thoughts on Ditmas//sibling for Florence

Hey everyone! I was in here about a year ago asking for thoughts on a series of names for a little girl who ended up being Florence Imogen. We just found out we're expecting again, so now it's name drafting round two. Some thoughts about our taste: I grew up with an extremely common name and really prefer things to be as unusual as possible , if possible, but hubby vetoes most of my more admittedly bizarre ideas (Astilbe and Elowen were no-gos). 

However, I am currently infatuated with probably my worst idea yet: Ditmas (boy). I know it's an ugly combination of sounds that sounds like something between 'zit' and a swear word, but it's got a lot of meaning. Ditmas Park, for those of you not familiar with the area, is an old Victorian neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY that is sort of this sheltered suburban enclave not far from the city. When my husband and I were first dating, some friends dragged us to a random Mexican restaurant out there and we ended up wandering the neighborhood and becoming sort of obsessed, and for years living in crowded Manhattan and central London we've held onto this fantasy of "let's quit and move to Ditmas." Even more, Florence is named for the street (also in Brooklyn) where my husband's grandmother lived, chosen last minute when he returned there for her funeral for the first time post-Sandy. I kind of love the idea of these random, obscure little places (especially so close together) tying the names together, and to their background (we no longer live in New York, but my husband's family has historically lived in BK and we spent several years there ourselves). 

My question is: is Ditmas just too ugly? Even as a middle name? Alistair/Alastair Ditmas has a nice ring to it, but I might be pregnancy delusional. 

Other names we like:

boys- Arlo, August (dh doesn't like this one, and I'm worried about popularity, so probably not), Eames, Ives (do like this one because we used to visit St. Ives when we lived in London, so that's a milder place connection), Atlas, Rhys, Ansel

girls- favorites from the last pregnancy were Gwyneth/Edith/Beatrix, although none of those we could quite settle on for various reasons. (we almost rented a flat on Edith Street in London, really wishing we did now haha). Also like Winter, Blythe, Enid, Faye, Ingrid, Wren, and Lois. 

I haven't done too much popularity research yet, but the main holdup with Edith, our top pick for most of the pregnacy last time, was that the numbers were making me nervous. 

Opinions? Ideas? Any more unusual shoutouts?


July 22, 2015 12:09 AM

If Ditmas didn't mean something to you, I would tell you it was a terrible idea. However, being that it's actually really special to you as a husband, I think it's fine as a middle name. I agree that Alistair Ditmas does have a nice ring to it. I also realy love Ansel. 

Another idea to play with is Cortelyou, after the street in Ditmas Park. It's certainly unusual, but without the "ugly combination of sounds". Other Ditmas street ideas: Foster, Stratford, Lenox or Linden

For girls, if you want to "honor" the Ditmas connection, how about using Victoria as the middle name? I know it's pretty mainstream, but the honor is kind of nice. I absolutely love Ingrid. Ingrid Victoria is such a great name. 

July 22, 2015 6:30 PM

That's an interesting you've got me spending all day looking at streets in Ditmas Park :) Love cortelyou street, but I don't know that I prefer that sound wise to ditmas, and it can be even harder to pronounce I think...stratford and lenox I quite like though, and I think abermarle and newkirk have potential as well. Beverley could be interesting for a girl too

July 22, 2015 1:05 AM

I really think that you have so many other wonderful choices, and that you should go with one of those. Ditmas is just a bad combo of sounds. If it is truly special to you and your husband, I would put it in the middle name spot.

July 22, 2015 1:38 AM

Meaningful middle names are my favorite. Go ahead and use Ditmas paired with Alistair or whatever other first name you most like, secure in the knowledge that the only people who will be saying those "ugly" sounds will be you, his parents, and they will make you very happy for their sentiment and meaning. I admittedly wouldn't want Ditmas to be my call name, but I would be very pleased to have such a sweet story behind my middle name.

July 22, 2015 3:28 AM

I think for a middle name Ditmas is fine. I wouldn't impose it on the poor kid as a first name!

Florence and Edith were my two grandmothers, so it's definitely my favourite among your girls' choices. It gets bonus points for nickname Edie. :) At 627 on the American list I think it's not THAT popular, although I do know a baby Edith (in Canada though, which trends a bit more British on names).

Other girls names that fit with Florence and Edith for me: Matilda, Violet, Ivy, Iris, Astrid, Rosie, Martha

Other boy first name thoughts: Harold or Harry, Rupert, Bertram, Theodore, Basil

In both cases, I'm pulling pretty heavily from names I see on baby announcements in the UK, since I think Florence, Edith and Alastair all have a distinctly UK sound.

