Creative Naming, 19th-Century Style

Apr 14th 2011

Many women change their surnames when they get married. In the past, I've discussed the idea of changing your first name while you're at it. But can you imagine a man insisting that his new bride change her first name, just to sound good with his surname?

That is the tale of one Lidian Emerson. The second wife of the great writer Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lidian was intellectually inclined and an ardent abolitionist. Her marriage to Ralph was, by all accounts, a long and content one. (Tales abound that Henry Thoreau was in love with her as well, but we don't traffic in centuries-old gossip around here.)

Mrs. Emerson was christened not Lidian, but Lydia Jackson. Mr. Emerson decided his wife should be known as Lidian upon their marriage in 1835. The reason is unclear. Here are some explanations I've found -- all presented as simple statements of fact:

"Emerson asked Lydia Jackson to become Lydian Emerson, wishing a less common name."

"Emerson changed her name to prevent the final 'a' from turning into "er" through local pronunciation"

"Lidian (as he spelled it) had both musical and classical echoes."

"The first name was changed from 'Lydia' to 'Lidian,' at Emerson's request, to avoid the hiatus between 'Lydia' and the new surname."

This last explanation, from a 1915 biography of Emerson, has the ring of truth to me. The specific choice of Lidian doubtless reflects the ancient Lydian language and Lydian musical mode. But the decision to change the name to begin with? Well, consider that Emerson never objected to his first wife's equally prosaic name of Ellen. My guess is that Lydia just didn't sound good with his last name.

In theory, this is a concern we should all be able to relate to. Every parent choosing baby names thinks carefully about how the first and last name sound together. Plenty of women today also take the first/last match into consideration when they decide whether to change their names at marriage. But to change your grown wife's name to match your surname? Even back in 1835, it was extraordinary. Check out Mrs. Emerson's embarrassed tone in a letter to Thomas Carlyle, six years into her marriage:

"Will you pardon my signing the unheard-of name by which my husband has presumed to re-baptise me? He will have me known by no other—and believes it valid even to Civil Law."

Then consider that the Emersons' children received unremarkable family names: Waldo, Ellen, Edith and Edward. In that context, the invention of Lidian is even more curious. Grand explanations like "flight of romantic fancy" or "chauvinistic power play" don't seem to fit the rest of the facts. So given my profession, I'm going with the name-first reasoning. It just sounded better that way.


April 14, 2011 10:32 AM

Interesting post Laura. My maiden name alliterates with my first name and now my married name shares the same vowel sound with it. I guess that's why I never thought twice about taking hubby's surname.

By Bryan (not verified)
April 14, 2011 12:11 PM

Very interesting. I have never heard about women changing their first names when they got married. It could be an interesting thing, but I do believe the new husband should be able to at least agree on the new name.
Thanks for the post, interesting read.

By mk (not verified)
April 14, 2011 12:37 PM

"The first name was changed from 'Lydia' to 'Lidian,' at Emerson's request, to avoid the hiatus between 'Lydia' and the new surname."

This is the reason I've always heard. The Concord Museum also gives this as the reason, and I imagine they would know.

I always wondered how she felt about it!

By English major (not verified)
April 14, 2011 3:06 PM

Emerson did a lot of things with names. He changed his own from Waldo Ralph to Ralph Waldo. So did Thoreau (switch his first and middle names.). And, I know we're not dealing in gossip, but Thoreau reportedly had the hots for Ralph, not Lydia/Lidian.

April 14, 2011 4:55 PM

Interesting story, I hadn't heard that one before!

Robyn T - I didn't get a chance to comment in the other thread, but Olive is a great choice for a girl. Can't wait to see if you have an Olive or Orson.

In the US there may not be much coverage of the Danish Royals but here in Australia the media is obsessed with them due to Princess Mary being born here. Anyway their twins were Christened yesterday and their names finally revealed: Vincent and Josephine. Older siblings are Christian and Isabella. I actually really like the names, Josephine in particular has been a long time favourite.

