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January 21, 2017 11:19 AM

Can you share some names that you like, name styles you appreciate or want to stay away from? People or ideas you'd like to honor? An approximation of what the baby's last name sounds like helps, too (you don't have to be specific, just number of syllable and maybe first and last sounds). The more details you give us, the better suggestions you'll get.

(Full disclosure: all four of my kids have Japanese middle names along with my Japanese last name; only one has a (sort of) Japanese first, and three have a second, non-Japanese middle.)

January 18, 2017 03:36 PM

In the US, I mostly see the name spelled and pronounced exactly as you say, Remy with no accent, pronounced REH-mee. So if you and your son(?) are going to be living in the US, I think it would be perfectly acceptable.

FWIW, I really like this name; I mostly associate it with New Orleans rather than France, though (probably because of the movie The Big Easy).

January 16, 2017 02:53 PM

One other possible ending sound would be ih-nee*, in some Greek names (the ending -e like in Penelope or Phoebe). A couple of options:

Myrine/Myrrine/Myrrhine (pronounced something like meer-IH-nee, so it's actually three syllables even though it only looks like two). This one has a lot going for it; there's a Myrine/Myrina who was an Amazon queen, and a Myrrhine who's one of the Athenian women who manage to get their husbands to make peace in Lysistrata. The Myrr(h)- version is probably related to the word myrrh, as in frankincense and. It's not clear what the Myr- version's derivation is, but maybe something having to do with swiftness.

Photine (fo-tih-nee) There is a biblical figure with this name, who is a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The name is derived from the word for light, so is sometimes translated as "the luminous one".

If you're open to a non-standard transliteration, you could also look at Eirine (Eirene/Irene) or Ismine (Ismene).

And if you're open to names with MORE than three syllables, there is the lovely Aikaterine/Ekaterine (Greek cognate for Katherine) or Celandine (I'm not 100% sure this one has the -nee pronunciation in Greek).


*In American English a final eta is always pronounced -ee, but I think in British English it is sometimes pronounced -ay, so its possible that some of these may end in more of an ih-nay sound if you're British.

January 16, 2017 10:26 AM

Two things are probably going on.

1. At least for some people, it's just easier to think of a baby by name after the baby is born. For my daughter, I had a name picked out before we even started trying to conceive. But I'm a little superstitious, and never referred to my babies by name in utero (also, it would have been weird to call her by name when we didn't have a name for her twin brother until about an hour before they were born). We used nicknames for the entire pregnancy (Winken and Blinken for the twins, just 'the baby' for our two singletons), and I worried that I would have a hard time switching to their real names when they were born. But once they arrived I transitioned to "real" names very easily. I'm pretty sure I never once called either twin Winken or Blinken by accident (though 'the baby' slipped out occasionally for years).

2. It really is harder sometimes to think of your baby as a name that's already attached to someone else, even if you love it and it's the "right" name. My youngest is the only one of our four to have an honor name for the first, and it did take me longer to fully attach that name to him than for my older kids, I think because my prior associations for the name were so much stronger. It's definitely the right name for him, but it's still also the name of other people who I love, and always will be.

So I guess my advice is not to worry. You might not be able to think of your baby by name right now, but it will get easier after he's born. You can tell people or not, but don't decide on this basis. Worst case scenario, it doesn't help you to attach to the name AND you have to deal with critical comments, when neither would be a problem once there is an actual baby-in-arms.

It's also not surprising if right now the name is still attached more firmly to your grandfather than your son; after all, you have more and clearer memories and ideas of him than you do of your son yet. This will also change after he's born. But you will probably always think a little bit about your grandfather when you say the name. In a few weeks or months it will be a secondary association, not primary, but it won't go away entirely. If this is a good thing to you, and one of the reasons why you want to use the name, then don't worry about it. If you don't like the idea of a regular reminder of your grandfather, then that would be a good reason to rethink the name.

Good luck!

January 14, 2017 10:10 PM

That's great news.

Another option for honoring your mother-in-law is to consider possible male variants or sound-alikes.

Marion is a traditional male name (famously John Wayne's real first name).  I wouldn't use it for a first name, but as an honor name in the middle slot I think it could work.

I also think, with the "dictionary"/surname spelling, that Merriam might work for a boy, at least in the middle slot. (Maryam/Miriam is a Mary cognate, the original form of the name.)

And in the unrelated, but sounds-similar and definitely masculine, category, there are Marius, Mario, Martin and Marvin. Also Merritt and Meriadoc, if you're more adventurous.

January 14, 2017 09:40 PM

One other possibility is that people's input devices are censoring them. My phone keyboard's default settings block a bunch of words like sex. It substitutes "seed", which I find kind of funny. I've disabled those settings, but anyone living with them might have just adapted to avoid the verboten words.

