Sunday SummaryHappy June! While I like the idea of March or January or even July as a given name, I think June wins my favorite month-as-name contest, if only because there are so many amazing names that start with that sound. There’s Juniper and Juno and Djuna. And just June is great, too.

Speaking of June, the first Saturday brings with it the Belmont Stakes – the third big horse race of the season. After a 37-year drought, we have a Triple Crown winner: American Pharaoh!

Okay, I know all of that only because … Twitter.

Pharaoh did get me thinking: What’s your favorite starts-with-Ph name? There aren’t many!

Now, on to the name news:

  • Well, let’s stay with the ponies for another minute. I Googled horse trainer Bob Baffert – the man behind American Pharaoh – to see if he had kids. And yup – five! From his first marriage, he has four sons: Taylor, Canyon, and Forest, plus daughter Savannah. From his second marriage, he has a son called Bode, named after celebrated skier Bode Miller. I’m fascinated by Canyon.
  • Jezebel asked readers for stories of times they pretended to be someone else, and get this – one of the top two stories was about baby names! Specifically, a thirteen year old who pretended to be an expectant mom on a message board in order to talk baby names, circa 2001. Her fake name for her fake daughter was Madeline, so she had pretty great taste for a teenager, and I’d LOVE to know what names she’d be thinking of now!
  • Sometimes I’m baffled by name lists. Other times I’m dismayed. Like this week, when I stumbled across a list called “Top 20 Aristocratic Names for Your Baby.” Yes to Cecily, Georgiana, Frederick, and Alistair. But Bentley? Landon? Chantelle? No. Uh-uh. No way. Nothing against those names, but they don’t scream to-the-manor-born. (I hesitate to link to the post, but here it is.)
  • Am I especially grouchy this week? Because here’s another one. I’ll give you Cash and Brynlee, Zayden and Jax, but Vivienne? Arabella? No way! If you’re going to title your post “Baby names that basically didn’t exist before 2000,” I feel like those names really should be novelties coined after 2000. Not older names that just happen to be significantly more popular in the US today than they were in the last century or so. Or is this kind of like the debate around Neil Gaiman and Coraline? No, he didn’t invent it. But most of us hadn’t heard of the name until he came along …
  • Wise words on choosing a mega-popular name. It’s a tricky subject. Lots of parents say “nothing in the Top 10o,” without realizing that they’re ruling out great names, like Adam and Piper, Ruby and Asher, Ian and Eleanor. I think what we’re sometimes trying to say with “nothing in the Top 100” is “nothing fleeting and insubstantial.” That’s a good thing, I think, but a tough concept to reduce to a numerical range. Here’s my list of reasons you should still use that Top Ten name you love.
  • What a crazy story about discount airlines, online identity, and out-of-the-box thinking. Also, this guy’s name is now Adam West. Which is either all kinds of awesome, or an invitation to relay a story about discount airlines, online identity, and out-of-the-box thinking forever.
  • This discussion of how transgender people name themselves is fascinating.
  • Can you imagine working as a registrar of births, and being told that you had to deny parents their top choice of name? On the grounds that is it “too Muslim.” In a country where at least 90% of the population is Muslim. According to the story, the government of Tajikistan sees banning traditional Muslim names as a hedge against extremism.
  • Okay, that was heavy. Just for fun: we spent the weekend in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, home to one of the legendary Fractured Prune doughnut shops. Pretty unusual name for a bakery, right? The shops are named for Prunella Shriek, a local woman famous for competing in sporting events traditionally reserved for men, well into her 70s. Because she broke so many bones doing so, she was known as “Fractured Prunella” or “Fractured Prune.” This was in the nineteenth century; when the doughnut shop’s founders were looking for a name for their new business in 1976, they came across this bit of history, and ran with it.
  • More great names stories, via Waltzing More Than Matilda.
  • I’m missing a lot in translation in this article, but I’m loving this line: Where did Petronella go? Vernoeming analyzed the most classic Dutch names, as well as those that have fallen out of use.
  • Estelle! Herman! Michael Floyd! Birth announcements from Names4Real prove that any name can come back. Maybe even Petronella.
  • And any name can go out. When I read this list of the Best J Names at The Art of Naming, my first thought was Jacqueline? Are babies really still being named Jacqueline? Yes, it is – Jacqueline still ranked a respectable #246 in 2014. I was just thinking about how long ago JFK was in office, and wondering if Jacqueline qualified as retro yet – but apparently the name is still hanging on. Hmmm …
  • British Baby Names profiles a great Biblical name that’s oh so rare: Thaddeus. Love the name, but I’m not so sure about Tad – Thad? – as a nickname.
  • I recently discovered that someone I’ve only ever known as Nacho is actually Ignacio. Makes all the sense in the world, and I’m wondering why I didn’t figure that one out sooner. No one is actually named Nacho, right? Oh wait, Nancy says that’s not quite right … there have been a few people named Nacho!
  • This tweet:

And on that note, there’s really nothing more to say! 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. wow you would really not like me then as my name is Chantelle Landon & you dismiss both names! I love being a Landon, I am super proud of it) as should anyone because it comes (more often than not) from a person having liked & appreciated the late Michael Landon & believe me there is nothing wrong with having his surname as a first name!! He was a wonderful & inspirational sweet man & I love when people use his surname as a first name for their child!! There is nothing bad about it at all!! in fact quite the opposite!! It is better to be named after someone with good morals than to be named something that is allegedly “hip” in the moment!!

    He was a compassionate, loving man & I think being named after someone like him should be always seen as a good thing!

    1. She didn’t dismiss either name, she specifically said that, she simply said they didn’t have obvious aristocratic associations as the listicle claimed they did. And they don’t.

  2. The mega-popular name is a fun read. We did purposefully avoid the top 100 the first time around, but didn’t the second time. Henry is such a great classic English sounding name, that I’m glad we chose it, even if it is now top 10 in our state. And I agree that kids don’t really care – my son thinks it’s fun that there’s another Henry in the grade below him. He got the other Henry to sign his yearbook. He hasn’t had to share names in his class though, and I do wonder if that would be frustrating.

    I also relate to the problem described in that article about her Mom’s name, Ileene. Even with my name right there on Facebook, I had two ‘friends’ call me Jenny instead of Jennie this week!?

    Oh and I actually don’t know any kids named Sophia. Although there was one years ago when my daughter was in preschool. There is a Sophina in my kids school and a Sophie. I do know a Unique though.

    And my friend has a grandson named Thaddeus. The pronunciation throws me off, because it’s said with a “Th” sound, right? But then the nickname is Tad? I do know an adult Tad and I have no idea what his fullname is, if he has one.

    Oh and on the subject of Jacqueline, there are two of them in my daughter’s grade (just finished 4th). I’m trying to think of any other girls names that repeat in her grade and I’m not sure there are any others. The two girls do spell their names differently. I think one ends in lyn.