Sunday SummaryWe live a few miles outside of Washington DC. Many, many of my neighbors are involved with important, weighty, world-changing things. We’re between two major universities, which means that we know poets and philosophers. People who have lived all over the world. We’re quite close to a major NASA facility, so we also know a few rocket scientists. That’s not to say that we move in rarified circles. It’s just that ordinary jobs here are sometimes not so very ordinary.

In the midst of this, my work is … different. I’m much more likely to have Kardashians or Duggars or Will and Kate on the brain than world events, be they devastating or uplifting.

Early days, I rarely talked about my blog work. My government day job, yes. Because it was kind of like everybody else’s government day job, and so it felt safe and acceptable. Now that I write full-time, I still dodge the question of what I do sometimes. “I run a website.” And only if they keep asking to I reveal my lifelong obsession.

And yet, over the years I’ve come to see that names are about life, and all its glorious and heartbreaking complexity. There’s nothing frivolous about new life, about family.

In recent weeks, I’ve heard about heartache. Despite all the advances of our modern and sometimes nearly-magical world, there is infertility and loss. Adoptions fall apart. Pregnancy can be filled with risk and worry. And yet, there are miracles – an international adoption that will go through quickly, despite some initial uncertainty. A long-awaited healthy pregnancy.

While some of what comes up in the world of baby names is fluffy, even funny, at heart, naming another human being is an act filled with tremendous joy and hope. It’s a privilege to be a part of that journey with so many families.

On to the baby name news:

  • Sometimes I start reading something because it seems like it’s about baby names, and it turns out to be about so much more. Like this story about Ace Christopher, little brother to August and Brooks. August chose his name. And his name is the smallest part of this family’s tale.
  • Always love reading the names that are on Bree’s mind at The Beauty of Naming.
  • Have you seen The Age of Adaline yet? Do you think that the spelling Adaline will become more popular post-movie? Adalynn and Adalyn are in the US Top 200, a few dozen places ahead of the next most common spellings: Adelyn and Adeline. Adaline does not currently rank in the US Top 1000.
  • For Real spotted an Adalyn Briar. Love that combination. And is it time to declare the death of the filler middle? The rest of the post includes daring middles like Rome, Sterling, Persephone, Bishop, West, Cyrus, Honor, Emelia, Hoke.
  • Is it okay to react negatively to someone’s favorite baby name? I don’t mean when you’re hypothetically talking about possible future names for children that are years in the future. I mean when the baby is due in a matter of weeks, and the name is chosen! Here’s hoping I convinced this mom to stick with her favorite name: Gwendolyn Annalise.
  • Pop culture influences = absolutely nothing new! Nancy finds a musical baby name dating back to 1903, the lovely Anona.
  • Have you had the same experience as Denise? “When I was single, I would imagine my future children; children whose names I had long ago picked out while daydreaming during classes in college. What I didn’t factor in was that my future husband might have an opinion. Or, more accurately, that he might disagree with my choices.” (Also, she has a daughter Virginia named Ginny. LOVE!)
  • What would you name a sister for Oscar and Ottilie? Such an interesting post at British Baby Names.
  • I completely agree with the NameLady – no reason the nickname has to match the given name, and there are plenty of examples. I do think the trend in recent years is towards putting the everyday name on the birth certificate. But there are plenty of reasons to opt for a formal name.
  • Which reminds me: wouldn’t twin girls named Elisabeth and Marguerite, called Lily and Daisy, be absolutely lovely? Filing it away in my perfect-names-for-twin-daughters category. Name fans tend to know that Lily started out as a nickname for Elizabeth, and Lillian evolved from Lily – not the other way around. It came up in the most recent edition of the newsletter. Not getting the newsletter? Use the link below to subscribe.

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

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. Twin girls named Elisabeth and Marguerite, called Lily and Daisy would be lovely! I like Beatrice and Edward for twins, called Bea and Bear. Imagine that nursery décor!

  2. “naming another human being is an act filled with tremendous joy and hope”

    Absolutely beautiful and perfectly said Abby – as someone who has been dealing with infertility this brought me to tears.

  3. Yes to the whole first part of your post! Through my love of names I’ve learned so much about history, linguistics, politics, and religion. And it’s nothing short of a privilege to have the opportunity to help parents in the naming of their baby.

  4. I have an 8 year old Gwendolyn, and for me, we hit the sweet spot – classic, recognizable, but unique. She’s the only one in her school. We’ve met other Gwens, of all ages, and it’s like they’re in a special club – is your full name Gwendolyn? Mine, too! She’s Gwennie at home, Gwen at school, Gwendolyn if she’s being fancy, Gwendy, Gwendo, PenGwen, and others when we’re playing.
    Theonly drawback is that is a hard name for young mouths. Her sister has just moved out of calling her Go-knee, at 5.