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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Name Updates!

Update (and photo!) on Baby Boy or Girl B_____ss, Sibling to Owen Albert!
Update (and photo!) on Baby Girl or Boy McD____, Sibling to Ronan!

Baby Boy Doorahzio: Italian Names

Carly writes:
We are due with our first baby, a boy, in April and my husband and I are having trouble finding a name.

To give some background information, I'm Irish and my husband is Italian, 1st generation. I've always been a fan of ethnic names so I'd like to find something Italian to match our very Italian last name pronounced door-ahz-io.

We were all set with girls name options (Luciana, Viviana, Valentina) with middle name Willa in honor of my lost little brother Ryan William. Our middle name for our son will be Ryan, even though it doesn't "match" with any of the Italian-ness going on.

Our names are Matthew and Carly and we have two dogs, Sugar and Gus, and a cat, Jasper. We do hope to have more children in the future.

After going through some extensive exercises of writing top 5 lists and comparing and then comparing some more, we've each narrowed our favorites down to 1. (Well I have 2, whoops!)

· My husbands favorite is Marcello (pronounced mar-chel-lo), and while I don't hate it, I also don't love it. We've discussed nicknames and none stand out to me as a good fit. Marc, Marco, Marcus, March, Cello, Lo?

· My favorite is Santino and we would call him Santi or Santos. (My runner up is Xavier, it's been on my list since I was in grade school, but the hubbie thinks it's "weird"?)

Anyway, can you give some insight on what you think of these two names, or perhaps some other names that might seem to fit?

Thank you so much!

PS: Here is a small list of names that one of us liked but was dismissed

Dominic (most likely still on the list, but not at the top)

PPS: I absolutely promise to write back with an update on what we've chosen!

I know very little about Italian names, so I'm working here with the Italian sections of The Baby Name Wizard, The Best Baby Names in the World From Around the World, and The Oxford Dictionary of First Names. I'm trying to choose names that will sound good in the U.S., which could very well mean I'm choosing the names that in actual Italy would sound like Erwin and Dudley.

I have a long-running campaign to promote the name Karl, which I think is vastly underused. Recently a celebrity named a baby boy Carlo, which seemed like it had potential for helping to bring the name into use: the popular o-ending! Plus, while still being definitely Italian, it's recognized and easy to spell and pronounce. So that is my first suggestion: Carlo Ryan Doorahzio. It might be too close to Carly, or it might be a nice way to combine names: the father's surname and an Italian first name---but one that reflects the mother's name.

Matteo has been rising in popularity, perhaps also because of that o-ending. It gives the nicknames Matt and also Teo (TAY-o). As pointed out in the comments section, this might be too close to the name Matthew---or it might be a nice namesake name without being a junior, especially if he goes mostly by Teo.

Or Nico would be nice. Nico Ryan Doorahzio.

I'm also drawn to the Gian- names. I think those sound handsome. I like Giancarlo even more than Carlo. Gianluca would give him the nicknames Luca and Luke.

I like nicknames like Kip and Chip and Skip, so Cipriano appeals to me. On Forvo it sounds like a cross between a "sip" sound and a "chip" sound, and I think I'd use Chip as a nickname for anyone who had trouble with the full name.

Gus is a nickname trying to join Max and Sam and Jack; the main thing holding it back is the difficulty of choosing a longer version. Because you're specifically looking for an Italian name (and it sounds like you'd like a nickname), I suggest Augusto, nickname Gus. [It's pointed out in the comments section that Gus is already the dog's name. I'll leave this suggestion here anyway, for future reference for parents looking for Italian names.]

Name update! Carly writes:
We were so undecided that it took us until the last possible moment before checking out of the hospital to pick a name, but we ended up with....

Xavier Ryan D'Orazio

Thanks for chosing my question to post and thank you to all of the commentors.  I now have a list for our next child with all kinds of notes on it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Baby Boy Smith, Brother to Carson Michael

S. writes:
I am due on March 24, so I have less than 10 weeks left. We currently have a two year old named Carson Michael. We are having another boy. Last name is Smith. I cannot for the life of me choose a name for this baby. I want a family name somewhere in the name, so Jackson, Jordan, Owen, and Britt are possibilities.

Now to talk about what we have considered. Actually at this point I don't think there is a name that I haven't considered.

My favorite names are Jackson, Hudson, and Silas. Jackson and Hudson don't work because they end in -son like my first son's name. Silas ends how my last name begins, and is too hissy sounding with all the s's.

My husbands favorite name is Levi. It just doesn't click with me. It feels very religious to me.

We have seriously considered a number of names in addition to the ones above, but I find something wrong with each. Here goes:

Jordan- worried about the unisex aspect, too many girls using it now?
Brady- my family names don't go with it for the middle (I refuse to give him the initials BJ)
Owen-too old sounding it was a great grandparents name, so I picture a 95 year old
Brody-same issue as Brady
Trevor-people say it sound "snobby" and pretentious
Noah- No, Noah sounds like a stutter and we are afraid our two year old will be confused with all the "No" sounds
Parker-i never liked it until recently, but I think the strong R sounds makes it hard to say especially with Carson

Husband had vetoed:

Please tell me you will help!!!! I honestly have been crying for the last two days every time I try to settle on something. I hate this! I find something wrong with every name. I feel alot of pressure especially since my first son was born a month early! I may not have much time left!!

I don't think the "No" sound in Noah is going to be confusing to your older child, any more than it will confuse your second child that his older brother's name has the words "car" and "son" in it. If it really did turn out to be an issue, it wouldn't be an issue for very long. And if I think back to the Noah I had in my daycare class, I don't remember the no-no issue being a problem at all: the pause for the comma, and the W-sound in the middle of Noah, keep it from sounding stuttery. Perhaps some parents of Noahs can weigh in on whether this has been a problem for them.

A name with some similar sounds (but no "no") is Rohan. Rohan Smith; Carson and Rohan.

I might in general prefer to avoid having two sibling names ending with -son, but there's no rule against it. If you and your husband can agree on the name Jackson or Hudson, and you both love the name, there is nothing wrong with naming two brothers Carson and Jackson, or Carson and Hudson.

I can see how having an elderly relative named Owen would affect the sound of the name for you. Does it help at all that it's in the top 50 for boys right now? As with many names, it has cycled around again: names first sound too elderly to use, then sound vintage and appealing, then sound totally current. Owen is already sounding current, with only a hint of vintage remaining. It fits in beautifully with other revived no-longer-elderly-sounding names such as Ava, Henry, and Emma.

I like the sound of Carson and Parker together. I think the R sound ties them together. Maybe it ties them together a little too well, since it's more of a matching ar-sound than just an r-sound. Maybe Porter would be better? Porter Smith; Carson and Porter.

Jordan is one of the few truly unisex names. Even though it's used for many baby girls, it hasn't dropped at all out of the running for boys---especially since many girls use feminized spellings such as Jordyn and Jordynn.

Another good unisex name is Riley. It has the il-sound from Silas, but without the s-ending problem. Riley Smith; Carson and Riley.

If you like Silas but the ending S is a problem, do you like Simon instead?

