Odette, Ottilie, and Otis: The Ottos

Otto Names

Once upon a time, there was a tiny Germanic name element: Aud.  It meant wealth, and appeared mostly in compound names like Audoin and Audogar.  I’m not sure if all of those names were directly related to Aud, but the sound was a fairly common one. Eventually, Aud became Audo, Odo, and the familiar Otto. Now Otto […]


Eight Unexpected Nicknames for Penelope

8 Great Nicknames for Penelope

Penelope has bounded up the charts in recent years, from Greek obscurity to celebrity favorite. It’s not such a surprise, really. With names like Isabella and Olivia in the US Top Ten, there’s plenty of interest in long names for girls.  And Zoe and Chloe paved the way for ‘e’ ending possibilities. Plenty of Penelopes […]


Anna, Annalise, and Annika: The Annie Names

Annie Names

View image | gettyimages.com Have you seen Annie yet? I loved it.  Loved the updates to the soundtrack, to the setting, to the characters.  Loved the way they knit social media into the story.  Loved Quvezhané Wallis.  Did not hate Cameron Diaz as Ms. Hannigan.  And yeah, who doesn’t love a happy ending? So I’ve had Annie […]


Obscure Saint Names for Boys: Part I


If you think choosing a saints’ name for your son means sticking with a tried-and-true choice like John, Matthew, or James, you’re half right. While many of the saints’  names are familiar choices, there are more than 10,000 saints, and more are named regularly. This is good news for parents eager to find an unusual name […]


Twenty Great Goth Baby Names

Goth Baby Names

  Happy Halloween! While we’re celebrating this spooky season, let’s pause and take a look at some of the baby names that might be exactly right for a baby born on October 31st. In years past, we’ve talked about plenty of names with ties to this fall festival. There were Witch Names and Names from Monster […]


Clover, Dior, and Parker: Harper’s Sisters

Harper's Sisters

Harper is a sensation, a fast-rising surname name with musical appeal.  A long list of high profile birth announcements have boosted Harper’s use, from Shonda Rhimes to the Beckhams. Visit a playground nowadays, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear the name.  Harper has soared from #887 in 2004 to #118 in 2010 to #16 in […]


Clara, Clarity, and Clarion: Claire Names


This post was originally published on April 9, 2012, for my mother, Clare.  It was substantially revised and re-posted on October 3, 2014 for her namesake’s sixth birthday.  In my Italian family, children were traditionally named after grandparents.  When you reached girl or boy #3, it was time to move on to honoring great-aunts and great-uncles. The result?  Those […]


Gorgeous Girls: Names for Wicked Stepsisters


We all know the story of Cinderella.  The pumpkin coach, the footmen mice, the handsome prince and the slipper, left behind when the clock strikes twelve. It’s an enduring tale, with roots in the ancient world, and open to frequent reinvention.  I’m fascinated by Marissa Meyer’s reboot, Cinder, the first book in The Lunar Chronicles. Meyer […]