Running out of time... please help!

We're ten weeks from the big day, and we're pretty much stuck.  Here's the deal: we don't know what we're having, but we managed to pick out a Girl's name relatively quickly, which is Oleander Marie.  A Boy's name, however, has proven problematic.  We have several potentials that we like, but we've had a lot of trouble stringing them together in a coherent name that works well.  Full Disclosure: this is a Star Wars baby through and through, conceived during a weekend getaway to a Star Wars marathon and due on May 4th, Star Wars on both ends.  Luckily, both of us are fans; not so luckily, we don't like most of the obvious choices.  We're non-religious, and would prefer to stay away from biblical names if possible.  Our ancestral backgrounds are primarily Keltic and Germanic.  We're both big geeks, into a lot of different fandoms.

So here we go:

Last name starts with an S, has two syllables, and is ten letters long.

Names we like, sorted by origin:

Star Wars:
Alec, Cassian, David, Ewan, Ezra, Finn, Garrick

The Chronicles of Amber:
Bleys, Caine, Corwin, Oberon

Leto, Paul

Creighton (middle name only, she says), Stark (also both a GoT family and a Marvel family) 

Declan, Riley, Rook or Rooks 


February 22, 2017 2:46 AM

Is there a reason that you are limiting Oleander to a daughter? I think it's a name that wears equally well on a boy -- it's rare enough as a name to avoid prior associations to set up an expectation of gender either way, and there's  obvious similarity to the traditionally-male Leander. Plus, there's no rule that just because it's the name of a flower it must be a female name. And I think if one is wishing to remain surprised by the gender of one's child, picking the name ahead of time is I think a really neat thing. It's a fun choice, regardless -- very distinctive as a name, but most people will be familiar with it and if a child wishes to blend in more there are many nickname choices which would allow them to do just that.

So, I'd recommend pairing Oleander with a different middle selection. Was Marie picked because it's honoring a specific person, whether a character or family member? If so, I'd consider finding a comparable honor name, and preferably also one that is more clearly gendered and a little more commonplace, to give your child maximum options.

By EVie
February 22, 2017 4:30 AM

I like this idea--there's a real dearth of botanicals for boys, and Oleader fits the bill really nicely. The only thing that makes me hesitate on the name (for either boy or girl) is oleander's reputation for being highly poisonous. 

Working off the names listed above, I think you have a lot of great potential combinations there. My general rule of thumb is to combine something unusual/distinctive with something traditional and gender-specific, both for aesthetic balance and to give the child options in the future. Exampes: Oberon Paul S—, Corwin David S—.

Surname-style names aren't my favorite in the first name spot, but I really appreciate them in the middle, especially when paired with a more traditional first name: Ewan Stark S—, Alec Rook S—, Declan Leto S—. 

More important that the combination, though, is deciding which first name you really love--you don't want to settle on a first name just because it sounds good in combination with the middle, when in practice you will be using the first without the middle 99% of the time. And it's much easier to pick one name at a time! Focus on narrowing your choices for the first name, and when you have a short list, then you can look for middles that work with those specific names. 

For what it's worth, I adore Corwin and have wondered for a long time why it doesn't get more use. Also love Oberon and Alec (though I prefer it as a nickname for the full Alexander--I like formal names for birth certificates in general), and I think Cassian, Garrick, Ewan, Stark and Finn are pretty cool choices as well (though just to warn you, Finn has gotten very trendy in certain circles, so you may hear it more than you like).

If you want to avoid Biblical, then I'm guessing you want to steer away from David, Paul and Ezra (although maybe they would work as middles?) Riley has gotten very popular for girls--not a problem per se, just a heads-up. Leto reads totally girl to me, at least in the first name spot (she's the mother of Apollo and Artemis in Greek mythology)--in the middle it will read more like a surname, so I prefer it there. (I may be in the minority, as many Americans probably think Jared before Greek.) Declan is fine, not one I get super enthusiastic about, but not objectionable.

