The View from Abroad: A Look Back at the Future Part 2

Feb 26th 2010

Yesterday I talked about old-fashioned "lady and gentleman" names that were hot in Europe five years ago, and looked at whether U.S. parents had followed in those fashion footsteps. The result was yes and no -- yes for girls, no for boys.

Why the divide? As usual, each name has its own story. Phil is fighting against a middle-aged vibe in the U.S. and doesn't fit the dominant sound patterns of the moment: lots of vowels, -r and -n endings, and high Scrabble-value letters. Yet the European favorites that do fit those patterns fare little better here. Leon, Felix, Simon, Theo and Victor are all much hotter across Europe than in the States.

I think there's a broader pattern underlying the boy-girl difference. Here's the question that leaps out at me: If American parents aren't choosing "international gentleman" names like their European counterparts, what are they naming boys?

I believe the role played by the "gentleman" names in Europe is largely filled by Old Testament names over here. So instead of Leon, Felix and Theo, we have Caleb, Eli and Jonah.

The recent surge in OT names has been much stronger in the U.S. than elsewhere. 17 of the top 50 U.S. boys' names are now from the Old Testament. (That doesn't even count OT/NT crossovers like Michael and Joseph.) There seems almost no limit to the style here, with names like Ezekiel, Nehemiah and three different spellings of Isaiah in the U.S. top 500. And names like Jacob and Ethan, which are runaway hits here, are merely popular in the UK. Where we have a flood of Jakes, they have Jacks.

In the United States, Old Testament boys' names carry special cultural signals. They have a rustic pioneer style, owing to their 18th-19th century American history: Ethan Allen, Eli Whitney, Levi Strauss. That trailblazing aura appeals to a lot of American parents. As a nation, our style leans rugged rather than urbane; no fancy-pants boys' names, thank you very much. In fact, many of the Old Testament names are most popular in the rural, rugged parts of the country that also favor names like Colt and Maverick (two names that are virtually unheard of in Europe).

The Minuteman and Conestoga Wagon imagery doesn't play the same role in the European cultural imagination. Nor do the names play the same role in history -- just try to think of an Englishman named Eli. To European ears, then, Old Testament names tend to sound more esoteric, or more strictly biblical...or more Jewish. More than one American parent of an Old-Testament baby has told me of European friends being confused, or even concerned, that they chose such a Jewish-sounding name.

It's not a hard and fast rule, though. The Old Testament classic Reuben is a hot name across Europe but has gone nowhere in the U.S., despite its fashionable vowels and -n ending. That's a humbling reminder for those of us who seek order in the swirling chaos of name styles. You can have history, sociology and phonology on your side, and still be felled by a simple sandwich.

Comments

1
By Yaellie (not verified)
February 26, 2010 1:19 PM

Great post Laura! Thanks for the insight!

2
By gwyneth (not verified)
February 26, 2010 1:56 PM

We named our son Ezra, and were interested in the response people had to it - people said that they associate the name with either the old white bearded prophet, an amish farmer or a grizzled old cowboy out of the a Louis L'amour novel. do you think part of the difference in the trend is the century names? Europe was a lot more catholic and anti-semetic a century ago, and the US names would have been fewer saints names, and more old testament in the puritan tradition.

3
February 26, 2010 2:08 PM

Very fun post! It's fascinating to see how differences in histories play out in naming styles.

I especially like the last line: "You can have history, sociology and phonology on your side, and still be felled by a simple sandwich." Love it!

4
February 26, 2010 2:08 PM

Laura-Does the rise in OT names here and the rise in "aristocratic" names overseas also suggest the feelings of Americans towards the economic situations across the world? Here many of us are struggling to make ends meet and may like to retreat "back to our roots" or "the good ole days". I'm not sure if other nations are facing a similar crisis. Also, those kinds of " aristocratic" names (Felix, Oliver, etc.) may suggest to others a kind of air that we are just not feeling these days.

5
By TamaraR (not verified)
February 26, 2010 2:41 PM

Fun and interesting to read, thanks!

