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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Note on the Name Updates

A commenter mentioned that he/she is unable to find the name updates: that when he/she clicks the links on a name update post, there's "nothing or just the old post." In case others are equally confused, the link does in fact take you to the old post, yes. Then you scroll down to the bottom of the post, where the name update has been added to the post, keeping the entire story (question, answer, update) in one place rather than scattering it over several unconnected posts. "Name update" is bolded to assist with the finding.

Name Update!

Update to Baby Boy or Girl, Sibling to Holiday Phoenix!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Baby Girl or Boy Smelker

Jordan writes:
We're due with our first child on Sept 21st and we CANNOT figure out a boy's name. We've got a girl's name picked, but are struggling MIGHTILY with t'other. And since apparently everyone and their mom thinks I'm having a boy (up to and including the lovely woman behind the counter at Qdoba, who couldn't speak a lick of English, but nevertheless assured me that it was indeed a niƱo) I suppose we had better get a good name picked.

Ok, the important info is as follows: our last name is Smelker, we're partial to the middle name Loren (after my husband's dad...we've thought about using it for a first name, but aren't sure...) and I'd like to avoid anything that ends in -er. We don't want anything too popular or common, but also want to stay away from the really esoteric names like Dweezil or Pilot Inspektor. My current favorite is Phineas, which husband also likes, but he's thinking more for middle name while I'm thinking first name. (We'd go with the nickname Finn...) Husband's current and long-time champion favorite is Abram, which for some reason I can't STAND. (Well, I know one reason why I can't stand it--the nickname Abe makes me want to chew tinfoil.) Other names we like include:

Sullivan (husband likes this one--I can't help but dislike both the alliteration and the nickname Sully.)

Of course, none of these has yet proven to be "the one", but hopefully they give you an idea what we like!

These things are hard to predict, of course, but I'd say Emerson is going to be like the name Mackenzie: first used for both boys and girls, but now used almost exclusively for girls. It's unfair in both cases, I know, since both -son and Mac- are supposed to indicate a BOY---but not in the U.S., they don't. (See also: Allison, Madison, Mckayla, Mckenna.) Grayson/Greyson is still considered a boy name, but is getting girled into versions such as Gracen and Graceyn.

Instead I suggest Anderson or Harrison: they have the rhythm of Sullivan (without Sully or alliteration) and the -son ending of Emerson and Grayson. Edison, too: sounds like Emerson, but so far the Eddie nickname is keeping it all boy. And I think my favorite -son name is Lawson, but that may or may not be because of a cute boy I went to high school with who went by his surname Lawson. Ooo, or Carson, I like Carson: it was being used increasingly for girls in the late '90s but since then has been dropping like a stone for girls and rising up for boys.

Emerson makes me think of Emmett: despite the matching Em- beginnings, Emmett isn't being used for girls so far.

Aaric and Arden together made me think of Aidric. I like how it blends Eric (getting to be a bit of a Dad Name) and Aidan (one of the Caden/Jaden/Hayden/Brayden cluster) in a way that gets rid of the slight problems with both.

You like Phineas and Fintan, so I wonder if you'd like Finian or Griffin.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Help Make a Finalist List: Three Girl Names and Three Boy Names

Tracy writes:
We need some baby naming help. Our unknown gender baby will be born Sept 20th.
I so joyously get to have the final choice on this child's name because my husband did on our 1st child.
But we need to agree on the final 3. Brody Charles is the name of our 3 year old son.
Now our last name is Short and it dose not flow well with every name on our list(s).
Please can you and your lovely readers help us narrow it down to 3 boy names and 3 girl names? And please tell me what names would be just awful with Brody or with our last name or just simply are......sometimes you just don't see or hear what others do. Finally, We would love some new suggestions. Especially our boy list. The list hasn't changed since we had our son.

Here is our list of boy names:

Eli Joseph (this was the name I wanted with our 1st boy)
Levi Joseph
Liam Reese
Desmond (not sure if this is a goes well with Brody)
Luca (this is my guilty pleasure name. I love it but don't think it will age well?)
Griffin Rhys (mostly b/c of the nn Fin)
Dylan Forrest (we are nature lovers so it suits us)
Greyson Michael Short
Tyler Stuart (my husband dislikes)
Cole Elliot
Rhys Michael

**the name Rhys/Reese we both really love. I feel we can not except that it doesn't flow that wonderfully, as a first or middle name, with our last name. Am I right and just in denial?

Names that we both 'ho hum' about:
Gavin, Nigel, Jasper, Samuel, Ezra and Cohen
Elsie, Elise, Willa, Marina, Chloe, Lily and Julia

Names we can't use because friends or family has:
Sofia, Louie, Nicholas, Matthew, Finley, Jack, Jacob, Ella, Ellie
Vivienne, Sadie, Molly, Grace, Hayden, Audrey, Noah, Benjamin,
Harrison, Henry and Oliver.

This is our girl list:

Fiona (this might be too classic with Brody)
Isla (this was my number 1 choice for many years until it got popular)
Olive Esme Short ( my husband dislikes)
Ivy Juliet
Quinn Isabel
Quinn Bennette (Quinn Short? Not sure if I like.)
Olivia Quinn
Violet Elisabeth
Luella Flynn
Meredith Kate
Ava Maisie (We know Ava is so popular but it is the only name we like with Maisie)

Our son's middle name is after one of his grandpas. We don't feel we have to use a family name.
So here are some family names thatwe could use in the middle.

Joseph, Michael, Kevin, Paul, Stone and Stuart.

Elizabeth, Lee-Ann, Isabel, Jean, Olive, Chelsea, Maisie and Helena.

Thank you so much!

Oh, fun! Yes, let's make lists!

I agree that Rhys is (1) a great name and (2) hard to use with your surname. I wonder if you'd like Reed/Reid or Reeve? They're still not great as first names, but might work as middle names.

Levi Short makes me think of a cut of jeans. And Luca, even though I KNOW it's a boy name, seems feminine to me. Some other possibilities:

Camden Short; Brody and Camden
Carson Short; Brody and Carson
Ethan Short; Brody and Ethan
Keegan Short; Brody and Keegan
Lawson Short; Brody and Lawson
Mason Short; Brody and Mason
Riley Short; Brody and Riley

And now for the fun choosing! My top three boy name choices with Brody are:

Eli Joseph Short
Liam Stuart Short
Owen Joseph Short

And my top three girl name choices with Brody are:

Fiona Jean Short
Isla Jean Short
Violet Elizabeth Short

Name update 10-12-2010! Tracy writes:
Our baby boy was born Sept 20th. Healthy and beautiful.

We chose the name Liam Rhys Short.

Thank you all for your input!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Baby Boy Snykiss

Liann writes:
My husband and I are due with our first baby, a boy, on September 20. Long before we got pregnant, I would make lists upon lists of baby names, and boy am I glad I did... I can only imagine how much harder finding the right name would have been if i didn't already have those lists. As of right now, we have it narrowed down to three names. I would love your feedback and your readers feedback, but also any new suggestions, if you think a name just doesn't flow. This baby will have two middle names, the second of which is my maiden name, and our last name sounds like Sny-kiss (with a long I sound in the first syllable).

Our current list is:

Emmett Rhys O'Keefe Snykiss - We both really like this name and how the whole thing flows. I particularly love Rhys in the middle - as we couldn't use it in the first spot because it would blend into our last name. And I love Emmett, I'm just not sure it won't get too popular with the whole Twilight situation, of which I am not a fan. Should I even be worried about that?

Arlo Desmond O'Keefe Snykiss - Arlo has been a favorite of mine for a while. It took hubby a little while to warm up to it but he recently told me it's one of his top picks because it feels like it's an old school name and he thinks are little boy has an old soul (I LOVED hearing that from him because our naming conversations have been mainly one-sided). Desmond is a name that has only recently been on our radar, mainly because of the character on LOST. We would not be naming him after the character, but the association does not hurt in our opinion.

Tate Henry O'Keefe Snykiss - Tate is the newest name to our list. And while we do like it, I have become worried about the bully nick-naming possibilities (particularly regarding a certain body part), and I don't know if it's inevitable. I have also noticed that Tate crosses the gender barrier slightly and I'm not really interested in having a gender neutral name for my son. Is Tate really going to the girls? And we chose Henry because it is my grandfather's name and we could not come up with any other options for middles for Tate. Any suggestions?

