Baby Girl McNeely, Sister to Abel

Hi Swistle,

We are so excited to be expecting a baby girl this coming January, but I thought that naming a girl would come much easier than it has been! I would love your help and insight on our list, and maybe some new, fresh suggestions we haven’t thought of yet.

Our surname is McNeely, and our son’s name is Abel Willis McNeely (the middle name, Willis, is my maiden name that we wanted to honor.) We want this baby’s middle name to be Kathryn, which is a bit more traditional than I am usually drawn to but is the name of my late mother-in-law who passed recently.)

I tend to like shorter, less traditional names. Some of the names that I’ve been drawn to have been a bit quirky, but my husband tends to veto them. He likes more popular names like Olivia, but I’m not necessarily wanting to name her something that is on the “Top 10” list at the moment. Some names on the vetoed list:


Names that we are still considering:


We also really like more traditionally “boy” names for a girl. My husband likes Charlie, but I feel like that might be too popular. I like Drew or Perry.

Something else to consider: Abel is such a traditional biblical name that we would be open to naming her something biblical as well, but it certainly isn’t a must.

I feel like we have a good list, but I’m just not sure the right name is on there yet! We would love your help!

Thanks so much,
Erin McNeely


So much depends on whether or not you think you might have more children after this one. If you are only naming one girl, any of the names on your list work well with Abel: each gives a different spin to the sibling set, but nothing clashes. (I did notice that Faye McNeely makes the word “fame” when I say it aloud.) I’d recommend my usual techniques for narrowing down a list: having each parent rank the names in order and getting rid of any that are toward the bottom of both lists; trying out each name for a day; going to the mall and picturing each name on an assortment of strangers of various ages; waiting to see if any name rises naturally to the top with time; playing little games where you fool yourself into thinking a name has been chosen/eliminated and seeing what your reaction is; and so on.

If, however, you’re planning more children, I think the first step is to consider how much sibling-name coordination matters to you. Some people don’t care about that at all and can happily have two daughters named Isabella and Blake; some people care about it to the point of matching initials and letters and syllables as well as style; and most of us fall somewhere in between.

If you are planning to have more children AND you like sibling names to coordinate, then I’d like to see if we can get a firmer grip on your preferred style. Reese, Sloane, and Darby are in one style category: they’d make good sister names for each other. Sadie and Faye are in a different style category: they’d make good sister names for each other, but wouldn’t work as well with the names in the first group. Evie and Liv feel to me like a third group, though they’d work well with names in the second group; when I tried to come up with names in their style category below, there was so much overlap with the Sadie/Faye group that I gave up and made it one list. The main difference is that Evie and Liv feel more current/popular right now than Sadie/Faye, because of all the Evelyns and Olivias and Avas.

If you picture your little future flock of ducklings, what names feel most like the names of Your Family? Imagine the kids around the dinner table, or listening to a book, or fighting like mad cats. Do they seem like an Abel, a Reese, and a Darby? Or do they seem more like an Abel, a Sadie, and a Faye? Or do they seem more like an Abel, an Evie, and a Liv? Which group feels like your real actual kids?

I’m looking through the Biblical section of The Baby Name Wizard, and I see a lot of names that go well with Abel (Esther, Miriam, Ruth, Claudia, Lydia), but not very many that seem to fit your style. Let’s see if we can find more options for the other categories.

To go with Reese/Sloane/Darby:

Waverly (repeats ending of surname)


To go with Sadie/Faye/Evie/Liv:

Hazel (repeats ending of Abel)
Polly (repeats ending of surname)

Baby Boy Zong@s, Brother to William and Benjamin

Hi Swistle,

I am expecting my third baby in early April, another boy! This will be our last child. I always joked that I couldn’t have another boy because I couldn’t possibly come up with another boy name, but here I am! My first 2 are: William Elliot and Benjamin Oliver. Our last name is pronounced Zong@s with a silent T on the front. With a difficult to pronounce and spell last name it’s important that first names are relatively straightforward. As you can see we also prefer more timeless names that shorten easily, though William is still always William, Benjamin is often Ben or Benj.

