Author Archives: Swistle

Baby Naming Issue: Husband Is Being No Help

Dear Swistle –

I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant with our first child – a boy! – and my husband is being NO HELP! Our last name is Mouton (Moo-TAWN), and we have agreed to the middle name Michael, in honor of my husband’s dad.

From the beginning, my husband has been very picky but hasn’t given me enough information to figure out what he likes. Also, he’s very sarcastic, and some of his reasons sound like he’s trolling me to be obnoxious, but I can’t tell anymore and he keeps using the same reasons, so maybe he’s serious?

Here was his responses to my first suggestions:
Titus/Silas – doesn’t like names that end in “us”.
Levi – doesn’t like names that end in “I”.
Noah – no old names (also completely off my own list since it’s so popular).
Lucas – sounds too “black”. Mind you, MY HUSBAND IS BLACK. And he says Lucas sounds this way because of the new series Luke Cage. *eye roll*
Finn – that’s a character from the new Star Wars.
Tobias – Arrested Development.
Justin – “everyone” will think we named him after Justin Timberlake.
Robert – too generic.
Felix – he just stared at me. I think that’s bad?
Oliver – too British.

We can agree that he doesn’t like Bible names (though I keep pushing because they’re classics) and he doesn’t like pop culture references, though I hope this is just something he can get over once the baby is here and he meets his son.

He keeps suggesting names and then telling me he was joking. This is how I came to love both Max and Sebastian, only to find out that he never seriously considered them! And his latest cop-out when asked is that he hates his OWN name, so how could he determine a good name for a kid?

Here are my final ideas, after I (mostly) took out the ones to which he was adamantly opposed. I had hoped to wait to show him in the delivery room when he’s facing a final deadline, but he asked to see it today and – of course – hated them ALL.
Silas or Simon

Maybe this is more of a marriage question than a baby name question, but where can I go from here? I don’t really intend to start over on names, and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to try very hard to consider names in his own, either. Should I cross my fingers that he’ll just let me choose when it comes down to it? (In that case, I would probably pick Max.) Or is there another solution that we haven’t considered yet?

Thanks for your help with our conundrum!

PS – we had a girl name picked out about two hours after finding out we were pregnant, so the good news is that future naming battles might turn out differently!


Have you considered putting your thoughts and feelings on this issue into a screaming meltdown? It sounds as if it might be time for something that knocks Mr. Automatic Comeback back into the land where we are not in a Saturday Night Live sketch but instead choosing an actual name for an actual baby who will be making an actual arrival.

If you are not the screaming meltdown type, we will need another way to get his attention. Whatever your usual style is when you have Had It (eg, long hard stare with clenched jaw, or tears running silently down cheeks as you gaze hopelessly at the wall, or becoming snippy, or dropping the subject until he notices, or saying “We need to talk,” or calling his sister and getting her to yell at him, or whatever), it is time to bring it. What we need here is this, or the equivalent of this: “Listen. This baby needs a name. You are not only not helping me with this, you are actively making it much, much harder. Time is getting very short, and right now I need you to stop making jokes, stop kneejerk-rejecting names, and HELP me with this job that belongs to BOTH of us. Here is the baby name book: make a list of ten names you like. Or if you don’t want to have to do even a small amount of the research work, then pick three names, just THREE names from my extensive list, names that you don’t ‘hate.’ Up to you, but by tomorrow we are having a name discussion that is about names you like, and not about how much you hate all my choices. If you don’t want to help, fine—but then I am picking the name. So suit up, buttercup.”

It might or might not be helpful to know the girl-name choice: it might help us figure out his style. [Edited to add: We have it now: it’s Madeline Jayne.] On the other hand, it’s very common for people to have a different style in girl names than in boy names. And also, his current style might be “Repressed Panicked Ambivalence.” Do you have a copy of The Baby Name Wizard? Quite possibly you have already tried this, but if you haven’t, I suggest looking up your girl name and seeing what the author suggests as brother names. Also look up the style categories the author puts the name into, and see if you like the boy names in that list. For example, let’s say your girl name is Clara. Brother names for Clara are listed as: Leo, Miles, Emmett, Oscar, Charles, Henry. And style categories for Clara are “Ladies and Gentlemen” and “Antique Charm.” But again, this won’t be much help if your boy-name style is different than your girl-name style.

