Should we stick with Briar and Betty?

I've been a name nerd since middle school and I've annoyed my husband with baby names for a decade. We worked out a kind of truce more than a year ago, it was successful and we have a very short list of solid names we can agree on.

Now that we're actually expecting, I'm finding that there isn't any more baby name searching to do! It seems crazy. For years I looked forward to this time when I could really get into naming with my husband's support, and now I'm already done.

I think I'm done....I wonder if I'm done.... I find myself anxiously waiting on the SSA baby name list to be released in about a week so I can "make sure" my choices are ok. Which is ridiculous. My husband is always telling me that I'll have to give up obsessing over the popularity of name after it is given to a child. I agree that stressing myself over the rising popularity of our child's name accomplishes nothing. I even agree that popularity isn't a major concern these days.

But I'm still going to check the list next week.

So in short, I'm on the fence of whether I'm done or not. I'd really like your opinions on what we have chosen so that when that SSA list comes out I can be prepared to either remain stedfast or get on with the research. I lurk on a lot of different naming communities, but I think this one is the most thoughtful and offers the best insight.

We hope to have a total of 2-3 kids, so some combination of these may be a sibling set.  Our last name has 2 syllables, begins with Sh and ends with ley. 

The names are: 

Betty Nightingale 

Briar Oak    (boy)

 

The runners up are:

Lavender Mirth

Robin __?___  (boy)

Both of the top names have significance, but since I'm looking for your initial impressions of the names, I think I'll keep the explanations to a minimum in this first post.

I'm concerned that Briar may become a very trendy name for girls. My husband says that it doesn't matter, but I think it might matter to a son. I think Betty could explode in popularity (or not) as babies are named after great grandmothers, but I don't think that will happen for a couple of years yet. 

Of course I have noticed other "problems" with these names, but I want to see if anyone brings them up as concerns. If nobody else comments on them then I am happy to assume that most people won't comment on them either. 

Replies

51
May 4, 2017 8:08 PM

Well, there is Humfrey/Humphrey of Lancaster, Duke of Gloucester, who fought in the battle of Agincourt (15th century). He was a great patron of the arts and scholarship and is memorialized by Duke Humphrey's Library, part of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. Duke Humphrey was named for a grandfather. So it was in use after the 13th century. As a bit of curiosity, Duke Humphrey had an illegitimate daughter Antigone.

52
May 5, 2017 1:22 AM

That makes me feel a lot better about Humfrey! I think surnames can be great given names if there is a real family connection you want to honor. I just think it is weird to take a surname of no relation and use it as a given name. So I support middle names like your's. :)

53
By mk
May 4, 2017 12:26 PM

There is no reason why you can't put Darling on the birth certificate, but personally I really dislike it. Maybe find a name that has that menaing?

Betty Nightingale is awesome BTW, very retro.

54
May 4, 2017 1:27 PM

Maybe Maple Darlene?  Change the emphasis a bit & it's basically Darling, and perhaps your husband will find it a bit less precious/more usable than Darling.  It also has a bit of the fusty I love so much  ;-)

Maple Darla is another option that would retain some of the feel of Darling.

55
May 4, 2017 2:45 PM

Except that Maple Darla immediately called Marla Maples to mind (for me, at least).

56
May 4, 2017 1:40 PM

I prefer Lavender to Maple, both on it's own and in combination with Betty, but if you had a boy first then I think Lavender and Maple work equally well with either of your boy options (however I love Betty and Mable as sisters so I think Betty Nightingale and Mable Lavender would be really cute if you ended up with two girls, and I almost feel like Mable could be in honour of maple as they're so similar sounding). 

I wouldn't actually have a problem with Maple Darling, although I agree it's very cutesy/sweet, I don't see why the kid would be confused and if she didn't like it then it's easy enough to hide a middle name. It's kind of a moot point though if your husband is not on board.

I really like Briar Ogden and I love that it still has the 'oak' connection while not being so doubled up on the nature name front. Along that same line I love the suggestion of Acer to work in the significance of Japenese Maple, it wouldn't work with Briar but to me it works great with Robin and Robin Acer would then have the same subtle tree connection in the middle spot as Briar Ogden which would make an awesome sib-set if you had two boys (I love when sibling names have a subtle connection without being in your face matchy). And a bonus of Robin Acer is that it would leave you free to stick with Lavender for a girl as the maple significance would be covered.

