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May 24, 2017 01:38 PM

Ooh, I like that option! It's also less "mumsy" than the full flower name, which, as any watcher of Project Runway knows, is the kiss of death for high fashion ;).

May 23, 2017 12:16 PM

How direct do you want the connection to be? For example, a lateral-thinking namesake for Cornelis is Maisey. Is that connection too remote/non-obvious?

May 22, 2017 12:26 PM

Oliver is also #1 in Iowa, which gives an almost unbroken swathe of Oliver-lovers, but with glaring gaps at Montana/Wyoming and Illinois (it's not even in the top-3 in any of those states)

May 20, 2017 09:24 AM
In Response to FIrst Name For Lórien

Almost all of the time, a middle name in everyday life is either contracted to an initial or omitted altogether. To the wife world, she won't be Luna Lorien Wider, she'll be either Linda L. Wider or just Luna Wilder.

So the alliteration (which, as I've said, I like) will only be apparent to you and her, not the rest of the world, unless one of you makes a conscious effort to use the full name more often than usual. If you don't like the flow of the name (for when she's in big trouble, or when you're making up silly songs for her, etc.) then go ahead and change it, but otherwise don't worry about it.

I'll also say that if you like Luna Belle as a nickname, I think you could easily get there from Luna L (Luna Elle).

I also agree that Luna Lorien has a very different feel than Luna Belle; the original feels ethereal-leaning-stately, while the latter feels more sparkly-leaning-country. 

May 17, 2017 03:25 PM
In Response to Juniper vs. Iris

I have yet another cultural association with the name Iris—to me, it is all middle-aged/old Asian American lady. But I'm sure a cute baby or toddler could freshen it right up for me. (Grace used to be in this same category—for years I only ran across it in the APA community, where it was pretty common. Then in the past decade or so I've seen it popping up all over the place, so it has lost that particular expectation for me.)


Here's the approach we took.

We kept a giant master list. Every name anyone in the family suggested went on the list (the last time around our older kids were 13, 13, and 9, so they had a lot of opinions). We did this for a few months, with occasional discussion but nothing formal. Later in the pregnancy, we moved things up and down in rank, with definite NOs at the bottom, strong contenders at the top, and everything else in between. The last time around, we also noted who liked what. We narrowed it down to a top three in the last couple of weeks, and then made a final decision in the hospital.

Maintaining this list was sooo much easier in the era of Google Docs than back when we were naming our twins! We had a shared doc that my husband and I both could add to, wherever we happened to be. I liked seeing names appear, as suggestions rolled in from various corners. It was also helpful with the family, since whenever they suggested anything we could say "it's going on the list" and they would be happy, even if it was never a serious contender :).

One caveat is that my husband and I like to talk about names; I wasn't looking for a way to contain the conversation at all. However, I think you could have a couple of phases of the list, and limit the actual decision-making to a set time. You also could probably combine the "master list" with several other approaches suggested, since names can be added to the list via any method of acquisition.


I've copied all of your lines into a single message, just for ease of replying; I'm going to delete the others. I have NO idea why those very common names should set off the filter.

May 13, 2017 02:26 PM
In Response to Alexa?

I think if I were your friend I'd switch to OK Google or some other alternative.

May 11, 2017 02:23 PM
In Response to Wallace or Woodrow

Yes, to all of this. Throwing Grover into the mix, especially as a partial nod to Cleveland, makes the presidential connection particularly prominent.

On the "slipping up and calling Woodrow's brother Wallace Wilson" point: at my workplace there are a pair of rooms called Russell and Durham, and I ALWAYS ALWAYS want it to be Raleigh and Durham, to the point that it interferes with my recall of the name Russell.

May 10, 2017 10:47 AM

Evienne looks so much like Vivienne and terms like julienne, comedienne, etc. that I would almost call a two-syllable pronunciation just plain wrong. I would much prefer the original Irish spelling, which probably wouldn't require any more correction and at least has a strong cultural justification.

On the other hand, if you like the sound of Eh-vee-EHN (sort of like the mineral water, but with more stress on the last syllable) I think it's very pretty.

An update on the original Irish: One of the Irish speakers from Forvo very kindly answered my question there. Apparently, aoibhinn is an adjective meaning "blissful", from the noun aoibhneas, "bliss, delight". The variant Aoibheann is just a girl's name, but pronounced the same (both like the word even). I think this derivation is delightful (see what I did there?), and provides a lovely story to attach to the name when explaining any spelling you come up with. "It's pronounced like the English word even, as in even-Steven. It's the anglicization of an Irish word/name that means 'blissful'."

I still come down in favor of actually using the spelling Even. It probably would be misread as Evan sometimes, but given how often Evan is misread as even I don't think it would be a universal problem, and "just like the word/just like it looks" is a pretty easy clarification. It's not the kind of spelling where later someone would think "OK, I know it's not Evan, but how did she say to pronounce it?"

May 9, 2017 06:21 PM
In Response to Wallace or Woodrow

Ooh, new stealth sib-set: Wallace, Barbara, and Xena.