6
February 26, 2010 3:08 PM

This is really interesting!

@ Becky (from last thread): Maybe the culture thing doesn't happen as much now, these are more things from when I meet kids my age, not little kids. My Hebrew School class too has some Jewish and some not. We have
David
Yoni (Yonatan)
Gabe (Gabriel)
Nat (Nathaniel)
Sander
Maia
Laura
Sarah
Aliyah
Alexa
Bryce (g)
Marisa
Frankie (Florence)

Hm, I just noticed that the majority of the boys have 'Jewish' names and the majority of the girls don't... interesting. Now that I think about it that's pretty much how it is for the grades above and below us as well.

7
By Birgitte (not verified)
February 26, 2010 3:10 PM

Very fun article!

My hubby (American) is a fan of Ezekiel (Zeke) and I, being European, am not. Now I know why. But he was a fan of that name before the economy went bust so I doubt it had anything to do with that.

For you lucky ones expecting a girl right now, how about a Danish, very girly name from the same era, Abelone (pron. Ah-bell-oh-nee). It should hit the Isabella-but-not vibe right on the spot.

8
February 26, 2010 3:12 PM

I made a post at my blog (link below) that explains another reason OT names have been on the rise (after being somewhat out of fashion in the late 19th/early 20th centuries). The blog post also mentions how Irish names (another currently hot category) were once taboo but are now fashionable, and what I predict the next "name taboo" that will be released (or is already being done so).
http://millennialkelly.blogspot.com/2010/02/name-taboo-releases-irish-then-ot-whats.html

Note that I use some jargon based on the works of William Strauss and Neil Howe on generations and history (if you're not familiar with them you may go to http://www.lifecourse.com or http://www.fourthturning.com to learn more).

9
February 26, 2010 3:13 PM

It's funny that the name Reuben is mentioned. My family had encouraged us to use Reuben for our second son but my husband was very against it and I wasn't too fond of it either. The sandwich connection is definitely a turn off I think! It does have all the factors of a great name, -en ending, nice meaning, well known, biblical, and it's first sound is the same as the up and coming Ruby.

10
By Tintin LaChance (not verified)
February 26, 2010 3:20 PM

"For you lucky ones expecting a girl right now, how about a Danish, very girly name from the same era, Abelone (pron. Ah-bell-oh-nee). It should hit the Isabella-but-not vibe right on the spot."

Since it's a letter away from abalone, I've never been able to shake the image of "those clam things Karana ate in Island of the Blue Dolphins." I'd much rather see Apollonia, the name Abelone comes from, turn fashionable.

11
By Jenny also (not verified)
February 26, 2010 4:30 PM

Named both my boys OT names. Jonah and Gabriel (which I guess is technically a crossover ot/nt name). We're Jewish and purposely chose names that reflect our heritage (when folks say they think the names sound "very Jewish" I reply that our sons ARE very Jewish). To my mind another big bonus of biblical names is that they have much less chance of being date stamped or being seen as "trendy" in retrospect. Boys Biblical names that are popular at my son's Jewish pre-school:

Ezra (most common)
Joseph
Issiah
Jonah
Ethan

Less repeats in the world of grils but these are the standouts:

Talia
Sara

12
By Jenny also (not verified)
February 26, 2010 4:32 PM

New baby announcement of a Jewish kid with a name that struck me as very "not Jewish sounding":

Conner @ngus.

13
By Allison (not verified)
February 26, 2010 4:33 PM

While of course I'd noticed OT names gaining popularity in the US, I hadn't ever thought that they correlate with the old-fashioned, European-style girls' names. But they definitely do! And both trends are exactly what my husband and I prefer: our top choices are Ezra, Asher, Jonas, and Micah for boys and Margaret, Elspeth, Julia, Nora, and Sylvia for girls.

On Reuben -- I tend to think of this as a Hispanic name (spelled Ruben). I've met a number of Hispanic Rubens, although they are mostly 30-something men.