So that's it. We would love to have a few solid choices to go into the delivery with and hopefully once we meet him, one will just seem right. Thanks!

Would you want to reverse Tate and Henry and consider Henry Tate O'Keefe Snykiss? Tate might not go completely to the girls, but I do consider it a name that can be either for boys or for girls.

I don't think of Emmett as Twilighty---but I've only read the first book. Perhaps Twilight fans can weigh in on this.

But dude, you're not leaving me with any other work to do! Emmett Rhys and Arlo Desmond are both spectacular names. I think all that's left to do is a poll, which I'll put over to the right. (Poll closed; see results below.)

Name update 09-25-2010! Liann writes:
I want to thank you and your readers for your input on our son's name. The little man arrived on 9/23 at 7:59 a.m., 8lbs. 8.6oz., and 19 3/4 in. long. However, my naming fears came true and none of the names on our final list seemed to fit. So, we went back to the drawing board and consulted our lists, where we found the perfect name for our new baby boy.. Duncan Henry O'Keefe Snykiss is happy and healthy and we could not be more pleased with him and his name. Thank you again for your help!

Baby Naming Issue: Changing a Naming Tradition After the Birth

J. writes:
I need help. My son was born 3 months ago. His name is William George Karsten V. We are calling him Will or William. My husband is the 4th and goes by Bill. Neither of us felt strongly about the name, just didn't think of anything else and decided it would be nice to carry on. He was born on May 9, 2010. This was a nice date because it was mother's day and also my paternal grandfather's birthday. His name was Fagan Smith and he passed away 16 years ago. My father's middle name is Fagan. He had only daughters . From the first week I came home from the hospital I have wanted to add Fagan to Will's name making it William George Fagan Karsten. This would honor both my husband's father who is the 3rd and still living and my grandfather with whom Will shares a birthday. would take away the honor of being the V. I don't want to hurt my father in law's feelings. I just really would love to honor my grandfather that way. He would still have the whole name, just a little extra. Add to this the fact that my husband's parents divorced when he was a toddler. We have wonderful relationships with both his mother's and father's families and mine too. Should I add Fagan as a second middle name? I have thought about it so much it's all muddled! I kind of think I would also like Will to have something that distinguishes him from the others with his name.
Thank you for your help! I need to move on and spend my time loving this sweet baby boy!!!!

I think you should leave his name as it is. Adding Fagan would remove the V---and while I wish families wouldn't start naming traditions like this, once they HAVE, and once you've agreed to do it, I think messing with it will cause problems. And particularly if you change it now, after the child has already been named and everyone has breathed a sigh of relief that the tradition has been continued.

While it would be nice to honor your grandfather, he is not alive to receive the honor, and the name is not a strong tradition in your family: it's your father's MIDDLE name, and you haven't mentioned any tradition of passing it down. And as a name to be passed down, it's an awkward one for a boy. If you have more children, you can honor a name (or even two names) from your side of the family then---and in fact Fagan might work better for a girl, reminiscent of both Fay and Maegan. Smith, too, would make a good first name for a boy, and would honor that whole branch of your family.

It may help to remember that although naming a child after a relative IS an honor, it's not the only way to honor someone you love---and it doesn't convey DIShonor to NOT use a name. It would have been fun to use the coincidence of your son being born on your grandfather's birthday, but it's also fun just that he WAS born on the birthday, even if you don't commemorate that by using your grandfather's name. It's common to have some Namer's Uncertainty after a baby is born, but you have given your son a wonderful solid name that will serve him well his whole life as well as pleasing your husband's family. My advice is to leave it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Baby Boy Adcock

Alexis writes:
Hello! We are expecting our second son this September 13, and are completely baffled as to what this little child's name should be. Last go-round, it was easy. We named our first son Emerson immediately, and that was it. Now we find that, strangely, little girls have started appearing with the same name as boy #1. We still love his name and it totally suits him, but if we can exclude names also used for girls, it would be nice.

My husband's last name (and the last name of our kiddos) is Adcock. We both loved the name Pierce until we realized that Pierce Adcock would probably be called Prince Albert all of his life. We also like Arlo, but aren't 100% sold on it. We love literary names (hence Emerson) and names related to music, but are open to other suggestions. We want to use a family name as a middle name, which will probably end up being James or Douglas. Here are our finalists:


I think that, honestly, if we used any of these names, we'd probably be happy, but we just can't decide! Also, are some of these names becoming trendy or possibly used for girls? We are open for suggestions as well. Help us, Swistle!

Thank you!

I think we need a poll! I'll put it over to the right! (Poll closed; see results below.)

Name update 09-20-2010! Alexis writes:
Our baby boy arrived last week and, true to form, we dithered until the last possible minute. We had it narrowed down to three names, but when the birth certificate lady came in to give us an ultimatum on the last day in the hospital, my husband and I agreed on a name at the same time. Eliot James is a lovely big boy, and we are really grateful to everyone for helping us choose the perfect name for him!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baby Girl Naughton, Sister to Atley

Kelyn writes:
I am due mid Sept and my husband and I are having trouble agreeing on a name for our second daughter. Our first daughter's name, Atley, was suggested to us early in the pregnancy and we immediately agreed on it. Naming decisions have been a bit more contentious this time around. Our last name is Naughton. My husband and I both have "K" names so I've been steering clear of those. The main problem is that I like unusual names and while my husband isn't opposed to them he wants them to have a very familiar sound. We'd nearly agreed on Harper but it's steady, almost astronomical, rise in popularity has turned me off. If it weren't for that problem, I think we'd have a winner. Other names that have made the short list we can agree on are: Beckett, Dempsey, Connelly, and Sutton. As you can see, I'm one of those...a stealer of surnames and boys' names for my little girl. I'd apologize but I just can't help myself. It may still come down to one of these names but since we're not in love with any one of them, can you suggest any similar names that match well with Atley? Thanks!!!

I suggest Arlo. It's a boy's name, but it has a similar sound to Marlo and Margo, and its gentle sound makes it a good girl-name crossover. It also has the "ar" sound like in Harper. Arlo Naughton. Atley and Arlo.

Or Winslow. Winslow Naughton. Atley and Winslow.

It's too bad it's a K name, because I think Kiefer might be adorable on a little girl. Kiefer Naughton. Atley and Kiefer.

Murphy works because although it's a boy's name, Murphy Brown made it almost too girl-associated to use for boys. Murphy Naughton. Atley and Murphy. (But I'd avoid a middle name starting with A.)

Brice is a boy's name, but the sound reminds me of Bree and Chrissy---as well as sugar/spice/nice. Brice Naughton. Atley and Brice.

My friend and fellow name aficionado Mairzy is going to KILL me, but Sterling is a boy name that would make a good girl name. Sterling Naughton, Atley and Sterling. (Oh, I am in such trouble.)

Memphis would be pretty on a girl. Memphis Naughton, Atley and Memphis.

Bridger is a boy name, but it's closeness to Bridget makes it hard to use. Bridger Naughton, Atley and Bridger.

The King of England gave up his throne to marry a Wallis. Wallis Naughton, Atley and Wallis.

I love the name Percy, but it's almost too gentle to use on a boy. Percy Naughton, Atley and Percy.

Same with Clarence: great name, but hard to use for a boy. Clarence Naughton, Atley and Clarence.

I read a book with a little girl in it named Fisher, and I have to admit I was completely won over. Fisher Naughton, Atley and Fisher.

Name update 09-03-2010! Kelyn writes:
Our liitle lady arrived a couple of weeks early. Thankfully, we'd agreed on a name the day before I went into labor. Her grandma says she decided to join us when she finally heard the name she wanted. We decided on Caris Violet. In the end it's not a boy's name or a surname. Despite not picking one of the many names recommended by you and your readers, you really did help us come to a decision. Caris was one of my favorite names from the start but my husband wasn't sold. Your responses forced us to sit down and really look at all the options and hallelujah we came to an agreement. Thanks for your help!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Name Update!

