Obsessed with names? You're not alone.

Apr 5th 2012

I've been practicing Baby Name Wizardry for a decade now, and I've seen plenty of changes in name trends. One of the biggest trends isn't about the names themselves, but about the way we talk about them -- or rather, how much we talk about them. Name talk is everywhere. My peculiar obsession with names doesn't seem so peculiar any more.

That's the sense I've had, at least. But perhaps it's just my name's eye view talking? Let's take a look.

First stop: the New York Times archives. How many Times articles have used the phrase "baby names" in the past five years? Answer: 70. Looking ten years earlier (April 1997-April 2002), that number was just twelve.  "Baby naming" shows similar growth, while other baby phrases like "baby clothes" and "baby strollers" have held steady.

Next stop: Google's Ngram viewer, which allows historical searches of a massive collection of books. Check out the Ngram graph of the rate of occurrence of "baby names" and "baby naming" in English-language books in the 20th Century. A surge in both phrases started around 1980 and kept on growing. And their data only goes up to the year 2000. Anybody think that curve has gone anywhere but up since?

It makes sense that names are a hotter topic than ever before. After all, they're more diverse and more meaningful than ever before. But isn't it nice to know, for sure, that you're in good company? Welcome to the obsession, everyone.



April 5, 2012 1:45 PM

I hope all this obsessing is resulting in revenue for you, Laura! I want you to keep your day job because this site (and of course all your tools and books) adds meaning and playfulness to my life.

By Angela Dawn (not verified)
April 5, 2012 2:15 PM

I used to think my name obsession was weird too, but lately I have had no problems finding outlets for my hobby.

What I do find, is in real-life, I still have some friends who find my interest a little funny - in a quirky endearing way. And my Mom and Dad don't get it.

I just credit the internet for bringing people with various obscure nerdy interests together.

April 5, 2012 2:22 PM

This made me smile, which is particularly difficult to do at the moment as I've caught the dreaded virus from my beautiful germ factories.

My husband has contended that my name obsession is "weird." "Who puts that amount of thought into a name?" he says. "Just pick one that sounds good!" Meanwhile, I'm agonizing over if it matters if our third's name has a B in the fifth letter position of his/her first name like my first two, if the origin should perhaps be Greek since DS's is Hebrew, and DD's is Latin, how quirky is TOO quirky, and how much popularity really means to me.

Now I can point him to this proof that I was just ahead of the curve! :)

April 5, 2012 5:16 PM

Ditto what everyone has said already! I love this blog and the fact that there are others like me who love language, words, and most especially names.

KrisMichelle-Good luck! Let us name nerds help if you like.

April 5, 2012 10:38 PM

Allow me to register a YAY to the new text editing interface! While I was glad to be able to keep my HTML skills up-to-date, this will give people who don't know how to use HTML the opportunity to format their posts in the way that they want.

(And also to question why this comment, which had previously shown as #5, suddenly disappeared and required reposting.)

EDIT: Or maybe it was removed along with the text editing interface...

April 5, 2012 11:00 PM

I've noticed even a change with me. I have 5 kids and my oldest is 10 and my youngest 8 months. I've only been name obsessed for the past 2 to 3 years though. Before that I didn't think about future baby names when I wasn't pregnant. I can't believe now that when I named my first couple of kids I didn't think about all the implications of my pics for my future kids names. After my last son was born my sister teased me just a bit that while she liked my son's name (James) it didn't seem like I would have needed to have devoted so much time to picking it out.

By Jane 7 (not verified)
April 5, 2012 11:45 PM

Another Laura, my dad teases me about that, too. After being name-obsessed since the age of 12, constantly reading name books, etc., my kids ended up called Anne, John, Charles, James, Patrick, and Joshua. He thinks that given all the time I've put into it over the years, the names should be more interesting:)

April 6, 2012 1:58 AM

I've been name obsessed since I was a kid and long before I was planning on having them so it's nice there are other similarly minded people here. Plus it's fun to help other people with their name searches.

I agree naming seems to be more on trend now. I've seen name talk pop up in other forums more frequently and people are more aware of name data sources and stats now.

