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November 21, 2019 09:17 PM

Read only status seems temporary?

November 20, 2019 04:28 AM

A quick heads up that baby naming questions are also welcome at the new site: I hope the many questions here find a new home when this forum is inactivated soon!

November 5, 2019 07:20 PM

Mary Kathleen is indeed very Irish, but in a delightful way! I think May Kathleen as a name unit doesn’t work as well for me, as I think it sounds like a sentence (“May Kath lean on this post?”). Kath is particularly problematic because it somehow sounds like a lispy or abbreviated attempt at a word to me. This would be a total nonissue if Kathleen is a usually hidden middle name, but seems more problematic if you intend to keep it in regular circulation as a double name.

May Jamesina or Mary Jamesina? 



November 5, 2019 12:17 AM

Other names to consider: Ezekiel, Eleazar/Eliezar, Malachi, Boaz... maybe Josiah? I know you requested shorter names but I think the charm in these names is the wealth of kicky, artsy-funky nickname options for each. (Zeke, Mal, Mac, Chi/Kai.) If you're worried about Ezra's popularity then you'll probably not be a fan of just-Eli, but a longer name that abbreviates to it might work? 

October 27, 2019 01:29 PM

I'm feeling a little bad about the news that I'm delivering here, especially when the username of the poster suggests a degree of religious devoutness.

I cannot possibly see the name Nomi without thinking immediately and lastingly about Nomi Malone, the protagonist of the 1995 NC-17 cult classic movie Showgirls. (It's a really clever name, suggesting "No me, I'm alone", although there's debate about whether the first part is "Know me" or "No... me!")

It's not a totally dated cultural reference like the age of the movie would suggest. It lives on as one of the most beloved movie flops of all time, with screenings to raise money for charity ("one disaster to benefit another") some with live comedic interpretation, as well as a second wave of defense of the movie as a serious satire. 

I just went to see at the theatre a documentary about the movie entitled, "You don't Nomi". This is part of a general uptick in scholarship about the movie in recent years (including the book, "It doesn't suck" by Adam Nayman and a volume of sestinas -- no, I'm not even kidding) plus a recent musical adaptation. 

I am speaking as someone who just named a new chicken Nomi... but it does not seem like a usable name on a human baby, especially as the birth certificate.

I think it's fine as a nickname, but as much as I love this movie (it is my favorite movie of all time), it would not pass the "would I want it to be my name" test. 

August 25, 2019 10:17 PM

I do think that Agustina is a real variant with a legitimate history separate from Augustina... so although based on the languages I speak natively I'm more familiar with Augustina (and really love it!), I don't think Agustina looks wrong, either. I seem to remember that Agustina is Spanish, right? I think other languages also drop the u - like Italian is Agostina? By any spelling and in both masculine and feminine variants, I really like the Augustinus name family, and I have a particular fondness for -ina names, so the venn diagram overlap is a slam dunk for me. Nice stately name with lots of kicky nickname options for maximum versatility! And frankly, both spellings are so rare in the US (there were 16 Agustinas and 23 Augustinas last year) that I think you could safely pick the one that is most pleasing to you, in reflecting your heritage or just your asthetic preference.

July 9, 2019 03:59 PM

Annika is a great name, but I think that enforcing the pronunciation you like will be very challenging, because many people will say OHN-ih-kah rather than ANN-ih-kah and that's the kind of correction that people won't be able to hear or replicate. I'd endorse it only if you could feel very zen about the fact that they are potayto-potahto variants and that both are "right" ways to say the name, even if you personally use ANN-. (This is actually a feature of a lot of international girls' names: Lucia and Helena are international favorites that both have this issue, although there I think more people can actually hear the difference between the different variants so it might be more doable to get some degree of compliance with your preferred pronunciation in the circle of people who know your daughter well.)

International names that DON'T have the pronunciation squishiness are hard to come by: Adriana, Camilla, Natalia all have more subtle variations in pronunciation. There might be a reason that Sophia/Sofia is such a breakout hit! Maybe Miriam or Marina?

Have you thought about Tamsin as a nickname, such as for the longer Tomasina? That spelling is definitely one that people who hear my daughter's name default to, and I think that the h-less spelling also has more of an international feel to it. It's a name that I have really loved: it's uncommon and my daughter is the only one people have met, but it's familiar and always very well-received, doesn't get misheard as anything else, and the pronunciation is very straightforward. At least where I live, and names like Josephine and Eleanor are in full swing revival, Tomasina feels like a very natural fit with the trends while remaining distinct.

