Sunday SummaryThings that we learn as we grow up: you will not become the most popular girl in school just because you’ve bought a killer pair of first day shoes.  Many of those “Ten Quick Tips” to have great abs/a cleaner kitchen/a more organized desktop may be helpful, but they’re rarely quick.  Cupcakes are not a health food.

And when it comes to baby names?  Blanket criticism is rarely a good idea.

It’s tempting to make rules.  I’ve done it myself.  Sometimes they’re helpful.  Sometimes they’re funny.  Often they feel a little uninformed.  (The article disses Imogen – a Shakespearean name that is huge elsewhere in the English-speaking world, and is gaining steadily in the US, too.)

It’s also worth noting that normal names change.  And varies, from family to family, geographic area to geographic area.

Another danger? Sometimes we are racist.

More often, I think, we’re just not very patient or generous with each other.  Often hearing the reasons someone chooses a name can completely change our perception.

I know I’m guilty of this.  Around the time I started this blog, my kids met a boy named Deaglan.  Why, oh why, I thought, would you mangle Declan that way?  Then I met his Irish-accented father, and realized that Deaglan was the original Irish spelling – as valid as Siobhan or Aislin.

D’oh.  It wasn’t an uniformed or unthoughtful choice.  It was a huge gap in my knowledge.

That’s why I love the community around this blog so very much.  Thank you for pushing AppMtn to always explore new names – vintage names, foreign names, names that no one is using, names that everyone loves.  And sticky topics, too, like Native American names.

Putting my soapbox away now, and moving on to the name news:

  • Ghislaine is one of my guilty pleasure names.  Not really wearable in the US, and Giselle doesn’t quite move me the way Ghislaine does.  Maybe in the middle spot?
  • Along the same lines, there’s a Dictionary of Medieval Names in the works!  It’s set to go live January 2015 – which isn’t as far away as it sounds … For now, browse the list of names set to have entries.
  • Oh, Bree likes Jadwiga, too!  That’s the name of my husband’s beloved grandmother.  But we always dismissed it as too Polish to work in English, and Hedwig – the English version – doesn’t seem all that great, either.
  • And one more along the same lines, Once Upon a Time Baby Names profiled Ursula.  Which, I know, is all sea witch.  But it is such a great name.  I’m a sucker for Ursula, Lorna, Petra – names with that ‘r’ sound that are very off-trend nowadays.
  • My affection for mass transit is serious, and rivals my adoration of all things baby names.  So when I saw Anna’s post on Sydney’s new Opal card?  A great name + a better way to ride transit = win, win, win.  Another reason to visit Australia!
  • Time for a round-up of September/autumnal names:
    • Here’s Nameberry’s round-up, ever inventive.  J’adore Hugo.
    • Kelli takes a look at the seasons as names themselves.  Autumn is the clear front-runner, with Spring languishing in last place.
    • Which reminds me – I did something similar – but different! – a while back.
    • Sophie suggests Aster on her September names list – wearable?  I’m warming to Sapphire, too – and Emerald has crossed from my out-there list to my yes, please list.
  • Oh, how much do I appreciate For Real Baby Names?  Gems like Thora Skye and Wolf Christopher make me smile.
  • So Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Siri.  Nancy’s got the stats on the name’s use here, and you might recognize it from the video game Halo.  A few thoughts – first, this gives Siri more history as a given name.  But second, with all the affection for Cora and Cora-names, maybe Cortana is more wearable than it would have been otherwise.  Or, does the Downton Abbey effect make a 21st century video game name more wearable?
  • While we’re talking all things nouveau, Skye has the numbers on Jace.  Yes, this one could be considered a novel name, but after growing up with so many Jasons who answered to Jace, it seems perfectly reasonable to see it on birth certificates – especially if we’re also using just Jack and Jake and Kate.
  • What do you do when you love a name – but everyone else says “no, don’t do it?”   The Name Lady gives sage advice, as always.

Lastly, I understand there might be an issue with viewing comments when using Chrome?  I’m still trying to track down the error.  In the meantime, my apologies for the difficulties, and thank you for your patience!

That’s all for this week.  As always, thank you for reading and being a part of this community.


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 love your “soap box”moments. We all need to be cognizant of how language, words, and names inform our understanding of the world. Sadly I think the tendency will always be to use the information at hand as a way to prove existing beliefs, even if it’s not accurate. Thanks for continuing to motivate me to reconsider my own perceptions of language!

  2. Abby, thanks so much for this post and for again being a voice of reason and open-mindedness when it comes to names.

  3. Thanks for the mention! It’s always exciting to see other people as excited about our project as we are.

  4. think with the racism post it’s not just easier to accept more unheard of ‘white’ names because i am white but because they are just that…unheard of not made up. multiple someones out there in history were once named Geoff. who before the 1970s black movement was named LaShonda? it’s the historical legitimacy that what turns me off to these names. they are just too new.

  5. The “Daily Beast” was fascinating to read as an outsider. I had to agree with Mr Bouie – if you’re not American, white American names sound as equally outrageous as black American names! Or equally non-outrageous, to put it a different way.

    Love Ursula – to me it’s a very glamorous name. I can’t think of a decent nickname, which I see as a drawback, but somebody else might love the idea of a nickname-proof Ursula.

  6. Thought of you today when we were at the beach playing next to a brother and sister — Lowell and Pandora!

  7. Thanks for the link to the article about black names! I get annoyed when people criticize “black” names, yet we have many white people with out-there names. That was a really insightful article. Sometimes I think the naming community can be a little racist. Thank you!