Sunday SummaryA curious thing: even though my daughter is the only Clio in her class, and in her entire school, she still signs her school work Clio S. I can’t remember if it happened before first grade, and it may be because this year there are two girls with almost the same name in their class: Madi and Maddie.

In my experience as a parent, it’s rare for names to repeat. My son’s name is super popular: Alexander. And he very much prefers the most common short form, Alex. But he’s never had another Alex in his class. In fact, no name has ever repeated in his class, including classics like Matthew and current favorites like Chloe.

It’s a very different world than my elementary school experience, where it felt like we were all named Jenny and Amy and Mike and Matt, and I longed for a different name.

We tend to think about our experiences when naming our children, but it isn’t always relevant. Our kids will simply grow up in a very different world, and it’s a world that’s more diverse and accepting – in terms of names, certainly, but in many other ways as well.

Now, on to the baby name chatter from elsewhere:

  • I think the Name Lady answers this question about non-standard spellings very well, but the comments? They are scathing. This is a part of the name-verse that gives me pause. If we want to live in a world where we can consider calling our kids Marguerite and Rufus and Eglantine, then why are we so bothered by the possibility that others might exercise the same freedom to name their children Avri and Arynn and Devanné?
  • Or Thia. Because I love the idea of using Thia to honor a beloved Cynthia, as this post at Swistle discusses. Can’t wait to hear what they name this baby!
  • Anna has a great analysis of possible names for the next Windsor baby. She nailed her predictions the first time around, so it’s definitely worth looking at her coronet rating system for a little brother for Prince George.
  • Song Genevieve is one of those names that seems simple, elegant – and yet utterly surprising. Great find!
  • Bree has a list of names she thinks she should be ready for wear by boys. I agree! Here’s my list, and glad we both agree on Cary. Happily, plenty of Bree’s names remain in use for boys – I know a school-aged Rowan, and I would say that Rory, Phoenix, Amory, Quinn, Emerson, Emery, Sage, and Monroe still feel gender neutral to me.
  • Hugo and Agnes are big in Sweden. And Elsa is #1. Nancy calmly parses the numbers and points out that Elsa was on the rise before that Disney movie that you just might have heard of became a world-wide sensation.
  • Clare’s often includes posts from The Best Gift of Life, including this sibset: Hadassah Life, Judah David, Levi Paul, and Zion Arielle Revival. Wow!
  • My favorite list of Valentine names – in Dutch! How sweet is Anne-Lief? And Truelove could make for a really unexpected word name middle.
  • Here’s another interesting list – Serenade caught my eye.
  • Amoret still wins my favorite Valentine baby name trophy.
  • This thread at Nameberry – the makeover baby name game! – had me slightly obsessed yesterday. Please makeover my current ten – I’d love to see how these get whispered even farther down the alley.
  • In honor of the 65th anniversary of the release of Disney’s animated movie, Cinderella, let’s revisit this post – Gorgeous Girls: Names for Wicked StepsistersHattie, Odette, Isobella, Della, Britt, Clothilde – it’s quite an assortment of lovely, interesting names.
  • If you’re on Pinterest, I’ve created a Baby Names of the Day board – a great way to keep up with all of the new names posted here. As the number of names grows, I’m really enjoying being able to look at them all with a glance.

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.

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What do you think?


  1. “If we want to live in a world where we can consider calling our kids Marguerite and Rufus and Eglantine, then why are we so bothered by the possibility that others might exercise the same freedom to name their children Avri and Arynn and Devanné?”

    I am really bothered by this double standard. I think the majority of the baby naming enthusiasts are more inclined to use classic and unique names like Marguerite, etc. and often times turn their noses to “made up” names like Neveah or super trendy names like Aiden or “unique” spelling names like McKynli.

    I had no idea how contentious baby naming was! Especially if a name that you happen to like is not a darling of the online baby naming enthusiasts. Or at least that is my experience from reading comments on some of the websites. Personally, I would never think to tell someone their name was horrible, or would cause their child to be endlessly teased or bullied – even if I didn’t like it.

  2. This school year, our school seems to be pushing the “First Name plus last initial” thing, maybe yours is too? The notes about addressing Valentines cards told you to write the first name and the last initial. Even when there’s only one child with that name in the class. My daughter asked if she had to write her last initial when she signed them. I said no. But I did make her add the initial to her friends names, since the note said to.

    Names do repeat in my kids school: Ethan, Jacqueline, Cayden, Brandon, Alex, Cole.

  3. I love the idea of Song Genevieve. It looks fabulously lyrical on paper, it has a great meaning/poetry to it and works beautifully as a combo. Then I think of the name Song on its own — calling it out across a playground etc — and the name feels a lot more clunky.

