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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Baby Girl Marasco

Marc writes:
Hi. We are expecting our first baby girl in July and we need some help with names. There are several names on our list that seem ok, but nothing is jumping out at us. When we named our little tan cockapoo puppy Karma, we knew it was perfect. Karma the cockapoo! But the baby names are much more difficult. My name is Marc Marasco and I am of Japanese and Italian descent. My wife's name is Rebecca.

We want a name that is not too trendy, not to hipster or elitist and that can have a shorter nickname. We like Sophia and Mia, but every girl in California is Sophia or Mia or Bella. Names I like include: Katina, Fiona, Zoey, Michela, and Chloe. Names my wife likes include: Myla and Kaia. We both like Seneca because we both have connections to Cornell / Ithaca and it is both a native american and greek name -- but it just doesn't sound exactly right. Help!

I think probably Zoey/Zoe, Michela/Mikayla, and Chloe are all more popular than what you're looking for; Myla and Kaia are much less common but have trendy sounds (various arrangements such as Kayla, Kyla, Kaylee, Lila, Lia, Maya, Mya, Mia, etc.) that make make them seem more common than they are. Katina and Fiona seem like good choices: not common, not hipster, not elitist. If you want something even more unusual, Ithaca would be a pretty name---the rhythm and end-sound of Jessica help keep it familiar and name-ish.

More possibilities: Anastasia, Annika, Bianca, Dalia, Phoebe, Sabrina, Samira, Sylvie.

Name update 09-20-2010! Marc writes:
I can't remember if I updated the Swistle site, but we went with the name Malia Aiko Marasco.  Thanks so much for the advice.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Baby Girl Terrazas

Shelly writes:
I love reading your suggestions for names, and would really appreciate any names you could think of for our first child, who is due July 11, 2010.

My husband and I very quickly decided on a boy's name: Max Armando (Armando is my husband's middle name and my father-in-law's first name). But we've recently found out the baby is a girl, and we're stumped.

Our last name is Terrazas (pronounced "tear-AS-is", and is Spanish for terrace). We loved how Max went with the Spanish-sounding last name and seemed unique to us (but I've noticed it is quite high on the popularity lists).

My husband wants a cool-chick, strong, feminine and beautiful name. I want a name that is traditional, beautiful, feminine, with likable nicknames for when she is a baby/little girl, but is strong/professional sounding for when she gets older. I don't want the name to be too popular or high on the usage lists, though.

My husband really loves Alexandra, but I dislike the nickname Alex for a little girl. I could live with Lexie, however. I'm just not super-in-love with it, though.

If we have boys in the future (we plan to have 1-2 more children after this one), their names will be Max Armando and Samual Warren, in respective birth order (all family names). But girls' names have us stumped (none of the female names in either of our families are particularly appealing to me).

We like the idea of using family names, though, and because I'm so close to my father, whose first name is James (but he goes by his middle name), I was thinking of pairing James (or Jaimes) as our baby girl's middle name. But if she's called Alex James, I'm afraid she'll get a complex that we gave her two masculine names.

Here are the names on our list, but none of them light my fire. The problem is, NOTHING has struck me as THE ONE in terms of a girl's name. What is wrong with me? Am I expecting too much to have a lightening-bolt moment in terms of choosing a baby name, or is it normal to just choose a name that is "OK"?

Names Still On Our List
Alexandra (Lexie)
Irene / Irena

Names We've Discarded:

Thanks for any help you could give us!

To address your most important question first, YES it's definitely normal to have nothing in particular stand out as THE NAME. Sometimes a name hits like a lightning bolt, sometimes it grows on you gradually, and sometimes you run out of time and just have to pick what seems like the best bet on the list.

Sometimes it helps to play games, like taking your list and seeing how you'd feel if each of those names was a baby in your arms, or how you'd feel if you knew the name was the one you were choosing, or how you'd feel if you knew the name was off the list. Or imagine each name in turn is the one, and then imagine someone saying, "What's your baby's name?" and giving the answer. Or handwrite each name with your surname a few times and see how that feels, or say each name with the two boy names you like and see which group sounds like YOUR group of children. Or each parent take turns crossing off a name from the long list until you get down to, say, the final three, and see how you each feel about those names. Or each parent put the name list in order, and see which names you both have high on the list. The point of the games is to try to get opinions to surface and solidify.

Would you like the name Alexandra better with the nickname Ally? Or you could go with a variation such as Alissandra and use Liss/Lissie.

I think all your name choices are good ones. They all go well with your surname and with the two possible future boy names. Let's see if we can make a list of more possibilities to consider.

