British Baby Names vs. American Baby Names, Part 2

Aug 10th 2011

Last time, I described how I compared baby name stats in the United States vs. England and Wales to look for stylistic differences. (Take a moment and read that part first!) The distinguishing characteristic of contemporary British naming turned out to be cuteness. The most-British list was packed with old-fashioned diminutives (Alfie, Ollie) and sweet li'l cuddly names (Poppy, Ellie-May).

The irony is that that nicknames, especially with hyphens attached, used to be stereotypically American names. Once upon a time, Americans were supposed to be Chuck, Steve, Nancy, Randy, and Hank...or Billy-Ray and Peggy-Sue. Clearly, those days are gone. What are the Americans up to now, then?

There turn out to be multiple answers, some which fit other American stereotypes, and some which might surprise you. Here's the top-10 list:

Most American Baby Names, 2010

RANK BOYS GIRLS
1 Landon Addison
2 Anthony Avery
3 Gavin Hailey
4 Angel Allison
5 Andrew Kaylee
6 Brayden Aubree
7 Jose Natalie
8 Elijah Brooklyn
9 Christian Ashley
10 Hunter Lillian

Compared to the most-British list, you'll notice a strong formality. In place of Alfie and Lily-Mae, we have Anthony and Lillian. Even when a name ends in the -ee sound typical of diminutives, as much of the girls' list does, it's a full, formal name.

That formality plays out in several overlapping themes. First off, we have surnames -- lots of surnames. Names like Addison, Landon, Hunter and Hailey have strong surname style, and several names with longer histories as given names, like Avery and Ashley, also have surname roots. (Note that the surname spelling Allison makes the most-American list, while the classic first-name spelling Alison doesn't come close.)

Surnames like these are a contemporary name style, but a relatively conservative and formal one. On the girl's side, you especially see surnames that had a tradition as male names -- yet a farther step from Lily-Mae and friends. It's as if America wants to dress up its little boys and girls alike in pinstripe suits.

Other themes: Jose and Angel represent the Spanish traditions of parts of the American population, the counterparts, you might say, to the Celtic names on the E& W list. Next come the modern inventions packed with long vowels (Kaylee, Brayden). These fit some American self-stereotypes about modern naming, that our nurseries are filled with newly created names that sound like teen idols.

And then we have the Western pioneer names. You see hints of the style in Elijah and Landon (picture actor Michael Landon in Bonanza), and it hits its stride just outside the top 10 with names like Wyatt, Jackson and Jeremiah. Yes, Americans really do choose cowboy names! Yee-haw!

In the remainder of the list, the formality resumes...and our American stereotypes abruptly cease. Gavin and Christian are old, traditional names that Americans consider to have a certain formal elegance (and maybe even a British edge). And how about Anthony? Andrew? And lurking just beyond the top 10 you'll find names like Christopher and Jonathan. As in Anthony Trollope, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Christopher Wren, and Jonathan Swift. All impeccably tradional names, all with plenty of British tradition, and all now overwhelmingly American.

It's an interesting group. They're all classic men's names without the slightest whiff of the exotic about them. Even the most conservative namer would approve. Yet none of them are part of the traditional core of English-language names, the kingly names like John, James, William, George, Edward and Robert that reigned for centuries. One hundred years ago, none of the four "all-American standards" ranked among America's top 30 boys' names. Today, they all do. That makes for a neat little balancing act: classic, traditional and formal, but not old. While Americans may not share the British love of child-like names, they're on the lookout for the new and fresh. Americans want to sound youthful, but not young.

Comments

51
August 11, 2011 8:46 PM

I agree with you fully, Elizabeth T., about the Aubrey vibe. Aubree, though, is something else. Beth, your scream is just about how it strikes me, too. I think Aubreigh is even worse, though.

52
August 11, 2011 9:08 PM

@ Coll, while I am not a fan of nicknames on the birth certificate I do think Nell can stand alone quite well. Also, if you don't love any of the long forms then I don't think there is a need to use one. You are right that Nell has a different feel to Penelope or Helena.

I know a little Fenella who goes by Nell and have a friend Petronella so was nice to see these names given a mention :)

@ PennyX - Ariadne was on our short list for Astrid and almost got used. Shame you can't get hubby on board.