This baby’s middle name will be Patrick. Although we didn’t use honour names with our first 2, I was with my uncle Patrick when he passed away, and hours later I found out I was pregnant again with this baby.

Our front runners are:

Sebastian – our favourite, but not a fan of the nickname options. William, Benjamin & Sebastian sounds great, but Will, Ben and Seb?!? Or Will, Ben and Bash/Bastian?!? I just don’t think those work…

Nathan or Nathaniel – both full name and nickname are good, just not sure it’s the one

Lucas – I love this name, but feel like this doesn’t work well with our last name

Other names we’ve considered:

Theodore – too formal, although a great nickname

Maxwell – don’t love the full name (and other Max starts are too formal), love the nickname



Names we won’t use: Alexander, Samuel, Nicholas, Thomas, Christian, Michael.

If this baby was a girl, her name would have been Cecilia.

Should we just go with Sebastian and not worry about the nickname issue? I’d love your input on the names we’re considering and anything else we should re-consider with a fresh set of eyes!


Sebastian seems about as formal as Theodore to me; that is, I think either of them would be fine in the sibling group but that both are a little dressier than William/Benjamin. Although the nicknames Seb/Sebby don’t come as naturally to me as Will/Ben do, I think this is because I grew up with a couple of boys named Ben and I know a bunch of children named Will and Ben now, but I haven’t yet known a Sebastian. If I practice it a little, it doesn’t take me long to be able to picture saying, “Hey, Seb—time to brush your teeth” or “Hey, Seb, we leave in five minutes, okay?”

Nathan/Nathaniel/Nate seems great to me.

I agree with you that Lucas Zong@s does not quite work. It hits my ear with a comical bouncing near-rhyme. Marcus is similar.

I suggest Jonathan. Jonathan Patrick Zong@s; William, Benjamin, and Jonathan; Will, Ben, and Jon.

Or Daniel. Similar to Nathaniel. Daniel Patrick Zong@s; William, Benjamin, and Daniel. Will, Ben, and Dan.

Or Jacob. Jacob Patrick Zong@s; William, Benjamin, and Jacob; Will, Ben, and Jake.

Or Calvin. Calvin Patrick Zong@s; William, Benjamin, and Calvin; Will, Ben, and Cal.

Or Charles. Charles Patrick Zong@s; William, Benjamin, and Charles; Will, Ben, and Charlie.

Or Gabriel. Gabriel Patrick Zong@s; William, Benjamin, and Gabriel; Will, Ben, and Gabe.

I’d like to suggest Wesley, but I’m not sure about it: possibly the nickname shares too many sounds with the other two nicknames. Wesley Patrick Zong@s; William, Benjamin, and Wesley; Will, Ben, and Wes.

If you decide to give up on the preference for a nickname, I suggest Henry. Henry Patrick Zong@s; William, Benjamin, and Henry. I think Henry’s Y-ending gives it a sound that’s compatible with nicknames, so that even if William eventually goes by Will, I still like the sound of Will, Ben, and Henry. Or you could use Hank or Harry as a nickname.

Baby Girl H@ll, Sister to H@rper

Hi Swistle!

My second daughter is due at the end of October. Her sister’s name is H@rper Je@n H@ll. My daughter and I both share my husband’s last name. H@rper’s middle name is from my maternal grandmother and my aunt (mother’s sister who passed away several years ago). This will most likely be our last child.

We have been settled on the name Arden for this baby for a little while now and both still love it. However, I am getting concerned that it is too close in sound to my nephew’s name, Ryden, who lives very close to us. My husband thinks I’m crazy and that it’s not too close and/or doesn’t matter. I’m probably just getting naming jitters as my due date approaches, but it has started to bother me some. So, I guess I’m looking for validation that these names aren’t too close and won’t bug me forever, though I’m sure nobody else can tell me that part for certainty. Some other names we both like are Paige, Audrey, Juliette, and Rosalie, with Paige and Audrey being the other 2 top names. The problem with Paige, though, is that I really prefer a multi-syllable first name with our last name. Some names I like that we can’t use or my husband has vetoed are Imogen, Elodie, Cameron, and Leighton.