Update to Baby Girl Bennett!

Baby Boy Gross, Brother to Berkeley

Valerie writes:
Our baby boy is due in 2 weeks! My husband and I have been volleying names back and forth since the 20 week ultrasound and haven't come up with an agreed upon name. Here are some of the pertinent facts:

Our daughter's name is Berkeley Rose
Our new son's middle name and last name will be Alan Gross
Since our son's initials will end with "AG", we need to eliminate any name starting with F, and be cautious of other letters
We want something that is unique, but not un-pronounceable or easily misspelled.
We'd like it to match Berkeley, in a way that it is a name that people know, but not many kids are named.

Some of our contenders include:

Keaton - this is my husband's favorite, but I'm worried it will rise in popularity, especially with the -on ending
Dashiell - we both like it, but are worried about mispronunciation/spelling
Tegan - I like it, my husband doesn't
Milen - I like it, my husband doesn't
Milo - my husband hates it, but I love it.

The biggest issue for us, is that we can't come together on any names!! Please help us, if you can!! I'm desperate to get the name checked off my list. Thanks!

I like Keaton with Berkeley. It's hard to predict what a name will do, but a good sign is that it appeared on the Top 1000 three years after Family Ties started airing, but it's spent the last thirteen years hovering in the 300s and not climbing any higher (source: Social Security Administration).

More possibilities (I'm avoiding GAG, HAG, NAG, RAG, and VAG as well as FAG---and I'm not sure about BAG, LAG, SAG, and WAG):

Barnaby Alan Gross (BAG)
Cabot Alan Gross (CAG)
Caspian Alan Gross (CAG)
Crockett Alan Gross (CAG)
Darwin Alan Gross (DAG)
Deacon Alan Gross (DAG)
Everest Alan Gross (EAG)
Langston Alan Gross (LAG)
Lennox Alan Gross (LAG)
Maguire Alan Gross (MAG)
Orion Alan Gross (OAG)
Sullivan Alan Gross (SAG)
Truman Alan Gross (TAG)
Walker Alan Gross (WAG)
Warner Alan Gross (WAG)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Baby Girl or Boy Brown

Suzanne writes:
We were delighted to find out that we are expecting our 3rd child. What a great joy! And what a great pain in the rear for picking a name.

Due Date is September 10, 2010 and as with the other two, gender will be a surprise.

Our first two children are daughter Allison Louise and son Peter David. All of our previous “rules” still apply: - No colors, easy to spell & pronounce, 2+ syllables, no cross-gender names, and preferably has a nice nickname option.

Naming this baby is going to be a huge challenge. We only barely came up with Allison’s name in the delivery room. And Peter’s name was a given from the start so we never considered other boy names. What I’m saying is that we are short on ideas. I love the comments your readers gave previously and we are still strongly in favor of Megan and Caroline. I also really love the suggestion of Jenna. Laurel is great but we have a niece Lauren and it’s probably too similar. Someone else suggested Penelope and I really like that (Poppy) but I’m not sure hubby would agree.

We both prefer fairly traditional names and aren’t into trendy or popular. Peter was a perfect choice for us in this regard – easy to spell and pronounce, well known but not overused.

So we have a lot to consider for girls names and I think now we will still need help with a boy’s name since we never even really discussed it.

Boy names we’ve tossed around:



Elliot (hubby doesn’t like it too much)


Jonathan (my father’s name – I love it but wonder if it’s too strange to name after a living grandfather)



Names that are off the table – Benjamin, Owen, Charles, Daniel, Michael, Kevin

We really need some new insight. We’ve been over the girl’s name a thousand times with the prior pregnancies and boys names are a complete mystery.

Thank you so much for your help!

I vote for Jonathan! It's great with Peter and Allison, and I like family names. I have personal experience with naming a child after one of the child's living grandparents and it has worked out GREAT. And perhaps a name from your husband's side of the family for the middle name.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Name Updates!

Update to Baby Boy Bemelmans!
Update to Baby Girl Farnbrook!

Baby Boy Poyer

Jennifer writes:
I'd love your (and your readers!) help with figuring out a name for our second son. In theory, he's due September 8, but I'm already having contractions, so who knows when he will actually arrive (my first was early). Our last name sounds like Poyer, and unfortunately, my husband and I don't have a lot of overlap in our name tastes. I tend to like uncommon but familiar western names (think Graham, Alexander, or Dominic), whereas my husband likes even more unusual names (Ellis, Anders, or Cyrus).

For our first son, we finessed the issue by naming our son after our fathers, giving him a very common, traditional first name (John) and a Chinese middle name which is essentially unheard of in the States. His nickname, Kue, (pronounced like the letter Q) is based on his middle name.

There are a few characteristics that we do NOT want for a name:
* is currently very popular (e.g., any of the _aydens)
* does not have a good nickname (of course, this is a grey area)
* is not a "real" name (I know this is a grey area too)
* starts with the letter K or the letter Q (due to our first son's name)
* has a strong religious connotation (e.g. Moses)
* is a variant of "John" (e.g. Ian)

The only name we come close to agreeing on is Griffin, but neither of us loves it. My top contender is Graham, but my husband doesn't like it. My husband's top choice is Ellis, but I am not excited about people calling my son El (which makes me think Elle) for short. Other names we've considered but rejected include: Desmond, Everett, Nicolas, and Micah (mine, rejected by my husband) and Linnell, Malkmus, Munro, and Riven (my husband's, rejected by me). Still on the consideration list are: Dominic, Alexander, Anders, Cyrus, but they are all just hanging on by a thread, as we are not too fond of the others' picks.



The name Griffin makes me think of names like Finn, Finian, Flynn. Finian can be used with the nickname Finn, which sounds good with Kue.

Ellis makes me think of Harris or Harrison, with the nickname Harry.

Anders makes me think of Anderson---and now that we have Harrison and Anderson I'm thinking of Nicholson and Everson instead of Nicolas/Everett.

Griffin and Everett make me think of Garrett.

Ellis and Everett make me think of Elliot. There's still the potential "El" problem, especially since there aren't any other good nicknames, but Li/Lee might work as a nickname to fend off El.

Micah and Malkmus make me think of Malcolm. Or Michael, which is so good with John, and perhaps repeat your idea of using a nickname from a middle name?

Cyrus makes me think of Silas and Elias.

Nothing makes me think of Corin, but I think it's good. Or Corbin. Or Gibson. Or Ruben. Or Lennox.

Alexander from your list is the #4 most popular boy name in the United States. Maybe Alec instead? Alistair? Albin? Alan?

Name update 09-09-2010! Jennifer writes:
Lachlan Vincent was born earlier this week! Lachlan was unusual enough for my husband, but common enough (at least, in Australia and Canada) for me, and it sounds similar to my husband's grandfather's name. And Vincent is my grandfather's name. Thanks again to everyone for their input!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Let's Name a Parakeet!

Jasmine writes:
I don't want this to seem flippant, but I'm having some trouble naming my parakeet and I thought it might be fun for you/the site readers to enjoy.

Here's the problem: my parakeet is a boy. All the boy names I would consider for a pet are also names I would consider for Potential Future Offspring, and I don't want to "waste" my good names on a pet. The names I like tend to be offbeat and quirky: Zeke, Bruno, Rufus. I'd like to name him something that is an actual people name, or something that sounds like it could be. One name I considered is Zuke (short for Zucchini), but he's blue instead of green like most parakeets, so I'm not sure if this is weird.

I also like names that have a meaning. With pets, this also extends to puns. I've considered Marty McFly and Conrad Birdie, but I'm not really settled on either of them.

Since he's my first pet that's entirely mine, I was thinking this could be an opportunity to come up with a fun, loose "theme" that I can use to name future pets. I've contemplated authors (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "Markie" for short), 80's movie characters (Marty McFly), and characters from books (Pip, but that would quickly become "Pippy", a girl's name).

Anyway, if this is too silly to post, don't, but I'd at least love your input. I recently read that you're trying to name your cat Bonnet, which I think is adorable, and I thought you might be able to provide a little insight.


Indeed, I empathize: we've had our kitten for three and a half weeks and she is still nameless. And this does seem like a nice change of pace from naming babies. Would anyone like to name a parakeet?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Name Update!

