number 4
Number 4 by jontintinjordan via Flickr

I went to a baby shower yesterday, and yes, of course, there was baby name chatter. Top names under consideration for the (multiple) expectant moms in the room included Amara, Mara, Miranda, Gavin, and Nolan.

I find these conversations alternately thrilling and painful. You’re not really supposed to dissect their name choices, and you’re certainly not supposed to volunteer that Nolan has been gaining in use rapidly, and doesn’t necessarily meet their unusual-but-not-too-out-there requirement. Or that Amara isn’t really easy to pronounce, especially if you want her second “a” to sound like star and car, not bear and care.

But I will say this: I was in a crowd of hyper-educated, high-achieving, globe-trotting women, and yet we all seem to favor girls’ names that are frilly valentines. I’m not sure what to think about that.

Elsewhere in the name ‘verse:

  • Did you see this question about Ashton? Love her response, and this quote: “The land of contemporary names is a probabilistic terrain where names tilt one way, then the other.” I know it makes us crazy, but there it is.
  • Petra, Simone, Theodora – Nameberry’s list of feminizations is delicious. My latest name crush is Theodora, nicknamed Thora.
  • Dulcinea is my favorite from Eponymia’s post, though I’ll admit I think Toad the Wet Sprocket before I think Don Quixote.
  • Is Snooki enciente? I care more than I should … okay, and I’m charmed by the idea of a little girl named Angela but called Gigi.
  • Triplets named Gone, With, and Wind? What happened when those poor kids grew up and were no longer introduced in a series?
  • Bree’s list of names from the family tree of Marie Antoinette had me captivated. I love seeing how Maria Theresamanaged to recycle such a limited pool of family names for so many children.
  • While we’re on the subject of re-invention, Zeffy’s comments about her family having a strict ban on passing down names intrigues me – especially since she’s come up with a clever way to sidestep the rule.
  • Did you notice this Elsa and Cleo sibset in the Melbourne birth announcements? It’s one of my favorite combinations, thanks to Babble blogger Jane Roper.
  • Quadruplets born on Leap Day – what are the odds? An even bigger shocker? I like their names: Reuben, Zachary, Joshua, and Samuel.
  • For Real spotted a baby Edna!
  • Mabel, Oscar, and Bonnie Sue – once again, Name Soiree rounded up the kind of sibset that makes me want to bring dinner to the new parents just so I can ask how they chose such retro-cool names.
  • Gawker weighs in on baby names – again – but this time it is not at all mean spirited. Maureen O’Connor rocks – and makes her “old lady” name tremendously cool!

Lastly, did you see Nancy’s post about Baby Name Inventiveness? It’s an intriguing question. I’ve defended variant spellings, but is there something different happening in recent decades? There’s a long history of parents making up names and respelling them to encourage different pronunciations. Is it new, or is talking about it new? I’m not sure …

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading, and a special thanks for voting in March Madness. Can’t wait to see which names advance to the round of eight!

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. I find it VERY hard to keep my mouth shut when people are discussing baby names; it’s so hard not to say anything when someone said they are going with Harper because it’s so unique, or to point out that the name they’ve picked for their son is declining for males and growing for females.

    I’m afraid what stops me (not to my credit) is that I always think, “No if you interfere too much you’ll skew the data”!!!!!!