Middle Name Challenge: Zoey ________ Peters

Hi Swistle,

My husband and I (surname Peters) are expecting our second child, a girl, next week. This little lady will be joining her big brother, Camden James. We have settled on a first name, Zoey, but I am struggling to settle on a middle name and am hoping this letter peaks your interest enough to help. In all likelihood, this will be our last child – but never say never.

We chose Camden’s first name simply because we liked how it sounded and the nickname potential. His middle name, James, is an honor name. He shares this middle name with my brother and nephew.

When we found out we were expecting a girl, I had a very long list of potential names that crossed all sorts of styles – thinking certainly my husband would have warm feelings for a few. Well, Zoey was the lone name he liked and we are both very happy with the selection.

As I mentioned, I am struggling with settling on a middle name. My immediate thought was Grace. Zoey Grace. I like it’s flow, that it is a single syllable, and feminine. The more I thought (and think) about it though – it seems like the “easy” choice. Part of me feels like we should choose another honor name, but I don’t necessarily love any honor names on either side of our family more than I like Grace. Of course, my favorites from the honor options are on my side – Claire (great-grandmother’s middle name) and Marie (sister’s middle name). In a way, I would feel bad selecting another honor name from my side of the family. Also, I am one of four siblings so if we chose Marie, I would have used two of my sibling’s names but not the other.

Honor names to choose from include:
Ella (I love this as a middle name but I can’t get away from Zoey Ella / Cinderella)

Am I overthinking this? Is Zoey Grace a perfectly good name? Would it be rude to select another honor name from my side of the family?

Your advice is greatly appreciated.

Thanks a bunch,


It’s possible this answer will be too late: the question came in last week, and I draw from the previous week’s questions, and I just registered upon re-reading that the baby was expected “next week”—i.e., THIS week. Well. Let’s go for it anyway. I’ll type fast.

I absolutely don’t think it would be rude to select another honor name from your side of the family, especially if the surname is your husband’s family name.

Nor do I think it would be a problem to use a non-honor name this time, even though you used an honor name last time. I might avoid Claire anyway with a first name that ends with an -ee sound (turns into eclair, not that there is anything wrong with delicious, delicious eclairs). And I see your point about two-out-of-three sibling names, though I do think that would be fine: most people seem to understand that the number of beloved relatives to honor generally exceeds the number of offspring.

Zoey Grace is indeed a perfectly good name. If you love it, I don’t see any reason you shouldn’t choose it.

If you decide you’d rather use an honor name, I love Zoey Joanne from your list: I like the repeating long-O, I think, and the emphasis on the second syllable of Joanne, and the alliteration with her brother’s middle name (totally unimportant, but it pleases me anyway), and that you could call her Zoey Jo or Zo-Jo. I also love Zoey Margaret: there is something very appealing about that combination to me, visually and stylistically. And I like the flow and sound of Zoey Christine.

Baby Girl Logan-with-an-H

Hi Swistle! I’ve been a long time reader of your blog, even before I met my husband, and I’m excited …and a little frustrated… to finally be asking for help of my own!

Our first baby, a girl, is due in November and we’re having a hard time finalizing a name. Well actually I personally wasn’t having a hard time until recently. I was just patiently waiting for my husband to come around to the name Amelia, a name I’ve wanted to name my daughter for quite a while now. His favorite is Clara which I also thought was lovely…it just wasn’t my favorite until lately. I can’t stop thinking about it and I feel like I’m cheating on Amelia!!

Here’s a little back ground info for you. Our last name is Logan with an H and if this baby was a boy he would’ve most likely been Leo Wells or Leo Webb which we still plan on using if we have a boy in the future. Also this baby girl will definitely have the middle name Sue after me and my mom.

His favorites that I vetoed:

My favorites that he vetoed:

Which leaves us with Amelia and Clara. My problems with Amelia are that its a bit of a mouth full to say with no real easy nickname besides Amy, Mia (neither which I love) and Milly (which is ok) and that its getting so popular. My main problem with Clara is really that I don’t like the name Claire and they sound so similar! To me, Amelia seems sassy and spunky and Clara seems sweet and soft spoken…so help! You pick! Or is there any other name that would bring our two very different styles together that I’m missing? Any input would be much appreciated! Thank you!