Re Aubrey - I like this a a male name but despise Aubree on girls (even spelt Aubrey on a girl). I feel the same way about Ashley and Morgan too!

53
August 11, 2011 9:24 PM

What I find interesting about Aubrey is that it both suggests the fairy kingdom via Auberon/Oberon, while actually being a dithematic--Albrecht. Which, incidentally, means "elf ruler" (Alb + Rik). Apparently Oberon was originally Alberich in Merovingian lore (the Merovingian Dynasty being the rulers of the Franks before Charlemagne's line).

So there are a number of names that mean Aubrey that can still be said to be solidly male. Indeed, one such name is Alfric, which is a second way to get to Alfie.

So Aubree is Alfie.

54
August 11, 2011 11:10 PM

linnaeus,
i agree that laszlo fits well with styles today.

lucubratrix,
oh, interesting about lazaro. i've not heard of it, but i'm also not married. hmm. all very intersting points actually. how is lazar pronounced? i assume it's just LAZ-ar? la-ZAR sounds wrong to me.

pennyx,
ah, a shame about ariadne! i was thinking it worked really well with ursula and brought out the best in both of them. i'm going to second linnaeus's suggestion that you have him watch inception.

55
By izzy nli (not verified)
August 11, 2011 11:55 PM

@emilyrae: the lazar i knew was la-ZAR. i don't know if that is the common pronounciation though...

56
By Also ZR (not verified)
August 12, 2011 12:32 AM

Many more interesting comments on this (part 2) of the British vs. American names. I much prefer the American names and have even used the one at #7 for girls. For the boys, I enjoy the variety with the classic in Andrew, the rugged of Landon, and the somewhere in between of Gavin. I am so not into the nn's of Alfie or Archie. However, with girls, I much prefer the ey/ie ending if it's in a classic name. Kimberley or Natalie vs. Kayley or Kaycie.

Emilyrae-I don't find Lazarus at all intriguing. Laszlo maybe but probably not. I knew a girl once with the LN of Lazar with emphasis on the latter syllable.

Linnaeus-Your Aubree=Alfie statement was hilarious to me even though you may not have meant it that way.

57
August 12, 2011 1:29 AM

izzy,
oh, i guess la-ZAR makes sense if it's french, and you said he was french (or...someone did, i think). hmm. well, i've never heard of the name before, so it's interesting to me.

58
August 12, 2011 2:04 AM

The Lazar I knew had the emphasis on the second syllable, too, and I would guess that's the default, but I don't think it always has to be that way: http://www.forvo.com/word/lazar/ - the first of the two recorded pronunciations is much more LA-zar instead.

I don't think the Lazar variant is French - to my knowledge it's Eastern European. Behindthename.com lists Lazare as being the French form, and Lazar as being Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian and Macedonian. (Lázár is listed as the Hungarian.)

59
By EVie
August 12, 2011 3:22 AM

I love Auberon/Oberon! And neither has ever been in the top 1000.

Regarding Aubrey on a girl—though it's not a name I would personally use, I have to step up here in its defense, namely because it does have a very old history of female usage. Wikipedia says: "A female form is already recorded in the Middle Ages as Aubrey, Aubrée and does not share the same etymology [i.e. from Alberic], that is from Germanic Albereda, Alberada. It was very common in the genealogy of the noble Norman families (See f. e. Aubrey of Buonalbergo)."

And note the French spelling Aubrée... which kind of legitimizes the Aubree variant, I'm afraid. Though in general, I definitely agree on the screaminess of -ee, and also prefer -y, -ey and in some cases -ie (e.g., traditional French names like Lucie, Emilie, Marie, also some nicknames like Cassie that are more commonly spelled that way).

