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April 25, 2017 10:14 AM

I think you meant "hard", not "voiced". Voiced is /zh/ like the 's' in 'measure' and /j/ like in 'jam'. The difference between /sh/ and /ch/ is the "hard" consonant (voiceless stop) 't' in the latter: /ch/ = /t/ + /sh/. But yes, some people say Charlotte like 'char' + 'lit', like some sort of shortening of "the charcoal is lit". I can't see any sort of geographic pattern in it; I think it just depends on where/how someone learned about the name. (I think the mispronunciation probably arose -- and arises -- independently in many places where people have only encountered it in writing.)

April 22, 2017 08:44 PM

Which pronunciation of Caroline? I tend to assume -line (like "straight line") for this spelling, but most name sites also list -lin (rhymes with "win"), so I want to make sure. (I'd assume a spelling of Carolyn for the latter pronunciation.)

Ignoring the vowel-plus-R pronunciation variation (the marry-merry-Mary merge), we have something like [kə 'mi:l] versus ['ker ə laɪn] (using Behind the Name's notation: kə-MEEL versus KER-ə-lien). Basically all they have in common is the initial 'K' sound and an 'L' somewhere in the name. That's not really similar at all in sound.

Visually, the shared initial is a point against, especially if, like me, you tend to focus on initials to identify names, but I don't think it's enough to be a deal-breaker.

All in all, I vote for "OK for sisters."

April 21, 2017 10:40 PM

I don't think it's likely to be related to the question, but a search for 1953 combined with Caster eventually turned up a Belgian-French comic book (Tintin: Destination Moon) that was published in 1953 by Editions Casterman.

April 20, 2017 05:54 AM

Sopianae is the Latin name of the Hungarian city of Pécs. That's what the spelling Sophiana makes me think of.

April 18, 2017 09:25 PM
In Response to Allynn for a girl??

Ignore the spelling for a moment: are you sure you want to call your daughter Alan? It's a masculine name, and no matter how you write it, it will always be heard that way.

Would you consider adding an -a at the end: Alynna or Allynna? Then it becomes a clearly-feminine name, like Al(l)ana but with your middle name mixed in: /a-LIN-a/. It'd come with the headaches of any nonstandard spelling, but many people live happily with those, especially if there's a family connection or other substantial reason behind them.

Alternately, Allynn for a middle name is fine: they're encountered in writing far more often than in speech, and again, the nonstandard name/spelling is easily explained (justified).

April 14, 2017 03:58 PM

I have a sort-of-cousin named Adele. She's five years old, and her mom says that they've brought up the singer in conversation far more often than other people have ever mentioned her. It's a classic, well-known name, so no pop star (no matter how awesome) will ever claim it exclusively.

April 13, 2017 01:04 PM

Images of some of the English parish records are on Ancestry, but I don't have a subscription, so I can't check whether that 1554 marriage is among them or not.

Based on Withycombe's statement that Esme the Duke's name was sometimes spelled without the 's', I do wonder how the Stuart family actually said the name. Did they apply mainland French rules? If so, what would that have meant in the 16th century?

(One of my many confusions about French spelling is this whole circumflex thing: does hôtel sound any different from hotel?)

April 13, 2017 12:07 AM

There's an Esme, duke of Lennox mentioned in 1581 in the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland (, and a non-professional volunteer indexer read an English bride's name as Esme Barton in a 1554 marriage record ( Withycombe goes into further detail on that first guy:

Esmé (m., f.): the first occurrence of this name seems to be Esmé Stuart (1542-83), 6th Seigneur d'Aubigny and afterwards Duke of Lennox, cousin of James VI of Scotland, whose mother was French. His name, which is not found earlier in the family, and which was borne by his son and his grandson, was sometimes spelt Aymie, and it is possible that it is really the fairly common French name Aimé (see AMYAS). The name spread from the Stuarts to other Scottish families and eventually to England.... It is now sometimes given to girls, probably from confusion with the old name Ismay (q.v.).

April 12, 2017 11:45 PM

Originally, 'scarlet' was a type of fine cloth, not a color. However, it was so frequently dyed the most expensive type of red that it eventually became synonymous with the shade.

April 11, 2017 09:20 PM

Maxwell originates as the name of a salmon pool in Scotland, so neither gender has any inherent claim on it, but it has always been masculine in usage... until nowadays.

April 10, 2017 10:06 AM

The father of some friends I had growing up in California was named Kamill. That plus the French composer caused me to be somewhat surprised when I first encountered Camille identified as a feminine name. (I've never figured out French spelling/feminization. Why is it Rene and Renee, but Camille and Simone for both?)

April 10, 2017 07:36 AM

Evangeline isn't actually a religious name. As another commenter mentioned, it appears to have been coined by Longfellow, based directly on the Greek for 'good message'. This makes it about as religious as Cordelia (which may go back to an old saint's name, Cordula, a companion of St. Agatha).

