No info yet

About Me

No info yet

My Favorite Names

No favorite names yet.

My Recent Blog Comments
September 24, 2018 09:18 PM
In Response to 4th Baby on the Way!

Ginevra was my first thought, too. It's almost an anagram of Virginia, and would be especially apropos if Virginia was ever called Ginny.

An Elizabeth variant could also honor a Virginia, since that was an epithet for Queen Elizabeth I.

September 24, 2018 02:40 PM
In Response to Retro Sibset

I know a married couple with those names! Born more in the 1940s, though. Their oldest daughter is D3n3s3.

I like several of the suggestions already given, but of course for a sibling born in the sixties, I really want a sister named Deneen, DOB 1964!

September 24, 2018 02:30 PM

Did you actually read the thread? It's not about rules, it's about intent and perception. There is no rule against naming your child Rubella or Dumbelina or Poopy Head or Adolf Hitler--but there are some good reasons not to, and there may be negative consequences for you (and, more importantly, for your child) if you go ahead and do it, anyway. The same is true of the names discussed in this thread.

September 21, 2018 01:27 PM
In Response to Ariel for a girl name?

I don't think anyone in the US would assume "boy" from Ariel. I remember about twenty years ago my husband was TAing a political science class at a top-twenty university, and over half of his students thought that Ariel Sharon (then Prime Minister of Israel) was female! Granted the Little Mermaid was more topical back then, but I don't think assumptions have shifted much in the past couple of decades.

I had a (college) student a few years ago named Ariel, and so far as I could tell it worked well for her. I associate it pretty evenly with the movie (female), my student (female), the Shakespeare spirit (indeterminate gender), and the Hebrew  name (mostly male).

The only thing I would note is that it is a name with a bunch of different pronunciations. Even in the Disney movie different characters say the little mermaid's name differently. I've heard it with the first syllable more like "air" and more like "arrr" (like what a pirate says), and I've heard it with the stress on the first or last syllable, or both (secondary stress on one and primary on the other). I asked my student how she said it, and she said "just normal" (!) so then I asked "more like Ahr-ee-ELLE or AIR-ree-ELLE?" and she said the second one, but later I heard her say it and it was closer to "AIR-ee-ull". I still unconsciously put a bit of secondary stress on the last syllable, which she said sounded "fancy" (she liked that version). She was pretty relaxed about the various pronunciations still being her, which I think would be very helpful.

September 20, 2018 09:54 PM

Is your last name similar to Carver in actually beginning with a C? If so, you just need a first name that starts with L!

September 20, 2018 09:25 PM
In Response to Impressions of Camila

With two Ls I'd pronounce it like the Prince of Wales' wife (second syllable rhymes with hill), but with one L I would assume the pronunciation you prefer. I like it; I'm a little bit surprised it's so popular. I wonder if it's more popular in states with a larger Spanish-speaking population?

September 20, 2018 10:45 AM

Congratulations! It looks like your styles aren't too far apart. Would it work to have a slightly longer, frillier name on the birth certificate, with a sturdier, more no-nonsense nickname? For example, you could use the old-fashioned Amabel with call name Mabel, or Estella with call name Stella.

September 19, 2018 12:53 PM

I read a bunch of those when I was younger so I definitely saw the connection, but it wouldn't bother me personally. I say the books/world as a single syllable (Zanth), and the name as two (Zan-thee) so they don't feel too similar. It would probably be different if my associations with Xanth were hugely negative (or if I was really bothered by being associated with goofy sword-and-sorcery stuff!).

If you're interested in reading any of these, I personally preferred the later "Elementals" series over the original novels, which I mainly recall as being chock-a-block with bad puns.

Having said that, I love most of the -anthe names, so if this association nixes Xanthe for you you could always see if any of those grab you.

September 19, 2018 11:22 AM

For Roy, do you have any interest in Rowan? Etymologically it's actually from a nickname for Roy*, so there's a pleasing hidden symmetry in using Roy as a nickname for Rowan.

I actually think any of the Ro- names would work, which gives you a lot of options, from Robert to Romeo to Roosevelt. Royce would be an obvious option, though maybe that's too short. I could also see it working at a stretch for Ambrose. And now that I think about it, I think it could be a cool option for Horatio, a name I really like but that cries out for some kind of nickname (Horry just doesn't do it for me).