Anastasia (Anna, Annie, Stace)
Cassandra (Cass, Cassie)
Francesca (Frankie, Chess)
Emeline (Emmie)
Geneva (Gennie, Eva, Evie)
Genevieve (Gennie, Evie)
Josephine (Jo, Josie)
Karenna (Karie, Rennie)
Lissandra (Liss, Lissy)
Meredith (Merrie)
Philomena (Phillie, Mena)
Veronica (Ronnie, Nicki)
Willemina/Wilhelmina (Willa, Mina, Minnie)
Winifred (Winnie, Freddie)

I had Georgia (Georgie, Gigi) and Penelope (Penny, Nellie) on there too until I saw they were on the discard list. I like both of them a lot. I think my favorite is Francesca, because I think it's beautiful and feminine and strong and unusual, and also cool-chick with cool nicknames.

Name update! Shelly writes:
We ended up naming our baby girl Alexandra Rose Terrazas, and we call her Lexie. The middle name was a last minute call, as I thought of Rose when the doctor in the delivery room exclaimed that she was born very pink and rosey.

Thanks so much for your name suggestions, my husband and I really appreciate it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Middle Name Challenge: Deven Elise and Quinn _____?

Jen writes:
our second daughter, quinn, is scheduled to arrive 7/7 and we still need a middle name for her. both our girls will have androgynous first names (she'll be little sister to deven) with more feminine middle names so that, if they end up hating the first, they'll have an option.

SO, middle name needs to be stand-alone as a feminine name - and by stand-alone, i mean a less unusual choice...deven's middle name is elise.

the other complicating factor is that we have a long last name - something that sounds like micon (hyphen) bonner - and so we think the middle name shouldn't be more than 3 syllables...but not a monosyllable because it kind of clunks after quinn.

i could be persuaded to go longer for a name i really love but anything beyond 3 syllables starts sounding very princess-y to me. (alexandria, gabriela, etc)

lastly, while we love quinn as a first name - and love deven & quinn as sibling names - quinn starts sounding like "queen" when paired with certain middle names, like elizabeth.

the other officially vetoed names have been sophia, caroline, mirabelle, corinne and madeline.

we sort of like these names but none sound like The Name...

gabrielle - too princess?
kathleen - too dated? (plus a friend's name)
caprice - not stand-alone enough?
therese - too plain to be a first name option?
olivia - too popular? (plus, a family members middle name)

(sidenote: olivia is deven's middle name suggestion.)

we also want to stay away from family names since deven doesn't have one...that rules out:


good grief, we're picky.

Since Deven and Quinn are such perfectly-coordinated sibling names, one exercise we could try is coordinating the middle names just as if they were the first names. That is, we could play the game "Sister Names for Elise," and see if it yields any names that fit the bill for the actual situation.

The Baby Name Wizard suggests these sister names for Elise: Camille, Elena, Hope, Celeste, and Noelle. And right off the bat we have a definite possibility in Camille: it sounds similar to Caprice but is more common and standalone; it's two syllables; it sounds great with Quinn; it sounds great with your surname. Quinn Camille Micon (hyphen) Bonnor. Devan Elise and Quinn Camille. I feel tempted to pressure you into using this, so let's move on to finding some more options.

Quinn Adele
Quinn Audrey
Quinn Beatrix
Quinn Bethany
Quinn Bridget
Quinn Camille
Quinn Cassidy
Quinn Charlotte
Quinn Clarisse
Quinn Claudia
Quinn Estelle
Quinn Felicity
Quinn Frances
Quinn Giselle
Quinn Joanne
Quinn Joelle
Quinn Juliet
Quinn Lucy
Quinn Miranda
Quinn Ruby
Quinn Penelope
Quinn Shelby
Quinn Simone
Quinn Stella
Quinn Sylvia
Quinn Willow
Quinn Winifred

Quinn Felicity and Quinn Penelope both exceed the ideal syllable count, but I love both of them so much. I wanted to start this next sentence "Other favorites are:" and make a list, but I like too many of them. Quinn Miranda stands out to me, though.

