Should we stick with Briar and Betty?

I've been a name nerd since middle school and I've annoyed my husband with baby names for a decade. We worked out a kind of truce more than a year ago, it was successful and we have a very short list of solid names we can agree on.

Now that we're actually expecting, I'm finding that there isn't any more baby name searching to do! It seems crazy. For years I looked forward to this time when I could really get into naming with my husband's support, and now I'm already done.

I think I'm done....I wonder if I'm done.... I find myself anxiously waiting on the SSA baby name list to be released in about a week so I can "make sure" my choices are ok. Which is ridiculous. My husband is always telling me that I'll have to give up obsessing over the popularity of name after it is given to a child. I agree that stressing myself over the rising popularity of our child's name accomplishes nothing. I even agree that popularity isn't a major concern these days.

But I'm still going to check the list next week.

So in short, I'm on the fence of whether I'm done or not. I'd really like your opinions on what we have chosen so that when that SSA list comes out I can be prepared to either remain stedfast or get on with the research. I lurk on a lot of different naming communities, but I think this one is the most thoughtful and offers the best insight.

We hope to have a total of 2-3 kids, so some combination of these may be a sibling set.  Our last name has 2 syllables, begins with Sh and ends with ley. 

The names are: 

Betty Nightingale 

Briar Oak    (boy)


The runners up are:

Lavender Mirth

Robin __?___  (boy)

Both of the top names have significance, but since I'm looking for your initial impressions of the names, I think I'll keep the explanations to a minimum in this first post.

I'm concerned that Briar may become a very trendy name for girls. My husband says that it doesn't matter, but I think it might matter to a son. I think Betty could explode in popularity (or not) as babies are named after great grandmothers, but I don't think that will happen for a couple of years yet. 

Of course I have noticed other "problems" with these names, but I want to see if anyone brings them up as concerns. If nobody else comments on them then I am happy to assume that most people won't comment on them either. 


May 2, 2017 11:14 PM

Before 2015, Briar was unisex, leaning male:

2015 330F 203M
2014 157F 200M
2013 108F 161M
2012 108F 189M
2011 103F 172M
2010 70F 173M
2009 72F 138M
2008 51F 152M
2007 73F 139M
2006 53F 132M
2005 30F 117M
2004 37F 125M
2003 43F 132M
2002 34F 101M
2001 38F 107M
2000 35F 101M
1999 29F 67M
1998 31F 59M
1997 29F 72M
1996 22F 83M

Do we know what caused the name's feminine usage to double between 2014 and 2015? Knowing the cause could help predict what'll happen with the 2016 numbers.

However, as you acknowledge, numbers aren't all that important. I think the data shows that Briar is an established but uncommon modern name for boys. This means you should be confident in using it, regardless of what the name does on the feminine side. Don't fall into the modern misogynistic mindset of avoiding masculine names that have "gone girl". When people make incorrect gender assumptions, correct them and move on. (In any case, the visual similarity to Brian will mean that even if Briar continues its current feminine trajectory, those girls will be dealing with incorrect assumptions, too.)

I have two quibbles with Betty. One, it's a nickname-name, and I tend to prefer more formal (and longer) names as "full" names. If you don't like Elizabeth, there's also Barbara (traditional German diminutive Babette -> Betty, a derivation I discovered while doing my husband's genealogy). My second quibble is the rhyme with your surname, assuming the -ley is pronounced like -lee, as in Shirley and Shelley and Shipley. Sometimes, such repetition can be pleasing, but it's highly subjective and detail-dependent. (For example, to my ear Betty Shelley is too much, but Betty Shipley is actually pretty nice.)

May 3, 2017 1:24 AM

A celebrity baby named Briar Rose, after the original Sleeping Beauty name.

I think Briar is a really awesome, squarely unisex nature name. I know several boys with much more girl-leaning unisex names, and none of them seem even a little bit bothered by it. I think with a name as uncommon as Briar, your son would be the primary association for most people who know him and I wouldn't expect Briar-as-a-girl's-name to come up that frequently.  The Sleeping Beauty association will come up occasionally, especially as they hit the Disney Princess age, but I think as long as the parents are able to model a cheerful correction without a lot of carrying on, your son will take your lead and correct misgenderings without being particularly upset by it. Two of my sons have names that are regularly mistaken for female, and it's been completely not a big deal.

Robin is a nice pairing with Briar -- it's a comparably nature-feeling, but namey choice with an equally unisex bent. I think it's an excellent choice! 

I like Betty! It's nice and cheery and I think that there's a lot to be said for using Betty rather than Elizabeth because Betty is a completely nonstandard nickname these days, and I bet that even if you had intent to nickname her Betty, I'm pretty sure the outside world would tend to call an Elizabeth either Elizabeth, and possibly Ellie or maaaybe Lizzie. I may be biased but I also tend to view Betty as very complete as a name due to the great local fame of author Betty MacDonald.

