Bits & Pieces: guns, books and more

Jun 4th 2009

Clearing out the odds and ends rattling around in the back of my mind....

Gauge followup
After the last post on the names Gage and Gauge, some of you made the great point that the spelling Gauge could appeal particularly to hunters. (Among its many measurement meanings, "gauge" is the the unit of diameter of a gun barrel.) That suggests that the spelling Gauge tilts the name away from the preppy side and toward the cowboy/ammo style of Colt. It also calls to mind another name that has been respelled away from tradition toward a common word: Gunnar --> Gunner. And Remington's rising fast, too.

Some of you also commented with distaste on the name Renesmee, coined from Renee and Esme by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer. Style aside, this name has a unique status with me. In Namipedia, it's the one page I've given up on maintaining as a name per se; it's become a kind of shrine.

One of the challenges in Namipedia is to separate reality from fiction. Many young users love to enter "siblings" from their favorite books and movies. I'm constantly removing Phoebe from the Holden sib list, and Hermione from the Harry page. Twilight swamps them all. The big adoptive family of undead Cullens threatens to overwhelm pages for names like Jasper and Rosalie. I try to stem the tide, but on Renesmee I've thrown in the towel. Any visitor to that page is thinking vampires anyway, right? So the sibling list ("Belward," "The Lochness-monster") grows as a little museum of teenage obsession.

American Parent
A selfless plug for a good book: a while back a writer named Sam Apple interviewed me as he and his wife debated names for their baby. Sam was using his own experiences as an expectant father as a launching pad to understand the whole enterprise of modern pregnancy and baby-raising. The resulting book, American Parent, is very, very funny, and a revealing look at the new-parent world. (Who knew that Stalin was at the root of the Lamaze movement?) American Parent was released this week, check it out!

A more self-serving plug for a good book: the revised, expanded 2nd edition of The Baby Name Wizard will be out next month. I'll have more details as the day approaches!


June 4, 2009 10:24 PM

about fictional siblings, maybe it is not such a problem to have them in namipedia. i mean... someone decided that they were good sibling names right?

By Alexis (not verified)
June 4, 2009 11:15 PM

I also think you should keep fictional sibling names in the Namipedia. I agree with Robyn, someone thought they fit nicely together. Plus, who's to say that someone hasn't purposely chosen two siblings' names because of their fictional inspiration? I'm sure there is a family out there with two kids named Holden and Phoebe. Or Monica and Ross? Or Tony and Janice?

June 4, 2009 11:33 PM

I think the problem with fictional (or celebrity) siblings is, they kind of mess up Laura's stats, and make the section less useful for real parents. If I have a daughter called Lucy and want some ideas about what other names parents with similar tastes are choosing, I don't need or care to see that 100 people have entered "Linus". Cute, but not helpful. There's a seperate section under each name to discuss fictional uses...

How is Renesmee supposed to be pronounced??

By Vomiting (not verified)
June 5, 2009 12:21 AM

I often read but have never posted before.

I just wanted to contribute that I, too, think this made-up name is terrible. Trendy, trashy, nonsensical. I don't know what else you would expect from that so-called 'writer.'

I agree with Ayaka that adding fictional siblings can be unhelpful for people who are genuinely looking for ideas. If you have a son named Holden, you're probably less likely than the average person to consider Phoebe.

June 5, 2009 3:19 AM

I added "Julia" as a sibling to the Sebastian page and it's still there... does that mean someone has kids named Sebastian and Julia? And "Amy" is listed as one of Beth's siblings. Is it a full out ban on fictional siblings or only the really obvious ones? And by the way, I can totally see some pseudo-intellectual hipster naming his kids Holden and Phoebe. (And being mercilessly mocked for it by his slightly hipper friends.)

June 5, 2009 4:06 AM

To be fair to Stephenie Mayer I think she created Renesmee as something her characters would have chosen - not because she especially loved it herself. Her sons have very conventional names I believe. I think it's perfectly reasonable to assume that a fictional pair of teenage parents might pick a silly name - especially when one of the them is the terminally stupid Bella. I actually know of some teenage paretns who chose the name Logan for thir son because she was called Megan and he was Laurence.
As an author I'd hate to think that I was judged on the names I chose for my characters - I'm thinking about what their fictional parents would like, not what I would like. That's how I ended up with a main character called Tyler, which is not a name I like at all. Although - a bit like knowing a cute baby with a strange name - it's grown on me!