By izzy
April 14, 2011 11:00 PM

So today I heard a name I'd never heard before: Lailee. (not quite sure how to spell it...) Is it a new "Kailee/Hayley/Bailey? Do you think it will catch on? It struck me as odd that I'd never heard it before. Though I'm not generally one for this 'type' of name, I quite like Lailee.

By izzy
April 14, 2011 11:01 PM

Also, @Chimu: I recently rediscovered Josephine. Its a family name, and I'm growing to really love it.

By Patricia (not logged in) (not verified)
April 15, 2011 1:03 AM

I really enjoyed this post and found the tale of Emerson and his wife Lydia/Lidian engrossing. Thus both his wives then had names ending in 'n' that flowed quite nicely into Emerson, which also ends in 'n'. It looks like he preferred alliteration with his children's names after naming the first after himself, or perhaps that was just a coincidence of the family names he chose - Ellen, first wife; Edward, a brother he was close to (but who was Edith?):
Ellen Emerson
Edith Emerson
Edward Emerson

According to a well documented Wikipedia article about Emerson, he also called his wife Lidian the nicknames "Queenie" and "Asia". Reportedly Lidian suggested they name their first daughter Ellen after Emerson's first wife, who died at age 20 of tuberculosis. Emerson and Lidian's first son Waldo died at age five,and his second son Edward was given the name family name Waldo as his middle name. This article states that Emerson was named after his mother's brother Ralph and his father's great-grandmother Rebecca Waldo.

I love Lydia's statement about her husband "presuming" to "re-baptise" her with the "un-heard of name" Lidian. I'm glad her thoughts on the matter have survived.

By Hillary (not verified)
April 15, 2011 2:42 AM

What a great story! I hadn't heard it either.

I did not take my husband's last name when we married, in part because it doesn't sound good with my first name. (Other reasons too but that was a biggie.) The first syllable of his last name is the last syllable of my first name, so the syllable repeats when the names are said together. Think Lucy Seams or Cindy Dean. Not the end of the world but kind of a tongue twister. I guess I should have just changed my first name too!

April 15, 2011 9:35 AM

English major's post @4 is of interest too. I love coming across previously unknown to me tidbits about the lives of famous people of the past. I found this explanation of Thoreau's name switch:

Was "Henry David Thoreau" his real name?

Yes . . . and no. Thoreau was christened "David Henry" on October 12, 1817, three months after his birth on July 12. Between his birth and christening, his paternal uncle David died, and the newest member of the family was named after him. Thoreau reversed the order of his names after graduating from Harvard in 1837. Although he never filed the legal petitions to make the change formal, he persisted in signing himself "Henry David" until his death--often to the amusement of his neighbors.

Source: Walter Harding, The Days of Henry Thoreau, 11, 54.

As to Thoreau's possible interest in Emerson -- or his wife, the same website ( speaks to that issue as well:

Thoreau's sexuality has long been a subject of speculation; even his contemporaries commented on his apparent lack of interest in conventional romance. The most exhaustive examination of the evidence on both sides of this question is Walter Harding's article, "Thoreau's Sexuality," published in the Journal of Homosexuality, 21.3 (1991): 23-45. Basing his conclusions mostly on evidence from Thoreau's Journal, Harding suggests that Thoreau's affectional orientation was probably homosexual, though there is no evidence that he was physically intimate with either men or women. Although Thoreau proposed marriage to one woman (and was proposed to by another), Harding concludes that the preponderance of the evidence indicates that he had a fundamental attraction to other men, an attraction sublimated through his writing and his passion for nature.

Sorry this last bit is off-topic, but I found it of interest and thought others might too.

April 15, 2011 9:53 AM

Regarding Emerson's possible name reversal (@4), I haven't come across any confirmation of that, but in Emerson's biography in the online dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography, Emerson is referred to as "Waldo" when writing of his childhood: "Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803-April 27, 1882) began his career as a Unitarian minister but went on, as an independent man of letters, to become the preeminent lecturer, essayist and philosopher of 19th century America..." "Waldo was born May 25, 1803, the fourth of eight children..." "His father died when Waldo was eight.." "Waldo entered Harvard at 14..." This biography quotes from Waldo's letters to his Aunt Mary, so apparently he was called by his middle name, a family surname. It appears that Emerson did not change (or reverse) his name and that Ralph Waldo Emerson, the name he used professionally, was his full name from birth.

