Nature's Number 6
Nature's Number 6 by CarbonNYC via Flickr

First, a question for a friend: let’s say you were expecting a daughter. Not only is she going to be your last child, you’re the youngest sibling, so this baby is probably the last in her generation. You’d love to pass on your maiden name. Trouble is, your maiden name sounds exactly like a popular name, but with a totally different spelling.

For argument’s sake, let’s say the name is Reily. It looks like a creative respelling of a popular name, but it isn’t – it’s the most meaningful name you can imagine. You could respell it to Riley. But you’d rather not.

What would you do? Use Reily, knowing there’s no name more meaningful? Accept the less meaningful Riley in an attempt to save your daughter spelling hassles? Or are there so many girls called Rylee that you have to spell everything anyhow?

Opinions appreciated!

Elsewhere online:

  • I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Harry’s Law, the new Kathy Bates show on NBC. The character’s name is Harriet, one of my favorites. Harriet left the US Top 1000 after 1970, and since then the only high-profile bearer of the name was the shrewish Mrs. Oleson on Little House on the Prairie. I keep expecting to see her make a comeback. Nickname option Hattie seems like a logical successor to Maddie and Abby;
  • This post at Swistle discusses the name Hazen, for a boy. For the parents, it’s the name of a favorite place, a state park in Vermont. But it also sounds like the kind of invented boy name we continue to hear. A friend of mine mentioned she knows a newborn boy named Vallen;
  • You Can’t Call It “It” skims the London Telegraph birth announcements. It’s always a great read, but my favorite was Hero Genevieve Tallulah, a sister for Gus, Daisy, Archie, and Conrad. I’d love to know the older kids’ full names;
  • Look at this middle name, spotted by For Real: Roman Starling. It’s a great combination of the very masculine and the completely unexpected;
  • I try to read Voornamelijk, despite the fact that it is in Dutch. Her recent report on reality TV from Europe turned up an intriguing list of contestants: Dilara, Lois, Meron, and Zira;
  • Word is out that the most popular names in Germany for last year were Sophie and Maximilian. Despite being known for their restrictive laws regarding given names, quite a few unusual choices made it through, including Kix and Belana;
  • I love this story about a baby named after chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit at Nancy’s site.

I am absolutely bursting with excitement over my post at Nameberry for Monday. The names range from Amoret to Sedley, Lucien to Arthemise.

Hollywood gave us just two announcements this week, but oh, what names!

  • We learned that Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher named Olive’s little sister Elula. There’s a good analysis of the name’s style up at NameCandy and Elisabeth at You Can’t Call It “It” is reporting that Elula’s full name is Elula Lottie Miriam;
  • Gretchen Mol chose Winter Morgan for Ptolemy’s little sister. I like Winter just fine, but I was expecting something far more daring – Yseult or Persephone, maybe.

Which reminds me – do you know the most popular season name? This article at Babble reads “We all know at least one Summer, right? And Autumn isn’t unheard of. But Winter? That’s a first.” Actually, Autumn is in the US Top 100, while Summer has never ranked that high. And can Winter really be called a first when Nicole Richie’s Harlow Winter Kate is so visible? Nancy tells us that 259 girls received the name in 2009, meaning that Winter ranked just a few spots beyond the Top 1000.

As for Spring, there’s always Oscar-nominated actress Spring Byington.

Speaking of spring, remember that voting for March Madness preliminaries for both Boys and Girls is open until Friday morning.

Thanks all for this week. As always, thanks 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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What do you think?


  1. Personally I would think, put the Reilly-esque name in the middle spot, as I am not into surname/androgenous names for girls. But if the parents love that naming style, then they shouldn’t be held back by spelling problems if that particular spelling has personal significance to them. Having to spell out your name is just par for the course in life, and no big deal really. Heck, I’m a Jane and I can’t tell you how many people ask if it’s “with a y” – ie Jayne. I think people are used to variant spellings these days. After all, even the “classic” names have variations – Catherine/Katherine, for example.
    If you are naming a baby after someone, then I personally think it makes most sense to use the same spelling.

  2. I’ve actually been thinking about Starling a lot for a boys middle name. My grandfather, great-grandmother & great-grandfather on my mother’s side all have bird names. Lark, Lark Jr. & Dovie. To somewhat carry on the trend I’ve been thinking Wren for a girl and I came across Starling for a boy, though I don’t think I’d have the guts to use it for a first name, I LOVE it in the middle name spot.

    Roman Starling is a great combo. My favorite at the moment is Jude Starling.

  3. Regarding Hero Genevieve Tallulah, I think that the parents gave the first child two middle names and then thought that they had to give all the other kids two middle names as well so they wouldn’t feel short-changed. It’s hard enought to think of two names that flow well together, but three? Hero Genevieve is great. I would have stopped there.

    Elula makes me think of “uvula,” so no.

    And I say go with Riely, for the first or middle slot. As someone who grew up having to constantly respell her name and it was still getting butchered (and my name was Christina! It was a really common name!) I can tell you that it’s not a big deal. I actually had a lot of fun seeing how badly people screwed it up!

    1. That may be true, Isadora. Still, I like Hero Genevieve Tallulah, even though I can see that something like Hero Genevieve Rose or Hero Tallulah Joan would’ve been more pleasing.