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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Baby Girl Butler, Sister to Caroline and Naomi

Katherine writes:
Like many parents, I never thought I would be so stuck. We are expecting our third and final girl on April 1st 2012. (wouldn't that be a fun birthday?) My two older children were both named months before the first ultrasound and here's the thing: I LOVE their names. Caroline and Naomi. Aren't they perfect? (Their middle names are family names, Mary and Julia. Our last name is Butler. This baby will have the middle name of Susan. I don't care one bit about middle name flow) I love saying their names out loud and I even love hearing them on other people. Although I might be a little sad if they skyrocketed to the top ten, I have never once doubted their names. As soon as I considered their names, I knew them to be right. (And thankfully my husband agreed) Now I need a third perfect name. There's a little bit of awkwardness I think bc I feel like some people assume that this pregnancy was an accident (it definitely was not) or that we were "trying for a boy" (insanely ridiculous, I can't believe people even ask that) But I really don't want this little girl to feel like an afterthought, especially bc she's been part of my plan for over ten years! Right now it feels like we haven't done much to prepare for her.

Here's our list of names we like but aren't quite right:
Margot (Husband not a fan of how "French" it sounds)
Josephine (Not sure about nickname options)
Louise (this would be at the top of the list except its a family name that would be really awkward to use)
Lucia/Lucy (Its very popular here, also I ruined it for myself by seeing it on top name lists for dogs and cats)
Sophie (It is crazy popular here. With a fairly common last name, I am especially concerned about using a top ten name)

What's still in the running?

One name doesn't really make a list. Especially bc I just don't think that's her name. I'm not sure if this is immediately obvious, but I like names with like vowels sounds. Clearly my Baby Name Wizard style is Timeless with a touch of Charms and Graces. I have read the book cover to cover, hoping that I've overlooked something.

I read with much interest your column about preferences vs requirements and I've decided I have very few requirements which is not making things any easier. I want a name that fits in with our girls so that they sound like a sibling group of 3, not two plus one. Does that make sense? Every name we try sounds just not quite right and I don't want to settle.

I'd prefer a name that does not start with C or N. (and perhaps K or B. Our names are Katherine and Ben)
I'd prefer a name with no automatic nickname. I know kids today are more likely to go by long versions of names, but I really don't want to fight that fight with my extended family.
I'd prefer names that do not evoke a specific culture too strongly.
I like girl names to have no more than three syllables. I don't like two syllable names ending in the "ee" sound.(bell tone names generally sound dated to me)

Swistle can you please help? Do I need to let go of having that "aha" moment that I had with my first two daughters? In all fairness, I'm generally not an "aha" type of person when it comes to making big decisions.

With a non-negotiable time-limit such as birth, it is definitely possible to cruise all the way there with no lightning bolt of "YES. THAT IS THE NAME." Among my own children, there are two lightning bolt names, one gradual-warming name, one "this was the only name we agreed on" name, and one "chosen almost disappointingly easily/early" name. It does seem particularly disappointing to have two lightning bolts and then one of the other sort, though, so I'm eager for you to find another bolt. I will feel a little silly mentioning name after name you've certainly encountered many times in your perusals---but on the other hand, both of my own kids' lightning-bolt names hit me out of the blue even though I'd seen them hundreds of times in baby name books.

Margaret is probably out because of the endless nickname options, but I think of it because of Josephine (Little Women) and also because it's like Margot with the French removed. Margaret Butler; Caroline, Naomi, and Margaret.

Greta removes the nickname problem. Greta Butler; Caroline, Naomi, and Greta.

Another possibility is Miriam. It's a sweet and underused name; it gives you a new initial; and I like the way the sounds of adjoining names connect (-ne of Caroline to the N- of Naomi; -mi of Naomi to the Mi- of Miriam). Downside: maybe too well-matched with Naomi in both sound and style, possibly leaving Caroline out. Miriam Butler; Caroline, Naomi, and Miriam.

Meredith is more balanced between the two styles, perhaps. I love the sound of Meredith Butler. I would want that name myself. Caroline, Naomi, and Meredith.

Sophie and Josephine make me think of Fiona, because of the distinctive shared "fee" sound. Fiona Butler; Caroline, Naomi, and Fiona.

The name Elsa recently caught my attention when a friend's niece was given the name. Elsa Butler; Caroline, Naomi, and Elsa.

The name Simone might be too French, but I mention it anyway for how well I think the sounds of the three names tie together. Simone Butler; Caroline, Naomi, and Simone.

Harriet is a name I remember startling me back in the early 1990s when someone I knew used it for their baby. Now it seems like a very sassy and likely option. Harriet Butler; Caroline, Naomi, and Harriet.

If Eliza isn't quite right and Louise would be the top choice except for an awkward association, would Eloise work or would it be too close to the awkwardness? It's one of my own favorites, and I think it's great with the surname and with the siblings. Eloise Butler; Caroline, Naomi, and Eloise.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Baby Girl or Boy Kenny, Sibling to Aura Rose

Grace writes:
Here is our dilemma. When we had our daughter three years ago, we didn't know if she was going to be a boy or a girl. We had our list of boy names and our list of girl names. I abandoned names left and right because of their popularity- including Isabella which was once top of our list but was nearly number 1 that year. We were named her a few minutes after her birth. Somehow, we have never regretted this momentary decision and feel her name fits her. Her name is Aura Rose (Rose was fixed from the beginning because of my husband's love of roses, maybe not my first choice since everyone's middle name is Rose, but he really does have a deep love of roses). I like that few people have ever heard the name Aura and everywhere we go, people comment how lovely her name is. We also like that it means "wind," "breath," or "goddess of wind." We think that fits her too.

So, we are expecting again and need a new girl name and boy name. We had loved "Luca" for a boy in my pregnancy with her and have long held it as a possible name for her future sibling. We even thought- we could make that name work for a boy or a girl! However, a friend recently named her son that and I just don't want to anymore. She is a very course person and the name (for them) is all about the strong Italian sound, which I never even noted before (I'm part Italian but we're not really about being traditional or having our kid sound manly). I'm turned off mostly because I learned (somehow for the first time?) that it means "man from Lucania." Our name doesn't have to mean anything particularly profound, but it would be nice if it meant something.

We would really love something that is short and succinct to match "Aura." We liked Luca because it was the same length and had the "a" sound at the end. Are there any similar names? I can't really search for "4 letters with an a sound at the end" on most of the baby name engines I have found. We aren't totally stuck on the names matching to that degree but it would be nice if they had some fluidity together.

If you use this, please refer to our last name as "Kenny."

In the United States, most names that end in an A-sound are girl names. The main exception to this rule is biblical names, and now that most biblical names have gone mainstream (that is, they can still be used as expressions of religious affiliation, but they're no longer assumed to do so), that's the direction I'd steer you to start. Some four-letters-with-an-A-sound-at-the-end possibilities:


Joah would be the least common of those: according to the Social Security Administration, in 2010 the name Noah was #7, the name Ezra was #243, and the name Joah was not in the top 1000 at all (nor was the name Aura). I think you might run into more trouble with Joah than with Aura, however, since aura is a familiar word even though it's an uncommon name, while most people won't have heard of Joah in any context. It meets my preference for an unusual name, however, which is that it has a quick and easy help for both spelling and pronouncing: "It's like Noah, but with a J instead of an N."

Or if we expand the search beyond four letters and an A-ending, Jonah and Judah and Elijah and Micah would be more familiar than Joah, and Eli and Elias and Milo and Silas and Jonas and Levi and Asher and Leo and Abel have a gentle sound without ending in an a/ah.

Since Aura is a noun and supernatural/deity name, another possible route would be to find another noun or supernatural/deity name for this child. Those are harder to find for boys, but some possibilities are:

Ares (probably too similar to Aura)
Arrow (probably too similar to Aura)
Heath (which I think carries some of the romantic sound of Aura)

A name from my friend Mairzy's list is Sterling. I think that might work very well: Sterling Kenny; Aura and Sterling. It was #754 in 2010, and according to my dictionary it means thoroughly excellent, noble, worthy, honorable. Furthermore, I think it works well for a boy or for a girl: for a boy I think it sounds gentlemanly and courteous and British; for a girl I think it has a fresh modern sound that might go very nicely with Aura.

