The Name Not Taken

Mar 25th 2010

Last week power-blogger Jason Kottke published a list of the names he didn't choose for his baby daughter. In his words, "Since we are so so (SO!) done having kids, I thought I'd share our list in case someone else finds any of them useful."

The list is very consistent in style. The girls are conspicuously but charmingly antique (Beatrix, Coralie), while the boys are quirky, pint-sized traditionals (Hugo, Finn). Milton is a notable outlier. All in all, a stylish group with an upscale urban/artsy feel.

What really fascinated me, though, wasn't the names themselves but the baby-naming psychology that the blog post embodied. The title, while jokey, says a lot: "Baby names for sale, never used." I suspect most parents can relate to this. It's as if our rejected names still in some way belong to us.

Have you ever seen an exchange between the mother of a toddler and another mom with a newborn baby, something like this? "Oh, Felix? Felix was on our short list when Jasper was born!!" Jasper's mom beams, feeling a real link with little Felix. Meanwile baby Felix's mom smiles tightly at the interloper who dares to think she owns some piece of the special name which belongs to HER, darn it!

As we mull over our short lists, we become attached to the names. They each develop personalities, linked to images of our potential future with different possible children. Even after the winning name is chosen and the baby born, the attachment to the runners-up lingers.

Like Mr. Kottke, many of us also view our unused names as a mildly tragic waste. I'm hardly immune to this myself. I was thrilled when a new nephew received a favorite boy's name that had "gone to waste" when my youngest daughter was born. When you stop to think about it, though, it's a little nonsensical to think of names as assets in that way. In my case it was a traditional name, not something I invented. It was an infinitely renewable resource, and not something that would go to the landfill if unused. How can something so abstract and hypothetical ever "go to waste"?

Part of the sense of waste may be about the time and effort we put into assembling our name lists. But more important, I think, is the sense of value being wasted. All of our name lists have something in common: they reflect our own personal tastes. That means they're flat-out gorgeous. They're the best possible names! How can we let such a valuable resource sit mouldering? Shouldn't we share that bounty, "in case someone else finds any of them useful"?


By SP (not verified)
March 29, 2010 8:15 PM

hyz - I agree that pronunciation is AN-thee-ah (went to school with one who would be about 30yrs old now) but for Althea I've only ever heard that name on Project Runway and it was Al-THEE-ah.

March 30, 2010 5:06 AM

@hyz - I know one Anthea (sister of a friend), and she would be in her 40s. She definitely pronounces it AN-thee-ah. I've never heard it pronounced witht he stress on the middle syllable.

@Philippa - I figured you knew Alexander and William are popular here. But, since they are classic names I don't think it matters too much. I only know of 2 Rose's, one on another forum (in Sydney) and 1 friend of a friend (in Canberra). Given how many children I come across it's not that common as a first name so I was surprised it cracked the top 100. Btw, I love Rose as a first name!

@Becky - I always wondered if Xylem and Phloem would make good twin names!!

March 29, 2010 10:01 PM

thanks! leah is a nice name too of course, but i'm just rather fond of my own. :]

i was watching monk today, and was wondering how you felt about the name leland. the captain's name is leland stottlemeyer, and the name leland has always intrigued me. i looked it up just now, and it has a nature meaning, which made me think of you. i just think it has rather a nice sound.

By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
March 29, 2010 11:16 PM

really liked this post. I am expecting baby number six. For the first time in our lives, I could really see this baby being the last baby. Which is making the name choice SO agonizing for me in way the other five just weren’t at all. I mean, this may be the last name I’ll ever pick out for a baby. We have a list, of course, but none of the names seem perfect enough to be the name that eliminates all other names forever, you know?

Which is why I keep coming back to this board for advice. Seriously, I hope you all don’t get sick of me, because I really enjoy the input from such intelligent NEs.

Our latest girl name came around because I like Rose and Belle but my husband doesn’t like one-syllable names. So he suggested Rosabel. This is actually a name in some of my name books. BNW has it under Rosabella. Another more traditional name book I have has it under its own heading with Rosabella and Rosabelle listed as alternative versions. From what I can figure out, it was a name invented in the 19th Century as a combination of Rose and Belle, just because it sounded pretty. Rosabelle is the name of a minor Scott poem.

