Sunday Summary: 1.28.18Are you watching American Housewife? The writers must be some serious name fans. Like, Gilmore Girls level.

Parents Greg and Katie are raising three kids in affluent Westport. Their kids’ names reflect their personalities: popular Taylor, ambitious Oliver, quirky Anna-Kat. Taylor’s BFFs – her blondetourage – includes Londyn, Summit, and Zola.

But here’s the line that really got me. It’s Valentine’s Day, and Anna-Kat has just come home with candy-grams. When asked who sent them, she replied that she wasn’t sure, but she guessed “Skylar and three of the seven girls named Madison.”

Here’s the thing: names don’t often repeat with this frequency. I’m guessing she’s in about fifth grade, with means Madison would have been a Top Five name the year she was born. Still, fewer than one out of every 100 girls born that year was named Madison. Is it possible that a middle school, with, say, 300 students per grade could have seven Madisons? Sure. Popularity isn’t just about numbers.

But I think that statement was more about how Anna-Kat stands out from the other kids, for better and for worse.

It was a masterful line, easy to miss, and about so much more than names.

In other news:

  • While we’re talking about the small screen, Zach Braff is starring in a new series called Alex, Inc. Braff plays the father of two kids, son Ben and daughter Soraya. Soraya makes for an interesting – and potentially influential – choice. But what really caught my eye? Soraya is played by young actor Audyssie James. Yup. Like a mash-up of word name Odyssey and given names Audrey and Aurora and Autumn. Odyssey would be a stunningly different choice for a child, but it has been used in small numbers since the 1980s. (Hey, if Journey can catch on …) But the spelling Audyssie transforms this name from rare to nearly unique. Normally, I prefer my word names spelled as they appear in the dictionary. But this time I do find the respelling strangely effective. Audyssie reminds me more of a rare three-syllable girls’ name, a sister for Bellamy or Reverie. So the big question: if the show is a success, will Audyssie catch on?
  • Does the meaning of a name matter? I keep thinking about Kate’s questions about Cecilia. Such a gorgeous name, but does the association with blindness give parents pause?
  • Can you give both kids your maiden (or surname) as their middle? I agree with Swistle that the answer is absolutely! The comments are the interesting part of this one.
  • Twin brothers named Rufus and Benedict in the latest British Baby Names birth announcements round-up – love!
  • A Grammy-related Q: Does Bruno Mars make his name more wearable? Or is it more like Elvis, so associated with the artist that it feels off-limits?
  • A long-list of swoonworthy girl name combinations from the Art of Naming. Delicious!
  • I really like Magalie from this list of M names. As with Audyssie, maybe I’m just really into three-syllable, ends with-y and -ie girl names right now.
  • Ooh … how it feels when your name becomes a meme. They quote an Oxford linguist in the article: “Names give social information.” Which kind of brings us back to Anna-Kat and the whole three-of-the-seven Madisons thing, doesn’t it?
  • Lastly, if you read one thing this week, make it this piece on immigration and names. So powerful!

That’s all for now. 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. Another Audyssie fan here. What a great find, Abby! I agree with C in DC- I want to pronounce the first syllable just a little bit differently than Odyssey, but the connection is still there.
    I tend to be a stickler about word names being spelled like the word (I’m not a fan of Wynter or Truely, for example) but something about Audyssie really appeals to me.

  2. I too strangely like Audyssie. I would pronounce it slightly different than Odessey, more aw-dess-see, less odd-e-see. It’s like Finnick for me – a new name that feels like it could have been in use for years.