What's Your Baby Name Crush?

Aug 6th 2015

You know it's a bad match. It would never work out. Your friends and family don't understand the attraction, and the practical side of you says to just forget about it whole idea. Yet your mind can't help drifting back wistfully, longingly....

You have a baby name crush. It's happened to many of us, an unshakeable attraction to an unsuitable name. Maybe it's the kind of name that's not usually your style, or is so "out there" that you couldn't pull the trigger. Maybe it's an "if only" name, ruled out by an awkward match with your surname or already taken by your brother-in-law. Whatever keeps you and your name crush apart, it never quite douses the flame. Do you fall into any of these name-crossed categories?

Woman dreaming of the baby name Indigo


A name may be good for other families, but not your own. Occasionally the issue is a religious or ethnic fit, but the most common stumbling block is surnames. Speaking personally, I've always lingered over Ariadne, the name of the clever princess of the ancient labyrinth. I’m not sure it was quite in my comfort zone, but in the end it was a moot point. I couldn't pair that name with my surname Wattenberg. Not only is the result a mouthful, but the rhythm of A-ri-a-dne Wat-ten-berg counts out like "eeny, meeny, miny moe."

Another mom lost her name crush to an even more pointed surname problem. She had always loved the uplifting simplicity of the name Joy, and dreamed of giving it to a daughter. Then she married a man with the surname Sexton and Joy was out of the running.

Spoken For

Perhaps the name was perfect, but someone else got there first. Repeating a baby name within a close circle of family or friends can ruffle feathers, and even adults’ names can end up off-limits. One mother told me that she hesitated to name her baby Aviva because of a family friend by that name, since Ashkenazi Jewish tradition refrains from naming after the living.

Other parents find that a name’s preexisting associations are too hard to shake. The Name Lady regularly fields the question, "Can we give this name to our baby if we already gave it to our dog?" Even in cases of namesakes, the image of the honoree herself can get in the way. Take the father who was tempted to name a daughter after his grandmother, until he realized that he "could only think of [her] smoking and trying to pretend that she wasn't."


Many of the parents I've spoken with had their favorite name voted down by partners or family. One dad who loved the name Oscar said "I couldn't get [my wife] to agree and she might just be right." A mom who wanted to name a daughter after writer Isak Dinesen put it flatly: "Everyone thought I was crazy."

Sometimes the objections are specific, as in the case of a mom enamored of the name Kylie: "Instant veto from hubby because we know about four dogs named Kylie." And in a bookend to Oscar, one mother's suggestion of Felix was shot down by her husband as "too Odd Couple."

Cold Feet

Just as often, we veto our own name crushes. A couple from Nevada was drawn to the local nature name Sierra, but reluctantly gave it up as "too common for our family." Other parents worry that a name they like is too unconventional, and thus potentially a burden to a child. A mother who wanted the name Indigo for a girl said "I still love it because I see it as an adventurous, creative name…but I see it as more limiting than a more conventional name, in a first impression way." Another mom who was drawn to the literary flourish of Ophelia and Persephone admitted that she'd ruled those names out herself. Much as she loved them, for her own kids they crossed the invisible line of appropriateness.

Are you still harboring a crush for a name that will never be yours? Please share your stories, and we can all commiserate on the lingering allure of our unrequited crushes.



August 6, 2015 2:38 PM

I feel in love with the name Charlotte when I was in middle school, back when it was ranked in the high 200s. I thought it was the perfect blend of classic, familiar and underused. Fast forward to now, when it's a top 10 name with a princess namesake. My perfect under the radar name is now well out in the open. It's a mild comfort that I was way ahead of the curve on that one. 

August 6, 2015 4:02 PM

Robin for a boy, due to utter apathy on the part of my husband.  He doesn't even hate the name, he simply "nothings" it.  Which is almost harder to deal with because it SEEMS like I should be able to bridge that gap.

August 6, 2015 5:29 PM

Jemima. It's beautiful. It means "dove". I love it. But anyone I've mentioned it to (and most importantly, my husband) can't get past the syrup connection and potential racial association. We live in the South and that name apparently has too much baggage for most people to get over. Sigh.

August 6, 2015 5:38 PM

I'm pretty fearless (am seriously considering Wolfgang, Polaris, and Ursula for future children).

