Reprise: The Age of Aidans

May 12th 2008

Three years ago, I looked at American baby names and declared that we had entered "The Age of Aidans":

Looking at the most popular American baby names of 2004, one name leaps out at me....or rather, one sound. A whopping 33 different names rhyming with Aidan made the boys' top 1000 list. (And that doesn't even count the near misses, like Dayton-Payton-Layton-Clayton-Treyton.) That number is up from 28 Aidan-esque names in 2003, and just one 20 years ago.

It turns out that wave is still rising. The number of Aidan-rhymes on the boys' list reached 40 last year, accounting for more than 4% of all boys born. And even the formidable -aidan bloc is just a small part of a larger phenomenon: little Daytons, Casons, Kians, Landyns, etc. Almost a third of all boys born now receive a name ending in -n. Meanwhile the traditional, classic English boys' names are all plummeting because parents want their kids' names to be "distinctive." But how distinctive is Jaidyn in a class with Aydin, Bradyn, Kaeden, Raiden and Zayden? (Yes, those are all top-1000 names.)

What you have here is a story of two competing impulses. American parents love the idea of unusual names, but our tastes are still as much like our neighbors' as ever. The inevitable result is hundreds of tiny variations on a theme. We carve out tiny niches of uniqueness -- "that's Jaidyn, not Jadyn" -- and end up sounding more alike than ever.


By Andrea (not verified)
May 13, 2008 7:50 PM

Thoughts regarding popularity. I regret that we named our DD Adelaine as appaprently it isn't a name. It never comes up in any book and I don't like it that people think I made it up - although I guess I did?? I am far too traditional for that! Wish I'd done my research. I am really hoping Adelaine arrives on the charts and am glad that Adelaide and Adeline are rising so our dd doesn't a have such a "no-name" BUT because I am so not wanting her to be too unusual with no one knowing how to say or spell her name, she gets called Patti (long story but it's better than the all too popular Addie nn and Laine just never "took" which is what I thought might happen) I thought it was so great we had a flexible name! It's not cause eventually she has to be called one thing. Be careful about being too original. You may have regrets as we did. Timeless and classic may be safe but I doubt you ever regret it.

By Andrea (not verified)
May 13, 2008 8:06 PM

A PS to my previous post and a mother's plea. My quest is to get Adelaine into the top 1000 in the next few years. If you like the name well enough join me in the challenge and suggest "Adelaine" to anyone looking for name suggestions or use it yourself! Can we influence naming in North America? Let's try and find out if Adelaine gets into the charts. By the way I live in Canada so I'll be trying up here.

By Tirzah (not verified)
May 13, 2008 9:08 PM

Not to be a wet towel, but when I see people who were named at the beginning of a popularity curve, I think, "Boy, she sure looks old for a Heather." Sorry!!

By Amber the Red (not verified)
May 13, 2008 9:13 PM

"Irrelevant but...any info on the rise of Joan for boys?"

I really, really wish I knew what is going on there, Harriet. At first I thought it was part of some reverse gender equality movement. Then I thought it's some non-anglo-saxon cultural happenstance. And now I'm wondering if those are SSA mistakes, like checking "boy" when the baby was a girl.

I want to meet one of these little boy Joans. Then I might have an answer for you.

By Patricia (not verified)
May 13, 2008 9:17 PM

Andrea, Adelaine may not be in the top 1000, but it *is* a name according to this baby name website -

Name: Adelaine
Origin and Meaning of the Name Adelaine
Gender: Girl
Origin: German
Meaning: Noble one
Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: Yahweh is just
(A dah layn); (A dah LAYN eh)
Form of: Adalene
Categories: African American, American, English
Used in: English speaking countries

I also found Adelaine listed under Adeline in one of my baby name books (a book with little more than lists of names -- 50,000+ of them).

I'm wondering what you planned to call her when you gave her that name. It's a pretty name, and I think Addie is cute -- and more current than Patti.

By Tirzah (not verified)
May 13, 2008 9:22 PM


I googled Adelaine and lots of people with that name turned up. It's also listed at the Baby Names World web site. In fact, 3 people filled out the survey on that site regarding how they like their name.

Also try searching for Adelaine in Wikipedia. Apparently, Henry James published a short story in 1894 with a character named Adelaine Mullville. There is also a mention of a Canadian woman with that name born in the 1800's. Also, Miss Malaysia 2007 is named Adelaine.