By ajg (not verified)
April 15, 2011 11:32 AM

How very fascinating! Why have I not heard this story before?

@izzy-- I have heard Lailee (don't know how they're spelling it, though), but as a nickname for Eulalia. She's coming on two, I think.

By LiseyLoo (not verified)
April 15, 2011 2:56 PM

Help!! I have been faced with a nearly impossible naming challenge. I need names for quadruplet girls. I have some ideas, but I am not so sure. Anyone's ideas on how to best mix and match them to make a pair of four would be greatly appreciated. Also, if anyone has suggestions of names with similar styles to the ones listed, or any feedback on what the names sound like to them, I wouuld love to hear it.

Set 1:
Leah Marie
Isla Rose
Addie Claire
Evelyn Jane

Set 2:

Set 3:

Set 4:


April 15, 2011 4:44 PM

LiseyLoo: I like set 3 because I feel the names have a similar popularity and "prettiness" (I wouldn't want any one of the girls to feel her name was plainer or something), yet it is not too matchy. I might consider switching Hannah out though; is it more common? Or plainer? I'm not sure... In Set 4, I feel like Addison doesn't quite belong; the other 3 names are more classic and have continental (French and Italian I think) feel. I find Set 2 to be too matchy (the ending sounds). In Set 1, I find Leah to be too plain/common, and Isla seems very contemporary to me compared to the others.

By mk (not verified)
April 15, 2011 5:25 PM

LiseyLoo: Set 3 is my favorite. Addie doesn't fit with the rest in set 1; it looks like a nickname to me. I'd take it out and use Claire as a first name. In set 2, Saylor and Skylar are too similar, and overall I don't like the rhyming aspect. In set 4, I agree that Addison doesn't fit. I'd take it out and add Hannah.

Are any of these names ones you prefer over the others and really want to use?

By Kern (not verified)
April 15, 2011 6:51 PM

Re the quadruplet naming challenge, I agree wholeheartedly with mk and RobynT. I might suggest Adelaide as a substitute for Addie in Set 1 and then you could NN her Addie. I really don't care for the sing-songy aspect of set 2 all said together.

April 15, 2011 7:52 PM

LiseyLoo-First off congrats! I wish you the best for happiness with the four of them. Now on to the naming part. I mostly agree with the others. Set 2 is too matchy and sing-songy. If you really like that style then take some of them or use them as mn's (I will give some suggestions in a moment) Set 1 has some nice names but Addie and Isla don't match style wise. Set 3 is okay except for Hannah. Set 4 is the best for me except for Addison which I would replace with Natalie. So here are some combos and ultimately what I would do if I had 4 and those were the names I liked.

Julia Marie
Addison Claire
Piper Danielle
Hannah Caroline
or these (which all have L sounds in them btw or a subtle mn connection with matching letters as I've shown)I also tried to keep a French flair:
Natalie Marie
Danielle Celine
Claire Madeline
Julia Celeste

There are so many names out there and it seems you have a few different directions to go. It's a big deal so I will let you think on this. Post again if you want more ideas.

By izzy
April 15, 2011 8:43 PM

@LiseyLoo: Congratulations!! I am also in agreement: set2 is too matchy-matchy for me.

I love set1 and set3, but I feel like Hannah could be replaced with Claire or Danielle. Also, like @zoerhenne said, I like the idea of all French-y names:

Natalie Elise
Adelaide Marie (Addie)
Caroline Elisabeth
Claire Madeleine

Also, if I was looking at the names you have listed, here are some combos I'd probably choose:

Nathalie Rose (I love the H. idk why, but I feel like it dresses up the name.)
Piper Elisabeth
Piper Danielle
Amelia Rose
Caroline Marie
Julia Claire
Leah Danielle

Hope that that is helpful. Good luck, and let us all know when/what you decide :)

By EVie
April 15, 2011 10:23 PM

LiseyLoo – are you really having quadruplets?? If so, WOW. I generally agree with what the others have said. Of the sets you gave us, Set 3 is the best. In Set 1, Addie is too nicknamey, and the match of the other three isn't really working for me either—they all have very different vibes. Set 2 is too matchy. In set 4, Addison is stylistically very different from the others.

