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January 17, 2019 07:05 AM

Do you pronounce it differently when you are talking about the flowers versus the universe? I'm not sure I've ever heard the flower name said out loud, but presumed it was like Cosmo with an added -s, so the last syllable sounds like the name Mo followed by -s, while I say Cosmos, the universe, sort of as though it ends with most but drops the T.

January 16, 2019 11:58 AM

I say it roughly ZIN-ee-uh. Definitely 3 syllables here.

January 16, 2019 07:10 AM

I like NotAGuestAnymore’s suggestion of a two-fer suggested by: Josephine, nn Posey, or Juniper, nn Juno.

Of the many flower names already listed by others, I especially love Flora, Tansy, and Aster.

I had a coworker named Vinca, which I didn’t even know until then was a flower, but I thought it was beautiful.

December 24, 2018 07:02 AM

As a Becky, I'm sad but resigned to my name's fate. Thanks, Laura, for the really trenchant analysis!

December 4, 2018 09:52 AM

Except that the other popular cultural uses of Becky (from Sir Mix-A-Lot to Beyonce) don't match with that "older, white, middle-class category" -- one of the articles referenced in that Merriam-Webster post (Damon Young, The Root) describe the term as "ultimately a reaction to a certain type of privileged young White woman who exists in a state of racial obliviousness that shifts from intentionally clueless to intentionally condescending." (with a side of Becky=BJ)

November 30, 2018 12:09 PM

Oof. For purely selfish reasons, I'm hoping this isn't the winner. I'm not keen on my name becoming a synonym for ignorance and privilege in the first place, but it seems that ship has sailed (Thanks, Sir-Mix-A-Lot!) and sailed again (Thanks, Beyonce!).

- A Becky (who doesn't drink PSLs *or* call the police on POCs)

November 2, 2018 08:53 AM

I love wikipedia articles on linguistics! And, that article does clarify that British dropping of the R in "utterly" makes sense, since the R is at the end of the root, even though it's not the end of the word.

All of the descriptions of linking and intrusive R that I can find (including the ones that you linked to) say that they aren't found in rhotic dialects. Vermont is squarely in the NW New England dialect (,, and we're supposed to be rhotic. But, I'm guessing that my older relatives (who were primarily from eastern Vermont) were still at least partially non-rhotic, and my mom and her generation picked up added Rs in some words even though they were rhotic.

Anyone interested in hearing what I consider the "real Vermont accent" (you know, because it's the one MY family had), should watch Man with a Plan. The main character, Fred Tuttle, is from a town near my extended family, and watching it with them when it came out was a kick, "oh, that's so and so's cousin there, standing in front of Glenn's harness shop." Also, it's pretty hilarious, as in this snippet:

November 2, 2018 08:22 AM

It is fivethirtyeight! All of the regulars aren't even New Yorkers, but they all seem unmerged and accented to me.

November 1, 2018 10:48 AM

What I find most interesting is that they often drop the -R ending on words and then add it back before a vowel. So, apparently, Eleanor in a British accent is pronunced roughly the same as Elena (ell-en-uh) and in the audiobook I've been listening to with a character named Pepper, the narrator pronounces it "pep-uh" (unless it's followed by a word starting with a vowel, of course).

The British pronunciation of utterly on Forvo is "uht-uh-lee" seeming to drop the R from the middle of the word, which seems like it doesn't follow the rule, but I'm definitely not up on linguistic subtleties (or phonetic spelling, to be honest).

I am 100% merged on almost everything (I actually can't keep track of which is supposed to be which in the marry-Mary-merry merger), and I listen to a podcast with a bunch of New Yorkers, one of whom is named Harry, and the way they all say "Haaaarry" sounds so protracted to me, almost a caricature).

On a totally other note about accents, I've been puzzling for years over the Vermont accent used by my maternal family--it's definitely rhotic, but they also add Rs in a way that isn't quite what you're describing (middle of words, doesn't seem to vary based on surrounding words).