P.S. I think there’s maybe another aspect to these 2 names that you could help me with. Why is it that Amelia seems like the bolder more unique name when it’s #15 according to the SSA and Clara seems like the safer more familiar name when it’s #108. It may have something to do with Amelia only being #50 in Texas where I live but that’s still fairly high or maybe that Claire is so familiar. I feel like that may be part of my problem deciding between the two names. Amelia seems like the more fun option yet it is more popular?!


Let’s start with the p.s., because I wonder about that sort of thing a lot: why do our subjective impressions of names vary SO MUCH? There can be so many factors.

One possibility is that when you started liking the name Amelia, it was a lot less common. Here’s what it’s been up to recently:

(screen shot from SSA.gov)

(screen shot from SSA.gov)

The #15 ranking is pretty new; maybe you started liking it when it was still in the 100s or 200s. And it can take awhile for popularity impressions to catch up: there can be tens of thousands of babies with a name, but it’s not as noticeable until they hit daycare/school and you start seeing class lists. “Huh, a Joey, two Chloes, a Zoe, and a Zoey.” “A Kayla, a Mikayla, two Kyles, a Kylie, and a Kyler.” “A Madelyn, a Madison, an Adelyn, an Addison, a Maddie, a Maddox, and an Addy.” “An Ella, an Eleanor, an Isabella, an Isabelle, a Bella, an Annabelle, and an Elizabeth-called-Ellie.”

I think too that seeing names mentioned frequently on naming sites can make them feel more common, even if only a small percentage of the parents who list or research the name actually end up using the name. Clara has come up in popularity quite quickly in recent years, and likely gets talked about more than the steadier Amelia. Here’s the chart for Clara:

(screen shot from SSA.gov)

(screen shot from SSA.gov)

Popularity isn’t the only factor that makes a name seem safer/bolder; personal associations contribute heavily too. Amelia Earhart might make the name seem bold and daring to you, while Amelia Bedelia might give it an appealing storybook whimsy, and Amelia Pond might give it fiery Scottish redhead adventurousness. And maybe you have only general pioneer-girl/early-American-history feelings associated with Clara, plus maybe knowing a couple of Claires, plus maybe the mom-name association with Claire Huxtable.

And location is huge, as you’ve noticed with the different ranking of the name Amelia in your state. One of our kids has a name we never, never, never encounter, even though it’s been in the Top 50 for ages; it’s much more popular in other regions, apparently. Another of our kids has a name that never hit the Top 10 nationally, but did get there in our state; we run into people with his name all the time. If we moved, we might find those situations swapped.

Now on to the main question. I think you put the issue very well: that you almost feel as if switching to the name Clara would be cheating on the name Amelia. That makes it sound to me as if you would actually prefer to use the name Clara. Do you think that’s true, or do you still prefer Amelia but find yourself very willing to let Clara be in second place?

One thing working in your favor is that it’s likely you still have over half the pregnancy to make the decision. It can feel weird to change from one favorite name to a new favorite (especially if it means switching to the other parent’s favorite), and giving it some time may help. If you find you do prefer Clara at this point but need help disengaging from the name Amelia, you could tell yourself that it might be that Amelia is your SECOND daughter’s name, and that’s why it’s not feeling quite right for this daughter. Perhaps this baby girl is going to be the sweet and soft-spoken one, and your next daughter is going to be the sassy firecracker.

Another issue, if you plan more children, is that I find Amelia and Leo a little difficult to say together. They’re not an impossible combination by any means, and in fact I think they’re a nice pairing, but the lee-ah and lee-oh can get tangled for me. With time, I think I would be more likely to say Ameel-ya, and that would reduce the issue.

