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Jan 27th 2010

In the past week, new celebrity babies have been named Shane, Ean and Cavan. The Name Lady has weighed in on choosing nicknames. I've delved into American Girl Doll names. 78 new names have been accepted into Namipedia. (78! And that's a slow week!) And that doesn't even count the many hundreds of user comments left on blog posts and Namipedia pages.

I don't imagine you've kept up with all of these regular developments at and Frankly, I can't even keep up myself. So over the next few days I'm introducing an email newsletter that gives you a wrapup of the week in names. It even includes a user comment of the week, highlighting some of the insights that make this community such a great one.

If you're a registered user, look for email from "Baby Name News" in your inbox. I hope you'll enjoy the weekly dose of all things names. (If not, my apologies -- you'll find a link in the message to unsubscribe instantly.) If you're not a registered user, just click that little "sign up button" at the upper right of this page to get started.





January 27, 2010 2:19 PM

Reading this blog for several months and sometimes posting as a guest, the offer of a newsletter finally convinced me to register!

Thank you for this fantastic idea!

By Guest (not verified)
January 27, 2010 2:34 PM

Oh, excellent! Will definitely be signing up.

Laura, question for you- have you considered adding a forum to Baby Name Wizard? Obviously it's your site to do with as you like (and creating/monitoring a forum isn't exactly a piece of cake!), but from what I've seen in my year or so reading your blog, it would be insanely popular!

On second though, maybe we *don't* all need somewhere else to procrastinate/waste our time... ;)

January 27, 2010 2:36 PM

Looking forward to the newsletter! Thanks Laura.

Wasn't sure if now that there is a new blog post we're supposed to start posting here on threads from last time instead of the last one so I'm posting to both. My apologies if that is a faux pas!

@ another laura - I didn't realize how difficult mns ending in a were to work with until i tried to pick a fn w/mn Lisa. Lisa is not a name I am crazy about, but one my husband wants it in honor of his sister.

a general question for the board... has anyone ever heard of the name Alise? I'm not one for "made up" names, but this one feels like it should be a name, yet it doesn't show up in Namipidia, though I've seen it's been used twice in the two years in the province where I live. It would be pronounced like Uh-Leese... so distinct from Elise, Alice, Alissa/Alyssa. I thought of it as an alternative to Lisa for a mn. I like Lise, but feel a two-syllable name works better in my case. Any thoughts on Alise? Would people just assume I'd misspelled it? And to the question, why not Elise... my sister used that as a mn for her daughter and I'd hate to do an exact copy.

@ momtoalmost4 - it sounds like you've made up your mind on Amelia so congratulations! I still have eight weeks to go - but I so wish I was settled on a name.

January 27, 2010 3:02 PM

What a great idea! I have registered and am looking forward to the weekly e-mails! :)

Maviris, I've never heard of Alise, but I do like the sound of it. I tend to be traditional when it comes to spellings, so I like the spelling of Elise better, but since your sister has used that name, I can understand why you'd want to use the Alise spelling. It is a very pretty name.

Here are my 2 questions:
1) There are a couple names beginning with 'B' that I really like, but our last name begins with an 'S'. Would it be bad for a child to have the initials B.S., or am I just over-exaggerating it in my mind?
2) What are your feelings on the names Bess and Bessie?

My great-grandmother's name was Bessie, and I was very close to her. I'd love to have the option of honoring her by using either Bess or Bessie as a first or middle name. I adore Bess and would consider it as first name, but our last name begins with a 'S', thus giving her the initials B.S. And our last name is also one syllable, so it gives us 2 additional problems: 1) The flow of 2 one syllable names together sounds funny, and 2) The s's (or should I say esses) run into each other? So that leaves me with naming her Bessie (though I don't like it as much) and calling her Bess. I can't do Elizabeth b/c I have a niece with that name.

January 27, 2010 4:21 PM

@maviris - I posted in the last thread about Alise. Basically I think it is fine, especially in the middle name slot.

@daisy_kay - I don't think B.S. are terrible initials but if it bothers you then don't do it. I immediately though of Elizabeth but what about Bethany or Lisbeth? Lisbeth gets you different initials too!