*Well, Behind the Name tells me that Roy is the anglicization of Ruadh, and Rowan is from the surname Ó Ruadháin, Ruadháin being a diminutive of Ruadh).

September 18, 2018 04:09 PM
In Response to Opinions on Adeline?

So far you've been considering names one at a time or in small groups, but I wonder if a different approach would work better for you. I'm thinking some variation on a name bracket might be helpful at this point.

Start by collecting a lot of names, in some power of two--I'd aim for thirty-two or even sixty-four, so you are stretching to add names you kind of like at this point rather than debating which name to cut from the list. Then put them in a sports-style bracket and eliminate them in rounds. You could use this to decide on the name, or you could narrow down to the top two contenders and wait until you meet baby to decide between those two. You can see an example of a 64-name bracket here (but with totally ridiculous names, not real names).

You might combine this with a narrowing-up approach: once you get down to, say, a sweet-sixteen you could could list all of the good things about each name (and nothing bad about any of them), or even ask people here to do that, to help with the face-offs at each round. (Actually, I'm quite sure folks here would be happy to vote on a parallel bracket if you wanted that kind of input, but I think the actual decisions should be made by you.)

September 18, 2018 10:47 AM
In Response to Opinions on Adeline?

"Sweet Adeline" is a very famous song, so I can only hear the name said the way it is sung (rhymes with "mine"). The song also lends the name a sweet, antique feel that I think would persist even if the name became more popular.

This is a song that has been going strong for over a hundred years (it's probably the most famous "barbershop quartet" song ever and gets re-used in all sorts of ways; Avriel Kaplan covered it last year in his first album after leaving the Pentatonix), so I think you really need to be OK with the reference and the song's pronunciation if you want to use it. You don't have to use that pronunciation, but a lot of people are going to think that's the "right" pronunciation so you'll undoubtedly hear it a lot. Enforcing a different pronunciation wouldn't be quite as hard as, say, Cleh-men-teen, but I think it would be close.

September 17, 2018 12:48 PM
In Response to Baby Girl Mena

I generally agree with this sentiment, but for me the anagram makes this a different kettle of fish. I would be concerned more about things like typos and auto-correct errors and subconscious associations for adults, rather than teasing by children. I've read a couple of different books with characters named Mina and never associated it with the word mean (even though in my head it's said like mean-uh), but Mena I can't help but see that way. This is really primarily a visual issue for me, so if it were a nickname for a longer name the association would be much diluted, since nicknames are mostly heard first (and it would be entirely avoidable on things like resumes).

September 17, 2018 08:47 AM

I strongly second the idea to "narrow up" your list with positives.

I think Hannah probably feels more popular to you than it currently is because it's coming down from a popularity high in the nineties (it was #6 in England & Wales in 1996, the earliest year I see records for, but it's dropped down to the 50s in recent years) and also because it has a lot of crossover appeal internationally, so it's been in the top-hundred or -fifty or even top-ten in a bunch of countries over the past couple of decades. If you add in variants like Hannah, Hana, and Channah you get an even wider international appeal. I would consider that international portability a big plus, though, as it's a name that will serve her well wherever she goes in life. I also like that it's a palindrome.

We don't have the Zara stores around here, so I don't know how much that would come up. I think you could just own it, though: "Her name is Zara, spelled like the shop." I knew parents whose daughter had the name of a popular minivan, who introduced her like that, and I thought it was smart--made it easy to remember the name, and let everyone know up front that they were aware of the association and not bothered by it. If you're interested in variants at all, I know a Zaria (twenty-ish) which I think is lovely, too.

Amber is pretty eighties to me, but I think it's a lovely name anyway. I know one of our regulars is pulling for it to have a comeback, and I think in general people would be more pleased to meet a young Amber than shocked. I kind of wonder whether the resurgence of the Jurassic Park franchise will have an effect on this name, since the substance amber is so central there.

I like Senna a lot. I do think you will get people mistaking it for Sienna, but probably much more when they see the name than when they hear it.

Cleo feels complete to me. I think it would be fun to put the short form on the birth certificate, and "nickname" with all the possible long-forms —Cleopatra, Cleone, Clementine, Clematis, etc.—depending on your mood (or hers) for the day. If you want a bit of distance from the cat's name, you could use Clio, which is a traditional name in its own right. It comes from the name for the Greek muse of poetry, who supposedly brought the alphabet to Greece.

