Sunday SummaryThe rational part of my brain is completely aware that small rodents do not have powers of prognostication.  But I spend every Groundhog Day a-wishin’ and a-hopin’ that those celebrated little furballs will declare that spring is nigh.  Because I am a weather wimp, and while I am happy to melt in a sweltering Washington DC summer, I do not care for the cold.

But this is a name blog, and as it happens, I have a rodent-related name story, too.  My son’s third grade classroom has acquired a guinea pig.  After much discussion, the kids in his class have settled on Princess Charlotte for their pet’s name.

My question is this: how can it be that a group of mostly nine year old boys – there are about 5 girls and 17 boys in his class – would settle on a currently popular girls’ name for their pet?  Other contenders for the pig’s name were Sally and Theodora, plus dark horse Fluffy.

So while their suggestions were eclectic, the name that rose to the top was the only Top 20 pick in the group.  Especially with such a high concentration of boys, many of whom have not been naming dolls for the past few years, how did they know?  There’s not a single Charlotte in their school – in fact, the names are all over the map.

Guinea Pigs. The two adult Guinea Pigs that li...

I’ve often said that names become popular because they’re just great names – and I think there is some truth to that.  I love the sound of Ava and Mason and William, too, if only they weren’t so common.  But I also like Avalon and Macon and Wallis.

It isn’t just popular names that change from generation to generation – pleasing sounds change, too, and that pushes the names we like in new directions.  And so on.


Now on to the name news:

  • I would add Calder and Kahlo to this list of artist-inspired names.  I overheard a little girl named Matisse years and years ago, and I’m quite fond of Jasper, as in Johns, and Willem and Winslow.  Oh, how about Maxfield, as in Parrish?  The possibilities are endless …
  • How great is this headline?  Ronald and Monique were the Levi and Tess of 50 Years Ago.  Original in Dutch here, and the translation comes courtesy of Clare’s marvelous site.  I wonder what the American equivalents are?
  • While we’re translating, did you see this list from Nomes e mais nomes of girls’ names that are utterly neglected in Portugal?  I could happily name a dozen daughters from this post: Alix, Maude, Ariadne.  It’s an eclectic and pleasing bunch to my American ears.
  • Oh, I love the idea of Atlanta as a girl’s name.  If Savannah can catch on, why not Atlanta?
  • Fritinancy looks at Justice as a given name.  Currently banned in New Zealand, it has seen some use in the US in recent years.  I know of an 18 year old Justice – and I think it wears well.
  • While we’re talking noun names, Lisa gives good advice about finding a middle name to go with Sunshine.  She’s right that you need something more traditional – but maybe not too traditional.  Of her suggestions, Sunshine Lily is my favorite.
  • Into the wayback machine, everyone!  Next stop: England, 1985.  These names are gorgeous – Circe, Salome, Bosworth, Bathsheba, and Branwell are my favorite sibset.  And then there’s Kim Caradoc, Cleo and ClioOdette, Rivers Redmond, and … nevermind.  You really need to read the whole post.
  • As if all that loveliness wasn’t enough, Anna covered Candelaria.  And now my week is complete.  Love this name beyond reason.

Actually, the other reason I’m so excited as I write this is that I’ve just finished pulling together the initial posts for March Madness Baby Names, which starts the first Saturday of the March.  Because once a year, instead of watching sports for the names, the names become the competitors ’round here.

That’s all for this week.  As always, thank you for reading – and have a great week!

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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. Met a couple at a wedding a few months ago, and they talked about their son, Calder. “Like the artist?” “…is there one?” 🙁

  2. I love that the boys chose Princess Charlotte. That’s adorable. However, seeing Theodora as an option surprised me. Happy Sunday, Abby!

  3. Sunshine is so pretty … I noticed from the comments most people liked Sunshine Rae, which I thought was a bit cheesy. The mother seemed to be most drawn to Sunshine Arya.

  4. I wonder what it is about guinea pigs that they receive regal titles as part of their names. We had a guinea pig when I was growing up, and her name was King Ferdinand. Yes, a female guinea pig named King Ferdinand. We called her Ferdie.

    Oh, and thanks for the link to Nomes e mais Nomes; it is a very interesting site.

  5. Hi Abby! While Alix, Maude and Ariadne were not used in 2013, Alice, Matilde and Ariana are all very popular! I wish someone would find those alternatives worth using!