My usual next step would be to go over your list and start discussing names—but in this case, it’s like the factory is shut down and we can’t do anything else until it’s up and running again. You have a wide variety of excellent names of various styles here, and I don’t think any of us think the real problem is your list. To give you some hope, we’ve had a number of letters where one parent is being impossible and saying they hate everything, and then the baby is born and the parent chooses a name they formerly claimed to hate. It can make you want to slam that person’s head into a plate of hospital food, but it is nice to know that sometimes it works out well in the end.

Baby Girl or Boy Lind, Sibling to Sophia and Ava

Dear Swistle,

I am so sorry not to have discovered your blog before this, the middle of my third pregnancy, but am hopeful that you can help me and my husband out with our big naming problem! His/the kids’ last name is pronounced Lind. If we have a boy (which I suspect we won’t), his name will be my maiden name, which has been our chambered boy name for each pregnancy so far. We haven’t completely decided yet, but believe we will probably try for one more baby after this one, and also have a second boy name ready if we need it.

Our big problem is finding a girl name. Ironically, we chose our two daughters’ names very easily–but that was before realizing that our theoretical name preferences are wayyyyy out of step with our actual ones! Our 3-year-old is Sophia and our 18-month-old is Ava. Believe it or not, we were going for unique names both times, only to choose names that have been in the top five for the past several years.

When we named Sophia, we had no idea what sorts of resources were out there for discussing and analyzing names–we just talked to each other and decided that Sophia was a pretty, elegant, RARE vintage choice, which was exactly what we wanted. We were among the first in our social circle to have kids, so we just didn’t know better. After Sophia was born, we started to gain a sense that the name wasn’t as uncommon as we thought (right away I noticed that NO ONE reacted with the delight and surprise I had been expecting, and then another Sophia was born in our social circle a few weeks later), but it wasn’t until Ava came along that it really hit home. Why? Because for the past 18 months, I don’t think two weeks have gone by without someone saying to me, “Wow, my nieces/neighbors/kid’s friend and her sister are named Sophia and Ava! What a coincidence!” After the first couple times, I finally found the SSA website and a few baby name blogs, including your own, and was aghast to learn how NOT unique these names were, both generally and in our state (where Ava was number 1 the year ours was born).

I can’t tell you how disappointing this has been to me. I can’t imagine the girls’ being named anything else, but there are times when I feel genuinely embarrassed to introduce them by name, because I feel that everyone is thinking, “Wow, don’t their parents have any creativity?” I used to have thoughts like that about other people’s kids’ names, so please don’t try to convince me that it doesn’t happen! The one thing that has helped is that we often call them by random nicknames (Lulu and Lottie), so at the very least strangers don’t have to know they have two of the most common names in the present universe.

So that brings us to naming our third child, if it is a girl. This baby feels impossible to name because we have boxed ourselves into a corner I don’t like. Several people have already suggested Olivia to me, apparently believing this must be my style since it’s another top-fiver. And indeed, maybe we should just go with that, because what’s the point of doing otherwise? It IS a pretty name (although not one that I would have picked in a vacuum, because I’m not drawn to that long O at the beginning). I’d prefer not to repeat an initial, but Amelia is another one that would fit in with the other girls’ names. Lila is a favorite of mine, but won’t work with the last name.

However, I can’t help but feel that we have a shot here at coming up with something that recasts the set, so to speak, and jazzes it up a little bit. Obviously if we named her something like Urania, it would stand out in a bad way, and wouldn’t fix the problem. But am I overlooking something in the in-between area that would make the group feel slightly less faddish?