May 3, 2017 1:51 AM

The Maleficent movie came out in 2014, so it probably had something to do with the spike in girl-Briars in 2015. It's also possible that we're seeing side effects of the SSA's data-reporting choices, namely the fact that they ignore middle names: I wonder how many of those spike-in-girl-Briars are actually named Briar Rose.

May 3, 2017 2:29 AM

She's exclusively Aurora in that retelling, though. My money is on the celebrity baby from 2015; it was a widely circulated name story.

May 4, 2017 6:00 AM

The popularity jump for girls definetly seems to be connected with Briar Rose, the celebrity baby, and to some degree the Disney princess. We chose the name Briar because it is the name of our favorite character from a series of children's books and he is a tough guy. So a son named Briar would know it isn't just a princess name. 

I'm really grateful for the input about how some boys feel about being mistaked for a girl due to a neutral sounding name. Since I'm not a boy, I didn't know if it would be a big deal or not, thus I worried. I'm relieved that it seems to be a non-issue. Also I'm thrilled that you like Robin with Briar. Apart I think they are good, but I LOVE them together. I really like how they match with the unis*x-leaning-girl and nature elements. If you have any other suggestions for names like this I would love to hear them. I have no other boys names beyond Briar and Robin that we can agree on! 

 I love the cheery sound of Betty too! I agree than Betty isn't a standard nickname for Elizabeth at the moment, and I'd be really miffed if she went by another nickname. I know nicknames are unavoidable, but I really don't want to create the potential for numerous nicknames we don't like just to put a long name on the birth ceritifcate that we don't want to use. I think of Betty as a full name too because of my grandmother and Betty White. 


May 4, 2017 6:57 AM

I've been trying to reply for a day and a half to this post, but something is triggering the spam filter, so I'll try re-writing it.

 Hungariannamegeek: Thank you for such a nice summary of the recent history of the name! I never occured to me to find out why it was "going girl". That can really make a diffrence in predicting what will happen. I think we will be fine with correcting people who assume it is only a girl's name.  

We chose Betty because it was my grandmother's name. She wasn't an Elizabeth, just a Betty. My husband has a five syllable name but goes by the common one syllable nickname. I asked him how he felt about long names and said he didn't think it made much of a diffrence. He'd be fine with his casual short name on official documents and resumes. We still might be willing to give a child a long formal name but in this case, we don't like any of the other nicknames for Elizabeth (and it's various forms). I feel that enough successful women have been named "just Betty" for it to be acceptable as a given name. 

I wondered about the surname rhyme.... Our last name rhymes with Blakely, which I think is more like Shipley than Shelley in the example. What do you think? Maybe she will get married and then it won't be an issue. :P

May 3, 2017 1:22 AM

Betty Nightingale - I'm not fussed on this one,  I prefer Elizabeth or Elsbeth

Briar Oak    (boy) - not keen on the name

Lavender Mirth - not keen on this one

Robin __?___  (boy) - I'm not keen on this for a boy

May 3, 2017 9:20 AM

I will be honest when I first read your post title I assumed that you were talking about two girls names, and I was not really aware that Briar is a boys name too (possibly because my first associations are Briar Rose and Briony the idea of it on a boy never occurred to me). However I don't actually see a problem with using it for a boy as long as you are happy to correct anyone who makes the mistake, and like lucubratrix said teach your son to have a good attitude about correcting people.

After that my initial impression of Betty Nightingale is that it's a very pretty floaty name (I think a lot of that is in the middle name though because if I just think Betty then it's a bit more down to earth but still cute and friendly). Both that and Briar Oak make me think of woods/forests; I can imagine them as characters in a children's book living in the forest and protecting it and the animals. If I heard of them as a sibling pair I'd assume that the parents were quite nature-oriented, green living type people (again with the inclusion of middle names, Betty and Briar don't make such a strong impression, although Briar-especially on a boy-tips it that way).

I also like Betty just as Betty; although you could give her a longer form and just always call her Betty you would then have to be okay with her growing up and deciding to use a different short form (Ellie/Lizzy/Beth if you went for Elizabeth) or going by the longer name itself. So I wouldn't consider doing that unless you're genuinely happy with the long version and it's other obvious nickname(s). I don't think it's a problem that your surname ends in a -ley sound, all the names I can think of that fit that sound fine to my ear with Betty, but then that's a very subjective thing.

The only slight "problem" I can see with your top choices is that as they are B names the initals for either child will be BS, but I don't think that should be a deal breaker as there are very simple ways around it. They could either just use their middle initial as well-BNS or BOS-or use B Surname or Betty S/Briar S.

May 3, 2017 9:23 AM

Also Mods my first response was blocked by the spam filter because I used unis*x in the first paragraph.

May 4, 2017 6:03 AM

My family knew a child named Briar very well. My mother watched him and his brother most days when I was a kid. So Briar is a boys name as far as my family is concerned. 