Update to Baby Girl Deusterman (the Rubik's Cube Bet one)!

Baby Girl Cavenner

Kristi writes:
We really need some help! I’m due with our second child, a girl, Sept 8. We had very little problem coming up with our son’s name – wanted something uncommon (but not unusual) thereby ending up using family names of Warren Geoffrey (Jof-free). Our last name sounds like Cavenner, and I’m conscious of the mouth-full effect of a 3 syllable last name. My name is Kristi, so growing up in the 80’s-90’s there were always other “Christy/Christie/Kristy/Kristie’s” around and I don’t want an overly popular name where my child has to go by last initial for differentiation. My husband is highly attracted to historical names, especially those with roots in the US founding, and doesn’t care if the name is popular or not. We are attempting to keep the strong contenders and possible final decision a surprise so I’m not discussing this with friends and family.

It seems that all the names I have originally been attracted to are either popular or gaining popularity. My favorite girl name since I was in high school is Charlotte, but apparently that is supposed to be “the name” this year. Other names I like but am dismissing due to popularity are Samantha & Madelyn. My husband really likes Abigail (I suggested this before I realized its popularity, but he likes it because it is the name of John Adams’ wife). Now he thinks that since I suggested the name and he likes it, it’s carved in stone – I’m not sold! I like the name Rose, for its simplicity, implied grace and lack of over-use. For middle names my husband is adamantly stuck on either Madison, after James Madison, or Pinckney (Pink-nee) a family surname.

I’d really like your opinion and possibly outside suggestions for classic, feminine, fresh names. Unless you can help me come up with some good ammunition/alternatives, my daughter’s name is going to be Abigail Madison Cavenner. Two of the most popular names today and a 3-3-3 syllable name. Not a bad name, but not the unique moniker I wanted.

We could look to the second President Adams's wife, whose name was Louisa Catherine (source: Wikipedia list of first ladies). We still end up with a 3-3-3 pattern (though I like that), and we end up with names that are currently in favor but not as common as Abigail and Madison.

I think if I were you I would find some names you like and then see if you can find anyone with those names in the right time period. This is what I did with my own husband, who likes scientists: when I thought of a name I really wanted to use, I pitched it to him as being after a scientist with the same name.

Or, look around in early U.S. history and see if any of the names interest you. Look at surnames and middle names and maiden names as well as first names. Here's where I started searching: Wikipedia: Women in the American Revolution. Margaret Corbin and Margaret Kemble Gage give us the name Margaret, and also the name Kemble if you want something very uncommon. Esther de Berdt gives us the name Esther, a name that's stayed consistently in the 200s/300s for decades. Do you like the name Molly? There's Molly Stark and the story/nickname of Molly Pitcher (maybe a real woman or maybe something like Rosie the Riveter). And there are plenty of Catherines, Kates, Janes, Marys, Elizabeths, Sarahs, Annes and Annas, if you like any of those. And for something more unusual, Frederika, Bailey, and Lindley.

I really like the name Pinckney for the middle name, if it works with the first name you choose: it's unusual, it's a family name, and the "pink" sound keeps it girly.

If you want to avoid popular, avoid fresh: anything that sounds fresh will also be sounding fresh to thousands of other parents. Test the name: say it to yourself, and if you get a little smack of cool, moist freshness, cross it off because we can almost guarantee it will be swooping up in popularity.

I like:

Esther Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Esther
Frederika Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Frederika
Louisa Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Louisa
Margaret Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Margaret
Molly Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Molly
Rose Pinckney Cavenner; Warren and Rose

I also like Abigail Pinckney Cavenner. Abigail is a Top Ten name, but in my area they all seem to be going by Abby---so if yours goes by Abigail she might not need an initialed surname even if there's another in her class. The national usage of the name is at .71%---or roughly 7 Abigails per 1,000 baby girls. Charlotte may indeed jump this year, but last year it was roughly 2 Charlottes per 1,000 baby girls. That's not too bad, commonness-wise.

Name update 09-19-2010! Kristi writes:
Thanks so much for all the suggestions! Rose Marion Cavenner was born last week. Seeing all the responses helped sway my husband to Rose and reevaluate the middle names. We decided on Marion, another family name that had been previously discissed and dismissed. After meeting our little lady we decided Rose Marion was perfect!

Thanks again for all the help!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Baby Boy Lee

K. writes:
I wanted to write you months ago for help naming our second child, a boy, but I knew it wouldn't be my turn until close to my due date (9/4) and I was certain we would have a name already chosen by then. Well, we don't, so I am writing to you now. Our daughter's name is Anna. Our tentative boy name for the past several years was Spencer and we would always refer to a potential future son as Spence. When we found out we were having a boy, I thought there was probably an 80% chance that would be his name because my husband doesn't like to think too much about names (he tends to be the typical male "veto-er" of my suggestions). So I was surprised when my husband said he wasn't sure Spencer was his name, and wondered if Spence was really just a pre-birth nickname, like calling your baby "pickle" or something like that. So after I suggested a buzzillion names to hubby, his only response was "I feel like we just haven't heard the name yet." Which left me stumped, because hubby in particular doesn't like names that are "weird" so I didn't think looking for MORE unusual names was going to help. We both tend to like timeless, easily spellable/pronounceable, biblical, and not too "ethnic" sorts of names. So I left it at, "Well, here are my top choices. If you don't come up with something else, we are going to have to choose from those." My husband, bless him, has now done some thinking about it and actually LOOKED AT A BABY NAME BOOK (briefly). He suggested Jacob (he likes the biblical story of Jacob's transition from self-reliance to dependence on God) or Nathaniel. I vetoed Jacob as a first name, due to its popularity, although I like the name otherwise. So hubby decided he thought baby's name was Nathaniel, and I was/am prepared to name him that, as I like the idea of him being named by his father, and I like the name (although not quite as much as MY names). And then a few days ago, husband says, "I'm having second thoughts about Nathaniel. I'm thinking about Spencer again." Interesting. So all this is to say, we very well may not have a name picked out until after baby is born. I'm hoping that once we see him, we will both have a strong feeling about a name. Hopefully the same name! Anyway, I think the first name will be one of our top 4 choices:

Spencer: I like it for it's timeless quality and the fact that it is familiar but not too popular. I think it goes well with Anna. Spence Lee reminds me a bit of Bruce Lee, but I can live with it. Husband thinks the name is kind of geeky.

Nathaniel: I think this is still my husband's top choice. I like it, but wonder if the "L" at the end of it blends too much with the "L" at the beginning of Lee. I also like Nate, but it does sound pretty choppy with our last name.

Elliot: This may be my top choice. I have liked this name for a long time. My biggest concerns are people misspelling it, and maybe that it is becoming a girl name. Husband likes it okay, but also thinks it is geeky.

Benjamin: This is a name I really like, despite the fact that it is fairly common. I love both Benjamin (I think of a hot guy like Benjamin Bratt) and Ben (a nice guy). I love Benji but husband absolutely vetoes this nickname. He threatens to call baby "Uncle Benny" as a nickname, which I detest. Ben Lee sounds choppy do pretty much all nicknames with our last name. I guess that is the beauty of Elliot--no nickname.

I think at the end of the day, I will let my husband have the biggest say in choosing his first name. Anna was a name I loved for years and years and I just don't feel as strongly about any of our boy names. I like all of them, and I assume that any one of them would grow on me and become our son's name once we named him. I am interested in what you and your readers think is the best name for us though!

My bigger plea, however, is for first name/middle name combos. We chose Anna's middle name, Grace, a few days after she was born. We knew it didn't have the best flow (not a concern to my husband), but chose it for its meaning. I had several medical complications at the end of my pregnancy and had some scares in terms of her birth and health. When she arrived safely and perfectly healthy, we wanted to recognize the significance, and chose to name her after God's grace to us. My husband in particular is much more concerned with meaning (recognizing our Christian faith in God) than flow or how a particular name sounds. I am a bit overwhelmed with trying to come up with at least four first/middle name options (knowing husband may do his veto thing again anyway). I think I would like at least one biblical name/meaning in the combo, which means a biblical middle name for Spencer. I would love to use middle names from our top four...I am just not sure how they sound together. Two possible combos are Spencer Nathaniel and Elliot Jacob. How does Nathaniel Elliot Lee sound? Benjamin really stumps me. Other names "we" might like: Ezra, Abram, Isaac, Judah, Josiah, Jonas, Theodore, Jude, Asher, Calvin (family name), and John (family name). I love Gabriel and Luke, but they don't sound good with our last name. I also like Graham, Simon, Tate, Cole, Dane, and Franklin but hubby has vetoed. Samuel was taken by two close friends.