Of the more traditional middles for Robin I like Robin Humfrey/Humphrey, Robin Arthur and Robin Albert (apparently I like Robin with A-middles!) Have you considered Robin Hugo, Robin Hector or Robin Henry to get the RH initials?

If you did go with Maple as a first name then I would be inclined to a more traditional middle name again. I love the suggestion of Blythe (either Maple Blythe or Lavender Blythe, although I don't have the same adjective+noun thing that other people mentioned with Lavender Mirth because I think of lavender far more as the plant than the colour so I don't really have a problem with Lavender Mirth). Along the word/virtue name lines how about Joy or Joyce if you want to be a bit more subtle? Maple Joyce or Maple Joy are both really cute to me. There's also Grace but I feel like Grace is a little over-used as a middle.

57
May 4, 2017 7:29 PM

That is an interesting and tempting idea you have there. Mable Lavender does sound very charming....I'll think about it.

Robin Acer does sound good, but it makes the whole name a little sharp. I don't think we NEED a maple meaning, so Id rather drop the maples and keep the soft sound for the boys. Robin Arthur is a good possibility! 

I had thought of Maple Joy, but then dismissed it as too plain/short/used. Maybe it isn't any of those things, but I'm not sure that it is the one.

58
May 4, 2017 4:35 PM

I know a Noel who has a sister with a word-name (Run3) and I'd like to push Noel for consideration as a middle name for Briar, too. Briar Noel sounds amazing to me, and gives young Briar lots of options!

I would find Darling to be a bit too much with an edgy word-type first name, but I'd find it great fun with a more conventional first name. This is totally a personal style preference; I like having a more conventional option paired with something that's a bit more whimsical, and vice versa. My kids all have fairly staid, conventional middle names with their more out-there first names, and it made me feel much better about bestowing those more unusual choices.

59
May 4, 2017 7:33 PM

Briar Noel is a really good idea! Especially since Christmas is when the first little one is due. I may be quite smitten with it, but I need to talk to my husband before I get too attached. 

That is good common sense, Darling is a bit much for a edgy first name. I love it, but it isn't realisitc. I'll just use it as a nickname.

60
By EVie
May 4, 2017 8:32 PM

I've known someone with the surname Darling, and if I met someone with the middle name Darling I would probably assume it was a family surname. I do think it's a bit too cloying without that justification... reminds me of one of my aunts who called her son "Sweet Boy" well into his... let's see... he's in his twenties now and she still uses it. Publicly, on Facebook. "Sweet Boy" has been a running joke in our family for about 15 years now, when it first started to sound overly indulgent. 

(I do sometimes call my 4-year-old "Precious," but it's generally meant as silly/ironic... though I'm not sure that anyone overhearing me would get that). 

61
By EVie
May 4, 2017 11:30 AM

I immediately thought of Briar Moss when I first read your post yesterday, so I'm pleased to see he is one of your actual Briar namesakes! I don't have a problem seeing Briar as male--I tend to think of the Sleeping Beauty name as the full Briar Rose, not just Briar. I do agree with others above that Briar Oak is too much botanical. Briar Rose works because roses actually *are* briars (thorny plants that form clumps), so "briar rose" is one two-word botanical name, not two random botanicals smushed together. And Briar Moss works because he chose his own name and he's obsessed with plants, so the botanical overload is a feature, not a bug. I wouldn't do it for a new baby who may turn out to have zero interest in nature, though--give the kid some balance. 

One idea that comes to mind is to find a middle name with a nature-related meaning that is less obvious. Maybe you would be interested in a Japanese middle name with a meaning you like?

I do think that Robin Oak would work much better than Briar Oak, as Robin has a history as a name beyond just the nature meaning (the bird was actually named for the name, not vice versa), plus it's a bird, not a plant. I prefer the sound of the combo as well--Briar Oak kind of runs together into "Roke."