The characters in childrens books is kind of exactly what we like. I'm a children's librarian and I come from a family of avid readers. I really wasn't setting out to name all our kids with double nature names, but it ended up being the common ground for my husband and I. I like really unusual names, he likes recognizable names (or names from his favorite book characters). Word names was a way for us to agree. We would consider changing Oak to a different name if we could find anything else we liked for the spot. Maybe we kind of are green-type people. We're not the sporty outdoors folk, but we're the gardening, homemade meals, no microwave, TV, or dryer needed, cloth dipering, and breastfeeding type of folk. You could say we're crunchy I guess.

I'm glad to hear that you think Betty is fine as it is and sounds ok with our last name. We have noticed the BS initials and we have talked about it a few times. We think that we like the names enough to live with the unfortunate initials, my husband doesn't think people ever use their initials. I have used my initials a lot! Actually, I started using my full three initials in 1st grade because another girl had the same first and last initials. I've been using all three letters for my initials ever since with no problems on all sorts of paperwork. I think we'll just encourage them to use the three initials.

May 4, 2017 10:12 AM

Have you checked out the current blog post on this site? It's a list of possible boys' nature names, and since Oak is on the list, perhaps some of the other names mentioned might give you some ideas. The post itself is one of Ms. Cardoza's less bad ones.

May 4, 2017 4:22 PM

I live in an area where nature word names are very in, and you generally sound like most of my neighbors in terms of your values, OP. Anyway, I like the idea of pairing Briar with a virtue name: Loyal, True, Merit, Noble, Sincere, Hardy, Hale, Peace/Pax, Sterling, Story. Something like Clement or Worth or August plays up the fusty factor while still being virtue-ish. Maybe Earnest?

May 4, 2017 6:52 PM

I checked out the blog post but I only liked Forest, and really that is not much diffrent than Oak. I didn't know that Oak was the national tree of the US, so I did learn something!

I do love virtue names! Loyal and Story (I had never considered Story for a boy. Bravo!) is my favorite of the bunch there. I do like Pax a lot, but husband vetoed it on the baisis of sounding like very much like a close family member's name. Clement could be nice. Our first date was in Clement Park, which is still in the hometown where we will raise our kids. I like it much more as a name than a park. Ernest is a maybe. I feel like my husband would like it but I'm not thrilled by it. 

May 5, 2017 12:57 AM

Aww, first date in Clement Park is such a great origin story for a middle name! That gets my vote for sure!!

May 3, 2017 10:00 AM

You're not alone! I passed my pregnancy happy that we had chosen a name that we both loved, but disappointed that I didn't have the chance to debate everything at length. Very frustrating for a name lover.

I like your choices very much. I like that all four have a nature connection (although I like that it is somewhat hidden in the middlename spot in Betty's case, which should de-cutesify the sibling set when all two or three of them are there.

I find just-Betty as the full name fine (perhaps because I have never liked Elizabeth). If you were inclined (which you probably aren't or you would have mentioned it) to look for a longer form, something like Bridget or Berit could lead you naturally to Betty.

Briar Oak is a lot of botany in one name (I personally nixed Florence as a middle name for my Ivy because I found it a bit overpowering), but so long as you are fine with that I don't see why it should be a problem. I don't know any Briars but to me it leans ever so slightly female. I don't think this is a problem however. It is very refreshing to find someone proposing clearly feminine girls names and unis€x boys' names... usually it is the other way around. I agree that the similarity in sound to Brian, as well as your own attitude, should smooth over any issues in that direction.

I think you can safely be "done" (and still check the name data, why not?). I'm personally enjoying my friends' pregnancies more from a name point of view, especially the ones who are looking for input!

May 4, 2017 6:04 AM

It's nice to know that I'm not alone! It is also heartening to realize that I can enjoy naming things when my friends and family are having children. Yay! It's not all over!

I like nature names a lot, but I agree that Briar Oak is a lot of botany in one name. If we could find a meaningful replacement, we might change it, but the boys list is pretty darn short. We can't even find a good middle name for Robin! Being that Oak is a middle name and we don't plan on using it as a double first name I think we can let it slide. After all, the children's book character which inspired it is Briar Moss, another double nature name. If you've got a suggestion for an Oak-replacement or a middle name for Robin I'd like to hear some ideas. 

I am begining to think I may be done, thanks for the vote of confidence.


May 23, 2017 1:45 AM

All but Betty (which is lovely except for the BS initials I wouldn't be able to get over) sound 1980s Disney to me, but Briar Oak was the one that made me do a double take. It sounds straight up Disney Princess meets Woodland Elf embodied in a Warrior Cat.

The fact that others said Briar has "gone girl" and is on the rise in addition would make me want to give a slightly more unremarkable name in the middle in case he wanted to use the middle as an alternative later in life. Even a more esoteric name like Frankinsence could provide a solid nickname, but Oak doesn't have much to work with.

