December 2014

25 Baby Names for Future "Men of Action"

Dec 26th 2014

Most parents look for names that sound strong and confident. Some, though, demand even more. They want their baby names turbo-charged! Enter the Men of Action.

This name style leapt out at me when I analyzed regional name trends for the Baby Name Wizard book. The names were brash and spiky, packed with X's and K's and one-syllable power punches: Ryker, Maddox, Gage, Drake. Together, they sounded ready to storm an action movie or a first-person-shooter game. But in some parts of the U.S., they're more likely to make up a preschool class list.

The Men of Action names are popular throughout the plains states, their lightning-bolt style shining in nurseries from Wyoming and North Dakota down through Oklahoma. Their dominion reaches West into Idaho and East into Tennessee and West Virginia. In Men of Action country, the x-tra dynamic spelling Jaxon is now more popular than the traditional Jackson. If that spirit calls to you, you'll find plenty of options for your own future action hero below.



























8 Hottest Baby Name Trends for 2015​​

Dec 17th 2014

Stirring Up Baby Names

Originally appeared on The Stir.

It's out with the old and in with the new! Believe it or not, that goes for baby names too. The most popular names of 2014 paved the way for the hot baby naming trends for 2015, and if you're pregnant, or expect to be expecting sometime soon, it's time to listen up. 

We've got the biggest baby name trends for 2015 to help you pick the perfect moniker for your little one.

We consulted with naming expert Laura Wattenberg, founder of BabyNameWizard, who weighed in on the biggest upcoming trends, most popular names, and which old-time monikers are coming back. 

1. Androgyny: "Parents of girls are seeing a huge advantage," says Wattenberg. Names like JaelynAddisonDallas, which used to be exclusively boy names, have now crossed over to the unisex category (along with other names like Taylor, Alex, Jordan).

2. New Endings: Wattenberg notes that the "-tt" ending names are very much on the rise, no doubt thanks to celebs Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher, who named their daughter Wyatt. That's not all, though. Expect to see more names like Emmett, Elliott, Scarlett, Charlotte around in 2015.

3. 19th Century Americana: Names from the 1800s are officially back. Take Kailyn Lowry, for example, who named her her youngest son Lincoln. But it's not just the 16th president who's inspiring new names. Wattenberg also notes that names like Rhett and Wyatt (again) will be far more popular.

4. Mark It With an 'X':The Jolie-Pitts have ushered in a new trend, but plenty of celebrities have joined in. The letter "x" is more and more pronounced in names (just think Pax and Maddox, both pictured above, and little brother Knox). Earlier this year, Kristin Cavallari welcomed son Jaxon, further solidifying the trend. Get ready for more in the coming year!

5. The 'P' Is Back: While "x" is coming back for boys, "p" is back for girls. "Not since the 1950s, and the days of the Peggys and Patricias, has the letter 'P' been so popular," says Wattenberg. But now? We're welcoming it back. Could it be in part due to the Kardashian's Penelope Disick? There's no doubt about it. And another surprise name that's becoming popular? PiperOrange Is the New Black, anyone?

6. Get Us to the Greek: More Kardashian inspiration here! Wattenberg notes that Greek names are on the rise. Names like Chloe (or Khloe, a la Ms. Kardashian), Penelope (once again, the 'Dashians), Daphne, and Phoebe will be populating your daycares and classrooms soon.

7. Say Hi to the 'O': When Eva Amurri gave birth to daughter Marlowe, she justifiably started a trend. The popularity of names that end in an "o" sound without actually ending in "o" (very important distinction here) are tops at the moment. MarloweWinslow, and Margot will be even more prominent next year, says Wattenberg.

8. New Inventions: Where would we be without some completely new names? Parents are getting all the more inventive, Wattenberg notes. Instead of sticking with standard names like Trent, Levi, and Max, they're inventing brand new long-form versions. TrentonLeviathan, and Maxton are here, completely expanding your name list options.

There are a lot of letters to look out for -- which one did you use?

