Sunday Summary 11.6.16My daughter is experiencing namer problems.

She came home from running errands with dad on Wednesday night with a new doll in tow. “She’s Madeleine,” Clio explained, “like line, sign, mine. Not LYNN.”

Where have I heard that before?

The next day she told me that her doll’s full name is Madeleine Saige. She considers “Madeleine Saige” acceptable, but prefers that we don’t call her Maddie.


This reminds me of two general rules of thumb when it comes to naming:

  • It’s totally fine to have a preferred pronunciation, especially when it comes to common disagreements like line/lynn. But if hearing the opposite pronunciation will make you completely stark raving mad? Find another name. Life is too short to pull an attitude with every receptionist at the pediatrician’s office or new teacher at the nursery school. After all, the new teacher may have a niece named Adalyn, which makes it extra difficult for her to remember that your Adaline prefers the opposite pronunciation.
  • It’s completely reasonable to choose a name you love, and announce that you’re not using the most common nickname. Except that doesn’t mean that the nickname will never stick. I’ve known kids who adopt new nicknames in middle school and high school. Younger, even. All it takes is one older cousin to adorably shorten the name, and your Madeleine becomes Maddie forevermore. So if the nickname is truly unacceptable to you, once again, choose another name.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts on those two issues. Would you be comfortable with a sometimes-mispronounced name? Would you risk using a name with a nickname you dislike?

Elsewhere in all things onomastic:

  • A boy named Sandy – love!
  • Alaska must be the most amazing place to namespot. Thora Bee is my new favorite from the most recent birth announcement round-up – simple and stunning.
  • Would you ask a friend for permission to use the same name? I know two friends in a similar position now; the one with the older child is completely on board with the idea of their boys sharing a name. The one expecting is the one having doubts. It’s less about name theft, and more about a sense that a name is already fully occupied.
  • This quiz insists that my future daughter will be named Blair. Not so, but then again, not horribly off the mark.
  • I’ve yet to read the book, but I’m not convinced that Americans borrow names from those higher up the socio-economic ladder. But this article makes the case that parents embrace names because the affluent and educated set the trends. That just seems off to me in the US. Yes, names are tied to all sorts of socio-economic factors. But I’m not sure we’re borrowing from each other. It looks like it’s due for release at the very end of 2016, so I’ll let you know …
  • This question at Swistle is fascinating: what do you do when you really, really want to use the honor name – but you don’t love the name?
  • Are you a baseball fan? Would you name your kiddo Wrigley? I feel like this one is going to be making some shortlists this season …

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. Ha, Magnolia is such a huge nope for me, quiz. Not even close.
    I think there are so many factors that have to be weighed before you “copy” a name. For me, if the friend was close and someone I intended to have in my life forever, it would be very upsetting. I’m a strong believer in “everyone gets their own name,” and while I would come to terms with it, it would never not matter. But it happened to my best friend and she did not care at all, and another friend who tries very hard to give her girls unique names had an adopted foster sister use her second’s name, and rolled with it just fine. So who knows?

  2. I took the quiz and was surprised to get “Magnolia.” I actually really do like that name and would use it. Unfortunately, my husband does not like it, so I doubt I’ll get to use it.

  3. That is so cute about Clio’s doll naming preferences!

    So we have “Rose” and my husband has always really disliked the nickname “Rosie”. He said that when she was born. I guess it makes him think or Rosie O’Donnell. 11 years later and he has never called her Rosie. I haven’t either. Her friends and one teacher sometimes have, but not to the point where it’s really stuck. We did dabbled with “Rosenrat” and “Rosenstain” when she was younger. 😛

    Then my husband was also wary of “Henry” because he doesn’t like “Hank”. 9 years later and he has never gone by Hank. When he was born, my husband’s Uncle did use the name Hank Bob in an e mail, but we don’t ever see the Uncle in person or even ever email. We’ve since become fans of the “Here’s Hank” books by Henry Winkler – but that hasn’t prompted Henry to want to be Hank. His Cub Scout friends sometimes call him Jerry Terry – which I don’t like at all and makes me think of another friend of his called Jeremiah who goes by Jerry. Henry has also dabbled with being called “Bobby Jr” and “Bobby J” which I thought was fun, since his middle name is Robert. Another friend calls him HenBob sometimes. I will call him Hen. It used to be Hens when he was a toddler.

    George is sometimes Georgie, less these days, but we don’t have an objection to Georgie.

  4. I think a name which has many ways or is difficult to spell is worse than one with troubles pronouncing due to an equally likely alternative. I’m a teacher and find I have more trouble keeping the Caitlin/Katelyn and Jackson/Jaxon combos straight than I do remembering Ivan prefers a short i sound rather than long and Madeleine isn’t like the French orphan. As for nicknames, my policy is not to use them unless people volunteer them themselves.

    Love the idea of a name quiz but this was way off the mark. Most of the questions didn’t have great options…and since when is Mary a “unique, one in 7 billion” name?

  5. Yeah, the quiz said I’d name my next daughter Mary.

    In a word… no.

    In two words… no, never.

    All my other girls have very rare noun names with botanical nicknames. Mary would look unloved in comparison. Cool idea for a name quiz, though!

  6. As someone who loves names with lots of nickname potential, I actually don’t have very strong opinions on unwanted nicknames. If I adored a name I would use it in my preferred form until my child dictated otherwise. I figure it’s their name, and I’m not going to come down on a Magdalena who suddenly wants to be Dolly (though truth be told, that would be adorable).
    Also, I took the quiz and the verdict was “you should name your daughter Sofia!” Um, nein danke!

  7. I think because my name is Arika pronounced just like Erika and I have spent a lot of time correcting people in how it is pronounced I would reject a name that has multiple pronunciations if I knew I wanted a specific pronunciation.

    As for the quiz, it said I should name a daughter Sofia, which is not a name I have ever or would ever consider. I have never been that fond of any version of Sofia, be it with an f or a ph. Plus any daughter I would have, her surname would be a single syllable name that starts with an S, so that right there disqualifies Sofia even if I did like it, which I don’t.

  8. Nope, nope! We scratched one of our top name choices for a girl – Carrington – for the one reason that I would NOT have a Carrie. I came home from kindergarten one day and announced that I was “Alli”. To this day I still go by it and to this day my mom refuses to acknowledge me with anything other than my full name.