Another reason I might grab Clara while you have the chance is that the rest of your husband’s list (except for Cora, which would likely be crossed off if you used Clara) is made up of modern unisex names. Use Clara now, I say, and set the style you prefer.

Another reason to use Clara is that the two of you agree on it. Am I getting the correct impression that he has not yet come around to the name Amelia? You could give him more time on that, while also possibly getting a little leverage for next time by giving him his first choice this time.

I don’t find the name Amelia to be a mouthful; it seems like a normal-length name to me, and no need for a nickname. While I’ve heard of people using Amy and Mia, those nicknames don’t come naturally for me. If you’d like a nickname, my guess is that some will occur on their own.

It may help you clarify your feelings if you can take the popularity rankings out of it. Imagine that the two names are the same popularity (I wouldn’t be surprised to see them at around the same rankings soon). Does that affect how you feel?

I like both names very much, and think either would be a great choice. If you decide to look for more options, I suggest the category of Antique Charm from The Baby Name Wizard. Amelia and Clara and Cora and Georgia and Hazel are all in that category, along with:


and so on. I’d also add Meredith: I wonder if your husband might like it better than Edith.

Middle Name Challenge: James _____ _______ Langlee, Brother to Mila Juliet

I’m due in 3 weeks and 5 days and we have made NO progress on the baby boy name. Naming a baby shouldn’t be this stressful!!! Desperately looking for some baby name advice. Anything would help at this point. I’m still holding out for that lightbulb “ahah” moment when I just ‘know’ it’s the one. Anyways, here are the details:
– we have a 2 year old daughter named Mila Juliet Langlee (last name is similiar sounding- but changed for privacy)
– we know we are having a boy
– my husband and I both want to name him James for a first name
—— my husband is obsessed with James Dean and James Bond
—— I like the connection to Jacob – which is a beloved family member name that passed away
—— I think Mila and James sound good together (I think!)
I’m worried James is way too boring/common. I would really like to spice it up with a middle name (or even 2 middle names) to make it unique and original.
Things we have been toying around with:
– I would love to honor my dad Matthew (Maciej) somehow. But I think Matthew is waaaay to boring – and makes James even more common. And I think the polish version Maciej is just plain to weird for english speakers.
– I have a polish background (hence why we felt we could use Mila) and my husband is English/Irish/German
– Names I have considered but they just don’t seem ‘right':
—— Christian (i like it but not really a stand out)
—— Tristan (i like but seems kind of out of left field)
—— Liam (too common?)
—— Finn (too casual?)
—— Matteo (I’m not latin…)
—— Luke (meh?)
—— Leo (too nicknamey?)
—— Nicholas (can’t remember who didn’t like this one)

Please help!
Oh please oh please oh please!

James ‘blank blank’ Langlee


Here is my first question: Do YOU think the name James is boring/common? Or are you worried OTHER people will think so? If YOU think the name is delightful and full of meaning and not boring at all, then I wonder if it would be helpful to practice some shrugging. Any name you choose, there will be someone who thinks it is too boring or too out-there, too common or too unusual, too old or too new, too long or too short. I can see how there could be a group who would hear the name James and think “YAWN.” And to them we say “SHRUG.” Perhaps they would prefer to choose different names for their own babies, then.

I suggest using some spin, even in your own thoughts. When your mind frets that the name James is “too common,” correct it: it’s a popular and enduring classic—as in, a lot of people love it, and a lot of people have loved it for MILLENNIA. Let’s sing that Christina Perri song to the name James:

I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more

(Sing the “Darling, don’t be afraid” part to yourself.)

Well, all this is if you DO love the name. I find it delightful and not boring at all, and a lot of other people find it delightful and not boring at all, but do YOU find it so? If this is not last-minute fretting but is instead a more serious issue such as that the name James is your husband’s choice but you are really not feeling it, then it is a different matter. In that case I’d suggest telling your husband immediately, switching James to a middle name, and starting over from scratch on the first name. It may feel too late to do that, but it’s a little like calling off a wedding: as the date approaches, it gets harder and harder to do—but if it’s not right, it’s not right.