If I were to regroup them and pick my favorites, it would be:

Amelia, Claire, Natalie and Julia (or Caroline could substitute for any one of these).

If you wanted to go all French, then Claire, Natalie, Danielle and Caroline would work nicely, too (and has the nice effect of all-different endings).

I do think that Set 2 would work well as middle names, and I don’t see anything wrong with matchy middles—it’s a way to tie the names together without sacrificing individuality in their primary identifiers. For example:

Amelia Piper, Claire Saylor, Natalie Harper and Julia Skyler

Here are some combos that mix your names with some other suggestions:

Leah, Hannah, *Rachel* and *Abigail*
Amelia, Evelyn, Claire and *Violet*
Natalie, Claire, *Lucy* and *Madeline*
Evelyn, Claire, *Lillian* and *Audrey*
Isla, Evelyn, *Phoebe* and *Cora*
Addison, Piper, *Scarlett* and *Everley* (except I don’t actually care for Addison, so I would substitute something like Arden, Arlen, Afton or Avalon).
Isla, Saylor, *Paisley* and *Skye* (OR, to make it a great Scottish-themed set, substitute Stirling for Saylor)
Harper, *Cadence*, *Lyra* and *Madrigal* (ok, this is a very matchy music theme, but I kind of like it. Piper would also work in place of Harper—or for any of the others, but I left it out so as not to repeat the –er ending).

April 16, 2011 2:01 PM

This was such an interesting blog. It's an aspect of naming you don't think of often...a women changing her name upon marriage. I agree with Wattenberg's reasoning...that Lydia's name was probly changed because it clashed with her husband's last name. But honestly...who knows? I'm don't like the idea of switching to a surname that doesn't sound quite right with my first name. But it would take much more than that to get me to take on a whole new name. It would take more personal reasons...not just a superficial awkward sounding arrangement of names.

By anon. (not verified)
April 16, 2011 5:01 PM

Another interesting celebrity naming story, in sort of the same spirit of this one:

In the early 90's a musician in Detroit named Jack Gillis married another musician named Meg White. Breaking with tradition, he took her last name when they married and became Jack White. The 2 of them started playing music together and formed what would become the wildly popular and award winning band The White Stripes.

Meg and Jack's marriage didn't work out and they ended up divorcing. He continued to use her surname though, not just professionally, but also personally. A number of years later, Jack remarried a woman named Karen Elson. They have 2 children together. The interesting part? The kids both have the last name of White, after their father's ex-wife, not their father's original surname of Gillis or their mother's name of Elson.

April 16, 2011 6:57 PM

I'm really enjoying this post, and all the comments (Thoreau's sexuality, the White stripes).

As for quadruplet naming, I'm with EVie on the WOW sentiments if you're really having quadruplet girls, LiseyLoo. Congratulations! I agree with the consensus to avoid being overly matchy, especially with first names. You do have much more leeway with middle names, I think.

In your place, I would pick my top 4 favorite names regardless of the "set", so long as they were all very distinct in sound (to me, Leah and Isla would be too close to use for siblings, as I'd get tripped up, ditto multiple -er endings) and none was unusual in getting a nickname as a given name. I think naming children for me is first and foremost about naming individuals, and that would stay just as important if the four siblings I were naming were all being born at once.

I do agree with others that I wouldn't want to have sibling names where "one of these things is not like the others" would immediately occur because ONE of the names jumps out as being very different from the rest. (Like, not "Caroline, Hannah, Leah, and Saylor") Apart from that consideration, though, I would see nothing wrong with picking your favorites across all of your "sets". The rest of the world will already focus on your girls being a "set" because of the unusual circumstances of their birth, and I don't think you need to think of their names that way. I'd give quadruplets exactly the same names I'd give four consecutive siblings - and in my case, there's a fair bit of meandering across different styles in my name-lists, united by the fact that they are names I love and have some meaning for me/the spouse.

