Author Archives: Swistle

Baby Girl or Boy Lenz-with-a-B, Sibling to Laura and Clara

Dear Swistle,

I am hoping you can provide some naming help for our last baby due at the end of June. We have two little girls, Laura Marie and Clara Rose. We do not know the gender of baby number three, but we are decided on a boy name. We are having a hard time deciding on a girl name as some of our nieces and nephews’ names have eliminated names or name variants that we like. And we have two girls already and coming up with a third girl name is tough. Plus we have some naming quirks (but who doesn’t, right?).

My name is Lisa and my husband is Christopher. Our surname is Lenz with a B instead of an L. We like classic/vintage names that have clear spellings and pronunciations. For girls names, I love feminine names that end in “a” – this is a requirement for me. I have always loved the names Laura and Julia. But before my second was born, we had a niece who was named Julia – so that is not an option. We love the name Clara – vintage and not overly used. Plus now we have L&C names to match our names. The third baby will throw off the L&C naming convention because although we love L&C names, I feel the next baby should have his/her own letter and not make our family lopsided.

First names that I like but have been eliminated because of nieces/nephews: Julia/Juliana, Liliana, Alexa

First Name Letters that we like: A, J, K, M, R, S, V

First Name Letters that we will not use: B (only because last name), D, E, F, G, H, Q, U, W, X, Y, Z

We are trying to come up with a name that fits well with Laura and Clara. Since they are shorter names, trying to choose something that does not have too many syllables or is too long. The top two contenders on our list are Victoria and Sophia. I have hang-ups with both. I love Victoria – it is classic, no spelling/pronunciation issues, and I like the meaning (victory). It seems to fit with the other girls’ names, especially with the “r” sound at the end. However, my concerns are nicknames (we dislike Vicky and Tory and our two girls do not have nicknames) – baby/child would have to be Victoria and I am not sure if that is realistic. It is a bit longer than the other girls’ names we have too. I like Sophia – honestly I loved this name 10 years ago but now it is so popular that I don’t feel like the name is special. I like that it is classic and like the meaning (wisdom). I feel like the “ph” spelling is more common than “f” spelling – we both prefer the “ph” spelling. It is a shorter than Victoria. But I fear the child would always be Sophia B because of its popularity.

As for middle names, Marie is my middle name and a family name. Rose is my favorite flower and I just love the name. Yes, these are common middle names, but I am okay with that because it is the middle not first name. Also, both middle names again are easy to spell and pronounce. They also end in an “e”, so it would be nice to have another middle name that ends in “e”. Also, we do consider the baby’s initials and try to avoid inappropriate initials (ex. SOB). Middle name that we are considering is Grace.

Other names that I like, but don’t seem to fit our naming conventions:

First names: Cora (out – C issue and rhymes with Laura), Violet (husband does not like, does not end in a), Serena (not classic?), Sabrina (not sold on this), Seraphina (husband does not like), Ophelia (I just think Shakespeare)

Middle names: Juliet (husband does not like), Annabel/Annabelle, (concern with “bell” sound before B surname), Olive (this is all me not sure about hubby – yet to be discussed), Lily (another flower)

So to summarize, a girl first name that ends in “a” and is classic/vintage, easy to spell/pronounce, and goes with Laura and Clara….and a pretty middle name (it can be more popular and bonus if it ends in “e”). It seems so much harder naming a third when the first two have set naming precedents!




I suggest Anna. Feminine and classic; ends in -a; similar length to other names; no need for a nickname; easy to pronounce and spell but not very common; doesn’t share too many sounds with Laura and Clara.

You mention Grace as a middle name possibility, and I think Anna Grace is very nice.

Or Anna Jane is pretty, or Anna June.

Sophie would be a nice middle name, too, if Sophia is feeling too common as a first name. I like Sophia even better than Sophie as a middle name, if you’re willing to skip the ends-in-E preference. Anna Sophia.

The middle name would also be a good way to use Victoria without having to deal with the nicknames. Anna Victoria.

A few more first-name options to consider:


I would suggest Delia, Eliza, Eva, Fiona, and Georgia, but D, E, F, and G are on the list of letters you won’t use. Is that list set in stone? It rules out so many good options. I kept getting discouraged: I’d think of another name that met all the preferences—and oh, the first letter is on the No list.

I think one reason you’re stuck is that you have too many requirements/preferences you’re trying to meet: too many letters it can’t start with, plus it has to end in -a, plus it shouldn’t have nicknames, plus it has to be easy to spell and pronounce, plus it can’t be too common. I suggest ranking these in order of how important they are to you, and seeing if some of the requirements can be demoted to preferences, and if some of the preferences can be demoted to “eh, nice if it works out, but we don’t really care.” I don’t think just because the first two names have something in common you have to continue that for a third name.