But if you do love the name and you’d just like to make it a little peppier, then this is a very, very fun task. I think the middle name region is a great place to get adventurous, and a great way to balance the style of a first name: something more conservative for a daring first name, something more daring for a conservative first name.

I also feel much less stress about middle name issues than about first name issues. I might not be sure about a difficult to spell/pronounce name such as Thijs (a name from my own ethnic background) as a first name, but as a middle name? Sure! I might not be sure about the flow of a French first name with the cultural clash of my surname, but as a middle name? Sure! Maybe I’m not sure a name such as Marigold or Clover is one I want to use as a first name, but as a middle name? Sure!

If you were considering Maciej as a first name, I’d be totally with you on the spelling/pronunciation issues for the United States: that was how I felt in the end about the name Thijs: just TOO HARD. But as a middle name, I think it’s terrific. (Pronunciation of Maciej for those who are interested: Forvo, Straight Dope discussion board.)

Middle names are hardly ever used, especially by strangers; I have to put them on paperwork, but even my good friends probably don’t know my middle names or remember my children’s middle names. On the rare occasions when the middle name comes out (probably to someone like me, enthusiastically questioning you at a party or at the park, or maybe to a curious receptionist), you’ll say “It’s my dad’s name,” and that will be the end of it; you’re more likely to get a “Cool!” than a funny look.

Of the other names on your list, I’d get rid of any that seem meh or boring to you, but keep any that you’re only worried will seem meh or boring to others. Do you love the name Liam? Then it’s not too common.

Finn doesn’t seem too casual to me, Leo doesn’t seem too nicknamey.

If you love Tristan, I don’t think it matters if it’s out of left field: in fact, that’s a point in its favor, if your goal is to spice up the name. James Tristan Maciej Langlee is a splendid name.

I suggest using this as your main filter: Does the name make your heart give a happy little jump and make baby-naming seem like fun again? Then keep it on the list. Does it make you sigh and feel as if this task is futile? Then cross it off. If you’re left with none, go back to the baby name book and skim it; see if any names give you that happy feeling. Any that stay on the list or are added to the list, write them on little pieces of paper and start playing with arrangements. Like this:

Your husband likes James because he loves James Bond and James Dean; are there some actors/characters/authors/poets/scientists/activists you love, and do any of them have first/last names you could use? If the surname is your husband’s, would your maiden name be useable? Do you have any more family names you could use, including surnames and male versions of women’s names (Paul to honor a Paula, for example)? Do you have any names you considered as first names but had to rule out for reasons that were important for a first name but wouldn’t be important for a middle name (for example, a friend already used the name, or it’s the name of a dearly loved family member but you really dislike their name, or it didn’t sound right with the surname)? I notice you like Leo and Matteo; would you like Hugo or Nico? I notice you like Leo and Liam; would you like Leon or Lee? (Well, perhaps not with the surname, depending on what it is.) If Nicholas is not quite right, would you like Nico or Cole? I notice you like Christian and Tristan; I wonder if you (or your daughter, if she’s old enough to enjoy the movie Frozen) would like Kristoff? And so on.

Baby Boy or Girl Steward, Sibling to Zaiden

Hi Swistle,

Thanks so much for reading my question. I have a baby due at the end of the year, and my best friend has a baby due about three months before me. We finally sat down and talked baby names and it turns out we had decided on the same boy name! She knows that she is having a boy and will be naming him Jasper.

We have a son named Zaiden William Steward. For our next boy named we had decided on Jasper Grey Steward. Our girl name is Maizy Tangerine Steward. (Many people react to Maizy Tangerine with a slow “Oh… that’s interesting.” But we love it and think it’s adorable, so we’re sticking with it.)

So, obviously I would feel weird about naming my next baby the same name as my friend, even though I know we thought of it independently of each other.

The other boy names that were list are:

Thatcher Flynn Steward – My partner likes Thatcher but doesn’t love it, and had previously considered Flynn as a baby name with an ex, so that name is out.

