The Sound of Modern Femininity

Jul 28th 2011

The look of femininity changes over time, from bustles to miniskirts. Does its sound change, too?

In most European naming traditions, an -a ending is the classic marker of a feminine name. That's not to say that every feminine classic ends in -a (e.g. Elizabeth) or that every classic ending in -a is feminine (Joshua). But historically, boys represent a trivial percentage of American -a babies. If parents choose an -a name for their baby girl, it's fair to generalize that they chose that name as proudly, unequivocally feminine.

That makes -a names a nice barometer of name femininity. Historically, the percentage of girls receiving a name ending in -a has hovered around 25%, with only moderate variation. Don't let that overall stability fool you, though. Within that feminine pool, change is roiling.

If you look at the -a names that peaked in the 1930s, for instance, you'll see a trend toward compact, consonant-dense names. Of the 10 most common -a names, 7 are two syllables long. They include the likes of Myrna, Nelda, Norma and Wanda. That was the sound of that era's sparkling all-American girl. (If it's hard for you to imagine Myrna and Norma as modern, glamorous names, look up Hollywood legends Myrna Loy and Norma Shearer.)

By the most recent decade, those dense names had vanished. 8 of the top 10 -a names that have peaked since 2000 are three or more syllables long. Even the 2 shorter names from the 2000s list, Ava and Mia, bear only a single consonant a piece. That's in keeping with a broad trend toward strong vowel sounds.

But there's more. Even the kind of consonants in today's feminine names have changed.

To talk about that, we'll need some special vocabulary. Consonants are the speech sounds we make by closing the vocal tract, either wholly or partially. (With an open vocal tract, we make vowel sounds.) A consonant that blocks the vocal tract stopping all airflow is called a "plosive." That may sound alarming -- we all do like breathing, after all -- but in English it just means a B, P, D, T, G or K sound.

Unless you've studied linguistics, you've probably never consciously thought about those as a related class of sounds. But on some level, we do seem to sense their commonality. The names we choose show it. Take a look at the historical graph of girls' names ending in a plosive followed by -a:

Girls' names ending in plosive + a

They've fallen dramatically out of style as a group. Meanwhile other classes of consonants such as liquids (L and R), fricatives (F, V, S, Z) and nasal stops (M and N) remain as popular as ever with the -a ending:



And a vowel sound + -a is even hotter...but too complicated to graph for these purposes. (Contemplate that Sophia and Andrea end in two vowel sounds, but Patricia and Chelsea do not.)

What separates the plosives from that wide array of other sounds? Well, try this. Say an S sound and draw it out for three seconds: ssssssssss. Nice hissing! Then do the same with E, R and M. Now try B. No luck, eh? Plosives are vocal speed bumps. They stop you cold, if only for a passing instant. The other letters let you continue on smoothly.

That is the essence of today's feminine sound: smooth. Silky smooth.

You see that trend in other contemporary name styles too. For instance, the "blunt object" boys' names like Kurt, Mark, Brad and Frank are fading away. But the smoothness is especially apparent in the feminine -a arena, where it pairs with the trend toward longer, multisyllabic names.

Today's all-American girl is probably an Isabella or Olivia. (In 2009, Isabella became the first #1 name over 3 syllables in American history.) Or maybe she's a Brianna or Nevaeh. Whatever her style, from classic to creative contemporary, she flows like a breeze.

Comments

1
July 28, 2011 11:02 AM

Just a reminder about the survey we are conducting with Parents Insights on attitudes of first-time moms. If you're expecting your first baby, we hope you'll take a moment to fill it out http://ow.ly/5PxnK

2
By You Can't Call It "It"! (not verified)
July 28, 2011 11:37 AM

Really enjoyed this linguistic breakdown that helps me contextualize why I love some of the names that I do. I agree with the trends overall toward silky smooth girls' names. This may be why names with plosive consonants, i.e. Beatrix, Petra, Theodora, Greta, Philippa, Fredericka, etc, sound so fresh in my opinion.