January 27, 2010 5:15 PM

Laura-a newsletter is a great idea but your thread only reinforces the issue that maybe I need to get a life LOL! I am already caught up on this blog and the NameCandy site. They are bookmarked and I check them every day. Like names themselves it is my not-so-secret passion. I will though have to search for the new additions to Namipedia (or do you have a post coming out soon??). Thanks for all you do and keep up the good work.

Reposting from previous thread--
maviris-Yes, I believe Alise is a common respelling of ELise. I would pronounce it uh-lise just upon seeing it so don't know if others would have pronunciation difficulties or not. It may have a small rise in popularity as it fits quite well with all the Allison's and Alissa's I'm seeing on my local list. As of yet no Alise though.

By hyz
January 27, 2010 5:20 PM

from the previous thread....
Chimu and emilyrae, you guys are making me feel better about June--it might have to inch back up the list. :)

Oh, and Cavan was another one I'd considered awhile back, although it did fall off the list. And, wow, now it's a celebrity name! I hadn't heard about that. I liked its reference to the Irish county, and the meaning (which I understand to be valley, or dell/dale), and of course the sound with that lovely V in the middle! :)

January 27, 2010 5:23 PM

@Maviris - I've been having a think and I think all of the following could be easily nicknamed down to 'Bess'. Does anything appeal?


@hyz - lol at your 'v' obsession!

January 27, 2010 5:23 PM

daisy_kay--I was completely sold on Bess for my baby due in April, but my husband vetoed. Anyway, I was going to us it as a nn for Beatrice, if that gives you another idea, although not different initials. Laura has it in her book as a potential nn, if that kind of legitimacy matters to you, (it does to me;)) Another reason I was convinced not to use it was b/c of the Bessie the cow connection--I know we can't avoid every possible fodder for teasing, but the possibility of body-image teasing did give me pause. Just a couple thoughts, but I still LOVE the name, and hope you get to use it!

January 27, 2010 5:24 PM

daisy_kay-They are not the worst initials to have but also not the best. What happened to Louisa? I was under the impression you were set on that. I like the suggestion of Lisbeth but you may also run into pronunciation problems as sometimes the "th" ends up sounding like a slurred "s". Plus, if your LN is anything like Smith you have the double "th" which also doesn't sound pleasing to me. Louisa is good. Or something else with a vowel sound at the end. Could Tessa be used? I know we've had the discussion before of how far removed to go from the original name but it might work for you.

By hyz
January 27, 2010 5:33 PM

daisy_kay, unfortunately I do think it would be best to avoid the initials B.S. People say those initials all the time with an obvious negative meaning, and I would try to avoid having people make that association with my kid. Then again, I work with a guy whose initials are BS, and it doesn't seem to cause him problems. He's a really nice guy, though--if he were more of a jerk, I could definitely imagine people referring to him as BS behind his back. So in this case, I think I'd save the B for the mn.

As for Bess and Bessie, I think both are very sweet. I'd normally prefer them as nns for Elizabeth, but I think they can stand alone, especially in the mn spot, and especially since it's in honor of your g-grandmother. I'd generally prefer Bess to Bessie (Bess just sounds a little snappier and more classic somehow, and Bessie might have some bovine connotations to some people). In your case, I think Bessie sounds better with the LN, but again, if it's in the middle spot, I don't think Bess is really a bad choice--it will just require careful enunciation.

January 27, 2010 5:34 PM

daisy_kay- i knew a Rebecca that went by Bess, because I grew up with so many Rebeccas/Beckys/Beccas/Becs/etc. Bec and Bess are pretty close so I see where that came from. The name fit her really well and I think it's a great name, personally. It reminds me of Tess/Tessa which is another name I like, though Bess from Tessa is a bit of a stretch...
and though it doesn't solve the issue of initials I think Bethany is another good option.