And it’s a matter of trading: each requirement/preference eliminates a large chunk of names. Each time you cut away a chunk of names, you reduce the number of names you might love. Too many cuts, and the choice becomes “Do we go with a name we love but that fails to meet some of our preferences, or do we instead go with a name that meets all our preferences but we like it much less?” That sounds as if I think you should go with the name you love, but that’s not what I’m saying; what I’m saying is that I think it will make the decision process easier if you realize the cost of each preferences, and then decide if you’re willing to pay those costs. You might find that you are willing, which could help you feel happy choosing a name you love less; or you might find you’re not willing, which could help you feel happy choosing a name that doesn’t meet a preference.

As an exercise, I recommend making a list of names without any regard for requirements/preferences. That is, put Julia on the list even though you can’t use it. Put names you like that don’t end in -a on the list. Put names you like that are a little hard to spell or pronounce on the list. Put names that start with the forbidden initials on the list—including L and C. Put them alllllllll on the list. Then you can compare the names that meet your requirements to the ones that don’t, and see if the trade-offs (in either direction) are ones you’re willing to make: that is, put the things on the balance scales and ask yourselves are you willing to forsake [preference] in exchange for [loved name]? are you willing to forsake [loved name] in exchange for [preference]? This may also give you more ideas for names that DO meet your requirements: if, for example, you’d had Anne and Annabel and Hannah on the doesn’t-meet-requirements list, that might lead you to add Anna to the does-meet-requirements list.

If it were me, the first requirement I’d knock off is the initials one. You didn’t mention why some of those initials are on your list, though, so you may have reasons that would change my mind on that if I knew them. Let’s start just with L and C: I understand not wanting to repeat initials (that’s one of my preferences, too), but I think it might be worth the trade—particularly if the next initial were L, so that it wasn’t so much “lopsided” as “alternating.”

From your list my top favorite is Sabrina. I like the repeating B-sound with the surname, and it seems like it checks all the other boxes: goes well with Laura and Clara, isn’t too long, it’s classic and easy to pronounce/spell, etc. Serena is also nice, but I prefer Sabrina.

Baby Boy Donson-with-a-J, Brother to Adrienne

Hi Swistle & readers –

I’ve been a long-time fan of your site and now need some help with naming my own child. My husband and I are expecting a baby boy in about 7 weeks, he will be little brother to Adrienne (pronounced the masculine Adrian). Honestly I think a lot of the trouble we have with finding names to agree upon is our last name — it’s very common, particularly in our area — rhymes with Donson but starts with J.

We lean towards the traditional side vs. trendy and want to stay out of the top 10, preferably top 50 if we can (although you’ll see some of our favorites cross the latter list). The challenge with traditional though is it can be almost too boring with the last name.

Top contender for a middle name is James, followed by Ryan or Timothy. All family names but none that we “have to use”. Our daughter’s middle name (Louise) has family ties, but it’s something we picked because we liked it with her first name, not so much because of the family history.

I should add that our top boy names the first time around were Wesley or Cameron. Not super wild about them this time around — I don’t really like “Wes” or “Cam” with Adrienne. The first time around my husband really wanted a longer name with a nickname we would primarily use — he still likes that concept but isn’t as set on it this time around. My husband is a Caleb who has always gone by Cal, and I’m Elizabeth who’s always gone by my full name — so we have very different perspectives on nicknames :)

So here is our current list so you can see our trends — additional ideas and insight are very welcome! Help us not be boring!

Aaron — husband’s current favorite if I force him to vote. I like how it sounds, but am not wild about both kids having “A” names and I’m also not a huge fan of the double “a” and how it looks when spelled. Weird, I know.

Carter — has been a boy favorite of mine for a long time, but I am slowly coming off of it due to popularity and husband isn’t a fan.

Bennett (Ben) – my current favorite
Charles (Charlie)
Jack (we both love, but aren’t sure about Jack “Donson” and we know it’s quite popular)
James (same as Jack — not sure about pairing it with “Donson”)
Clayton — inspired from a friend who passed away, so we both love the meaning but neither are super wild about the potential nickname of Clay (and I’m not sure I like paired with our daughter’s name)

Names that have been vetoed by one or the other, either because we don’t like or we know too many people with the name:

Thank you for helping us not be boring and think outside of the box!



I would like to put in a word for reconsidering Wesley. Wes is my favorite of all boy-name nicknames. I think it’s darling/sweet on a little boy and friendly/professional on a grown man, and I think it works just as well on an intellectual, an athlete, a manager, a clerk, a serious guy, a funny guy, and so on. Wesley is traditional but not boring, and a little different without seeming like you’re choosing something different just to be different. And I like it with Adrienne.