By the way, I hope this question doesn’t offend anyone with daughters named Sophia or Ava. Obviously, I think they are beautiful names or I wouldn’t have used them! I think it’s the SET, and not so much either name individually, that feels faddish to me.

I would really, really love your help with this! We aren’t concerned with a middle name (we just use names of significance to us at the time, and can choose that toward the end based on the first name we pick), so the focus is just on making sure the first name works. The baby is due on Thanksgiving, but the other two were both three weeks early…

Thank you so much, if you’re able to help!



I think what I might do is try to spin the sibling group as Vintage Hollywood Glamour. Sophia (Loren), Ava (Gardner), and ? You certainly could go Olivia (de Havilland) here, but you don’t love the name and I don’t suggest it. I might go more this direction:

Audrey (Hepburn) (repeats an initial)
Catherine (Deneuve)
Elizabeth (Taylor)
Esther (Williams)
Faye (Dunaway)
Grace (Kelly)
Greta (Garbo)
Helen (Hayes) (a little hard to say with the surname)
Ingrid (Bergman) (hard to say with the surname)
June (Allyson)
Katherine (Hepburn) (she spelled it Katharine but I’d go with Katherine)
Lana (Turner) (probably not with the surname)
Lillian (Russell) (probably not with the surname)
Mae (West) (a little difficult with the surname)
Marilyn (Monroe) (probably not with the surname)
Rosalind (Russell) (absolutely not with the surname)
Vanessa (Redgrave)
Veronica (Lake)
Vivian (Leigh) (she spelled it Vivien but I’d go with Vivian)

I wish my search had turned up a well-known actress named Margo, because that’s the name I thought of while reading the letter. Margo Lind; Sophia, Ava, and Margo.

Or Genevieve. Genevieve Lind; Sophia, Ava, and Genevieve. It makes me think of Jenny Lind, in a good way. If she goes by Evie, that might be too close to Ava.

I also like Eliza. Eliza Lind; Sophia, Ava, and Eliza.

Or Eloise. Eloise Lind; Sophia, Ava, and Eloise.

Or Esme. Esme Lind; Sophia, Ava, and Esme.

Or Dahlia, which is similar to Lila but I think works better with the surname (though it’s still a little tricky). You could call her Dolly, which goes nicely with Lulu and Lottie. Dahlia Lind; Sophia, Ava, and Dahlia.

Or Flora. Flora Lind; Sophia, Ava, and Flora.

Or Bianca. Bianca Lind; Sophia, Ava, and Bianca. I really like that one.

But even before thinking about spin, I’d want you to make a list of the names you love—without, at first, consulting the SSA charts. Just: what would you name this baby if you hadn’t found out about the popularity issue? You’re feeling self-conscious about your previous choices, but the spin that might bring the best chance of long-term happiness is “We like popular names. *SHRUG*” I do understand on a visceral level the stomach-dropping sensation of thinking you’ve chosen a name for a particular attribute and then finding that not to be the case. But if you can force yourselves to retroactively spin your style as something more like “having our finger on the pulse of current naming style” or “deftly choosing the enduring, quality names from among the trends” or something like that, it may help with long-term feelings about the names. Does anyone else know that you were trying for rare? If not, it can be our little secret. No one has to know that you didn’t know. You can practice a casual little laugh: “Oh, I know it’s so popular! But we just loved it!” Or to downplay the whole thing while not making your first two children feel you regret their names: “We just chose our favorite name each time.”

I’m a fan of sibling-name coordination, but I don’t think it’s a huge deal when there’s a shift partway through. As long as you’re choosing based on your own tastes, it’s likely the names won’t clash: the most likely thing is that you’d choose another pretty, elegant, vintage name, and the only gap would be in popularity.

Baby Boy or Girl Pollack, Sibling to Charles and Hazel

Hi Swistle,

I have loved reading your blog over the years and continually refer back to your archives. I am writing because we are expecting our 3rd and final child in October and we are having a harder time deciding on a name this time around.