Rosabel (that spelling) is growing on me, in that it does combine two of my favorite names. It looks cool written out, and it is romantic enough to go with our other daughter’s name, Juliet. Still, I have two biggish qualms. One, I’m not a fan of “invented” names. Is being a hundred-year-old invention better than being a ten-year-old invention? Two, is it just too much? Dh likes the frillier names (he’s also pushing for Violet)… but can you see Rosabel P@lmer as a supreme court justice?

By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
March 29, 2010 11:19 PM

On Salome… I like the sound of this name a lot. I once had a roommate with the name, actually, and as far as I know it never gave her problems. Still, the thing about a name like Salome is that the notorious Salome is the *only* Salome most people know. I did a simple Google Image search of “salome” and on the first page of results 15 out of 18 images were paintings of a girl holding a chopped off head, with no repeat paintings. It’s just such a strong, strong image.

I think Saliel/Salielle is amazingly awesome, though.

March 30, 2010 12:22 AM

I heard of a newborn Talitha (pron Tah-LEE-tha). I looked it up and learned it's from the Bible. I think she may be called TJ, but not sure.

By Beth the original (not verified)
March 30, 2010 12:27 AM

SarahC, here I was thinking nobody shared my taste for uber-classic names. The boy I did not have would have been William, nickname Will, middle name Jack for a relative. And I have a Caroline. I've said this here before, but my nickname-not-used is Carly, and I have always liked Caddie because it is so old-fashioned it goes back around to the front, if you know what I mean.

Jane, Mother of Five (wow), I like Rosabel. It has a Shakespearean vibe. Stripping it down to -bel (not belle) keeps it simple. It resonates with the trendier Isabel and Rose, but is unique. Plus is there a cuter nickname than Rosa? The clincher: it reminds me of a hilarious poem by Eugene O'Neill (you have to know how ludicrously complicated a villanelle is to appreciate it):

Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953)

Villanelle of Ye Young Poet's First Villanelle to his Ladye and Ye Difficulties Thereof

To sing the charms of Rosabelle,
To pour my soul out at her feet,
I try to write this villanelle.

Now I am caught within her spell,
It seems to me most wondrous sweet
To sing the charms of Rosabelle.

I seek in vain for words to tell
My love -- Alas, my muse is weak!
I try to write this villanelle.

Would I had power to compel
The English language incomplete
To sing the charms of Rosabelle.

The ardent thoughts that in me dwell
On paper I would fair repeat
I try to write this villanelle.

My effort fruitless is. OH--l!
I'll tell her all when next we meet.
To sing the charms of Rosabelle,
I tried to write this villanelle.

By Beth the original (not verified)
March 30, 2010 12:30 AM

Oh, and my names not used -- Audrey Claire for a second girl, and Samuel @shton for a boy (sad that the middle name, a last name in our family, is now forever associated with that Kutcher man).

As a kid I lavished names on my stuffed animal: Freudenkatze the neurotic stuffed cat, Nugent the pig, and Hazel P. Bun-Bun the bunny are my favorites. And then there were my fictional characters, with names like Gladiolus Hollyhocks, words I just picked because I loved the sound.

By Beth the original (not verified)
March 30, 2010 12:31 AM

In the poem, it should be "O H-ll," to rhyme with Rosabelle. Sorry, typo.

And now I will stop.

March 30, 2010 12:51 AM

Jane- wow, Rosabelle is great! I love it. It may be "invented" but it sounds classic and yes, even Shakespearean, which is great with Juliet. I think Rosabel does simplify it, but I can't decide which spelling I like more. I agree with Beth the original that it takes the "belle" trend (Isabelle, Annabelle, Mabel, etc.) and combines it with the classic name Rose to make a very cool name that doesn't sound trendy! I think I mentioned recently that I was at the ped's office and heard the name Clarabelle on a little girl, which I'm not a huge fan of, though I like Rosabel(le).