Kiran Sky Steward – Decided against Kiran because there are no good nicknames and also, it sounds an awful lot like “Karen”.

So I guess we have a list of boy names we like, for either first or middle names, but really just aren’t finding a name that feels as perfect as Jasper Grey.

The full list of names we like:

Thatcher (I love it, partner is kind of meh about it)
Flynn (association with an ex)
Jasper (best friend conflict)
Liam (partner has a bad association with this one, no good nickname as it is already a nickname on it’s own. I don’t like Lee or Li for a boy.)
Lupin (not my favorite, partner loves it. I also don’t like the nickname Lu or Lou for a boy.)
Avery (no good nickname).

So we tend to like unusual names that aren’t too crazy (okay, except for the Tangerine part). I think nicknames are somewhat inevitable so I’d like to make sure the most natural nickname is one we like.

We call our son Zai (pronounced Zay) most of the time and we really like this.

I guess my question is: do you have any suggestions for the “perfect” boy name – a first and middle name together? I am sad to let go of Jasper Grey, and I think I’d feel a lot better about it if there was something else I loved.

Thanks for your help!


I notice that both Zaiden/Zai and Maizy have a long-A sound and a Z sound. If you’re planning more than two children, and so might save Maizy for a future girl even if you have a boy this time, probably we want to avoid adding more A/Z-sound names to the list. But if you’re planning to stop after two, I might look at A/Z names in the hopes of finding another boy name you like.

I might have suggested Hayes, but it doesn’t seem quite right with the surname: I hear “Hey, Steward.”

Hazen works better with the surname, but has even more sounds in common with Zaiden: the long-A, the Z, AND the -en.

James has the long-A and Z sounds, but may be too common for your tastes, and with the surname makes me think of James Stewart—not a negative association, but fairly strong.

Isaac might be a nice fit, similar without being too similar: it has the Z sound but without a Z, and a long-I instead of a long-A. But it’s a different style than Zaiden and Maizy. Same with Isaiah.

Zavier, maybe, similar in sound to Avery. Zaiden and Zavier are so visually similar, though, and no good nickname.

Well, you get the idea. But from your list, I don’t get the feeling the Z/A route is what you’re looking for, so let’s now look at other options:


(I just reinvented the name Jason. I was looking at Jasper and Jackson, and I thought of Jase/Jace. Then I thought, “But the ending S-sound blends with the surname; maybe extend Jace to Jacen?”)

I recommend shifting the focus of your search: instead of trying to find another name as perfect as Jasper Grey, I suggest looking for the name you like best of all the names that are left to choose from. It’s a subtle shift, but may help avoid the discouragement of holding each name up to Jasper Grey and having each name fall short.

I wonder, though, if you want to reconsider your decision not to use the name. WOULD it be too weird if you and your friend both had sons named Jasper? What if you had met after naming your babies? In that situation, it would likely be a fun connection rather than a weird problem. Since you both know that you chose the name independently, and since you love the name and consider it perfect, could you decide to go with it? In the long run, it may not be as big an issue as it seems now.

I’m inclined to pursue Grey/Greyson from your list, or maybe Grady. It lets you keep part of your original choice, and it’s good with Zaiden and a possible future Maizy. Do you mind that Grey rhymes with Zai? I generally don’t mind if nicknames rhyme or cause other minor trouble, even though I DO mind if given names do so.

I wonder if you might like to use Greyson Jasper. This lets you use Jasper where it won’t seem like duplicating your friend’s choice. Zaiden William and Greyson Jasper; Zai and Grey. It might be a pro or a con that a possible future Maizy would make three children with rhyming first syllables: Zai, Grey, and Mai.

