mouse earsLet’s start with a quote from Tom Perrotta’s The Leftovers.  One character is speaking to another, who can’t decide on a baby name:

“It’s not that big a deal,” he went on.  “Just think of a flower or a bird or a month.  Call her Rose or Robin or Iris or April or whatever. Anything is better than nothing.”

I wish I could tell you the baby’s name, but it isn’t revealed by the end of the story – though I do feel quite confident that she’ll have a lovely, hopeful name.

I’m a voracious reader in almost any situation, but I spent a week at the beach last week, which pretty much puts me into the book-or-more-a-day-club.  Among the many books I devoured was The Selection, Kiera Cass’ very interesting take on a dystopian future.  (I have a huge thing for dystopia.  I blame my dad, and his affection for 1984 and Brave New World.  Oh, and Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron,” which is proof that you can be a name nerd and think deep thoughts simultaneously, because Harrison is a great name.)  But back to The Selection.  Oh, the names!

Masculine names from The Selection: Maxon, Aspen, Gavril, Gerad, Kota, Hector

Feminine names from The SelectionAmberly, America, May, Elayna, Tuesday, Fiona, Kamber, Celia, Kenna, Margareta, Tenile, Brenna, Marlee, Celeste, Emmica, Bariel

In our era of The Bachelor, this was really quite a clever concept.  And the names!  I was completely taken in by the names.


  • Via Clare at, I found this article on another banned baby name: Jerusalem.  This time the banning was done by a clerk in Brussels.  To register a name in Belgium, apparently, one goes to City Hall where a bureaucrat types your chosen name into the database.  Jersualem wasn’t in the system, so the parents – who are Israeli citizens, living and working in Brussels – were denied.  What’s wackier still is that the child’s name is Alma Jerusalem, and that the clerk suggested Bethlehem as a compromise.  That’s the thing with official lists.  Someone has to administer them, and the odds of that person being accurate, efficient, compassionate and discrete will vary.
  • Which reminds me: I still think my dream job is to be one of the mouse ear embroiderers on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.  The names you would hear!  The spellings!  Anyhow, while I was searching around to confirm the shop’s name, I discovered an interesting fact: Disney can refuse to embroider a name on your ears, and word is that they will only embroider real names, no nicknames.  Is this true?  None of the 50 states will exercise an opinion over your child’s name, save for a magistrate in Tennessee and … Disney cast members?  Somehow I think they refuse very, very, very few requests.
  • Completely agree with Jane – country music is having a moment.  (As proof I submit the fact that my 8 year old and I both know the words to this. Get yo’ radio up …) What does that mean for names?  Love the list she’s compiled, and it made me revisit this post on Dukes of Hazzard names.  It might also be just one more trend pushing us towards the widespread acceptance of nickname-names.  Just like a London mum can choose Alfie or Bobby, American parents are completely fine with Cade and Bess – no need for additional syllables, thanks.
  • You know that you have been reading Swistle a very long time when you start to remember parents who are returning for help naming an additional child.  What would you name Oliver’s little sister, and are you surprised to see that a name from their boy’s list is now their top contender for a girl?
  • LOVE the NameLady’s response to this question, and wouldn’t Harbor make a dashing middle?
  • So would Bluemoon.
  • A few more names that I just plain love: this post on Raleigh, proof that masculine names can end in -leigh.
  • Ksenia, a truly intriguing import.
  • One of my favorites – Adair!
  • What do you think of Lathe, for a boy?  It’s very rare, but For Real spotted him in Tennessee.  A successor for Cade and company?

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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  1. It’s not Disneyworld, but we spent time at the MN state fair last week. Most of the kids names were very commonplace, but I met young sisters named Alice and Lincoln. Names that on paper feel like a mis-match, but somehow in person felt completely fitting as sibling names.

    We also met a Calvary. There are plenty children named Zion, Bethany, Moriah and Jericho… but I’ve never heard anyone use a Biblical place name from the crucifixion before.

    1. Calvary – great sound, but yes – a lot to live up to … Though I suppose Golgotha would be even more intense. Was Calvary a boy or a girl?

      I first read it as Cavalry – which strikes me as just as violent as Cannon, but with a more appealing sound.

      1. He was a boy around 2. I initially thought his name was Calgary… but his mom corrected me.

        Golgatha would be a great name for pet! Maybe a tortoise?

  2. My son had a Roly in his class last year. He was named for his grandfather. The name is pronounced Raleigh. His mom said she’d considered respelling it to be like the city, but her husband wanted it to be like his dad, so it’s Roly. Looks like roll-ee to me.

    1. It makes my brain think of Rolly Pollies, the kid’s gym in our area. But I get the idea of wanting to preserve the name as your ancestor spelled it …

  3. Jerusalem is one of the names I’d give my hypothetical children were I unpartnered and a little more freewheeling! I’d call him Jem.

  4. Emmica. That’s, interesting. I ‘think’ I should be annoyed by it, yet I’m more curious than anything. Reminds me of Annika.