Or Nico is similar to Luca.

I think it's unsurprising for a family to have a different naming style for boys than for girls, but in general I'm in favor of coordinating sister names, or brother names, to avoid implying different expectations for each child: sisters named Aura and Margaret, for example, might feel as if one is expected to be a free spirit and the other is expected to be sensible and traditional. Some possible sister names for Aura:

Freya (another goddess name)
Isis (goddess)
Juno (goddess)

Or if you want four letters ending in an A-sound, there are lots of options but many of them don't seem like good style fits (Anna, for example, or Sara, or Nina), or might be too similar (Aria or Nora). Some that might fit better:

Gaia (goddess)
Hera (goddess)
Luna (goddess)
Maya (goddess)

I'm not sure about the names ending in -ra. They might be too similar to Aura. I left them in, though, because I couldn't decide.

I haven't spent much time on name meanings: it's a long list to look up, especially since I like to look at several sources to see if there's consensus. But if you narrow it down first to the ones you'd consider using if the meanings were okay, that will cut down the task considerably.

I also suggest looking up the goddess names (I probably missed a few on the list, too) to make sure they're goddesses whose stories are acceptable to you; some of those deities got up to quite a bit of trouble.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Baby Boy Rhymes-With-Vogue, Brother to Rhett Ezekiel

Jennifer writes:
My husband and I are expecting a baby boy February 24th. Our last name starts with an L and rhymes with Vogue. Our first son's name is Rhett Ezekiel, we chose his name within a week or two of finding out his gender. This second guy is giving us a little more trouble!

I like more unusual names, but my husband is much more traditional. I prefer names that are longer than one syllable since we have a one syllable last name. I don't mind nicknames. He does not like nicknames and prefers shorter names. Obviously, I am not dead set, because our first son has a one syllable name. I made up for it with a long middle name. I do NOT want a name that is used as a girl's name.

His father passed away last year, so my husband would like us to use either his first name David, or his middle name Warren somewhere in the name. I have agreed. I'm not overly fond of the name David, but will use it as a middle name (especially if the name we choose ends in the letter N). I would prefer our son to have his own first name (our first son does and so do all of the nieces and nephews on both sides). However, I am willing to use the name Warren as a first name if we don't find something we both love. If we use Warren, his name will be Warren Elias.

Names that I like, but hubby doesn't:

Elias (this would be my name of choice)
Thatcher (was the name I liked for the first baby)

Names he likes, but I don't:

Names we both like (really, the entire list is about 10 deep)
Owen (seems so popular to me as does Tyson)
Sawyer (starting to be used as a girl's name)
Wilson (but we might as well use Warren, they are so close)

We are leaning towards Conrad, Coleman, or Warren. I think that I am preferring Coleman, but then will have to use David as a middle name, and I would rather use Warren, but not sure I like the two N endings. I think he is preferring Warren at the moment, but he has gone back and forth on Warren.

Can you help?!?

Thank you!

Name update! Jennifer writes:
Thanks all! Eli Warren was born today 9 lbs .09 oz 21.75"

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!!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: A Sibling Group Containing Loss

Danielle writes:
I am currently at 31 weeks and 3 days into my pregnancy with our 4th child. After 13 weeks of bed rest, we are hoping Baby Girl "_alone" will stay put 6 more weeks, making her grand appearance in late March (due April 16th). We are having an extremely difficult time deciding on a name for this sweet girl due to an unexpected journey to becoming a family.

We lost our first daughter, Finley Grace, in April of 2007 when I was 20 weeks and 5 days pregnant. Then, we lost our second daughter, Caroline Grace, in February of 2008 when I was 24 weeks and 2 days pregnant. Words cannot describe how blessed we felt to successfully welcome our precious boy, Crosby Fox, into this world in December of 2008. What a miracle he is!

I love everything about Crosby, including his name. Crosby is my grandmother's maiden name and Fox is my mother's-in-law maiden name. I thought of it as a boy's name when we were pregnant with Finley. It was the only name I ever really considered using during my 18+ weeks of bed rest with him. Now that we have had the privilege of loving him for 3 years, we love his name more than ever and think it fits him perfectly.

Caroline (my mother is Carolyn) was always my first choice for a daughter, yet, we did not use it with our firstborn. Caught off guard and with little time to process what happened, we used Finley paired with Grace for her name. Finley was a name I liked but didn't care for it with Caroline. We used Grace, not only because of it's meaning, but also because it fit with most names we had considered. While we knew we would name our second daughter Caroline as soon as we learned her gender, we did not decide on Grace as her middle name until she was born and passed away. It seemed fitting to give Caroline the same middle name as her big sister.

Herein lies the dilemma. Maybe I have set the bar to high in naming this baby girl but I want to love her name as much as I do her brother's. I would also like to honor her big sisters in some way if we can find a name we both love. Grace, Gracen, Graycen, and Gracie are beautiful names. I am having a hard time deciding if it is her name. Should I worry it could be hard for her to carry her sisters' name as she grows to understand the circumstances surrounding their short lives? Would she feel hurt if her name did not include them in some way? Just a few of the questions with no sure answers that I have running through my mind to further complicate the situation!

Here are some of the names we have considered:

Jane Claire (Claire is the middle name of my MIL, SIL, and husband's grandmother; would probably be a double name but love it on it's own)

Gracie Jane (probably a double name)

Gracie Blue (not because of Beyonce, but because my son refers to her as "Blueberry")

Lucy Grace (my MIL is Lucy, might be hard having 2 Lucys…)

Vivienne (Vivie)

Evelyn (Evie)



Layla (family name)

Although it is by no means a must, I like double names and could easily pair Grace with most of the options listed above. I also love Jane and think it could work for a middle name as well. I find myself stuck in a rut with this handful of names and would feel the need to explore more options.

These are names we like but can't use because of close family and friends:


In thinking of a sibling set, I am not totally sure about using another name with an "ie" or "y" sound. I really love the flow of Crosby and Jane Claire but feel bad that it does not "honor" the girls in any way.

We are so torn over Baby Girl "_alone's" name. Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated!

This is a difficult issue, and one in which I think it might be a helpful exercise for us to think of the situation from two angles: one in which there are four children in the sibling group, and one in which there are two.

Thinking of the sibling group as having four members, I don't think she would feel hurt that her name didn't include her sisters' names. I think the stickier issue is whether, symbolically-speaking, she might have trouble with the opposite. Your son's name doesn't honor his sisters; if now your daughter's name does, it may convey the feeling that she is a replacement for them, or that her life must compensate for their loss. If they had lived, she would not be named after them, and this seems to me an important point: using them as namesakes emphasizes their deaths. Using The Baby Name Wizard's "Would I want this name myself?" test, I answer no: I would not want to explain that I was named for sisters who died before I was born. I would want to choose a different way to honor them.

However: your first two daughters both have the middle name Grace, and if you were writing asking about that, I would certainly recommend continuing that with a third: I think it's a sweet idea to have sisters or mothers/daughters sharing a middle name. This may give you the honoring/namesake effect you'd like, while including your third daughter in the sibling group with her sisters just as it would have if her two sisters were still alive---and without needing to use her name to memorialize them. And if I imagine being the third daughter, I think I would like sharing that name with them, and perhaps continuing the tradition later on for a daughter of my own.

Thinking now of the group of two siblings, I see that Crosby Fox has two honor names. If you were writing to me and you mentioned only him, I would suggest going a similar route for for his sister---though I would also assure you that many people use honor names for a firstborn and not for later siblings, and so it would be fine not to.

I think Lucy would fit the situation beautifully, if you did want to use an honor name. One of my children has the same name as his grandfather, and it has never caused more than a flicker of momentary confusion: very few people need to refer to both by their first names, and it's rare that the name is used in a context where it could mean either one. Crosby Fox and Lucy Grace: both honor names, and they work well in both the sibling group of two and the sibling group of four.