By tanyalee (not verified)
January 27, 2010 5:39 PM

@maviris, I have heard of the name before, and think it's lovely and soft-sounding and not made up at all. My sister's name is Allyse, sounded ahl-eese. I also have a co-worker whose name is Alice, but pronounces it the way you're intending to sound out Alise (but everyone just calls her all-lis and she constantly corrects them). If you want a name pronounced a certain way, spell it that way to avoid a lifetime of correction. That's what my parents did :)

January 27, 2010 5:54 PM

Wow. I wish I could catch up completely! The newsletter is great! I have been so busy (last week was finals week at school... Yay!) and an just now getting back here after missing a whole post--and I love AG doll names :(

@ daisy_kay: I agree that Bess is good alone and in the mn spot to avoid BS initials.

January 27, 2010 6:33 PM

Thank you for your replies!

Of your sugesstions, I like Amabel, Annabelle, Beatrice, and Mabel. My husband and I are actually seriously considering Mabel if we have a girl next time around (we're hoping this will be our month in TTC). I'm kind of confused on the rules of nicknames, though. I don't see how Bess can be a nickname for anything except Bessie. For example, Elizabeth: there's a 'b' and an 'e', but there is not even one 's'. It's the same with the other names above that I like. Can someone explain this b/c I'm always at a loss when it comes to nicknaming - what works vs. what doesn't work.

Zoerhenne, Louisa is still my favorite name. I was debating between Louisa Bess and Mabel Adeline (mn opt to change), and DH told me he likes both names, but he likes Mabel best. I was devasted to potentially lose both Louisa and Bess - two of my favorite names. We'll see what happens. He's known for changing his mind. :)

January 27, 2010 6:54 PM

i was under the impression that bess and bessie were originally nicknames for elizabeth, but i'm sure someone else here could say for sure. nicknames are a very murky sort of thing and sometimes they come about in round about ways. like margaret to marge to meg to peg to peggy or mary to molly to polly or richard to rich to rick to dick. but peggy, on the surface, sounds nothing like margaret. i imagine that elizabeth got shortened to beth, which then became bess.

as far as everything goes, i like bess and would prefer it in the middle name slot, but it'd be a nice first name too. i don't like bessie much at all (reminds me of cows, as others have said, and poorly done southern accents; not sure why bess doesn't give me the same vibe).

By hyz
January 27, 2010 6:54 PM

daisy_kay, Bess and Bessie are just traditional/historical nicknames for Elizabeth. I assume it came out of the penchant for rhyming/creative nns back in those days (i.e. Robert to Rob or Bob, Richard to Rich or Hitch or Rick or Dick, Margaret to Meg or Peg or even Daisy :) ). I could see Elizabeth going to Beth, then Bette (I've known one of these) or Betty or Betsy, then Bess, then Bessie, etc.

January 27, 2010 6:58 PM

Well daisy_kay, I think the time will come for both conceiving and finding the right name when it is meant to be. As far as nn's go, Laura referenced a post up at the top of this thread. Click on the brownish lettering of "choosing nicknames" and it should come up. If not go to and then find the Ask Name Lady part of the blog and try to find it from there. It's an interesting comment/answer to your nn question. Also, I think there was a whole thread that Laura did on this one time but not sure. Link anyone?

By hyz
January 27, 2010 7:02 PM

emilyrae--jinx!! lol, looks like we were posting the same thing at the same time.

January 27, 2010 7:04 PM

haha, hyz, yes! i forgot about hitch for richard, which i think is kind of fun.

January 27, 2010 7:10 PM

Okay, that's actually making sense to me now. Elizabeth -> Beth -> Bette ->Betsy -> Bessie-> Bess.

Zoerhenne, thanks for letting me know about the "Choosing Nicknames" - I think I shall go and try to find that.

By another Laura (not verified)
January 27, 2010 7:12 PM

What about Maribeth as a nickname for Bess?

By Anna S (not verified)
January 27, 2010 7:25 PM

Alise - hmm, I guess I do see it as a bit "made up". Perhaps because I actually rarely see it, I suppose massive quantities of Alise's would automatically make the name perfectly legitimate. Alise seems to be somewhere between Elise and Alice, although the pronunciations are slightly different. I think I'd prefer something like Allyse (from tanyalee #13) to emphasise a distinction from Elise and Alice. That said, of all the "made up" names out there, Alise is certainly not one of the worst; minus the "made up"-ness I quite like the sound.

