Calendar Number 21
Calendar Number 21 by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

Here’s a question: how many degrees of separation need to be between you and someone else before you can use the same baby name?

Sisters typically wouldn’t use the same name for cousins, unless it is a family tradition.  I know a set of three brothers who all named their sons Edward after grandpa, but the younger two boys are known by their middle names.  (And, for what it is worth, all three live in different states.)  You and your best friend would probably agree that if she uses Ava, your daughter better be Ruby or Ella or, well, any name other than Ava.

But how about slightly more distant relationships?  Would you:

  • Give your child the same name as a neighbor?  Does it matter if the name is already Top Ten?  How about if the name is a classic, like Katherine or James?  What if you’re renting and don’t expect to be there long?
  • Give your child the same name as a co-worker?  What if your workplace is HUGE and you only know of the repetition because of an announcement in the company newsletter?
  • Repeat a family name used by a distant cousin – as in lives across the country, haven’t seen her since you were kids during the Reagan administration?  Does it change your decision if the kids will be close in age?  Okay, now what if that cousin is someone who lives a little bit closer, and you’ll run into each other at family events a few times each year?

I’m thinking of all these things thanks to a Real Simple column from this month’s edition.  I can’t find the column online, but here’s the gist: cousin A has twin daughters named Sofia and Alexa.  Cousin B just announced on Facebook that she’s having twin daughters, too – and naming them Sophia and Alexie.  Cousin A admits that they’re not close, but she still finds it weird.  Honestly?  I’m inclined to agree, except that if they’re really not close, is it possible that Cousin B didn’t know?

Elsewhere online:

  • Ack, it is another baby Renesme.  This strikes me as a particularly strange source of name inspiration, but maybe I’m overreacting.
  • Oh, but this list makes me happy: siblings for Blossom at British Baby Names.  Basil and Blossom are deliciously daffy together.  And sisters named Daisy, Rose, Violet, May, Lily, Blossom, and Pansy effortlessly bring to mind springtime.
  • This is my new favorite hero name, right up there with Katniss and Hermione.
  • Ludivine is great.  I’m also a huge fan of Ludovic, even if they strike me as not really wearable.
  • Here’s another international variant of John: the Portuguese João.  There’s no end to the great spins on this evergreen name, though I think João is a tiny bit challenging for Americans to master.
  • What do you think of Jex?  A substitute for Max and Dex?
  • Since the arrival of Uma Thurman’s much-named little girl, I’ve mentioned that there was a fourteenth-century Italian use of the unusual name Altaluna.  Mastino della Scala ruled the city of Verona.  He was also, I think, a hard core name nerd.  His legitimate children were sons were called: Cangrande, Alboino, and Cansignorio, plus he had a daughter called Beatrice.  Beatrice and Alboino were named after his parents, and Cangrande was a family name, too.  But his illegitimate kids – of which there were at least five – had amazing names.  There was a son, Freganano, and a daughter who answered to the unsurprising Caterina.  But his other three daughters were Viridis, Altaluna, and Veronese.  There must be a story there …  Or maybe fourteenth century Northern Italian names are just that fantastically different, and I really need to spend more time exploring the era.
  • More reasons to use the stylish Stella: designer and original starbaby Stella McCartney has a new line called Little Miss Stella, complete with a Robert Hargreaves book, an installment in the Little Miss/Little Mister series.  Of course, the Little Miss series were great for their gentle fables, where the characters learned to do the right thing.  The description of this one makes me think that it might be different …
  • Sebastiane’s list of Polish baby names sounds an awful lot like my husband’s side of the family.  I do love a clunky Polish appellation …

Lastly, a housekeeping note.  I was attempting to fix the link structure for posts.  They have always read  I’ve been meaning to transition to something simpler, maybe even  But when I clicked a few settings, I discovered that I’d automatically re-set the entire site.  I’m not quite sure how to go forward from here, but I thought you at least deserved a warning that the number of 404 errors will be sky high over the next few weeks until I figure it out.  My sincerest apologies.  The cheap fix, of course, is to just manually delete the date from the text – so just reads  Thanks for bearing with me.

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

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. Hugh is originally a nn for Hewitt, which is awesome. You could call him Hew or Hugh every day, but be distinguishable from the other Hugh within your group. Just an idea. 🙂