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!

Comments

251
By george (not verified)
September 8, 2008 7:07 PM

"Don't forget that "blue states" are also the states with more ethnic Roman Catholics, which certainly tend to choose very traditional names .."

That is a good point. I don't know if the Catholic Church has loosened its policies with liberalization, but when I was born my mother wanted to baptize me "Harry". The priest refused, on the grounds that the Church required a real name -- the name of a recognized saint. Harry was not a real name, but only a nickname for Harold. Consequently, she settled for George.

252
By Tiffany (not verified)
September 8, 2008 7:08 PM

Michelle, there was mistake in reporting earlier and the twins names are in fact Adrian and Ariana (not Adriana). MUCH better!

253
By george (not verified)
September 8, 2008 7:15 PM

"I heard Alethea introducing herself to someone and he immediately said "Oh, is that Castilian?" thinking he had heard

    Alicia

pronounced the Spanish way! I think she gets that a lot."

I have no doubt it probably is (Castillian). Someone heard it and just transferred it into English, without knowing what it really was. It's the same way some young mothers give their child a name like La Teesha, when they really mean Leticia. Or JuWan, when they really mean Juan. Even Ava Gardiner was really just Eva in Spanish.

254
By Opal (not verified)
September 8, 2008 7:16 PM

"Don't forget that "blue states" are also the states with more ethnic Roman Catholics (Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut--think "Everybody Loves Raymond"), which certainly tend to choose very traditional names (James, Robert, Michael, Kathleen, Mary, Grace), but are NOT generally considered socially elite..."

I agree, in part, with this, but having grown up in NJ and having lifelong connections to the state, as well as many in NY, CT & MA, I have to say that those naming trends (the James', Roberts, Michaels, Kathleens, Marys...) were, in fact, common in my generation (1970s) and before, but those NJ Catholics I grew up with, and they account for about 60% of who I grew up with, now have children of their own, almost all with very UNtraditional names, especially the baby girls.

255
By george (not verified)
September 8, 2008 7:35 PM

I greatly enjoyed the trenchant, perceptive comments made by Jennifer. I thought they were really VERY good.

I also think she has been completely misunderstood by some posters here. Good grief! She was not expressing her OWN ideas; she was presenting the snooty, status-conscious ideals of others who are competing for social position and approval, and she was SPOOFING them!

256
By *Madeline Petersen* (not verified)
September 8, 2008 7:41 PM

I am sorry I don't have anything to add to the current discussion, I have fallen behind on the comments, but I just HAD to tell you all. I have an aquaintence that just named his baby Bladen Oliver. Ok, I *am* in Utah, but what? Bladen? Seriously? I am not liking it at ALL.

257
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 8, 2008 7:56 PM

I love looking at this site, and right now I would really appreciate your help. I have 3 daughters, Ruby, Lyl* and Mi*, (* in place of an 'a'). No. 4 will be here in just a few weeks. We don't know if it's a boy or a girl. If it's a boy, I am completely stuck. If it is a girl, we have narrowed it down between Elise (which we've been set on since the beginning but keep having doubts) or Ivy (we like the fact that it's 2 syllables like the others, and ends in y like Ruby)

So, I would be really grateful for any boy name suggestions. I would also be grateful if you could let me which one you prefer between Elise and Ivy. If there are any other girl name suggestions you could throw into the mix, even better!

Thank you!

258
By ABC (not verified)
September 8, 2008 7:56 PM

I thank Jennifer for her brilliant post. I agree that there is a demographic who choose names from the "eccentric classics" in order to signal that they are special and educated.

259
By Tess (not verified)
September 8, 2008 8:09 PM

I just wanted to add a nod of support to Jennifer, as well. Her contribution echoes Laura's thoughts. People tend to name their children according to the cultural and social values of their identified group. Jennifer explained hers with some amused disdain, perhaps, but she is just being a commentator of the group mores. I loved it. Write more. I don't care for Brylee,nor do I warm to Clymenestra....but I love having an insight into those who do. And yet, I, currently, love Barnaby and Clementine--so I need to navel-gaze enough to understand my own taste in names. This site is designed for that-how lovely!

260
By Carly (not verified)
September 8, 2008 8:14 PM

@Jennifer (8th sept 11:35am) - A clever & unusual post, which sounded like it could have been written by Patrick Bateman himself! Loved the spirit of it, though you've managed to dash the dreams of future parents to Brylee, and have reminded those of us who count "The Firm" among our guilty pleasures exactly why we keep a tight lid on that fact.