Our last name is Pollack, spelled differently. We have two children, Charles (Charlie) Joseph and Hazel Lillian. Since we already have a boy and a girl, we are keeping this third child’s gender a surprise. However, that means we have to come up with TWO names, not just one. Yikes! Charlie is named after a grandfather on each side and the middle name Lillian is a family name as well. Ideally, we’d like the name to have 2 syllables so it fits in with Charlie and Hazel and our “name family.” We tend to like more traditional names that are not super popular.

If the child is a boy, we’d like to use the middle name Israel (my maiden name). As far as boy contenders, this is where we are having the hardest time and are feeling somewhat stuck. I have always loved the name Simon and think it fits so well with our other two, but my husband is not a fan of it. (He can’t exactly pinpoint why, but I think it might be because he does a lot of business in the UK and has run across his fair share of Simons, since the name seems to be more popular there). Other names we have considered include:

Nolan–This is a decent contender that we both like but I’m not sure it’s the one yet. Maybe it’s that it begins and ends with the letter “N” but I don’t find it as inviting a name as Charlie and Hazel, if that makes sense. It sounds a little harder to me.

Grayson–Again, another one we are both okay with but not quite sure it’s right. It sounds a little trendier than we’re used to.

We like the Henry/Theodore/James/Noah type names, but they are all too popular where we are from.

As far as girls, if this baby is a girl, her middle name will be Bernice (after BOTH of my grandmothers)! There are a few names we both really like but we keep running into questions about pronunciation.

Isla–This is our front runner and my favorite. However, my husband’s family is all Spanish-speaking and he worries the pronunciation will be so confusing since Isla would literally be pronounced “Ees-la in Spanish.

Laurel–Another name we really love although I hesitate that it sounds too close to Hazel with the -el ending.

Jolie–We love the idea of this name, but again it comes down to pronunciation. Is it JO-lee like Josie or Jo-LEE like the actress? Will we forever be correcting people? If I think about it too much it makes my head spin!

Would love to hear your expert advice or any thoughts that you have. We love both of our kids’ names so much, I feel like the pressure is on for this third baby! Thanks again!



Simon seems great to me. Grayson seems like the wrong style with Charlie and Hazel. I’m about to suggest a bunch of names that may very well fall into the Henry/Theodore/James category, but that’s seems like the very category we should be looking at: vintage revival and/or timeless. I’m ignoring the preference for two syllables for now: especially for girl names, I think it unnecessarily rules out too many good candidates. And I don’t know anything about Spanish pronunciation, so I’m leaving that aside as well. You may start to wonder why I am even answering the question if I’m not able/willing to follow the guidelines, and to that I say la la la I do what I want.

Elliot/Emmett/Everett. I think of these names as their own little group, and I think all of them would be great in this sibling group. Charlie, Hazel, and Elliot. Charlie, Hazel, and Emmett. Charlie, Hazel, and Everett. My favorite is Emmett: I think it has the friendly sound of Charlie.

Miles. Charles and Hazel both have a Z-sound; adding another might appeal, or might seem like too much, especially since it repeats the ending of Charles. Milo might be better, and it has a friendlier sound. Charlie, Hazel, and Milo.

Ian. Charlie, Hazel, and Ian. This would make a cute monogram of the surname-in-the-middle variety: IPI.

Malcolm. I like how this name has a formal/friendly sound: dressed up like Charles, but approachable like Charlie. Charlie, Hazel, and Malcolm. I find it a little difficult to say with the surname, but not too difficult.

Jasper. Charlie, Hazel, and Jasper. I was wondering why that name sounded like it clicked together with the surname in a familiar way, and I think it’s because of the artist Jackson Pollock.

Nicholas. This name is familiar enough that I find my eyes sometimes skim right past it in the name book. But I met a little baby Nicholas recently and was charmed by the name all over again. Charlie, Hazel, and Nicholas. I don’t like the initials NIP, though.