Also, on the topic of "invented" names, I was reading a post on another baby name forum where someone was questioning using Cedric because technically it is a made-up name. I believe Sir Walter Scott supposedly mispelled Cerdic in Ivanhoe, though I could be off on that fact. Anyway, Ivanhoe was written nearly 200 years ago and I consider a 200 year old name no longer made up if it's been in use for that long. Does that make sense?

March 30, 2010 1:39 AM

beth the original,
oh my word! i just love gladiolus hollyhocks! wish i had someone or something to name; i'd ask your permission to appropriate this bit of whimsy.
it's been a long time since i've actually laughed out loud at an on-line entry, but your suggestions of twins zylaphone and cantelope made me do just that. thanks for the chuckle.

March 30, 2010 2:30 AM

Beth the original: I love your stuffed animals' names! I had to read them aloud to my husband!

March 30, 2010 5:06 AM

@Jane - I really like Rosabel, and I'm not a huge fan of the 'belle' names. I think it goes nicely with Juliet and can have the simple nn of Rosa or Rose. It doesn't really seem invented to me so I doubt it will to most people.

March 30, 2010 7:27 AM

Thanks for posting the ode to Rosabelle, Beth! That was rich.

Jane, go with Rosabel (or at least add it to the short list).

By Eo (not verified)
March 30, 2010 7:47 AM

Beth the original, you always come through!

Oops time to get Banks to school but have both Rosabel and Cedric comments-- more later...

March 30, 2010 8:30 AM

Rosabel is a great name! I approve of it.

Regarding made-up names: I suppose, ultimately, ALL names are made-up. Someone has to choose a name somewhere.

Those stuffed animal names are completely awesome.

By Amy3
March 30, 2010 8:37 AM

@Jane Mother of Five, I think Rosabel would be super with your other kids' names, particularly Juliet. Not only do I prefer the Rosabel spelling, I think it complements the simpler spelling of Juliet. I think a name that's been around a hundred years won't read as "made up" to anyone. Use it!

@zoerhenne, I loved your twin names too, esp the inspired pronunciation of Xylaphone. Very funny!

@Beth the original, what great stuffed animal names. I love Hazel P. Bun-Bun. My husband and I often use our pet name for each other with the random middle initial P and a ln that's not our own.

By Mirnada (not verified)
March 30, 2010 8:53 AM

Beth the Original,

I LOVE Nugent the Pig. Hilarious!

By Eo (not verified)
March 30, 2010 8:57 AM

Becky, I agree with you that the passage of centuries can confer "legitimacy" on even the most fanciful made-up name! The Sir Walter Scott "mistake" theory you reference has been widely accepted.

It has also been proposed that Cedric derives from the Welsh name "Cedrych", meaning "bounty", "boon" and "spectacle", "pattern".

Shakespeare was said to have made a mistake when "Imogen" appeared as a misprint in his work "Cymbeline". He actually meant for it to be "Innogen", derived from the Latin "innocens", meaning "innocent".

I've always wondered why Shakespeare didn't have the misprint corrected in subsequent printings? At any rate, "Innogen" is rather nice, as is "Imogen".

Funny how these things get perpetuated. The English writer and great-niece (or something) of Alfred Lord Tennyson was I believe named at birth Winifred or perhaps Wynifrid Tennyson Jesse. I think somewhere along the way someone transposed things and it became "Fryniwid" Tennyson Jesse.

She was quite the eccentric as well as an early thriller writer, and apparently adopted Fryniwid right away! So her later fame was as F. Tennyson Jesse, rather than W. Tennyson Jesse...

March 30, 2010 9:03 AM

Beth-I also love classic names and think your unused names are lovely. Great stuffed animal names too-wish I could remember all mine.

Jane Mo5-I like Rosabel also. It sounds classic/Shakespearean to me also. Fits right in with all the Isabelle's, etc of late. It doesn't feel made-up.

conana+others-You are welcome for the laugh.

Becky (i think it was)-The additional non-names were wonderful also. Malaria is great! Whomever said Felony is inspired also!

