Twin Baby Boys C0nlin

Hello! I could really use some naming help!

My husband and I are expecting twin boys on Thanksgiving and are really struggling with names. These are our first babies, and their last name will be C0nlin, which I feel goes with most things. I haven’t found a name yet that I struck out just because of how it sounded with the last name.

So far, we’ve been able to pick one name. We’ve decided on Silas for one of the boys, but are drawing a complete blank on the name for the other boy. We don’t really want matching names, though I want something that at least sounds like it would come from the same family.

We haven’t decided on Silas’ middle name, but we have picked the middle name for the other boy – Prentice, after my grandfather. So, we need a name that doesn’t end in a “s” sound. For example, Silas Prentice does not work in my mind, which is why Prentice is reserved for the other boy. I suggested William for Silas’ middle name (after my husband’s father – I like the idea of both boys having family names for middle names). But my husband is conflicted because he kind of wants to stick with his family’s tradition of assigning animals as middle names (his middle name is (seriously) Raging Buffalo; and his brothers’ middle names are: Spouting Whale, Bear, and Wolf…). I think the animals are a bit random – I have never met anyone less like a Raging Buffalo than my husband. Plus, I think it would be weird to give one boy an animal middle name while the other has a family middle name (my heart is set on naming the other one Prentice, and husband has agreed to that already because it’s so important to me). What do you think? Is that weird to name them so differently?

Anyway, as for the other boy’s first name, the name I like the best is Dugan, followed closely by Jude. However, my husband won’t agree to those. He thinks Dugan is cute, but isn’t sure it’d be a good name for an adult male. And he just doesn’t really like Jude at all. He suggested Max, but I’m not on board with that one (and I don’t think it sounds good with Prentice).

Other names we’ve considered and both liked okay, though not enough to necessarily pick them are: Blake, Luke, Gavin and Dylan.

We also really like Brody, Bryce and Cody, but already have cousins with those names. We really like Jackson (or Jack) too, but it’s too close to my name (which is pronounced Jackie, though spelled differently).

Coming up with Silas was hard enough, so I don’t know how we’re going to find another boy’s name! Any suggestions you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for your help!!



When I entered this question into my spreadsheet, I put “Raging Buffalo” in the description field just so I could enjoy it again and again.

I do enjoy sibling names to coordinate, and I especially enjoy twin names to coordinate. However, I also think twins are an excellent opportunity to handle a situation where each parent wants something different, AND I don’t think middle names matter very much for coordination: that is, I ENJOY it when it works out for them to coordinate, but I think middle names tend to disappear after the birth announcements are sent out, so coordinating them is a low priority even for me.

In your situation, I think twins are an excellent opportunity to handle two different parental preferences, and I would go with using your grandfather’s name for one twin and your husband’s family’s naming tradition for the other. Those seem like nice balanced honors. I do think I’d lean more toward the Bear/Wolf type of name, rather than the Raging Buffalo / Spouting Whale kind of name. Fox, perhaps. Robin. Falcon. Or maybe Peregrine, to sound a little more like Prentice. I do think I’d be careful not to make the animal name too cool, if possible.

You know, the more I think about this, the less certain I am. I’m picturing one boy having a Cool Awesome Animal middle name, and the other saying, “Yes, Prentice was my great-grandfather’s name.” They feel like equivalent levels of honor in theory, since each represents an honor for one side of the family, but will the BOYS see it that way? I wonder if you would like to do double middle names? Each boy could have a great-grandfather’s name (perhaps your other grandfather, since the animal names are from your husband’s side, or another male honor name from your side) AND an animal name. This might also give you more flexibility pairing Prentice with Silas: Silas Peregrine Prentice, for example.

I was intrigued by the challenge of finding a good animal middle name. Some animals seem too vicious, like the name of the toughie in an over-the-top action movie: Viper, Tarantula, Snake, Spider, Piranha, Cobra, Scorpion. Other animal names seem too comical: Penguin, Squirrel, Meerkat, Gopher, Wombat, Frog, Hippopotamus, Chicken, Chipmunk, Cow. Names that seem name-like are harder to find. Badger, maybe. Buck. The big-cat names: Panther, Lion, Cheetah, Tiger, Jaguar, Leopard. Possibly Antelope. Koala. Cardinal would be nice, though then I’d probably want a songbird for the other name as well: not Cardinal paired with something really tough like Jaguar, for example. Maybe Cardinal and Oriole, or Cardinal and Sparrow. There’s Wolf and Bear, if you don’t mind repeating, and Fox, which is my favorite, and Coyote. Crane and Peregrine and Falcon and Hawk and Eagle. Dolphin, maybe. Otter.

For first names, my first suggestion is Grady. It reminds me of Brody and Cody from your can’t-use list, and I can picture handsome old-time farming brothers named Silas and Grady.

My second suggestion is Jared. Again, I can picture the brothers, working their farm. Also, I knew a couple who could not find ANY name they could agree on for a boy, and then they found the name Jared and both loved it, so I think of it as a problem-solving name.

Ditto for the name Derek: another couple I knew couldn’t settle on anything, and then they found Derek. Silas and Derek.

More possibilities:


I see a lot of long-U sounds (Luke, Dugan, Jude) and D-sounds (Jude, Dugan, Cody, Brody, Dylan) in your lists. I might look around for other names with those sounds.

D sounds:

Davis (maybe too matchy with Silas)

(I would also have suggested Gideon, Landon, Declan, Hudson, Holden, etc., but I wasn’t sure those worked well with your surname.)

Long-U sounds:

Louis (maybe too matchy with Silas)

(I would also have suggested Ruben, Houston, Truman, and Lucien, but again wasn’t sure about those with the surname.)