Name update! Jen writes:
we ended up going with juliet, thanks to some input we got from this post - thank you!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baby Boy or Girl, Sibling to Holiday Phoenix

Jenna writes:
We are adopting a baby, but we don’t have a due date… yet. It could be anywhere from next week to February. Not so helpful, huh?
Our last name rhymes with “fire”.
We have a daughter whose name is ‘Holiday Phoenix’ (most people call her ‘Holly’, but she is wildly proud of all her name). To us, it is the perfect girl name… unusual, happy, and has a nature-y (and tame) nickname.
For boys, we like ‘Daryle’, ‘Gus’, ‘Samuel’ (the only case of an open adoption in the Bible except for Moses, and ‘Moses’ isn’t an option), and ‘Oscar’ (not a possibility, though, with the whole ‘Fire’ aspect). For the most part, my husband likes men’s names that don’t have nicknames (‘Sam’ is the obvious exception). The only two boy middle names we’ll consider are ‘Holmes’ (family name) and ‘Dean’ (family name). And we aren’t fans of boy names that begin with the letter ‘B’. (We don’t want ‘Dean’ for a first name because we’ve recently known it as a girl’s name).
For girls, we like the name ‘Serenity’ (‘Wren’ for a nickname). We’ve recently discarded ‘Liberty’ (‘Libby’ for short) because we found out that there’s already one at our daughter’s school—and my father-in-law had a very difficult time with a Libby. A good friend just had a baby girl named ‘Story’ (which we both adore… especially with the nickname ‘Rhee’). Middle names for a girl are ‘Valentine’ and ‘June’ (both have a sweet tale behind them). For a long time, ‘Valentine’ was a nice first name choice (with ‘Valley’ for a short name), but ‘Val’ is unappealing to us. We’re all about the full name/nickname combo with a girl.
Thank you SO MUCH for your help.

If it doesn't have to be a BIBLICAL adoption (and if it does, you could add Jesus to that list), I found a list of famous adoptions. The trouble is that most of the names are either common names you'll likely have already considered (David or Thomas for Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's and of an adoption foundation; Alexander for Alexander the Great; Charles for Charles Dickins; Steven for Steve Jobs; James for James Michner; John for John Audubon) or quite unusual (Michner for James Michner; Audubon for John Audubon)---and it's a lonnnnng list. I think you'd just have to look through it and see if anything caught your eye.

If you like Oscar but want to avoid hot dog advertising jingles, I wonder if you'd like the name Otto? It's unusual, it's a palindrome, it's nicknameless. Unless your surname sounds like Buyer, in which case I wonder if Otto Buyer sounds like someone shopping for a car.

If you like Gus and Sam, I wonder if you'd like Wade? Cal? Beck? Mack?

All right, enough talk about boy names, let's tackle the girl name. Ideally we need a noun name with a mainstream nickname.

A name I wouldn't have expected to like but DO like is Epiphany. I first-and-only encountered it in a book by Haven Kimmel called The Solace of Leaving Early. By the end of the book I was thinking, "You know, actually that is a BEAUTIFUL name." Its meaning is excellent: a sudden insight or enlightenment, with connotations of it being a positive experience. It has a name-like sound, similar to names such as Stephanie. The "mainstream nickname" part is where we get stuck. Eppie? Pip?

Gossamer would be a pretty name, but again there's a nickname problem. Gussie? Sammie?

Poetry, but for a nickname? Ack. Stuck. Poe?

Fidelity: so name-like, but no good nickname! Fifi? Della?

Memory, same problem. Nightingale, same problem. Finally, same problem. Morning, same problem.

A less-used month name such as January, September, or December would be nice, but yet again: no good nicknames.

My 5-year-old Elizabeth says the best girl name in the whole world is Windiest. Winnie would be a cute nickname.

Allegro (a musical term that means to play it all perky and lively), with the nickname Ally.

Maybe Serendipity, with the nickname Sera/Sara?

Minuet (Minnie).

Aviary (Ava).

Celestial (Celeste).

Ability (Abby).

Magnolia (Maggie).

Calico (Callie).

Serenade (Sera).

The more I look for names, the more I feel the perfection of the name Holiday. How did you find it? Do the same thing again, because you have a knack!

Here are my top choices:
  • Epiphany June or Epiphany Valentine, with the nickname Pip or Pippi
  • Minuet Valentine, with the nickname Minnie
  • Serenade Valentine, with the nickname Sera

Name update 08-31-2010! Jenna writes:
Our son was born last week! His whole adoption story happened in the month of August, so we were this close to naming him August and just calling him Gus (thanks to the poster who suggested it!). But when we realized that August was a ‘dual gender’ name, we decided to cut to the chase and go with the nickname as his official name. So Gus Holmes “Fire” is the newest addition to our family. Thanks, Swistle!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Baby Boy Milot

Anna writes:
I hope that I can enlist your help and your reader’s help in naming my husband Eric and my first child who is a boy! It seems like we had a solid list of 5 names picked if the baby were a girl, but we only have 4 names for a boy now and we aren’t sold on any of them yet. Our last name is Milot – pronounced Me-Low.

