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. Isadora, you make a good point. My cousin used her mother-in-law’s unattractive and old-fashioned name for her daughter’s middle name because she felt obligated to do so but calls her mother-in-law “the monster-in-law” behind her back. How is that “honoring” her daughter’s grandmother?

    In the Greek culture there is a tradition of naming children after one of their grandparents, a concept that I hate (and I’m Greek). Needless to say, my husband and I didn’t go that route.

    1. Virginia, I think there’s a difference between our relationship with our in-laws and our kids’ relationship with their grandparents. I’m not saying you should pass on a family name when there’s real drama and pain happening, but assuming it is the ordinary petty discontents that we all have, it seems like a child might value being Juniper Berenice or Emma Berenice more than Juniper Ann or Emma Jane – eventually – even if your mother-in-law Berenice is hyper-critical.

      I think it is also possible to reboot a tired name – and, of course, perfectly acceptable to step away from a family naming tradition if it feels uncomfortable.

  2. Looking through the “How to Choose a Middle Name” link, I couldn’t disagree more with the “appease your family by putting their name in the middle slot” advice. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it, but the choice of words that they used (“family barging in to the baby-naming act”) sure doesn’t sound like it would be done to honor anybody.

    My dislike for the practice stems from my father’s family telling me that I’d BETTER name my son Thomas because that’s TRADITION since I was eight years old. But on my mother’s side they tried to do this with not-so-great results.

    When my Abuela was pregnant with my mother, her mother-in-law badgered the couple to give the baby her name: Pasqualina. She had an awesome name, but from the way my mother tells it, she seemed like a thouroughly unpleasant woman. She never wanted a son, and she let her son know it. So my mother wound up with Cynthia Lee. Lee as in Pas-qua-LEE-na, get it? Well, Pasqualina didn’t. I’ve heard a whole slew of reasons to dislike the name Pasqualina from older generations in the family: it’s old fashioned, it sounds like a dolls name, it wouldn’t sound right with Cynthia, but I’m guessing the real reason is that they just didn’t like her.

    So, yeah. This rant isn’t meant to offend anyone that picked a family name that meant a lot to them. But for me? No. Too many bad experiences.

    1. I think we were very fortunate in naming our children. There wasn’t much expectation that we would hand down family names. (Neither of our parents did – it isn’t a big thing in Poland, and my mother had already rejected the Italian naming custom.) But we did use family names, and I think both families were pleased.

      Isadora, I’m always horrified by those “you have to” stories, and I agree that “appease” is a less-than-ideal concept. But what you said at the end about the name meaning a lot? I think that’s important, whether it is your great-great-grandfather’s name or something you and your partner discovered together.

  3. My husband met a Dad this weekend who has twins named Elish@ and Alis@. (He even asked the Dad how to spell the names, as he knows I love to hear about names!)

    1. Three gold stars to your husband for asking! 🙂

      And oh dear – those names are confusingly close!

  4. My choices for the Baby Name Wizard contest were:
    Fastest rising: Finn, Harper, Harlow
    Fastest falling: Alyssa, Joshua, Brianna

  5. I didn’t realize how many rhyming names I had in that post with Brenn, Trenn(a), & Wren. 🙂

    Yeah, some of those twin names were horrible. I think it would get SO confusing and let’s hope Alexa and Lexa aren’t identical.

    And Jeopardy? I like a lot of word names, but Jeopardy isn’t one of them.

    Have a good week!

  6. Lexa and Alexa?!?! That actually made me wince. Are they trying to have a twin mix-up a la The Parent Trap and Full House? These parents are not thinking AT ALL about their daughters’ lives! I’m on the verge of angry for those poor kids.

  7. I know some soon-to-be-here twins named Amberlyn and Adelyn. Yeah… It gets worse… big brother’s name is Aidan.