Middle Name Challenge: Emma ______ Kalderelly, Sister to Molly Claire and Hope Charlotte

Dear Swistle,
I am 35 weeks pregnant and we would love some help with a name, specifically a middle name for a baby girl. We have two daughters whose first and middle names are Molly Claire and Hope Charlotte. All four of their names are meaningful to us in some way by either honoring a family member or something significant in our life. We tend to like classic, timeless names that fit nicely together. Our last name sounds like “Kalderelly.”
We do not know the gender of this baby but we hope to have a decision when we head to the hospital. If it is a boy our top choice is Reid Joseph. We also like the boy names Evan and Thomas. Joseph will be the middle name.
For girls our top choice is currently Emma and we also like the names Anna, Ava, Leah. Despite the popularity of the name, we think Emma sounds the best with our last name and it was also a contender for our other daughters. We like Emma because it is a family name and a German name which reflects both sides of our family. We are stumped for a middle name. Here are some middle name options: May, Alissa, Alice (short for Alissa), Kate, Jess and June. May, Alissa and Jess are all family names. Kate has my initials in it KA, and June is a name my daughters have called this baby because I am due in June!
Do Emma (and Reid) flow nicely with Molly and Hope? Which middle name do you think works the best with Emma? We are open to suggestions and ideas. Thanks so much for your help and we are excited to hear feedback. I’ve always wanted to write in to this site!
A soon-to-be Family of 5


I love your daughters’ suggestion of June: I think I would go with Emma June. It’s my favorite from the list anyway, it’s wonderful with Molly Claire and Hope Charlotte, and it makes for a great naming story.

Baby Girl Rhymes-with-Cow, Sister to Carter and Holden


We are expecting a baby girl late May/early June and are having so much trouble deciding on a name. She has two brothers, Carter Justin and Holden Everett. Our last name rhymes with cow but starts with the S sound. As you can tell by our sons’ names, we like uncommon names that are somewhat familiar as surnames with simple spelling. We may or may not have a fourth child.

For our baby, I prefer a three syllable name with a single syllable middle name but hubby likes a two-syllable first name. It can’t end with an S sound because then the first-last name will not flow well. We would like something feminine and preferably not unisex. Names we’ve considered so far are Alaina (because I love the nn Lainie), Cassidy and Delia. Hubby doesn’t like Alaina because it sounds too Eastern European and there are too many different ways to spell this name. The other two names don’t quite feel right. I also like Sydney but will probably rule it out because it’s unisex. Other names I like but are too unconventional for the hubby are Everly, Avalon, Aria.

Any suggestions you have would be very much appreciated!

Thank you!


Because you like Alaina/Lainie and Delia, I suggest Delaney. Three syllables, doesn’t end with S. Currently used almost exclusively for girls in the United States: the Social Security Administration reports 1,220 new baby girls and 8 new baby boys given the name in 2014. It’s a surname name like Carter and Holden. You’d still have the nickname Lainie, or Del if you prefer.

Name to Discuss: Faye

Hi Swistle!

A name I’ve recently stumbled upon/remembered is Faye. I think it’s adorable- short and sweet and with a very cute meaning (fairy). But when I think about the name’s style, I can’t really figure it out. I tend to like more traditional names and I’m not sure where Faye works into that. My favorites currently are: Eloise, Georgia, Josephine, Constance, Susannah, and Jane. What sort of naming style do you think Faye falls under? Thanks so much!



Oh, interesting. It’s an older name, but it’s not exactly what I think of when I think “vintage revival.” And it’s not what I’d call classic or traditional, but it’s definitely familiar in a pleasant long-term way. It makes me think of Faye Dunaway, so it has a strong measure of 1960s Hollywood Glamour—the pantsuited red-lipsticked type more than the twirly dress type, fedoras more than tiaras. The name Faye has a soft light sound, but not weak or wispy; a Faye could poke a big strong scary guy in the chest and KEEP poking him, talking fast and fierce the whole time, until he backed up nervously.

I also think of the author Fay Weldon, which gives it a pleasing creative/writerly/British feel.

One possibly negative association I have is with the word fey, which means unnaturally whimsical or strange. But I don’t actually think of it unless I’m sitting here thinking, “Hm, hm, Faye Faye Faye, hm, hm….,” as I did when thinking about it for this post. If I met a woman or little girl named Faye, I don’t think the word fey would come to my mind at all. And I think for most of the population, fey is an unused word at this point: it’s in my reading vocabulary, but it isn’t as if I regularly use it in conversation. And I wonder if Tina Fey will help to balance this.

