About Me

Mum to Jo1y0n Max, Rup3rt James, Th0masina Adele, and Wi1fr3d George.

My Favorite Names
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January 19, 2018 01:45 PM

My kid has a classmate named Lawrence-or Laurence, I can’t remember the spelling with certainty- and it was extremely unremarkable on the class roster, except inasmuch as I really liked it. Many other gentle, vintage choices abound, ditto longer names, so it fit in smoothly.

January 19, 2018 01:28 PM

I do like the suggestions you have gotten about crossover names honoring both heritages, as philosophically that is my favorite solution. It’s a bummer but perhaps unsurprising that some of the most obvious choices are already in use in your extended family; I hope you can get some other ideas from more knowledgeable posters besides myself that are just a little further off the beaten track.

January 19, 2018 10:38 AM

I actually have met a little Isabeau! She uses Beau as a nickname, further distancing her from all the Izzys and Bellas. I was charmed to encounter the name in the wild and think it’s a great choice. You would need to prepare for being misheard regularly and needing to clarify — I have a child whose name is one syllable off from a common name as well — but I don’t think it needs to be a dealbreaker, just giving you more opportunity to talk about a name you love. (My son likes his name.)

January 18, 2018 04:12 PM

This was precisely my thought, too. Especially when the older brothers are twins, and the medieval literary nature of the names is such a major association for me, I would want names to echo a general philosophy that their younger brother should be as little excluded from their special twinniness as possible. 

I really like all of Miriam's suggestions, although Kai has a much less strong courtly medieval feel to me than the others. Something like Gareth or Percival would also work similarly, for me, and I've heard Taliesin as a name more than once in recent years, to my surprise.

I'd also consider other strongly literary names, too, that are less medieval in nature... something Caspian would also work, for me, and perhaps be less restrictive if you think you might have more children in the future, if you feel like the medieval literary precent would lock you in to a theme you might not want to stick with. 

January 16, 2018 10:58 PM
In Response to Searching for a name

I have a Ru, and that is a great joke that I think he will appreciate.

I wouldn't actually worry much about that overlap, because I think the prime years of name-teasing are not the prime years for learning the names of French cooking techniques. 

January 16, 2018 03:05 PM

I thought of you and this post when I met a little Ashley recently. I definitely felt like it is a very strong statement to revive a recent female-megahit in your son's name, and I was surprised by how fresh and exciting the name felt on a little boy. He has a stay-at-home dad, which is just what I'd expect. Ashley and the other examples I can think of *are* unfortunately very British-Isles in feeling for me (Hilary, Evelyn, Kelly, Meredith), but perhaps you can comb Behind the Name for others: Joscelyn has already come up in this thread, I believe, and I like it -- Joss seems like an easy to wear nickname, too.

My son has had a classmate Laurence. I think it didn't feel stuffy to me at all, just one of those soft, gentle names. It could be British feeling, yes, but also could be French. That spelling helps. I think the nickname Laurie also is sweet and very gender neutral. 

January 13, 2018 07:20 PM


There was in recent a poster who changed her name a lot who really liked both of these names and kept posting about them under different usernames. I'm afraid that some of the longtime regulars might have burnt out on Laura/Lauren name discussions, so you may just want to enjoy the older links:

Here's another discussion which is JUST about Laura and Lauren and the relative merits:


January 12, 2018 03:56 PM

(To be clear, Kerenza is a name with a history entirely apart from Karen/Katherine, and it doesn't actually mean "little Karen" - it is apparently coming for the Cornish word for "love"... but it sounds plausibly like a diminuitive of Karen, and I like that it's a clearly containing your mother's name in it so the honor isn't so far removed that it would require explanation that it's an honor name.)

January 12, 2018 03:54 PM

In general I tend to feel that using the actual name is the best honor, but  that context really changes how I feel about the situation of adapting the names. In this situation, I think that adapting the names is then actually a part of the tradition that you're working with.

I think Pia is absolutely genius for your dad; I think initials are something that people often associate strongly enough with that the connection will be obvious for your father even though it's a different name. I think it's so fun and unusual that your father's name happens to spell out a very pleasing girl's name that you should absolutely go for it. 

On your mom's side, I like Karenina or Karenza as a "little Karen" sort of option. (Karenza is a variant spelling of Kerenza but popular enough to make it into as an entry.)

January 9, 2018 08:28 PM
In Response to Help! Last name Leigh.

I like the unfrilly spare nature of Bridget, Naomi and Tamsin. I especially like Tamsin, given that I have one (she's a Thom@sina, with Tamsin as a nickname, but I also think it's equally fine as a stand-alone choice too). It has been very well received.