Regarding -leigh endings: I'm going to speak in defense of these, too. emilyrae, I actually couldn't find a real place called Haleigh or Hayleigh (though there is a Hailey in Oxfordshire which was recorded as Haylegh in 1241—close). BUT, -leigh is a totally legit and quite common second element in English place names, and almost always means exactly the same thing as the ending -ley (they both come from the Old English word leah, which means something like "woodland clearing"). That -leigh ending seems to be especially common in the county of Devon. A sampling, in case anyone is interested:

In Devon: Bickleigh, Bondleigh, Buckfastleigh, Budleigh Salterton and East Budleigh, Butterleigh, Cadeleigh, Calverleigh, Chawleigh, Chudleigh, Chulmleigh, Cotleigh, Doddiscombsleigh, Filleigh, Gidleigh, Goodleigh, Hatherleigh, Hittisleigh, Iddesleigh, Inwardleigh, Kennerleigh, Lustleigh, Mariansleigh, Monkleigh, Moreleigh, Northleigh, Romansleigh, Satterleigh, Southleigh, Stockleigh English & Stockleigh Pomeroy, Stoodleigh, Throwleigh, Tytherleigh, Umberleigh, Warkleigh, Westleigh, Winkleigh

In Somerset: Angersleigh, Butleigh, Durleigh

In Essex: Ardleigh, Hadleigh, Purleigh, Rayleigh

... and also Brent Eleigh and Monks Eleigh, in Suffolk; Cranleigh in Surrey; Eastleigh in Hampshire; Everleigh in Wiltshire; Hastingleigh in Kent; Stoneleigh in Warwickshire; and Farleigh in Greater London

There are also several places called Leighton, in which the "leigh" comes from the word for "leak," as in the vegetable (the whole name usually means something like "farm that grows leaks").

Anyone think any of those would make good baby names? I can see Tytherleigh, Ardleigh, Hadleigh, Eleigh, Everleigh, Westleigh, Calverleigh, Rayleigh and maybe Farleigh appealing to some people.

60
By Anna S (not verified)
August 12, 2011 6:49 AM

EVie,

My issue is not with original -leigh names, rather with "unauthorised" substitutions of -li/ley/lie/lee for -leigh. (I think that's what emilyrae meant as well). Examples:

Julie -> Juleigh
Natalie -> Nataleigh
Molly -> Molleigh

I think -leigh in the names above is "wrong" in the same way it's "wrong" to replace the C in a Ch digraph with K, e.g. Chloe -> Khloe. It's like a foreign object that doesn't belong there.

61
By Nook of Names (not verified)
August 12, 2011 7:30 AM

Well, depending on your tastes, here's a few others! Arminel(la), Brunel(la), Chanel(le) (and all its spelling variations!), Corneline, Donella, Fenella, Fennel, Janella/Janelle, Lunella, Nelda, Nelumbo, Ninel, Parnel, Peneli, Perenelle, Petronella, Pipinella, Prunella and Ragnell. My favorite is Perenelle :)

63
By Nook of Names (not verified)
August 12, 2011 8:22 AM

It's interesting that you include the likes of Anthony, Gavin, Andrew and Christian as 'American names' now. Although they are a lot less common for babies these days than they used to be, most Brits would still blink at the thought of them considered more American than British!

The same would probably go for Natalie, which was very popular in the 80s and 90s in the UK. Also Hailey and Ashley, for, although (as others have pointed out) the preferred British spellings are Hayley and Ashleigh, they both enjoyed considerable popularity in the UK in the last couple of decades of the 20th Century.

Probably the most significant thing to note re Anthony as an American name is the distinctly different pronunciation. In the UK, it is ANT-o-nee, while in the US, I believe ANTH-o-nee is the norm.

I do find it intriguing how we Brits, famous for our supposed stuffy formality and reserve are the ones now embracing pet forms as names in their own right, while Americans, traditionally thought of as more relaxed, are the ones who now seem to prefer the formal 'full' forms!

64
August 12, 2011 9:01 AM

ZR:

Yeah, there's definite humor in the "Aubree is Alfie" line.

EVie:

Finding the good names on that list is harder than finding the bad names: Lustleigh, Butleigh, etc. I might go with Kennerleigh or Satterleigh.

65
August 12, 2011 9:58 AM

oh, oops. beg your pardon. i thought someone said that their lazar was french. i'm surprised that several people have met lazars; i'd never heard of it at all, and it seems like it would be uncommon. but this could be just one more piece of evidence that i'm becoming increasingly hermit-esque.

also, i rather like fenella. also perenelle.

