Of Names and Politics: The Palin Story

Sep 3rd 2008

It's an unprecedented event in American political history.  Never before has a vice-presidential selection caused such a stir, such a surprise...with her children's names.

In fact, no naming event has ever filled my inbox with as many reader queries as the unveiling of Sarah Palin--mom to Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig--as John McCain's running mate.  "Any comment?"  "I've never heard Trig as a name for anything but a math class."  "Is this 'an Alaska thing'?'"

In a way, yes, it is "an Alaska thing."  If you had nothing to go on but the baby names and had to guess about who the parents were, you'd guess that that they lived in an idiosyncratic, sparsely populated region of the country...and that they were conservative Republicans.

When I divided the U.S. map into name style regions, Alaska was a mix of two styles: Frontier and Creative Fringe.  Frontier naming regions include the Mountain West and the Appalachians.  The typical Creative Fringe state is a world unto itself in history and culture, like Hawaii or Utah.  Alaska is a natural blend of the two.

Frontier names, especially for girls, lean toward nature names and androgynous surnames/place names.  That would cover Bristol, Willow and Piper.  Creative Fringe names include new word-based names, elaborate, romantic names, and well, the creative fringe.  Neologisms are rampant, from Nevaeh to Track.

But there's more.  One reader noted, "Palin is an evangelical Christian, yet there is not a biblical name in the bunch."  It's a telling observation.

For the past two decades, a core set of "cultural conservative" opinions has served as a theoretical dividing line between "red" (Republican/conservative) and "blue" (Democratic/liberal) America.  These incude attitudes toward sex roles, the centrality of Christianity in culture, and a social traditionalism focused on patriotism and the family.  If you were to translate that divide into baby names it might place a name like Peter—classic, Christian, masculine—on one side, staring down an androgynous pagan newcomer like Dakota on the other.  In fact, that does describe the political baby name divide quite accurately.  But it describes it backwards.

Characteristic blue state names: Angela, Catherine, Henry, Margaret, Mark, Patrick, Peter and Sophie.

Characteristic red state names: Addison, Ashlyn, Dakota, Gage, Peyton, Reagan, Rylee and Tanner.

Even when biblical names are trendy in conservative, Christian-focused communities, they're typically not the classic names of Christian tradition.  They're Old Testament names that summon up a pioneer style with an exotic flair, often with a modern spelling twist.  Names like Malachi, Levi and Kaleb are hot in Alaska, while names like John and Elizabeth rule in liberal Washington D.C.

Why is it the blue parents who name with red values?  Because in baby naming as in so many parts of life, style, not values, is the guiding light.  The most liberal and conservative parts of the country differ on key style-shaping variables, like income, education level, and the age when women marry and have children.  A community where the typical first-time mother is a 22-year-old high-school grad is going to have a very different style climate from the community where the typical new mom is a 28-year-old with a college degree.  When you factor in the creative-naming effect that comes with remote and ideosyncratic regions, you get a neo-naming explosion.

p.s. If you're interested in regional naming differences, look for much more here soon!


By J&H's mom (not verified)
September 5, 2008 7:03 PM

Off-topic, but we just got back from the rodeo!

Had to share my favorite names, just in case any of you mamas want your babes to grow up to be cowboys!

Casey/K C

There were others, of course, but those were the ones I could remember.

No Levis, though!

By Harriet (aka Sabrina) (not verified)
September 5, 2008 7:05 PM

I'm from the North, and I've never even heard the pronunciation phil-LIP...phil-LIP-a is my first instinct though. Weird.

cara--For the new sib of Jack, Max, and Leia, already-mentioned names I agree with are Troy, Paul, Dean, Luke, Brett, Brad, Sean, Zoe, Pearl, Sophie, Rose, Ivy, Daisy, Claire, and Emily. I do hope that whoever suggested Paine was joking or not fully awake. :) My new suggestions:

Guest--Abram to me is only biblical. Maybe colonial or pioneer if I think about it, but really just biblical.

By Harriet (not verified)
September 5, 2008 7:07 PM

Except I guess not Luke because of the L. Whoops.

By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
September 5, 2008 7:57 PM

Yeah, and Luke and Leia are problematic anyway! Too bad, because Luke is a great name and fits right in. I guess George Lucas thought so as well.

By Harriet (not verified)
September 5, 2008 9:10 PM

Heh. Even whoopser.

