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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Baby Girl Bennett

Mariel writes:
We're due with our second daughter on August 15 and haven't yet chosen a name! We had our first daughter's name (Alexandra Ivy) picked out a month after we found out I was pregnant, but we're struggling this time around! Our last name is Bennett.

Our current list includes Georgia, Linnea, Mira, Milla, Noelle, Portia, Priscilla, Sasha, Angelina, Gemma, and Arabella. Here are our requirements:

1. We gravitate towards girly, princess-y names, preferably ones that end in A.
2. We're not purposely going for matchy-matchy names (Alexandra and Arabella), but if we fall in love with another long A name, we won't mind.
3. That said, whichever name we choose should go well with Alexandra.

At this point, we're really looking to narrow down our list. Unless you have an absolutely fantastic suggestion, we don't need to add any more names to the list! If you could give us a good reason for choosing a name or discarding a name, we would really appreciate that. At this point, I love so many names that I wish someone could just say, You should name your child X"!

Thanks for all your help.

I DO have an absolutely fantastic suggestion, and it's Mirabella. It takes Mira from one name and -bella from another, and it gives you a name that goes with Alexandra but less matchily than Arabella.

I think if it were me I would remove Milla from the list because it seems like a nickname for Camilla---which, by the way, I would suggest as another possibility if the goal here weren't to cut down the list.

I think the best one on your list is Georgia. Like Alexandra, it has a clear boy version (Alexander, George), and a boyish nickname (Alex, Georgie). It's so good with your surname, I'm a little jealous of her. Georgia Bennett! It's wonderful. You should name your child Georgia.

In case other people would like to complete the same sentence, let's have a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Name update 08-19-2010! Mariel writes:
We struggled back and forth for days over what to name our little girl. Finally, we were convinced by all the enthusiastic commenters who supported your choice of Mirabel/Mirabella. Mirabel Sophie Bennett was born on August 12. She is healthy, beautiful, and looks just like her sister. Thank you for all your help!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Baby Girl Deusterman

Kelsey writes:
As of right now, I will bring into the world a beautiful baby girl with gallons of potential!.......but no name. My husband and I are basically polar opposites when it comes to taste. The following is an excerpt of a recent 'name-versation': "Me: How about Isis?" "Him: Meh. How about Jessica?" "Me: Umm, no. How about Esme?" "Him: Ha! How about Stacy?" "Me: Why do you hate our child?"........and on and on and on.

We've got 2 boys, Emery Pope (4 1/2) and Pryor Steffen (18 months). These names were relatively easy to agree on. Pope and Steffen are family names, Emery is after the street in Dever where he was, ahem, thought up, and Pryor I saw on the back of a football jersey on TV. No big deal. Buuuuut, baby girl is proving to be more difficult. I'm Kelsey, husband is Peter, last name is Deusterman (pronounced DOOsterman), which is a dumb last name to have to work with. I feel like anything besides a 2 syllable name is either too short or too long to go with such a commanding last name.
We've already decided that her middle name will be Ransom, which we both absolutely love (might it work as a first name?). But since Ransom and Deusterman are both such strange names, I unfortunately feel like the first name should be more toned down....but I hate toned down! I like the super weird old fashioned names, and also names that are things (nouns). Peter likes the very traditional (read: boring) names with a mid-nineties flair.
Here's my list:
Maven (love love love)
Rozlyn (or Rosalyn or Rosa or something along those lines)
Elsa (sounds too much like Kelsey?)
Maybel (Peter actually doesn't hate this one, but is it reminiscent of cows?)
Ruby (we'd both be completely sold on this one if it weren't so trendy)

Here's Peter's list:


To further complicate matters, very early on in the pregnancy Peter and I got into an argument about the dimensions of a Rubik's cube (I said 4x4, he said 3x3). We made a bet, the terms being a KitchenAid Mixer for me, and naming rights for him (plus he would get to give our 4 year old a mullet). Despite being 100 trillion percent sure I was right, I was wrong. So technically he has the trump card in all this, which makes me tremble. But he also knows that if he values our marriage/my mental well being, he will concede to let me have a heavy say in the final decision.

So to sum up: I hate trendy and boring, he hates weird and unusual. Please, oh please, help us.

Dear Kelsey, You guys are screwed. Love, Swistle

Ha, no! We can help! I'm sure we can!

("Why do you hate our child?"---HA HA HA!)

The name I'd like to tell you to choose is Ruby. You're both totally sold on it. It goes with Emery and Pryor. It's a great compromise between your taste and his. Yes, it is a WEE bit on the trendy/hip side, but that's what makes it a good compromise name: it's a noun, but it's a familiar noun; it's unusual old-fashioned but not wayyyyy out there old-fashioned. One of the best ways for a couple with wildly different tastes to choose a name is for one person to pick the name from the other person's list, which is exactly what you guys did: it's YOUR list, but HE chose.

Well, but is the repeated oo-sound too much repeated oo-sound? ROOby DOOsterman? And then there are the repeating R-sounds in Ruby Ransom.

Perhaps Emerald. It's unusual and nounish for you, but not hip or trendy. He can call her Emmy if he wants something more mainstream. And it's wonderful with the rest of the name: Emerald Ransom Deusterman. Oh shoot: Emery and Emerald, that's no good.

Maybel holds no cow associations for me. The spelling Maybel makes the emphasis unclear: is it MAYbel? mayBEL? May Bell? I think if I wanted MAYbel I'd spell it Mabel; if I wanted mayBEL I'd spell it Maybelle. With your surname I like Mabel. Maebel might work, or it might have the same issue as Maybel, I can't tell.

Mabel makes me think of a highly-unusual noun name you might like (but your husband probably won't): Fable. Fable Deusterman.

And of course Fable leads me to Story. It seems like more men are willing to consider the name Story than some of the other nounish names---and perhaps you could sell it as being similar to Stacy? Story Deusterman; Emery, Pryor, and Story. I love how they all have five letters and all have a RY, and yet they're all so different.

I wonder if you'd like Magnolia? I like it because the long form is unusual but easy to pronounce and very pretty, and the short form Maggie is easy and gives her something to fall back on if she doesn't want something quite so unusual. Magnolia Deusterman.

He likes Jessica; would he like Cressida? Similar rhythm/sound while being TOTALLY DIFFERENT. Cressida Deusterman; Emery, Pryor, and Cressida.

You like Maven, and Maven makes me think of Maren. Such a pretty name, and great with your surname: Maren Deusterman. Great with the sibling names, too: Emery, Pryor, and Maren.

I notice you have Aliza and he has Elizabeth. It seems like this might be the middle ground you're looking for: can you compromise on Eliza? Eliza Ransom Deusterman. Or Alena?

Or, he likes Anna and Stacy. Do you like Anastasia? I know it's a lot of name with Deusterman but I like it. It's unusual but not at all crazy, and Anastasia Krupnik made the name familiar. This is my top favorite choice for you.

Or show him THIS and see if that takes care of the naming rights problem:

Perhaps the name Rubik would be appropriate, considering the bet. Ruby as a nickname.

Name update 08-16-2010! Kelsey writes:
Our little one was born a couple weeks early on Aug 8, looking very much like a little baby bird. Much to the chagrin of the hospital staff (and all of our family members), she went home without a name. The birth certificate lady told us we had five days before she had to submit baby's paperwork to the county, so WE'D BETTER CALL AND LET HER KNOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE (insert fist shake). We had it narrowed down to Aliza, Rozlyn, or Betsy, and on Day 4 we finally settled on..........Betsy! Betsy Ransom Deusterman. It's perfect for her (not to mention that her initials are BRD, like bird, which is what she looks like.) Thanks for all the great suggestions; they took some of the tension out of the rubik's cube bet results.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Baby Girl or Boy Bick-car, Sibling to Evelyn Grace

Emily writes:
We are due in mid-August with our 2nd daughter (70% chance it's a girl). We would absolutely love your opinion on our names as we simply can't decide. Our last name is like BICK - CAR, but with a P instead of a B. We love traditional/biblical names. Our daughters name is Evelyn Grace.

Because my name is Emily we are trying to stay away from names that begin with E (Eloise, Eleanor, Elizabeth, Esme, & Elsa are just a few that we love that we have to rule out). We also love Vivian but we think the "v's" may be too hard to pronounce with Evelyn. Clara was on the list until we paired it with our last name!

Our list so far is:

Cecelia (so far, our favorite)
Margaret (not my husbands favorite)
Anna (too common)
Olivia (my husbands favorite, I think it's too common)
Beatrix (not my husbands favorite)
Julia (not my husbands favorite)

We really like names that we can shorten with a cute nickname. If it's a boy our name list so far is William & Ian.