By Eo (not verified)
March 30, 2010 9:09 AM

As to "Rosabel". I like it very much-- very literary sounding. The "Ros(e-)or "Ros(a-)" names have always engendered multiple variants down through the ages.

Reminds me of a couple of romantic-sounding, yet not overly frilly names, the very old combo "Rosanna", and "Christabel".

Did anyone mention that the name "Rosabella" was formed in the mid-nineteenth century to mean "beautiful rose"? My source says "Rosabel" was a later variant, as was "Rosabelle", but, like others, I far prefer the pure, less-ornate "bel" spelling...

By EVie
March 30, 2010 10:56 AM

Jane Mother of Five - I LOVE Rosabel, and I think it goes beautifully with Juliet. Furthermore, I did a bit of searching on Wikipedia and found this evidence for Rosabella being used in literature, at least, as early as 1615:

I haven't read the play in question, but it looks like there is a character named Rosabella. So, maybe it didn't get used on real people until the Victorian era, but it wasn't really "invented" at that time.

On a side note, I think I have similar tastes to you--classic boys and romantic girls. My current fantasy sibset is Maribel, Juliet, Thomas and James. Lately I have developed a thing for the -bel names--Maribel, Rosabel, Clarabel, Christabel, Mirabel. I like Isabel too, though I feel it doesn't have impact factor of the others anymore because it's used so much.

By EVie
March 30, 2010 11:03 AM

Oh--and speaking of -bel names--does anyone know how to pronounce Amabel? AY-muh-bel or AH-muh-bel or AM-uh-bel?

March 30, 2010 11:37 AM

EVie-I would pronounce AM-uh-bel but I'm not 100% that is the "correct" version. As far as the "bel" names, I quite like Isabel, Rosabel, and Mirabelle. However, Christabel sounds odd to me as in Crystal+Bell as lends it to sound more made-up to me even though I know it's not. Clarabelle reminds me of the clown on Howdy Doody too much even though I didn't grow up watching the show I still know about it. How about Lilibelle, and Maribelle?

By knp-nli (not verified)
March 30, 2010 12:13 PM

Oh, Maribelle (how I spell it) is one of my favorites from way back when I was naming figurines and stuffed animals, thank you for reminding me EVie!
Jane, I think Rosabel would be a GREAT sib to Juliet.

By SarahC (not verified)
March 30, 2010 2:08 PM

Valerie - are you in the UK? We're from there originally! I've got my son calling his Uncle Philip 'Uncle Pip' - I love that :)

By SarahC (not verified)
March 30, 2010 2:16 PM

Beth the original - hahahhaah, LOVED your stuffed animal names!!

We are leaning back towards Caroline if this baby is a girl....William's middle name is John (after both grandfathers), and Caroline's middle name would be Jean (after both grandmothers - satisfy everyone that way!). Now we continue to be stumped with boy names....

March 30, 2010 2:30 PM

Pertaining to several recent posts--

My sister's name is Suzanne, and we always called her Suzi. When we were children our next door neighbors had a daughter about my sister's age named Susan, called Susie. The two of them were best friends and constant playmates. To deal with the confusion of two little girls with essentially the same name, our neighbors unilaterally decided to call my sister Suzabel(le)--it was never written, so I don't know how they imagined its spelling. I should add that WE never called my sister Suzabel, and if we wanted to disambiguate we called the neighbor girl by her full name, Susan Marie. I should add that Susan Marie's mother was Ethel Marie, universally known as Sue. Go figure!

BTW Claribel is a Shakespearian name, appearing in the The Tempest. She is the unseen daughter of King Alonso. Her marriage to the King of Tunis is the occasion for the voyage and the eventual shipwreck.

I, however, am old enough to have been a devout viewer of Howdy Doody, and for me it's always Clarabell the Clown. Clarabell BTW was a male clown. The character was male, and the actors who played him were male.

By Guest (not verified)
March 30, 2010 3:06 PM

I'm not sure how many children my husband will have, so I while I have a list of names not used, it's more a list of names postponed. We just had #4 and picking his name was difficult but we had trouble with our other two boys' names. Some of the names we had on our list for this boy were:
Ephraim Conor
Elijah Anthony
Brendan Matthew
We finally went with Levi Christopher.

