About Me

Not pregnant, not becoming pregnant. Just a huge naming nerd. I tend to prefer "classic" names, Biblical or Modern-Jewish names, and nature names.

My Favorite Names
My Recent Blog Comments
May 10, 2012 08:22 PM

Goodness, where to begin?


First off - my own research and background on names.  For this particular work, I'm not being really horribly obsessed with accuracy and legitimacy.  I'm sourcing names from the Brontes and Austen, from period Charleston gravesites and geneaology boards, and from which is a neato listing of names and frequencies in the various decades based on census data and the ages listed for the people in them.  My main rule is that I have to see the name in at least two of my sources before I'll consider it, but that I won't be overly concerned about matching up exact populations and usage patterns.


The reason I'm not being hugely worried is that this is a gothic comic work - think The Picture of Dorian Grey crossed with Fried Green Tomatoes.  :)


Basically, our heroine is the slightly less favored daughter of a heading-for-bankruptcy family with a socialite-schemer mother and a younger sister who is much more marketable.  Our heroine gains posession of a journal which allows her to record her life, and she ends up a sort of ghost, watching over the family through the generations, as fortunes wax and wane, before having to finally decide whether she'll sacrifice to help her family's descendants, or refrain out of spite for her original family treating her less than admirably.


Now, all that said, from what I have determined, most French Huguenots in Charleston tried their darnedest to fit in socially, and names were pretty much similar to those of others in their respective classes.  The one thing that I did keep for this family was that very French interest in having "official" names - either cultural or classical, which plays very well into this particular family being overwhelmingly stuck up about their ancestors, and of their own cultural and educational levels.  I purposefully used many names that have obvious French counterparts so that I can have some of the family members using a French version of their name with certain people, or in certain situations, just to add to the pomposity if I feel that it's needed. 


I've also tried to keep modern tastes in mind when I went to naming people - Jemima may have been a perfectly acceptable name in Regency England, but now, in America, it brings to mind only one thing, and so I simply accepted that and moved on. 

Likewise for names/nicknames like Hetty, Fanny, or Biddy - just too old-fashioned to modern eyes to really use with a clear conscience. 

Names like Lucy or Janet get axed for the opposite reason - they seem more modern than they really are, so I don't want to confuse people.

So, that left classical names, and all of the old "traditional" standbys - the Marys, Marias, Catherines, Carolines, and Julias.  The jury is still out on Rose - I currently have it on one of the more recent generations, because I'm not having any luck finding any actual Roses in the 1820s.  I'm still searching through for Rose variants, because Rose does show up as a nickname.  I would love to find better proof of something like Rosemarie, because that would lend nicely to Poesie for the hated nickname, and Rose itself as a "good" nickname.


Thanks so much for all the commentary and help - it's been really fun reading through the comments.  I do think that with the Sophia pronunciation change (I didn't even think about that, but it is early enough that she would most likely still be Sofai-uh) that's another knock against it as the main character's name.  I doubt this will ever get published, let alone audiobooked, but I would want people to pronounce it correctly, and that would never happen.  :)

May 10, 2012 07:53 PM

Holy crap!  That was a lot of feedback!  Wow... I feel honored!  :)


I think I'm going to do a general reply for some of the common themes in all of the responses, but I wanted to specifically address some of the names that you suggested here.


Virtue names are an option for other characters.  However, due to the dynamics of the family I'm creating, I'm staying away from them for the most part for the immediate family.  (Which is sad, because I dearly love virtue names.)

Likewise I'm trying to stay away from any names that "feel" too modern, or too Old Testament.  Thus avoiding ones like Amanda or Abigail or Ruth or Esther.  I know they're possible in the period and for the background, just not as good a fit for the story.

I LOVE the suggestion of Philomena, and I am actually considering repurposing some other character names for my heroine. 

I'm so glad that you picked up on the double meaning for Poesie - it does indeed hearken to both backgrounds (posies and poesy), and if I can keep it, could be an interesting little touch to keep around. 

Thank you for all of the really interesting comments and suggestion, and check my huge answer-everyone post at the bottom of the thread if you're interested!


May 9, 2012 12:11 PM

Thanks for the nn suggestions, but I think maybe I wasn't clear in my post - I know there are lots of nicknames available, but I don't like any of the nicknames for Josephine or for Penelope.


I was actually hoping for suggestions of other full names instead - something that seemed similar to Sophia, Josephine, or Penelope, but wasn't any of those (or the names I'd used on other characters).


Thanks for the response tho!



May 8, 2012 05:00 PM

I've got two middles now, and I've never had a problem with my name.  Very occasionally bureaucratic forms will think that my second middle (which was my maiden last name) is a hyphenated segment of my actual last name, but that's not hard at all to clear up, and hasn't happened in years.

I've never had any troubles with Social Security, jobs or applications, medical stuff, or flying. 


On my SS card I was able to use all of my names listed in full.  I also used all of my names in full for big financial stuff like mortgages and car purchases. 


Most times for other financial information, I find that it works easiest if I leave both my middles as initials, so November Juniper Cassia Sunlove ends up as November J C Sunlove on credit cards, bank statements and the like.  (Please note that is NOT actually my name!  :)  That's way more interesting than my actual name.) 