If not Levi, would you prefer Leo?

If Trevor isn't quite right, would Truman do? Or Everett? Or Evan?

If you like Brady but the initials are a problem, do you like Grady instead? Grady Owen Smith; Carson and Grady.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Baby Boy Detwiler: Issues of Twilight and Beer

Katie writes:
I am a longtime reader and thought I would be more than prepared for my own baby name experience once it arrived. Well, here it is... I am due on March 30th with a baby boy and i am anything BUT well prepared! I have 3 different issues going on; not wanting a top ten name, Twilight, and initials I don't know if I can use. To give you some background, my name is Katie, my husband's name is Jon, and our last name is Detwiler. I grew up in Amish Country, and we have an Amish sounding last name, so that's a factor for me as well, so I guess that's a fourth issue for me! I would like to avoid some of the typical Amish names. Jon has given me 2 top five lists, "Unusual Names" (that I don't think are actually that unusual) and "Normal Names."

Unusual Names:


Normal Names:

Jakeb (yes, that's with an -eb at the end... Not going to happen)

I seem to be having some mental block and can't even think of any names I think I like or are right for this poor little man, so we settled on Jakob Soren or Maximus Grey as our top two finalists.

These two finalists have produced all 4 of my issues. Jakob/Jacob is Jon's #1 name out of all 10... It has been in the top five names for what seems like a hundred years, it's Amish, and my sister in law is due a month before me and their girl name is Bella. Really. Maximus Grey gives us the initials MGD. I think we might have been ok a few years ago with these initials but then out came MGD 64... Does that even matter?

So I need to know if I should just get over any of these issues, or if you think any of them are actually legit. My pick is definitely Max, but those initials are bothering me. Also, if we were having a girl, we both like Ellie, but Jon preferred Eleanor and I preferred Eloise for her full name.

If you take a look at our style and have any new name suggestions as well, we're still definitely open to a change! Thank you!

I had to Google MGD 64 to see what the issue was. But I'm not a beer-drinker; if you were considering the name Smirnoff or even GNT I would have known what was what. And Jacob Detwiler wouldn't have made me think Amish.

But I think it can be tempting to dismiss anything as silly if it's not a familiar association: I haven't seen Titanic so Jack and Rose seems like a dismissible thing to worry about---but ask me about siblings Max and Ruby and I'm completely opposed: the associations I recognize seem shocking, while the associations someone ELSE recognizes seem barely worth considering---only because they're not important TO ME, which is not the question when we're talking about the societal impact of a name. With the polls I always want to separate out the opinions of the people who HAVE the association from the people who don't. Let's have a poll over to the right and see if we can do that even though it makes the response options kind of LONG.

It seems too that the MGD issue would be a simple problem to fix, unless you're totally set on Grey as the only middle name you want to consider. Even if you think the initials are a deal-breaker, that doesn't rule out the name Max.

While I might not name siblings Edward and Bella, I don't see a problem with Jacob and Bella for cousins. The name Bella is fairly strongly associated with Twilight (though all the Bellas, as well as all the Isabellas going by Bella, help to reduce that), but Jacob is common enough to have an even more diluted set of associations. And Bella and Jacob don't end up together romantically, right? So it's not a connection that would bother me. But again, we have the personal associations factoring in: I skimmed the first Twilight book and that's it, so of course the association would seem insignificant to me. What we want is SOCIETY'S reaction. Let's have a second poll over to the right about this issue.

Between Jacob and Maximum, my own favorite is Jacob. Jacob Detwiler seems like a nice boy, and handsome. And J.D. makes a cute initial nickname, if you want it.

From the entire list, my favorite is Soren Jacob. It lets your husband have his favorite name but without the Jacob/Bella issue, the Top Ten issue, or the Amish Name issue.

We recently discussed Maxon/Maxton, if you'd want to consider a different long form for Max.

Because you have Zander and Zeke, I wonder if you would like Xavier?

Evan from your list makes me think of Ian. But it gives the initials I.D., if you want to avoid that. (A D-surname sure is hard to work with for those of us who prefer not to spell anything with initials! 2012 A.D., CD, double-D, ED, fire dept, g-d, high definition, show your I.D., M.D., O.D., police dept, Rd., etc.)

Be sure to vote in both polls to the right (er, I mean if you WANT to); it's common when we do two polls for the first of the two polls to get significantly more votes than the second. Heck, let's throw in one more poll: Jacob or Maximus? And be sure to leave other suggestions in the comments section. [All three polls closed; see results below.]

Poll results for "The Initials MGD" (479 votes total):
  • I recognize the association, and it's a deal-breaker - 24 votes (5%)
  • I recognize the association, but I think it's no big deal - 198 votes (41%)
  • I didn't recognize the association but now I think it's a deal-breaker - 6 votes (1%)
  • I didn't recognize the association but I don't think it's a big deal - 234 votes (49%)
  • OMG I cannot even figure out these options - 17 votes (4%)

Poll results for "Is it okay to have cousins named Jacob and Bella?" (507 votes total):
  • I thought of Twilight, and I'd really avoid it - 55 votes (11%)
  • I thought of Twilight, but it's still totally fine for just cousins - 185 votes (36%)
  • I didn't think of Twilight, and now that I have, I'd avoid it - 19 votes (4%)
  • I didn't think of Twilight, and now that I have, I still don't think it's a big deal - 242 votes (48%)
  • I am now too confused to vote - 6 votes (1%)

Poll results for "Which do you prefer?" (444 votes total):
  • Jacob Detwiler - 302 votes (68%)
  • Maximus Detwiler - 142 votes (31%)

Name update! Katie writes:
Baby Boy Detwiler was born March 30, 2012 (a month after his cousin Isabella!). After all the polls and comments generated from your post we thought we should go with Jacob... But after really hashing it out we decided that Maximus Grey was meant to be, and the initials weren't a big deal at all.  So here he is, Maximus Grey Detwiler :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Name Updates!

Update (and photo!) on Baby Boy Moncla, Brother to Lucy and Eli!
Update on Baby Boy/Girl Twins Hoffman!
Update (and photo!) on Baby Twin Girls Lavender, Sisters to Cohen Fox!
Update (and photo!) on Baby Boy or Girl Phillips: Namesake Issues!

Baby Name to Consider: Maxon

Beth writes:
As I was driving to my daughter's class today, a sign I drive by often caught my attention as a name to consider. Maxon. I've never heard of a baby named this, but it sounds like so many popular names--Max! Jackson! Mason! that I wondered if someone who didn't have this name in their family tree would consider it. What do you think?

Oh, interesting! It adds another way to get the nickname Max, and it ties in with the name Jaxon. Or it could be spelled Mackson, if someone preferred the nickname Mac/Mack.

I see in 2010 there were 55 baby boys named Maxon, plus another 14 named Maxen, 9 named Maxxon, and 7 named Maxin. It looks like it appeared in the Social Security database in 1997, but hasn't really caught on yet.