I agree with your wife on Creighton being middle-only, and I would add Rook, Bleys and Caine to that list. I actually think Rook is really cool sounding, and I enjoy the bird and chess connotations, but it just feels a little harsh and over-macho in the first name spot. Caine in that spelling makes me think of cocaine, as well as the Biblical Cain. Bleys just really doesn't do it for me aesthetically--for some reason it makes me think of fluid-filled blisters or some other unattractive medical condition... not sure where I am getting that from, but that's what comes into my head. I assume it's a respelling of Blaise, though with fantasy names it's hard to say what the author's imagined etymology would be.

February 22, 2017 9:11 AM

Rook also has the colloquial sense of 'cheat.' Something to be aware of....

By EVie
February 22, 2017 10:18 AM

Huh, didn't know that one! Filing away for future reference... I do also think of the old term "rookery" meaning "slum," though I think that isn't as well known now.

February 22, 2017 10:20 AM

As a fellow Star Wars fan, I'm happy to help you. How about Skye or Walker if Skywalker us too much (not saying it is)? You could do Hans (after Han Solo), Rey (could work for a boy), Poe, Quinn (a combination of Quigon and Jinn), of course Anakin, Rebel, or Mace. I'm assuming you are wanting to avoid Kylo Ren. 

February 22, 2017 2:48 PM

Sorry for any reiteration of others' points as I don't have time to both read replies in detail and respond.

Because of your background and desires, I'd eliminate Cassian, David, Ezra, and Paul as highly associated with a saint or Biblical personage. I'd also caution that Bleys is a homonym for St. Blaise, which is often changed in spelling (Blaze, et cetera) while retaining the strong association with his patronage. And Caine is a homonym for the Biblical personage of Cain, which adds a negative element (being cursed, et cetera).

As soon as I saw Oleander, I thought, "Like the poisionous plant?" I know someone else mentioned that, but the association is strogly intertwined here as well. To me, that's like naming a child Poison Ivy, not like naming a child Hyacinth (a male name I'd love to see used more often).

I'd also cross Creighton off the list because of it's strong and popular association with the Creighton Model of tracking a woman's fertility through biological markers like mucuous and temperature in order to allow decision making about family planning.

Is Leto said Lee-toe or Let-oh? I'd expect a lot of mispronunciations. Ewan has too strong of an ewwwww association for my personal like. And Stark feels like a fill in the blank where my mind automatically says, "Stark... naked? Stark... raving mad?"

That leaves Alec, Finn, Garrick, Corwin, Oberon, Declan, Riley, Rook or Rooks.

Rook has the added geek layer of a chess connection which might be desirable and might be a little too into the nerd spectrum for your comfort. I'd expect the child to know how to play for sure because if he doesn't he'll be telling people that he's named Rook and doesn't like chess for a lifetime.

I don't know the references to the others to know which has desirable connotations but I can say that Oberon sounds like a Star Wars place name not a person name.

So I would recommend Alec, Finn, Garrick, Corwin, Declan, Riley, and possibly Rook. My personal favorite for you is Corwin because it would be identifiable in your fandom circles, and in a way that shows integration into the culture not superficiality, and would stand out in general society enough to not feel under the radar or mainstream while it blends in enough to not create lifelong frustrations. Corwin Finn would let the geek flag fly high and would provide nearly limitless book, video, gaming, and cosplay pleasure.

February 22, 2017 3:35 PM

Oberon is the king of the fairies. See Shakespeare's Midsummer's Night's Dream.

February 22, 2017 5:32 PM

I did not recall that literary connection! I do not know if fairy king from Medievial literature is the geek connection they're hoping to inspire, though. :)

A google search does not have their prefered association with the Chronicles of Amber on the first three pages of results I checked but it did include several NASA and planetary references so it appears my Star Wars place name reference has more grounding, and your recollection of the Shakesperian connection to fairies even more than that, than their desired reference to sci fi fandom.

February 22, 2017 7:26 PM

Frankly I would be concerned that when middle school classmates discover that Oberon is king of the fairies problems would  ensue. As it happens I am in New Orleans at the moment for carnival, and I am reminded that one of the carnival krewes is the Elves of Oberon. Perhaps Orion would be of interest?