We would love your opinion and/or any other names that you think we'd like. Thanks!!!

I like Louisa a lot. It's wonderful with Evelyn, and it makes me think pleasantly of Louisa May Alcott. In fact, May would be a great middle name: Louisa May Bick-car. And cute nicknames: Lou, Lulu, Weezie. There's also Heloise, although Hints From Heloise makes for me not a negative association but a STRONG one.

If you like Eleanor but want to avoid E names, I suggest Nora. It reminds me a little of Clara, too. Another Eleanor-related possibility is Lena---though maybe it sounds too much like Evelyn. Another is Lenora, which then give you nicknames Nora or Leni. Oooh, or another is HELEN! I love the name Helen and think it's dramatically underused. Helen Bick-car, Evelyn and Helen---oh, it's rhymey, isn't it? Shoot. And no good nicknames, either.

For Elizabeth, other possibilities are Lisette, Lilibet, Lisabet, Lisbeth---though I like Elizabeth so much more, it would be hard for me to choose one of the substitutes.

I like Cecily even better than Cecilia, I think because my parents had a Simon & Garfunkel record (RECORD!!) that makes me immediately go "Ce-CEEEEEEEEEEEL-ya!" every time I see the name. Like how it's almost impossible not to start singing "Oh my darling..." whenever I see the name Clementine. I also love the name Celeste. Celeste Bick-car, Evelyn and Celeste. No good nickname, though.

Because you like the names Evelyn and Eleanor and Lucille and Maria, I want to suggest the name Marian. I think it's so beautiful, but it's lagging behind the other, similar names, so it's hard to hear it as anything but an old-lady name. MARE-ree-in! So pretty! Makes me think of Maid Marian, and also of Marian the Librarian, romantic lead in the movie The Music Man. Marian Bick-car, Evelyn and Marian.

Another "name I like but it's lagging so it's hard to hear it yet" name is Florence. It's a beautiful place name; it sounds like flowers; it has the sweetest nickname Florrie; it's wonderful with your surname and with the name Evelyn.

Along similar lines, the name Millicent. Beautiful sound, if we can separate it from the old-lady associations---light and pronounced in the front of the mouth, almost like Olivia. Adorable nickname Milly. This is my favorite choice for you, in fact: Millicent Bick-car, Evelyn and Millicent.

Or there's Alice: Alice Bick-car, Evelyn and Alice.

Or Frances: Frances Bick-car, Evelyn and Frances. Cute nicknames: Frannie, Frankie, Francie.

Or Sylvia, which I would spell Silvia: Silvia Bick-car, Evelyn and Silvia. Nickname Silvie. This is another one that's almost like Olivia.

Or Ruth: Ruth Bick-car, Evelyn and Ruth, nickname Ruthie or Ru.

I suppose we should also discuss boy names, since 70% isn't even halfway between 50-50 and 100%. But I like William and Ian both very much and so feel disinclined to coax you away from them!

Name update! Emily writes:
We named her Cecelia Elizabeth Pickar! I hope you like it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Baby Boy Ingrum

Tricia writes:
My first child, a boy, is due August 14, and I am in desperate need of your expertise and ideas.

My last name is pronounced "ING-grum."

We are going to be a Mom-Kid family, so using a name that connects to the males in my family tree holds great appeal but there are only two under serious consideration. The first of these is William - my grandfather. I like the name, but I don't LOVE it, and I despair that it's so common. The second name is Edgar, and the history there is pretty deep: my dad, great-uncle (who died in WWII shortly before my father was born) and great-grandfather. I don't have any siblings, so the name stopped with my dad. My dad uses the nn Ted, and it's perfect on him, but I can’t quite wrap my brain around it for my son. Ed/Eddie are not options as a nickname.

If nothing else, I'll probably use either William or Edgar as a mn.

I should also note that my dad's middle name is Grey (it was his mother's maiden name). It's on my list of possibilities, and I'd love it if there weren't the rather gloomy, grey-day association.

I'd prefer to give my son a formal name that has a nickname, but I tend to only like the nickname for many of the options I’m considering. Also, a lot of sounds either clash with ING-grum, or blur into it – for example Chris sounds like Chri-sing-grum, but paired with Alec, the "Ing" tends to sound like "Ink" - at least when I say it!

I’m athletic and outdoorsy. My personal style tends to be eclectic, classic or comfortable, versus trendy, hip or artsy. My family genealogy can best be described as western European mutt -- not much to draw on there, and I find myself shying away from names that have especially strong ethnic associations because they feel "phony" when applied to me.

Some of the names I like, with caveats:
Leo – very appealing to me, but might be too much of a hipster name. Also, I don’t like Leonard as a formal name. AND, he’s probably going to be a Leo (astrologically speaking), so maybe this is too much? I know you just addressed Leo in a recent post, and based on that, I'm giving "Leo as a complete name" more consideration.
Theo – an homage to my dad's nn of Ted - I like Theo, but the "dore" in Theodore bugs me
Alexander – LOVE but too popular?
Max – have loved this name forever, not crazy about Maximilian, Maximus, etc.
Graham – appeals to me, but friends have vetoed it because the spelling (but not pronunciation) is identical to the second syllable of my ln
Patrick – but not with nn Pat
Quinn – kind of blurs with "ING-grum"
Grey – cute, but gloomy

Names that are ‘taken’ by friends/family, or that I’ve otherwise ruled out:

I feel like I'm all over the map! Can you please give me some direction??

Thank you so much!

Edgar seems like a great option for you: unusual, with huge family ties. But it sounds like you definitely want a nickname but you don't want any of the nicknames for Edgar. So let's rule Edgar out as a first name.

Well, wait. Wait wait wait. What about naming him Edgar Grey Ingrum, and using Grey as the nickname? It's a little bit of a reach, but I like so much your idea of using family names here. He'd be Edgar Grey Ingrum II, I think---since he's not a Jr. and yet he'd have the same name as your father---but you wouldn't HAVE to use the II. It seems like a pretty excellent way to give your son strong male family ties and carry on an important family name that might otherwise be lost---plus you could use a name you love but might feel uncertain about using in the first-name slot because of the gloominess associations you mention. (I myself associate grey with grey flannel pants and with dreamy grey eyes.)

Name update! Tricia writes:
It has been more than a year(!!) since you helped me with my naming dilemma. I'm ashamed to be this late in saying thank you to you and your readers, but Thank You.

You wrote: "What about naming him Edgar Grey Ingrum, and using Grey as the nickname?"
I read that, and burst into tears. Yes, I was 8.5 months pregnant and a touch weepy, but even then, the crying caught me off guard. Each time I checked comments or reread your advice, I had the same teary response.

Edgar still seemed like a big, clunky name for my wee baby, so I wasn't completely sold until my son arrived. From the first moment, he looked exactly like my dad. I was flush with emotion and love for my family. And so he is Edgar - the FIFTH in our family line. (if you're wondering how that works, we're a mom-kid family - hence my son has the same last name as me and my dad)

His middle name is Graysen, and that's what everyone calls him. Fits him beautifully, and my dad, Edgar Gray (not Grey, as I wrote earlier), is so tickled with his little namesake.

Thanks again!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Name Update!

Update on Baby Naming Issue: Avoiding the Trends!

Baby Boy Snyder

Amanda writes:
I'm due with our first baby (a boy) in mid-August. We are still up in the air about his name and would love some outside opinions. Our last name is Snyder.

The top two names that we have are Levi and Owen. We decided that we really liked Levi very soon after we found out that he was a boy and that was the moniker we used through most of the pregnancy. But then we decided that we would like options! What if he is born and isn't a Levi? This is where Owen was chosen. I still really love Levi, but agree that exploring other options is a good thing. We were trying to stay away from the very popular names and I seem to like more "old fashion" names.

We also like Lukas, Joel, Liam, and Forrest.

The middle name is also a bugger. We would like to use a family name. It's sort of tradition to use the father's name as the son's middle name, which would be Eric. But Levi Eric Snyder doesn't flow as nicely as we would like. Owen Eric Snyder is worse. Other family names include: Theodore, Daniel, Raymond, Harley, Merlin, Wilchie... or we could ditch tradition and go with something else completely.

Thanks for your help!

I DO like the flow of Levi Eric Snyder. But then, I'm drawn to the 2-2-2 name-syllable structure, when I know a lot of people try to vary the syllables of the parts of the name to break it up a little. I also like the rhythm of Liam Eric Snyder and Levi Daniel Snyder and so forth---but others might prefer the rhythm of something more like Levi Theodore Snyder.