By Joni (not verified)
September 5, 2008 9:27 PM

Melanie, several years ago there was a contestant on Survivor who was named Neleh (pronounced Neh-lee-ah). She was a Mormon from Utah.

Years ago I read a blog about what the writer called "Utahn Names" and she kept a list of names that were uniquely Utahn and could identify people from other states who'd lived in Utah simply by their use of Utah-n names.
Guess she's still around - here's the link:
It doesn't make from of Utahn names at all - rather it celebrates the eccentricities of the community which she is a part of.

Aybee, I am neither a writer, teacher, nor Jewish. I just love names. :D

By cara (not verified)
September 5, 2008 9:37 PM

Thanks for your ideas...I really like the name Luke, but would NEVER use it :). We actually picked Leia because it's a Hawaiian name and we loved the meaning-- "heavenly flowers" or "child from heaven." A few of you suggested Tess/Tessa- funny, that's my 22 year old sister's name! And I can't believe someone's name is Turtle?! That's gotta be a nickname; I've heard some different names, but that's crazy. Names I like:
Sadie (my favorite right now)
Maisy (I kind of like a cutesy name this time for a girl)
Kate- one we considered for one of our kids at some point
Emmy- see above
Isla- I liked this on a lot until I heard Brangelina were going to use it; they didn't, but now it seems like it's going to get popular anyway

I kind of have a hard time re-using a name I'd considered for a previous child. I still like the name a lot, but it just seems like it was for that child...I don't know, kind of weird of me. Many people do it just fine. Moving on to boys names:

Isaac/Ike (this was an idea for a previous child, so see above)
Sam (which I like, but doesn't have the "that's it!" for me yet)
Theo (might be my top choice right now)
Louis/Louis (like this a lot, but it starts with L, which would be fine, I just like that all the kids so far start with different letters. Also, I'd prefer not to have a nickname...Louie is what I like but can't picture just using it)
Dash (I watched The Incredibles the other day with my kids, and for some reason, I like this! What do you all think???)

I think that's all for now, but if you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them! Baby is now overdue, I'm HOPING he/she comes this weekend (now!)


ps- I do really like a lot of the names in the guys & dolls section of Laura's book...I keep searching there, but again, there's not a name that I've thought "that's it!" yet. I'll probably have to meet this baby first

By Coll (not verified)
September 6, 2008 12:09 AM

Cara, I think Sadie and Maisy are adorable (I love the Henry James reference of the latter). I don't love the way they work with Leia, which is of a different style to my ears. But I wouldn't advise against the names if they're your favorites, because they are both quite nice. Do you also like Ruby?

Dash is certainly jaunty! I enjoy the name Dashiell, despite the relative trendiness. And like so many on this board, Theo is a favorite.

Their all great choices. I'm sure the right name will become apparent soon. Good luck and I hope you get your baby this weekend!

By Steliana (not verified)
September 6, 2008 12:38 AM

Hmm...I have noticed a lot of writers and teachers on this board, but I had never thought that there was a disproportionate number of Jews. Perhaps it seems like it because we spend a lot of time discussing name origins, and a lot of common names in the Western hemisphere have origins in the Hebrew bible. And then, of course, those discussions bring people with knowledge of Hebrew out of the closet.

As for Bristol, I can't say for sure that Bristol, Connecticut has nothing to do with it, but Bristol Bay has a very strong association for all Alaskans...it would certainly be what they think of first when they hear the name. Todd and Sarah both did commercial salmon fishing in Bristol Bay.

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 6, 2008 1:01 AM

cara-best of luck for this weekend but i hope you don't live on the east coast of US. Tropical storm Hanna is moving in. BTW, what about Hannah. Nice name. Doesn't have the cutesy factor but it could work well with your others.
Just checked Nymbler-you wouldn't believe some of the suggestions that come up when I put in Sadie and Theo...
Tess, Sammie, Jack, Molly, Lily, Max LOL!!

Some others I like:Josie, Beth, Ava, Noah, Caleb, Graham, Cecilia, Abby, Zach, Grace, Phoebe, Archer, Chloe, Judy, Gabrielle nn Gabby, Beatrix nn Trixie, Vincent, Simon, Zander, Shelby, Dana, Cale, Naomi, Rachel, Reese, Bree, Demi, Isaac, Hugh, Kate, Grant, Adam, Astrid, Ashlynn, Bianca, Chelsea, Colin, Gretel, Keira, Kendra, Nicole, Ryanna/Rhianna, Scarlett, Celine, Trevor, Tristan, Tucker, Wendy, Wyatt, and Zaria.