Would you consider the name Linden as an alternative? Betty and Linden sound wonderful together.



Moses or Mossimo (nn Moss)

May 3, 2017 12:18 PM

I love Betty Nightingale.  She sounds like she should be partners with Agent Peggy Carter or something.  Usually, I do prefer longer given names over nicknames-as-given, but I think Betty works fine as a stand alone.

Briar does lean girl for me, but only because my only association with the name is Briar Rose.  I think it would only take one IRL Briar for that to no longer be my primary association.  I also think Briar's similarity to names like Brian or Bryce helps it feel more boyish.  I'm not crazy about the pairing of Briar Oak, it seems just a bit too whimsical for me (I feel the same about the pairing of Briar Rose).  I think I'd prefer something with a little more juxtaposition-like you've got with Betty Nightingale.  Something along the lines of Briar Henry, Briar John, Briar George, or Briar Albert perhaps?

I adore Lavender!  However, this is another where I think the pairing of first/middle is a bit too much whimsy for my taste, keeping in mind that this is totally subjective.  Sibling names do not have to coordinate, but the pairing of sisters called Betty & Lavender would be a bit jarring for me I think.  I would probably lean towards Lavender in the middle, with something more similar to Betty as first.  Molly Lavender, Dorothy Lavender, Ruth Lavender.  My 2nd choice would be to keep Lavender in the first position, but pair it with something a bit fusty in the middle.  

I love, love, love Robin for a boy!  I do think Briar & Robin pair very nicely together as brother names, and I especially enjoy that you are considering more gender neutral names for boy names.  It seems most posts about gender neutral names tend to be about names for girls.  Again, I really like the pairing of whimsical/nature + something a bit fusty.   So I'd probably lean towards something like Robin Walter, Robin Frederick, Robin Arthur or Robin Benedict.

May 3, 2017 1:37 PM

I agree that two botanical nature names seem like a lot together in one combination, so I would probably pair Briar with something other than Oak (especially given that it really pushes further similarities to Briar Rose, another double botanical). My favorite thing about middle names is if there's a good story behind it, though, so if Oak delivers that, I think that would be my deciding point. But if there's a namesake with a less unexpected noun from nature-type name that you could serve up in the middle spot, I'd consider that instead.

I also personally try to avoid combinations that become adjective+noun, like Lavender Mirth. (I can appreciate that it sounds very superheroic, though, and for all intents and purposes she'd be Lavender M. Surname most of the time, so if it's really meaningful, I think you can certainly do it.)

I find Betty and Lavender to be pleasingly eclectic as sibling names and I'd have no reservations about the pairing. 

Super name choices, and I hope that the SSA data sets your mind at ease! I'm also looking forward to it very much, and I'm done naming!

May 3, 2017 5:06 PM

I really like all these middle names with the boy options, I agree the fusty-ness is a nice foil for the whimsical/naturey-ness of the first names.

I'm actually also enjoying the more unexpected (potential) sibling set of Betty and Lavender, although it would be a sweet connection for each sister to have their nature name as a middle. Although proving that it's all a matter of taste I would actually rate Lavender as a fusty name rather than a whimsical one (fusty/nature of course but to me it's on a par with names like Iris or Opal) so I don't think it needs a fusty partner because that makes it too fusty for me. Personally if I were picking a middle for Lavender I'd go with something very simple/classic like Claire. 

May 4, 2017 6:06 AM

 I do like that super hero feel to Betty Nightingale. In fact my father only consented to my own name because it was a comic book hero's name! He also wanted to name my brother Valiant. (Mom said no, but we all say it's a great name, so my brother plans to name his son Valiant). So the comic book feel will go over well with my family.

I'll keep looking around for some less botanical middles for Briar, but I'm not sure find something my husband and I can agree on. It's funny that you suggested Briar Henry (and then Robin Fr3derick!). My family knew a a pair of brothers name Henry and Briar with the last name Fr3drick when I was a child. It was my Kindergarten teacher's sons and my mother watched them everyday before and after school. So Briar is very much a boy's name to my family. However, Briar died in an accident when he was about 10. So for years I told my husband I couldn't use the name Briar even though he liked it. But I thought about it and realized that Briar was such a good and happy child that he couldn't be a bad namesake, and that his mother would probably be very happy to see another Briar running around. I feel like I need to ask for permission to use the name, but I also dread sending that email. I don't want to find out the gender, so I could ask her and then have a girl!

Lavender has been one the top-two list for more than a year now, so we really like it too! However, something happened today while my husband and I were out walking. He decided he liked the name Maple more. I was a little shocked. I'm still not completely sure how I feel about it, but do think Maple matches Betty better. I like the ecclectic feel of "Betty and Lavender", but it sounds like "Betty and Maple" is a possibility now! (I really don't know what to put with Maple as a middle! All I have is Maple Snow, Maple Noel, or Maple Gwendolen, but neither of us is sold on those yet.)