April 6, 2012 11:56 PM

I've been obsessed with names for as long as I can remember. I collect name books and in my teens I kept notebooks filled with the names I liked from those name books, along with their meanings and origins. I thought I was the only one. 

By FormerEliseMiddle (not verified)
April 7, 2012 1:01 AM

I've been name-obsessed since I can remember. I was given my first name book as a requested holiday gift when I was 10 or so. (Am now mid-30s). But I like that there are others out there too, and that thanks to the internet, I can read lots of great name conversations. This blog is my favorite, of course! I've been reading/lurking for 3-4 years now :)


I did always figure the name obsession had something to do with having an unusual-for-the-time (and middle-as-daily) name myself...



April 7, 2012 9:15 AM

i have remained name obsessed since the pregnancy with my first child, almost four years ago, and love this site and all you ladies! i switch between reading and replying on the very thoughtful and interesting posts on this site to voting on baby name polls on another site. it is the only 'game' i play, which my husband finds to be a quirky interest of mine, that he usually chuckles about. talking about names, looking up name meanings (Laura's books are fantastic!) and finding names i have never heard of before consumed so much of my alleged free time- after my daughter is in bed at night, that, i actually wondered if i had some type of spectrum disorder, but you know what, i really agree with Angela Dawn's reflection of us "crediting the internet for bringing people with obscure, nerdy interests together' right on Angela!  anyhow, can relate to so many of your recent posts. always love to see Zoerhenne and can really identify with posts by ChrissyKp, Chimu, Another Laura, Former Elise Middle, Jane 7 and many more. I recently got a bag of baby name books from a library sale for a $1 a bag and was thrilled to have had fit over 15 books on the subject in this bag to peruse at home. yet, like  a couple of you have mentioned, I have pretty much stuck with basic naming ideas. My daughter is Clair, my next child is on the way, and will either be a Grant or an Elise, most likely. Though, despite all your wonderful help, i still haven't arrived on a middle name for Elise, if this baby is a girl. and wonder if i will end up with a 'no-brainer' like Ann, that will baffle my family and friends, since i constantly ask for their vote or ideas, lol. Also, back to when i was born, i am happy with the name my mom gave me, Dana Renae, because nowadays, she has crazy name taste and i fear what i would have ended up as. Her suggestion for when my daughter was born was Roberson, nn Robi! black lab name anyone?  so, luckily, my brother remained relatively unscathed, though he was a surprise baby 11 years after me, he is Joel Patrick, today she would probably have called him something entirely different. Wow, i've unloaded quite a bit, can't wait to see more posts. one thing, out of the box of this conversation, is i wish Barbara was a more viable option for todays world, but am not into the Barbi nickname, and the fact that it sounds like Bar=bra, like underwear, makes me shy off from blessing a future daughter with my beloved grandmothers name. Thoughts? comments?

April 7, 2012 10:01 AM

Danasurfside-Thanks for the shoutout! If you don't like Barbara, how about another of that era that ended in A but mixed up. For instance, Donna was another name common then. If that doesn't sound good then what about Donae which coincidently rhymes with your middle and gives you a special connection. Or you could go with a more modern but less common A ending name like Georgia, Francesca, Reba, or Stella for example. What was your grandmothers nn? Was there a special flower she liked? Elise Lily, Elise Rose, Elise Violet (although Elise Chrysanthemum doesn't exactly flow LOL!) It'll come to you. Maybe give thinking about it a rest and come back to it in a few weeks time.

April 7, 2012 12:07 PM

Apropos of the current topic, name interest is indeed cropping up in the most unexpected places.  Case in point, the ad/trailer for a new Seth McFarlane/Mark Wahlberg movie Ted, the story of a guy in his late twenties who lives with his live childhood teddy bear.  In the ad part, the guy's girlfriend comes home to find the teddy ensconced on the couch with a bevy of young ladies who look as if they would be comfortable dancing around a pole, an impression confirmed when they are introduced by name.  In the trailer, the teddy announces that he has met an attractive supermarket checker and asks his guy buddy to guess her "white trash" name.  Wahlberg then spews a rapid-fire list of possible names until he finally guesses the right one.