I wonder why it HASN'T risen more rapidly, considering it fits so well with Max and Jaxon and Jackson? The similarity in sound to the men's magazine Maxim might help it or might hurt it (312 boys named Maxim were born in 2010). Associations with maxi pads seem like they'd be damaging, but then they should be equally damaging to all the Max names. It makes me think of "Wax on, wax off" from The Karate Kid---but that ought to be just as damaging to Jaxon and Jackson. I wondered if it might be a reluctance to branch out into rhyming names, but that didn't stop Caden/Braden/Jaden/Greydon.

Let's have a poll over to the right to see what we think of the name [poll closed; see results below], but let's also discuss in the comments section why we think it HASN'T taken off.

Poll results for "What do you think of the name Maxon?" (491 votes total):

I love it! I'd want to use it! - 5 votes (1%)
I like it! I'd want to consider it! - 26 votes (5%)
I like it for someone else's baby - 72 votes (15%)
No particular opinion - 41 votes (8%)
Slight dislike - 193 votes (39%)
Strong dislike - 154 votes (31%)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Harris or Harrison Hamilton?

L. writes:
We are expecting our first baby, a surprise, February 22, 2012. My husband was very close to his grandfather, Harry, and my last name is Harris, so we think something in that vein would be meaningful. We have decided on Harriet for a girl, and both love it. (Her middle name would be Perrine, my mother's maiden name.) For a boy we had settled on Harrison, nickname Harry, but I am having doubts. (His middle name would be Matthew, after my husband.) Here are some concerns:

The baby's last name will be Hamilton, my husband's last name. I worry that Harrison Hamilton is too singsongy, and the two last names are too interchangeable (sounds very similar to Hamilton Harrison). My husband points out that Harry Hamilton, what our son will go by, doesn't come off that way (although he is a bit worried about the alliteration).

I am also worried that, although the name isn't overly popular at the moment (consistently in the 200s in the Social Security database for the last couple of decades), the -son ending for boys is pretty trendy right now (Jackson, Mason, Grayson, Hudson, etc.) and Harrison has recently become very popular in Australia and England, which might suggest it's about to catch on here in the U.S. Because my husband and I both went through school sharing our names with lots of classmates, we're hoping to avoid putting our kid in the same situation.

I do think it's a solid, sweet name with lots of significance for our family. It would be cute on a little boy and respectable on a man. And as an Indiana Jones/Beatles fan, my husband is happy with those associations.

The alternative is Harris, which doesn't end with -son and isn't even in the top 1000, popularity-wise. It also seems to flow better with Hamilton. But it is my last name--is that weird?--and my husband likes it less, although he is open to it. It also sounds less "name-y" in this day and age than Harrison.

Your advice would be appreciated!

I vastly prefer Harris Hamilton to Harrison Hamilton, for all the reasons you mention. Furthermore, I have a huge soft spot for the mother's maiden name (whether or not the mother is still using it) used as a child's name: I think it's a meaningful and touching choice, especially when the child will be receiving his father's first name as his middle name, as well as his father's surname.

Or there's the option of just naming him Harry. It's not so nicknamey that it can't stand on its own. This is particularly appealing if your husband's grandfather's given name was Harry.

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

Name update! L. writes:
Thank you to everyone for your input!  In the end, all the stress was for naught:  Harriet Perrine Hamilton was born on February 15, 2012.  (She'll be 8 months old in a few days--here is a recent pic.)  She has the perfect name for her.  In the end we decided on Harrison for a boy, but I was never completely at peace with it.  So everything worked out!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby Girl or Boy Spam, Sibling to Bianca

Monica writes:
I am due with our second child at the beginning of February. We do not know what we are having, and cannot come up with a boy’s name. We have a 2 yr old daughter named Bianca Jolien. We call her ‘B’ or Bia. If the baby is a girl, she will be Daphne (unsure of middle name). We could easily agree on a girl’s name; however, we are having difficulty coming up with a boy’s name. It may be because I have too many ‘rules’. I don’t want the name to start with a ‘M’ as my husband is Martin and I am Monica, I want the name to be more than one syllable as our last name is one syllable (sounds like ‘Spam’), and I don’t want a trendy or overly common name, but also not a name that is too unheard of. Every name I come up with, my husband says it in Dutch, and it does not work. Having said that, I don’t want an exclusively Dutch name (like Jaap or Cees)! Like I said, I have lots of ‘rules’!

A commonly used boy’s name in Holland right now is Lucas, which I like, and especially like the nn Luke. I’m not sure though because it ends with ‘S’ and our last name starts with ‘S’. What are your thoughts? Yes, generally we will use Luke, but officially it will be Lucas ‘Spam’. I’m afraid it sounds too much like Luca ‘Spam’ when spoken. I don’t want to simply name him Luke as I’d like him to have the option of using Lucas when he is older.

Names we have considered, but aren’t convinced:

Kiefer – Husband likes, I used to like it too, but now feel it is too ‘different’.

Willem – Dutch form of William. I like the nn Will, but worry about how common this will be, and really dislike the nn Willy.

Wilco – same as above, it is a commonly used name in Holland, but worry it is too different.

Graydon – like the nn Grady, not crazy about Graydon

Henry – don’t like the nn Hank, and hubby isn’t crazy about the name


Griffin – love the nn Finn, but a friend recently named her son Griffin

We are planning on having only 2 children, so as of now, it’ll be Bianca and Daphne or Bianca and Baby Boy...HELP!

I think Willem is a wonderful choice, and I think you can avoid Willy unless he himself chooses it, which seems unlikely. The main downside of the name, I think, is that the popularity of the name William could create constant misunderstandings and misspellings as people assume you've said/written William.

I agree with you about names running into each other. I think if I loved a name above all others and with the passion of at least one or two suns, I would use it anyway, and then I would practice saying the name distinctly, with a pause: "Lucas. Spam." Or, as I imagine going up to the reception desk at school or at the doctor's office, I might say, "This is Lucas. Lucus Spam." Yes, I think that would work fine. But the issue would knock the name lower on my list.

The name Wilco has seized my imagination. It seems just wonderful. It has the easy nickname Will, but without Willem's problem with being confused with William. It's distinctive and Dutch and easy to explain to anyone whose eyebrows go up ("My husband is Dutch; it's a common Dutch name"), and especially with that -o ending I think it has huge potential for crossover to U.S. usage. My guess is that the only reason it HASN'T crossed over is that people haven't heard of it. Or possibly because the -co ending might sound a little corporate? But that's not what comes to mind with Marco or Nico or Rocco. In your particular family, I wonder if it's too many C+vowel endings: Monica, Bianca, and Wilco.

If you like Finn but can't use Griffin, there's also Finnegan, Phineas, Fintan, or straight Finn.

If you like Grady, I'd go directly to that: it's a stand-alone name, and I think Graydon sounds like a Braden-offshoot name invented to give Grady a more formal version.

I don't like the matching M-endings of Callum Spam. I wonder if you'd like Calvin? Calvin Spam; Bianca and Calvin; Bia and Cal.