Now to the problem of the middle name. My husband would like to give this baby girl the middle name Mary after his grandmother who passed away a couple years ago. I love the idea of giving this baby his grandmother’s name as a middle except that I really am not fond of the name Mary. To me, it is an intensely religious name and I have a hard time separating it from Mary, the mother of God, the Virgin Mary. I grew up catholic (though would not consider myself so any longer) and have a hard time not associating the name with anything else. My husband was not raised with any sort of religion and does not carry the same association. I think I really have issue with the idea and image of the Virgin Mary and what it implies about purity and ideals for girls/women today. I’ve been working on getting past this association, but I still can’t fully commit. I also like that both girls would have a great grandmother’s name as a middle. Some other middle name possibilities are Jane (my paternal grandmother’s middle name), Frances (maternal grandfather’s middle name (Francis) who passed away when my mom was a young girl), Paige, and Maeve (Paige and Maeve both just names we like). My husband really wants Mary as the middle but is willing to ultimately let me decide. Also, any names related to Mary, like Mae, just don’t seem like true honor names. Will this association just not be a big deal once she’s here and it is part of her name? I guess I’m hoping that by typing this all out and getting other’s opinions, I will get some kind of clarity.

Thanks for your help,


Baby Girl Stussman-without-the-T, Sister to Anna

Dear Swistle,

Longtime reader, first-time caller. I’m due in exactly one month with a baby girl who is still nameless. Her older sister is Anna. Anna got my favorite name, my forever-favorite name, the one I doodled as a pre-teen, the perfect name, the name that when I find it or derivatives (Anneliese, Annabel) on lists I still get an involuntary “ooooh I like THAT one” feeling before remembering “Yes, that’s why you used it already.” Anna’s last name (which is also my husband’s name and will be this baby’s last name) is Stussman without the T.

Anna: is my great-grandmother’s name, is familiar, is spell-able, has a lovely meaning, has personal significance relating to that meaning, derives from Hebrew (we’re Jewish, but with a fair amount of W. European background, too) but is not full-on Hebrew/biblical, does not sound silly with a Jewish last name, is classic, is (subjectively) pretty, lends itself to nicknames, lends itself to a natural Hebrew name, rhymes with Banana…etc. I will not find another name I like as much or that ticks as many of my preferred boxes, and I am working on accepting this.

Anna’s middle name is a location that starts with “Beth-“, because I had a normal middle name and always wanted a weird one. It has literary significance to my husband and me, and delightfully lets us call her Annabeth, which we do, and Betty, which I did not expect to use as a nickname (at ALL) but frequently do.

So now we’ve got number two on the way, and again we are considering Cora, Delia, and Elizabeth (runners-up with Anna).

Elizabeth feels like it ticks the most of all my many preference boxes (classic, subjectively pretty, derived from Hebrew, familiar, spell-able, nicknames), but I am having a tough time committing to a name with “-beth” given Anna’s middle name (which we use). It feels like we used it already (and in my head, when we used Beth- for Anna’s middle name, I was committing to giving up Elizabeth for a hypothetical future daughter). Alas, I have none of the feelings for Eliza that I do for Elizabeth.

Delia has been my favorite, I think, but my husband has it in his second tier. I really like Cora, but just not quite as much. That said, I think it’s our presumptive front-runner.

Other contenders:
Maya–popularity curve is a little trendy for my taste
Alice–concerned it runs into Stussman; too many sibilant sounds? Also has the word “lice” in it.
Margaret/Marguerite–we both love this (so many good nicknames!) and the meaning (“pearl”) is a family surname on my side, but he loves Margaret and I love Marguerite and we may be at an impasse. We’ve tabled it for now. I also don’t feel like it’s as “pretty” as Anna or Elizabeth.
Emma–sonically confusing with an Anna; literally the number one name last year in the US.
Talia–TOO Hebrew? He really likes this one.
Elizabeth Delia, nn Edie–my husband has a ton of Ediths in his family tree so this would sort of be an honor name. Otherwise, my preferred nicknames for Elizabeth are in the “Lizzie” family.