WARNING: This clip is EXTREMELY profane and vulgar in a male late-adolescent way.  If you are personally bothered by such talk, don't click.  In any case, I wouldn't recommend having kids hear what comes out of this teddy bear's mouth.  However, from an onomastic point of view it is interesting to hear what the male audience would consider stripper and "white trash" girls'names.

April 7, 2012 1:12 PM


@ Zoerhenne, my grandmother's middle name was Jean, but i just don't thiink it flows well with Elise, her favorite flower was Iris, but the same issue with flow.

April 7, 2012 1:48 PM

danasurfside - I thought it was spot on that you refered to baby name obsession as the only game you played.  Yesterday as I was thinking about this post I realized that what I find interesting about baby name is the puzzle aspect.  That might be why I didn't get as interested in baby names until I had a few kids then it became the challenge to find a name that fit with Paul, Clare, Mark, and Katharine.  I also think that finding a first and middle name that flow well and that I like is sort of a puzzle -- a puzzle complicated by the fact that dh can veto it for really lame reasons and then I have to find a new solution to the puzzle.  i.e.  When thinking of a good middle name for Grace that would also be a tribute to the Virgin Mary I had come up with Grace Virginia.  I thought the repeating "g" and "r" sounds were really nice and not overdone.  The name had a nice rhythm and both were classic names.  DH said he thought Virginia was nice for a state but not for a little girl.  

By Anna S (not verified)
April 7, 2012 3:59 PM

Huh!? I posted something last night that has now evaporated. Glitch with the new comment form?

Anyway, I was wondering if counting books and articles with baby names in the title is an accurate measure of how the interest in names has increased over the past 10-20-30 years. It seems to me that names used to cover what is now baby names? Most of the time the baby specifier is redundant; if parents are looking for a name it's usually for their baby and not for an adult child - or, say, a tractor. I don't doubt that the interest in (baby) names has increased, but if the keyword has changed from names to baby names, it's hard to measure exactly how much. I tried Google ngram'ing with names vs baby names and naming vs baby naming but I'm not sure I'm the right person to interpret the results.


April 7, 2012 6:36 PM

Laura-Just so you know I would like to register my dislike for this new posting format. I don't like the smaller font-it makes it very hard to read. 

Miriam-That sounds a lot like a children's book I know. The book is called "Where's My Teddy" by Jez Alborough. Obviously, the movie sounds like they are putting a young adult spin on things. However, for a nice calm and cute story you folks might want to look it up.

danasurfside-I agree that the flow of Elise Iris is a bit stumbling. I don't find Elise Jean that bad though I have forgotten your LN. Maybe something similar to Jean like Jenna, Genevieve, Janelle, or Jeanine. As I said before, you'll figure it out by the time the child is here :)



April 7, 2012 6:41 PM

I've posted on here a couple of times and got some great suggestions from you all, so I'd like to announce that our son, Simon Archer, was born on March 24. We've gotten a lot of positive feedback about the name so far!

With regard to this blog post, I, too, have been obsessed with names since I was a child. It's an odd feeling to finally have a little person with a name that I picked out! I have no explanation as to why I've always been interested in names, but it's nice to know I'm not the only one.

April 7, 2012 8:13 PM

I, too, have had another post vanish, but it wasn't terribly important. And I agree that, yes, the font is a bit too small. But if you hold down ctl while scrolling up, that should zoom in and make everything easier to read.

April 7, 2012 8:41 PM

I can't pinpoint when I became interested in names because I think that the fascination with them has always been there. I remember having just learned to read and going into my mom's bedside table to find the baby name book and reading through it. It was especially interesting because it was a bilingual book with both Hebrew and English names and suggestions of which go well together, based on sound and meaning. I know that I get my interest from my mom because growing up, she would always comment on interesting names that she came across, but it wasn't until I pointed out to her that she does this that she consciously realized that she likes names more than the average person. Watching the olympics with her was always fun because of the variety of names available for comment!