Claire is another family option on your list. Because Claire Grace is a little choppy (though I don't think it's a deal-breaker), and because you like Cora but can't use it, I suggest Clara. Crosby Fox and Clara Grace. Or there's Clarissa: Crosby Fox and Clarissa Grace. But changing the name does diminish the family-name tie, so these are more "If you like Claire/Cora, maybe you'd like..." suggestions rather than "Use a family name" suggestions.

Or Layla works beautifully just as it is: Crosby Fox and Layla Grace.

Or you could use Jane Claire (which sounds like it's your current favorite, and I love it too) as the first name, and perhaps having Grace as the middle name would alleviate the feeling that it should be an honor name. It seems a little choppy to have three 1-syllable names in a row, but I think other considerations easily trump that one. And now that I think of it, the first name would be two syllables, not one: it would be more as if it were Janeclaire Grace _alone.

Looking at your list, the name Violet comes to mind. Crosby Fox and Violet Grace.

Another is Genevieve, with the nicknames Gigi (from the first/middle initials) or Evie. Crosby Fox and Genevieve Grace.

Lucy and Celia make me think of Cecily. Crosby Fox and Cecily Grace.

Your description of how blessed/privileged you feel to have Crosby made me think of the name Felicity, which means happiness and luck. Crosby Fox and Felicity Grace.

Name update!  Danielle writes:
There were so many factors I was trying to weigh before I could confidently decide on a name for our third daughter. It was not until I was admitted and in labor that we finally made our decision!

I am thrilled to announce Jane Claire _alone was born on April 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm.  She weighed 7 pounds 2 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.  She is absolutely perfect and completely healthy.  Crosby Fox is maddly in LOVE with his baby sister!  I was amazed that I was able to carry her for 38 whole weeks!!  What a blessing!  And to make the story even sweeter, we brought her home on her oldest sister's (Finley Grace) birthday!!  We literally came full circle.  It gives me chill bumps to think of it even today...

I appreciated each and every comment our story received.  It was extremely helpful to hear from those who had lost siblings.  It gave us new insight as to how our daughter may/may not feel regarding carrying on her sisters' name, "Grace". The comments also helped release any guilt I may have had for deciding not to carry on the name "Grace".  I feel confident had we chosen to use the name "Grace", our daughter would know she was in no way seen as a replacement for her sisters.  Finley and Caroline are a part of our family that we never want to forget.  We talk of them often.  Their foot prints are framed on our mantle and their shadow boxes hang on the wall.  Our conversations aren't morbid or sad. We just want Crosby and Jane Claire to know about their sisters and how their brief lives impacted so many.  Ultimately, we chose to use "Jane Claire" because no other names seemed like "her" name.  Every other name we considered just didn't feel right!


Name Update!

Update on Baby Boy ___er, Brother to Sisters Tatum and Campbell!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Baby Boy Thorpe, Brother to Ayelet, Bellamy, and Carys

EllaJune writes:
So my husband and I, we need HELP. Like a lot of help.
My name is the somewhat absurd EllaJune. husband is Omar. Our kids have my surname (Thorpe) with his (Isaacs) as the second middle (and we refer to our family as the Isaacs/Thorpe family).
We have kids: after years and years of IVF etc I finally got pregnant. We were thrilled. Then we found out we were having triplets and we were excited AND SCARED. we didn't have a name planned except that we thought we'd give any kids middle names after our favorite kids books (i am a children's librarian and Omar teaches elementary school language arts). So when the dr started referring to our trips as Baby A, Baby B, and Baby C, we let our general obsessive tendencies...take over, and ended up with three beautiful daughters named Ayelet Minerva, Bellamy Scout, and Carys Eloise. we LOVE THEIR NAMES. for me and I think for Omar, they still give me a little thrill to say.
anyway, now we are expecting a BOY CHILD in March, which used to seem very far away and now seems very very close. this is definitely our last child and we were not expecting to have another baby--obviously, but WHATEVER BODY--and we are going to be, erm, FIXED so that there are no more babies. But we are thrilled to be getting this one. We just dont know what the heck to name him! We love having our ABC girls (they are four now!) and so we are VERY tempted to use a D name for this baby. But will he feel left out if we dont, or if we do, will he feel like an afterthought? Is this is a stupid trend? We dont need to give him a name that is a D AND has a Y but...what do we do?
our middle name ideas are:
Charles Wallce *maybe our favorite, but this would give the poor kid FIVE NAMES)

Some random boys names that we like, to give you a sense of our style (such as it is)

Oh. we'd PREFER to have his name have a different number of letters than any of the girls names (6, 7, 5). Um, or ours, if possible (4,8). Do you see how we are SUCH A GOOD MATCH, my crazy obsessive husband and my crazy obsessive self?

Ugh. Soon a baby will be here, and we will be forced to go with Ayelet's suggestion of Little Dude. Little Dude Isaacs Thorpe. LD!


I like the idea of using D for his initial, but I suspect it will not be a big deal to him either way. Spin will handle most of it: you can either spin it as inclusion or as specialness.

The different-number-of-letters preference is a challenge that may limit your options too severely. If he can't have 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 letters in his name, then we are limited to names with 3 or fewer letters, or names with 9 or more letters. Neither are common. I suggest considering the adults separate from the children (as you are already doing with the initials), so that 4 and 8 can also be possibilities.

D names that meet the number-of-letters preference (if the adults' names are removed from consideration):


Names from that list that meet the requirements if the parents' names are included: Dex, Del, Dax, Devereaux. More D-names with 9+ letters: Demetrius, Dionysius, Diederick, Desiderio.

But I recommend abandoning the letter-count preference altogether, since it's so unnoticeable. People are likely to notice the A-B-C-D idea all the time, but I would bet five dollars that no one will ever say "Hey, all of you in this family have a different number of letters in your names!" Patterns and sameness are much more noticeable than a lack of patterns/sameness.

In which case it seems like Declan from your list would be great. Declan Thorpe; Ayelet, Bellamy, Carys, and Declan. I like it with Milo: Declan Milo Isaacs Thorpe. If it calms the letter-related impulses, note that now each child (and in fact each member of the entire family) has an average of six letters, and that you have begun and ended with 6-letter names. Darian/Derian/Darien and Darwin and Deacon and Denver would also work for this.

Another possibility is to count total letters: Ayelet Minerva has 13 letters, Bellamy Scout has 12 letters, and Carys Eloise has 11 letters. Would it satisfy if child #4 had a total of 10 letters? Again, Declan Milo fits the bill. Or Dane Jasper would work, or Davis Henry, and so on.

Oh, wait, I've been forgetting that the middle names on the list are chosen for their literary ties, so I can't go all willy-nilly by putting first-name options in the middle-name slot. So then I'd stick with Milo or Max or Huck (or Finn), and find a 6- or 7-letter first name. Or if you like Tom Sawyer as well as Huck Finn, Sawyer would make a good 6-letter middle name to go with any of the 4-letter first names.

Name update! EllaJune writes:
dear Swistle, thank you so much for all of your help and your commenters were so great too! we thought a lot about everything you guys said and finally decided that a Z name was the best- A-Z SO CUTE. also our christmas card next year will say from A-Z and it will be adorable.
anyway, the middle name was definitely the hardest. we thought about lots of the suggestions that we use just charles but that seemed too diffuse for us, with no real relationshop to the book character we loved. but tehn we happened to be watching a rerun of veronica mars, where the moral center of the show is wallace, and the rest as they say is history.
So we are thrilled to introduce:
Zachariah Wallace Isaacs Thorpe
Because that is such a long name for such a tiny baby we are calling him Zac mostly, or sometimes, and wait for it you will die of cuteness-Zac Waldo. we love it.
Thank you!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Baby Name to Consider: Patton

Rayne writes:
After seeing the movie Young Adult starring Patton Oswalt, I wonder why the name Patton isn't going gangbusters for little boys. It starts with the letter P and ends -on which seems current and it's extremely masculine. It's a last name as first name, like Parker. It seems like parents of boys that like Peyton might use Patton for a less unisex name. What do you think?

The associations that come to my mind:

1. War/military, because of General Patton.

2. Patton Oswalt.

3. Sounds like the word "patent."

4. Sounds like "pattin'".

When I was checking online to make sure I was remembering right about General Patton (history has always been my worst subject), I found an entire page dedicated to various Pattons, so there are likely to be lots of other associations---a good thing, since it often means the associations are diluted and don't overwhelm the name.