By cara (not verified)
September 6, 2008 2:18 AM

Very funny about Nymbler! I've looked at it a few times with my other kids' names, but hadn't thought to put in the names I like; I'll have to try that.

I'm not on the east coast (Alaska, actually, so far from the east), but i think Hannah is cute. I also like Henry BUT my last name starts with an H and is different, so H first names just sound odd with it. I've ruled out H first names a while ago, even though there are quite a few I like!

I also like Cale, Trixie (I saw Speed Racer this summer with my kids--it was an awful summer weather-wise, so we didn't get to spend much time indoors. Anyway, I loved the names on Speed Racer! Rex/Trixie...I just like that style)...Ruby was one I considered a lot at the beginning of the pregnancy, still like it...It's funny, because my husband and I had decided on names earlier on with our other kids, but I'm having a harder time this time around! Maybe because it's my 4th in 5 years...My husband doens't really like to discuss names, either. I just throw one out that I like and he'll tell me if he likes it. But we don't have discussions like it seems other couples do. I did ask him about Dash, and he really likes it, so that might be our top boy name right now. I didn't realize Dashiell was getting popular, though. ANd I think Sadie is the top for a girl, with Tess or Tessa being the middle name, after my sister. The middle name for a boy would be my mom's maiden name.

Whew, long post! And still no baby, I've never been pregnant this long. Hopefully soon :)


By Auntie Beth (not verified)
September 6, 2008 3:09 AM

I was away from the computer for a couple of days--what a treat to return to find news of Ivy's arrival, complete with photos. Congratulations on your daughter, hyz. She has such a contemplative expression. What a beautiful baby.

Regarding the phil-LIP-a pronunciation, that is one I've always used (in my head) despite having several PHIL-lips in the family. Thinking back, the first time I encountered the name was in a Rumer Godden novel, in which the daughter whose name was Philippa was nicknamed "Flip". To get to "Flip", I put the emphasis on the second syllable. I thought it was in line with other feminized names such as Daniella, Augusta, and Roberta, in which the masculine versions stressed the first syllable, but the feminine versions stressed the second.

As an avid reader this is certainly not the first time I've been surprised to learn that the pronunciation I've been 'hearing' as I read is my own invention.

Still, I do think one could arrive at the charming nickname "Pippa" from the phil-LIP-a pronunciation, too.

By Auntie Beth (not verified)
September 6, 2008 3:10 AM

My captcha word was "Faxton". Is captcha now suggesting creative names?

By Sarah (not verified)
September 6, 2008 6:44 AM

thanks for all the wonderful suggestions for my friend - she and her husband will be very pleased! If said baby ever materialises I will certainly update you all!

By J&H's mom (not verified)
September 6, 2008 12:22 PM

I was going to suggest Kate and Maisy, so it's funny those are on your list!

Have you ruled out Leo?
I can't explain why, but to me Leo matches better with Max and Jack than Theo.
In fact, I think it's just about perfect!
I'm a longtime fan of Dashiell/Dash as well.

Zoerhenne mentioned Wyatt.
I was going to pitch that one too. I know it's a bit longer than your other boys' names, but it has that crisp quality that I like about Jack and Max.
I also thought of Claire as a potential girl's name. I really like the flow of Leia, Jack, Max, and Claire. Try it on -LOL!

I've met a couple young Sadies lately; it definitely seems like an up and comer. It's one I'm not totally sold on , but I understand its appeal.
Real life Maxs I know have sibs. named Johnny, Luke, Zachary, Lily, and Kai.
We run into other Jacks all over, but I don't truly know any, except one who has a sister called Haley.

Our Jack's brother is Henry. He was almost Owen. We would have used Charlie or Sam but neither works with our ln at all. If I was having another he'd probably be a Thomas.
Our girl's short list included Katie, Caroline, Charlotte and Adair.

Both mine were overdue, so I know how you're feeling. Take care!

