Girl or Boy Sahara

Rachael writes:
I am due in late April with a baby of unknown gender. My first son is named Finn, and our last name sounds like Sahara (like the desert). We have a girl name picked out, Hope Ryan, which is my middle name as well as my husband's, but we are totally stuck for another boy name. Everyone but me seems to really like the name Cooper, which is in the running, but sounds like a yuppy dog name to me. Other possibilities include James/Jamie and Fletcher/Fletch, neither of which have gotten rave reviews from my husband or other family members. We may keep the middle name Ryan regardless of the kid's gender, and really don't have too many problems coordinating middle names, if we could only come up with the perfect first name. I have recently been taken by the name Scout, but am not sure if it would come across favorably to strangers (and family).

So what do you think? Is Scout too "out there" (or any more "out there" than Finn)? Any objections to using Scout as a boy's name, when probably the most common reference point would be for the nickname of the young girl in To Kill A Mockingbird (or Bruce Willis and Demi Moore's daughter)?

Thanks for your help! I look forward to hearing your opinion!

Scout SHOULD be a great boy name. It's so close to Scott. And it would be so adorable on a little boy! Can't you just see him, all fuzzy-haired and wearing size 2T overalls? But for me, the book To Kill a Mockingbird bought the name Scout residential property in Girlville. I think I'd use it as a boy's MIDDLE name, though.

Here are a few other possibilities to consider:

Camden (Cam) Sahara; Finn and Cam
Keegan Sahara; Finn and Keegan
Leo Sahara; Finn and Leo
Nathan (Nate) Sahara; Finn and Nate
Wesley (Wes) Sahara; Finn and Wes

If this baby is a boy, you might later have a girl and still want to use the name Hope, so I tried each name in that line-up: Finn, Cam, and Hope, for example.

Let's have two polls over to the right. The first will be to get an answer to your question about whether the name Scout is too "out there" for a boy. The second will be a list of the other possibilities to consider. [Polls closed; see results below.]

Poll #1: Is Scout too "out there" for a boy? (326 votes total):
Yes: 206 votes, roughly 63%
No: 120 votes, roughly 37%

Poll #2: Choose a name for Baby Boy Sahara (287 votes total):
Camden: 59 votes, roughly 21%
Keegan: 26 votes, roughly 9%
Leo: 76 votes, roughly 26%
Nathan (Nate): 63 votes, roughly 22%
Wesley (Wes): 63 votes, roughly 22%

Friday, April 17, 2009

Quick Poll: Nicknames

Do you go by your given name, or do you go by a nickname? Poll is over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

I put the "some of both" option in there for if, for example, people at work and some of your friends/family call you Nicole but other of your friends/family call you Nicki, and you answer to both, and you might introduce yourself as either one. You don't have to count it as "going by a nickname" if, for example, your dad calls you Muffin and your husband calls you Sweetheart and your best friend calls you Sippy, but all your other friends and family and coworkers call you Nicole, and you introduce yourself as Nicole. That counts as going by your given name.

There's a lot of grey area here, and some of us will have to kind of guess. Like, what if your whole family calls you Sippy, but everyone else calls you Nicole and no one has ever called you Nicki? One way to test it is to think, if your name is Nicole, "Do I object to people calling me Nicki?" or if your name is Jennifer, "Do I correct people who call me Jen or Jenny?" If yes, then you go by your given name even if your family has a special non-name-related nickname for you. If no, then you're some of both.