Let’s consult the expert on style categories, The Baby Name Wizard. She’s got the name Faye in these categories: Brisk and Breezy, Guys and Dolls, and Solid Citizens. Guys and Dolls, definitely: that’s the chest-poking and fedoras. Solid Citizens, maybe—but I think the image of the name may be shifting.

I’ve noticed the name Mae/May coming up much more often around here. I’d like to see more Kay/Kaye, because I think it’s so pretty, but it’s hard for me to get past the way it sounds like an initial. I don’t think Gay is ever coming back, and we’re not quite ready for another round of Jay and Ray, but Faye has a fresh sound all of a sudden. I’d put it with names such as Pearl and June and Rose. Oh! I know what category I might add it to in The Baby Name Wizard: Charms and Graces. It goes beautifully with names such as Ruby, Dahlia, Fern, Hazel, Ivy, Olive, and Violet, and here also are the aforementioned Pearl and June and Rose.

Looking at it with the names you like, I’d say it’s not quite the same style (except perhaps for Constance), but that it’s a nicely compatible style: sisters named Faye and Eloise make sense to me, as do sisters named Faye and Josephine, or Faye and Georgia.

I suspect we’ll see it first as a middle name, the way we’re seeing Mae and Pearl. That makes it a lot harder to track, since the Social Security Administration doesn’t give us access to that information. We’ll have to go on things such as how often we notice it on a parent’s name list, or how often it’s mentioned as a sibling’s middle name.

Speaking of the Social Security Administration, let’s see how the name is ranking. I dislike the new charts, which don’t show GAPS. I mean, look at this:

(screen shot from SSA.gov)

(screen shot from SSA.gov)

If you just glanced at that chart, you’d think Faye was in a long decline. But no: it dropped out of the Top 1000 after 1979 and then, on the very next line, we’ve skipped to the year 2014, the first appearance of Faye in the Top 1000 in 34 years! It WAS in a long decline; now it is BACK. And yet the departure year and arrival year are right next to each other, as if in subsequent years.

I didn’t include the whole chart because it’s enormous: Faye was in the Top 1000 from 1900 (the first year we can now access for this charting feature) until 1973. It was bouncing around in the high 100s and low 200s, nice and steady, no sudden movements, until 1958 when it hit the 300s and kept going: 400s as of 1962, 500s as of 1965, and so on until it left completely after 1979. (I wonder if Tammy Faye Bakker had anything to do with that, or if it was just its natural time?)

It’s interesting that it is back, just as we’re noticing it again. This is that phenomenon, I think, where as a society we drift toward certain names and certain sounds.

Baby Girl or Boy G., Sibling to Gabriel, Josephine, and Sebastian

Hi Swistle,

I’m pregnant with baby #4, which is so exciting because I’ve always dreamed of having four kids and my husband told me it would have to be with my next husband. But then he came around, so hurray!!!

This baby is a surprise on the sex, we’ll find out when he or she is born (all four were surprises) and he/she is due on May 27th. We’re a little short on time, but I was just telling Josh that you help people with baby names and he said EMAIL SWISTLE!! We need help!

Our three children are:
Gabriel Scott (Gabe)
Josephine Shai (Josie)
Sebastian Eli (Seb or Sebastian)

We are all over the map with names. If it is a girl, our top contenders are likely Alexandra or Simone. Maybe Alexandra Simone or Simone Isabel. It can’t be Simone Alexandra because our last name starts with G and I wouldn’t want her initials to be SAG. We are open to all suggestions, though.

For a boy, my husband adores the name Julian but I can’t seem to get behind that name. It feels too feminine to me. I like Alexander, but not the nickname Alex. I also like Henry and Harrison but he doesn’t love those. I like Nathaniel (Nate) but he doesn’t. We are fairly desperate on the boy front in particular.