In the main, I agree with the zeitgeist you've outlined, but disagree with your unstated assumption that surgeons and corporate lawyers are even a significant part of the most privileged (top-out-of-sight) social class in America. Don't get me wrong - it sounds like you & your colleagues certainly have some very impressive academic feathers in your cap. Based upon your selected profession, you were no doubt admitted to those excellent academic programmes based on your own intellectual merit. I'd be most interested in the naming trends of the members of the social class just above you: those old classmates who perhaps during your campus days, you did not deem to be very bright, but who are the legacy admits of the George Bushian/ruling class stripe. Any insight into that realm would be very illuminating.

261
By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
September 8, 2008 8:22 PM

I think we touched on the idea of naming as branding when we discussed the hipster naming ethic. I wonder if this trait of self-consciously naming children with one's larger social network in mind (ie--trying to find a cool name within the group) is unique to the two demographics Jennifer mentions. Do you think that the person who names a child Murgatroyd (to use the example we discussed months ago) is merely picking a name she loves, or does her search for the cool-factor permeate her consciousness? In other words, what is the balance between all of the various factors that go into naming?

262
By Carly (not verified)
September 8, 2008 8:30 PM

@can't decide: If it's a girl, I really prefer Ivy (a perennial fave of many NE's). It's a 3-letter name with long-I & EE sounds that seems to have more symmetry with your daughters' names than I think Elise would. Actually, Ivy Elise would be a lovely choice.

For a boy, I think something slightly brisk & popular would work best with your girls' names:

Max
Jack/James
Quinn
Nick/Nicholas
Sam/Samuel

Best wishes!

263
By RobynT (not verified)
September 8, 2008 8:45 PM

can't decide: Darien, Ambrose, Julian, Gabriel, Dorian, Lucian, Oliver, Heath, Calvin, Carmen, Violet, Josephine, Iris, Colette, Hazel?

other than that, i just want to say that i LOVE this blog. thanks for a great read while i am supposed to be working... :P

264
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 8, 2008 9:03 PM

Carly: Thank you so much for your reply, I really appreciate your opinion.

We are limited now because of our existing childrens names. Many lovely choices are off limits as they simply aren't in sync with the others.

We want to stick to 2 syllable names ideally, and for a girl would prefer a name ending in y, so Ivy does seem a more fitting choice. As for other factors entering into the equation, like class, peer perception etc, well my husband and I are reasonably in the dark. I am British but for the past 11 years we have lived in a developing country of which my husband is a native. Our children go to an international school where the class name lists are a wonderful, eclectic cocktail mix. Our friends, too, come from all over the world.

So we can really just go by what we truly like, as opposed to being concerned about how it would be perceived. However, obviously I am not completely unaware of general trends/naming patterns from back home. When we called our eldest daughter Ruby 7 years ago it was a relatively rare name. It is now the 2nd most popular name in the UK!

I have considered the boy names Tristan, Casper and Oscar, but again I have no idea how they would be perceived in the UK. I once mentioned to a friend that I liked the names Estelle and Celeste for sisters, to which she replied "oh no! They're fast becoming chav names!" I had to research what exactly 'chav' was.

I do like the name Quinn from your boy name suggestions....I shall put it to my husband!

Thanks again, I am very grateful.

265
By Miriam (not verified)
September 8, 2008 9:04 PM

"'I heard Alethea introducing herself to someone and he immediately said "Oh, is that Castilian?" thinking he had heard

Alicia

pronounced the Spanish way! I think she gets that a lot.'

I have no doubt it probably is (Castillian). Someone heard it and just transferred it into English, without knowing what it really was."

Well, George, I don't know how firm you are about this, since you have "no doubt, probably," but Alethea is a Greek name coined in the Early Modern period. I seriously doubt that it is a misspelling due to Castilian pronunciation of Alicia. The only Alethea I have ever run into (and I am afraid that was almost literally) was Sister Alethea who taught at the local Catholic high school, back before Vatican II when nuns used their religious names, not their baptismal names. I'm 100% sure that was not Castilian for Alicia.

"In the main, I agree with the zeitgeist you've outlined, but disagree with your unstated assumption that surgeons and corporate lawyers are even a significant part of the most privileged (top-out-of-sight) social class in America."