Sam. I would probably use the long form Samuel. Sam feels to me like an absolutely natural brother name for Charlie. Charlie, Hazel, and Sam. Again, I’m not crazy about the initials, but SIP is better than NIP.

George. I love this name so much. Charlie, Hazel, and George. I think that’s darling. It makes me want to squeeze all of them.

Wesley. Charles, Hazel, and Wesley; Charlie, Hazel, and Wes. This is one of my favorite combinations.

Leo. Perfect with Charlie, but maybe too informal with Charles. Charlie, Hazel, and Leo. Initials spell LIP.

Louis. One of my own favorites. Charlie, Hazel, and Louis. LIP initials again.

Oliver. This seems like such a good fit. Charles, Hazel, and Oliver.

You wouldn’t want to use Albert, would you? I’m ready to hear it again, and am trying to talk others into making that happen. It helps that when I was a child there was an extremely kind and gentle college-aged swimming teacher named Albert/Al. He was such a contrast to the other college-aged male swimming teachers, who were loud and show-offy and flirty; Al was warm and patient and nice, and a good teacher. Charles, Hazel, and Albert; Charlie, Hazel, and Al (or Bertie).

Edmund. Charles, Hazel, and Edmund; Charlie, Hazel, and Eddie/Teddy.


Now, for the girl names. You two know your husband’s family: are they good with learning English pronunciations of things? Will they be able/willing to learn it, even though it is different than what they’d expect it to be? If so, then I think you should use Isla if you want to, despite the pronunciation issue. If instead they would never really be able/willing to learn it, or if they would give you a hard time about it, that might be too much hassle and I might suggest going with something else.

Would Iris be any easier? It’s botanical like Hazel, which might make it too matchy for your tastes, but I think it’s a better style fit with Hazel. Charles, Hazel, and Iris.

Laurel feels very matched with Hazel—not only both botanical, but also the matched endings. I also have a little trouble saying Laurel Pollack.

Part of the package deal of the name Jolie is going to be correcting pronunciation. Would that drive you crazy, or would you be fine with that? I pronounce it jo-LEE, like Angelina Jolie and like the French word. But I wouldn’t be surprised to find a JO-lee, like Joely Fisher. Well, I’d be a little surprised. But in any case, the style of Jolie seems so different from the style of Charlie and Hazel, and it bothers me a little that there’d be too -lie endings, and I don’t quite like it with the surname: the repeating -ol- sound, I think.

I would probably head more in the direction of vintage revival and/or timeless again. When I looked for boy names, I was looking for something to match the friendliness of Charlie; for girl names, I’m looking for something to match the substance and sass of Hazel.

Eloise. This gives you Z-sounds in all three names. Charles, Hazel, and Eloise.

Eliza. This too gives you Z-sounds in all three names. Charles, Hazel, and Eliza.

Louise. This too gives you Z-sounds in all three names, while also meeting the 2-syllable preference. Charles, Hazel, and Louise.

Georgia. Charlie, Hazel, and Georgia.

Alice. Charlie, Hazel, and Alice.

Lydia. Charles, Hazel, and Lydia.

Matilda. Charlie, Hazel, and Matilda.

Minerva. Charlie, Hazel, and Minerva.

Ruby. Charlie, Hazel, and Ruby.

Winifred. Charles, Hazel, and Winifred.

Baby Boy Moose-oh

Dear Swistle,

I’m excited to be writing to you after reading for years! My husband (Joe) and I (Louisa) are expecting our first child (a boy) in early November. The baby will have my husband’s last name, pronounced MOOSE-oh.

When we started to talk about names, we agreed on a girl’s name right away that we’re going to save for a future daughter – Philippa Grace, nicknamed Pip or Pippa. Other girls’ names we like include Lydia and Eloise. Finding the right boy’s name for THIS baby is much harder! We’ll likely stop at two, max three children.

