This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baby Boy or Girl M_______y, Sibling to Lincoln Daniel

Stephanie writes:
Ok, so we have one son and his name is Lincoln Daniel (last name is Irish and starts with an M and ends with a Y). My name is Stephanie Marie and hubby is Daniel Raymond. If this baby is a boy we have the name Nicholas James picked out. Nicholas is after my late uncle and I just love the name James and my husband happens to have an uncle on each side named James.

Girl names are what we cannot figure out. I do NOT like Nicole for a girl. My husband has a pretty big family and does not want to use any of their names for first names. This is fine with me for the most part because there are a lot of repeats already (ie. 2 Coleens, 3 Irenes, etc.). However, I LOVE the name Lauren, but he has a young first cousin named Lauren with the same last name. There aren't really any other family names that I like for a first name. My great-grandmother was named Valentina, but I would only want to use it as a middle name. Oh, I am due in Early March but will probably deliver sometime in February. Other names I like are:

Noelle (not sure about using it when baby is not born close to Christmas)
Brenna (hubby doesn't like it)

Such a short list. I don't feel like Valentina pairs well with any of these. My family is Ukrainian and there are a few Ukrainian names that I like, but just sound silly with an Irish last name. I also like a few french names, like Cosette, Colette, Juliet, Gabrielle, but I don't even know anyone that's French and I don"t feel like our families will identify with those names.

So, what name pairs well with Lincoln and can stand up to an Irish last name and flows well with Valentina? Or maybe you can think of another middle name that sounds better.

I think Laurel Valentina is great. I think it flows well, and that Lincoln and Laurel is a cute sibling set---better even than Lincoln and Lauren, which seem like they might cross the matchy line.

(The comments section on the post Baby Naming Issue: Using the Name Natalie For a Baby Not Born at Christmas might be of some use on the Noelle issue, even though it was written about a different name.)

Though Cosette and Colette still sound French to the U.S. ear, I think Gabrielle is nearly as mainstreamed as names like Nicole and Michelle and Danielle (which sound a little French, but probably in the same way names like Patrick and Ryan and Kyle sound a little Irish), and that only the Juliette form of Juliet seems French. Depending on which French names you have in mind, that could be an excellent category to revisit. Or, some French names have an Anglicized version (like Juliet for Juliette): if, for example, you like Cecile, you could consider Celia. If you like Clarisse, you could consider Clarissa.

Do you like Eloise? It's French, without being alienatingly French. I love it with your surname, and with Valentina.

Or Josephine? Maybe too many shared sounds with Valentina. But if so, French names often make wonderful middle names because so many of them have the emphasis on the second syllable: Josephine Celeste, Josephine Colette, Josephine Noelle, etc. It might be a nice way to get a French name you love, without as much of the worry that it won't fit right with your family.

I wonder if your husband would like Bryn (or Brin) more than Brenna? Bryn Valentina M_____y; Lincoln and Bryn. I would prefer to avoid the initials B.M., though.

Lincoln is a surname name---but because it evokes Abraham Lincoln (and because it's been in the Top 1000 as a first name since at least 1880 when the public online Social Security records begin), I think it sounds good with early American names like Abigail, Molly, Ruth, Emily. Molly is perhaps not right with your surname, and Emily might be too common---but I like Lincoln and Abigail, Lincoln and Ruthie, Lincoln and Amelia, Lincoln and Lydia, Lincoln and Eliza, Lincoln and Margaret, Lincoln and Clara, Lincoln and Cora, Lincoln and Adeline, Lincoln and Alice.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Popular Middle Names

Allyson writes:
Thank you for answering my previous question regarding the name Mackenzie. I am fairly sure we will go ahead and use it if we have a girl. Now, on to the middle name.

And now, a quiz- if I told you I was born in 1980, I bet you could figure out my middle name in three guesses or less. Around 95% of my friends have either Elizabeth, Marie, or Ann as a middle name (mine is Marie). Do you see where I'm going with this? I love the name Grace. It's a great middle name because it goes with everything. It's feminine and is perfect to offset the spunkier Mackenzie first name. Mackenzie Grace. Perfect, right? Except I've lost count of the number of baby girls I've come across in the past year or two with that middle name. It seems to be the go-to middle name of the 2010s. In 30 years, will little Mackenzie be saying "I was born in 2012, so of course my middle name is Grace"?


I wish so much that the Social Security Administration would let us snoop around in the middle names as well as in the first names. I'm sure you're right that Grace (along with Rose and Elizabeth) is one of the main middle names of this current generation of baby girls---but I'd love to know to what EXTENT we're right. I suspect that although Grace and Rose are the Ann and Marie of today, they're still not used as much as Ann and Marie were.

I think the attitude toward middle names has changed a little. I could be completely wrong about this ("feeling like" something is a certain way is what leads people to say that their child's name got popular AFTER they used it, even when that's not the case), but it seems like middle names didn't used to get quite so much attention. It seems like they used to be more of a "tie the first and last names together" name from the "sounds nice" category---whereas now there's more careful agitation put into the choice. There were PLENTY of people agitating over choosing meaningful interesting middle names for their kids in previous generations, and there are PLENTY of people choosing Rose and Grace as this generation's sounds-nice bridge names---but I'll bet if we had statistics (OH HOW I WISH WE DID), we'd see middle names doing what first names have been doing: spreading out from a smaller selection to a larger one. And if we could do a massive survey, I'll bet the answer to "How did you choose the middle name?" would be more heavily slanted in previous generations toward "I dunno, it just sounded nice" than it is today.

All this is to say that although Grace is certainly a popular middle name for baby girls right now, I'll bet today's popular middle names are used for a much smaller percentage of baby girls than the previous batches of popular middle names were---just as the 2010 #1 name Isabella is used for a much smaller percentage of baby girls than the 1970s #1 name Jennifer was, or than the 1950s #1 name Linda was, or than the 1930s #1 name Mary was.

I do think that if I were choosing a common/current name as a child's first name, I'd try to avoid a common/current middle name. There can be some fun in a shared name: my son William frequently has the same two other Williams in his classes at school, and they say "Hi, William!" "Hi, William!" to each other and crack up every time, and they'll refer to themselves as "the Williams" and so forth. But for me, the fun dissipates if I picture saying to one of the other William mothers, "Oh, what's his middle name?" and hearing it's the same as my William's middle name. It goes from the "We have such great taste, don't we?" feeling of showing up at the party with the same dress, to the "I guess we both saw the same mannequin" feeling of showing up also in the same shoes and jewelry.

If your grandmother's name were Grace and you were asking if you could go ahead and use it, I would be all for it. I'd remind you that even if there are lots of Mackenzie Graces out there, it's not like she'll be running into them every single day. I'd emphasize that I think it's wise to let the love/meaning of the name trump popularity concerns. I'd mention that one-syllable bridge names are few and far between, and that they really do make a name sound great. And I will STILL emphasize those things: if you love it, if you WANT it, then USE it. But if you just like the sound of it, I suggest finding another, less common name you like the sound of.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Last-Minute Indecision

Rebecca writes:
I'm 38 1/2 weeks pregnant, and I'm hoping you can help me with some last minute indecision. My husband and I are expecting a boy (or first) any day now. Since the beginning we have been using one name, and it wasn't until recently that both of us are starting to doubt our choice.

Our last name is Anderson, and my first name is Rebecca (usually shortened to Becca) and my husband is Nathan (shortened to Nate by everyone but his parents). There were generally three things we were looking for:

1. I'm Jewish and want to have something in the child's name that is either Hebrew or reflects that fact that he's not fully Scandinavian
2. The name Rebecca is so common I want to avoid the same thing for my child. I want to avoid top 10 names if possible, but don't want the name to sound made up.
3. (Less important) We both have shortened names that our friends use - if possible I'd like to give him a name that he can use with everyone.

The name we've been using is Eli (full name Eli Nathan Anderson). The thing that has me a little concerned is that Eli ends in a vowel and Anderson starts with one. When I say it out loud I'm concerned that his first and last name run into each other if his middle name isn't in there. Other names we've considered are Jack, Charles, Elliot, and Hayden - but none of these really fit the criteria we're looking for and I'm not in love with any of them.

Any advice?

I said "Eli Anderson" out loud a few times, and it doesn't run together for me. For comparison, try "Elias Anderson," which comes out "Eliah Sanderson" or just "eliasanderson."

I think if you've both liked this one name all along, it's unlikely that your current doubts are anything more than the very common "WAIT!! Are we SURE??" feelings that keep most of us up at night at the very end. I found it reassuring to leaf through the baby name book Just To See, and also to think to myself, "If he doesn't look like a _____ when he's born, we have plenty of time to rethink." (For me, both exercises resulted in feeling better and keeping the original name. Results may vary.)

