There are few things in life that give me more joy than helping families find names for their children.

Back in 2007, I found myself spending all of my free time hanging out in baby naming forums, doling out opinions and advice to any and all who would listen. In early 2008, I started a blog, thinking I could organize all of my go-to resources and link to them.

And so it began. A few years later, I found myself answering as many emails as I could from parents who were looking for help. It’s humbling to be a resource for such a big decision! Eventually #namehelp was born, and then Ask the Name Sage at nameberry.

A reader suggested I offer it as a service. I hesitated – could I really be of service? But my inbox was fuller and fuller, more and more messages were going unanswered – until I realized, it just made sense.

Now I spend a great part of every week helping families consider possible names, or working through their naming questions. It’s an honor and a privilege, and a challenge. Some questions are straightforward, but a neutral opinion makes all the difference in the world. Other questions are twisting and turning, and send me chasing rabbits, looking for fresh inspiration or trying to parse how names really sound in different regions.

In August, Nameberry got a call looking for a baby naming consultant. It led to a long conversation about my work. I blithely assumed it was background for a web piece, and hoped for a few good quotes.By the end of the conversation, the wheels were in motion for me to actually appear on TODAY.

Honestly? It’s surreal. Because all I did was what I do pretty much all day, but this time, it was on television. For, I am told, an audience that numbers well over 4 million viewers.If you haven’t seen it, the clip is embedded above. Savannah and Dylan were so lovely – really, exactly as they appear on camera – and the entire staff was beyond kind and thoughtful. The piece was actually filmed a few weeks in advance – that’s what I mentioned in this Sunday Summary in late August!

Thanks for sharing in my excitement over the opportunity. Even though it was me up on the screen, I couldn’t help but feel that the whole name community was there. It’s our collective interest in names – not as celebrity gossip or an annual popularity contest, but as choices with deep and powerful meaning – that makes these conversations possible.

Now, on to the name news:

  • These names are fabulous, but mostly I’m just sharing because the pictures rock. I fully intend to sport Pearl’s swim bonnet in another twenty years. (Loved ones, you’ve been warned.)
  • Lyn-Z Hawkins Pastrana knows something about having a distinctive name. Born Lyndsey, she’s an X Games gold medalist in skateboarding, and now wife to Nitro Circus creator and athlete Travis Pastrana, and a mom to two girls. Their names? Addy Ruth and Bristol Murphy. Addy is so sweetly vintage, not at all what I might have guessed for a Lyn-Z. Bristol seems more in line with what I’d have guessed. I wonder if there’s a story there?
  • Zala for a girl, Ziga for a boy, and more favorites from Slovenia, thanks to Nancy.
  • I tend to agree with the Name Lady that Alyssa and Eliza are too close for mother-daughter names. And yet, are the names really unworkable?
  • Wow! She named her daughter after her mother, and now this French politician is being accused of being unpatriotic. Words fail me.
  • This makes an interesting way to look at names that might be on their way up – fast!
  • Twin girls named Beaux and Bonnie? I can’t decide if I love those names … or would have to grow up in such a themed pair!
  • Some tempting rarities on this list of popular noun names in translation.
  • Another brilliant Duana quote: No matter how familiar the name, there’s no guarantee someone else sees it the same way you do … SUCH an important point.

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. Just remember us – the little people – now that you’re famous!

    Congratulations that is so exciting Abby!

    I knew we hired the best 😉

    Cheers from Montana

  2. Wow, you’re super famous now! What a great segment! The Duana names article was interesting – I know nothing about Chinese naming trends, so I had no idea that Maisie or Amelia would be popular with Chinese communities. The more you know!