Sunday SummaryI finally settled down long enough to read the third installment in the Bridget Jones trilogy.  I hesitated – spoiler alert – because I really didn’t want a Bridget without a Mark.  But it turned out to be my favorite installment, a quick read that answered lots of questions about what happens when Bridget + company grow up.

I mention it here, naturally, because of the names.  They’re a delicious assortment.  Bridget’s kiddos are Williamcalled Billy, and Mabel.  And the kids’ friends!  A galaxy of wacky and wild choices: Thelonius, Cosmata, Bikram.

It was almost worth reading for the names alone.

Elsewhere in the baby-name-o-verse:

  • Did you see this birth announcement for Elsbeth Mattea in the Nameberry forums?  What great sibling names!
  • Along the same lines – a video featuring international variations of Elizabeth.
  • Is Jerome an underused classic, or a hopelessly dated name?  I might have dismissed him as the latter, but Bree has convinced me he’s almost certainly the former.
  • Isabella, Alexandra … and Henrietta?  I can never decide if I love this name or find it just too much, but Anna’s post on the marvelous Henrietta Dugdale makes it clear that Henrietta is a hero name.
  • Oh, another Cosette in this round-up from Names for Real.  Also some nicely unexpected middles: Stella West, Marie Sunday, Wyatt Ransom.
  • An interesting question from Nancy.
  • Japanese names – I do like Ren for a boy.  Shades of Footloose.
  • Azerbaijan has name rules, complete with a green/yellow/red coding system. I couldn’t find the list itself, but I did find this discussion of Azeri naming traditions.  The goal of the rules is, naturally, to uphold the culture.  The trouble with this goal, of course, is that it assumes culture is fixed and unchanging.  Maybe it is different in Baku, but here’s guessing that plenty of parents are not content to stick with the traditional green names and prefer to wade into the yellow.
  • Along the same lines: I liked this defense of Lakeisha and company, found via Clare at Except that if you go too far into the Azeri yellow, do you end up with a name that is more burden than heritage celebration?
  • Which leads me to this Slate article about brand names with unusual spellings and/or incongruous punctuation.  It’s interesting, because it tracks with what I tend to think about given names.  A little bit different is fine – it can even be great.  But go too far, and it’s unnecessarily confusing.  Trouble is that the line is fuzzy, and shifts from person to person.
  • Another drama: Philomena’s mom is ticked that grandpa wants to call her daughter Philly.  This fascinates me.  I know lots (and lots) of parents who prefer using their children’s longer names in full.  But I do think that if you’re of this mind, better to choose a shorter name, the equivalent of Emma or Jane, names less likely to inspire short forms.  Because even if you can successfully insist that she’s Philomena, thanks, for the first few years of her life, at some point your kiddo goes to school and things change.
  • Surname names: love ’em or hate ’em?
  • Let’s end with a sneak preview of my Nameberry post for Monday.  I’m writing about B names – there have been a bunch lately, and I don’t think it is a blip.  Now there’s another one on the horizon.  The new J.J. Abrams series, Believe, debuts Monday night, March 10.  And the central character is a girl called Bo.  Bo reminds me of Drew Barrymore’s character in Firestarter, only with powers times a kabillion.  Could Bo be big for girls?  What are the formal name possibilities?  And is B the new A?

If you haven’t voted in March Madness yet, please do so!  The boys’ quarter finals are posted here, and the girls’ quarter finals are here.  Lots of close matches, and I can attest from the opening round that some of the matches that seemed like a lock in the beginning changed dramatically over the week.

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. I might be the only one who dislikes Elsbeth Mattea mainly because they didn’t spell Elsbeth right it’s Elspeth and it’s my mums name so I don’t like seeing it changed.

    And surname names obviously I’m in the love category but they get a bashing on nameberry

    1. Actually, Elsbeth is a German varient of Elizabeth much like Elspeth is the Scottish variation.
      Both are derived from the base name Elizabeth and both are names in their own right.

      Perhaps the parents of little Elsbeth Mattea had a German heritage and wanted to honor that connection.

      Personally, I think they are both absolutely beautiful and unusual names. A bit cumbersome to say orally, but particularly lovely written.

      Depending on the parents’/child’s preferences, both names would lend to fun and interesting nicknames such as Elsie, Eppy/Ebby, Els, Elsa, Bettes, or Betsy.
      With a first initial of ‘E’ and a middle initial of ‘M’, another interesting nickname would be Emmy.