Names I love and/or would seriously consider that he has vetoed or just doesn’t like as much:
Winifred (Winnie!)
Shirley (I have told everyone I know that this one is going to come back, but no one believes me)

Middle name for this baby will likely be Mayberry (family surname to honor a specific deceased loved one), or perhaps Poppy (nickname for my husband’s beloved grandfather, now deceased) but oh, the other wonderful odd-duck middle names I have on my list:
Lenity (virtue name with personal significance)
Amarintha (family name, and I love Marin, pronounced NOT like the county)
Roses (this occurred to me late one night and I LOVE it)
Aurise (family name)
Auden (literary significance)

Names I love but are too close to us (friends/family have or use these names):

My husband is very reactive on this front and not super-articulate, but does have preferences that have led us to the shortlist of Cora, Delia, Elizabeth, Maya, Zoe, Alice, Margaret/Marguerite, and Talia.

Had this been a boy, she likely would’ve been Isaiah King or, possibly, Gideon Leander. Other boy names I love and might pull for in a future hypothetical pregnancy include Bennett, Elias, John, and Malachi. The people we’d like to honor had names like Ovid, Paul, and King. (Luckily, we have very few female relatives who have passed away that we’d want to honor.)

So…what should we name the baby? Am I missing something wonderful I can present on a silver platter (i.e. text message) to my husband?



Oh, I too wished for a more unusual middle name! Mine is one of the few that basically everyone my age has: it’s no fun to tell it, on the rare occasion I am asked about it.

I agree with you about Elizabeth: I think it’s GREAT with Anna, and meets so many of your preferences—but I feel as if Anna now has dibs on Beth/Betty. If you were absolutely set on Elizabeth and wanted with all your heart to use it, I would say I thought it would be fine, and I DO think it would be fine, but I think it would be better to choose something else.

Alice S(t)ussman has too many S-sounds for my ears, too. And I find it difficult to say.

From your lists, my favorites with the name Anna are:


I would add:


I am especially drawn to the simpler names, the ones that the eye skips past in the baby name book but then end up being fresh surprises. Jane, for example. Jane Mayberry Stussman; Anna and Jane. I think that’s my favorite. Familiar, spell-able, has a lovely meaning, a feminine form of John which derives from Hebrew but is not full-on Hebrew/biblical, does not sound silly with a Jewish last name, is classic, is (subjectively) pretty, lends itself to nicknames. If you were to give up on this whole thing and tell me I could name the baby, I would choose Jane.

Pearl seems like a good option for solving the Margaret/Marguerite issue. Pearl Mayberry Stussman; Anna and Pearl.

Or would you like Margo? Margo Mayberry Stussman; Anna and Margo.

Baby Boy Dioguardi, Brother to Lennox

Hello Swistle!

Baby boy due in January and my husband and I are having trouble agreeing on a name. His brothers name is Lennox West and our last name is Dioguardi. My family is scandinavian so I want to honor that and I also love boy names with an X so Axel is my first choice. I have always loved that name. My husband thinks its too ‘tough guy’ and that our son should be in a biker gang. My husband likes the names Marcus, Gray, Grayson and I think those are boring and dont go with our last name or brothers name. We have talked about Oliver and Oscar but they are not quite our style though I do like the names. Help me convince my hubby that Axel is the right choice or suggest other names.

Anna Dioguardi


Lennox and Axel feels like a lot of X to me, but that’s very subjective. Lennox is unisex (given to 394 new baby girls and 692 new baby boys in 2016) but Axel is not; I think this contrast may add even more to the macho feeling of Axel. Your husband’s choice of Grayson is an excellent style match for Lennox, but if you don’t like it we should look for something else.

Baxter (has an X)
Xavier (has an X)

For Scandinavian names, I used Nameberry:


Baby Naming Issue: What Style is the Name Blythe?

Dear Swistle,

A friend recently had her second baby and, as we oohed and ahhed over this new human she and her husband created, we got to talking about other names they had been considering. My friend brought out her huge list of baby names for both genders and I was so completely, utterly shocked to see my (secret) in-the-off-chance-we-had-another-baby-and-if-that-baby-was-a-girl name on her list: Blythe.

The reason I was so surprised is because, while this friend and I have many things in common, taste in baby names is not one of them. Like, I don’t see any overlap at all. I respect her choices and can see how they’re right for her and for her children, but they are not names I would choose (as I’m certain my kids’ names aren’t ones she would choose).

