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May 22, 2019 09:19 AM
In Response to Stuck Between Names

Our godson is Maximilian (with a one-syllable highly ubiquitous surname), and while he's got serious challenges (pretty severe autism), he loves having a long name with a short, easy nickname. (He wrote out his full name in toothpicks when he was three.)

May 17, 2019 11:08 AM

Do you pronounce Graham as one syllable (like the metric unit of mass) or two? I ask because the "flow" of given-and-surname is vastly more important than given-and-middle, and 2+2 tends to feel choppy. (The different ending nasal consonant of Ethan versus Graham doesn't help.)

I agree with the comment above: William doesn't work with your surname, unless you want to actually honor the evangelist.

May 12, 2019 06:51 PM

Goldeheve is the really old spelling; later on it's found as Goldiva or scribal variations (Goldyva, Goldyua) -- but by later on I mean 13th century instead of 12th. (I'm away from my books, so I can't check how long it stayed in use after that, but other forms and other early English names in Gold- can be seen in this article:

May 1, 2019 07:49 AM

Margot is a form of Margaret, so Mae makes perfect sense to me as a diminutive of Margot. (Personally I vastly prefer Margaret over Margot, but that's neither here nor there for you.) Or you could try the full French form, Marguerite, or the Scottish Mairead (rhymes with "parade"). The Polish version Małgorzata has always intrigued me, but it has the crossed-L to complicate things. If you have any Scandinavian or Hungarian ancestry, you could go with Margit. Or perhaps the fully Latinized Margareta would have enough flair to excite you?

A name from the Margaret family would harmonize very well with Josephine/Posey: marguerite/margareta are the names for the daisy in many languages, so even if you call her Mae rather than Daisy, there's a background floral connection, similar to her sister's name(s).

April 22, 2019 10:21 AM

If they move to Australia, then there will be no 'r' in Oliver and it will not matter what sound their surname begins with. :-)

April 19, 2019 06:39 AM

Just to put some numbers on things: the most popular names of 2017 in the U.S. (Liam and Emma) were about one-fourth as common as the most popular names of 1977 (Michael and Jennifer). The specifics differ in Australia, but I'm sure the general trend holds there, too: "most popular" means fewer babies by a factor of four.

When the range of choices is this varied and this "flat" (i.e. there isn't really a choice that's appreciably more common than the others), statistics becomes essentially ineffective at predicting everyday experiences. Randomness plays a bigger role than the trends. The most-repeated name in a school or classroom may be ranked nationally at number 20, or even number 200.

If Oliver is the name you like best, name your child Oliver. It will serve him well throughout his life.

April 15, 2019 08:49 AM

For some reason my first thought was Agnes, or to continue the nature theme of Red Bird, maybe one of its medieval English forms that evoke "anise", like Anneis or Annys. (Or just straight-up Anise.)

Other ideas: Ailith, Edith, Mabel (or Maple), Olive, Scolace, Tamsin, Theda, Thora, Wilma.

April 12, 2019 09:32 AM

My understanding is that Cohen isn't an earned title, but an inherited one -- and it comes with special responsibilities. There isn't really a Christian equivalent, although titles/positions like Bishop or Deacon cover some of the same ground. And certainly, persecution history plays a large part in the perception of offensiveness: naming a child Windsor or Hohenstaufen (yikes!) would have similar inherited-privilege-and-responsibility overtones, but nobody would be offended by the choices. (Perplexed, or amused [not in a good way], but not personally offended.)

April 8, 2019 02:28 PM

A suggestion: use the terms "given name" and "surname" (or "family name") instead of "first name" and "last name". Lu is your given name, Wang is your surname. This makes things a bit less confusing or ambiguous, because it identifies names by their role (which is consistent between Chinese and English) instead of their position (which changes according to language).

I went to elementary through high school with a Mark Wang (pronounced with the same /a/ sound in both names), and I don't think anyone ever had any trouble with his name. I suppose there were probably people who wanted to spell it Wong upon hearing it spoken, but it looks wrong to me that way, despite my school days being decades behind me.

I agree with other commenters that Lu is a perfect Chinese-English crossover name, and it doesn't need to change. The only place I can foresee any trouble is dumb search engines or other computer interfaces that sometimes require at least three characters in their inputs, but hopefully those are few and far between, and getting rarer over time. If you *want* a different name to use in English, just for variety, then by all means, take advantage of this opportunity, but don't feel constrained to do so.

