Cinderella quoteI took my daughter to see Cinderella, and I was surprised by how much I loved it.

Cate Blanchett’s stepmother reminded me of the stepmother character from Cinder – you don’t like her, but you kind of get her, even though she’s definitely the villain of the piece.

And that whole “Have Courage and Be Kind” line?

I’m on board with that.

But here’s why I’m talking about a Disney movie on a baby name blog: we sometimes forget that the character is named Ella, and  Cinderella is a cruel nickname given to her only after she’s gone from beloved daughter to mistreated servant in her own home. In the 2015 version of the movie, Cinderella claims the name as her own. It’s a lovely moment for the name obsessed.

Now, on to the name news:

  • One more Cinderella-related note: the stepsisters’ names have varied greatly over the years. Here’s a not quite comprehensive – but very, very long! – list.
  • A Pinterest board worth following: Meggie Maye’s For the Love of Names.
  • And, of course, you can follow Appellation Mountain on Pinterest here. (And Instagram!)
  • My 10 year old, who has grown up in a heavily Spanish-speaking neighborhood, was baffled by the name Joachim on a Swedish ice hockey player. He’s only ever known the name as Joaquin, the Spanish version of the name. It’s interesting to see how Spanish is changing the way we name our children – and it isn’t just on the fringe. The rise of Top Ten favorites like Isabella and Sophia/Sofia is very much about families looking for crossover names.
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy mentioned a Laini Taylor book that sounds exactly right for our spring break trip. So I had to go find out more about Taylor – and she has a daughter named Clementine! Now I’m definitely reading everything she’s written.
  • There are so many great lists of Spring names. Here’s one from BabyCenter, another gorgeous one from Isadora, one I wrote for Nameberry on the Huffington Post, and a great boy-focused list from The Art of Naming.
  • Funny how something can make you love a name. I stumbled on this post Stay Weird: A Letter to My Daughter, and suddenly, I found myself in love with her daughter’s name – Annalyn. I do love a good smoosh name, but I’ve never been wild about -lynn endings. Until now.
  • I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one: in Saudi Arabia, the Civil Status Department will help you change your name. A professor at King Saud University explained, “It is in the lawful rights of a Muslim person to be named a good, worthy name.” But it isn’t clear if that’s about a return to traditional names, or a desire for stylish ones.
  • English: Flags of Cuba in La Habana Español: B...While we’re globe-trotting – here’s a story from 2012 about baby-naming in Cuba. A reader was kind enough to send it my way. Apparently, the more restrictive the regime, the wilder the baby names. I kind of love that.
  • And speaking of Cuba, isn’t Havana the most gorgeous, under-used place name? Waltzing More than Matilda spotted a Havana Lily – lovely combination.
  • Character names from writer Terry Pratchett. Rest in peace.
  • I loved the callers’ comments in this interview with Nameberry’s Pam.
  • Speaking of Pam, Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, and mothers named their daughters accordingly. These kinds of stories never fail to intrigue me, mostly because it suggests the baby isn’t named before birth. My children were named before conception. (Hmmm … maybe I’m the odd one out.)
  • In theory, I love the idea of giving siblings names with the same meaning. But I always think this works better for twins. Felix and Asher might be my favorite suggestion for twin boys’ names, ever.
  • In the latest birth announcements from British Baby NamesHarry George, Harry Jack, Harry James, and Henry Richard Thomas, called Harry. Why don’t we hear this name more in the US? Henry ranks #37 and rising, but I never hear little Henrys called Harry. Hank, sometimes … but usually they’re just Henry. Harrison is #161 and rising, but Harry is all the way back at #707. We’re just not wild ’bout this one … will it change?
  • Let’s stay in England for a minute, and admire the sheer brilliance of the person who decided to race Corgis to predict the name of the new royal baby. The Corgi atop the podium is Alexandra. And The Barkingham Palace Gold Cup was organized by Ladbroke’s. We have clearly lost our minds, and Kate’s due date is still a month away …

Have you voted in March Madness 2015? It looks like defending champions Cora and Everett might both make it back to the final round! You can still vote in the boys’ semifinals here and girls’ semi-finals here through Friday, March 27th.

Oh, and one more note: thanks to everyone who has already subscribed – and read! – the first edition of the Appellation Mountain weekly newsletter.

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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. I wonder if that’s true for other countries – does more repressive governments bring out more outrageous naming? (Unless they repress baby names, of course).

  2. Oh, Pratchett names. She left off three favorites: Susan St. Lo, whose name is exactly perfect for her; Gytha Ogg, who mostly gets called Nanny; and Moist von Lipwig, because Moist Von Lipwig.
    Plus Lords and Ladies has a wonderful bit about girls changing their names to more elegant witchy ones like Diamandra.

  3. It seems that the way many Americans pronounce Harry — exactly like “hairy” — makes the name far less usable here than in the UK where many pronounce it as HAR-ee. The British pronunciation is closer to the way the French pronounce Henri — awn-REE, the name from which Harry is derived and the explanation for why Harry became a nn for Henry. I can see naming a little American girl Harriet, but Hairy/Harry not so much.

    1. I was thinking the same thing – that the pronunciation by lots of Americans (myself included) as ‘hairy’ doesn’t do the name any favors here. But then, maybe it’s also got to do with names ending in the -ee sound for boys bring less popular in the US now than they are in the UK.

  4. I love Taylor’s writing, and her flair for names. Karou (the heroine of her recent trilogy) is a special favorite, but I won’t spoil things for you by explaining why. But yes, she’s got great names all through — collect them all!

  5. Thanks for the newsletter reminder, I’ve just clicked my confirmation. Looking forward to the next one 🙂