April 17, 2011 1:24 PM

Congrats! Lots of folks have given you good suggestions on mixing and matching, so the best I can do is give you the four sibset names for girls that I would personally use (we seem to have similar enough naming styles). It may help give you ideas if you want to change anything around. I love set 1, btw.

Lucy C0nstance (mine is due in a week :->) I actually think it would also be beautiful written as Lucie - I went with a y because it's just easier to go with traditional spellings.
Ann3 S0fia
M@ry Virgini@
M@rgaret J@ne. (or Molly -but as I think Molly is really a variant of Mary it seems a bit weird to have both!)

Sibset/theme wise, the first three middle names are also 'virtue' names (although in my case there is family significance to all four middle names).

April 17, 2011 5:07 PM


By rebecca123444 (not verified)
April 17, 2011 9:06 PM

Help! I need a name for a baby boy due in early June: Some rejected favorites include Gavin (won't use it because it's a friend's baby's name), Silas (a little too off-beat), Nathan (a little too popular), Derek (maybe...) and Malcolm (lack of nicknames, also a little offbeat). Help!

By troy (not verified)
April 17, 2011 9:09 PM

When does a baby's name become "official"? If he/she is born in a hospital, I assume the parent(s) tell a hospital staffer who records it on a hospital-certified record of birth, which is then transferred to some government agency that issues an official birth certificate to you, and also sends that information to the Social Security Administration which issues the child's SS# ... Is this at all correct? Also what if the baby is born at home? When/how does he/she become "official" in the eyes of the law?

April 17, 2011 10:03 PM

rebecca123444: How about Jonas, Owen, Patrick, Kenneth, Colin, Cedric, Devin, Declan, Elliot, Simon, Levi, Philip, or Garrett?

By Guest nli (not verified)
April 17, 2011 10:16 PM

Oh my goodness! I can't believe this post came up, and I work at the Concord Museum, thanks for the shout out mk!! I'm actually a regular poster (well not so much recently because I only have time to read:( ) but since I'm identifying my job figured I should be a guest for today:)

The relationship between Emerson (who was definitely called Waldo, btw, not Ralph) and his second wife is quite interesting and, although this was already brought up, I've always found it interesting that they did name a daughter after his first wife. I'll ask tomorrow if anyone knows anything about Edith.

Also, Laura, you mentioned in the last post that you live in Massachusetts which I also found very exciting! You should come visit us in Concord!! Big doings on Patriots' Day:)

April 18, 2011 8:38 AM

troy-I'm sure there are forms that must be filled out as well but it is now the parents responsibility to acquire them from the local government agency if they give birth at home.

rebecca 123444-How about these:
Ethan, Liam, Duncan, Logan, Neil, Caleb, Vaughn, Camden, Keenan, Noah, Quentin, Simon, Marcus, or Graham

RobynT-Shannon is one of my favorite names for girls. Persimmon, not so much.

April 18, 2011 9:50 AM

@28: I don't think it was that unusual in the 19th century to name a child after a former wife who had died (the usual reason for a subsequent marriage, not divorce), and I recall two incidences of this in my own genealogy. Too, Emerson was devastated by his young wife's death. Thirteen months after "Nelly's" death he wrote in his journal: "I visited Ellen's tomb & opened the coffin" (Journals, March 29, 1832). Emerson's first wife's name was Ellen Louisa Tucker. Waldo and Lidian's first daughter, born 8 years after Ellen's death, was named Ellen Tucker Emerson.

April 18, 2011 9:59 AM

@28 regarding Edith Emerson: I read that she married and had children (unlike her older sister Ellen), but I'm still wondering who Edith was named after since her siblings all had family names. It could be someone in her mother's family, and if so, it's less likely this little puzzle can be solved.

You mentioned that the relationship between Emerson and his second wife is "quite interesting". Could you tell us a little more about that? From some online skimming, I have the impression that Lidian was a writer too (or would-be writer), older when she married Emerson, and aware of his ongoing devotion to the memory of his first wife. Thus, it may have been a 'marriage of convenience'?