I adore Betty Nightingale--I think there you've achieved a really ideal balance of classic, down-to-earth first + whimsical, unexpected middle. I love the idea of Mirth as a middle as well, but it doesn't pair that well with Lavender to me, mostly because it's too much of an adjective + noun phrase. Maple Mirth is somewhat better, because at least Maple isn't a color, but still not optimal for me. Can I interest you in Lavender Blythe? Similar meaning to Mirth, but since it's an adjective, you lose that phrase problem. Maple Blythe would be beautiful as well. Love Maple Gwendolen, that's just gorgeous.

I'll think more on the middles for Briar...

62
May 4, 2017 1:17 PM

I like the idea of a Japanese middle, and thought perhaps Maple Yukiko would appeal. Containing the "yuki" element meaning "snow," it gets you Maple Snow without being quite so obvious or bringing back everyone's memories of making maple candy!

Since Lavender is your runner-up, your husband may be back on board or over Maple by the time the need for it rolls around.

63
May 4, 2017 10:54 PM

That's a good idea, but I'm not sold on the sound. Also Yuki and Yukiko are super common names around here. They also tend to get pronounced as "Yucky" by English speakers.

I'm keeping Lavender on the shortlist! I think a lot may change by the time we need it. Also, I think Maple and Lavender have very diffrent sounds, so we we may need to meet a second daughter before we decide between them.

64
May 4, 2017 7:42 PM

I'm so excited that you know about Briar Moss! I also appriciate your thoughts on an overloading nature name as a detriment to a real kid. Just because I'm obsessed with plants doens't mean the kid will like them at all.

We've thought about Japanese middles, but I'm not found any I like. The sound of them is very diffrent and hard to match. I've been keeping my eyes out for good ones.

Robin Oak is surprisingly nice! I do think it sounds nice that way, and Robin does have more "name cred" to support it.  I didn't notice that Briar Oak runs together (but it really does). That "roke" sound combined with the b could end up sounding a little like "broke". Not very nice.

Blythe has a lot of the attributes I want in a name, but for some reason the BL combination annoys me. My cousins used a lot of bl- names for their kids (maybe Blythe was one of them?) and I found myself strongly disliking each. I really don't know why I dislike that sound so much.

65
May 4, 2017 7:24 PM

My issue with Lavender Mirth is that it sounds like the name of a perfume. I have a lot of scents with similar styled names (Stuff like Vanilla Dream or Cherry Blossom Petal). I wouldn't say it would be a stre-t-ch for there to be a Lavender Mirth perfume somewhere. (I also hate to admit it, but Lavender Mirth sounds a little like a stripper's name).

I worry also that too many nature names comes off as very hippieish, very flower child. Briar Oak and Lavender Mirth as a sib set seem very hippie. Plus, while I love Betty, I think it would stand out in a sibset of Briar, Betty and Lavender.

I'd say moving Lavender to the middle spot would be the way to go. Something like Dorothy Lavender or Irene Lavender or Sally Lavender would work better with Betty Nightingale.

66
May 4, 2017 7:54 PM

I know it sounds a bit perfumeish, but it's Lavender is a name with a scent.

As for being hippish, well it's not out of line for my family. Everyone knew our house by the rainbow front curtains, and everything white was tiedyed. We're the only family I know who has Thanksgiving on a tie-dye tablecloth. I'm sure this kid will have tons of tiedye gear, so why not a name to match? My siblings have talked about naming their kids Valient, Apricity, and Magpie. 

Still, even if the name fits the family, I wonder if it is unkind to the kid to assume they will want that kind of name.

67
May 4, 2017 8:03 PM

That's why I was thinking the more hippie-ish name in the middle spot, if the kid doesn't appreciate the hippie-ish quality, they don't have to advertise it, but if they embrace it they can.

 

I also must warn against using a Japanese name if you're not of Japanese ancestry - there's people who pretty much call that a hate crime out there.

68
By EVie
May 4, 2017 8:48 PM

I think "hate crime" is a bit extreme! There are some who would call it cultural appropriation, but I tend to think that is more randomly picking the name because it "sounds cool" and using it without regard to its actual role within the culture (e.g. Dakota, the name of a Native American people and not an individual, or Cohen, an important title in Jewish culture and not an individual name). Or picking a name because you find it "exotic" or some such. Using a Japanese name when you have a legitimate connection to that culture (e.g. living in that country for several years), in a respectful and culturally appropriate manner, I would not consider appropriative.