But whereas some people who are name-obsessed have lists and lists that they like, and naming their children is an exercise in narrowing down, I am on the other side of the spectrum where I analyse and feel so strongly about names that there are only a small select few that I could see actually using on a child. Sometimes when I can't sleep (which is more often than I'd like,) I go searching through websites for names that I like to add to my spreadsheet. Yes, I have a spreadsheet. Even though I know that it will be challenging, I am very much looking forward to naming hypothetical future children.

Oh! And I wanted to mention that last night at my family's seder, my sister, cousins, and I had a very animated conversation about names we'd use for our hypothetical children. It was quite fun, interesting, and made me sure that I am going to keep my mouth shut when the time actually comes. (When asked about names I liked, I was vague, non-commital, and offered no examples. Hopefully real naming isn't too far away for me, and somehow it seems like too personal a thing to share...)

April 7, 2012 9:25 PM

@danasurfside  - how about Elise Imogene?  It flows well (to me) and incorporates the jean of your grandmother. I agree that Barbara is a tough one to use.  My other thought was using the month of her birth if it is something usable like May or June? Alternatively the month of her birth can give you a flower or gemstone option for the middle name, that could also work.

April 7, 2012 9:27 PM

@kakicloud, congratulations on the birth of Simon Archer!! Fantastic name :) I love it when people come back and let us know the names.

April 8, 2012 12:03 AM

kakicloud-Congrats! Simon Archer is a fabulous name. Glad everything is going well for you :)

I used to make lists of names and "play school" to get my name fix. I'd pretend to be someone and do little trivia quizzes or play card games and then give grades to whomever it was. Or I would just randomly pick the grades. Can you guess which grades Stephen and Jessica frequently received? Tis the life of a little girl with few friends.

Oh, and last night I had a wild dream where I gave birth to 5 babies. I don't know why I dreamed that. Maybe it was the Bones episode I had just watched where she gave birth. She named her daughter Christine Angela after her mom and best friend. Unfortunately though, I wasn't able to name them in my dream as I woke up too soon. :(


April 8, 2012 1:11 AM

zoerhenne, since the name isn't terribly surprising (or unusual), I guess I'm not too disappointed by the Bones spoiler :) (I've been working really hard and haven't had a chance to watch it yet.) I can see how the name is meaningful to her, and I guess I can also see how people growing up being called Temperance and Seeley might gravitate towards a more mainstream naming style. But if I had learned of the name on the show, I think that it would have been a bit of a letdown.

Do you remember in an early episode she discussed how she would like to have a pet pig and would name him Jasper? Now that's a much more interesting name :)

April 8, 2012 9:49 AM

Karyn-I'm SOOOO sorry for the spoiler. What was I thinking? Well I guess I just wasn't since I was posting so late last night. Again, I'm sorry. It was a bit of a let down on the show but the show was still good so I encourage you to watch it still. I suppose the writers are big on naming after relatives though because Angela's child is named after one of the parents fathers as well. And yes, a pig named Jasper is cute :)

April 8, 2012 2:13 PM

No, seriously, don't worry about it. It honestly would have been such a letdown had I eagerly waited for it :) I'm still going to watch it!

By Lurker.no.more (not verified)
April 8, 2012 5:10 PM

I met the most adorable sibset at brunch this morning:

Ros@mund (Ozzie) Cordeli@ - 3 yrs

Th3odore (Teddy) Sebasti@n - 1 yr 

I love meeting people with names I've admired for a long time!

It gives 'letters on a page' human dimension, and the little ones pulled off the monikers beautifully.

So cute!!!!


By SabbyLo (not verified)
April 9, 2012 1:09 AM

Whoa, Ozzie & Teddy... Were they stuffed animals? :) I love when people have cuddly nicknames like that. And awesome grown-up names for later on!

By Kate, mom of T,G,J,X,T (not verified)
April 9, 2012 10:55 AM

I too, like so many of you, have loved names my whole life ... I had name books in high school and a little notebook I kept next to my bed in which I recorded all the names I liked, as well as fn-mn combos, both for future children and story characters. I recently found the notebook and was surprised to see my first son's first name in there, which I don't remember liking back then, and my second son's first and middle names as a combo, which I don't remember putting together ... I've always loved my second son's fn but didn't know I'd come up with a mn for it ... I thought my husband and I had names both boys with current information and tastes!

