Sunday Summary: 10.20.19Let’s talk about names at the fringes.

The longer I’ve written about names, the more I’ve come to believe that few names are really problematic. Some choices might feel just awful to you, and lots of names won’t be right for your family.

But is there anything inherently wrong with being named Liam or Emma? Nope. I can make the case for Anakin and Khaleesi, Peter and Caroline. (Though I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I favored the latter over the former. Well … maybe Caroline Khaleesi. That’s kind of awesome.) The world is big enough for kids called Ermintrude and Galbraith and Tinzlee and Ryer.

I mean … I’m going to have some questions. Which I might not ask, because I try so very hard to be curious, but polite.

But I’m not actually passing judgment on your choice.

Except …









Imagine you’re in a crowded place when you hear a voice screaming “Shooter!”

I promise my first thought will never be, “What an unconventional and charming name choice.” The thought is unnerving – the stuff of nightmares. It’s exactly like shouting fire in a crowded building.

Epic boy names have started to resonate with me. I hear Breaker and Legend and yes, even Shooter, and I get the vibe the parents are after. Bold, adventurous, surprising, at home in this wild new world. My hesitation about such choices has long been that they’re tough for kids to wear. You can’t will your child into being anything, and I’d hate to be a shy kid saddled with a larger-than-life name like Rogue.

But Shooter does seem to occupy a slightly different category, I think. You might hear it and think of sports – maybe your family is into hunting. Or surfing, maybe? Photography, possibly. In your family context, it might make all the sense in the world.

And while I think it’s best to embrace your family’s vibe, it’s important to imagine how a name will be received. That’s why I give Lucifer a hard no. No matter your personal beliefs, that name is going to drop the jaws of everyone your kiddo meets and trigger lots of assumptions – and that’s not fair to your child.

Shooter strikes me as almost in the same category.

Now let’s talk about another name in the headlines.

Blogger jetsetmama recently welcomed her third son, who joins brothers Atlas and Everest, plus sister Zephyr, called Zephie for short. the new baby’s name? Citizen Sage, which is bold and completely unconventional. It might also violate Australian naming conventions.

But … I completely get it. Tea Collection talks about designing for “little citizens of the world.” If your family is all about travel and exploration and such, and you’ve already chosen off-the-grid names for your older kids, well … Citizen seems like the kind of name that will fit right in around your house.

And while it’s going to raise some of those curious, polite questions, it’s never going to make anyone’s heart stop in fear.

What do you think? Do you think Shooter is wearable in 2019?

Elsewhere online:

The thing about epic names, though? They’re becoming much more common. Thanks to everyone who sent me this link about high school football rosters in Western Pennsylvania. Kids with names like Storm, Aries, and Sensei are all out there. And the author concludes that they all seem to really like their names, so that’s encouraging.

Can you name your daughter after a deceased pet … chicken?! Duana thinks there’s plenty of room in this family for a dear, departed galline pet and a newborn baby girl. I agree completely.

Speaking of galline, this list of animal adjectives includes Pavonine, referring to peacocks. I think it could be the most amazing middle name ever.

I might have said that you shouldn’t name your daughter Rose if your surname is Gold, but this story convinced me it works – beautifully! I’ve heard parents rule out adjective names because their last name sounds like a noun, and I get it – Fox Hunter or River Stone do sound like phrases. But sometimes those phrases appeal, too. And when the first name is a classic and honors a beloved family member? I think it can be worth the risk.

This poll has me fascinated. If you and your partner both had a #1 favorite name, how did you resolve the disagreement? Coin toss, rock-paper-scissors, another game of chance? In our case, my husband got to choose his favorite boy name; I chose my favorite girl name. (Or, strictly speaking, our son is named for his father; our daughter for my mother.) Had we ever welcomed the additional children I’d once imagined, we didn’t really have a plan. Though, obviously, I had a list …

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

Girl Names: 10.20.19 Boy Names: 10.20.19

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. However, I think Shooter works for a Term-of- Endearment type nickname like Buckeroo or Buddy or Little Miss or Sweet Pea. You’re not going be yelling your kids’ cutsie nickname to get their attention in a crowded place.

  2. “Shooter”, when spoken, is no weirder than Gunner or Hunter. “Shooter”, when yelled, is not ok. Zero parents have never yelled their kids’ name; that makes it a hard no for me. Same with “Bomb” or “Fire”; it’s a public hazard to yell that.

    1. That’s the problem, exactly, Laura. It’s the experience of hearing it yelled that makes it unwearable.

  3. Shooter is tricky. I live in the west and it has all sorts of country vibes. Shooter, Wyatt, and Bridger sound like brothers. Shooter, Kidd, and Tripp sound like hipster cowboys. But still . . . not super awesome for the kid. I wouldn’t do it and I would advise against.

  4. Shooter is too heavy a connotation for me so no on that.

    Was Citizen knocked back in Australia? I can’t think of a rule it violates – it isn’t a rank and most nouns are allowed.

    Our rules aren’t as strict as many people think. There are heaps of Australian babies given out there names 🙂

    1. Maree, it hasn’t been knocked back. And I agree – it doesn’t really cross any line, though maybe it tiptoes up to the idea of a title. (At least … during the French Revolution. Does that count? It probably shouldn’t count.)

  5. The name Shooter feels in poor taste to me, but Citizen definitely works as a name. I’d never use it myself for any of my children but it totally suits Jetsetmama and her wonderful, colourful family.

  6. Shooter Jennings, musician. I think his real name is Waylon, but he probably has namesakes called both Waylon and Shooter. There’s also a place in the area called Six Shooters. Honestly, I don’t find it all that odd a name and I may even have seen it somewhere on a school list. It is a country type name and it would not sound out of place on a rodeo cowboy or a sharp shooter. I know quite a few people who are hunters or target shooters for fun and the name/nickname gives me that sort of vibe.

  7. Pretty awesome about those high school football kids enjoying their unique names, although Legend is starting to get common. Some interesting ones there like Cherokee and Zuriah.

  8. About three years after I named my daughter, I discovered via social media post that my sister had a cat with the same name. She lives in another state and has a many pets. Bless her heart, she never told me, and I think the social media post was a momentary slip up (she listed the names of a number of pets gathered in one photograph). I asked her about and indeed, she’d had the cat far longer than I’d had the daughter. If it was weird for her that I chose the same name, unknowingly, she didn’t say so. We had a good laugh and moved on, no fuss.

    1. Okay, that’s a GREAT story! And props to your sister for handling the situation gracefully, and to you both for having a sense of humor about the surprise sharing between cousins. 🙂

  9. Shooter is a hard no. Like, I’m borderline whether that should even be legal. Calling out “Shooter” in a school classroom in this America?? What on earth.

    On a happier note: Two of my bffs had baby girls in the past few months, and one went with Daria– they had it as Darya but chose Daria with the rationale that this way it would be optional 2 or 3 syllables, interestingly– and the other went with Gloria nn Glo.

    I’ve hung out with both babies a lot, and my thoughts are: Daria’s awkward on a baby, but will be lovely as she grows. Friend’s spouse is Ukranian, so she’s like a little Russian princess. I call her Daria Stark. 🙂 Gloria nn Glo has always been one of my favorites and works really well in real life. Glo Bug is a cute go-to nn. I’m used to ends-in-ee names/nns, so these are a little different for me when interacting with little ones. Just wanted to share.

    Pavonine is a great middle! Flannery O’Connor famously raised peacocks so it could be a nice nod to her.