Sunday Summary: 46th of 2014

by appellationmountain on November 16, 2014

Sunday SummaryDo names really lead to playground teasing?

I ask for two reasons: first, this comment came up during a name discussion on the AppMtn Facebook group:

Does no one remember the cruelty of the schoolyard?

And then, one morning as I walked my six year old daughter Clio to school, I heard one of the boys in her class call out:

Hey, Cleopatra!

There we were.  In the schoolyard.  And another child was definitely calling out a twist on her (unusual) name, one meant to grab attention.

But here’s the thing – it didn’t appear to be cruel.  My daughter didn’t appear to be upset by it.  No one giggled or pointed.  The boy didn’t seem to be taunting her in any way.  In fact, the only one who noticed for more than a second was … me.

Do kids get teased because of their names?  And if so, is that sufficient reason to stick to only the most mainstream possibilities when naming our children?

I know where I come down on this one, but I’m curious to hear your take on the question, too.

Elsewhere online:

  • This!  This post from Anna about discussing baby names with her husband is truly laugh out loud funny!  It reminds me of my conversations with my husband, though I didn’t think to jot them down.  Hilarious, honest, and surprisingly sweet, too.
  • Did you see this post at Duana?  The writer asks if celebrity baby names are just a big joke – do the kids really have normal names, and we’re just being told the parents went with Wyatt Isabelle or Briar Rose?  I had a similar conversation with a dad (who I promise reads very little celebrity gossip) the other morning.  Here’s my take: Nope.  They’re real names.  For two reasons.  First, musicians and actors live in a world where creativity and individual style is celebrated.  Even if you’re not an Oscar/Grammy-winning A Lister, I’d guess that there’s little inclination to choose the ordinary.  (And some impulse to avoid it.)  Secondly – and more importantly – we sometimes find out the kids’ names only when an actual birth certificate is filed.  If you give birth in a hospital in Los Angeles, you’ll have a tough time keeping your kid’s name quiet.
  • Elea covers Theodore.  A classic definitely coming back into fashion.
  • Kelli talks about names that were most popular from 1900 – 1910.  Would Beulah ever have a shot at a comeback?
  • I almost called Beulah a potential hipster name, except what does that mean anymore?  Love this quote from the Washington City Paper’s D.C. Manual of Style and usage, found via Nancy at Away with Wordshipster: a term that is somehow both loaded and meaningless.
  • I’m enchanted by this name from Nomes e mais nomes: Cidalia.  Sort of like Cecilia plus Dahlia – love the sound!
  • What is THE name of the moment?  Baby Name Wizard readers are nominating Elsa and Isis, but remember, it doesn’t need to be a name.  “The Situation” took the title a few years back.
  • Alexia has some advice for parents who like Biblical names that are just a little bit different.   What goes with daughter Shiloh and son Jedidiah?
  • I very much like these names featuring the letter V at The Art of Naming.  It’s hard to choose favorites, but Avalon, Everild, and Vittoria leap out at me from the girls’ list, and Davion, Tolliver, and Harvey from the boys’ list.
  • Swistle readers talked this family out of using Aviatrix. The name they went with?  Beatrix Dare, nickname Bix.  Suddenly, Beatrix sounds like the greatest name ever.

That’s all for this week!  As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!


Baby Name Help: Oh-So-Stuck!

by appellationmountain on November 15, 2014

Name HelpName Help is a new series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

T and her husband are expecting a daughter in January.  She writes:

I skew more unique and my husband more traditional. I like both spunky/feisty names and more romantic/melodic names.

We don’t want anything with too much of a religious connotation, nor do we want a place name (I have one).

We are oh-so-stuck. Help!

Read on for my answer – and please leave your suggestions in the comments!

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20 Great 90s Names from TV

by appellationmountain on November 14, 2014

Lovethe90sWe’ve been talking great 90s names all week here at Appellation Mountain: Taylor and Tyler, Brandon and Kayla.

All four of those names have something in common: every one of them appeared on television at some point – or several points during the 90s.

Many parents wouldn’t love the idea of choosing a television-inspired name.  Song lyrics, yes.  Literature, of course.  Maybe even a great movie with a cult following, or a legend from Hollywood’s Golden Age.  But television?  It seems too … obvious.  Not very inspired.

And yet, the numbers suggest that television launches more names than any other medium, for exactly that reason – it’s accessible, and even in our age of nearly infinite channels, it is surprisingly universal.

That was even more true in the 90s, early days for cable network original series and before-Netflix and Amazon joined the fray.

Plus, it’s probably true that we do much of our television-watching in our younger years.  I never missed The Facts of Life in the 1980s, but by the 1990s, I was living on my own – without cable for a big chunk of the decade.  The names that influenced me were the ones I saw between, say, my tweenage years and my early 20s.

And so if you were young in the 90s, chances are that you’ll recognize every one of the shows on this list, and probably some of the character names – even if you haven’t seen a single episode.

If you did see an episode – or one hundred? – maybe some of these names will have made it to your short list.

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Taylor: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on November 13, 2014

Taylor: Baby Name of the DayElizabeth.  Swift.

Some very well known women have answered to this name.

90s Week continues with Taylor as our Baby Name of the Day.

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Tyler: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on November 12, 2014

TylerThis name is occupational, presidential, and a fast favorite in the 1990s.

I love the 90s week continues with Tyler as our Baby Name of the Day.

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Kayla: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on November 11, 2014

KaylaTake an obscure Hebrew name, add a blockbuster soap opera character … and ta da, one of the most popular names of the 1990s.

90s Week continues with Kayla as our Baby Name of the Day.

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Brandon: Baby Name of the Day

by appellationmountain on November 10, 2014

Jason Priestley appeared as male lead Brandon ...