May 9, 2017 08:17 AM

I agree that Eeveen or Eevene are your best bets to get the desired pronunciation. However, could I interest you in a slight variation? Two very similar names in Forvo are Aoibhinn and Aoibheann, and both of those are pronounced almost exactly like the word even. The closest pronunciation to Eee-veen on Forvo is for Aoibhín, but its second syllable still sounds more like -in rather than -een to me; it's just less of a schwa vowel than the pronunciations of the other two variants.

I think Even would be a very intuitive spelling, and has the bonus of looking more like a name in English than any of the double-e versions. (One of my brothers is an Evan, and still today he sometimes gets "even" at the doctor's office or Starbucks, so I think it's a word folks are used to pronouncing that way.)

Of course it is a word, which is maybe not what you want, but I think it's a fairly cool word—both "evening" and "level" seem like good associations. Behind the Name also lists the spelling Eavan as a variant, which I think works alright, and for the Aoibhín pronunciation you might be able to do something like Eevin.

May 7, 2017 06:13 PM

Congratulations! That's a handsome name, and a handsome sib-set. Thanks for updating us!

May 7, 2017 06:12 PM
In Response to FIrst Name For Lórien

I'm a fan of alliteration within reason (the "within reason" part obviously being very subjective), and this name falls within the right range for me. Something like Laura Lórien would be too much, but I like Luna Lórien.

One possibility that occurs to me: You could split the difference, and use Leona (or maybe Leonie). That still falls in the "pleasingly musical" range with Lórien for me, and is quite a bit less popular at the moment than either Fiona or Luna (though neither of those is what I'd call really popular, even nowadays when no name even comes close to the popularity of a 1970s Jennifer, let alone a 1900s Mary).

May 4, 2017 04:56 AM

Briar to me definitely leans male. I think it's because of the association with Thorn, and the general masculine stereotypes associated with, ah, pricky things. Also, Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox and company were all male, I think.

I also love Robin for a boy—one of my favorites, that I would love to see come back a bit.

Other possible middle name ideas:

Nathaniel is a kind of "stealth" nature name to me, because I associate it strongly with Nathaniel Hawthorne. It might be a little redundant with Briar in that way, but I do like the sound of Briar with such a long middle.

Since you mention Japanese maples...I've always thought Acer would be a very cool botanical name for more adventurous namers, from Acer Palmatum, the scientific name for Japanese maples.

In the nature/unisex category, I would also suggest possibly Sage, Indigo, and Rowan (though Robin and Rowan are probably too similar to use together). Sage and Indigo would give you a color connection with Lavender, which I think would be a nice connection especially if one or both were in the middle slot (in the first name slot a colors-theme is a little too precious for my personal taste).

In a similar vein to Mirth, maybe Clement or Meriwether?

May 4, 2017 04:39 AM

Two known issues are the letter sequence s-e-x and the letter sequence e-t-c (yes, et cetera is banned). If you want, you can email the mods and one of us will post your comments for you. Easiest is if you make a "blank" post where you want the comments to go. The address is bnwmod at gmail dot com. Be sure to tell us your username in the email, too!

April 30, 2017 10:27 PM

Are any of these names family names, or do they have other personal significance? They're very similar in style and sound, but a personal connection can catapult a name into first position, especially with surname-style names.

For example, if Abraham Lincoln is a personal hero then Lincoln would get the edge, or if Camden is mom's maiden name I would vote for that one, or if the two of you met and bonded over Little House on the Prairie episodes then Landon would be my preference.

Of course, if they all have a personal connection, then it comes down to which one is most meaningful, and which name you like the sound of best. In that case, or in case none of them have a personal connection, do you want to give us some hints about your last name? Maybe first sound, last sound, and number of syllables? I don't think first-middle matters much, since most of the time the middle name collapses into a single initial (and they all sound good with John, anyway), but first-last flow can be a good tie-breaker.

April 27, 2017 08:07 PM

What about Blake Leslee? You could pronounce it the same as your mother, and it has your MIL's name clearly in there.

April 27, 2017 01:04 PM

Ooh, ooh, was she named for Queen Zixi's hometown? Probably not, huh. That would be cool. However, I'm guessing NAGA's correct, and it's a nickname for those pretty flowers that are currently carpeting my lawn.

My youngest son's name is only one syllable, but it seems to be the most nickname-able of all four kids' names. People are very creative in altering and adding to it. I'm curious to see if any of them stick.

April 27, 2017 12:55 PM

The ultimate Greek root of the name Angelo meant "messenger"; some other names with related meanings, according to Behind the Name, are

Driscoll: "From an Irish surname which was an Anglicized form of Ó Eidirsceóil meaning "descendant of the messenger"."

Nunzio: "coincides with the related Italian word nunzio "messenger" (ultimately from Latin nuntius)"

Ryder: "From an English occupational surname derived from Old English ridere meaning "mounted warrior" or "messenger"."

You can see more here:

You could also look at cognates from other languages. Most of those look very similar (Angel, Angelio, etc.) but a couple that are a bit further removed include Andel and Engel. (You can hear Andel pronounced in several different languages here:

View a whole lot more related names here:

Finally, the name Logan is almost an anagram of Angelo (it's just missing the e). You could do Logan E. Lastname to get the whole thing in there, or even E. Logan if you find an E name you love. (Or, of course, use Angelo as-is as a middle name, maybe with a second middle name as well.)