I'm so glad you like Robin and Briar together! Robin reminds me of Robin Hood, which has always been a favorite of mine. I really like the softer gender neutral names for boys. One combos we're considering is Robin Humfrey to get the RH initials for Robin Hood. I think that meets the fusty criteria. :)


May 4, 2017 1:20 PM

Oh, I do like Maple!  I agree that Maple & Betty seem like a better fit.  Still ecclectic & surprising, but next to Betty, Lavender feels too....frilly, perhaps?  

Maple Snow gives me a Very Strong Vermont Maple Syrup kind of vibe.  I like Maple Noel better-or even the more obviously girl Maple Noelle.  Still has a wintery sort of vibe, but not as syrupy as Maple Snow, if that makes any sense.  I know a family who has a little girl named Cedar, perhaps you'd like that?  It also felt a little more boy to me, and I could also see it working as a boys name with Robin & Briar.

Robin Humfrey does have that fusty feel, I love it! 

May 4, 2017 6:58 PM

I didn't realize that Maple Snow was still too syrup related. I can see the connection, so I think Maple Snow is nixed. I'm fine with the feminine spelling Maple Noelle, even if she wasn't a Christmas baby, we still love Christmas!

I agree that Cedar feels a little more boyish and that it could work. I think the sound is fine, but it's a little odd for us for the following reason. Here in Japan they planted a ton of Cedars to replenish the forests after the war and when they matured the all started releasing pollen. Absolutely crazy tons of pollen. It gives everyone hayfever and incapacitates many with allergies. So Cedar could be an awkward choice since we will mantain ties with Japan.

May 5, 2017 8:39 AM

Here in maple county, at the end of winter, people go "sugaring off", the highlight of which is when they pour hot maple syrup into snow then spin it on a wooden stick, thus creating a warm but cold, gooey but crunchy maple lollipop. It's glorious, but too gimmicky for a name, I think. 

May 3, 2017 4:22 PM

I wouldnt use BS as initials even with a middle most of the time the initials will just be BS

May 3, 2017 4:49 PM

Do you have to inital though? I'm genuinely asking here, initalling is not really a big thing that I've ever come across and I know/have worked with lots of kids so I'm wondering if it's maybe a more common practice in Amreica, what kind of things would you use only initals for? 

May 3, 2017 4:59 PM

There are many legal forms which call for initials. Also some employers/institutions use initials to generate email addresses. But usually people use three initials if they have middle names. If the three initials spell something unfortunate, then the option to use just two initials generally exists.


May 3, 2017 5:12 PM

Ah, I see, thanks. Well hopefully it wouldn't really be an issue on a legal form-I presume whoever was having you sign them would have better manners/more tact than to make any comment on it and middle intial could be used for other more formal situations. 

May 4, 2017 6:55 AM

Lots of places do the initials at school (on the board), at work

May 4, 2017 7:03 AM

Thanks for commenting. I was wondring how many people would pick up on that. I agree it is a problem, but we might just live with it. I grew up using my three initials and it's worked out just fine. My husband also likes to point out "BS stands for Bachelors of Science too, and people go to college for years to get those initials."

By mk
May 4, 2017 12:24 PM

Your husband has the right idea!

I always use all 3 initials when I need to initial for something.

May 4, 2017 12:40 AM

I adore these names!

I hesitate on Betty Sh___ley simply because of the possible rhymeyness, but then it very much depends on the specific surname. For example, I don't care for the sound of Betty Shirley, but I like the sprightly combination Betty Shipley, so it really depends on the name and is very subjective even then. I don't see Betty exploding in popularity anytime soon, and personally it doesn't bother me one bit to see it as the full name. I love Nightingale in the middle spot. 

Briar definitely feels more feminine to me. Even though I'm aware that there are boy Briars and were more boy Briars than girl Briars born in most recent years until 2015, my main association with the name is Briar Rose. That said, I think I could warm up to the idea of Briar as a boys' name pretty quickly. The two botanicals in one name doesn't bother me at all, and I like Oak for a boy. If the stimulus behind Briar's rise up the girl's list is either the celebrity baby Briar Rose or the increased interest in Sleeping Beauty due to Maleficent's release, then I think it will be a fairly short-lived phenomenon and Briar will fall back under the radar of expectant parents pretty quickly. Of course, the release of the 2016 SSA data could prove me wrong!

I love Lavender Mirth and would love to know if there's any sort of story behind it. Yes, it's two word names, but again that doesn't bother me.

I'm so excited to see Robin making a tiny little comeback for boys. I like to think it could turn around the whole pattern of boy names "going girl," even though I know that's a lot to pin on one name. Do you have an idea of what you would like in a middle name for Robin? Another nature-inspired pick? Something virtue-name-like similar to Mirth? Another nickname with vintage appeal?