Thanks in advance for your help!

It's too bad your surname begins with L, because otherwise Paul (whose conversion story is one of the most dramatic in the Bible) would be a great choice for you.

I think it would be worthwhile to revisit the idea of Jacob. Your husband likes the story; you both like the name; it's great with your surname; and even though it's the #1 most popular boy name in the United States, not even 1% of boys were given the name in 2009---and there's been a small but steady decrease in that percentage since 1998, when it was #2 but 1.78% (source: Social Security Administration). At its current percentage, that's roughly 1 in 100 boys---or a rough average of one Jacob per six or seven 30-kid classrooms (assuming approximately half the children are boys). I like Jacob Nathaniel Lee, or Jacob Spencer Lee, or Jacob Calvin Lee, Jacob Benjamin Lee, or maybe one of the names you like but your husband doesn't: Jacob Graham Lee, Jacob Franklin Lee, etc.

If Nathaniel has an L problem and Nate is too short, maybe Nathan? He was the guy in the Bible who called King David out for stealing someone else's wife, and that takes guts. Plus, his name means "God-given." I like Nathan Elliot Lee and Nathan Benjamin Lee.

If you do use Nathaniel, I like Nathaniel Benjamin Lee best. I also like Nathaniel Jacob Lee. I think Nathaniel Elliot Lee has a lot of L in it, but on the other hand I think the repeating L-sounds tie the name together.

If you use Benjamin, I like Benjamin Elliot Lee or Benjamin Jacob Lee. I think Benjamin Nathaniel Lee works too.

I like Spencer Elliot Lee, Spencer Benjamin Lee, AND Spencer Nathaniel Lee.

All right, everyone! Make some combinations!

Name update 09-04-2010! K. writes:
Nathaniel John is here! We weren't any more decided after he was born, so we eventually just had to make a decision. I was tempted by the suggestion of James for a middle name, but we were most swayed by the meaning of the names. Nathaniel means "given by God" or "gift of God" and John means "God is gracious". And that pretty much sums up how we feel. Our beautiful son was a gift from our gracious God! Thanks for the help.

Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy H_ck!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Baby Girl Can, Sister to Simone Olivia

Jan writes:
We are having a second child, a girl. Her older sister's name is Simone Olivia. We chose Simone because it was uncommon, didn't end in the letter a, strong/sophisticated, not hard to say/spell, is a namesake for her grandfather, and we like the meaning (one who hears God). Olivia was more of a "pretty, flows well" choice. Our last name is similar sounding to "Can."

With #2 we are having a hard time coming up with a name that is similar in criteria though this time I'm okay with the name ending in an a. The middle name will fulfill the family naming tradition slot this time and will either be Nia or Nina. We chose not to put Nina as a middle name with Simone because we're not that big of fans of the jazz singer; similarly that's a reason to not use it as a first name this time. My husband likes Nia as a first name but I think it's too short (would be okay with it as a nickname for Antonia but he doesn't like Antonia) and that the style doesn't really match with Simone. In addition to the "match the style" challenge my husband really wants the name to have some significance - either to us personally or a woman who was some kind of ground breaker (if this was a boy his name would have been Malcolm, as in X).

Names I like which have been vetoed by my husband: Ramona, Claudia, Audrey, Camille, Scarlett
Names he has suggested that I haven't loved: Thea, Billie

Thanks for your help!

I won't be able to help with names that have significance to you personally, but here are a few groundbreaking women (selection chosen by whether their names seem okay as sister names with Simone):

Amelia Earhart
Coretta Scott King
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Emmeline Pankhurst
Gloria Steinem
Hillary Clinton
Ida B. Wells Barnett
Jane Goodall
Julia Ward Howe
Lucy Stone
Madeleine Albright
Margaret Sanger
Marie Curie
Mary McLeod Bethune
Maya Angelou
Millicent Fawcett
Rosa Parks
Ruth Simmons

(sources: Groundbreaking Women, Groundbreaking Women, Lighting the Way, Wikipedia: Women's Rights)

I like a lot of those with Simone: Simone and Julia, Simone and Amelia, Simone and Rosa, Simone and Margaret, Simone and Gloria, Simone and Marie. (The name Marie FEELS so common because of its use as a middle name, but it's #571 on the Social Security list.)

Nia/Nina is a tricky middle name to work with, but it works okay with some of them.

My favorite, I think, would be Celeste Nina.

Anyone else want to take a swing at this one? I'm having trouble coming up with options.

Name update 09-08-2010! Jan writes:
Noemi Nia X "Can" was born on September 2nd. We like Noemi (Italian form of Naomi pronounced No-EH-mi) because of how it sounds, its Biblical connection, meaning (pleasant; delightful) and thought it flowed okay with Nia. And since we didn't use Malcolm her second middle name is X! Thanks to everyone for their suggestions - Lena and Yvette are ones we seriously considered. Thanks, Patricia, for reminding me about the other Simone sibling post. It was nice to see that the name we chose was on the list suggested by one commenter, KMW.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Baby Girl D., Sister to Beckett Finn

Amy writes:
I have been putting off writing to you because I kept thinking we would find the perfect name. This is not yet the case, and my due date (September 1, 2010) is drawing near. I need to enlist your expertise. My Husband and I have been married for 9 years now and together for around 12. I gave birth to our first child, Beckett Finn, last summer. We adore his name as it reflects our love for all things literary, our time spent working in theater, and our Irish/English roots. Further, it's a unique (unpopular) name that doesn't lend itself to a nickname and is easily spelled. We are now expecting a daughter and are really having a hard time finding a name that measures up (in our eyes) to her big brother's name. If #2 had been a boy, we had decided on Truman Tate. This obviously won't work for us now. We are leaning toward a more unisex name and perhaps another surname, however, there are a few traditionally female names that we like as well. We would really like to use Quinn for her middle name, if possible, because we LOVE it, and really like how it "matches" with Finn. We only plan on having the 2 children, but realize if we were to have another one we could use Brynn, Lynn, or Wynn to keep the theme going. FYI: When I picture my baby girl she has blonde hair, blue/green eyes, and is quite the spunky little conversationalist. She is very nurturing and loves all things pink and girly, but is also quite the little aggressor out on the soccer field and certainly isn't afraid to get dirty. We want a name that suits her whether she decides to be an artist or a Supreme Court Justice. In Laura Wattenberg's The Baby Name Wizard, she describes the name Beckett as, "a literary name with a rock star spirit." Please help us find a name with this type of "feel" for our daughter!

This is our current list:


-Harper Quinn
Literary Reference: Author Harper Lee.
I feel like this may be the best "match", but I see Harper climbing the popularity charts quickly and I don't want her to have a popular, dated, or trendy name. Also, it just doesn't seem especially pretty to me.

-London Quinn/Grace/Belle/Blue (?)
Literary Reference: Author Jack London
This is the most popular name on our list and my Husband's favorite. I hate the popularity. I love the name and it's significance to us. We both love the writer Jack London, and we spent much of our courtship eating sushi and listening to jazz in Jack London Square in Oakland, CA. My Hubby equates this name to the time in our lives when we were falling in love. I haven't found the perfect middle to pair with it as Quinn repeats the 'N' sound and I'm not sure if it sounds right. Grace is pretty but feels like a "filler" name. Belle is pretty as well, but it turns the name into a noun. Blue is a bit edgy and has literary significance as well as personal significance (we've called this little one "Blueberry" for almost 8 months now), but I'm just not sure it's a perfect fit.

-Quinn Felicity
Literary Reference: ???
I love this name combo but it simply doesn't have the literary significance of some of our other choices. This makes it less desirable to my Husband. However, I still think it's beautiful and love Quinn as a first name paired with sweet and feminine Felicity.