But... I love Ptolemy. I just don't think Americans could really deal with it and its silent yet necessary P.

A few years back, my ex and I ALMOST agreed on Melanotaenia. Meh-lah-no-TAY-nee-ah . But even if you compress that -nia to "nyah" it's still five syllables, which is a lot. You could call her Melanie for short! Or Taeni! Or Lani! Or whatever! And give her an easy middle like Beth or Anna or something, to fall back on! ... right? 

Buuut I just couldn't do it. Too alien to too many people, as much as I love the sound and meaning. Sigh. Still feel wistful about it, a bit.  :)

August 6, 2015 7:57 PM

Linus.  Both my husband and I are Chemistry majors, so Linus Pauling is a perfect namesake.  We both love the Peanuts, so the Linus with the blanket was fine.  But it was just too out there for us.  I still hope to use it as a pet name someday.

August 6, 2015 8:31 PM

"One mother told me that she hesitated to name her baby Aviva because of a family friend by that name, since Ashkenazi Jewish tradition refrains from naming after the living."

Oy! It amazes me how many American Ashkenazim have weird interpretations of Ashkenazic naming customs.  The fact that parents happen to know someone with the name they are considering is irrelevant.  Half the members of a synagogue could be named Moshe and the other half Dovid, and the fact that all these Moshes and Dovids are living does not rule out those names for a newborn member of that synagogue.  Nor does it matter that other living family members have the same name.  First cousins are often named after the same deceased grandparent.  That is not a problem.  The tradition is not to rule out all names borne by living family and friends, but rather to select a deceased family member or possibly a deceased revered rabbi and name the child specifically after that person.  It doesn't matter whoever else has that same name, even if that individual was named for the same deceased person.  Thus, my uncle and his first cousin were both named Yaakov (Jacob)--not a problem.  That mother had absolutely no reason not to name her daughter Aviva if that is the name she loved.  However, to follow the custom, she should be naming her daughter after a deceased family member, either a deceased Aviva, or any other name of a deceased family member which could be paired with Aviva, e.g., Aviva Chaya, Aviva Miriam, Aviva RIfka, or whatever.

August 6, 2015 8:47 PM

I think Evangeline is beautiful, but just somehow too much. I also really like Frederick, but hate Fred and I know it would be shortened. 

August 6, 2015 9:27 PM

I love August, nn Gus. But our surname is one syllable, beginning in G and ending in an S-sound (think Gus Glass). Just awful.

For a girl, I adore Imogen. My husband is just "meh" on it, but I'm not sure if I'd have the guts to use it even if he was on board. We live in an area populated by bell-tones (Brynnley, Briley, Kayley, etc) and it might just be too far out around here.

August 7, 2015 8:47 AM

Alice and Lily - I've loved these ones since I was a girl, and apparently so did many others who are having kids now. Cold feet due to popularity, and I just found out I'm having a boy so also now a moot point!

Leander - This is a new (to me at least) boy's name that I loved as soon as I heard it. Outvoted by husband, who immediately hated it as being un-namelike and flowery (Lavender? Coriander? he said).

Wolfgang - I inexplicably love this name, but it's a mismatch for my future son. It's just WAY TOO GERMAN, and although I do actually live in Germany, the baby will be a mix of European/Asian genes. Maybe for a middle name.

August 7, 2015 12:22 PM

Emmeline - It is frilly, girly, and everything I would have hated as a little girl. I even got past the fact that a cousin named her daughter Emmalee, not caring if anyone thought I copied. Not only did my spouse hate it, my brother did as well (he's pretty involved). I think it's sweet and whimsical; they say it sounds lowbrow and trashy. At the end of the day, I wouldn't want a name that could give that kind of negative first impression, so I crossed it off the list. 

August 7, 2015 1:43 PM

Michael, but not because of any of Laura's reasons. I love love love this name... in English. (And German, and probably a host of other European languages.) However, I absolutely detest it in its Hungarian form, Mihály. And since I'm resolutely bilingual, that takes it off the table. (Not that I'm likely to acquire children in need of names at this point in my life, but I digress.)

August 7, 2015 1:50 PM

Celarri, where do you live? I totally don't get "lowbrow" or "trashy" from Emmeline here in the northeastern USA, nor do I recall any such associations from when I lived in southern California. Like you said, it's frilly and girly, but there's nothing wrong with that.

