This is an extraordinary day for me, as BabyNameWizard.com and NameCandy.com join the CafeMom website family. It's a little like watching a child graduate from high school: proud of what they've grown to be, and excited at the potential of how much more they can now become.
The first huge example of this potential is already reality. Our Expert Tool Suite is now freely available to the public! I'm incredibly excited to be able to introduce tools like the Expert version of the NameVoyager and the mind-reading Name MatchMaker to a wider audience.
Amidst this excitement, I hope you'll indulge me in a little nostalgia about my "baby's" growth. For years, BabyNameWizard.com has served tens of thousands of pages of information to a community of millions of users. Up until now, though, the company behind it has consisted of two women working out of their homes.
My partner Jennie Baird and I — with the assistance of a wonderful group of freelance writers and programmers — have been the entire staff. That means designing tools, writing articles, choosing server platforms, balancing the books, answering support email, you name it. The two of us set out to create the very best name-choosing resource that had ever been, and I like to think that we succeeded.
Now imagine what we could do with a full team behind us.
I've joined forces with CafeMom for the chance to build something even greater. Their team understands BNW and appreciates what makes this site and this community special. And with their resources and talents on board, I'll have the chance to focus on what I do best, and love best: names.
There's good stuff ahead.
It's hard to catch baby name lightning in a bottle. Even celebrity names don't always strike where you'd expect.
Last year the name that made the most headlines was Katniss, from The Hunger Games — a name which turned out to go nowhere at all with parents. (Katniss still ranks down around #7,000 among American girls' names, tied with the likes of and Jood and Treazure.) Meanwhile the fastest-rising name of the year, Daleyza, came from a supporting player on the Spanish-language reality show Larrymania.
Clearly, the recipe for name success calls for not just a stylish sound and social spark, but a little bit of magic, too. So I'm going out on a limb when I say that one new name in the headlines seems destined for baby name success.
Australian singer Sia has been writing and recording music since the '90s, but her hit single "Chandelier" has brought her name from Down Under to a new level of global attention. And oh, what a name.
Sia is a perfect mashup of the current #1 girl's name, Sophia, and #6, Mia. Meanwhile Ava, another three-letter name ending in -a, sits at #5. They're the first three-letter pair ever to grace the top 10 at the same time.
In short, the name Sia is hitting the spotlight at the perfect moment. If this name doesn't take off, we'll know that the pinch of magic in the recipe must be even bigger than we imagined.
The English nickname tradition is a delightful maze. Native speakers of other languages marvel over how Peggy can come from Margaret, or how Jack can be "short for" John.
Over the centuries, some these classic nicknames have become so familiar as given names that we no longer association them with their original formal versions. (Quick, what is Polly a pet form of?) Others have fallen out of favor to the point where they're nearly forgotten today.
The abandoned nicknames can be buried treasures for name-seeking parents. They're old and traditional, but have the ability to surprise. They can also put a fresh face on a family name or a neglected classic, or help set your child apart from others with the same given name.
Some old-time nicknames you might not know:
Dodge, Hodge (Roger)