(See also: Baby Naming Issue: Last-Minute Doubts.)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: Looking For a Boy Name From a Folk Song

Alice writes:
we need help! obviously. I'm going to give birth NEXT WEEK to our 5th child. It's a boy. we don't have a name.
our other kids--oh wait. our names are Alice and Ethan Bond. Bond is a surname we just adopted because we are both estranged from our families. i don't exactly suggest being estranged from your family but after seeing what some friends went thru to honor every single person on their family tree, well..
When I was preg with our first child we had NO idea what to name her. Then one day we came across the old folk song little Liza Jane" and in one of those awesome moments we just glanced at each other and grinned really widely. So our first daughter is
Liza Jane Bond
(in retrospect i might've picked a different middle, not in love with the 1-1-1 flow of her name)
When i was preg the 2nd time we LOVED having a special song for our girl. Liza asked for the song ALL the time--at 8 she still does--and her room was/is decorated with a super artistic print of the lyrics, and we just loved it. we wanted the same thing for our 2nd child. we knew it was a girl, we thought about carefully and we came up with
Matilda Clare Bond
Waltzing Matilda, obviously. Clare is just a name we like.
in between M and her sister we lost a baby in the womb. Before we knew she was dead we'd named her Susannah Rose. we consider Susannah our daughter even tho we never really met her which is why i say we're on our 5th kid--kind of our 5th, kind of our 4th!
Our youngest is--and this took a LOT of thought but obviously we'd decided to continue the pattern--
Clementine Louise Bond
so the problem is this: we LOVE having daughters named after folks songs. and we love that they have very traditional mns just in case they need them-Jane, Clare, Louise. all 3 girls LOVE having their "own" song, and love singing them, and its just a great system.
this will be our last child. and its a BOY. and we are stuck! for middle names we like:
Miles (our favorite, will use if it works with the first name)
But we cannot come up with a first name! we feel like if it was a girl we'd have an easier time and also HAVE to stick with our pattern but with a boy maybe he could have something else special about his name? the thing is our girls LOVE their names and the whole song tie in. the other day we were talking about it and Matilda (our classic middle child, so sensitive) got really upset at the idea that the baby might not have a song name.
but we can't think of ANY folks songs, aside from John Henry which is we don't really like, that have boys names. there are some more obscure songs, but they are REALLY obscure...and we just can't find anything that carries on the tradition from our girls in the way we want. so, um, HELP????

I suggest Daniel/Danny or Jude or John(ny).

Danny is from Danny Boy, and it's a little morbid, but so are Waltzing Matilda and Oh My Darling, Clementine.

Jude is from Hey, Jude, a slightly cheerier choice in that it deals with divorce rather than death.

John(ny) is in many, many songs, but the ones that come to my mind are Who's Johnny?, Johnny B. Goode, and Johnny Angel. I'm not sure John Bond works, though.

I'm not familiar with many folk songs, but you could also see if there's anything here: Songs with Boys' Names in the Title or Baby Names Inspired by Popular Songs, or Names in Song Titles, or Boys Names From Songs, or Boy Names From Song, or Traditional and Folk Song Titles, or Song Names.

Name update! Alice writes:
thank you SO MUCH for all the help and thanks also so much to all of your commenters! that was SO helpful and actually i was reading them all while i was in labor! well, ethan was reading them to me.
anyway, they were great, thank you! we did like the james idea but naming the poor kid james bond seemed a little unfair. but we loved so many of the suggestions. other faves were Louis, Jude, Jeremiah, Henry...we liked a lot of them.
But in the end, we went with:
Daniel Tucker Bond
And we sing Old dan Tucker ALL THE TIME. the girls love, love love having a baby brother and we adore him, and his song has become a regular part of our day. only downside is the girls want to wash his hair in a frying pan...
thanks again for all the help!

Baby Boy Lawrence, Brother to Lane Gray

Miranda writes:
I absolutely love your blog and am in desperate need of some boy name advice! I am 22 weeks pregnant with my second boy and am having a terrible time naming him. I think my problem is that I used my two favorite boy names with my first son. His name is Lane Gray. I definitely pictured having two little boys named Lane and Gray, but knew I wasn't guaranteed a second boy. What do I do!? We have other names that we "kind of" like, but it feels like we are settling. Gray is a family name.
I thought about using Roe as a middle name for this baby because it is also a family name that I like.
Here are a few names we kind of like so you can see our style:
Graham (have close family friends who used this recently)
Shepherd-Shep (husband isn't too crazy about this one)

And most of these do not work with Roe. Our last name is Lawrence. I also don't know how important it is to stick with a one syllable name (because our favorite girl name is June)...? We very much appreciate any advice or suggestions! Thank you!

My opinion on the 1-syllable situation depends on (1) how many children you're likely to have, and (2) whether you'd LIKE to do 1-syllable names for all of them. If, for example, you're planning three children, and it appeals to you to use 1-syllable names for all, and you think you could choose a third 1-syllable boy name if needed, then yay, fun challenge! But if, on the other hand, you're planning four children and you're out of 1-syllable names if you have two girls / another boy, then I'd suggest breaking the pattern now so that it isn't a problem later. Or would you like a 4-letter-name pattern, instead of a 1-syllable pattern? Another thing to consider, if you do use Roe as the middle name: would you feel trapped into using 1-syllable names for all first names AND all middle names?

For 1-syllable options, I'm going to be taking a lot from the the Brisk and Breezy section of The Baby Name Wizard.

My first suggestion is Cade. It's similar to Quade, and I think it's nice with Roe. Cade Lawrence; Lane Gray and Cade Roe.

I have a soft spot for the name Wade---and it's even more similar to Quade. And "Lane and Wade" has some of the same sound as "Lane and Gray." Wade Lawrence; Lane Gray and Wade Roe. [Edit: Oops, see comments section about the Roe vs. Wade association. Even Quade and Cade might have too much of that sound for comfort.]

Quinn Lawrence. Lane Gray and Quinn Roe.

Grant Lawrence. Lane Gray and Grant Roe. It has much of the sound of Graham, which would have been my favorite from your list if it weren't for your close friends recently using it.

Clark Lawrence. Lane Gray and Clark Roe.

Finn Lawrence. Lane Gray and Finn Roe.

Flynn Lawrence. Lane Gray and Flynn Roe.

Nash Lawrence. Lane Gray and Nash Roe.

Dean Lawrence. Lane Gray and Dean Roe.

Keane Lawrence. Lane Gray and Keane Roe.

Hugh Lawrence. Lane Gray and Hugh Roe. I'm not sure about Roe with it, but I like Lane and Hugh. I wonder if Hugo works any better? Hugo Lawrence. Lane Gray and Hugo Roe.

Theo Lawrence. Lane and Theo. I'm not sure Theo Roe works, but I like Lane and Theo together.

Reid Lawrence is my favorite from your list. Whether Reid Roe works or not depends mostly on how you feel about alliteration. Lane Gray and Reid Roe. Rhys Roe is another option. Or combine it with another name from the list: Rhys Grant, Rhys Dean, Rhys Taft.

From my own list, I think Grant and Clark are my favorites.

If you decide not to do a pattern, I like Julian. Julian Lawrence; Lane Gray and Julian Roe.

Or Ian. Ian Lawrence. Lane Gray and Ian Roe. I like the way each boy has the same number of letters in his own first/middle set---unless that would make you feel trapped into repeating the same for each child. I just noticed that the initials would be IRL, so that would eliminate it for me---but I'm particularly picky about initials not spelling anything. IRL isn't anything bad, and with textspeak there's likely a meaning for almost any 3-letter combination.

I'd probably prefer Eamon, though. Eamon Lawrence. Lane Gray and Eamon Roe.

Or Nolan. Nolan Lawrence. Lane Gray and Nolan Roe. I like the way each boy's name repeats its own strong vowel sound.

Foster. Foster Lawrence. Lane Gray and Foster Roe.

Miller Lawrence. Lane Gray and Miller Roe.

Avery Lawrence. Lane Gray and Avery Roe.

Or Cray? Cray sounds very much like Gray, so you'd have almost your Lane and Gray sibling set---but it's not a duplicate name. Lane and Cray. Or Lane and Clay.

Or Lane and Grady. Hm, I like that. Lane Gray and Grady Roe. It's very similar to Gray, yet without that "using the same name twice" sibling-politics problem.

Everett Lawrence. Lane Gray and Everett Roe. I like that a lot.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Name Updates!

Update (and photo!) on Baby Girl Simon!
Update on Baby Boy Ingrum!

Baby Girl Ronhovdee

Wendy writes:
My husband and I are expecting our first child, a girl, in early November. To start out, our Norwegian last name is pronounced ronHAHVdee.

We pretty much had a boy's name picked out, but I had a long list of girls' names, some of which my husband vetoed almost immediately (Shea, Eden, Peyton, Leighton). When we started the process, my husband said that I could make the list, and he would pick from it (hence the elimination so quickly). Here is our dilemma...we think we have settled on Camryn (pronounced like Cameron) although I haven't fully ruled out McKenna. I thought I could sneak in one of my eliminated names for the middle name (Camryn Shea), but no such luck.

My middle name is Lynn and my mother-in-law's name is Lynne. And every name my mom has suggested has had the middle name Lynn because she likes it so much. So in a way, we'd be honoring me, my mom and mother-in-law with Camryn Lynn, but I never really liked my middle name. I would have much rather had Leigh. So now I'm considering Camryn Leigh, which my husband is fine with (but he also likes Camryn Lynn).

A side note: the one thing about going with Camryn is the thought that I am setting my daughter up for a lifetime of spelling and pronouncing both her first AND last name. Additionally, she will probably never find her name on one of those custom bicycle license plates or cool name pencil for school in a gift shop.

With Camryn Leigh, we aren't honoring anyone, and we don't care for any other female family names either. So, back to the grandmothers, my mom is Sally (nickname for Sarah which is a family name) so we could do Sarah Lynn or Sarah Lynne to honor both mothers. I do love the name Sarah, and it is a classic name, but I know so many Sarah's, and I'm afraid it might sound a little old fashioned as my daughter grows older.

So I'm really torn about using a family name which I don't care for, so we can honor the grandmothers (and by the way, we know that this is probably going to be our only child). Or honor neither and go with a name we choose because we like it.

Help! And thank you in advance for your consideration!

Two previous posts that might be of use here: Name Advice for First-Time Parents and Choosing Between Two Finalists.

Now I'll turn to your other concerns, and I hope knock them down like little bowling pins, clonk clonk.