By LC (not verified)
June 5, 2009 6:52 AM

As I am a fan of the Twilight books, and also a name nerd, I too was surprised and perhaps slightly repulsed by the name Renesmee for a character, considering that the rest of the Cullens, and Isabella herself, have more traditional names.

I've always been highly amused by the historical names that were chosen for these vampires. You never see a vampire Bertha or Agnes, instead it's Rosalie and Alice. I'm not saying that those names weren't used historically, however, it is rather odd to me that ALL of the Cullens ended up with old names with such modern appeal-- full of vowels and soft consonant sounds. To me, the name Edward hits closest to the mark. Even Isabella would have been an unusual name for her age, and considering her parents were young in the late 80s/early 90s (er, 1990s I should perhaps clarify) when they had her, an especially unusual choice.

But then, it's all a part of what most hypothesize makes the Twilight books so successful with their audience-- they cater extremely well to them. Right down to name choices that make their audience think of historic romance instead of their grandparents.

I would hesitate before calling Renesmee (pronounced, if I remember correctly, ruh-NEZ-may) a trendy name. To me there is nothing trendy about it. Rene and Esme separately are hardly trendy choices these days. Together, it is an island unto itself-- rhyming with nothing, NOT ending in a lee sound. Combining names to make new ones (or familiar ones) has always been a baby naming practice that flies under the radar so I can't say if it's growing in popularity right now or not.

But really, Stephanie Meyer's desire was clearly not as it was with other characters, to create a name with modern appeal. She wanted a name unique to this character, and combining two names that no one ever would was a nice shortcut to do so, and to win some hearts for the namesake status at the same time. Time will tell if her creation is as successful as Shakespeare's Miranda or Barrie's Wendy.

June 5, 2009 7:31 AM

I haven't read the "Twilight" books. But the thing that strikes me about the names related to the series is not the names of any of the characters, but the non-standard spelling of Meyer's own first name. I checked Voyager and that spelling hasn't been in the top 1000 since the 70s. I'm curious to see if it will reemerge in a few years.

By Samaria (not verified)
June 5, 2009 7:53 AM

I'm 16 and I hate those Twilight books, but I have to Meyer her props when it comes to naming (with the exception of Renesmee). I agree with Keren as to why Meyer chose that particular spelling - it appeals to the fictional parents, not necessarily the author at hand. I've done that with my own characters.

By Kim in Philly (not verified)
June 5, 2009 8:26 AM

Going back to the last post a little, I am American (and live in metro Philly- obviously from my posting name) and I pronounce Don and Dawn differently, Harry and Hairy are differently pronounced as are cherry and fairy. I can see for Southerners this being the same. An ex from Virginia used to say Lairy for Larry and hore-able for horrible. I say Har-able. So, it seems like the Mid-Atlantic accent pronunciation is more similar to the Brits on some of these words.

Also, heard a name yesterday on TLC's Say Yes to the Dress- Lyerly. WDYT? Is this a family name? Has anyone ever heard of it? The woman was late 30's/early 40's.

June 5, 2009 8:32 AM

On fictional sibling names: there are several reasons I try to weed them out. First, as Ayaka noted, a hundred submissions of the "sib" pair Edward and Bella totally throws off the curve and swamps the real-life siblings. Second, Edward and Bella of Twilight -- like many of the fictional "sibs" submitted -- aren't siblings! Finally, an author has different goals in selecting names than parents do. For instance, Bella is presumably a nod to centuries of Beauty and the Beast tales.

But I can't police the fiction/reality border completely, and the Beth and Amy example shows why. Sure, they're Little Women, but they're also an extremely likely name pair for real-life '60s-'70s sisters.

On Twilight names in general: that's a rich topic deserving of a full post. I'll plan one soon!