EVie,
perhaps hayleigh isn't a real place; elizabeth gaskell could have invented it, i suppose. i double-checked though, and it is in the book:

"Yes; and to a rich gentleman, too, only he's a deal older than she is. His name is Watson; and his mills are somewhere out beyond Hayleigh; it's a very good marriage, for all he's got such gray hair."

but no, i don't object to the -leigh ending (sometimes i think it's rather pretty) except when, as lucubratrix says, it's feels totally out of place such as paisleigh and elleigh and emmaleigh (although now that i think about it, i suppose emmaleigh could be intended as a double barrelled name (emma leigh, emma-leigh), but i'm rather oversensitive to what i construe as misspellings of my own name: emilee, emely, emili--they make my brain cranky). but regardless, i find things like elleigh very strange. i know that the commonness of ellie and ella is sometimes remarked on here, but i think i'd take a thousand ellies over one elleigh.

but thanks for that amazing list of place names! winkleigh and warkleigh made me chuckle. if i have twins, boy or girl, those are their names, no questions asked.

nook of names,
yes, i believe ANTH-o-nee is standard; i think we have antony if we want the pronunciation you mention.

66
By hyz nli (not verified)
August 12, 2011 11:46 AM

Ditto the above that -leigh only bothers me when it gratuitously replaces a simpler standard spelling, or sometimes on new inventions (that is, Kaylie bothers me a bit less than Kayleigh, although both of those would be preferable to Kaylee). When -leigh is the traditional spelling, it doesn't bug me a bit. Just felt the need to elaborate since I think mine was the initial comment to cast aspersions on -leigh.

emilyrae, lol re: winkleigh and warkleigh--we might hold you to that! ;)

67
August 12, 2011 11:52 AM

EVie, thank you so much for your post! That has really done a long way to ammelliorating my feelings about -leigh names, AND also about Aubrey as a girl's name. That's lovely to know because if we had a child with ambiguous genitalia, such that we were not able to tell the sex at birth, we would want to pick a legitimately unisex name (one with a long history of unisex use and not just one which has swung girl recently), and thanks to your input, Aubrey could in fact fit the bill!

Aubrée is still very different to me than Aubree, but they're obviously undistinguishable via the SSA data. I would hazard a guess that most of the Aubrees really are Aubree, though, not Aubrée.

68
By Beth the original (not verified)
August 12, 2011 12:17 PM

Where are my comments going? I post them, going through 2 "Captchas," and they are visible right afterward. Then they disappear. Am I doing something wrong?

69
By Beth the original (not verified)
August 12, 2011 12:19 PM

Anyway, what I had to say was that Lazarus nicknamed Zombee was excellent. Classic yet trendy, dignified yet cute.

I forgot the rest. Let's see if this one stays.

70
By KRC (not verified)
August 12, 2011 2:32 PM

Hi everyone! I wanted to pop in and just let you all know that I had my baby girl and, like Chimu on the other side of the world, I named her Astrid. Her full name is Astrid M@ry Le$lie LN and she is completely perfect. Mary is my husband's mother's name and Leslie was my mother's sister who died at age 25. I was so sad not to use Rosalind (after my mom Linda) but we thought 4 names was enough. Also I am kind of saving it in case I have another daughter - although eventually I will have to acknowledge that this is really the last baby we will have!

Amy3, tell your daughter there is another Astrid in NYC!

Thanks everyone for all your naming help!

71
August 12, 2011 2:42 PM

KRC,
ah, congratulations, that is a gorgeous name! i'm happy to hear that everyone is well and healthy.

beth the original,,
i can see your posts! also, i laughed at the lazarus/zombee comment.

hyz,
oh, ha. here's to hoping everyone forgets about that statement if i am ever pregnant with twins!

72
By Amy3
August 12, 2011 3:02 PM

@KRC, congratulations and welcome to little Astrid! How exciting for your family. I love that you were able to incorporate 2 family names.

For a while I considered legally changing my daughter's name to add as a 2nd mn the middle we would have used for a boy (Walter). My husband thought I was nuts so I let it go.

