Choosing the right mane

Jan 18th 2007

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


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

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

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

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

Baby Name Pool 2006

Jan 11th 2007

It's time for the 2nd Annual Baby Name Pool, your chance to demonstrate your keen ear for name trends by guessing the fastest rising and falling names of the past year.

Choose three names you think were hot in the United States in 2006, three that were not. (Official government name stats won't be released until Spring.) The top composite score wins a year's worth of bragging rights as the country's #1 "namie." All entries must be submitted by March 1, 2007. One entry per person please!

If you're an old hand at the Pool, head right over to

If you could use a little background and tips for success, last year's contest info is a great place to start:

- the announcement of the 2005 contest
- the 2005 contest winners
- the actual hottest/nottest names of 2005

Then, it's on to the pool!

To match or not to match

Jan 5th 2007

"But do you think it really goes with Mackenzie?"
"What's a good match for Leo and Max?"

Questions about sibling names can start to sound like interior decoration. A few readers here have worried that parents who search for names that go together are treating children as accessories rather than individuals.

Certainly, some parents do focus on making a matching set. In Victorian times that impulse yielded sisters with names like Lily, Iris, Rose and Daisy. Today it's more likely to show up as alliteration -- the Kaylee, Kaylin, Kayden, Kaycey, Kaydence brood. But most often parents are looking for a subtler kind of match, a match based on the feeling and style of the name. And most often I think the impulse is a positive one.

It's no surprise that I'd feel that way. After all, The Baby Name Wizard is built around the idea of finding names that share a common style. The primary reason for this isn't to guarantee a matching set of kids but to match the parents' sense of style: look up a name you like to find others that hit the same notes. Realistically, if you chose Henry and Julia for your first two kids you're not likely to leap on Cheyenne or Maddisyn for baby #3. But would it matter if you did?

In our daily lives as adults, most people don't know or care what our siblings are called. Our names have to stand on their own as symbols of our individual selves. Yet to some extent, siblings are a set. They grow up together, and as children are often treated as a collective whole. They also compete and compare with one another and are exquisitely sensitive to any perceived inequities.

Imagine you meet a family with four daughters. Three of them, from the time they're born, are always dressed in the frilliest, girliest outfits available. The fourth is outfitted from babyhood in jeans and sweats. I think most of us would find that parenting choice unsettling. It signals to all of the girls that one of them is different, separate, and that the parents have different expectations of her. Now suppose instead that the four girls are named Arabella, Artemisia, Araminta...and Carter. What message does that send?

That's an artificial example, but variations on the theme happen all the time in the real world. How about a family with four girls, Kenzie, Jaelyn, Bailee and Kaiya, and then after them a boy, Douglas Richard Jr. Might those parents unintentionally signal to their girls that they had been waiting and waiting for a boy to inherit family traditions...for a boy to matter?

I'm not about to advocate siblings named April, May and June (or girls named Douglas Jr.) Sibling names can be wildly different and work wonderfully. But the cardinal rule among all sets of siblings is fairness. If you know that an eventual son will be a Junior, I'd make sure that your daughters' names also have some family connection that will feel special to them. If you start out with Arabella, Artemisia, and Araminta, an "A" or a lacy name is a nice signal of sibling connection and togetherness. And if your kids are Erasmus, Brayden, Guido and Harold, well feel free to forget about matching altogether. But if your tastes are really that unpredictable, I haven't met you. Parents are people, and they usually choose names that match their own consistent tastes, values and dreams.