With Levi or Liam or Lukas Snyder, there is the possibility of ending up with the monogram (surname initial in the middle, first name initial on the left, middle name initial on the right) LSD---which I'd want to avoid just because I'm a Meaningful Initial avoider. So even though I like the sound of Levi Daniel Snyder, I might not use it. I think I would also avoid Lukas Snyder because of the way the two S sounds merge. But I also think these are all minor issues: monograms are uncommon and a little extra S-sound never hurt anyone.

Do you have any men named John in the family? I think Levi John Snyder sounds handsome.

With Owen, I like Theodore: Owen Theodore Snyder. I also like Owen Daniel Snyder, and Owen Levi Snyder if you decide not to use a family name. But I also think Owen Eric is fine, because of how infrequently the first and middle names are said together.

I am having trouble thinking of more options because I like Levi Eric Snyder so much and I think you should use it! It seems just right: the first name you've loved all along, plus the middle name tradition.

Name update 08-10-2010! Amanda writes:
Levi Eric Snyder was born on Aug 6th; a week early, to everyone's surprise! Thanks for the reassurance that our gut instinct was a good name for our precious baby boy. Cheers!

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Girl K.!
Update on Middle Name Challenge: Aidrick J_____ Smith!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Baby Boy Greenfield

Rachel writes:
My husband and I are expecting a baby boy (our first baby!) on August 15th and would love some help picking out a name.

In the Jewish tradition we would like to honor the grandparents we've lost by using their first initials for the baby's name. We'd like to honor both his side and my side. The letters we have to work with from my side of the family is: J or M. And the letters from my husbands side are: E or A. Our last name is Greenfield and is pretty easy to match.

So far we haven't been able to get beyond two front runners names: Evan and Max. But I'm a little worried about how popular they are or are becoming and I'm having trouble matching middle names. I also don't love the formal names for Max (my husband like Maxwell, but I'm not a huge fan). We considered using both names together, but are afraid of having another boy the second time around and using up both names we like in one fell swoop! It may be worth noting that I really like the name Alex/Alexander also, but my husband vetoed this since we have a close friend named Alex. The girl names I would considered are Livia and Sasha.

The few names I've brainstormed are:

Max Cooper(Cooper is a family name on my husband's side, so we wouldn't need the E/A).
Max Evan (or Maxwell Evan)
Evan Merek (or Merik?)
Jack Ethan

We would love your input/suggestions!!!

Ooo, you have good letters to work with! Let's see...A, E, J, or M.

A Name Suggestions:

Aaron Greenfield
Adam Greenfield
Alec Greenfield
Anderson Greenfield

E Name Suggestions:

Edmund Greenfield
Elias Greenfield
Elliot Greenfield
Emmett Greenfield
Everett Greenfield

J Name Suggestions:

James Greenfield
Jared Greenfield
Jeremy Greenfield
Joel Greenfield
Jon Greenfield

M Name Suggestions:

Malcolm Greenfield
Micah Greenfield
Miles Greenfield
Milo Greenfield

Some possible both-sides-of-family pairings:

Elliot Michael Greenfield
Everett Max Greenfield
Jon Alexander Greenfield
Malcolm Cooper Greenfield
Milo Anderson Greenfield

But my top favorite is your choice of Evan Merek. Or maybe Evan Merrit? I also like Evan Cooper Greenfield, Evan Malcolm Greenfield, and Evan Miller Greenfield.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baby Boy Bemelmans

Philippa writes:
It is so hard to find a boy's name! I'm due with a baby boy in mid August. We already have a girl, Rose Helen (Lastname). The last name sounds like "Bemelmans", which is the last name of the author of the Madeline books. Except my baby's last name will have an 'rk' where the first 'm' is, so we're not working with as many 'm' sounds. The middle name will be Scott (that's my last name). We are really stuck for a first name!

I need a name that is common enough to be pronounced right the first time by any English speaker. A name that has an obvious nickname. A name that's not Biblical.

If Rose was a boy, we would have named her William Scott 'Bemelmans'. That's where we are right now. Probably going with William. I'm just not wild about it. It's a family name on my husband's side (his middle name, and his Dad's name translated from Dutch). Last year, my husband's sister had a baby with the middle name William, and I'm a bit cagey on having two tribute babies to the same person (my husband's Dad). Plus, I've just never really loved that name. I really like the idea of each of our children having a name of their own, then one of my names (Helen is my middle name, and my mum's name), and then their Dad's last name.

Names that we've seriously considered and ruled out are:
Alexander (this would be my choice if a friend hadn't just had an Alex)

If we were having another girl, we would have debated:
Katharine Violet
Alexandra Violet
Juliet Violet
Diana Violet
Penelope Violet

(Violet is a family name on my side, it's my grandmother and great-grandmother's name)

Help, please! I know that if we go with William, it will grow on me. I just felt that bolt of lightning when we chose Rosie's name, and it suits her perfectly. I want that again!

Thank you!

I, too, get that feeling that once is probably enough for each ancestor to be honored. I think it's FINE if more than one family member wants to use the name (it isn't at ALL that I think they SHOULDN'T), but if you're looking for something different I see what you mean, and my guess is that all the other ancestors agree with us also.

One of my favorite "names that are like William but NOT William" is Wilson. It's easy to pronounce, and it still gets the nickname Will. Wilson Scott Bemelmans.

I feel like I've mentioned this name pretty often recently, but whenever I see Henry and Oliver and Wesley on someone's list I suggest Simon. The names feel similar to me. Simon Scott Bemelmans. And I love the names Rose and Simon together. But I'm not sure Sy meets your request for an obvious nickname.

Maybe Calvin? Calvin Scott Bemelmans, nickname Cal; Rose and Calvin.

Names Alexander makes me think of:

Benjamin (Ben)
Christopher (Chris)
Jonathan (Jon)
Nathaniel (Nate)
Nicholas (Nick)
Zachary (Zack)

But most of those are biblical. ...In fact, ALL? Are they ALL biblical?

Edward might get too entangled with the Twilight thing, but maybe Edmund (Ed/Ted)?

Joseph (Joe) seems like it would be particularly nice with Rose---or maybe the matching long-O sounds are TOO good together? Oh shoot! Biblical!

I like Warren and think it's underused. Warren Scott Bemelmans.

Spencer? Easy to pronounce, easy nickname, non-biblical. Spencer Scott Bemelmans. Or maybe the repeating "er" sound with your actual surname is too much "er".

I keep thinking of more names that are easy to pronounce and have obvious nicknames, but then they're biblical: Daniel, Philip, Andrew, Samuel. And then I think of non-biblical names, but they don't have an obvious nickname: Elliot, Emmett, Everett, Quinn, Ruben.

This is hard! Help!

Name update 08-17-2010! Philippa writes:
Our baby boy was born 8/10, and we decided in the end to name him William Scott 'Bemelmans'. After about seven months of searching for another name, nothing else felt right, and in fact felt like we would have been using something else just for the sake of it. We call our baby Will, and he is adorable. His name goes very well with his sister Rose: Will and Rosie. Both bright, cheerful, gently old-fashioned names. I don't care that it's popular- number one in my home country of Australia and number five in the US, or that both he and his cousin have names in honor of their grandfather. It suits him perfectly.

Thank you for your help!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Baby Girl Farnbrook

Deb writes:
Hi~ We are in need of some opinions. We are expecting girl number 3 on August 12. We currently have Eva Joy and Addison Louise. Although we hardly ever call her Addison, always Adi. We decided on the three letters because it seemed more simple for our crazy long lastname sounding like Farn-brook. The first two names were so easy, as the girls were named by the 20 week ultrasound. I'm feeling uneasy about not having this one named yet! :) We had a boy name all ready to go... Tate.

I like the idea of using a vowel again, and Isabel has always been on our top. Calling her Izzy. But then I fear if we would ever have more, would we always have to use vowels? And would they all have to be matchy-matchy? We really like Isabel because of the meaning of the name. That doesn't really have a lot to do with our decision, obviously with Addison meaning "Adam's son."

I really like more the old fashioned names with a modern twist. Some top names right now are;

Cora (one of our friends recently used this name, its pretty much out)
Aurora(we live just over 30 minutes from the town with that name)
Brynna-call her bri or bryn

As far as my husband goes, he loves the long name that inevitably will result in a more masculine nickname, not that its a bad thing, I just do not prefer it.
Desiree-Des/Desi(my fav. of his)
As far as middle names, we will use a family name. Jane, Joan (Jo-ann) Ruth, Goldie. That's not so much of an issue, as we feel we can find a family name that will go somewhere. (We have big families)

Names that are out are the gender neutral names.
Along those lines.

