Sunday SummaryQuick tip: See a name in blue?  That’s a link to the BNotD features about that name.

I love family names, and I love the idea of reinventing them so they’ll wear well for future generations.  Honoring grandma Theresa with a Tess?  That’s perfect in my book.  It’s one of the reasons that we always knew my daughter would have a nickname.  I assumed that more than one of my siblings – I’m the oldest of four – might want to pass on our mother’s name, Claire.

But last week, my sister mentioned that she considers the name taken.  Used up.  Unavailable for anyone else in our family.  Even though my Claire answers to Clio, and even though I’d be downright delighted if someone else used Claire, in the first or the middle spot.

Repeating names in families used to be the norm – my mother shared her name with many relatives, including cousins just a few years older.  But there’s so much pressure to avoid repetition nowadays, that it is a completely different situation.

Elsewhere online:

  • This website is so much fun!  Curious + outgoing + girl = Clover, Maren, Havana, Leontine. Friendly + independent + boy = Franklin, Garrison, Huxley, Giancarlo, Olson, Swain.  Swain!  That’s a new one to me, but I think it works.
  • Speaking of new, I love this middle – Lilli Alisar, as spotted on one of those crazy German vanity stickers.  I don’t love that -i ending for Lilli.  I’m a sucker for Lillie, and Lily is currently the dominant spelling in the US.  But who knows?  Maybe Lilli is common elsewhere.
  • Interesting to hear Duana suggest Nate as a stand-alone name.  Could he be the next Cole?  And has the tide really turned in favor of putting the nickname on the birth certificate?
  • Which reminds me – I don’t think Skyley needs a formal name.  But I do like Holly’s suggestion of Skye Leonora and now I’m a little bit in love with the idea of using Skye in combination names.
  • Definitions of uncommon, distinctive, and unique names – Laura Wattenberg nails it!  If you know you don’t want a common name but aren’t sure how different you want to go, this could be a useful guide for thinking it through.
  • Speaking of stand out names, may I suggest Louisiana?  Nameberry tweeted this one the other day, then NameFreak! included it on her state name round-up.  Back in 2009, I was so excited when I misread the name of Leelee Sobieski’s new daughter.  But it wasn’t Louisiana, it was Louisanna.
  • How exciting to have Names4Real’s namespotting skills back in action!  Harper on a boy, plus Jasper, Ransom, Magnolia, Fiametta, Darla, and Cora Boston.
  • British Baby Names profiles the most neglected of the Cor- names, the romantic Corisande.
  • Agreed that we should start using Hollis!  But for boys or girls?  Hmmm …
  • What do you think of Topher?  I like the idea, but I’m not sure I love the sound.
  • Speaking of gender neutral names, I do love Bay for a son or a daughter, and this list of True Blue names from Waltzing More than Matilda is just plain great.

That’s all for now.  As always, thank you for reading.  Have a great week, and don’t forget to stop by Nameberry tomorrow for chatter about notable baby names in the news!

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. Thanks for the mention Abby. I think of it as a girl because of Holly and the singer Hollis (who I’ve only known about for a month). I think it works well for both though

  2. Thanks for the mention.

    I know a boy name Hollis and I think it totally works for a boy.

    Skye Leonora is pretty. Skye was my favorite girl name when I was in High school. I still like it, but its no longer in my top ten.

    I would love to see more Louisiana’s. There’s a blogger out there with children named Catcher and Louisiana.

    I’m with Claire. Topher/Gopher, but I think it could make a fun at home nickname for Christopher.

    Thanks for all of your hard work. I love catching up on name stories that I’ve missed.

  3. Topher rhymes with “gopher.” That’s all I have to say on that.

    Also, I’ve gathered that, families like Hettie’s aside, most parents these days don’t share “the more the merrier” philosophy when it comes to using family names. If I were dying to use a family name that I knew I wasn’t going to call my child on an everyday basis, I would consider using it in the middle spot rather than the first. That way other relatives are less likely to shy away from using it (although obviously there’s no guarantee). It also probably depends somewhat on the size of the family and how many kids there are, and how likely they are to see each other at family gatherings.

  4. Of the names you mentioned, I love Magnolia and Corisande! As for Hollis, I think it would be cool a little boy. I like Holly for a girl.

  5. Lilli is a traditional German nickname for Elisabeth… although I think Lilly might be the more common when it’s used as the full given name. (When it’s spelled Lily or Lili the name is pronounced like Lee-lee.)

  6. It’s interesting how wide the pendulum swings on the topic of sharing names. I’m inclined to declare open-season on family honour names (name-napping someone’s “favourite” is a whole other case). However, in my family there are no less than five children or grandchildren named after Grandpa, and I’m not sure he’d even notice another honor at this point!

  7. I’ll say it again… Louisiana is genius! I will be delighted to hear anyone using it.

    And I love Ransom. It’s so rakish.

    Hollis – I don’t know. To me it seems more “girl” but I’m sure name purists would be horrified by that.

    1. Not horrified, but it seems a bit redundant to me since there’s already a girl’s name Holly. But Hollis could be for either boys or girls – I don’t think names have to be necessarily decided to be either male or female (especially before we’ve even used them much!)

        1. I automatically picture a boy (seems like Elliot), but I could easily imagine it on a girl, as it fits in with the Ell- name trends, like Ella and Ellie, and sounds slightly like Alice and Elise.

        2. The only Ellis I know IRL is a he, so I think boy. But I can hear it on either without difficulty … I think Anna is right about Ell- names.