Actually my husband's cousin seems to be looking to our children for her names. Our oldest is named Isaac and her second is named Isaac. Our daughter is Adeline, and her second daughter is Adelle.
When we named our daughter Adeline, we had the name Bailey Katherine picked out for years, but when we found out she was a girl, we decided to explore other options and came up with Adeline Clare.

Interestingly enough, if Levi had been a girl, his name would have been Lucy Kateri, but that name is still on the table in some form for any future girls that come along.

March 30, 2010 3:58 PM

SarahC, I think Caroline and Juliet are absolute classics, and go so well with William. As for boys, what about Alistair? (sorry if it was there and I missed it!) Or Peter? Both classic boys names but not overly popular. I've a friend who just called her son Alfred but that might be alongside George in your mind!

As for the names my parents had, I might've been a Katherine had it not been for my parents being unable to agree a spelling, only for their chosen name (Nicola in 1980s UK) to be mis-spelled Nichola in a congratulations card! I'd have been Peter if I was a boy. I prefer both those to my actual name which I think sounds so dated and common!

By Guest (not verified)
March 30, 2010 4:01 PM


I think Evelyn is classic, gorgeous and not at all on my radar. Don't think it's going to go the too popular route -- at least not in the next 5 years.

March 30, 2010 4:03 PM

So Guest#179, I have two questions..
1) Does it bother you that your DH's cousin has appropriated the same names?
2) What will she name her next if its a girl? I'm guessing you did not purposely share your list with her.
You better have a backup plan for Lucy-it sounds awfully close to Levi if that's the thing she might do.

March 30, 2010 5:56 PM

i say AH-ma-bel, but i have never heard it said out loud, so i don't know. i find it the prettiest option...i'm not much of a fan of AM-uh-bel.

i meant to say: i think izzy and max are flat out adorable, no matter the popularity. did you settle on a longer form of max or is it just max? i seem to recall you were having problems with that.

By hyz
March 30, 2010 6:11 PM

emilyrae, interesting question about Leland. It does have the nature meaning, plus my first word association with it is Leyland Cypress, which is nice. I've never really given the name any consideration, though--it's just been off my radar. My mental image of a Leland is of a very distinguished older African American man--not sure where that's coming from. I'm not familiar with the Leland on Monk. And considering it for my own use, it feels a little too stiff or formal to me, like it needs a 3 piece suit and a bow tie (and this image of Leland Stanford doesn't do much to debunk that notion, lol: Maybe that's hypocritical, since I do tend to like distinguished-sounding names, but that's my initial gut reaction. It could grow on me, though, I think. Thanks for bringing it up!!

March 30, 2010 6:30 PM

Does anyone know how to pronounce Leland? It's a fascinating name. LEE-land or LAY-land or....?

SarahC- I'm half-American and half-English. I'd say I'm culturally English as I've spent the most time there. Uncle Pip is cute. Now that my sister has had a baby, maybe we can call my brother Uncle Pip too. He tends to be known as Flip these days, but was Pip as a little boy- very cute.
I love your name choices by the way!

By hyz
March 30, 2010 6:35 PM

Valerie, I have always heard it as LEE-lənd, for both people and cypresses, lol.

March 30, 2010 7:08 PM

re: Leland: I know someone named Lee who is called Leland by some of his friends. It seems to be sort of tongue-in-cheek, but based on these friends' personalities, I think they like it as a fancier (as in high fashion, almost snobby) version of Lee.

By Qwen (nli) (not verified)
March 30, 2010 8:07 PM

I’m behind, yet again and have only made it halfway through the comments so I’ll come back but for now I’m going to chime in (late) with the following:

I have a tendency to use my “names not taken” on things as well. My last car was actually named Penelope (nn Poppy), the newer one is named Daphne, our refrigerator is Frieda and my laptop is Suki. All but Frieda were names I LOVED that my husband vetoed long before we ever got pregnant. Frieda the Fridge just happened but I like it nonetheless.