So don't beat yourself up. The name appears to have been used historically and is being used today.

Feel any better?

By Patricia (not verified)
May 13, 2008 9:33 PM

It occurred to me that boys named Joan are not being given a usually female name but a non-English language version of John. Looking into that, I found this:

JOAN (2)

Gender: Masculine

Usage: Catalan
Catalan form of JOHN

Catalan - the Romance language of Catalonia, closely akin to Provencal: it is spoken also in SW France, Valencia, western Sardinia, and the Balearic Islands.

Pronounced "zhoo-AHN" or "jaw-AHN".

A famous bearer is Joan Miró, a Spanish painter.

A famous bearer is Mexican singer-songwriter Joan Sebastian.

By Miriam (not verified)
May 13, 2008 9:42 PM

I know an elderly Dutch man named Joan. He is old enough to have been impressed as a slave laborer by the Nazis. He escaped during the last days of the war and rode into Amsterdam with the first wave of liberators. When he came to the US after the war, he changed his name to John.

The rise in the Hispanic population probably is the reason for the male Joans, but I still don't have a clue about the little boy Yaels.

By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
May 13, 2008 10:27 PM

I do find the rise of Joan (for boys) to be peculiar, since most Hispanics in the US aren't Spaniards and don't know anything about Catalán. Patricia, I suspect your reference to Joan Sebastian must be what's driving it.

By annemarie (not verified)
May 14, 2008 12:22 AM

Well, I guess I better give more information! :) My other kids do not have a matching style of names. My first is Thomas. My second son has my maiden name as his first name, and it's a very unusual, German surname, although I got it via my Danish ancestors (googling my entire maiden name gets hits mostly in German). It's entirely possible that people think I made up ds #2's name, upon hearing it for the first time and not knowing anything about my family. Oh well. My daughter is Lily. We had our reasons and we love the name! :) (And no, I don't say that I had no idea it was so popular: I knew full well.) My youngest is Nathaniel.

Nathaniel is not as well known as a Bible name, but does appear in the Bible spelled slightly differently. So I have a reluctance to use any more Bible names, since then we'd have three out of four boys with Bible names and ds #2 as the odd one out. Dh thinks that this is over-thinking things.

At first, Clive was far and away my favorite but I'm getting cold feet with thinking that many people may just hate it. Hence Edward and Arthur have edged up on my list. But we've never had such difficulty choosing a name before! I'm due in two weeks, and we have a bunch of names that we both like fine but no favorites to agree on.

Eo, I love your thoughts on Benjamin-- thanks!

And to the Brit who pointed out the difference between Louis and Lewis (Valerie?)-- thank you! I could have sworn that I've heard the Louis in Robert Louis Stevenson pronounced "Loo-ee" but dh had just about convinced me that I must be completely bonkers, since RLS was not French.

Anyway, I don't know if all that information gives anybody the magic ability to solve my quandary, but I sure wish I knew what this little guy should be called...

By Andrea (not verified)
May 14, 2008 12:29 AM

Patricia and Tirzah--many, many thanks for the info. I do indeed feel better already. Wish I'd posted my names woes four years ago! We planned to go with Addie but I got scared with Addison coming on and all the Maddies on the playground. We tried Laine but it just didn't "take". Patti is rather retro-hip don't you think? But needless to say very confusing to everyone. Patti from Adelaine? Huh? I know, I know.

By sushi (not verified)
May 14, 2008 12:45 AM

Is Adelaine called Patti because of the opera singer named Adelina Patti? Seems like such a coincidence if she isn't!

I think Patti is cute--spunky, like Peppermint Patty in Peanuts. But she'll maybe be more likely to hear "Crabby Patty"--the favorite food on Spongebob.

By Ash (not verified)
May 14, 2008 1:22 AM

*Madeline*, I loooove the name Madeline, and if I had had a daughter 10-15 years ago (which would have been bad in a teen-pregnancy sense, but . . .) I would have totally considered it. Unfortunately, I do think it is now time-stamped and owes at least some of its popularity to the nickname.

I also have a grandfather Louis (and cousin) pronounced the same as Lewis, though I, too, would shift that pronunciation instantly if I knew the bearer was French. We Americans are certainly odd. ;)

By moonlady (not verified)
May 14, 2008 2:04 AM

I'm wondering if Yael as a boy's name is an SSA mistake. DH is Israeli and he says it's a girl's name only, and biblical to boot.

