I spent Saturday afternoon at a kid-friendly baby shower, trying not to grill the expectant mom about baby names. (They’re not finding out the gender, and they’re not sharing names in advance. Torture!) But among the small guests? A pint-sized Zora, named after the author.

In other name news:

  • I don’t think the Mostly Cajun blogger and I have anything in common, but I enjoy his lists of some of the least appealing baby names he spots in local birth announcements – as in Bailee, Jazm’yne, Taylior. If you need a reason to groan and roll your eyes, direct your browser towards Louisiana;
  • With the next installment in the Harry Potter series set to hit the big screen soon, get ready for more articles about JK Rowling-inspired baby names. This article from the Baltimore Sun pegs the most obvious impact of the series to date – the rise of Luna;
  • How much am I loving Elisabeth at You Can’t Call It “It”s posts on Newbies? Culled from online birth announcements, I surrender twenty minutes of my non-existent free time whenever one surfaces in my Google Reader. There’s a Wren Elise on her most recent list. And I continue to puzzle over Timberlyn. Were her eco-chic parents worried she’d be lost among all the Willows? Or is it a logical name for a logger’s daughter? Could the parents be superfans of Justin Timberlake? Timbaland? Timberland footwear? The mind reels;
  • Legit Baby Names blogged about Olga recently. Why aren’t there more Olgas? Or am I the only one so charmed?;
  • Bewilditrix turned the spotlight on Basil. Basil Fawlty’s not so well known in the US, and I’ve noticed one or two in the birth announcements. In fact, here my first Basil thought is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories. Guess we’ll have to wait and see;
  • The Toronto Star again covers an unusual baby name – but this one is actually rather appealing: Nash Anthony;
  • I’ve neglected to mention Dooce, the mother-of-all-mommy blogger’s second darling daughter, Marlo Iris. (Big sis is Leta.) I especially love Iris in the middle spot – wonder if she’ll replace Rose anytime soon;
  • Which reminds me, Babble’s Oz Spies has welcomed a second son, Jonas Eamon, little brother to Axel;
  • Jason Priestly is a dad for the second time, but they’ve yet to announce the name chosen for Ava Veronica‘s little brother;
  • Indy driver Scott Dixon welcomed a daughter named Poppy Davies Dixon – the middle name is mom Emma’s maiden name;
  • Nancy’s post on wild Saints’ Names is fabulous. I think we can safely say that Waltrude is not primed for a comeback;
  • From the time machine – one year ago today, the Name of the Day was Saskia.

Lastly, a special (and overdue) congratulations to Bek on the birth of Eben Forrest. (I know she’s already mentioned it in comments from another post, but it is such a fabulous name, it really deserves some more applause!)

Check back next week for Leland, Phaedra, Ferdinand, Marsann and Leora. 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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  1. Thank you for visiting my humble blog.

    I can always enjoy the traffic.

    And on your subject matter, I am indeed 75% Cajun, and among the last three generations we had Ophelia, Amelia, Ambrose, Deyhart, and Ozema (Oze-may), among others, but that was two or three generations ago.


  2. I was in a production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters (*everyone eyerolls* – I know…my references are often theatre-related!) and Olga was the name of the oldest, plainest, spinster sister (qualities that define her character and actions). So I can’t quite get that reference out of my mind. The hard “g” and Russian origin also reminds me of Baba Yaga – a witch in Slavic folk tales.

    1. Interesting, Kat. Chekov is far from obscure, so you can’t be the only person with that association. Would you use Irina? I have a grandmother Irene, so I’m often thinking about how to reinvent that one. (Though one of my sisters say that she would just use Irene.)

      1. I’m biased towards Maria, what with it being my middle name and all. Irina is very nice, but I think I might be your sister, Abby, because I would just use Irene. 😉

        As far as Olga goes, I’m afraid it’s been ruined for me by stereotypes of the name when I was younger. I can only picture a buck-toothed, blonde, unibrow-wearing, mole-sporting Slavic woman. I’m quite sure that if I ever met a cute little Olga in real life, though, my opinion would quickly change.

      2. I do like the name Irina, but would probably use Irena just to avoid pronunciation complications. I also like Irene because of the Greek goddess reference. I like the name of the character I played the best, though – of course! ha! – Natalia (or Natasha, depending on the translation).