  2. It really pisses me off when people make fun of “black” names and call them “ghetto”. If your ancestors had been ripped from their homeland, branded like cattle, sold into slavery on cotton or sugar cane fields and renamed “good Christian” names, you might decide you’d like your children to have names as far removed from “white” names as possible. Most of these people have no idea what the names of their ancestors were or would have been had they not been slaves. It’s a conscious choice in some cases and other perhaps subconscious, but its a small way to take back a little bit if power to reject slave names. Obviously not everyone of African descent chooses exotic sounding names, but I understand when some do. I dated and am still friends with a Nigerian man named Chidi Ajufo. His name is very spiritual. In the Igbo culture “Chi” is a personal god that determines fate/destiny. The name Chidi means “God exists”. I can’t imagine how dehumanizing it must have been to have a name like this taken from you and replaced by your slave owner.

    ” The slaves were renamed, often after their ‘owner’ or ironically after a war hero or Roman Emperor (Olaudah Equiano was given the slave name Gustavus Vassa) to add to the humiliation.”

    “There were several trends used in naming slaves. One of the most popular ones was to give the slave a Biblical name such as my ancestor’s name Solomon. This was in keeping with many slave owners’ desire to convert their “wards” to Christianity”
    “Another trend in naming slaves was to use demeaning names. This was a psychological ploy to put their property in their place–several steps below the masters. For example, many slaves were given prestigious, lofty names like Plato, Hercules, Romeo or Aphrodite. In my family tree there is a Cinderella, a Christopher Columbus and Narcissus. These names were actually jokes, poking fun at the slaves’ lack of power.”

  3. In regards to Philomena’s mother being upset over the nickname, is understandable. I was raised that if the parent would like the child’s name to be called by her full name, then you respected it. I think this is more of case of the grandparent’s disrespecting their children than being unaware of potential nicknames. These are adult (who know better), not a bunch of tots or elementary students giving your child a name for some reason or another (who don’t know better), and therefore, it has more of a principle behind it.

    Based on how I was raised, nicknames was considered a lazy form of calling someone by their given name. Unless, given permission, it was considered an insult and a sign of flat out disrespect to the person, or parent’s child if it were an infant, as it is in this case. My mother didn’t allow nicknames until we were older in elementary schools, therefore all of us kids had no nicknames at home unless we asked for permission to have one at the appropriate age.

    Also, these grandparents may be from a different generation, like the hippy movement generation, or perhaps the children from those parent’ who grew up or were young adults through that time area. Every generation has taken a step away from another generation. It just really means that because of one generation raising another generation differently, they see things differently, like nicknaming their grand baby as okay. I think sometimes people tend forget that more of parents/grandparents born in the 19-teens and 1920’s are dying out and taking with them some of their generational beliefs. My grandmother born in 1915 wouldn’t consider calling a child by nick name, but her son born in 1953 would by fine calling his child born in 1986 by nickname or even his grandchild born in 2014 by a nickname. It just varies in the end.

    Jerome is a lovely name, but from where I grew up, Jerome was commonly heard, so it was never a rare name in my mind. As for Bo, is cute, but it is hard see it on a girl. I think of Beau from Gone with the Wind, when I hear Bo, same sound but different spelling. Having grown up on the classics and my girlfriend’s brother named Beau, I’m afraid it will be very difficult see a little her named Bo as a stand alone name. But Bo coming from a formal name is a cute idea! 🙂

    Azerbaijan name rules, I think most cultures throughout history would have been in the yellow. So I wouldn’t follow it, its too much fun to go wacky every once in a while. Besides, everyone does deem wacky differently. Look to some of baby name laws out there.

    1. I think there are many approaches to nicknaming, and it definitely depends on your background and experiences. In my Italian family, where given names were repeated by custom, nicknames were a necessity, and it was the norm for everyone in the family to use them. A few generations later, names don’t repeat – but we’re definitely more inclined to refer to each other by a NN anyway.

      My husband’s Polish family uses nicknames – but only when they speak Polish. In English, they tend to use names in full.

  4. I do think Bo is going to get very fashionable for girls.

    Long forms for Bo: Bonnie, Blossom, Bonita, Boadicea, Bowen or Boann, Ebony, Isabeau, Roberta …?

  5. There’s a young Jerome in my family, little brother to Etta. He’s actually Jerome III, but his nickname is Romeo.

  6. I freaking love the wacky baby names from Bridget Jones 3. Hilarious. Side note, I read that book while nursing my newborn. Tears were shed and I also laughed aloud. I missed Bridget!

  7. Rebecca from Girl’s Gone Child ( has a Boheme nn Bo, which I’ve always loved!