The consonant clusters, which you've referred to in other posts, only serve to further set them apart and therefore make them more attractive to this one who prefers to go a bit against the grain!

3
By Kateliz (not verified)
July 28, 2011 11:47 AM

"Then do the same with E, R and M."

Did you mean L, R and M?

I came up with a theory that at least one L, R, or N is "required" to make a name. Interesting to see it put in perspective here as liquids and nasal stops. They are definitely popular these days -- and were in Myrna, Nelda, Norma, and Wanda's day too.

4
July 28, 2011 12:01 PM

I'm not sure if it's a product of my generation of just plain old me, but I've always thaought that girls names needed to sound like La-la-la or La-lee-lee (very sing-songy and flowy) and boys should be more blunt and stopping Da-da or Doo-da I think your research shows that this has been a trend now for some time. Very interesting thread.

5
July 28, 2011 12:05 PM

Fascinating as always, Laura- thanks! Olivia is reported as the top girls' name in the UK again- complete report for 2010 here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14321666

6
By hyz nli (not verified)
July 28, 2011 12:19 PM

Maybe it shows what a geek I am, but this is exactly the sort of name talk that really excites me. :) We've talked about this idea in general before, but it's neat to see it explored more and borne out in graphic form. To parse it further, I also feel that the voiceless plosives (P, K, T) tend to sound more modern than their voiced counterparts (B, G, D). The only top ten starting with a plosive on the girls' side is Chloe, and then there are all the Kaylas, Kaylees, Caydens, Taylors, Tysons, Pipers, Paiges, etc. There are certainly some exceptions (the Bellas, all the Br- names, Grace, etc.), but still I feel like B, G, and D are the clunkier set.

7
July 28, 2011 1:22 PM

Is some of this why we live in the Age of Aiden? It's a name with a long-a sound, two syllables, stress on the first syllable, ends with N, and contains a single voiced plosive? It's like a style killer app.

8
By TKB
July 28, 2011 1:42 PM

These are my favorite BNW posts. Linguistics! Subtle unconscious trend forces! Graphs! No one else writes about names like this.
There seems to be a difference between unpopular voiced plosives and consonant clusters with voiced plosives followed immediately by liquids. (Which may have a word for them?) Graph B then BR names and see the enormous surge in the 80s, which is tapering now. Bl is dominated entirely by Blanche and Blake at the ends. G names on the whole have RISEN steadily since 1980 if you ignore George. B names on the whole are much more common now than they were in 1900 (but down from a midcentury peak.

I think parents are considering a Grrrrrrr or a Brrrrr as a singular smooth sound for Grace and Grayson and Brayden. It does not seemed to have saved Gretel or Gladys though.

Plosive consonant STARTS seem like they're particularly susceptible to trendiness, since there aren't that many classics. Watch B, then P, then T, then K explode on the voyager.

It seems like diversification has saved K. There aren't any stand-out names, but there are just so many now. Graph a single K-letter start, and you get big peaks. Ka's first peak in the 60s was 60% Karens, Kathryns, Kathleens, and Kathy's. 8,000 karens! Now your biggest Ka name is Kaylee at 1,700.

162 K names make the top 1000, but only 86 B names, 87 T names, and a measely 41 P names, including hit makers like Pranav and Princess. I wonder if that's why K's stayed on-trend so much longer than any other trendy consonant?

9
July 28, 2011 2:35 PM

Where do some of the other letters fall? J, Q, H and W don't seem to be covered. They are very popular beginning sounds for boys lately. Jack, Quinn, Hugo, and Henry seem to get a lot of talk here on the boards. Do they follow the trend?

10
July 28, 2011 2:36 PM

I also really love this post! Yay graphs and linguistics. I'm surprised though that Isabella was the first #1 name over 3 syllables. Elizabeth was never #1?