14
By Jenny also (not verified)
February 26, 2010 4:43 PM

Allison, I really like Asher, wish I hadn't seen in on a "most pertentious" list one time...ruineed it for me.

Are you expecting? I'd warn against Jonas becuase of the whole Jonas brothers thing. I have a friend who really regrets using it for this reason. Also, you might want to check out how popular Ezra is in your area if you are hoping for something unique, as I mentioned earlier it is hugely popular in my community.

15
February 26, 2010 4:45 PM

Love! Have not read other comments yet but just wanted to say that I love how the part about OT names being seen as Jewish in England/Europe is similar to our discussion earlier this week about categories like Italian names, Irish names being more salient (hope i am using this right) on the east coast of the U.S. than the west coast.

16
By hyz
February 26, 2010 4:51 PM

Love the post, the theory, and the sandwich comment! :) Great stuff!

This makes a ton of sense to me, with both continents reaching back to their "good old days." To add in another piece, perhaps Europe and America are more similar on the girls' names because a) there aren't as many good biblical girls' names to choose from (which possibly made them less popular in the history, and also less popular now), and b) the "good" biblical girls' names seem a bit bland and/or oversaturated (Sarah, Mary, Rachel, Rebecca, etc.).

Oh, and I had the exact thought expressed by Tintin LaChance on Abelone/abalone. I love that book as a kid!

17
By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
February 26, 2010 5:06 PM

I agree with you, hyz. There are so many usable boy names in the Bible, in both Testaments, that each generation can have a crop of its own, repeating the cycle every century or so. There just aren't that many plausible girl names. The ones that are usable do get used, to the point that they become boring (Elizabeth). A few cycle through stylishness like the boys' names (Lois, Abigail), but there just aren't enough of them to make a trend.

I have no desire to hijack the thread, but my husband suddenly announced he wants to name our (maybe) daughter Violet Lou, after his grandmother Mary Lou. I like the Lou part, and I like the name together. But our other daughter's name is Juliet. True, have four sons in between the two girls, but do people think Juliet and Violet are too close to be sister names, even though they aren't as close in age?

18
February 26, 2010 5:24 PM

@hyz (and Jane, since you posted while I was writing this post): I think you're right about there not being as many good Biblical girl's names. In a post from Wattenberg back in 2007 (link below) she mentioned that it's harder to find old-fashioned boy's names that are neither too common nor too obscure.
http://www.babynamewizard.com/archives/2007/8/congratulations-its-auh-oh

Most of the boy's names from that category mentioned there are the non-biblical, European-style names. Apparently it appears the shallower pool is in different places with girls (OT) than boys (non-Biblical), and Americans are going where there are more names available. Probably why the same isn't true in Europe is because there the OT names still have stronger Jewish connotations. In the U.S. neither group of names have "bad" connections (e.g. although the Euro-chic boy's names aren't as common here using them isn't frowned upon in most cases), so we tend to lean towards where there are more fresh names available.

19
By knp-nli (not verified)
February 26, 2010 5:18 PM

Abelone makes me think of bologna and Oscar Meyer.

Jane, mo5: Juliet and Violet ARE very close. WOuld you call her Violet Lou always? While maybe it would work, I would probably shy away from another 2-3 syllable name ending in -et. However, all girls names I'm in love with end in -a, so I don't know if I'd even follow my own advice.

20
By Qwen (nli) (not verified)
February 26, 2010 5:48 PM

So interesting. I was wondering if perhaps posters had gotten it right when they were talking about the names being too ‘frilly’ for many Americans (especially men). My BFF is currently in a name war with her DH – she desperately wants to name their little boy (due in June) Oliver Leo and he’s convinced that “Oliver” is a kid who gets beat up on the playground. Both of us have been wondering where that impression came from for awhile now. For the record, he’s currently pulling for William. She has flat out refused (for several reasons but mostly because she just doesn’t like it) but he might be sloooooowwwwly coming around to Oliver. We’ll see.