-Sawyer Quinn
Literary Reference: Title character in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
I keep hearing negative feedback on the name Sawyer for a girl. But WE LOVE it! However, I don't want everyone to always automatically assume that she's a boy before they meet her. Also, one of our best friends of over 15 years has this surname and it would be a nice tribute to him.

Distinctly Feminine...

-Beatrix Belle/Blue
Literary Reference: Author Beatrix Potter
This is a great classic underused name with a saucy edge (love the unexpected "X"). Although I don't typically like nicknames, I think a little Bea would be darling and very unique. Not sure if the style pairs well with Beckett, and if we do happen to have more children, this limits us to 'B' names. Had to convince my Husband this was a real name, but now it has really grown on him.

-Felicity Belle
Literary Reference: ???
This was the name I chose for my fake I.D. in high school. I think it's beautiful, however, it lacks literary significance and a 4-syllable first name would surely be shortened to an undesirable nickname.

-Phoebe Quinn/Jane
Literary Reference: Holden Caulfield's sister in Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye. Found in Greek myths and Shakespeare as well.
Phoebe has been my favorite name for a girl since I was a teenager. However, it's not overtly literary like some of our other picks. Quinn makes it feel more modern while Jane makes it feel more classic. Also, not sure if the style pairs well with Beckett...but we both love this name.

-Violet Quinn
Literary Reference: Character in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Beautiful, charming and sweet little vintage name that has unfortunately been climbing the charts at an alarming rate. Violet Quinn is adorable to me in every way. But again, I'm not sure if the style matches up with Beckett or if it's "literary enough". I'm also worried about both names ending in a 'T' sound...oh, and the initials V. D.

Other Names that were seriously considered but ultimately ruled out:
Adelaide - Hubby suggested. I think there are too many girls nicknamed "Addy" already, and it feels very German to me;
Arden Quinn - Hubby thought it sounded too harsh...but I still like it;
Auden - Liked the literary aspect, not the "odd" sound;
Bronte Quinn - I thought it sounded too pretentious and didn't want to put an umlaut over the "E," I dislike any punctuation in a name;
Boston Blue/Belle - Lacking literary substance, but feels very "cool" to me;
Campbell Grace - Hubby couldn't stop thinking of soup and I didn't like the nickname options;
Eliot Quinn - An inevitable nickname, I prefer the Elliott spelling, which takes away the literary significance (T. S. Eliot);
Emerson - I don't like "son" as part of a girl's name;
Harlow Reese/Jane - Lacking literary substance;
Juliet - Too frilly for me;
Maisie - So cute, but ultimately ruled out nickname names;
Miller - Love the playwright and the nickname (Millie), but Hubby tends to think of the beer; and
Story - Seems a bit trendy, but love the way it sounds and how unique it is.

We would love your help to narrow down our list or even suggest something completely different if you think it would be a better match. I know I've given you a lot of information (maybe too much?) but I'm hoping it will help you have a better idea of what we're searching for. We do not have any family names that we want to use nor do we want to purposely chose blatantly Biblical names. We want our children to have their very own unique names that are simply meaningful to us.

Thank You!

My favorite from your list is Beatrix Blue, although I think I like Beatrix Quinn even more. I think it goes well with Beckett, and that only two B names wouldn't be enough to force you into using a third if you had another child.

Another favorite is Phoebe Quinn. If that's been your favorite girl name since high school, and if your husband loves it too, it seems like a good choice. I think it goes well with Beckett.

Another possible choice is Flannery. VERY unusual, very literary, very pretty, excellent with Beckett, great with Quinn. Flannery Quinn.

Name update 10-18-2010! Amy writes:
After much deliberation, we named our sweet baby girl Phoebe Quinn. When she first arrived, I immediately thought she was a Phoebe, but my husband thought she was a London. Shortly after that, we both thought that maybe she was a Harper...but was it pretty enough for our little princess? Over the next 24 hours we "tried on" all of the names from our list as well as all of the suggestions from you and your readers. The birth certificate lady came by several different times, but we still weren't ready to commit to a name. It took the hospital threatening to write "Baby Girl" on her birth certificate to help us make that final decision. Almost 24 hours after her birth, my husband announced that she was Phoebe Quinn -- and she was. I'm not sure why it took us so long to see it, but Phoebe just fits her perfectly. Thank you to you and your readers for all of your help!

More Name Updates!

Update to Baby Boy-Girl Twins Woods!
Update to Baby Boy Snyder!

Name Updates!

Update to Baby Boy or Girl H., Sibling to Keira!
Update to Baby Girl or Boy Bick-car, Sibling to Evelyn Grace!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Baby Boy Shawl

Brandi writes:
I am due August 30 with our third child and first boy. My husband and I are having the hardest time zeroing in on a "perfect" name. We have a long list of names we both like, but nothing either of us insanely love, and nothing that feels exactly right.

We'd like to use my husband's first name, Anson, as the middle name, since that is the tradition in his family. (I am finding it is a hard name to have in the middle) Our last name is spelled differently but sounds exactly like the word Shawl. This last name has made it impossible to use my favorite name, Harry, or any names like Paul, Sol, Grey, etc. because it rhymes or brings to mind the item of clothing. I am having hang-ups on using names that end in -s as it makes a bit of a tongue twister to say. I also hesitate to use a name ending in -n since his middle will be an -n ending name, but it seems like less of a big deal.

Our two daughters are named Olivia Beulah and Elsa Pearl.

Some of the names we like:

Bartholomew (nn Bart or Ollie)
Martin (nn Marty)
Albert (my husband likes this name, I'm not too fond of it)
Hank (I feel like Henry is a touch too popular, I have several HS friends with baby Henrys, so I hesitate to use Henry--and I don't love giving nicknames as formal names, but I thought I'd throw it on here)
William (nn Billy)

Names we can't use (sibs or kids of close family):


Also we have been calling the baby J.R. mostly as a joke. We jokingly suggested we'd name him Jeffrey Robert after our fathers. Now I'm wondering if we should "give up" and just name him that!


YOU HAVE KARL ON YOUR LIST!! I have been pushing and pushing this name and have had NO TAKERS. So now I want to push YOU super super hard to use it! EXCEPT: when I try to say "Karl Shawl," I have trouble saying it. Everyone else, try saying it aloud---is it hard for you too?

Another possible nickname for Bartholomew is Barry---which reminds me of your favorite name Harry. Or Gerrit/Garrett Shawl is nice, and gives you Gary, though then I'd want a different middle name to avoid the initials GAS. Or Jeremiah Anson Shawl, and Jerry. Or Lawrence Anson Shawl, and Larry. (I used to prefer the spelling Laurence, but now it makes me think of the girl's name Lauren.) Or Perry Anson Shawl. Or Terrance Anson Shawl, and Terry. Although both Lawrence and Terrance end the way Anson begins, so perhaps that's too repetitive?

I wonder if you'd like the name Warren? Warren Anson Shawl. Olivia, Elsa, and Warren.

Is the name Wade too choppy with a one-syllable surname? Wade Anson Shawl. Olivia, Elsa, and Wade.

Similar to Hank is Frank. Franklin Anson Shawl. Olivia, Elsa, and Frank.

Name update 09-07-2010! Brandi writes:
Baby arrived last Wednesday, hooray! He was and is darling, but we didn't feel that any of the names and suggestions fit him once he was here and we saw him. It was "back to the drawing board" in the hospital, where we decided that Peter was perfect and fitting for him. Peter was never a favorite of mine or my husband's, but it was on our list back in the early stages when we had 30+ names listed. It feels like one of those cases where baby practically named himself. But of course we love him and his name-- Peter Anson Shawl. Thank you for your suggestions, and to the commenters for their suggestions. They were fun to read and it helped put us in what we thought was the right direction before he was born! He had other plans, but we're very happy with our little Pete.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Baby Twin Boys Marty

Stephanie writes:
We just found out that our identical twins are BOYS. Yay! Unfortunately, we also found out that they are very sick. They aren't due until early December, but we are having surgery on Monday to try and correct their diagnosis and give them both a fighting chance. Their prognosis is as good as it can be, given the situation, but we feel it's important to name them before surgery for several reasons. One, it makes us feel closer to our sons and two, well, just in case.