Baby Girl Brant-with-a-G, Sister to William

Dear Swistle,
I am 37.5 weeks pregnant with our second child, a baby girl. My due date is 8/31. Our last name is Brant with a G.
Our son is named William McIntosh, nickname Will. Both names are family names on my husband’s side, with the middle name being my husband’s middle name, his dad’s middle name and his grandmother’s maiden name. We like the idea of giving this baby at least one family name, but are not absolutely wed to the idea. We are having trouble deciding on any name, much less a family name, as the date draws closer. If this baby had been a boy, his name would likely have been Henry Benton (nickname Hank), named after our grandfathers. We may have another child after this one, not sure at this point.

Family names we both like:
Emerson (nickname Emmy)
Rose (as a middle name)
Victoria (as a middle name)

Other names I like:
Catherine/ Kate (feel like this is too “royal couple” when paired with Will)

Other names my husband likes:
Gretchen (absolute no for me)

Names we like but cannot use for various reasons:

For a good part of this pregnancy, we have discussed naming her either Emerson Lucille or Lucille/Lucy Emerson. My husband is concerned that Emerson isn’t a traditionally female name and that it’s very trendy right now. He has also observed that many of the little girls we know have “E” names – lots of Ellie, Elle, Eleanor, Emma, Evie… My issue with Lucy Emerson is that her initials would spell LEG. Probably not a big deal, I could certainly think of worse three letter words. Other combinations we like: Lucy Rose, Lucy Victoria, Emerson Victoria, Audrey Lucille. We both like names that have nicknames for what it’s worth. We would appreciate your thoughts on Emerson as a girl’s name, middle names that sound good with Lucy/Lucille and any other thoughts you may have based on our lists above.
Thanks for your help!


I agree that Emerson seems to be an outlier on your list: a modern unisex surname name among the non-unisex traditionals and classics (including William and Henry). If you love it and it’s a family name, I think the middle name is an excellent place for it: I like when it works out to use a middle name of a different style than the first name. I also like the way both children would then have a surname middle name. William (Will) McIntosh and Lucille (Lucy) Emerson is a very pleasing combination, and my favorite from the possibilities—unless those two choices are SO parallel, it would make you feel pressured to find something that matched for the possible next child.

It does bother me just a little that this would cause the initials to spell a word, but I agree with you that this one isn’t a big deal: I wouldn’t use Emerson in the first-name position just to avoid the initials LEG. If, however, you like other middle name options just as much or nearly as much, it might tip me toward using one of those. (It would depend too on the source of the family names: if Emerson were your maiden name, for example, versus a great-grandmother’s maiden name on your husband’s side.) I also like Lucy Victoria, Lucy Rose, and Lucy Jane.

If you like Catherine/Kate but don’t plan to use it as a first name, the middle name would be a good place for that: Lucy Catherine Brant, Lucy Kate Brant. I especially like the look and sound of Lucy Catherine.

I also love Lucille as the middle name. The second-syllable emphasis makes it a delight to work with: it sounds good with almost everything! Audrey Lucille is wonderful.

But because your son’s name is so full of family names, and you like the idea of family names, I think that’s what I’d lean toward for your daughter, too. Lucy or Lucille seems to me like the first name that works best from the list, and then I would pair it with another family name if possible. I’d lean toward a name from your side this time, since your son’s names are all from your husband’s side.

Baby Boy Kennedy

Hi Swistle!

Hubby (P) and I are expecting baby #1 in 4 weeks or less and still have not agreed on a boy’s name! Our last name is Kennedy, yep, like JFK. We plan on having 2-4 children.

Up until a week ago I thought we had a name picked, Henry David, but P isn’t crazy about the name Henry anymore. Henry (or Hank) is my #1 choice, hands down. P likes the idea of having family names somewhere in the name, that’s where the middle name of David came from. P was named after his grandfather and likes the idea of naming our boy after his dad to carry on tradition. I’m not convinced. I am fine with family names for middle names but I just can’t wrap my head around calling our son by my father-in-laws name. P does not want to use David as a middle name because our nephew has the middle name David, after my FIL. P would only be happy with David as a first name. I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. We have decided to discuss options other than David. We tend to like more traditional names and nothing too “soft” sounding. Names that can be shortened or have nick-names are fine. Here is a list of first names that we have discussed:

Henry (Hank) – my choice, P isn’t crazy about it
Mickey- P’s choice, I’m not crazy about it
Jack – we both really like this name, however my brother and sister-in-law told us that when they have kids their little boy will be named Jack- what do you do in this situation? They are not currently pregnant and won’t likely have children for a few years

Middle Name options:

At this point we are both panicking because we just haven’t found “the name” yet. Do you have any suggestions of names like these? Or any other advice?

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.



I was relieved to get to this part: “We have decided to discuss options other than David.” Without that sentence, that would have been the aim of my first three paragraphs. It does sound to me as if the name David is out of the running: you are not happy with it as the first name, and your husband is not happy with it as the middle name. Plus, your father-in-law has already been honored, and perhaps it would be nice to honor someone else. The baby has another grandfather: would his first name work, or would that feel just as odd as calling the baby by your father-in-law’s name?

Let’s also take Henry and Mickey off the list. It is the worst and hardest moment in list-cutting, I think: when one parent’s first choice is somewhere near the bottom of the other person’s list. It helps when there is one such name for each parent, so at least it feels fair, if painful.

Colt and Finn don’t feel to me as if they meet your general preferences. They also seem a little awkward to me with your surname: Colt Kennedy is so abruptly alliterative, and Finn Kennedy has the repeating double-N. But if you were in love with either choice and were worried about those surname issues, I’d be talking you out of it because neither issue seems like a big enough deal to cross a name off the list. And, because both are a matter of preference, another person could find both issues to be pros rather than cons. The bigger concern to me is whether or not they fit your style, which is hard to tell from the letter but could be something for the two of you to discuss.