Alternatively, because medical forms are a little more restictive on what they allow in their fields, and primarily because I have always been known by a nickname of my original middle name (June, in this example) - my medical forms all have me as N.Juniper (in the first name slot) Cassia (in the middle name slot) Sunlove (in the last name slot) with June listed as the "to call" name.


So.. short version is that there are lots of ways to get around having an "extra" name, and as society gets more blended and multi-national, there are going to be a lot more options for keeping them in use.  Even without that, it's beyond simple to decide to simply drop a name or reduce it to an initial if the bother is more than how fond you are of the name.

Personally, I feel that the more name the better - if you have it, you can decide to drop it, but if you never got it in the first place, it's much harder to add a name legally to your existing name.

April 29, 2012 09:20 PM

I have to say that I like Natalia (either on its own or with Talia as a nickname) much better than Ursula.  However, that is entirely because Ursula is the sea-witch from Disney's The Little Mermaid, and it is an extremely uncommon name for my area.  If you're somewhere that isn't as common or known, then that wouldn't be a problem for you.

If it wasn't for the Disney reference, I would have to say that Ursula is more of a powerful name, and Natalia is more of a beautiful name.  It's entirely up to you as to what you prefer to give your baby.  :)


(I think I would still choose Natalia, but that is also because I like having nickname options, and I can't think of any for Ursula, where with Natalia you get Nattie, Talia, Lia, Tallie...)



April 29, 2012 09:10 PM

I dunno about not being current slang - I'm a woman in my 30s, and it's the first thing I thought of.  Believe me, in the Bible Belt in Southeastern USA, it's very current, and is still used by many adults as a threat (yes, sometimes even seriously) to keep their boy children from engaging in forbidden activities.


If you live somewhere that Harry =/= hairy in pronunciation, then that's one thing, but where I live, Harry is pronounced exactly like hairy, and that first-last combo would be mocked mercilessly. 

April 29, 2012 09:02 PM

Of the current list, I have to weigh in for





On the others, they are all pretty, but those two would be my top choices.  Lila is just a teency bit on the short and sweet side for the siblings, but it's still a lovely name.  Linnea is a current crush of mine, so I would suggest it for anyone - but I do think that Elise, Juliet, and Linnea is a beautiful set of girls' names.

April 27, 2012 07:33 PM

For a sibling to Juliet and Elise, may I suggest:


Inspired by Laina: Lorraine, Laurel, Leanora


Inspired by all the Milena options: Mallory, Marcelina, Marguerite, Mariel/Mariella, Melisande, Miranda (go Shakespeare!)


Inspired by Sylvie:  Sidonie, Simone, Sybil (a little heavy on the meaning...), Sabine


Like any of those?

April 27, 2012 07:02 PM
In Response to Sibling for Th3o

Just poking in with a nn suggestion - I know a little Solomon nicknamed Manny.  Not quite intuitive for me, but it works!


I'm also fourthing (or however many it is so far) Thane for Nathaniel.

April 27, 2012 05:47 PM

I actually did that on purpose - I figure that with that many, you're going to be relying on tags and initials for clothing for a good long time.  It's faster and easier if they can share clothes in sets (well, the poor boys may end up in pink socks at some point...).  I also figure that way, you can separate out the kidlets out easier when you're on the move - "Ok, mom, you've got the Ls, I've got the Js, and hubby can take the Rs."

April 27, 2012 05:28 PM

Holy Crap.


Ok, Um.  Kiddo, Girlfriend, Baby, Honey, Sweetiepie, Darling, Big Man, Runt, and Hey You.




Rosemary Cassia (Cass)

Rowan Cecily (Rowan)

Linnea Crysanthe (Chrys - pronounced Chris)

Laurel Caroline (Laurie)

Jessamine Carys (Jessa)

Juniper Caet (June)

Rook Christopher (Topher)

Laurent Callum (Cal)

Jasper Cai (Jasper)





April 21, 2012 09:02 PM

Have the exact same problem as you - love the aunt, not so much the name (and she's not too fond of it either).  I discovered the rather pretty Betia the other day, and I'm quite taken with it so far.  I don't mind sharing if you're interested!  :)

April 21, 2012 08:52 PM
In Response to Same-meaning sets

Jet, Ebony, Corwin (raven), Melanie (French? - black), Leila (Arabic - night), Douglas (derived from Dubh/Douv/Duff - means dark),  Orpheus (deprived of light, or darkness, depending on how you base it), Morris/Maurice (from Moor - dark-skinned),  Ciara/Cieran (Irish - dark (usually meaning hair), Efah (Hebrew - gloomy),

April 21, 2012 08:41 PM

Opal, Jasper, Citrine, Ruby, Ivory, and Jet.  :)

April 21, 2012 08:35 PM


I don't know - I mean, look at Hannah on the website for an example (I don't have my book with me at the moment.)  So, there's the name, the "naming fashions" that it falls under, the siblings, and then a great intro section explaining the style.  That's all great, but what if I just got here from... oh, I dunno - Mongolia, and I don't know American culture very well.  Or what if I just don't FOLLOW popular culture.  Wouldn't it be nice to know about that really obscure Disney show about Hannah Montana?  There's also the Biblical Hannah, and Darryl Hannah, and I'm sure lots of Hannahs in popular culture that I'm not immediately remembering.  