My sister is currently crazy about names (still in college, no baby in sight) -- I'm immensely lucky to have her, she texts me all the time with her latest favorites, it's a highlight of my day!

danasurfside -- Would you consider changing Elise to Elisa? That one letter difference opens up a host of mn possibilities imo ... Elisa Jean flows very well I think. I also really like Chimu's suggestion of Elise Imogene.

Off topic, but a poster (I'm sorry I forgot the name) recently asked about mn options for Xavier ... if it's helpful, I just wanted to offer that my boy is X@vier J0seph and we know a little X@vier P@trick; I think Xavier John also sounds very handsome.

By Shoshi (not verified)
April 9, 2012 2:27 PM

Help!  Please.  It would be very appreciated. I need a namer's opinion.   I HAVE to name our baby after my husband's grandmother.  I don't mind, but her name. That's not the problem.

If it is a girl, it's not a huge issue.  I prefer Eve.  My partner prefers Eva.

But for boy names are not going well.  There are NO boy names that are really appripriate.  (Evan is not possible btw).  In Hebrew, the male equivilant is Chaim.  I am fine with this as a middle name, but it's not really fair to a child to name him something most people around him cannot pronounce.  The other version  is  been Hyman and you can guess why we've vetoed that!

We gave our first child a traditional Biblical name.  I wanted this (or a Hebrew name) for our second.  But it seems insluting to slot the namesake second and pick some random name we just like for the first. Has anyone else been limited like this? Any advice?

I had been planning on Daniel.Very popular, I know.  But  I grew somewhat attached to this name over a long period. I am hoping it reads as a traditional choice, rather than a faddish one.

April 9, 2012 6:12 PM

Shoshi-I am not Hebrew and don't have any background in that kind of naming but some of the other members do so hopefully they will chime in. I will give my opinion as "an outsider" though. I agree that Hyman and Chaim are not the most familiar names to non Hebrew or non-naming enthusiasts. I do think that Daniel is a fine option. Daniel Chaim sounds fine to me. It is unfortunate that Evan is out of the running as that is a nice name too. Is there a possibility of mixing up the letters? Just free flowing my thoughts here but is something like Aven, Steven, or Vaughen a possibility? I don't know all the rules so I am probably way off base. Good luck :)

April 9, 2012 7:17 PM

I don't know if this will help anyone who doesn't speak Hebrew come up with suggestions, but the name Eve is the English form of the Hebrew name Chava, which means "Life". Chaim is the male name (and Hebrew word) meaning Life.

Shoshi, are you looking for boys' names that maintain the meaning of Life (haha, that's a tall order), or are you looking for an English name that is somewhat like Eve/Eva?

By JenMN (not verified)
April 9, 2012 11:13 PM

Ok, I'm back.  Help!!!  To recap, we have two girls already, Elise and Juliet.  We are expecting a third girl in a couple of months and are running out of time on a name.  My husband and I sort of had agreed on Sylvie, but now I am hesitating.  Thinking we may get too many people assuming her full name is Sylvia and having to correct them, perhaps too French and matchy-matchy with the other names?  Or maybe I am just getting tired of it? 

Other names that I like but not sure I love are Ingrid, Milena and Meridian.  My husband does not really even like any of these names.  He thinks Ingrid is too harsh, just not sure about Milena and doesn't think it goes with the other girls' names and really is not liking Meridian because it isn't a name and doesn't like the possible nickname of Meri (sounding like Mary).  His big thing is that he wants something that sounds pretty and goes well with the other kids' names.  We agree that we want something easy to pronounce and pretty easy to spell and we don't want any more names that start with a B, E, J or P. 

I'm looking for thoughts on Sylvie, Ingrid, Milena and Meridian.  And possible suggestions on other names to go with Elise and Juliet.  Thanks!