But I know how sometimes a name can just feel Not Right no matter how much someone else tries to boss you, so if we must move on, we will move on. (Are you SURE, though? Okay, I will stop.)

Nothing from the list is grabbing my attention. If I had to choose one, I’d choose Bennett: it hits that same nice “a little different but not just to be different” spot, and the nickname Ben is another really good one.

Aaron seems like it hits too many of the same notes as Adrienne: same beginning letter, both end in an N-sound, both have an R in the middle.

I wanted to recommend Ian instead, especially since you’ve considered Owen and Liam, but when I said it with Adrienne I realized it’s the last two syllables of her name.

Simon, maybe? Traditional but not boring or overused. Adrienne and Simon.

Or Oliver? Adrienne and Oliver.

Edward is a classic I haven’t heard enough of lately, with cute nickname possibilities such as Ned and Ted. Or Edmund is similar, and I might like that even better.

I’m ready to hear more Karls, too. Adrienne and Karl.

And more Pauls. Adrienne and Paul.

Louis is on my sad-I-can’t-use list, and feels similar to Wesley. Adrienne and Louis.

Elliot is in that same category for me. Adrienne and Elliot.

George with your surname has the pleasing alliteration of Jack or James, but it’s less common. Adrienne and George.

I have a soft spot for the name Alfred and would love to see it around more. Adrienne and Alfred.

I am also fond of the name Frederick. Nice old name but not as out-and-about as it used to be. Adrienne and Frederick.

I wonder if you might want to consider Timothy as a first name. It’s familiar, but not high in current usage. Maybe Timothy Jack, or Timothy James, or Timothy Clayton. Adrienne and Timothy.

Baby Girl or Boy, Sibling to Pearl

Dear Swistle,

I must be completely honest: I am writing to you for reassurance, which may seem silly, and I understand if there’s not much to say. But I love your advice, and generally find your logical approach to highly emotional problems very calming. I wrote to you in May at the early stages of my second pregnancy in a panic about possible girls’ names, but sadly miscarried. Thankfully this letter was NOT posted, as I would have been even more sad getting advice when the pregnancy had not worked out. The gist of my (very) long letter at that time was that I wanted a name that had a story behind it that was somehow connected to family. For multiple reasons, a flower name made sense but I couldn’t pick one from our short list. Well, since becoming pregnant again my husband and I have settled on a name that was not even on our original list: Iris. The “rainbow” meaning and flower connection ticks the boxes for us. We love how it is a simple, straight-forward, relatively nickname proof name, easily spelled and pronounced, and relatively uncommon. Our first child is named Pearl, after her great-grandmother Margaret whose name means “pearl.” I think the two go nicely together. We have had our boy’s name picked out for some time, it is an unusual and short Scandinavian name connected to my Dad, and we are 100% settled on that.

Unfortunately, I am now feeling doubts about Iris. I think my problem is insanity and hormones, but… Iris is the name of my mother’s current boss. This is not a terrible association, but still feels a bit weird. I have met this woman very briefly a long time ago, and she seemed nice. I honestly forgot her name altogether, until two weeks after we chose the name and my Mother casually mentioned her boss. My mother does not dislike her, but I worry my Mother may react oddly to the name and not really like it, which feels important to me. I also have this weird obsession with looking at all the other famous Iris’s in the world and in history, and don’t really feel connected to any of them. This is nuts, I know, but I remember liking the book “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck and knowing that my literature loving mother would appreciate that reference, which she did. I cannot and will not talk to my mother about this- my husband have an iron-clad policy that we do NOT discuss names with family prior to naming, for many reasons, and frankly the risk is too high- if she DOES say that she doesn’t like the name, I have nothing else. Once the baby is here, there’s no going back. If my Mother doesn’t like the name, I believe in my heart she will still understand why we chose it and gradually come to love both the association of the name with her granddaughter and all of the thought we put into the name.

I think another part of my anxiety is that my baby is breech, which was only confirmed two weeks ago. The doctors tried to turn him or her with External Cephalic Version, and it didn’t work. Now I have ten days until a planned Caesarian which I am very comfortable with, but I only finished work today and am suddenly highly anxious about having a fixed deadline to have everything ready. I really thought I had more time, which is of course ridiculous as babies can be born at any time, but when I didn’t KNOW the date I could just assume I would be closer to my due date (I will be 39 weeks along for the Caesarian). With our first daughter I went into labour on my due date at 40 weeks and had her the day after by vaginal delivery. So now I am reading everything about Caesarians, and wondering about all of the after care for that, and what I need to bring to the hospital, or purchase for when I home from the hospital, etc. Unfortunately, I feel like everyone is telling me horror stories about birth in general, babies being stolen from hospitals (yes, really, one woman told me a horror story TODAY as I was getting blood taken- do people have no heart?), etc. So am now feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and having cold feet about all of my choices, including the girl’s name. There is no other name Swistle. I know, because I have now spent over a year in serious, daily pursuit of THE MAGICAL PERFECT GIRL BABY NAME and this is what we have. And I AM happy with it, but still feel on edge.