The boys names that we agree on are Jack, Grant, Graham and Callum. Our problem – Jack is too popular (we wanted to use Jack because that is my late grandfather’s name.) I LOVE Callum, but my husband doesn’t like the nickname Cal. Grant is ok in our book, and we like Graham, but call my grandmother “Gram.” Talk about confusing!

We also liked Camden and Tyler but family and friends have named their children those names. Some names we are on the fence about are Cohen and Coleman (but we like to camp and think it would be strange to call our child what we call our stove…)

We would like to use Joseph as the middle name because that is Eric’s middle name, but I would still like to honor my grandfather, so Jack or Brennan (his surname) would also work.

My husband and I are both graphic designers so we feel like it would not be fitting to give our child an ordinary name. We are not into classic names (besides Jack I guess.) We don’t want anything that is too popular so he won’t grow up being one of 5 with the same name in his class. We also don’t like super trendy names (Jayden, Aiden, etc.)

If it helps we liked all unisex names for a girl. So, if we end up ever having a girl we wouldn’t want people trying to figure out which one of our children is a boy, so the name should be somewhat masculine.

We hope you can help!

I wonder if you might want to use your grandfather's surname Brennan as the first name? Or perhaps hold that in reserve for a future girl, if you like androgynous names for girls. It's so lucky to have a family surname that would make a wonderful first name! I have a lot of Dutch ancestors so have surname-as-first-name choices such as VanderWyk. Catchy!

I see your point about Graham/Gram, but it's not likely to be a long-term problem, if you catch my tactless drift.

If you like Coleman, I wonder if you might like Chapman? Or Truman?

Another possibility is Lawson. It's unusual and masculine, and I really like it with your surname: Lawson Milot.

Wilson is good, too: Wilson Milot.

And Gibson: Gibson Milot.

Sullivan is a name I think is underused: Sullivan Milot.

I wish Ruben sounded good with my surname, but sadly no. It's good with yours: Ruben Milot.

If you like Tyler, maybe Tanner? Oh, or Turner! I really like Turner: Turner Milot.

If you like Camden, maybe Keegan? That's high on my own boy name list. Or Corbin? Or Campbell?

If you like Jack, maybe Clark? Ike? Mack?

Name update 07-12-2010! Anna writes:
I just wanted to give an update for Baby Boy Milot. He decided to arrive a little early on 6/27. After taking our list of names and looking at our little man, we decided on Graham Joseph. Thanks to you and all of your followers comments, we felt it was a great fit. We have gotten many compliments on it and how strong a name it is.
Thanks for all of your help!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Two Possible Surnames

Farrell writes:
My cousin is pregnant with a boy and due in July. She is overwhelmed a bit with everything, as she is single and this was a surprise. She also had no idea how difficult it would be to find a name!

My cousin likes traditional names but not names that are too common. She does like somewhat unique names, as long as they are not "off the wall." Her sister has a baby named Daniel, so that is out. Four names that she has come across so far that she likes are:

* Brendan
* Terrance
* Nathaniel
* Ian

My cousin definitely wants to use the middle name Michael (after her father). This is her first child. The other complicated factor is that my cousin is not sure which last name the baby will have - hers or the father's. Hers rhymes with "Wiley" and his with "Keen."
So it will either be Baby ____ Michael Wiley or Baby ____ Michael Keen.


Oh, I do like the name Terrance! I have a highly positive association I mentioned a few posts ago, with the nice boy in my elementary school who didn't try to step on the girls' toes during square dancing. And it goes well with both surname possibilities.

My own favorite name on the list is Ian, but only with the surname that sounds like Wiley. If she ends up using Keen, the name Evan is similar to Ian but might sound better with it (depending on what the surname actually is).

And I think Nathaniel and Brendan are both great names too, so I'm hesitant to complicate things by adding to her list! And yet that is what I do, and so onward!

I like Wesley if the surname is Keen, though not if it's Wiley. Wesley Michael Keen.

I like Gideon either way, though more if it's Wiley: Gideon Michael Wiley, Gideon Michael Keen.

I like Elliot either way: Elliot Michael Wiley, Elliot Michael Keen.

I like Sebastian either way: Sebastian Michael Wiley, Sebastian Michael Keen.

I like Edmund with Wiley, but it's a little hard to say with Keen: Edmund Michael Wiley, Edmund Michael Keen.

I like Phillip either way: Phillip Michael Wiley, Phillip Michael Keen.