And from the last thread: @Jane of 6, my 'regret' boy name is Simon. I love it SO much, but it's my aunt's ex-husband's name, and it has a really negative connotation in our family.
There's no way people would be able to get over it. For girls: Emma. I always wanted twins named Emma and Eleanor when I was in middle school, but I feel like every 3rd little girl I meet is named Emma. Oh well, I got my Eleanor! :)

11
July 28, 2011 3:26 PM

zoerhenne:

J was HUGE back in the 70s and 80s for boys. How huge? Huger than in the 1890s, when all the boys were named John, James, or Joseph.

Growing up, I thought it was the simplest way to talk to any boy of my generation. If they aren't named Mike, Mark, or Matt, they're John, James, Joseph, Justin, Josh, Jason, Jeff, Jeremy, Jesse, Jacob...

(You could find the occasional Dan or Dave to break the pattern.)

12
July 28, 2011 4:01 PM

Girls' starting letters that are peaking today:

A: A true peak. Lots of names represented here.

I: Not actually peaking, but nearly so, very strong on the back of Isabella.

Q: It's all Quinn.

X: You can see the growth of the Latino community here. This is all Ximena and Xiomara.

Z: Completely due to Zoe/Zoey.

Boys' starting letters peaking today:

A: Once again, lots of names here. The biggest ones are the Aidens, Alexander, Anthony, and Andrew. Just starting to decline.

I: Just past the peak here, too. Mostly Ian, Isaac, Isaiah, and Ivan.

L: Still growing, just about to surpass the 1910s and 1940s peaks. Lots of names here.

N: Just past the peak here too. Mostly Nathan, Nathaniel, Nicholas, and Noah.

Q: More names here than for girls.

U: A little surprising! Ulises, Uriah, Uriel, Urijah.

X: Xavier and Xander.

Y: Middle Eastern and African influences. Yahir, Yair, Yusuf are standouts. Also the Puerto Rican Yandel.

13
July 28, 2011 4:26 PM

"I came up with a theory that at least one L, R, or N is "required" to make a name. Interesting to see it put in perspective here as liquids and nasal stops."

Liquids and nasals are not stops. Stop is just another name for plosive.

"G names on the whole have RISEN steadily since 1980 if you ignore George."

George is not a G name, if by G you mean the voiced stop. The G in George is a voiced affricate, not a stop. In English, spelling and sound are notoriously two different things.

"Where do some of the other letters fall? J, Q, H and W don't seem to be covered."

J is a voiced affricate, the same sound as in George (see above). CH as in Chad or Chester is an unvoiced affricate. Q is simply an orthographic symbol for K, an unvoiced stop. Qu is the same as Kw. W is a voiced approximant, as are R and Y (when used as a consonant). L is a voiced lateral. (Those terms are more up-to-date than 'liquid' for R and L and glide for W and consonantal Y, although liquid and glide are still in use.) H is a voiceless fricative.

14
By Amy3
July 28, 2011 5:05 PM

Like so many others, I love this level of analysis - linguistics, statistics, graphs! All good. It's fascinating to see what made for a popular name back in the day and what makes one now. My daughter has called today's popular girls' names "fancy."

@YCCII, I'm with you and you can tell since my daughter is Astrid. Other than the popular A- start, it's almost all consonant cluster from there! I love the consonanty girl name - Petra and Beatrix are two of my faves.

15
By Amy3
July 28, 2011 7:35 PM

This also perfectly describes the names of my daughter's friends (born in 2001): Nina, Aliya, Christina, Ava, Ella, Samantha. And it only grows when I factor in other girls she knows.

16
By Manda (not verified)
July 28, 2011 9:24 PM

My first babies were twins, named Ada and Aleah. I wanted to name them Ada and Elle (both palindromes). This helps explain my husbands dislike of Elle. We had two more children, both named ending in the "a", which is a choice we are regretting now that we're trying for a 5th child and the list of boy names ending in "a" is pretty short.

