Here’s something that throws me, even after all these years I’ve been writing about baby names:
We use terms to describe styles in inconsistent + sometimes incorrect ways.
“We like classic names like Jackson.”
“I’m looking for something unique, like Lyla.”
“Our kids have traditional names, Liam and Ava.”
“We want to avoid trendy names like Henry and Charlotte.”
Generally we choose some set of words to mean “good names that we like” and another set of words to describe those that we find “totally not my style” or even “awful.”
But then again, this isn’t a science.
Depending on your perspective, maybe Liam does feel traditional. And I do understand how Lyla might seem unique.
I’m most fascinated by niche styles. Ecovintage girls. Preppy hellraisers.
In fact, when the categories get much bigger, it’s easy to argue that anything fits. My recent round-up of bohemian names took forever. Because after a few hours, everything starts to feel boho. Well, not Catherine or David. But so many names that my completely non-bohemian self could happily name triplets from the list.
Don’t tell me your style. Tell me the names you love.
Instead of using terms to describe our style, I think it’s often more useful to list the names that we love. (Yes, even if we can’t use them for one reason or another.) Because the same parent can love Scarlett, Grace, and Piper. They’re names with no obvious overlap, but I can hear a thread there – right?
Are your favorites nickname-proof or nickname-rich? Tailored or frilly? The kind of names with a clear image attached? Ones with an obvious history? Or are they a little more of a blank slate? Will they be hard to spell? Have more than one pronunciation?
Because there’s always a reason you love Huxley and William, a name that falls somewhere between Scarlett and Elladora.
Start with the names.
Country music’s Sam Hunt welcomed a daughter with wife Hannah Lee Fowler. They named her Lucy Lu. This confuses me just a little, because any daughter I named Lucy would inevitably be called Lucy Lu at least some percentage of the time, so I’d definitely choose a completely different middle name. That note aside, I’m intrigued by the multiple ways to spell this mini name. I’ve seen Lou, Lue, and now Lu, too. Quite a bit of variety for a single syllable!
I so enjoy SJ’s name videos! For so many reasons, but particularly because it’s so fun to hear the differences between British and American perspectives. If you’re naming a boy and love old school, antique picks, this video is worth a watch. Also – yes to Vincent and Chester and so many of the names she mentions!
Rumor has it that Kylie Jenner’s son is named Knight. Which I completely love, and don’t think it’s too extreme at all in our age of bold word names. (The rumor started with an Instagram account that may or may not belong to Kylie’s nephew, Mason.) While it’s time to update the list on this post, my opinion stands – love the names or hate them, the Kardashians actually get a lot right when it comes to names.
A must-read for the parents of every Alexander out there. I’m guessing that you already know about Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, but this interview with Judith Viorst about the real-life Alexander made me love the story – and the name! – a little bit more. (And since it’s my son’s name, I didn’t think that was possible.)
To me, Waterloo is a catchy ABBA song, but it would have meant something very different to families who served in the June 1815 battle. Nancy’s round-up of babies with the (mostly middle) name Waterloo reminds us that names record all sorts of events, tragic and happy alike. The personal stories behind some of the name choices are fascinating. (Scroll all the way to the bottom to read about Isabella Fleura Waterloo Deacon. Can you imagine?!)
Can’t get enough name news? Sign up for the newsletter, sent every Tuesday:
I’m sitting here, trying to list off the common threads I see with your examples of Scarlett, Grace, and Piper. I do hope other people can add to the list!
-Distinctly female names
-On the shorter side
-Limited-or-one spelling. Scarlet and Scarlett, but other than that? You know what it is.
-…But word names that are accepted as names, and aren’t the very common nature-based word names.
-They all have an emotional ‘feel’ to the name. There’s a connotation to these names. I see them as spunky, although I’m sure other people would have different feelings.
-Top 100 names. Scarlett and Grace are in the top 40. And they’ve had consistent usage in the last 20 years.
-Consonant beginnings, consonant ends.
-Minimizing the nickname potential. Sure, you might get Gracie, you might get Pip (which is DARLING), perhaps Lettie? But these aren’t the names that will get shortened by default.
But the most important of all…
-I’ve considered using all of those! Thanks for calling me out directly, Abby. XD