My favorite for this baby is Jonathan. I think that it feels serious and somewhat classic while still giving plenty of options from childhood to adulthood – Jonathan, Jack, Jonny, Jon. My husband doesn’t like the spelling of Jonathan (he’d be more open to Johnathan, which I think looks strange and would prompt a lot of correcting over the course of our son’s life!). I also like Kenneth (Ken or Kenny), Charles (Charlie), and Nathaniel (Nate) – these are all vetoed by my husband.

My husband’s favorite is Jack as a standalone first name. He likes the sound, that it feels masculine, and that there are some family connections on his side. To me, Jack feels like a nickname, not a full name. His other favorites included Declan, Aidan and Cormac (all vetoed by me).

Other names we’re considering are Dominic (nn Nico), John (nn Jack), Connor, and Dean. We’re stuck disagreeing on John because we both feel so strongly about Jack/Jonathan and neither Dean, Connor, or Dominic feels quite right so far.

Middle names we are considering are Louis (we like that this echoes my first name, and combined with John or Jonathan would be an homage to John Lewis, who is one of our heroes), Douglass, and Xavier. We don’t like any of these for first names.

Other names we’ve ruled out as first names are Kent, Patrick, George, Cameron, Maxwell, Quinn, Scott, Seamus, Caleb, Lee, and Adam

We’re not down with names that are super trendy and we’ve also love to stay out of the top 20 if we can.

Thanks for your help!



I am of two minds. First mind: I think the two of you are going to have to abandon the entire Jonathan/Johnathan/Jack/John branch. The Johnathan spelling seems problematic to me, too; it would certainly be manageable if you both agreed on it and were willing to take on the hassle, but not if one of you doesn’t like it. And I don’t think of Jack as a nickname for either spelling. And your feelings about Jack seeming like a nickname rather than a given name need to be taken into account. Plus, while it is too old and familiar a name to be called trendy, its recent usage has felt trendy to me: it joined Max and Sam in a late-1990s resurgence of short-boy-names-that-used-to-seem-like-old-man-names. Fashionable, that’s the word I’m looking for: it’s not trendy, but it’s recently been very fashionable.

But this is my second mind: Wait, why isn’t John-nicknamed-Jack the perfect solution here? It removes the Jonathan/Johnathan spelling issue. It offers a beautiful compromise for the “he wants Jack but it seems like a nickname to you” issue. It takes care of Swistle’s possibly overly-strict objection to Jack as a nickname for Jonathan/Johnathan. It reminds you of John Lewis, and both of you like that connection. It’s not trendy; it’s not in the top 20. It’s great with your surname; it’s great with all your possible future daughter names. It goes well with Louis, and I love the reasons for using Louis. I mean, it seems like we’re done here. Aren’t we done here?

If we are not done here, then I’d note that I see a lot of hard-C and K sounds in the names on your lists: Kenneth, Declan, Cormac, Dominic, Nico, Connor. I wonder if you’d like:


Or instead of Jonathan, would you like Benjamin? The two names seem very similar to me: same syllables, same rhythm, same nickname potential; both have prominent J-sounds and N-sounds; both end in N. Ben is one of my favorite nicknames for boys: it sounds friendly and reliable.

More possibilities:


Baby Girl or Boy Doherty, Sibling to Rose

Help! I’m due in 2 weeks and cannot settle on a girls name for this baby. If it’s a boy, we’ve picked the name James Patrick (James is a name we like and Patrick is my husband’s name). We have a 2 year old named Rose Evelyn (we liked the name Rose and Evelyn was my husbands paternal grandmothers name).

To me, Rose Evelyn is the perfect name for us. Sounds great with our last name (Doherty; we pronounce it door-tee), easily recognizable but not overly common as a first time, and you cannot tell the age of the person just by seeing their name.

We had picked the name Claire Eloise out if we had another daughter, but my brother-in-law just used Claire for his daughter, so that’s off the table now.

Our two finalists are:

May Emmeline (not after any family members) or

Eloise Margaret (Eloise after my mom who’s middle name is Louise and Margaret after my mother-in-law).