17
July 28, 2011 9:46 PM

Masculine names ending in A off the top of my head: Asa, Agrippa, Attila, Joshua, Elisha, Ezra, Luca, Hosea, Ira, Seneca, Jephtha, Aquila. Plus a host of Russian names/diminutives, e.g., Ilya, Sasha, Pasha, Misha, Genya, Kostya, Nikita, Petya, Grisha, Kolya, etc.

18
By Jane 6 (not verified)
July 28, 2011 10:01 PM

Don't forget all the masculine names ending in "ah." Elijah, Micah, Noah, etc.

19
By Jane 6 (not verified)
July 28, 2011 10:04 PM

Most of those are rising, too, aren't they?

This conversation makes we worry that my favorite name is too vowel-y. Cecily. Hmmm...

20
By Keren not signed in (not verified)
July 29, 2011 3:45 AM

In the UK, when my daughter was born in 1996 it was all about that -ie -ee sound - Rosie, Ruby, Chloe, Phoebe, Ellie, Katie, Abby, Sophie.

And for boys as well - Alfie, Archie, Charlie.

But now I think it's moving to an 'a' ending - Dora, Ava, Mia, Isabella.

21
By I don't remember my name (not verified)
July 29, 2011 10:06 AM

Linguistics are good. I like linguistic-y analysis that other people (not I myself) do. This is probably because linguistics is easily checked: if a linguistic conclusion doesn't jive with common sense, than it's wrong. This analysis makes total sense Awesome, Laura.

22
July 29, 2011 10:18 AM

Miriam and Linneaus-Thank you for the additional info. I am familiar with the tons of J names. I love most of them. I went to school with all those you mentioned Linnaeus but you left out Steven/Stephen, Andrew, and Anthony. There were quite a few of those in my school too. I guess we had a fair population of Italians.

Miriam-Shouldn't there be more Q names since it is similar to the K sound. If I think about it more I can see how the R, Y, and W don't really make a difference since they are often used to supplement a vowel (AR,OW,EY). H also seems to not matter too much.

23
July 29, 2011 10:43 AM

I think the Q names are hitting popularity. Take a look at the NameVoyager trend.

24
July 29, 2011 11:17 AM

Yes the Q names are getting popular but I was curious as to the actual names. For instance, if you swap vowels around there becomes Kaylie, Kylie, Keely, Kyla, Kayla, Kelsey, etc. With Q there is Quinn, Quincy, Quentin (with various spellings) but the sound is the same. "Kweh" is the only sound. There are words that have Qu followed by A or O but no names. You simply can't do Quancy or Quoncy. It really wasn't so much a question as an observation.

25
July 29, 2011 11:49 AM

I just checked Namipedia. Aside from names that don't start with the Kw- sound, there are only a few names that aren't Kweh- or Kwih-: the male Quade/Quaid and Quantum (another science name!), and the female Queen/Queenie.

Note that aside from Quaid, Quill, and Quest, they are ALL Kw(vowel)n!

I suppose part of the issue is that I can't think of many Qu- words that would make for good names. Query? Quaesitor? Quality? Quiz?

26
July 29, 2011 12:07 PM

LOL thanks for checking Linnaeus. Quaesitor is great! You reminded me that I DO know a boy called Quince. I am certain that is his name and is not short for Quincy. How about a sibset of Quantum and Quotient?

27
July 29, 2011 1:02 PM

Thanks, I like Quaesitor. Quantum and Quotient would be an interesting sibset. I kind of want to use Quandary somewhere, but I wouldn't saddle a child with that meaning.

Hey! I don't think we've seen Quaiden yet, have we?

28
By Guest - Jayne (not verified)
July 29, 2011 1:40 PM

Hi all, I hope it's not rude to butt into the comments with a request for help naming a baby boy due this fall. I've read and lurked on the blog for a long time and know you all have excellent taste and are current on the trends.

Husband and I only jointly like one name. Picky, picky, I know. The name is Miller. Last name is like B@u-men.