I also don't have a problem with a hippie-ish first name, as long as there's something more neutral in the middle to balance it out. You can convey your values and family character in the name without doing it in an overwhelming way.

69
May 5, 2017 1:29 AM

A little off topic, but I think this may be interesting to you folk.

I agree we should be careful of cultural appropriation, but it really isn't hate crime level in this case. All of the Japanese people I've met really want to encourage foreigners to participate in Japanese culture. They want to promote it like a brand, to increase tourism and preserve/highlight their history. 

On the other hand there is a a different message from the language and the government. They are very proud of being "pure Japanese". Their language has 2 alphabets and the pictograms called kanji. One alphabet is for most things (Hiragana), the other is for words adopted from foreign cultures (Katakana). So there is a separation between native and foreign even in their language. As for purity of blood, there are Koreans who have been living here 5 generations and are still not allowed to become citizens. You must have a Japanese parent to get citizenship, there is close to zero immigration.

I have some American friends here who had a baby. They decided to give a Japanese name to their little girl. They named her Nozomi, which means hope. Everyone was delighted! Now usually parents select some Kanji to fit the sounds in the name and give it a customized meaning. For example, Haruka could be something like sunshine song or spring child depending on the kanji the parents choose. It is a very cool system. Back to the story - Because baby Nozomi is not Japanese, they said she couldn't use kanji for her name. I guess I can believe that. The part that got me was that they were told Nozomi must be spelled in Katakana, the foreign word alphabet, because the baby is not Japanese. WHAT? Nozomi is a Japanese word, it isn't foreign! It should be spelled in Hiragana! ...But that is what they were told by the various offices. I think they like to have a clear indication of who is Japanese and who is not when they look at a list of names. Racism is here, it is just a diffrent, quieter, and more socially accepted beastie here.

Every Japanese person I tell this story to doesn't really believe it at first, but they agree that the government does stuff like that. They also think that it's too strict and that foreigners should be allowed to use Japanese names and kanji if they want to. 

With all that being said, I find that living aborad gives me an appreciation for English names and my own culture. I don't really feel a need to have a name-souvenir of our time here. It seems a little ostentatious to me, but I can see how it would be special to a child "made in Japan" so I haven't ruled it out. 

70
May 5, 2017 7:15 AM

That is very interesting, a shame for your friends and their daughter though. Do they plan to stay in Japan for the forseeable future? Has it turned them off the idea of using a Japanese name should they have any more children? 

71
May 5, 2017 10:22 AM

They are leaving this summer after a four year stay. They recently had their second child and gave him a Japanese name too.

72
May 5, 2017 7:12 AM

Betty Nightingale and Mable Lavender are giving me the book character feel again, I can imagine them as a children's book series where they have their own detective agency or are superheroes or something similar.

Another virtue name that might work with Maple is Verity, I think that's less plain and certainly less used than Joy. Or how about Felicity? I think Maple Felicity flows well and it has the bonus (to me) of being a 'lighter' virtue/meaning along the same lines as Mirth or Joy. I know you're unlikely to end up with both but Lavender Mirth and Maple Felicity are a nice balance for each other.

Boys virtue names (to go with Briar) are much harder to find. How about Ernest? Depending how you look at it it could be considered a virtue, and I think it has that fusty-feel that's been much discussed. Plus I think it's a good match for the more classic middles you were discussing with Robin [and I know I keep going on about sibling sets but how cute would it be to have girls with classic first names-nature middles and boys with nature first names-classic middles? Betty Nightingale, Briar Ernest, Robin Arthur, Mable Lavender]. I realise the Er- start might trip some people up following on from the -ar ending of Briar but as the stress is on the first sylable of each name I think it flows okay. 

73
May 5, 2017 12:36 PM

The more I see them together in this thread, the more I am falling in love with Betty Nightingale & Mable Lavender.  

If I were having more children, I would be very tempted to add Mable to my list.  I doubt husband would agree to Lavender, but maybe I could sell him on Mable Violet?  Alas, no more children for me, I'll just have to be content with helping other people find names!