Betty, Briar, Lavender; Betty, Lavender, Robin; Briar, Lavender, Robin- I think any of these combinations work just fine as a sibset, my favorite being Betty, Lavender, and Robin.

The initials BS would only bother me if you weren't going to use middle names because I don't see any issues with BNS or BOS. Is there something probelmatic that I'm missing?

May 4, 2017 6:22 AM

Our last name rhymes with Blakely, so I think we fit in the bouncy category. What do you think?

It's nice to hear the the double botanical name doesn't bother everyone. I think Briar may settle down too unless Disney makes another live action Sleeping Beauty remake. 

Lavender Mirth has really grown on me because it's been in my top two girls names for more than a year. Sadly, there isn't much of a story there. I finally annoyed my husband into making a list of names he did like and Lavender was on the list. It matched Briar nicely. He suggested the middle name Mint, which is cute and nice, but it is also shampoo-ish. I liked the sound of Mint, but I put Mirth in because I knew a girl named that in middle school and I loved it. I love the old feel of the word, it's rarity as a name, and of course the meaning. Who wouldn't love a girl named purple giggles!?

My husband just decided today that he likes Maple more than Lavender. Maple would be for the Japanese Maples (we are living in Japan for a few years), and for the funny and cute witch character who appears in the Zelda games (Which my husband loves). Part of me says Maple has more meaning than Lavender, so it is a better choice. Another part of me has been carrying Lavender Mirth around for so long I don't want to change it. And we both agree that Mirth does not work well with Maple. What's your prefrence?

Yay! I'm so glad to find another Robin fan! I'm really not sure what to put with Robin. I've thought about Robin Moss and Robin Humfrey, but I still am not sure. A virtue or word name would be nice, because we seem to agree on them more easily. Any ideas?

I think you covered all the issues I saw! That was really helpful!

May 4, 2017 10:03 AM

Apropos of very little, besides being a botanical term, Moss is a medieval variant of Moses and is still occasionally used as such (e.g., Moss Hart).

May 4, 2017 12:24 PM

Yes, I think Betty "Sh-Blakely" sounds upbeat and fun!

As of now Disney hasn't announced any plans for a live action Sleeping Beauty remake, although they have announced a whole slew of other live action adaptations and teased a possible sequel to Maleficent.

As much as I usually like botanicals, mint is for toothpaste, not a person's name. There's also an actual variety of mint called lavender mint. It doesn't sound like you need more options for girl's names, but Araminta has the 'mint' sound in it with a totally different style than Mint. Harriet Tubman was born Araminta Ross.

"Purple Giggles"- I love it! Had my brother been a sister, his name would have been "Green Peace"- Jade (like the green stone and color) Pace (Italian word for peace). I love all the same qualities in Mirth that you list!

Obviously, you just need to have more children to use all these fabulous names. ;) I like Maple and Lavender and don't know how to pick between the two! I think if you hit on a middle for Maple that makes me swoon the way Lavender Mirth did, then the meaning makes it win out, but it's hard to compare the dreamy combination Lavender Mirth with Maple by itself.

Of the possible middle names you mentioned below, I think Maple Gwendolen is gorgeous. I like Maple Snow, but I wonder if you have ever made maple snow candy? It kind of takes over the name for me. I think Noel's meaning is so overt that it only really works on a baby born at Christmastime. Of course, if this little one is due at the most wonderful time of the year, then I like it but would use the more feminine spelling Noelle. Maple Darling has me torn a bit. On one hand, I like the sentiment behind it and I love that it makes me think of Peter Pan, but I feel like it's a bit too wordy and not enough namey, if that makes sense. I also like the suggestion of Maple Dulcie. Hmmm... other ideas... Maple Araminta, Maple Rosalind, Maple Jessamine, Maple Juniper, Maple Amethyst, Maple Winter, Maple Blithe, Maple Lark, Maple Amity...

I like both Robin Moss and Humfrey, although I've never seen that spelling of Humfrey. If those don't seem quite right then I'm sure we can collectively brainstorm some other choices. I really like Candor for a boy and it feels very similar to Mirth to me in its rarity and "old" feel. Robin Candor? I've also heard of Worth as a virtue name for boys and it has a very similar sound to Mirth. Robin Worth? Robin Truth, Robin Steadfast, Robin Honor, Robin Chivalry, Robin Earnest,... I would suggest Robin Valiant, but I see your brother has "dibbs" on that. Depending on where you fall on the corny or charming scale, perhaps Robin Goodfellow? I also really like Robin Meriwether or Robin Evergreen. Robin Huckleberry doesn't sound bad either if you're a fan of Mark Twain, and it has the RH initials for Robin Hood.

For Briar, maybe Finch as the middle name... For some reason, I'm having a harder time coming up with middle names for Briar. A few of the options I listed for Robin I also like with Briar. If Robin Goodfellow is too much, maybe Briar Goodfellow could strike a nice balance. Hmmm... I may come back with more ideas if I think of any!