January 12, 2017 01:35 PM
In Response to I need help smh

This question is actually about changing the poster's own name, rather than naming a baby, so some of the "make it flexible in case he feels differently when he grows up"-type considerations are not really an issue.

That said, if the OP doesn't care about the formalities so much as everyday use, then "My name's Jay Isaac, but you can call me Jaze-ic" could be a good solution. (In fact, I call my oldest son by his one-syllable first name combined with the second syllable of his middle name all the time, and my oldest brother has a family nickname that uses the exact same formula.)

January 12, 2017 11:01 AM

This would be my guess, too, but I'm trying to see if the original SS data might have answers. The files are huge, though, and I'm having trouble getting them where I can look at them.

January 12, 2017 11:00 AM

So here we are, with five more years of data past 2010, and...Lila never did crack the top 100. In fact, it looks like 2010 was the peak year for most names in this family (though a few peaked in 2011 and collectively they may have peaked then or 2012 as more obscure variants were added to the mix).

As of 2015, Lila was just barely in the top two-hundred, at #100, and the rate of usage was down from 0.101% in 2010 to 0.085%. Laila is down, so are Leila and Lyla. Lilah has held steadier, hovering around #310 and 0.053/0.054% usage.

Only Layla (and, to a lesser extent, Laylah) has really gone up, from #37/0.301% to #30/0.325%. Layla looks like it might be plateauing or declining, though, as it actually had the highest rate-of-use in 2013 (and the highest ranking in 2014).

Interestingly, all of the -ah variants seem to have held steadier than their -a counterparts.

I have to wonder whether this downturn is at least partly due to parents looking around and thinking "Oh, no, my unique name is suddenly getting popular!" or whether it's just the natural decline of a sound-trend (Top-50 names Lily and Lillian also had slight declines during this five years).

January 12, 2017 09:33 AM
In Response to I need help smh

I don't think there's any spelling that is going to eliminate confusion about how to pronounce and spell it. If it were me, I would either pick the spelling that I liked the look of best (I can't tell you what that is for you, you need to decide for yourself) or else use Jasaac and tell people specifically "It's said jay-sic; the first part from Jason and the second part from Isaac."

If you have a connection to any common Ja- name, you could use that for the first part. For example, there is probably a James or Jacob or Jane somewhere in your family tree; or maybe there's an author or musician etc. named Jamison, Jason, Jaden, etc. who you admire.

The "mash-up" approach has two advantages:

  •    1.   It makes an easy way for people to understand and remember how the name is supposed to be spelled and said.
  •    2.  A lot of people who don't like "invented" names will be more receptive if it sounds like there is a sentimental reason for it.

January 11, 2017 10:13 AM

Arianna has an ancient Greek etymology (from Ariadne), so maybe you'd like something with a similar pedigree?

I think Straton has a lot of style potential (it's very similar to the surname Stratton), and was the name of a bunch of ancient notables (several kings, a philosopher, and a poet). You could spell it with two Ts so it looks more familiar, and it would be consistent with Arianna's slight change from the original (just intentional rather than a gradual drift over centuries and languages).

Tycho is a name I really like--it's also Greek, though the bearer most familiar nowadays is Tycho Brahe. Most Americans say Tie-ko, though I think the Danish astronomer had a different pronunciation.

Cleon/Kleon was another figure from Greek history and literature; I like this name as a slight twist on the more familiar Leon (be warned that Cleon is not a nice character in Greek theatre).

Gaius/Caius has really illustrious Roman namesakes, and the snappy nicknames Guy or Cai (Kai).

January 10, 2017 10:29 AM
In Response to Kalea

I grew up with a Kalea, that spelling, pronounced kuh-LAY-uh. It's a Hawaiian name (her mom was from Hawaii). Kalia/Kali'a is also a Hawaiian name, pronounced the way you prefer...but I must say that I also had a (non-Hawaiian) friend with a younger sister who spelled her name this way, and pronounced it kuh-LIE-uh.

I would suggest picking the pronunciation you like, and the spelling you like, and just telling people which is which. This is a lot more common than people think about...I know several different Kara/Caras who pronounce their name either Care-uh or Car-uh, Megans by whatever spelling who are variously Megg-un/Mee-gun/May-gun, etc. I'm one of the latter (Megg-un with a slightly non-standard spelling) and it's not really that big a deal.

My personal inclination would be to pick the spelling that's consistent with your preferred pronunciation in Hawaiian, and then you can just say "it's Hawaiian" when people ask where you got it, but if that doesn't line up with your preferences I don't think it would be a huge deal.

You might like to look at other Hawaiian names, as there are a lot with the sounds you like (Hawaiian only has eight consonants, including K and L). Behind the Name has a list that's fairly reliable, and so does Wiktionary. You might like Kalei (kuh-LAY) or Kalani (kuh-LAH-nee) or Kailani (ky-LAH-nee) or Kalili (kuh-LEE-lee), for example. (Note: all of the "kuh"s are perhaps a little more like "kah" in actual Hawaiian.)