Carly, you are so right. Surgeons and corporate lawyers as a group are upper-middle class. Many Americans (and my students were among them) are not even aware that there is an upper class in the United States, well above doctors and lawyers. The upper class keeps a low profile, and wisely from their perspective, and not every American city has a genuine upper class. I went to Penn which in those days catered for the old line Mainline Philadelphia aristocracy. The names were 100% family names with lots of roman numerals for the sons. The daughters had conservative given names (Elizabeth, Catherine, Margaret, etc.) and family surname middle names (which they often used as call names, just like upscale southerners).

However, in their prep school days, many of these individuals picked up nicknames like Muffy and Buffy and Chip and Bud, and they kept and used those nicknames until they died at age 90 or thereabouts. Back in those days there was a radio ad campaign for Ronzoni pasta which made merciless fun of the old money families. The characters all had names like Muffy and Buffy and the surname used was Cadwallader (the Cadwalladers are about as old money as you can get in Philadelphia). I don't know how the ad campaign went over on the Mainline (they probably weren't big pasta eaters anyway), but those of us who were no-money rather than old-money thought the ads were hilarious. Yeah, class warfare in the pasta aisle....

Filling in the time between my PhD graduation and my first teaching job, I worked in fund-raising at Drexel University. One of our jobs was buttering up the Drexel family for donations. The Drexels had married into a number of old money Philadelphia families as well aristocratic English families (I remember Lady Daphne Finch-Hatton in particular). We had a big genealogical chart made of all the Drexel connections, and the names were repeated over and over in the various branches and generations.

266
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 8, 2008 9:20 PM

RobynT: Thank you so much for taking the time to respond. It is great to have a few suggestions to mull over. I love the name Iris by the way, but my husband won't entertain it for a second...He thinks the sound is too harsh and says the first thing that comes to mind is the Iris part of the eye. We have a difficult time agreeing on names....

267
By Amy3 (not verified)
September 8, 2008 10:03 PM

Jennifer -- Very funny! As someone who works with a bunch of midtown Manhattan attorneys, I am a witness to, without being a member of, the group you illustrate so well. Fascinating to get the insider perspective!

For all who have suggested more names for Charlie's brother, thanks! I'll pass them on to my co-worker tomorrow. (sdh -- It's interesting that you suggest Frederick. I kept running across it in BNW as a sibling suggestion for many of the names she seems to like. I will suggest it to her, but I have trouble seeing her selecting it.) And I agree with whomever said it's difficult to understand her affinity for Sam (and Henry, for that matter, IMO) if Thomas and James are too common/popular for her.

can't decide! -- I love Ivy Elise and think it sounds just fabulous with your other girls' names. As for a boy, what about Calvin? The nn Cal fits in well with the girls.

268
By Amy3 (not verified)
September 8, 2008 10:06 PM

Valerie -- I had meant to comment on Cosmo. I *love* that name, although dh would never, ever have consented to it. I still dream of a boy named Cosmo, though ...

269
By RB (not verified)
September 8, 2008 10:10 PM

I also went to an Ivy League school, and I was interested to read Jennifer's post. She writes: "You're much more likely to find a Hypatia or a Clytemnestra than you are Jaden and Dakota." I wondered how true this was.

Since neither my friends nor I have any children yet, my best source of information was a recent alumni mag. The names, to my eye, span the entire spectrum between Clytemnestra and Dakota. The names include: Kayla, Henry, Livia, Joshua, Samuel, Charlotte, Nikhil (South Asian ln), Elena (Latino ln), Jacob, Peter, Jared, Noah (2), Julian, Mackenzie, Grace (2), and Jasmine, to name a few.

There does seem to be more of an emphasis on traditional names that fit Laura's description of "blue state" names. Livia is the only semi-obscurity here, with a clear classical (or is it Sopranos?!) allusion. I would classify Kayla, Jared (maybe), Mackenzie, and Jasmine with Dakota, style-wise. And I'm pretty sure I've read of some Rileighs and Jadons in other issues of the magazine.

So the great name question (at least in relation to my alma mater) remains unanswered.

270
By Aybee (not verified)
September 8, 2008 10:16 PM

can't decide-
I tend to prefer Elise to Ivy, although I seem to be in the minority. Other girls names you might consider:
Ava
Lacey
Audrey
Maisie
Jorie
Chloe
Kira

Boys, of your list I lean toward Oscar, and second Carly's suggestions of Jack and Max, also:
Oliver
Ian
Ethan
Owen
Neil
Milo
Judd

Good luck!