You can read up on her story -- she was one tough lady, so I see why the name has stuck around:

I don't see anybody who knows that kind of back story turning this into a boy's name...

By Easternbetty (not verified)
May 14, 2008 2:34 AM

A comment on J&H's mom's thesis: ("I'm convinced that a fair amount of the search for originality is driven by moms who grew up with names they perceived as overly popular! Every Jennifer I know still talks about how much she hated being one of half a dozen. My husband informs me that no man (or boy) gives two cents about the popularity of his name. I'm sure there are exceptions to this sweeping gender stereotype, but it does seem to have some truth to it.")

Although I tend to avoid broad "paintbrush" generalizations, this comment triggered a few thoughts on names and gender in the U.S. (and perhaps in other Western countries).

Most Name Enthusiasts are already aware that certain cultures tend toward the tried and true for males (long perceived as the bearers of family names and of tradition and legacy)and towards creative and "unique" for females (who often did not need/get to worry about having their own future kids named after them, or of having their names stamped on the side of an awning or a storefront).

Viewed in light of J&H's mom's comment, it seems that the millions of Michaels, Matthews, and Andrews (and for that matter, the hundreds of thousands of Gregs, Jasons, and Jordans) have not NEEDED the built-in "Uniqueness" Generator of a distinctive name. In U.S. society, boys have been encouraged to make their own "names" so to speak--that is, their identities. Whether a boy is one of twelve Michaels in his neighborhood is immaterial, since he has been encouraged to assert himself and craft his own identity through innovation, commerce, industry, science, or athletics.

Girls, on the other hand, were until very recently, actively discouraged from asserting their own separate identities, which were more acceptably based on those of their husbands and families. So if you were one of twelve Marys or Janes, that (from the mid-20th century on perhaps?) was a real threat to a distinctive identity. Being named Darlene, Maribel, Sherry, or Sheila became a means of handing you a distinction you may not have been assured of carving out on your own.

By Keren (not verified)
May 14, 2008 2:44 AM

Louis/Lewis - In my son's class is a little boy called Louie - the parents wanted to make sure there was no confusion over the pronounciation. There's another Louis in the school, also pronounced Louie. So Valerie, the Louis/Lewis split is alive and well in the UK.

re Yael, I did read somewhere that lots of Israeli names are shifting gender - Shai, Stav and Amit for example. But Yael? Surely not. I do know an Isaeli guy called Sharon though, which is a bit unfortunate when you live in London!

By kate b. (not verified)
May 14, 2008 5:09 AM

I'm a little late responding (I live in a time zone 7 hours ahead of EST, so I'm always trying to catch up on comments posted overnight), but OH MY GOODNESS. Thank you for pointing out the "eclair" thing. Anna Claire/"an eclair" is so obvious, I can't believe I missed it. (And there I was wondering if Natalie Claire was too much like "not an eclair.")
Wow, and there I was laughing last week when we found out that our friend's sister's name is Eileen Dover.
Thank you again for pointing that out. Ugh.
(hyz--I've rejected names for lesser reasons, too! Back to the drawing board for us! Thankfully we still have a few months before the birth of this child!)

Oh, and btw, do you think Natalie Claire is just as bad as Anna Claire in terms of the eclair association?

By kate b. (not verified)
May 14, 2008 5:29 AM

I just reread the rest of the comments I missed and have a few other responses:

Jill and Tk--thanks for adding up the variations! As I was falling asleep last night, it occurred to me that variations on Madeline might be what makes it seem more popular, and it is interesting to me that WITH variations, Natalie still comes out ahead.

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what Namevoyager's results for Natalie and Madeline mean for the names' futures?

Unnamed guest who named her daughter Natalie but considered Madeline--Are you happy with your decision despite the rising popularity of Natalie? Are you glad you stayed away from Madeline?

To all those who mentioned the nickname "Maddie" as being the date-stamp--I think you're right, which is why DH and I are still trying to come up with nicknames for Madeline that AREN'T Maddie.

Oh, and I don't know why I've been spelling Madeline this way. DH and I both prefer Madeleine (we like Madeleine L'Engle). What are your opinions on the two variants?

You guys are great!

By kate b. (not verified)
May 14, 2008 5:31 AM

Oh, and sorry to flood the board, but what do you think of the name Lucy? DH loves it but I'm afraid it's too cutesy.

