Monkey Number 8
Monkey Number 8 by mikecogh via Flickr

Let’s begin with some smash-up, right-on quotes from the almighty Swistle:

It becomes increasingly difficult to call a name “a boy name” when it is given to more female babies than male babies. Clearly names are not black and white in that way, and insisting that they SHOULD BE or ARE that way doesn’t change anything. We could also claim that Ashley and Evelyn and Lesley are “BOY names!!”—but where would that get us, now that they are used mostly for girls? Names, like colors and toys, are given to male/female babies according to fashion, not according to stone tablets.

One hard lesson of baby-naming is this: No matter what name you choose, someone else is going to hate it. REALLY hate it. And a whole lot of people are going to think it’s lame or boring or weird. You will not find a name that will make every single person, upon hearing it, think, “Wow! That is THE perfect name!” We all have different tastes in baby names—and there tend to be particularly large rifts between generations. Discussing names with a few trusted friends or relatives can be helpful; discussing them with someone who would call a name “horrible” is unhelpful, and I think it would be safe to exclude that family member from future discussions.

Well said, especially that part about excluding the family member who dismisses names as horrible.  Not helpful, indeed.

Elsewhere online:

  • Loved British Baby Name’s contemporary combos for Maud post.  Apricot Maude Daphne is just deliciously daffy and seems very English to my American ears.
  • Let’s linger in the British Isles just a minute longer, as Elea has also posted her July Names round-up.  Me?  I’m partial to July as a name, maybe short for Julissa.
  • Have you read this article?  Deeply judgmental, and not entirely accurate (pssst … the other Moore-Willis girl is Rumer, like the poet, not Rumor), but funny and with more than a glimmer of truth.
  • Random Broadway-related baby name thought: if they really make a musical out of The Exorcist, and it really has a successful run, will Reagan make the US Top 100 for girls?  Technically, the character is Regan, but the ea spelling has been dominant.
  • What a story behind Mafalda!  She sounds like the name of a villain, but actually she’s the Portuguese form of Matilda.  The Beauty of Names tells the tale of a twentieth century princess who wore the name.
  • Denver Anton and Zelda Gypsy Jane quite a pair!
  • For the final name in Hated Names Week, I’m thinking of Mackenzie.  There were so many great suggestions, but I think this one is the most intriguing.
  • Love, love, love Edie, but I’m not sure about the spelling Eadie, spotted in a celebrity birth announcement at Waltzing More than Matilda.
  • Baseball fanatic?  Here’s a list of baseball-inspired names for girls.  Not sure I can get behind Diamond, but there are a few very wearable ideas here.
  • At the Nameberry forums: is Suri wearable?

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. Ditto WMTM.^

    My feeling is, if the meaning is male [i.e indicts a male], then it’s male & will stay that way no matter how many girls use it. As for other names with more ambiguous meanings, I don’t see what’s wrong with either using a feminine version, or a different name altogether. There are sooo many available names in the world, I just don’t see the point of “stealing” male names for girls. Plus, there’s the whole ‘making it unusable’ thing [I don’t personally think of names that way, but I can see how others would], AND it’s unfair that it doesn’t work both ways. I’ve said it dozens of times, but when it’s okay with the majority of the English-speaking world for me to name my son Margaret or Penelope, then I’ll think it’s okay for a girl to be named Maxwell or Peyton [but never Mackenzie or Paige].

  2. I only partially agree with Swistle – if a name is obviously male, such as meaning “strong man of the forest”, then I don’t see how it can be a female name, even if it is more commonly used by girls at present.

    It would be like saying just because a majority of parents think the name Ruben is the masculine form of Ruby, then that’s what it means, which is nonsense.

    Up is not down, cats are not dogs, black is not white, and cold is not hot. I’m all for democracy in names, but not idiocracy.

  3. Must confess… Mackenzie doesn’t bother me at all as a girl’s name simply because J.K. Rowling used it. Suddenly it became stylish and interesting to my ears instead of trendy and silly — and I really don’t usually like surnames as girls’ first names. (LOATHE Campbell, for example — the only other exception I can think of is Romilly, which I love for the sound and the Mitford association.) But then again, I also have a weakness for most three-syllable girls’ names ending in “y” anyway, so who knows. Hmm.

    1. I have, on more than one occasion, felt quite frustrated that a novelist who gave her characters such fantastic names gave her own daughter a name like Mackenzie. However, I try to tell myself that I shouldn’t judge and that there’s probably a good story behind the name. The story is often more important than the name itself.

  4. I second SkyeRhyly in thinking that July actually makes an excellent masculine name — it does, after all, come from Julius Caesar.

    That article about judging someone based on their child’s name is both interesting and scary; it’s scary because it’s true that, like it or not, we are judged on our children’s names. Also, I’m pretty sure that people judge me differently when they hear my kids names on their own than when they hear them as a sibset.

  5. Wow that MSNBC article was really mean and not actually very observant, esp. when compared to awesome name writers like you, Abby! One can’t help judging her kids names, listed in her bio, as pretty dang milquetoast.

    1. HA! Love your phrase “pretty dang milquetoast” and yes, I judged her IMMEDIATELY when I saw them. 🙂

  6. Also I have to mention that July is by far my favorite month name (for a boy), yet no one uses it. I find the final “y” sound very masculine.

  7. Maude is one of my very favorite names. I had Maude Isobel, a combo I found in a family tree book, on my list for years. Right now I favor Maude Beatrice. Maude Emma must be Design Mom’s Maude.

  8. Considering I have a portuguese background, color me shocked to find out Mafalda is related to Matilda. I wouldn’t say its equivalent though, as Matilde is super common in Portugal (been living here for almost a year now).

    Mackenzie would make a great hated name. I actually really like it for boys, but it ticks all the boxes on what I hate about certain girl names.

    I think Suri is wearable, why not? It might be completely celebrity associated atm, but I can’t think of any other reason why it shouldn’t be used.