I see it was used for 45 boys and 5 girls in 2010. That's up a bit for boys since 2009, when it was used for 32 boys and 5 girls. In fact, let's look at a longer stretch. Each year will be followed by the number of male babies given the name, then the number of female babies (the Social Security database contains information only if the name is used for at least 5 babies of that sex that year):

2010: 45 males, 5 females
2009: 32 males, 5 females
2008: 28 males, 7 females
2007: 27 males, 7 females
2006: 28 males, fewer than 5 females
2005: 37 males, fewer than 5 females
2004: 20 males, 6 females
2003: 31 males, fewer than 5 females
2002: 16 males, 5 females
2001: 24 males, fewer than 5 females
2000: 15 males, fewer than 5 females
1999: 17 males, fewer than 5 females
1998: 14 males, fewer than 5 females
1997: 15 males, fewer than 5 females

So it looks like it is gradually getting more popular for boys and for girls, but so gradually and at such a low rate of use, it barely shows up.

Let's have a poll over to the right [poll closed; see results below] to see what everyone thinks of it; and in the comments section we can discuss what we do/don't like about it, and maybe speculate about why it isn't more widely used.

Poll results for "What do you think of the name Patton?" (359 votes total):

I love it! I'd want to use it! - 15 votes (4%)
I like it! I'd want to consider it! - 55 votes (15%)
I like it for someone else's baby - 135 votes (38%)
No particular opinion - 43 votes (12%)
Slight dislike - 91 votes (25%)
Strong dislike - 20 votes (6%)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Baby Boy Kemp, Ideally Incorporating Texas A&M

Natalie writes:
My husband, Micah, and I are expecting our first baby in April. Our last name is Kemp. We can't seem to land on a great first name. We'd like to stay away from any of the rhymes with -ayden names that are so popular. We like more traditional names. I work in a school setting which makes naming even more difficult. Many names have a negative connotation for me! I'd like to stay away from a name with a /h/ because we have many cousins in the family with H names (Harper, Hudson, Hunter...)

We have some nominations for the middle name, but nothing is set in stone. Here are some of our top picks for middle names:
-Oliver (Micah likes, I feel like its more fitting for a puppy)
-Jack (Micah doesn't like because there is a politician named Jack Kemp)
-Noah (Micah doesn't like)

I can't decide about naming him something with a /k/ sound. If we end up thinking that /k/ sound is okay here's some contenders:
-Carson (my mother's favorite!)

Also we are Aggies, and would like to incorporate A&M into the name. We are one of the last ones in our group to have a child so that leaves not too many choices. Sullivan does have an Aggie connotation. Our friends have already used Reed and Kyle.

Thanks for your help!

There! I just spent a good long time learning about Texas A&M and getting kind of choked up about the 12th Man and the official school yells and the Century Tree and the Aggie Muster and addressing the mascot dog as "Miss Reveille, ma'am." Where were we? Oh, yes, naming a baby.

I think your middle-name idea of Sullivan would be a great choice for the first name (after former A&M president Lawrence Sullivan Ross, for those of you who haven't clicked the links and are getting more and more lost), and I also think Ross would be a good one. Or Lawrence, especially as a middle name. Sullivan Dean Kemp, or Sullivan Ross Kemp for a much stronger tie-in. But maybe that's overkill, especially if that name might be awkward if he attends there himself one day.

James Earl Rudder (the A&M president who made Texas A&M co-ed AND desegregated it) would be a good namesake as well. James is not as distinctive a reference as Lawrence or Sullivan or Ross, but is worth keeping in mind to perhaps pair with one of the more distinctive names. Sullivan James Kemp, maybe, or James Sullivan Kemp.

Or E. C. Jonas designed the school ring, and the ring sounds like it's a pretty big deal. Jonas Kemp.

Or while I'm still a little teary-eyed about the 12th Man story, Gill might make a very nice middle name. Jonas Gill Kemp.

Another possibility is to use first and middle initials "A.M." August Micah. Austin Micah to Texas it up a notch. [Edited to add: the comments section is pointing out that Austin is a rival of Texas A&M, so never mind.] Andrew Micah. Arlo Micah. Anderson Micah. Archer Micah. Asher Micah. Aaron Micah.

If you're not sure about using a name with a hard-C/K sound in the first name slot, it might be a good middle-name option. Dean Carson Kemp. Henry Carson Kemp. Sullivan Connor Kemp.

If you like the sound of Carson but decide against the hard-C, I wonder if you'd like names such as Lawson and Mason and Wilson. Wilson Dean Kemp, Wilson Jonas Kemp, Wilson Ross Kemp.

I've been very keen on the name George recently. Geordie is a cute nickname. George Kemp, Geordie Kemp. Maybe George Sullivan Kemp.

Or Charles is nice. Charles Kemp, Charlie Kemp. Charles Sullivan Kemp.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Baby Girl M____en, Sister to Hyte, Hayes, Gray, and Lula

Jessie writes:
I am 25 weeks pregnant with my 5th child and I am runnin out of name options -especially bc it's my 4th girl!!

My kids names are:
Hyte James (boy)
Hayes Veronica (girl)
Gray Lucille (girl)
Lula Jewel (girl)

We have tried to use family names on the first or middle name of all of our kids, but it doesn't have to be the first name.

Our last name starts with an m and ends with -en sound. 2 syllables .

Here are some of the options we have discussed
Betty opal (number 1 on my list, but I can't commit for some reason)
Floy Rebecca (husband hates)
June (I like the old feeling and she's due in June)

Other family names include:
Betty and floy are also family names.
So... As you can see our options are kinda limited!

I don't like trendy names or names that end with -en. I want it to be feminine, but not overused!!

Can you help me?!? Thanks!!

The challenge here is that the girl names in the sibling group made a sudden swerve after the first two. In 2010, the name Hayes was used rarely, and almost exclusively for boys (214 boys, 15 girls). Gray is harder to track, because many children were named Grayson/Graydon/etc. and perhaps add to the number actually called Gray; in 2010 there were 202 boys and 50 girls named Gray/Grey---more unisex than Hayes, but still used much more often for boys. But Lula, while unusual like the others (67 girls in 2010) is very feminine, and exclusively a girl name in the U.S.

The first step, I think, is to determine whether you'd like to veer back toward your original plan of unisex/boy names for girls, or if you want to keep Lula from feeling like the exception.

Possible names to fit more with Hayes and Gray:


But I think my inclination would be to keep Lulu from feeling like the odd one out. Betty seems like a good choice for this: Lula and Betty sound like a good pair, as do Hayes and Gray. Alma, Ida, Iva, Opal, and Mildred also seem like good fits with Lula.

I love the name June, but I think it's too familiar and common (and its popularity is rising) to go with the rest of the sibling group. It works beautifully as a middle name, however: Alma June, Ida June, Iva June, Betty June.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Baby Boy Christiansen, Brother to Callie and Kevin

Michelle writes:
I am coming to you as a last resort! Our last name is Christiansen, common but also a mouthful. Our first child is a girl named Callie Lyn and our second child is a boy named Kevin Grant. Both names came at the last minute and just in time to leave the hospital. My husband has strong negitive reactions to most trendy names especially those that end in "en" sounds like Hayden, Brayden etc. I don't like having names that all start with the same letter or sound. Our first child was a compromise, my husband wanted Sally and I wanted Deliah(great grandmother). Callie was my solution to a modern sounding Sally. When I was pregnant with our second child the rule was no names starting with a "C" sound or ending with an "en" sound. My husband wanted Colt and I wanted Decker or Dean (both of which my husband didn't love). However, when our son came we both knew we had to name him after my BIL who matched his kind and gentle spirit regardless of the rules. Now we have 2 kids with hard K sounds and a last name starting with a C. Everyone is asking me if we will keep the trend going even though it was never on purpose.

So now we are expecting another boy this May and we can not agree on any names again. I know we will have atleast one more child and if this were a girl my husband and I actually would agree to name her Wesley. I know this is traditionally a masculine name but we met a female Wesley and fell in love. We also like the name Evelyn, Scarlett and Gia.