Now that your brother and sister-in-law have announced their intention to use the name Jack, it’s an issue that would need to be addressed. There’s no calling dibs in baby naming, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be a good idea to discuss the matter before proceeding. Even if you had already decided for sure on the name Jack before their announcement, I’d suggest at least giving them a warning so that the birth of your baby wouldn’t be associated with a strong disappointment.

However, in your case, I would take Jack off the list. Telling us your surname, your very first remark was that it was “like JFK.” That’s my very first association with that surname, too. Naming a child Jack Kennedy feels similar to naming a child James Bond: the names Jack/John and James are so common their associations are vast and dilute—but pair them with those very distinctive surnames, and it’s another story. The associations could be considered highly positive, but strong to the point that I would even suggest avoiding names that SOUND like Jack or John or Jacqueline.

This leaves Charles. Or rather, Charles is the stand-out, next to which all the other names fell away without protest. It meets your preference for a more traditional name. It’s a solid choice with a great nickname. It’s very similar in style to Henry, the previous finalist. It’s great with the surname. I like it with any of the middle name options, though personally would prefer to avoid John/Jack even as a middle name. (I might reconsider if the namesake were a particularly wonderful one.)

I also like all the non-John middle name options as first name options. Paul Kennedy is great. William Kennedy. Peter Kennedy. All terrific. But perhaps as first names they have the same issues as David.

To add more names to your list, I’d suggest seeing if you can pinpoint your style. A list with Charles, Mickey, and Colt on it is a list I don’t feel confident trying to build on. Charles and Henry are traditional, timeless classics. Colt and Finn are snappy choices; Colt feels modern and cowboyish, while Finn feels Celtic. Mickey is a nickname name, seldom used as a given name in the United States and strongly associated with the Disney mouse. (I also think of the phrase “slipping someone a Mickey,” especially when I see the related name Finn.) Jack is a combination: snappy like Colt and Finn, traditional/timeless like Charles and Henry; nickname name like Mickey.

Because Jack seems like it covers all the categories of the finalist list, I might look for more names like that. Or I might look for more names like Charles and Henry: traditional choices with good nicknames in the Jack category.

One exercise I’ve found helpful is to think ahead to future sibling names. If you choose Charles, do you feel like you could still choose Colt? If you choose Colt, do you feel like you could still choose Mickey? Which names on your boy-name list do you like best with the names on your girl-name list? Do any names on your list rule out using other names on your list? (For example, using Finn may rule out using Mickey, or perhaps you don’t want to repeat an initial, or perhaps you don’t want to use a name/nickname combination for one child and a nickname name for another.)

Picturing the future sibling group as a whole can also be useful. Imagine your 2-4 children around the table, or watching TV. Imagine them having one set of names, then another; which feels more like Your Family? Do you find you prefer the names to have similar styles, or do you find you prefer an assortment?

I wonder if you’d like Nicholas with the nickname Cole. It gives you a more traditional first name with a nickname that’s more like Colt.

Or Clark has the snappy sound of Jack, without the associations.

More nicknames that come to mind when I think of Jack: Max, Sam, Gus, Dan.

A few more short options: Grant, Reid, Luke, Dean.

Baby Girl Senepapna, Sister to Sydney, Andrew (Andy), and Natasha

Hi Swistle,

I am a big fan and have been reading your personal site since the twins were babies and your baby naming site since it started.

I am hoping you can help me now. It is very last minute. I am having baby number 4 on Tuesday morning!

It is a girl, our last name is Senepapna – A Sri Lankan name.

My older children are Sydney Sumithra, Andrew Michael (goes by Andy), and Natasha Annushika. We had no problems picking their names and went with names we loved, not focusing on any sort of naming group or pattern.

I want the baby’s name to be common enough that everyone knows how to spell it since the last name, she will have to spell for everyone. My husband wants a name that can be shortened to a nickname like all of the other kids.

Her middle name will most likely be Nilmarnie.

Top contenders for me are:
Scarlett (Suggested by my oldest since the baby will be red and screaming when it is born)
Vivienne nn Vivi

My husband vetoed Ivy because there is no nickname and does not like the nickname Vivi. I don’t love Scarlett.

If it had been a boy the name would have been Maxwell Patrick or Samuel Patrick.

My husband does not know the sex, so has been focusing more on boy names. The only names he seriously suggested were Elsa or Anna since the older girls like the movie so much. While they are pretty names, I don’t want to use them since it is obvious where the names came from.

I know this is short notice, but if you can help I would really appreciate it!



The name Violet would be a sort of combination of those top three names: the long-I, the V, and the botanical theme of Ivy; the -let ending of Scarlett; the strong V-sound of Vivienne. Nicknames could be Vi or Lettie.

Or Eva would have the nickname Evie, which is very close to Ivy.

Or Avery, but I’m not sure if that has enough of a nickname: Avie?

Fiona comes to mind.

Or Miriam.

Or Eliza.

Or Georgia.

Or Sabrina.

Or Noelle.

Or Evelyn: that has some of the sounds of Vivienne; maybe Evvie is different enough from Vivi that your husband will like it. Or she could go by Lynnie.

Or Vienna.

Or Everly, though that’s not as easy to spell as some of the options. On the other hand, I think of most names as needing to be spelled. Vivienne could be spelled Vivian or Vivien; Scarlett could be Scarlet.

Or Lillian: again, similar to Vivienne. The nickname Lily is pretty, and botanical like Ivy.

Or Jillian.

Juliet/Juliette doesn’t have quite the -let ending of Scarlett, but it reminds me of it.

Baby Boy Stuart, Brother to Easton Henry

Dear Swistle,

I’m just new to your blog but love the premise of a sounding board for baby names – brilliant!

I am expecting boy #2 November 3rd and we’re are stuck, in agreement, but stuck on what we consider to be an ‘okay’ name. We love every name on our girls list but have never fallen in love with a boy’s name. Our oldest is two years old now and we still feel that we named him an ‘okay’ name with Easton Henry. Not a great feeling two years later.