Concern #1: A Camryn won't be able to find personalized pencils and license plates. For the number of times I've heard personalized license plates mentioned, I'd expect to see them on almost every bike in town, with the poor uncommon-named children sitting despondent on the sidewalk, too sad to even ride their plateless bikes---and yet I don't know the last time I've seen a name plate on a bike or even seen them in a store. The store where I last saw a small selection of them was mostly stocked not with actual plates but with order forms. Pencils are the same: there is indeed a small selection of names available in some stores, but it's easy and cheap to order a set online. The internet may be a mixed bag of pros and cons, but I'd say it's eliminated the problem of not being able to find personalized products.

Concern #2: A Camryn will have to constantly spell her first and last name. It's true, she will, but so does everyone else. A favorite anecdote in our family is when a family friend with a very difficult surname was ordering a pizza to pick up on her way home, and she said as she was dialing that she always uses "Smith" because she gets so sick of having to spell her surname. Then we heard her place her order, and then she said "Smith," and then there was a pause and she said "S...m...i...t...h." If you choose Sarah, she'll constantly have to tell people whether it's Sarah or Sara (or even Sera, Sierra, Cera, etc.). It's so common now to change spellings, even a Jane Smith has to spell her name. This isn't to say it's not a good thing to keep in mind (there's a huge difference between having to spell Sarah Smith and having to spell Mykinzeigh VonJacht), but Camryn is a widely-accepted spelling.

BUT: Since you love both Camryn and Sarah, I'd cast my vote with Sarah. A modern name could sound time-stamped in another decade, but a name that's been popular for centuries is unlikely to result in anyone saying anything along the lines of "I have such a SEVENTIES name." And I love that the name Sarah Lynne would honor both grandmothers, particularly if this will be your only child. And I suspect that Sally is going to become one of the next hip throwback nicknames. And you'd definitely be able to find the pencils and license plates and Christmas ornaments.

But this is strongly influenced by my own preference for the style of Sarah, and also I have a dear friend named Sara, and also I love family names. I can equally well argue against my own points in the previous paragraph (as I already have on the subject of personalized products) by adding that I don't think time-stamping is something important (or even always possible, or preferable) to avoid. I'm a 1970s Kristen, but I kind of like it that people don't have to meet me to know basically how old I am: there aren't many elderly women or small children named Kristen, so I feel like my name makes sense for me---just as a name that currently feels modern will make sense for people born now. (I still vote for Sarah, though.)

About the middle name. If you choose your mother's name Sarah as the first name, I'd recommend using the Lynne (mother-in-law) spelling for the middle name. If you spell it Lynn, it does increase the fun of matching mother/daughter middle names---but then the name is clearly after you, and only coincidentally happens to be your mother-in-law's name. If you use Camryn as the first name, I think it's the same deal (Lynne honors your mother-in-law; Lynn is after you and what a happy coincidence it's the mother-in-law's name too), but it's less politically important which you choose since no one else is being honored.

If your dislike of the name Lynn/Lynne causes you to not want to use it, I wonder if you'd like something in the Lynneleigh/Lynnley/Linley area. It diminishes the honor (especially the further the spelling gets from Lynne), but perhaps at a worth-it cost. Or perhaps at that point it would be better to go with Leigh. Or Camryn Sarahlynne.

Let's have a poll over to the right for Camryn and Sarah, and I'll put McKenna in there too since it sounds like it's still on the finalist list. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Name update! Wendy writes:
Hi Swistle! First, I just want to thank you and all your readers for your help and suggestions on our name dilemma. I loved reading each post and checking in on the voting poll.

I am happy to announce that we welcomed our beautiful baby daughter, Camryn Lynn, on November 16th. It was a tough decision right up until the end, but I have to say that I have received so many compliments on the name, and we were able to honor both grandmothers with the middle name Lynn.

After much discussion after your post, my husband and I eliminated Sarah (too common) and McKenna from the running. However, we did add Riley as a late entry to the list of consideration. I was so torn between the two names right up until one week before she arrived. One day I favored Riley, and the next I favored Camryn and I was driving myself (not to mention my husband) crazy. We were going to go to the hospital with both names and wait to see which name she looked like, but I was afraid to make such a spontaneous decision. So finally, on my actual due date (11/9), I just made an executive decision to go with Camryn Lynn.

So, I feel a little bit guilty that our daughter is going to have to spell her first and last name her entire life (but as you said in your post, who doesn't?). But I have to say, I do not regret the decision at all. Thank you again for your input and thank you to everyone who weighed in!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baby Naming Issue: How to Introduce a Child With a Nickname?

Kylie writes:
So Elizabeth Marguerite arrived August 15th. We call her Eliza. New question: when you have a child that has a given name but you call them by a nickname how do you introduce them to people, by given name or nick name? This is something new for me.

I think it depends on the age of the child, on who's doing the asking, and on how pervasive you want the nickname to be.

When a baby is first born, I think everyone wants to know the full name, and so I'd say to all the people in your lives (relatives, friends, co-workers, fellow club members, acquaintances, nurses at the hospital), "Her name is Elizabeth Marguerite. We're calling her Eliza."

For strangers who coo over her in the store and ask what the little sweetie-biscuit's name is, I think you could say "Elizabeth" or "Eliza"---or, if the stranger were Swistle or seemed otherwise especially interested, you could say "Elizabeth, and we're calling her Eliza."

Once she's older, I think a good rule of thumb would be to introduce her as you'd like her to be called by the people you're introducing her to. If you want everyone to call her Eliza, say her name is Eliza. If you want people to call her either Elizabeth or Eliza, whichever they'd prefer (but not to launch off into Liz and Beth and Libby), I'd introduce her as "Elizabeth---or Eliza, for short." If a little kid at the park asks what her name is, say whichever name you think the little kid should call her. At the doctor's office or school office, you'll refer to her as Elizabeth, because that's what they'll have on the paperwork, but when you meet the actual doctor or actual teacher, go with "This is Elizabeth; we call her Eliza" or "This is Elizabeth---or Eliza, for short," depending on if you want the call-her-Eliza-please option or the call-her-Elizabeth-or-Eliza options.

As she gets older, she may help you by expressing her own preference. If you've called her Eliza all along, she'll probably introduce herself that way, and you can teach her to say politely things such as "Oh, yes, my full name is Elizabeth, but I mostly go by Eliza."

More ideas for introducing a child with a nickname?

Name Update!

Update on Baby Girl H (Rhymes With Ball), Sister to Mara and Audra!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baby Naming Advice For First-Time Parents

(I'm writing this post so I can link to it later!)

1. If you might have more than one child, and you'd like your children's names to go well together, think ahead of time about sibling names. This makes things harder for you NOW, when it's hard to even come up with ONE name---but will make things easier for you later. Most people like a name or two from almost any style category, but like big clumps of names from one or two style categories. It's easy to inadvertently choose one of the outlier names, and then find nothing else you like goes with that style. Paul and I came very close to giving ourselves a problem with this: our first child was a boy, but if he'd been a girl our top choice was Emerson. We didn't realize at the time that Emerson was an outlier for us: a single name we like from one style, when our main style is quite different.

I like The Baby Name Wizard for this: because she separates names into style categories, it's easy to go through and find which categories you're drawn to. You might see two names you like in one category, but another category you might think "OOOOoooooo, I like so MANY of these!" Choose from the second type of category, and you're likely to find it easier to choose sibling names later on.

2. If possible, don't choose the middle name first. Sometimes the particular middle name is so crucial, it MUST be carved in stone before the first name is chosen---but this is unusual, and it severely restricts first-name options. So, if possible, concentrate on choosing the first name FIRST, and THEN turn your attention to the middle name options. I don't like to even CONSIDER middle names until the first name finalist list is solid, because I don't want to get attached to a certain middle name and then find myself stuck.

3. Keep in mind that almost all self-imposed restrictions ("Has to start with an E," "Can't start with an E," "Has to have three syllables," "Can't start with the same letter as our surname," "Has to go with William as the middle name," "Can't be anything starting with Em because my sister's daughter is Emma and anything starting with Em would be too close," "Can't be the name of anyone we've ever known," "Can't be the name of any child I've ever had in class," "Can't be in the Top 100," etc.) are PREFERENCES---preferences you can elect not to satisfy. It's up to you: you're the one making the rules, so you're the one who can change them. It's easy to start letting the restrictions pile up until NO name can possibly meet them---and then to continue to quest for it anyway until you drive yourself insane. If choosing the name starts to seem like a puzzle that's impossible to solve, look over the preferences list and ask yourself which of them really must be honored and which ones can be scratched off the list. (See also: Preferences vs. Requirements.)

4. Every name rules out a batch of other names for future siblings. (This concept blew my mind when I first read about it in Beyond Jennifer and Jason.) This will depend on your own preferences, but includes things such as the idea that if you use the name Rose, you won't later want to use Lily or Violet. Or if you use Ethan, maybe that rules out Evan and Ian. Or if you use a unisex girl name, maybe that rules out frilly girl names. Or maybe you don't want to repeat initials within the sibling group, so using Ethan rules out Evelyn and Elizabeth and Edward.

Whatever your preferences are, look carefully ahead of time and make sure you're choosing the name you want most from the Elimination Group. If you only want one flower name, look at ALL the flower names and choose your favorite. If you only want one biblical name, look at ALL the biblical names and make sure you have the one you like best. If you don't want to repeat initials, look at ALL the other names with the initials of your finalists and make sure you're choosing your favorite NOW. (This ties in to #3, too: remember that many of these things are preferences and CAN be waived if you find a name you love to the point of despair. A family with a Rose AND a Lily will be fine; a family with an Ethan and an Edward will be fine. When possible, let the beloved name outrank the self-imposed preference.)