By SusieQ (not verified)
May 14, 2008 5:54 AM

kate b. -
I think Lucy is lovely... works on a baby, a little girl, a teen, an adult, an old woman. The meaning "light" is great too.

So what alternative nicknames for Madeline/Madeleine have you come up with so far?

You could have:
Mads (I know a German girl who has this as her full name)
Line (my aunt's nickname, but from Caroline)
Mada (pronounced MAD-a or MAID-a)

By Eo (not verified)
May 14, 2008 8:43 AM

Easternbetty-- I enjoy your provocative analysis!

Annemarie-- Thomas, German-Danish surname, Nathaniel, Lily. I think "Edward" would be great with this charming, traditional-leaning group. Giving one's child one's maiden name is definitely 'traditional', so it all fits!

Re: Louis: In the song from the Judy Garland musical "Meet Me in Saint Louis", (set at the time of the 1904 World's Fair), Louis is pronounced "LOU-ee". The song "Meet Me in Saint Louis" was published in 1904, so this pronounciation was extant (if rare) here in the U.S. as far back as then... P.S. You can Google YouTube clips of the cast singing the unforgettable songs in this movie, including "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas", "The Trolley Song", "The Boy Next Door", etc. Just a nostalgic aside!

By Eo (not verified)
May 14, 2008 8:46 AM

SusieQ had great nicknames for Madeline. A couple of others: "Mina" ( MY-na ) or "Minnie", for a 19th century feeling...

By Patricia (not verified)
May 14, 2008 10:06 AM


I have a friend whose parents named her Rosalie Nora -- and then called her Patty. She's been "Patty/Pat" all her life, and that's been fine with her.

By Amy3 (not verified)
May 14, 2008 10:44 AM

annemarie -- Combined with your other kids' names, I'd select Edward or Charles. Charles Edward works nicely.

Re: Louis/Lewis -- I grew up with a boy named Louis (pron. Lewis), and that is how I would say it, unless I knew the bearer was French.

Easternbetty -- Thank you! Your insightful analysis was both interesting and very likely true.

By EVie (not verified)
May 14, 2008 10:55 AM

kate b.—using the "telescoping" nicknaming technique, I think that Mally or Melly could also be plausible nicknames for Madeleine (I suppose you could also get Manny or Menny, but those don't sound quite right to me). You could also dip into the nickname pools for other M names and try things like Madge, Molly, May, or Mimi.

If it's worth anything, I actually prefer Natalie, Madeline/Madeleine and Lucy far and above Anna. I know Anna is quite popular on this board, and I've never been able to quite figure out why I don't like it, especially because I do like Anne. I've always felt there was something *pinched* about Anna, while Anne has a more open feeling. Maybe because it makes me think of "anorexic?" Hmm. It may actually have more to do with how it looks written down than how it sounds, with those As closing in on the Ns. Anyway, I do like the other three, though you may also want to brainstorm nicknames for Natalie—otherwise she will probably end up as Nat, which to me sounds like a tiny, annoying insect.

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
May 14, 2008 10:57 AM

For my DD's name-picking in 2003 born in Dec. we had many choices:Natalie, Noelle, Nicole, Kimberley, Samantha, Shannon, and others. Combined with all the choices I had for middle names I had a pretty big list. It took me 3 days to decide-luckily she had jaundice and didn't leave the hospital right away LOL! Anyway, I do prefer names with a bit of a French flair. We had some other personal connections to Natalie and with the name's meaning that sealed it (after a few tears shed to the other great combos). We chose Natalie Renee. The name fits her though every now and then I think about Kimberley. It is slightly more popular than I had hoped but so far no others in preschool associations.(No Kimberley's or others above either)!
P.S. My great aunt is Madeleine Elizabeth.

By Amy3 (not verified)
May 14, 2008 11:01 AM

kate b -- Forgot to respond to your question about Lucy. I love it! I know a little 4-yr-old Lucy who is the spunkiest girl I've met (next to my own daughter). It's a wonderful name, that as someone else mentioned, ages well.

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
May 14, 2008 11:02 AM

I reply to Evie's comment about nn's (we were posting at same time)-our dd was supposed to be "Ali/e" but it didn't take so she is called Natalie or other family contrived nn's. We also couldn't stand to think of calling her Nat-an annoying insect.