I also totally understand the idea of ‘giving names away’. My BFF desperately wanted to use the name Olivia but her husband was passionately against it so she ‘gave’ it to me. Unfortunately, my husband also despised it. So I have since passed it on to another friend… who will 100% be using it if she ends up with a girl. Funnily enough my BFF’s husband later came back and said, “What about Olivia?” Forgetting that he’d already vetoed it. She was pretty annoyed that she couldn’t really have it back at that point…

@Valerie – I want to add my condolences to Eo’s and Amy’s. I know how sad and scary it is to loose a baby. Good luck on meeting little James in Oz this year.

@Lilliputian – Congrats on little Maud Alisa. I LOVE the name and am very happy your little miracle is doing well.

March 30, 2010 8:15 PM

oh, ha, yes, mister stanford does look a bit stuffy. i was just curious. it's kind of growing on me. maybe not enough to use, but i think i like it. this is leland stottlemeyer from monk:
he's the police captain and, while he is wearing a suit in this photo, i wouldn't call him stiff or formal, more just...well, you know, he's a cop. so he's tough and brusque (but still a nice guy--this is monk after all, so everyone must be likable). anyway, i think maybe he loosened up the image of the name for me (otherwise i might view it as stiff and formal as well). i just thought i'd bring it up. i am really liking the two Ls in the name together. kind of a nice sound. like a more masculine lily.

i've only ever heard lee-land. (though of course it's really more of lee-lynd or lee-lund).

By Jane, Mother of Five (not verified)
March 30, 2010 8:51 PM

I just wanted to thank everyone who chimed in on Rosabel. Especial thanks to Beth for the Villanelle - that was hilarious:).

I am kind of surprised by the responses being all positive. The name is probably our number one choice now that I've read the responses to my husband (who liked it to start with). I like that I could call her Rose or Rosie or Belle or Rosabel, depending on how I feel about it after she is born. Anyway, thanks for all the input!!!

By Camille (not verified)
March 30, 2010 10:51 PM

Lilliputian: How lovely! Awesome name. ..I don't, though, understand the symbols in the others' names. What are they?

March 30, 2010 11:35 PM

Hi there! I just wanted to thank you all so much for the feedback you gave me a few weeks ago when I was agonizing over the name for my DS. Christopher "Kip" James arrived on March 22nd, weighing 7 lbs. 4oz and is healthy and very cute. Big sisters Helena, Bianca and Juliet are thrilled to have a little brother.

We ended up choosing Christopher, nickname Kip, for a few reasons. One is that this is most likely our last child (I'm 40, we have four children!) and we really wanted to honor my father and dh's grandfather. Also, when Kip was born I just couldn't seem him as anything else, and he looks so much like my father/me that Christopher/Kip just fit so well! Also, my DH was starting to doubt Sebastian and questioned how it might fit on an adult, and I couldn't use a name we weren't 100% agreed upon.

So our name not taken was Sebastian, though Malcolm was a close second. Our name not taken for Helena was Alice. Then when we had Bianca I no longer loved Alice but adored both Bianca and Juliet, and we went with Bianca. For our third I still loved Juliet but we also were between Olivia (which we eventually decided was too popular) and Cordelia, which didn't sound as good with the mn we decided on, Beatrice.

Thanks again for all of your help!

March 31, 2010 12:53 AM

Jane, mom of five- Funny story for you. My 3 year old walks around picking up flowers and petals off the ground and she tells me each one is named "Rosabel." It sounds to me like a flower fairy (not in a bad way!)

My name not taken the first time was Tobias Jackson (TJ). Funny enough we didn't consider it when we were pregnant again, it seemed like it belonged to the previous baby, even though that's not her name. Second child has two names not taken, Juniper was our girl name and he was almost named Solomon up until a few weeks before he was born.

Unity and Brixton are most likely our only children and do have so many more names I love! A few friends have used names that were our list- Juniper, Desmond, and mostly I like it.

March 31, 2010 2:34 AM

New babies in my circle in the last few weeks (in the UK and mid-baby boom!) include:

M1cah (brother to T1mothy)
Alfr3d (brother to Ca1eb)

The girls are both first children so can't pick up any trends yet, but both sets of brothers seem a mix of these trendy biblical names, and very old fashionednames, I think they would suit better as M1cah and Ca1eb and Alfr3d and T1mothy.