5. There is no One Perfect Fated Name. Some people have the lightning bolt reaction to a name ("That's IT!!!"), but most people make a list of finalists they're both okay with, and then one finalist gradually rises to the top until the parents say "This? Yeah, I guess it's this! Okay, let's use this!" Lack of lightning bolt doesn't mean it's the wrong choice. Sometimes for parents who are having a lot of trouble agreeing, there is only The Best Possible Choice---and that is good enough. Perspective is important here: choosing a name is an important responsibility and we shouldn't take it lightly---but on the other hand, in the Universal Scheme of Things it's a minor event. It's tempting, I think, to think of it as if the child already has a name and that it's our job to holy-grail-quest until we find it---but there's likely a large group of names that would all work well for the child, and it's a matter only of choosing the one you think is probably best.

6. Imagine a baby in your arms. Think of cooing the name to the child. Does it seem like Your Baby? Many of us (especially baby-name hobbyists!) have huge lists of names we love---but a much, much smaller list of names that would be right for our own families. Finding a name that seems like My Baby doesn't necessarily mean it's the right name---but finding a name that DOESN'T seem like My Baby can help narrow down the list.

7. Imagine the name on a minister, a receptionist, a lawyer, a Target clerk, someone who's plump and wears glasses. Imagine someone introducing themselves to you with that name. Imagine introducing yourself to someone, if it was your name. Does the name WORK?

Possibly related topics:
How to Decide Between Two Finalists
The Top Ten is Not Necessarily the Kiss of Death

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Baby Twin Girls Forrester, Sisters to Sam

Maddie writes:

I'm 32 weeks pregnant with twin girls! Wow I'm huge.

Anyway, my husband and I have the standard opposite taste issue, wherein his ideal name is something like Natalie, and mine is something like Ione, Idris, or Cadia - by which I mean he likes things that sound conventional and feminine and I like things that sound...I dunno. Unique and more gender-neutral, I guess. But this puts our compromise zone somewhere in the realm of many of your readers and writers - we're looking for a name that's not too common but still pronounceable, traditional but unusual, and basically the same thing everyone else is looking for. Another compromise possibility is the nature name, Willow, Rose, etc, but our last name is Forrester. So that's a toughie. We want the two names to coordinate but not be matchy-matchy.

Middle names are set (almost), as our family tends to use last names as middle names. One middle name will be my maiden name, Stone, and the other will either be one of his family names, Lawton, or possibly (especially if we pick a gender neutral name), another family name: Louise. They'll have an older brother named Sam (Samuel). (Don't even get me STARTED on that naming process, WOW was it tough, though in the end we went for a name we decided we'd name our theoretical son during a romantic moment in 2002. He's kinda named after Yosemite Sam. Yeah, I know. Moving on!)

So, as this is my way, I created a spreadsheet with LOTS of names, and we each rated each name 1-10, and then we added the scores, and now we have a "short list," to which we are not committed at all. None of my weird name preferences made the cut, as they were all torpedoed and given a 1 by him; none of his cheerleader names made it, either, as I gave them 2's. Though I have to say, looking at this mathematically, that I generally liked way more names than he did. My average score across the names was around a 7, his was closer to a 3.

Here's the list (and the rankings):

First place (18.5 points):

* Edie (which would be short for either Eden or Edith. Edith has family significance, but it really hard to match. I love Eden, but we're not a religious family. Is it too religious?)

Second place (18 points):

* Linden
* Phoebe

Third Place (17 points):

* Lillian

Fourth Place (16 points):

* Annabelle
* Eliza
* Lyra
* Calla

Fifth Place (15 points):

* Jill
* Juliet
* Molly
* Sadia

Honorable Mentions (14 points, but with 7-7 splits, meaning we kinda agree on them, I didn't include the 14-ers that were 10-4)

* Clara
* Eleanor
* Jillian
* Penelope

The one fairly unusual name we both like but feel like we really can't slap a kid with is Persephone, or Percy for short. SO CUTE. But so many syllables! And I'm not sure it passes the resume test, even though stylistically it's actually quite similar to Stephanie, right? Also, how the heck do you match Persephone? We do also like Willa and Isadora (the second of which means "gift of fertility," which seems oh so appropriate for one of these very surprising twins.) We'd probably go for Izzy as a nickname, but Sadie is also an option. Our closest winning combo as of yesterday is Eden Stone and Linden Louise. Edie and Lindy. Lindy Lou. Linden, however, is a tree. Could we use it with Forrester? Anyway, we change our minds all the time!

The meanings themselves are not our primary concern, but we don't want to inadvertently categorize or label the girls. For example, we were thinking of Edith Stone and Calla Lawton for a while, but Edith means "powerful in battle," and Calla means "pretty," As a note! I was completely willing to go for Louise, or maybe Louisa, as a first name if I'd be allowed to use the nickname Lua, which I think is beautiful. This idea did not catch on.

Anyway - what do you think? Will we ever find two names that make us both happy? Could you put Persephone on a resume? Should we just each name one and have a completely mismatched Natalie and Idris? Help?

I love the spreadsheet. I love it.

Though Eden is a place name from the Bible, I think of it as a non-religious name that a religious person could use with another layer of meaning---similar to the name Noah, which is fully mainstreamed yet to a religious person would have the added benefit of the biblical association.

I wonder if you'd like a name I've encountered the last few years (that is, I've encountered a single person WITH this name periodically over the last few years, and each time I hear her name I have a positive reaction to it): Eidelyn. It's pronounced like the word eye, then a dah/deh sound and then a lyn---with the emphasis on the eye syllable. The nickname is Eidey, which rhymes with Heidi and is one vowel-sound off from Edie. One reason I think it might be a good fit for your family is that the name is highly unusual/exotic---and yet I, with my generally mainstream/common tastes, find I like it. So I have hopes it will appeal to both of you.

I'd pair it with Lorelei, another unusual/exotic name that appeals to my conventional tastes. Eidelyn and Lorelei. I like how they sound quite different but also have the "eye" sound in common (and the same number of syllables), and I like the visual compatibility of them: same number of letters, the repeating E and I and L.

However, this gives us a middle name problem. If you feel the way I do about initials that spell things, Eidelyn can't be with either Louise or Lawton---but with Stone, maybe it sounds like "idol in stone"? One option is to find another spelling. Idelyn, for example. Idelyn Louise and Lorelei Stone. (I think I'd copy one of my friends here: she had one of her twins be the "older/firstborn" twin and have the less-significant family name, and the other twin had the more significant family name---so they each had something special.) Or maybe Eidelyn Stone is not a big deal, since they'll hardly ever be said together, and maybe only sound like "idol in stone" to people with a lot of Sunday School in their backgrounds.

Another option would be to abandon the family-name middle names, and do each name like this: your favorites from his list as first names; his favorites from your list as middle names. I love family names, so I'm reluctant to push this---but something like Phoebe Idris and Eliza Ione might work very nicely, or Eliza Penelope and Annabel Persephone.

I want to put a huge positive push for Persephone---but I think what I really want is for it to get more common so we can all use it without worrying about it being too odd. (I think I would spell the nickname "Persey" or "Persie," to increase the association with the full version.) You're right: it's so similar to Stephanie, there's no reason it shouldn't be used---and yet it isn't used. I think I would pair it with Seraphina or Felicity or Philomena or Willemina or Anastasia---another long unusual name. With nicknames Percy and Sera, or Percy and Fliss, or Percy and Phil, or Percy and Willa, or Percy and Annie. There's also Sophronia, with the adorable nickname Phronsie (I remember this from The Five Little Peppers). Percy and Phronsie. And I think Isadora goes well with it too: Persephone and Isadora, Percy and Izzie.

Or do you like any of those sibling-name-for-Persephone names together, without Persephone? Felicity and Anastasia is my favorite set. Felicity Louise and Anastasia Stone. Or Felicity Lawton and Annabel Stone.

To me, Linden with Forrester is fine. I knew Linden was a tree, so I can't explain why it doesn't bother me. It just doesn't, that's all. I like Linden and Phoebe together (a phoebe is a bird, which goes nicely with tree) instead of Linden and Eden: the repeating -den endings of Linden and Eden bothers me a little, and also the way one girl gets three letters with her -den and the other gets only one. (I put the tree/-den things in the same paragraph because I think it demonstrates nicely the huge subjectivity of baby-naming. The next person reading this could think "WHAT!! But to me the tree thing is a big problem, and the 'number of letters' thing is ridiculous! And I LIKE the twinniness of the matching endings!")

I think Lyra and Calla are beautiful together. Lyra Stone and Calla Lawton.

Or Iris and Calla. Calla Lawton and Iris Stone.

I also love Penelope and Annabel. Annabel Stone and Penelope Lawton. Annie and Penny.

Isadora ("gift of fertility") would be nice with Felicity ("lucky, happy"). Izzy and Fliss.

From nowhere: Imogen Stone and Bronwyn Louise. Beatrix Lawton and Genevieve Stone.

I'm getting a little overwhelmed---so many great names, so many interesting combinations! What would the rest of you pair up?

Name updates! Maddie writes:
Hey hey!

Welcome to baby girls Clara Roberts and Phoebe Stone Forrester!

Based on everyone's input, I actually pulled hard for Persephone/Persey (and I agreed with you on the spelling), but even though my darling husband actually suggested it, he was not to be persuaded. Which is fine, I love their names. We ended up with what I would describe as classic names that I also love. They go well with my son's name, and I think they also go very well with each other.

There were a couple of external factors. For one thing, Sam arbitrarily decided that one of the babies was named Fifi, which we were not okay with, but we took his opinion into consideration when we named Phoebe.

Clara's name was a bit of a come from behind victory - we talked about it for the first time on the way to the hospital. We liked it with Phoebe and the middle names, too (Roberts is another family name). We also got a kick out of naming Baby A Clara and Baby B Phoebe. I'm completely in love with it now, even though originally I thought it was a touch too feminine for my tastes. It edged out Calla, which my husband didn't think coordinated with Phoebe.

There's also this:
Origin of the name Phoebe: Feminine form of the Greek Phoibos (bright one), which is derived from phoibos (bright).