Poll results (376 votes total):
Given name: 231 votes, roughly 61%
Nickname: 56 votes, roughly 15%
Both: 89 votes, roughly 24%

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Quick Poll: Z Names

What's your favorite Z name for a girl? for a boy? Like, if you were required by law to choose one that started with Z. I would choose Zinnia for a girl and Zach for a boy, I think. Here's a list of some Z names to consider before making a choice:

Zach: 57 votes, roughly 16%
Zachariah: 29 votes, roughly 8%
Zachary: 100 votes, roughly 28%
Zade: 4 votes, roughly 1%
Zander: 34 votes, roughly 9%
Zane: 50 votes, roughly 14%
Zavier: 13 votes, roughly 4%
Zebediah: 13 votes, roughly 4%
Zeke: 40 votes, roughly 11%
Zeus: 4 votes, roughly 1%
Zev: 14 votes, roughly 4%

Zadie: 16 votes, roughly 4%
Zahara: 8 votes, roughly 2%
Zaria: 9 votes, roughly 2%
Zelda: 27 votes, roughly 7%
Zella: 5 votes, roughly 1%
Zena: 3 votes, roughly 1%
Zenobia: 7 votes, roughly 2%
Zephyr: 11 votes, roughly 3%
Zeta: 7 votes, roughly 2%
Zillah: 6 votes, roughly 2%
Zinnia: 30 votes, roughly 8%
Zoe: 201 votes, roughly 55%
Zola: 7 votes, roughly 2%
Zora: 28 votes, roughly 8%

Lonnnnnng polls (one for boy names, one for girl names) are over to the right. [Polls closed; results added to above lists.]

Monday, April 13, 2009

Baby Boy, Brother to Samuel Atticus

Danielle writes:
We are very indecisive people. Our first son (Samuel Atticus) was named the day after he was born - we had narrowed it down to three possibilities (Samuel, Willem and Asher). I was never a fan of Willem, husband was, and he just didn't seem like an Asher.

So here we are with #2 on the way - also a boy - so hard to name boys. We have trouble picking paint colors, so naming a human is just too much for us ;). One week we're set on a name and the next week set on another. Would really appreciate some help, as all names are starting to sound the same and it seems like I can find something wrong with all of our picks. I will include the "master list" I made below, but the top contenders are as follows:

1. Quinten - *called Quinn* (not a big fan of Quinten, but love Quinn, and Quinten is my grandmother's maiden - he could have options this way)
My problem with Quinn is that apparently some people think it's feminine. I never did until I heard others say that. I just thought of Quinn the eskimo, the mighty, and a strong Irish surname. I think it is trendy right now for girls, but still somewhere in the 500's?

2. Eamon pron Ay-mun (love this name, was on longer list last time). My question is this: why does nobody use this name?? Are we missing something? I think it looks and sounds great.

3. Jude: just like it, think it's cool - yes I know it's on the rise and trendy, but it's an old classic name, so not too worried about it being dated in 20 years. Just not sure if I'm comfortable with the meaning/connotation (German word for Jew, Jews were forced to be labeled Jude on the yellow stars, etc.). I don't want to offend anyone nor do I want an association to Nazis during WWII - no thanks. Am I thinking too much??

4. Finn/Finnian/Phineas - I know, I know. But it's not common or trendy at all where we live. Not even close. The problem with Finn is that I think it's so cool for a young boy, adolescent, etc., but I'm not sure as an adult. So, I'd like a longer name to go with it, but don't dig the options so much. Not a fan of Finnegan. Don't like Finbar or Finley. I do like Finian, but am not sure if it's too much. My husband *loves* Phineas (Phin) and I do too, but am afraid it's a bit too pretentious (I swear we're not - we just read a lot) esp, since we already have an Atticus (middle).

So, Top 4: Quinn, Eamon, Jude, Finn

Others I have repeatedly thought about and that are still on the list:


Thanks so much for any help or advice you can give us!!! Note: don't want to share last name, but it seems to flow with all of the names I've listed (ends in S, so that eliminates a lot of what we like).

You have such a good list of candidates here; the hard part is narrowing it down and CHOOSING one, forsaking all others. I like all of your Top Four, so I'm not even going to break into the list of other candidates.

Finn can also be used as a nickname for Griffin. But if you both love Phineas and Finian, I think those are both good choices. If they continue to seem like Too Much, you could use them in the middle name slot instead, as you did with Atticus: Eamon Phineas, for example, or Jude Finian.

I don't know, either, why Eamon isn't more popular. I wonder if it's just the EE/AY problem? It would be regularly pronounced EE-mun, and that would be a minor hassle---but that doesn't seem to keep people completely away from other names with minor-hassle pronunciation/spelling issues.