I love Kiefer best. It's energetic and unusual, but familiar and completely fits in with the current fashion for surname names, as well as fitting beautifully with Bianca. Kiefer Spam. Bianca and Kiefer. I love that so much, it's tempting to pressure you.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Baby Boy Purant-with-a-D

Lauren writes:
My husband and I were sure we were having a girl until our ultrasound said otherwise! We have one boy's name that we had both liked early on (Oscar), but now that it's "real" I'm not sure it's right for our son. And with time ticking (we're due in May, but I'm a planner), my husband is quick to veto but unable to come up with his own suggestions! We actually do agree on general ideas (not too trendy or popular, we like traditional/old-timey/preppy names, and we have no syllable/vowel/whatever preferences or requirements about it) but when it comes to specifics, we're having some trouble. My husband's name is Fletcher which he and I both LOVE. We have only met one other Fletcher ever but it's not a "weird" name by any means. We would love to find something just like that for our boy!

My absolute favorites are Griffin and Fisher, but he's not sold on either of them yet. Names we both generally like include Felix, Oscar, Owen, Milo, and Henry, but we think that the last three are too trendy (we love Liam, but that has the same problem). Our tastes do diverge, though. I love names like Connor, Cooper, Hunter, Jonah, Jude, Miles, Miller, Rowan, Sawyer, and Spencer--none of which he likes enough (and some he hates!). He loves Elliot but I like it better as a middle name. Other middle names we like include Leighton, Freeland, and Montgomery (all family names, though that's not a stipulation). His last name will be my husband's last name which starts with a D and rhymes with Purant (think the sound a cat makes plus the insect)--so names like Grant are out. I also don't like D first names with a D last name.

Anyway, as you can see, we could use some help! Is Fisher too matchey with my husband's name? Is there a good middle name for Griffin that would make my husband love it? Are we missing that magic name? Is there a combination in all of these that we aren't seeing?? There's a good chance that this will be our only child but it's possible that we'll have one more. If we were having a girl, we would have named her Mabel, Clementine, or Clara.

Many thanks and Happy New Year!! I promise to send an update AND a picture when our son arrives. And because you seem like the kind of person who might like this, here's a preview of what he looks like. The caption would read "Hi Swistle, please help name me!"

This is a suggestion you have certainly thought of, but I am going to go right ahead and make it anyway because it's kind of an uncommon to start up in our generation: how would you feel about having a junior? You and your husband both love your husband's name, and you'd both like something just like that for your son---so perhaps go right for it?

Or he wouldn't have to be a full junior: you could give him a different middle name, to reduce confusion and to let you still have the fun of choosing at least one new name.

If you'd rather not, but you wouldn't mind using something very close, Thatcher or Archer would be adorable. (I learned just this minute from The Baby Name Wizard that a fletcher is an arrow-maker, so that makes Archer particularly appealing for that connection.) Fisher is a great name and I want to finally know someone who uses it---but I think it's confusing/tongue-twisting with Fletcher (I keep getting Flesher and Fitcher.)

I wish he liked Miller. That seems like a really good one.

Instead of Elliot: Everett or Emmett.

Instead of Liam: Leon.

Instead of Griffin: Gideon or Finnegan or Phineas.

I also love Felix from your list. When I was reading through the letter but before I'd gotten to that list, I thought "They like Oscar and Fletcher---I should suggest Felix!"

Milo might be a little trendy, helped in this impression by a couple of actresses who used the name for their sons. But it's been awhile since anyone famous used it, and I'm only willing to say "MIGHT" be a "LITTLE" trendy, and it was one of the three finalists for my youngest baby, and I still really like it for you. That little ultrasound hand-wave has the attitude of a Milo, and I think Milo has just the right mix of quirky and well-rooted.

Or would you like Nico instead? Or Theo? Or Leo? or Hugo? I think Hugo would be great: Hugo Purant.

I also think you might find Oscar is the right name after all, once you've had time to get used to him being a boy. Oscar is so great with the sister names, if you have a girl later on: Oscar and Mabel; Oscar and Clara; Oscar and Clementine.

Harrison just came to mind. It's surnamey like Fletcher, and it's nice with the surname: Harrison Purant.

For a middle name, I suggest your own surname if it's at all name-like.

For Griffin, Elliot seems like a good middle name to maybe tip your husband into using it: Griffin Elliot Purant. One downside is that the initials would spell GED, like the high school equivalency exam, but for me I don't THINK that would be a deal-breaker.

The names Fletcher, Felix, Oscar all have a sort of crackle in them. Looking for other such names:

Declan (starts with D, I know, but I want it in the list anyway)

Or here's a long-shot to consider: Pascal. It takes a little getting used to, but I think it has huge potential: familiar yet almost unused in the U.S., and very similar in sound to names like Oscar and Felix, and with a super sciencey namesake to boot. Pascal Mother-Surname Purant-with-a-D.

Name update! Lauren writes:
We wanted to give you an update on our little lion, who came into this world 9 weeks early. It seems that Felix Everett Purant (with a D) just could not wait any longer to be with us. He's getting stronger by the day and we're so in love with him. Thanks for your help--Everett was one of your suggestions and is the perfect middle name for our little guy. We've already gotten a million compliments on his name.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baby Boy or Girl Fitzpatrick, Sibling to Hugh and Claire

Sarah writes:
I've enjoyed reading your advice. I wonder if you could help my husband and I....I'm due in two weeks (end of Jan. 2012) and we're still struggling (stressing a bit) with baby names. We have two children (Hugh Thomas age 4, Claire Ann age 3). We don't know if we're having a boy or a girl. (Hugh is a family name...starting with my grandfather and it goes way back and Thomas is my father-in-law. Claire was just a name we liked and Ann is a favorite family name on both sides.) Our last name is Irish - sounds like Fitzpatrick. My husband's ancestry is all Irish - I'm of Irish and Scottish descent.

One boy name that we both like is Grant Regan. Grant is another family name and Regan is a family surname. I would love your thoughts on a quick question regarding you think we're crazy to have sons named Hugh and Grant since there is an actor named Hugh Grant? (For the record I like Hugh Grant so I don't have bad associations with his name.)

Some of the other boys names we're considering are:

George Regan (George - after my father + husband's grandfather)
Cormac Regan (Cormac - a shortened version of a family surname name)
Cormac George

Our hesitation with Cormac is that there are conflicting defintitions - one is impure son (not so nice), others are son of charioteer or raven. I'm not sure how much weight to give these definitions or if I should let the family tie of the name matter more.

For girls we're even more lost. Here are some we've been thinking of:

Alexandra Christine (I've always loved Alexandra and Christine is after my late mother-in-law)
Alexandra Regan
Alexandra Jane
Sadie Christine
Mollie Katherine
Katherine Regan
Alice Regan
Alice Christine
Georgia Regan
Abigail Regan
Flora Christine

Any thoughts or ideas would be most welcome!

I will make this quick so the other commenters can get at it too: it's already been a week since you wrote, so TIME IS SHORT.

Brothers named Hugh and Grant immediately bring the actor to mind, and for me it's to startling and comic effect. Like siblings named Ronald and Reagan, or Charles and Darwin. I vote no---but with great regret. If nothing else, I think you and they would get completely fed up with people remarking on the connection.