Origin of the name Clara: from the Latin clārus (bright, clear, famous).

Not matchy-matchy, but kinda fun, right?

(Phoebe is on the left/top, in the pic).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Baby Girl DeMontel, Sister to Emery Jane

Liz writes:
We could use some help naming our second daughter. My name is Elizabeth (Liz) and my husband is William (Will). We have a two and half year old daughter Emery Jane. She goes by both names on a pretty regular basis along with an array of pet names and EJ. Her name is very family rooted. Her first name is my husband’s grandmother’s maiden name. Her middle name is my MIL middle name as well as her mother’s middle name. My grandfather went by EJ and my little sister also has these initials. I was not messing around when I named this child. This leads us to issue number one, I feel like my next child needs to have a name with as much meaning. To be honest I am perfectly fine with giving her a first name that is not a family name but…Will she be sad I didn’t give her a name with more meaning? Issue number two is the naming style I fell into naming DD1 Emery. I inadvertently landed in the “trendy unisex” naming category. This is not our naming style at all. I loved the name because of the family history not because I like unisex surnames. Do I need to keep this naming style? I personally feel the sibset needs to be cohesive. I am ok with it being eclectic but I don’t want people scratching their heads! If we had/have a son he would have been or will be August Lowell (both family names) or Byron Thomas (both family names). Our last name is DeMontel (it is a hard DE)… this nixes any name ending in EL as a first name and we cannot use Ann as a first name either because it sounds like AND. I am ok with it in the middle. I don’t want to use her first and middle name on a regular basis like we do with Emery Jane.

Here is where we are at for a girl: (The middle names are not set in stone)

Frances Eliza: Frances is a family name and obviously Elizabeth is my name but it is also my mother’s middle name, husband’s Aunt’s and Grandmother’s name.

Antonia Elise: Antonia is not a family name but we would call her Annie. My mother’s name is Ann so variations of Ann or names where Annie can easily be a nickname work for us.

Celia McBride: Celia is not a family name and is not tied into the family in anyway besides the initials being the same as my sisters. McBride is my mother’s maiden name.

Other names we have considered:


Cordelia nn Cora or just Cora

Eliza (I am really trying not to use another E name)


If I had it my way she would be Louise Larrabee. Even though Louise is not a family name I just love the alliteration and we would call or Lulu or Lola. As I said before I am not dead set on a family name in the first name spot.

Family names (or variations of these) we can use:







Isobel (even though our last name ends in EL I am fine with a little rhyming in the middle spot)








Please help! :)

"I was not messing around when I named this child" is one of my favorite lines from any baby-name question ever. I feel like we could put that on a t-shirt.

I'm envious of your family name list. What a great list. I would LOVE to have the middle name McBride. Or Margaret. Or Ruth. Or Larrabee. Or Greene. Or get the idea. It's an unusually rich list.

The good news about names for first babies is that, as a group, I suspect they contain more than the usual number of names that aren't the parents' usual style. For one thing, many families have naming traditions for firstborns, so a family might feel pressured into using a name such as, say, Robert, when their naming style for subsequent children is more along the lines of Jasper and Oliver. For another thing, it's common for parents to end up in exactly the situation you're in: realizing after-the-fact that the first baby's name is not the style they want to continue with.

In your case, I think it's completely fine to go with a sentimental/significant name for the firstborn and not continue it with subsequent children. Children will have unpredictable reactions to name issues (some won't care at all; some will be mildly pleased; some will still be talking about it in accusing tones when they're in their forties), but I think it's common enough in our society to use a significant name for the firstborn (and not for subsequent children) that it won't be hurtful or seem to "mean anything" about the way you feel about her. And "We really really loved the name" is a special thing, too. My own daughter has a name that isn't after anyone, but she likes (so far!) for me to tell her how I could barely suggest her name to Paul because I was so afraid he'd say he didn't like it---and that her middle name is the name he couldn't stand not to use for a daughter.

Emery is still on the feminine side of unisex: according to the Social Security Administration, in 2010 it was given to 1,016 girls and 308 boys. I suspect the name's similarity to other Em-based girl names will help keep it feminine. But this touch of non-frilliness seems like it will help the name go even better with some of the other names on your list. Emery may be more modern-sounding and Frances more pleasingly vintage, but both Emery and Francis are used for boys. Larrabee and Greene, too, both have the unisex sound.

This will vary from person to person, but to me, Emery and Antonia is the least compatible pair on the list. I think Emery and Celia works: the 5-letters and 3-syllables help tie them together, as do their light sounds and vowel endings. And I love the name Celia McBride---I want it for myself! If McBride and DeMontel seems like too many capital letters in the middle of names, I like Celia Greene to give her a more unisex name like her sister's (and also the same 3-1-3 rhythm, unless that would make you feel pressured to continue it), and Celia Ruth just because I like it (3-1-3 rhythm again). I also like Celia Ann, not only for sound but for significance, but I don't like the initials.

I love Frances Eliza, but I prefer for initials not to spell things. This is purely personal preference, and FED isn't bad. I like Frances McBride, Frances Greene, Frances Cordelia.

I also LOVE Louise Larrabee. Emery Jane and Louise Larrabee is a stunning set of names. I like how they'd each have one traditional girl name and one family surname.

Name update! Liz writes:
We really were not set on a name until she came out with a head full of dark hair just like her sister. I thought she might be Eliza or Celia but she entered this world and we knew she was Frances. Frances Eliza DeMontel was born Dec 22 at 8:55am, 7lbs 14oz, 20 and 1/4in. She looks basically Identical to her big sister but with slightly more hair and a dimple. Thanks again for the help!

Baby Naming Issues: Would You Notice a Pattern of Vowel Names? Is Amelia Too Close to Emmelia?

Tracy writes:
I emailed you a few weeks (possibly months, I can't remember exactly) ago about names for our little girl that is due in October. When I emailed before, I wanted some name suggestions. Now, however, we have a different problem.

My husband and I spent hours reading/highlighting The Baby Name Wizard, but we did it seperately. We tend to have very different tastes in names, so we each made our own list. From those lists, we narrowed the names down to only the ones we had in common. (Of course, my favorite name, Eliza, isn't anywhere on his list. *sigh*)

Here are the names:

My problem is two fold:

1. Our other children's names are Olivia, Austin, and Isaac. Would it be weird to go with a name that doesn't start with a vowel for our last child?

2. If we were to stay with a vowel name, we would probably go with Amelia right now. However, my cousin (who does live far away, and I only see about once every 3 years.) just named her baby girl Emmelia. Are these too similar? Would it be "stealing" her name?

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Our last name is similar to Abbey, and with several of the names, we'd probably use Claire as a middle name.


I am certain that we've had the vowel-name question before, and that we did a poll and most people said they wouldn't notice a vowel-name pattern unless it was pointed out to them. But can I find this poll in my archives? No. So either I'm imagining it, or I'm not using the right search terms, and in any case let's have a fresh poll over to the right. It's not something I would notice myself (though I might now that it's come up a few times in questions here), and if I did notice it, I would think it was kind of a fun thing to notice, but I wouldn't think it was weird to break it. With five different starting letters included, it's a much "softer" pattern than, say, every name starting with the same letter. Madison, Mackenzie, Makayla, and Abigail would catch my attention; Olivia, Austin, Isaac, and Lucy would not.

Let's have a second poll for whether Amelia is too close to Emmelia. For me it depends in part on whether Emmelia is pronounced the same as Amelia or not. If it's more like Emma-Leah, and/or they call her Emmie, then I don't see a problem: different pronunciations, different spellings, different names. If Emmelia is pronounced the same as Amelia, I STILL think it's okay: you've mentioned you don't see her often, and even if you did I think it's fine for second cousins to share a name. If you spelled it her same unusual way I could see how she'd see it as copying her, but I suspect your cousin would consider Emmelia a totally different name than Amelia. But I'd be a little nervous too, if I were you---people can have such strong feelings about "stealing" names. I'd go ahead and use it, but I'd fret a little, and I might even email the cousin to feel things out ahead of time (but only if I were willing to drop the name if she freaked out about it).

Both polls are over to the right! [Polls closed; see results below.]

Name update! Tracy writes:
Our little girl has arrived!

Eliza Claire was born October 18th, 2011. For a while, we had decided her name would be Ammelia, per advice of your readers that it wasn't too close. However, I just really felt like it wasn't "our name" anymore. Not that I aspire to be "original", but it felt like I wasn't creative enough to come up with another name. I finally convinced my husband, after countless repetitions of calling the baby by the name, to name her Eliza. Oddly enough, her middle name, which we were both pretty certain on before she was born, was not decided until right before we left the hospital. Second guessing ourselves.

Anyway, here's the picture. Thanks so much for the help!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Baby Boy Jones, Brother to Elliott

Megan writes:
So I am due in seven weeks and my husband and I are at a total impasse when it comes to boy names. I tend to be more traditional/old school with names while my husband is all over the board. I am stil in shock we actually landed on our first little guys name - Elliott - it was honestly the only name either of us even somewhat like. Our last name is Jones so a lot of the names I like are killed because I don't want to name him after an old singer (Davey Jones, Tom Jones) or a financial institution (Edward Jones).

Part of our struggle too is I like the middle name to have meaning (Elliott's middle name is my maiden name) so some of the names we like don't sound good with our two middle name options right now (Christopher - husbands' middle name and Raymond - Grandfather's name). The boys names we like at this point are:
Miles Christopher
Gavin Christopher
Charles Raymond

While I am not one to get flipped out if another kid has my child's name I don't want every kid on the block to have the name which is my concern with Charles (Charlie). My husband doesn't love Gavin but I have been keeping it on the table since it was my great grandmother's maiden name so I like that linkage. And for Miles I just wonder if it is a good little boys name...I can see it as a grown up but I have a hard time imagining a little baby names Miles. Clearly I am overthinking all of these!! I just wish i LOVED a name and right now I don't!!