By Aybee (not verified)
April 18, 2011 4:10 PM

I second the above suggestions of Jonas, Simon and Garrett. I would also offer: Sebastian, Blake, Darren, Shane and Everett. Good luck!

By knp
April 18, 2011 6:46 PM

My mother is ending her last year as a teacher (34 years, about half teaching 3rd grade, half 5th grade). This weekend the family was together, and mom has announced that she is strongly against any boy's names starting with J: especially Jason, Justin, Jonathan, but also Jacob, Joshua, Jack. Her worst students across the many years had these names. the only one that is not stained is Jeremy. :) It made some fun hours on the drive home for my husband and I to brainstorm J names. (no worries, our fave names do NOT start with J!) Her reaction was funny though!

Of course, I reminded her that the last time she announced such a declaration (which was actually in favor of a name), I promptly used that name on a pet, rather than keep the liked name (Mason) on a baby. I threatened the same usage of a J name. Maybe it is time to think of another doggie.... :) hehe

April 18, 2011 7:33 PM

knp-That is a funny story. When I taught preschool, the two 4yo troublemakers were Jeffrey and Johnathan. Then when I switched to daycare and took care of 2yo the one that was a handful was Nicholas. I love both the names Jeffrey and Nicholas but could never use them for that reason. Johnathan is not among my favs though.

April 19, 2011 11:24 AM

I really like Lidian! Lydia is one of my very favorite names, but my dear niece who we spend a lot of time with is L1via. It would be too much for me...I don't think my sister would actually mind the similarities, but I would confuse them all the time!

The same sister just found out that they're having a boy next. I know that Mosely was at the top of their boys' list a year ago, but I don't think they like it any more. (Which I'm kind of thankful for? Was going to have to grin and bear that one a bit!) Especially with the Mannings just naming a daughter Mosley...not for me! She told me that they came across another name this week that hadn't been on either of their lists that they just loved instantly, but they're going to be secret-keepers! It's going to kill me, but it will make the arrival of my first nephew that much more special I suppose.

I'm pregnant as well--we'll find out whether we have a son or another daughter in May. Anyone want to chime in on my name thoughts even though we don't know who's in there yet?

My first daughter will be 2 in May. Her name is Ell3ry Anne, and she's a crazy, independent, blonde/blue fiesta. Nicknamed Ellie, Elle, and Boo.

Top Girls Names:
1. Louisa (nn Louise, Isa, Lou) (I love everything about this name)
2. Cora (love it, but our last name is single-syllable with a hard C)
3. Sylvia (I love it, I don't think it's my husband's favorite)
4. Isabel (not my very favorite due to its current status, but it's at the top of hubbie's list. His favorite part of the name is the nickname Isa...I'm planting the seed of calling a Louisa the same nickname...we'll see if it works!)

Top Boys Names:
1. Bennett (My favorite person in the world is my little brother, Benjamin. I would love to name a son Ben, but it *almost* rhymes with our single-syllable last name. Could we pull off Bennett with no nickname?)
2. August (A definite favorite, but I don't know if it sounds too grown up or off beat or something? LOVE the nicknames Augie, Gus, and Guster.)
3. I have no more good ideas!

I hope that wasn't too long of a post! I'll keep you updated as we find out the gender and hone in on a name!

April 18, 2011 9:51 PM

ktkates-I don't see a problem with using Louisa or August. They are both fine names and go well with Ell3ry. I wouldn't use Cora or Bennett for the reasons you've stated. Of course because of the similarites to your dd you cannot change Bennett to Elliot or Everett either. How about:
Amelia nn Lia, Ami
Harrison nn Harry
Dexter nn Dex
Reginald nn Reggie
Reid or Reed
Sawyer (boy)
Best wishes!

April 18, 2011 11:42 PM

ktkates: i think all your choices work well with your daughter's name. i think i prefer louisa best because it seems the most timeless. and fwiw, i know a bennett who is about 6 now and haven't heard him called ben.

