Sunday Summary

At first glance, baby names seem like a trivial subject, right up there with who wore what to the Oscars and which Bachelor-couple won’t be living happily ever after.

But there’s more to it than that, isn’t there?

Names stay with us for life, and choosing a name can touch on so many topics – family traditions, religious faith, heritage, ideas about gender, image, future career prospects.  Our names precede us into many life situations.  It’s not just resumes and college applications.  Some schools share class rosters before the first day.  I’ve met some of my future neighbors via email introduction, weeks before their moving vans actually pulled onto the street.  I’ve worked with a surprising number of people that I’ve never met in person – an experience that is common for more and more of us.  Thanks to social media, and especially to this blog, there are people that I consider friends, even though we’ve never met in real life.

You could argue that names are more important than ever in this world of ours.

At the same time, I believe that we’re more accepting of diverse and inventive names than ever before.  I’ve argued that a “strange” name isn’t so unusual these days, and almost certainly won’t be an impediment to your child’s future happiness and success.

But it is a puzzle, isn’t it?

  • Every now and then I spot a name like this oneSkylette.  I love the sound of it, the mix of modern nature name and retro -ette ending.  Except it’s not the kind of name that I’d personally use – not in a month of Sundays! – and I don’t know how I would perceive a Skylette in real life.  It’s kind of a crazy name, right?
  • But there are some really great things about having a different name, as this Buzzfeed list illustrates with an abundance of animated GIFs.  My favorite is #3 – When people hear your name for the first time … they want to know the story.
  • Then again, there’s a sweet spot for names.  Sophie suggested Nina as a substitute for Emma, and I think that’s just perfection.  Nina fits my list of “names that everyone recognizes, but that are rarely shared.”
  • Then again, names that everyone shares change from place to place. Readers of Le Figaro are naming their kiddos Arthur and Josephine  in droves.
  • While we’re globe-trotting, I love this list of Dutch names, circa 1780 to 1880.  Jantien, Antonetta, Zimie – okay, some would import easily, others not so much.
  • Is Margot the next big thing?  A question to ponder at Waltzing.
  • I’m dazzled by some of the elaborate middles on this listAloisius, Fortunato, Liviana.
  • Looping back to one of my initial thoughts – that unusual names aren’t very unusual nowadays – Kelli proves it with numbers.  And a nice Matt Smith-Doctor Who reference, too!
  • Speaking of numbers, here’s my wild speculation as to the #1 name of 2033 for girls, as well as the top names of 2033 for boys.  The comments are great – are these too conservative?  Are names trending more quickly than ever before?  We’ll have to wait and see …
  • From the Wayback Machine: one of my favorite posts ever – Madeleva.  Such a fascinating name.

Daisy, Princess of Pless aka Mary-Theresa Oliv...

  • I was reading about Daisy, Princess of Pless, a turn-of-the-century aristocrat known for
    her unconventional ways, in this magazine.  She was born Maria Teresa Olivia, daughter of Mary Adelaide Virginia Eupatoria, known as Patsy.  I’m a fan of everyday use names that aren’t obviously connected to given names, but I suppose it works better for a princess in 1900-something than for most of us today.  That’s Daisy in the portrait to the right.
  • Daisy reminds me – do you think Madelief would ever work in the US?  It’s a Dutch name meaning Daisy, and appears to be reasonably well-used in the Netherlands.  According to Forvo, it’s not an impossible pronunciation – mad eh LEEF.

That’s all for this week!  As always, thank you so very much for reading, and have a lovely 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. I must be very curmudgeonly, because the thought of having a name with a “story” that needs explaining to every new person fills me with horror! I can imagine getting sick of repeating it almost instantly.

    1. I don’t know … I tell Clio’s name story fairly frequently, and I really enjoy it. But then, I think that’s one of those “know yourself” moments in naming. Talking to total strangers is fine by me. No way to tell how my daughter will feel about it, of course …

      1. See, you’re not curmudgeonly … 😉 Although I do like talking to strangers, just not about myself. You can’t guess how your children will feel, so can only go by your own feelings. They can sort it out themselves if they have problems (nicknames, use middle name etc).

        I’d say out of the people I know with a name unusual enough to invite enquiries, about half of them really love the opportunity to explain their name, while the other half give you that forbidding “don’t ask me about my name” look. With a couple, they’ve mumbled their names so I don’t actually know how it’s pronounced, or I’m not quite sure what their name is.

  2. I would love it if Madelief could make it here, because it seems so close to Godelieve, which I admit, has more obstacles to usability. I love Madeleva, more than Madelief.

    I liked Skylette’s middle name. It makes Skylette seem more usable to me. I generally don’t go for Sky names, but I did know a Skyla and thought that was nice and now I think I like Skylette. Seems completely invented, but in a very sweet way. I wouldn’t use it because, I think, having had such an unusual name I’m more likely to put the unusual part of the name in the middle for a child. My current favorite, for instance, is Katherine Iseult.

    If I could have my way the names of 2033 would look most like that list of old Dutch names. Now if I just knew how to say each one!

  3. Wow, I’m amazed by Eupatoria. It’s just so rich, strange, and fascinating. I’m definitely tucking that one away for a book character.