We like solid, no spell check needed, classic names that aren’t on the top 10 list. Our surname is classic and as a stand in we can safely say Stuart which I find almost everything sounds good with making the decision even more difficult.

We are keep going back to Clark Anderson for baby number two and it’s pretty much the only name on the list. Top of our girls list is Evelyn and I would love to be able to use it for our third and final round. We’ve toyed with other boy’s names such as Harrison, Miller, Arthur but keep going back to Clark. And like I said, we feel okay about it, but it would be nice to have confirmation or have other ideas for similar names and hopefully can fall in love with one with no name regrets.

Originally we did fall in love with the name Anderson however if shortened to Anders, it’s an S on S name…AndersssssStuart and I try to stay away from that. Also, if shortened to Andy, well it rhymes with my name, Mandy, and am not a fan of that either.

So there it is…not sure if I’m looking for other ideas or just need someone to say nailed it and feel confident that it’s the name for us but would appreciate any help you can offer.

Thanks for your help and again, brilliant idea for a blog!
I’d love to be able to use my family as a sounding board but really want to keep the name a surprise until his birth day.



I think that if you and your husband have never fallen in love with a boy name, that if you gave your first son a name you considered just okay and even after the name belonged to your son STILL haven’t fallen in love with it, and that if you’ve been trying this whole pregnancy to find a name to fall in love with and haven’t—that it is safe to say it’s unlikely you WILL fall in love with a boy name. You might! It’s true, you might. After 3+ years of looking at boy names, you might suddenly find one you love. But the odds are not stacked in favor of that. At this point I think I’d say, “Well, we just don’t love boy names,” and concentrate on finding “favorite” rather than “love.”

It sounds like Clark Anderson is your favorite: you might not love it, but if all the boy names in the world were put in order of your preference, that would be the top one. That makes it the winner. I think it’s a great choice: a surname name like Easton; fits nicely with Evelyn if you have a girl next time; and a good solid name that should serve him well in childhood and adulthood.

If, however, you DID fall in love with Anderson, I think it’s worth revisiting that. The issues you mention seem minor to me—or at least, not worth ditching the only name you’ve ever fallen in love with and going with one you’re just okay with. I agree it’s nice to avoid an -s name with an S- surname if possible, but I don’t hold nicknames (especially when they’re only potential nicknames) to the same standards as given names. I agree it wouldn’t be ideal to have an Andy and a Mandy in the family, but I also don’t think it means the name has to be eliminated from consideration: at worst, Andy/Mandy seems a little cutesy and has the potential for the occasional unimportant confusion (“Oh, I thought you said Mandy! Hang on, I’ll call Andy”). The fact that it does rhyme with your name makes the nickname less likely to be used, I’d think.

Clark has its own similar issues, such as turning into Clarks with your surname. Clark Anderson Stuart is also a lot of surname for one name. If it’s between Clark Anderson and Anderson _____, I’d say they’re both great names and that the issues with them are about equal; if you love one and find the other just okay, I’d say go with the one you love.

With Anderson, you could use Clark as the middle name. Or it might be fun to find something parallel to Henry. Anderson Arthur, Anderson Charles, Anderson Edward, Anderson Wesley.

I would also think back and see if there are any other names you fell in love with but then eliminated for reasons that might not have been enough to be worth crossing them off the list. Every name has its own set of issues, and finding one you love may be well worth accepting those issues.

If you want to expand your list, I’d start with the Last Names First section of The Baby Name Wizard and would add a few more:


Baby Boy or Girl Dum0nt, Sibling to Juliet and Oliver

Hi Swistle,

I’ve been reading and responding to posts for several years now and am hoping that yourself, and the others, can help me choose a name for Baby Dum0nt #3. We had two, almost devastating, emergency c-sections resulting in concerns whether either child would survive rather than caring about the gender so this go around we have a planned c-section in January and are hoping that we will finally get our happy “SURPRISE, it’s a _____!!!” So, we have decided to keep the gender unknown again.

For some background, our last name is pronounced du-mont, english rather than the french pronunciation. We have a 3 year old girl named Juliet, a 1 year old boy named Oliver, and we hope to have four children altogether. Our naming style is very much classic/traditional names and we prefer names that are either male or female (don’t particularly care for unisex names). Both our kids have family names for their middle name and we plan on continuing this tradition with our remaining children so we don’t have to worry about choosing those. If this baby is a boy, we plan on naming him Charles. It’s finding the perfect girl name that we are struggling with.

The name we currently like best is Rose. We feel that it fits in well with the sibling set and that it has that classic but not overly used (at least for a first name) style that we like but I find myself continuing to search for “THE” name despite liking this one; I feel as though the right name is still out there.

To give you an idea of other names we like, but for one reason or another they just aren’t right:
Ruby – seems like it has almost has fallen out of the old, classic style and into the hipster-ish category. Husband has kinda thrown it out
Lucy – husband not keen. Too short? Doesn’t really fit in with sibling names.
Violet – too similar to Juliet ??
Isabel – I don’t know if I could get around the Izzy nn that is bound to occur
Vivienne – feel like the spelling is too fussy with Juliet and for whatever reason, I don’t like the Vivian spelling. Also, there is a 2 year old that lives right beside us with this name….so that pretty much is off the table.

Names we like but cannot use:
Madelyn (or its variations such as Adeline, etc)
Etta and Ada we love so much but think they have too many harsh “T” and “D” sounds with our last name

There aren’t really many names that we dislike in this category/style. Margaret is one name we can’t really get on board with using as a first name but will likely be one of the middle names, after my grandmothers.

Thanks in advance for all your help!!

Kelsey D.


Rose is my favorite from the list, too. My one hesitation is that with Juliet, it immediately makes me think of the rose-by-any-other-name quote. Whenever such a connection occurs to me and leads to a hesitation, I ask myself: “But is this a PROBLEM?” In this case, I think no. There isn’t anything negative about that quote, or anything unpleasant about the connection. It helps even more than there is another sibling between the two names.