Evelyn is indeed one of those names that might indeed seem popular in your particular pocket, more than the national statistics would suggest, in particular when you consider all the other Evies and the fact that -lyn names which are very on-trend as a group. (I know Evies who are birth certificate Genevieve, Evangeline, Eva, Everly/leigh, and there's also Evolet and a whole host of more unusual options and creative spellings.) 

Jessamine is a lovely name, too. I think people will certainly mishear it for the more popular Jasmine in passing, and you have to decide if correcting people often is something you can do with joy and excitement or if it will be wearying to you. i also have a kid with an obscure variant of a more popular name, and I enjoy the opportunity to talk about his namesake, but I think it's something to have thought about beforehand.

Quentin is by far my favorite of your boy list! I don't think it'll be weird or unfamiliar at all.

January 8, 2018 10:54 PM

Heehee. What Karyn said. Use the names that feel right to you. I named my kids, ah, more on the hypothetical Rup3rt and Thom@sina side of the spectrum, but I in no way feel that this entitles me to more name enthusiast cred than someone who names their children Sarah or Alexander... or than someone who names their kids Quinoa and Garamond. Part of what I enjoy about names is that there are so many choices and so many reasons for making those choices. I think naming a name that is authentically you is much more important than picking a name that impresses the neighbors/the internet forum/etc. Picking the name that feels right and that you can tell your child good stories about is more important than treating naming like a branding exercise.

For what it's worth, I have a terribly common name, Jennifer, but my parents chose it for very sweet reasons that make a good story, and thus, I like it even though it was a #1 mega smash hit of the scale that no name, not even the current #1 name, can hold a candle to. 

I also have a hard time with the pronunciation of Clara -- I've been reading aloud a bazillion novelizations of the Nutcracker lately and I find I sometimes have a hard time sticking with claire-uh or clah-rah consistently even in that context. But, it's a fine choice and if you love it, you should use it! 


The containing-rice workaround is a clever one, and I love the name Maurice, but I think there's an argument for using Rice in itself if it's a meaningful family name. "Rice, like the food?" is well answered by "No, like my mom's maiden name." I'd pair it with a more staid, commonplace first name in case your daughter does tire of the conversation, and keep both in circulation so that both feel like your daughter's name. I might not pick Piper to pair it with just because that's another noun-name, but I think it's such an established name these days that it's still a very reasonable choice. 

December 29, 2017 12:34 PM

I'm also intrigued at the dozens of Jeffifers in the SSA data -- clearly, parents are trying hard to find feminine forms of male standby names!

December 29, 2017 08:45 AM

Benedetta and Benedicta also come to mind, and it will not surprise anyone to find that I love Jamesina. (I'm also finding Jamesetta, which is new to me and is an Etta James homage, apparently, as she was born Jamesetta Hawkins. I wonder if it's James-Etta or Jay-mes-EH-ta... anyone know?)

December 12, 2017 11:01 AM
In Response to Vivienne Lee?

I'm pretty sure I've had a Vivian Li as a student before -- I got the sense that it was a name that got revived in Asian immigrant communities a bit before it got mainstream popular. I don't think it's absolutely a dealbreaker, but ultimately, I think it's not a name that I would want to be MY name, either... which for me is the ultimate test for "should you" rather than "could you".

For me the association with Vivien Leigh is quite strong. and even though I think of myself as being a reasonably attractive, stylish lady of my certain age, I would feel that being compared to Vivien Leigh at every turn would make me feel less attractive and glamorous by comparison. I don't think it's quite as contraindicted as using Marilyn if your surname is Munro, say  -- I think Vivien Leigh's image is much more about glamor than sex appeal, and thus seems easier for a girl to follow in the footsteps of. But I'd still be happier to have a different name that did not already have such a prominent bearer representing the first-and-last combination. (I think it's the full name combo belonging to someone else that I find difficult to stomach, my surname is similar to Gardner so I wouldn't want to be Ava, but I'd be fine with Hedy given that my surname isn't close to Llamar. Sharing one's given name with a glamorous or impressive person seems very reasonable, it's only when it's first-and-last that it becomes the sort of thing that would confront you at every turn.)

December 12, 2017 12:48 AM

I think if Hendric is the most obvious homage to a Henderson to you, it seems like the best choice to me!

Hendrix is a more popular choice (789 boys and 63 girls born with that name last year) , yes, but Hendri[ck] is hardly an obscurity either:




And Holden is less than twice as common as Hendrix, so I think I wouldn't rule it out for being too commonly used, either. I think these are all recognizable names, which will lead you to have conversations about Jimi Hendrix or Catcher in the Rye to varying degrees. I think my favorite is Hendri[ck] because it puts the conversation to "my mom was born a Henderson" which I find the most enjoyable to have, at least if your child is not actually being named for Jimi Hendrix or Holden Caulfield.