        I’m betting that by using Irene without any bells and whistles, you’ll actually wind up ahead of the trends.

  3. I worked in an indie bookshop in 1992 or so when the book was new. We had Stellaluna books, Stellaluna bats, Stellaluna story hours … you get my drift. But the thing is, what else would you call a fuzzy grey bat heroine of a child’s story – Stella for star and Luna for moon … it just makes sense. And is equally lovely for twin names, except the book is an inevitability.

    1. I, preferably, would have named the bat Bathilda — it comes with the oh-so-relevant nickname Batty! 😀

      I’m not exactly sure what to make of it. The connection, while not necessarily a bad one to my knowledge, might be a bit humiliating if both girls met someone who shouted out, “Oh my God, just like the bat! How cool!” Perhaps the fantasy will stay only that — A fantasy. But as my genes leave me more likely to bear twins, this conversation may come up in the future. Oh well!

  4. Google it; it’s been around since the mid-90’s, so it really is more of a new classic than a fad. Maybe it is just the US, tho’… I’d have to check Amazon.uk.

  5. I’m very disappointed with Louisiana. Most of the Louisianians I have met (I know quite a few authentic Cajuns) are very well named. I know a Jeanne (pronounced the French way), Felicity, Evangeline, Ana, Lorenza, Jerome, Lothaire. Its sad to see Taylior, Bailee and Jaz’myne.

    I adore the name Luna. She is on my middle name list. In France, she is in the top 10. Of course, the French have their own tryndee spellings. I have seen it spelled Louna quite a few times in a few French BAs.

    I find Wren Elise quite pretty, though its not something I’d use. Don’t kill me, but it made me think of a smush, Wrennelise 🙂

    I have always appreciated the name Olga. I wouldn’t use it, but I value its history and origins, plus, I actually think Saint Olga of Kiev is a pretty cool namesake, despite some of her violent exploits. But she is one fine example of a strong woman. I wouldn’t have wanted to get in her way 😉

    Basil has always been one of my favorite male names. Its not high on my list, but it would be very exciting to meet a little baby Basil. I think it makes a great middle name option too.

    I have always liked Nash as a GP. I agree, Nash Anthony is appealing, even if it does not necessarily match the style of names that I like.

    I think Douce has some pretty well named children. I especially love Leta. Marlo Iris is pretty cool too. Way better than Marly.

    Jonas Eamon is a really handsome choice. Recently, a friend of mine’s sister gave birth to a Jonah, joins big brother Kolbjorn Mathias. They are of Swedish descent and with the first child they wanted to use a nice and obscure Viking name with a trendy nickname option. They call him Kole for short. I love Axel too.

    I can’t wait to hear what Jason Priestly has named his next child. Ava Veronica is quite nice, despite it being so dang popular.

    I’ve always loved Poppy, but am not a fan of the middle names. When I was younger, I had Aurelia Poppy on my list.

    Eben Forrest, another nice Scandinavian gem. Congrats to her!

    Can’t wait to read about Phaedra, and Marsann intrigues me.

    1. Kolbjorn – wild!

      I know of sibs named Ava and Axel. I think they pair nicely.

      And truthfully, I’m not a purist. I can love a good smush! Wrenelise has some appeal to me, too. I’m actually quite fond of Anneliese and Hannelore, though I understand that second one is rather dowdy in Germany today. (Then again, so was Ruby until recently … maybe I’m behind the times!)

      A neighbor and friend of mine is a Cajun. He’s lovely, and has a son called Ronan, so he’s a good namer, too.

  6. Luna is actually on my list as Luna Katherine, with Lulu as a nickname. I absolutely adore the name — It’s a guilty pleasure of mine to fantasize about having twins named Luna and Stella. So fudging adorable!

    On a completely unrelated shtick, I’d like to suggest Milena as a NoTD. It’s a lesser known Russian name that I adore — The nickname being Mila on my list, but others include Mia, Mimi, Lena, Leni, Mina, and more. I pronounce it Mee-LANE-Uh, but people have their personal preferences, so whatever. I just haven’t seen Milena or Mila covered here, so I’d love for you to have a NoTD on her. (Another suggestion is Adelheid, in case you aren’t fully booked for ’09 by now!)