April 19, 2011 7:07 AM

@ktkates - I love Louisa and Cora (although Cora may not work as well with your surname if you don't like aliteration). Along the same line of thought you have been having how about Isabeau/Ysabeau if you want something a bit more unusual than Isabel - you could also use the nickname Isa.

Re the boys I love August as it's a personal favourite. Bennett is OK but if there are issues with your surname it wouldn't be my first pick. I do like the suggestions by zoerhenne of Sawyer, Dexter and Reed. Other thoughts:

By Guest Robin (not verified)
April 19, 2011 9:31 AM

I'm a teacher too and have noticed the same thing about those J names. :)

April 19, 2011 10:06 AM

@Troy -- Yes, like Zoerhenne said, for a home birth, parents take the baby to the proper agency to fill out the forms. The midwife might give you a "dummy form" with all the right answers on it. Then you take the dummy form, and the baby, to the local Health Department and fill out the real form, then wait while they issue you a birth certificate. They will also do the paperwork to apply for a Social Security card.

I think in some states you can also fill out the birth certificate forms online.

So to answer your question, the baby's name is official when the birth certificate has been issued.

April 19, 2011 11:39 AM

I find myself being relieved that a consensus is forming around Louisa and August. We're nowhere close to committing yet, but those are emerging as my favorites. DH likes them both, but I don't think he's ready to share strong opinions until we know boy/girl.

zoerhenne- I agree about the bummer of not being able to use Elliott! Or Ellis is another on my long boy list. I guess I really like that prefix!

Love Dexter in concept, but can't see it on my kid for some reason? I don't have any great explanation...I wonder how much mass-murdering is in my subconscious even though I know that the reference won't last long! It's definitely on the top of our friends' boy list (they're actually preggo with a boy due before me), so we'll see if it gets used soon anyway!

I'm going to sit on Amelia a little bit. Our neighbor had a sweet Amelia which kind of crossed it off the list for me (we played in the culdesac with them every evening), but then we moved last month. Less of an issue in the future? Hmm. Let's see if it makes it onto the list...

As for Audrey, I actually also really like Audra. I'd like to made an attempt to keep the endings different from Ell3ry. Maybe I'll spend some time thinking about Audra again!

I still wish that the alliteration of Cora wasn't an issue. I think it would be on top if it wasn't for that. Sometimes I think it doesn't really bug me, but then it does again.

I'll head back to Hubs with some new ideas and see if I have anything to report back. I think he's kind of already tired of me talking about it...I've spent so much time thinking and reading in here and 'collecting' names since my first pregnancy started my interest, I'm just overly excited to have another actual kid to name. Only 5 more months to debate names? I want to use every minute!

April 19, 2011 11:51 AM

Rebecca--I third the choice of's somehow a mix of Silas and Gavin, but a little less out there than Silas. (although I actually love Silas, and don't think it's too much at all)

I'll add Austin to the mix. It's like Gavin to me, but has an added punch of the st consonants in the middle. I have friends in Chile (they're American) with a little Austin whom they call Ozzie to make it easier to pronounce there...I love it!

April 19, 2011 1:04 PM

@ktkates I love both Louisa and August! Fantastic. (Maybe I'm biased though... my middle name is Louise and my grandfather and brother are both August nn Augie.) :)

By Annicka (not verified)
April 19, 2011 1:29 PM

Other possibilities are Elias, Nicholas, Isaac, Miles and Chase.

As others have said, set 2 is too matchy and rhyming. Set 1 is nice though I'd change Addie to Adelaide or Adele and use Addie as a nickname. Set 3 is nice. Set 4 is good with the exception of Addison, which doesn't seem to fit with the other three - I'd change it Adelaide or Adele.

I'd also avoid Marie, Rose, Claire and Jane as middle names, if possible. They are over used as middle names. Perhaps you can put some of the other names you like there, like Amelia Danielle, Natalie Harper, Hannah Evelyn and Caroline Isla.

Other possible names are Briony, Iris, Miriam, Tessa. Vivian, and Vera.

April 19, 2011 2:27 PM

So, much going on here. I had a lot of catching up to do!