By EVie (not verified)
May 14, 2008 11:18 AM

Oh, also (sorry to post again)—kate b., what pronunciation are you thinking of for Madeline/Madeleine? I'm more familiar with the French form, which in France is pronounced more like mad-LENN (which you'd have a really hard time getting to fly in the States). I've never actually met a Madeline, and I could easily see it being pronounced either MAD-uh-line or MAD-uh-lyn. With the French form, you may also get MAD-uh-layn (in English-speaking countries, that is). Does anyone know what most people are using these days?

By RobynT (not verified)
May 14, 2008 11:19 AM

annemarie: i like clive! what don't folks like about it? if it's seen as too unusual, maybe cliff, clifford, or clyde?

i like lucy but i do think it might be a little cutesy. also, my three currently pregnant friends were each considering lucy, lucia, and lucas. danger danger! i shared this with one of them and she changed lucia to josephine.

By Mari (not verified)
May 14, 2008 11:32 AM

I also think Lucy is a bit too cute. I don't get any kind of elegant or sophisticated vibe when I hear the name. Perhaps as a nickname for something like Lucinda? Lucy is also on the list of most popular pet names in the US.

By Mari (not verified)
May 14, 2008 11:34 AM

Oh, and I like the suggestion of Josephine nn Josie as an alternative to Lucy. Josie has the same feel as Lucy, but Josephine brings the needed element of sophistication. In my humble opinion! :)

By Patricia (not verified)
May 14, 2008 11:36 AM

Zoerhenne, I was interested to see your list begin with the names of the three daughters in a family I know: Noelle, Natalie and Nicole.

I'm surprised by all the talk on this board of nicknames, as I thought more children these days are being called by their full names. Why give a child a name you *really* like, just to call them something else -- particularly if the nickname gives no clue to the given name and doesn't flow easily to and from it?

The Natalie mentioned above, like Zoerhenne's Natalie, is called by her full name. Sure, sometimes someone inadvertently calls her "Nat" in a hurry, but she's mostly called Natalie.

By EVie (not verified)
May 14, 2008 12:39 PM

Patricia—Interesting question about the interest in nicknaming on this board. Maybe it's just that Name Enthusiasts get so excited about naming, we can't resist the opportunity to pick out yet another name? Picking a full name and then a nickname for it is like two for the price of one!

I had a friend in high school named Matthew who preferred to be called his full name, but many people automatically reverted to Matt. He observed to me once that it seemed like "jocks" were most likely to do it. Thinking back on that, there was a girl named Katherine on my high school volleyball team who also went by her full name, but she started being called "Kat" on the team—largely because when you're calling out to your teammate in the middle of a very fast play, you just don't have time to get "Katherine" out of your mouth. I wonder if that's a reason for the jock-like tendency toward one-syllable nicknames? Potential conclusion: if you envision your kid playing a team sport, have a simple nickname at the ready.

By Valerie (not verified)
May 14, 2008 12:59 PM

So many great discussions going on here...!

Re: Lucy. I like it, but do think it has a bit of a little girl feel for a woman. If I were to use it, I'd probably pick Lucia (pronounced Loo-SEE-ah, the South American way) and use Lucy when she was young. A woman I know recently had a baby and I was asking another friend what she named it. He said "Oh, Lucinda, (to be known as Lucy), and then some kind of plane for the middle name... what was it... Boeing? Her husband's so into flying..." It turns out to be Piper, thank goodness!

Re: Louis. Yes, Eo, I was wondering about "Meet me in Saint Lou-ee, Lou-ee" too, particularly as I have relatives there who definitely pronounce it Lewis. Interesting.

BTW, do any of you know the story of how Lewis Carroll ("Alice in Wonderland") -real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson- derived his pen name? My understanding is that he took his first and middle names, Latinized them to Carolus Ludovicus, re-anglicized them -Carroll Lewis- and switched them. Anyone ever try that game? I have!

By *Madeline* (not verified)
May 14, 2008 1:08 PM

On jock nick names...
I went by Madeline my entire life until I made the track team, and then inadvertantly overnight I became Maddy for the rest of High School.
I personally don't even like Maddy as a nick name. Madeline is a beautiful name and Maddy is so choppy. My grandmother (after whom I am named) went by Lynn to her friends.

I really like Leina (which someone else posted for the Madeleine spelling.

Good luck keeping people from calling her Maddy. I still fight the good fight to keep my entire name :D.