@Bridgette – Abelone to me is a sea snail with a pretty shell that tastes delicious when you fry it. I know they’re spelled & pronounced slightly differently but I’m not sure I could overcome the association.

@Kelly – your blog post is interesting. So you think the parents that come later in Millennial Generation will be more ok with the frillier boy’s names? I can see that. My DH and I are right on the cusp of the iGeneration and Gen X and neither of us ever said “Hmm… that name is just too effeminate or sissy,” when we were picking names. Though he did flat out refuse to believe me that Avery was a boy’s name – but that was based more on sound than feel, I think.

@Jane MO5 – I think Violet Lou is seriously adorable. However, I understand your hesitancy since Violet and Juliet are so similar sounding. KNP poses a good point in that if you were always going to call her Violet Lou it could work. Also, I think that the boys names help balance out your overall sibset which tones down the ‘matchy-ness’.

21
February 26, 2010 5:52 PM

Jenny also- my sons are Judah and Levi and I get the "wow very Jewish" comment all the time and I respond the same way! I have a friend who just named her son Jonas. I tried to kindly recommend Jonah and steer her away from Jonas but she loved it very much and went with it anyway.

I totally understand the lack of fun, not too popular, not bland sounding female biblical names. With my sons it was very easy and we had a long list of boys names, but for this baby (girl) it's much more difficult. It seems like once you weed out the simple and common female OT name, such as Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, and the now popular ones like Abigail and Hannah, you come up names that warrant a "where'd that come from?" response from many people.

Jane mother of 5- I actually don't think Violet and Juliet are too close. I pronounce Violet, Vi-lit and Juliet, Ju-lee-ette, so the last syllables are different and Violet is two syllables (rather than Vi-o/uh-lit) and Juliet is three.

22
By JP (not verified)
February 26, 2010 5:53 PM

I'm always intrigued by the difference in reaction to names in different regions of the US. I was asked if we were Jewish several times when people heard the names of our boys (Samuel and Noah) while we were still living in Los Angeles. Since moving to Oregon, we haven't been asked once, even though we added a Seth.

23
By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
February 26, 2010 6:10 PM

At one point we were living near a lot of Mennonite families. If I had met a sibset like Jonah and Gabriel or Samuel, Noah, and Seth *then* I would totally just have assumed it was a Mennonite family. Now that we've moved, I wouldn't at all. So, yeah, geography (and local culture) matters a lot.

Two new babies among my acquaintances: Jens (brother to Z0la) and Victori@ Grey.

In answer to the question above, I'm not sure whether we would call her Violet Lou all the time or just Violet. I was so surprised that dh came up with this out of the blue that I didn't even ask him if he was thinking of the middle name as silent or not!

24
February 26, 2010 6:12 PM

@Qwen: With regards to Oliver being a "frilly" name, I think that's also what held back some of the "softer" biblical names for awhile (e.g. Elijah, Noah) but since softer names are becoming more okay for the younger generation they're gaining steam (as are names from other categories like the aforementioned Oliver). For example three of my boy's favorites are Adrian, Gabriel, and Sebastian. It seems that older folks are more likely to dislike them than people around my age or younger.

25
By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
February 26, 2010 6:12 PM

Oh, and I pronounce Juliet as three syllables and Violet as 2 (or 2.5??? - like a barely drawn-out two). But to me, both names definitely end in the same "et" sound.

26
February 26, 2010 6:22 PM

Jane, mo5- since Violet Lou would be after your dh's grandmother Mary Lou would you consider using Mary Violet, and calling her by her full name? I quite like Mary Violet. Violet Lou is also very nice and if she did go by the full name I don't think the similarity to Juliet would be as noticeable.

27
By CGDH
February 26, 2010 6:49 PM

You can get some great OT girls' names if you aren't too concerned about them belonging to "good" people in the Bible. If you're a religious Christian or Jew, you might want to stay away from these, but if you aren't, they could work!