February 22, 2017 3:37 PM

Since you mention Dune (and it's in your user name), have you considered Atreus? That's the Greek mythological figure for whom House Atreides is named. He was the father of Menaleus and Agamemnon, of Trojan war fame. For me, it has the added associations of always reminding me of Atreyu/Atreju, from Neverending Story, and also sounding vaguely botanical due to its similarity to the word atrium. (Atreyu would work fine on its own, too, but I gravitate more towards the ancient Greek names.)

I currently know two little boys nicknamed Atty/Addy, one short for Atticus and the other short for...Addison, maybe? or Adrian? so that seems like a perfectly usable nickname to me, too.

By EVie
February 22, 2017 5:08 PM

Atreus also makes me think of the old computer game Myst... looking it up, I see the Myst name is actually Atrus, but I think the point stands that Atreus has a really strong fantasy/SF feel about it, beyond just the mythological associations.

February 23, 2017 12:35 PM

I think all of the names you list as Star Wars-inspired are eminently usable. I especially like Cassian, because it's an actual name, but one with clear Star Wars connections. (Garrick is a fine name, but its connection to Star Wars is rather tenuous.) Have you considered Dameron? It's not all that different from Oberon in sound...

Also, how come you're reserving the geekdom-inspired names for a boy? In today's naming climate, Leia would be totally unremarkable while still being unabashedly Star Wars. Or you could go more subtle and use Caroline (for which Carrie is a traditional nickname). Another idea would be a name that could be nicknamed Jyn - maybe Jennifer or Ginevra?

Oleander is actually a masculine name, if that matters to you at all. It's also a poisonous shrub, which is the first thing that came to my mind; but then, I grew up in Southern California, where almost every landscape includes an oleander bush or hedge. Leander lessens the "poisonous" association slightly, but it's even more obviously masculine. Leonora preserves some of the feel of Leander to me, without either of the possible problems (poison/masculine).

February 24, 2017 8:16 AM

Of the names you have listed here, I kind of like Stark for a boy and make a little sad face at the lack of girls' names. In terms of obvious sci-fi inspired girls' picks that would fit with your suggested surname-y names, Ripley instantly comes to mind.

Orion was suggested here which is a really neat pick, although the pronunciation isn't intuitive (it's like Ryan, not Oreo).

As a former Farscape fangirl, I'm curious if D'Argo and Chiana are appealing? I think they're unusual but very wearable names, but I'm on the fence over whether being tied to non-human characters makes them unusuable in a human context. Hasn't stopped people from naming their kids Oberon.

February 24, 2017 9:24 AM

Yes! D'Argo and Chiana are very usable, as is Aeryn. Rygel, not so much.

February 24, 2017 1:04 PM

I agree that both Luke and Leia totally count as "normal" names that are not necessarily stamped as Star Wars names.  You could also consider Luka or Lucas, as in George Lucas.  Which brings us to George.  ;)  Or, for that matter Lucia, Luciana, or one of the other feminine names which evoke Luke.

On the girl front, what about Yolanda?   Nice mash-up of Yoda and Lando Calrissian.  I love the name, but don't hear it much.  You might also play with finding a name which derives from a place in STar Wars.  Alderaan could get you, hmmm, Dera? Alder?  Tyler lends itself to fun Star Wars nickname ty-fighter.  Rogan could be a nod to Rogue One.

There are also some fun outer space names like Stella, Andromeda, etc.

This is fun.  :)  May the Force be with you...


(ps my one and only tattoo is from star wars)

February 26, 2017 4:01 AM

unable to respond because spam filter continually blocks me, sorry. If anyone has an idea on how to fix that please let me know.

February 26, 2017 11:08 AM

Send the text you want to post to bnwmod at gmail dot com, and a moderator will post it for you.

(We've had some communication with Laura W. about the spam filter issues, but nothing from the tech people yet.)