By hyz (not verified)
September 6, 2008 12:36 PM

Cara--good luck this weekend! I was a full week overdue myself, and I know how eager you must be to get the show on the road! Of the choices you just mentioned, if you really like Dash and Trixie, I might be inclined to go with Dashiell and Beatrix, and have the shorter forms as nicknames, since it would give the child more flexibility to choose a form of the name that fits them as they age. I've seen Dashiell mentioned here multiple times, but never for real life kids. Maybe this is a case of the Ethel Mae phenomenon? It's never been in the top 1000 SSA names, at least. I like all your other choices, too--if it were me, to go with Max, Jack, and Leia, I'd pick Isla from your list for a girl (with Sadie as a close second) or Sam for a boy (although I'd do Samuel with nn Sam--I also really like Theodore with the nn Theo). I love the name Rory, but I'm not sure it's as masculine/sporty as your other two boys' names, and the same goes for Isaac, imho.

Auntie Beth, thanks for the comments on Ivy! And for what it's worth, my first inclination when seeing the name Philippa was Phi-LIP-a, too, for the same reason you mentioned--that seems to be the pattern when A is added to masculine names (see also Augusta, Michaela, Josepha, etc.).

By Axel (not verified)
September 6, 2008 1:01 PM

Salmon, if it's a boy. Kipper, if a girl.

By Axel (not verified)
September 6, 2008 1:02 PM

Salmon, if a boy. Kipper if a girl.

By Miriam (not verified)
September 6, 2008 1:18 PM


I know two real life Dashiell/Dash kids, one in his late teens and the other about 7-8 years old. Both have literature professor parents (Chaucer and Shakespeare), and both pronounce the name as Dash'l, instead of D'sheel as Hammett did.

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 6, 2008 2:00 PM

cara-thought of Felicity too last night. Thoughts??

By Harriet (not verified)
September 6, 2008 2:03 PM

Wasn't Dash Joe Biden's childhood nn?

By EssBee (not verified)
September 6, 2008 2:32 PM

Hi there, I've been lurking on this board intermittantly for months and I've finally decided to post.

A random comment first: Minna Ivy is a cutie! My great-great grandmother was named Mina; she was born in California is the late 1800s.

I'm about 5 months pregnant with our first child, a girl. We live in SoCal and our backgrounds are Danish/German (him) and Norwegian/English/Czech (me). We're non-religious professionals -- I'm an MD (33) and he's a PhD (41). Both of us have VERY common names for our generation. Our last name starts with B and is one syllable.

Family names are pretty much out; the options there include Norma, Gladys Mae, Mildred Ethel, Faye, Thelma Marie, Helga/Hilda, Ida, Bessie, Harriet, etc. One viable candidate, Rosalie, has already been used. Another, Justina, is acceptable but not quite my style.

The comments about husbands wielding veto power resonates with me. Mine prefers the common/ traditional and his favorite girl names are Ashley and Emily. He also likes Christina, Hannah, Isabella, Alyssa, Marisa, and Tess(a). His one non-traditional name is Sierra as we love hiking.

I really love: Annelise (mentioned here!) and Natalie. I also like more unusual names but I haven't really bothered to even think about them because of my hubby's strong feelings against them... he thinks that Annelise is way too strange, for example!

I love the *sound* of names like Marisol and Mariela and Gabriela but I think that these sound too wanna-be ethnic for us. I think we could compromise with Allison, or maybe Emily or Natalie. I just saw Aurora on the list of Alaska names (above) and I'm thinking that it would be a great middle name. Hubby would probably agree to a more unusual middle name.

We've also discussed Laurel, but it doesn't quite work with our last name.

A lot of the very traditional names here are NMS... I would characterize them as too...um...hipster, maybe(?) for us.

I think I've probably already said too much. Any other ideas for us?

By Kate, mom of T, G, and J (not verified)
September 6, 2008 3:02 PM

EssBee -- reading your post, I immediately thought of Elizabeth/Elisabeth. Though you listed "Bessie" as one of the family names that's unusable, and though I know the kind of things that usually come to mind when one hears "Bessie," my experience is just the opposite -- my 18-year-old sister is Elizabeth, and she goes by Betsey to everyone but me, my mom, and my husband -- we've only ever called her Bess (sometimes Bessie), and it totally suits her -- and she's not at all what the "typical" Bessie might seem like. Bess is independent, stubborn, smart, athletic, popular, and gorgeous.

