The Next Frontiers in Names, Part 1: Wordplay

Jan 11th 2012

A look at the new trails parents are blazing in search of fresh hit names.

It isn't just Nevaeh any more.

When "heaven backwards" first raced up the name popularity charts, it was just an individual name -- a fresh idea with a smoothly feminine sound, for a generation of parents craving both of those qualities in a girl's name. It got everybody talking because of its unusual origin. But how much talk have you heard about Semaj?

Semaj, "James backwards," made its first appearance as a top-1000 name before Nevaeh did. By now it's a staple. More than 300 American boys are named Semaj every year, along with 100 girls. Yet back in the 1940s, when James was the #1 name in the land and eight times as common as it is today, the name Semaj was unknown.

The difference, of course, is our naming culture. Today, creativity in naming is approaching a norm, and that opens up a whole new wordplay-based approach to creating names.

New names have long been built out of old ingredients, from Vanessa in the 1700s to Cheryl in the 1920s to Gracelyn today. Wordplay names, though, change the nature of name invention. With a wordplay name, the process of creating the name is the whole point; the whole is very much the sum of its parts. Nevaeh's fundamental allure comes from playing with letters to create secret messages.

The trend is spreading. In discussions of Nevaeh, you'll routinely hear the joking comment, "What's next, Legna? Because it's Angel backwards?" In fact, 17 girls were named Legna last year. Meanwhile Semaj is joined by a small but growing crop of kids with names like Nivek (Kevin) and Trebor (Robert).

Even these backwards names just scratch the surface of wordplay. A while back I talked about the name Ily, taken from the textspeak abbreviation for "I Love You." That name is still rare, but it's rising fast as the text generation becomes the parent generation. The explosion of anagrams and abbreviations in the broader culture portends more such names in the future.

And then there's Abcde. This name is the subject of lots of snickering stories, but it's not just an urban legend. The name, pronounced AB-si-dee, is now given to dozens of girls each year.

Abcde is hard to top for pure wordplay. Play is its very essence. But I suspect there are more names out there, so subtle in their anagrams, letter magic and coded messages that we're overlooking them. Have you spotted any outstanding specimens?



January 11, 2012 6:20 PM

Ninel was used in the former USSR to honor Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.

By mk
January 11, 2012 6:27 PM

In TV, there's Mabel Buchman from "Mad About You"

Mothers Always Bring Extra Love

Of course, Mabel is a name in its own right, but it's the first thing I always think of when this topic comes up.

By Kyle (not verified)
January 11, 2012 7:47 PM

Nomar Garciaparra's father was named Ramon. That was the first time I heard of the backwards name thing.

By Angela Dawn (not verified)
January 11, 2012 8:06 PM

I had forgotten about Mabel from "Mad About You." I thought that was clever because Mabel was an actual name first.

Since my husband is Robert, I must comment on Trebor. When I see Trebor, my mind automatically things Trevor and I begin to wonder why the kid wasn't just named Trevor.

I'm slow to accept made up names, but my daughter's name is made up. Since it was made up by an author, I seem to think that carries more weight than a name made up by a country singer. But to each their own.

By JoyDG (not verified)
January 11, 2012 8:21 PM

There was a contestant on Survivor years ago named Neleh (Helen).

By NatashaL (not verified)
January 11, 2012 9:12 PM

Speaking of the USSR and Lenin, some kids were named "Vilya", as in VILya, with VIL being Lenin's initials.

By Tintin LaChance (not verified)
January 11, 2012 11:04 PM

That little girl who disappeared in Florida twelve years ago and got people talking about the problems with CPS (at least for a little while) was Rilya Wilson, as in "Remember, I Love You Always." Painfully ironic meaning, given the context--which is too bad, as it'd be a nice way of feminizing Riley otherwise.

By Jason Drake (not verified)
January 11, 2012 11:15 PM

If you name a kid Trebor, never let him go to the UK, or he'll get far too many jokes about being named after a brand of mints.

By Essy01 nli (not verified)
January 11, 2012 11:48 PM

My favourite "made up name" is Elphaba the main character of Gregory Maguire's Wicked as an homage to L. Frank Baum/LFB.