Instead I suggest Graham (even this is a little close, but it helps that there is a sister in between), Reid, or Dean. (I wish I could recommend Clark, too, but I think it's too close to Claire.)

And I love your idea of George, and feel like pushing you to use it. George Regan! Very handsome. That's my favorite.

The iffy definition of Cormac wouldn't bother me. I looked it up in The Oxford Dictionary of First Names, and it says "Traditional Irish name of uncertain origin." This name, like many, many, many others, has no standard meaning; meanings found in other books have been made up (with various degrees of legitimacy) to please people who like all names to have meanings.

The family tie is definitely more important here: the meaning of the name becomes THAT connection, rather than something from a baby name book, just as the meaning of George for your family is "mother's father and father's grandfather" rather than "farmer." And I would get a copy of the Oxford book, put it on the bookshelf, and refer to that if little Cormac ever looks up his name in some other book and comes to you to confront you with your choice. "The Oxford Dictionary says so, Cormac!" you can say. "Uncertain origin!"

Wasn't I planning to make this SHORT? Then we'd better move along to girl names.

With Claire, my stand-out favorite from your great list is Alice. In the next tier of favorites are Georgia, Abigail, Flora, and Mollie (which I'd spell Molly unless the spelling has significance).

I also suggest Eve and Eliza and Rose.

Let's turn it over to the commenters now. Which boy name and girl name are your favorites for Baby Fitzpatrick?

Name update! Sarah writes:
Hello everyone - Thank you all for your help! We had a little (6 lb. 2 oz.) girl at the end of January. I was so convinced that we were having a boy that I had to ask twice when they told me we had a girl. My husband and I were set on using either Cormac George or George Regan so we were surprised to have to come up with a girl name! We named our daughter Alexandra Jane - even though it is a longer name than our other children it really seems to suit her well.

Thanks again for all of your comments!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Baby Boy Thompson, Brother to Charlotte Grace

Teresa writes:
Hello there Swistle! I've been reading your blog (semi-obsessively) for some time now and have often thought of writing, but always talked myself out of it (because I know you guys get so much mail). Now, however, I'm reaching a desperate point. I am pregnant with #2, a little boy, due May 22. My husband is deploying and will be leaving in March, and since he'll miss the birth, the 2 baby-related bonding-type things I had hoped we'd be able to do together was the ultrasound and agreeing on a name. The ultrasound is done, but now we are stuck. We are in completely different galaxies when it comes to boy names.

Our daughter is named Charlotte Grace (which wasn't as popular when we chose it as it is now). Our last name is Thompson. My favorite names so far are Oliver, Atticus, and Abraham (Abraham is my favorite by far). My husband can't tolerate any of those. He prefers names like Timothy and Andrew, which are great names, just not for this baby. The one name that we theoretically *could* compromise and agree on is Calvin, but I'm not totally sold on it. If we have more children and didn't start their name with a C name, would they feel left out? (I feel like this may be less of a concern because Charlotte doesn't have a hard "c" sound, but am still not totally sure.) I do not want a first name that begins with T. My initials have always been TT, and I think it is too much of a strong T-sound.

We go to a fairly small, very close-knit church with an abundance of baby boys, so there are QUITE a few names that are out (and these are only the names that would be in the same class as this baby). Names that are out: Judah, Christian, Elijah, Levi, Luke, Seth, Sebastian, Liam, Ethan, Griffin/Finn.

We both liked Tobias at first, until we started test-driving it (and then we both liked it a lot less). And related Elias is out because of a horrible person one of us knew. Jeremiah could be a candidate, but it's a name that I only like and do not love. If this baby was a girl, she would have been named Opal Elizabeth, which is a name that I really DO love, so now I'm just having a hard time settling for a boy name that I can only tolerate. Does that make any sense? I would prefer a less common name - I am not against popular names just for the sake of being different, but so our kid wouldn't always have to be identified by their first name and last initial. I theoretically love Puritan/Colonial names, but looking through list after list of those types of names, I have found nothing inspirational.

Any help or guidance you could give would be greatly appreciated! Because of some training my husband has, he is only going to be home for another 5 weeks or so before he leaves in March. For some reason I am really feeling the time crunch lately, and for some other reason (probably crazy pregnancy hormones, I'm guessing), the thought of having to agree on a name via Skype with him across the world makes me cry. (Though I am thankful for the existence of Skype that will allow us to keep in touch, I really am. I just want the name agreeing to be done in person.)

Thank you again for your time!

To me, it's the third name in a row that causes the real pressure---but I do feel some pressure even with a second name in a row, so I'd understand if you wanted to avoid a C name. But if I heard of a sibling group Charlotte, Calvin, and Opal, I wouldn't think, "What, did they run out of C names?" (with Charlotte, Calvin, Colin, and Opal, I might). And although I'm sure we could find adults still upset that they didn't share initials with their siblings, my guess is that the majority of children don't care about such things unless it's really blatant (and even then, we get people who say it made them feel special, not excluded). If you DID have Charlotte, Calvin, Colin, and Opal, and you said, "Opal, I waited through TWO BOYS to get to use your name!," it seems like there'd be very little room left for feeling neglected.

I think Calvin would be a wonderful choice. It seems like an excellent compromise between your husband's style and your own, and I'm not sure we can do any better than that. Which is not to say we won't try, because trying is fun.

Henry is another name that I think can bridge the gap between Oliver and Andrew. Henry Thompson is great, I think. But what really sells it to me is the sibling name set: Charlotte and Henry. I love that. I love it enough that I had a little heart attack thinking "Wait, is it in their church group??"---followed by a very pleasant headrush when it wasn't.

If Henry is too common, I wonder if you'd like Harvey. That's a name that never would have caught my eye if I hadn't been a fan of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The cool-but-nice boyfriend is named Harvey.

Tobias and Elias make me think of Silas. Silas Thompson; Charlotte and Silas.

Silas makes me think of Simon. Simon Thompson. Too rhymey, or nicely tied together? Charlotte and Simon is a pair I like almost as much as I like Charlotte and Henry.

Henry and Silas make me think of Harris. Harris Thompson; Charlotte and Harris.

I looked up lists of signers of the Constitution and signers of the Declaration of Independence to see if any early U.S. names stood out. In those lists I found what I consider a real option, a name that came up again and again---but it's the kind of name I feel like I need to introduce by saying something like "Now don't reject it right away! Let it sink in!" It's George. George Thompson. Charlotte and George. I like George enough to consider it using it myself, but it took awhile to start seeing it as a real name candidate, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's a name like John, so familiar it sort of flits right past without sinking in? But think for a moment of George Clooney. See? GEORGE. I think it's the kind of name that has the potential to be a continual pleasant surprise: it's got dignity and it's got charm and it's got HISTORY. (And it's got Clooney.)

Another is Philip. A friend named her son Philip, and it has been such a successful name. I'm not sure I noticed it when I read baby name books, but as soon as she mentioned it I thought "Philip!! Why have we not considered Philip??" Philip Johnson; Charlotte and Philip.

Another name that caught my eye was Nathaniel. That seems closer to your husband's tastes than to yours, but still might work as a compromise. Nathaniel Thompson; Charlotte and Nathaniel.