This post was originally published on June 15, 2010. It was substantially revised and re-posted on November 10, 2014.

From Beverly Hills, 90210 to a town near you, nearly everyone knows a nice guy with this name.

Thanks to Urban Angel for suggesting Brandon as Baby Name of the Day.


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Sunday Summary: 45th of 2014

by appellationmountain on November 9, 2014

Sunday SummaryI’d never heard conversational Arabic spoken until the other day.

There I was, waiting to check out in the Target express lane.  The cashier recognized the customer in front of me.  They immediately switched into this lovely, intoxicating language.  It’s rude to listen, of course, but is it really eavesdropping if you don’t understand a word?

“Do you mind if I ask what language you’re speaking?  It’s beautiful!” I asked when it was my turn to pay.  She smiled – the sweetest smile – and told me it was Arabic.

I really wanted to ask more – after all, Arabic is spoken by around 300 million people, and it must sound different from place to place.  I would’ve guessed that Arabic would be easy to identify.  But, well, it was the express lane.  And I had just paid.

So I walked away, pondering the difficulty of ever knowing how names really sound in other languages.

Elsewhere online:

  • Another mention of the lovely Constance, this time at Waltzing More than Matilda.  Katherine, Caroline, Eleanor, Claire … why not Constance?  There’s a poll in the post, too.
  • British Baby Names’ latest birth announcement round-up includes an Albert, brother to Wilfred, and a Barnaby.  Do you see those names coming back in the US anytime soon, or is this a trend that will pass us by?  Scottish actor David Tennant has a Wilfred, which makes me like the name even more.
  • Baby Name Pondering covered Langley.  Years ago, two very stylish women named Edie and Langley ran my favorite thrift shop.  My first thought is Langley, Virginia where the CIA is headquartered – but then, we’re in Washington DC, just a stone’s throw from the place.  Anywhere else in the country, I agree with Brooke – it’s a great alternative to names like Avery.
  • The Art of Naming has tons of great boys’ names including the letter V.  From the Shakespearean Benvolio to the musical Elvis, the list doesn’t shy away from daring names.  But there are lots of more mainstream possibilities included, too, and some that bridge both categories – like Savion and Evram.
  • For Real Baby Names found a Veruka Avery!  It’s like Christmas in November.  Yes, I know Veruca isn’t a very wearable name.  And yet … I really do adore the quirky, sharp sound of Veruca.
  • Speaking of my name crushes, I remember loving the surname of Evita Peron’s first husband – Magaldi.  And so naturally, I fell for Magali and Magalie, both forms of Magdalena.  I hear them from time to time, and they’re definitely older names with long histories of use.  And yet – are they wearable?  I like to think they strike the right note, midway between invented modern and traditional favorite.
  • Maybe obscure M names are my thing, because this post from Sophie?  How much do I love the name Marais?
  • What would you suggest as an alternative to Olivia?  Duana takes on the challenge of finding a substitute.  I love her suggestion of Odessa as a substitute.
  • Also, Duana mentions the curious phenomenon of the most popular name when you’re a child seeming much less popular when you’re an adult.  I’d offer this explanation: when you’re in kindergarten or your freshman year of college, the vast majority of the people you’ll interact with are born within five years of your birthdate.  When you’re younger, that window can be even smaller.  But sometime in your twenties, it changes.  There was only a single Jennifer in my former workplace of 120+ people, and once she left there wasn’t another.  A few names that were really popular for men over many decades, like Joseph and James, did repeat.  (Though our workplace was around 3/4 male – so that’s partially why the repeats tended to be Joe and Jim rather than Jen and Jill.)
  • Take baby name data.  {CRUNCH!}  Apply a common sense filter.  And out comes a list of 20 baby names on the rise at Nameberry.
  • Looking for boy names that feel classic, but not common?  Here’s a great set of possibilities from Liann.
  • Let’s end with a laugh!  Robbie Knox brings us a British perspective on How to Name a Baby.  It’s nicely sensible, but also quite funny.

That’s all for this week!  As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!


Baby Name Help: Naming a Southern Babe!

by appellationmountain on November 8, 2014

Name HelpName Help is a new series at Appellation Mountain. Every Saturday, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.

We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!

Giacor is expecting her first at the end of December.  They’ve chosen not to find out the gender in advance.  She writes:

Two problems.

First: If it’s a boy, it’s the James Joseph the 5th. I don’t like Joey, JJ, Jay, Jamie was used by my husband, I don’t like Jim, Jimmy … all of these names are used in one of our families. Jacques? My husband’s last name is very French. Is that basically Jack? Another name I strongly dislike. :(  I have Googled this like crazy! I’m afraid I’ll end up with just James. Which is what I call my husband … soooo that will be weird.

Second: If it’s a girl, I don’t want anything that could be turned into Mary (my mother). Marigold, Rosemary. I LOVE those names, but nope. We want a name that honors either our heritage or our natural surroundings, (flowers/herbs from the South), preferably uncommon, no Jennifer, Ashley, Emily, etc.

I’m Italian and Irish, my husband is French and Scottish. He has a strong French last name and I’m 2nd generation Italian. We are both from the the South. We like names that stand out, but appreciate some underused classics.

Read on for my answer – and please leave your suggestions in the comments!

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Obscure Saint Names for Boys: Part I

by appellationmountain on November 7, 2014

St. Blaise confronting the Roman governor: Sce...

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 for a child that will reflect their Catholic faith.

Or maybe it is bad news – after all, that’s a pretty extensive list of possibilities – at least as many as the average baby name book.

Plenty of them are challenging to wear in 2014.  I think we can take Mun and Ubald off the list.  But that still leaves pages of potential saintly names for a boy.

Here are a select few that strike the right balance – wearable in our age, far less expected than John or James, and with ties to a saint.

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