My high school boyfriend's name was Robert, everyone called him Rob but when I was angry at him I'd call him Robert and one day he got clever and retorted, "Yes, Stacert?" It stuck and he called me that for a long time.

Professional baseball player Rod Barajas - he has six children and if you put them in order of birth their first initials spell out "Baraja" - he's one away from the completing the acrostic name (children: Bryce, Andrew, Rod Jr. Aunalilia, Jace, Aubrielle) [Andrew and Aunalilia might be switched, can't remember, but for sure Aubrielle is the youngest).

Also - someone posted an article here a little while ago about names in the Philippines I think it was and that article mentioned the name Jejomar an amalgamation of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary - which I really loved.

January 12, 2012 11:23 AM

I have a really hard time with Abcde. It's just a placeholder or a joke. At least Semaj or Trebor is a creative way to honor someone.

So, I think it's true that Simon and August are in a tie for dh only because both are equally too nerdy or soft for him. I just asked him if he liked Xavier better than both of them and he said "yes". So...

I had planned on using two middle names, one a given name and one my last name. If we use Xavier as a first name, I really think only a one syllable middle name would work - or use my ln as the sole middle.

One: would it be weird to have a given mn for a girl but not for a boy sibling?

Two: The mn that still SOUNDS the best to me is Grey, but there's no real meaning attached to it. Should I just let go of that?

This is what we'd have with a boy and girl:

Ursu1a S@b1n3 H0ffm@n F0nt3n0t
X@v13r Gr3y H0ffm@n F0nt3n0t

or just X@vi3r H0ffm@n F0nt3n0t

Any suggestions of monosyllabic boy names with a similar vibe would be appreciated.

Or, is Xavi3r D@vid a good or bad repetition of sounds and rhythm? That's at least a family name, and one I'm fond of.

Also, do you like the sound of Ursul@ Mir3ill3 (pronounced Mir-AY) better than Sabine?

Sorry, I'm piling the questions in here...

I like Ursula and Xavier together, and I think Xavier has some dash to it, which no doubt appeals to dh. I think he'd prefer a name that sounds like the kid could get in trouble sometimes.

As always, would love your guys' input. Would also appreciate any luck sent my way. We're in the thick of things, so fingers and toes are all crossed!

January 12, 2012 12:35 PM

Essy-Stacert is funny. Whenever I get tired of calling my son Eric's name 4 thousand times for whatever reason, I always say I am going to change his name to Bueller (as from the scene in Ferris Bueller the movie).

PennyX-I will cross something for you and send you good wishes. I like the original combos. Ursula S@bin3 LN LN and Xavier Gr3y LN LN sound great for you. Distinguished and different but not unrecognizable. I don't care for David as a mn with Xavier. In this case the repeating A sound doesn't work for me. I would suggest Vaughn but it kind of conflicts with your LN choice. I also like Sabine more than Mir3ill3.

By Amy3
January 12, 2012 12:46 PM

@PennyX, more good baby vibes coming your way! I actually like Mireille slightly more than Sabine. Somehow with Sabine, it's too sing-songy. It crazily begins to sounds like Ursa Lussa Bean (or would it be Beana?). However, you won't use the full name that often so it may be no big deal. Certainly Ursula sounds great with the ln, which is far more important.

I like using Grey as a mn. I love the color, I love that spelling, and it's very dashing paired with Xavier. I'd go with 2 middles for either a boy or a girl. I like the symmetry of that.

By Essy01 nli (not verified)
January 12, 2012 12:59 PM

PennyX - I definitely like the combo with Sabine much better than Mir3ill3

I also like when both have 2 middle names, it looks balanced, even, and fair. and I really like the combo with Gr3y. X@v13r David doesn't flow for me.

Monosyllable boy names: Miles, Noel, Reed/Reid, Grant, Lorne, Graeme/Graham, Hayes, Cade/Kade, Hugh

I like the combos of X@v13r Miles and X@v13r Reed.