My friend says she is without doubt finished having babies and I’m nearly completely certain we are, too, so this isn’t a territorial kind of scenario. It’s almost guaranteed that neither of us will use the name Blythe. Nor is it a “who wore it better” kind of thing where I want to be told my kids’ names suit Blythe’s style better.

I was just taken aback that two people with such very different tastes in names both felt moony about Blythe. So my question is this: what style is Blythe, would you say? Is it one of those names that plays well with others? I love the name, but it is a bit of a mystery to me. I’m not sure what I love about it; I think it’s a combination of the way it looks on paper and the lovely-to-me “th” sound at the end, with that bonus “e.” To me it’s unusual, short and sweet…much like my daughter’s name. Plus, my Gilbert Blythe association probably helps as we’re big Anne of Green Gables fans.

And, just for fun, what’s your personal opinion on Blythe as a name? And could I potentially use it though my other 3 kids have vowel names? NOT because “vowel names” are a style, but because Blythe might stand out as sounding different?

Your fellow name nerd,


It IS a little hard to pin down, isn’t it! I think it’s because it’s a name that’s never been in the Top 1000: I tend to group names with other names that were popular at the same time, but the name Blythe has never been popular in the United States. I looked in the Social Security database that shows the usage of names outside the Top 1000; I took a sample of the usage every ten years so we could see what it’s been up to:

1886: -F, -M
1896: -F, -M
1906: -F, -M
1916: -F, -M
1926: 6F, -M
1936: -F, -M
1946: 12F, -M
1956: 24F, 5M
1966: 16F, -M
1976: 58F, -M
1986: 68F, -M
1996: 43F, -M
2006: 65F, 8M
2016: 168F, 6M

Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908. The movie was made in 1934, and then there were a fair number of miniseries and made-for-TV movies starting in the 1950s and continuing until now.

The Blythe doll was released in 1972; I wonder if that accounts for a little popularity surge, or if it was heading there already?

Blythe Danner began her career in the 1960s/1970s. That could also account for increased familiarity with the name, and increased usage.

Blythe could be a surname name, because of Gilbert; that’s not how I think of it, but I could picture someone with a surname-name style choosing it that way. I guess I think of it (apparently incorrectly, according to the usage info) as a sophisticated, non-frilly name that’s almost old enough to come back, along with names such as Edith and Ethel and Ida. But I had a lot of trouble picking the examples I just used: I don’t seem to have any other names in the same category as Blythe. I think of The Golden Girls, probably because of Blanche (another one-syllable Bl- name)—so perhaps some good example names would be Bea, Betty, Rue, and Estelle, along with Blanche and Dorothy? (Sophia and Rose are too currently popular.)

Blythe is also a word name, and word names can be particularly difficult to put in a style category.

Well! What does everyone else think? What style is Blythe? What kind of sibling names would you put it with?

Baby Boy Burner-with-a-T, Brother to Joel


I have been following your blog since I was pregnant with our first! I have searched on your blog for names we have considered as well as read through previous entries for inspiration. Now I am writing to you for help!

We will be having our second child, another boy, this fall! We have narrowed names down to our “Top Three” however, neither of us can narrow it down any further.

Background: Our son is 2 and his name is Joel Andrew. His first name honors my husbands father and grandfather (JOEseph and Leslie) while still giving him his own name. His middle name is shared with my father. Our last name is Burner with a “T”. Our naming style seems to be traditional, but not old-fashioned. Names we have heard of but aren’t too common. We also prefer names without easy nicknames as none of our names have obvious nicknames. Husband wants names that – if seen can easily be said, and if heard could easily be spelled. We also don’t want the name to be too common. This child will most likely be our last and for some reason coming up with a second boy name seems much harder than the first!

If this child would have been a girl, we each had a favorite and it was down to Eliza and Elise.