Samara is lovely. I think Sam or Sammi would be cute, and Mara would give you another option. I actually think you could use Zara as a nickname for Samara pretty naturally (I could also see calling her Zara-Samara as a pet name).

September 17, 2018 08:09 AM

To me Avery is mostly masculine, as there is an Uncle Avery in our family, but I know the American public seems to be swinging the other way with it so I wouldn't make any assumptions about an Avery before meeting them.

The main issue with Davis as a middle is that it offers the wrong clue for anyone who wants to use it to resolve the gender ambiguity before meeting her, compared to something like Grace. So I would expect slightly more envelopes addressed to Mr. Avery Lastname, a few more surprised looks, etc. However, that's not a deal-breaker, and might be a plus if you want to capitalize on the continuing sexism of our society, as it may also mean a few more interviews that she wouldn't have gotten and such. (That's the main argument I understand for naming a daughter Tom Blue or similar.) Of course, exactly what the odds of her getting the job would be if they're expecting a man is an open question.

If you're interested in a feminization, Davia is my favorite of the David variants.

September 11, 2018 12:15 PM
In Response to Baby Girl Mena

I like it, and like the full Philomena, as well. It sounds more ambiguously-Indo-European to me than Spanish.

I will say that if you want the MEE-nuh pronunciation (and aren't going to put a longer form on the birth certificate), I prefer the spelling Mina. I don't know that it's much less ambiguous, but I "see" the anagram "mean" in Mena, and if it's also pronounced that way I think it would be harder not to associate the two.

September 11, 2018 11:45 AM
In Response to Character Name

For maximum "contrast" (important to me as a reader for keeping names straight) I like Tiras, Calix, and Ewan. I kind of prefer the spelling Calyx, but the -yla- of Dylan would make the -aly- of Calyx trickier for me. You do have -ila- in Laila, but the high-scrabble-value of Y makes it a more important identifying characteristic for names, even in the middle. Ewan feels the most unambiguously-gendered of these, if that matters to you. (In general, if gender fluidity isn't a part of the characterization, I find clearly-gendered names help me keep better track of who's-who.)

Eamon and Harlin would be second-tier choices. Harlin shares a whole syllable with Dylan and is also a surname-name, but it at least looks pretty different. Eamon is pretty distinct (as distinct as Ewan), but I'm never quite sure how it's supposed to be pronounced, which is something I dislike in character names. The whole time I'm reading there's a bit of an itch, a metaphorical pebble in my shoe, over whether it's Eamon-rhymes-with-layman or Eamon-rhymes-with-semen...or maybe Eamon-rhymes-with-lemon? You could get around this with a very clear explanation and mnemonic early in the book, though.

As a name, I really like Silas, but in this case it looks a little like a mash-up of sounds from all your other main characters' names, which drops it down the list for me.

August 26, 2018 09:00 PM

Chiming in to say that I really like Greta, too. If you're looking for something that might push it over the line into "love it" territory, one thing I like about it is that it can be a nod towards the various Margaret variants; there are a ton of cool potential namesakes out there with this name, and most Western family trees have some, too. This is similar to your other daughter's name, which could potentially be honoring Eleanor Roosevelt or Elinor Dashwood or Aunt Helen or Grandma Elizabeth etc.

August 26, 2018 07:58 PM

I anonymized the first name, and just took out the surname. Let us know if it needs more anonymizing (give it a few days for the search engines to update).

August 23, 2018 05:56 PM

Uther is traditionally the father of Arthur, Emerald Bee. That's my primary association for it.

Karyn, I say the first syllable of Uriel just like the first syllable of urine and ureter, so it sounds a lot more medical to me than Uther (OO-ther, no Y sound), which more feels like a beefy/archaic version of Arthur to me.

August 22, 2018 03:56 PM

That is my daughter's name, so obviously it does feel feminine to me (and no one we've encountered has ever questioned it as a feminine name), but I don't think that's a reason for it to be off-limits to boys. It's not feminine in the frilly sense, and it's still obscure enough outside of Welsh-speaking areas that your child (or maybe the recent Merlin TV show) will likely be the main point of reference. I will say that people very regularly mis-read it or try to make it fit some variation on Emery, which is having a feminine surge in the US right now, but which also is still being given to boys.