January 12, 2012 2:45 PM

PennyX-I was just thinking about your names. I don't know why but I feel like you need "long" vowels for the boy but "short" for the girl. That's why Grey works but Mirielle doesn't for me.
Something like Kaylie Renee doesn't sound right and neither does Zachary Seth. ( I tried to use similar vowels for the opposite genders). I hope you understand what I mean. In general, Lucas, Simon and Xavier sound better to me with your LN than Frederick, August, or Oliver.

By hyz nli (not verified)
January 12, 2012 4:29 PM

Essy, the Stacert story is pretty cute! It reminds me of a friend named Russ, who I always feel compelled to call Russtopher, because somehow Russ doesn't feel quite complete.

PennyX, I think if you're going to do 2 middles for a girl, I'd also do 2 middles for a boy. I also really like Ursula and Xavier together. Have to get back to work now, but I'll try to be back with more middles comment later. In the meantime, good luck!

January 12, 2012 4:44 PM

Laura mentioned in an article if anyone hasn't seen it yet:

Also, funny bit from Ellen Degeneres about Beyonce's baby and celebrities "creating" names.

January 12, 2012 10:19 PM

@Penny X,

I agree that I'd go 2 middles names for both or only the double last name for both.

Ursula and Xavier are great together. I still like August and Simon too though :)

I like both Sabine and Mireille, both are on my lists. I think Sabine flows slightly better for me but both sound nice so I don't think you can go wrong.

With Xavier I do like Grey as a middle. I don't think you need to use a family name. I considered it for Astrid but in then end we went with a middle we liked rather than any family connection. Would you consider using one of the other boys names in the middle slot if your hubby is only so-so on them as first names? I think Xavier August H... F... sounds great. Simon works too but does meld with your surname a little more.

By Beth the original (not verified)
January 12, 2012 11:44 PM

How, pray, does one pronounce "Semaj."

You know I'm against it. But I know that's not what this blog is about.

I do, however, like Ursula Sabine and Xavier Grey.

By Nameless (not verified)
January 13, 2012 12:23 AM

If its more subtle, wordplay could make for a fun backstory to a name. Semaj and Legna just look ridiculous though.

PennyX: I prefer your options of Sabine and Grey.

I've been reading this blog (and the great comments) for a long while now. I'd like to ask for some help since I'm due with my second little one (first girl) in less than a month and she is completely nameless!

Our LN is Ivy and many of the names I like seem to have sounds that don't mesh well, at least to my ear. Hubby doesn't agree in most cases. But names with long "i"s or that end in an "ee" or two vowel sounds seem to conflict. I seem to prefer somewhat longer names that can be shortened on occasion, are easy to spell, are clearly feminine and aren't extremely common. But it just doesn't seem like we've found THE name yet. Some names one or both of us like are:
Lenora (nn Nora)
Felicity (but long with no NN potential)
Evangeline (nn Evie or Lina)
Delilah (or Lilah alone)
Corinne (but too hard to spell/pronounce)
Willow (but two plants are too much)

Our son's name is Quinton, nn Quinn. Any opinions on these with our LN or suggestions of other names?

January 13, 2012 12:47 AM

Beth-I would pronounce Semaj as sort of rhyming with smudge. Sem-ahhhdge.

Nameless-My first thoughts are Miranda or Cynthia. I agree and "ee" sound on the end of the first name doesn't quite work and neither does a noun/plant name. Of the names you listed I like:
Jocelyn and Delilah. What about Samantha, Theresa, Nicole, Jacqueline, Georgina, Hannah, or Rachel? I like Claire as a mn.

By Serena (not verified)
January 13, 2012 1:28 AM

@Essy01: My mother, who grew up in the Philippines, went to school with a girl named Luzviminda (that's a long "U" sound as in Lulu), named for the three island groups of that nation: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. She says the girl was usually called Luzmin for short. This would have been in the 1950s.

@PennyX: Xavier is a nice name, and Grey is a nice name, but if you don't like the repeated long "A" sound of Xavier David (and I don't like it either), Xavier Grey also repeats the long "A" sound. But Xavier, David, and your maiden name all have the same metrical foot, which makes David worse. I agree with you that a one-syllable given middle name is best, because it breaks up that rhythm.