August 7, 2015 2:52 PM

My main association with Emmeline is Emmeline Pankhurst, the British suffragette, nothing lowbrow or trashy about her.  BTW her children were Christabel, Sylvia, Francis, Henry, and Adela.

Re the woman who didn't name her daughter after Isak Dinesen, because of negative reactions:  Isak Dinesen's name was Karen--can't imagine any eyebrows raised over that.

August 7, 2015 8:27 PM

I love Esperanza and Zion. Consevably, I can see myself using either one or both. The only trouble may be convincing my husband of them :)

August 8, 2015 4:18 PM

I wanted to name my daughter Oona, but my husband vetoed. He thought it was too weird. Ditto on Erasmus for my son.

Names that just didn't quite work for our family, despite our love for them: Clover, Casimir

And I feel you on Jemima, namesnob. I love it, but the "mammy" imagery associated with the name through Aunt Jemima takes it right off the table.

August 8, 2015 12:24 AM

My husband's last name is Utter. This means that word names can form sentences, phrases (Lark Utter), or even superlatives (Capability Utter). It also nixes names ending in "-a" as Sophia Utter would sound like Sophie Utter. It's also ruled out names ending in R such as Asher Utter. My biggest unrequited name crush is Leopold Boneventure, which everyone agrees sounds really cool but also like the name of a zeppelin captain in a steam punk novel. Plus my best friend has dibs on all "Leo" names.

August 8, 2015 12:38 AM

Tulip! My husband and I both loved it. But our last name starts with a P, so it had to go. Plus, I was off put by the fact that even I didn't know if we'd pronounce it "Tu-lip" or "Tu-lup."

August 8, 2015 12:06 PM

Brigid. I've spent my entire life spelling/correcting my name that I couldn't do it to my daughter. Plus, I married into a strictly Scottish last name and it feels a bit like crossing the streams. I still love Brigid and sometimes wonder what if, even though she's four months old and I can't really see her as anything but an Elizabeth anymore. Maybe if we have another I'll use it as a middle name since family obligations are fulfilled with E's middle. 

August 8, 2015 12:20 PM

I have this strange hangup on the name Guinevere. It's totally an outlier to my usual style and we're not Welsh. Our Italian last name needs to be spelled and corrected for pronunciation regularly so I don't think I could do this to a child on top of that. Also there are already a Jeana, Jenna and Jennifer in the family so I think I'd be pushing it. 

August 8, 2015 4:02 PM

TheOtherHungarian, I'm betting that Celarri's family was confusing Emmeline with EmmaLynn and other current mash-up inventions, which do read low-brow. In fact, it's the same reason I removed Emmeline from my list. My main association with the name is Emmeline Harris from Anne of Avonlea.

August 8, 2015 5:38 PM

My great grandfather, Reginald, had two brothers, Percy and Shandos (pronounced Shan-doss) When I was a kid, my brother and I had three teddy bears, which my parents had named, Reggie, Percy & Shandos. I've always loved all three names, but especially Shandos. I've never heard the name before, and can't find any information about it online. It's a mystery to me where it came from! 

I'm not sure if I'd have the guts to give it as a first name but am open to it as a middle name still. I do sort of have the image of Shandos the teddy bear though when I think of it!

August 8, 2015 9:41 PM

xtinamarie, Shandos may be a variant spelling of Chandos, which is an old Anglo-Norman surname derived from a place named Candos in Eure, Normandy.

March 12, 2016 11:37 PM

I love Korra, but my last name starts with a K and I really don't like alliterative names.

August 9, 2015 4:18 PM

I love the name Quinn for a girl. But our last name is Cramer and even when adults would put it togehter it would come out Quinn Cwamer. I can't imagine kids trying to say it correctly!

August 10, 2015 12:06 AM

I love Casmir, I think the nickname Caz is adorable, I love the history, it was my great grandfather's name and everything, but its also my uncle's name. That's a downside because he and my mom haven't spoken in nearly a decade and he is the center of a deep hatred among many of my relatives. I can't use his name, no matter how much I love it. 

August 10, 2015 7:33 AM

I love the name Sabrina. I love the way it sounds, and I love the associations it has with one of my favorite shows, Sabrina Fair (the play, and the movies.)