By Laura V (not verified)
April 9, 2012 11:19 PM

Shosi, I *love* "Daniel Chaim". It flows well, and I think "Chaim" helps it read as traditional-not-trendy (I don't think "Daniel" would read trendy anyway, but "Chaim" really anchors it). 


By Laura V (not verified)
April 9, 2012 11:29 PM

JenMN, when I see "Elise", I think of two names: "Amelia" and "Anna".  I think both those names go with Juliet, too.

That said, I love the name Sylvie, especially with Juliet.  I wouldn't worry too much about people confusing it with Sylvia; some people probably will, but it doesn't seem to me like it would be a lot of people, a lot of the time.

April 10, 2012 12:20 AM

JenMN-I think your best bets of the four choices are Sylvie and Milena. These sound the best with your others to me. Meridian is not really a name to me. Mercedes might be a better choice but then again your DH could raise the same concerns with that. Ingrid is harsh compared to your others. Nymbler suggests: (taking out B-E-J-P names)

Celeste; Camille; Audrey; Therese; Sophie; Valerie; Lucy; Abigail

Susanne; Katharine; Cecelia; Rose; Sydney; Madeleine; Iris; Aurora

Lydia; Simone; Francesca; Nora; Aimee; Claudia; Chloe; Natalie

Daphne; Delia; Melanie; Michelle; Rachel; Noelle; Lauren

Isabelle; Adele; Danielle

By Kate, mom of T,G,J,X,T (not verified)
April 10, 2012 7:59 AM

JenMN -- I love Sylvie, on its own and as a sister to Elise and Juliet (pretty names!). I also like zoerhenne's suggestions of Sophie (very like Sylvie), Lydia (one of my favorites), and Therese (the nn Tess is another favorite of mine). I personally like the French feel of your other girls' names and would look for a French-y name for the third -- it doesn't feel too matchy to me to do so.

By hyz nli (not verified)
April 10, 2012 12:02 PM

kakicloud, congratulations on Simon Archer!  So handsome--I love it!

Shoshi, I second Karyn's question.  Boy names meaning life seem relatively hard to come by, but if you are looking for something that sounds like Chaim/Hyman, what about Hiram?  Kind of fun and unexpected, but obviously biblical and traditional.  Could you do any name that starts with H, or E?  If so, lots of possibilities there.  If you want something that sounds like Chava/Eva/Eve, but Evan is out, what about a longer Ev- form like Evander, or Everett?  Or maybe one of the names related to Evan, like Owen, Ewan, or Eugene? Or maybe Avram, or Avery, or Ivan or Ivo?  It would help to know more of your criteria.  Failing all of that, I think Daniel Chaim sounds very traditional, not trendy at all, and flows nicely.

JenMN, I still love Sylvie the most, by far!  I like Ingrid too, but it sounds like it doesn't meet your husband's criteria and he doesn't find it attractive, so for me that would nix it.  Ideally both parents would be enthusiastic about a name, but sometimes name enthusiasm is hard to get from a dad--I think at least both should have positive feelings about it, though.  Meridian is too different for my tastes--it is not traditionally a name, so I just think of the geographical term or the hotel (Le Meridien).  It's an attractive enough word though, and word names seem increasingly popular these days, so it's fine by that measure, but it does seem a big departure from the first two girls.  So, for me, the alternatives come down to Milena.  I like this a lot--it is pretty enough, so should meet some of your husband's criteria, and it sounds rather strongly Slavic and exotic to me.  I guess it's also Italian, but still I'd tend to group it mostly with names like Mariska, Raluca, Albina, Irena, Radmila, etc., or maybe some other cultural crossovers like Valentina, Elena, Adela, Josefa, etc.  I have a bit of Slavic heritage and am drawn to these names, but most of them feel too "foreign" for me to use.   Milena is on the borderline, I think, leaning more towards the usable side since it has soft, familiar sounds and fairly intuitive pronunciation, although it does sound a bit more continental than your older girls.  I wonder, though, if it's just unfamiliar enough that people would tend to mix it up with Mirena, Marina, or other similar sounding names?