I know only a few Isabelles/Isabellas, but so far haven’t heard the nickname Izzy used (though I’m definitely familiar with it as a nickname option). Of the three who come to mind, one goes almost exclusively by Bella (at her request), one periodically goes by Bella but also uses Isabella, and the third goes only by Isabella as far as I know (she was in Elizabeth’s class last year and Elizabeth says no one calls her Bella—but Elizabeth wouldn’t know if the nickname were used outside of school). I can picture this changing, though, as they grow up, so it’s a good issue to be taking into account if you dislike the nickname. I’m remembering the Elizabeths my age who were Beths as children and switched to Liz as adults.

I do think you could use the spelling Vivienne with Juliet if you wanted to. I was about to type that I saw the objection and that it bothered me a little too but I thought that would quickly fade—but then I realized that in the amount of time it had taken me to write the first part of that sentence, it already didn’t bother me anymore. I think I even prefer Vivienne with Juliet: Vivian is more exactly parallel in a letter-by-letter way, but I think the style match is better with Vivienne.

The trouble with trying to answer a question from a fellow name-hobbyist is that it’s hard to imagine suggesting something you haven’t already thought of! I will persevere, however. As we’ve seen here before, sometimes abundant commenter approval leads parents to see a name in a new light.

If Rose ends up not being quite right, and Violet is too similar to Juliet, I wonder if other flower/plant names might work. Calla is pretty. Or I love Iris. Lillian with the nickname Lily is similar to Vivienne/Vivian but without the girl-next-door issue; if Oliver goes by Ollie, Ollie and Lily might be too similar. I’m a little nervous about the potential poison-ivy teasing (it was the first thing my kids thought of when I suggested it as a name for Henry before we knew he was a boy), but Ivy is wonderful, and I think the fast connection to poison ivy would diminish if the name would get a little more familiar. Oh, or Laurel! Or would you like Rose better as a short form of Rosemary? or, to add a little Shakespeare theme, Rosalind?

Claudia sprang to my mind. It has some of the sound of Etta or Ada, but with more syllables to downplay the repeating D-sounds. Claudia Dum0nt; Juliet, Oliver, and Claudia.

Lydia is similar: it has the D, but I think additional syllables make it even nicely tied in to the surname, rather than harsh. Lydia Dum0nt; Juliet, Oliver, and Lydia.

Or Cecily would be pretty. Cecily Dum0nt; Juliet, Oliver, and Cecily.

Or Sylvia. Sylvia Dum0nt; Juliet, Oliver, and Sylvia.

Or Beatrix. Beatrix Dum0nt; Juliet, Oliver, and Beatrix.

Bianca is a name I’d love to used more often. Bianca Dum0nt does gallop together a bit for me, I think because of the second-syllable emphasis: I get Biancadum0nt as if it were all one word. But I think it would take me about two repetitions to get in the habit of a tiny half-pause. Juliet, Oliver, and Bianca.

Sabrina has a similar emphasis, but for some reason doesn’t run together as much. I think it’s the hard-C sound of Bianca that gives me a bit of a galloping feel, and Sabrina’s N doesn’t do the same. Sabrina Dum0nt; Juliet, Oliver, and Sabrina. I love that.

Eloise is one of my own favorites. Eloise Dum0nt; Juliet, Oliver, and Eloise.

Eloise makes me think of Eliza, another of my own favorites. Eliza Dum0nt; Juliet, Oliver, and Eliza.

Baby Girl Davis: Esther?

Dear Swistle,

Our name preferences have been ALL over the place since we started looking. We have gone from wanting a very floral/pretty name, to a very masculine name, to a VERY unique name, and now we’re back to family names. The problem is, we don’t really like any family names, and most names we say we like we really mean we don’t hate them. Its becoming stressful as the pregnancy draws to a close. I feel that we will have discharge delayed due to lack of name OR we will just name her “Baby”.

Here is where we are at. I really want to love the name Esther. It was my grandmother’s name and she was an amazing woman who lived a very hard yet joyous life and I really want to honor her. However when I say the name outloud it just sounds harsh. Also I struggle with a NN, Would Essie work? Es? Este?

If we do go with Esther I feel like we would need a really feminine middle name. I also wanted to use the RaeAnn for a middle since it is the mother’s name and the middle name of the godmother.

Esther RaeAnn. Is that pretty?

Other family names we have are pretty boring. Husband’s side has a lot of Betty’s/Elizabeth’s. I had a greatgrandmother who went by the name Birdie, but I feel that is only NN worthy. Her real name was Leopoldina. Yikes!

Non family names we don’t hate are:


I’m worried that they are all becoming very popular this year.

Any guidance you can give us we appreciate!

Mary Davis


As the first step, I’d recommend looking into what the time limit is for choosing a baby’s name. I do doubt an insurance company would consider “no name yet” a reason to authorize a delayed departure, but the rules will affect how much hassle you’ll have to deal with once you get home. It appears to vary by state: I did a quick and casual online search and found, for example, that in one state the birth certificate must be filed within 5 days of the birth; if the parents have not chosen a name by then, the certificate is filed as “Baby Girl/Boy Surname” and there is a fee to change the name when the parents do choose one. Another state didn’t mention a time limit for filing, but did mention that making changes to the baby’s name during the first year was a whole different kettle of fish than making changes after that. Several states emphasized how much easier it is to let the hospital file the paperwork, but they could mean it’s easier for THEM.

If your state has nice lenient rules, it would be nice to be prepared with something light and cheerful and competent to tell any disapproving hospital staff who tried to apply pressure; something like, “Oh, it’s all right: we called City Hall beforehand and they said we have three weeks to file the paperwork.” Or, depending on your state’s rules, nice to know that you DON’T have three weeks, and that if you don’t choose something before you leave you’ll need to do a bunch of tiresome paperwork while postpartum and exhausted.

