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July 21, 2017 08:46 AM
In Response to Fenton?

I don't personally see the attraction of naming a child 'enclosure/town by a fen or swamp', but if it has personal significance or appeals to you, there's nothing objectively wrong with it.

(Of course, Calvin derives from a surname meaning 'baldy', but it has Protestant and other cultural associations that override that for me.)

July 21, 2017 08:37 AM

I think -a endings on feminine names is an exception to "three is a pattern" -- most people don't even notice it, especially if they're from a Romance language background where nearly _every_ feminine name ends in 'a'.

July 21, 2017 08:22 AM
In Response to Ava and ..............

I'm currently working on a bit of the extended family tree that includes siblings Margit, Marta, and Maria. Compared to that, Ava and Evelyn have almost nothing in common. :-)

It does sound like you really like Evelyn best, and I think you should use it if you have another daughter. People who are prone to mixing up names will do it regardless of the sounds involved, and for everyone else, the two names have different initials and different lengths.

Other thoughts: if the Olivia -> Liv connection is intellectually unsatisfying, consider Livia. For similar sounds but a bit further from Ava (because no 'v'), there's Lydia.

Eleanor without the 'nor': Elena or Helena (though these add pronunciation ambiguity), Helen, and of course Ellen. But Nora is rising in popularity fairly steeply nowadays, so I don't think 'nor' sounds stuffy to most people.

I know a young Charlotte who is mostly called /shar/ (like 'sharp' without the 'p'), but my personal favorite nickname for it is Lottie. But if that connection doesn't do it for you, you have plenty of other names to choose from.


Hen for Henry sounds totally doable to me, probably because I know multiple old guys called Heni (in my dad's hometown in Hungary). Many traditional English forms or nicknames of Henry are somewhat far removed from the original by modern standards, due to changes in pronunciation over the centuries and across dialects: Hank(in), Hal(kin), Hawk(in).

Other boy names that may appeal: Nathaniel, Daniel, Sebastian, Joseph.

July 20, 2017 11:46 AM

Prince William's wife is Catherine, with a C, but her nickname is Kate, with a K. This used to be a totally standard thing; it's only in the last few decades that people have started believing the misinformation that a nickname's spelling must be contained in its entirety in the full name.

July 20, 2017 08:30 AM
In Response to Arabella & Auden?

The current usage of Auden as a given name in English comes from its use as a surname, but it became an English surname based firmly on masculine names: it's a form of Alden, which can derive from an Old Norse masculine name Hálfdan 'half-Dane', or from an Old English masculine name Ealdwine 'old friend'. Combined with the masculine association of the poet and the style departure from your older child's name, I can predict that it'd _always_ be interpreted as a boy's name, especially with another masculine name like Emrys for the middle name.

Any interest in Audrey or Audra?

July 18, 2017 10:06 PM
In Response to Sister for Ruby

What are your grandfathers' names? Could one or both have feminine counterparts that would give this child's name as much family connection as her sister's? Another route to consider: did your grandmothers have sisters? Their names would by definition be the same style and era as Ruby Jane.

July 15, 2017 12:58 AM
In Response to Alberta?

Leontine is certainly musical and southern, Leontyne Price being my immediate (and only) association, but opera is not jazzy...

I think Magnolia may feel prettier than either Alberta or Leontine to many people, because of the flower. (Based on sound, M & L are about equal: adjacent vowels, mostly-liquid consonants.) Leontine is not as obviously a feminized masculine name as Alberta is, but it is based on Leontius/Leontios. Of course, Magnolia is a French guy's surname with -ia tacked on at the end...

Gah, I'm no help, I like both choices! Draw one out of a hat, or wait until the girls are born to decide which one fits better?

July 14, 2017 04:37 AM

Am I the only one who totally doesn't understand the first joke, and can only sort of make sense of the third one? I think it's exactly the addition of the name that's messing me up both times, because it makes it unclear who's who and who's saying/doing what parts. Or I'm just dense.

July 13, 2017 04:48 PM
In Response to Our twin girls!

Oh, I remember that thread: Leonora and Marianne are both direct honor names, right? I adore the symmetry but lack of matchiness of your choices, and thank you for the update!

July 13, 2017 06:34 AM
In Response to Anything but Kelsey?

Klara with a K is a perfectly legitimate spelling, used in many European languages, not just in German, and honoring a Kelsey sounds like an excellent reason to choose it.

(I dislike the entire _class_ of names like Kelsey -- broadly surname-names, more narrowly random English placenames that don't figure anywhere in the family tree -- so I sympathize.)

The 'chop off the head' approach happens to yield a name with history: Elsie. You could use this as a nickname for Elizabeth or one of its many variants, and you could pair it with a K name (such as Kay or Katherine) in the middle.

Selkie is a near-anagram of Kelsey. Selkies are figures in Celtic mythology who are seals in water but human on land, so combined with the [something] + 'island' derivation of Kelsey, some sort of water- or island-related name could be an option, but I'm not coming up with any that are any improvement over the original (for me): Whitney and Lindsay have the same 'island' second element, but they're also random English placenames, while the meaning/derivation of names like Morgan or Lynn is debatable and kinda far removed from Kelsey.

July 11, 2017 02:27 PM

A common Hungarian nickname for Anna is Panna or Panni (all 'A's pronounced like Anna in Frozen).