I like Jonathan either way: Jonathan Michael Wiley, Jonathan Michael Keen.

I like Simon either way, though I'm less sure about Simon Wiley (too much long-I sound?): Simon Michael Keen, Simon Michael Wiley.

Name update 07-10-2010! Farrell writes:
Brendan Michael Keen was born on June 26, 2010. Baby and Mommy are doing well:) He is a big boy and is healthy...I am still waiting for my cousin to send me a picture!!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Nicknames for Elizabeth

Claire writes:

I am due with a baby girl on June 30th. We've already decided her name will be Elizabeth. We simply LOVE the name. That's not the problem.
The problem is giving her a nickname. At home, she will be Elizabeth. However, she's due in only 3 weeks and my father-in-law is already calling her "Lizzie" or "Liz!" This is the one nickname I do NOT want for my child. I just don't like the sound and it's too common. I also don't like "Beth" for the same reason.
I think our only option here is to choose a nickname WE like and use it so that THAT is the nickname people will use. If the nickname we use right from the beginning sticks, then hopefully she will not be a Liz or Lizzie.

So my question: What nickname to choose?

I'm drawn to Ellie, Elle, or Ella. However, I see the name Ella is already a top 20 name. I already gave my daughter a top 10 name, so I want her nickname to be different at least! Most little Elizabeth's I know these days are going by Ellie or Elle. Plus, there are going to be SO many little "Bellas" since Isabella is such a popular name. Elle, Ella, and Ellie are too close. Plus, I already know a baby Elizabeth who is being called Ellie who will eventually be in my daughter's class.

I thought "Bess" was cute. But will she get the "Bessie the Cow" teasing? Same thing with "Betsy." Will she get "Betsy Wetsy" teasing?

What do you think? My sister thinks Buffy is cute, but I'm not sure about that.

I want a nickname that isn't too common, yet won't incite any teasing. I want it to sound fresh and not overused like Lisa. Not old fashioned like Betty.

I thought you'd be a great person to ask! Plus, I see you have a daughter Elizabeth so you probably have great incite into the "nicknames for Elizabeths" issue!

Thank you!

My Elizabeth is a pseudonym, but do you know WHY it is a pseudonym and not her actual name? BECAUSE OF THE NICKNAME PROBLEM! So I feel you, sister.

Like you, my favorite nickname for Elizabeth is NO nickname. And on one hand, it's easier to do that now than when we were children and every Elizabeth was a Beth or a Liz---but on the other hand, I didn't want my daughter growing up and choosing FOR HERSELF one of the nicknames I disliked, and there were many I disliked, so finally we gave up on that name.

I'm afraid you're right that the nicknames Ellie and Ella are getting overdone for Elizabeth: Ellie and Ella are in style right now so people are trying to find ways to get the trendy names while still using a traditional name.

I think Bess is adorable, and my guess is that Bessie the Cow has slipped from elementary school consciousness, now that so few of us own cattle. Bess would be my first choice.

My second choice would be Libby. For awhile I was worried it would get overused, but it hasn't seemed to, and now everyone's attention is turning to Ellie so I think Libby is safe.

I wouldn't have known it was a nickname for Elizabeth, but The Baby Name Wizard mentions Elsie. Adorable. Here are all the TBNW nicknames for Elizabeth:


Oh, Liddy, that's super-cute! Maybe I would choose that instead of Libby. I also think Bette has potential, though I wouldn't use it myself because I know I'd almost immediately turn it to Betty without even meaning to.

I wonder if Liss or Lissie would feel fresher than Liz/Lizzie? And the nickname Bee isn't an intuitive choice but might work anyway.

What nicknames does everyone else like best for Elizabeth?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Baby Girl Brown

Laura writes:
I hope that you and your intrepid readers may have some input and suggestions for my husband and me. We are expecting our first child, a girl, on June 27. We decided not to discuss her name with any family or friends, but sometimes feel like we’re going in circles, since it’s just the two of us thinking about this.

If we could name her anything, we would probably name her Katherine. We both love this name, plus it is my maternal grandmother’s name. Unfortunately, however, our only niece is already Catherine, so it’s out.

Our leading contender (for months now) is Margaret. Margaret was my great-grandmother (Katherine’s mother), and was also my husband’s paternal grandmother. One of the things we like about Margaret, independent of any family history (a family tie isn’t a must for us), are the nicknames. We love the nickname Maisie, and also like Maggie. I can imagine a little girl and a woman with these names, plus she can use her full name if she wants something with less whimsy as she gets older. My reservations are: one, that I like, but don’t love, the sound of the name Margaret; and two, that I am worried that Maisie may become too popular, although I don’t yet know any actual children with this name. For what it’s worth, we live in San Francisco.