I think what I'm getting at is that it would be interesting to have a baby name book that gets through all of the typical naming info really quick, and then delves deeply into the popular and culturally-specific implications of the name - WHO the Person On the Street, who isn't a naming nerd, thinks about immediately when they hear a name.   

I would LOVE a book like that.  In fact, I don't even think I'd mind if that book only had a couple of hundred or so names in it, as long as the information behind them was specific and comprehensive.


I think that BNW does a really awesome job of establishing WHAT people think of when they hear names (which is awesome, and way more than any other naming book I've read (and I've read a lot) has ever attempted) but I really am interested in the WHO as well, because I do think that it makes an impact.  Think of a perfectly lovely name like Adolph.  Generations of families are either going to be avoiding this name totally, or picking it with the specific intent of rehabilitating it.  That's an extreme example, but it's the kind of thing I'm talking about.  For a less-obvious example, a friend of mine has stricken Piper from her list, because a recent controversial political figure has a Piper as a child.  These things matter to people, and I would ADORE to see them addressed directly.  

I just don't know if anyone else does - because no one's done it yet!  It just seems such an obvious association to me, to know about pop-culture namesakes or shout-outs in culture (books, songs, characters in TV shows), but I feel like I'm the only one who cares.  So I figured here - where people are exceptionally aware of the styles and feelings and associations of names - would be a good place to find out if I'm the only one who wants that sort of information in a naming book.

I also put it out here, because I think BNW has a head start, due to Laura's bang-up job sorting out all of the social implications.  Again, don't get me wrong - I adore my BNW!  I just feel very alone in my naming obsessions sometimes.  :)


ETA - wanted to address that I know there are lots of specific name associations in BNW - just not for every name, and not always all of the possibilities.  What I'm thinking about has the focus as providing the namesakes and events associated with ALL the names listed, and making it clear if there is a name that doesn't have any fame associated with it at all yet.  That, I don't think exists yet.


April 21, 2012 07:04 PM

I took the suggestion and created a thread about this post in the Forums - in the Names and Society Subforum.


Just wanted to let people know - if you're interested, feel free to chime in over there also!

April 21, 2012 06:36 PM

Some suggestions paired with your names: (and some repeats from previous posters)


Katerina Zoe

Anna Marin, Irina Marin (better than Marina, I think)

Anna Elisavet (love this flow)

Katerina Elaine (very pretty together)


To be honest - I have absolutely nothing against Anna Katerina - I think it's beautiful.  It does remind one of Anna Karenina, but it is rare that you will introduce your child with their entire given first name (rather than a nickname or pet name) let alone with their whole double-barrelled name.  I think it would be unlikely to come up in regular daily life.

I do agree with the above posters that there are a lot of slightly more exotic Anna-type names that you would probably easily persuade your husband over to if you want something with more panache, and something that would visually distinguish the name from Anna Karenina.


As individual suggestions - Phoebe and Lucia are both beautiful, and would look well with a Luci Eleni (perhaps Lucia might be a little matchy, but depends on where it's placed.)




April 21, 2012 05:35 PM
In Response to Staying power

I read an interesting bit, article, chapter in a book, or a paper (can't remember where now, sorry!) that talked about how naming trends "trickle down" through from upper-class to lower-class (speaking in both financial and social terms).  It may even have been in Freakonomics, actually.


They used Alyssa as a specific example actually - looking at the demographics behind who is using the name over time.  If that's the case, I would think that as a name gets adopted by the broader band of middle class people it may become more noticeable (there are more middle class people than upper class people) and feel more accessible (it's more reasonable to think of naming a child after a kid whose mom is in your sunday school class than a name you hear on a celebrity or political figure's child) and so it gets progressively picked up by a larger and larger pool of people.


What's really funny to think about (especially to me, because I have fairly biased opinions towards poor Alyssa) is that if that's true, in a few decades, Alyssa could very easily be in the same category of "almost classic" as a name like Samantha or Hazel.  Freaky, isn't it?


April 21, 2012 05:21 PM
In Response to Name pet peeves

First peeve:  unnecessary "y"s or other letters.  I don't think creaytyvee spelyng is necessarily awful - there are a lot of "legitimate" variations on a name like Elisabeth that are simply legit because of the passage of time.  However, when it becomes difficult to tell what the base name even is, or how one is supposed to be pronouncing the collection of letters in front of you, that is a huge problem for me.


Second peeve: Male names ending in -son, or beginning with Mc/Mac on girls.  I know lots of people get upset at a male name on a girl at all, but since I've got one myself, I can't get too upset about it.  Still, those two tags mean specifically "son of" and it really sets my teeth on edge when I encounter it. 


Please note that I'd never in a million years actually SAY anything to anyone with a name I'm peevy about, but I do cringe a little on the inside when I encounter them.

April 21, 2012 05:21 PM
In Response to Name pet peeves

(whoops, posting mishap!)