Thanks for the advice!

If Isabel is your top choice, I think you should use it: it's great with Eva and Addison, and it's great with your surname. I like Isabel Jane best. I THINK you're safe with the vowel pattern, or at least I wouldn't have noticed it. I'm interested to know if other people would have noticed it or not, so let's have a poll over to the right (and let's hope it works this time---the last poll did seem to finally start working, but my confidence has been shaken). [Poll closed; see results below.]

Name update 08-17-2010! Deb writes:
Hi! We delivered a healthy baby girl on Friday August 13. We named her Vivienne Joan. We decided against Isabel because it was too popular and we were trying to avoid another Addison. My husband loved the name, and I loved the nn Vivi. So we now have baby Vivi. Thanks for all the suggestions!

Baby Boy H_ck

Emilie writes:
I have a baby name problem. We are due with our second child at the beginning of August and are lost for a boy name. My daughter's name is Charlotte Ann (Ann is a family name). I find girls names to be really easy, and boys names to be very difficult! If this baby were a girl, I probably would have named her Georgia (back-up name Annabel), likely middle name Marie (family name). However, I'm not sure that my naming style is the same for boys as it is for girls, so not sure how helpful that information is. The middle name of this boy will likely be Robert (another family name). This is our last child, so no worries about future siblings.

Here's the problem: our last name. It's one syllable, quite harsh sounding, ends in the "ck" sound. Think: nickname for Huckleberry Finn. So first of all, any names like Finn, Thomas/Tom, or Sawyer are out. As are names like Jack, Nick, etc. I've found that I've had to rule out many names because they just don't sound good with our last name. It's challenging.

I love the name Henry for someone else's kid, but don't like the alliteration with our last name. I love the name Lucas, but the inevitable nickname Luke is a problem with our ln. I love the name Simon, but can't use it. Other names in the don't like/can't use/family member pile: Silas, Charles, Elliot, Julian, Samuel, Benjamin, Nathan/Nathaniel, George, Nolan, Andrew.

One more thing: no first names that sound like last names. I'm afraid people might reverse the first and last names (happens to my husband quite often).

I've resigned myself to the fact that we're just going to have to pick a popular, somewhat boring name for this kid (I don't want any names that are too "out there" - my husband has a very weird name and wants this name to be very normal and recognizable). I like Ethan, but it will likely be the #1 name this year. Ditto for Alexander/Alex (and our next door neighbor is named Alex). I do like James, but find it a bit boring. Is James boring? An interesting tidbit is that both of our mothers suggested the name James in the same week (and the name was on our list already), so I'm looking at that as a bit of a sign, but just am not really excited about the name.

Will someone please name this baby? :-)

I wonder if you'd like Oliver? It's one of my favorite boy names and seems similar to Simon and Henry, and it's very normal and recognizable but still seems non-boring to me. It's definitely rising in popularity, though, and it's hard to predict where it'll end up on the charts. I suspect it won't get way up there, but if guesses were horses we'd all buy oats by the ton. Oliver Robert H_ck.

Leo is another from my list of favorites, though maybe it's too nicknamey? I think of it as a complete name, and it's a little similar to Lucas. Leo Robert H_ck.

If Leo appeals to you but IS too nicknamey, maybe Milo. Milo Robert H_ck. I think Charlotte and Milo sound adorable together. Miles would be good too: Miles Robert H_ck.

If you like Ethan, I suggest Evan or Ian. Evan is Top 50 but doesn't seem headed for any kind of trend spike. And Ian has been hovering in the 60s/70s/80s ranks for DECADES. Evan Robert H_ck, Ian Robert H_ck.

I don't find James at all boring, and I like the nickname options as well as the option of not using a nickname, but Jim was Huckleberry Finn's traveling buddy--is that okay?

A name I LOVE with your surname is Elias: Elias H_ck, Elias Robert H_ck, Charlotte and Elias.

Jasper might get popular because of the Twilight association, but it's also a really good and non-boring name: Jasper Robert H_ck, Charlotte and Jasper.

The name Kyle used to look like it was heading for Top Ten, but it's been dropping way back down. Kyle Robert H_ck.

Name update 08-14-2010! Emilie writes:
Ian Robert was born on August 7. Thanks to you and your readers for all of your great suggestions. His name fits him perfectly!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Baby Boy or Girl VanTol

Jen writes:
Hi, I've been really struggling with completing our baby names.
We are having our 3rd child (gender unknown) due August 7/10.
We have 2 boys: Brennan (no middle name) and Kellan Mark.

I have a very long list of maybe names and a few in the runnings but nothing is 100%.
For a boy our #1 choice is Emerson Judah BUT I've been hearing Emerson/Emmerson/Emersyn a lot lately and they have all been girls. Does it sound like a girly name? To me it doesn't but I definately don't want a girly name for a boy.
Other choices for boys are: Greyson, Paxton, Kade, Corben, Elias
For a girl our #1 name is Kalli Eden but I'm hesitant to name 'her' that because it is so close to Kellan. Should that be an issue?
We also love Everly for a girl but can't find a suitable middle name for it.
Other choices for girls are: Sage, Kodi, Cairo, Sloan, Brea


In my opinion, Emerson is definitely going Girl. The nickname Emmy is what makes it irresistible, I think, and it's currently used more often for girls than for boys (source: Social Security baby name site)---and names don't usually come back to Boy once they're mostly Girl (see also: Anne, Alice, Jocelyn, Evelyn, Leslie, Meredith, Ashley).

I'm having trouble choosing a favorite from your boy name list: I'm not sure if it would be better to choose a name with a similar rhythm and ending to Brennan and Kellan (Paxton, Corben, Greyson) or whether to deliberately break the pattern (Kade, Elias). I THINK I prefer the idea of breaking the pattern, especially if you think you might have more children in the future and would feel pressured to keep it up---but I'm not at all certain about it.

With your surname, my favorite is Elias. Maybe Elias Judah, or is that too bible-y? Elias Jude would tone that down. Or Elias Kade.

For a girl, I think Everly Sage would be nice, or Everly Sloan.

Kalli does seem very close to Kellan to me. I wonder if spelling it Calli would help? I was thinking maybe Calla, but that seems MORE like Kellan because of the A. Perhaps Kalliopi, with the nickname Kalli? Or Kallista?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Baby Girl Nicewinter

Molly writes:
We are having our second daughter in August. Our first daughter is named Avery Nicewinter. Here our our four favorite options (and we aren't set on any of them). I would appreciate some opinions!

1) Hazel (and call her Zelle)....Hazel was my grandmothers name. I would love to use a family name but we would call her Zelle.
2) Addison (and call her Addy). We think Avery & Addy sound cute together.
3) Brooklyn (I don't want to shorten to Brooke, so we would always call her Brooklyn).
4) Mira

Thanks so much for any help!

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

Edit: Welllll, FLIP. It looks like the poll is slightly defective, in that it is not actually accepting votes. WT? I'll leave it up for the time being and we'll see if the issue resolves; in the meantime, leave votes in the comments section.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Middle Name Challenge: Aidrick J____ Smith

Erika writes:
My husband and I are having a difficult time thinking of a unique baby boy name. Our boy is due August 2nd and he will be our first child. We fell in love with Aiden out of the Baby Name Wizard, that is, until I started doing searches on it and found it to be the most popular name on a lot of the sites. I don't want my son to have to compete with 10 other Aidens in his classroom so we were looking for something more unique. I started perusing your site and came across Aidrick, which we absolutely fell in love with as soon as I said it. No other name has done that for us besides Aiden. The hard part now is that we are trying to find a middle name for him. We were thinking Aidrick James Smith, but to me it sounds like a unique name paired with two common names and I didn't like that. My husband wants a J middle name so he could call him AJ. Do you have any suggestions on a not-so-common J name that would flow nicely? And by the way, thank you so much for suggesting Aidric on your site, I will definitely be sleeping better tonight! :)

Aidrick Jace Smith
Aidrick Jagger Smith
Aidrick Jameson Smith
Aidrick Janson Smith
Aidrick Jared Smith
Aidrick Jaron Smith
Aidrick Jasper Smith
Aidrick Jefferson Smith
Aidrick Jerome Smith
Aidrick Joel Smith
Aidrick Jude Smith
Aidrick Judson Smith
Aidrick Julian Smith

I especially like to choose a middle name that's a name I love but for whatever reason wouldn't use as a first name. So I like Aidrick Jasper Smith, because Jasper is a Twilight name but was also on my list pre-Twilight; I don't want to use it as a first name anymore, but love it as a middle name. Or Jude: it doesn't sound like My Baby as a first name, but it's great as a middle name. For you, maybe you wouldn't want to use Jefferson as a first name, since it's so surnamey and so is Smith, but it would be a great middle name. Or Jace blends too much with the S in Smith to be a first name (sounds like Jay Smith), but works fine as a middle name.