I love the idea of using your grandmother's maiden name Quinten and shortening it to Quinn. I don't think of Quinn as feminine, either; like you, I think of the mighty Quinn. Would Quin look more masculine, I wonder?

I didn't know Jude was the German word for Jew. That gives me pause---but I don't think it would keep me from using it unless I thought it might keep bothering me.

Let's have a poll over to the right for the first name [poll closed; see results below], but we can discuss middle name options (perhaps from the Other Candidates list) in the comment section. I think I'm most drawn to Eamon Phineas.

Poll results (275 votes total):
Quinten (Quinn): 104 votes, roughly 38%
Eamon: 58 votes, roughly 21%
Jude: 49 votes, roughly 18%
Finn (from Phineas/Finian): 64 votes, roughly 23%

Name update 08-31-2009! Danielle writes:
Hi there- we wrote a while back to ask for help - (brother for Samuel Atticus) :). I'm a little late in sending an update, but we went with Finian Jude (nn Finn). We went back and forth between one or two n's for Finian, as both spellings are shown in the baby name book we used, as well as for St. Finian, lake Finian, etc. Anyway, we really love the name and I love seeing the updates on your site so I thought I'd pass on.....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Baby Boy McDowell

Lauren writes:
my husband and i are expecting our second child in a matter of days. (our due date is tax day.) we are having a boy, and as the date gets closer we believe we need your help.

here is our list.. (rider is my husbands middle name, and we would like to use it as a middle name for our son as well)

ewan rider mcdowell
kellen rider mcdowell
rudy william mcdowell
caleb rider mcdowell
samuel rider mcdowell

i also wanted to mention that our daughters name is nina.

we would love any suggestions or alternatives you may have.

My favorite from your list is Caleb.

The name Kellen makes me think of one of my own favorites: Keegan. Keegan Rider McDowell. Nina and Keegan.

Ewan makes me think of Eamon (AY-mun). Eamon Rider McDowell. Nina and Eamon.

Nothing at all makes me think of Malcolm. Malcolm Rider McDowell. Nina and Malcolm.

Let's have a poll over to the right! [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results (259 votes total):
Ewan Rider: 37 votes, roughly 14%
Kellen Rider: 35 votes, roughly 14%
Rudy William: 10 votes, roughly 4%
Caleb Rider: 63 votes, roughly 24%
Samuel Rider: 45 votes, roughly 17%
Keegan Rider: 17 votes, roughly 7%
Eamon Rider: 23 votes, roughly 9%
Malcolm Rider: 29 votes, roughly 11%

Friday, April 10, 2009

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl Hayes! Allison writes:
Delilah Juliet Hayes arrived on April 5, 2009. Although ultimately, we didn't go with any of your suggestions, we both love her name and it fits her perfectly. Thank you!

Baby Girl Cada

Amanda writes:
My husband and I are due with our first little one April 15th... and we are not close to having a name picked out at all! I tend to lean towards the names that are not in the top 100 (some have slipped through though) and he tends to not care if they are popular. I was Amanda S. for my entire education, so I don't want to do that to a little girl by naming her Addison or something else extremely popular. His name is Paul. Our last name, Cada, is pronounced like Cadillac so we would like to stay away from C and K names, they sound a little too comic-bookish to me.

The names I like...


My husband's fav's...


We both have Alexis on our lists, but it's still not winning us over as the finalist! (and it has been very popular in the past).

We both love Mira but fear that people will pronounce it Myra, and then everyone pronounces Cada as 'Cayduh' instead of the short a sound. So she would have to correct everyone on her first and last name forever! We could spell it Meera though... we just prefer the Mira spelling.

Our middle name options (just depends on which first name we go with)... Ann, Marie or Elizabeth.

Thanks for your help!! :)

I think you're right about the Mira thing. I think the name Mia gets the same sort of thing, with some people saying it MY-ah and some people saying MEE-ah. And Mara is another one: MARE-ah or MAR-ah.