271
By Kate, mom of T, G, and J (not verified)
September 8, 2008 10:37 PM

Hm. I'm 30 years old, married with three sons. My husband and I are both Caucasian; we got married when I was 24 and he was 25, and I had our sons when I was 26, 27, and 29. We're both Republican in a red area of a very blue state; I have a masters degree and my husband has a J.D.; I'm a writer, he's an attorney; I'm a cradle Catholic, he's a recent Catholic convert; and our naming style seems to fit perfectly with Jennifer's assessment of the "hyper-educated, privileged, neurotic" people she knows "who are religious, of any stripe" -- those who "tend to favor ancient classical throwbacks that again showcase our values. (Think Herschel and the like among the Jewish set, Benedict or Maximus or Athanasius among the Christians)" -- some of the names on our list for future sons are Augustine, Benedict, Joachim, Matthias, and Ambrose. Interesting.

Off topic, does anyone know how to pronounce the name Ffion?

272
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 8, 2008 10:49 PM

Just sharing my useless pondering...I went to a mostly upper-middle class girls school (high school) in the UK, and there was a clear repetition of names like Harriet, Verity, Elodie etc. It seemed that in this social strata parents wanted to choose names that would further entrench themselves in their echelon and they couldn't risk choosing a name that might help to demote their class status. It's always about fighting to retain your place or climbing the ladder in any small way. I also had many friends who might best be described as upper class who went to boarding schools. There seemed to be a preponderence of names that sounded completely unique, or even made up (along with a few repetitions of names like Arabella and Florence, always shortened to cute nn's like Flossy and Bella). It seemed to me that these parents were so secure in their class that their confidence couldn't be ruffled by a mere choice of name, or that they even felt a little stifled in the rigidity of their stuatus so this was one area where they would exercise a little imagination to demonstrate their difference from the rest of the parents. If parents of lower class children did the same it would undoubtedly be perceived as comically poor taste.

273
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 8, 2008 10:53 PM

Jennifer -Thanks for the comment. I too, like the idea of Ivy Elise. However, my husband is determined to use the mn Rose, as it's in the family. Do you think there's a problem with Ivy Rose sounding a bit ridiculous with the plant/flower combo?

274
By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 8, 2008 11:09 PM

Minnie Driver and an unnamed man are the proud parents of a son, Henry Story Driver, who tipped the scales with authority at 9 lbs., 12 oz., according to various magazines.
Her son, Henry Story Driver, was born in Los Angeles Friday, the first child for the 38-year-old star of the cable TV show "The Riches."

275
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 8, 2008 11:13 PM

Aybee -Thank you so much for taking the time to make those suggestions. I could tell from your girls names that you would prefer Elise to Ivy, as it would seem to fit the list better somehow.

276
By Opal (not verified)
September 8, 2008 11:22 PM

Aybee, you're not alone; I much prefer the name Elise to Ivy, and I think that Elise sounds very good with the first 3 girls' names. But if the middle name is going to be Rose, hmm... Ivy Rose has a better flow than Elise Rose. What about Elise Rosanna, Elise Rosalyn/Roselyn, Elise Rosemary?

Ivy Elise is a nice compromise, though, if Rose is not a "required" middle name.

277
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 8, 2008 11:28 PM

Just for the record, I always like to think that any girls name we choose would sound appropriate whether she chose to be a doctor, a judge or an artist. We tend to like names that sound reasonably pretty but are still quite strong (my husband can't stand names like Daisy, Polly etc). We also veer towards slightly more traditional names, that would have been in with a chance of appearing on baby name lists a century ago, though not too old-fashioned. We would prefer a 2 syllable name this time to fit in with our other daughters names, peferably ending in y, for balance with the others.

As for boys, we don't want a modern name, and would prefer one or 2 syallables, but other than that we are lost....

Thank you all so much for the suggestions so far. I am so pleased this site exists!