Of the three, I adore Cordelia with your surname. (I like the name a lot anyway, but the sound/rhythm/echo with Morrison just clinches it. It's poetic or musical, and fun to say.) I don't mind Aurora with Morrison, but it is an awful lot of R, which is a difficult sound in all languages.

April 10, 2017 07:16 AM
In Response to Two Cute Names?

In the abstract/written form, Sanora(h) makes me think of "sanitary" (like in "s. napkins"), but I don't think this association would even occur to me in person or orally. I think in real life, I'd be more likely to mishear it as Sonora, like the desert/state of Mexico, and like the word 'sonorous' (which is a neutral-to-positive association).

I wonder: would Sunnora work? 'Sun(ny)' + (Eleo)nora....

Selah fits modern naming tastes. This comes with a risk of sounding date-stamped a few decades from now, but it's still a bit too rare for that to be a strong risk. I think as a name, it's often pronounced like Sarah with an L instead of the R (with all the pronunciation variation inherent in that analogy), although the naming sites all have /SEE-la(h)/.

I'll echo another poster's advice: pick whichever one makes you happier. The coin-toss method can help you identify which one that is.

April 9, 2017 06:58 PM

(Juliet(te) already is a nickname.) My experience as a Julia is that nobody shortens it, but some older people misremember it as Julie. The six-year-old Julia I know, on the other hand, has never been called anything other than her full name. Granted, her experience of the name is much shorter than mine, but older generations are more likely to want nicknames for youngsters, so it's still a telling difference. I don't like being called by the wrong name -- Julie for some reason is just totally Not Me -- so I understand your husband's worry, but I think most of the names you're rejecting due to nicknames are unlikely to get automatically shortened nowadays. (The  one exception may be Victoria: it has been perpetually popular enough, and is long enough, that Vicky may happen from all sorts of unexpected people.)

Any interest in my sister's name, Martha? It has possible nicknames, but none of them are even remotely automatic.

Oh, and I agree with previous commenters: those people who said Simone is inappropriate for you were completely wrong.

April 6, 2017 11:23 PM
In Response to Big Family Challenge

I finally found the 11-child family I was vaguely recalling. These are from Roman Catholic baptismal registers, so the names are in Latin:

Carolus 1847
Aloisius 1850
Franciscus 1852
Leopoldus 1853
Francisca Romana 1855
Henricus 1858
Alexander 1860
Victor 1861
Josephus 1863
Teresia 1864
Ladislaus 1868

(Teresia was my great-great-grandmother.) I've checked the actual images, and yes, Francisca is the only one with a second given (middle) name, and yes, it says Romana. I haven't a clue where that came from. Daddy was a tailor (Latin sartor) in Mór, Fejér county, Hungary. The parents married in 1846.

April 6, 2017 04:49 PM

One wonders how they spelled Jerome. Parents who are willing to inflict a 100% masculine name on their female offspring can't be trusted to spell said name correctly.

April 5, 2017 08:15 AM
In Response to Atlas Martin?

I kept thinking "car". It took me a while to figure out that I must be thinking of Aston Martin. (I tend to focus on initial letters of names, especially less-familiar ones.)

This vague association of a random stranger is not at all a problem with the name, of course. I like the pairing of a "statement name" with a well-known middle that's highly meaningful to the parents. It offers the child the best of both worlds: he can stand out if he wants (Atlas M. [Surname]), or blend in a bit (A. Martin [Surname]), and feel secure either way that his parents will like his choice.

April 4, 2017 04:46 PM

Baby number 9! That's more than my grandparents have great-grandchildren!

I join the chorus in recommending you scrap any name with obvious nicknames you actively dislike or detest (Frederick, Edward).

I also join in singing "one of these things is not like the others" for Boaz. This is not necessarily a problem -- if it's the name you love, you can just embrace the style departure.

But all in all, I really like Christopher, nicknamed Kit for you. Kit is uncommon enough for either gender that most people will not have strong preconceptions about it, and the full name is just as gender-unambiguous as the rest of your brood.

April 4, 2017 10:25 AM

Oscar plus Walter made me immediately think of Oswald. Also Gerald and Harold. They're all perhaps a bit too clunky or fuddy-duddy for your tastes, but I like them all, at least in theory. (I'm a theoretical contrarian. It sounds like a school of philosophy.)

April 3, 2017 12:50 PM
In Response to Nickname Help

I'm sorry, I wasn't clear: the two sets of words have a different diphthong: [aɪ] in the 'price' set, [aʊ] in the 'mouth' set. Parsing diphthongs into their constituent parts is even harder than affricates.

On Forvo, I suggest comparing Hungarian "marta" ('he/she/it corroded/etched it') to Márta (the name). ( The former has [ɒ] in both syllables, while the latter has [a] in the first syllable.