Ask the ReadersI love to talk about names, and I kept lists of favorite names long before there was any such thing as an internet. (I bet plenty of you did, too!) But it’s infinitely more fun now that we can talk about names together.

A few months ago, I started adding polls to most posts here. Commenting isn’t for everyone, but it’s so quick (and anonymous) to voice your opinion with a vote.

But it’s not easy to go back and look at the results of those polls – so I thought I’d take a minute and look back at what you said about all things onomastic over the past few months.

Read on for the results!

Poll ResultsHere’s a burning question: Can you reserve a baby name in your family?

30% of you dismissed that as crazy talk. Another 30% agree that there weren’t any reserved names in your family, but there were a few names that everyone loved.

Just about one-quarter (24%) mentioned that there were a few names that were reserved for someone, but they were obvious. I’m guessing that’s because your brother is James III, and it feels fair to let him use hte name James if he’s so inclined.

But 14% of you have staked your claim, and have called dibs on certain names.


Poll resultsThis next one was really interesting to me. I was teased for my last name on more than one occasion – but, of course, few of us ever consider changing our last names no matter how cumbersome or unusual they may be. (Mine was both. I gleefully shed it on marriage, but I’ll admit – I’ve grown rather fond of it now that it’s gone.) I don’t recall ever being teased for my given name – but I still didn’t like it, and wished it was weirder.

So: Have you ever been teased for your name?

Almost half of you (45%) reported that your ordinary name had meant a lifetime free of name-related teasing.

Another fifth don’t really remember, and about the same number say yes – but feel like they’d probably have been teased no matter what. (In all honesty, this is me. I was a weird kid.)

Only 8% of you felt that your name was a burden, and the reason for teasing.

11% reported no teasing, despite having a name that might invite some comments.

How different do you like your names?Now here’s a question I really enjoyed: How different do you like your names?

Almost half (46%) went with eclectic, and I think that’s true of my lists, too.

Here’s another popular answer – nearly one-third (31%) said they prefer names that are outside of the US Top 100, but not too out-there.

10% said “unusual, but not wacky” – which, really, could be another way of describing “outside of the US Top 100, but not too out-there.” I’d guess there’s a lot of overlap in those two groups.

8% prefer names that no one has heard of before. I’ve definitely written about many names that fit into that category, often because someone is considering one for a child, or has recently given the name to a child. (I’m dying to meet my first Cynewulf.)

Just 5% said that they were fine with a Top 100 name, or even a Top Ten if they really love it – but experience suggests that more of us might consider a popular name if the reasons were right. And let’s face it – the rankings in a given year are only a tiny part of the picture. Even though this was the minority view, I think it’s a wise perspective.

James for a girlTime for a controversial question: What do you think of the name James for a girl?

I sometimes wonder why I keep talking about this topic when it clearly upsets a lot of readers. The comments on posts like this one can be quite emotional.

And yet, here’s the thing: it’s happening. It’s always happened. And while it might not be your taste, and you may even find it objectionable, when I look at polls like this one, it’s clear that many people have the opposite opinion about borrowing traditional boy names for their daughters.

They’re just not willing to argue in the comments.

Because while the majority – 41% – said no, no, a thousand times no to James as a girls’ name, one-third gave it a cautious yes, especially as a middle name/honor name. And 26% liked it better for a girl.

In other words, 49% were willing to consider James for a daughter all or some of the time.

Downton Abbey namesOkay, now on to something fun! What are your favorite names from Downton Abbey?

An overwhelming 60% prefer Violet, Isobel, Cora, Martha, and Rosamund – the grand dames of the series.

47% love Mary, Edith, Sybil, Marigold, and Rose – the next generation of the Crawley family.

Just 14% went with Daisy, Ethel, Beryl, Gwen, Elsie, and Ivy, the servants. Could it be that we barely recognize the first names of Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes? (I had to look them up.) Or are some of these names – like Ethel – still fusty enough to push votes into another category?

Hmmm …

There were many more polls than these five, of course, but these leapt out at me as the most fun and interesting results.

And, of course, if you can’t get enough of polls, the final round of March Madness Baby Names opens tomorrow, March 28, 2015. Be sure to come back and vote for the winner!

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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