We have one daughter, Amelia Marty and we call her Mia. We don't care too much if the boys' names go well with hers, but it gives you an idea of the style we like. We chose Amelia because it was a classic name, not too common (yet??) and it's a family name for us. I always thought we would choose really unique names but when we look at our final list, you'll see we really tend towards more classic names.

We've got one twin named: Miles. We've always loved this name and it was our boy name for Amelia (gender was a surprise until d-day). His middle name will be Jeffrey or ______. I say "or" because if one twin doesn't survive, my husband wants the surviving twin's middle name to honor his brother. I think it's a sweet idea and I'm on board, although it's complicating things.

We also have a middle name for Baby B. It will be Keith or ______. Jeffrey and Keith are our fathers.

The names on our current list are (in no particular order):

We both like William, but we're not sure how "Will Marty" sounds and we think we will call him by a nickname. Also, it's just not sticking with us as "the one." One major plus of the name is that it works with the middle name situation (i.e., William Keith Marty, Miles William Marty, or William Miles Marty all sound good to us).

Same goes for Henry...we don't love the nickname options, which is fine, but also the name just isn't sticking as "the one." It does work with the middle name situation, so again a plus for Henry.

We both loved Charles, calling him Charlie, but I think we've eliminated it due to the middle name situation. It just doesn't work with Miles if we end up needing to use it that way.

We both like Grayson, but it just seems SO different from Amelia and Miles and not really us. It does work with the middle name situation...

There have been LOTS of names we've looked at and said no to. For example:
*Jack: love it but too common and we have close friends naming their son Jack next month - we hate to name our son Jack and not have him survive - seems awkward for us and our friends.
*Marcus: don't like the nickname of Mark.
*Truman: We really liked this and then decided it wasn't us. The nickname "Tru" didn't help its cause.

Thanks so much for your help. I know it's VERY short notice and if you don't have time to get to it, I completely understand. Also, I hope everything makes sense - I'm writing you at 2am because I can't sleep, which doesn't bode well for clarity and grammar. :)

I like Elias. Miles and Elias. Elias Keith Marty. And, if necessary, Miles Elias Marty or Elias Miles Marty. I like a little bit of matchiness to twin names, and it appeals to me that both names have five letters, share the long-I sound, and end in S. In fact, they have four letters in common---and yet they're very different-sounding names: different initial, different number of syllables.

Another name with the same number of letters and the same long-I sound is Isaac. (I swear I'm not LOOKING for only that sort of name, but I keep finding one that sounds nice and then noticing the things that match.) Isaac Keith Marty. Miles and Isaac---and, if necessary, Miles Isaac Marty or Isaac Miles Marty.

I like Owen and Oliver, too, and I hesitate only because Miles Owen/Oliver Marty has the initials "MOM" and I don't like initials to spell things.

One of my favorite boy names is Elliot. Elliot Keith Marty. Miles and Elliot---and, if necessary, Miles Elliot Marty or Elliot Miles Marty.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Baby Boy, Brother to Daren

Allison writes:
Please help us! We are due in a week and still without a clue of what to name our second son. My husband is not very helpful in naming discussions. He rejects all my names and seems to have a very clear idea in his mind for a name but the only name he’s actually suggested is Jackson (which I hate).

I like names like Matthew, Brandon, Cody, and Liam. Matthew is definitely my top name I love it so much, but can’t use it because three of our friends have young sons named Matthew and I don’t want just another Matthew to add to the crowd. But I really love that name, so if you know of any names similar to Matthew, that would be so helpful.

We don’t want any very trendy names, or weird spellings, but we are okay if they are common, as long as they aren’t too bland. It has to be at least two syllables so it won’t seem choppy because our last name is one syllable (it starts with a vowel and has a very sharp consonant sound).

Also, as one last bonus, if you know of any names of German heritage that are still useable in America, that would be great. But it’s just something to think about that would be nice if there was one, not necessary at all.

Our son’s name is Daren, but we don’t care too much if they are really matchy, we mainly just want to find a good name for him as an individual.

Also, I’ve found that two syllable names that end in an “ee” sound sound nice with our last name (like Kirby – which my husband hates).

Oh, and if we have a girl in the future, she will be Jamie, if that helps at all.

And middle name help would be great too – we just want something that sounds good with the first name.


Thank you so much.

Let's see, close to Matthew... Well, there's Matthias, Matteus, and Mateo. I also think Theo has some of the sound of Matthew.

Some usable German names from the German name appendix in The Oxford Dictionary of First Names):

Kurt (but only 1 syllable)

Some other possibilities, heavy on the -ee endings:


I suggest seeing if you can use Matthew as a middle name.

If possible, I recommend DEMANDING that your husband sit down with a baby name book and make a list. Naming the baby is his job too, and it's fair to ask him to do an equal share of the work. I think too many....well, let's say "partners," but it's virtually always men---think that the best job is the one where someone ELSE does all the work and THEY do all the vetoing and criticizing. If he can come up with a list, he'll (1) give you something to WORK WITH, so you can suggest things he might also like, or better yet you might find something he likes that you also like, and (2) see what it's like to do all that work and then have someone reject his choices, which may make him a little less quick to reject yours. If he's anything like my husband in the early days, I suggest having handy the answer, "Because I didn't ask for you to Make the Final Decision, I asked you to Join the Committee." (This is for partners who think that if their opinion is asked, their opinion must then be taken.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baby Girl S., Sister to Oberon Elwood

Karen writes:
I'm due at the end of August with our daughter and we just can't seem to pick a name.
We already have a son names Oberon Elwood. Elwood is a family name.
We wanted a girl's name that was strong but feminine and uncommon but not strange or difficult to pronounce. We also want a name that has a nice meaning or a literary reference would be a bonus. Our background is German, Scottish, Irish and I grew up in a French speaking area so I name from those background would be a bonus. A great nickname that is a standalone name too would be ideal. Oberon goes by Obie. Basically, we were looking for a feminine equivalent of Oberon.

I liked Aurora and Rory for short but my husband couldn't get over an association he had with someone else and we determined it was too popular. We've always liked Isla but weren't sure if it was strong enough and the meaning didn't stand out. Ultimately, this name is too popular too. My husband liked Lorelei, which I love on paper but to me it sounds like Laura-Lye and I didn't care for that.
We also loved Asher for a girl but feel it's a very popular boys name and we don't want her to feel like she was given a boy's name.
I love Veruca but it means wart and is associated with the spoiled girl from Charlie and the Chocolate factor so that one got ruled out.
I love Oleander. I love how it sounds. I like Lola as a nickname but it doesn't have any significant meaning and my husband is concerned about it actually being a highly toxic plant. I'm just having a hard time letting go of this name. My husband is fond of Adelaide and I'm luke warm on it. There isn't a nickname that I love for Adelaide. I'm trying to stay open to it.

We both love Beatrix but we worry a little about the "ks" sound in the X running into the S in our last name. We're also concerned about her having the initials B.S. but aren't sure how important that is with a middle name. Finally, it's hard to find a nickname that we like for Beatrix. It's sweet that it could be Bea or Betty, which coincidentally are the names of both mine and my husband's grandmothers. But Obie and Bea are a bit much. I also like Bebe but the same issue with Obie and Bebe, especially when we call Obie, Obiebie sometimes. I don't like Trixie. We have considered Bex or Bexie or even Pixie. We would use Viola as a middle name. It's another family name - actually Elwood's wife was Viola in my family so there would be that connection between our children. And it has the literary reference and has a great meaning plus it doesn't seem that common.

The other name we've given a lot of consideration to is Ursula. It has a similar meaning as Oberon which is thematically nice. I like Lula or Zuzu for nicknames. It seems strong and feminine and uncommon. Coincidentally it is a crater on the moon Titania which was the name of Oberon's wife in Midsummer night's Dream. Another nice connection albeit an obscure one. We would use the middle name Ellen, which is my mother's name and also has a nice pairing with Oberon Elwood - Ursula Ellen. Our hesitation over this name is whether Ursula is viewed as an ugly name in this culture in addition to its association with the witch from Disney's Little Mermaid.