February 27, 2017 2:48 PM

She copied into a bunch of smaller ones, and that worked.  There was one paragraph that just wouldn't post, which is weird because there weren't any links or anything like that in it.  @_@

February 26, 2017 4:14 AM

Oleander Marie was the girl's name we settled on about 20 minutes into our naming discussion before we even started looking for inspiration; there was no conscious decision to limit the geek names to him nor the botanicals to her (whichever we wound up with).  It just turned out that we had no need of inspiration for the girl's name, but came up somewhat baffled on a boy's name and had to go looking for some.  After all, it's been about nine months since we started discussing names, and we're still stuck on one for a boy.  T_T   Marie is my maternal grandmother, and Rooks is my mother's maiden name; in our case, it is directly associated with corvids.

February 26, 2017 11:13 AM

To honor a maiden name directly associated with corvids, have you considered Corvin?

February 26, 2017 4:21 AM

Avoiding Biblical doesn't mean we refuse to use them, especially since you practically can't get away from them and it's easy enough to point out that the inspiration is decidedly non-Biblical.  To wit: David is a stillborne cousin, Paul is both my best friend and a character from Dune, Cassian is a character in Rogue One, and Ezra is a character in Star Wars Rebels.  Bleys i don't think will readily reference any religious meaning for most people (indeed, i've never heard of him, and i doubt many other non-Catholics have either), and Caine the character from Amber is nothing like Cain the character from Genesis.

February 27, 2017 3:16 PM

Cassian is one of my favorite names from your list in the abstract—it was actually on our shortish list for our youngest, with nickname Cass. As a Star Wars nod, though, it's one of my least favorite. The movie and character haven't passed the test of time, there are a lot of alternate associations, and the name itself, in a Star Wars context, feels like a cop-out version of Calrissian.

I don't think Bleys will say "religious" to most people, but I do think it will cause spelling and pronunciation headaches. If you love it, though, it might be worth it, since there's a compelling reason for the non-obvious spelling.

For the other, more biblical names, the main question is whether you want a name that advertises its fictional connection, or whether it's enough that you know the connection is there. These names are common enough that most folks won't hear, say, Paul and immediately think "oh, like in Dune", but rather "oh, like the Apostle/my boss/my father/the Beatle/the alien" etc. If that's fine with you, then you come down to which connection is most meaningful to you, plus issues of style and flow.

February 26, 2017 4:21 AM

Yes yes, Oleander are poisonous, but they are also ridiculously pretty flowers.  i'm not so sure that there is a dearth of botanical names for males so much as there is a dearth of flower botanical names for males.  Culturally, this makes sense, even if it is kind of silly.  i'll run it by her as a potential name for a boy and let y'all know what she says.  Incidentally, i can find no reference to Oleander being masculine.  Anywhere.  i checked several latin dictionaries and cannot find a gender for it stated anywhere; cultural bias says that it's a flower so it's feminine.  i do realise that the site lists it as masculine, but it doesn't provide any information about why it does so.

February 26, 2017 11:31 AM

Asking _why_ a name is a particular gender is pretty pointless. Why is John masculine, but Joan feminine? They just are. I can guess that Oleander is masculine by analogy with Alexander and Leander, in which the -ander comes from the Greek word for 'man', even though Oleander's origin is probably closer to the Greek word for 'leaf'.

February 26, 2017 8:04 PM

Some other masculine flower names I can think of: Florian, Garland, Hyacinth (my spouse has a great-uncle with this name, though it's also and more commonly female in usage), Hawthorne, Heath. I suppose there's also Narcissus, though I don't think that's usable! 

February 26, 2017 9:00 PM

Also William--as in sweet ;-).

February 27, 2017 2:43 PM

Um, William means neither sweet nor is a flower/botanical name; it's quite masculine and refers to the concept of Will and helmets.

February 27, 2017 2:51 PM

Sweet William is a flower. Scientific name Dianthus barbatus. It's related to carnations and pinks. Names have many "meanings" besides their derivations. And it can be a flower and still be masculine.

February 27, 2017 3:55 PM

Floris is another masculine flower name as Floris and Blanchefleur.

February 27, 2017 2:53 PM

Further checking (tracing back through to the greek) reveals that the ultimate origin is the Greek Daphne, as i noted below.  The -ander isn't relevant here, apparently.

February 27, 2017 12:05 AM

In Latin, it is masculine on account of the -er ending which means masculine. Although, there are unpredictable exceptions and this could be one.