June 5, 2009 9:59 AM

Man, I don't get the Renesmee hatred. I certainly wouldn't pick it for my child, but I thought it was perfect for the book. I've read all of the books (because I try to keep up with what my teenage students are obsessing about!) and there were definitely other things that annoyed me, but that wasn't one of them at all. Personally, as a science teacher, it was the lame attempt to discuss DNA and chromosome numbers that bugged the heck out of me!

Back to the other topics, I think that the fantasy sibling set issue highlights one of the problems always faced with any kind of user-input tool. Some people abuse it, either putting in totally ridiculous data or constantly reentering the same data. I think Laura is on the right track to try to mediate that. Personally, I never even thought of it- I guess I'm too straight-laced, I just input my own siblings' names on each of our name pages and thought, wow I contributed!

Re: Gunnar that's one of those names that I didn't even care for in the first place, but was completely ruined forever by having a little terror of a student with the name...instances like that make me wonder if the name increases the likelihood of a certain personality, it's just coincidence that we read too much into, or what!

By Cassidy (not verified)
June 5, 2009 10:25 AM

On the name Gunnar:
My DH is Swedish,I think some Swedish names carry over to North America alot better then others. So given an option of Gunnar or Gustav, I'm gonna go with Gunnar. I think thats why I like it, I am not saying lesser of two evils,(ok maybe I am)but I think to me because of my hubby and his family I don't make the connection with guns, Just that it goes on the list "Swedish/Scandanavian names that work"
Example for me Kalle does not work for a boy in my little town,its not that I don't like the name(I do) I just think it is too close to a popular girls name.

June 5, 2009 10:28 AM

Oh, dear. Twilight. I'm not a fan (although all my friends are, and I should mention again that I'm 24, and I'm the youngest in our particular circle by a few years) although I've seen the movie and read the books. I saw the movie first - my friends dragged me - and it was enjoyable enough, but the books were another story. The plot was compelling, and I'm inclined to say that it's on the strength of that that the franchise has surged to fame, but the writing was...less than I expected. She could have benefited enormously from the services of a good editor, and one can only wonder why she didn't have them.

To get to my point, my friends have actually argued that she deliberately wrote it poorly and made it resemble something you'd find on a teenage fanfic message board because it's all supposed to come through Bella's POV. (I call bull honky on that one, I mean, that's some really creative wishful thinking. A good writer can create a believable teenage viewpoint without making all the readers who managed to pass a creative writing class cry out in pain.)

That said, I actually give her a pass for Renesmee. As much as we all dislike it (and, I mean all - even my obsessed friends wrinkle their noses over it), I feel that the names of her other characters prove that she KNOWS how to name a character. I buy that, in this instance, the mawkish choice was deliberate as something she felt would have come from the ding-brained and now perpetually teenaged Bella. It's certainly realistic enough.

June 5, 2009 10:40 AM

Ok, point taken about there being a separate section in Namipedia for fictional characters. I guess any prospective users of a name would want to know if another name was used on an actual or fictional sibling too.

re: Gunnar: I had a classmate with this name in high school. He was really quiet, unlike the terror mentioned above. I think he was from Europe though so maybe less likely to be given the name b/c it had "gun" in it?

June 5, 2009 10:53 AM

Some thoughts from the last post, feel free to ignore:):

Keren- That's so funny about Dawn-Dorn because when I try to say it that way it sounds like a super-typical New Yorker accent, not British at all... I must be doing it wrong, but it's pretty funny:) zoerhenne describes exactly how I say Dawn and Don (Aww-sad-event versus Dot), so even in the US they're not exactly the same, though close.

Another name-set like that is Erin vs. Aaron, when I slow it down I definitely say them differently Eh-rin vs Aa-(apple)-ron, but said fast they come out very similar. Just like Jenny and Ginny (I went to HS with a Ginny, can you tell?).

Now I'm also struggling with this Harry/Hairy thing... I keep saying Harry Potter like the movies but then Hairy like Head really throws me... This is tougher than you'd think I guess! Though I definitely say Cherry and Fairy differently. I'm from MA (no Boston accent at all).

Mrs. D:
I actually love Liesl June (I do immediately think Sound of Music, but I love that movie so to me that's a plus...)

Siebe- all I can think of are the nurses(?) during WWII... however Siebe June has a nice flow. I think Phoebe June is a great idea though!

