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March 23, 2017 01:49 PM

She said Charis shares daddy's first three letters, so he can't be Chris. Maybe Chad? I don't actually know how to say Charis (besides probably not "chair-iss"), but given that I have the same name as my mom, yet gave my daughter basically the same thing with three letters tacked on the end, I obviously don't think it's a problem, no matter what the actual names and pronunciations. (Charis with dad Chris would be a great cross-gender namesake.)

March 22, 2017 10:22 AM
In Response to Help with Name Remorse

Is there a possibility that your father-in-law honestly thinks he's just being funny? (Or endearing, or some other mostly-positive adjective?) If you've always been nice to him, maybe he's just being utterly blind to how deeply he's offending you, and continues to think that your complaints are just for form's sake. (Have you broken down in tears in front of him yet? Some men, it takes that sort of clue-by-four for social cues to penetrate.)

March 22, 2017 10:00 AM


March 22, 2017 09:58 AM
In Response to Help with Name Remorse

If you can't figure out what set of characters is triggering it ("etc" is one we've identified), send the text you want to post (along with your username and the thread title) to bnwmod at gmail dot com and one of us moderators will post it for you.

March 21, 2017 10:16 PM

First to go for me would be part of 2: shared initials with parents don't count.

Second to go is 3. Names don't _have_ meanings. You don't expect a Holly to be glossy dark green and prickly, or a Heather or Erica to be short and kind of spiky, do you? Most sources attribute a meaning of "downy-bearded" to my name, which is just nonsense, but it hasn't impacted my love for it one iota.

I just read up a bit on Fiona Macleod, the secret pen name or alter ego of the 19th century Scottish writer William Sharp. What a strangely fascinating story! He's usually credited with inventing the name, presumably as a feminization of Fionn (Finn), and I think it's definitely in the "successful" category of literary inventions. Does thinking about it from this angle make the derivation seem less bland?

Similarly, for Mariah I'd consider associations -- such as the Marys on the family tree -- to be much more significant than the basically unknown probably-ancient-Egyptian etymology. (I'm on the fence about /muh-RYE-uh muh-RAID/. I think it could grow on me, but it rather depends on the surname that goes with it.)

In the U.S., the decision about diacritics on the middle name is out of your hands: the U.S. government will ignore them and omit them. Most states follow the federal government's lead. (Our daughter's name properly should have two accented letters, the É of her middle name and the ö in our surname. We carefully filled out the paperwork with diacritics in place, but her birth certificate, Social Security card, and passport all omit them.)

March 21, 2017 08:24 AM

Marine as in "soldier on a ship who isn't a sailor", or marine as in "having to do with the ocean"? If the former, it fits with the Ottoman Turkish origin of the Hungarian word. (Hungary being landlocked for basically all of its history, words for "marine" or "navy" are mostly irrelevant.)

March 20, 2017 10:23 PM

The Hun is Attila: atta 'father' plus a diminutive suffix. The pronunciation is pretty universally Atilla (single/short T, double/long L), though, hence the spelling change. It's a very common name in Hungary (using the historical rather than phonetic spelling, which is a rare departure from usual policies), and I know about half a dozen of them in the U.S.; none of them have ever had the gender of their name misidentified.

Out of curiosity, which syllable is stressed in Turkish? (In Hungarian it's always the first syllable, which makes American-style /uh-TILL-uh/ grate on the ears.)

Levente is an old Hungarian name derived from the verb lenni 'to be'. It is also coincidentally a word meaning 'paladin, champion'; this latter was borrowed into Hungarian from Ottoman Turkish via Serbo-Croatian, altered from the older leventa due to vowel harmony. Does Levent still mean something like 'warrior' in modern Turkish?

March 20, 2017 09:57 PM

Yes, in Latin the letter 'i' is always the /ee/ or /ih/ sound. (Great English Vowel Shift: i->a, a->e, e->i.) I'm less clear on the syllable stress rules, but it usually sounds OK to me to default to Hungarian style (stress on the first syllable).

March 20, 2017 08:20 AM
In Response to Love Like Lose Boys

(It's amazing how quickly the names on the list change completely.)

Bennett, Wyatt, Matthew, Coby, Joseph, Harry, Ned, Achilles, Leon

Love: Joseph (my dad chose this for his new first name when he got his citizenship), Bennett (originates as a medieval diminutive of Benedict, which is one of those obscure little facts that makes a name geek slightly giddy), Wyatt (medieval diminutive of William, see previous).

Like: Coby (can originate as a diminutive of Jacob, but it sounds just like Kobe, as in beef), Matthew (a great classic, but a bit boring; the short form Matt is in the "I can't remember which name" category for me, along with all the other one-syllable names of my generation, like Chris, Mark, and Scott), Leon (still feels a bit like an old Jewish guy, but fits modern style nicely).

Lose: Harry (sounds exactly like "hairy" in my dialect, so while I don't actually mind the name, it got pushed down to the "lose" list), Ned (as a nickname for Edward it's lovely, but it'd be cruel to bestow it as a full name: no flexibility, and rather abrupt), Achilles (part of a synonym for fatal flaw, plus the sound even has "kill" in it -- just not a good thing to name a child).

New list: Joseph, Bennett, Wyatt, Coby, Matthew, Leon, Elliott, Kester, Randal.

March 20, 2017 07:47 AM

Newer scholarship derives Beatrice from viatrix "(female) traveler", which was altered pretty early on to the Bea- spelling, due to association with the adjective beatus "blessed". This is based both on the total lack of evidence for the word "beatrix", and on records that appear to show that Viatrix and Beatrix were names referring to the same woman.