July 11, 2017 02:20 PM
In Response to Opinions of Enid?

You're both right about Gwen: it originates as a nickname, but it has been in occasional use as a full name since at least the late 1800s. (My husband's Aunt Gwen was just Gwen, born in Ohio in the late 1920s.)

I agree with my sister that if Michael can be Mike, then Guinevere can be Gwen, but you could also tweak the spelling of the full name: Gwenevere is a cross between the 16th century English spelling Gwenhwyvar (or the 16c Welsh Gwenhoyver) and the usual modern spelling.

July 11, 2017 12:08 AM
In Response to Opinions of Enid?

Whereas my impression of current naming style (at least in SE Pennsylvania and environs) is that Miriam would be fine with middle name Ethel, but Dorothy Ethel would be A Bit Much, and not just because of the repeated 'th'. This is despite (or because of?) knowing a young Dorothy but no young Miriams.

I would be pleasantly surprised but not shocked to meet a young Enid: it fits modern style with its simple sounds and short length, and its period of peak popularity (1910s) is prime Vintage Revival territory. I think the only reason it hasn't yet made it back onto the charts is that it was never all that common to begin with, so it's off the radar for most modern parents.

One idea: to honor an Ethel, you could use the related name Adele. (Ethel derives from an Old English word meaning 'noble'; Adele comes from its Old Germanic cognate.)

July 10, 2017 05:44 AM
In Response to Alberta?

It's one of my guilty pleasures, too, and now that you mention it, I have no idea why the "guilty"! I would be absolutely delighted to meet a little Alberta, and I would totally swoon over twin sisters with any of the names you mentioned. One caution, though: two feminized masculine names, such as Alberta, Josephine, and Wilhelmina, may come across to some people as "we really actually wanted boys". I don't think this is actually true, of course -- many of these names feel totally different from their masculine counterparts, and besides, cross-gender namesakes are a Good Thing, in my book -- but the possibility of such an impression is there.

July 9, 2017 03:53 PM

Ah, the UK non-rhotic accent, where the letter 'r' mostly only still exists for historical reasons. For other dialects of English, such as most of the ones spoken in North America, the final syllables of 'Mina' and 'meaner' sound nothing alike, and your worry about teasing is somewhat perplexing.

July 8, 2017 05:42 AM

Well, Betty is usually or traditionally a nickname for Elizabeth, so something like Elżbieta or even Liliana could be an honor name for it. My husband's family tree also has a Betti who was formally Barbara (the connecting link being the diminutive Babette).

Also, for a middle name, it doesn't really matter whether you can picture a baby named Betty, as that's not what she'd be called. But there are many ways to honor someone in a middle name, such as her favorite flower, her birthstone, the name she would've given your husband if he had been a girl, etc.

July 8, 2017 12:14 AM
In Response to Baby Girl Name Help!!

Aurelia actually has a lot of pronunciation ambiguity. Emphasis on the first or second syllable? How many syllables? First syllable like 'are', 'or', or 'our'? Second syllable like 'eel', 'ail', or 'ell'? In fact, I'm not even sure what the English default really is.

July 8, 2017 12:03 AM

I think I like Yolanta more than Yola -- the latter reminds me of the anagram for New Orleans (NOLA). Of course, I like Jolanta even more, but I can understand not wanting to saddle a child with the J-for-Y headache. The danger with Yolanta is that people will mistake it for Yolanda, which I've always heard with an /ae/ in the middle syllable, and that's not as pretty.

In Hungarian it's Jolán or Jolánta, and there's a very old folk etymology associating it with jó leány 'good girl'. In fact, it's possible that at least some of the 12th-13th century Hungarian instances of this name are actually old native aspirational names based on those words.

Another option is to use the "retconned" Greek: Iolanthe. Of course, that'd have its own share of pronunciation difficulties... Or sidestep the whole thing and use Violet?

For the middle name, does Oksana have a family connection, too, or just the general cultural one? Speaking as a Julia who named her daughter Julianna, I want to encourage the thought of using Sabrina, but I'm torn on Eugenia: I like the name, but using both parts of your mom's name may come across as a bit heavy-handed, especially to your spouse's family.


I'm another one who pronounces Laura "like car", but I have enough of a linguistics background to know that that statement is actually somewhat ambiguous: in general, the sound /r/ wreaks havoc on English vowels (Mary/marry/merry, for example), and the various /a/ sounds are especially prone to dialectal variation.

One reason I say something like [lɒʊɾə] is that in Hungarian, it's [lɒurɒ], basically a full three syllables, or maybe 2.75 if you're in a hurry. This is also why my husband's cousin was named Lara: her Hungarian-speaking father did not want the /o/-type pronunciation(s). Of course, some people automatically say Lora anyway, especially if they encounter the name in speech rather than writing. It's the same phenomenon as that scene in The Little Mermaid where the prince is trying to guess Ariel's name: the crab whispers /ARE-ee-ell/, the prince says /AIR-ee-ell/, and we're all expected not to notice any difference.

July 7, 2017 08:22 AM
In Response to A sister for Astrid

I know a seven-year-old named Kaja, rhymes with Sky-ah, and her mother has not expressed any regret about their spelling choice. (It's a homage to a favorite writer and graphic artist, Kaja Foglio.) So that's one data point that a 'j' instead of a 'y' is usable in English-speaking countries.

Your disappointment about Thea's origins made me think of Thora for you.