By hyz nli (not verified)
April 10, 2012 12:08 PM

JenMN, it looks like the end of my last comment got cut off.  To wrap up the rambling, I'd just say that I adore Sylvie, both alone and as a match for your other girls.  I don't think the set would be "too French" at all, just pleasantly coordinating and all beautiful on their own, too.  You may have to correct people on the Sylvie/Sylvia thing sometimes, but that's not the end of the world--I don't think it would be too much of a hassle, really.  I'd also support Milena, though--I think it's attractive, interesting, and a good balance of strong and pretty. 

By Paula (not verified)
April 10, 2012 2:07 PM

I've been referred to as a "name nut" all my life!  Glad to see I'm by far not the only one!

By Anna S (not verified)
April 10, 2012 4:37 PM



Elise and Juliet give me a British-ish, classic, feminine-but-not-frilly vibe. I feel that Sylvie fits best with that. Milena is a bit east-European/ethnic in comparison, Ingrid is Scandinavian, and Meridian is just a completely different type of name. That said, I think Ingrid would complement the other two in a not-too-themey way so I'll vote for that too. As for Sylvie, I don't think the Sylvie/Silvia full name issue is going to be a bigger hurdle than say, Juliet/Juliette and Elise/Elyse spelling issues.


April 10, 2012 5:19 PM

@JenMN, I also strongly vote for Sylvie. It works alone and with the other children.  I also adore Ingrid but it sounds like your husband isn't keen. I"m not fussed on Milena or Meridien. I do like the suggestion of Sophie, may be a great alternative if you are wavering on Sylvie. Also, how about Isabelle? I know it's more popular than the other girls namess but fits in well to me.

Therese and Amelia/Amelie are also good fits to me.

By cabo (not verified)
April 10, 2012 5:49 PM


As a trio, I think Sylvie sounds great.  I would be surprised if she encountered many people who thought she was a Sylvia.  But if you have tired of the name, then I would suggest







By cabo (not verified)
April 10, 2012 5:55 PM





Erik (too different? Too scandinavian?)


They are all a stretch I realize.  Personally I'd go with Chaim as the middle name, or you can name him Chaim Daniel and only call him by his middle name.  C. Daniel Lastname sounds very nice I think.

By cabo (not verified)
April 10, 2012 6:03 PM


And also Claire/Clara and Caroline would blend well.  Ingrid, with it's hard G seems like such an outlier compared to soft, feminine sounds of Elise and Juliet.   Maybe Annika, Anya or Ilsa?  

April 10, 2012 6:45 PM

Shoshi, only the shem kodesh (holy name), the name used when called to the Torah or getting married, matters.  The shem kinnui, everyday vernacular name, can be anything the parents choose.  This dual-name custom goes back at least to Hellenistic times, when we have Philo of Alexandria/Jedidiah and Titus Flavius Josephus/Yosuf ben Matisyahu.  Among American Jews it has been the custom to pick a shem kinnui that is the Anglicization of or has the same initial or meaning as or sounds similar to the shem kodesh, but that is not necessary.  One of my grandmothers was named Tziya Chaya, and when she came to America she chose Celia Ida.  My other grandmother was Tzippa (Tzipporah), and she chose Cecelia.  So as long as the name bestowed at the bris is Chaim, whatever you put on the civil birth certificate is totally a free choice.  If you want an overt link between the shem kodesh and the shem kinnui, you might consider the ch-names (Charles, Chad, Chase) or those that simply start with C- (Carl, Calvin, etc.).  Or just go ahead and use Daniel.

By JustPupsTilBeckettEamon (not verified)
April 10, 2012 7:21 PM

@JenMN, I scrolled to the end to post my strong support for Sylvie as well but must say I like the latest suggestion of Claire too knowing 1 little Claire adanother soon to be..but Sylvie is one you agree on and have a lot of support for on it's own as well as in conjunction with your other daughters so I'd say don't look back!

By cabo (not verified)
April 10, 2012 7:34 PM


Middle names for Elise are more challenging than I had realized!  Must stay away from anything starting with a uh- sound or they will run together into Elisa. 