Asherah

Delilah

Eve

Jezebel

Mara

Salome

28
By Guest (not verified)
February 26, 2010 6:50 PM

Delurking. If you think back to popular books and movies in American culture, oftentimes the 'gentleman' with a name like Julias or Theodore is portrayed as either an ineffective fop, or a scoundrel. The working class 'Jake,' or similar, is the hero (who ends up with the mayor's daughter, Olivia, no doubt! We have no trouble with elite women!)America is basically based on the idea that the everyman can best the monied elite. As Laura said, 'rugged,' is the trait that we most admire in our men. I think this economy only emphasizes that.
That said, I personally do not favor gentlemen names or hardcore OT names. My favorite boy names are Tom, Roger, Walter, Peter, etc. Then again, I tend to idealize the 50's and 60's as the Good Old Days, the men as "real men,"... and so it goes.

29
By jt (not verified)
February 26, 2010 6:50 PM

Another mom of an Ezra here.

I'm interested in the commentary about Jonas. I realize that people might link it to the Jonas Brothers, but in the long run, would it really be that big of a deal? I kind of put the Jonas Brothers in the same category as New Kids on the Block in the 80s/90s and Backstreet Boys and N'Sync in the 90s. Will they be around long enough for naming your child Jonas to be an issue? It seems like if you love the name enough, it might be worth the annoyance of fielding the Jonas Brothers questions for the next couple years while the band is popular to have a child with the name you love for the rest of their life.

30
February 26, 2010 7:04 PM

jt,
i agree about jonas. in the long run, it won't be a big deal. in 25 years (probably a lot less, actually), no one is going to ask your adult son, "oh, like the jonas brothers?"

cgdh,
you do bring up some good old testament names. i particularly love eve. i will restrain myself and not get on my high horse about how eve has been unjustly villainized. i wrote a paper on it once. it was intense. :]

also,
this is SO interesting about how names are perceived in various areas. here (indiana), no one would assume samuel and noah were jewish. or at least no one in my circle. they could easily be christian or atheist or...anything.

re: abelone. very pretty, but i do think of both abalone and balogna, which would probably hold me back. however, it is a very pretty sound.

31
February 26, 2010 7:27 PM

It's so funny to read the comments about Eve b/c it's been my favorite name of the day. I like the name (love 1 syllable names in general) and dh has always shot it down b/c she is just so awful in the Genesis story. On his own, he recognized that it wasn't fair b/c he doesn't have that reaction to the name Adam.

32
February 26, 2010 7:34 PM

another laura,
love eve! if you want me to send you my paper on why even isn't "so awful" in the genesis story, i absolutely will! just kidding. sort of. ;]

33
By Qwen (nli) (not verified)
February 26, 2010 7:35 PM

@emilyrae - It's always been a huge pet peeve of mine that a large portion of biblical women are villainized. I got in trouble for arguing with Sunday School teachers about it from a very young age.

A lot of the names CDGH brought up are beautiful names that almost never get used. :(.

I too think it's interesting how geography affects how you think of names and ethnicities. In my area I don't think I'd ever think, "Hmm those names sound Jewish (or Italian or Irish). However, we do have a large population of Native Americans and Hispanics in my area and I will admit that upon hearing a 'strange' name I'm likely to wonder (at least internally) if the person belongs to one of these heritages.

SPEAKING OF: We had two new students at my center this week (both around 17): Jessiah (g) and Monnie (b and Native American).

34
February 26, 2010 7:38 PM

Do you think people's responses to "softer" or "frillier" boys names change or is it our definition of which are soft or frilly that change? I mean, I don't know if there's a hard and fast definition of "softer" names. Like is it those that end with A? Are there other rules?

35
February 26, 2010 7:44 PM

qwen,
oh, it's so good to meet someone who feels similarly! i mean i know there are some truly rotten women (and men) in the bible, but i have a real soft spot for eve. i never understand why she gets painted so badly while adam comes out looking like a victim. hmph! plus, i really do just love the name...it just sounds so elegant and strong to my ears.