Thoughts on Miller for a little guy?

Also, we're stumped on a middle name. He wants Henry and I am "meh" about it. But I don't love anything else. And we've both read the entire BNW book so it's not for lack of trying :)

29
By EVie
July 29, 2011 1:50 PM

No on Quaiden - in fact, I just looked it up on the SSA Beyond the Top 1000 data, and it isn't even listed. Nor is Quayden. The only Quai- name I found was Quaid (29 babies), and the only Quay- was Quayvon (8 babies). In 2009 there were also Quayon (5 babies) and Quayshawn (also 5). I also came across Quirt (which is a word—it's another term for a riding crop!), Quadre, Qualyn, Quetzal, and many others lurking in the very low numbers. But not, interestingly, Quartz.

30
By TKB quith Q's on the Brain (not verified)
July 29, 2011 1:53 PM

Quantum and Quotient need a sister named Quasar (Quasar'ah?). I could see Quarto for a Shakespeare enthusiast, and Quasi sounds namey. Could Quebec ever catch on the way Brooklyn did? You're right that other Kw- sounds just don't sound like names. Quiette? Quicklee? Quoath? (May be used by a small number of people as Kvothe due to a popular fantasy novel.)

Are there any K or C-names that have Qu creative spellings? I don't have the sub 1000 SSA Dataset in front of me. Quan, Quame, Qumar, Qurtis? Qulidge? Quper? (Quoolige? I'm not even sure how to communicate Coolidge with a Q.)

Using Qu instead of any sound except Quah tends to make names sound like a lisp, instead of a cute new twist. Quistin? Qullen? Quaddison?

The Asian Quan/Kwan/Jun/Jeun/Guan - is this sound used in first names as well, or is the anglo Jun/Jeung a different sound? It's in Ghana, where Kwame is a common Twi name. There's Shaquille O'Neil and his son Shaqir, but Shaquille may be a home grown invention after his mother Lucille. There's Q without U in many Muslim names but I don't know enough Arabic to comment on the sounds. There's Jacqueline and Aquila and Tarquin and that's about it for traditional Euro names with Qu in the middle.

Quellen sounds usable as a variation on Cullen + Quinn, perhaps. I bet you even money there's a Qhloe and an Quaiden out there though.

31
By EVie
July 29, 2011 2:02 PM

Jayne - If you're happy with Miller, then go for it! I'm neutral on it myself, but my taste doesn't generally run toward surnames, so there are only a handful that I would be enthusiastic about. I don't see any problems with it, except that with that particular combo you might have some people mixing up which is the surname and which is the personal name—but I think that's always a risk with surname-names. I would, however, be wary of using Henry as the middle, mainly because Henry Miller is a famous author (you have probably heard of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropic_of_Cancer_(novel) It was a very controversial book). Unless, of course, the homage is deliberate, in which case, also go for it.

32
By Meghan w/an H (not verified)
July 29, 2011 2:04 PM

Hi folks, jumping in on the "Q" bandwagon (and a little belated from last week's discussion of androgynous names.) Without derailing the conversation too much, could I ask for suggestions and opinions on a middle name for Quinn, as a girl's name? We had planned on using a family name, but all of our options (Margaret, Elizabeth) ending up sounding like mispronounced royalty. So far, we like:

Quinn Adele
Quinn Annabel
Quinn Camille
Quinn Kathleen
Quinn Marguerite
Quinn Violet

@Jayne- I love Miller as a first, especially with your last name. I know a Miller, and he wears it handsomely. I actually think Henry is quite nice for a middle, especially between the first ending in "er" and the last with the "n." If you're not sold on Henry, how do you feel about Eli or Levi?

33
By Amy3
July 29, 2011 2:19 PM

@Jayne, going back to the androgynous name discussion, the only Miller I've met was a girl. It doesn't read as a girl name to me, but I wanted you to be aware you may run into some. I think if you choose Henry as the mn, you should be prepared to field Henry Miller comments as EVie said.