March 18, 2017 10:33 PM
In Response to Nickname Help!

How old is your Julianna? If she's old enough to say her sister's name, but young enough to say it wrong, then ta-dah: you have your nickname. :-)

But even if you don't have a handy toddler to invent diminutives for you, I suggest not trying to nail down nicknames. Both Mari and Beth are great, intuitive choices, and you can freely use both, at least for a while, to see which one sticks better. But who knows, maybe she'll end up as Fiddle or Goldie or something else totally unrelated to her name...

(Our Julianna was Babóca /BOB-oh-tsah/ when she was a toddler.)

March 17, 2017 01:49 PM
In Response to Third baby name

Instead of Kenton, maybe Colin? Like your first two's names, it is (or can be) derived from a better-known classic: Ewan possibly from Eugene, Pierce from Peter, Colin from Nicholas. There's also Kester, an old short form of Christopher.

Gillian also fits the "pattern"; it originates as a variant of Julian. As regulars around here know, I and my entire family are big fans of the entire Julia- family of names. :-)

Are your middle names primarily stylistic choices, or is there a family or other connection?

March 16, 2017 07:57 AM
In Response to Middle name help...

None of your names are even remotely long. :-) (Our daughter's full name has 8+3+13=24 characters and 4+2+3=9 syllables. For you, a boy middle with fewer than 10 letters and 5 syllables and a girl middle with fewer than 9 letters and 4 [or 4.5] syllables will still result in a shorter name than that.)

My oft-repeated advice is that the best middle names have some significance. Family honor names are the most common way to achieve that, but you can also look to shared interests or other things that connect you (the parents) as a couple, such as the place you met or a mutual favorite fictional character, or to aspirations or wishes for your child, such as virtue names.

March 15, 2017 09:19 PM

(For what little it's worth, I know two six-year-olds named Molly, but only adult Katherines, of various spellings.)

It basically comes down to "recently kinda trendy" versus "spelling variations." Which is less objectionable to you? Combining spellings, their current usage in the U.S. is about the same: they're both in the 1000 babies per million range.

With a surname as relatively common as Sullivan, you may want to consider a fairly uncommon name for the middle slot, for disambiguation. Katherine Elma? Molly Cornelia? Check the family tree for ideas.

March 15, 2017 09:00 PM

Marion is completely feminine by origin: it's a diminutive of Mary using the same -on suffix as found in Alison. Like Allison and Evelyn, its masculine usage is a transferred surname. The SSA list for 1880 has 115 female and 189 male Marions. T's great-aunt was Marion; she died a couple of years ago at age ninety-something, which puts her birth circa 1920. The numbers for that year are 5746 F and 1603 M. In 1907 (when John Wayne was born), it was 1251 F and 226 M.

March 15, 2017 09:39 AM

Crystalline is an adjective meaning "Being, relating to, or composed of crystal or crystals" or "Resembling crystal, as in transparency or distinctness of structure or outline". It's a word that's mostly used only in writing, so the pronunciation varies a lot: people say the ending as -lynn, -line, or -leen. If I encountered it as a name, I'd assume ignorant or uneducated parents.

March 15, 2017 09:22 AM

"Positive" is not quite the same as "pleasant". Yes, Snape turns out to be a Good Guy, but that doesn't change the fact that I wouldn't want him as a teacher.

March 14, 2017 06:49 PM

Most of your names are considerably more adventurous than many parents are willing to inflict on their offspring. Are these for an imminent child, a theoretical child, yourself, a fictional character, or something else?

Penrose is a placename, derived from parts meaning 'top' and 'moor'. Calling someplace (and especially someone) the highest point of a large flat expanse seems like the epitome of damning with faint praise. If it's a family name, it'd make a neat middle due to the sound, but I wouldn't want it to be my given name.

I likewise would not want to live with Pandora as my name; that myth is just not a happy connection. I also wouldn't want Daisy as my full name, but as a nickname for Margaret, I'd love it.

Marion and Lily are lovely. The latter is significantly more popular in the U.S. than the rest of your girl choices, but popularity is really pretty meaningless nowadays.

Of your boy list, Severus would be rather difficult to live with -- 'sever us': cut/chop us off?, plus 'severe' and Professor Snape -- there are no pleasant associations to be had for it anywhere.

Arcturus is definitely "out there", but I think it would be kind of fun, especially if astronomy was a family hobby. The Harry Potter reference for this one is considerably more obscure than for Severus, so I think it would simply serve to make the name more familiar and therefore easier to remember.

August, Charles, and Frederick are all right in line with the modern parent's Holy Grail: well-known but not overused, and no major negative associations to account for it. They're "old guy" names ripe and ready for revival.

March 14, 2017 03:55 PM
In Response to Help With A Boy Name

One of my daughter's preschool classmates had an older brother named Vɑlɛntine. His mother commented at one point that nobody under 30 had ever reacted negatively to it.

March 14, 2017 03:44 PM

Hamish is a name created by people with no clue about Gaelic grammar. Seumas starts with an 'sh' sound, not an 'h'; it's the vocative case version -- the one that's often rendered "O, [Name]" in translations -- that starts with an 'h' sound. You don't name babies in the vocative case. Names should be bestowed in the nominative case, pretty much by definition.

I wonder whether Hamish is rising in Scotland because the actual Gaelic form of James sounds too much like "shame us"?