A few days ago, my daughter walked me around the playground at her school to show off the chalk drawings they’d done during recess. “The LaLas drew that one,” she said.
“The LaLas. Lily, Layla, Lorelei, and Olivia,” she explained.
I know objectively that L-l names boomed over the last twenty years. (In fact, I’ve changed the kids’ names slightly. Given the wealth of L-l names, it was easy to do.) But this is how it plays out on the playground. Other children hear the similarities, and group them together. From the Top Ten Olivia to the relatively uncommon Lorelei, the shared sounds are obvious. In fact, the kids connect them differently than I do – I wouldn’t have grouped Olivia with the other three names.
There’s nothing negative about this – in fact, it’s kind of sweet. But it illustrates a point that I think about often: popularity rankings don’t describe how familiar a name can feel. If you’re looking for a stand-out name, it’s often about avoiding the letters and sounds most in favor. Of course, it also works the other way. If you want a really unusual name that fits in, choosing one that shares popular sounds can work. Think Elowen – rare, but wearable thanks to our affection for Ellie/Ella names.
- I’ve had unusual O names on the brain. Perfect timing for the British Baby Names birth announcement round-up featuring Ottilie and Ophelia!
- While we’re visiting BBN – and since I mentioned the Cornish Elowen above – isn’t Merryn equally fascinating?
- Did you regret skipping a formal name for your child? I’m not sure I agree with The Name Lady on everything in this post, but generally, yes – there are plenty of arguments pro-formal names, as well as against.
- Could these Classic British names substitute for the wildly popular Alexander and William?
- Still pouring over this data on the Quirky Favorites Names from every state.
- Interesting to see how many nature names were used in the Middle Ages.
- Ingrid, Henry, and Caspian – what a gorgeous sibset! But then again, Design Mom is always a fabulous place for #namespotting.
- Kind of obsessed with these Z names from early cinema at Nancy’s Baby Name.
- Are these safe baby names? Is there any such thing? I’ve been mulling this over lately, because many parents are looking for exactly this – but I suspect it’s tougher than the post assumes. (Of course, it’s from a UK site – so I’d love to hear from British readers if they think these do qualify.)
- Some great, unusual, one-syllable middle names from Ren for boys and girls.
- I am completely in love with Leoncio.
- And Winifred Esme, too!
- This list of obscure names from Poland intrigued me. Because I married into a Polish family, with lots of family members still in Warsaw and Krakow and such, I recognize some of these names. But others are obscure, even for Poland! Which reminds me – I’m still fascinated by Kinga.
That’s all for this week. As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!
I’m not British, but most of those ‘safe’ names seem pretty safe in Australia. Lara and Megan are perhaps a bit dated (I’m an 80s baby and went to school with plenty of Megans and Laras).
Olivia (#2 for girls) /Oliver (#1 for boys) are quite trendy here – I think they’re safe now but will be strongly associated with a particular age group by the time they’re adults. Charlotte is the #1 girls name here, and William #2 for boys. They feel like they’ve been more consistently popular than the Olivs, but it’s still a distinctly 20-teens trend.
Not quite sure why Toby warranted 2 mentions 🙂