@Meghan w/an H, I also know a girl called Quinn (she's two and has an older sister who also has an androgynous surname-name). From your list I really like Quinn Camille. Those two /k/ sounds together are super.

34
July 29, 2011 2:30 PM

Meghan- First, that mispronounced royalty comment is hilarious and totally true. Second, of the names you listed, I like Violet, and Camille best (which surprises me because I don't usually like alliteration.) I find Quinn Annabel very difficult to say - almost like all the "n"s make the two names run into each other and I need to deliberately stop between the two names to say it properly.

35
By SLV nli (not verified)
July 29, 2011 2:33 PM

A name dilemma question appeared recently in this advice column: http://www.slate.com/id/2300200/

A woman pregnant with her first child wants to name her daughter Lolita, but worries about the name's association with child pornography and molestation. Prudie ultimately suggests not using the name, except perhaps in the middle name slot. I was wondering if that would be the general consensus here, or whether NEs might give some different advice.

36
By Guest - Jayne (not verified)
July 29, 2011 2:58 PM

@ EVie - Glad you brought up the Henry Miller thing. It's one of my several concerns re: Henry, but doesn't bother DH. Sigh. Also, I appreciate the honesty about your feelings on the name. I find that hard to get when I poll people in real life :)

@ Meghan w/ an H - Thanks! I'll have to think about Miller Eli or Miller Levi. Seems like a lot of Ls? I was sort of thinking maybe the middle name might work better if I could find a 3 syllable name to break it up. Miller Everett or Miller Sebastian or something.

@ Amy3 - Miller as a girl, wow. Who knew. I guess I should know that it's going to happen for any surname as a first name though.

37
By Kern (not verified)
July 29, 2011 3:06 PM

Re: the original post--now I know why we like Cora!

SLV nli, saw Prudie's column yesterday and agreed with her. I think Lolita is way too loaded a name to give an actual child. People use it as a noun--"She's a regular Lolita", etc, AND they use it incorretly to imply sluttiness, when the book was really about a pedophile's pursuit of a girl.

Meghan--I agree with PP that Quinn Annabel has too many N's. I like Camille or Violet from your list.

Jayne--Miller Henry reads to me like reciting the phonebook entry for the name of the famous writer. Personally, it would be too close to that name for me.

38
By Alison_says (not verified)
July 29, 2011 3:14 PM

@Jayne - I also went to Henry Miller immediately. Generally, I don't care for occupational surnames as first names, but they are popular so I doubt it would cause your son any problems. I do like Miller Everett and Miller Sebastian much better than Miller Henry because they flow more easily and seem more balanced.

39
July 29, 2011 3:18 PM

I love the Q discussion. TKB-Quasarah is kind of cool but a bit long.

Meghan with an H-I will vote for Quinn Camille. Love the alliteration and sophisticated flair it has.

Re Lolita: I would not use this. Maybe Lilah or Lily instead.

Guest-Jayne: For Miller, I don't have a feeling in general about this surname turned first. I might suggest a longer name in the middle. Such as Miller Alexander. If you transform the name slighty into Michael (which has a similar rhythm) you may be able to find what sounds good.

40
By Jane 6 (not verified)
July 29, 2011 3:24 PM

Having spent part of my childhood in Milwaukee, my overwhelming association with Miller is the brewing company. I would definitely get over this if I knew it was a family name... but if it isn't, it seems like naming your child Busch or Budwieser. Maybe I'm alone?

41
By TKB
July 29, 2011 3:27 PM

Oh, drat, I just closed the tab on a very long comment.

Re Quinn:
I absolutely see what you mean, it sounds like Qu'Ann with the royalty family names.

Quinn + vowels tend to run together for me, Quinnadele, Quinnannannabel. I'd avoid strong n sounds, too. Quinn Kathleen seems out of time sync, like Ethan Bruce or Gabriella Carol.