36
By Guest (not verified)
February 26, 2010 7:52 PM

My husband and I are ideologically divided on boy names in much the same way you describe Europe and America's split of mind. I grew up reading a great deal of British literature and my naming ideas are often shaped by the imprint that literature made (i.e., I thought it odd when I met a female Ashley in high school). My husband has been strongly influenced by American trends.

When my husband announced he wanted to name a daughter Evelyn, I was very resistant at first. "Evelyn? Like Evelyn Waugh?" Now I've grown used to the idea. He'd never let me name a son after her.

37
By Guest (not verified)
February 26, 2010 7:53 PM

I somehow left out the part where my husband wanted to name a girl Evelyn because it was his grandmother's name...oops!

38
February 26, 2010 8:20 PM

I adore Eve and am strongly considering it as a mn for my daughter. Growing up in a family of strong Jewish women Eve was never really villanized and I remember loving the name as a little girl. Plus the hebrew version Chava is lovely. I can't get past the "story" behind Delilah though I love the sound, and even Dinah is hard to imagine on a little girl for me.

Also, I've noticed that many of the classically popular boys names end in consonants (William, James, Michael, Christopher,) as do many of today's popular names (Jacob, Ethan, Alexander, Jayden, Aiden, Nathan). Obviously there are exceptions to this (Noah, Matthew, Joshua) but for the most part vowel endings are less common, though I've noticed a huge uptrend on names ending in o, such as Milo and Leo.

39
February 26, 2010 9:03 PM

That's a really interesting thesis!

I think there migh be something changing in the patterns of English naming at the very least- there are a dozen old-school OT names ahead of Theo, Louis and Leon (which all ranked around 60 in 2008)- including Ethan, Nathan, Noah and Isaac. The only "European" name that ranks higher than any of these American stalwarts is Oliver.

In fact, Ethan, Jacob, Joshua, Benjamin, Samuel and Daniel all rank in the the top 20 in the UK. In the UK in 2008, Ethan ranked #15, with 0.94% of total males born. In the US in 2008, Ethan ranked #3, with...0.93% of total males born. And, adding the % of Jacob and Jake together, you get a 1.63% "Jake rate" in the UK in 2008, and 1.21% in the US. Is this just an effect of American naming trends influencing another Anglophone culture? I don't know how this plays out across Europe, but it does seem curious. I'm not trying to be a pain in the you-know-what.

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=15282

40
February 26, 2010 9:27 PM

For the curious- name, rank and % of the "european gentleman" names in the UK in 2008:

Oliver #2, 2.04%
Theo 58, 0.357
Louis 59, 0.331
Leon 63, 0.313
Felix 117, 0.135
Hugo 164, 0.086
Simon 237, 0.052 (US: #261, 0.062%)
Victor 262, 0.046 (US: 111, 0.174)
Philip 340, 0.031 (US: 378, 0.037)

UK percentages are calculated from the total given at the bottom of the dataset ("362963 baby boys in the 2008 dataset"). I love Excel.

...i should clarify that I print off and read though name statistics to combat insomnia...

41
February 26, 2010 9:30 PM

Wow lots to comment on. Not sure who to address them to though-

Re Rueben-NMS. Too much like the sandwich and Partridge Family's Ruben Kincaid (I told you I loved the 70's)

Re Eve-again NMS. I really like Adam but there is just something about the name Eve that doesn't quite float my boat.

Re Abelone-seems to be pretty much pronounced like Abalone and reminds me of a shell. Might be nice for somone looking for a unique nature name though. Cute match with Marin maybe.

Jenny also-Conner Angus sounds so Scottish to me not at all Jewish LOL!

Re Ezra-Not sure what the appeal is. It doesn't have any sounds I care for and I'm not religious so I wouldn't use it for that reason either.

Re Samuel and Noah-I don't see them as primarily Jewish as I would a Jonah/Levi combo or some of the others mentioned. However, Levi is pretty Amish around here as is Jacob and Joshua. I really liked Joshua for my ds but dh vetoed it for above reason.

Qwen-Jessiah is pretty.