March 31, 2010 5:26 AM

I just found out that my dad and his brothers (third generation Japanese American, born in the 1940s) are all named after movie stars: Gene Autry, Dennis Morgan, Gary Cooper, and Gilbert Roland. I'm very excited; not sure if anyone else will be. I'm thinking about it in terms of Asian Americans often being named after their parents' peers. I also have my own budding theory that Japanese Americans post-WWII were given very red-blooded American names. Not just English names, but like hyper-American. Not sure exactly how to define that yet, but Gene Autry and Gary Cooper played cowboys at least...

By Amy3
March 31, 2010 7:28 AM

@margaret anne, congratulations to you and your family! I love Kip as a nn for Christopher and think it fits in well with your daughters' names.

@RobynT, your theory about post-WWII Japanese-American naming practices is interesting, and I wouldn't be surprised if it were true in many cases.

March 31, 2010 8:31 AM


I like Leland. It's got plenty of the L-trend going while different enough sounding to have its own identity.


Still looking for boys' names? Brother to William, on the list are Matthew and Ryan... Are you looking for a standard, well-known, trusted-in-business sort of name?

By Eo (not verified)
March 31, 2010 8:42 AM

PJ-- Love both "Tobias" and "Unity"! And "Desmond" is another one of those lesser-used but perfectly gorgeous names...

NJ-- "Micah" seems to have gained more and more traction, hasn't it? I used to think of it as a "Michael" alternative, but now I think it has its own great personality...

margaret anne-- Congrats! The centuries' old nickname "Kip" for Christopher is one of my all time favorite nicknames, along with Kit. Amy3 is so right-- Kip seems to be on the same whimsical/traditional axis as his sisters Helena, Bianca and Juliet.

I adore Helena too. On this side of the pond there are sometimes pronunciation problems-- Canadians and Americans don't always realize the emphasis is on the first syllable-- HEL-a-na. We seem to want to go "Hel-LAY-na" or "Hel-EE-na".

Neither one of those is acceptable to me! Call it the "Philippa" (PHIL-i-pa) syndrome for us well-meaning North Americans! If only Helena Bonham Carter or Helena, Montana were just a LEETLE more famous, there'd be no problem.

RobynT-- Your theory is so interesting. I'd love to see you work it up into an article or paper for publication.

As a vintage movie nut, I think the inspirations for your uncles' names were a wonderful, all-American multicultural crew of movie stars! As you say, Gene Autry had that cowboy authenticity, which the early Gary Cooper had (plus at least one or both of his parents were recent arrivals to Montana from England).

Gilbert Roland was an exceedingly glamorous star of Mexican background who assayed a variety of roles. He had charisma to burn.

Not sure of Dennis Morgan's background, but he definitely had the map of Ireland on his face! (He was fabulous at light comedy-- check him out in the Barbara Stanwyck movie "Christmas in Connecticut.)

It would be fascinating to know the different qualities (including perceived "American-ism") that drew your relatives (aunt or uncle?) to these particular stars as name inspirations.

If you find out more, let us know!

By Eo (not verified)
March 31, 2010 8:47 AM

Wait a minute, RobynT, what a dolt I am. It would have been your grandparents who chose the names, NOT an aunt or uncle! Where is my mind?!! Need coffee...

March 31, 2010 8:55 AM

emilyrae- We're going with "just" Max. I'm using my maiden name as his middle name, so it will be Max N0ble. I like the meaning behind that name- Greatness and Aristocracy. I'm sure we'll be nicknaming him some long name (wasn't this a post a while back?), like Max-a-Million, but his birth certificate will be Max. In reality, this is probably what we would have named Izzy if she had been a boy. For the most part, we never really discussed boy names.

My own name not taken would have been Keith or Kevin, but my mom was very happy I was a girl because she couldn't think of an F name for a middle name that she liked. (I'm Kimb3rly F@r@)

If Max were to be a girl, our short list was Elinor, Miriam, and Amelia.