278
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 8, 2008 11:34 PM

Opal: I have been quite taken with your name since reading your posts. Would two jewel names in a family be too much? I do still feel torn between Elise and Ivy. I do like the fact that we would be able to shorten it to Ellie while she was small, which sounds very cute, but she would be able to use the more sophosticated Elise as she grew older. I enjoy thinking about baby names so much, it has always been a favourite preoccupation of mine, but at this stage of my pregnancy I am really feeling the pressure of time and i'm beginning to feel a bit burdened by it! Thank you so much for replying to my post, I really appreciate it.

279
By Coll (not verified)
September 8, 2008 11:37 PM

I would consider myself (Ivy Leaguer, PhD-earning, married to a lawyer, blue as blue can be in the bluest city there is...and religiously Catholic) in something like the social circle Jennifer described, though I recently moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn--and I recognize a bit of myself in her description, particularly my fondness for names that telegraph "old-fashioned Anglophile." Can't say I've ever come across a Clytemnestra in the alumni mag, however. I think there's also a difference in the name choices of intellectual snobs regardless of political affiliation--a category I would reluctantly put myself into--and those with similar educations and career goals but without the pretensions to cultural elitism. They tend to choose names (in my experience) more along the lines of Olivia, Abigail, Isabella, and Sophia.

To answer Brunka de Loof's queries, I also attended a very well known boarding school before college. While I am certainly not part of the American upper class, I saw quite a lot of them in my high school years. It's all about the family names and nicknames, as Miriam described. There was a classmate of mine who went by Bingo--still does, I believe, even though he's nearly thirty. I think his given name was either James or John, but I never heard anyone call him that. It's also not uncommon to see men with names like Whitney and Ashley--family names that they are still clinging to, despite their feminization.

In my college years I took up with a group of girls who were from well-established families in St. Louis--not outrageously wealthy, certainly not from nationally prominent families, but from families that had had money for generations in that city and would be familiar to those in the know in that town. Their naming patterns were similar--family names for the boys, names like Katherine or Elizabeth plus family middles for the girls, and ridiculous nicknames (I heard of a father/son pair known as Chip and Blockie...har har har).

280
By DRDS (not verified)
September 8, 2008 11:46 PM

Can't decide: Other possibilities to consider
Esme
Lucy (too cutesy?)
Isla
Cora

I think both Ivy and Elise are very nice choices, although my preference of the two is Elise.

281
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:00 AM

DRDS: I love the name Esme, unfortunately my husband does not (sometimes I think the 'she who goes through the pain of birth should be she who chooses the name' rule should apply!) I know I sound impossibly choosy, but Lucy is a little too normal for me and I have known so many, plus it starts with L which i'd like to avoid if possible given that one of my other daughter's names starts with L. I like Isla, but I think it rhymes with my other daughter's name (Lyla). I like Cora too, but ideally we won't choose a name ending in 'a'. I am actually keeping the name "Esta" in reserve just in case our resolve on the 'a' rule weakens, although my husband would take a little persuading. Thank you so much for your suggestions, I am so appreciative. Keep them coming if you can!

Apologies to everyone for going off the topic of this blog. I am reading the relevant posts avidly and am really enjoying the different perspectives and personal accounts of name choosing in relation to socio-economic, political and religious status.

282
By LD (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:04 AM

Baby name intervention announcement: I just read that someone on another site is naming their boy Jyden (to match older brother Tyran). Someone make it stop!

Okay and a call for votes from the namers I do take notes from: Our baby girl (due, er, yesterday) is going to be Clio. Or maybe Cleo.

We are wondering which Clio and which middle, out of:
Martha
Bronte
Harmony
Or maybe Beth, Liza, Elsa?

Surname is one syllable starting with J.

283
By jill (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:09 AM

I can't remember who was looking for sib matches for Eliza, but a name came to mind for that one while I was getting my own babe to sleep tonight (and I usually don't think about these things or offer suggestions!) Anyhow, I think Juliet makes a good match for Eliza.

For the mom of Penelope, I know a little girl named Penelope and two of her brothers are Teddy and Hudson. I like the boy name Conrad but couldn't pull it off myself, and dh didn't like it for any of our three! I liked the previous suggestions of Beatrix and Clementine for girls.

284
By Opal (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:22 AM

Can't Decide, Opal is a screen name I just recently selected for myself. Opal is the birthstone of October, the month in which my son was born. My name is so boring, I just wanted something different. Opal is not a name that suits me, and not one I'd use for my own child, but it's sweet. I think with a Ruby, I'd avoid Opal, but it wouldn't be terrible, as there are 2 names between them (Ruby is the oldest, right?). I think that Elise is a better match, overall. I know how difficult, yet fun, it is to decide on a name :-)

LD, Of the 2 spellings, I definitely prefer Cleo. As a middle name, I'll vote for Harmony. It's not usually my naming style, but it flows well with Cleo.