My husband would like to name our next boy Roscoe, which I like but dont feel like it is right. I absolutely love the name Royce but my husband hates it. The only other names I feel ok with are "C" names! I dont know what's wrong with me since I don't want to be that cutsey family! So far my top contenders are Royce, Cooper and Colt. My husband can only come up with Roscoe. We like names that are older but not "dusty". We could probably do an "Oliver" type name but I could not do a "Edward" or "Warren"

I really don't want to sweat about the name for 3 more months and stress about it in the hospital again. If you could help in anyway you would be saving me a whole lot of heart burn:)

Some names that we can't use because of family are Max, Sam, Mark, Hudson, Jake, Martin, Brett, Luke

Thank you

I think it's the third child who sets a pattern that's too hard to break. If you have several non-hard-C/K names in mind for future children, I'd warn that using a hard-C/K name for this child will make the pressure intense to do the same for the next---much more intense than it is this time around.

Roscoe and Royce make me think of:


My favorites with your surname are Rhys and Scott. My favorites with the sibling names are Russell and Scott. So that makes my top suggestion Scott: Scott Christianson; Callie, Kevin, and Scott.

Would you consider naming your son Wesley? I know you had it picked out for a girl, but I love it for a boy and I think Wes is one of the best nicknames ever. I also think that in this sibling group, Wesley fits better as a boy name than as a girl name. And it would break your C/K streak, and also make sure you get to use it.

Name update! Michelle writes:
Thanks again for everyone's help. We had our baby boy on May 21 and we named him Duke Michael. We are glad he is here and even happier that he finally has a name.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Baby Girl Dover, Sister to Adelay, Elias, and Jameson

Sarah writes:
We are due with a baby girl in early July. She is our fourth child and second daughter- our other three kids' names are Adelay Isabelle, Elias Marek and Jameson Beckett Isaac. Our last name rhymes with "Dover." For first names we tend to like longer, three syllable names, kind of old fashioned or elegant but not REALLY out-there old fashioned (i.e. I like Meredith but would probably not consider anything like Gertrude or Winifred) with a cute, more commonly known nickname (our kids commonly go by Addy, Eli and Jamie.) For middle names we don't have any real pattern- Isabelle was a family name I loved, Marek was a German/Polish name my husband adored but which we had nixed as a first name because of the possible "Mary" nickname, and Beckett was just a name we both really liked and had considered as a first name. Isaac had special meaning to me and I wanted to use it as well.)

I'd prefer a name that starts with a consonant, to even things out a bit, and would prefer not to use the other kids' first initials, but these are just preferences, not deal breakers.

Something else I thought of today is that I'd really like her name to express a certain meaning- this baby was very much unexpected, and despite my having a lot of issues which make me prone to miscarriage, she somehow stuck with us! We feel like she's a special gift, a special surprise to our family, and I'd really love it if the meaning of her name could express that in some way.

Lastly, here are a few of the names we've tossed around so far, to give you an idea of our style:

Evelyn or Everly

A couple of middle name ideas we've (I've!) come up with are:

Annelise (or just Elise)

We'd love suggestions, or ideas of how to pair up the existing names on our list! Thank you so much!

It's funny how challenging it is to find a baby name when there are already three named babies! I keep thinking of The Perfect Name and then ", that won't work."

I feel like PUSHING you to use Felicity: the consonant/non-repeating initial is good; and the nicknames Fliss, Flip, and Lissie are available if not quite as commonly known as Addy, Eli, and Jamie; but what really sells the name is the meaning, which is "happy and lucky." So perfect for a special surprise gift baby. Felicity Jane seems like a natural choice, or Felicity Brielle and Felicity Elise would work well.

I also checked Baby Names Made Easy: The Complete Reverse Dictionary of Baby Names, and found more candidates (though double-check meanings in several other dictionaries, since these can vary considerably from book to book):

Beatrix (Bee, Trixie): bringer of joy
Marnina (Marnie, Nina): rejoice
Theodora (Thea, Dorrie): God's gift

(I would also have included Isadora, which seems like a very good fit except for the vowel initial, and also means "gift"---but it means specifically "gift from the goddess Isis." The "thea/theo" names are a less specific god.)

Another option would be to put the meaning name in the middle name slot, which opens up more options that I didn't include in the first list because they don't fit as well with the other children's names and/or with other preferences:

Adia: gift
Dorothea/Dorothy: God's gift
Felice: happy, fortunate
Halla: surprise gift
Jesse: gift
Joy: er, joy
Kay: joy
Lacey: happy
Thea: God's gift

If the name Felicity ends up being a no-go, I then move to pushing the name Magnolia. It's been on my own list, and I think it has HUGE potential for being a very pleasing name. So many people want girl names that are long with nickname choices, but then they're tired of Alexandra and Samantha and Cassandra and Elizabeth. Well, then, Magnolia needs to STEP UP. Maggie! Nola! Lia! It fits particularly well in this sibling group, I think, since Addy and Maggie are both very familiar nicknames, but Adelay and Magnolia are much less familiar. And we have the consonant/non-repeating initial M! I'd pair it with a happy/lucky/gift middle name; maybe Magnolia Joy, or Magnolia Felice.

If Magnolia is a little too unusual, I suggest Margaret. Greta, Meg, Maggie, Daisy! So many nickname choices!

Because of Cambria on your list, I suggest Camilla. Darling nicknames, either Cami or Milly. If Prince Charles's wife is a negative association (I think of her as someone who has shown dignity and grace under very embarrassing circumstances---but the embarrassing circumstances do come to mind), I recommend Camellia. It's a flower name like Magnolia, and its similarity to the more popular Amelia makes me wonder why it's not being used as a less common alternative. I like Camellia Joy.

Camellia makes me think of Romilly. Ooo, I like that for this sibling group. I gather some pronounce it RO-milly (like the Ro in Rose) and some pronounce it RAH-milly (like the Ro in Ross); if I used the former, I would probably use the nickname Romy; for the latter, I'd use the nickname Milly.

Or Rosalie would be very nice. Adelay, Elias, Jameson, and Rosalie; Addie, Eli, Jamie, and Rosie. I like Rosalie Joy, or Rosalie Jane.

I love Meredith, which since you mention liking it but it's not in your list, I'm guessing is not a candidate. But I love that name, and the nickname Merrie is so cute and happy. Addy, Eli, Jamie, and Merrie: all very different sounds.

Charlotte might work beautifully. Charlie and Lottie are both possible nicknames; I'd probably choose Lottie, not only because I prefer it, but because it makes it clearer which members of the sibling group are boys and which are girls. Addy, Eli, Jamie, and Lottie. I like Charlotte Felice, Charlotte Jane, Charlotte Kay, Charlotte Brielle, or Charlotte Elise.

Cordelia is a name I've seen cropping up here and there. Old-fashioned but not TOO old-fashioned, and several good nicknames: Corrie, Delia (plus the more casual Deels).

Or Liviana. It's similar to the much more popular Olivia and Lilliana, so I'm surprised it isn't used more. Addy, Eli, Jamie, and Livvie/Livvy.

It seems like we heard a lot about the name Vivienne for awhile, and then almost nothing recently. That's another one that has some sounds in common with Olivia. Adelay, Elias, Jameson, and Vivienne; Addy, Eli, Jamie, and Vivvie/Vivvy/Vivi.

Penelope is on my own "sad not to use it" list. Adelay, Elias, Jameson, and Penelope; Addy, Eli, Jamie, and Penny/Nellie/Poppy.

Clarissa is another of my pet favorites, and quite similar in sound to Felicity. Adelay, Elias, Jameson, and Clarissa; Addy, Eli, Jamie, and Clary. (I'm not sure I would have thought of Clary as a natural nickname, but then it's been in TWO novels I've recently read, so I must just not have encountered it before.)

Emmeline repeats the E initial, which is too bad because I think Addy and Emmy make a very cute sister pair.

Or would you like Karenna? Adelay, Elias, Jameson, and Karenna; Addy, Eli, Jamie, and Kari. Though I probably wouldn't nickname it because I like the full version so well. Maybe another nickname, a non-name-based one, would occur naturally.