There's an Edmund listed under "Other Founders," and I think that name would work very nicely. Edmund Thompson; Charlotte and Edmund.

Looking over the list brought the name Joel (not on the lists) to mind. It has that hard-working early American sound. Joel Thompson; Charlotte and Joel.

Or Grant. Grant Thompson; Charlotte and Grant.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: Place Names

Traci writes:
You helped me out less than a year ago when we were expecting our first. Now we're expecting AGAIN.
Besides the craziness that is having two babies less than a year apart, we have a new naming issue.
We don't know the gender of this baby, but if it is a girl, we would like to name her Marina Lynn, after both our mothers. (His mother = Marina, Mine = Lynn). I love most everything about the name Marina. I love that my husband loves it, I love the way it sounds, I love that it is a precious namesake like our first child. The ONLY THING I don't like about it is that Marina is a thing in English. (A place, actually. "Let's have lunch at the marina.") To me, a name that is a thing/place like Marina is different than a name that is a thing like Rose. I can't explain why, exactly, but it just bothers me. As an avid reader of your site (and because you steered us so right the first time and we took your advice and couldn't be happier!) I thought that I'd get your take on it. Should I get over it? Is there a way to frame it that might help me get over it? I also thought of spelling it Marinah. Does that seem like a viable solution? Is there another solution I haven't thought of? I thought you might take the opportunity to talk about names that are things (or places) in general, to help more readers than just me.

Thank you!

This is the kind of question where I have to rein in my urge to PUSH you to use the name. You love it! It's a family name! Place names are a totally valid category of names! I want to FORCE the place issue not to bother you! But if something bothers, it bothers, and there's no "just don't let it" about it. So let's work on the reframing idea.

In this particular case, it would influence me whether you live near a marina or not. DO you ever suggest having lunch at the marina, or is there no marina? Proximity/confusion issues matter to me, which is why I also wouldn't suggest using Madison in or near Madison, Wisconsin, or Brooklyn in or near Brooklyn, New York---but wouldn't blink at either one of them used in Michigan. But of course people can move later on, so it still doesn't dismiss the point.

It also matters to me how tied the name is to the place. I don't immediately think of Madison and Savannah and Florence as place names even though I know they are; Georgia is definitely a place name but also strongly a name-name; and India and Ireland are places until I shake off the confusion and realize that in this case it's someone's name. For me, Marina is somewhere between Savannah and Georgia: I'd know it was a place, and I'd know to take that into account---but it wouldn't bother me to use it, even knowing that the child might later move to Georgia or near a marina/savannah.

In fact, maybe it would help to think how quickly a place association can vanish. Brittany! Austin! Jordan! Devon! Cody! Chelsea!

Or, this one may backfire, but: do you think of a marina whenever your mother-in-law's name comes up? (If so, never mind and forget I said anything.) Has anyone you know ever commented on the connection? ("Marina? Oh, like the place we have lunch!")

Or it helps me to think about how serious a situation it would be if the connection WERE made, or if the child DID move later on. How much of a problem/issue would it be for a girl named Madison to live in Wisconsin? There were 152 more of them born there last year, so my guess is it's not too bad. And Brooklyn is #15 in New York even though it's only #34 nationally. Place names are common honor names, so the connection can be a positive one.

Do you LIKE marinas? If someone hates roses, Rose is probably a non-starter of a baby name for them; but if they love roses, it adds to the appeal and makes the name an even more personal choice. The appeal of a forest or a haven or a savannah or a sky can be the very thing that makes someone CHOOSE a name like Forrest or Haven or Savannah or Skye.

Marinas are pretty
(screenshot from Google images search result)

It's too bad about Mirena, or I'd recommend that spelling. Marinah looks like mah-RY-nah to me, probably because of Mariah. I suppose you could use Marena (though I might say that one mare-ree-na or mah-RAY-nah instead of mah-REE-nah), but I think it's probably best to stick with the standard spelling.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Middle Name Challenge: Rhys ______ Kelly or Olive ______ Kelly

Alison writes:
Hi there! Came across your blog in search of a non-lame baby naming source, and I am already swooning over you and your worker bees.

Here's our situation.

Background: Husband in a musician, I'm an corp junkie and a yoga/dance teacher during my off hours.

Requirements: Want a non-lame name, that works for a rockstar, a poet or a school teacher. As versatile as possible. We have no middle name requirements, As long at it sounds great, we are happy.

We are unsure of the sex of the baby although we will be hoping to find out prior to the birth. Although our first pregnancy, my husband comes from a massive family so many traditional/biblical names are spoken for. Not that I'm religious (as we are not) but just a heads up. Also, our pets names are Seamus, Pickles and Bonham. Just in case you were thinking Pickles :)

For a boy, we love the name Rhys. Our last name is Kelly, so we want to find a middle name that completes what we deem is a rockin' name.

For a girl, we have yet to find any names that we love. Names that we like but not love are Juliet, Violet and Sloan.

Thanks in advance for your help and your tremendous blog.

So we discovered we love Olive as a girls name, but again stuck on a middle name.

If you don't have specific plans for the middle name, it's a good place for an honor name: a family member, a family surname, your maiden name, a musician or author you admire, a place of significance.

Other possibilities:

Rhys Darwin Kelly
Rhys Desmond Kelly
Rhys Edmund Kelly
Rhys Everett Kelly
Rhys Ezra Kelly
Rhys Frederick Kelly
Rhys Gabriel Kelly
Rhys Hugo Kelly
Rhys Liam Kelly
Rhys Merrit Kelly
Rhys Milo Kelly
Rhys Matthias Kelly
Rhys Turner Kelly
Rhys Walker Kelly
Rhys Warren Kelly
Rhys Wilson Kelly

Olive Bianca Kelly
Olive Cordelia Kelly
Olive Francesca Kelly
Olive Geneva Kelly
Olive Harlow Kelly
Olive Jane Kelly
Olive Josephine Kelly
Olive Leticia Kelly
Olive Linnea Kelly
Olive Louisa Kelly
Olive Margot Kelly
Olive Mattea Kelly
Olive Melina Kelly
Olive Minerva Kelly
Olive Noelle Kelly
Olive Padgett Kelly
Olive Sabrina Kelly
Olive Silvia Kelly
Olive Simone Kelly
Olive Sterling Kelly
Olive Winifred Kelly
Olive Winslow Kelly

Name update! Alison writes:

Wanted to send you an update on our name choice. We ended up having a boy, and named him Rhys Gibson Kelly. Gibson seemed to be the winning name amongst our choices, regardless of the musical tie. We love the fact that after we named him Rhys Gibson, his name can be known to mean "Enthusiastic, Laughing" which makes me all warm inside. And so far, Rhys Gibson lives up to his name in every way.