Somehow, I find it kind of horrifying to think of a man telling his wife to change her first name. It's enough that she loses her last name most of the time. It's pretty impressive if Emerson's wife was able to comply with a good sense of humor.

Knp: I thought it was hilarious to read that about your mother's opinion of "J" names. My MIL decided to give all three of her children names that began with "J". I think my husband was a pretty good student, but he might have been a handful in elementary school. His brother, however, has always been a rake and a rogue. But how can he help it, with a "J" name that rhymes with rake?

I just realized that the name "India" would sound absolutely amazing with DH's last name. I hadn't considered it before, mostly because of the colonialist history of it. I know we've discussed it before, but I thought I'd just recheck the temperature on this board. Do you guys think I'm being overly concerned, or is it potentially offensive? FWIW, my husband has traveled multiple times in India, and loves the country and culture. Not that it's reason alone to use the name, but...

By 8714 (not verified)
April 19, 2011 3:35 PM

This is going to be totally off topic but I love this post.

18th/19th century British authors were crazy about names. I just spent 4 months in a seminar course based entirely on Victorian authors and their names - particularly in relation to pseudonyms - have you ever wondered why Charlotte Bronte is Charlotte Bronte not Currer Bell but Marian Evans is still George Eliot? most people don't even know George Eliot is a woman let alone a woman named Marian (Mary Ann) Evans - not to mention their married names.

I think Marian Evans is a great foil to Lidian Emerson - as she specifically chose to change her own name particularly when she insisted everyone call her Mrs. Lewes although she and George Henry Lewes were not married (although they considered themselves married) and she would not reply to anyone who called her Miss Evans. Also she changed the spelling of her name from Mary Ann Evans to Marian Evans and is now known mostly by her pseudonym George Eliot.

Overall, I think Victorians were very much aware of how their names were indicative of their identities.

sorry this had nothing to do with Emerson, my American Lit knowledge is very slim so I can't really comment on Emerson, I find his actions a bit appalling...but it does sound a lot better and Lidian is a beautiful name, although it seems kind of boy-ish to me - like Dorian (another musical scale)

By EVie
April 19, 2011 3:40 PM

ktkates - I like all your names. For the match with your daughter's name, I think Cora is my favorite of the girls—the C alliteration doesn't bother me at all (though some other letter do). I also like Audra, though I prefer the more common version Audrey—but Audra is a fine variant, and is actually closer to the original form of the name (Etheldreda!) I love the name Isabel, but would be wary of its popularity. A couple other names that could get you the Isa nickname are Isadora (which may be too frilly for your tastes) and Ismay (a VERY obscure medieval name, but I think it would be a fabulous match with Ell3ry). I like Louisa and Sylvia too, and you can't really go wrong with them, but they're very different in style from Ell3ry. For the boys, I think they both work—my personal preference is Bennett, but I understand the rhyming issue. I don't think you should have a problem going without a nickname. I have a very close (female) friend with that name, and she has never used a nickname—but then, it might be different for a boy.

PennyX - I would probably avoid the name India, for the reasons we've discussed before (here: - though you probably remember it, since I think you were there for that conversation). It would sound beautiful with your LN, though. Hmm... is there anything that mimics the sound of India... perhaps Melinda or Cynthia or Lydia? Or, for that matter, Lidian? ;)

April 19, 2011 3:50 PM

EVie: Yeah, I guess I'm not really comfortable with India. I guess I was hoping you guys would tell me I was being silly, because it sounds so good. No biggie.

By Sullibe5 (not verified)
April 19, 2011 4:22 PM


I am partial to set one, but that's because my daughter is Adeline Clare (Addie) :). Though I might exchange Leah, for Amelia or Caroline, but that may be because we've been tossing around Amelia if our next one is a girl.

By izzy
April 19, 2011 4:28 PM

@PennyX: In my opinion, India is fine for a girl, I know a teenage India, and she has really made the name for me, I guess. I haven't heard of any problems, although I still probably wouldn't use it. I do have a soft spot for the name Indigo for a girl - generally not my style, but whatever! India also kind of sounds like Lindy/Lindley, or Mindy/Melinda... Idk, it is so unique!