From your boys list I REALLY like Ives. It stands out, sounds like a name, and has personal meaning. I probably wouldn't use it together with Ditmas though; the kid might feel like a shopping list of his parents lives before he was born. ;)

July 22, 2015 6:46 PM

thanks for all the great suggestions! I agree, Ives Ditmas is way too much to saddle a kid with (in addition to being kind of awkward sound wise, I think). I have to pick one or the other there. I'm really liking the idea of Bertram though- its a little harder sounding than most of my boy favorites, but I'm really liking it. I should explore that direction more. Plus Bert is a great nickname, imo.

Edie is a favorite nickname of mine- I am one of those people who must nickname all children, for better or worse, and the idea of Edie and Flo makes me so happy... I guess with Edith my concern is less that it is so popular now, and more that it is trending upwards rather quickly, and that combined with the fact that it is on the more popular side of our picks already makes me nervous.

July 23, 2015 1:44 AM

Where are you located that Edith is trending upwards? I know that I've constantly been thinking that it's going to have a Downton Abbey effect a la Cora and submitting it in the name pools, but I've been continually disappointed by being totally wrong. Here's the trajectory of Edith in this millennium, by number of total births in the US:

*Downton starts airing here

And although that's the recent exerpt, that's been pretty exactly the pattern for the past 50 years. This looks to me like an absolute non-trend -- just the name bopping around the 400 births/year mark. If Downton wasn't enough to light a fire under Edith thus far (and, again, I'm surprised it hasn't), then I think it's just really not going to happen.

It's not exactly uncommon, yes -- there are many names out there used less frequently -- but it's not common enough that it's likely that your daughter would be bothered by the presence of many other Ediths in many areas of her life, and it's certainly not a particular trend right now. It should be, because it's fantastic and fits in wonderfully with current fashions, but it's not. I'd encourage you to use it!

(Florence is about half as frequent, with 182 births in the last year, but it has been rising (doubled over the past two years), probably because of the band Florence and the Machine, so I wouldn't be surprised to find the two names reaching comparable popularity levels in years ahead. They're both familiar but quirky vintage choices.)


July 23, 2015 2:28 AM

Oh wow, this makes me feel quite a bit better actually! Thanks so much. My data was not at this level and much more circumstancial.. I had seen the ranking (not exactly the same as the total number of births, I'm only now thinking about) going up incrementally in the past few years (I hadn't looked before to see that it's been hanging out in the same spot for a while now) but it was all pretty circumstancial. I guess I kept thinking it was rising too, hearing/seeing the name discussed a lot on name sites and in certain trendy mommy circles. I haven't actually met one though, so I think this vision of Edith as a phenomenon is mostly in my head. 

As for Florence and the Machine... I did worry about that a bit, but ultimately we decided there were enough stronger associations with the name that I wasn't too worried about it, although I am curious to see how the name does in the next few years. Gwyneth we decided the opposite- Ms. Paltrow was the only one anyone seemed to know about, and I just wasn't ready to use it, although I really love the name. That could still be rehashed though.

Thanks again!

July 23, 2015 4:24 AM

You're so welcome! I'd just hate to see you abandon a fabulous choice for being too trendy when it isn't, really. I think Edith's ranking increase is probably attributable not to Edith's rise in useage rates, but a decline in rates at which all of the higher-ranked names are being used... names are getting increasingly more fragmented, with the top names being used less and less frequently over time. So Edith's rise in rankings is more of it winning a war of attrition -- it is just chugging along at the same level as it always has.

I really don't think Florence and the Machine is a problem at all, to be clear -- it's just taken a very rare name and made it a boost into just-rare namespace. My point is more that Edith's popularity is within an order of magnitude of Florence's, so they are not names that would be jarring to hear together. (You're not thinking of naming child #2 Ava, you know?) They're both names people have heard of before from historical associations, but very unusual in terms of anyone having a personal association with them in their immediate circles. This is a total sweet spot for naming, and Edie and Flo (or Florrie or Flossie or whatever) are adorable.

I suspect that you're right about the Edith phenomenon being in your head is right -- once you took an interest in the name as a contender, you started seeing it everywhere. It's the Baader Meinhof phenomenon, and it is real. Even knowing about it doesn't really diminish the feeling of surprise when it happens. I just today met a baby M!rabai and was delighted to learn a totally new name in chatting to her parent, and then this evening saw a blog about the name Miraba! in my RSS feed. My brain screams "huge coincidence, what are the odds?" but it's really just that I scroll through a lot of blog titles and meet a lot of babies, and only pay attention when they converge.