20 Baby Names That Are Merry and Bright

Dec 15th 2014

 baby name roundups by theme

We all mark the season in different ways, but most of us can agree that we love this time of year. Between the gift giving, candle lighting, song singing, and cocoa drinking, we're ready for a perfectly joyful holiday season and a sparkling happy new year.

If you're preparing for your own bundle of joy this time of year, you may be hoping to mark your child's entry into the world with a festive name. And while we love some of the typical holiday favorites like Holly, Joy, or Noelle, we were inspired to dig a little deeper for names that ring clear as a bell.

With bright sounds and meanings that are cheerful and brilliant, they remind us of a sunlit romp in the glimmer of a fresh snowfall. We think these refreshing, happy names are sure to spread smiles and warmth this holiday season.

  1. Aliza: With a breezy sound and a zippy "z", this lovely Hebrew name sounds as cheerful as its meaning, "joyful". Aliza may feel like a twist on names like Alice or Eliza, but it's an independent name that's much more rare.

  2. Asher: It's not often that a name finds itself in the position to appeal to a variety of styles and across different faiths, but that's exactly the case for Asher. Like Archer or Ashton, Asher has a trend-worthy sound, but it's the sturdy biblical background and beautifully simple meaning--happy--that make us jump for joy.

  3. Beatrice, Beatrix: The classical stylings of Beatrice, featured in Dante's Divine Comedy, are charming today's parents once again. The variation Beatrix sounds a bit more spunky, and carries a literary association in children's author Beatrix Potter. Both names have a bright sound and are Latin, meaning she brings joy.

  4. Blythe: An English surname coming from the word blithe, meaning "carefree, happy, light," we think Blythe is the epitome of a cheerfully fashionable name. Some may associate it with Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables, or from Blithe Spirit, a comic play written in the 40s. Or, you may think of actress Blythe Danner, mother of Gwenyth Paltrow (and subsequently daughter Apple's middle name).

  5. Brighton: On the shores of Great Britain, Brighton ("bright town") is a spirited seaside resort town that some are turning into a given name. This name feels like a proper British gent with a gleaming white smile. In the bygone TV series Everwood, the character Bright Abbott's middle name was Brighton.

  6. Claire, Clara: These two names are pristine and light, with a sound as clear as their meaning ("clear, bright"). While Claire is a French-styled classic, Clara brings to mind a ringlet-haired Victorian girl, as portrayed in the Christmas ballet The Nutcracker.

  7. Crispin: The sound of this name is what gives it an unmistakable clean, crisp feeling, evocative of a brisk winter's day. With similarities to names like Kingston, Christian, and Tristan, we think this Latin name is poised for more attention. Recent bearers include actor Crispin Glover and a character in the Harry Potterseries.

  8. Cyrus: While Cyrus has debated roots and meanings, the Persian word for "sun" aligns with its sunny sound perfectly. A multitude of contemporary associations, from singer/actor Billy Ray Cyrus to a character in Scandal, converge to make this name more accessible. With the cheerful nickname Cy as a possibility, it's no wonder that this name is showing lots of potential. Chosen by actor couple Claire Danes and Hugh Dancy for their son.

  9. Elena: At the risk of sounding overly enthusiastic, we adore the Greek classic Helen in all her forms (there are at least more than 60). Elena happens to be the most popular right now, and we can see why: its sweeping, lyrical sounds create the style our very own Baby Name Wizard penned "liquid names". (And a certain Vampire Diaries character doesn't hurt!) Its meaning, "shining light" or "bright one" is a beautifully subtle nod to the holiday season.

  10. Felicity: A virtue name meaning "happiness", Felicity is a charming, upbeat darling that's perfect alongside Serenity and Grace. We've seen this name before in the late 90s TV show by the same name, and worn by a "spritely" American Girl doll (whose surname is, appropriately, Merriman). But Felicity remains more popular in the UK, where it's ranked at 141, compared the 579 in the US.

  11. Felix: For awhile there, Felix had a tough go of things. A cartoon cat and the neat-freak character from The Odd Couple meant parents were much less enthusiastic than they once were over this Latin name meaning "happy, fortunate". The good news is that the dip in popularity during the 20th century gave Felix a chance to sound fresh and winning once again in the 21st century.