I will also second the suggestion of Verity.  It's been one of my favorites for a long time & I'm upset that I didn't think of it earlier!  Maple Verity is nice, but I'm loving the repeated V sound in Lavender Verity.  

74
May 5, 2017 12:45 PM

I like Mable and Betty, but they don't feel exactly right. Betty is more of a '20's, '30's, and '40's name while Mabel/Mable reads about a generation older, 1890's-1900's. Mable and Betty don't sound so much like sisters' names so much as a mother and daughter respectively.

I'm not a big fan of Verity, but I think the nickname Vera would be really darling (Vera comes from the same root.)

75
May 5, 2017 1:55 PM

NAGA-I'm glad it's not only me! Before this thread I'd have said none of those names are my personal style, but there's something about the combination of them I am finding really appealing. I would be thrilled to meet sisters with these names. 

saltwatertaffy-I don't get that feeling with Betty and Mable. But then I do think that past a certain point in history names just sound "classic" to me. I don't really differentiate between 1890s and 1920s. 

76
May 6, 2017 8:40 AM

Well my husband and I sat down for a serious chat about names and went over some of the opinions and fabulous options suggested on this thread. We discovered a few things about our preferences and motives, an interesting point being that the only word names he likes are botanical ones (I think Robin falls into the classic category for him). As much as I adore virtue names, he doesn't. Apparently he still doesn't care for Mirth. I was miffed that he didn't like Quest at all. It was a necessary but stressful conversation. 

Unfortunetly, the lovely combo Mabel Lavender was shot down because Maple and Mabel are very different to him. 

So we took a step back and took EVie's suggestion to use Robin Oak and started brainstorming new middles for Briar and Maple. Without word names the common ground was characters from books and games. So we talked about our favorite characters with nice names which are a bit less wild. From this we have a renovated list:

Betty Nightingale and Briar Samwise

Runners up:  Maple Josetta, Robin Oak, and Lavender Mirth

We'll see how these names settle in, but I think we're both feeling good about the top names. I feel like the middle for Maple could still go to Dulcia or Gwendolen, but right now Josetta has the lead. I'm interested to see what you all think of our new list. None of the cool names suggested made the cut, but they inspired some meaningful conversation and the comments were very helpful.

Wow! What a process. Thank you to everyone who commented. I wanted a final review (and overhaul) and that's what we got. 

 

 

77
May 6, 2017 10:19 AM

I have mentioned this before, and some people don't think it matters, but I think it's something that ought to be considered before choosing to name a child Samwise. Yes, Samwise Gamgee is a positive character, but his name is one of Tolkien's numerous philological jokes. Samwise is simply an Old English word meaning 'half-wit.' Now I know this because I have taught courses on Tolkien and written about LOTR, but there are numerous books, some excellent and some pretty bad, explicating all of Tolkien's allusions and jests, so the fact that samwise is a word for half-wit is not a secret. Personally pigs would fly before I named a child half-wit, but I know that others feel that their love for the character trumps the meaning of the name. This in my mind differs from people not using, say, Cecilia, because it is derived from the root for blind, because really blindness has nothing to do with anything. Cecilia is a fine name, not an ill omen. However, Samwise is used for the character specifically because it does label him as dim. The surprise, joke, irony is that Sam turns out to belie his name. He is far from the dull peasant that his name says he is. So none of this may matter, but IMO it is something to know and be OK with beforehand. BTW Frodo is from the Old English word for old and wise.

78
May 6, 2017 6:50 PM

Thanks for the information on Samwise, I think it is really important for us to consider that. However, I don't think it makes a  huge difference in our choice. One reason I like Nightingale is that it is a plain brown bird, it doesn't look special. It is what the bird does that has earned its fame. Samwise is a similar lesson in how the expectations of this world don't define us.

 Since it is a middle name, I dont think it will come up too often with strangers.

 

79
May 6, 2017 12:23 PM

I'm sad Mabel Lavender was nixed but I do actually really like Maple Josetta so I'll let your husband off. ;-) I think Maple Dulcia is ok (although mostly on meaning), don't really like Gwendolen at all. 

Robin Oak is cute, and I still like Lavender (I feel like if she was your second or third child he could let you have Mirth as a middle unless he can come up with something you both like better) and Betty Nightingale of course.