I like Sabine better than Mireille, but I agree with Amy3 about Ursula Mireille sounding better than Ursula Sabine. Ursula Sabine has too much "S" sound going on. Maybe Nadine instead?

@Nameless: Having your last name start with a vowel sound makes this very challenging; I don't like the sound of the names that end with -a or -y together with your last name. That wipes out most of your list, assuming you meant Lydia and typed N by mistake. I think that leaves you with Evangeline, Rosalind, Laurel, Coraline, Corinne and Willow. Those are all nice names. Would you go with Lenore instead of Lenora? Roses and laurel are plants too -- are you eliminating all the plant names?

By Serena (not verified)
January 13, 2012 1:38 AM

I now realize that Nameless probably did mean to type Lydian and not Lydia. I never heard of the name Lydian before, but now that I come across it, I think it's pretty cool and would sound fine with Nameless' last name.

January 13, 2012 9:21 AM

Thanks so much for all the input! I'm feeling more confident about Xavier Grey now, but I'm surprisingly fond of Xavier August.

Nameless -

I agree with Serena that names ending in A or long E aren't ideal with your ln. So, what about:

Vivienne (maybe too much V)

I think names ending in N are pretty great with the ln. And a longer name is particularly nice with it.

By Essy01 nli (not verified)
January 13, 2012 12:12 PM

Serena - love the bg behind the name, but what a mouthful! Glad she got a NN.

Nameless - I agree with Serena & PennyX about the A/E+LN thing especially if the name is one or two syllables. I think with your LN, a first name that ends with a consonant/consonant sound flows the best. On your list, Rosalind stood out for me in terms of the most pleasing sound. And I love PennyX's suggestion of Josephine.

I know it's probably out of the question due to it's popularity but I quite like the sound of Isobel Ivy. Isadore Ivy. Isadora Ivy. I think I just like the combo of "Is" and "I"

By hyz
January 13, 2012 12:39 PM

Nameless, I'm going to go against the grain and say that I think names ending in -a or -y could be perfectly fine with your LN, so I wouldn't let that stop you if it's a name you really love. My DD's name is M!nna Ivy, and it tends to be said with a faint glottal stop between the names that prevents it from running together. We find that it flows well and the -a I- have been a non-issue. I think the -y could be a little trickier, and I'd shy away from it for the full name, but it could be cute and catchy for a nn (think Halle Berry).

From your list, I really like Clara, Evangeline (although I think Evie Ivy woule be a bit over the top--I'd stick with Lina),
Rosalind (I DO think Rosie Ivy sounds pretty adorable for a little girl), Cora, Coraline, and Jocelyn. I would like Laurel, but it doubles up on the plants just like Willow.

Another name I think would go great, though, is Eleanor. It flows much better for me than Lenore, and still gets you Nora as a nn. Eleanor Ivy feels pretty much perfect to me. Other things to consider: Willa, Rosamund, Beatrix, Susannah, Fiona, Verena (or Vera), Eloise, Agnes, Carys, Damaris, Bernadette, Juliet, Marguerite, Imogen, Lillian, Vivienne, Caroline, Josephine. 3+ syllable names ending in consonants all seem to be winners, in terms of general flow/cadence. There are a few one syllable names that I think also have a fairly punchy feel with Ivy, like Jane, Ruth, Grace, Faith, and Joyce, but it sounds like your preference is for the longer names.

By Lilllie (not verified)
January 13, 2012 2:49 PM

I knew a boy named Amar, who said his parents had spelled backward the name of the Hindu religious figure Rama to get his name.

By Amy3
January 13, 2012 3:14 PM

@Nameless, I love the suggestion of Eleanor (nn Nora) for you. Eleanor Ivy sounds fantastic!

January 13, 2012 6:30 PM

There's also the Scottish name Senga, which is believed to be derived from an anagram of "Agnes". I've never actually heard of anyone with this name, but I remember this name from my mother's baby name books in the 70's.