What I am hoping for is that you can give my anxieties a stern talking to, a “snap out of it crazy pregnant lady” lecture. And maybe some advice about Caesarian birth, and how 10 days is plenty of time to feel prepared, and how everything is going to be fine. Thanks for listening, Swistle. Would greatly appreciate any advice.

All my best,



I am rather late to this, as your c-section date is now only three days away. But I am here now and ready with the reassurances!

FIRST. You have thoroughly searched for a name. You have found an excellent solid beautiful choice with special meaning for you, and it goes well with your first child’s name. High-five me: you have done great and you are all set. I believe this to be cold feet and nothing more. It’s okay about your mom’s boss: if your mom hated her boss and ranted about her all the time, that would be one thing; I think in this situation it’s going to work out fine.

SECOND. C-sections. All of mine were born that way, and I am a fan. I found the first one much harder than the others, because it happened after labor and I was so tired and everything was unfamiliar. The scheduled ones were…well, I don’t want to oversell it, but I would recommend it to anyone. If I’m remembering correctly, the first 24 hours afterward you stay in bed with the epidural and IV for pain management. It would be really good if someone could stay overnight with you to help with changing the baby’s diaper and bringing the baby to and from its bassinet, but with all but our first baby Paul stayed home with the other kid(s) and I was able to manage with the nurses’ help. Then the next morning they take all that IV/epidural stuff out and you switch to oral medication, and they boot you out of bed; it will feel as if you should NOT stand up with your tum feeling that way, but trust the nurses (and Swistle) that you can, and that you will feel better the more you move around. And then you will have the best shower of your life and the nurses will start to plead with you to come out and you will say sorry no.

THIRD. Getting ready. As an anxious person, I rely pretty heavily on Coping Thoughts. My Coping Thought for getting ready for a baby to come home was that everything DOESN’T have to be ready ahead of time. With my first, I went into labor at 37 weeks 6 days, the morning after I’d finally gone out to buy a car seat. But if I HADN’T gotten that car seat in time, Paul could have gone out to get one while I was in the hospital. If we hadn’t already gotten a crib, he could have gotten that too. Or we could have put the baby in a cardboard box for a few weeks until we had time to go out and let me evaluate the pros and cons of every single crib on the market. If I’d somehow forgotten all about diapers, we could have stopped at Target on the way home from the hospital. If I’d somehow forgotten clothes and blankies, we could have wrapped the baby in a pillowcase or one of our t-shirts while Paul went to the store. It isn’t a deadline as much as it’s an arrival time: arrangements can continue afterward.

It’s even more relaxed with the post-C-section supplies: lots of women don’t know in advance they’re going to have a C-section, so they don’t buy anything ahead of time and have to send someone else out for it once they realize they need it. You’ll need some pads and some giant pads; my hospital sent me home with a big package of each. Some of the pads are for postpartum bleeding; some are to place between the incision and your underwear, to keep the incision dry and protected. Your OB may also tell you to buy a few over-the-counter medications; it has been awhile, but I think mine specified a certain type of stool softener and a certain type of pain killer (I was going to say which ones, but suddenly that seems like a poor idea: recommendations may have changed in the last ten years). My OB also gave me a small prescription for narcotics; if you can fill that at the hospital pharmacy so you can bring it home with you and no one has to go back out for it after you get home, I highly recommend it (and get one last dose of oral painkiller at the hospital before you leave to go home, to bridge the gap). Also, I recommend loose comfy pants; I wore pajama pants for a week or two because I didn’t want anything pressing where the incision was. And I had a Boppy pillow; those can be particularly nice for keeping the baby away from the incision.

Comparing my C-section recovery with my friends’ non-C-section recoveries, I’d say one difference is that it takes longer after a C-section to be comfortably up and about: I spent a lot of time in a recliner, and I slept in the recliner at night for awhile. If you want to channel energy into something productive ahead of time, I recommend cooking/freezing meals and doing any cleaning that you can still do around your tum, and making plans/arrangements for other people to handle cooking/cleaning for awhile after the birth.

I hope people who have had a C-section more recently than I have can fill out some more details on things that can be purchased/arranged ahead of time.