I like Cleo June, but I do hear Miss Cleo. What about Crea? I knew a little girl named that and it was super cute on her...

Maeve definitely rhymes with Wave for me, it's not a fave of mine, but if you do use it I liked Maeve Elise that someone suggested.

Amy3- so sad Tristyn is showing up for girls, I love it as a boys name! Well Tristan...

Jillc- George Foreman's kids may have gone to public school for that very reason;)

June 5, 2009 10:56 AM

Re Sibling names:

I work at a place very connected with Louisa May Alcott and I've had a LOT of people tell me that they and their sisters were actually named Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy on purpose because their mother loved the book (or I get the mother who did that). So in that case there are some siblings actually named that because of the story. That is less likely with Twilight names because there hasn't been a whole lot of time yet to realistically have two children and name them Edward and Bella...

June 5, 2009 11:39 AM

i would hazard a guess that many of those who named their daughters meg, jo, beth, and amy did so not only because they loved little women, but also because those names were fashionable or at least "fit in" at the time. as laura says: it's not about the celebrity, it's about the name. the trends have to already be sort of be leaning in that direction. i would say that it isn't always the case that people name their children after sets of names in popular books. for example, harry and ron are both falling on the charts, while hermione hasn't even broken the top 1,000 (though admittedly they aren't siblings).

also, i didn't know what everyone was referring to with george foreman's sons until i looked it up on wikipedia just now. ridiculous! also two of his daughters are named "freeda george" and "georgina."

June 5, 2009 12:05 PM

emilyrae- Oh I absolutely agree, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. If Louisa had named her characters other names that didn't fit in to popular trends this would not be the case. For example Bertha, Buella (I don't even know how to spell that properly, oh goodness!), Dorcus, and... well I can't think of another, but you get the idea:)

By hyz
June 5, 2009 12:35 PM

Jenny L3igh, I agree about timing being a problem so far for having lots of young sibling pairs named Edward and Bella for the Twilight series, but...

A coworker of mine got a kitten last week and named it Bella, and she's getting a second kitten tonight--if it turns out to be a boy, it will be Edward. If it's a girl, she will be Mia. This is a woman with 3 daughters, age 11, 18, and 21, and they had a heavy say in the naming.

Just thought that was funny/timely in the context of this discussion. :)

By Tau
June 5, 2009 12:57 PM

Mrs. D:

Liesl: Adore it. Of course it could always be a nickname for Elizabeth - very classic and beautiful, but I know it doesn't fit your length criteria.

Siebe: Having studied German, I would be inclined to pronounce this See-beh or Zee-beh. Is Dutch pronunciation significantly different from German? Is this a family name? I'm intrigued!

Navy: Not my cup of tea. My given name is Amy, which has similar vowel sounds, and I've always found it oddly hard to pronounce. Too many "tight" sounds. Will Navidson, a character in the cult fiction novel "House of Leaves," was called Navy, so I think of it as a male name.

Cleo: Love it, and I don't think Miss Cleo will be a problem. If you're really worried about that connotation, you might consider Clea, like the actor Clea Duvall.

Maeve: Reminds me of May/Mae; beautiful, simple, and underused.

By Joni
June 5, 2009 1:26 PM

Regarding Renesmee,
Our current culture really likes mashups - in music, words and names. Bennifer anyone? Brangelina?

Some words and names fit together and sound okay. Bennifer works (not that we'd name a child that, but work with me on this one) because the sound of Ben rhymes with the first syllable in Jennifer. Same with Brangelina - BRAd has the same ahhhh sound as Angelina.

Renesmee is awkward for me because it DOESN'T flow right. To me, Rene is ren-AY. Esme/Esmee is EHHs-may (and the Namepidia agrees). The last sound of Rene and the first sound of Esmee aren't the same, so it doesn't flow well. I am left thinking 'is it ren-AYZ-may? or ren-EHS-may? or Ren-es-MAY? or maybe Ren-ayz-MAY?' It's not intuitive like Bennifer.

A blogger that Laura Wattenberg follows has coined a word for this: Awkwordplay. Awkward-play or Awk-wordplay?