  12. Ilaria: On a list of merry, bright names, it's a bit ironic that we're avoiding the once-beloved Hilary/Hillary, a cheerful name that has the same roots as the word hilarious. In its place, we give you Ilaria, the Italian form that transforms the now-passé Hilary to a fresh, melodic name filled with fantasia and lyricism.

  13. Jovie: With the meaning "joyful, jovial", Jovie is a sweetly cheerful name with a holiday ring to it (Jovie was Zooey Deschanel's character in the movie Elf.) It fits right in with Evelyn's "Evie" and Sophia's "Sophie", giving it a familiar but creative feel. A runner-up to Jovie may be Jolie, a French name meaning "pretty" that feels a little jolly this time of year.

  14. Lucia: An international name with "bright" written all over it, Lucia (pronounced loo-SEE-ə, LOO-shə, or loo-CHEE-ə) is a stylish choice with international flair. As a holiday bonus, the Scandinavian celebration of St. Lucia is a glowing event, with girls carrying candles and singing in procession as one is crowned with a wreath of candles on her head. Nicknames like Lulu and Lucy give this name even more charm.

  15. Miles: While it's great that this name means peaceful and calm, we chose Miles for its similarities to the word "smile". It may be a surprising connection, but we discovered that many parents who chose this name found that they love this happy little coincidence. Anagrams aside, Miles has a cheerful sound with a little bit of jazz influence and it's sure to please.

  16. Phoebe: This winsome Greek name means clear and bright, and its lighthearted demeanor and cross-cultural associations have made it an offbeat classic. Helped back into fashion by the character on Friends followed by Charmed, parents will continue to sing this name's praises long after we first heard "Smelly Cat". It's hard to go wrong with a gorgeous, intriguing, and moonlit name with roots in Greek mythology and mentions in the Bible.

  17. Samson: A robust Biblical name with a stronger-than-steel image, Samson's swagger is balanced by its bright meaning, "sun," and the friendly nicknames it affords (Sam, Sammy). It's started to make some strides in popularity, but this brilliant choice remains outside of the top 500 boys' names.

  18. Silvan, Sylvan: Silvan comes from a Latin word meaning "of the forest, woods," which brings to mind a snowy scene this time of year, but its the silvery sound that sparkles with holiday cheer. The ending imparts a masculine sturdiness, though the feminine forms Sylvie and Sylvia have given some parents pause. We think this name is all too rare, given its magnetic sound and nature-inspired meaning.

  19. Stella: Drawing from the popularity of names like Ella and Isabella, parents rediscovered this otherworldly "star" in the past decade. Now a top 100 hit, Stella's come a long way from Marlon Brando's tearful cry in A Streetcar Named Desire. This pretty, twinkling name is a favorite chosen by celebs like Antonio Banderas, Matt Damon, Paul McCartney and many more.

  20. Tate: It's hard to top the unabashed happiness of a sweet and simple name like Tate, which appropriately means "cheerful". This English surname is cute and underused, making it a refreshing choice that will fit the bill for a one-syllable charmer.

Are you expecting a holiday baby? What names bring you cheer this time of year?

And the 2014 Name of the Year Is...

Dec 11th 2014

We close out a year packed with deadly serious news and stunningly silly diversions. For the Name of the Year announcement, please walk back through the year with me. Back before the Ebola epidemic, before the latest Kardashian escapades, to March 2, 2014. That was the birth date of the Name of the Year:

Adele Dazeem.

It was the evening of the 86th Academy Awards presentation. Actor John Travolta took the stage to introduce Best Song contender "Let It Go," from the movie Frozen. (That film also launched another Name of the Year contender in Elsa, the magical ice princess. She's proof that half a century after Samantha Stevens twitched her nose on Bewitched, a pretty blonde with supernatural powers remains America's surest recipe for a hit baby name.)

The song was to be performed by Broadway superstar Idina Menzel. Travolta had a little trouble with Menzel's name, which came out something like, yes, Adele Dazeem:

How does a simple twist of the tongue earn Name of the Year honors? The key is what happened afterwards. Adele Dazeem became the official fake name of the fake name era.