By Anna S (not verified)
January 13, 2012 7:39 PM

Name-news from Europe: The biannual most-used-in-Denmark stats are in for the 1st half of 2011, and there are some interesting developments:

Emma has regained the #1 position after being popular in the 90s and 00s (peaking in '98). It's a bit unusual that a name suddenly re-peaks past its prime but I'm hearing theories about the popularity of Emma in neighboring European countries giving it a boost.

Amalie, a solid top20is name for a decade, has plummeted to #50. (Significant, even by Danish standards). Coincidentally, a Snooki-type reality-personality named Amalie has been making herself tabloid fodder throughout 2011... Let's just say she's not so bright.

'V' is hot for boys; William (/VIL-yam/), Villads, Victor, Valdemar - and so are names ending in -s; Magnus, Mathias, Lucas. And, generally, the most popular boys' names feature "heavy" consonants like /k/ and /t/.

January 13, 2012 8:21 PM

Ooh, I love Eleanor Ivy! It sounds worthy of being a character's name in a book!

January 13, 2012 10:37 PM

Anna-Do you have a link? I think it would be fascinating to look at the top names from other countries.

and I forgot to mention earlier, the initials in my family anagram into my husband's actual name. Some of you may remember the difficult time I had in naming my dd way back when. The interesting thing is that I didn't even realize the anagram until later on. I did consciously decide not to give her the same initials though.

January 13, 2012 10:44 PM

Update on the French kid named Daemon:

By Nameless (not verified)
January 13, 2012 11:06 PM

Thanks for all the great feedback on our girl's name. Most people I talk to seem to think I'm a little batty for considering the flow and sounds so closely, so it's good to know I'm not alone. I agree about 3 syllable, ending in consonant sound names going best with my LN. And several of the suggestions have been names on our long list that got ruled out for one reason or another, but we'll have to consider Vivienne and Juliet. Eleanor is building consensus, and I agree it sounds good, but I just can't imagine a little girl named Eleanor for some reason, while I can imagine a little Lenora.

Oh, and Essy01 nli, I too love the sound (but won't use because of popularity) Isabel Ivy. I even strongly suggested Isad0ra Ivy to hubby, who laughed, thinking I was joking. :(

I keep coming back to Rosalind, Evangeline and Lydian (although I know the latter will get mistaken for Lydia a lot)...

I'm going to re-read over the comments with hubby now. She may be named before she comes home yet!

By EVie
January 13, 2012 11:29 PM

PennyX - I think the problem with Xavier David isn't just the repeated vowel, but the repeated vowel + V. Xavier Grey sounds great to me. I think I prefer Ursula Sabine to Ursula Mireille--perhaps because I like the repeated S sounds, but also perhaps because I've heard you float it here enough times that it just sounds right :) (see:

Nameless: I think you and I have very similar tastes—I *love* your name choices (seriously, most of them are on my list, too). Your LN is beautiful, too, though I can see how it's difficult to work with. The name on your list that stands out for me as the best sounding is Rosalind Ivy, with Coraline Ivy as a runner up. Or you could combine them to Rosaline! I also like Rosamund and Rosabel, if you like the Rose- beginning.

Other comments: I assume you got this from Lydian Emerson? Is this specifically a tribute? I haven't heard it in any other context.

For Felicity, I love the NNs Lissa/Liss/Lissy. I don't mind the repeated ee ending with Felicity or Cecily, but with Naomi it sounds sing-songy.

I quite like the repeated I sound in Delilah Ivy. The other -a names sound fine to me, though not as good as the ones that end in consonants. The only name on your list that I don't care for is Jocelyn (though it goes well with Ivy phonetically).

Other names that are on my list that might work for you: Amalia; Genevieve (though the repeated Vs might be too much); Elodie; Mariel; Aurelia; Dahlia; Tamsin; Marigold

January 13, 2012 11:35 PM

Nameless-How about something a bit more out there such as Mercedes? or unisex like Tyler or Dakota? If you like Laurel why not Lauren or Leisel? You may come up with something workable if you play the what-if (sounds like) game.