December 2, 2017 10:17 AM

I like your final list! I think that gives you a lot of room to play with when you actually come to the point of having children... and if you have them with a partner, they may have opinions to contribute as well, but you have a nice diverse base to start discussions from. 

I also hope that you happen to have children in the sex ratios that you can come up with names with. I could draft boy name lists of names that I'd be delighted to use ALL DAY but girl names were much more difficult and we could only confidently settle on one (which is all we ended up needing). 

I will say that Alba and Aureliya are distinct enough in feel and number of syllables to be usable to me on siblings, in spite of the shared initial. I would find Aureliya and Ariyana more problematic on sisters, with the similar length and frilliness and the unusual iy cluster. What that all boils down to is that when it comes to actually using those names on children, there might need to be more tweaking or narrowing down... but I suspect you know that already! 

December 1, 2017 07:39 PM
In Response to Mamie

I think that a is just a very squishy vowel -- people here misheard songs about Mammy as being about Mamie, so it's quite reasonable to expect the opposite. Mimi, Mommy and Mummy are just things that my mouth makes very different shapes for, and they sound more different. I know to the unmerged, all of the nuances of a sound are very different, but to me they're all very similar. 

I think this is an auditory phenomenon and not a visual one, which is why it's somewhat google resistant... but also you have mod admission that the Mamie namipedia thread has just been cleared of Mammy discussions because those are "off-topic".

I do think that Mamie is a name that doesn't have anything to do with Mammy, and it's not quite like using Gypsy as a name. I think a better analogy may be the practice of spelling Aria and Ariana names with a y, so that they make sensitive readers uncomfortably reminded of Aryan. Aryana is NOT a reference to Aryan Nation ideology, it's a NAME, and many people will (totally justifiably) see it without being reminded of Aryans at all. But me, as a German, the Aryan part kind of jumps out at me and I can't unsee it... and it makes me kind of squirmy and uncomfortable. I don't think it makes EVERYONE uncomfortable, but it makes those with cultural backgrounds where the issue is a delicate one (e.g. German people, Jewish people) tend to associate the name with the concept to which it is similar. 

Do I think it's a good idea to bestow upon a person who has to go out into the world and interact with diverse people, a name that makes some subset of the population uncomfortable to read or say or hear? No. Even if it's only a small subset, even if you think they're overreacting, names are our universal calling cards and I think they should be relatively unoffensive to as many people as possible. 

I also think that African American perspectives are way underrepresented on naming sites, and Mamie is a name that is currently at is nadir of popularity, so I'm not surprised that we don't have more perspectives beyond the namipedia on this site. If I were still living in a majority black neighborhood, I would love to take a survey in a coffeeshop setting.

November 29, 2017 08:44 PM
In Response to Mamie

No, I was just pointing out the weirdness of reading a story about a Mimmy, my first encounter with the name, stumbling over it, and then hearing that Mimi gets mispronounced that way by some people half an hour later. 

November 29, 2017 03:49 PM
In Response to Mamie

I wouldn't judge the parents as racist because I would think that they must have just not known about the issue at all -- and in this case, it's not unreasonably terrible a judgement because when you google Mamie you get Eisenhower and not Mammy. But I would think it was unfortunate and I would wish that someone had informed them first before they had given the name. 

I am still very unconvinced that white Mamies running around dilutes the stereotype -- I think hearing a name spoken gives the stereotype power and reinforces it, in addition to traumatizing all the nonwhite people who have to hear the name called on the playground. For example, I think non-Romani girls named Gypsy running around are a TERIRBLE idea even though it's a racial slur against the Romani. Hearing the name Gypsy doesn't make me think, "oh, lovely, this racial slur now gets a new fresh association of a kid!" it makes me think of the racial slur and the subjugation of the Romani and how pitsode of Europe people are so clueless as to romanticize it. Keeping a romanticized view of a racial slur in circulation by using it as a name seems like the worst thing for white namers to be doing. Racial slurs or things that are perceived as racial slurs (making them...racial slurs too, from where I stand) just make terrible names. I judge the parents there as really ignorant.

I know I'm hedging your question, but I think judging people as racist isn't necessarily that useful, because I think so much of racism is systematic and also unintentional. So, *I'm* racist. We're *all* racist. Including little Mamie and Gypsy's parents, who I admit are probably much better intended and not white supremacists (unlike the parents of little Adolf). But caling people racist doesn't seem very useful, given that there is so much racism in our culture where 99.99% of people say they reject racism and that it's bad.