Other names I like include: Hannah (my husband is not wild about Hannah and thinks it is too popular), Elizabeth (but I have at least three friends with daughters named Elizabeth, nn Ellie x2, Libby – too common), and Fiona (my husband tends to think this is too proper, or something).

Her middle name will be Audrey, for my husband’s mother who recently died. Audrey is not an option for the first name, not because we don’t like it, but because my husband’s mother never liked her own name. Our last name is Brown.

Thank you!

I'll start by getting two small things out of the way. The first being that even if your mother-in-law didn't like her name, you can still use it in the first-name slot. If she were still alive I'd agree not to use it as the first name because I'd wonder if she might even cringe a little to hear her own disliked name on a granddaughter, and of course you'd want to honor not only her but also her dislike of her name. But because she's NOT alive, the name is in her honor alone and you can use it as the first name if you like it. Well, unless she made you promise not to or something. It's a beautiful name.

And the second thing being that I think two cousins with the same name is sweet---even if the families are close and spend a lot of time together---and I think it leads to cute inter-family nicknames (such as calling one girl "See Catherine" and the other "Kay Katherine," which then gets shortened to Cee-cee and Kay or WHATEVER). I think it's significantly less confusing than father/son naming where the mail and phone calls and records get mixed up. But I know/understand a lot of people would prefer not to duplicate names, so I'm just noting this before moving on.

Taking those two things together, my first suggestion is Audrey Katherine Brown. Do you like how I just dismissed THREE of your specifications (that Audrey be the middle name; that Audrey not be the first name; that Katherine not be used) to come up with that? Probably next I will be giving you boy name suggestions and changing your surname!

I think the name Margaret is such a great and flexible name: old and traditional and dignified, a can't-be-wrong classic, but with some of the cutest nicknames EVER. Greta, Maisie, Meg, Maggie, Daisy! My primary worry with the nickname Maisie is the popular children's book/television character Maisy Mouse. Maisy Mouse removed the name from my consideration list just as thoroughly as another mouse removed the name Mickey. It's a positive association, but such a STRONG one. Definitely it's not a universal deal-breaker, but it's the kind of thing I like to think about beforehand when I'm considering a name.

As a childhood Little Women enthusiast, I'm leaning toward suggesting you use Daisy. [Edit for clarity: I mean Meg's daughter, also named Margaret, whom they called Daisy. Amusing: I didn't even think of Margaret/Meg herself. Hee!] (Plus, if it were my daughter I would then love love LOVE to buy her things that had daisies on them, like outfits and room decor and so forth.) As a childhood A Wrinkle in Time enthusiast, I'm leaning toward suggesting you use Meg. (I was especially charmed by the way her dad called her Megawatt.) Well, probably if you choose Margaret, one nickname or another will emerge as most RIGHT for her once she's born.

Hannah and Elizabeth do both seem too common with a common surname. I love the name Fiona; I think it sounds British, but in a sassy as well as proper way. A name that has a similar sound while being more in the Hannah/Elizabeth category is Felicity. Felicity Brown is wonderful. If you like nicknames, there's Fliss and Lissy and Flip. Two downsides: Felicity Audrey doesn't flow as well as it could, and also she'd have initials that spell FAB (it's a positive word, but I mention it in case you don't like initials that spell things).

Another name I like for you is Beatrix. I don't generally like first/last name alliteration so I don't know why this one appeals, but it just DOES: Beatrix Audrey Brown. Nicknames: Bea, Bee, Trixie. I've heard people say Trixie has hooker/stripper associations for them, but doesn't it seem too cute and sweet for a hooker or stripper? It lacks the SULTRINESS I would expect. It sounds to me more like a sweet little fairy, like Tinkerbell. Also, pardon my bringing this up in polite company, but how many of us are firsthand familiar with common names for hookers and strippers? (And if any of you are, would you make me a chart? Because that would be super-useful info! It's the only section I can think of that's missing from The Baby Name Wizard.)

So! To sum up! If I were you I would first run it by my niece's parents to make sure it wouldn't upset them, and then I'd use Katherine Audrey Brown: it's the name you both like best. Second choice Audrey Katherine Brown, given that your mother-in-law is no longer on the scene to dislike the sound of her own name, and everyone else likes it. Third choice Margaret Audrey Brown, with a wait-and-see on the nickname. Next choice, Felicity Audrey Brown, which I love even though it's not as smooth with the middle name as would be ideal. Next after that, Beatrix Audrey Brown, which I think has sass as well as adorableness (I would use Bee as the nickname).

