Number 15
Number 15 by chaouki via Flickr

I overheard a mom calling a kid Semaj yesterday – my first proof that yes, people really are naming their kids James-spelled-backwards.  On some level, I get it.  I know how hard it is to incorporate family names and honor loved ones, especially if the name is a common one.

On another level, I simply do not think that children should be called Semaj.

Elsewhere in the world of names:

  • Yes, I’m still reading Bringing up Bébé, and pausing to note French names.  Eliette caught my eye.  She’s a French feminine form of Eli, which makes her a possible sister for Vivienne and Cecile.  Except in the US, she’d likely be misunderstood as a respelling of Elliot.  Still, Eliette feels like an inevitable discovery for American parents.
  • File Aveline in the same category.  Thetxbelle has an exhaustive bit of research on Aveline posted in the Nameberry forums.  Of course, if she catches on in the US, that’s probably more about a smoosh of Ava and Adeline than anything else.  Proof?  Avalyn, Avalynn, and Avalynne combined were given to nearly 250 girls in 2010, with over 50 more answering to Avelyn or Avelynn.  Could Av- be the new Kay-?
  • I share Rowan’s love of the mini-name Dot.  If you weren’t keen on Dorothy, is there another long form to put on a birth certificate?
  • Speaking of mini names, I’ve long admiredIo.
  • Funny how we perceive things.  I find Felix, Lucy, Basil, Titus, and Jane pretty compatible, but this blended family does not.
  • Thanks to Zeffy for sharing her family trees.  With masculine names like Anastor and Nicolau and feminine choices like Sidalia and Ivonete, I suspect Zeffy comes from a long line of talented namers!
  • Blanchefleur is enchanting – but maybe best left to the middle.
  • Speaking of the middle, Samantha Swan is my favorite from Name Soiree’s Friday Favorites.
  • Isadora makes the case for borrowing names from nursery rhymes.  Bo and Blue, anyone?
  • Cleo, Colette, and Delia Blue in one Names4Real post?  Be still my heart.
  • Lou rounded up ends-in-o names from recent Marginamia posts.  I’m still fascinated by Hallow.
  • NameFancier is all about Louella these days.

Lastly, I really want to link to this post and say it is brilliant, but I feel like there’s some logic missing.  I haven’t had time to puzzle through the subtleties, but the longer I spend thinking about given names, the more I’m convinced they’re terribly easy to oversimplify.  The Social Security data looks straightforward, but any data set creates its own challenges.  More on that in a future post …

For now, thanks for reading and have a wonderful 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. I really like Dot. And I thought it would be a cute name because my husband and I met online – it makes me think “dot com”. I’d use Dorothy as the full name. Odette is a great suggestion though too.

  2. I just read the ‘how baby names reflect cultural change’ article and I’m not sure I agree with some of its basic assumptions and premises. I do think modern technology allows us to be exposed to a greater diversity of trends and choose among them; however, I’d say the major difference between today and 1960 is the degree to which people have a desire to conform. While on the whole, most people still want to fit in and feel like they belong in their local social milieu, and want their children to fit in and not be ‘the weird kid’, let’s not forget that in 1960, a boy having hair that was slightly longer than the norm was considered radical, and there was nowhere near the diversity we see today in terms of acceptable clothing styles, food choices, entertainment and leisure activities, cultural activities and so on. ‘Radicals’ and people who bucked the prevalent trends have always existed, of course, but they weren’t numerous enough to make a major dent in naming trends. Nowadays, I think the number of socially acceptable choices in every area of life has widened, and that includes naming.

  3. I love those Dot possibilities — especially Peridot and Odette (genius!).

    Aveline is one that I found on the Gap Casting Call site, too. I would so not be surprised if it becomes the next Adeline/Adelyn.

    That family from the Swistle post is so well-matched it’s hard to believe they’re a mixed bunch!