Sunday Summary 10.1.23Someone recently asked me a question, and I thought I’d answer it here.

I read that you legally changed your name. How did you get your parents to come around?

It’s a great question!

But the short answer is that … I didn’t. Not really.

The basics: I legally changed my name in my late 20s. My father had passed away by then, so it was only my mom. And for her? It wasn’t a newsflash that I actively disliked my very, very common first name. I’d been jawing on about it for years.

Still, it was the best kind of situation for a name change. I was a legal adult, independent in every sense for quite some time. And we had a good relationship. I do think it confused her, and possibly hurt her, too.

That said, I was willing to patiently wait for everyone in my life to make the change – or not. I have a few older relatives who still can’t wrap their heads around it. Since I see them a few times a year – at most – it’s pretty easy to just shrug it off. I never insisted my grandmothers make the change. I loved them, they loved me, and I’m grateful for that and know how lucky I am to have had them in my life well into my adult years.

Another factor: my family is an engine of cuckoo-bananas nicknames. Always have been. So for a few years, I didn’t really have a name. My sisters, in particular, have never called me Abby. But I’ve never called them by their given names, either, so it’s a non-issue.

The bottom line: relationships matter most. If my mom had refused to acknowledge my new name? I’m guessing that would’ve signaled a deeper rift between us. Likewise, if I’d been hyper-vigilant that no one could ever use my old name? I feel like that would’ve been a little harsh, and likely the wrong call, too.

Relationships matter most.

Also: change takes time. I’d been mulling over a name change for years. Some people in my life only became aware of that once the change was complete. They needed time to make the shift, too.

Here’s the thing: my name change was only a name change. It indicated nothing about my gender, religious identity, or any other significant matter. That’s not always true; often a name change is a small part of a bigger transition, or claiming a different identity. That can be seismic, and it might be much, much harder for those relationships to adjust. Likewise, someone’s reluctance to use a new name might feel bigger – a rejection of all sorts of things.

But if you’re talking about a garden variety, this-name-doesn’t-suit kind of change? Know that it won’t be like flipping a switch. If extending your loved ones grace doesn’t cause you pain, try to do so. And if you’re the one trying to accommodate a loved one’s name change? Know that they’re sharing something important with you, and listen  and behave accordingly.

Have you changed your name? I’d love to hear your story.


I’m low key obsessed with Zoëtry.  Yes, it’s the name of a hotel chain. And sure, they’re resorts in gorgeous locations, so that’s probably helping sell me on the whole image. But I love how they describe the portmanteau: Zoëtry® blends the Greek words “Zoe” (life) and “Poetry” (artful creations), or Art of Life. Could it be a given name? It never has been, at least not that I can find in the US data. But I’m willing to cautiously consider it …

Is Delphine the new Josephine? Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner are the parents of two daughters. They shared firstborn Willa’s name, but kept quiet about their younger daughter’s name – until now. Delphine’s name was revealed in the couple’s official divorce filing. Which is terribly sad. And yet, it’s getting an awful lot of attention, enough that maybe Delphine will finally catch on in the US.

Boy Names That Convey Strength Without Violence. I am so here for this concept from And yet, it’s a tough idea to nail down, isn’t it? Does Humphrey fit? I can’t decide, but I would never describe it quite that way … How ’bout Koa, Kane, or Evander?

Ooh … Astrid is the #1 girls’ name in Sweden. Nancy has the full report. I think American parents should also take another look at Vera, Signe, Saga, Elvira; plus Hugo, Niles, Alfred, and Tage.

Time for this week’s Name Wordle! Find the game here. (And if you’re stumped? This is the answer.)

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

boy names 10.1.23 girl names 10.1.23

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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  1. Had to double-take and think about it for another moment afterward: I think it’s Sophie Turner. Minor typo!

    It’s late where I am, so that definitely took me a bit to realize who this was.