But my second best friend's name in high school was Sabrina, and while she would have been honored for me to use that name, my best friend would have probably broken up with me.

So, no Sabrina Fair for me.

August 10, 2015 1:20 PM

My main issue is that I often like the way names sound, but detest their primary association or namesake.

I absolutely adore the name Ophelia, but as a queer feminist who has struggled with depression, I just can't name a daughter after a woman who drowned herself over a man. Guinevere is another name I love, but it's a lot to saddle a kid with, and I'd really rather not name a kid after a legendary adultress.

For boys, I love the sound of the name Judas. I think it's lovely. However, it would just be cruel to name a son Judas. Same with Lucifer. It's so pretty, but I'm not about to name a child after Satan.

August 10, 2015 3:35 PM

Thisbe. I so loved this name during my last pregnancy. Still love it. But ultimately we decided it was too 'out there' for us, and we were concerned about people stumbling on pronounciation. But part of me will perhaps always wish we used it.

August 10, 2015 5:27 PM

Marie Grace. For some reason I've loved this name since I first heard it...on an American Girl doll. Not only is it hugely associated with a popular toy, it sounds old fashioned, French and Catholic, none of which are adjectives that describe my family.  Oh well. 

August 11, 2015 9:46 AM

I have quite a number, and people find this hilarious because I have gone ahead and named my children some strange names.

Stormi May. I loved it but censored myself....I thought it sounded too trendy or cutesy or valley girlish or something...I found a different way to use it. It's a good thing, I can't see it fitting the daughter I wanted to have it, though it would have fit my next daughter.

Asher. I liked that name for years before it became popular, but with an extremely common last name, we try hard to avoid the trends or common names. Not always easy; when we named my first daughter no one had heard of the name. Then Disney named one of their 12 Dancing Princesses the name and boom, we are at the far left side of a witches hat trend. It hasn't gotten terribly big yet, though.

The one that really sticks in my craw, though, and still frustrates me to the point I wish I could legally change my third daughter's name to it: Octavia Blessing. Vetoed by my husband, not usable for anyone else even if he should change his mind. It would have been for my 8th child, so Octavia is perfect, and Blessing is both pretty and a message to those who think a lot of children is crazy. Eighth blessing. Pretty, unusual, with a great nickname and a good message. :( It makes me sad.

August 11, 2015 11:13 AM

Caprice...love the sound & meaning.  (And our youngest daughter has a name with a somewhat similar sound.) But, I made the mistake of Googling the name. 

August 11, 2015 12:21 PM

Tuesday for a girl.  I think it's so cute but any time I mention people tell me it's studpid :(

August 11, 2015 12:28 PM

I strongly favoured Annunciata at one time.    Now I never cease to be grateful I was over it before having a daughter :-)    Also loved Tertia, and the daughter WAS our third, but my spouse vetoed that :-(

On the other hand I always loved, and still do, Ralph/Rafe, and sometimes wonder what I could have been thinking of to bypass it for both boys??

August 11, 2015 12:30 PM

Tuesday for a girl?   I think you have to have a clear personal reason for a name like that, or what will she tell people?

August 11, 2015 12:32 PM

We are super-Jewish (if we hadn't named directly after family I would have gone with Akiva, Tuvia, and Yehudit) but deep in my heart there's a special place for Timothy and Claudia.

August 11, 2015 12:50 PM

I adore Nell but all the longer names (Eleanor, Helen, Penelope, et al) leave me cold and seem so far removed from Nell.  I can't bring myself to use a nickname as a given name especially since I haven't with my older children.

August 11, 2015 12:56 PM

I'm in love with Irene but apparently everybody hates it! I can't understand why :( In Italy, it is considered a pretty name, and it could have been a good choice for us (same spelling in Italian and English), but we are trying to don't be selfish and give a name that will make our daughter happy here in the US :)

August 11, 2015 1:03 PM

Our last name is Lee, which seems so common & ordinary that you wouldn't think it would cause naming problems, but it does!  Four of my top contenders for girls' names had to be tossed because of Lee issues: Bailey (the weird repeating syllable), Laurel (having a last name that starts with L drops the ending L sound out of Laurel making it sound like "Laura" which is not a name I love enough to give my daughter), Claire (Claire Lee sounds too much like "clearly" - everyone we tested it on made a joke about it) and Harper (obvious reasons - the irony is I decided on the name Harper because I love Harper Lee so much.  But giving my daughter the EXACT same name is a bit much).