RobynT-That is a good question. I think it's a personal thing though and can very just like our favs list does. For instance to me Adam can be both "rugged/cowboy" or "soft/sweet/studious". Come to think of it I like many names that are flexible like that.

JaneMO5-I like the suggestion of Mary Violet for you as a double barrel but it doesn't seem to match your style if I remember it right. Although when I say Violet Lou it kind of trips up my mouth a bit and makes me think of Viola. Would that work as a bit of a compromise?

42
February 26, 2010 9:38 PM

Blythe-We were posting at the same time. Very interesting figures. It almost seems like the US and UK are paralleling each other. I am curious to see what other names are in the top 100 and top even 1000. Do you have a link to UK stats or should I just "google" it? Also, do the stats show a similar effect with the girls?

43
By RachelM (not verified)
February 26, 2010 9:52 PM

In reference to people's comments about geographic context for biblical names: We named our daughter Noa, after the female character in the bible (one of five daughters of Zelophahad who were to first women to inherit their father's property). If we're in a Jewish area, people know the name and aren't surprised she's a girl. This year, we're living in a town that's less Jewish and people give me funny looks when I tell them her name is Noa. It does seem like the name is on the rise in Jewish communities though.

44
February 26, 2010 10:54 PM

@zoerhenne: You were comparing the U.S. vs. U.K. trends on OT names. For some other English-speaking perspectives, I took a look at some of the stats that were available for some Canadian provinces and Australian states. Overall on those lists the concentration of OT names is a bit lower than on the U.S. ones but still plenty of them in use. In those places the names don't have the strong cultural roots as they do like Wattenberg mentioned in the U.S. but (at least from what I know, I haven't ever lived in either country) like in the U.S. (as opposed to much of Europe) the Jewish association isn't a strong negative.

45
By catherineH (not verified)
February 26, 2010 10:56 PM

My son is four and we know at least 4 Isaiahs his age or slightly younger (one of them, tragically, is spelled Izayah).

46
February 26, 2010 11:01 PM

Qwen - my (American) husband has the same opinion as your BFF's DH...that Oliver is a kid who will get beat up! 2 years ago, he wanted 'Samuel'. I wanted 'Oliver' or 'Henry'. He picked Henry over Oliver, as 'Henry is less likely to get beat up'! :P

47
February 26, 2010 11:31 PM

i find the tendency of men to think that a particular name will get a kid beat up fairly amusing. i don't remember anyone in high school getting beat up for having any sort of name.

48
By Patricia (not logged in) (not verified)
February 26, 2010 11:33 PM

Jane, mother of 5: As I recall, your older daughter is Anne Juliet called "Juliet", so I think Mary Violet would match perfectly. You could still call her "Violet" if your husband prefers. (BTW, we recently became great-grandparents with the birth of Jane Violet.)

Are you expecting again, or thinking about names "just in case"?

49
February 26, 2010 11:57 PM

OT but I thought this quote from Carl Edwards (Nascar race car driver) to be interesting:

In an interview for Nascar.com he is asked-
So how much input did Edwards have on selecting a name? Apparently the decision was unilateral and final.

"That's what Kate wanted to call her, so that was it," Edwards said. "I started to protest a little bit, just because. I didn't really have a better name, and she made it clear that's what she really wanted. So it's Anne. We're gonna call her Annie."

50
By Jenny also (not verified)
February 27, 2010 12:33 AM

On the topic of girl OT names beyond Sarah/Hannah/Rachel/Rebecca. Here are some less used ones to consider:

Miriam (our girl name had either Jonah or Gabe been a girl)
Eve/Hava/Chava
Eden
Naomi
Lea
Esther
Ruth (Ruthie is a great nn, since Ruth sounds a little old)
Batsheva
Hona/Chana (instead of Hannah)
Debra/Devorah

While we're on the subject my favorite non-OT "Jewishie" girl names"

Tova
Havi
Shoshannah
Rose/Rosie (For a FN, everyone is using it as a mn)
Batya
Aviva
Adena
Dahlia