Name update 07-20-2010! Ericka writes:
Thank you for getting back to me! We actually decided on Aidrick Jett Smith. I put a couple comments on that entry. Thank you so much for helping us find Aidrick!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Plural-Sounding Names

Jenny writes:
No, I'm not pregnant. ;) I was just reminded about something by today's post that might be a good topic for discussion.

The issue of plural sounding first names and surnames. For example, I really liked the name Miles. I think it sounds good with my last name: Miles Jacobs. But what about when you need to talk about possession? The ball belonging to Miles? That ball is Miles's Jacobs's? Gah!

Also, I know that wasn't proper punctuation above, but honestly, I've never been clear about how to do it right. I'm not sure what exactly I am asking you to address, but I always enjoy your take on things.

I totally agree: this is one of the main problems of names that end in S. When I worked in a daycare, we had a boy in our class named James, and my co-worker wrote "Jame's Cubby." Er?

More typically, people get confused because they memorized a "things ending in S vs. things not ending in S" rule rather than the "plural vs. singular" rule they should have memorized. So they treat a singular-name-ending-in-S as if it were plural, because it ends in S: James' Cubby, Miles' Cubby. But in fact, singulars get an apostrophe-S even if those singulars end in S: it's James's Cubby, or Charles's Cubby, or Ross's Cubby (Triple S Award!). And in the case of Miles Jacobs, it would be either Miles's Cubby or Miles Jacobs's Cubby: one possessive apostrophe per unit, and "Miles Jacobs" is one unit.

And yet, saying it out loud, we'd probably say it as if it were Miles Jacobs' Cubby---just because we tend to do that verbally when we run into the "zezzes" sound. This is probably why there's that weird exception that Jesus gets to be a plural possessive (Jesus' Cubby), even though that is totally nuts: everyone felt weird about saying "Jesuzzes," especially during responsive readings or The Lord's Prayer where everyone was saying it together and sounded like a hive of oversize bees, and so they made a group decision to let it be "in Jesus' name." My guess is that that decision lead to a LOT of confusion: you can only see "Jesus' name" so many times before you start writing "James' Cubby."

Here's a trick for remembering how to make a first-name-ending-in-S possessive: pretend it doesn't end in S. If we were talking about the cubby belonging to Adam, we'd say Adam's Cubby: we added an apostrophe and an S to the name. We do the same for the cubby belonging to Lucas, and it's Lucas's Cubby.

But! All this is to say YES, it's a problem. "Miles's Cubby" both looks and sounds more awkward than "Michael's Cubby," and it's the kind of thing that causes problems for many people. It may be one of the reason ending-in-S names often make my finalist list but so far haven't made it to any of my babies.

Baby Girl or Boy Lucas

Steph writes:
My husband and I are pregnant with our first child together, due July 27th, and we do not know the gender.

This is the second marriage for both of us, and we have three other children. My son and daughter, Christopher Zachary (10), and Emily Rose (8), and my stepdaughter Amanda Morgan (11).

I looked it up, and all of our children's names are in the Top 20 for their respective birth years. They have all gone through elementary school being Chris C., Emily C., and Amanda L., something I didn't think through when I was pregnant my first two times around, and something I really want to avoid now. My name preferences have changed so much since then, as have my husband's.

Some names on our list now include (in order of how much we like them)

Charissa (Cuh-riss-uh)


These are just some names we have thought of, not our final list of names to choose from. We like all these names, but none stand out as the right name for our baby. That's where we're hoping you can help.

Problem one: all the names we like are very different styles, so we can't really narrow down on one and find more names like that to eventually find the perfect name.

Problem two: they're all very different from our children's names, and as there is such a big age gap, the kids will be the baby's half siblings, and the baby already has a different last name than Chris and Emily (the last name he/she will have is Lucas, by the way), we feel like with such a different style of name there will be too much separation? Do you think so?

So we're hoping you can help us find a name that's not very popular and has the same style as the names we've mentioned, but still works with Chris, Emily, and Amanda.


Blended families raise so many interesting issues, as do age gaps. Two things you have going for you: the children from the first two families have such very compatible names, and you and your husband have such similar tastes now. One thing you have going against you: again, that the children from the first two families have such very compatible names. If you had, say, Margaret Elizabeth and Edmund John, and he had, say, Starshine Tulip, we would just throw in the towel at this point and tell you to pick ANY name because NO name is going to join these names in a seamless way. Instead, we have three children whose names go BEAUTIFULLY together, which makes it trickier to change styles at this point.

But not at all impossible: for one thing, because of the change in family situation, NOBODY is going to be thinking, "Huh, THAT'S weird, wonder why they just changed styles on a dime like that?"

A name that comes to mind for a girl is Briony. It can be pronounced like the name Brian with an ee-sound on the end or it can be prounounced like BREE-uh-nee, and I prefer BREE-uh-nee. I think Amanda, Christopher, Emily, and Briony goes just fine, and Briony is similar to Bree on your list.

For a boy, I wonder if you'd like Milo? Amanda, Christopher, Emily, and Milo.

Or Keegan: Amanda, Christopher, Emily, and Keegan.

You know, I just had another idea. It's probably a TERRIBLE idea. But...I wonder if you could enlist the help of the first three children in choosing a name for the fourth? If nothing else, this would let you explain the different style in a SUPER SWEET way. The problem, of course, being that the children might only like names you don't like, and vice versa. And I'm remembering how my two older children icked and ucked every! single! name! mentioned while we were trying to name the younger three. Maybe forget I said anything.

All right, I'm going to turn this over to the collective mind now---this is such a hard one!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Same Traditional Middle Name for Two Brothers

Alicia writes:
I have a question about middle name etiquette.
We had our first son November 2007, and named him Browen Montieth Binkle. The reason his middle name is "Monteith" is because it was my husbands Grandmothers maiden name, which was then passed onto my husbands father as a middle name, which was then passed on to my husband as his middle name. So, we only found it fit to keep the honour and tradition going and use it as our son's middle name. We are soon due with our 2nd son (July 23/10) and we weren't sure if we should give him the same middle name (Monteith) since he is also a "Binkle" boy, or if we should go another route and make his middle name after my father - which would be Michael?
I would LOVE to hear what you think of this particular situation.

Is there family protocol you can follow? That is, does your husband's father have any brothers and/or does your husband have any brothers, and if so, did those brothers get the same middle name?

If there's no precedent to follow, I suggest thinking about the precedent you'll be setting. Of course none of your descendants will HAVE to do it the same way, but with three generations doing it so far, there will be some not-insignificant pressure to continue it. It seems to me that it's best to make the tradition LIGHT, so that no one gets overwhelmed and says "Let's just forget the whole thing!" In which case I recommend making the tradition that the firstborn son gets the middle name Monteith, and that's all.

I like your idea of using another family name as the middle name: that doesn't put any pressure to continue it, especially since it isn't parallel to the other tradition (that is, you're not now going to use the mother's grandmother's maiden name), but it gives each child a significant family-meaning name.

What does everyone else think?


Yesterday I posted a baby name question accidentally, before answering it. So I yoinked it back---but not before it appeared in RSS readers. When I re-published it with the answer, it didn't show up in RSS readers. So! If yesterday you saw Baby Girl Choy but then when you clicked through to give an opinion it was GONE, you should click through NOW and it will be there. I hate to see that one get neglected because of my dimmy publishing mistake. Click through now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy Milot!

Baby Girl Choy

Ling writes:
Our second daughter is due on July 20th and we can’t agree on a first name. Our last name sounds like Choy. First daughter is Audrey. We want to avoid names in the top 30. We also want a name with a great meaning since Audrey means Noble Strength. We both make a list and pretty much cross out each other choices. The middle name will be Ray.