What do the rest of you think? Lots of fun things to have opinions on in this one!

Name update 08-02-2010! Laura writes:
I am happy to announce the birth of our daughter, Margaret Audrey, on June 21. I loved your and your readers' comments and suggestions (yes, even the sidebar stemming from Trixie!). After she was born, Margaret just seemed "right" and I think we call her Margaret a little more often than Maisy. My reservations about the name are gone.

Our new quandary is how to spell Maisy. I had thought Maisie, but in practice we have found it easiest to explain "like Daisy, but with an M" to those unfamiliar with the name. Saying "like Daisy, but with an M and an IE on the end" just seems silly. We'll see... For now, our daughter's nickname shares a spelling with that nice little mouse!

Many thanks again!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Baby Boy Lee

Brenda writes:
Hi! My second son is due June 8- or any minute now! I know this a little late in the game to be seeking advice, but we are a little stuck!

We have a 2-year-old named Arthur Juno. Juno is a Korean name and it is what we call him when we go to Korea to visit family. Here we call him Arthur. I am not big on nicknames and will use the full name until my son tells me otherwise!

Anyway, for our second son we would like another classic name- something that fits the genre of Arthur. Some names we have thrown around are:

August - We like it, but are not too sure about having 2 "A" names.
Louis - (Lewis, not Looey) Not sure if this one fits with Arthur. Also may become very popular now that Sandra Bullock has a Louis.
Stuart - I like the idea of Stuart, but it sounds a little too harsh or percussive. I like how gentle and flowing Arthur is. Is it too harsh?
Walter - My husband's current favorite. I like it, too, but while Arthur seems kind of cool, Walter still seems kind of "fuddy duddy" to me. Is it?
Oliver - My only concern is its popularity. My name isn't very popular with my age group (I always was the only one not only in my class, but in my school) and I loved it.
Henry - Again a popularity concern. My husband doesn't think it is a problem, but I don't want my son to have to be referred to as "Henry L.", as opposed to the "Henry S.", "Henry P." and "Henry M." also in his class.
Robin - I don't love it, but my husband seems to.
Edward - I've never read the Twilight books, but apparently there is an Edward character. Will this be a popularity concern? Also, after Arthur, is it too common?
Other names we sort-of like: Jasper, Calvin, Julian.

Names I liked, but were vetoed by my husband: Theodore, Thaddeus, Homer, George, Martin.

Our new son's middle name will be Korean. It will be a two-syllable name. We are still working on it, but some of our middle name ideas start with the letters M, J, P, Y, or H. My favorites start with M.

My son(s) and I have a hyphenated last name with my maiden name being a three syllable Polish surname and my husband's being a one syllable Korean surname. Both surnames begin with the letter L, and since we sometimes drop the Polish part to make it easier for others to record, I will just give you my husband's surname: Lee. I suppose all this means is that we will have to be careful with names starting with L and with one syllable names.

I am open to any and all ideas. We need some fresh minds with fresh ideas helping us out! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My favorites from your list are Louis, Walter, and Calvin.

I agree with you about Henry and Oliver: those are both currently in style, and have a very different sound than Arthur.

Like you, I'm curious if/how Edward the Twilight vampire hottie will affect the name's popularity. Perhaps it will be a bigger problem ten years from now, when all the girls who are currently teenagers will be having their children? Jasper, too, is a Twilight character. The name Edmund would be a possibility, similar to Edward but with a lower vampire element (searching "Edmund vampire": one of the many search terms I wasn't expecting to use for a baby name blog).

I suggest Warren. I think it has the same gentle/strong sound as Arthur. Arthur and Warren.

I love the book Life With Father, and it always makes me wish the name Clarence would come back into style. Arthur and Clarence. (The author of the book I like is Clarence Day, and am I remembering right that Dae is a Korean name? If you like the book too, it would be a pleasing reference. Though if Dae is pronounced "day," I suppose it gives you "daily" with your surname Lee---not that that's a deal-breaker, especially with a hyphenated surname to break things up.)

After watching a few seasons of Sabrina the Teenage Witch (WHAT?), I had the name Harvey on my list. It still sounds like a great name to me, though I wonder if Harvey Lee would bring Lee Harvey Oswald to mind? Probably not, especially since the surname is hyphenated, but it's the kind of thing I like to take into account during the naming process, as opposed to realizing it afterward. Arthur and Harvey.

I've several times pitched the name Karl/Carl without success, but I will try again! Arthur and Karl, or Arthur and Carl.