When you said Cada as in Cadillac, that's when it occurred to me that Alexis as in A Lexus might be too much car for one name.

Both Addison Cada and Alannah Cada seem rhymey---but this is one of those areas where in some situations I'd be saying that was what made the names click so well, so this could go either way. In fact, I wonder if it might help people remember how to pronounce the surname, by getting their mouths in the right shape with the first name. The flip side of this is that a name like Jane Cada might have the opposite problem: getting people's mouths in the shape of AY, so that they go naturally into CAY-da by mistake.

Well, enough chipping away at the lists you already don't agree with each other on; let's see if we can find some other possible candidates.

Since you DO both like Alexis, and your husband likes Addison, I wonder if you would like Ellison. Ellison Marie Cada. Ellison is unusual but not too unfamiliar because of its similarity to Allison, and it has the cute nickname Ellie.

Emerson is similar to Ellison, but with the cute nickname Emmie. Emerson Marie Cada.

Elaine. Elaine Marie Cada. Elaine is underused but completely familiar, and it has the cute nickname Laney. It sounds something like your choice Eliza and something like his choice Jane.

Elena would be a little more up to date: Elena Marie Cada.

Eleanor. Eleanor Marie Cada. Eleanor is like the sounds of Lauren rearranged (nor instead of laur, and len instead of ren), and you could use Nora as a nickname.

Emeline. Emeline Marie Cada. Emeline has the sweetness of Adeline, but without the repeating "addah" of Adeline Cada---which, as I said before, might be a plus or might be a minus. Also, it has the cute nickname Emmie.

I didn't mean for those all to start with E and get paired with Marie, but there it is. Apparently I was on a roll with E/Marie.

[Edited to add: I thought of this too late to put it in the poll, but how about Aliza? It's so similar to Alexis, and also to your choice of Eliza.]

Let's have a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results (263 votes total):
Ellison: 51 votes, roughly 19%
Emerson: 52 votes, roughly 20%
Elaine: 18 votes, roughly 7%
Elena: 27 votes, roughly 10%
Eleanor: 55 votes, roughly 21%
Emeline: 60 votes, roughly 23%

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Baby Girl or Boy White

Sarah writes:
We are due with our second baby on the 12th April. We don't know what the sex is and we already have a daughter called Amy Grace White. She was named for her maternal great grandmother and paternal great grandmother. My husband and I can't seem to find anything we like this time around and have only come up with a few choices for either sex. We desperately need some help!

The only names we know we will use are Margaret as middle for a girl and Patrick as middle for a boy so we are looking for help choosing first names for both a girl and boy that will go with those middle names and our common and easy surname, White, while still sounding good with Amy.

Our top list for a girl are:
Stella Margaret White
Tessa Margaret White
Erin Margaret White
We would prefer to stick to a two syllable first name to tie in with Amy.

For a boy we are struggling and really want to find something that just clicks! (I know, the holy grail of baby names!)
Top contenders are:
Cameron Patrick White
Byron Patrick White
Russell Patrick White
We would also like a name of more than one syllable for a boy.

We live in a country that likes to shorten names to silly nicknames so have tried to stay away from longer names that have obvious nicknames but are really struggling to pick something that just sounds right! (that said both Cam and Russ are nicknames above!)

Any suggestions?

I love those girl name choices. Of the three, my favorite with Amy is Erin. I also like Holly: Holly Margaret White; Amy and Holly. And Erica is pretty: Erica Margaret White; Amy and Erica. And I love the name Laurel: Laurel Margaret White; Amy and Laurel. Or Nora would be nice: Nora Margaret White; Amy and Nora.

For boy names, if you like Cameron I wonder if you would like Callum? Callum Patrick White is handsome. I also like Carson: Carson Patrick White; Amy and Carson. Ooo, or Ian: Ian Patrick White; Amy and Ian. Owen: Owen Patrick White; Amy and Owen.

Let's have a couple of polls over to the right, one for girl names and one for boy names. [Polls closed; see results below.]

