Sunday Summary 12.3.17 My daughter has a new name on her list: Saraline.

At nine, she’s Very Interested in names. (You know what they say about apples and trees.) Every doll gets a name, of course, but so does the puffy grey ball with cat ears that hangs from her constellation-print backpack. (He’s Earl.)

Just like most of us, her list of names is a mishmash. There are vintage doubles, like Mary Ellen. Modern favorites, like Autumn. Underused gems, like Opal.

And now there’s Saraline, a pure invention.

It doesn’t appear on any list I can find, and while there may be a few out there – I found a handful in the 1940 US Census records – it’s not likely to be heard in the wild.

Invented names often fall flat. They come with complicated spellings or seem difficult to pronounce.

But when they work, well … it’s baffling why they haven’t been here all along.

I suspect my daughter – without really understanding it – mashed up the evergreen Sarah with Laraline, a name she used for class a few years ago, and Caroline, one of her middles.

It’s a good reminder that we should never close the door and say that every name has already been dreamed up, that innovation is pointless, that our language is a fixed and rigid thing. New names are everywhere, just waiting to be heard.

Elsewhere online:

  • So in 2018, I’m getting three Kardashian baby name announcements, sure to be delightfully daffy and wonderfully thought-provoking; a new princess or prince with all that naming history to analyze; and a royal wedding? Best. Year. Ever.
  • That has me thinking: what’s the Pippa of the Meghan-Harry wedding story? My nominee: Doria, the name of Meghan Markle’s yoga instructor-mom. (Or is it mum now that she’s becoming a British citizen? Okay, no. I’ll stop.) A frilly spin on all of those -ora names, Doria feels like a successor for the wildly popular Aurora, or maybe a sister name to Dorian, which is on the rise for boys.
  • Stellar #namespotting. Mary Blair is one of my all-time favorite Mary combos. (What can I say? I’m a huge Disney geek.) And could Baker be big? I spotted it the other day, too, and have been mulling it over …
  • A timely suggestion from Nancy: if you’re looking for family names, the holidays are a great opportunity to strike up a conversation with your nearest and dearest.
  • Speaking of family names, this makes for an amazing family middle.
  • Ooh … fascinated by this write-up about Goldie!
  • BabyCenter has their Top 100 names of the year out. These lists are based on user data, not actual birth records. But they’re interesting nonetheless. Zane is rising fast; Aiden still makes their Top Five.
  • What do you make of this trend? I’ve noticed the names in the data – you can’t miss ’em! – but I’d never thought about the impact of the letter H. Worth a read!
  • A thoughtful discussion about naming a daughter Max, complete with a Stranger Things reference.
  • I agree with Laurel. It’s not the right approach for everyone, but for plenty of parents, there’s a lot of upside to sharing your child’s name in advance.

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

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. Saraline is probably from Welcome to the Wayne, a cartoon that started airing on Nickelodeon this year. The show is very cute and the character isn’t a bad namesake.

  2. Speaking of new invented names, what do you think of Ruthelia? It’s a name that y husband and I came up with yesterday. My was liking Ruth, from the Bible, and was wanting to combine it with another name to make it a smooth name like my mom’s. My mom’s name is Ruthanna and is combo of Ruth and Hannah. At first he suggested Rutheli, pronounced Ruthelly, to incorporate my name, Elizabeth. Then, I suggested using his mom’s name Cecelia, and came up with Ruthelia. I pronounce it Ruth-eel-yah. I’m totally sold on it, yet. But, I put on the list. Middle names would be either Eloise or Frances, and Kepa. Other names on the list are: Beatrix, Felicity, Hepzibah, Winona, and Gertrude.