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I’ve been having a terribly irreverent name-related thought in church lately.

Poor Mary.  She didn’t get to name her kid!

In all of the accounts I’ve ever heard, the angel tells Mary that she’s having a boy, and that she’s going to name him Jesus.

It’s a fitting name, of course – a cousin to Joshua, it means “God is salvation.”  And this is no ordinary story of choosing a name.

But was it a common name in his time?  Actually, yes. All of the accounts I’ve found indicate that Jesus was as ordinary as Mason or Jackson today.

It’s a nice reminder that your child’s name doesn’t have to be unique or extraordinary for his life to unfold in dramatic, world-changing ways.

And yet, it also makes me wonder – did you face any pressure to give your child a specific name?  I’m not talking angels-we-have-heard-on-high, just regular pressure?


  • Along those lines, I always wonder if parents are happier when they cave to family pressure, or resist?  Here’s a question to the NameLady about renaming a toddler to fit with family tradition.
  • In last week’s poll, Rose – just Rose – stood out as the favorite version of the name, with nearly 1/4 of the vote!  But Rosalie, Rosemary, and Rosalind weren’t far behind.  Add them up, and Rose-plus names were more popular.  Just those three choices accounted for about 49% of the vote.  And there’s no shortage of amazing Rose names.
  • Do you know anything about Greenlandic names?  If not for this great summary from Vernoeming, I would have had to answer no.  Now I’m kind of in love with Ivalu.
  • Mia is massive.  Baby Name Pondering tells us why Sia could be next.
  • The Hemingway family tree is packed with great names.  My long-time favorite is Mariel, but there’s something for everyone at Tulip By Any Name.
  • Interesting place names spotted by For Real – Scotland and Holland, both on girls.  I do like an exotic place name.
  • A great new-to-me smoosh name: Anastella, via Ren.
  • Speaking of smooshes, look what I found on this list of seasonally-appropriate names that aren’t specifically Christian? Wintergrace.  Could be an amazing middle.
  • I find this list just plain weird.  Though I appreciate the idea, and can certainly imagine many reasons a family might want a military-inspired baby name. Yes to Liberty and Honor.  But wouldn’t it be sort of weird to name your child Navy while you’re serving in the Navy?  Still, it’s a great color name possibility.
  • NATO phonetic alphabetLots of the NATO phonetic alphabet in that post – and in general discussion, since the arrival of Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell’s daughter Delta.  There are more real possibilities than you might imagine!  We had a great Facebook discussion about which ones we’d actually consider for a child.
  • This is a really interesting point from Duana – we tend to dismiss names because of associations we make from pop culture.  But so often our children won’t grow up with those associations.
  • Are you going to give him a white name?  A powerful essay on names and identity at the Motherlode.
  • If I lived near Parkview Noble Hospital, I’d be parked in front of this sign.  Lots.
  • Christmas-inspired baby names en français.

That’s all for this week.  As always, thank you for reading – and have a fabulous week – including Christmas and Kwanzaa if you’re celebrating!

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. Navy first started being used in New England in the late 18th century, when the US first got a navy. I’ve often wondered whether the first Navys were the sons and daughters of me in the navy, or whether it was just a generally patriotic choice.

  2. The first name my two year old ever picked for one of her dolls is Sia…after a little girl we met at the pumpkin patch.

  3. The thing that’s fascinating about Scotland is that unlike most place-names used as given names (which pattern, in English, stems from the 16th C when surnames started being used as given names, and many surnames are themselves derived from place names), it actually dates quite early — in the Latinized form Scotlandus it is dated to 1081, and another variant, Scotlande, is found in 1101-67.