Thanks for your help!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Baby Boy Like-Miller-with-a-B, Brother to Callum Daniel

Kimberly writes:
We are expecting our second child, another boy, in early May! Our older son’s name is Callum Daniel. In an earlier post, you suggested Callum and Liam for twin boys’ names, and I’m wondering if you could please poll your readers to get their opinion on whether Callum and Liam sound too similar in a sibling set. Your opinion, of course, is much appreciated as well! Other first names under serious consideration are Andrew and Aiden (very popular in our region); the middle name is undecided but of less concern. Our naming guidelines are:

· No beginning or ending in B

· No names that are things (our surname is a thing)

· No two-syllable names that end in “er” (too sing-songy with our last name)

We had planned to use Amelia for a girl, and we are undecided on whether we will have more children.

If you choose to publish my question and need to use a substituted last name, I recommend “sounds like Miller with a B.”

Though I spend a lot of time lurking, I really appreciate your down-to-earth advice on naming and parenting in general!

Thank you,

I think my vote is that Callum and Liam are a little too close, but not deal-breakingly close: that is, if you love both names and decide to use them, there are plenty of sibling sets where the names are a little more similar than would be ideal (or even quite a bit more similar than would be ideal) but it's completely fine and not enough reason to give up a favorite name.

A name I love with Callum is Declan. They share some sounds, so perhaps they too are too similar, but they sound more different to my ear.

If you love Aidan but find it too popular in your area, I wonder if you'd like Aidric? I'm surprised it isn't more common.

Eamon would also fit very well. I recommend it second to Aidric because Aidric seemed easy to pronounce/spell even the first time I heard of it, but I've had to learn that Eamon is AY-mon (as opposed to EE-mon) and I still have to think about it.

I heard a little boy addressed as Garrett the other day, and it struck me that that's another name I could stand to hear more often.

Oh, Griffin! I like Griffin even more! Callum and Griffin; Cal and Finn! A griffin is sort of a thing, though. I say "sort of" because I"m not sure what percentage of the population is familiar with that (almost everyone? only certain segments?), and I also wonder if the name is established enough that the connection to the thing doesn't spring readily to mind; and because I think of the thing as being spelled gryphon (because of, I think, ONE book I read with a gryphon in it).

Well, if Griffin is out for thingness, I think I like Keegan even better anyway. It means two names starting with the same sound; would that make you feel stuck with a third child, if you had one? Callum and Keegan. I love that.

Enough chit-chat; let's have that poll about Callum/Liam over to the right! [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results for "What do you think of Callum and Liam as brother names?" (358 votes total):

Too similar to use - 94 votes (26%)
A little too similar, but fine to use - 158 votes (44%)
Not too similar - 99 votes (28%)
Can't decide - 7 votes (2%)

Name update! Kimberly writes:
Our family proudly welcomed Keegan Andrew on May 3! We are smitten! Thank you for helping us name our chunky monkey (he was 9 lbs, 15 oz at birth)!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Baby Girl K., Sister to Emma Mae

R. writes:
Our baby girl is due Feb. 13, 2012. Last name starts with a K. We are looking for a name that will sound good with Emma Mae – that’s our first daughter who will be 15 months old when the new baby is born. I always wanted an Emma because of the Jane Austen novels and I like traditional/old fashioned names but nothing that is so old we’d be the first people to use the name in like 50 years. I’ve always loved Abigail, but we know too many Abby’s personally. I also like Mona but my husband doesn’t.

Some of our names we are going back and forth on are:

1st Choice currently - Evelyn Ann (Ann is my mother in law’s middle name) (Mae is my mom’s middle name) I like names that I can shorten to a nickname like this would be Evie Ann…I call our daughter Emmie Mae

Caroline or Carolina

Kaitlyn Ann --- would probably be called Katie Ann (This is my husband’s choice, I don’t like how it sounds with Emma personally)

If we ever have a boy our first choice would be Noah Michael, and we also like Joshua Allan, and Lucas Scott. So we’d like our baby girl’s name to sound good with those boy names as well. We’d like to have 4 kids.


From your lists, Kaitlyn is the one that stands out to me as not fitting in with the others---either with the other girl names or with the potential future boy names. A name like Katherine would give you the nickname Katie, while keeping your name list in the old-fashioned/traditional theme. Or Kate is also a good stand-alone name, although then it doesn't sound right with the middle name.

Emmie and Evie seem too similar to me, but maybe they wouldn't be. I'm trying them aloud and can't decide.

It's too bad Abigail is out, because it seems to me like an excellent sister set with Emma. Do you like Gabrielle instead, with Gabby instead of Abby?

Or Annabel? It shares some of the sounds of Abigail, and I think it's so sweet with Emma. Emma and Annabel. It messes up your middle name choice, though.

I love Sadie with Emma, too, or Sophie, or Lucy, or Molly. Maybe Sophia, and have Emma/Sophia and Emmie/Sophie.

The Baby Name Wizard suggests Grace, Lily, Julia, Isabel, and Chloe. I especially like Lily, or maybe Lillian. Emma and Lillian; Emmie Mae and Lily Ann.

If you love Jane Austen, I suggest Jane. It's old fashioned, traditional, and underused but not at all unfamiliar. Emma and Jane is almost too wonderful. But as with Kate, it's choppy with the middle name.

I wonder if you'd like Charlotte. Emma and Charlotte; Emmie Mae and Lottie Ann.

Baby Name to Consider: Bretcher

Amy writes:
This past Thanksgiving my brother-in-law was talking about my other brother in law and said "Well, Brett sure does." Brett, who is only ten, quickly responded with "Who's Bretcher?" The fact that Brett thought Bretcher sounded like a legitimate name got me thinking that it really does have a lot of the characteristics current, trendy boys names. It is an English surname, starts with the ever-popular Br sound, has an easy nickname in "Bret", and as a bonus, it rhymes with Fletcher. What do you think?

I think you're right: it has a lot going for it, name-candidate-wise. It FEELS like a name.

Going against it is the way it calls to mind the words wretch and retch.

What does everyone else think? Let's have a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results for the question "What do you think of the name Bretcher?" (457 votes total):

I love it! I'd want to use it! - 0 votes (0%)
I like it! I'd want to consider it! - 8 votes (2%)
I like it for someone else's baby - 27 votes (6%)
No particular opinion either way - 19 votes (4%)
Slight dislike - 133 votes (29%)
Strong dislike - 270 votes (59%)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: Preferences vs. Requirements

Julia writes:
We have three boys and are expecting our fourth child, a girl, in early March. My name is Julia, my husband is Greg, and our surname is Holloway.

Our boys are Leo Sebastian (7), Asher Hugo (5), and Simon Frederick (2). We consider ourselves pros at naming boys. My husband and I are equal partners in the naming process and really enjoyed it with our sons. We absolutely adore their names and think we did a pretty damn good job with them. But we're starting to doubt our naming prowess with our daughter.

The problem is that we suck at naming girls. This is our first girl, and probably our last (we aren't sure if we want another child after this one), so we want her name to be absolutely perfect. If this baby was a boy he would have been Jude Atticus or Felix Alasdair, depending on what he looked like. Done deal, give me the birth certificate so I can sign it already. But this wee lass is a giant pain as we are absolutely stumped on her name.