73
August 13, 2011 1:23 AM

Whenever I've encountered the name Lazar, it has been pronounced LAY-zər (or LAY-zer, if you don't know what to do with the schwa). As a reference, if you've ever seen Fiddler on the Roof, the butcher is named Lazar Wolf. However, I don't know if that's just the more common pronunciation among Jews, which is my only frame of reference for the name.

In French it is spelled Lazare and is pronounced la-ZAR (rhymes with "car"). There is a place in Quebec called Saint-Lazare so the name has no novelty for me whatsoever.

74
August 13, 2011 1:45 AM

oooh...LAY-zer as in the son in The Kids Are All Right? i had assumed his name was laser, but maybe it's lazar...will have to investigate.

75
August 13, 2011 2:34 AM

@KRC - congratulations on your little Astrid!!! Awesome name ;) I hope you also get a positive response to her name. I love that there is now an Astrid trifecta on this board :)

My husband is an Antony - AN-ton-ee, but gets the ANTH-on-ee pronunciation all the time. Go figure.

76
August 13, 2011 5:07 AM

It's been a slow week at work, so these posts were quite the livesaver :)

I'm canadian and work at an academic publisher in England, and most of my immediate colleagues are 20-40 and goodly number have had children in the last year. One of the guys in my group is dad to a 10-month-old Alfie, and he rejects absolultely that it's a "childish" or "child-like" name- in his words, it's "friendly" name, the sort of name that works in any context with out being ridiculous (the implication being that Alfred is ridiculous, I think). One of the other guys on the team has a son a couple of months younger whose name is Albie, which they chose because it was Irish (his girlfriend is Irish, with a distinctly Irish name) and not too popular but not too weird. Albie's ranked 287 in 2010, about the same as Flynn, Niall, Chase and Zane. I think it's the anglicisation of Ailbhe.

Despite my hopes for an Algie, the third baby boy born to someone in our department this year was called Findlay.

I wonder whether it's the celtic linguistic influence in the UK that keeps the -ie names sounding masculine?

77
By Nook of Names (not verified)
August 13, 2011 9:39 AM

An interesting theory, Blythe, but I think it's simply the fact that the -ie/-y ending as a pet-form is so firmly established for boys and girls in the UK, especially for little boys, while in the US, short, clippy one-syllable pet forms and nicknames have been more popular over the last 100 years or so.

As well as all those -ie/-y names in the top 100 in their own right, many of the others get shortened to -ie/-y too, such as Jamie from James and Joshie from Joshua.

78
August 13, 2011 2:49 PM

There is a feel of little sweetness in British name which I not found in American.

79
By Jane 6 (not verified)
August 13, 2011 4:19 PM

Miriam, if you are here, how was Gawain pronounced when Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was written? GOW-an, GAH-win, something else?

80
August 13, 2011 6:05 PM

Jane 6, that's a good question. SGGK was one of my specialties as it happens. The poem is written in a dialect of the northwest midlands, quite far both in distance and pronunciation/vocabulary but not in time from Chaucer's London dialect which is the parent of our own modern day English. In short, the Gawain-poet was an extremely talented, well educated hick :-).

All early English pronunciation is reconstructed, and no guarantee that "school" Old and Middle English pronunciation would be acceptable to the original speakers. Helge Kökeritz, a Dane, wrote the standard guide to the pronunciation of Chaucer's English, and the joke is that we all read The Canterbury Tales with a Danish accent--which may not be that far from the truth.

As for Gawain in SGGK, I have listened over the years to many scholarly papers on the poem, and there is some variance in pronunciation of the name. I have heard mostly Guh-wane (the 'uh' representing an unstressed schwa), Gow-wane (the 'ow' as in 'ouch'), and Gah-wane (the 'ah' as in 'father'). I think my own vowel is between 'ah' and 'ow'. I have never heard a scholar pronounce the second syllable as 'win', in the manner of Gavin.