Poll results:

Girl names (297 votes total):
Stella: 41 votes, roughly 14%
Tessa: 33 votes, roughly 12%
Erin: 78 votes, roughly 26%
Holly: 31 votes, roughly 10%
Erica: 16 votes, roughly 5%
Laurel: 44 votes, roughly 15%
Nora: 49 votes, roughly 16%

Boy names (282 votes total):
Cameron: 30 votes, roughly 11%
Byron: 16 votes, roughly 6%
Russell: 16 votes, roughly 6%
Callum: 46 votes, roughly 16%
Carson: 30 votes, roughly 11%
Ian: 76 votes, roughly 27%
Owen: 68 votes, roughly 24%

Monday, April 6, 2009


Meg writes:
I'm curious, where did the name Juniper come from? All of a sudden I've heard of 3 little girls being named Juniper, and I thought it was a regional thing, but then I read your post about another couple considering it... Just curious if you have any idea where this one comes from.

I'm curious, too! I think it's like the name Cadence, which showed up practically out of NOWHERE and was suddenly EVERYWHERE.

I think it's a combination of a few things:

1) The rhythm of Jennifer
2) The familiarity of June
3) The cuteness of Piper

I think the name Juniper hits that perfect balance of out-there and familiar, so that a much wider range of people like it than typical. I remember when I first heard the name Cadence: it was in one of the worst movies I have ever seen, and when the name was used I was ELECTRIFIED by it and immediately added it to my baby name book, which didn't have it. It was the same with the name Juniper.

That's a danger sign, by the way, if you want to avoid popular names. If you hear a name and it ELECTRIFIES you and you think, "WHY has no one USED this glorious NAME??"---it is very likely that a hundred thousand other people are thinking the same thought. If you mention it to a few other people and they are all electrified, too, just walk away sister.

Well, unless you're like me and you don't really want to use a name until it's pretty mainstream. In that case, good news! Juniper isn't in the Top Thousand for any year in the last 200 (source: Social Security baby name site), but I'll bet you a dollar we'll see it REAL SOON and that it'll be moving up REAL FAST.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Baby Boy, Brother to John Thomas (Jack)

S. writes:
I'm SO thankful for your site. We are having our second boy any day now and just can't settle on a name! We have two little girl names picked out, but of course we are having a boy! Our first little boy is named John Thomas and we call him Jack. His name comes from both sides of our family and was very easy for us to choose, we named him years before we were ever pregnant. This little guy on the other hand is still nameless!! With our complicated last name we tend to think simple names are best. I love Charlie, Henry, and Oliver; husband doesn't love any of those. He would use Charles in a name but wouldn't call him Charlie. Husband loves Connor, Parker, & Cooper and I'm not wild about any of them. We are closest to agreeing on Mason or William. My concern with Mason is it's growing popularity. I really like timeless, classic names and I'm really afraid that Mason is going to be a trendy fad name which is not at all what we want. I don't mind a name being common, like Jack, if it is also classic. William fits all of those criteria but it just feels kind of vanilla to me...nothing bad nothing great. I'd really like to feel great about our son's name, of course! The only other requirments are that the name can't end in T because our last name does and the first letter of our last name is S so we have to be careful about initals!
THANK YOU for any help you can offer!!!

I think the name Mason is going to be okay. I looked it up on the Social Security baby name site and although it's true its popularity is increasing, it's gradual not spiked---showing a name that is probably going through one of many cycles of increasing/decreasing popularity as the classics do, rather than a name that's coming in on one wave and going out with the next as the trendies do. Since 1880 (that's as far as the "Popularity of a Name" feature looks back), Mason has been in steady use. Its current popularity is in the 30s, like Jack. (The name John is in the teens.) If you like Mason, I think it's great. John Thomas and Mason. Mason William, perhaps.

If William better suits your love of classic and timeless names, I am virtually certain it will grow on you even more with time. My first choice here, in fact, would be William Mason. I think that goes so nicely with John Thomas, and then you have the nicknames Jack and Will. Swoon!