I knew such a great guy named Franklin back in school. Arthur and Franklin. (Oh---but as I'm proof-reading, I remember that there is both a children's TV show called Arthur AND a children's TV show called Franklin.)

Beverly Cleary's book Fifteen cemented the name Stanley in my mind as the ideal gentle/strong boy name. *swoon*

Arthur makes me think of the Knights of the Round Table. I'd been remembering that there was a knight named Roland, but apparently I'm thinking of something else. Still, Roland would be an excellent option. Arthur and Roland.

The nicest boy in my elementary school was Terrence, or perhaps it was spelled Terrance (it was the nickname-favoring 1970s, so he mostly went by Terry). I always wanted to be his square-dancing partner in gym class, because he was the only one who never tried to step on his partner's toes. (You know who the worst toe-steppers were? Gary and Troy.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Baby Girl Ezra, Sister to Emma

Autumn writes:
My due date is September 13th (although given my history of pre-term labor, I probably won't make it past the middle of August). We just found out today that we're having a girl. We have one daughter already who is four. Her name is Emma Lorelai. We thought we were having a boy this time and had picked the name Ezra Thomas. We were tentatively considering Eva for a girl but hadn't chosen a middle name. Here's the problem: my husband and I both fell in love with Ezra and (after some research on the internet which seems to indicate that it's rising in popularity as a girls name) he still wants to use it. I do really like it and I think we might go with it but we can't pick a middle name. We're stumped. I prefer one or three syllable names since I think it flows better than a 2-2-2 syllable name. Also, maybe something really feminine to offset any implied masculinity from Ezra. I want to know if you think being named Ezra would ruin a girl's life and I would love to hear ANY suggestions you have for a middle name. My husband likes really unique names and I tend toward more classic names but we'll take any suggestions you have. Thank you SO much!

Generally I try to answer the question I'm asked. That is, if I'm asked to choose a sibling name for a name I hate, I choose a list of sibling names that would go with the name I hate. And I have fun doing it, too.

This is because IN GENERAL, I am strongly in favor of people using the names they like, even if the names are not ones I would choose. And this is why I can write a baby name column: if you like a name I don't like, even a name I DISlike, I STILL SUPPORT AND FAVOR AND ENJOY THAT CHOICE. Otherwise, what would the column be? Just a list of the names on my own list, over and over. Pah! Useless!

I am making an exception. In this case I'm not answering the question I'm being asked, which is to find a girl's middle name for the name Ezra. Instead I'm going to give you this advice: Don't use the name Ezra for your daughter. The reason you're so stumped on a middle name is that Ezra is the name you chose for a boy, and you are having a girl. The masculinity of the name Ezra is not "implied" any more than the masculinity of the name Henry or John is "implied": it is instead INDICATED.

If you have two daughters, one named Emma (a completely feminine, completely common name) and the other named Ezra (a completely masculine name, and much less common even for boys, LET ALONE for girls), you are custom-ordering yourself a huge dose of trouble. Or, more accurately, you are ordering that dose of trouble for your daughters. Don't. No, really: don't. Choosing a name is a responsibility and a privilege and an honor, and you are about to sacrifice that for "uniqueness." It isn't a worthy trade.

If you had named your first daughter Flynn, or Garnet, or Mason, or some other name that is boyish and extremely unusual for girls, I could answer your question as you've asked it, and I would help you find middle names for a girl named Ezra. But you chose the NUMBER TWO MOST COMMON GIRL NAME IN THE UNITED STATES for your first daughter, a name that is never ever never ever never EVER used for boys, and so in an unprecedented move for this blog, I will give you no support for using a boy's name for your second daughter, especially because it will communicate to your daughter exactly what you communicated to me, which is "We thought we were having a boy."

If you might have more children, hold the name Ezra in reserve for a possible future boy. If you're definitely done after two, I suggest the name Esme (EHZ-may). Or Eliza. Both names are significantly less common than the name Emma, but they work fine with it and they may have some of the sound of Ezra you're looking for. Or Esme could also be Esmie (EHZ-mee) or Ismay (IHZ-may), for something more intuitive to pronounce. Another possibility is the name Isabelle with the nickname Izzy: Emma and Izzy.

Name update! Autumn writes:
I so strongly associated her with "Ezra" that I couldn't let it go. For fear of destroying her life and making her hate me forever, I compromised with myself and named her Lilith (Lily) Ezra. She's beautiful, always smiling, looks exactly like her big sister and is spunky enough to handle any name I could have given her.

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy Stanline!