Originally my husband wanted to also name this child with a “J” name as he and his brother both also had “J” names. My concern was that three “J” names in our family would be a mouthful. On top of that most “J” names I found/suggested were rejected for a variety of reasons and only one has made it to the ‘final three’. Another train of thought we had was to use an “L” name so we would each have a child with the same first initial. Again, most of the “L” boy names were rejected as being either too popular, or too ‘old fashioned’ and only one made it to the ‘final three’. I have also gone through a looong list of boy names with my husband and all have been rejected except one, so we are left with three.

Jensen is the only “J” name that my husband will consider, even with his desire for a “J” name to be used. I think it fits the criteria (easy to say, spell, no obvious nickname), however my concern is that it doesn’t fit with the rest of our names style wise (Jason, Lydia, Joel) and that Joel and Jensen would be a mouthful.

Lucas is the only “L” name that my husband would consider. However, I know this name IS quite common right now AND I am concerned that Luke would be a go-to nickname. Neither of us dislike Luke, but don’t like it as much as Lucas. I do think Lucas goes ok with Joel and the rest of our names, however since it is common and has easy nickname options I just can’t commit!

Seth is my favorite currently! I think it goes really well with Joel and the rest of our names. It is about the same popularity as Joel. People who see it will know how to say it, and those who hear it will know how to spell it! It was also a top pick for me when pregnant with Joel, but Jason really wanted to name him after his grandpa. Husband is just so-so on it. I think if I pushed he would go for it, but it’s clearly not one of his favorites. I’ve been trying this name out for a couple of weeks and while it’s ok, it isn’t love like I thought it would be! I’m not sure if it’s the fact my husband doesn’t love it too, of if it’s not “the one”.

If we were to each rank these three names, our list would be completely opposite. However, neither of us loves Lucas enough to pick that name, or willing to give up our top pick to settle on one of the others. How would you recommend we settle this? Do you have any other name suggestions we might have missed?

A list of some of the names I liked/suggested that were vetoed: Jude, Caleb, Ethan, Levi, Eli, Jonah, Jules, and many many more! Hopefully that will give you an idea of at least my style. As far as middle names, we aren’t decided might be open to using one of the other ‘top three’, Joseph (after husband’s grandfather and shared with husband’s brother), or Matthew (Husband’s middle name). There really aren’t any other people we feel we need to honor, but the question has been raised if our first child’s whole name is honoring three people, will this child feel slighted if he doesn’t’ have an honor name?

Baby is due in approx. 6 weeks and the fact we haven’t decided on a name is starting to stress me out! Please consider helping.

Thank you!!


I rank the names in the same order you do. Seth is my first choice: an excellent style fit with Joel, and I like it a lot with your surname. Lucas is my second choice: very good style fit with Joel, but I see your reservations about popularity and the nickname Luke. Jensen is my third choice by a long distance: it’s a very different style than Joel, and I dislike the idea of you being left out of the J Club. I also dislike the idea of your husband being the one who wants another J name but then only being willing to consider one.

It sounds to me as if it’s time to go back to the drawing board: neither of you much likes the other’s first choice, and you both sound tepid on the one name you agree on. Leave Lucas on the list to see if it grows on you, but then return to the long list to see if your husband likes any of them better the second time through.

It also sounds as if you two are having the classic problem of one of you doing all the work and the other one doing all the vetoing. It would be useful if your husband would make his own list of names for you to consider.

At this point I would leave out these issues: finding a J name, finding an L name, using an honor name. Those sorts of fun preferences work better when parents have a long list of names they love, and they want to narrow the list down. It sounds as if you’re out of honor names, and I don’t see any reason to force that: many families use honor names for the first child and not for subsequent children. I would leave COMPLETELY out of the equation the issue of whether the children’s names go with the style of your name and your husband’s name: your names are a generation removed from theirs and chosen by two entirely different sets of parents, and no one expects them to coordinate.

I would like to make a list of name suggestions, but from the samples you gave, I think you and I are on the same page already and I would just be listing names your husband already rejected. I think the solution here is for him to make his own list for you to consider, and/or for him to go back to your list and really consider every option carefully. If he won’t do either of these things, then I suggest trying your strategy of pushing for Seth: your husband got his way on the first child’s name, so perhaps it can be your turn this time.