As soon as Travolta uttered his magic words, Twitter accounts under the name Adele Dazeem exploded. Even the "real names" network Facebook teemed with scores of Dazeem impersonators like these:

Adele Dazeem Facebook accounts

Hundreds more Facebook users took advantage of the site's nickname/AKA feature to enter Adele Dazeem as an alias, making it the world's alter ego., the online magazine that piles up awards for its coverage of world events, created an Adele Dazeem Name Generator to let you "Travoltify your own name." It quickly became the most popular article in Slate's history.

In the months since, Adele Dazeem has been enshrined as a verb meaning "to say a name wrong in a high-profile setting." During the Emmys, the Huffington Post tweeted "Gwen Stefani just Adele Dazeem'd 'The Colbert Report.'" USA Today recently ran a headline "The names most in danger of getting Adele Dazeemed this Oscar season." Then there are the memes, like:

This feeding frenzy is the modern life cycle of a gaffe. A generation ago, we might have waited for a late-night comedian's monologue to see what he made of Travolta's Dazeem moment. But social media has turned us into an entire nation of joke writers, 140 characters at a time. Millions of us are constantly on the alert for juicy material. As soon as anything odd or amusing happens, there's a mad race to write something witty about it and elicit applause from our public.

If Tweets and status updates are the new one-liners, then the more elaborate viral bits, like Slate's Travoltifier, are the new comedy routines. It's a quick, in-and-out brand of humor that requires a simple and recognizeable hook. Names, which pack a world of meaning into two little words, make ideal hooks. In this new world where we all give as well as receive soundbites, a noteworthy name packs more power than ever before.

Just ask Ed Balls. He's the British MP who, a few years back, tried to search for his own name on Twitter but accidentally tweeted his name instead. That two-word post has been retweeted more than 30,000 times, inspired countless viral imitators, and is memorialized every April 28 as "Ed Balls Day." Do you think the internet would have gone similarly mad if another pol like, say, fellow Labour MP Ed Miliband had made the goof? His name just doesn't pack the same punch.

That was a contained viral name outbreak. Nobody else pretended to be Ed Balls, because the whole point of the joke was that it was his own name. Adele Dazeem multiplies this weird-name magic with the power of the fake name.

Fake identities are a staple of the new online humor world. Every volcanic cloud that looms over Europe, every snake that escapes the zoo is now skewered with online impersonation. Even real people who can speak and tweet for themselves have fake doppelgängers, from Fake Chuck Norris to Fake Warren Buffett.

Of course, fake identities are also a staple of the broader online world. Issues of authenticity and identity protection go far beyond the realm of Adele Dazeem. Yet within her realm -- the realm of viral insta-comedy, name bloopers, fake accounts and unbelievable aliases -- she is queen. That realm grows every day.

Wishing you a great naming year ahead,

Larue Wizbanter


(also known as Laura Wattenberg)

20 Dashing Literary Baby Names for Boys

Dec 10th 2014

Stirring Up Baby Names

Originally appeared on The Stir.

You can browse through baby name books for ideas as to what to name that little boy you're expecting. But don't forget to also page through the books you loved to read as a kid or the ones which mean a lot to you as an adult. Our guess is you'll find plenty with, ahem, character.

Below, we've put together 20 of our favorite literary-inspired names for boys. Read through and get inspired.

Albus: Of course, we were inspired by Dumbledore in the Harry Potter books. Who wouldn't want their son to grow up that smart, kind, and courageous?

Almanzo: Remember the patient farmer boy who marries Laura Ingalls Wilder? We love the rough-hewn sound of this old-fashioned name.

Arthur: ... As in King Arthur, in TH White's The Once and Future King. Majestic and strong.

Bartholomew: We like the even keel of this name. Bartholomews are rarely flappable, if you remember Dr. Seuss's The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

Benvolio: Romeo gets the girl in Romeo and Juliet, but his cousin, Benvolio, has the far cooler name.