Elise Catherine

Elise Caroline

Elise Pearl

Elise Vivienne/Vivian

Elise Charlotte

Elise Josephine

By You can call me D (not verified)
April 10, 2012 10:19 PM

Hi all.  Longtime lurker turned poster.  I've been fascinated by names for a long time.  I like thinking about how they work to mark ethnicity/identity and as gifts passed down in families, as well as markers of parents' class aspirations.  So they're both inalienable property and, to some extent, exchangable gifts.  

I wanted to share a few very different names-in-movies experiences:  

Last night I watched the disturbing Greek horror/vaguely sci fi film Dogtooth that's about an authoritarian/abusive set of parents who raise their children in this compound-like house, never letting them out even into young adulthood.  Part of the sick and twisted way they raise their children is to not give them names. They refer to one as "the eldest" and the other as "the boy".  They teach the children bizarre and incorrect meanings for words.  So 'telephone' means salt. I am really not recommending the film, but I thought the connection between getting a name and being recognized as an individual with a social life outside one's parents' home was really strikingly illustrated in the film.

The other, couldn't be much different name-in-movie thing I just noted:  Watching Benny and Joon, the 1980's film.  Joon's the mildly cracy little sister to Aiden Quinn and falls in love with Johnny Depp.  She just showed a police officer her id, and it turns out her full name is Juniper.  That's a name I hear people naming babies a lot these days, but in the 80's apparently connoted kookiness.  Although I think I've read on this site that it's a saint's name, though, so it probably has a more venerable history.

On another note, I teach in a very elite all-girls high school in the Northeast of the US, and am intrigued by the girls' names I encounter.  Last semester I had so many Claires/Clares/Clairs.  If I couldn't remember a girl's name, I just said Claire and had a good chance of being right.  This semester I have an Ada in class.  I see that names like these are popular right now, although when she was named some 17 years ago, her parents must have been at the avant-garde of this late-Victorian or whenever it is trend.  Although I had like the name in theory, in practice I find it and others like it in the vowel-consonant-vowel pattern really insubstantial and easy to transpose and forget.

Sorry that was long and random and not in response to any particular conversation.  First time posting, I realize I have a lot to say

By EVie
April 10, 2012 11:48 PM

JenMN - Echoing what others have already said, Sylvie is terrific in your set, and for me it's far and away the best of the names you have. It matches perfectly, and yet it isn't matchy—while there's a French flavor to all the names, they're all familiar enough in English that it's a subtle effect (as opposed to a sibset like, off the top of my head, Celeste, Mireille & Veronique). And strictly speaking, Juliet isn't even all that French—it's an Anglicized version of a French name, Juliette. I really, really don't think the confusion with Sylvia is going to be a big deal. If someone gets it wrong, you gently correct them. If they try to tell you that Sylvie is a nickname, you also correct them. Also, it sounds as though that's the only name that your husband is really on board with. Win-win-win. 

Of the others, I think that Ingrid is the best, though it will sound exotic compared to your other names. Meridian is a really big stylistic jump, though I think it's very pretty. I think it would work best as a middle—Sylvie Meridian, perhaps?

I think that Milena is a weaker choice, if you're concerned about people making mistakes with the name. The -ena ending is highly ambiguous in English, and you will get mi-LEE-na and mi-LAY-na split about 50/50 (I can tell you this from personal experience). There will also be incessant spelling errors: Melina, Malina, Malena, Melena if you pronounce it the first way; Melayna, Malayna, Milayna, Milana, Melana, Malana, Milaina, Melaina, Malaina if you pronounce it the second. Suffice it to say that I think the Sylvie/Sylvia problem is far simpler.

(How are you actually planning on pronouncing it, btw? mi-LAY-na is the correct pronunciation for the Slavic name. If you were going the other way, I would probably recommend the spelling Melina, which would go much better with your sibset and will at least duck the pronunciation confusion).

What is it that draws you to Milena, if not its Slavic origins? Is it the Mil-? The -ena? The potential for Millie as a nickname? Perhaps we can suggest some alternatives.