Choosing the right mane

Jan 18th 2007

The time is long past. There's no going back. My husband and I should just accept it and let it go: it's five years too late to design a new birth announcment for our daughter. Even if we did just realize that her name is an anagram of...


Yeah, I know, you've already obsessed enough about your child's name. You've run a series of internet polls, researched name origins in the original Aramaic and searched phone records to assure that there's no other similarly named child in a 500-mile radius. Now you have to think about anagrams?

Of course not. Unless you're naming your daughter Nevaeh, it doesn't matter a whit what your child's name forms inside-out or backwards. Though of course Nomar Garciaparra was named for his father Ramon. And Nelle Harper Lee for her grandmother Ellen. But seriously, anagrams of the full name don't matter a whit, they're just pure fun. Of course here at the Zany Web Barmaid blog, fun with names is what we're all about. Once you've chosen a name you love, playing with anagrams is a great way to revel in it. (Sure beats boning up on your Aramaic.)

Try the anagram server to find the jumbled phrases in your child's name. (Tip: keep the "maximum number of words" setting low.) Expect to wade through a lot of chaff -- the winner we found in our daughter's name was surrounded by plenty of phrases about acne, bacteria and cannibals. If you manage to find the perfect phrase for your family's birth announcement, please do let me know so I can find some closure by CELEBRATING a WEE INFANT vicariously.

p.s. -- don't forget to enter your guesses in the Baby Name Pool!


By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
January 19, 2007 2:47 AM

The best I could come up with for my poor son was Phantom Pee Jolters and my daughter had even weirder ones. What a fun exercise! I eagerly await other anagrams.

By Amanda H (not verified)
January 19, 2007 2:58 AM

Well I got a bunch of strange ones that didn't make sense, and when I tried to change the variables, they had limited the length due to the site being busy :) which means we should hear something shortly...

By Elizabeth (not verified)
January 19, 2007 3:06 AM

Oh, dear. My daughter is Thy Rogue Damnation, or Naughty Moderation, or Thy Emanating Odour. (That last one is a decent fit for some of her diapers, I suppose.)

By Elizabeth (not verified)
January 19, 2007 3:12 AM

And I am a Greener Hazelnut Habitat.

By Amanda H (not verified)
January 19, 2007 3:21 AM

from Colleen Elizabeth (my daughter)
Celibate Hell Zone

from David Christopher (my son)
Crash Provided Hit
Captor Dervish Hid

Not really any good ones...

By Amanda H (not verified)
January 19, 2007 3:44 AM

For myself (Amanda Leigh):

angel had aim

my hubby (Russell Lawrence):

career news lulls
learns cures well

By Julia (not verified)
January 19, 2007 1:47 PM

We're naming our daughter Tara (Tahr-a, not tear-a) fully knowing the anagram is A Rat. It worried me but the name fits all our other criteria.

By Megan W. (not verified)
January 19, 2007 4:32 PM

Among many reasons I've never like my name was the day my cousin pointed out that Megan backwards is: Nag 'em!

By LBY (not verified)
January 19, 2007 4:55 PM

Am I the only one who cannot access the ballot form for the contest???

By Wendy (not verified)
January 19, 2007 5:08 PM

Nope, I can't access the ballot form from either home or office computers.

By Catharine (not verified)
January 19, 2007 5:17 PM

No children yet, but did maiden and married names:
Married - Characters Alike Enrolling
Maiden - A Leatherneck Vicar Dangler

By Valerie (not verified)
January 19, 2007 5:52 PM

Leave Imam perkier
Leakier vampire me

Koala eerie vesper
Earlier apes evoke
Alive opera seeker (funny because I used to work in opera)

My husband:
Acrobat kept perkier
Oatcake kerb tripper
Attacker bore kipper
Parrakeet brick poet (he's a poet!)
Parapet broke ticker

This is fab...

By Jennifer---again! (not verified)
January 19, 2007 7:34 PM

Here's a gem I got for my son:


Whatever that means. My son seemed to generate a lot of medical terms - earache, trachea, that sort of thing. Pretty funny to read through them all, that's for sure!

By molly h (not verified)
January 19, 2007 7:53 PM

felice ann?

By Elly (not verified)
January 19, 2007 8:32 PM

Enable a zenith, 'ere beat anon, if drug saved. The best of my family for sure. Thanks Laura, that was very fun diversion.

molly h: nope, I think there's an I missing- would have to be Felice Anni. Better guess than Celine Fain and Celia Finne...

By HN (not verified)
January 19, 2007 9:10 PM

Laura, I don't know that you'll want to live vicariously, my son's anagram list included:
heee heeeeee

By zdxz (not verified)
January 19, 2007 9:47 PM


By Valerie (not verified)
January 19, 2007 10:05 PM

Nina Felice? Very pretty...

By Elly (not verified)
January 19, 2007 11:23 PM

Oh, of course! Well spotted, Valerie.

By Wendy (not verified)
January 20, 2007 5:06 AM

Laura, using the links you gave me I can now access the page, but I can not fill in the entry form. neither can I fill out the box to contact you on the link.

Very bizarre.