Quinn Marguerite is my favorite, it grounds the modern, androgynous Quinn with a serious, feminine name. I'd suggest Quinn Violet if you want something that reads breezier but fresh and unexpected. Quinn Marguerite is an oil painter, Quinn Violet is a graphic designer.

Quinn Camille is fine but seems less decisive than either of the other two options. Hedging your bets, almost? It's still a lovely name, just less dramatic.

Re Miller:

If you both love Miller and only Miller, you should use it. We don't really matter

I admit I thought of the beer first, somehow Miller B@uman made my brain immediately go Miller Lite, and I also think Miller Henry reads like Miller, Henry, American Novelist, aisle 12.

Throwing stuff out since Miller and Henry are pretty disparate so I can't read your style:

Miller Anthony B@uman
Miller Cole B@uman
Miller Robin B@uman
Miller Joseph B@uman
Miller Emmett B@uman
Miller Lawrence B@uman
Miller Louis B@uman
Miller Vincent B@uman
Miller Zane B@uman
Miller Grant B@uman
Miller Mattias B@uman
Miller Zackery B@uman

If you like the sounds but aren't sold on the name, consider: William, Williem, Willard, or Willis, Neville, Phillip, Dillon, Killian, Gulliver, or Maximillian.

For less confusion about which is the first name with the -er sound try: Connor, Cooper, Chandler, Skyler, Baxter, Carter, Kasper, Xavier, Zander, Tucker, Walter, Whitaker, Walker, Hunter, Forester. (Some of these are still pretty last namey.)

Can I suggest Archer Robin B0wman? (I do love the sounds, too bad about the Rob from the Rich Give to the Poor thing)

42
July 29, 2011 3:39 PM

I don't know, TKB, I think it's a little tough having Archer and B0wman in the same name. (Or are you just pulling the Hood over my eyes with the name?)

43
By Guest - Jayne (not verified)
July 29, 2011 3:40 PM

More votes against Miller Henry :) Let's hope DH comes around on that.

@ zoerhenne - good idea on subbing in Michael just for brainstorming. I thought MillER AlexandER might be a bit -ER heavy?

@ Jane 6 - The beer connection is definitely on the "con" list for Miller. But neither of us having any connection whatsoever to Milwaukee or other beer-producing locations, I think the connection is pretty light for us. Do you think if you saw it on a cute little boy it would help?

@ TKB - wow thanks for all the suggestions! So funny that you suggested Archer because it's DH's #1 name! But Archer Bow-man? Isn't that ripe for jokes if they have the same meaning? Half of the family is Bow-men and half is Bau-men in pronunciation, btw (don't ask...long story :) )

My faves from your list are: Emmett and Lawrence. Other faves of mine just for style are Wesley, Calvin, Edward. DH likes Holden, Henry, and Archer.

44
By Meghan w/an H (not verified)
July 29, 2011 3:43 PM

Popping back in to say that I just realized that the Miller + Henry combination was appealing to me because of the Henry Miller association, but I see you smarties beat me to it! Jayne, how about:

Miller Beckett
Miller Conrad
Miller Edward/Edmund
Miller Emmett
Miller Stuart
Miller Tavish

...Just grabbing a few options from our list that don't end in "er" or "en." I'm really digging Everett, or another 3 syllable name, though!

Thanks for the input on middles for Quinn...I'm half-afraid to ask, but what do you all think of Quinn as a girl's name? All of my long-time favorites either won't work with our last name (Cora, Eleanor, Opal), have become ridiculously popular/used by friends and family (Lily, Emma) or have been vetoed (Clementine and Adelaide) by my hubs. Quinn is sort of the hidden jewel at the bottom of the barrel, but I'm concerned about the upswing and demographic appeal.

45
By TKB
July 29, 2011 4:00 PM

Hmm. I thought Archer Bowman really hit the bulls-eye. You don't think it's a "sharp" name?

