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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Baby Boy or Girl Marcin, Sibling to Mackenzie and Jake

K. writes:
We are due with our third child in May.
Currently we have a 4 year old daughter, Mackenzie and a 2 year old son, Jake.
If this baby is a boy, we have finally narrowed down boy names to either Callen or Calvin.
I thought I was set with Liam (although DH was not a big fan), but our last name starts with an M and sounds like Marcin. I kept saying Liam Marcin over and over, it began to sound like Lia Marcin, and that just ruined it for me!
DH is super picky with names. But one we could agree on is Calvin.
My maiden name began with Cal, so it would mean something to me to use a boy name starting with Cal :)
I am just not big on the VIN ending... I've had a poor association with a Vinny I knew.
I stumbled upon Callen, pronounced like Allen with a C (Cal-len). I really like this name, and it is a name of a character from TV show, NCIS Los Angeles, which DH is a huge fan of.
I began googling the name more and most sites are showing it as a Gaelic girl name, but pronounced like Caylin. I'm wondering if I name my son this, would it get mispronounced all the time?
I saw Callum, but I don't like the M ending with my last name, it just disappears.
I've thought about Caleb, but I am not liking the -LEB ending, I don't know why. Just isn't sitting well with me.
I've tried looking up other names starting with Cal, but not really liking any.
Can you think of any others I may be missing? Do you think Callen is ok as a boy name and would most people understand how to pronounce it? I could go with Calvin, DH does like it better than Callen, but I feel we need to compromise and Callen would be the way to go.


There is a girl named Callin in my son's preschool class, and it strikes me as an almost perfect unisex name: similar to Calla and Kaylin (and with the very feminine nickname Callie), and also to Callum and Calvin and Alan (and with the masculine nickname Cal). It can be made more feminine with spellings such as Callyn, but Callan and Callen can go either way. The Baby Name Wizard has it listed as a boy's Celtic name spelled Callan, and her site Namipedia shows it pronounced as you mention, like Alan with a C. Think Baby Names lists the pronunciation the same way, as does Baby Names World.

For now the name is used mostly for boys: in 2010, there were 676 boys named Callen/Callan/Calen/Calan/Calin/Callin, and 101 girls named Callan/Calyn/Calynn/Callen/Callyn/Calin. Many of the girl names could be spellings of Kaylin rather than of Callan, which would make Callan even more weighted toward the boys. Spelling it with a double L should keep the A short.

It's possible that even if you spell it with two L's, people will occasionally pronounce it like Kaylin. But my much more common name Kristen, which ends in the familiar -ten just like the number ten, is often pronounced Kristine---or pronounced Kiersten or Kirsten, even though it's spelled with a Kri-. I do think it's wise to avoid pronunciation issues when possible (that is, I wouldn't suggest spelling it Calin), but I think if you've spelled it traditionally and phonetically, you'll be as much in the clear as any of us. And the name Callan has something very important for a name that might have pronunciation issues: an easy way to explain it. "It's like Alan, with a C."

A few more Cal- options you've probably already discovered:


Callahan has most of the sounds of Callan, but I think adding the extra syllable makes the pronunciation way clearer, and also increases the boyishness. I particularly like the way Callahan's surnamey sound goes with Mackenzie, while the nickname Cal goes well with Jake.

If the Cal doesn't need to be in the beginning of the name, there's also Pascal---but that seems like a style mismatch with the sibling names.

Edited to add! K. writes:
Thank you so much for your thoughts on this!
After reading everyone's comments, someone asked why I couldn't just use my maiden name. So, it got me thinking....
My maiden name is Calabrese. And I just kept thinking how Caleb would really be the closest name possible. The more I thought about it, the more it grew on me.
Then, I thought about using Reese as the middle name. Calabrese = Caleb Reese.
(also considering using the spelling of Rhys, but not sure yet).

My only dilemma is really considering the middle name.
My daughters middle name is Helen, after my grandmother and my sons middle name is William, after Daddy.

My other middle name option is to use Gage. It is my MILs maiden name and SILs middle name.
DH prefers this way, he thinks that Gage has more meaning than Reese, but he understands what I am trying to do and said I can do as I please.

I could also use Peter, after my Father.

I am so torn! Do I break up my maiden name into two names or give him half my maiden name with another maiden name?

Thank you all so much!!


Conn Family said...

Reading it I could have thought Callen prounounced like allen with a C. I like it and it seems slightly more masculine to me. Good luck!