Bess and initials - the emphasis on initials seems to be quite different in the US vs in Scandinavia so perhaps I'm no real help: How often do you use initials? Could the B.S. be circumvented by always including the middle name initial (assuming there is a middle name)? I like Bess, I see it as a refreshingly simple name yet with a strong sound. A non-B option would be Elizabeth nn Bess.

By Anna S (not verified)
January 27, 2010 7:49 PM

Speaking of Elizabeth and Beth...

I've always found it very interesting how names have travelled across borders and adapted to new languages. The hard /t/ to soft /th/ is one of those transitions. Elizabeth was originally pronounced with a hard /t/ but was spelled /th/. It then went "soft" in English hundreds of years ago but in Germany, Scandinavia etc. the hard-t pronunciation stuck even though the most common spelling was still /th/. Anthony/Antony has a similar story but Thomas with the /th/ in front survived as a hard-t name. Any similar examples?

January 27, 2010 8:04 PM

anna a:
theresa, maybe?

By PJ(not logged in) (not verified)
January 27, 2010 9:37 PM

So excited about the newsletter! and I think nicknames can be anything- related to the name or not. I knew a Molly whose given name was Amelia but her family always called her that. Or a guy I I know is Robert but only goes by Buzz.

By Qwen (nli) (not verified)
January 27, 2010 9:53 PM

It took me over an hour to catch up on the last post. That'll teach me to spend my evenings remodeling instead of staying up to date on my online addictions. I started to take notes about all the stuff that I wanted to weigh in on but when it became too ginormous I decided to spare you all.

One thing I can't let go of though… In the last post Linneaus suggested the name Marcail for someone who was looking for a new name for a child nicknamed Mickie. That surprised me, I never would have considered the two linked. Granted, I’m not the biggest fan of nicknames in general.

People are always asking us what we'll 'call' Marcail. I’ve always thought this was an odd question. I plan to call her Marcail. If I wanted to call her something else, I’d name her something else. I don’t see why names must have a built in nickname. I feel like nicknames sort evolve based on the person, their personality their quirks, etc… For example, my name is Crystal but people call me Qwen the two are not related in anyway and yet that’s who I am. But I don’t explain all that to people when they ask; I usually say that we think that either Marc or Kayla could fit nicely depending on her personality. Other people have suggested Marci or Kaylie (which I have to tell you I will discourage as much as I possibly can… for some reason I’m not a fan of ‘ee’ ending names). But this is the first time I’ve heard Mickie. So my question to you all is what other nns am I overlooking for my daughter?

January 27, 2010 10:31 PM

Qwen- I know you said you don't like "ee" endings, but I think Marci (with a hard "c") is very cute. I couldn't really come up with any other nicknames without "ie" endings that you haven't already heard, other than Kay. I do think Marc is also cute though. When it comes to nicknames I've discovered that they kind of arise on their own a lot of the time, like for my son Judah... i wasn't a huge fan of the idea that people might call him Jude but we all just started doing it after he was born and it stuck, though he doesn't use it in school we still use it around the house.

January 27, 2010 10:32 PM

Hey, nicknames can go far. I know a Robert who goes by Q.

Hi, Qwen. I'll agree, I'm not much of a nickname user myself, but... here goes nothing!


...and I'll stop there before I go further off the deep end (I came up with Golly?).

January 27, 2010 10:38 PM

I think nicknames sort of arise on their own. The best ones sometimes have very little to do with the person's actual name. My cousin Rafael is known to all of his college friends as Pete. As it was explained to me, his buddies started calling him Pecos because he is Hispanic and his surname sounds something like Pecos. That morphed into Pecos Pete, which became Pete. The first time I answered the phone and someone asked for Pete (my cousin lived with us during the summers in college), I told the guy on the other end that he had a wrong number and hung up. I happened to mention it at dinner that night and was surprised when my cousin angrily told me that the call was for him! We all got a good laugh out of that. And now, since no one else calls him Pete, my cousin has a sort of alternate identity for those fun college years.