By chloezoe (not verified)
June 5, 2009 1:31 PM

I came across this comment on Celebrity Baby blog and had to copy it here, as it touches on pretty much everything discussed in the previous post!

"My sons name had influence. We named him Damien Edw@rd. Damien after the boy in the Omen because I am an avid horror movie fan (and always have been since I was little).

If I ever have a girl I am naming her Carolanne Autumn after the little girl from Poltergeist, and Autumn is my favorite season! I hope I have a girl cuz I dont have any more names picked out for boys. Maybe Gage Creed."

June 5, 2009 1:46 PM

Chloezoe, that is unbelievable! The poster must follow this blog. :),

June 5, 2009 1:53 PM

jenny l3igh-- bertha and buella! what a pair... :]

June 5, 2009 2:09 PM

Renesmee - Maybe I'm a bad NE, but I didn't think twice when I read it in the book. It's a silly smash-up that fit perfectly with the plot and characters. No one would use it IRL, right? Right?

@Kim Lyerly seems a little difficult to me. Lyre would be a pretty middle, I think.

@cloezoe- Hmmm, if I were to meet young Damien Edward, I don't think I would automatically think devil child. If I were to meet his sister Carolanne, though, I might think it was a bit much.

New baby alert! I have a girlfriend with a brand new Greer Caroline.

I'm so excited for the new book! Until I can get my hands on it, I'd love a little advice. I have a 9 month old daughter @del@ide Gr@ce - a name I love. But the longer I live with it, the less I like it with out LN. If you say "my eyes" together so that they become one syllable you'll have it. So I'm thinking of giving her a second middle name to break up the slight lispiness of the s sounds. It would also be a great opportunity to get a little more funk into her name. We love the lacey, old-fashioned names, but we are in our mid 20s and can be a little edgier, too. We're considering Imogen and Hugo for our second child. Any advice would be SO appreciated!

June 5, 2009 2:08 PM

Oops! Grier Caroline, is the correct spelling.

By mollyh (not verified)
June 5, 2009 2:16 PM

as a fan of the twilight books (at least the first three), i wanted to chime in a bit here. i like a lot of the names in the book, but agree they don't necessarily seem historically *accurate*. not inaccurate, just conveniently pretty.
renesmee is, as noted by LC above, pronounced "ruh-NEZ-may". it's a terrible name, yes - but fitting i think for the child and the characters who named her.
i've read much of stephenie meyer's website notes and if i remember correctly, part of her decision in kreating a name was that she felt that this vampire-human child was such an individual that she deserved her own unique name, and she was also slightly worried about giving her a "real" name and unwittingly saddling real people with such a connection.

on the spelling of meyers' own first name, she was named after her father - stephen.

*also* i feel like i should gently remind a few people that while this is certainly a place to voice one's own opinion and share one's own thoughts, it's also nice to consider the perspectives and feelings of others. just because you may not be into the twilight books, or even the idea of the twilight books, becareful of condescending and/or ridiculing others simply because they have different taste in reading materials.

June 5, 2009 2:16 PM

About Renesmee:

Very true what Laura & others have said about authors naming characters differently from the way parents name children. I think the name an author picks is supposed to tell the reader something about the character or set a mood.

Now, I know nothing about these Twilight books, but if the author is using names like Bella, Edward, Rosalie and Alice for vampire characters: these are all comfortable, friendly retro names that could have popped out of picture books. You'd expect stereotypical vampires to have sinister, heavy, foreign names. Knowing nothing about the plotlines, I can guess the author expects us to sympathize and identify with these vampires.

So what about Renesmee? If this is a continuing series, so the author undoubtedly has future plans for this character (who I gather is a child...?). So what does the name say? Certainly not comfy-cuddly, or Victorian-retro chic. It doesn't really shout 'dumb teenage parents' to me either (like McKaylee, Destanie, Xayden etc). To me Renesmee sounds vaguely foreign, pretentious, and unattractive (that unfashionable "zm" combo). It's a name that doesn't fit in, and I could easily see it as sinister. More like a "traditional" vampire name in fact. Maybe the author chose this kind of name for a reason, knowing her plans for this character's future...

Anyway, just a thought!