Briar Samwise has a nice sound, and while I would not use Samwise as a first name I think you can probably get away with it in the middle slot as long as you are okay with what Miriam pointed out, and willing to explain/justify it should someone make a negative comment (which I feel is fairly unlikely with a middle name). Because honestly if your son grew up and disliked the association/character it would be very easy for him to just say his middle name is Sam.

80
May 6, 2017 6:59 PM

I'm glad you like Maple Josetta. I really like the sound of it, I think it has something to do with the long A sound at the beginning of Maple combined with the long O at the start of Josetta. I've also begun to appreciate how Maple shares that A sound and an L with out last name. I think Maple is growing on me.

If we use Lavender, I'll still be fighting for Mirth to go with it! I think he'd let me use it for a third girl.

I agree that I can't use Samwise as a first because of the reason Miriam brought up, but also that I don't want Sam as the nickname. I think the middle names slot will keep it a bit more private and personal. My husband likes that he could use the "just Sam" option if he didn't want to tell folks his full middle name.  The only down side is that now the initials are BSS, which isn't as bad as simply BS, but it isn't grand.

81
May 6, 2017 7:28 PM

It's something about the rhythm of Josetta for me I think, it's quite a bouncy name which might well be the two short sylables after the first long one, it really does just flow nicely on from Maple. Makes the whole name sound kind of happy and upbeat to me.

I think BSS work okay as initials, like you say they are maybe not ideal but I don't think they'd actually cause him much strife. You can always keep one eye open for other ideas as your pregnancy progresses, maybe a different name that you both love will present itself (much like Maple did). 

You'll have to come back and tell us what you have, or better yet just stay around to give other people advice, I want to know what name you end up with officially. :-)

82
May 6, 2017 2:49 PM

I think Maple Josetta is a total winner, along with Betty Nightingale. Well done! I also like the compromise of characters from books and games -- three of my kids were named after books -- and the genius thing about this category is that it naturally tends to expand over time, as you read or reread something and say, "hey, honey, what do you think about the name [x]?" So, I think you'll likely end up stumbling across more namesakes as you go on living your lives, and I'd encourage you to just keep your mind open as you read (or play games) because you never know what you might turn up between now and the birth of your last child. Bonus, there are a lot of names that straddle the fusty/gamer divide, like Zelda, which wear beautifully on little kids.

83
May 6, 2017 7:01 PM

Woot! I'm glad Maple Josetta can keep up With Betty Nightingale.

That is great advice, we'll keep our minds open to new names that come along.

84
May 6, 2017 6:23 PM

Still totally in love with Betty Nightingale!  

I have some hestitation about Briar Samwise, but mostly because I've never been a huge LOTR fan (like it, but not part of that particular "fandom"). My other hesitation  is because I've read Miriam's comments about the meaning of the name often enough over the years that it's the first thing that comes to mind when I see the name.  That said, I don't think it's a huge issue in the middle position & he could always just shorten to Sam if it really bothers him for some reason.

I love Robin Oak and Maple Josetta is fantastic.  I think they make great additions to the runners up list.  While it isn't my personal favorite, I know that you really love Lavender Mirth, so I'm happy to see it still makes the cut.

 

85
May 6, 2017 11:55 PM

I'm so bummed for you that Quest was nixed, but I'm glad you and your husband had such a productive name conversation and came out on the other side with some fantastic options.

I still love Betty Nightingale, of course, and I'm pleased to see that Lavender Mirth is still holding her own on the runners-up list. I love Maple Josetta and actually think it goes better with Betty Nightingale than Maple Gwendolen or Maple Dulcia. Robin Oak is really awesome, too.

Personally, I couldn't use Samwise because a) I'm not a huge fan of Tolkien and have never read LoTR, only The Hobbit, and b) there are too many people in my immediate circle who are Tolkien nerds and would absolutely know the meaning of it, so I just couldn't use it. However, Briar Samwise sounds awesome together, so as long as you're aware of the meaning beforehand and decide you're okay with that, then I see no reason not to use it, especially as a middle name.

I second the request of other posters! Please either stick around or come back and let us know when baby's born and the final name is chosen!

86
May 7, 2017 8:56 AM

I'll be sure to stick around! Even if I don't post very often I'll be sure to post what name we use!