Name on husband’s list:
Samantha (I don’t like this name with our last name (Sam Choy) plus it is a top 20 name)
Allison (I like the name but find it too popular)
Jasmine (I don’t like the name plus I want to avoid naming my daughter after one of the princess.)
Charlene (The name was on my list too but not too fond of it anymore)
Marisa (I am ok with this name but not sure it is the name)
Natalie (I don’t like this name)
Aurora (I don’t like this name plus I know our parents will butcher the pronunciation of this name…too many r)
Amanda (I don’t like the nickname Mandy plus I had a dog name Mandy.)
Rebecca (I don’t like the nickname Becky)

Name on my list:
Noelle (husband doesn’t like)
Cameron (husband doesn’t like)
Alexandria (husband is ok with the name)
Elsa (husband doesn’t like)
Charlotte (husband doesn’t like)
Erin (husband doesn’t like)
Valerie (husband is ok with the name but I don’t think this is the name now that I have time to think about it some more)
Josephine (I like the nickname Jo Jo or Joise however find the name itself too old fashion)
Fiona (Princess in Shrek)
Evelyn (don’t like the meaning of this name plus it is too popular…I think?)
Bethany (I don’t like the nickname Beth)

I also like Elizabeth because it is a classic name with cute nicknames but it is too popular. If it is not too much to ask, a name that goes with Audrey will be a bonus.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Adelaide ("noble and serene")
Beatrix ("blessed; happy; bringer of joy")
Bridget ("strong," "strength, power")
Clara ("clear, bright," "bright, famous")
Eliza ("pledged to God," "consecrated to God")
Eloise ("famous warrior")
Felicity ("luck, good fortune," "fortunate, happy"
Heidi ("noble and serene")
Lindsey ("camp near the sea," "island of linden trees")
Meredith ("protector of the sea," "great ruler," "lord")
Minerva ("wisdom," "wise")
Susanna ("lily," "rose")

(All name definitions taken from 100,000+ Baby Names, The Oxford Dictionary of First Names, and The Baby Name Bible.)

I put Eliza on the list because you like Elizabeth, but I think the Audrey Hepburn / Eliza Doolittle connection could be an issue. Not a BIG issue, but the kind of thing I like to have thought of beforehand.

I wasn't sure if you'd be keen on God-related meanings or not. Or, like, WARRIORS. Why are so many meanings about (1) God, (2) war, and (3) trees?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Baby Wagenson, Unexpectedly a Girl

Julie writes:
My husband and I are pregnant with a baby girl due July 23rd. We were told we were pregnant with a boy, and were all set with our name - Neal Conor (last name Wagenson). But about a month and a half ago our doctor informed us that there had been a mistake and we were actually having a girl!

Since then, we have been going crazy with lists, but no name has really stood out to us. I'm worried that we will never find a name and our little girl will either have a name we don't really like or end up being Neal! Please help!

We have two other children

Nora June (given name Eleanor, but I don't think we've ever called her that)
Tess Charlotte

Here is a selection of our extensive list.... all the names are pretty much the same style, so these are the ones we like most from it.


The names are all fine, but none stick out to us as THE name. I feel like they've all got a similar feel that would fit with Nora and Tess, but they are all so much more popular, and while we don't want that, we can't seem to come up with names that aren't that we like.

We will most likely have another child, and if he is a boy, he will be Neal Conor.

Please help us! We are obviously looking in the wrong place, so hopefully you can set us on track so we can find the right name!

Thanks so much!

Baby Boy or Girl H., Sibling to Keira

Erin writes:
Hi Swistle! My name is Erin and I wasn't expecting to be writing you as I thought my husband (Bryan) and I had our names picked out. But with baby coming via repeat c-section on July 23, we are feeling a little iffy about our choice for a girl name. This will be our second child, a surprise, as we already have a 22-month old Keira Leigh (Leigh for my mother and grandmother). With Keira we decided we didn’t want to find out the gender (something I’ve always wanted to do), so I came up with a list of names and we narrowed it down to one boy name and one girl name.

When we found out we were expecting again we decided to once again not find out the gender and knew we would be keeping Conner/Connor Timothy, Timothy after my husband’s late best friend, as our #1 boy choice. I once again made up a huge list of girl names, mostly all Irish as we love Irish names and have Irish on both sides, and we narrowed it down.

My husband picked mostly all VERY popular names off the list; such as Kennedy, Peyton, Morgan, Reagan and Riley. I like all these names but seemed to be pulled more toward names like Aislinn, Carrigan, Cassidy, Kinley, Kyla, Quinn and Sheridan. We decided on Kinley Adair, Adair for his great-grandmother, and I thought that was that. However lately he keeps commenting such things like “What’s the girls name choice again? Oh yeah, Kinley…. yeah that’s right.” and “Kinley right?” Always with hesitation and doubt! Now I’m starting to feel uneasy myself and have started up a whole new list in hopes something will pop out.

Recently my mom mentioned the name, Fiona, a name I think is beautiful! BUT we own all three Shrek films and with a fourth in theatres right now I’m worried about the repercussions of naming a girl after an Ogre princess. Swistle can you and your readers please help us choose a beautiful, not to popular Irish name for our possibly little girl (I so feel it’s a boy though)? The middle name will definitely be Adair (or Margaret if Adair doesn’t jive with the first name) and the last name… well I swear it doesn’t sound right with ANY name you put in front of it but it sounds like Hu-ray-duh. Thank you so so very much!

I always wish to be able to do little interviews in my Baby Naming Office (where I would have a double desk with my fellow name-hobbyist friend Mairzy) (and I think we should have huge soft leather office chairs) (and bowls of snackies) (and comfy leather swivel chairs for the clients), because what I'd like to do first is ask your husband if he really is feeling doubtful about the name Kinley, and what his own first choices would be if he were choosing the name on his own.

I soooooo wish the Shrek people hadn't picked the name Fiona! Oh, what a sad day that was, similar to the day the pharmaceutical company chose to call an allergy medicine Allegra, or the day Toyota called their minivan Sienna. LEAVE THE GOOD GIRL NAMES ALONE PLEASE, PEOPLE-WHO-NAME-PRODUCTS!

Well. There are still some good pretty Celtic names that have escaped marketers:


I can't tell if Mirren and Tierney sound too much like Keira: their beginning/ending sounds are completely different, but that "eer" sound in the middles is so strong.

Some of these are at risk for extreme popularity: Isla, for example, appeared for the first time on the Social Security Top 1000 in 2008 at #619, and in 2009 was #346. Those are HUGE leaps, similar to the initial appearance of the name Madison. Kinley is in similar if slightly less dramatic circumstances: Top 1000 for the first time in 2006, at #907, and up to #451 already by 2009. Teagan is moving even less rapidly but still steadily, from #816 in 1999 to #274 in 2009.

My favorites for you are Catriona (ends the same as Fiona, but no ogres), Emlyn, Madigan, Mirren (if it doesn't sound too close to Keira), and Teagan.

Name update 07-27-2010! Erin writes:
Hi Swistle! I just wanted to thank you and your readers so much for all the suggestions and comments on our baby name troubles; Baby Boy or Girl H, Sibling to Keira. On July 23 I gave birth to an absolutely handsome baby boy, Conner Timothy weighing 6lbs 11oz and 19in long. Mommy's intuition was correct! We went into the c-section with a small list of girl names, quite a few suggested by you and ones from the comments. Big sister Keira is smitten with him already and asks to hold him all the time, he's "my baby Conner" already to her.Thank you again for your help!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Baby Naming Issue: Avoiding the Trends

Tricia writes:
I have recently realized that my husband and I have had a repeating problem with names. We have three children, Aidan (b. 1995), Ava (b. 1996), and Jasper (b. (2004). When Aidan was born, the name was number 461 on the SSA. My son has never met another Aidan in his life, and he has certainly never had to use his last initial in school. But my younger son started kindergarten this past year, and there were three Aidan's in his class. And four Ava's!! Four! (let me mention that when Ava was born, the name was number 2657 on the SSA. Nowhere near the top 1000. But now that I look, it is number 18!!!). Right now, Jasper is still in the 300s, but it has risen over 200 since my son's birth, and I suspect it will continue to rise.

Anyway, the point of all that, is that I am due with my last child (a girl) on July 25th, and I am refusing to let that happen again. I know that my kids don't necessarily have others with the same name in their classes at school, but as a whole, the names now sound very bland and ordinary, and we were going for the opposite when we named them. So I need your expertise in helping us find some alternate names that will not rise ridiculous amounts in popularity. To give you an idea, some names we like are Lucy, Maeve, Lydia, Violet, Juliet, Lila, Lea, and Rowan. Half of these names are already in the 100s on the SSA, and the others are a bit less popular, but not outrageously. What we are worried about is choosing Lea, which right now is number 671, and having it skyrocket so in the next few years, it becomes number 8 or something crazy like that.