June 5, 2009 2:25 PM

Alas, I believe the series has come to an end. And yes, they were identifiable characters, for sure. In fact, I think that the books have changed the connotations of Esme for me. I had only met baby Esmes before, but now it has a very safe, maternal feeling - making it even more attractive to me.

By mollyh (not verified)
June 5, 2009 2:27 PM

one more thing about renesmee:
one of the other characters in the book (jacob) mentions to bella that the name she picked was "a bit of a mouthful" and thus bestows the nickname of "nessie" which is where the loch ness monster connection comes from. not necessarily the vampire/monster assocation.

By Melissa B (not verified)
June 5, 2009 2:49 PM

To add to your note about "Gauge", I must point out, as a knitter, that the word gauge is extremely common in knitting. (It's the measurement of stitches and rows over a given area.) Knitting has risen in popularity dramatically in the past 10 years, especially among the 18-35 set. Could some of the Gauges be sons of knitters, not just hunters?

June 5, 2009 2:57 PM

ha! melissa b, i also knit, and i quite like the idea of knitters using the name gauge in that way. what other knitting names could there be? there's "purl" of course... stockinette?

i wonder if there is a gauge out there who is the son of a knitter AND a hunter.

June 5, 2009 3:18 PM

Gauge and Purl are hilarious, emilyrae. Maybe they need a dog called Stitch.

June 5, 2009 3:27 PM

blythe-- ha! an excellent set of names, if i do say so myself.

June 5, 2009 6:24 PM

To me the IRL sibling cloud is problematic because most of my family and friends have names that *don't* match stylistically. So I don't submit those names.

It would be neat if we could create our own Nymbler by submitting names that we think match a particular name. I know that we do this all the time on this blog, but it's not recorded in an accessible manner. The new nymbler could still use the cloud technology to indicate which names the greatest number of people believe match another name. What do you think? Is there something like this out there already?

June 6, 2009 7:57 PM

Of course after the incident mollyh describes in Breaking Dawn when Jacob uses the nickname Nessie for Renesmee, Bella tries to kill him,which is absolutely hilarious - every mother who has chosen what she thinks is a beautiful name for her child and then had it mangled and criticised by her friends will identify with her (idiot though she is). I think it's one of Stephenie Meyer's finest moments, definitely written tongue in cheek.

By Eo (not verified)
June 5, 2009 8:56 PM

Sorry to be late, but LOVED your link to the archaic names in the last thread, bianca, and thanks, Valerie, for pointing it out, as I might have missed it...

Looking forward to reading it more thoroughly when I get a chance. To respond to your question, bianca, I believe some NE's could revert to medieval or other old spellings and variants, which some "moderns" would then misconstrue as so-called "kreative" or "fancy" (the older term for it) spellings...

As one with a really old variant name, I admire the moxie of said namers-- their unconcern about what the wider world thinks!

I suppose one example which has popped up here before is "Alienor"/"Alianore" for Eleanor, and the very old "Alys" for "Alice".
There are thousands of others of course.... Concerning one of my old favorites, "Sibyl", I've even seen the version "Sybbly" on lists of centuries-old variant names. Love! Makes me think of "syllabub".

Sorry to be straying so far back and away from current topics... Carry on!

By Vomiting (not verified)
June 5, 2009 9:44 PM

You make some good points, and I do acknowledge that Twilight is incredibly popular. I understand why it appeals to people - young girls [and women] in particular. I'm just a literature snob. ;)

It's true that this invention is unlike any other in that it doesn't rhyme with anything. My point was that invented names and spellings are trendy. Many names have been mashed together in the recent years to create new names which are especially popular with parents lacking higher education. This is the age in which you can pretty much tack Lyn on to the end of any syllable apparently and make a name. :)

By Vomiting (not verified)
June 5, 2009 9:49 PM

Sorry for not being specific - my comment above is to LC.

mollyh - I certainly don't mean to be condescending. I don't know how old any of the commenters are here. They may well be in their teens, and as such, the target market for books like Twilight.

June 5, 2009 11:19 PM

Re: Twilight - I don't mind the conveniently nice names. The ones that bug me are the ones that don't seem old or exotic enough, like Tanya. Tanya? I feel like their coven was topped up in the 70s. Or Senna? Benjamin?