August 11, 2015 1:59 PM

Hah, ultimate irony! I clicked on the link thinking, "oh, definitely, Indigo," and lo and behold, that's the graphic for this post. I love the name (for a boy), but it not only falls into the category of nature/word names that I love, but don't think I am brave/counter-culture enough to actually bestow (I don't want to stick my kid(s) with such strong associations that may not match their own -ness), but also, I recently learned about the concept of "indigo children" and, now, much as I love it, I can't escape the "new-age mumbo jumbo" vibe. Sigh.

August 11, 2015 2:44 PM

Maude.  I think it has a cool, classic, simple sound that goes well with our long last name.  My husband said no way because it sounded too "old lady-ish" to him.  Sigh... I love the names we've chosen so far but I still think of little Maude sometimes.

August 11, 2015 3:04 PM

Oh yes, name crushes...

I've always loved Marisol, but considering a daughter would have absolutely no Hispanic heritage, it feels wrong to use it. Charis is another name crush. I love the sound and spelling and meaning but I worry about pronunciation issues. I've always secretly liked the name November for a girl, but my husband won't even consider it. I would love to use Victor for a boy, but it would be far too alliterative with our last name. 

August 11, 2015 5:36 PM

Asher is the first to come to mind - my husband said it sounded like a deaf reindeer, and with that cruel rejoinder the name was forever tarnished.

I also love names like Allegra, Persephone, and Seamus, but since we have a challenging Ukranian last name, we ultimately went with easier-to-pronounce first names.  

August 11, 2015 5:38 PM

My cousin just named her daughter Irene, and has only gotten positive feedback. It's much more palatable when applied to a beautiful baby, so you should stick with it if you love it. 

August 11, 2015 6:42 PM

I actually named my daughter Indigo!  I have no regrets. I do live in California where people are more free in their naming perhaps. My other daughter is Phoenix. They both like their names. I do think that people are a little surprised that someone working in a conservative profession has kids with such bohemian names, but they should have seen the names I discarded for being too out there!



August 11, 2015 6:58 PM

I have always loved the name Abigail and have three daughters, none of them named Abigail! First daughter, husband preferred another name that I also loved. Second daughter, thinking she was our last, we named after grandmas. Third daughter, and Abigail had become extremely common in our community as well as nationwide. I could have insisted on Abigail anyway and family would have supported me, but I became persuaded that our child would be forced to constantly go by "Abby with a Y" or "Abigail Z" or something, given how many Abigails (variously spelled) live near us. So instead we used a different name that my husband has always loved.  

I was hoping the name crush would wear off, but it hasn't. My daughter is nearly 3 and I still find myself wishing we'd named her Abigail. On the other hand, if we had named her Abigail, maybe I'd be wishing we hadn't, for all the reasons above. 

August 11, 2015 7:00 PM

I also love the name Myrtle, after a beloved relative, but I think I'm alone in the universe in loving that name. 

August 11, 2015 7:51 PM

I adore the name Bellamy, and strongly considered it for my LO... Until my mom said it sounded like a hemorrhoid cream. I still love it, but couldn't use it after that. 

I'm also a huge fan of Allegra. That one is still in the running for the next kiddo, even though with my luck any daughter I give it to will likely have every allergy possible.

Other contenders that I can't bring myself to use are October, Thursday, and Bliss. For obvious reasons. 

August 11, 2015 9:39 PM

If we had 2 more sons and 2 more daughters, which we won't but, whatever, they would be Milo, Charlie (given name Charles), Azalea, and Juniper. We decided on family names for our kids, which ruled all of those out. But think of the service we could have done for future generations to give THEM such cool "family names" to choose from!

August 11, 2015 9:55 PM

After running through the comments I remembered Asher and Kaya, which where my boy & girl name crushes in late high school. Also SO many "foreign" names that I think are beautiful but I don't get to use because they don't fit my cultural background. And anything that ends in S because our last name starts with S. So many good names, so few babies to attach them to!

August 11, 2015 11:37 PM

Thank you i8brenna! This is so kind of you! I need some encouragement! We are compromising over Clara, but my heart is totally with Irene :0)