I knew a girl named Linnea (linn-NAY-ah) in school, and I thought it was such a pretty name. Adelay, Elias, Jameson, and Linnea; Addy, Eli, Jamie, and Linnie.

Name update! Sarah writes:
Our beautiful fourth child and second daughter, Taliana Joy, was born July sixth.  We had finally landed on two names, Talia and Annika, and I liked both a lot but wasn't having that "aha" moment with either of them, so we kept looking.  One night as we flipped through a name book for the dozenth time, my husband Jim suddenly had a stroke of genius and tried to combine the two names.  He came up with Taliana, which we then found in the name book in the list of variations under the "Talia" entry.  We ended up using Joy as her middle name partly as a nod to my excellent doctor whose own middle name is Joy and partly because its meaning is exactly what I wanted in her name, and turns out nothing said it better than the word itself! Thank you everyone for all your input.  Tali thanks you too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baby Boy Girl Twins Daniels: Felix Henry and ?

Amanda writes:
I’m freaking out and am “scheduled” to deliver B/G twins on 2/24 (if I make it that long)! We had “decided” on a girl name way back in the day—Harper--and haven’t really discussed changing it since we found out we had one of each. We thought we were set on her name and struggled with the boy’s name for a while until we settled on Felix. He will be Felix Henry Daniels. Henry is a family name on both sides, and also a name that has become hip again.

We have been going back and forth and have not found a middle name for Harper. With the H__D, I’ve been avoiding vowel middle names. We’ve discussed the following:

Jane, June, Beatrice (I love, he hates), Brynn, a couple other B names to pay tribute to my husband, Brian. I think Harper Jane sounds too much like Harper, Jane. Brian and I met while working at a Victorinox store back in the day, so I liked the middle Victoria….until the Beckham’s named their daughter Harper!

I have been calling Felix by his name for months now, but really always call Baby B Girlie. I am having anxiety about her name now, and wonder if the reason I can’t pick a middle is that I don’t feel settled about the name Harper (which seems increasingly popular). I had a dream last night that she was born and I changed her name to Harlow. I love this name!! What do you think? Is it common to have this anxiety? What does everyone think about Harlow vs Harper?

Yes, it is definitely common to have last-minute name anxiety. Because you're not having the same anxiety about Felix's name, I wonder if this has more weight to it than the usual end-game jitters. But it could just be that Felix's name is a more recent decision.

I have mentioned before that I love twin names to have just a WEE name gimmick. In this case, if I were you I would be very tempted to find a middle name starting with F for Harper/Harlow, so that the twins would be F.H. and H.F. I wonder if you'd like any of these:

Harper/Harlow Fairly
Harper/Harlow Faith
Harper Farrow (this gives some of the sound of Harlow)
Harper/Harlow Faye
Harper/Harlow February
Harper/Harlow Felicity (Felicity is the feminine of Felix)
Harper/Harlow Fern
Harper/Harlow Fiona (maybe too much long O with Harlow)
Harper/Harlow Flannery
Harper Florence
Harper/Harlow Frances
Harper/Harlow Frederica
Harper/Harlow Freya

If you want a name to honor your husband, I suggest Harper Brianna.

As for Harper versus Harlow, I think both work great with Felix. I like the sound of Harper Daniels a little more than the sound of Harlow Daniels. Harlow is currently less common than Harper, but I suspect that won't be permanent; for peer purposes, though, a girl named Harlow born this year will likely have fewer girls sharing her name than a girl named Harper.

Let's have a poll over to the right to see which name everyone prefers [poll closed; see results below], and I also suggest the post Choosing Between Two Finalists.

Name update! Amanda writes:
Turns out I ended up going into labor the day my Q was posted and didnt get to see the responses!! Felix Henry and Harlow Victoria were born on 2/13/12 @ 2:38am. We were still unsure of the Harlow/Harper issue when I delivered and when asked what her name was, my husband mentioned the two names. When the nurse said she just had another Harper, we went with Harlow. Funny that we did, as H spent a few days in the NICU, right next to ANOTHER Harper! We are happy with our decision and the family is doing well :-)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Baby Boy, Brother to Cruz Ezekiah

Nichole writes:
I am due with our second child - another boy! - at the end of May. I am very superstitious about name-stealers and prefer to wait until after the baby is born and named to announce a name. And if my husband had his way, babies would leave the hospital and remain unnamed until their personalities start to show through. So, naming babies is a big deal around these parts! Needless to say, naming our first son was a very tough task. We went to the hospital with an "iffy" first name and just a vague inclination toward a middle name - and no backups whatsoever.

We are both the last in our families to have children, so all male family names were used a decade (or two) ago. I also had a set of very specific criteria for names (which I kind of laugh at now). A friend's response to our criteria was to consider naming our son after my MIL. In the rest of the world, Cruz is a boy's name, but in my husband's Hispanic family, my FIL's sister goes by it, as does my MIL. So, it was an honor name after my son's grandmother. It felt so unconventional and we were hesitant. When we finally decided on Cruz, we cautiously tried it out on strangers in our birth class. We got a little braver and told some close friends who were also expecting their first child before finally telling his parents. Everyone liked the name except my in laws. My FIL was hesitant, but my MIL was panicked and not nearly as "honored" as we had expected.

We had shared with my MIL a girl's name we picked out before we knew we were having a boy. Long (long) story short, literally from the moment he was born, she started to call him by the girl's name we had picked out until I got testy with her and told her that she'd ruined that name for any future girls, and asked her to call him by his name. She wasn't trying to be difficult; we found out later that she just never liked her name, particularly the way it sounded on her father's angry lips. They now exclusively call him "Ezzie", which is a play on his middle name (Ezekiah), and which we love and use as a NN as well.

For our second boy, we've chosen the name August Malachi, in keeping with an honor first name and a biblical middle name. August is an indirect honor to my grandfather, my MIL (again) and my husband - all born in that month. We've decided we will try and force the NN from birth as "Kai" - again playing on the middle name - primarily so we can avoid the NNs "Gus" or "Auggie" as much as possible. Both those NNs are borderline dealbreakers for us!) Are there other options for a NN that we're not considering?

The very few people we've shared our chosen name with have not had what I would call positive responses. A close friend asked "can we reopen the name for discussion?", which made me laugh, but also made me worried. Once again, we have absolutely no backup names and no "short list" to speak of. My husband doesn't feel like we need a backup name and is convinced that it's THE name, but I'm starting to worry we need a backup, just in case. I feel a slight sting every time I see or hear Cruz's name used in any context other than a given name (as surnames, street names, etc.). It's a bit ubiquitous for my taste and I worry over the same thing with the name August. We consistently have good reactions to Cruz's name, but the reactions we are already getting to August make me hesitant. I would love to hear what your other readers think!

Thanks so much!

I suggest switching the names: Malachi August. Here are my reasons:

1. Trying to get people to call a child a nickname of the middle name seems like a tough sell. In Cruz's case it happened out of necessity, as a solution for a difficult situation, but it's not something I'd try to do on purpose unless I had a very compelling reason (such as being forced to use a family first name I hated).

2. It seems like an especially tough sell if you want them NOT to use the natural nicknames of the first name. If you strongly dislike the nicknames Auggie and Gus, putting August as the middle name avoids that issue while still using the honor name. And the middle name slot is a great place for an honor name. And you WANT to call him Kai!

3. The name Malachi is currently more commonly used in the U.S. than the name August, but if it bothers you to hear incidental mentions of the name, you will definitely hear the word August used more often. And the number of emails we're getting here from people who want the nickname Gus makes me think the name is likely to get more common---and that the nickname Gus will get more intuitive.

4. It would be nice to have a consistent pattern (honor name, then biblical name), but with only one child a pattern hasn't been firmly set---especially since I can't find the name Ezekiah in an (admittedly brief) online search of the Bible. I suggest changing the pattern from "honor first name and biblical middle name" to "one honor name, one biblical name."