Even in specific examinations of the Vermont dialect that I've read, it never gets mentioned, but my whole family very definitely says:

idea = i-deeR (I've never noticed it changing based on whether the next word begins with a vowel, though it may).

garage = ga-RAR-ge

wash = waRsh

aunt = aRnt (the same as we pronounce "aren't")

Aubuchon (local hardware store) = aw-bur-shon

Benjamin = ben-geR-man

What a bunch of weirdos!

October 31, 2018 03:00 PM

I was trying to suss out the "correct" pronunciation of Ottilie the other day, and found a place where someone described it as "like 'utterly' but with an O at the beginning." I was totally confused until I realized the commentator was in the UK, and probably didn't pronunce utterly AT ALL like me. With my NW New England rhotic/t-dropping ways, I must admit utterly 100% sounds like "udderly" when I say it.)

August 30, 2018 01:15 PM

Hmm, I think I would probably just go with Shelly, since it's feeling right to you, though "Shelly the Wookie" does have a ring to it.

Then again, I had a cat called Cat when I was growing up. (long story involving me being 5 (and having firm beliefs both about changing a cat's name (no!!!!) and the difference between "girl" and "boy" names) and a temporarily mistaken kitten sex. I insisted Bobby was not a girl's name so the kitten had to be named Bobbyetta. (We're not from the south, so I didn't know we could just call her Bobbi.) Finding the name awful, we proceeded to never ever use it again. I'm not sure anyone else in my family remembers the cat, who I adored and who made it to 15 despite being effectively nameless, was "officially" named Bobbyetta.)

Cats I've named: Koukouy (firefly), Wocket (Dr. Seuss reference), Bumblebee (because when I started fostering her at 3 weeks old, she used to bumble around in circles in the most adorable way)

Cats who already had names: Yoshi (he was a long-haired oriental/ragdoll look, the only one in a litter of black and white siblings, and was named by my friend who said, to my disbelief, "you know, like the green dragon"--umm, dinosaur!), Ducky, Squeak

Cat names I've wanted to use: Anathema Device (because Pratchett+Gaiman=double genius; I'm just barely suppressing my urge to use this on an actual child--it's a literary reference, after all!), Marigold & Tansy (a pair of tortoiseshells for some reason), Pickle (orange tabby, because that was the name of the kitten in The Little Kitten book that I adored when I was little), Pamplemousse (orange tabby; French word for grapefruit, that I just think sounds cool), Zap the cat (great minds think alike).

Cats named after me: when I was about 15, I started babysitting for this family who had an 11yo girl and two younger boys. The 11yo didn't really need "babysitting" so I became more of a big sister/mentor/friend to her while I was watching her brothers. They got a cat and the girl decided to name her Rebecca (my name) but call her Becca (I've always been Becky). It was a weird mix of flattering and insulting!

August 28, 2018 02:47 PM

Sending so much love! Last fall, I lost the cat of my heart, Koukouy (I got her when I was living in Haiti; "koukouy" is the Kreyol word for firefly), who'd I'd had all of my adult life, after a gradual decline -- she was 17 -- and just 2 weeks after one of my other two cats (Yoshi, a beautiful pain in the butt 7yo) was hit by a car and killed. I was sure I needed time to grieve, but the one remaining cat in my household, Bumblebee, was a very playful 2yo, and it was immediately clear that she needed a buddy. So, about a month after I lost Kou, I brought home a kitten that one of my friends had been fostering, Ducky, who's now 10 months or so. It was hard, in part because I felt some guilt for "replacing" Koukouy and Yoshi "so easily." But it wasn't easy, just an unavoidable part of life. And Ducky is 100% unlike either of them, so it's been okay. I still miss them like crazy, Kou especially.

I used to have a rule that I couldn't have more than 2 cats (1 per person in your household plus 1) because anything more would me a crazy cat lady. I'm still trying to keep the crazy to a bare minimum, but I've had up to 4 cats at once, and I think 2 is a totally reasonable number *when you're ready*. Don't force it, even for your kiddo. She's having to do some hard work learning about grief too, I'm guessing, and helping her understand that everyone grieves differently and that time is part of grieving for most people, that's a valuable (if hard) lesson for her.