We're not sure how to approach this, because this has happened consistently with every name we've picked, so we don't trust ourselves on our own to choose a name that this will not happen with. So we need your expertise, Swistle. Please help us to find a name similar to the kind of names I've listed (we aren't really considering any of those names, too afraid of the popularity thing, but those are the kind of names we like). It frustrates me so much that Aidan and Ava, who's names I used to get compliments on in the 90s, are the names of every other toddler in the US. I was at Barnes & Noble the other day looking at some pregnancy books, and I saw a baby name book called "Beyond Ava & Aiden", for crying out loud! It made me so upset! Their names are now the staple for a common name, and I don't want that to be the case with our newest addition.

Oh, and let me make sure I say, we don't like unusual names… these, along with our kids names, are (were) all so-called "common names", or so the public thinks. But we want the sort of names that are familiar to the ear but no so familiar that every parent will be choosing them. (even in the future)

Please help! I honestly don't know what to do! I don't trust myself with names anymore. (Oh and none of our kids have middle names - a family tradition - so that isn't an issue, thank God.)

Thank you thank you thank you

PS our last name starts with a C and is one syllable and fairly common.

Oh dear! Here is the trouble: you guys are natural trend frontrunners. I don't know if there's any way around this problem. My mom is the same: she liked the names Lucy and Owen back when my reaction to both names could be described as "WHAT??" If she'd used either of those names for a baby, I would have said she was COMPLETELY SAFE in not choosing a trendy name. And yet, look at them now! And now of course I love those names too, just like almost everyone else.

There's no way to completely prevent choosing a name that will get very very popular, but sometimes there are indicators (and sometimes not). I'm looking at the charts and I think I have a different chart: I'm using the Social Security Administration baby names site, which says the name Ava was #739 in 1996, and was #5 in 2009; it had risen 200 places in the ten years before you chose it, which might have made us suspicious if we'd seen it, but there was no way to know it was going to go up SEVEN HUNDRED places in the next 10 years. The name Aidan, on the other hand, was #281 in 1995---but had gone up more than 600 places in the five years before that. So if you'd been looking at that chart, it would have been clear SOMETHING was up with that name. Jasper---probably no way to call that one: you named him a year before Twilight came out.

The main issue here, I think, is that the kind of names that get popular are the kind of names you LIKE. We can't help our tastes in names, and you happen to be on the front edge of the crowd. You like Lea, which was #671 in 2009---but the spelling Leah was #28. And Lila! If you were LOOKING for the next big trendy hit, that's what I would suggest for you. It's gone from not even in the Top 1000 in 1997 to #168 in 2009. If I were going to make a prediction, I'd predict we'll see Lila in the Top Ten within the next 5 years---or certainly within the next 10. And frankly, it's perfect with your other kids' names: Aidan, Ava, Jasper, and Lila is WONDERFUL.

And Lucy! Not rising quite as fast, but steadily: high 400s in the mid-'90s, low 200s in the early '00s, and #101 last year. And again, WONDERFUL with your other kids' names: Aidan, Ava, Jasper, and Lucy.

Lydia: gliding upwards gracefully. Juliet: upwards faster, in bigger leaps. Rowan: big leaps after total obscurity. Maeve: same as Rowan. Violet: same as Rowan and Maeve. I say you have a knack, and I say EMBRACE IT.

If you'd rather not embrace, we need to look in a completely different category. The names you like are the ones that sound fresh to the ears, little surprises as we hear names we haven't heard used before---or not for a long time. It's that "Whoa. WHOA." reaction to a name that suddenly sounds....FRESH! Cadence, Braden, Caitlin, Noah, Isabella---these are all names that GRABBED ATTENTION and then LEAPED UP. Some of them were new inventions, some were revivals, but they all had that sudden rise from nearly nowhere. It's because that same freshness hits nearly EVERYONE. All the names you like have that smack of freshness, or at least the lingering remains of it.

What you say you'd like is a common, non-unusual name that isn't going to get wildly popular; in that case, you need to avoid that fresh sound. If you get the "Whoa. WHOA. THAT'S fresh and new!" reaction, STEP AWAY FROM THE NAME. You need a name that has lost that freshness, but without wilting: a great name, but familiar enough to be unlikely to ignite the sudden interest of large crowds. A name that at first seems a little...meh...just because it lacks that element of surprise, but then grows on you until you can't believe you ever thought it was meh. Bethany. Bridget. Clarissa. Holly. Jocelyn. Kara. Laurel. Marissa. Meredith. Sabrina. Tessa. These are all from The Baby Name Wizard's list of "New Classics," which she calls "trend-proof." Or maybe "trend-resistant" would be a better term: it's hard to know when some circumstance (an actor, a novel) will kick a name to the head of the line.

Best of luck, and I don't think you'll go wrong: you have marvelous and consistent taste that everyone loves! Choose what YOU love, and I don't think you'll be unhappy with the name---even if you're unhappy with its popularity.

Name update 07-25-2010! Tricia writes:
Wow! Thank you so much for the advice and all the reader advice too! It gave us a lot of help.
Anyway, our baby girl was born last Saturday, healthy and beautiful, and we're very happy with the name we chose.
Her name is Liza! (L-eye-zah, because I've seen Lee-za) Liza isn't a name that's even on the top 1000 (!!) but it feels simliar in style to names like Lila, don't you think.
So Aidan, Ava, Jasper, and Liza. We really love it. What do you think?

Well, thanks so much!

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy Mallory!

Baby Girl Gottwals

Natalie writes:
I was hoping you could help us out with a sibling name for our 2-year-old, Isabella Marie.

We are having a baby girl in mid July and this will be our second child. My favorite names are Vivienne and Jocelyn, however my husband dislikes Vivienne. The middle name is going to be Diane after her paternal Grandmother. Isabella's middle name, Marie, came from my mother's middle name. I am looking for a classic, beautiful, strong female name. My first name is Natalie and my husband is Jason. Our last name is Gottwals, which is German. I am Irish and German and my husband is German not that we are looking exclusively for a name that fits our heritage, I just wanted to share that info with you! Baby Gottwals due date is July 29 but I will have a C-section, so she will be here July 22. Please help!

I think the name Olivia is strong, classic, and beautiful, and I think it's a great sister name for Isabella: similar in style, but not at all matchy. I feel the same about the name Sophia: strong/classic/beautiful/similar/non-matchy. Olivia Diane Gottwals; Sophia Diane Gottwals.

Oh, and Angelica! I always think of Anjelica Huston. Isabella and Angelica is so nice. Angelica Diane Gottwals.

A step fully in the direction of Germany would be Wilhelmina. This is one of the names on my own list (though I'd spell it Willemina, which is the version used in my Dutch family tree), and I think it's soooooo pretty. Cute nicknames, too: Willa or Mina, or I can picture her going by Will or Wills in high school. Wilhelmina Diane Gottwals. But maybe too unusual to pair with a name as popular as Isabella.

Still German but much more familiar: Anneliese. That's how I'd spell it, too: two Ns, followed by an E not an A. I like to avoid certain situations. Anneliese Diane Gottwals.

More possibilities:

Abigail Diane Gottwals
Amelia Diane Gottwals
Charlotte Diane Gottwals
Genevieve Diane Gottwals
Madeleine Diane Gottwals
Violet Diane Gottwals

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Baby Boy/Girl Twins Woods

Andrea writes:
I’m due in 9 weeks with boy/girl twins. We came up with our daughter’s name fairly easily – Lucia (pronounced Lou-c-uh) and we’ll call her Lucy for short) but cannot decide on a boys name to save our life! We have narrowed it down to the following 4. His middle name will be Robert (family name) and our last name is Woods. I’ll include some of my thoughts on each name. We like names that aren’t too poplar but not too out there either. Would love to hear your input and reader suggestions. Thanks!


We both like this name but whenever we share it with people we get “oh, well I like your girl’s name”. Is it just not very likeable? While we don’t care too much what others think we don’t want his sister to have a ‘good name’ and he has a bad name! We’d call him Sy for short. One issue I see is that since our name also ends in an S is that too hard in the plural – Silas’ Woods’ ?


Concerns with this name is that it is also a girl’s name, even though it would be spelled different Leighton Meister is the popular actress. I also don’t like how you lose the t when saying it fast – Lay’n and no good nicknames. I do like both Layton and Lucia starting with an L.


I like this more than my husband. I know it’s rising in popularity. Would be concerned it automatically becomes Ben which is common.


My husband likes more than I do. It’s also a little to close to the 100 list for my taste. No good nicknames but I do like it sounds professional.


Silas & Lucia Woods?
Layton & Lucia Woods?
Bennett & Lucia Woods?
Preston & Lucia Woods?