On to the names. For a first baby, I DO think it’s a good idea to discuss broad style preferences. We get many letters here from parents who inadvertently chose something outside their usual style for their first child’s name, and then felt stuck: if you name your first daughter Andrew, but the other girl names on your list are Emma and Isabella, and the only name you like for a boy is Andrew—well, it’s a tricky situation and nice to avoid it to the extent possible.

In your case, however, it sounds like trying to choose the style first is what’s tripping you up. Right now, for example, you’ve decided on family names—but you don’t like any family names. Look again at this excerpt from your letter: “Now we’re back to family names. The problem is, we don’t really like any family names.” Yes, I think you have put your finger on it.

I love the name Esther, and I think it fits beautifully with many of the other current vintage revival names, and I love the idea of you using it in honor of a family member you greatly love and admire—but not if it throws you into the conflicted position of trying to force yourself to like a name you don’t like. When a couple wants to use family names but doesn’t like any of the available names, I think one of the best solutions is to use family names as middle names. Certainly I’d recommend not setting up a policy of using family names for both first and middle, when it’s already this difficult to find family names for the first baby.

On the other hand, if you seriously can’t find ANY names you love from ANY category, then I think using a family name can be a very satisfying solution: even if you never grew to love the name itself, I think it’s likely you would find significant happiness in having used it. And I do think there are very good odds on growing to love the name and later wondering how you could ever have disliked it. These things can happen when a name is attached to a baby we love.

Furthermore, I disagree with the current cultural feeling that parents must choose a name they LOVE: I think sometimes parents have to choose a name they’re fine with, and that that works out just great too.

I wouldn’t worry at this point about a nickname, unless a good nickname is one of your dealbreaking requirements. Esther is only two syllables, and so maybe you will use something like Essie, or maybe something else will evolve naturally, or maybe you will find you always call her Esther.

If you use Esther for the first name, would it help to choose a non-family middle name, so you can get the exact balancing sound you’re looking for? It really does sound to me as if you’re backing yourselves needlessly into a corner here, and that you might find significant relief just by lifting the family-name requirement. Perhaps there’s a pretty name you like very much but it seemed too common to be the first name.

You don’t mention any non-family names you like; is that because you’ve run into this same issue with every category, and there are no names at all that you really like? If you haven’t already tried this, I would suggest having each of you leaf through a baby name book and make a list of names you like without trying to first choose the category (feminine, masculine, unique, family). Pretend that names don’t belong to style categories, and that they’re all equally common; which ones are you drawn to? It may emerge that all the names you love are in a category you were trying to avoid: popular names, for example, or names you think other people will think are boring, or names you think other people will think are weird. This can be a stressful adjustment, but one I think is worth making.

Or maybe you will find you really don’t have strong positive feelings about ANY names. In that case, I love your idea of using the name of a PERSON you have strong positive feelings for, and I think your chances of being happy with such a name in the long haul are much greater than if you chose a name you liked equally but had no strong positive association with.

Baby Girl Ronsen-with-a-J, Sister to Charlotte Mae

Dear Swistle,

I am almost 34 weeks pregnant with our second daughter. She is scheduled to arrive via c-section on 9/15/14. Our last name is Ronsen with a J, it is Norwegian.
Our first daughter is named Charlotte Mae. Mae is also my paternal grandmother’s middle name, and after we had chosen it, we found it is also the middle name of one of my mother-in-law’s grandmothers. Charlotte was not nearly as popular in 2010 when we chose it as it has become.
We did not know her sex until her arrival, so had she been a boy, her name would have been Matthew William (Father in law’s middle name is also William).

Husband wants to continue the idea of a family middle name. He thinks that this time the middle name should come from his side since it “just worked out” that last time the middle name was on both sides. I disagree because the baby has his last name, so I don’t think we automatically have to throw out middle names from my family since the last one was technically from my family.

I love:
Emeline (He pronounces with long i, I prefer with short i. I am not sure which of us is correct, or if another spelling would get the short i sound)
Annelise (He suggested Annabelle, but I don’t like Annabelle)
Caroline (He rejected last time, but I still have love in my heart for this name)
Catherine (I am not sure if I like the flow of this with our last name, but it is a long time favorite of mine)

He has suggested:
Sarah (I don’t hate it but I don’t love it either. I feel like it is too plain with Charlotte)
Susan (No, just no)
Emily (Too popular for my taste- this is his suggestion in response to Emeline)
Erica (To me, Erica is a mom name- I have a co-worker named Erica and friends from college named Erica).

Family middle names:
Kay (my middle name, my mother’s middle name)
Elaine (my grandmother’s middle name)
Jane (my grandmother’s middle name)
Elizabeth (his grandmother’s middle name)
Matilda (his grandmother’s middle name)
Louise (a name that appears on his family tree)

I come from a large family, and we have large circle of friends, so the following that could have been contenders are already in use:
Emma, Madelyn, Grace, Audrey.
I don’t care for alliterative names, so despite the fact that I love Josephine, I don’t want to use it.
We are not nickname people, so the baby will be called by her first name, so we wouldn’t name her “Elizabeth” and call her “Liz” or “Beth” for example.

Thank you!


Your husband’s list could indeed use a little freshening up. Erica is a Mom Name; Susan is a Grandma Name; Emily is still used but has passed its long, long peak. Sarah has potential, I think. I agree it seems a little plain with Charlotte; but on the other hand, for me it spins Charlotte from “We chose a fashionable name” to “We chose an old-fashioned classic.” If you used Sadie as a nickname for Sarah, I think you’d have a very nice pairing—but you’d prefer not to use nicknames, so I agree it sounds like this is not the right choice.

Would it help to make the name Sarah a little longer? Something like Saralyn or Sarah Grace? I wonder if Serena or Sabrina would work. I particularly like Sabrina: Charlotte and Sabrina. Serenity comes to mind, but doesn’t feel quite right to me with Charlotte.