Eo/Valerie - I'm so glad you like the link! I didn't quite catch all the connections either, like is Maykina a feminine form of Matthew via it's diminutive? How does Isaac branch into all the H names? Where did Hawks come from? Jukes? How do you pronounce the -ot suffix? So interesting.

Mrs. D - With Navy/Maeve in mind, how about Neve as a mn?

Question: what is the Ethel Mae postulate?

By Aybee (not verified)
June 6, 2009 11:50 AM

Mrs D-
Seibe is pronounced Sea Bee you say? If you decide not to go with it , maybe you could get to the name another way with initials CB.

Like Cleo Brynn or Cora Blair...

Just a thought

June 6, 2009 1:05 PM

The Ethel Mae postulate is a term coined by someone on this site (I can't remember who--hyz maybe?) to describe the phenomenon of names popping up in clusters. For example, Clara might not be a popular name nationwide, but in one set (say suburban New York), among one set of parents, it's the "it" name and baby Claras are everywhere. So it's a good idea when considering a name's popularity (if that matters a whit to you), to check out how it plays among your set of acquaintances. Among my social net, Amelia has been trendy for years. I can think of five off hand, and none of them are babies. Ethel Mae in action!

(Paging the site historians--why is it called Ethel Mae? Ethel I get, but why Ethel Mae? I can't remember.)

And Beulah is the "proper" spelling.

June 6, 2009 1:10 PM

Aybee-Good idea for Mrs D about the initials. Even though I dont care for the name Cleo, Cleo Brynn has a nice ring to it.

re Twilight: Don't have any comments to make because I never read the books or saw the movies. How about LOTR names though? I know he picked many of his names on purpose and developed a language to use specifically in the books. But I don't suppose Galadriel while pretty, is on anyone's radar.

Bianca:The Ethel-Mae postulate says something like "as much as we try to pick a name that no one else has, we will inevitably run into someone with our same name. Hence, Ethel Mae a very distinct name would be had by more than one person in the world." So as much as we try to be different and distinct someone else does too and we end up being the same.

Re literary names: just thought of the name Rafe which I've never run into in real life but run across all the time in the historical romances I enjoy. He will most of the time be a sort of softened around the edges cowboy type who likes to appear rough. Should we add this to our Colt/Gunner/Maverick set?

June 6, 2009 1:13 PM

Also, going back to movie names, did the name Blair have a rise around Linda Blair's time in the spotlight? Did it experience any rise during the Blair Witch Project releases?

By Jillc (not verified)
June 6, 2009 6:42 PM

zoerhenne, to answer your question from the last post, my DD Mamie Katherine's name is a twist on my sisters' names, Amy and Kathryn (we also threw in Elise as a mn, which is DH's sister's mn). I know one other Mamie IRL, the 2yo daughter of a high school classmate (my Mamie is 3; the Ethel Mae postulate at work!). I believe Mamie was Mrs. Eisenhower's real name.

My main problem with Renesmee is that I didn't know how to pronounce it, which drives me CRAZY when I'm reading a book. And, since it's made up, I had no way of looking up the pronunciation!

By Birgitte (not verified)
June 6, 2009 7:27 PM

I loved the Twilight books. I didn't think I would, I am 36 and very picky, but I love the way they are written. They are voiced very realistically through Bella. I also love her other book, The Host.

According to the audio book, Renesmee is pronounced Re-NEZ-may.

My advice, try reading the Twilight books and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Kindergarden name of the week: Saul

June 7, 2009 12:48 AM

Thanks for answering Jillc. Not knowing how to pronounce a name in a book drives me crazy also!

Related post I found on Yahoo:;_ylt=A9FJujUEPStK9cYA.wH17BR.;_ylv=3?qid=20090606204741AAc0vO7

June 7, 2009 9:28 AM

Laura, thanks for the mention of your new book. My family is waiting for it for our 2010 baby/grandbaby. I've been looking for your book on Amazon, expecting it could be preordered, but haven't seen it. I'm wondering why.

June 7, 2009 10:33 AM

interesting names in my local listings:

Also, heard a little girl called Delta the other day. Originally, I would've thought of the actress from Designing Women, but it was really cute on this girl.