seat number 25
Image by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

We were in Franklin’s General Store last night, just a few blocks from our house, the kind of place you buy microbrews and Wry Baby onesies and robot matroyshka dolls when I heard it – a mom calling her three y.o. daughter Loretta.

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. I’ve been trying to leave a comment on your Nameberry blog article, but the site seems to be playing up. Every time I try to leave a comment, it says I’m not logged in – but I am!

    I’ll keep trying – just wanted you to know you’re not been ignored! 🙂

  2. I love Paloma and Rafael together! Henry Hornsby, on the other hand, sounds like a bad cartoon character name to me or like the nerd in a young adult novel. Henry is fine (though too popular for my taste) but I hate it with that last name.

  3. I think Henry Hornsby is divine. It’s just so perky! Seriously, if he was my kid, I’d call him Henry Hornsby. Not just Henry. Also, Ana Ortiz has really done well with Paloma and Rafael! They’re so well-matched and so pleasant yet still striking in a classic sort of way! I’m eager to hear both Henry’s and Rafael’s middle names.

    How do you even pronounce Acelyn? It is like Ace, as in the bandage, plus Lynn? I keep wanting to say it as [ASS-eh-lynn], which is just awful.

    I think the Chicago couple should just go with Adeline. It’s as classic as Emily without being overdone, sounds a heck of a lot like Madelyn, and looks way prettier than Adilynne or however they were spelling it. They can pronounce it with the -line or -lyn pronunciation – both work with Adeline. As for McKenna? I don’t even know, but it feels very 2000s to me. Adeline Macrae. That’s what I think they should name their daughter. So I’m not voting… 😉

    I’d never heard of Warby Parker before, either! I wonder if they make Rx sunglasses? I love the Thatcher frames, and not just because Thatcher’s on my list of boy favorites.

    1. I think Acelyn is probably more like Asalyn, or maybe Ace Lynne. I know parents with a daughter whose name sounds like Asalyn, but is spelled with an I. The dad told me it is a traditional Jamaican name.

      The thing about the Chicago couple’s lists is that they are really, really close – I can’t imagine that, between now and January, they couldn’t arrive at a compromise. But now they’re kind of stuck with the poll results, which makes one parent the victor … not my favorite way to decide on a name, but I guess it beats arm wrestling or coin flipping.

  4. I voted for Madelyn. Emily is way too common, Addilyn doesn’t know what it wants to be, and McKenna is just too masculine.

    The celebrity names this week were pretty boring. Henry is everywhere and Rafael is very common in latin communities.

    1. I voted for Emily. I agree with your assessment of the other two names, but I’d argue that if ALL the variant spellings of Madelyn are combined, she’s probably just as common as Emily. And that’s without counting the sound-alike Madisons AND all the just plain Maddies. At least Emily doesn’t sound tied to any one generation, imho.

      I also have to disagree with you about the celebrity baby names. Rafael and his sister Paloma have got to be one of the best named sibsets in my opinon. Yes, Rafael is very common in Latin communities, but I think that’s what Ana Ortiz and hubby were going for. They wanted a name that was recognizable, and let’s face it – few truly unusual or “not boring” names are that recognizable or move so fluidly between two cultures. As a Sarah, I assure you that every other Indian/Pakistani/South Asian/Arab-American girl (at least my age) is also named Sarah because it’s cross-cultural. Is it mildly annoying that my name is so common? Yes. But the fact that it’s well known and easily spelled/pronounced in both Arabic and English? That’s priceless to me. I have a feeling Paloma and Rafael will have similar feelings about their names.

      And Henry Hornsby really is dashing. Henry Smith might sound boring, but not Henry Hornsby. Part of the problem with great names is they become popular because they are really awesome.

      1. Well that is debateable. I personally do not like how Henry Hornsby sounds with the starts in H, ends in Y for both names. I can also pick several popular names that I genuinely dislike, such as Robert, Carson, Colt and John. A lot of popular names are also popular for decades because parents lack an imagination and just use the names they hear all the time and can’t be bothered to search for something a bit more uncommon. Parents that like classic names are the most at fault – there are plenty of names with a long history that havent been in the top100 since the beginning. A little creativity will do no harm.