Thoughts on the names we are contemplating are greatly welcome or if there are new ideas we will listen to those too!

Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated and i swear i will send a pic if you help me out with this!!

If your husband isn't crazy about the name Gavin, and if you want a meaningful middle name, I suggest using Gavin as the middle name. I especially like this idea when the surname is the husband's: that way each family line is represented in the child's name.

I think Miles is wonderful with Elliott, but the repeating s-endings of Miles Jones makes it a little difficult for me to say. (Charles Jones has the same issue, but it stands out to me less if you'll be calling him Charlie.) Do you like the name Milo? I like the repeating long-o sound of Milo Jones. Milo Gavin Jones; Elliott and Milo.

Oliver would be nice with Elliott, and I also like it with Gavin. Oliver Gavin Jones; Elliott and Oliver.

The Baby Name Wizard suggests these five brother names for Elliott: Bennett, Graham, Duncan, Reid, Miles. I think Reid Jones sounds handsome. Not everyone likes the 1-1 syllable sound, but I think sometimes it works (Brad Pitt, Sean Penn) and sometimes it doesn't. Reid Gavin Jones; Elliott and Reid.

One of my favorites is Simon. I'm not sure it works with Gavin as a middle name---I can't tell if the repeating endings tie the name together or if they're too much -en sound. Simon Gavin Jones; Elliott and Simon. Or Simon Christopher Jones is nice.

Another of my favorites is Ian. Again, the repeating -en sound is something that some will like and some won't. Ian Gavin Jones, or Ian Christopher Jones; Elliott and Ian.

Calvin crosses that Liking/Not-Liking line for me by repeating the entire second syllable: Calvin Gavin Jones. But Calvin Christopher Jones or Calvin Raymond Jones both work. Elliott and Calvin.

I think the name Isaac would work beautifully, and I like the repeating S-as-Z sounds in Isaac Jones. Isaac Gavin Jones; Elliott and Isaac.

Or do you like Nathaniel? Nathaniel Gavin Jones; Elliott and Nathaniel.

Or Gabriel. Gabriel Gavin Jones; Elliott and Gabriel.

Or Micah. Micah Gavin Jones; Elliott and Micah.

Or Karl. Karl Gavin Jones; Elliott and Karl.

If you don't mind repeating an initial, I suggest Edmund. Edmund Gavin Jones; Elliott and Edmund.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baby Boy or Girl Klein

Kristen writes:
We need your help with baby girl names! We are due September 6th and dont know if we are having a boy or girl. I am going absolutley crazy with baby girl names. Our family last name is Klein and my maiden name is McHale. If we have a boy, we are most likely naming him Reed McHale Klein. I cant explain how we got to it but I like it because to me it is somewhat unique with natural elements -- I think of it as a mix betwwen River (which I love) and Grant.

For girl names, I constantly change my list. I am open to any and all ideas - If I had to define my style I would say that I want a name that feels a bit modern or fresh, not too long and not too trendy.

Here are the current names we have been considering:

Priya - currently top choice. (FYI - We are not Indian. All of the Priyas I know are Indian - does this matter? do you think the name is a crossover? I know Ione Skye used it as a middle name for her daughter Goldie) This might be my top choice.

Elise (nn: Lise or Lili)

Sylvie (I loved this name for a while but I keep thinking Sylvie Klein sounds too mature?)



We considered: Annalise, Annabel, Anya, Mila, Scarlett, Noelle, Siri, Mira, Mena, Margaux or Margot, Sinead, Alanna, Tessa, Fiona, Meadow, Zoe, Lola and Piper. Top contenders for this list for a while were Mila and Scarlett.

Some Family Names - which I would like to include (in original or derviative form) in some way (first or middle name):
Virginia (my mother and sister)
Carmella (my lovely grandmother)
Mary (Marin)
Elizabeth and all derivatives.

Please help!

Readers of this blog are probably getting tired of reading my primary piece of advice for first-time parents, and one day I will put it in its own post and then I can just link to it (in the meantime, here's one post where I discuss it), but for today here it is again: think now about future sibling names, to keep yourself from accidentally painting yourself into a corner. If you have a daughter and name her Priya, will you be able to find sibling names later on that coordinate well with it, or will you be stuck? The same for Anna: if you have a daughter named Anna, will you be able to find sibling names that you like with it? Same with Farrah. Same with Sylvie. Same with Elise. Same with any other name that makes it to the finalist stage. (This all assumes that you are considering more children later on, and that you'd like the names to go well together. Otherwise you can ignore this first piece of advice and go on to the second piece.)

I like The Baby Name Wizard for this: look at each style section in the back and see which ones contain a lot of names you like. Most of us can find one or two names we like in almost any category (this is how your list looks right now: a name or two from almost every category), but look for the categories where you like a LOT of the names. This will, I hope, keep you from the situation we see often on this blog: parents saying "We chose ____ for our first child because we loved it---but everything else we like clashes with it!" (Paul and I nearly landed ourselves in the soup with this one: if our first child had been a girl, we hadn't realized our girl-name choice was a complete anomaly for us and didn't go with any of the other names we like.)

My second piece of advice for choosing a name is to close your eyes and imagine a baby in your arms. Imagine calling the baby each name in turn. Which names sound like Your Baby? Most of us have long lists of names we love, but a much smaller list of names that we can picture on an actual child of our own. Finding a name that sounds like Your Baby doesn't mean it's necessarily the right name---but finding a name that DOESN'T sound like Your Baby is a good way to narrow the list down.

Finally, imagine the name on a school-aged child, a receptionist, a minister, someone who's a little plump and shy and wears glasses, etc. Does the name WORK?

Laura Wattenberg (author of The Baby Name Wizard mentioned above) has another great test: ask yourself if you would want the name yourself. After adjusting for age (many of the names currently in style wouldn't work on us even if the name would work beautifully on a child born now), this is a good test to see if a name works on a real person. Say aloud "Hi, I'm ____!" Imagine meeting someone and having THEM say "Hi, I'm _____!"

Name update! Kristen writes:
I am writing to update you on the name of Baby Klein. On September 4, 2011, we welcomed our baby girl into the world. As my husband and I held her close to us right after she was born, we ran through many of the names we had been considering. Priya - no. Anna - no. Nina - no. Elise - no. I was looking at our daugther and told my husband I thought Mila or maybe Eliza. He said, she is Mila. Juliette was the middle name I had been using for Mila throughout the pregnancy - so she became Mila Juliette Klein. Mila is now nearly 5 weeks old and we love her name. The funny thing is that Mila was my first choice when I initially found out I was pregnant. Thanks everyone for all of your help!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Name Updates Galore!

Update on Baby Boy McArthur, Brother to Uriah!
Update on Baby Naming Issue: Can You Use a Suffix if a Generation Was Skipped?
Update (and photo!) on Baby Boy Weens!
Update (and photo!) on Baby Boy or Girl Taylor, Sibling to Ethan Hugh and Audrey Josephine!
Update on Baby Naming Issue: We Already Used the Best Names
Update (and photo!) on Baby Girl SSS: ____ _parks _eevens!

Baby Boy Mackenzie, Brother to George Darwin, Caden Samuel, and Minerva Laura

Yvette writes:
I am Yvette and my husband Luke and I are due with our fourth child on August 24. We had the name Wolfe Alan Mackenzie picked out but when we announced it last week, we had the very unpleasant shock of learning from my mom that Wolf is the last name of my grandfather's first wife who stole all his money and was a very nasty woman and that my grandfather would be very upset if we picked that name.

Luke really likes last names as first names and I hate them so it was a trial settling on Wolfe in the first place. I don't like names that end with an EE sound although I don't mind this in nicknames. This is probably be our last child.

Our new son will join George Darwin, Caden Samuel and Minerva (Minnie) Laura. Darwin is my maiden name, Samuel is Luke's father's name and Laura is Luke's mother's name. George, Caden and Minnie are names we adore. We're not in love with Minerva but we love Minnie and wanted her to have a proper name. The baby's middle name will be Alan, which is my grandfather's name.

As you can see, we like a lot of different styles and don't think it's important that siblings names match. When you're an adult, no one cares what your brothers and sisters are called.

Names We've Rejected:
Skylar (Luke only likes this on a girl)
Harper (he loves but I hate it)
Colton (We love but Luke's cousin who he's never seen in 20 years but has the last name named his son this.)
Uriah (My favorite boys name ever and Luke absolutely can't stand it. He insists that any child named Uriah will be mercilessly teased by other children calling him urinal.)
Lachlan (We love but no one has heard of it and thinks it a girl's name. We also don't like the nicknames Lack and Lackie, for obvious reasons.)

Names We're Still Considering:
Kester (We met an adorable little boy with this name last year and the name has really stuck with us. We both love it a lot and especially love how Kester Mackenzie sounds. We are concerned about people mispronouncing and misspelling it. People also don't seem to be aware it's a name. I'm nervous about giving our son a completely unheard of name.)
Zane (We both like it but don't love it.)
Martin (We both like it a lot but we don't like Marty.)
Hamish, pronounced Ay-mish. It's the Scottish James (We love it but people pronounced wrong and our families hate it.)
Cyrus (I love, Luke thinks it's okay but we're a bit worried it will make people think of Miley Cyrus)

Please help us Swistle and readers! We're due in less than two weeks and can't settle on anything. Thanks so much!

From your comments by each name you're still considering, it sounds to me as if Kester is the name you want. It's hardly ever used as a name in the United States (according to the Social Security Administration, five children were given the name in 2009; the name isn't in the database at all for 2010, which means it was given to fewer than five children), but the names Chester and Lester and Hester (and words like jester and tester) may help people find it more familiar.