It's worth noting though that names sometimes exist in pockets- while Edith might be very rare nationally and even in your state, perhaps all of the Ediths in your state are being named by people who are sharing demographic factors with you, thus making you likely to encounter ALL of the Ediths. So I would not JUST go by the statistics in deciding that a name is not on the rise. if your gut feeling is telling you that Edith is on the rise, that could very well be the case in the circles that you move in... and that's really more relevant than the national average, right? As you're already a parent to an older child you have an advantage in that you are interacting with kids and you can get a sample of what kids around you are actually being called (which might deviate from national or state rankings).

I would just be careful not to conflate your area playgrounds with online opinions, as the sorts of names that Name Enthusiasts like and mention tend to be nonrepresentative (or else Cordelia would be a runaway smash hit, ha ha).

But I hang out in quirky vintage revival loving circles and I have yet to meet a little Edith!

July 23, 2015 5:26 AM

Great post. I just wanted to add that I think Florence is much more likely to be popular than Edith is. It doesn't even register in the US but it was #29 (!) in the UK in 2013. (Annoyingly for me, but I think I'll use it one day anyway). :)

Flo and Edie are perfect sister names. Another good nickname choice for Bertram is Bertie.

July 23, 2015 10:30 AM

That's a great point. It's one of  those names that is just spectacularly more common in UK namespace. Some of the disparities between name space are attributable to accent differences (Harry being pronounced like "hairy" by many Americans, including me), or different cultural impacts (say, Seren or Finlay), but some (like Imogen and Freya) are less clear. I think in the case of Florence it might be having associated more with particular slang states-side and it taking another prominent cultural association (Florence & the Machine) to override that.

July 23, 2015 8:08 AM

You know, I just had a startling realization. My neighbors (and very close friends) are named Eddie and Flo. It never occured to me until reading this post that their names have water associations--flow and eddy. Wild. (I realize you were saying Edie, but I'm so attuned to Flo and Eddie together that that's what I saw.) How can I call myself a name enthusiast?! Hee hee. I think I'd go with Edie just to be able to make that little word play with your daughters' names (even though the pronunciation of Edie is different).

This causes me to remember that my parents had close friends named Eben and Florence. They put Ebb and Flow on the license plate of their car, which I thought was really cute.

For what it's worth, Ditmas sounds to me like 'ditz', so I'd use it only in the middle name slot.

July 22, 2015 11:33 AM

I agree with the others, if you love it and love the significance it's fine as a middle name. It kind of reminds me of Dieter--I could totally see Ditmas co-hosting Sprockets.

My one caveat would be if there's still a possibility that you WILL chuck it all and move to Ditmas--it would be kind of weird to be named after the town you live in, I think.

July 22, 2015 6:48 PM

That is something to think this point I think it's become more of a running joke/nostalgia thing than an actual idea that we would potentially act on, but that's a good point either way. 

(fwiw, I actually adore the name Dieter, but we aren't at all German so I don't think I would go for it)

July 22, 2015 7:12 PM

I love the idea of Ditmas, but yeah, it's not very attractive sounding.  However, the middle is the perfect place to tuck away a sentimental but dated or unpleasant sounding name.  I quite Alistair & Alistair Ditmas is fine.

Of your other boy names, I like Arlo, August & Rhys the best.  Ives is another one I like for the sentiment, but think would be better as a middle.  Or perhaps something like Ivan with Ives as a nickname?  Maybe you'd also like Arthur, Albert, Edwin or Augustine?

I like most of your girl names.  Edith is a favorite & I also like Winter, Ingrid & Wren.  I'd probably pass on Faye, it is my least favorite & it repeats the first initial of Florence.  Florence & Ingrid are fantastic together!  I'll suggest Cordelia, Esther, Agnes, Inez & Agatha.


July 22, 2015 7:27 PM

Agatha was actually the top choice of middle name for Florence for about thirty seconds before we realized that it would not work well with our G last name. (She became FIG instead, which we decided was fine). I would be willing to reconsider that for a first name, and Agnes as well. I really like Esther too, but one of my old college roommates who I'm still in touch with had claim on that name and I don't know that I'm attached enough to fight for it.

July 22, 2015 8:01 PM

If you like Agnes and Agatha, another option, that is less popular and slightly more unique than both is Annise/Anise. As I knew a family who wanted to name their daughter after their family member Agnes, but didnt want to use the name itself. So they went with Annise instead, which I think is very finessed and spunky

By Fly
July 23, 2015 1:13 AM

I love your naming style! Agnes, Ingrid, Enid, Edith, Agatha, Edith, Gwyneth, Beatrix... I like them all.

Listing Blythe and Enid consecutively makes me think Enid Blyton, or Blythe as in Anne's married name in the Anne of Green Gables sequels.... And that reminds me of my childhood, so +1 for that.