Why are people so intent on chopping everyone's name in half?

By Annina (not verified)
May 14, 2008 1:13 PM

Yes, Aidan is a lovely name. We thought so when we named our son Aidan in 2003, having never heard the name before. My husband's family is Irish, and Aidan has a similar meaning (red, firey) as my mother-in-law's maiden name. We also liked the story of St. Aidan. We are sad that there are so many derivitives and variations, just as we're saddened by the popularity. And no, we had never seen Sex and the City. We're about to have another child (sex unknown) and are really trying to pick a classic and slightly unique name.

By Rjoy (not verified)
May 14, 2008 1:16 PM

I haven't been on here much. But I have loved reading everybody's post.

I do like Lucy. I think it is very cute and feminine. Maybe because Sandra Bullock played a role that was named Lucy.

Speaking of nicknames. I have a nickname that I like, but I only prefer certain people that are close to me to use it. It has a child like nostalgia to it and I don't like it used when I need to be taken seriously.

What do you do when you have friends your in-laws that insist on calling you that. I even refer to myself as my full name, and sign cards and letters by it. They just don't take the hint!

By RobynT (not verified)
May 14, 2008 1:43 PM

oh, my friend doesn't like Josie though. i think she is going to push for Joey as a nn. like Katie Holmes' character on Dawson's Creek. and she says she also likes boyish NNs for girls. (her own name is more commonly given as a boys' name i think.) we told her she better pick something or people would pick for her. it happens.

By *Madeline* (not verified)
May 14, 2008 1:46 PM

I took a stand immediately with my in-laws (when my husabnd and I were dating and engaged) to please not shorten my name to Maddy. I had to ask my DH to stop calling me it in front of them too, just to emphasize the effect.

I have a sis in law on that side whose name is Olivia, and all of her in laws call her Liv, her birthday cake says "Happy Birthday Liv"

I don't think she minds as much as I, but I could see how seriously they took their nick names, and headed them off at the pass.

It's really hard though when people are so insistent.

By C & C's Mom (not verified)
May 14, 2008 2:16 PM

My late grandmother was named Lucy so to me it is definitely a grown up name. In fact, I have never known a little girl named Lucy.

As far as nn's go, I think many people like the short version of names, but somehow they just don't seem right on a birth certificate. Think of nn's like Tommy, Jonny, Jenny, etc. They just seem like they need a formal name to back them up. In fact, I have a co-worker who married a man named Tommy and I was shocked to find out that it was his given name (and he's a junior as well).

I also think that an unusual nn is a good way to distinguish a given name that is realtively common. I love my son's name, but if he were regularly called by his given name (Jacob), he would be one of many. Calling him Coby let's him be different from most, but still have the traditional formal name that I love.

By Eo (not verified)
May 14, 2008 2:23 PM

Ha! Several posts have immediately answered Patricia's query as to why we are interested in nicknames as well. It is, in part, that as *Madeline* says, some people can be so "insistent" in altering a given name. Having a great nickname that YOU like can head that off, if you persevere.

You see, we also love our son's FULL name, and use it often, but other people will shorten it at will, and then use that undesirable diminutive--of their choosing, not ours-- CONSTANTLY.

Much of that is simply affectionate, but some is thoughtless. I'm thinking of how, as a result of slavery, some descendants of slaves are careful to use their child's FULL name. It's because there was a tradition of the masters bestowing, or manipulating, or altering the names of their dependents at will, and it became symbolic of the complete lack of control the slave experienced in other aspects of life...

Of course, modern day altering of one's name is not sinister, nor as wounding, as the slavery example. But when others don't care about what you prefer to be called, it definitely can be felt as disrespect. Especially to a name fanatic!

Rats, I must dash to pick B. up at school. Apologies if this is incoherent due to haste!

By Jessica (not verified)
May 14, 2008 2:30 PM

I like Lucy. I also like Josie, but only as a nn.

Annemarie: I think Edward or Clive is the perfect compliment to your other kids names.

Re: Louis. I love the look of the name. I am attracted to it every time I see it. But I know that everyone in my life would try to call him Lou-is. And even if I named him lou-ee, then I have a problem. I instantly see a face from my life. His name is Lewellyn and has gone by lewie for all his life. And it is not at all as ... rich a sound as louis. sad. sad.sad.