Cyrus sounds like your other major contender. Although I associate the name Miley with the Cyrus family, the name Cyrus doesn't make that connection for me.

I think you should put Lachlan back with the finalists. If people haven't heard of it, I'd say it's more that they haven't heard of it YET. It's unusual but still more common than Kester (147 new baby boy Lachlans in the U.S. in 2010; only 5 baby girl Lachlans).

If you like Coleton and the only problem is duplicating another family member, do you like Coleman instead? Or Alton? Or Ashton? Or Clayton? Dalton? Trenton? Fintan? Corbin? Holten? Holden? Treyton? Keaton? Kelton? Kenton? Paxton? Sutton? (I'm harvesting huge riches here from the "The -ens" section of The Baby Name Wizard.)

If you go with Martin, I think you'll be able to avoid the nickname---but of course he may choose it himself when he's older. Hamish seems like a poor fit for your circle, and I do think it would be mispronounced. Zane is an excellent fit for the sibling group but neither of you are enthusiastic about it.

Let's have a poll for your finalists (plus Lachlan), over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Baby Boy or Girl Jason-With-an-M, Sibling to Noah, Luke, Jonah, Thomas, Kathryn, and Seth

Amy writes:
Naming gets harder with each child and I hope you and your readers can help us! I am pregnant with our 7th baby (c-section the end of August) and we do not know if it is a boy or girl. Our last name rhymes with Jason but begins with M. Currently we have Noah, Luke, Jonah (L&J are twins), Thomas, Kathryn, and Seth. Our boys all have biblical names although it wasn't intentional in the beginning. The first three we happened to like and Luke is also a classic name and once we got to our fourth boy felt we needed continue that direction, but Thomas is also a classic. (Those two were my husband's choices.) Our daughter is named after three of our grandmothers and with only one girl we used Kathryn Emme instead of only honoring one relative with the middle names as we did with our boys. I didn't want her to have a nickname and insisted on calling her Kathryn for her first year but my husband and other family started in on Katie and so that is what she is and it fits her perfectly.

The problem now is finding a name that fits with all of them. If it is a boy to fit the pattern it probably should be a biblical name, although being that is a common trend with people we know our list is getting shorter. For a girl, we didn't use a biblical name and so I like more feminine sounding names. I am wondering though if we need to find a girls name that can have a nickname or is shorter to go with Katie. My husband doesn't like to discuss names too much until maybe two weeks before the birth but I can't stop thinking about it. Although, he has agreed with a few.

Girl names we agree on: (middle will be either Joan or Elizabeth depending on which works. I'm not finding many to work with Joan although that is my preference). I'd think we'd have a longer list for a girl but it seems more difficult somehow.

Esther -- my favorite. Yes it is biblical but I've always liked it and it is an old-time name but doesn't especially go with either middle name. But I don't feel settled about it. Husband is okay with it.
Eliza Joan (don't love but is okay and would honor both people)

like but not using:
Emmeline (we both really like but husband would want a nn and then it would be Emme, our daughter's middle name which seems strange) It also doesn't go with middle names very well.
Evangeline (is it too long?) but like Evie for nn
Elenore (nn Nora but maybe too similar to Noah) and my husband said it reminds him of a car in a movie so no.
Elodie Joan (husband thinks sounds strange but I really like it)
Noelle (sounds too similar to our son Noah)
Felicity (love the meaning but I don't know if it really fits with our others and not sure of a nn)
Lucia/Lucy (husband doesn't like and we know two dogs with the name)
Cora (I really like Dora after my great-aunt and obviously won't use that but husband nixed Cora)

used by friends that I liked -- Gwendolyn, Lydia, Claire, Abigail

As for boys the middle name will be Gerald which doesn't go with everything nicely.

Ezra - my absolute favorite (and the kids too) but hubby thinks it sounds too girly and also wonders why I pick the unusual names :)- He can be convinced but I prefer him to like the name.

like but not using:
Judah- doesn't go with Gerald (I would want to use the family name Ryan for a middle but don't feel we can skip honoring this grandpa any longer and too it is probably is too similar to our Jonah)
Joseph (does't go with Gerald and again is similar to Jonah)
Mathias/Matthew (too many M's with our last name)
used by others close to us -- Josiah, Isaac, Samuel

I don't want it overly popular but as I have come to realize through reading your posts that shouldn't matter if I really like it. I think my husband's style leans more classic (as Thomas, Luke and Kathryn).

Any help you can offer is much appreciated!


A bit of an update as we are in the homestretch so thankfully my husband is more readily discussing names. His top three for girls are:

Eleanor (which he previously didn't like but said he realized his thinking about it was kind of strange). I still like the nn Nora but wonder if it is too similar to our Noah.

I do like each name but if using Esther would it matter that all of our children except one have biblical names? I seem to get hung-up on that point, mainly because the kids love to find their names in the bible. Where Katie can't, I thought another girl not being able to might be good. But I honestly have no idea if it matters.

And then for middle names I almost wish we didn't always name after a family member because I can find so many names that would sound better with each name. I think my husband would like Elizabeth better because it was his Grandma's name (my middle name) but it makes a name so long being 4 syllables. Joan for me was an Aunt. Tossed around using my Mom's name -- Carol, but that isn't really any better of a fit.

As for boys, well he just told me he is leaning toward Simon or Simeon. I don't necessarily like two "S" initials for children in a row (this one after Seth) but I don't say their names in order all that often. I don't think my husband will ever come around to Ezra which is fine for me. I read a previous post you did which was really good about not necessarily having the name be your "perfect" name but for both husband and wife finding a "good" name you can agree on.

Again, any advice you can offer would be great!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Baby Girl Brown, Sister to Hudson and Korver

S. writes:
I am having a baby girl in THREE weeks and do not have a name!!
I have two boys, Hudson and Korver.
Hudson was born before his name became a little more common. I love both becasue they were unique, masculine and strong. My last name is Brown, which I love because it lends itself to more unique names without the entire name being complicated.

Here is my issue;
My all time FAVORITE is Navy, however with the last name Brown, everyone tends to laugh:( Even my husband can't fall for it!
I love Navy because it is unique, yet a common word that peole are familiar with. I love how classic Navy blue is and the nautical feel. It's playful and cute without being too cutsy.

Other names we like:
Oakley: my next favorite, this is a top runner, even the hubby likes it! I just don't want it to sound western, nor am I 100% about it!
Capri: my husband doesn't love
Jada: I liked years ago, but don't love anymore
London: same thing, loved years ago but I am hearing too many of them.
Brinley: my husbands favorite, but I don't like!

Others I like but dont know if they are "the one":
Haden: close to Hudson
Vienna: I am liking this one more and more
Sienna: my sisters name is Sierra (a little too close)

Ideally I would find one like Navy but with no reference to a color:) What do you think? Are there any names you have in mind that fit the type of name I am going for?
thank you!!

I suggest Ivy. It has much of the sound and sass of the name Navy, but no color. Ivy Brown. Other possibilities:

Eidey (rhymes with Heidi)

Skylark might be too obscure/uncommon, but I found it while double-checking on the nautical association of Keeler and it seemed cute: an even more cheerful variation on Skylar, and with nicknames Sky and Lark. Sailor Brown probably doesn't work, but it's so nautical I wanted to include it anyway. Keeler is close to Korver, but the middle sounds are so different I thought it might work anyway. Hard to tell.

Avy and Avyn and Avianna are all there because of the "avy" sound; Avyn is fun because it's a rearrangement of the letters of Navy.

Eidey is a name I encountered this summer. Unusual, yet very appealing in use: I liked it every time I heard it. The girl I know uses it as a nickname for Eidelyn (EYE-dah-lin). One small issue, maybe a plus, maybe a minus: the song Brown-Eyed Girl.

From your list, Vienna seems terrific: the same sounds you like from Navy, rearranged.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Baby Girl Phillips

Julia writes:
I am a loyal reader of your blog, and I need some advice from you and your other readers. We are having our first child next month (due Sept. 16) and we have yet to decide on a name. We have narrowed it down to a short list that includes:

Charlotte Kate
Lucy Kate
Ruby Kate
Hazel Kate
Jackie Kate

We plan to call her by both names, so we need help deciding what sounds best together. Depending on which we go with, we might use Katherine as the middle name and just call her Kate. For example, if we go with Lucy Kate we would likely name her Lucy Katherine and call her Lucy Kate. If we go with Jackie, we would likely name her Jackie Kate or Jacklyn Kate.

Which combination of the above 5 do you like best and any thoughts/feedback on them? Oh and if it helps, I am Julia and my husband is Ben. Our last name is Phillips. So basically any of them go with our last name.

Thanks so much for your help!!!

I said each one aloud several times, imagining addressing a child. For me, Charlotte Kate is the largest/longest to say outloud: the Char of Charlotte needs a little extra time to say, and then the consonant ending of Charlotte forces a little pause. I think I like the sound of Jackie Kate least. I'm not sure why---the repeating K sound, maybe. That may be part of the reason Charlotte Kate isn't my favorite, either: the doubled T-ending.

My top favorite is Lucy Kate. It's the combination I find easiest to say (no hard consonant sounds in the first name), and also the combination I think would be most likely to be understood by someone hearing it.

Ruby Kate and Hazel Kate are tied for second place. Not as smooth for me to say as Lucy Kate, but easier for me to say than Charlotte Kate or Jackie Kate.

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

Friday, August 12, 2011

Baby Naming Issues: Avoiding a "Teen Mother"-Sounding Name; Non-Coupled Parents Working Together to Choose a Name [Edited]

Rose writes:
Let's be blunt here, Swistle: I'm eighteen and expecting a baby in late November. It's a girl. 