      2. Also on the Hornsby issue, I dont take last names into consideration when discussing name choices. Its their first names, and to a lesser extent, their middle names, that make a choice either interesting, boring, trendy, unique, etc. Those are the names he’ll answer to, those are the ones that count the most. Henry could be paired with the coolest last name, it wouldn’t change the fact that it’s a very plain first name choice, in my opinion of course.

        1. My last name growing up was wildly strange. You now how they talk about immigrant families taking American surnames? That’s sort of what happened to my step-grandfather’s family, except they didn’t go very far. I used to wonder why they didn’t reduce to a single syllable – Night or Nye or Niles or something simple. Instead, they ended up with a three-syllable, ends-in-a name with the unlikely “dn” combination in the middle. It was never, ever, ever pronounced correctly, and I spent my days spelling it. It was ethnically ambiguous, and I was forever asked what it was – Syrian? Black Irish? While I still didn’t like my ordinary given name, I can completely understand parents who say “Our last name is difficult; we want our child’s first name to be easy.” On the flip side, I can understand parents saying “Our last name is Smith, we need our child’s name to be distinctive.” Maybe this question is too close to home for me, but I think it is impossible to divorce the given name from the surname.

      3. Yes, we all have different opinions and various names we genuinely dislike and like for no apparent reasons 🙂

        One last disagreement – on the issue of surnames. I find the balance between first name and surname to actually be really important. I may have been one of 2 or 3 Sarahs in every class throughout grade school and even college, but I am the ONLY Sarah A____ in the world, save for a few distant cousins (my dad is an immigrant.) I think that’s kinda cool 😉

      4. @SkyeRhyly

        For some people, popularity isn’t an issue. Some parents find a name they love, whether it be classic or not, that just so happens to be in the Top 100. So what? It doesn’t always mean they lack creativity. Again, so what if they do? Also, many of these classic names that parents choose tend to be family names. Just because James and Maria have been in the Top 100 for years, I shouldn’t use them? I don’t think so – I’d rather have the significance of the family name, even if it means that the name is more popular than other choices.


        I totally agree with you about the issue of surnames! I’ve got a really common first name and a really common last name – I don’t like the combination too much. But, I think I’d like my first name a little more if I had a more interesting last name to go with it. In that respect, I completely think that Clare Cavendish is more exciting and interesting than Clare Williams.

      5. Sarah, you’re right. Rarely do I hear someone say, “Sophia – ewwwww …” or “William? What were they thinking!” They’re great names.

  5. ^^^ OMG, my husband’s niece is named Acelyn. I think she’s 11.

    I voted on the FB poll (I chose Emily) and the results showed that Madelyn was winning by a narrow margin. I took the Lil Sugar test and got 5 out of 6! I’d never heard of Warby Parker – definitely in love with their names! I do wear glasses but I doubt they fall within my price range. Bummer.

  6. My mom has a female cousin named Ramsey. I think she’s in her 40s or 50s now. I’ve never met her, but have always been interested in the story of her name. I don’t like it though.

    I love Galileo too! I think Leo would be such a cute nickname. Artemis has always seemed masculine to me, but I don’t really like it for either gender. And Sable? I love it and don’t understand why more people aren’t using it.

  7. Your new format post was a lot of fun – not that the deep-dive name posts aren’t also, but it’s exciting to have something new!

    The celeb births this week get high marks for names from me, too…

    Just to share – I have a new neighbor: she’s called Sloan in the southern tradition of mom’s maiden name as her first. Sloan isn’t a favorite of mine, but seeing as it’s got the family connection and the southern tradition and all that, I kinda like it on the new little munchkin (who is simply too cute as well!). Love the start of the school year – seeing all the new names. There aren’t that many exciting ones, but I’m awaiting the school directory with the full-on list. One I spotted that was interesting was Acelyn. Not my style, but I haven’t seen it before.