Commenting Problems (Baby Name Blog Edition)

Are you having trouble commenting, here and/or on the personal blog? The good news is, it isn’t just you. The bad news is, this has been going on for quite some time, and although I am married to a guy who knows his way around the innards of a computer program, I’m in the role of the shoemaker’s wife who has no shoes. No, it’s the shoemaker’s children who have no shoes. Does no one give a thought to the shoemaker’s wife and her shoes? Maybe the expression involves the shoemaker’s whole family. I could look it up, but we’re having such a nice time.

Anyway, I would like to give the shoemaker a little poke in the ribs on the subject of the hole in my shoes, so I would like to do a poll. If you also can’t use the poll, email me: swistle at gmail dot com. Or you can tell me on Twitter.

…Wait. I can’t use the poll either. Because everything looked fine with it, but when I tried to vote it said “an error occurred” and didn’t register the vote. We will have to do freeform answers in the comments section. WAIT. We cannot do that! Because the comments section is what we are having trouble with.

*deep breath* Okay. Here is what we are going to do. If you are having trouble with the comments section sometimes but not always, leave a comment in the comments section if possible, telling me what’s going on. If you can’t use the comments section at all, email me or @ me on Twitter (whenever I say “at me on Twitter” I mentally add finger guns and a chk-chk sound, so add those to your mental picture of this exchange) and tell me what kind of problem it is. Is it timing out or resetting while you’re composing a comment? Is it acting as if it posted the comment, all except for the part where the comment gets posted? Does the comment appear not to post, but then it shows up later? Is the whole comment area is failing to load, so that there appear to be no comments and no way to leave a comment? Does it help to force-reload the page (on my Mac this is done by holding down shift and command and, while they’re still down, pressing R)? And tell me any other details that seem relevant—for example, is it happening on your phone but not on your desktop, or vice versa? It it happening every time or just sometimes? And so on.

Baby Naming Issue: How to Spell the Unexpected Nickname?

Dear Swistle: You’ve helped me name two of my kids: the oldest and the youngest! Middle, as per usual, named himself. I’m done ​having children so I never in a bajillion years thought I’d be writing to you again. Here’s the thing, though. Marina Lynn, (our youngest, now four months old) though she’s obviously a Marina, has gotten a nickname, pronounced REE REE. The nickname came about as we watched her smile and giggle at us. It just stuck! “Hi REE REE!” we say. I think I started it. But now that this nickname is gaining traction I don’t know how to spell it. Is it Ree Ree or is it a RiRi or a Reeree or a Riri? Honestly? I don’t like any of the spellings! None of them jump out at me. And then I panic a little bit! Why didn’t I predict this contingency? What will we dooooooooo? I would ditch the nickname except for the fact that it’s sticking. Just heard my middle child call her Riri. (RiRi, Ree Ree, Reeree). Why am I panicking about this? Oh, I don’t know! Why do name freak-er outers freak out about names? THAT MUST BE THE REASON. I guess I’m feeling pressure to pick a spelling that is the BEST spelling in case it sticks all the way to high school. I thought you might be interested in tackling the subject of nicknames for a second and musing about it. And maybe, just maybe, we could do a poll?


I vote for not deciding now. The child is four months old; if the nickname sticks around long enough for her to need a consistent spelling for it, she will pick what she likes. So many babies have baby-talk nicknames along the lines of Ree-ree, Nee-nee, Sissy, La-la, Boo-boo bear, etc., and most of those nicknames drop by the wayside, or are only used in spoken language—or, if they need to be used in writing, the chosen spelling evolves. Ree Ree may be very temporary, or maybe she’ll grow up and be known to all as Ree, but at this point I would say there is no need for any of these three things: (1) panic, (2) regret, (3) a final decision. Let Marina handle this one if needed, when she’s old enough to do so. If you find you need a written form before then, pick your least-disliked of the ones you don’t like. I personally am a fan of Ree Ree, but I think it matters approximately zero at this point.

If I had to guess, my guess is that you are panicking about this because you have three young kids and one of them is a tiny baby. There is probably quite a bit of life-rearranging and adjustment going on right now, and probably not very much sleep. I think too that baby-name people tend to be PLANNERS, and we don’t like SURPRISES with the names we choose. If it makes you feel better to figure out a spelling, then I say continue to work on it—but it sounds like it’s making you feel worse. I don’t know if it will work for you, but one of my own favorite Coping Thoughts (it will not surprise you, I think, to learn that I frequently struggle with this exact type of panic/regret/must-decide-NOW situation) is “It’s okay to let this continue for now without a decision.” It would be absolutely fine to spell it an assortment of ways for now, and let a favorite spelling emerge with time.