I know that the least I can do is give my child a name that won't allow people to get that self-satisfied smirk on their faces and think, "your name reflects your upbringing and your parents"; I will not do my child a disservice by heaping a misspelled, infantile, vapid, trendy name upon her, because it's bad enough that I'm barely an adult. And also my tastes run rather droll.

So the entire naming process has been one strung throughout with anxiety. To say the least.


Onto the names. There are HUGE problems with the first, middle AND last names. Huzzah.

FIRST: I had a few first names picked out by myself, because my daughter's father (I refer to him as that because we were not in a romantic relationship when my daughter was conceived, are not in one now, and will not be in one in the future; we’re not even friends) had decided that he wanted no part of it (he's two months younger than me but, may I say, has the maturity of an ten-year-old) and I took it upon myself to find the perfect name (I like vintage, less-common names that exude warmth and intelligence and feminine strength) . I would have been happy naming her any of the following:






But then the father grew up a bit and now wants to play an active part in his daughter's life before and after she actually gets here. Which is absolutely amazing for our daughter, but it's complicating the naming process. He's a very opinionated guy and surprisingly cares quite a lot what her name is.

His taste runs a bit...different than my own. He likes more modern, cutesy names and names with an edgy feel that are "cool". Dillon told me that he likes the following:

Juliet, nickname Jett (Dillon said that this is the most “bad-ass” name ever...)





As I am going to be her primary caregiver and the one who is, honestly, going to be making the most sacrifices, I think that I should have the final say. But because I want to honor his commitment to his daughter, I want him to help pick out his daughter's name. I just don't know if we can find a name that we both love. Please help!

MIDDLE: I want to give my daughter the middle name of Hermione, due to the amazing character and this quote, primarily.

“I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny - a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls.” 
--JK Rowling

I want my daughter to be a Hermione, so badly it almost aches. But therein lies the problem. I realize that the Harry Potter series is universally acknowledged as meant for children, or at least teenagers, and it seems to me like Hermione would be a juvenile choice, therefore going against my naming principle. I don't want my daughter to be ashamed of either of her names, but especially of one that means so much to me. Is it selfish to give her the middle name of Hermione?

And the father does not like Hermione. He is a fan of Harry Potter but thinks that the name is “weird”. I’ve shown him the quote but he doesn’t get it. Should I push for Hermione or find a compromise?

LAST: Originally, I was going to give my daughter my surname, Monroe. But because her father has promised that he’s going to step up, I feel as though it would be wrong not to include him somehow.

I’m not naive. I know that the father has a very good chance at not being a good father or even a father at all, and he might not deserve to have his daughter bear his last name. But his parents are lovely people and his mother will be taking care of the baby when I go back to high school in January since my mother works; they’ll be around and will be playing a huge part in her life even if he is not. I feel as though my daughter should have his last name as SOME part for their sake.

A good option, I suppose, would be a double-barreled last name. But I don’t especially WANT a double-barreled last name; I think they’re clumsy and annoying. And which surname goes first: his or mine?

Another option that I have become aware of is using his surname as a second middle name, or vice-versa. But that seems confusing and bulky as well.

_____ Hermione Monroe
_____ Hermione Parker
_____ Hermione Monroe-Parker
_____ Hermione Parker-Monroe
_____ Hermione Parker Monroe
_____ Hermione Monroe Parker

Or any of the above choices with a different middle name. Or any other ideas.

Which one?

I’ve had a huge interest in names since I was young--and I have enjoyed both of your blogs for awhile--but I never, ever expected that I would actually have to find a name this early, nor that I would be in need of your services. But thank you.

Thanks again. I know I'm asking a lot of you.

Let's start with the surname. This is going to boil down to picking your favorite and the one that makes most sense to you, but if you like I can tell you what my favorite is: your idea of having the father's surname as a second middle name, and your own surname as the surname. If you'll be the primary caregiver and the other parent's involvement level is uncertain at this point, it makes sense for her to have your surname---but it's also nice to include her father's name in her name (I like your idea of thinking of it as the father's FAMILY'S name), and the second-middle-name slot is great for that. But all kinds of name arrangements seem to work out without too much hassle, so again, I say pick your favorite. The name gets long, but I think it's worth it here.

Next, the tricky issue of the middle name. I see your points, and I'm not sure what to advise. I THINK that my feeling on this is that it may cause a little reaction of the sort you describe, but that the people who have that reaction are likely to be the ones who will have a little reaction almost no matter what---and that your strong and enduring feelings about the name outweigh other people's mild and temporary reactions.

If you are looking for other solutions, I wonder if it would work to name her instead for the author of the quote and creator of Hermione's character? J.K. Rowling's first name is Joanne; according to Wikipedia, she says as a child she was only called that when she was in trouble, and that she goes by Jo. Jo is an adorable name, and it can remind you the woman who inspired your fervent hope. (And the quote would make a great framed print for the nursery.) It rhymes with your surname, but you could either use Joanne (and then use the cute nickname "[First name] Jo"), or maybe it doesn't matter, if Parker will be between them.

On to the first name. I like every name on your list. I love Alice best, I think. Alice Joanne Parker Monroe; Alice Monroe; Alice Jo. Lovely. Not a single smirkable name in the bunch.

From the father's list, Lily seems most compatible with your list---though it does give the two of you an inadvertent flower theme (as does Violet from your list; Hazel and Olive are also botanical but seem to me a much less obvious connection). Would it be more to your style if it were the full name Lillian? Lillian Joanne Parker Monroe; Lillian Monroe; Lily Jo.

If you like the name Juliet from his list, it might be an excellent compromise name: you can call her Juliet, and her dad's special name for her can be Jett. This assumes that although Jett isn't your style, you don't hate it (since she might later adopt it as the name she'd like to be called). If you really dislike it, let's take this one off. But otherwise: Juliet Joanne Parker Monroe; Juliet Monroe; Julie Jo.

If the father is looking for cool/edgy, perhaps we can find him an edgy/cool nickname for one of the names on your list. Again, it would need to be one you don't hate. But would it, for example, be okay if he called Alice "Allie," or "Al" or "Ace"? Could he call Olive "Ollie" or "Livvy"? I'm not very tuned in to edgy/cool, but perhaps he can think of more possibilities.

Another option is to have the first and last names be your choices, and the two middle names be his: a name within a name, sort of. So if your favorite were Hazel, and you wanted your own surname, and your favorite name from the father's list was Juliet, the name could be Hazel Juliet Parker Monroe. Hazel Monroe, with her father's choice of Juliet Parker nested inside.

Another option is to let him choose the name from a list of your finalists.

It depends a lot on how strongly he feels about his list, and how favorably he feels toward yours, and how unfavorably you feel about his list, and how much you're willing to work with him on this. One thing that makes this such an interesting set of questions is that it's unfamiliar turf as to how much say each parent should have. And we could land anywhere on the spectrum: with you having the entire say, with him having a little say, with you both having equal say, even with him having more say in order to increase the connection he feels to her. And I don't know what the right way is for your particular case (or for ANY case, for that matter!). It's interesting to think about.

Back to working with Hermione, I think my favorite first name is still Alice. Alice Hermione Parker Monroe. Alice Monroe.

[Edited to add:]
Rose writes:
Hi, Swistle! I just read your reply and it was amazingly helpful. Thank you SO MUCH for that. You are assuaging my worries with her name

But. I showed your reply and the comments to Dillon, the father, and after much discussion we decided that instead of a compromise with our original names, we need a brand new name that appeals to both of us. Could you possibly give us some name suggestions, or ask your readers to help us?

On a better note, reading the comments has given me a really, really good feeling about Hermione and I think I am going to use it as my daughter's middle name. Dillon's surprisingly come around to it and says that he really likes the meaning behind Hermione. So that's one thing down.

As far as the surname goes, I'm thinking that _____ Hermione Parker Monroe or _____ Hermione Parker-Monroe are our best options. Dillon wants the hyphenated last name, obviously, but I'm leaning more towards using Parker as a second middle name. But then I'm worried that his parents will be hurt, and I don't want that. But...gah. This is hard. Any advice?

I've been trying to look through baby name sites, but it's really hard to find a name that suits both of our styles. I suppose we need a name that's vintage but not old-sounding, fresh but not trendy, and feminine but not cutesy. And it has to sound great (or at least good) with Hermione. Please help!

Thanks again, Swistle. I'm sorry I'm being such a bother!

Name update! Rose writes:
Our beautiful daughter Louisa Hermione Parker Monroe arrived right on schedule at 7:12 in the morning yesterday, November 29. We call her Lucy.

Labor was thankfully short (but holy fudge so painful) and Dillon and I were blubbering messes at the end of it when little darling Lucy was placed in my arms. Lucy is unbelievably perfect and gorgeous and we love her so so much.

She was going to be Maeve Hermione--I think we were about 99% sure that that was her name. But then the day before she was born my grandmother Louisa was diagnosed with cancer, and she decided she's not going to undergo treatment. We felt that it was important to honor her because she's a important person in my life, and she made sure herself to give her children names that honored family, so we knew that she'd appreciate us honoring her. And she did--when we told her her great-granddaughter's name she looked so happy and touched and appreciated. We both cried. I now understand why people honor family--it's such a amazingly wonderful gift for both the honoree and the honorer. Then we were thinking of using Maeve Louisa but it sounds way too much like the name of a disease or like "may flew eesa". So we scrapped Maeve and kept Hermione and Louisa Hermione it was. I'm not disappointed with not using Maeve one bit, actually--I adore Lucy to pieces, and Dillon says that he loves it as well, more than Maeve.

Thank you, thank you, thank you everyone for all of your help with her name. If I hadn't had your help, I wouldn't have dared to use Hermione as the middle name, and who knows what Lucy's last name would have been. Using my surname as her surname and Dillon's surname as a second middle name is definitely the best option. I LOVE her name so much and I'm forever grateful to you, Swistle, and the readers.