Elizabeth could honor your Bessie without using Bessie itself, and it works with both of your ethnic background; it's traditional, like your husband's style; and if you spelled it with an "s" (Elisabeth), you could use Elise as a nn -- which is more unusual, per your style, and is similar to Annelise. Another great nn for it that I love is Libby; others are Lily, Eliza, Ellie, and Elsie.

By Miriam (not verified)
September 6, 2008 3:09 PM

Interesting name sighting--

A high school student posted a query on the medieval history listserv. His name is Etzel with a common German surname (spelled the German way and not Anglicized). He has a US email address and used the term "high school," but he asked for sources in English, Spanish, or German. So it is not clear whether he was born in Germany or in the US with a German family background.

Anyway this is the first person I have come across bearing the name of Fuerst Etzel, the German name of Attila the Hun. Attila is quite a common name in Hungary, but I don't think Etzel is so common in Germany/Austria (can anyone in Germany/Austria fill me in one the name's usage there?). It sure isn't in the US.

By Brunka de Loof (not verified)
September 6, 2008 3:58 PM

EssBee--you mention liking Marisol, and your husband likes Marisa--so would "Maris Aurora B." or "Mariel Aurora B." work?

They could be read to mean something like Sea Dawn, which (if you're in Southern California) is geographically backward, eh? but I can't think of any names that mean sunset right now!

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 6, 2008 4:29 PM

EssBee-My dd is Natalie Renee. My dh was very much for traditional names. While I like some of those, a lot of them seemed too boring to me and not what I was looking for. Other names we considered:
Samantha Renee
Kimberley Nicole
Kimberley Elizabeth
Rebecca Nicole
Emily Renee
and I forget the rest. But what I'm trying to get at is that we have similar styles. Maybe you could work with your dh and if you choose the fn he could choose mn or vice versa. Also, how about just Elyse instead of Annelise. I like the Marissa or Marin ideas. i'll have to look on Nymbler and pull out some others for you.

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 6, 2008 5:37 PM

Ok, Nymbler makes the following suggestions:
Claire, Kiersten, Amelia, Melisande, Madeleine, Nicolette, Abigail, Chloe, Cassandra, Audrey, Corinne, Antonia,Helena, Caitlin, Hannah, Lucia, Celeste, Julia, Sylvia, Lauren, Danielle, Stefania, Amanda, Aubrey, Claudia, Camilla, Clarissa
So basically nothing new there.
www.babynamesworld.com suggests some others
Abrianna, Abrielle, Adrienne, Alisha, Alexis, Amalina, Amber/ley/lynn, Courtney, Danica, Darcy, Deidre, Delaney, Dorinda, Eilah/Eilish, Eloise, Emma, Eveline, Frederica, Genevieve, Giselle, Gemma, Jessa, Gillian, Hadley, Hailey, Janelle, Jolie, Jorunn, Kalina, Karyn, Liesel, Lorelei, Lydia, Marlena, Marcelina, Marianne, Marjorie, Marlise/Marlissa, Moira, Nola, Olivia, Rochelle, Rhiannon, Tara, Teressa, Valerie, Vivica
So give them a try on dh and let us know.

By Kristin (not verified)
September 6, 2008 6:25 PM

I'm a Democrat living in an extremely red state, so this partially explains why I turn my nose up at almost every baby name I hear around here, and likewise, everyone looks appalled when they hear my name suggestions. :)

By Aybee (not verified)
September 6, 2008 8:54 PM


Here's a few girl names that I think have some spunk without being too hipster or "out-there"


Good luck!

By crys (not verified)
September 6, 2008 9:59 PM

I'm also a democrat living in a red state and I find most of the names of my "conservative" neighbors appalling. As the victim of a trendy-and dated-name myself I abhor any name that is too indicitive of the current trends. I think that's the difference: in my experience most "liberals" lean toward names that convey sophistication and classicism (if that term can be applied to a name) and "conservatives" lean toward names with pizazz that are of the moment. That's just my take on the subject.

*btw-any consensus on the pronunciation of Esme?

By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 6, 2008 10:10 PM

crys-I believe the pronunciation of Esme has been discussed here before. I say Ez-MAY.

cara-Noelle was another on my list. Thanks to Aybee for reminding me.

By Carly (not verified)
September 6, 2008 10:11 PM

@EssBee - I think Natalie Annelise and Natalie Gabriela are perfectly lovely names. Personally, I feel Emily, Allison, & Ashley have been done to death already, and I think Laurel will be misheard too often.