Cash: Just like the character in William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, this name's got heart to spare.

Cassio: Handsome and well-mannered, like the gentleman soldier in Shakespeare's Othello.

Charlie: Cute, wide-eyed, and unmistakably sweet, just like little Charlie in Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Caulfield: Plenty of parents have named their offspring "Holden," after the beloved narrator of Catcher in the Rye. May we suggest his equally cool, in a Wes Anderson kind of way, last name?

Dallas: Remember SE Hinton's The Outsiders? "Pony Boy" might be hard for any baby to pull off, no matter how cute, but Dallas has a quiet fortitude, too.

Fritz: In honor of the eldest of the four sons in Johann David Wyss' Swiss Family Robinson, Fritz is one boys' name we wouldn't get sick of hearing if shipwrecked on a desert island.

Gatsby: Feel a little too swaggy? Try Gatz instead, which was Jay Gatsby's real name in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.

Huck: Mark Twain didn't just write one of the best books of all time, but gave us one of the most unforgettable names, too. Boyish in the best sense of the word.

Jude: You don't have to read Thomas Hardy's overwhelmingly bleak Jude the Obscure to love this name. (It did well for The Beatles!)

Kimball: We like the adventurous nature of this name, which is shared with the main character in Rudyard Kipling's coming of age novel, Kim.

Laertes: Just like Ophelia's older brother in Hamlet, this name has heart and loyalty to spare.

Lennox: Another well-built Shakespearean name, this one from Macbeth.

Rhett: Dashing and gentlemanly, just like Scarlett's hero in Gone With the Wind.

Percy: Percy Jackson has fast become one of the biggest YA heroes, thanks to Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief. It's only a matter of time before this name catches on, too.

Ulysses: A formidable name, for sure, but we love its backbone. Try the sweet Ulee for short.

Which great literary name did we forget?


19 Lovely Literary Baby Names for Girls

Dec 9th 2014

Stirring Up Baby Names

Originally appeared on The Stir.

If you're searching for a baby name, don't forget to page through your favorite books. There are plenty of great girl (and boy) names to be gleaned from literature -- and a name carries even more meaning when it's from a book you love. 

To get you inspired, check out our list of favorite literary names for baby girls.

Alice: Just like Lewis Carroll's heroine who fell down the rabbit hole and strolled into the looking glass, we find this name sweetly adventurous.

Beatrice: We love the idea of paying homage to the long-suffering older sister in Beverly Cleary's beloved books. Try Bee for short.

Brett: In Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Lady Brett Ashley is the confident, charming woman all the men fall for.

Cordelia: "Cor" means heart -- just one reason this name so well-suited King Lear's loyal-to-the-end daughter. It's elegant and strong.

Daisy: The object of Jay Gatsby's obsession in The Great Gatsby, this name has effervescence to spare.

Eloise: Irresistibly impish, much like the little girl who lives on the "tippy-top" floor of the Plaza Hotel, causing all kinds of chaos, in Kay Thompson's beloved picture books from the 1950s.

Emma: A name that's "handsome, clever, and rich," just like the heroine of Jane Austen's 1815 novel.

Holly: A sparkly jewel of a name, in tribute to Holly Golightly in Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Jane: Like Charlotte Bronte's beloved heroine, Jane Eyre, this name has a lovely, understated moxie.

Josephine: Intelligent, independent, and surprisingly feisty, much like Jo March in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women.

Juliet: A solidly romantic choice. It's impossible not to make the connection with this name and Shakespeare's star-crossed lover.

Phoebe: Although Phoebe carries a certain brightness, its namesake is the grounding younger sister of Holden Caulfield in Catcher in the Rye.

Pippi: Fun and puckish, a la the red-pigtailed, super-strong heroine of Astrid Lindgren's children's books.

Portia: Gracious and intelligent, just like Shakespeare's heroine in The Merchant of Venice.

Rosalind: Another Shakespearean choice, this time from As You Like It. Also a great mix of spark, beauty, and wit.

Scarlett: The epitome of Southern charm, Scarlett is both pretty and powerful -- like its Gone With the Wind namesake.