(Honestly, I think it's kind of cute and funny, especially if your husband loves it. The sound is very pleasing. But I am an inveterate punster. People will make assumptions and jokes about it - I don't think I could do it to a kid, even if it's a lot more subtle than Donald Duck.)

I think Quinn is FIRMLY a girl's name, between Quinn from Daria and Quinn from Glee. (Also a very bubbly and perky name thanks to those associations.) But I also know a 2 month old male Quinn. I'd just use Quincy if I wanted a male Quin. It's not exactly my style but I do like the name, and I don't think you're at risk of it being Emma-popular. I like it a lot with your middle name choices rather than say, a Quinn Baylee, which sounds just too effervescent and young.

Did you try running the other variations of Ade- names by him? Annabel Quinn and Adele Quinn both work better for me than the opposite.

46
By Guest - Jayne (not verified)
July 29, 2011 4:11 PM

I'm going to take another shot at getting Miller Everett on the list. Glad to hear good feedback on it.

TKB I admire the spunk behind Archer B-man but just not sure I can 100% get behind it myself. But that's the fun of this baby naming hobby right? :)

I firmly think of Quinn as a girls name, and Glee helps that. I think it's lovely and underrated.

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By Guest - Jayne (not verified)
July 29, 2011 4:16 PM

@ Meghan w an/ H. I hit post too soon. Of your list I love Quinn Kathleen and Quinn Camille the most. Other ideas:

Quinn Delphine
Quinn Eliza (almost elizabeth without sounding royal?)
Quinn Rosamond/Rosamund
Quinn Felicity

But even among those I like Kathleen or Camille the best. I think a flowy, feminine middle name will help Quinn seem even more right on a girl.

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By mk (not verified)
July 29, 2011 4:24 PM

Lolita: A better choice would be Lola, or since the letter writer wants a reference to the novel, Dolores (the character's real name).

Meghan with an H: I prefer Camille or Violet. And since you asked about Quinn, I like all your middle names better as first with Quinn as a middle. But it's a personal taste. I don't think it is too popular to use.

Jayne: As others said, if you don't want the Henry Miller connection (I personally wouldn't have a problem with it), don't go with Miller Henry. I don't think Henry sounds that great as a middle name to Miller anyway. I think Miller is fine as a first name though, and I don't think of the beer.

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By EVie
July 29, 2011 4:30 PM

Re: Archer - so when I said earlier that there are only a handful of surname-names that I can get enthusiastic about, I was specifically thinking about Archer :) I love the sound, the imagery, and the literary associations (The Age of Innocence is one of my favorite books). That said, Archer B0wm@n is a bit much. Also, Linnaeus - LOL, "Hood." How about a middle name of Sagittarius?

Re: Quinn - On a girl, I'm kind of neutral on this one, too (on a boy, I don't really care for it at all, mostly because my primary associations with it are feminine). I've never met one in real life, but I'm afraid my view of the name is a bit tainted by the TV Quinns, specifically Quinn on Daria (and to a lesser extent, on Glee, though I've only seen a couple of episodes of that show). The name brings to mind a very shallow, superficial party-girl type, who probably talks with a Valley-girl accent. But I can see the appeal, and if I met a real Quinn I'm sure my associations would change pretty easily. It's a very cute, snappy name. But I have to say, I still prefer your other favorites. Out of curiosity, why won't Cora, Eleanor and Opal work with your LN? Can you give us some sort of approximation of the sound?

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July 29, 2011 4:55 PM

Meghan with an H:
I wouldn't worry too much, Quinn is swinging female quickly right now. Does anyone know if the momentum will keep up?

Jayne:
So Emmett and Lawrence are trying to reconcile with Holden, Henry, and Archer? With Wesley, Calvin, and Edward?

How do the following sound to you and your husband?

Paget
Harold
Edgar
Horace
Weston
Roger

Oh, and EVie:
All this talk about Archer B0wman makes me wonder... How about Locksley? Fletcher's also even a bit more subtle.