Name update:

I wanted to send an update!
Seth Matthew was born a week early.  Matthew is my husband’s middle name.  After the difficult birth, he decided to go with my top picks.  I appreciated your feedback and reading all the comments! I thought the comment of both boys having old testament first name and New testament middle names was a cute tie!

Thank you!!

Baby Naming Issue: What To Do When Your Name List Doesn’t Match Your Rules List

Hello, Swistle!
I’m not sure if you will have time to answer my question. My husband and I are not currently expecting a child, but we are planning on starting a family soon, and since we have different naming styles, I wanted to have a pretty firm list so that we do not have naming wars when I am pregnant and irrational. I have loved names for so long, and I assumed that naming would be easy, but….not so much.

These were our original rules:
1. Nothing overly-trendy (e.g. Brayden, Brayleigh, etc)
2. One common spelling (No Kaitlyn/Katelyn,etc)
3. No made-up names
4. A name with history, but not too boring

Here are my two problems:

1. My husband’s shortlist of names are very country/cowboy style (Ralan, Clay, Harland, Harley, etc.,) and mine are all Vintage/Biblical (Jeremiah, Oliver, Josephine, Theodora, etc)
2. The names we both like break the rules! So far, we both like Jackson and Callan for boys (-en endings, very trendy) and for girls, we like Juliana, Juliet, and Emilia (trendy-ish and multiple spellings).

Do I throw out the rules or the names list? Is it ok to have trendier boy’s names and more vintage girl’s names? Also, do you have any name suggestions that fit our parameters?

For middle names, we have a few family names we would like to use (Eugene, Renee, and possibly Augusta), but past that, I am struggling to come up with names that feel “right.” Our last name rhymes with Bedford (with an M), so my only concern with that is avoiding words like JAM, DAM, etc.

Sorry this was so long!!




I suggest changing the Rules List into a Preferences List. Each name can then be weighed against your preferences, but if a name fails to meet one or more preferences it doesn’t have to be removed from consideration: you’d just move on to considering whether you like the name enough to use it anyway. The preference list can be used to narrow things down, or it can be used to measure the strength of your feelings for a name: “I love it so much I don’t even care about the preferences,” or “I just don’t love it enough to give up that preference.” The preference list can also be used to gently argue against the other parent’s suggestions: “Well, but we agreed we didn’t want anything made-up.”

As you work with your name lists, you may find you want to remove a preference entirely. It’s very common for parents to enter the naming process thinking they want one kind of name, or liking a certain type of name in theory, and then realize that’s not what they want after all. This is another reason I like the idea of preferences rather than rules: it’s psychologically easier to remove a preference than to remove a rule. You may also find you each have your own preference list, and that may help with your discussions: “What about this name? It meets your preference for something friendly/cowboy, but also meets my preference for something traditional/classic.”

Yes, it’s absolutely okay to have trendier boy names and vintage girl names; it’s pretty common for parents to have different styles for boy names and girl names. The only time it bugs me is when parents choose solid traditional serious dignified names for their sons and lightweight cutesy names for their daughters, or when parents make name decisions that assume their sons will keep their full names permanently but their daughters will need room for their husbands’ names—but neither of those cases are what we’re talking about here.

I think it might be helpful to have a discussion about the word “trendy” and what it means to each of you. Some people use it to mean common/popular; others use it to mean a name that may end up very tied to a particular decade, because of the way it came suddenly into style and seems poised to depart just as suddenly. Because the word trendy tends to be used in a derogatory way, you may find it easier to weigh names against your preferences if you come up with a few different words to cover the various aspects of trendiness: “common,” “in style,” even “on-trend” has more of a descriptive rather than negative feel. You may decide, for example, that you’d prefer to avoid common names, but don’t mind names that are in style; or that you don’t mind a name that’s common as long as it’s classic/traditional rather than modern/invented.

If I may answer a question you didn’t ask, I will say that although I think it’s valuable to think about and discuss these things ahead of time, I don’t think you need to settle this before getting pregnant. I remember being queasy and weepy while pregnant, and okay, fine, once I flipped over a (small) dining room table—but I was definitely up to the task of working on names. It gave me something fun and pleasant to do during the long uncomfortable wait of pregnancy, and I also found my opinions on names sharpened and changed when there was an actual baby on the way.