Seraphina/Serafina is a possibility. The popularity gap displeases me a little, but it’s similar to Sarah from your husband’s list while being more up-to-date. It also reminds me of Josephine.

I pronounce Emeline with a long-I. The different ways to pronounce it is definitely part of the package deal of this name. We did a post on it awhile back, and it appears there are three ways to pronounce it: long-I, long-E, and short-I. I wish I’d done a poll back then so we could see what the percentages were, but the short version is that you’d have to be okay with regularly correcting the pronunciation and hearing it pronounced incorrectly. If you want the short-I sound, I’d recommend spelling it Emelyn or Emmalyn (3 syllables, similar to Evelyn and Madelyn), or Emlyn (2 syllables).

Evelyn would be another good option, in fact. Charlotte and Evelyn.

Because you like Annelise and he likes Susan, I wonder if Susanna/Susannah would be a good fit. I think it’s wonderful with the name Charlotte.

I might also consider going straight to Anna. You could then call her all the Anna- names (Annelise, Annabel) as fun casual pet names for her.

Caroline and Catherine both seem like good choices. It’s worth bringing up Caroline again even if he rejected it last time: I put William’s name on our second-baby name list even though Paul rejected the name the first time—and Paul picked it immediately. I think Catherine is very nice with your surname.

I agree that middle names from both sides of the family should still be in the running, though I do like the idea of leaning toward one from your husband’s side this time. I would say I agree with both of you: I agree with him that Charlotte’s middle name honors your side of the family (the connection on his side is not only coincidental but remote), but I also agree with you that using his family’s surname is part of the equation. So overall, I’d prefer to pick a name from his side, but wouldn’t say it must be from his side or that names from your side should be automatically excluded from consideration. It would be nice if an equivalent to Mae could be found: a name that was used on both sides of the family.

I like the idea of using Kay, since it’s your mother’s middle name and yours. I can’t decide if I like it or not that Mae and Kay are so similar. Are you hoping to have more children? Would Mae/Kay make you feel like you had to choose a third similar name for a third daughter?

The similar endings of your favorite names (-line, -lise, -line, -rine) seems like a good place to look for more options:


Because your husband likes the names Sarah and Erica and you like Caroline, I might keep my ear out for more options with that “air” sound. Wait, that makes me think of a great one: Clara. It sounds like Erica and Sarah and Caroline. It’s vintage revival like Charlotte. I love it. Charlotte and Clara.

Baby Boy Oravec, Brother to Haven Bombay, Tusker Monsoon, and Lark India

Hi there!

We are expecting a new baby in January and it’s a boy! Boy names are so much harder for us. We have two girls who are almost 6 and almost 2 named Haven Bombay Oravec and Lark India Oravec. We had a baby boy in between who sadly died shortly after birth — he kept his pre birth nickname of Tusker (we were traveling in Kenya during my pregnancy and that was the local beer) and became Tusker Monsoon Oravec.

We are currently expats posted in Mumbai, India and decided to give our kids middle names to reflect their place of birth to carry with them when they return to the US. We would consider the middle name Carmichael which was the first street we lived on in Mumbai or another name reflective of the local culture or neighborhoods. We can work around any great first name choice.

For first names, I was hoping to choose a name that has a strong connotation like his sisters (Haven -safe, Lark- happy, whimsical). On another note, his dad is Brian and his grandpa is Bruce so there is a tradition of Bs. We considered naming Tusker, Beckett but he didn’t live long enough to see if it fit.

Names we’ve got on our early list(in no particular order):
Phoenix (my husband is not so sure, but I like the idea of rising from the ashes of our earlier loss)
Benegal/Bengal ( a family name on my side — could also be middle name)
Danger (always thought it would be a fun middle name but not sure I have the guts to follow through with it)

If he was a girl, we might name her:

We like to have 2-3 options and then live with the baby a couple of days to see what sticks. Can you help? I’m really struggling with this one!




Looking at the first names of the surviving sibling group helped clarify things for me: it pares the question down to “Haven, Lark, and ______?” When I looked at the full names, a name like Flash seemed to fit well; when I looked only at the names that would be used in everyday life, it no longer fit.

I feel the same about Danger, Brave, and Lucky: those choices feel too bold with your daughters’ names, and are not names that pass the “Would you want to live with this name yourself?” test for me. I’ll suggest the “Starbucks test” that has been suggested here before: it can be helpful to order a coffee (or place a reservation, or anything else where you need to give them your name) and see how it feels to do so as, for example, Flash. This can also give valuable insight into the likely reactions of the public to a name.

The name Flash has the additional downside of being a euphemism for people exposing their private parts in public.

The name Danger has the additional downside of turning into a tiresome joke. “What, it’s not your middle name? Hur hur hur.”

Lucky has the additional downside of being a euphemism for sexual success. (“Honey, I’ve got my hands full here—can you get Lucky?”)

It is a little painful to consider a timid or shy person trying to carry the name Brave or Danger, or an unlucky person trying to carry the name Lucky. Your daughters’ names have pleasing meanings, but not ones that will make them look silly or awkward if their personalities/lives fail to comply.

Phoenix seems okay, though I don’t like the idea of this child rising from “the ashes of loss”: the metaphor is too strong, and gives me shivery literal thoughts of cremation ashes—as well as giving the unfortunate misimpression that this child is meant to replace his brother, or even to be the rebirth of his brother. It would also give you two children with bird names.


My first and favorite suggestion is Felix. It sounds like Phoenix, and means lucky and happy. Felix Oravec; Haven, Lark, and Felix.

For B names, I’d suggest:

Blaise (sounds like Blaze)

I especially like Bond for its noun meaning of a close connection or tie. The downside, I think, is the potential for James Bond jokes.