I suspect it's going to come down to Beatrix Viola S. or Ursula Ellen S.

So what do you think? Any suggestions?

Thanks so much in advance for your help. We've been spinning our wheels and I've been making myself neurotic!

Because you like the name Oleander but are concerned about the toxicity of the plant, I suggest the name Magnolia. It's not in the Top 1000, it has the great nickname Maggie, or you could use Nola or Lia, or Nolly which is like Molly or Polly or Dolly but less common than any of them. It's great with her brother's name: Oberon and Magnolia. A magnolia is a beautiful tree with sturdy flowers and several medicinal uses. I like Magnolia Ellen.

Maybe this is reaching, but the place-name Arcadia got its name from the word arktos, or bear (source). I think it has the same dignified sound as Oberon: Oberon and Arcadia. Cady would be a great nickname. I like Arcadia Ellen.

To avoid the problem of Disney's Ursula, you could use Ursa. Same meaning, but no evil witch. It loses the nicknames, however. You could use the English variant of Ursula, which is Ursella---but I find this alters the pronunciation, and also you might not want to seem to be in on the -ella trend.

I'm reading a book right now in which the main character is a girl named Olympia. Oberon and Olympia---nice. But I'm stuck for a nickname. Lippy? Limmy? Olly? Pippi?

I like Cressida (a Shakespeare name, like Oberon) for you, but again there is a nickname problem. Cressie? Siddy?

Verona is similar to Veruca but without the wart/Wonka association. I love how it sounds with Oberon: Oberon and Verona.

One of my favorite German names is Wilhelmina. So pretty, not in the Top 1000, and good nicknames: Willa, Mina.

The name Bernadette is French AND has the bear connection to Oberon. A cute nickname is Benny. I knew a Bernadette who went by Bernadette (her husband called her Bernie but I don't think anyone else did), and I was surprised how the name grew on me.

My top two choices for you are Magnolia and Arcadia.

Name update! Karen writes:
This is a long overdo update on our daughter's name.
I really appreciated all your feedback and your readers' feedback.
It was nice to see how loved the name Ursula and Beatrix were as well. Our daughter didn't end up "looking" like an Ursula. She's nearly 4 months old now and the name doesn't seem to fit her.
In the end we named our daughter Aurora Ellen (although I still love Viola, I really wanted to pay tribute to my mother they same way we had to my father in giving our son the middle name Elwood).
My husband finally came around to the name Aurora and since I have loved it since I first heard it when I was six we went with it.
We call our daughter Rory for short.
Turns out that Aurora was sleeping beauty's name. I had no idea. Our daughter is definitely a good sleeper.

Thanks again!

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl Brown!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Baby Girl or Boy McFarland

Jana writes:
I am REALLY stuck.

Our names are Jana Danelle McFarland and Rodney Philip McFarland, but he goes by Phil.

We’re due at the end of August with our first baby and we don’t know what we’re having.

If the baby is a girl, the name will be Adeline Grace McFarland. We both love it and are in 100% unity.

The trick is, that if the baby is a boy we have absolutely have no consensus.

Here’s the criteria we’re working with:

* We have to like the nickname, as I am not one of those people who will insist on correcting people.
* We like names that aren’t too trendy, that have a life outside of this decade, but are not terribly keen on biblical names.
* Like everyone else out there, we don’t want an odd or weird name, and we don’t want it to be too popular – almost impossible combo no?
* Oh, we also don’t like names that could be confused with being a girl – it’s important for us to have distinctly masculine name.
* I don’t think I want it to have the popular “en” sounding ending – i.e. Cohen, Aiden, Brayden, Dustin, Dylan... You get the drift.

Here’s some names we’ve liked, but have crossed out for various reasons

* I loved the name Jasper, but my husband is worried that it is too feminine and I have a little nagging fear that baby will get nicknamed Jaz (which I cannot, cannot stand). It is still in the running for a middle name. Also, for the record, I didn’t even KNOW it was a name in the Twilight series until someone told me.
* My husband likes the name Wyatt. I am impartial to it. Neither love nor hate it. Hubby loves it though.
* We’ve also considered William, but the rising popularity and the nickname “Willie” turned us off it. Also, could be used as a middle name.
* We love the name Weston, and since my dad’s name is Wesley, it would have been a nice subtle tribute. Unfortunately, we have a dog named Winston – just too close.
* As an alternative to Weston, we did like the name Easton, but see that it’s rising in popularity as a girls name.
* I like Owen, but we have friends who just used that name.
* Parker has also been on the list and off the list, but not sure if we love it or if it’s just so-so.

Anyway, I hope you can help us and really look forward to what you have to say! old is the dog? Perhaps the overlap would be okay, especially if you plan to nickname the baby Wes (one of my top favorite boy nicknames). Or, since Weston ends in the -en sound, perhaps go straight for Wesley? It's a great name.

When I'm looking for well-established, non-new, boys-only names that aren't biblical, I look toward English royalty. Henry! Charles! Edmund! Edward! George! Richard! And John and James, while biblical as well as royal, don't feel as distinctly biblical as, say, Elijah or Moses. Robert and Louis, I don't think are English royalty, but I think of them as being in the same group.

I think these names can give parents a flat, "meh," "heard it a million times" reaction at first, but then grow on them with time---especially if a good nickname is found. My mom knows a family with a son named George, and they call him Geordie. Geordie! So cute! Henry and Charles/Charlie are the two most currently in style; Edward and Edmund are next, I think; and I think George and Louis will be next after that (though Louis might get a boost now that Sandra Bullock used it for her adorbs baby). Richard and Robert, I don't know. They don't sound potential-tastic to me yet, but heaven knows I've said that about hundreds of names I later can't believe I didn't realize would come into style.

The name Easton isn't in the Top 1000 for girls; for boys, it's #252 and rising. I looked on the Social Security baby name site and found that in 2009, 19 girls were named Easton, and 1,357 boys were named Easton. In 2008, 30 girls and 1,104 boys were named Easton. To me, these aren't "Danger, Danger, Girl Takeover Imminent" numbers: there will always be a handful of people deliberately giving their daughters "boy names." In 2009, for example, 8 girls were named Henry, 9 girls were named Robert, 6 girls were named George, 11 girls were named John, 15 girls were named William, 14 girls were named Owen, and 18 girls were named Wyatt. BUT: the name Easton feels "of this decade" to me, AND it doesn't meet the "not the -en ending" preference, so perhaps you want to scrap it anyway.

Sometimes I really like a repeating sound, and sometimes I don't. In the case of Parker McFarland, I don't like that repeating AR sound. Oh, actually, I think it's the repeating K sound WITH the repeating AR sound I don't like, because I like Charles McFarland just fine. And if you're trying for boy-only names, Parker is the least boy-onlyish on the list: 597 girls named Parker in 2009, and #502 on the chart.

I really like Owen McFarland; it's too bad your friends just used it. There's Ian, which still has the -en ending but maybe hasn't just been used by friends. It's in the Top 100, but it's been hovering in the 60s/70s/80s ranks for decades. Ian McFarland is really nice. No nickname, though.

More possibilities:

Adam McFarland
August (Auggie, Gus) McFarland
Elias (Eli) McFarland
Emmett McFarland
Hugo McFarland
Jonathan (Jon) McFarland
Kyle McFarland
Malcolm (Mal) McFarland
Simon McFarland
Spencer (Spence) McFarland
Turner McFarland

Elias is KIND OF biblical, in that it's one translation of the name Elijah. But I think the feel of it is more...old-fashioned, down-to-earth, man-of-the-land. Elijah makes me think of prophets and sacrifices; Elias makes me think of overalls and plank floors and Elias Howe the inventor.

Simon, too, is biblical, but the best-known one gets his name changed to Peter after he converts, and the others are far less well-known. The name Simon to me has more of an intellectual, British feel, and I love it with Adeline if you have a daughter later on. It has the -en ending you're trying to avoid and it doesn't have an easy nickname (does Sy count?), but I still really like it for you. In fact, that's my first choice: Simon McFarland. Maybe Simon Wesley McFarland.