Nymbler gives suggestions such as:
Claudia, Beatrice, Celia, Madeline, Celeste, Charlotte, Helen, Lorraine, Noelle, Margot, Genevieve, Abigail, Honor, Maura, Veronica, Harriet

By EVie
January 13, 2012 11:44 PM

Oh, and an interesting name sighting: over the holidays, which my family spent in South America this year, we met a young Chilean woman named Kinneret (or possibly Kineret—I never got the spelling). I've seen this name in baby name books before and I've always admired it, but this is the first time I've seen it in real life. I was very surprised (but highly pleased!) to find a rare Hebrew place name in Chile of all places. She was in her 20s and had a sister named Victoria, and she wore the name really well.

January 14, 2012 1:16 AM

Nameless - I love EVie's suggestion of Rosamund as an alt to Rosalind. Too bad about Isador a but understandable it is a bit out there, middle name material maybe? Good luck but with your naming taste I'm sure she'll be well named whatever you choose!

January 14, 2012 11:51 AM

As far as wordplay goes, I've noticed a trend where nicknames come from the back end of the name instead of the front.

Full name is William. Traditional nickname would be Will. Child goes by Liam.

Full name Christopher. Traditional nickname would be Chris. Child goes by Topher.

It's a way for parents to have a traditional name on the birth certificate but a little more off beat name for everyday use.

January 14, 2012 11:52 AM

Nameless -

I think Evangeline Ivy is pretty stunning, but I agree that the nn might be tricky. The Evangeline I know goes by Eva all the time, but Lina Ivy could work and is very pretty.

I agree that it's tough to imagine a little girl named Eleanor, but what about spelled Elinor? I've met a darling tiny Nora. Wish my dh would go for Nora, but he won't. Nora Ivy?

You could go a little more traditional and consider Elizabeth Ivy.

Your Isadora anecdote made me laugh. I've suggested a few names to my dh that seemed reasonable to me, but that just got a perplexed face in response.

So, DH was wondering if "Grey" is too anglophile-sounding. The only alternative I can find that I like at all is Clay, I guess...though it veers to the bookish rather than dashing in my mind - Xavier Grey vs. Xavier Clay. Just not quite as good, right? I guess I am liking the repetition of the long A sound and want only one syllable there.

A completely different direction is to do Xavier Camille - honoring dh's relative and throwing all my other rules out the window. Does the rhythm get all screwed up then?

It seems like at least a girl might be sad to not have a given middle name, and I had a male acquaintance who wished he had one.

Thanks in advance for humoring me and my obsessiveness!

January 14, 2012 11:53 AM

Also did you guys see that Lily Allen named her baby Ethel? I was just thinking about that name because of Downton Abbey and I was thinking how nice it was that the writers used a name that was actually popular during the time period the story is set in- 1914 or so.

But I never imagined someone using it today.

January 14, 2012 12:42 PM

PJ-you can only do that for so many names though. When did that trend start anyway? I like the name Liam but not so much Topher (it rhymes with gopher).

PennyX-I much prefer Grey vs Clay. Grey does sound mighty distinguished and Clay a bit bookish. Finding another name that is 1 syl is difficult. I don't think Camille does the trick for a mn for a boy. Other mn's that have A or sound distinguished to me:
and of course the whole Ayden/Brayden/Kayden class of names

By hyz nli (not verified)
January 14, 2012 2:19 PM

Clay doesn't sound bookish to me, so much as nouveau frontier, like Cash or Gauge (just heard of a new baby Gauge this week, actually). I don't dislike Clay, but I much prefer Grey. I like the Drake suggestion, and also thought of Bay if you want the sound and are willing to go a little more creative/naturey. Or... how about Blaise? French, historical, but also sounds kind of edgy and modern (like Blaze), one syllable, tense A.

Camille is not my favorite for either flow or m/f confusion issues, BUT if it means a lot to your DH and you're willing to compromise on it, I think it would be totally fine. Flow isn't everything, and since it's just a MN with a clearly male FN, that would be ok too.

January 14, 2012 2:54 PM

Ooh good suggestions hyz. I hadn't thought of Blaise and Gage(prefer this sp). I second them.