Bridger, too, pleases me for its feeling of a bridge or connection or tie. The main downside is that it may be mistaken for the more familiar name Bridget. I also find it a little difficult to say with the surname.

I love Barnaby, and it means “son of comfort” or “son of consolation.”

Brooks gives me a naturey feeling that goes well with your daughters’ names.

Benedict means “blessed,” and Benedict Cumberbatch is certainly doing his part to reduce the Benedict Arnold association. But because Benedict Oravec has the same rhythm as Benedict Cumberbatch, he may find himself participating in the name joke—or perhaps that will soon be a distant memory.

Bennett is a form of Benedict, and so also means “blessed.”

Boone means “good” or “blessed,” and has a Daniel Boone association that may be pleasing.

Bernard means “brave/strong as a bear.”

Bryce means “strength” according to at least one source (“speckled” or “Rice’s son” according to others).


A few more names with good meanings/associations:


Baby Girl or Boy Jorge

Hi Swistle,

We are expecting our first baby (gender unknown) next year. Our surname is Jorge (pronounced like the Western version, or the royal baby’s name).

We have our girl’s name chosen and locked in – it was a very easy decision. It will be “Eva.” Partially because we like the sweet, classic simplicity; and partially because it is a name found in my family a handful of generations back. If we have a boy now, and our second child is a girl, the name will still be “Eva.” We are unlikely to have a third child at this stage.

Boy’s names are much more difficult for us, and we are at a standstill. I have a few names I like, but my husband isn’t really “into” any of them – and he doesn’t really have any suggestions of his own. Some contenders (at least on my end!) are:

Alistair (my absolute favourite)

We are looking at middle names that begin with ‘R’, to continue an ongoing prevalence of ‘R’ names in both his and my families.

He doesn’t mind “Arthur”, and neither do I. It’s a family name; my great-grandfather, whom I knew and loved, was called Arthur, and it would be lovely to offer a tribute to him. Whilst I can see it being a cute name for a little boy, and old-fashioned names are making a come-back, I can’t decide whether it is a difficult name for a child, a teenager or a grown man to carry in this day and age. Do you think it is flexible enough to work, or still too borderline?

I also love the name “Blythe” (having been a life-long fan of Anne of Green Gables and therefore “Gilbert Blythe”) but I am told it’s more of a girl’s name now. This puzzles me, as I don’t know any girls with this name, and it sounds like a masculine name to me. Is it really a name most commonly associated with girls? Or is it still a unisex name?

Can you help us with any suggestions for our conundrum? We have trawled through baby name books and have found very few names that appeal to us.

Thank you!


I don’t think I know anyone named Arthur (other than PBS’s cartoon aardvark), which makes it hard to judge. But my immediate impression was positive. If I encountered it on a child, I think I’d find it an appealing and surprising choice, along the lines of Alan or Warren, but with a hint of the romance of King Arthur. I would definitely expect it to age well, and in fact I would think the concern would be something more like “We think this works great on a man, but does it work on a little boy?” (To which I’d say “Yes!”)

I was startled by the idea of Blythe for a boy: it was Gilbert Blythe’s surname, but as far as I knew it had only ever been used as a first name for girls—as in, not that it has come to be used mostly for girls, but that it had never been used for boys. I looked it up in The Oxford Dictionary of First Names, which says only that it’s a modern name from the word blithe; they have it listed as a girl’s name. I was not sure what a book like the Oxford Dictionary would consider “modern,” so I started looking through the Social Security Administration’s data base.

The name Blythe has never been in the Top 1000 for either boys or girls. Using their “Beyond the Top 1000″ documents, I started way back at 1880 (the first year of the data bases): no Blythes, either male or female. I skipped to 1900: no Blythes. In 1904, we see it: 6 new baby girls named Blythe. But then no Blythes in the data base for 1905-1911 (which doesn’t mean there were none, just that there were fewer than 5). Now we’ve hit Gilbert Blythe territory: Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908. In 1912, there are 5 new baby girls named Blythe; none in 1913-1914. In 1915, there were 11 new baby girls and 5 new baby boys named Blythe; none in 1916. In 1917, 10 new baby girls and 5 new baby boys. Let’s start going by five-year increments now:

1920: – F, – M
1925: – F, – M
1930: 7 F, – M
1935: 11 F, – M
1940: 8 F, – M
1945: 8 F, 5 M
1950: 22 F, – M
1955: 16 F, – M
1960: 22 F, – M
1965: 26 F, – M
1970: 50 F, – M
1975: 66 F, – M
1980: 47 F, – M
1985: 84 F, – M
1990: 73 F, 5 M
1995: 46 F, 5 M
2000: 60 F, 11 M
2005: 79 F, 8 M
2010: 85 F, 5 M

And in 2013, the most recent data: 172 F, 7 M.

I’m a little suspicious of the accuracy of the data, especially in the earlier years: in 1935, for example, there were 41 new baby boys named Elizabeth, 72 named Margaret, and 276 named Mary; were there really, or are these entry errors? But we can see it appears there has been some very light usage of Blythe as a boy’s name, though overall it has been used for girls; it has always been a very unusual name.

I am intrigued instead by the possibility of Gilbert. Most of the -bert names are out of fashion right now, but I would not be surprised to see them coming back in. The Anne of Green Gables association is quite a positive one, giving the name an extra boost of likeability. Gilbert Jorge.

Rory Jorge has a little too much “or” sound for my own tastes, but I like it as a middle name possibility. There are tons of other good R names, too: Robert, Russell, Ryan, Rufus, Riley, Rhys, Reid/Reed, Reuben, Roland.

I think the next step is for your husband to go through a name book and make his own list. It’s hard to make progress if he’s saying “eh” about your choices but doesn’t have any counter-offers. If he made his list and it were, for example, Cody and Rylan (or Eric and Brian, or Max and Jack, or Stanton and Hollis), we’d know what we were dealing with and could start making some middle-ground suggestions.