Sunday Summary: 6.9.19I think a lot about name regret. Maybe because I’ve suffered from it myself. (Spoiler alert: it all ends happily.) Maybe because around a quarter of all private #namehelp requests have to do with name regret.

But I think name regret fascinates me because it reflects how we name today. The pressure to get it right isn’t new, not exactly.

What has changed?

Maybe it’s the tremendous pressure to keep our child’s name a secret until the moment of birth. Because name regret isn’t exactly new … but the idea of name theft might be. It hinges on the idea that sharing a name is a bad thing, and so you keep your shortlist under wraps, for fear your Kenzo or Onyx or Anais might end up being a copy, instead of an original.

There’s no need to discuss names with your judge-y sister, your controlling mother-in-law, that nice-but-nosy neighbor who commutes on the same train. But keeping your three favorite names a state secret? It robs us of the ability to playtest.

Playtesting refers to video games. When the designers and engineers invite users to try out their new creations, in an attempt to discover potential flaws. But they also gather more information about how the real world receives their ideas.

When it comes to names, playtesting serves a similar function. Will the name be mispronounced or misspelled? Will it be misheard as something else? Do you find yourself automatically shortening the name, even though you’re not wild about nicknames in theory?

How do you playtest a name? Order a coffee and give your possible child’s name instead of your own. Type it. Write it out by hand. Bring it up on a forum or Facebook group. Find a few trusted friends or loved ones who can think neutrally about your choices and talk it over.

Have you ever playtested a name? How did you go about it?

Elsewhere online:

  • Lucasta might be my new favorite Lou/Lu name for a girl, and that’s saying something, because I adore Lilou and Luella.
  • Oh, this quote about Tanveer really appeals to me. Such great advice: Don’t hide your name. Be the reason other boys take pride in it.
  • This story is still circulating, about how the queen does sometimes veto baby names. Apparently, the Duke and Duchess of York were keen to call their firstborn Annabel, but Her Majesty said no way, and suggested the more appropriately royal Beatrice instead. I feel like things have mellowed in the years since, what with her current crop of great-grandchildren including Savannah, Mia, Isla, and now Archie.
  • Love this story of Kate meeting a Radek – a thoroughly Polish name – in Ireland.
  • Don’t you just love a great word name? Domino is one of my favorites, and there are a few more on SJ’s recent video that I think would work beautifully. Also Finn Moonlight? I’m not sure about it in reality, but I’m swooning over the idea.
  • While I’m cruising YouTube, oh I am SO here for Boho Floral Names. Lavender, Wisteria, Lilac, and Poesy, yes please!
  • Whoa! There are an awful lot of ways to spell Arianna and Giovanni, plus all of these other names …
  • The most important takeaway from this letter to Duana: yes, you will love your second child’s name, even though it feels impossible at first.
  • I devoured This Is How It Always Is, the Laurie Frankel novel. She’s particularly good with names, including a set of twin brothers – Orion and Rigel. It reminds me … if Orion can rank around the Top 300 in the US, surely Rigel can crack the Top 1000, right?

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

Original photo credit: Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Girl Names 6.9.19 Boy Names 6.9.19

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. Hi Abby,
    I too loved the names in This is how it always particularly Penn, Roosevelt and Rigel.
    Rigel is a name I especially adore and would love to use. Could you please help me by telling me the correct pronounciation? Thanks.

    1. I’d rhyhme Rigel with Nigel in English – long ‘i’ sound and a soft ‘g’, so rye jell.

  2. I remember headlines saying Lizzie Windsor thought Annabel was “too yuppie!” I love Annabel, and a lot of word names, now you mention it. My Favourite C, E, F, H and U names are Coral, Emerald, Fern, Hazel and Unity.