There's also Ruth, Martha, Irene, Diana, Janet, Mabel, Ada, Beverley, Esther, Frances, Lenore, Marion, Sybil, Bernice, Brigid, Harriet, Norma, Myrtle, Maude, Edna, Irma.

As others have said, Ditmas is probably better in the middle spot.  I actually knew a child named Deiter, and I don't think he was German particularly (though his ancestry may have been)... To me its just an unusual sort of name, which seems to be most names these days.

I like Alistair, but I like Alasdair better.  I also like August, and though you're the second person to post that name on here asking about popularity in a matter of days, I didn't have a feeling of it being popular at all until now.  It's one of my favourites.  Arlo feels like a different style from Florence and Alistair.

Old school masculine names that you might like (they're love/hate names I think); Nestor, Piers, Reginald, Ambrose, Cedric, Emanuel, Geoffrey, Marius, Vincent, Solomon, Ferdinand, Theodore, Arthur, Desmond, Frederick, Gabriel, Jerome, Nikolas, Rafael, Cyrus, Everitt, Dominic, Desmond, 

July 23, 2015 11:44 PM

thanks for all the great suggestions! Brigid and Harriet stand out in the girls (I'm starting to notice I don't love girl names ending in -a, since Agatha has been the only one on any list with that ending. Maybe it feels too "girly" for me? I can't quite put my finger on it).

I really like a lot of your boy options, particularly Nestor and Ambrose. Solomon I like sound wise, but I don't love biblical names. Piers is my favorite stylistically, but my dad always talks about how he looks just like Piers Brosnan (he doesn't) so that would be entertaining to announce. (Not that that's a reason not to use it, just makes it funny to me)

July 23, 2015 10:29 AM

That's a great point. It's one of  those names that is just spectacularly more common in UK namespace. Some of the disparities between name space are attributable to accent differences (Harry being pronounced like "hairy" by many Americans, including me), or different cultural impacts (say, Seren or Finlay), but some (like Imogen and Freya) are less clear. I think in the case of Florence it might be having associated more with particular slang states-side and it taking another prominent cultural association (Florence & the Machine) to override that.

July 23, 2015 11:56 PM

So true. I find these cultural naming differences so fascinating. For instance, in when we lived in central London a few years back, we were so entertained by the fact that there were ALWAYS name souvenirs with Alfie on them, just because that's so different from the kind of thing you hear on American boys. Who knows though, they may think the same thing about Jayden, or whatever the British version of "strangely common name across the pond" may be.

July 23, 2015 11:53 PM

I mentioned my Ditmas idea to my husband, and he laughed, which means it's open for discussion. That said, I would for sure use it in the middle name slot, because I agree with most of you that it's too much for a first name, and I do want to use it, but I care more about the first name, so if for some reason we decide we must uss something that doesn't go with Ditmas, it's probably out, for better or worse. That's fairly possible considering lots of our favorites end in -s and that repetition could be tricky. (Eames Ditmas is maybe okay, Ives Ditmas is awkward, not to mention a lot of assosiations for one kid, Piers Ditmas I can't decide about, and Atlas Ditmas is an absolutely not). I mentioned Alistair Ditmas, which I do love, but talking over Alistair we realized that it kind of rhymes with our last name (starts with a g, ends with rear, is sometimes used as a girls' name) and my husband wasnt super keen on that, so that may be a no-go. Bertram Ditmas feels a bit heavy to me, but it could be an option. Ambrose Ditmas I like. Ideas? Opinions?

By Fly
July 24, 2015 8:50 AM

Florence and Bertram, Florence and Ambrose... They both sound really good together :D

I love Bertram as a Mansfield Park reference :3

Alistair Gr3@r would be fine I think. It might be that infamous Mary/merry/marry merge again, but in an Australian accent such as my own it doesn't rhyme at all. It does have some consonance though. Bertram Gr3@r would also have some consonance but it sounds slightly more pleasing to the ear than Alistair.

I think there are probably other names besides Ditmas that would work better in the middle spot. Flow with the middle name isn't the be all and end all of naming though.

Do you pronounce Ambrose with a soft S sound or a hard S (Z) sound? Soft S would give it the same weird rhyme thing with Ditmas as with Atlas Ditmas.  I think part of the reason Alistair works is because it does have that soft S sound, but it's in the middle instead of the end. So maybe more names like that? Like Aston, Austin, August (I think you mentioned August before?), Branson, Kristian, Dunstan, Gillespie, Kingston, Lester, Nelson, Preston, Royston, Sebastian, Wesley. Not sure if these names are really your style haha :/