August 28, 2018 09:47 AM
In Response to Name Nerd paralysis?

Definitely the right track on everything but the grandpas--I'm only semi-clunky there, I'd say, and most of the ones I like have come back around to popularity, like Henry and Arthur.

The OT names and Irish/Scottish names, definitely the right track--Ephraim, Asher, and Asa and Declan, Eoghan, and Rory, are on my list, along with some that have become too popular for me (with too many alternative spellings) like Finley and Riley.

August 28, 2018 09:36 AM
In Response to Name Nerd paralysis?

You pretty much hit my sweet spot! About half the names you listed are on my lists as well, including Leo, which falls in my Sam, Ben, Max, Cal, Gus category of nicknames I love (I don't love the long "formal" version of most of them).

I have to admit, in clear violation of my "easy to spell/pronounce" rule, I really love the name Eoghan. But, considering that along with rising in US popularity, Owen has been a top 10 name in my state for at least the last decade, I don't think I can inflict an alternate spelling on a real child!

August 28, 2018 09:19 AM
In Response to Name Nerd paralysis?

Thanks for rescuing me, Karyn! The spam filter on this site is a nightmare! I could not for the life of me get the system to recognize me as a human (got the captcha wrong, submitted too quickly, hit submit too many times, and repeat).

Honestly, I'm hoping Real Baby will be a girl, because that name is pretty much set, and since it's an honor name, it doesn't matter if I get bored with it, it's still not likely to change.

August 21, 2018 10:03 AM

I'm guessing some of these won't work for your husband's tastes, but here are my favorite E names:

Enzo, Ephraim, Eliseo/Elio, Ezekiel

Personally, Eoghan/Eoin is one of my favorites, but I don't think I could ever pull the trigger as it would be constantly mispelled as Owen in the U.S.

August 1, 2018 10:02 AM
In Response to Complete Our Sibset!

Semi-unrelated side note on identical/similar posts from multiple usernames: I posted about a year ago asking if any of you had ever heard the name Exelia, a name in my family tree that I've never been able to find on an official name list ( Well, I just googled Exelia the other day (I live in hope), and the results led me to a re-post of my question from a different username ( Since it's an exact copy of mine, down to a repeated word, I assume it's straight spam.

It actually got new and interesting responses, so I guess I can't complain too much.

July 26, 2018 09:04 AM
In Response to Brainstorm for twins

Narrowing it down to 5 is so hard! (Especially when I'm not ruling names out because of popularity, sound with my last name, match with my heritage, overlap with potential siblings, etc.)


  • Eoghan
  • Calvin
  • Jasper
  • Ephraim
  • Phineas



  • Ruby
  • Willa
  • Hazel
  • Marigold
  • Anastasia

July 24, 2018 07:28 AM
In Response to Baby Girl Name Advice

I love Juniper, and I think the rhythm of Juniper Miller sounds just fine. I've known one little girl personally with the name, and she went by the the full name, no default to June, so I think you could easily stick with Juniper or find another unrelated nickname. (I found a list of possible nicknames for Juniper, and I actually really like Pip.)

I like honor middle names, if they're an option, and Gretchen/Greta are from the German Margareta (Margaret), so in your place, I might be tempted to use Margaret or a Margaret-derived middle (I got some of these from Behind the Name): Mairéad (Irish/Scottish), Maisie (Scottish), Margaux (French), Meta (German), Merit (Swedish), depending on your heritage. I love Daisy as well, but Juniper Daisy might be too botanical for you.

If you don't want to go that route, I agree with other posters that Juniper Charlotte is lovely, and moving the overly popular option to the middle means you still get to use it.

July 10, 2018 07:38 AM

If you like Molly, and it's an honor name, I think that's a good one. Like Sadie, it's a "nickname" for a very common name that stands on its own well these days. Good symmetry! From the names on your honor list, I like Molly Virginia best (I'm super partial to Virginia, my mother's name, but have struggled with the idea of whether it works as a first these days), although it doesn't have that one syllable middle that works so well for a double name.

My other first name suggestion similar to Sadie is Hattie.