February 27, 2017 2:41 PM

Tracing the etymology back leads to the Greek Daphne (Laurel), feminine and the name of a Nymph.  If that's not at least a decent basis for calling it feminine, i'm not sure what is.

February 27, 2017 4:16 PM

The etmological source is dubious but is believed to go to the Latin (not Greek) Laurel/Olive tree via olea, which lends even more credence to the masculine derivation (Lawrence, Oliver, and so on) as mentioned above in the -leander discussion, and definitely not less. To personally tie that to the same meaning as Daphne and to then get from there to Greek mythological nymphs is perfectly fine as a private connection but has no etymological bearing. And it doesn't do anything to address the fact that it is basically naming your child Poison Ivy in a way that is rather in-your-face for our culture because the gender derivation could legitimately be called obscure while the fatal toxicity of every part of the plant is nearly universally recognized as it's prominent characteristic.
oleander (n.) "rose bay," a poisonous evergreen Mediterranean shrub, c. 1400, from Medieval Latin oleander, probably (by influence of Latin olea "olive tree") from Late Latin lorandrum, from Latin rhododendron (see rhododendron), itself altered by influence of Latin laurea "laurel," on resemblance of leaves. This round-about etymology is supported by the French word for it, laurier rose.
1540-50; Medieval Latin oleander, oliandrum, obscurely akin to Late Latin laurandrum, perhaps a conflation of Latin laurus laurel and rhododendron rhododendron

March 10, 2017 12:35 AM

i didn't personally tie it to anything.  Daphne is the Greek name for the same plant, and Greek is the older language.  To claim that the two have nothing at all in common is like claiming Zeus and Jupiter are completely unrelated.  I'm not claiming a direct connection, no, but i would assume that for every masculine version borrowed from Latin there probably at least as many feminine versions borrowed from Greek, which influence would, again, be older.  

February 26, 2017 4:23 AM

i'm not sure that anyone i know has ever heard of the Creighton Method.  i'm fairly well-versed in medical terms, and hadn't heard of it as being any sort of popularly known term.  As far as i can tell, however, all three of the Starks referenced seem to be, in fact, quite mad.  Leto i've only ever heard in English pronounced as lee-toe; i would assume that Frank Herbert named the good Duke after the Greek entity rather than the not-yet-born actor, and yet, Duke Leto is rather definitely male.

February 26, 2017 4:24 AM

Oberon is the King in Amber, in addition to being the King of the Fae, though the name dates back further than Shakespear to the Merovingian dynasty and the Niebelungenleid.  The name beat out Dworkin, Oberon's father, in our discussions by a fair amount, for some reason.  


Somebody said that Garrick had a "tenuous" connection to Star Wars, not sure how Biggs' actor is a tenuous connection, but okay....

February 27, 2017 4:00 PM

Strictly speaking Oberon does not appear in the Nibelungenlied. You are referring to the dwarf Alberic(h), a Germanic bithematic name compounded from roots meaning elf and power. Auberon is a later French development which morphed into Oberon in English as in Shakespeare. Indisputably Oberon is king of the fairies :-).

March 10, 2017 12:42 AM

You are correct, "Oberon" itself does not appear in that form in The Niebelungenleid, but its direct evolutionary antecedent does.  Since they are the same person in both cases, what i said is not incorrect.  He is the king of the fairies, of course, but a king is a king, and these fairies wear boots, ha ha.... (Figuratively speaking, anyway, since fairy in this context includes the elves and all of their armies, not just the brownies and sylphs and so on.)

February 26, 2017 8:46 AM

Oh, fun! Full disclosure, our children are H@rr!s0n and 0w3n, and our dog is Vada, so obviously I'm open to the Star Wars theme :)

i love Alec. I like that it harks back to the original trilogy, and isnt obvious to non-fans - like a hidden treasure.

From your list I also like Cassian, Ezra and Ewan.

I like the above suggestions of George and Lucas (I know a Lucas named for this reason, and I've always loved the name George). Perhaps Orson or Rex? Samuel? 

Good luck. Do let us know what you pick!