Scout: We adore the nickname of the young, idealistic narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird. An even bolder choice: the character's real name, Jean Louise.

Tacy: We're mystified as to why this cheerful name has never taken off, considering the Betsy-Tacy series, written by Maud Hart Lovelace, has an enormous fan base. Another great name from the book: Tib, Betsy and Tacy's other BFF.

Tess: True, Thomas Hardy's heroine had something of a, um, difficult life (understatement!), but we appreciate the easy beauty of the name itself.

Which favorite book character would you name your daughter?


50 Colorful Baby Names for Every Style

Dec 8th 2014

 baby name roundups by theme

Are color names truly a new trend? Not really. Parents have been inspired by the beautiful world around them for a long time. Between the floral names of the Victorian era and the  beloved jewel names of the turn of the century, nature's colors charmed parents quite some time ago.

But we are in the middle of a colorful name revival, and we're exploring far beyond the tried-and-true colors of yore. Maybe you've noticed celebrity babies from Blue Ivy Carter to Violet Affleck and wondered if you can use a similarly vibrant name. The good news is that there is such a wide variety of color-inspired names, you are bound to love one or two.

Some serve a dual-purpose as gems, botanicals, spices, and even precious metals, but all of them bring to mind a particular shade. And that's what we love about these names that strike us as artistic and fresh, in both bold and softer colors to suit any personality.

Whether you're looking for something with Victorian spirit or modern flair, you don't have to be somewhere over the rainbow to love these names. They run the gamut between bygone classic and avant garde, but all are quite stylish hues that your baby just might love to wear.

Contemporary Swatches
These trendier shades don't have a long history as baby names, but over the past few years they have become mainstream. They are spirited, stylish choices just right for your modern baby.

Grey, Gray





Antique Painter's Palette
Quaint and sweet, these old-fashioned color names remind us of a Monet painting. This trend has us tickled pink, with girls' names like Violet and Ruby in the top 100.













On-the-Cusp-of-Cool Colors
Looking for something modern and unusual? You'll love these choices that are on the brink of discovery. The most popular of the group are gems Emerald and Sapphire, followed by Denim, a name chosen by singer Toni Braxton.











Unexpected Hues
These rare names are guaranteed to surprise your friends and dazzle your acquaintances. They are far out of the top 1,000, but they aren't completely unheard of. Some sound very modern (Blue and Silver), while others seem like they should be old-fashioned (Lilac, Plum) though they are all new to the naming scene.










Colorful Connectors
The first thing you think of when you hear these names may not be a color, but we commonly use them to modify shades (think royal blue, for example), and, as such, they conjure up color in their own right. They range in popularity and style, but we couldn't create this list without a nod to these names that are perfect color complements.




Forest, Forrest











Do you love color names? Tell us your favorite hues and styles.

25 Baby Boy Names Inspired by Saints

Dec 6th 2014

Stirring Up Baby Names 

Originally appeared on The Stir.

When picking a baby name, there are plenty of things for parents to consider. Does it flow with the last name? Is it too weird? And, of course, who else had the name? Were they a good person?

One way to solve the last one? Pick a saint's name! A popular practice with many Christians -- in fact, Catholic parents typically use the name of a canonized saint as either the first or middle name of their little one. Some priests even require it before they will baptize a baby.

Looking for a saint name that will fit your baby boy? Here are 25 that just might fit the bill:

1. Aaron -- Sometimes spelled Aihran, he's the patron saint of anybody who lives a passionate and steadfast life. Not bad traits for a little guy!

2. Adrian -- A saint with a storied history, he was a pagan who became a Christian ... and was jailed and tortured for standing up for what he believed in. He's the patron saint of plague, epilepsy, arms dealers, butchers, guards, soldiers.

3. Alexander -- There are several saints who bear this name. The name means "defender of the people," and it's ripe for nicknames -- from Alex to Lex to Xander!

4. Ambrose -- He's the patron saint of the Milan (as in the Italian city), beekeepers, and honeymakers, and his name means "immortal."