May 4, 2017 4:24 PM

I love Maple -- its similarity to Mabel puts it as a natural sibling to Betty, and its botanical nature would make it fit really well with Briar or Robin. So a big thumbs up to a name that to be beautifully bridges the gap between Betty and the other names on your list! If you use Maple, you must get the kids' book by the same name and its adorable sequels.

May 4, 2017 7:14 PM

I certinly think a half dozen children would be a fun size! However, I have none of those children as of yet and the thought terrifies my husband, so we'll just wait as see what happens. Lets just hope we have lots of girls, I'm better with girls' names. I agree that if I can find a swoon-worthy middle for Maple I'd feel much better about leaving Lavender Mirth for a possible third girl. Until then, I just can't let that combo go.

I'm a little surprised that Maple Gwendolen is getting so many compliments. I suppose I always had Gwendolen (farther down the list) as a first name, so the combo stills seems a little slapped together to me. I think I need mull it over a bit more.

Candor is a really great idea! I think it really matches the qualities I like in Mirth. I really like it! 

I've actually had Meriwether on my lists before, but I made a decision that I didn't like surnames as names (unless there was a namesake which used it as a first). Robin Meriwether makes me want to think about revising that stance. It's very Robin Hood and his Merry Men! Robin Evergreen is nice too. I'm getting quite the list for Robin now, thank you!!

lucubratrix: I'm glad you like the set, and I'll definitely pick up the books! 

May 4, 2017 8:09 PM

Well, there is Meriwether Lewis, probably most people's first or only association with the name.


May 4, 2017 9:05 PM

Well, there's always pets on whom you can bestow as many fanciful names as you wish and without any worry about the name's effect on the bearer's future at that! ;)

If Gwendolen isn't quite right, maybe Maple Gwenllian? Oh! Or Maple Gwyneira? Gwyneira is derived from Welsh for "white snow," so you get the snow meaning in there but very subtly.

Typically I don't like surnames as given names either, but Meriwether feels like a virtue name to me instead of a surname, so it's an exception for me. Fair warning, though, that soundalike Merryweather is the name of one of the three good fairies in Disney's Sleeping Beauty. I think it's worth taking that into consideration since Briar is also in the mix of possibilities. I don't want to deter you in any way from Robin Meriwether, since I love the name, but I think it's best to be aware of associations beforehand, especially when they overlap with potential siblings. The only example I can think of of a real life Meriwether is Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Also, I saw upthread that you like Story, which brings to mind Quest. I think both Robin Quest and Briar Quest have a brilliant dashing heroic flare!

Since this baby is due at Christmas, I do really like Maple Noelle or Briar Noel. I'll also throw Yule into the ring, since it's seasonal, very rare, and has a similar sound to Noel.

May 4, 2017 11:40 PM

It's sad, but I like the Merryweather spelling much better even for a boy. But I can see how sharing a name with a girl fairy (and your brother shares a name with the princess) could be awkward. I think I may have to give it up.

Speaking of awkward movie associations with names. My sister-in-law was named Ariel a couple of years before the Little Mermaid came out. Strangely her best friend growing up was a boy named Sebastian. Her brother, my husband, shares his nickname with Prince Eric's dog. That's a bit awkward!

I LOVE QUEST!! My family is into D&D and online RPG games, so this is SO PERFECT. I'm going to be sooooo miffed if my husband doesn't like it. I've told him to tell me when he's feeling "name tolerant" today so we can discuss my new fancy list of names.  

Quest is so fun!

Briar is our Quest - to raise him that is!

Briar's birthday - grats on ding! (level up)

What is your name? Briar. What is your Quest? My middle name! What is your favorite color? ---

 OMG I LOVE IT. He had better like it too >.> 

(I like it equally much with Robin too. I just want to use it!!!)

May 4, 2017 6:09 AM

I've been trying to reply to all these wonderful comments but I keep getting spam blocked!!! I checked for the Uni- word someone mentioned, but I'm still getting blocked. What else do I need to check for? What could be blocking it? I must have a page and a half of comments I want to post. 


-Edit - I still don't know what is causing it but I'm posting it all in individual replies....spam filter still doesn't like some replies for and unknown reason.

May 4, 2017 6:39 AM

Two known issues are the letter sequence s-e-x and the letter sequence e-t-c (yes, et cetera is banned). If you want, you can email the mods and one of us will post your comments for you. Easiest is if you make a "blank" post where you want the comments to go. The address is bnwmod at gmail dot com. Be sure to tell us your username in the email, too!

May 4, 2017 6:56 AM

Briar to me definitely leans male. I think it's because of the association with Thorn, and the general masculine stereotypes associated with, ah, pricky things. Also, Br'er Rabbit and Br'er Fox and company were all male, I think.

I also love Robin for a boy—one of my favorites, that I would love to see come back a bit.