July 3, 2019 02:50 PM
In Response to Names with no repeats?
























































































































And the list goes on with less popular names, obviously.

May 21, 2019 04:02 PM
In Response to One Week Ago...

I'm so thrilled to hear, austindillon! I'm sorry you got to experience the drama associated with birthing larger babies, but I'm so happy that all's well that ends well! Thank you for the fabulous update and for letting us in on such an enjoyable naming journey!

May 2, 2019 05:05 PM
In Response to 7 Letter Suggestions

I think the only thing I have to add to this conversation is that the German word is actually pronounced using sounds not easily made by most native English speakers. It's NOT like Rick-ter at all. So, hearing Rick-ter definitely brings to mind earthquakes and not judges to me... and I'm a native German speaker. 

April 11, 2019 09:55 PM

So much agreement with what you had to say here! 

I definitely wouldn't change the family name: as a naturalized immigrant, I feel stronglty that becoming an American does not mean giving up your ancestry, and that I wouldn't change a surname unless you are estranged from your family and you particularly want to sever connections with them.

And I want to upvote what cm2530 has to say about how Lu is really already a dream crossover name. I teach at a university where a substantial fraction of my students are Asian-American, and Lewis/Louis is a name I've encountered not infrequently in that setting. So I would leave it as Lu, confident in the fact that it is an excellent name choice that many American parents are giving, and be prepared that people might spell it Lou sometimes especially if they hear your name without a surname or without other context. Most English names get misspelled, though, so that's hardly a vote against it.

March 27, 2019 02:47 PM

I think Violetta and Serafina are the ones I've seen repeatedly on small girls in the US. They're also pronounced in pretty much the same way in Spanish, so i think they'll be very easy for Americans to pronounce correctly when seeing them. They might not get spelled reliably that way when heard (Seraphina is a little more common than Serafina, Violeta is about twice as common as Violetta) -- but ultimately most names have spelling variations and even the rare names without spelling variants can still get spelled in very interesting phonetic best-guess ways. "Serafina with an f" or "Violetta with two ts" are easy as far as spelling clarifications, and not at all a burden.

Celestina I think would get pronounced via Spanish pronunciation rules much more frequently, so I would only use it if you could be very zen about the Che- first syllable being pronounced as "Seh" almost all of the time. I think if you're able to use "Che-" yourselves but be unbothered if people at the doctor's office and the restaurant say "Seh-", then it's my favorite of your names. It's not a WRONG pronunciation, it's just a different language pronunciation, and one that reflects the dominant US languages of English and Spanish both. I have a brother named Jacob, whose name was pronounced differently "DSHAY-" vs "YAH-" in the first syllable  depending on the language that someone was speaking. Both languages were used with fairly equal frequency in our home, he was the English pronunciation outside of home, and it was never even a little bit confusing to him as a lifelong US resident. I think it could maybe be a harder sell if you don't actually speak Italian... some people  might switch to CHE- in response to your pronunciation, but some people might not. 

I know a Chiara (my age) as well as a lot of Kiras and Keiras and Kieras, and the name is much less exciting to me than the other choices on your list, so I probably wouldn't find it worth the pronuncation hassle (I think people who see Chiara written out probably will say chee-AH-rah, as I did when I first encountered the name as a teen). 

March 26, 2019 01:05 PM

I like Afton, especially with this story behind your using the name.

I was aware of the Swedish word mostly from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, which were blockbusters written by a Swedish journalist (and featuring a Gary Stu protagonist). In the novels the Aftonbladet, the national evening newspaper, regularly features by name. (Characters are always reading the Aftonbladet or there's discussion of what the coverage in the Aftonbladet is.) I was curious and looked it up and the name indeed means "evening paper", and "blatt" is the German word for leaf/sheet so I assumed the Afton part was the evening bit.  

It's long been a female-leaning unisex name, with periodic male use... so I think it's absolutely fine for both a boy and a girl.

I might personally opt for a less gender neutral middle name, but I also think that it's fine as you proposed it as Afton Lee, too: I know that there's an increasing interest in not conflating sex and gender, and thus there's a philosophical movement behind just naming a baby a name that can be their name regardless of what their gender identity ends up being. 