Meg said...

I love the name Callen and was bummed when I saw it was be used for girls but I still really like it. I like Swistle's suggestion of Callahan too. My only other thought is the Irish name Cavan - pronounced like Gavin with a C. Its sort of similar to Callen and has a cool nickname, Cav.

But I say go with Callen cause it's great! Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

You didn't say what your maiden name actually is (just that it begins with Cal), but could that work in the first name spot?

Portia said...

I would have pronounced Callen to rhyme with Allen, even though I do know a male Calen who pronounces it Cay-len. Like Swistle said, the double l makes all the difference. I think it's a great name!

Anonymous said...

What about Calton? Or Cullen?

StephLove said...

I agree with the commenter who suggested using your actual maiden name, unless it's unusable for some reason.

Hope T. said...

Maybe you could just go with Cal. That is what you would call him the majority of the time, it seems, and it would also fit in with his brother's name (assuming that his given name is Jake).

Gail said...

Ditto on your actual maiden name, if possible....

Otherwise, of the options so far discussed, I think Calder sounds the best with Marcin. Callahan would be next best. A trio of long shot options:


Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I don't think you need to worry about the pronunciation of Callen!

I would definitely pronounce it the way you do.

It's a great name and you like it! Sounds perfect to me.

And for what it's worth, I like it too! (I have Callum on my short-list)

Nicole Trager said...

I like Callen better than Calvin, but they both strike me as very matchy/rhymey with your last name.. Callen Marcin
Calvin Marcin ... I really like Calder from Swistles list

Calder Marcin sounds great together

Anonymous said...

I feel the exact same way about all of these names as you do! I LOVE the nickname Cal but haven't been sold on any of the longer names. I feel the same way about Ben and Sam. Love the nicknames, hate the "jamin" and "muel" endings. Am I crazy? Anyway, what do you think about Charlie? I mention it because it is the other name I really like. I think you could definitely go with Callen. I think it is becoming more popular in a good way--- people will start to know how to pronounce it and will know he is a boy.

AirLand said...

I like Callen! It doesn't sound like a girls' name to me. Calvin is also nice, but I like Callen better.

I had a thought though... maybe it might get mispronounced as "Colin"?

Anonymous said...

My maiden name is unusable, it's a big Italian name, haha.
Hmm, I am still considering Caleb... I've been trying to have it grow on me more. I will run Callahan by DH and see what he thinks, a def option for me.
Thank you all for your thoughts so far! I appreciate the help!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of the name Callen. If I met someone with the name, I would assume I'd misheard him and he'd actually introduced himself as Callum. This might not be a problem where you live but where I'm from, Callum is a common given name.

Alice said...

For some reason, when I saw Callen, I thought Call-en (as in telephone call), which makes it sound like Colin, as someone said above. Callan works better for me, I think because of it's similarity to Callahan and the repeating a sounds. I really like Callahan in general. I think it's masculine and strong. I like Calvert too.

Some other ideas:

Caledon (an Irish place name meaning, "hard or rocky land" according to nameberry)

Mary said...

I like Callen and Callan (heartbreak high anyone ;))

Callis or Callister could also be an option?

Or Cieran/Kieran? I think Jake, Makenzie & Kieran sound fantastic together. C/Kian is another alternative.

Anonymous said...

I went to school with a Callen for 12 years and to my knowledge he never had trouble with his name! I think it's a great name.

I'm not a big fan of Callahan because it is used as a term for a play in Ultimate Frisbee and that's the only thing I think of. However, I'm aware Ultimate Frisbee is not exactly a mainstream sport and you probably wouldn't ever hear his name used that way!

Anonymous said...

The only Callen I have ever known was pronounced like Allen with a C, but it was a girl. In her 20s now. Anyway, I like Callahan a lot, and Callum.

Jan said...

I have a friend with a boy Callan and I don't think they've had too any issues with it. Other ideas: Macalister, Pascal, Caleb (think you could still use Cal).

Anonymous said...

JuSt curious with what you decided on. I have a Timothy Callen, goes by Callen. Several co-workers called him Kay Len until I corrected them and sometimes I just didn't correct them. I have not gotten Call-en, which is what I thought I would get. I never thought I would get Kay-len. Callen is spelled phonetically correct, but so many names are not. Imy little one just turned two and has just recently started using his name. It is so cute when he says Callen. I don't regret the name choice AT ALL. Best wishes!!