Baby Girl Hoode-with-a-G, Sister to Jackson

Hello Swistle,

I am having the hardest time deciding on a name for our precious baby girl, arriving August 2017. She will be joining her big brother, 2 year old Jackson Wyatt (H)oode with a G.
I know this is my last child and will be my only girl, so I feel so much pressure to give her a name I would want as an adult (and as a child), that is unique but not weird, somewhat Southern but not overly girly, feminine but with an edge, and strong.
I have an aversion to names like Amelia, Olivia, etc. I guess I just am not into the old fashioned, super girly names.
I fell in love with the name Britton when I saw a little girl on the beach with the name monogrammed on her towel. I have tried a couple of Community chat boards and I have been shocked at the horrid people on there and how harshly they criticized it. They hated that it was a boy name for a girl (which I happen to LOVE), and a few of them claimed it was stupid to spell it BRITTON because that is just misspelling the country Britain. I don’t want it to have anything to do with the country, I just love the way it sounds.
So in the same fashion, I am attracted to Leighton and Cameron as well. Cameron seems like a safer bet, but I still really love it. I definitely don’t want something super popular. Jackson was more popular than I thought it would be, but it is my husband’s middle name and a family name for him. My husband’s name is a short name that starts with a B, and my name is Monica Jean (kinda country I know!)

Other names that have been in my list but have recently been eliminated due to how they sound with my simple one syllable last name of Hoode (with a G), are Blake and Beau.
I definitely can’t call a girl Beau Hoode (G) (sounds like No Good) ha!! That would be a terrible self fulfilling prophecy!
I am set in the middle name of Elizabeth, my mother’s mother was Mary Elizabeth, and we have already honored my husband’s side of the family, so I want something for my side.
And, It’s just such a beautiful name!

So as of now my short list includes

Britton Elizabeth

Cameron Elizabeth

Leighton Elizabeth

I have really enjoyed finding your blog and I can’t wait to hear your suggestions!!




Ah, yes, I am familiar with the name boards. I first encountered them when pregnant with the twins: I joined a more general group for people who were due the same month as me, but my favorite place was the NAME area. People could ask name questions, and other people could weigh in! There was VOTING! It was thrilling!

But you know how this ends: soon I noticed the comments sections of those areas were snake pits. A few people were weighing in thoughtfully and giving careful, kind opinions that showed a full understanding that “not a name I personally am planning to choose” was not even remotely the same as “name that no one should choose”, but a huge percentage of the audience was there to do harm on purpose for fun. Another huge percentage of the audience was there to attack the attackers. Every question devolved into a squall. Wait, not squall. What’s the word I’m thinking of that’s not squall? Never mind, I’ll think of it.

Anyway, I never went back to that part of the internet. And when I started this blog, I had one major goal: no snake pit. And I suggest staying away from snake pits in general: if I remember correctly, and I absolutely do, they harshly criticize LITERALLY EVERY NAME UNDER THE SUN. This is because they are not actually there to discuss names, they are there to rip names apart. Find you an audience who can tell the difference, whether that’s us or whether that’s supportive friends/family. No snakes.

Oh: brawl. Brawl is the word I was trying to think of. Not squall.

So, to start with, Britton is not a misspelling of Britain unless that’s what someone intends it to be. It could be a misspelling or alternate spelling of Briton (someone who comes from Britain), but my guess is that it comes from the accurate spelling of the surname and/or from lengthening the name Britt. There are many names that come into existence through various or uncertain means. And in any case, Britton is a name: in 2015 it was given to 78 new baby girls and 106 new baby boys.

It hits my ear as a fresh snappy update of Brittany, and I love the nickname Britt. It sounds to me like it’s your top choice, and I think it goes very well with what you’re looking for in a name. The “embroidered beach towel” test is a great one: one of the names we ended up using got bumped way up on the candidate list after I saw it written on a drawing in a kindergarten classroom.

If you like Blake but find it too abrupt with the surname, I wonder if you’d like Blakely? Or Lakelyn? Or Lakelyn makes me think of Locklyn.

Readers may feel here as if they’re having deja vu: I used these same suggestions in a recent post. And as long as I’m doing that, let me suggest Delaney: I think it goes very well with what you’re hoping for here, and it has cute nicknames like Del and Laney. And Brinley is nice. Or Kinsley, Everly, Ellery, or Ellison. (Normally I wouldn’t do two posts in a row with similar style, but I got all worked up about the chat boards.) More names to consider:


But my vote is for Britton.

Baby Naming Issue: What to Do When You Don’t Really Like ANY Names

Hi Swistle! I recently discovered your blog and I really enjoy reading your responses to baby name questions. I’m hoping you’ll have a little advice for me, too.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve dreamed of naming my own children more than most girls dream of a fairytale wedding. You would think that means I’ve had the names decided for years, but that’s not the case at all. Now that I am expecting my first child- a girl due June 14th- I’m finding the task to be incredibly daunting.