5. Basil -- You might have a future doctor on your hands if you go with this name -- he's the patron saint of hospital administrators as well as a delicious herb.

6. Benedict -- Boys with this name share it with a recent pope, plus a saint known for patronage of "happy death." A little too dark for you? Benedictine monks, who bear the saint's name, have a motto of peace. Not to mention, the name means "blessed."

7. Bernard -- If you think you've got an adventurer on your hands, you might want to go with this name -- he's the patron saint of mountain climbers!

8. Blaise -- Love animals? So did Saint Blaise; he's their patron as well as the patron of throat illness (in fact, blessings of the throat bear his name).

9. Christopher -- The patron saint of travelers; his name means Christ-bearer.

10. Damien -- Unofficially the patron saint of those with HIV and AIDS, Saint Damien had a huge heart -- he worked with lepers, the people no one wanted to be around. Can you think of a better role model for a little guy than someone who went out of his way for those who were ignored by society?

11. Dominic -- Little boys with this name are bound to do big things -- after all, Saint Dominic is the patron of astronomers.

12. Francis -- St. Francis of Assisi is well known as patron saint of animals, and blessings of critters are often held in his name.

13. Gabriel -- A little boy named for Gabriel, the archangel, will also bear the name of the patron of communications workers.

14. Gerard -- Talk about a fit name for a baby -- St. Gerard is patron saint of expectant mothers!

15. Jerome -- Give your future scholar a name that suits him -- Jerome is the patron saint of librarians!

16. Jude -- St. Jude Thaddeus is the patron saint of desperate cases, and a hospital bears his name!

17. Kilian -- The patron saint of sufferers of rheumatism, his name is Irish and can also be spelled Killian or Cillian.

18. Louis -- The patron saint of hairdressers and France (yes, the country), the name has some seriously royal roots. A long line of French Louises were kings!

19. Luke -- Expect great things from a little boy named for St. Luke, patron of physicians and surgeons.

20. Patrick -- One of the most famous saints of all, St. Patrick is known for driving the snakes from Ireland. And he has one heckuva fun holiday!

21. Paul -- Another one of the better known saints, Paul used to be a favorite in America, but it's fallen out of fashion. But maybe it's time for a comeback? If you're not sold on the name, St. Paul the Apostle's real name was Saul.

22. Philip -- If you've got a taste for sweets while pregnant, how about naming your little guy for Saint Philip, patron saint of pastry makers? The name means lover of horses.

23. Raphael -- Not just a ninja turtle, Raphael the Archangel is the patron saint of doctors and love!

24. Sebastian -- An elegant name from the patron saint of athletes.

25. Vincent -- Saint Vincent de Paul has a charitable society named after him in England because he was, after all, the "Apostle of Charity" and "Father of the Poor." Not a bad legacy. The name itself means conquering.

Have you been considering a saint name? Why?

40 Top Baby Names Inspired By the Best TV Characters of All Time

Dec 5th 2014

Stirring Up Baby Names

Originally appeared on The Stir

Choosing the perfect baby name is one of the toughest decisions new parents will make. There are so many choices -- almost too many. So some folks have turned to their favorite TV shows and characters for inspiration. Truth be told, I have an uncle who was such a huge fan of Dallas' J.R. Ewing, he actually named his son the same thing. Take a look at 40 other (and arguably more sane) name choices inspired by TV.

1. Meadow, The Sopranos
2. Vinnie, Welcome Back, Kotter
3. Bart, The Simpsons
4. Arya, Game of Thrones
5. Tobias, Arrested Development
6. Jordan, My So-Called Life
7. Dexter, Dexter  
8. Erica, as in All My Children vixen Erica Kane
9. Jean, Star Trek the Next Generation
10. Lafayette, True Blood
11. Rose, Golden Girls
12. Dana, X-Files
13. Chandler, Friends
14. Lucy, I Love Lucy
15. Veronica, Veronica Mars
16. Barney, How I Met Your Mother
17. Sheldon, The Big Bang Theory
18. Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
19. Santana, Glee
20. Dean, Supernatural
21. Liz, 30 Rock
22. Rory, Gilmore Girls
23. Jack, 24
24. Frasier, Cheers and Frasier
25. Ally, Ally McBeal
26. Carrie, Sex and the City
27. Sydney, Alias
28. Sam, Cheers
29. Ari, Entourage
30. Leslie, Parks and Recreation
31. Hurley, Lost
32. Pam, The Office
33. Winnie, The Wonder Years
34. Bree, Desperate Housewives
35. Theo, Cosby Show
36. Jess, New Girl
37. Phil, Modern Family
38. Brita, Community
39. Alexis, Dynasty
40. Don, Mad Men

What other TV show character names do you like?