January 27, 2010 11:20 PM

Qwen-I can understand you not wanting certain nn's for Marcail. I too didn't want certain nn's for my dd (Natalie>Nat) but you can only gently try to persuade others to use what you prefer AND you must do this right from the start after she is born. We were going to use Ali/Allie but it never stuck. Anyway, I like some of the suggestions you've been given-Marci(with a hard C), Micki, Kaylie even though you don't like the -ie ending are all natural derivatives for others to come up with. I think nn's are a form of affection and wouldn't be upset if someone used a nn I didn't choose but I would steer them elsewhere as much as possible.

January 27, 2010 11:34 PM

@daisy_kay - I think that anything can go with nn's. I personally think anything with the 'be' can be nn'd down to Bess quite easily. That is why I made some of the suggestions above to you. I personally think that mabel works well with a nn of Bess, so you could have Mabel Adeline and call her Bess. The best of both worlds!

@Anna S - I know what you mean about the /t/ vs /th/ sound. My husband's name is Antony, said with a hard t. People constantly mispronounce and misspell it as Anthony with a 'th' sound in the middle. It drives me mental (although he is used to it and it doesn't bother him). I always knew that Anthony could be pronounced as Antony, but doing it the other way around makes no sense to me!!

@Qwen - I like the options of Mae/May, Cara, Mara, Mollie, Millie or maybe Kales? I think it will come to you once you get to know her. Or she might always be a Marcail! I remember the little Caroline (whose mum posts on here) who goes by Firefly! Now that is just gorgeous....

January 28, 2010 12:08 AM

When i was little most people called me by my hebrew name Rivkey and that turned into tons little nicknames including River, which turned into Rivers, which turned into Reverse, which turned into Rev. Others included Rivet, Rivets, Kiki and many, many more. Needless to say when my parents named me I doubt they imagined any of these nicknames to arise, so you never know...

January 28, 2010 12:48 AM

Where is little Firefly's mom? And how is her newest offspring (Tomato wasn't it)?

By William 2 (not verified)
January 28, 2010 12:58 AM

I think Bess or Bessie is a great name. The association with the cow has pretty much died off, and should be totally gone for her generation. Sounds nice and has a positive meaning (via its Elizabeth roots).

B.S.? NO PROBLEM! How often do you go by initials in this world? Almost never. And B.S. is pretty mild anyway, especially if she has a middle name. Although I might suggest not giving her any monogrammed sweaters.

By William 2 (not verified)
January 28, 2010 1:04 AM

Question for the group. We are considering naming our son "Jett", but are a little concerned that he'll spend his life repeating his name because (1) it's used more often to describe aircraft than as a name, and (2) it sounds somewhat like "Chet", "Jeff", and "Chad"... at least on the phone or to new acquaintances.

Would you have a problem understanding someone introducing himself as "Jett"? Does it matter?

Thanks for your help.

January 28, 2010 3:20 AM

I have not NEARLY caught up with everything I've missed, but just popping in to say that -- although some TERRIBLE person had absconded with my local library's copy of Baby Name Wizard, my husband the for-now-librarian has rectified this problem, and his reward was getting to listen to me read out name after name after name (after name) ... and we're not even pregnant. I sometimes wonder if I ever do get pregnant whether my head will explode. Am really enjoying the book though.

William 2: I think Chet or Jed are likely to be your biggest contenders for mistaken names. But, FWIW, I wouldn't let that put me off. I have personally answered to Rhonda, Miranda, Randy, Randall and Brandon (it makes more sense aloud, I promise) and I have been called Brenda and, once, memorably, MINDY on the phone. But a lot of people get it right too. You'll have some of both, but if you love the name, go with it. Internet strangers and all, but I love Jett -- it's such a great, fresh, snappy name in the vein of Max and such.

January 28, 2010 8:52 AM

so speaking of nicknames...what about ones for Lawrence? I don't care for any of the ones I've seen listed; definately don't want Larry. I came up with Lance but dh vetoed it. I have no idea why he found it so horrid.

January 28, 2010 9:50 AM

William 2-With the celebrity status and paparazzi surrounding Jett Travolta's death, as horrid as that was, it has brought the name into more of the public's eye. I would think you may get some people still unfamiliar with the name as you mentioned, but it's not so strange (i.e. made-up) that you should have that many worries.

another Laura-Linnaeus is much better at this than I am. I think nn's for Lawrence aside from the obvious Larry could be:
Renzi (I knew someone with this as a givne name)
Fence (if he was a big guy playing football LOL like "the refrigerator" or something)
I'll stop now!