Name Update!

Name update on Baby Girl or Boy S____an! Jennifer writes:
We had our baby boy, Luke Arthur, on April 3rd at 10:03pm. Thank you for your help with names - it was great to hear what others had to say, and it certainly gave us some good ideas! My husband came up with Arthur (family name on his side) a few weeks ago, and we both liked the flow of the name. I am a little sad we aren't using James in the name, but think the name Luke Arthur fits our baby boy perfectly.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Baby Girl Cargill

Crystal writes:
I've been reading your blog, never thinking I would have to request help myself, but things are getting desperate. Why, you ask? Well, let me introduce you to my difficult husband. The man who likes no names. I am fairly picky myself, but have suggested at least 40 names that he's struck down (using his extensive vocab of choice words to express his contempt). Please help us. Our baby needs a name, and I'm pretty sure my husband wants to keep from being strangled. The basics:

I'm due on April 11th with our second girl.

Our daughter's name is Melia Quinn Cargill (muh-LEE-ah)

Names I like that have been rejected: Eliana, Eliza, Ciana, Sabine, Zadie, Cela, Lily

Name I love that he is "considering": Juniper

The only name he actually cares for right now: Tessa

We don't like popular names (I know, I know), but I like names of lots of different styles. I couldn't tell you what style he prefers, but his most violent reaction is against the unisex names. He also isn't a fan of the noun names--places, flowers, etc.

We don't have any specific requirements about name length, certain letters, etc., and I feel like most names go with Cargill. Obviously, we haven't even gotten anywhere near the whole middle names issue.

So I'm kind of at a loss. I feel like it is going to have to be something obscure that we haven't come across. Any help would be wonderful.


p.s. If you don't have any naming help, maybe you know of a way I could bypass him when the birth certificate signing time comes around. I kid. Sort of. He really is a great guy--there's just something about this naming issue...

Some people (I am looking at YOU, Paul) are truly skilled at shooting down every possibility presented to them. Saying "Fine. YOU make a list, then" can lead to some helpful discussions. When I made Paul do it, he came up with a list of, basically, 1980s cheerleaders. It was nice to be the scoffer for a change, and he was more reasonable about MY suggestions after being on the receiving end of scoff.

Well, fine. His list is one name long: Tessa. So how about a list from me?

Britta Cargill; Melia and Britta
Clarissa Cargill; Melia and Clarissa
Darcy Cargill; Melia and Darcy
Juliet Cargill; Melia and Juliet
June Cargill; Melia and June
Romy Cargill; Melia and Romy
Sylvie Cargill; Melia and Sylvie
Willa Cargill; Melia and Willa

Anyone else want to take a shot at it? And let's have a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results (264 votes total):
Tessa: 59 votes, roughly 22%
Britta: 32 votes, roughly 12%
Clarissa: 11 votes, roughly 4%
Darcy: 20 votes, roughly 7%
Juliet: 41 votes, roughly 15%
June: 21 votes, roughly 8%
Romy: 29 votes, roughly 11%
Sylvie: 28 votes, roughly 11%
Willa: 23 votes, roughly 9%

Friday, April 3, 2009

Baby Boy Fetterman

Stacy writes:
I am due in April with our third child who is a boy. We have a 4 year old girl named Ella Lee (Lee after my mother) and a 16 month old boy named Brody Louis (Louis after my husbands middle name). Our last name is Fetterman. We had a very hard time with our first son's name and are having an even harder time with this one. I want a name that is not too common or too trendy, and does not end in -on, -en, -in.

Names I like are Brooks, Bennett (Ben), and Decon. I love Cade, but it's too popular now. We also both like Cole but have a friend with a son Cole. My husband doesn't like any of my names and wants a name that is strong and not so different that he hasn't heard it before. He likes Joel and Eli. We both like Joel but his mother's side of the family is Hispanic and will most likely (even just to annoy me) pronounce the name Joe-el which will drive me crazy. We thought about using a different spelling like Jole but are afraid that it would be pronounced Jo-lee. I also thought about Johl, but am not sure if it looks too odd and one of the reasons we like Joel in the first place was because it was a biblical name. Eli is too close to Ella. I am thinking that we will be using Robert, Allen or Taylor for a middle name after family members. We are stuck and have no names on our list so any suggestions would be great! Thanks for your help!