We decided on her middle name right away. It will be Blake, which is my husband’s first name. Our last name starts with an E and is opposite of the cardinal direction “west”. We agree that we want her first name to be more feminine, and that it doesn’t need to honor any other family members’ names. It can be uniquely her own.

The problem is I’ve put so much pressure on myself to find the “perfect” first name, and the perfect name simply doesn’t exist. I even went as far as to download the Social Security Database of every baby girl’s name in 2015 (the latest available data at the time) and used an Excel spreadsheet to eliminate names we knew we wouldn’t use. That process took months and eventually we gave up on that route.

At this point we’ve seen almost every name imaginable, and looked at them for so long that we aren’t in love with any of them- even the ones we have at the top of our list. We currently have a top three, although I’m not real sure how we got there other than these three keep coming up in our conversations:

Eiley – I feel like I could potentially be excited about this one, but I’m most worried about common mispronunciation. I’ve also heard it’s a nickname for Eileen, and I’m not a fan of the name Eileen.

Skylie – Or Skyler and have the option of calling her Skylie or Kyler.

Harper – A “safe” name, however maybe TOO safe. It’s the #4 most popular name in our state and I worry the phrase “Harper who? Which one?” would be a daily occurrence in her school years.

Other names we have recently marked off the list but might could be talked in to again- Trinity, Kensington, Mercy, Decklyn, Briley, Everly, Harlyn, Maylee.


Since you have already looked at all the names and you don’t like any of them enough to use them, this is not the kind of post where I make a list of names you haven’t considered and you say “Oh, whew, yes!” Instead, we are going to talk more generally about how to pick a name when nothing seems like the clearly right choice.

1. Instead of looking for a name, look for a STYLE. Once you figure out the TYPE of name you like, you can be reasonably sure that any name you like from that category will be satisfying to you in the long run and will work with future sibling names. Your style looks to me like what The Baby Name Wizard calls Bell Tones. I also see some Last Names First, some Androgynous, and some Charms & Graces—but the Bell Tones stand out. This is good news: it tells us that your choices are fairly consistent, and so you are likely to pick a name that you will like long-term and that will go well with future choices.

2. Don’t look for perfect: look for a good solid useful choice. It can seem to parents as if there is One Perfect Name out there, and that their job as parents is to find that shining grail. But in most cases, there is no One Perfect Name, there are just a lot of perfectly good names that would all work perfectly well. Your quest isn’t to find the universe’s preordained name choice for your child; your job is to give her a sensible identifier that she and others can use to refer to her. You need to find a name to put on the school-registration paperwork, and for her to write on her homework, and for everyone to write on gift tags. You can pick something that Works, without having to find Magic. The magic comes with time, as the name comes to represent the child to you.

3. Realize that every name is not just a name but a Package Deal. Some names come with spelling or pronunciation problems; some may feel boring or overly common; some are trendy or may get much more popular in the near future; some are easily mistaken for other names; some are awkward with the surname; and so on. Finding an issue with a name doesn’t mean that name has to be ruled out, because every name has issues; it only means you have to decide if the issue is one you’re okay with.

4. If having the middle name chosen before the first name is causing you any trouble, I suggest scrapping it for now and considering it again only once you have a first name chosen. When you’re already having such a hard time, there’s no sense making it harder.

5. Take a break. It sounds as if you’ve been doing this intensively for quite a while. I’d recommend taking a short period of time—say, one week—when you don’t talk about names at all, and try not to think about them.

6. Try them out. Once the break is over, take each of your finalists and give it its own day. For that day, refer to the baby by that name and think of her by that name. Does it feel like it works? Does it feel like the name of Your Baby? See which ones feel most comfortable. Are there any that you were sorry to stop using? Any that you were looking forward to being done using?


Let’s turn to the names themselves. I notice that you like the rhyming names Eiley, Skylie, Briley, and the similar-sounding Maylee and Everly. You’ve also got Decklyn and Harlyn. So if I were you, I would be looking pretty specifically at names containing -iley/-ylie and names ending with -ly/lie/lee and -lyn.

When putting names together, make sure you try out the first name and surname without the middle name between them, since that’s the way most people will be hearing them: -ley Ee– is a lot of long-E. (But again, consider the Package Deal concept: this is not necessarily a deal-breaking issue, just one to consider ahead of time.)

I also suggest, as The Baby Name Wizard does in the Bell Tones category, playing around with name parts and endings. If you like Skylie, maybe you’d like Skyler, as you mention, or Skylin or Kylie or Kinsley. If you like Briley, maybe you’d like Brilyn or Braelyn or Brinley or Briella. If you like Maylee, maybe you’d like Maelyn or Mylie. If you like Everly, maybe you’d like Ellery or Emery or Ellisyn or Evanie.