April 6, 2019 05:51 PM

To answer the question in your thread title: names chosen by the same people will by definition match in style. All of the names they choose will fit their style of naming. Some people (couples) have a particularly eclectic sort of style, and that's perfectly fine -- preferable, even, compared to naming every child with some combination of the same set of sounds/letters. People will accept just about anything as sibling names, because of the basic fact that they _are_ siblings. (Well, OK, people would probably raise an eyebrow at Keren-Happuch as a sister to Mason, but what are the chances of the same people choosing both of those names?)

March 29, 2019 04:30 PM

As has been pointed out many, many, many times on this board, middle names are mostly hidden in everyday life. Think about it: do you know the middle names of your cousins? coworkers? best friend?

The best middle names have some type of significance to the bestowers: some particular reason for giving _that_ name as opposed to countless other choices. If this reason is that it made for the best-sounding full name, that's fine, but if you're at a loss, I suggest looking at your family tree or favorite books/movies/scientists/artists/... for inspiration.

March 29, 2019 04:19 PM

Both of the female Robins I know spell it with an 'i'.

March 24, 2019 08:58 AM
In Response to What do you think??

Camilla is lovely! I especially like it as a sister to Eliana: the names share a mostly-liquid sort of flowiness, but sound and look distinct.

For nicknames, there's nothing wrong with each parent using a different one. As I believe I already wrote in your other thread, children can learn to associate themselves with multiple names.

March 23, 2019 10:28 AM

Ooh, I love freesias! (Especially the scent. Dunno why you can't ever get anything freesia-scented.) I really like the contrast between the unexpected (as a name) Freesia and the classic Dorothy. Congratulations on a well-named baby!

March 13, 2019 09:03 PM
In Response to Names for twins

You're right about the current unpopularity of many of these names, but Agathe ranked 26th and Lilou ranked 40th in France in 2017, so they're quite on-trend. And while Catherine and Marguerite rank pretty low, they're still hanging in there in the top 1000 in France. They're certainly classics in the English-speaking world.

This is according to the lists under "Baby Name Atlas" on Laura Wattenberg's new site (

Catherine 936
Agathe 26
Geneviève not ranked
Lilou 40
Marguerite 680
Renée not ranked
Jacqueline not ranked
Veronique not ranked

Océane 82
Celeste not ranked

Gaspard 50


My vote is Agathe and Mathilde (ranked 48th in 2017). I have a French acquaintance named Mathilde and I love how she says her name. :-)

March 13, 2019 06:49 AM

I agree that Celestina is the most striking choice, and that this is actually a Good Thing.

For the pronunciation, you can just accept that it's said differently in Italian and English; use the one at home, the other at daycare/school/etc. Children can easily learn to associate with multiple pronunciations or versions of their names. My name begins with a /y/ sound like in "yew" in Hungarian, and a /dg/ sound like in "Jew" in English, and this has never been a problem. (The only pronunciation I cannot associate with and actually dislike is the Spanish /h/ one.)

March 12, 2019 11:59 AM
In Response to Middle Name for Margot

Here's a thought experiment (or memory test) for you: when was the last time you said someone's full name, including middle name, aloud? When was the last time you heard your own full name spoken?

Don't worry about the rhythm or flow of middle names. In most families, the issue simply never comes up. And besides, Margot Winslow Marcel has a memorable cadence to it that I find pleasing. (If I had to say it often, I suppose the surname would inevitably eventually come out as Marceau, but the point is that it's not something that would necessarily be said often.)

March 12, 2019 11:38 AM

Obscure character references aside, Hale sounds identical to "hail", as in "falling ice" -- an unfortunate association -- and as in "call, greet" -- a thoroughly confusing association in a name.

March 6, 2019 09:52 AM

Of this list, my personal favorite is Thomas, but the one I think should be Josephine's brother is Theodore. They're both classic names with long histories that nevertheless would never in a million years have occurred as even vague possibilities to our parents and grandparents, but are quite fashionable (=well-liked) today, without being at all overused. (When my daughter was born, our roommates in the hospital were considering Josephine, but I haven't otherwise met any, and I only remember meeting one Theodore in the eight years since.)

February 25, 2019 04:07 PM

I think if the president had been Munro, then Marilyn would either have been Munro as well, or something completely different.