I just went back over the poem to list the spellings of Gawain: Gawan, Wawan, Gauwan, Gawen, Gawayne, Wawen, Gauayn, Wowen, Gawayne, Wowayn. (Note: the G spellings alliterate with other G words and the W spellings with W words.) If the poet or scribe (don't know whether the sole, rather scraggly ms is a holograph) wanted the second syllable to be -win, the spelling would have generally been -y-, as in Kryst. The best guess from all the spellings is Gah-wane, although the -w- could influence the vowel to form a diphthong -ow- as in 'ouch.'

To give some comparisons, Guinevere is spelled Guenore, Gwenore, Wenore, Gaynour; Yvain, Ywan; Lancelot, Launcelot; Merlin, Merlyn; Morgan, Morgne. Arthur is Arthour, Arthur, Arther, Arthure, Arthor, indicating that the second vowel is a schwa. The -th- is also sometimes the runic thorn.

Just for fun and for those seeking historically sanctioned 'creative' spellings, here are some other proper names: Dalyda (Delilah), Dauyth (David), Barsabe (Bathsheba), Gilyan (Julian).

So, Jane 6, you can see why it is difficult to give you a definitive answer to your question.

81
By Jane 6 (not verified)
August 13, 2011 10:43 PM

Miriam, thank you so much - that's extremely fascinating and helpful! I loved the list of all the spellings. I was just reading SGGK again and realized that my husband and I differed on the pronunciation of Gawain considerably... plus I knew it was related to Gavin but didn't know if the pronunciation of Gavin reflected that of Gawain. Somewhere around here I have an old copy of the Tolkein version and I think it has the original side-by-side (though I'm not sure if the spelling is smoothed out or not), so I'll have to look at it and track down all the spellings myself.

82
By knp-nli (not verified)
August 14, 2011 10:24 AM

Quick quiz: on a different board, someone was asking for input on Avery Bennett-- what do you think, girl or boy?

83
August 14, 2011 12:23 PM

Jane 6--

The Tolkien-Gordon-Davis edition of SGGK is online:

http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/gawaintx.htm

84
August 14, 2011 1:47 PM

KRC, congratulations! That's a lovely name!

KNP, I would think Avery Bennett would be a boy, based solely on the Bennett in the middle, which still seems pretty solidly "boy" to me. (First impression only partially backed up by his year's data: 1198 boys, 57 girls.) Avery still strikes me as unisex, though lately it's been trending girl (1686 boys, 6633 girls). Regardless, I'd prefer if Avery were being paired with a non-unisex middle name to clarify, if this is not a case of an intersex birth requiring clarification from the child to assign the gender. If I heard just the Avery, I would probably assume girl, but with a more boyish middle name, I'd guess boy.

85
August 14, 2011 2:45 PM

knp-If I had to pick I would say boy. However, Avery being neutral and Bennett being a possible maiden name as mn it could very validly be either. I think if she is going for a girls name then the mn should be very definitely girl. A boy could be a little more flexible because, in my experience, more maiden surname names sound boyish.
Girl ideas:
Avery Beatrice; Avery Elyse; Avery Lucille; Avery Michelle; Avery Danielle

Boy ideas:
Avery Micheal; Avery Thomas; Avery Owen; Avery Sebastian; Avery Lucas

86
August 14, 2011 7:46 PM

I would also think Avery Bennett is probably a boy but it's a little ambiguous. Most Avery's I've come across have been girls lately but Bennett reads more male to me.

In my local birth announcements this week is a Neddy. That is way too cutesy and nicknamey for my likng. Ned I could go for but Neddy is NMS.

87
August 14, 2011 7:56 PM

Agreed Chimu-NMS either. Maybe they are going for a bit of a British vibe with the nick-naminess of it. Or maybe Teddy seemed to much like a bear so they changed it up a bit.

88
By knp-nli (not verified)
August 14, 2011 9:03 PM

That was exactly my reaction-- probably a boy, but the poster intended girl, and had never heard of Bennett for a boy and was very surprised that everyone thought it was a boyish name! I just found it interesting...

89
By Yet Another Guest (not verified)
August 14, 2011 10:53 PM

@knp - I was going to say that I would hope it was a boy, but my guess was a girl.

@Chimu - I'm with you--Ned I could get behind, but Neddy is just too limiting. Why not just Ned and call him Neddy for those first few years?