I’m the kind of person who needs to *feel* the name. I keep pretending to yell the names out the back door and I can’t tell which one is my baby!

Thanks in advance,

2014 Social Security Administration Baby Name Data!

The Social Security Administration has released their data for 2014! This is always a very exciting day.

I was just writing a post this morning where I wondered if the name Shannon would drop out of the Top 1000 in 2014 (it was at #922 in 2013), and it did do so.

I’d been wondering what the name Sloane would do, because it feels like it is mentioned in a lot more letters recently, and it has gone up again: from #405 in 2013 to #370 in 2014.

My daughter’s name is increasing in popularity, which I expected from the number of times it has been mentioned in letters. In theory, I am not bothered by this.

The name Charlotte finally hit the Top 10.

Madison is still in the Top 10, which surprised me: I think because the two Madisons I know are teenagers, I keep expecting it to drop. The name Addison dropped again (from #19 to #24, the fourth year in a row it has dropped), which surprised me because it feels as if that name comes up in letters more often than Madison does—but that could just be a perception error on my part, or coincidence, and in any case the drops are very small. Spelling variations could also contribute.

Emily, too, surprises me with its persistence: still in the Top 10, and it’s been there for well over two decades.

Elizabeth dropped out of the Top 10. It’s been hovering riiiiiiight at the age, ranking #9 or #10 for most of the years since 1980, with occasional dips to #11 or #12, and one year getting as high as #8. But now it’s down to #14.

Adelyn is up (from #212 to #197) and Adalynn is up (#173 to #128) and Adalyn is up (#178 to #152)  and Adeline is up (#233 to #219), and so is Hadley (#110 to #99). I think the -ad- sound of Madison and Addison and Madelyn is still popular, but that parents are looking for fresher versions. The many spellings of Adelyn may make it a stealth hit: people looking up one spelling will think it isn’t very popular, and then be surprised to encounter so many.

The name Emma is #1 for baby girls again: it hit #1 in 2008 for just that one year, but now it is back. Sophia was #1 for three years, but now is #3. Olivia hit #2—its highest ranking so far.

Look at the amazing jumps of the name Everly!

(screen shot from SSA.gov)

(screen shot from SSA.gov)

Not even in the Top 1000 until 2012, and now look at it! That’s faster than the name Isabella traveled.

Evelyn is also going up: #16 in 2014, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the Top 10 before long. (Though I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it continue hovering right around where it is now.)

I’d thought the name Avery might get to the Top 10 for girls this year, but it’s #13 down from #12 last year.

Aria is climbing quickly: it hit the Top 1000 in 2000, the Top 100 in 2012, and #31 in 2014.

Harper is #11. That was a fast trip from #887 in 2004.

Penelope, one of our frontrunners if Henry had been a girl, is up again: #42 in 2014.

Genevieve, our second favorite name for Elizabeth, is also up again at #210.

The spelling Zoey has beat out the spelling Zoe: #22 and #32, respectively.

Elsa took a big jump, which surprised me: I would have thought the movie would make parents reluctant to use the name. But it went from #528 in 2013 to #286 in 2014.

Noah is still #1 for boys, and Liam is still #2.

The name George is up a little bit more (from #166 in 2012 to #158 in 2013 to #134 in 2014), but nothing alarming yet: it goes up and down already, and was in the 130s (and even once in the 120s) in the first decade of the 2000s.

Henry is up again, from #37 to #33. I wonder if it’s headed very slowly for the Top 10.

Oliver is up from #52 to #32: I’m surprised to see it pass Henry! And Sebastian at #34: a little cluster of gentlemen.

I feel as if the name Theodore is mentioned more often in letters recently, and it has gone up again, from #169 to #126.

Jaxon and Jaxson are now both in the Top 100, but I see they were in 2013 as well (and Jaxon has been since 2010).


I want to get this posted because I’m eager to discuss, but I’ll keep adding to it as I think of more names I want to look up.

What did your favorites do? Up or down?