Sunday SummaryWith all this talk of banned names in New Zealand, are there any rules that you would impose on parents in your country?

Limit first name choices to a specific list?  Require names to clearly indicate gender?  Spelling rules?  Banning names that have negative associations?

I think the simple truth is that I like the possibility of parents choosing names that I will very much dislike.  Names like Lucifer give me pause – that does seem to cross some invisible line, where it isn’t just a matter of taste but of cruelty.

And yet, I’d rather leave the door open for offensive names than close it to invention and discovery.

All of this reminds me – are you on Facebook?  Appellation Mountain’s occupies a lively little corner here.  There are some great discussions – like this one, in response to the question “What are the kinds of things that name nerds know – but civilians are completely unaware of?”

  • … there are distinct trends for middle names too. Yesterday’s Kristen Marie or Jessica Lynn is today’s Isabella Grace or Olivia Rose. – Sarah A.
  • That Sadie and Sarah are the same name, as are Margaret and Daisy, as well as James and Diego. – Danielle
  • We also know to laugh when people mock our love of vintage names as being ‘old lady names’ but then go on to name their daughters Chloe, Ava, Isabella and Olivia having no clue that those names were ‘old lady names’ just a few years ago! – Sarah S.
  • … if you are suddenly hearing a new name you think is lovely, it is probably part of (a) trend. It seems that many mommies have the same great idea at the same time. – Nicole
  • Namenerds know that there are very few names that are truly UNIQUE, they are more often UNUSUAL than unique … Children, however, ARE unique no matter what name you give them – Hazel
  • That no name will please everyone; that people will object to names for reasons that you never imagined or considered … – Megan

Elsewhere online:

  • Oh – one more that name nerds know!  Polly is a nickname for Mary.  Or it was …
  • Achilles was the name given to the freak May snowstorm.  Love the name.  And I’m happy I’m not shoveling snow in Maryland.
  • I was listening to a local radio station earlier this week, and caught them talking about unusual names worn by real people, like Successful and Silver.  My favorite?  A caller named Philosophy.  “My friends call me Philo,” the caller added.  She pronounced it fee LO – it had some appeal.  Then the DJ asked: “Are you a deep thinker?”  “Not really,” she replied.  The perils of word names.
  • An ecard that might resonate with some of us.
  • Big in Britain, but obscure in the US.  How would Freya on these shores?
  • What’s your favorite translation of Willem-Alexander?
  • Alva on a girl, in this installment of Living with Kids from Oslo!
  • Zarie – possibly problematic if it rhymes with scary, gorgeous if it rhymes with Marie.  How would you say it?
  • A possible update to Gregory?
  • Stumbled across a baby Nytlee this week.  Haven’t seen that one before.  As night-themed names go, I’m still all about Twila.
  • I like the idea of naming a boy Donovan in honor of grandma Donna.
  • Check out the most popular names in Russia.  It feels like their lists are dominated by traditional choices, with the exception of Joelia.  That’s not one that I recognize … anyone else know the story there?
  • Evander and Huxley!  And … Luc Skai?  And Norman and Melvin and Payne.  Tons of intriguing boys’ options here.
  • Start with a shortlist and narrow it UP, not down.  Brilliant advice.

Perhaps you’re off to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but I’ve just realized that the Fifth of May marks a slightly different occasion ’round here.  Five years ago, I started writing Baby Name of the Day posts.  The first official one was Juniper, published all the way back on May 5, 2008.  May 5, 2009 was Heath.  2010’s May Fifth name was Portia.  So many great names …

As always, thank you for reading & 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 pronounced Zarie to rhyme with Marie, which I thought was pretty, but I hope it doesn’t rhyme with scary.

  2. Freya was in our top two girls names for our last child (who turned out to be a boy).

  3. I’ve recently met a baby girl with Freya for her middle name. I think she could do very well over here.

    Knew a Philo in my hometown, an old man, but his name was pronounced ‘fy lo’ – long i sound. I think it’s an interesting name. I can’t imagine naming my child Philosophy or Successful though. I like some virtue or word names, but these just don’t seem like names to me.

  4. I noticed that you don’t have Margot on your master name list, and I wanted to offer it as a suggestion for a name of the day. My oldest daughter is Leisl, youngest is Margot, and I love what you have written for Liesel.

  5. Joelia is a Dutch transliteration of Yulia (or Yuliya), the Russian form of Julia.

    1. Oh THAT explains it! D’oh … never occurred to me that reading a Russian name list on a Dutch site could create some interesting translations …

  6. I’d assume Joelia is a femme form of Joel, since I know Joélie is used in French, and Joelia is the partitive form of Joel in Finnish.