August and Malachi are both great names, but it sounds like for your family it makes more sense to have Malachi in the first name slot. Let's have a poll over to the right to see what everyone else thinks. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Name update! Nichole writes:
Just wanted to update you on the arrival of our second baby boy.  We carefully weighed our options after reading all the comments & suggestions we received from the post.  Then, on the very same day, we both had a dream about this boy and knew exactly what his name was supposed to be.   August Malachi came into the world following a fast & furious labor.  We think it suits him perfectly (even if the peds office just told us the name is very popular locally). He will go by August with nn being Mal or Kai.   Thanks so much!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Name Updates!

Update on Baby Girl Cahnoodson, Sister to Liam Asher!
Update on Baby Girl or Boy Biondini, Sibling to Meadow Alexis!
Update on Baby Boy or Girl Fitzpatrick, Sibling to Hugh and Claire!
Update (and photo!) on Baby Naming Issue: A Dilemma with an Adoption!

Baby Boy Stevens, Brother to Beckett Wallace

JoLee writes:
We are due with our second boy in six weeks, and we still don't have a name. Our older boy is named Beckett Wallace. We love his name and frequently call him B, so names that start with B are probably not going to work for his brother. My name is JoLee and my husband's name is Nathan.

Our last name is Stevens with a ph. Because we have such a common last name, I want a first name that is distinctive and interesting. (Personally, I have always really loved having such a unique, but not way-out there, name.) The biggest issue that we are having is that a lot of names don't sound that great with Stevens. Because Stevens has an S at the beginning and at the end, names that start with S (like Soren, a family name I really like) don't work well, and names that end in an S (like Thomas) or another soft sound tend to blend into Stevens. Also, most names that end in -an, -en, -in, -on sound really rhyme-y (like Ethan and Soren). Of all the sound issues, I think the rhyme-y one is the worst offender.

Here are some possibilities we've considered:

August: My husband and I both really like August, maybe more than any other name on the list. It has loads of good nicknames. However, the -st at the end of the first name and the St at the beginning of our last name is a real sticking point for us. It's even worse than an -s S combo.

Felix: I love Felix. It's one of the only names from the beginning of my name search that has stuck around. It too has the -s S problem.

I seem to be really drawn to names that have a softer ending, so much so that I think I might have to overlook the -s S issue.

Quincy: We thought long and hard about this one too, but we can't seem to fully commit. Maybe the name is too gender neutral for us? I know two girls named Quinsey. Or maybe it seems a little cutesy? I'm not sure. I think that names ending in -y sound good with Stevens. I've also pitched Rory and Cassidy, but I don't think that either were ever strong contenders.

I also think names that end in an -o sound good with Stevens. My favorites are probably Hugo and Winslow. Is Winslow too out there?

Names that end in -er also sound good with Stevens, but I don't like very many -er names. I'm not sure why exactly. My husband likes Alexander and Spencer. Both are too common for me. I know that Spencer was only #227 in 2010, but it's much more common in my community. I know at least half a dozen Spencers. I could perhaps grow to like Fisher or Thatcher, but I'm not crazy about giving my child a "real word" name. We also considered Jasper.

Frederick is a family name that I think sounds good with Stevens. My husband is not keen on the nickname Fred.

Pascal is a name that I recently saw you recommend to someone else, and I think it would be a good one for us to consider too. We really wanted a Cal, but Calvin sounds too rhyme-y with Stevens, and we couldn't find another Cal- name that we liked as well, although we considered Calloway for a while. Perhaps a Pascal could use Cal for a nickname. Or perhaps not. I'm thinking about this name for the first time as I write this.

My son's middle name is a family name. Wallace is my husband's middle name and the name of one of his grandfathers and one of my grandfathers. With all the Wallaces in our families, we actually chose Wallace before we chose our son's first name. I think we will try to choose another family name for this boy's middle name, but we aren't as set on doing that. Honor name possibilities include: Parry, Alexander, Frederick, Russell, or maybe Donovan (as a variation on Donna, my mother's name).

It seems likely that this will be our last child, but if we ever did have a girl we really love the names Beatrice and Portia. If we could actually commit to either is another issue entirely. I've loved Beatrice for years and Beckett would certainly have been a Beatrice if he had been a girl. Using the name Beckett might have made Beatrice impossible to use, but I decided I could give up Beatrice for the real boy instead of hanging onto it for the imaginary girl. My husband I both love Portia, but we worry that it is too close to Porsche.

Thank you, thank you Swistle!

Winslow leaps out at me from your list. Winslow Stevens; Beckett and Winslow. It's true it's very unusual in the U.S. for boys (only 18 baby boy Winslows born in 2010), and in fact I've started recommending it for girls because of Winnie/Willow. Still, I love it with Beckett, and with your surname, and so far it's NOT being used for girls (not even in the Social Security database for girls in 2010).

My first thought for the August-ends-in-st problem was to try Angus or Augustus---but both end in S. There's also Augusten, but that ends in -en.

Let's see, unusual -er names. Oscar Stevens; Beckett and Oscar.

Alistair Stevens; Beckett and Alistair.

I'd like Casper to overcome the friendly ghost the way Oscar is overcoming the grouch. Casper Stevens; Beckett and Casper.

Miller is one of my favorite -er boy names. Miller Stevens; Beckett and Miller.

Keeler works well, too, I think. Keeler Stevens; Beckett and Keeler.

Or Coulter. Coulter Stevens; Beckett and Coulter.

I recommend the name Milo frequently; it seems to me to be at that perfect "unusual but not difficult, quirky but not weird" point. Plus, it came close to being my youngest son's name, so I feel a little sentimental about it. Milo Stevens; Beckett and Milo.

For a y-ending, I like Grady. It's surnamey like Beckett, and I think it sounds great with the surname too. Grady Stevens; Beckett and Grady.

I think the world may be ready for Murphy again. Murphy Stevens; Beckett and Murphy.

I saw a birth announcement for an Oakley a few months ago. Oakley Stevens; Beckett and Oakley.

Wesley is one of my favorite y-ending boy names, in a large part because of the nickname Wes, which I think is one of the best boy nicknames of all. If he goes by the nickname, there's the -s/S problem; does that rule it out? Wesley Stevens; Beckett and Wesley.

Calloway makes me think of Campbell. Campbell Stevens; Beckett and Campbell. Cam for short.

I do think Cal might work as a nickname for Pascal. Pascal Stevens; Beckett and Pascal; B and Cal.

One more suggestion, sort of from nowhere: Reid. Reid Stevens; Beckett and Reid. People vary considerably on how they feel about repeating sounds; in this case, I like the repeating long-E.

Name update! JoLee writes:
Felix Parry Stevens joined our family on February 26th. At the time of his birth we had narrowed down the name choices to two: Felix and Winslow. For three days he didn't have a name because we felt like he could easily pull off either option. Finally we had a chance to sit down together and decided Felix was the right choice. We love the name more and more every day. Thank you Swistle and readers for encouraging us to use a name we loved even if it didn't sound perfect with our last name. And thank you all for giving lots of love to the name Winslow. It was very nearly this little boy's name.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: Finding and/or Inventing Cross-Cultural Baby Names

A. writes:
My husband and I are having a boy this year and are having trouble coming up with a name that will fit. My husband is Vietnamese/Chinese, adopted by a white family, last name rhymes with Quaker. I am Scottish, Irish and Scandinavian. We want our son to have a name that reflects both sides of his heritage and is unique, without putting him in a box. We want to use the middle name Lee or Li, but haven't been able to find a first name that speaks to both of us. We have already looked at numerous baby name books and what seems like hundreds of websites, and we keep finding the same European names, and a relatively small number of Chinese and Vietnamese names, most of which, while we think they are beautiful names to use if you speak the language, we don't think would translate well in public school in the US - we don't want the Sixteen Candles Long Duc Dong syndrome. Any ideas about finding or inventing cross-cultural names?

I wonder if it would work to find a Scottish/Irish/Scandinavian name that by coincidence includes a Vietnamese/Chinese name? For example, Declan is Irish, but the first two letters are the Chinese/Vietnamese name De, which The Best Baby Names in the World From Around the World says means virtue in China, and Baby Names World says means royalty in Vietnam. Or Camden is Celtic, but contains the Vietnamese name Cam (as well as the De already mentioned), which Baby Names World says means orange in Vietnam. But...finding even just two names that worked that way took a lot of flipping back and forth between the sections of the book, and it's a bit of a reach: I don't think anyone looking at it would think of it as reflecting both sides of his heritage.