@KRC - Congratulations! And welcome to the world, Astrid! It's such a great name and I love to see it being used. :)

90
By Riot Delilah (not verified)
August 15, 2011 10:20 AM

Blythe - Albie is definitely a boy's name, while in my experience Ailbhe (pronounced Alva) is a girl's. I'd say Albie was originally a nn for Alban/Albannach? And is now a more original alternative to Alfie. Otherwise your colleague's comments about 'friendly' names matches completely with my experience. I've worked with British adults named Katie, Jamie, Abby, Dave, Steve, and Charlie and no one has ever blinked about the informality of their names (which were not nicknames) or questioned their authority. I also had American colleagues whose names had kreative spellings, and they were the people who had trouble, from colleagues and clients alike.

For the person who wondered about Osian, it's a Welsh boy's name, pronounced Oshann in one syllable (not like Ocean, and easy on the h), and virtually unknown in England. The Irish equivalent is Oisin, (O-sheen), which means little deer. To be more confusing, Sian is a Welsh girl's name, pronounced Shan, which is much more popular.

91
By hyz nli (not verified)
August 15, 2011 12:16 PM

KRC, congratulations on your new baby, and her lovely and meaningful name! I'm sure it will serve her well over the years to come! :)

92
By JM (not verified)
August 15, 2011 11:54 PM

While Penelope, Eleanor, and Cornelia are great matches for the nn Nell, I agree with previous posts that suggested Helen, Ellen, Lenora, or Helena. These are strong matches as well.

93
By ElisabethMorgan (not verified)
August 16, 2011 3:32 AM

Unfortunately, no matter how strongly you feel against it, you can't stop the tide of people naming girls traditionally boy's names or surnames. It's like a wave sweeping the country and those people doing it are just not persuadable by an appeal for sympathy by parents who feel they're running out of boys' names. I don't know what the end result will be, whether the pool of names for boys will just continue to shrink indefinitely or if people will continue to invent new boys' names (whether or not they are consciously responding to name borrowing from girls.) I wonder if that is the reason behind such excrescences as Brayden and Kylarr.

94
By ElisabethMorgan (not verified)
August 16, 2011 3:45 AM

"Julie -> Juleigh
Natalie -> Nataleigh
Molly -> Molleigh"

All of which are crimes against humanity.

95
By ElisabethMorgan (not verified)
August 16, 2011 3:49 AM

"Butterleigh...Doddiscombsleigh...Inwardleigh"

Finally, the names for my triplets!

96
By ElisabethMorgan (not verified)
August 16, 2011 4:19 AM

Nigel is still rare in the U.S. as are Rupert and Philomen. Although I imagine Harry Potter has likely upped the quotient of Hermiones in America I am sure there are far fewer here than the U.K. If you look at the years before Harry Potter this difference is likely stark. There are a few more that are slipping my mind just now that I had previously thought of where the name is nearly unheard of in the U.S. and yet I met large numbers of people with these names when I lived in England.

On a side note I wonder if any kreatiff people (celebrity or otherwise) have thought of naming their children Wynken, Blynken, and Nod...

97
By Blythe (nsi) (not verified)
August 17, 2011 4:35 AM

@Riot Delilah Re: Albie/Ailbhe- that's what I thought too, but my colleague insisted that it was a *male* Irish saint, which seems to also be true.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ailbe_of_Emly

98
By Riot Delilah (not verified)
August 17, 2011 9:08 AM

@Blythe - huh. Well, who knew? The old Irish saints had sure some crazy names, didn't they?

99
August 17, 2011 6:50 PM

Penn Gillette explains why he named his daughter Moxie Crimefighter:

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2011/08/17/exp.pmt.penn.explains.names.cnn?hpt=hp_t2

100
By izzy nli (not verified)
August 17, 2011 7:59 PM

i don't know if anyone is interested, but today i got an assignment titled "What's in a Name?" with over 20 questions about names, such as, "What color is your name?" and "If you could rename yourself, what would your new name be?" Obviously, i am really excited about this particular project! But then i started really thinking about it, and how do you sum up a name in a color, or a substance, and what do people think you look and sound like when they hear your name? I know I can make judgements on names, but what people sound like? What do you all think?