285
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:32 AM

LD : I have liked the name Cleo for a long time. I prefer Cleo to Clio, firstly because it's a diminutive of Cleopatra, secondly because in the UK a popular car is the Renault Clio.

Speaking of cars, does anyone find the Lotus Elise sportscar an off-putting factor in choosing the name Elise?

286
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:35 AM

Jill: I agree Beatrix and Clementine are lovely names for girls. The only thing that puts me off the name Beatrix is a joke I have heard a million times in the UK "What do you call a bar maid who can balance two pints on her head?" You guessed it....

287
By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:44 AM

Amy3-I did seem to overlook your request for suggestions for a brother to Charles Franklin, so here goes:
Augustine/us; Albert; Ambrose; Becker; Clelland, Declan; Findlay; Frederick; Garrett; Gavin; Giles; Gordon; Lucien; Maguire; Malcolm; Nolan; Price; Richard; Sebastien; Spencer; Trevor; Tristan
Some combos I like:
Edward Declan; Findlay Emmett; Garrett Edward; Benjamin Garrett; Edward Gavin; Gordon Emmett; Henry Lucien; Daniel Maguire; Edward Malcolm; Nolan Price; Richard Emmett; Albert Sebastian; Spencer Ambrose; Trevor Alois; Tristan Grant

288
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:47 AM

So basically it comes down to this: My three daughters are called:

Ruby Gwynn*th
Lyl* Mae
Mi* Cinn*mon

(The * in the first line is in place of an 'e', all the others are in place of an 'a'. I just want to avoid googling. For anyone who feels like they can be bothered, would you mind writing these names down without the *'s just to get a proper look at them together?)

So if this one is a girl, which would suit the others better:

Elise Rose
Ivy Elise
Ivy Rose.

I need YOUR vote!

As for boy names, I am going to have to do a lot more research before I come here with some finalists.

289
By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:52 AM

Valerie- Now that was sarcastic and funny!

Re Bladen-A little "out there" for my tastes.

Re my comment on Jennifer's post-maybe it was meant differently than I took it. Maybe not.

can't decide-I started looking for suggestions for you and then when I got back you had posted a few more comments. These are my ideas:
for Elise or Ivy-I prefer Ivy other suggestions though were Ava,/Eva, Emma, Kara, Esme, Audrey, Hannah, Iris, Jenna, Clara. (Then of course I read your other comments) So, the most viable options above are Audrey, Hannah, and Iris. Of these Hannah seems best to be both "now and then" even though it doesn't end in an /E/ sound. For boys I thought of:
Henry, Ian, Caleb, Isaac, Evan, David,
Theo, Simon, Peter, Owen, Jonah, Eli
They are 2 syls and seem to match the style of the other kids. Also, if you use Ivy for the girl you can still use Eli if you have yet another and it wont seem too close to Elise.
Good luck!

LD-If you care for my opinion, it would be
Cleo Bronte LN

290
By can't decide! (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:54 AM

Amy3: I seem to be particularly useless at choosing boys names, but I just thought I would write down the brother names for Charles' I know:
Charles and Archer (Charlie and Archie)
Charles and Anton
Charles and Henry

Zoerhenne: I am avidly going over your boy name suggestions to Amy3!

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By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 9, 2008 1:05 AM

can't decide-I know you will look at my previous post but in case you've already decided that those are your ULTIMATE finalists I would choose Ivy Rose except that for me it is way too flowery. How about:
Ivy Claire; Ivy Jean; Ivy Saige; Ivy Diane
Ivy Georgina; Ivy Louise; Ivy Noelle; Ivy Nicole; Ivy Ophelia; Ivy Rhianna; Ivy Tatianna

BTW-is Mi^ said like MEE-a or MY-a

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By can't decide! (not verified)
September 9, 2008 1:05 AM

Zoerhenne: Such a well thought out response, thank you! From your girl list Esme and Iris stand out to me, but my husband is against them. Hannah ends in the 'a' sound and seems too long to fit in easily with the other girls names. I do like the name Eli for a boy. I like Theo too, but my best friend has a little boy with that name. Her children are: Mat*lda (T*lly), Th*odore (Th*o) and Montg*mery (M*nty)(*'s are in place of certain vowels, easy to figure out). I love the fact you are already considering future childrens names for me....I do that too! Thanks again.