Or you could flat-out invent a name, by using a Chinese or Vietnamese name with a typical name-segment from Irish/Scottish/Scandinavian names. But again, I'm not sure anyone would look at such a name and realize it reflected two heritages.

Another option would be to give him a double first name, hyphenated or not. Li Declan, for example, certainly reflects both sides at once, as would Camden Hao or Erik-Ji.

Or you could choose one heritage for the first name and another for the middle name, and swap that order for the next child.

Or you might conclude that although you'd like his name to reflect both sides of his heritage, that might not work with the style of names you like. In which case there are fortunately many other ways to include both heritages in his life, and perhaps the new goal could be to choose a name that reflects neither heritage specifically.

I'm going to turn this over to the commenters to see if they have any other ideas or advice for representing both sides of the family tree in a name.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Baby Boy Kaltenbach, Brother to Jude Aaron

Erika writes:
We are due with our second boy in less than 6 weeks and need naming help. I've been following your blog my entire pregnancy and love hearing your suggestions and thoughts on baby naming. My husband's name is Aaron and mine is Erika. Our last name is Kaltenbach. Our son's name is Jude Aaron and I love so many things about his name. We are looking for something similar with our second boy. A shorter name since our last name is such a mouthful. Something not to popular but also not strange sounding. I have also shied away from first names with a strong K sound b/c of our last name. Middle name is flexible for us. Here is a glance at what we have plodded through so far:

Leo: my favorite - my husband doesn't like the associations paired with it
Luke: we both like it but it feels to common particularly when you throw lucas in the mix but a definite front runner at this point
Holden: both like, something just feels off about it
Ty: hubby likes, I like but not my favorite
Cy: we both really like but have good friends with a Silas that they call Si

We are stuck in indecisive land and need your help! This will be our last child. Please help us find a name for our baby boy.

Because you like Leo and Ty/Cy, I suggest Milo or Levi or Eli:

Milo Kaltenbach; Jude and Milo.
Levi Kaltenbach; Jude and Levi.
Eli Kaltenbach; Jude and Eli.

If Holden is not quite right, do you like Landon or Hudson?

Dane would go beautifully with Jude, without over-coordinating. Dane Kaltenbach; Jude and Dane.

I might like Dean even more. Dean Kaltenbach; Jude and Dean.

Finn is another good short one. Finn Kaltenbach; Jude and Finn.

Reid is one of my favorite short boy names. Reid Kaltenbach; Jude and Reid.

Or Ian is on my own list. Ian Kaltenbach; Jude and Ian.

Ooo, or Gage. Gage Kaltenbach; Jude and Gage.

If it works with the first name, I like the idea of using Erik as the middle name, after you, since your first son's middle name is after your husband. My favorite is Milo Erik Kaltenbach.

Luke would also be a good middle name possibility, if it feels too common to be the first name. I like Ian Luke Kaltenbach.

Name update! Erika writes:
An update from the Kaltenbach crew. Our second boy joined us 10 days early and we were so thrilled to have him join our family! We had decided on his name a few days before I went into labor and it was so wonderful to look at his face and know his name was Luke Josiah (grandfather's name). He is a calm, steady baby and his name is a perfect fit! Thanks swistle, what a wonderful site you have to help parents decide on a name for their little one.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Baby Boy Hand, Brother to Kira

Karianne writes:
I first learned of your site when my friend Jen “Baby Boy _er, brother to Sisters Tatum and Campbell” wrote into you. I have read through pretty much every single post and like lots of your suggestions, so figured we’d see what your thought would be for us!

I have a long first name, Karianne, which I DO NOT shorten or allow for nicknames, Hubs however goes by his shortened name, Terry and NEVER goes by his full first name, Terence. Our last name rhymes with Hand, so as it is our two names together are very ring rhyme – Karianne and Terry Hand/Terry and Karianne Hand.

When we were due to have our first child we chose to not learn the gender, and had names selected for both boy and girl. Our daughter was born and named Kira. Our boy name was Elliot, with the potential to be called Eli, Leo, or Elliot. I am now due to have a Baby Boy in early May. And am no longer sold on Elliot, not totally opposed either.

A couple of things I will share….our last name rhymes with Hand, however contains a Hard R sound, therefore first names beginning with R are out. Also out are 1st names beginning with K. Since both myself and our daughter’s names begin with K we do not want to go down that road. I am not a fan of the top names of the past couple years, many are lovely names, but I really don’t want my kids growing up with multiple friends/peers of the same name. Nor do I favor odd, one off names. So now that that is nice and clear…

Some of the names currently on my list, and I say my list because my husband has yet to contribute even a suggestion. Silas, Benjamin, Gage, Evan, Elliot, Hale, Bennett, Tanner, Fisher. Names that have come off are Jacob/Jakob, Neil, Samuel, Lance, Colin. Our daughter calls the baby Jack. She is pretty adamant that this is his name. It very well may end being his name if we can’t figure one out on our own!

I am also interested in your thoughts on middle name. My father in law who I adored beyond belief passed away in 2001 and I have wanted our baby boy to carry his name, Alan, as his middle name from day one, however my brother in law, and husband’s only sibling recently passed away unexpectedly and I feel torn about leaving his name, Stephen, out (we will not be having more children). So while creating the above list I only thought about Alan as the middle name, and just don’t feel Stephen fits well at all. I have considered looking for a combo of both…Stalan, Stefan, Alaster….but my gut keeps going to Alan.

Any suggestions you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I know we still have a little time here, but each passing day shortens our window to agree on his name. Thanks in advance!

I immediately seize on the sister-suggestion of Jack as an opportunity to plug the name John: it feels common, and yet it's hard to even find a child named John. He'd likely be the only one in his class, and he could go by John or Jack. John (H)and sounds handsome and distinguished, professional but in an "equally good for an artist or an executive" way.

The main point against it is that I'm with you on Alan, and if I'm correctly guessing your surname, the initials JAR are not ideal. They're not awful either, however, and since you have a second possible honor name, may I give you a second plug in a row, this one for double middle names? My kids have them, and it has been less hassle and more satisfaction than I'd expected. John Alan Stephen (H)and; Kira and John. (I even like the way each child has a 4-letter name.) It would niggle at me very slightly that your daughter didn't also have two middle names, but I think it's such an understandable situation, and getting to use both important honor names would more than outweigh that issue for me.

Because you and your daughter have K-names, and in fact her name is spelled with the first four letters of your name, the mathematical part of my mind would love to find a T-name for your son (and wouldn't it be fun if it could be spelled with letters from your husband's name? but let's not get carried away). So if you don't mind the initials spelling TAR, or if you wanted to use both middle names and have TASR, Tanner from your list stands out. But I don't like the way the R-ending merges with the R-surname. Other possibilities:


But Elliot is on my own list of favorites, so I also feel the urge to push you to use that. Kira and Elliot! So nice. And I love it with your surname. One problem is that with the middle name Alan, the initials spell EAR. Not a deal-breaker, but I usually avoid spelling things with initials if possible, or at least I want to think about it ahead of time.

You could also go straight to Leo as a stand-alone name. It works well with Alan; I love it with your surname; I love it with Kira.

A name similar to Elliot is Everett. I like the way it ties in with the R of your surname and of Kira's name.

Name update! Karianne writes:
Hi Swistle!  First a huge thank you to you and your readers/commenters for your thoughts and feedback on our baby boy's name.  You gave us a lot to consider, especially the double middle name. 

Our son arrived 10 days late on May 19.  Once he decided to make his entrance he came quickly (less than 2 hrs from arrival at the hospital he was delivered)!

Prior to his arrival we decided on Silas Alan as his name.  After his birth we toy'ed with the idea of adding Stephen (Silas Alan Stephen/ Silas Stephen Alan) but in the end my husband made the decision to stick with our original name plan.

Again thank you for your thoughts and helping us lock in on his forever name.

Here is a picture of Silas at 11 days old.