  4. “This is a part of the name-verse that gives me pause. If we want to live in a world where we can consider calling our kids Marguerite and Rufus and Eglantine, then why are we so bothered by the possibility that others might exercise the same freedom to name their children Avri and Arynn and Devanné?”
    I agree. I have used this logic in discussions. Majority of the time, it comes down to standardization. We are taught one thing in class, and the real world does follow with what we were taught, so we get hostile over it, especially here in America, which is over 200 years old. People DO NOT rationalize that this “concept” of everything being standard is a relatively new thing. People think that it has been going on for several 1000 years and it goes against what they were taught, which why I think get hostile. In real world, and on our own family trees, we can see that standard spelling and annunciation varied. I think with the internet around, it makes it feasible for people look up the facts. The problem is that people don’t look it up or are responsible enough to look it up. Which is why it seems you get so much saucy remarks. Hey, it may not be your cup of tea, but the truth is that it has had its place throughout history and will always have its place. Just except it gracefully and handle it gracefully. That is what I tell my children, who are named Shawn, Summer, and Winter. Also, if you don’t know how a name is pronounced, than ask, it is that simple. It doesn’t matter if its in English or Welsh, just ask. Be polite. I don’t find it offensive to become cultured, that is part of the definition of learning and growing, even after high school and college.

  5. Song Genevieve makes me swoon!! I would love to use that if I had sole naming power! Also love the Bible sib-set!

  6. I really dislike it when someone asks for name advice and specifically says that they like something such as girls names that end with i, and the people responding decide it’s their job to talk them out of it. Especially if the person writing in is a woman named Staci.

    The whole name thing gets boring when you assume that what makes a name perfect is the same for everybody…the most interesting conversations are when somebody else’s taste has you thinking about names that you would never consider for your own kids.

  7. I feel like unless you’re naming your son Elizabeth or Margaret, they probably won’t get teased or looked at too funny by their peers. I know more male Sashas than female, and also know male Averys, Rowans, Peytons, Shannons, etc. Sometimes it gave me a pause to figure out if they were talking about a male or female, but aside from a few mean kids in school (who would have just used something else if the name hadn’t been there), the only teasing or negative comments came from adults.

    You find more older adults passing severe judgment on kids for things like having a “girly” name (my grandfather actually tried asking my son if he was a “sissyboy” over something once) because they’re so afraid of boys being associated with anything feminine. It’s sad, but hopefully starting to die out with the older crowds (didn’t really intend a death pun there).

    1. I agree. The older crowd were born in an era where everything was different. It was either boy or girl, not much unisex names. The femminist movement really changed that I think. This new generation is exposed to more, more cultured, more worldly, and more open minded.

    2. I agree – I know lots of school age boys with unisex names, including one of my nephews, and it’s never even come up for discussion, let alone been a teasing point. My nephew was told before he started school that he might meet both boys and girls with his name: he thought that was cool, to have friends of both sexes with his name (he’s very sociable).

      I’ve even met a family who named their son a name which is nearly always given to girls, such as Brooke, and not only was there no teasing, nobody even told them it’s usually a female name. They were quite stunned when they found out.

  8. One issue with the non-standard spelling as described in the Name Lady’s letter is that I wouldn’t pronounce “Avri” (Ah-vree) the same way I’d pronounce Avery (Ay-ver-ee). And “Emie” is going to be both mispronounced as “ee-mee” and misread as “Ernie” throughout her entire life. “Emmie” or “Emmi” would be better.

    Another issue is the one she hints at in her response — it doesn’t actually make it different, especially since it sounds the same shouted on a playground and search engines will search alternate spellings. Whether you type Lindsay Fonseca or Lyndsy Fonseca (the correct spelling), into Google, you will still get the same actress from Agent Carter.

    Alternate spellings are a fact of life, as any Catherine or Katharine can tell you, but there is a difference between natural alternatives (Luka vs Luca) and ones that torture the average person’s ability to pronounce it. If someone used to Spanish calls me “Dee-ah-nah”, I expect it, but I’d be shocked if anyone tried to torture it into “Die-ay-nay” — which makes no grammatical sense in any language. My own daughter’s name is used in half a dozen languages, and has half a dozen different accepted spellings. If she wants to switch it up, it’s better to choose a spelling that at least makes sense to anyone trying to pronounce it. To go back to the Lyndsy Fonseca example, no one is going to look at that name and not realize how it should be pronounced.

    1. My friends are Deeana and another Diana. Deeana pronounces it Dee-an-uh and Diana says Die-ahn-uh.
      So that does vary. Even on British news channels, I heard them say: Lady or Princess Die-ahn-uh.

  9. I’m beginning to find some of the arguments against “gender bender names” for boys sort of weak myself. I mean, is it still accurate in 2015 to say that a boy named Madison or Cary would be teased for his “girly” name when there are dozens of names that rank on both sides of the SSA charts? I was flipping through my nine-year-old cousin’s yearbook recently and noticed that there were just as many boys as girls named Jayden, Riley, Aiden, Charlie (!), etc. Every now and then I’ll ask him if he thinks something like Ryan, Logan, or Avery is a boy name or girl name, and honestly? Most of the time he just shrugs and says both.

    1. Your right, his generation is accustome to it. They don’t know any better. Those old thoughts aren’t taught to them. So I’d expext that type of response from his age group but say 60+ it would be totally different response. So that is a good point to bring up! 🙂