Sunday Summary 9.20.15Welcome to Fall!

Okay, here in Washington DC it still feels like summer, and probably will well into October. But hints of change are in the air, from pumpkin-flavored everything to the first falling leaves.

School is in full swing, too. At a parents’ back-to-school event last week, another parent asked me about my work and commented that, “There are a lot of crazy names out there.” True enough. He also mentioned that sometimes he thinks we need rules, like in Europe.

I froze. Because his kids’ names? Would probably not pass any regulatory agency. They’re not crazy names. They’re pretty normal for this generation – think Jayden and Addilyn. Nothing you’re surprised to hear, but not exactly time-tested classics.

Names seem so innocent, but oh, we do layer our own assumptions on them, don’t we?

A few days later, a friend mentioned a possible name if baby #3 is a girl. It’s the kind of trendy-ten-years-ago name that I intended to try to steer her away from. In her best interests, of course. Except I had the sense to pause long enough to listen to why she loved it. And she made me rethink everything I know about that name.

Elsewhere online:

  • This is powerful. “… because we live in a nation where  your name can tell someone your race or even your social status, ’cause they think only dumb ghetto a$$ folks overuse the alphabet. They chalk it up to illiteracy, never creativity or maybe even history …” We are too quick to dismiss human beings because of their names.
  • Reason Number I-Have-Lost-Count to love Clare’s account, Name News? When linking to a recent story about Worst Baby Names Ever, her comment was this: “Meh, you’ve probably seen most of them before. I hope they’re well and ignoring the haters.”
  • Again via Clare, a story about the challenges of pronouncing names correctly in professional sports. This story is about the US Open, but I imagine it applies in many a setting.
  • While we’re talking sports: this story sort of makes me want to name my kid after Bear Bryant.
  • How awesome are these names for eccentric aristocrats?
  • The Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources takes a gander at the most popular names for women in their data set. Fascinating!
  • English: The "Darnley Portrait" of E...This is SUCH a fun series from Emily! All hail Queen Elizabeth.
  • Would you use two ‘o’ ending names for siblings? We don’t flinch at siblings named Amelia and Olivia or Henry and Ruby. But it’s interesting to think about this question at Swistle. I agree with Swistle – I notice two ‘o’ ending names immediately, but I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
  • While we’re on the letter ‘o’ at the end: English actor Paul Danan has named his son DeNiro. As in Robert. As in I kind of love it, along with Bettany and Winslet and a lot of other surname names straight out of Tinsel Town.
  • Semi-related thought: another Disney-Pixar flick is coming out in November. It’s called The Good Dinosaur, and the character names are spectacular and potentially trend-setting. The dinosaur at the heart of the movie is called Arlo. There’s also Ida, Ramsey, and Nash.
  • Some surprising middles in this post: Anewday is completely new to me!
  • The “unmodernest” name in Germany? Gudrun, according to this site.
  • Sophie’s post has me moonstruck! How cool would it be to name twin sisters Galatea and Thalassa? (I know. Naming imaginary twin daughters occupies a larger than reasonable portion of my brain space.)
  • Oooh, but this family really *is* naming twins, and I like Duana’s response to their questions about Sidonie.
  • I didn’t realize that Cruz had so much history as a girls’ name. Look at a long enough arc of history, and names do cross from feminine to masculine … occasionally.
  • The combination Jude Becket really charms me!

One last note: I’ll be back to publishing the weekly newsletter starting this Tuesday. I took a (completely unplanned) break over the summer, but I’m back on track. I’m especially excited about one of my new plans: every week, I’ll be giving readers a sneak peek of one of the names – or themes – that’s coming up. Want to be in the know? Sign up here:

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. I do appreciate how hard it is to pronounce surnames from other cultures; I definitely have trouble even with some English names. Then there’s the weird time when the name is actually super easy to pronounce, but we prefer to say incorrectly. There is an Australian rugby league player called Dane Gagai, whose surname is said just like “gay guy”. Commentators insist on saying his name so it sounds like “gag eye”.

    Names that were once used on both boys and girls, but now mostly on boys: Christian, Clarence, Douglas, Elvis, Eugene, Francis, Gatsby, Giles, Grady, Kyle, and Maxwell. Christian, Clarence and Grady were once just for girls.

  2. Thanks Clare and Abby for the reposts!!! 🙂 Love Duana’s response, so thoughtful and eloquent. She gives excellent advice! I’ll have to add her to the name writers I follow…

  3. On the ‘o’ endings, my biological mother ended up giving all of her children at least two a’s in their name and our names had all ended in ‘a’ before I changed mine. We were Aarika, Shayna, and Breanna. Until Breanna became Falon.

  4. Thanks for the mentions 🙂 That’s the first I’ve heard of ‘The Good Dinosaur’, but ooh those are great names. Kudos to Pixar for not just calling them Rawry and Scaley or something.