Your style seems to be a bit of a 90's throwback - it's refreshing, actually, to see an expectant parent who is not necessarily trying to be so fashionable/hipsterish. You might do well to look at the SSA website for the top 300 girls' names circa 1995, and see if there is any mutual inspiration to be found. Best wishes!

By Sarah R. (not verified)
September 6, 2008 10:27 PM

Great post Laura. Absolutely fascinating.

I didn't read all the comments, so forgive me if someone already touched on this. Re: what would happen if McCain were to win the election.

I don't know if we would see a spike in the usage of the Palin name here in the United States, but I would put MONEY that we would see it across the world (at least in some parts).

I spent four months in Uganda doing research in 2003 and met many, many adults and small children with names of American politicians. At times they crossed gender lines, as well (giving the name George Bush to a girl for example).

Super interesting!

By Amy3 (not verified)
September 6, 2008 10:53 PM

cara -- I think Dashiell (nn Dash) and Beatrix (nn Trixie) would work so well with your other kids' names. I can't sift through to see who originally suggested Rory, but I know a Jack-and-Rory sib set.

EssBee -- I love Brunka de Loof's suggestion of Maris Aurora. That's beautfiul! (And I love that you're still using my grandmother's maiden name, Brunka!)

By Andrea (not verified)
September 7, 2008 12:23 AM

I don't find the names of Sarah Palin's kids all that odd. They'd fit right in at a North Dakota high school. I've encountered several little girls named Piper. Trygve is a Norwegian name I've seen on boys and men here, so Trig isn't that strange an abbreviation. But, yeah, North Dakota is a red state. As for the teenage daughter's child, my guess is she'll pick something ultra trendy with a weird spelling.

By Bubamara (not verified)
September 7, 2008 8:35 AM

re: Palin's kids' names
Trig only reminds me of one thing, otherwise it's cute, trendy-sounding. I think it's nice for their special needs child to have a cool name.
When i hear "Trig" as a name, i see the characters on "Only Fools and Horses" the BBC Comedy-in which one of the friends is Trig, short for Trigger, his nn because he has a horsy face, i think. Even though i took higher maths, that meaning never crossed my mind.

By Tirzah (not verified)
September 7, 2008 10:18 AM

Elisabeth T - Thanks for the update! So interesting!

Cara, I don't think anyone has suggested Nick (or Nicholas). I have friends who have a sib set Nick, Luke and Jack. They really like those hard K endings!

By Jane (not verified)
September 7, 2008 12:14 PM


I second Elizabeth called Elise, or just Elise by itself. My small cousin was recently named Elise, and I have found it to be beautiful and classy sounding. It seems to wear well, too! It is like a combination of Emily (but without the popularity factor of being the number one or number two name for the last several years) and Annelise (which is lovely, but far less common than Elise).
For 2007, Elise was ranked 225. That makes it common enough that no one will think it weird, but not so common that she'll be one of many in her class. To give you some perspective, Elise at 225 is about as common as Gregory, Kelly, Abby, and Josephine, which are all within a few places of that rank.

By Cathy (not verified)
September 7, 2008 12:34 PM

Tirzah, you wrote:

"I have friends who have a sib set Nick, Luke and Jack. They really like those hard K endings!"

About 6 months or so ago in our local birth announcements there was a newborn girl, Brooke, whose older siblings, all boys, were Mike, Luke & Jake. Dad was Michael (potentially Mike as well) and Mom was Kelly. All of the kids' names ended in '-ke' and even Mom's name had the 'Ke' in there.

Definitely less obvious than families who choose to give all of their children names that start with the same letter; yet still a link between/among all of the sib names.

By RobynT (not verified)
September 7, 2008 12:47 PM

EssBee: I think every male in the 30-40 range likes the name Alyssa. I blame Alyssa Milano. Anyway, my husband is also less adventurous when it comes to naming. What do you think of Taryn/Taren, or even Karen... I want to second the recommendation of Elise. And how about Colette, Lauren, or Laura?

By Harriet (not verified)
September 7, 2008 1:04 PM

crys--I say EZ-may.

By Cathy (not verified)
September 7, 2008 1:06 PM

Elise is a great name. It was high on our list if we had a girl. It's feminine but not fussy.


I'm enjoying this topic on regional naming trends.