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By can't decide! (not verified)
September 9, 2008 1:08 AM

Zoerhenne: Ivy Ophelia sounds nice to me. I was actually wondering about the plant/flower combo of Ivy Rose being too much. My youngest is "Mee-ya". It's become one of the more popular names in the USA, I know.

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By Zoerhenne (not verified)
September 9, 2008 1:09 AM

can't decide-You are quite welcome! However, I think I will stop flooding the boards now and let everyone think perchance sleep and dream.
Until tomorrow!

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By Jessica (not verified)
September 9, 2008 2:14 AM

In order of preference...
Ivy Rose
Ivy Elise
Elise Rose ( that just does not flow well in my ear)

Cleo Bronte gets my vote. :)Sleepy though it be.

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By Sarah (not verified)
September 9, 2008 7:48 AM

Kate -- Ffion is the Welsh version of Fiona - so pronounce it like Fiona but without the A. The ff makes an 'f' sound in Welsh, while a single f is a 'v' sound - hence why Rhys Ifans is actually pronounced just Reese Evans.

can't decide:
Oscar is very up-and-coming in the UK, it's also been used on EastEnders lately. I happen to know the person whose baby inspired the name of the baby on the show (they're friends with some of the writers), and they were mortified at the thought that Oscar was going to go downmarket as a result...

Casper was what Claudia Schiffer named her baby some years back, but it and Tristan are pretty unusual. Definitely posh!

Lucie
I could write you tons, but I must go back to work!

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By RobynT (not verified)
September 9, 2008 9:37 AM

I vote for Ivy Elise because I like the sound better than Elise Rose and Ivy Rose is a bit theme-y--although I probably wouldn't have noticed it if you hadn't mentioned it... Or maybe I would have--after awhile...

Re: Clio vs. Cleo. I think Clio definitely seems more contemporary and even like a brand name, but Cleo reminds me more of Miss Cleo (the fortune teller on TV in the '90s). Overall I think I like Clio. I like any of the middles besides Bronte! To me Clio/Cleo is already a bit out there and the Bronte takes it even further. I like Martha, Beth, Liza, etc. to ground it a bit.

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By another amy (not verified)
September 9, 2008 9:45 AM

can't decide:

I like Ivy Elise. a note on Iris--to a lot of places where English is not the mother tongue its apparently hard to say. its that 'r' in the middle. I worry about it a bit when we go overseas again (our dd is Iris). but since your husband doesn't like it, I guess it doesn't matter!

being in an LDC though, you've got waaay more leniency in your names I think. Everyone back home will just shake their heads and shrug, so choose what you like and your husband can stand. or wait until he's out of the room and fill out the birth certificate how you want it!

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By Coll (not verified)
September 9, 2008 10:23 AM

Can't Decide, I like Ivy Elise best, too.

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By Valerie (not verified)
September 9, 2008 12:12 PM

Can't decide- I vote for Ivy Elise, as Ivy Rose is just too many plants, even though I like the flow, and Elise Rose is just too many z sounds. Lovely names you have chosen for your girls, BTW!

Re: the Alethea story- Miriam you were right (as usual!). Her name is Greek for 'truth'- she told me as much. Sorry I didn't mention it in the first place! And george, you are right that many common names have found unusual spellings- like Antwone for Antoine. That could easily have been the case!

Kate, mom of T, G, and J- The Ffion I knew was pronounced FEE-on, so not like Fiona without an a.

Amy3- glad you like Cosmo. I'm still not sure, but am excited they chose an interesting name. I think I shan't mention it's also the name of my in-laws' dog.

LD- I prefer Cleo to Clio, as the latter somehow seems to remind me too much of a certain part of the female anatomy.For mns, I like Martha and Beth best.

Really enjoying all the sociological posts! I'm a Brit living in California, married to a Californian, we both have advanced degrees and write, are definitely blue, and not Jewish. I have taught in academia (musicology), my husband wants to (literature/creative writing). We like traditional names of the William/Charles/Roland/James/Violet/Emily variety. I'm more 'out there' than he is though, with regard to names. I blame my addiction to this blog ;) .