Sunday Summary 8.9.20Maybe we’re making ourselves crazy for all the wrong reasons.

Parents today – and I include myself in that number – crave distinctive names for our children. We don’t want them to share with three other kids in their class. We don’t want them to be Jenny A. on the swim team.

We’ll go to great lengths to avoid repeating names. We guard them like state secrets. We watch popularity lists with hawk-like intensity, crossing out anything that looks like it might be catching on.

Which is well and fine.


By focusing on finding a unique name, we put all the power in someone else’s hands.

Think about it.

If you name your son James because it’s your beloved grandfather’s name, well … by definition, you know there are other men with the name.

Call your daughter Primrose because it’s always been the name you loved best, and you’re aware it’s a name, albeit an uncommon one.

No one can take anything away from those feelings. Stories explain why you made your choices, and whether those names are Top Ten classics or beyond-the-Top 1000 rarities, your stories are yours.

But choose a name because you’ve exhaustively determined it’s unique?

A stranger can ruin that for you.

Elsewhere online:

I love Nancy’s name quotes round-up, but I’m especially intrigued by the part about LeBron Jr. Have you considered naming your son for his father? Or do you feel strongly about avoiding juniors? I don’t think I’m a fan, but I need to give it some more thought.

Is Antigone the next Penelope? There’s (another) Antigone in last week’s birth announcement round-ups from British Baby Names. (Also – that sibset! Swooning. Wondering if they’ll call her Tiggy?) Find more Penelope-like girl names listed here.

Can’t get enough birth announcements? Nameberry published July’s round-up here. Swooning over Nell Victoria. Plus, double Theodores! Maybe that’s no surprise, since Theodore was our winner of the Summer Names Showdown.

Double names are big in romance languages, relatively rare in English. Nancy highlighted the most popular picks in Brazil. Eight out of ten girls’ names and seven out of ten boys’ names are doubles. Maybe we’re missing out?

Did you wait until you met your baby to choose a final name? I’m team choose the name ahead of time for a few reasons. But mostly? Because when I met my son, I mostly thought he looked like an alien. (Hey – I was in labor for EVER.) But I’m intrigued by the opposite approach, particularly because I know lots of families who chose their mind at the last minute.

Boy Names 8.9.20 Girl Names 8.9.20









Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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.

You May Also Like:

What do you think?


  1. I don’t like Juniors. It feels, to me, like robbing the child of having their own identity.
    Plus, though this isn’t what any parent is thinking while naming their child, you never know what your relationship will be like in the future. I have friends who have awful relationships with their parents. I imagine being a junior must be really, really hard in that case.

    1. You know, that’s a valuable perspective. I can think of some stories that bear that out …

  2. Your words are perfect and wise and timely, as usual! I wish I had found you when I was naming my first two children! I absolutely love their names, So no regrets, but so much of what you say would have given me peace with all my naming worries.
    I didn’t name my first until we were leaving the hospital, and we ended up naming him after his father, a fourth!!! We were totally against it, but when he was born, I got really sentimental, so we went with it. I have never considered myself a junior (or 3rd etc) person, but my dad is a junior, and my maternal grandfather was a junior, so I kind of felt like I was continuing a family tradition from my side as well, by naming my son after his father, if that makes sense. I’m so glad, they love sharing a name.

    For my second, I named him at 25 weeks during a pregnancy scare/hospital stay, because it almost felt like a prayer or act of faith that he would make it earthside safely. Plus we didn’t love how long it took us to decide in the hospital after my first was born. But oddly enough, when he was born, I wanted to change his name for at least 48 hours. My first thought when I saw him for the first time was that I chose the wrong name! Ah! I still feel badly about that. Happy to report we didn’t change it and it’s turned out to be the perfect name for him.

    1. I love the way you describe naming your second. There is something so powerful about the act of naming, isn’t there?

  3. When I met my youngest son, I would have switched his name in a heartbeat to Peter. He looked like such a Pete and continued to do so for several weeks/months. Although Thomas had largely been my pick, my husband was not going for a last minute (and possibly) hormonal switch. He’s nearly two now and very much a Thomas/Tommy/Tom Bomb.