Also, count me in as one who would love to see some info about the veto powers of husbands. Without a doubt, my husband's veto power *greatly* affects the names we seriously consider together, as a couple. Like someone else who posted (no time to go back and check) my husband is in the group who likes the 90s throwbacks of Emily, Allison, Megan, etc. They're fine names, and while I don't need something totally out there or different, I generally prefer something a little less common & a slightly less used in recent years.

By another amy (not verified)
September 7, 2008 2:07 PM

an actual on-topic comment:

my BIL just had a son they named Taylor. When I mentioned (earlier this summer--not after he was born!) that I knew it strictly as a girl's names they looked at me strange. Apparently in their area of Alabama its still more commonly a boy name.

and the names in my town (red state, really blue town)--lots of Henrys, Jacks, more than a few Milos, Augusts (and Augustinas), Callums, Oscars etc., just make my in-laws roll their eyes.

By another amy (not verified)
September 7, 2008 2:11 PM

not that all y'all were being off-topic, but I feel like *I* get off-topic more often than on!

By N. Amanda (not verified)
September 7, 2008 3:08 PM

Hi- I used to comment a lot on this site (under a slightly different name), but lately I've just been lurking... I'm looking for sibling suggestions for Sheldon Charles and Ada Rosalind (these are two of my hypothetical children, they don't actually exist yet, but a girl can dream...)

To give you a sense of my naming style, I'm a fan of Isla, Audrey (this is the most popular name I like - anything higher up on the list is too common), and Zelda (but this one got vetoed) for girls, and Ross, Owen (the most popular boys name I like), Elliot, and Tobias for boys.

And, as long as we're giving out demographic information - I'm finishing up my bachelors degree in computer science, I'm from the northeast US (a blue-ish person in a blue state), and I'm not a writer or a teacher, but I am ethnically Jewish. I don't like names that sound made up (ie. Maddisyn) and I don't like traditional names that are too popular - what I'm really looking for is names that don't seem too out there, but are actually relatively rare (hence Sheldon and Ada).

By EssBee (not verified)
September 7, 2008 3:23 PM

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments and ideas. I do like the name Elise... in fact, it is on our "list" already, but I think it was more of a middle name contender. Perhaps I should rethink it!

Mariel also was on a list somewhere, but I think it is too "unusual" for the hubby. I also like the name Maren (MAR-en), which I have seen a few times...but again, I don't think he'll go for that.

I really appreciate all of the suggestions. So much food for thought. Hmmmmmm.

By Guest (not verified)
September 7, 2008 5:05 PM

Thank you for this post. I am very intrigued by the Palin kids' names. And I appreciate the information on the region naming map. I live in a red state and I am a fan of off-beat names. I don't want to be the 10th Christina in a class and have to go by my first name and last initial. The Palin kids won't have to worry about that problem. I happen to like their names and think that we are going to see these names start popping up around the country in the next few years.

By Eo (not verified)
September 7, 2008 6:11 PM

Nymbler Alert!

Has Nymbler changed in some fundamental way? I haven't used it in a while, but just now I went in and submitted a favorite Welsh name, "Gower", (rhymes with "tower") and asked for compatibles.

Well! It came back at me with a shower of names starting with "G" that have little or no relationship to Gower, including "Guillaume", and Gershon!

I'm thinking it is the rarity of "Gower" that threw Nymbler off, and so submitted some other very unusual names, and Nymbler again came up with unrelated monikers, most of which started with the same letter...

BUT if I fed in a common name, Nymbler behaved as usual, doing a pretty decent job of matching the name's style, more or less.

Am wondering if anyone else has had this experience. It's a bit befuddling!

By J&H's mom (not verified)
September 7, 2008 7:25 PM

Gower is kind of throwing me off, too!

I've heard some similar remarks about Nymbler of late, though.
Wasn't it Piper that seemed to give it fits?

For the list fans: Sunday school roster for Kindergarten/Preschool classes

Hayden (m)
Teagan (f)
Kaisa (rhymes with high-sa)
Sam (Samuel)
Henry (may never attend as he mortifies his mother)

Blue state/church seems to be purple judging bumper sticker count-LOL!

By RobynT (not verified)
September 7, 2008 8:33 PM

Eo: I think Nymbler used to reject names that were too unusual. I swear I got a message before saying something like "There is not enough data on this name." So maybe now it is trying by recommending names that start with the same letter? I wonder if it collects data as we use it too...