87
May 9, 2017 10:23 AM

What a fun thread!  Betty is indeed fine as a first name.  If you do in the end want something more formal, Bette, Bettina, Annabeth, and Bethany also work and I don't see them mentioned.

Nobody else seems to have noticed this, but "Betty and Robin" immediately jumped out at me (no pun intended) as way too Batman!  I love them individually but not together.

Japanese boy names that work in English include Kentaro and Kaisei (which evoke Kent and Kai).  Hiro is also totally fun, you could also go simply with Hero and explain that it’s inspired by a Japanese name. Cultural appropriation is a potential issue, but if you have meaningful ties that is a different scenario. A lot also depends on the culture.  I don't know Japan, but  I was born in Asia to two white American parents, and have a local middle name and everyone from there freaking LOVES that I have a name from that country so much that they refuse to acknowledge or use my first name at all.  ;)

On the "botanical names for boys" front: Hays/Hayden/Haywood, Redmond/Redwood, Reed, Rowan (a tree!), Sage, Sylvan, Cedar, Palmer.  Miles is always great as a globe-trotting name!  I once knew a guy named Spruce but he was constantly going "Spruce, not Bruce, you know like the tree."  Still, it’s fun.

I like gender-neutral names a lot, but I would definitely pair them with a middle name that is umambiguously NOT.  This will help clear up any confusion, especially re: emails etc addressed to Mr. Jordan when in fact it's a Ms. Jordan (or whatever).  Most of the people I know with gender-neutral first names use their middle names in email signatures etc.

88
May 9, 2017 3:56 PM

I still think Betty stands out like a sore thumb among the hardcore nature names like Briar, Lavender and Maple. Is there a nature name that could shorten to Betty?

Unrelated side note: I write historical fiction in my spare time so things like Mabel and Betty really bug me.

89
May 9, 2017 4:24 PM

Betony?  But if they want Betty, that's okay by me.

90
May 9, 2017 7:45 PM

I'm not really interested in a longer name for Betty because we would only call her Betty. What use is a long name which is obscurely related to the name Betty if we don't use it? If anyone points out that Betty isn't a nature name she can tell them her middle name is Nightingale. I'd even be fine with her going by Nightingale if she wanted to.

I was hoping that Betty wouldn't stick out so much by having Robin on the list and putting Maple ahead of Lavender. In the end though, I think we like Betty enough for it to be a bit of a mis-match on the surface.

91
May 9, 2017 9:19 PM

I truly don't see a problem with those combinations. I see Robin as a transitional name -- a nature name, yes, but also familiar enough as a given name that it doesn't immediately evoke the bird like, say Wren or Lark would. So, in a sibling set of Betty, Robin, and Maple, I see Robin as a bridge between the namey Betty and the naturey Maple. And if there are only two children, then there's not hit-you-over-the-head theme in either direction, since two of anything isn't a clear pattern.

And as we so often say, siblings are only a set for a short time. Yes, they will always be a set to family members, but to most people in their lives they will be known independently of their siblings.

(And someone upthread mentioned something about Batman. I'm sure that many people will see the connection, but I had to look up what Betty had to do with Batman, so don't worry that it's going to jump out to everyone.)

92
May 9, 2017 9:44 PM

My family is very into comics and I had to look up the connection too. I actually think it is super cute! If it was really well known it could be a little strange, but as it is I think it is a charming connection. 

93
May 10, 2017 3:26 AM

Another one chiming in to the "siblings don't have to match" chorus. My name is extremely different from those of my two sisters, which are quite similar. People noticed, of course, but it's really not a big deal. Names you love should definitely trump some sort of sibling theme.

94
May 10, 2017 7:40 AM

I know a family who had three boys in six years, all with the first initial J. Then a few years later, they had a daughter and named her Stephanie. Yes, of course everyone was surprised that her name didn't start with a J, but I can guarantee you that it has had zero effect on any of their lives. And a matching first initial is a much more obvious "theme" than nature names.

95
By mk
May 10, 2017 3:17 PM

I agree with you regarding Betty versus a longer name. It even has been used as a full name for many years, so it's not a new concept.

Sibling names don't have to match. Personally, I like it better when they don't.