I wonder if you would like Isla with the nickname pronounced Eiley? (I’m not sure how I’d spell it. Isly? Ily? You could see what evolves naturally.) It breaks the connection to Eileen (though I wouldn’t have jumped to that), and may help with pronunciation.

Decklyn makes me think of Locklyn.

Locklyn makes me think of Linnea.

Harper makes me think of Juniper, a much less common choice with the darling nickname Junie.

Delaney comes to mind for no particular reason; I just wonder if you would like it. Cute nicknames Del and Lanie.

I wonder if instead of using Blake as her middle name, you’d like the idea of using Blakeley or Blakelyn or Blakelind—either as middle or first. I like how the second two could be seen as a combination of your husband’s name and yours. Lakelin would also be nice for this.

Already-Born Baby Boy Papadopoulos

Hi Swistle,

I’ll love you forever if you can help me name my newborn baby boy. He’s 5 days old, awfully cute, and nameless. We left the hospital without a name! I didn’t know you could do that. Officially, he’s Baby Boy Papadopoulos until we sort it out.

So, last name is Papadopoulos. My husband is Greek-American, which means we have a naming tradition to deal with. Per tradition, we are supposed to name our first born son and daughter after the father’s parents. My husband and I have differing memories of how much this was actually discussed before we got married & pregnant with our first. (He remembers bringing it up once. I’m disputing that it ever came up at all. At the very least, we had no agreement on the matter.)

We actually have a daughter and, before she was born (as in, right before!) I agreed to use his mom’s name, Eleni. It wasn’t in my top 50 list, but it’s not bad. So I agreed to it, but on the condition that I could name the next child. We’re only having two kids and I want to follow the American tradition called ‘Naming the kids whatever the hell you want and the grandparents will probably hate it but oh well you can’t please everyone.’

Still, I wanted him to at least like the name. When we found out we were having a boy, I threw out a bunch of names to him: Matthew, Miles, Milo, James, Mark, Martin, Theodore, Gregory and many more I can’t even remember now in my postpartum haze. He hemmed and hawed and shot each one down for one reason or another. He just really wants to use his dad’s name Steven.

Steven’s not a bad name. I lucked out as far as Greek daughters-in-law go. Some Greek boy names are totally unworkable. Anyway, I don’t hate Steven. I’m not in love with the phonetics of it (too many e’s) and I don’t like that there are two equally probable spellings (Steven vs. Stephen). I dislike the nickname Steve. And I’d hate to again settle for an OK name just to make the in-laws happy. Especially since we had an agreement in place this time.

On the other hand, it feels wrong to just choose a name myself. He’s hated (or claims to anyway) all of my choices. We can do the father’s name for the middle name, the Christening name. Hell, I’m even fine with the in-laws calling him Steven as a nickname. I just don’t like it enough to agree to it as a first name and not feel defeated and angry.

Please help a sleepless, emotional, postpartum mom of a nameless infant think rationally.

Many thanks


You ARE thinking rationally. It is your husband we need to fix.

1. It was decided that your children will have your husband’s family surname.
2. It was decided that your husband would get to use his naming tradition for your first child.
3. In exchange, it was decided that you would get your way on the next child’s name.

But now your husband really wants to name the child after his own dad, again following his own family’s naming tradition. Here is the problem: he has not fully, deep-down realized that is not going to happen. Instead, he is comparing every name you suggest to the name in his mind, which is his dad’s name. He is making you do all the work of finding a name he likes better—which is NOT the task at hand. The task at hand is for him to agree to one of your top choices, as last time you agreed to his.

Step one: Your husband needs to toss out the name Steven, and FULLY DEEP-DOWN UNDERSTAND that it is tossed out. It’s over. It’s not happening. The way he’s clinging to that name is directly responsible for the way the two of you are unable to name this child. He can’t really consider the other names until he reframes the decision from “Do I like this name better than my idea for the name?” to “Which of the non-Steven names do I like?”

Step two: Of the names that are at the top of your list, your husband needs to choose his favorite. I don’t believe he really does hate all your choices; I believe he is saying he hates them to force you to give in to using his father’s name, whether or not he realizes that’s what he’s doing. Make a list of your top five choices. Ten if you’re feeling generous. He may choose one. That will be the child’s name.

You say it feels wrong to just choose a name yourself, but your husband is not having a similar internal struggle: he did that very thing for your first child’s name, and now he wants to do it again for your second child’s name. You guys had a deal, and now he’s saying actually, no, he would prefer to choose both children’s names himself. Well, of COURSE he would. And so would you. But that is not the way co-parenting works. Certainly he can give final approval to the name, as you gave final approval to his choice, but you let him pick a name that was NOT EVEN IN YOUR TOP FIFTY and now it is his turn. He will honor his part of the deal or I will personally come and shake him until his teeth rattle.