16 Baby Boy Names Inspired By Water

Dec 3rd 2014

Stirring Up Baby Names

Originally appeared on The Stir.

Water is the universal symbol for life. It's constantly evolving, flowing, and necessary to live. So why not use its variations as baby names for your new family addition?

Whether it's the name of an existing body of water, has an aqua-related meaning, or simply means "water" in another language, the name inspirations are endless.

Here are the best 16 baby boy names inspired by water:

1. Adrian -- The names comes from the Adriatic Sea and is one of the most popular boys names in America. In 2013 it finished as number 60 on the Social Security Administration's top 1,000 baby name list, no doubt thanks to gorgeous actor Adrian Grenier.
2. Beck -- Beckham is one of the most popular names for boys, but be original and shorten it to Beck, which means "stream" in Old Norse.
3. Brooks -- It refers to a small stream, but it's also the name of Bachelorette Desiree Hartsock's top man... before he left the show and Des with a broken heart.
4. Calder -- While it's an traditional Welsh last name, Calder makes a cool first name. It means "rocky water" or "stony river," in Welsh but for any hockey fan, it's the highest trophy in the minors. 
5. Conway -- The name has a strong spiritual tie, especially in Welsh, where it means "holy water." Plus, it has yet to break into mainstream American baby name lists, so get this one while it's still fairly underground.
6. Dylan -- It has been a steadily popular name for decades now. Most recently, it was number 23 on the SSA 2013 baby name list, and has one beautiful water connection: it means "son of the sea" in Welsh. Bet you didn't know that one.
7. Ford -- It's not just the name of a former president or the auto magnate. A ford is also the shallow place in the body of water where one can cross across a stream. The name definitely peaked around the start of the 20th century, but Owen Wilson recently gave it to his son, so expect a resurgence.
8. Hurley -- While you might immediately think of actress Elizabeth Hurley, this is actually an old Irish name that means "sea tide."
9. Kai -- This name has been most popular in Hawaii, where it means "sea," but it's made its way to the rest of the U.S. and has was the 199th most popular name in 2013, according to the Social Security Administration
10. Lincoln -- It's one of the most popular celebrity baby names on the market right now. Teen Mom Kailyn Lowry gave it to her little boy, while Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard gave it to their daughter, which definitely contributed to making it number 95 on the top 1,000 baby names by the SSA in 2013. It's a more modernized version of the Welsh "llyn," but the top association is definitely with our sixteenth president.
11. Murray -- Hey, Bachelorette fans! It's the name of one of Andi Dorfman's suitors, but it also means "settlement by the sea" in Scottish. Plus, it's another last name-as-first name possibility, which is a hot, hot, hot trend right now.
12. Murphy -- The name is the modern English version of the Gaelic "Murchadh", which means "sea warrior." Don't discount Murchadh as a possibility either. You're pretty guaranteed your kiddo's name won't be repeated.
13. River -- Straight and to the point, this water name has risen in popularity over recent years, and ranked as number 372 on the Social Security Administration's list.
14. Trent -- As in the River Trent (in England), the word Trent means "gushing waters" in Latin. The trendy name even finished as number 440 in 2013's top name list, according to the Social Security Administration.
15. Wade -- You can wade through water, or literally define it as a "river crossing," but both associations are water-related and ideal for a tiny dude.
16. Zale -- The name means "strong sea" or "power of the sea" in Greek, so your little man will definitely show some fortitude right from the start.

Would you choose a water-inspired name for your son?