Here are some biblical names I like with Ella and Brody (I used The Baby Name Wizard's biblical names section to help me out here, and didn't check to see if any of them had negative biblical associations):


Joah is pretty unusual (I'd never heard of it) but I put it on the list because it's similar to Joel. Saul, too, reminds me of Joel, but without the Jo-el problem.

And you know what name occurred to me when I was looking at your list? Cale. (I prefer the spelling Cael, but it has the Ca-el problem, and also it looks more feminine to me.) It's like Joel, Cade, and Cole all wrapped into one. Cale Fetterman. Ella, Brody, and Cale. You could name him Caleb and nickname him Cale, too, if that would appeal more to your husband's wish for a name he's heard before.

Or Dane? Dane Fetterman. Ella, Brody, and Dane.

Keane? Keane Fetterman. Ella, Brody, and Keane.

Wade? Wade Fetterman. Ella, Brody, and Wade.

Name update 04-21-2009! Stacy writes:
Thanks so much for all of the wonderful suggestions! Brooks Allen Fetterman was born on April 15th. I got lucky and after not being able to agree on anything my husband decided Brooks had grown on him. I say the baby makes the name and although it wasn't his first choice I know he will love it later.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Addison, Quincy, Micah, and Baby Boy ____?

Renee writes:
My husband and I are due with baby #4 in just under 2 weeks. Our three girls are named Addison Anna (called Addie), Quincy Eliza (Quin) and Micah Joy (who we call "Micah Joy" exclusively). We know we're having a boy this time around, and are very excited. However, we are having a very difficult time finding a name. I think the problem (at least for me) is that our daughters have very strong names and it's difficult to find a boy's name that doesn't strike me as, well, girly. We've agreed that the middle name will be Thomas--my husband's middle name. But as for a first name, we're pretty stuck.

I like the idea of a strong, traditional name like John, Edward or James, but I think they're a bit too plain and don't go well with the girls' names. Hubby likes Harrison, Charles (Charlie) and Benjamin--but does concede that Harrison is too much like Addison, and Charlie and Ben feel too plain for the girls' names.

The one name we had been seriously considering was Archer... and I do still like it, as does my husband...It's strong, and I think it flows really well... Archer Thomas Lenox. The problem is, we do watch Private Practice on ABC, and Dr. Addison Montgomery has a brother named Archer. And that bothers me. Because when we gave Addie her name, it was not super trendy, but since Grey's Anatomy, it's become much more mainstream. And because we don't want to seem like crazy TV fans... that irrational?

I just feel like we're completely out of ideas. Any and all suggestions would be welcomed! Thanks so much!

I do think it sounds okay when a family has a different naming style for the boys than for the girls. A family might not want to name sisters Gabriella and Taylor because of the startlingly different styles, but I think it's okay to have a sister Gabriella and a brother Tyler. Something about the gender line makes it okay to mix. So if you wanted to have a John, Edward, James, Charles, or Benjamin, I think those all work great. In fact, since your girls' names are all androgynous, a classic and unmistakable boy name might be just the thing.

But if they seem too plain, I love Archer. It's a great name; it's similar in style to your girls' names; it's great with Thomas Lenox; and you both really like it. Let's put a poll over to the right to see how strong the Addison/Archer connection is. [Poll closed; see results below.] I wouldn't have thought of it, especially with several siblings separating the two names, but I'd be interested to see if it pops into other people's minds.

Poll results (335 votes total) for the question "Would you have thought of the Addison/Archer connection?":
Yes: 54 votes, roughly 16%
Only if it were pointed out to me: 51 votes, roughly 15%
No: 80 votes, roughly 24%
Who?: 150 votes, roughly 45%
(No plus Who: 230 votes, roughly 69%)