January 6, 2017 08:41 PM
In Response to Help, can't decide!

I'm fairly neutral between the names on their own, but I love the flow of Ezekiel/Zeke with your last name. There's just enough consonance and assonance with the repeted K and EE sounds. I kind of want to just say it over and over.

January 6, 2017 05:47 PM

Oops, guess I missed it in Ctrl-F due to the diacritic. A lot of people in France obviously love the sound! There were at least as many more variants on the 2010 list as the ones I mentioned.

January 6, 2017 01:23 PM

You have a lot of good ideas and suggestions! Just a few more thoughts--

It's more Southern (and Italian) than French, but Coretta has the double letters and would let you use Cora as a nickname.

On the Esmee front, I would say Esmee with a Z sound rather than S, so it doesn't rhyme with Tess much at all. I know mileage varies on that, though. It might be too unfamiliar for you, but Alizée might be a possible alternative to Esmee. This is the name of a popular French singer, and the name itself has been popular in France recently.

Another French name that I've run across recently is Maëlle. It's one of a set of names with similar sounds that have been popular in France recently (others include Maëlys, Maelie, Maelia, and Naelle--it seems to be the Kaylinn/Caelen/Kaelynn of France).

Behind the Name has a list of the 500 most popular French names from 2010, which makes fun browsing (there are names on this list that aren't in the regular BTN database). That's where I found Alizée, and noticed all the Maëlle sisters.

January 6, 2017 07:46 AM

I agree that Lydia and Claudia are very similar to one another, though if they're far enough apart in age it might not matter. Once they're grown and not living together, they won't be a "set" and most people won't struggle to remember which is which since they'll only know one or the other.

On the other hand, I love the name Verity. On the V-name front—is Virginia considered biblical? I realize the state was named for the "virgin queen" but I would think it could easily stretch to honor the Virgin Mary. The name otherwise seems to fit well with your other kids' names, and even has the -ia ending but with a very different sound. (Well, very different to occurs to me that some people may preserve the full four syllables, whereas for me it's always only three.)

Good luck!

January 5, 2017 11:56 AM

Any possibility of Jewell as a first name? To me, it fits the antique charm/quirky classic category, and it also lends itself to Ella as a nickname. Alternatively, you could use Julia, Juliet, Julianna, etc. with Jewel(l) as a nickname. You could also go with a jewel-related name, like Pearl or Ruby or Beryl.

You've gotten some great suggestions for names that nickname to Ella; I'll add that you could use any L- name with Ella as a nickname. Louisa Jewell? Leona Jewell? Something like that.

Good luck!

January 5, 2017 11:24 AM
In Response to Brainstorming baby #2

I don't have the cot-caught merger, either (though my kids do, which sometimes leads to confusion). However, when I put the stress on the second syllable, both Moriah and Mariah come out of my mouth with a pretty mushy, schwa-ish vowel in the first syllable. So I imagine they tend to sound alike when I say them, even if they're very different in my head.

(And unfortunately if the stress is on the first syllable, Moriah reminds me of Tolkien's Moria, AKA the Black Pit. Noting that it's "like the mountain" makes that association worse, even though Tolkien apparently explicitly denied any connection.)

On the other hand, the sound of the name Mariah to me is strongly associated with all those Jane Austen Marias, which greatly dilutes the Carey-association, and with a different spelling I think the pop star would not be an issue when looking at the name, either.

January 5, 2017 11:18 AM

I don't know a lot about Eastern European names, but Behind the Name has a great feature where you can browse by usage. Here's a link to Polish feminine names; you can change the usage with the Quick Filter drop-downs in the upper right.

I'm not sure how it's pronounced, but Estera, a Polish form of Esther, looks very pretty and reminds me a lot of Stella (and especially Estella). Similarly, Adelajda (ah-de-LIE-dah according to BTN) might please your father while still having the Polish connection and being a bit more unusual.

Good luck!

January 5, 2017 11:04 AM

I would also lean towards using Leonora as a first name in this situation.

There are a number of logistical and identity-related drawbacks to giving twins the same first initial; there are also a number of logistical drawbacks to using a middle name as call-name. (I recently met a woman in her seventies who has always gone by her middle name; she said it has been nothing been a headache, and now she is having fits with Medicare due to the identity mix-ups.) When you combine the two issues I think there is a pretty strong justification for tweaking the family tradition--Leonora Meredith, for example, would be lovely.

It's impossible to predict the future, but I'd say the odds of your daughter resenting the hassles of getting conflated with her twin and/or listed as two (or three) different people and so forth are at least as high as the odds of her feeling left out of the tradition, especially if you don't make a big deal of how everyone else is an M. After all, your name doesn't start with M, and you're part of the family.