I DO like Silas, but if you're concerned about the double S endings, perhaps Simon? Simon Woods is so nice, and you still get Sy.

I agree with the problems with the name Layton you mention. Maybe Lachlan instead? Or Lawson? Or Lennon? Or Lennox? Or Lincoln? Or Linus? Or Lyle? I particularly like Lincoln's nickname Linc: Linc and Lucy.

So my suggestions are:

Simon Robert Woods
Lincoln Robert Woods

And from your list my two favorites are:

Silas Robert Woods
Bennett Robert Woods

Name update 08-11-2010! Andrea writes:
hello! Just wanted to give a quick update our twins were born August 4th and we named them Silas Robert and Lucia Gail - they fit perfectly! Thanks to you and your readers.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Baby Girl Peters

Heidi writes:
I've had a heck of a time trying to come up with a name for our second daughter (due July 16). My first daughter also is an Addison (Addison Makayla Peters) and we call her Addy. I saw the post about Baby Hopes and the name Emerson really stuck out to me, except maybe spelling it Emersyn. So far, that's the closest we could come to agreeing on a name. The reason I like it so much is the nickname, Emmy. Our choices for a middle name are narrowed down to McKenna (after her grandfather, Ken) or Nicole (my middle name). Is Emersyn to matchy-match with Addison? I'm not sure if we're done with just 2, so if we had another baby I'm thinking that changing the ending to "yn" would open up more of the "n" ending names, IF our third is a girl. We're also leaning more towards Emersyn Nicole so that it's not too matchy and we would be stuck to come up with a "Mc" sounding name IF we had another girl. I'm open to other suggestions for names, specifically those that might get me to Emmy, because I think I've fallen in love with that! Other names we've considered are Riley (but no good NN), Sidney, Kinley, and Hayden.

Names to get the nickname Emmy:


I see what you mean about avoiding the problem of feeling obligated to continue the son/Mc name structure. Emerin might be the perfect name for that: very similar to Emerson, but without the -son ending---and it gives you the Emmy nickname you're looking for. You could spell it Emeryn if you preferred. Emeryn McKenna is a little heavy on repeating sounds (lots of E, M, and N), but not so much that it's out of the running, and Emeryn Nicole is nice too. Or perhaps Emerin McKenzie for more sound variety.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Baby Boy or Girl Carroll

Emily writes:
My husband and I are having our second baby in the middle of July. We don't know what we are having. Our first child is Evangeline Mae. It took us many months and many discarded names to decide on this one. I love elegant, older names for a girl and I would strongly prefer a name with good nicknames. Male or female, we do not want a name that is too popular or too "out there." We have pretty much decided on Porter West for a boy. I always wanted to name my kids after jazz musicians. Once Cole became so popular, it fell off my list. That's where I came up with Porter (Cole Porter). The only real suggestion my husband has made for a girl is Nora. It's his name spelled backwards and he has been fighting for it since I was pregnant with Evie. I don't hate the name, I'm just not sure I want to use it. I love the name Isabel. Though it is a less common spelling, it is a VERY common name. I would LOVE to use it, but I don't want "her" to be just another Linda or Stacey. I also love Vivienne and Charlotte. Both are either too popular or soon to be. I love Isla, but I worry it is the next Lila or Lola. Our last name is Carroll. We don't want any names that start or end with a hard K sound. Please help!

Your husband likes the name Nora, and you like elegant older names with good nicknames, so I suggest Eleanora or Eleanor, with the nickname Nora.

You love Isabel but it's too common for you to want to use it, so I suggest Isadora. It's beautiful, VERY unusual, and it has good nicknames (Izzy, Dorrie, maybe Zora or Sadie). Evangeline and Isadora is a GREAT sister set. I'd thought Isadora might increase in popularity as parents looked for alternatives to Isabel, but so far I haven't heard it ANYWHERE. I wish I could see if the popularity had shifted at all, but it's not in the Top 1000 baby names (source: Social Security Administration), so if it's moved from, say, #3000 to #2000, we wouldn't know. But again, I haven't heard it at ALL, not even on people's possibilities lists.

If you're considering jazz musicians, here's a few possibilities from Wikipedia's handy list:

Adderley (Addy, Lee)
Amina (Amy, Mina, Minnie)
Calloway (Callie)---but starts with hard-C sound
Ellington (Ellie)
Florin (Florrie)
Ginger (Ginnie, Gigi)
Harriott (Hattie, Ettie)
Vivien (Viv, Vivi)---the popularity might be balanced by the jazz connection

None of those seem right with Evangeline, though Ginger and Alice would both be good with Porter. My vote is with Isadora.

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy or Girl Rouse!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Baby Girl K.

Amy writes:
We are expecting a baby girl (our first child) due July 7. I thought we had settled on several possible names but the closer we get to the date, the more unsure we are. Our last name is 8 letters long and two syllables, starting with a hard K sound. Looking through name lists, we have tended to like long'ish feminine names (Alexandra, Evangeline, Madeline) with cute, spunky nicknames for when she is a little girl (Alex/Allie, Eva, Maddie). I definitely want a name that has a nickname. I want to use a name (either first or middle name) that has a meaning for me - whether a family name or tied to a beloved childhood book. I was named for a character in my mother's favorite book (Little Women) and I always loved having that connection to her. For that reason, I love Madeline, one of my favorite books as a little girl. But, my husband does not like the nickname Maddie. We rejected Charlotte (nn Charlie - too popular in our area), Josephine (nn Josie - husband doesn't like it), Gabriella (nn Ella - I'm afraid she will be called Gabby). My husband likes Hannah, but I'm stuck on there not really being a nickname for Hannah.

So, we thought about combining two - Alexandra Madeline, for example. But, combined with a two syllable last name (total of 9 syllables - and 25 letters total), is that too long? Are we saddling our little one with a little too much name?

One possible family name is Lilian, though my husband does not love it. We thought about Emerson (which doesn't seem to go with our usual feminine names though) with a nickname of Emma (a family name) - but is it way too popular?

thank you for any suggestions you have.....

Emerson isn't too popular, I don't think, but Emma is the second most popular girl name in the United States (source: Social Security Administration). I've said before that I don't think the Top Ten is the kiss of death, but if your goal is to avoid popular I'd stay away from Emma (and Addy and Maddy and Ella).

I can think of lots of long feminine names with cute nicknames (Francesca, Philippa, Willemina, Calliope, Penelope, Cassandra, Meredith, Raffaella, Philomena, Cordelia---but the trouble is, I won't know if the name has meaning for you or not.

When you were a child, did you also love the book Madeline's Rescue? If so, I suggest Genevieve with the nickname Evie (or Nevvie, or Genna, or Gennie). I think it's wonderful with your surname. I like Genevieve Lilian K____, or you could use one of the problematic/rejected first names: Gabriella, Charlotte, etc. (If you use Gabriella, a cute nickname possibility is Gigi, from the initials G.G.)

If you considered Charlotte because of Charlotte's Web, the name Fern would be a good middle name.

Another possibility is using another of the sister names from Little Women. You've already thought of Josephine, but perhaps Margaret? Margaret has so many great nicknames: Meg (the nickname used in Little Women), Maggie, Daisy (the nickname used for Meg's little girl, also named Margaret), Greta. You could even use "Marmee," which is what the mother in Little Women (ALSO named Margaret) goes by.

The fourth sister is Elizabeth, and we recently discussed a lot of good nicknames for that.

I don't think a name like Alexandra Madeline is too long with a 2-syllable surname. I think it sounds very pretty and feminine.

If your husband likes the sound of the name Hannah but nicknames are a problem, you might be able to find a name he likes that starts with the similar-sounding Anna, and then use Annie as a nickname: Anastasia, Annabel, Anneliese, etc. Or perhaps a name that ends in -anna, to get the sound of Hannah but access some new nicknames up in front: Liliana, Luciana, Joanna, Susanna, Adrianna, Eliana, Georgianna, Lianna, etc.

Name update 07-24-2010! Amy writes:
I was due to deliver on July 7, but as it turns out, our baby girl was born one week early on July 1. I was in the middle of contractions and waiting (impatiently!) for my husband to get home from work to bring me to the hospital. I checked the Swistle website as a way to distract myself, and was so surprised to see my question pop up that morning. It really helped get my mind off the contractions - what perfect timing! We ended up going with Alexandra Madeline (nickname Alli) - everyone loves her name and we think it suits her perfectly. Thank you and your readers for the great suggestions, and for confirming that our first choice wasn't too long of a name for a little baby.