Writer Colette

It’s the beginning of back-to-school time in Maryland, and that means back-to-school name lists, and reading the names displayed on classroom doors.  I remember staring at my daughter’s pre-kindergarten door, fascinated by the names on all of the apples, during drop-off the first week or so.

But for now, we’re at the beach for the very last week of summer.  I heard a parent calling for Colette today.  (That’s the French writer, Colette, pictured to the right.)  I really do love that name.  And then a Belle, too.  Funny how Bella and Isabella slip right past me, but Belle – so simple, so brief – seemed like a stand-out, a sister for Bess and Kit.


  • Looking for a daring, daffy middle name? Try Melusine.  I really like it.  Ava Melusine.  Edith Melusine.  So much more interesting than Marie.
  • I’ll admit it.  I don’t get Alfie.  I love the movie – heck, I even kind of liked the remake – but as a given name, it just seems … casual.  Incomplete.  And yet British birth announcements abound with Alfie and Archie and Tommy, too.  Maybe I’ll get used to it.  I do like Hattie and Sadie and other nickname names for girls on their own, though they’re still not my style.
  • Fascinating to see which names are the fastest rising in the UK.
  • On a similar note, thanks to Nancy for putting all of the Swiss lists together in one place.
  • Yet another gorgeous sibset courtesy of Design Mom’s Living with Kids series: Sara, Pim, Ava, and Casper – interesting when the boys are the ones with the daring names!
  • I’m thoroughly enjoying Angela’s analysis of Pottery Barn catalog names.  Have I said this before?  I don’t think the catalog sets trends, but I do think they reflect what is happening in name-dom.  So as we broaden the list of possibles we’re willing to consider, the same thing happens on their products.  Presumably, some large percentage of their stylists, designers, etc. are parents themselves …
  • Speaking of naming phenomenon, Clare introduced me to a site that chronicles personalized vanity stickers on parents’ cars, listing their children’s names.  Really.  I’ve seen similar stickers in the US, but only rarely do they list actual names.  Would it be a good trend ’round here?  I think I’d risk injury to myself and others while chasing cars to read their stickers … or maybe I’d just spend time trawling parking lots with my iPhone at the ready …
  • I do like a four-letter L name.  Who knew there were so many?  This list is exhaustive!
  • Let’s end with Anna’s fascinating exploration of class and baby names.  It’s a huge, complicated issue.  In the US, race and ethnicity are equally divisive factors in naming discussions.  Our neighborhood is heavily Spanish speaking, with French and a few other languages thrown in, too.  (The new elementary school they’re building is estimating 75% of the student body will speak a language other than English at home.)  Yesterday, I heard a Spanish-speaking mom calling her young daughter Allison.  Maybe I noticed it because I was thinking about the differences in the Swiss data, but it is worth remembering that American name popularity rankings are subject to the same kinds of influences.

That’s all for this week.  As always, thank you for ready – and have a great week!

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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. Waltzing More Than Matilda’s list kinda reflects my way of thinking, though I wouldn’t attribute it to class as much as, well, style., but not really style, more like level of sophistication.

  2. I often struggle to come to terms with the realization that I am a bit of a name snob. I am no Katie Hopkins though. I suppose that my philosophy is that you can sometimes tell things about a person’s background based on a name, but that a lower class perception is no reason to not associate with someone. It also makes me wonder if people do the same with my name and conclude things about me because of it. Do any of you think that your name has significantly impacted people’s perception of you?

    1. I don’t think so – except most people I meet say they already know an Anna (because it’s a common name) and then say something like, “And all the Annas I know are really NICE!” It may just be a polite nothing to a name that’s on the average side, of course … I must say I haven’t noticed any extraordinary niceness in other Annas or myself! Most Annas I know of are pretty tough cookies.

      Oh and I once got a job because my name was Anna – I thought that was a mad reason to give someone a job, but apparently the (female) boss had a weakness for the name.