January 14, 2012 3:25 PM

Nameless and Zoerhenne - I love the suggestion of Lauren! I think of all the names suggested, that's the only one I really love with your last name. It's a really strong, but still feminine name that balances out the little-girlishness of Ivy (yes I know it's a last name).

Also I agree with whoever said that Eleanor Ivy sounds like a literary character. The nice thing about little girls with big girl names is that they grow into their names, and you can still use Nora as a cute nickname.

Of the wordplay names, I have to wonder how many Trebors come from Latino families and are mean to be Trevors. In Spanish, B and V make the same sound, which is closer to B than V, but many native Spanish speakers have a hard time making the distinction with spelling.

I think I would have a really hard time taking an Abcde seriously if I saw her name written out. I really like the sound of it, like Abigail smooshed with Cassidy, but if I saw the first five letters of the alphabet applying for a job, I would wonder if I was magically teleported to Sesame Street.

By Anna S (not verified)
January 14, 2012 6:13 PM

Re: LN Ivy - personally I'd want to stay clear of any plant/nature name, including Rosalind/Rosamund, because the 2x plant is something I'd notice immediately. I'd also forgo any name prone to nicknames ending in an /ee/ sound. On the other hand, I don't mind names beginning with I (the /ee/ sound) with Ivy - I actually kinda like it.

Sneaky tip: If you really like Isadora Ivy, try suggesting it again - maybe your husband just needs to hear it a couple of times to get used to it.

Other ideas: Theodora Ivy, Clementine Ivy, Henrietta Ivy, Philippa Ivy... I think I'm leaning towards longish names with heavy consonants to contrast the short, soft Ivy.

Grey vs Clay - I prefer Grey, but I still think it's a bit of a dull colour. It's better than Clay though, because Clay just makes me think of mud. (Sorry.) Overall I like Xavier Camille the best; I think it sounds really sophisticated.

@Zoerhenne - here's the list:

By Nameless (not verified)
January 14, 2012 7:19 PM

EVie: I like your list ;). No, Lydian was not specifically a tribute to Lydian Emerson, but that certainly doesn't hurt. I was mourning the loss of Lydia due to having the "ee-uh-I" sound in the middle of the two names. Lydia was an ancient place, hence people and the language from there are Lydian and I thought that sounded nice... its also a musical scale. Mrs. Emerson is the only person I'm aware of with the name, besides some random people on Facebook.

Re: Rosalind/Rosamund doubling up on plant names... I don't think of Rosalind as a plant name, especially since I pronounce it ROZ-uh-lind. Not sure about the pronunciation of Rosamund, but the "rose" is diluted enough to not bother me personally.

PennyX: The spelling Elinor does make "Eleanor" on a little girl a little more palatable to me (I think its the extra distance from the first lady), and hubby really likes Nora and Cora these days.

Elizabeth Ivy doesn't quite do it for me, but I recently added Eliza to our list. That repeats the long "i" and ends in an -a, but I just find Eliza so much more...something I can't name.

Grey and Clay strike me as very different style names. I agree with Grey being somewhat anglophile and it is honestly a boring color that I would not support in the FN spot. But as a middle name in this case I think your "dashing" description is fitting. Clay on the other hand, to me, is "an honest, hardworking man's name", not bookish at all.

By hyz nli (not verified)
January 14, 2012 8:27 PM

Nameless, I feel the same way about Rosalind and Rosamund, for the reasons you say, and since their derivation is not from the plant, but from the old German elements meaning horse + gentle/soft and horse + protection, respectively. Of course, most people won't know that, but it still makes it feel legit to me.

By AA (not verified)
January 14, 2012 9:45 PM

About Vilya after VI Lenin. Vilya is actually a nickname for Vilen, which was indeed made to honor VILenin. Also a girl's name Vladlena, VLADimirLEN(a)in.
MARLEN= Karl MARx+LENin - male.
STALINa, LENINa - female.
Abbreviations and anagrams were really big in the 1920-40s, some of them perfectly ridiculous, like Dazdraperma (DA ZDRAvstvyet PERVoye MAYa - Long live May the 1st).

By Heather Elizabeth Asbury (not verified)
January 15, 2012 3:47 AM

Very clever. Some sound better than others of course.