By Betsy 2 (not verified)
January 28, 2010 10:02 AM

daisy_kay - I grew up as a BS! My parents named me Elizabeth but I was never called that ever, so by the time peers knew what BS stood for and I could be teased, I usually just thought it was a funny thing to bring up. My husband's initials were/are JRK so early on we jokingly discussed our parents' regard for us thinking we were BS and a Jerk. I don't think its something to worry about too much, definitely a notch down from A.S.S. or something. And also consider that chances are she'll marry and no longer be BS (now the only entertaining thing I share initials with is Burger King). :)

By Amy3
January 28, 2010 10:12 AM

Re: nns ... My daughter is Astrid and although I think she'd still like a nn (some of you will remember her earlier quest to find one), she doesn't really have one. I do call her Astridy, which I coopted from my sister-in-law who calls our niece Bryny on occasion, but usually she's just Astrid or else a pet name having nothing whatsoever to do with her given name. She has a friend Christina and apparently they call each other Alex and Chris, but I don't think that's getting widespread usage at school.

I think unless your kid's name has obvious nns (e.g., Elizabeth, Nicholas) or you're set on finding one from the outset (we've had ppl post here who have a strong tradition of nns and really want one from day one), then it makes more sense to see if one arises organically.

By Amy3
January 28, 2010 10:18 AM

Re: BS ... In the grand scheme of "bad" initials, I think this is pretty low level stuff. If it will *really* bother you, I'd avoid it, but it doesn't feel like a big deal to me. My daughter's initials are AKC and I'm sure at some point a dog joke will be made, but I also assume that will be short-lived.

Re: Jett ... I'm sure this will be misheard some, but that's a problem for lots of names. As others have said it's not so unfamiliar that people won't get it pretty quickly.

January 28, 2010 10:41 AM

Firefly is Beth the Original's daughter and has no siblings (right, Beth?). Didn't little Tomato turn out to be named Leah Jo or something like that?

January 28, 2010 10:50 AM


I know an Ingrid whose middle name is Lisa. It is an unusual combination, but Lisa is surprisingly difficult to work with as a mn.


January 28, 2010 10:54 AM

I think the worst initials are things like "DUD" or "BAD". More generally negative than dirty.

Qwen: I can also get a Kelly out of Marcail.

Nicknaming Lawrence:


That should do for now.

January 28, 2010 11:05 AM


Mabel makes me think of Mad About You (TV show)--the main characters named their daughter Mabel because someone told them it stood for:



By knp
January 28, 2010 11:18 AM

I don't want the following to seem negative, so please take them as observations!
The Mabel acronym has been brought up many-a-time
I'm sure if I put enough writers in a room (as there are in any TV show), I could come up with a saying to make almost any name an acronym...

And if you do want Mabel to stand for that, I'd always feel bad for the father

January 28, 2010 11:56 AM

well, i think many people don't necessarily realize that the acronym has been brought up many times. not everyone reads every single comment or even every post...

January 28, 2010 12:24 PM


Marcail's a form of Margaret, right? Thus, I'd think that any of the Margaret nicknames or diminutives would work in your case... Maggie, Meg, Megs, Meggie, Megan, Peggy, Peg, Maisie, Madge, May... you could even draw a reasonable line to Greta or Gretel, I think, or even the improbable and lovely Daisy.


I think that Alise is a perfectly valid alternate spelling of Alice/Elise/Alisa. I have a cousin Alyse, who is in her '50s, who pronounces it as you're looking to. Both of these variants do show up in various naming dictionaries, so I think you're safe.

Have you considered Lisette? I like it a lot -- it's punchy, but still has some French elegance, and the pronunciation (lee-S/ZETTE) has a quicker, kickier sound that seems easier to work with as a middle name than the longer-vowelled sounds in Alise.

January 28, 2010 12:28 PM

I come from a big family and of all my siblings by oldest brother Seth was the only one who had no nickname other than Sethy. I agree with Amy3 that there are just some names that don't have nicknames and are most beautiful in their full form.