By HN (not verified)
January 20, 2007 7:54 PM

Hi fellow namies! now that you've so cleverly identified Laura's daughter's beautiful name, I have a question for you... as you read/think more about name popularity, do you tend to prefer a trendy name for your child or a traditional one? Laura presents the issue in her book that we should select a name that we would like to be named today... well I struggle with that. It's different nowadays that the top 10 names aren't as saturated. What would I want? Traditional? Trendy? What would I want as a grown up 20 years from now answering the phone? I tell you I hate answering "this is Heather!" Too fluffy, to dated, too cheesy. Would love to hear your input on this :)

By Stephanie (not verified)
January 20, 2007 11:41 PM

I have the same problem as Wendy above, when I go to the entry form or contact page I can't select any of the boxes to fill them in!


By Abby (not verified)
January 21, 2007 12:51 AM


Ha. Very funny. This is awesome.

By Laura Wattenberg (not verified)
January 21, 2007 1:00 AM

Wendy and Stephanie -- I definitely want to get to the bottom of this form problem. It's nerve-wracking to think that there's a bug that keeps people from writing to me to report a bug!

As far as I know, they're just standard html forms...would you mind posting which browser version you're using? Thank you!

By Abbe (not verified)
January 21, 2007 8:06 AM

Here's a good one:

By Abbe (not verified)
January 21, 2007 8:09 AM

Oops! Make that:


By anne (not verified)
January 21, 2007 11:20 AM

Hey guys- I really hate to interrupt the anagram fun here, but I need some advice. See, I'm a free spirit who loves tradition (am buying my parents' house so we will have a "house tradition", for example), and my husband and I are planning on starting a family within the next year.

My absolute favorite name? Winter.
Now, do you all think that's either too hippy, or too likely to become trendy (aka Autumn from the '70s)? I DO NOT want a date-stamped name. Winter is basically unheard of here, and I just can't imagine it becoming popular, but you never know!

We have talked about giving her a traditional middle name with lots of nickname options, if she entered middle school and just couldn't deal. Catherine, Elizabeth are possibilities.

The last name is not common, but is also not overtly bizarre. I really need some advice, because I keep doubting myself with this. Can anyone add their thoughts?

By Valerie (not verified)
January 21, 2007 4:49 PM

I quite like Winter. I think that maybe the reason it hasn't been used is that people may have negative associations with it. If you live in California, as I do, it sounds pretty. If you live in Minnesota, it probably brings to mind endless cold and suffering!

By Kala (not verified)
January 21, 2007 6:12 PM

Speaking of anagrams makes me think of an actor at a renaissance fair I went to this year who spoke in spoonerisms. This is where you switch syllables in phrases. For example, he does the entire story of Romeo and Juliet as Jomeo and Ruliet. Anyway, He went off on a tangent about Brad Pitt's new baby Shiloh. We all got a good chuckle out of poor baby Shiloh Pitt's name as a spoonerism!

By Wendy (not verified)
January 22, 2007 12:54 AM

Laura, I use Explorer 7 on both computers.


By Wendy (not verified)
January 22, 2007 12:57 AM

I like Winter... but then I am a Californian. Know a couple of preschooler Summers and older Autumns. No Winters and don't think it is trendy at all.

Of course, it may be a little strange if Winter was born in August or something...

By Jack & Henry's mom (not verified)
January 22, 2007 1:29 AM

So, I admit this is a bit obsessive, but I was checking the SSA lists as I prepared my entry for the baby pool, and I was so surprised at the popularity (or unpopularity) of some of the names I checked. I know we tend to hang around people with similar tastes in naming, but it made we wonder what influences our perception of popularity. For example, people frequently comment at how popular our sons' names have gotten (Jack & Henry). Now, it's true that both have risen dramatically, but there are many other names (e.g. Kevin and Keith, just to name two) that are more popular than both, but I don't feel like I know any at all, and I can't imagine anyone saying, "Oh, there are so many Kevins these days." Why do you suppose we perceive some names as being "everywhere," when the objective stats. suggest they really aren't? I guess some names are just more noticeable than others, but I wonder why..... Hmmmm... Just something for all you name junkies to ponder!

By anne (not verified)
January 22, 2007 7:23 AM

Well, to use one of your examples, when it comes to Kevin- that name has been really popular for years and years and years. I feel people tend to focus more on names that have dramatic surges in popularity, especially when you're talking about a name like Henry, which was VERY out of the spotlight for a while. I wouldn't think of saying, "Oh, there are so many Michaels these days", because, to me, that's pretty much a given. And I happen to know many Kevins, Jacks, AND Henrys (I teach school). However, Keith is not very popular here. Strange.

Thanks to all for the Winter feedback! I actually come from New England, which has harsh winters, but it's still my absolute favorite season!

By anne (not verified)
January 22, 2007 7:32 AM

I wonder if Jack, Henry, and the other recently popular names will stay in fashion for a long time, or will become date-stamped. It will be interesting to see, because I personally don't think so. I think the Jaden/Caden/Brayden/Aidens most definitely will, as will all the unisex surnames (Jordan, Hayden, et al). But Henry and Jack certainly have been around for a long time- just fell out of popularity a bit.