The name really surged in 1981-1983 for girls in particular: any thoughts about the trigger? Did a recording of the song come out then? (ETA: ha, found it! There was a female character with the name on Dallas in that time period: )

March 6, 2019 12:57 PM

The Roberts surprise me, too... and I have a Rupert, which is basically the same name, but something about Robert comes across as very surprising, even as I live in an area with lots of Walters and Winstons and other fusty names. I wonder how many are III or IV!

February 26, 2019 03:16 PM

Well spotted. As of last month, Laura Wattenberg isn't with anymore -- she's still coming out with the fourth edition of the Baby Name Wizard book in the spring, but she's no longer affiliated with the website.

However, Laura is working on a new website because she hasn't in fact retired from name-blogging. In the meantime, you can follow her on Facebook ( or on twitter (

February 22, 2019 01:16 AM

Adorable toddler mispronunciations either are outgrown but fondly remembered *or* they stick and become enjoyable family nicknames. My 23-month-old was tasked with announcing the name of his new baby sister to grandparents and it was adorable/hilarious. I wish "Baby Tamvina" had stuck around longer as an ongoing nickname!

I agree that your rationales are totally perfect middle name origin stories, and also that your entire name odyssey totally counts as interesting backstory! 

I'm so happy that the fourth go-round of naming has been the easiest, and I can't wait to hear the conclusion, but only after you round out the rest of the trimester in good health. 


February 21, 2019 10:37 AM
In Response to What Do You Think?

I like a lot of consonant clustery premature revivals (my son has a porch sitter name with three consonants clustered in the middle), and there are definitely boomer hits that I would be delighted to see in a baby (Judith!). That said, Barbara isn’t a name I particularly like - something about which consonants and the repetition plus the obvious link to Barbarian isn’t my favorite (and I love Conan the Barbarian in all incarnations). 

Keira is a name that’s kind of played out for me but I do know a little one with the name (different spelling). 

Both are fine names, but I’m not deeply enthused about either. In a binary choice I’d pick Barbara but that would hinge on greater availability of nicknames.

February 17, 2019 01:33 PM

I really don't think the turtles are even a small problem, so I'm excited for your boy name list!

On the girl side, Clementine is a great addition. I think the song is likely to come up occasionally -- it's a favorite request by my kids when we have to wait somewhere, the somewhat morbid nature appeals to them, the emphasis on first-aid appeals to me ("Now you cub scouts, there's a moral, to this little tale of mine, artificial respiration could have saved my Clementine."). Be glad you're never stuck in line before me! But I think it's totally a great and usable name.

Our middle names were drawn using a very specific algorithm that involved honor names from the non-gestationally-connected family members, selecting specifically more commonplace names that are in keeping with current trends. This allows our kids, who have weirder first names, to have a middle name that can serve as a 'backup', but I also just generally like stylistic contrast between first and middle names. If I had given less controversial first names, I'd have been interested in using the middle name spot for more big statement-type names. 

However, I think my overall middle name advice is that I really like the middle name spot to carry some kind of meaning: whether that's a family member being honored or a historical or literary figure admired or a statement about religion or other values or a virtue (Aletheia?) or a name specifically referencing a place or experience that's important in your relationship or whatever. Whatever it is, I like for the middle name to have some enjoyable stories to tell behind it. It's less a name in daily use so I think of middle names as being less about asthetics and how the name rolls off your tongue but more about your ability to use it as a touchstone for telling tales, about family history or otherwise. Even if you are using the middle name spot to stash your "second favorite" names instead, you could try to see what kinds of good backstories you can retroactively create.

February 15, 2019 01:16 PM

Oh, me too on the thinking it was peri-DOH. Time to spend more time at the jewellers for both of us! I do like it, it's a great choice!

My kids are constantly squabbling about things being NOT FAIR so I would find it of utmost importance to have an honoring name for the second-born, ideally also a family honor name.

February 15, 2019 12:54 AM

Looking further afield for non-Petra honor names for Peter seems like a good time to mention that I really love Petrichor, both as a thing (it's the ozone-rich smell after a rain) and also as a word. It is not in current use as a name as far as I know (it could certainly be used at lower rates than 5 births/year), but I think it would be make a great, if very unconventional middle name, when paired with a very timeless classic in the first name. 

ETA: hold the presses, someone used it in Alberta!

Further ETA: it should be noted that this is a character in the popular space-opera graphic novel Saga, which is probably why it felt namey to me!