Sunday SummaryI’m curious – do you read blogs and forums where the tone is snarky, even scathing?  They’re not for me.  I don’t object to opinions, even strong ones, even ones that don’t begin to fit my worldview.  And sites that are purely humorous – like The Onion – get a pass, too.  The diversity of perspectives and the ability to know people who are really different and learn completely unexpected things powers the internet, right?

Well, that and LOLcats.

I ask because I’ve been struggling with what to do about blog posts from a well-known baby name book author.  There’s something about his work that feels unnecessarily harsh.  He recently wrote about Fergie and Josh Duhamel’s son, noting the similarity between Axl Jack and applejack, an alcoholic version of apple cider.  Hmmm … maybe a little.  I don’t hear it.  The phrase “apple jack” makes me think of the breakfast cereal and the My Little Pony before my thoughts turn to hard cider.  In the first version of the post – which has since been edited – he wrote “It’s also possible Fergie was drinking Applejack …” when she came up with the name. Wow!  I’m glad he chose to edit that, but I’m put off by the general tone of his writing.

So while I try to cover the whole of the baby name blogosphere in the Sunday Summaries, I’ve stopped following his blog.  I’ve asked you to exercise a degree of restraint in your comments, so I’ll do my best to only share content that is generous and thoughtful, or, should I choose to share something that is questionable, I’ll put a big ‘ol warning label on it.

Now, on to the news:

  • So many names to love in this Ohio round-up from For Real Baby NamesOswald!  And Caroline Mavis and Ezra Keaton – my favorites when I read the post most recently, but I keep changing my mind.
  • I’m intrigued by this dilemma at Swistle: their favorite name is Marley, but the only spelling both parents agree on is Marleigh.  Except that Marleigh feels too creative and invented to the mom, even though she likes it.  Have you ever fallen in love with a name that just isn’t you?  Swistle calls them Names We Love That Are Not Right for Our Family.  It’s a useful concept.
  • This list of princess names at Nameberry is fantastic – can’t you just imagine a feisty teenaged heir-to-the-throne called Delphinia, Frederica, or Leontine?
  • What a great list of formal names for Miri up at Naming at the Fishes.  And thanks for the shout-out, too!
  • Speaking of lists, here’s my Bird Names list, with a happy birthday to my sister who answers to one of these.
  • Anna’s got some great advice for parents worried that their future son’s name will go girl.  And, oh this line: “But I hope that we can also embrace risk and change and diversity, and live in a more accepting world that doesn’t divide us so sharply into pink or blue – a world where we all have more name choices, rather than less.”  Yes!
  • Middle names were not always the norm.  Find data to back it up here, plus lists of the most common middles in the UK.
  • Speaking of middles, how many names is too many?  British Baby Names recently reported on the arrival of Robin Mabel Anneke Shirley Paulien Aletta Johanna Winifred, a new little girl named after lots of her female ancestors.  It’s an awful lot of names, but I can understand the impulse.  In our age of smaller families, it can be tough to decide who to honor … and what to do if you have lots of names to use.
  • Clare has been scooping great posts from years past, and I’m especially thankful for her coverage of Hello, My Name is Pabst.  A girl named Avail!  I’m a fan of obscure and archaic words used as names, and since one of avail’s meanings is help, I think it works well.
  • Time to nominate names of the year at the Baby Name Wizard.  I’d probably vote for Francis, mostly because it seems likely to be influential.  I’m always curious to hear the other ideas, so please go comment.

That’s all for this week!  I hope everyone in the US had a great Thanksgiving holiday.  If you’re celebrating Hanukkah, I hope you’re enjoying!

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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What do you think?


  1. Thank you so much for your policy! I sometimes find name sites to be elitist or racist. I really don’t like snark. Thanks for making the Internet a kinder place.

  2. Totally agree with you about the snark. I try to avoid all those sites.

    I could list the birth announcements on Names4Real and label them the good, the bad, and the ugly, but that is only my opinion. These are actual babies and even though some are not my style, I’ve never known a parent who said I’m going to give my child a stupid/horrible name just for the fun of it. They love it for a reason.


    Glad to see I’m not alone on Avail. Put it on my list when I saw that My name is Pabst post. 🙂

    1. Exactly! I cannot imagine anyone – even an aspiring actor *desperate* for press – choosing a child’s name as a publicity stunt.

  3. I utterly adore Oswald – so cool, so steampunk, and yet so huggable!

    Thanks for the policy – I think in the past you have given a warning that something might be snarky or even adults-only, and I think that’s reasonable enough, so we can click at our discretion. I think there was a site I felt I couldn’t link to, because the language was absolutely filthy, every second word was unprintable. But I think I gave enough clues that anyone could find it if they wanted to.

    The applejack thing was something I just totally didn’t get – it sounded insane! Quite apart from the fact I don’t know applejack is, I’m not sure how you decide that Axel and Apple are homophones.

    1. Applejack is an old New Jersey tradition that bled into other states, also called “apple whiskey.” After the apple harvest, the apples would be sent to cider mills where they would be juiced and turned into cider which would then be left to ferment into hard cider. To make applejack, you pour your cider into a bowl or other large mouthed vessel and let it freeze outside over night. In the morning, scrape the ice off the top and repeat. Each freeze-scrape cycle gets rid of more water and ups the alcohol’s proof. I don’t know how it’s made today, but that’s how it was made centuries ago. As to how one decides that “Axel” and “apple” are homophones? I’m gonna assume a judicious dose of applejack had something to do with it.

      1. Thanks for explaining that Sara. I actually now don’t know what’s meant to be wrong with applejack – it sounds homely and traditional if anything. I know it’s alcoholic, but so is Cooper’s beer and Matilda Bay beer, and Cooper and Matilda are both very popular names here.

  4. I find Bruce Lansky totally out of touch and tone deaf on naming. I have no idea why his books sell so well. I guess a lot of people just pick one off the shelf and go by which one has the most names in it. I used to like sites that make fun of ridiculous baby names but now I find them elitist and ignorant, and full of the same old urban legends and a whole lot of racism. AM is definitely more my taste. Thanks for a great site!

  5. I used to like snark but the older I get, the more it just feels mean. I totally support your policy and thank you for saying so. 🙂

  6. Ah, Bruce Lansky. I’d honestly never heard of him until the last time you linked to one of his articles (I can’t remember what it was about) and I remember thinking he sounded not only out of touch with current baby naming style/trends, but also mean. I see he hasn’t changed.

    Oswald! Like the adorable blue octopus! 🙂

    1. I only know him for the Girls to the Rescue books, which we studied in my children’s literature class way back when. Too bad he’s gone mean.