About Me

I'm an Anglo-American, recently returned from nine years in the States and living near London with my Californian husband, teaching and coaching musicians (students and pros). I'm a former concert pianist, who is dealing with myofascial pain syndrome. In 2006, we had a son, James Valentine, who only lived three days, and we have not succeeded in having another. We are now in the process of healing, and discovering ways to bring meaning to our lives through art, creativity, fun and being of service. I've been a Name Enthusiast since the age of 5, when I used to line up my 28 stuffed animals and play "Animal School" with my friends. Animal School consisted mainly of making a register of all the animals' names, by which time it was usually time for my friends to go home. The next time they came round, the old register had lost its shine and we of course had to start making a new one. As a teen, I pored daily over the London Times birth announcements, and made collated the results religiously. Meanwhile, my friend Keren (also a contributor to this awesome blog) was doing the same with the "Jewish Chronicle". We compared notes avidly, and many years later still relish some good old NE talk whenever possible. Now I've spent time on both sides of the Atlantic, I love to compare how Brits and Americans think about and use names, words and phrases. I really enjoy exchanging ideas with everyone here, and learning from you all.

My Favorite Names
My Recent Blog Comments
January 20, 2015 09:34 AM

Thanks, Laura- there are some gems here.

Aha, I hoped Clarence would be on this list. I love Clarence. I'm past naming babies now, but maybe a cat some day?

I had a Great-Aunt Bernice, but for some reason it was pronounced BER-niss, to rhyme with furnace, which seems rather ugly. Is it normally pronounced ber-NEESE?

I know an Otis who is young, dashing and very successful, so that's changed my impression of the name.

How about Roland? That's another great favourite of mine that I haven't had chance to use. Also Arthur. Both heroes of legend.

I agree with Miriam about Melisande. Such a beautiful name... Of course everything sounds better in French, for example if you substitute Myrtille for Myrtle. Even Muriel sounds vastly better.


December 2, 2014 05:16 AM

When I saw this post, I thought I would create my own list before seeing what you had suggested. 

Here's my list:



























Not bad! There was definitely some overlap. And some of mine are not as fresh as they might be, admittedly. How about Zen and Quince though?! No idea where they came from, but I like them!

One thing I noticed is that although we like one syllable for the middle name, it's oftne a long vowel, eg. James, Eve, Rose, etc. 

A friend of mine just had a new nephew by the name of Wolf (Dutch background) and another friend has a new grandson, Fox. What next, Squirrel? ;)


I'd like to add Araceli too- "altar of heaven".

September 9, 2014 10:33 AM

I really like Roland and Penelope. Roland has been a favouirte of mine for a while now. I think Hugh, Hugo or Rhys could work well.

 How about Clarence, Christian, Louis, Tobias, Barnabas/Barnaby, Frederick, Raphael, Leopold, Julius?

August 26, 2014 07:48 AM
In Response to A name for a boy

How about Roland? He was a military leader under Charlemagne (and immortalised in the medieval Chanson de Roland). I'm very partial to the name, there aren't many of them about, and it' s very gentlemanly too!

June 8, 2014 10:12 AM

Brilliant, Laura!

Hurricane Voldemort, anyone? 

December 16, 2013 03:45 PM

You might be interested in this too, Laura- as a German-speaker, I was convinced it was Donner and Blitzen (Thunder and Lightning) but I see there's much more to the story than that!

November 14, 2013 05:26 AM

How about January Jones, the actress from Mad Men? That was her birth name and I think it's really stylish- I don't know if I would use the name myself though.


Fascinating, Laura! I see that my borther Philip and I have non-magic names, which goes some way to explaining why I so disliked my name as a child, particularly as my name already sounded dated. My sister was a Sarah born in 1970, just at the start of a massive boom, so she ended up being one of many, which was a bit of a nuisance too.

However, I was in a shop last week and wanted to put a sweater aside- when I asked the shop assistants (both 20-ish males) to put it by in my name, they both exclaimed how much they liked my name. I think it might be starting to have a resurgence! BTW, I quite like my name now, fortunately!

October 10, 2013 05:28 AM

Love this post, Laura- I've been interested in this topic for a while as I have friends of many nationalities.

I remember in one year three couples I knew all gave birth to a daughter and chose the same name. They were Welsh/American, Mexican/English and New Zealand/French. The name? Anna.

But I love the idea of also something very precise that overlaps just two cultures. I have a Japanese-American friend named Naomi and that seems perfect.


July 1, 2013 08:51 AM
In Response to A Nymbler Name Game

Ginger (g), Ivy (g), Laurel (g), Kenny (b), Rusty (b), Lucy (g), Tad(b), Cole (b), Marcy (g), Jay (b)

and Ruby(g).

June 28, 2013 03:43 AM
In Response to A Nymbler Name Game

Ginger (g), Ivy (g), Laurel (g), Kenny (b), Rusty (b), Lucy (g), Tad(b), Cole (b)

and Marcy (g).

June 4, 2013 11:24 AM
In Response to A Nymbler Name Game

Ginger (g), Ivy (g), Laurel (g), Kenny (b), Rusty (b)

and Lucy (g).

June 4, 2013 07:52 AM
In Response to Spotted in the Wild

I've actually cme across an Amanda Lynn and I bet there are many Claire Annettes. Violynn. Yuk! 

June 3, 2013 03:19 AM

How about these?

Hugo Daniel

Hugo Rafael

Hugo Gabriel

Hugo Adrian

Hugo Benjamin

Hugo Cristian

Hugo Hector

Hugo Nicolas

Hugo Oscar

Hugo Samuel

Hugo Sebastian

Hugo Simon

Hugo Tomas

Hugo Xavier

 Of these, my favourites are Hugo Xavier, Hugo Sebastian, Hugo Rafael, Hugo Tomas, Hugo Nicolas.

 This is a great resource:[]=masculine&type_usage=1&operator_usage=&value_usage[]=spanish


May 31, 2013 10:04 AM
In Response to A Nymbler Name Game

Graham(b) Elspeth (g), Vaughn (b), Alistair (b), Maeve (g), Fiona (g), Cormac (b), Declan (b), Brenna (g), Charlotte (g)

and Ronan(b).

May 30, 2013 07:38 AM
In Response to A Nymbler Name Game

Graham(b) Elspeth (g), Vaughn (b), Alistair (b), Maeve (g), Fiona (g), Cormac (b)

and Declan (b). 

May 29, 2013 06:40 AM
In Response to A Nymbler Name Game

Graham(b) Elspeth (g), Vaughn (b),


and Alistair (b).

May 26, 2013 09:04 AM
In Response to A Nymbler Name Game

Temperance (g), Journey (g), Clarity (g), Peregrine (b), Flint (b), Autumn (g), Maverick (b), Storm (b), Lark (g)


and Serenity (g).

May 23, 2013 06:06 AM
In Response to Cyprian

Hi Laura,

I love the name, and encourage you to use it if you wish. I don't think the pronunciation should be too much of an impediment. For me, Cy + consonant + consonant would read 'sip' anyway, cf Cynthia.

In terms of larger families turning to more unusual names as they go along, I've often come across that- I just think the parents become more adventurous over time. For example, a friend of mine has five children: B3n, H@rry, Emeli@, May@ and Luc@, obviously influenced by the years they spent in italy in the meantime (May@ is pronounced May-a too, so that's why I see it as unusual).

By the way, I was interested in one poster's comment about your other five being "obvioulsy Biblical names". I actually don't think they are that obvious, as they are all in such common usage. You'd have to know what to look for (e.g. Clare without an i signalling the reference to St Clare).