I suppose the problem is that we're very conscientious about names. Like, we really like Ivy (it's honestly the only one we've found that we like), but discarded it because of the long "i" sound it shares with Simon's name. We don't want her name to begin or end the same as any of our sons' names and we don't want any of the same dominant sounds. And this rules out a lot of names.

We also don't want a name with an easy nickname, nor a name above two syllables.

Also we would like her name to end in a vowel, though it's not mandatory.

We know that we want her name to be feminine but not frilly, soft but strong, elegant yet playful. Does it even exist? Are we being way too picky?

We did look at the meanings for our sons' names when choosing them (Leo means "lion", Asher means "lucky/happy one", and Simon means "the listener") and while it's not TERRIBLY important we would like the meaning to be at least nice, if not wonderful.

Thank you, Swistle!

You are just as good at naming girls as you are at naming boys. The problem you're encountering is that you're setting up unnecessary requirements. "Not sharing a vowel sound with any siblings" is too strict when combined with "no more than two syllables," "no nicknames," "no sharing either beginning or ending sounds with a sibling," and "having four children."

It's important when choosing a baby's name to note the differences between requirements and preferences. A requirement might be something like "not creating a silly phrase with our surname." A preference might be something like "not starting with the same initial as a sibling name." Of course it will vary from situation to situation: in some families, different initials might be the requirement and making a silly phrase might be a goal. The main difference is that requirements must be VERY FEW, or else they create a logic puzzle that not one single name in the universe can satisfy. Preferences, on the other hand, may come in the form of long lists, because it is understood that any of them can be abandoned if a name meets most of them, or if a name is wonderful enough to be worth ditching them.

The first step, then, is to divide your long list of requirements into two lists, one of actual requirements, and one of preferences. With two or three children, I think it might be reasonable to want not to share any beginning sounds, any ending sounds, any dominant sounds, or any vowel sounds. With four children, I think it's time to re-evaluate that for actual importance. A family of Leo, Asher, Simon, and Ivy does not make me think "OMG, they repeated the long-I sound!! Don't they realize their children are INDIVIDUALS??" On the contrary, I'd think what a good job the family had done finding such completely different names that nevertheless went together well.

One way to separate out the requirements from the preferences is to ask yourself whether you think the rule is more important than the name---that is, whether you should dismiss a name you agree on and love, just because you've made an arbitrary rule and now the name doesn't meet it. Which is more important, the name or the rule you made? If you reluctantly say that the rule is more important (as you might if your surname were Dover and your favorite name were Ben), then what you have is a requirement. If you think, "Wait. No, that would be silly: if the name of our dreams, the name we can't bear not to use, is a name that has three syllables even though we said it couldn't have more than two, we don't actually have to let that rule boss us around," then what you have is a preference.

Preferences can be a helpful tool for sorting through enormous piles of names. And it's very satisfying to find a name that meets most or all of the preferences, which you might still do. But when preferences start running the show or making you feel frantic, or when every name you like is at the mercy of the preferences, that means the preference list is now the unreasonable boss rather than the helpful tool. You're the one setting the standards for what qualifies as perfection, so you are also the ones who can re-set those standards.

It sounds to me like the name you're looking for is Ivy. It doesn't have more than two syllables. It doesn't have an easy nickname. It ends in a vowel. It's feminine but not frilly. It's soft but strong. It's elegant but playful. It's wonderful with your surname, and with the sibling names. Eliminating it because it shares a single sound with a brother's name is not conscientiousness, it's pickiness. (And the name Felix would have repeated not only the long-E but also the only consonant sound of Leo.)

Now, if you don't love the name Ivy, that's a different story. In that case, we still need the section about requirements vs. preferences, but you also need name suggestions.

My first suggestion is Clara. It doesn't share the first or last sounds of any brother names. It's feminine, non-frilly, soft, strong, elegant, playful. It's not as good with your surname as Ivy, but it's still good: Clara Holloway. I suggest Felicity as the middle name, unless that would eliminate Felix for a future baby. Clara Felicity Holloway.

My second suggestion is Rose. It's gotten common as a middle name, but is still surprising and fresh as a first name, while also sounding classic and traditional: a very nice combination. Rose Holloway is wonderful. Leo, Asher, Simon, and Rose. I suggest Eliza as the middle name to emphasize the Z sound of both names: Rose Eliza Holloway.

My third suggestion is Phoebe. Elegant but playful. Two syllables. Ends in a vowel. Great with the brother names. Etc. I suggest the middle name Louise: Phoebe Louise Holloway.

My fourth suggestion is Beatrix. It has three syllables, or maybe more like 2.5, and it doesn't end in a vowel---but I reject those preferences in favor of this name. Talk about elegant but playful! Talk about feminine but non-frilly! BEATRIX, baby. It's similar to your boy name choice Felix, but without being as similar to Leo. I suggest the middle name Philippa: Beatrix Philippa Holloway.

My fifth suggestion is Greta. Look at how gorgeous it is with your surname. (I like Margaret even better, but that has tons of established nicknames.) I suggest Magnolia as the middle name: Greta Magnolia Holloway.

I think I'll stop counting my suggestions. Next up is Meredith. Three syllables, true; if that turns out to be one of the truly important requirements, then never mind. But man, what a great name with your surname and with the brother names. Leo, Asher, Simon, and Meredith! Meredith Holloway! Maybe put Ivy as the middle name, if it turns out not to work as a first name: Meredith Ivy Holloway.

Next is Ruth. Ruthie springs to mind as a nickname, but I love it with the brother names. Leo, Asher, Simon, and Ruth. A much more serious spin on the group than something like Phoebe, though. I'd put something light and feminine as the middle name; maybe Clarissa. Ruth Clarissa Holloway.

To maintain a lighter touch, maybe Ruby: Leo, Asher, Simon, and Ruby.

Ruby would make me think of Lucy, but I suspect that won't fly with Leo. But Lucy makes me think of Darcy, which I think fits better anyway: Leo, Asher, Simon, and Darcy.

Name update! Julia writes:
So um I just had the baby eight hours ago but I'm so excited about her name I just had to give you an update!

We went to the hospital with three names: Phoebe Juniper, Clara Beatrix, and Eloise Ivy (which was a miracle in itself seeing that when I first begged you for help we had absolutely nothing). We loved them all equally and had no idea how we were going to pick. Like, I was expecting the decision of her name to be harder than actually giving birth to her.

But. When I held her the first thing I noticed is that she had this little scrunched-up look on her face and when our son Leo held her for the first time she punched him in the nose; our three-year-old Simon didn't want to hold her after she pinned him with a tough glare. So her personality helped us narrow down the names. She wasn't a sunny, sweet Phoebe. She wasn't a soft, playful Eloise. This baby was a no-nonsense, I-may-be-a-only-a-few-hours-old-but-I-am-already-the-boss-of-all-of-you Clara Beatrix.

We're all doing great and HOLY MOTHER we named our daughter a name we actually adore to pieces. Thank you, Swistle! It was your suggestions of Clara and Beatrix that made the names click with us. And the preferences vs requirements post for us was extremely helpful. So thanks again!

Anyway, I'm sorry if I'm insensible. I just needed to share my happiness about Clara's name and couldn't wait!