Other possible middle name ideas:

Nathaniel is a kind of "stealth" nature name to me, because I associate it strongly with Nathaniel Hawthorne. It might be a little redundant with Briar in that way, but I do like the sound of Briar with such a long middle.

Since you mention Japanese maples...I've always thought Acer would be a very cool botanical name for more adventurous namers, from Acer Palmatum, the scientific name for Japanese maples.

In the nature/unisex category, I would also suggest possibly Sage, Indigo, and Rowan (though Robin and Rowan are probably too similar to use together). Sage and Indigo would give you a color connection with Lavender, which I think would be a nice connection especially if one or both were in the middle slot (in the first name slot a colors-theme is a little too precious for my personal taste).

In a similar vein to Mirth, maybe Clement or Meriwether?

May 4, 2017 1:12 PM

I LOVE CLEMENT AND MERIWETHER! Sorry, turning caps off now..

May 4, 2017 9:30 AM

I'm feeling pretty good about our top names, if I stumble across a better middle for Briar, I would consider replacing Oak. However, I'm not going to stress about it.

I often feel that I like Robin better than Briar, and after reading the comments I think Robin might be liked a little more than Briar by the folks here. I don't think I can convince my husband to switch, or rather I believe asking is unfair. He knows I prefer Robin a little, and if he gets to a place where he likes Robin as much as Briar he will bring it up. Still, I've got no middle name settled for Robin. Humfrey and Moss have been tossed around.

I mentioned in a few comments that Maple suddenly was put on the table today as a runner up name. After a year or more of having Lavender in the top two, my husband decided he preferred Maple, which has a little more meaning for us than Lavender. I'm still keeping Lavender on the reserve list, but I need to find a middle for Maple. Maple Snow, Maple Noel, and Maple Gwendolen are all "okay" but not thrilling.

I found a middle name I love and adore - Maple Darling. My husband says I can't put it on a birth certificate and that it would only confuse the kid. He's right, but I really really love it! Can you suggest any alternatives? (or can Darling work as a middle?)

May 4, 2017 10:48 AM

There's no legal reason why you can't put Darling on the birth certificate, but I personally find it too precious. And Maple Snow sounds like the kind of candy we try to make every winter but that never works out because we don't get the right kind of snow here. I like Maple Noelle (that spelling so as not to confuse it with the pronunciation of the boy's name Noel) and Maple Gwendolen. 

May 4, 2017 11:17 AM

With Maple, you have to be prepared for it to be constantly mistaken for Mabel, at least in English contexts. (It occurs to me that Betty and Mabel would be a lovely retro sibling pairing. Robin for their brother also fits perfectly.)

For a middle, instead of Darling, perhaps a more Latinate word-name like Dulcie? (Or go all-out Latin and medieval: Dulcibella.) It'd not quite be "maple sugar", but close enough to have fun with it.

Ogden is a surname derived from a placename meaning "oak valley". Briar Ogden Sh__(k)ley. Still nature-connected, but also literary (in a thoroughly fun way!).

I love Robin Humphrey! Humphrey is not a name I'd want to inflict as a call-name, but it works well as a middle. There's also Hubert, which has a wonderful etymology (from Old German parts meaning 'heart, mind' and 'bright'), although it's perhaps a bit repetitive with Robin on a boy (because Robin is traditionally a nickname for Robert, which has the same 'bright' second element).

All in all, though, I think you're well-set with your current front-runners, and you can continue to have some fun figuring out names for the future. You can also keep looking for alternatives to Oak if you want, but without any pressure, because Oak will work just fine.

May 4, 2017 7:20 PM

Maybe Dulcia? That's a good idea to go to the Latin. Maple Dulcia sounds pretty nice.

I know surnames and first names are really popular, but the trend really bugs me. I've seen Humfrey as a first in a few places, but it still bugs me that it is a surname too. Maybe that's why I haven full on adopted it. So I'm trying my best to avoid surnames. Thanks for the suggestion, Ogden seems like a good match for the sound of the name. 

Strangely, I think there is a theater named Ogden in my hometown...

May 4, 2017 7:45 PM

Humphrey is originally a personal name: Old English Hunfrith and its Old German cognate Hunfrid. The second element is 'peace'; the first element is a folk-name (Huni) which probably originally meant 'giant'. Like many such names, it went out of use as a given name after about the 13th century, but survived as a patronymic surname, and then came back into use as a surname-turned-given at some point after the 16th century. Humfrey is actually the older spelling, and the one that matches the name's origins (ph for 'f' is a Greek thing, and there's not an ounce of Greek in Humphrey's origins), but for some reason the 'ph' has become totally standard.

I share your distaste for surnames-as-givens, but middle names are more flexible: my middle name is my maiden surname, after all. (My maiden surname is a Hungarian locative-type name based on a cognate of 'palace'; it absolutely Does Not Work as a given name.)

I agree that Maple Dulcia is lovely!