I wonder if the rise of Jack could be blamed partially on Friends. It certainly started to Emma phrase, as far as I'm concerned.

By Amanda H (not verified)
January 22, 2007 12:26 PM

I know how Friends could be linked to Emma, with it being Rachel and Ross's baby. But where does Jack tie in?

By Lydia (not verified)
January 22, 2007 12:56 PM

Anne and Amanda, I thought the Emma/Friends thing rang a bell so I Googled and found this comment Laura posted all the way back in 2004!

"Emma was a top-100 name for a decade before the Friends baby appeared...and especially popular with the demographic of the Friends characters. TV can be a mirror of our culture, as well as a shaper of it!"

By anne (not verified)
January 22, 2007 1:20 PM


Jack was the name of the boy twin Monica and Chandler adopted. The names of the twins were revealed in the last episode. And interestingly enough, Jack started to become popular around then.:)

By anne (not verified)
January 22, 2007 1:25 PM

True- but the fact that Rachel named her baby Emma made that name appear more mainstream to those who are not name-obsessed. It brought it into the public eye.

By jb (not verified)
January 22, 2007 1:31 PM

"As you read/think more about name popularity, do you tend to prefer a trendy name for your child or a traditional one?" - HN

That's a good question. As I think more about name popularity, I definitely prefer timeless names (not necessarily traditional). My friend and I always joke about what we would have named our children if we had them when we were 16. Let's just say the names sounded the way our clothes looked...dated. I don't trust that my taste is any better today, so I'm pretty much limiting my choice of names to Laura's timeless list. Which reminds me...
Laura, I'd love to see a longer "timeless" name list in your next book!

By Christiana (not verified)
January 22, 2007 2:27 PM

Heather - I love the sound of some of the trendy names - even might put them on a long list of names I like, but overall, I tend to go traditional when it actually comes down to the names I'm choosing for my potential children. Of course, right now, those lines are getting somewhat crossed - Isabella, Catherine, Emily, etc. would fall into both categories, IMO.

Anne - I like the name Winter. I don't see it becoming as trendy in the near future, since the Autumn/Summer names came out in the hippie era and have been adopted as modern traditionals now. Winter is distinctive without being odd. I also like that you would like to give her a middle name that is very traditional so she would have options later in life. Brilliant!

Jack is also Jack Bauer, right? Does anyone think that has something to do with it? I think Friends might have had more to do with it's rise if the names had been announced before the end of the series and we heard it every week.

By Caitlyn (not verified)
January 22, 2007 5:33 PM

I am not sure if this relates at all.. but Emma was also a baby on the show Degrassi Junior high (Christine/Spike's).. the original series.. I wonder if that affected the popularity of the name at all... especially since alot of new mothers in recent years probably watched that show.

By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
January 22, 2007 5:43 PM

Jack has never been unpopular in this country. It's never dipped below 200, so I don't think that we can say that Monica and Chandler made it a hit, anymore than the movie "Titanic" did. I definitely agree that it's become a mega-hit among my set of friends in the last five years or so. It must have switched demographics or something. Maybe there's another segment of the population thinking, "Jack?! That's so 1980!"

What number on the popularity index do you think is the "tipping point", or that point at which the name seems to be everywhere? Does it vary or is it more or less consistent from one demographic to the next?

By Stephanie A (not verified)
January 22, 2007 5:59 PM

I think the newer Jack trend could also come from Will and Grace. "Just Jack" brought it back to people's minds.


By HN (not verified)
January 22, 2007 6:03 PM

Thank's Christiana and JB. I think I am feeling similarly. I like the sound of the trendy names, but will likely go with a "timeless one." And I agree with the crossed lines Christiana, perhaps that helps give the names the best of both worlds-- our kids will fit in as children, and as they grow won't be date stamped. I really appreciate your feedback.

By HN (not verified)
January 22, 2007 6:06 PM

I agree with the Jack Henry comments btw (LOVE both names) and think that perhaps the revived traditional names "sound" more common to us if we hear them once! No one notices when they hear another Joshua, but Henry is so special right now that knowing one makes it seem "more popular" to our ears. I think this will fade as Henry has some more revival years... just as Jacob once sounded unusual, then trendy, then now a nice standard.

By HN (not verified)
January 22, 2007 6:10 PM

one more thing... Winter is a beautiful name. If you struggle with it being "too far out" tho, perhaps look to Laura's books for ones that you may love similarly but that fit in a bit more. Also, think about calling out to your child her name in the hot summer or early spring as she walks barefoot in her sundress... does it still carry the same feelings for you? Perhaps Willow instead?

By Laney (not verified)
January 22, 2007 7:02 PM

Um..we don't see all the Jacks and Henrys everywhere because they're still babies or at least under 5. The names will probably stay popular for the next 10-15 years. Kevins are everywhere because they're lots of different ages and stuff. There are very few Jacks and Henrys in the 15-40 age bracket.

As for Winter, it's ok, has a nice sound, but ehhhhhhhhhh. Winty..Winti..I dunno...

You have a while before you have kids. You might end up with a boy, or twin boys. Will you still name a boy Winter? You never know what life will give you.