By Patricia (not verified)
May 14, 2008 2:37 PM

Valerie and others,

Regarding the pronunciation of the male name Louis and the city by that name: St. Louis was founded by the French in 1764 and named in honor of Louis IX, the crusader King of France, who was the patron saint of the reigning king, Louis XV. Thus, the name of the city was originally pronounced the French way.

Wikipedia gives both the English and French pronunciations for St. Louis: "St. Louis (English /seɪnt ˈluːɪs/, French /sɛ̃ lwi/)" and also
provides information for the well-known song: "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis, better known as just Meet Me in St. Louis, was a popular song from 1904 which celebrated the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, i.e., the St. Louis World's Fair. The words were by Andrew B. Sterling; the music, by Kerry Mills.

The song and the fair were focal points of the Judy Garland movie, Meet Me in St. Louis.

"Louis" in the song is pronounced "LOO-ee", akin to the French. The song is one of the few instances of pronouncing the city's name that way. It is normally pronounced "LOO-is"."

It just wouldn't be the same singing "meet me in Saint Lewis, Lewis"!

By Patricia (not verified)
May 14, 2008 3:14 PM

A clarification regarding my nicknames question: I wasn't questioning calling one's child a nickname that clearly comes from the given name (like C & C's Mom's Coby, given name Jacob) or a name that relates to the given name and *is not* the common nickname for a totally different name (EO's Benjamin called Banks). But naming a child with the intent of calling her or him something totally different -- as in some of the nicknames being suggested for Madeline -- makes me wonder 'why not choose a name which actually connects to the name you plan to *call" your child?'

A case in point: many years ago a cousin and his wife named their son Nathan and immediately began calling him Nick and only Nick. To this day (he's about 40 now), he's still Nick and has *never* been called Nathan. I didn't feel comfortable asking his parents why they didn't name him Nicholas, but I've always wondered about it.

Most of my own children were called by a nickname form of their name when they were young (Catherine - Cathy, Jennifer - Jenny, Robert - Robbie, etc.). Because their nicknames came directly from their given names, they could easily 'transition' into their full names as adults if they chose to (some did, some didn't). I think that may be harder to do when the nickname is not close to the given name.

By *Madeline* (not verified)
May 14, 2008 3:28 PM

I see what you are saying about nick names that relate more closely to the given name. It is a delicate balance.
I personally do not intend to name my children something and call them something that seems unrelated. But I also intend to generally call them by their given names. So, I am probably the wrong person to ask.


By Eo (not verified)
May 14, 2008 4:26 PM

You're right, Patricia, nicknames that don't seem to relate to the given name do seem a bit perplexing. They wouldn't be my choice, either. I suppose some people love to come up with ones that reflect some perceived characteristic of the bearer, and that accounts for some...

By the way, the names of the children from "Meet Me in Saint Louis" have a typically "turn of the century" ring-- "Rose", "Alonzo" ("Lon"), "Esther", "Agnes". The little girl played by Margaret O'Brien I think was called "Tootie", (or "Toodie?), but I don't know what that was a nickname for...

By Rjoy (not verified)
May 14, 2008 6:11 PM

I love that movie!

By Patricia (not verified)
May 14, 2008 8:32 PM


I've always loved Margaret O'Brien, so of course I had to check on her character's name. You're right, it was "Tootie", and she won a special Academy Award as Outstanding Juvenile Performer.

Interesting that Margaret started out as (Angela) Maxine O'Brien and in her first movie ("Babes on Broadway", 1941) she was called Maxine. By her next film "Journey for Margaret" in 1942, when she was 5, her name had been changed to Margaret O'Brien -- darling name for a darling little girl.

As for the nickname "Tootie", I'm guessing it may have been a fairly usual nickname for a kid sister, the part Margaret played in "Meet Me in St. Louis". My Aunt Arleen, the youngest of 6, was called "Tootie" too. She was born a few years before Margaret O'Brien.

By Rjoy (not verified)
May 14, 2008 9:44 PM

Speaking of Margaret. My mother was just telling me how she told a women that her real name is Margaret but prefers to go by Margie. She thinks that Margaret sounds like an old women. The women she was speaking to said that it is a lovely name and she will only call her that from now on. My mother now regrets telling her.
The ironic things is that my mother is 60, not exactly a spring chicken now.
I proceeded to explain that Margaret is in now and she will be meeting little girls with that name very soon. She doesn't believe it. =)