    1. You mean like the bat, Mookie? Stellaluna – cute. Maybe too cute, but cute!

      1. I wasn’t even aware of the batty association! Hm… Something to consider, but it doesn’t detract that much from my liking of the names. It just makes me sound like a hypocrite, because I usually dislike twin names that either rhyme, start with the same letter, are very similar, or have an overly obvious theme — Examples being Jane and Raine, Alexandra and Abigail, Evangeline and Angela or Evelyn, or Daffodil and Tulip. But Luna and Stella are just so equally gorgeous, and they’re so cute together, I just can’t resist!

        And thanks! Wow — You are pretty booked! Just goes to show how popular you are — Or how many baby name nerds frequent here! xD

    2. Stellaluna is a really, really popular book about a little fruit bat, essentially a new classic. It would almost be akin to naming your kids Cinder and Ella.

      1. Huh — Must not be popular where I live! Is it more popular in Western or Southern US, or Canada, or the UK? I’ve never heard of the book before, but it surely cannot be as popular as Cinderella. It may just be a fad. But what do I know — I can’t even say I know of the book, let alone its popularity!

  7. I know a gal who adopted a precious baby girl and named her Olga Maria in her mother’s memory. Such a touching sentiment and sweet name brought tears to my eyes! I love Margo Iris, that’s just a perfect pairing for me. And Poppy is cute, but I would’ve used Penelope. Always, always opt for the original, not the nickname, even if it only gets used on the birth certificate: that should be on a public service announcement that runs in a loop on TVs in birthing suites and mother-baby units.

    1. Ooh, I have an addendum. Those people who don’t want to know the sex of the baby? How do they stand it?!? I couldn’t even sleep the night(s) before I went in for that ultrasound, and it was all I thought about for the weeks preceding. I mean, a girl’s gotta shop, right? And secret names? Sheesh. I practically accosted people with my choices. Not that I spent much time thinking about them or anything.

      1. haha, Allison – we don’t find out the gender or share names either. Honestly, I find it a lot more enjoyable to not know 🙂 With my second (Eben), they slipped up on spilling the gender, and it just took some of the fun out of it for me. We’re evil, I guess, haha 😉

        And thanks, Verity, for the shoutout. 🙂 He’s three weeks today and I can hardly believe it! 🙁 Where has the time gone??

      2. Allison, I briefly considered not finding out both times. With #1, my family pitched a fit! (“How will we know what color to decorate the cake for your baby shower,” my aunt asked. Really!) With #2, Arthur refused – I think because he couldn’t bear having to discuss a boy’s name!

      3. I’m with you – we couldn’t wait to find out the gender…mainly because I was so desperate to start giving my child an identify. All I knew at that point was that it felt like there was a tiny fish inside me. Knowing it was a girl made it easier to start identifying with and “communicating” with her. It also helped our friends and family know what to buy for gifts.

        As far as names, well, I don’t enjoy some people’s criticism of the names we like. But I decided not to keep it a secret per se because I’ve been on the other end and been honestly curious about what a parent wanted to name their child and it was this Big Mystery. I didn’t really understand why, and I am sure that 99% of the people who ask me about it wouldn’t understand me making a big deal of it either. So I tell them the names we are considering. We probably won’t make up our own minds about the final name until the day of, so I tell people that too. So they feel included and yet we don’t have to tell them a “final decision”.

      1. Personally, I think Poppy is really cute, but it’s bordering on too cute. I like it better as a nickname too. It certainly works as a given name, but I know that some people prefer it as a nickname.

  8. My SIL just adopted an adorable Great Dane named Zora. I’ve been trying to convince her it’s a real name. She’s convinced it’s made up. On the other hand, she named her now-six year old daughter Jessica and claimed to not know a single person named that…

    And oy, Timberlyn?

  9. Taylior? Jaz’myne? Holy smokes! Those are definitely extreme spellings.

    Basil is a fun one, but I think Fawlty Towers 100% and just couldn’t quite do that. Although, I must say, I do prefer BAZ-il to BAY-zil. For my American ears it’s what sets the name apart from the herb.

    Olga is gorgeous (especially with a Russian soft ‘l’) and I even like the nickname Olya. Sigh. The other half would never get on board.

    1. I agree with you on the Basil pronunciation. But unfortunately, I, too, cannot hear it without thinking of Prunella Scales screeching the name. It would make me giggle.