My main criteria are a classic, non-trendy name that is timeless. Other names I like that have been vetoed by my husband are: Fiona, Lucy, Florence, Alice and Margot.

Any other suggestions?! Which name do you like best and why? Thank you!



The name I like best is May. Here is why:

1. It’s a name that, like Rose, is more familiar as a middle name, and a fresh surprise as a first name.

2. It’s one syllable, like Rose and the possible future brother James.

3. Like the name Rose, it’s a name that gives me a feeling of sweet simplicity.

4. It has completely different sounds than the name Rose, while matching beautifully in style.


But I also love the name Eloise. Here’s why:

1. If you later have a James, you’d have three names in which an S is pronounced like a Z. I wouldn’t put that as a huge selling point (and in fact it could be seen as a downside), but it could be fun.

2. It won’t make you feel trapped into using only one-syllable names for possible future siblings.

3. Like the name Rose, it’s a name that has some sass to it.

4. You’ve paired it with Margaret, and I like that each girl gets a family name.


My favorite of all would be to take May and pair it with a family middle name. I don’t always like alliteration, but I feel drawn to May Margaret. I like to say it. I am picturing the baby, and I would call her May Margaret.

Or I also love May Louise. My mom and I feel that Louise is the winner for Most Fun to Say middle names. Rose Evelyn and May Louise is spectacular.

Baby Girl Or-lee, Sister to Maya and Benjamin

Dear Swistle,

I’m hoping you can provide me with some much needed baby naming clarity. I’m currently pregnant with my third child and having the most difficult time coming up with a name. My pregnancy has been chaotic- I currently have nearly 3 year old twins and we started trying for our third while we were undergoing a major construction project on our home. Naturally we got pregnant much more quickly than we ever thought possible for us and here I am 9 months pregnant, house in complete disarray and very much discouraged by the fact that I cannot come up with a baby girl name that feels right. It would give me much comfort to feel as though I at least had a plan when it came to naming our newest addition.

Our darling twins are named Maya Elyse and Benjamin Asher. Our last name is pronounced phonetically as Or-lee.

Our third is a girl, and I love girl names that feel feminine but simple with some charm to them.

I originally loved Corinne, however my husband is concerned because acquaintances of ours who happen to live in our neighborhood have a 3 year old by the same name. It doesn’t bother me, but much to my dismay he feels very preoccupied about it.

My runner-up choice has been Isla with a middle name of Rose. I have two concerns, the first being pronunciation issues as it is not terribly well known in our part of the country and the second being whether it mimics the vowel sounds of Maya too closely. Also, maybe it’s too trendy?

Other names we have tossed around:

Abigail (husband loves)
Naomi (both of us are ok with this one)
Chloe (same deal as Naomi)
Ella (before the Clooneys nearly certainly doomed it to be even more ubiquitous than it already is)
Iris (we like it but I worry it’s too stuffy?7

I’m so interested in your input on our name selections and would be equally enthused to see any new suggestions you had to work nicely with our existing children’s names.

Wish me luck! Im scheduled to be induced on July 18th! Thank you very much in advance for any help you might be able to offer!



Maya and Isla do feel very similar to me. They look so different, but when I say them aloud I get an almost-rhyme feeling. Isla Rose brings Lida Rose to mind, which could be a plus or a minus or neither.

I think Corinne is great with Maya. It bothers me a little bit that the ending is similar to Benjamin, but I don’t think that would bother me long-term. The acquaintance thing wouldn’t bother me. It bothers me a little that it repeats the -or- sound in the surname, but for others that would be a plus: Corinne Or-lee.

Would it help the acquaintance issue to use Corinna or Karenna?

Or Celeste is a similar style to Corinne, while being a very different name. Celeste Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Celeste.

Camille is another such option. Camille Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Camille.

From your list, my favorite is Naomi. I find it a little difficult to say with the surname, but not at deal-breaking levels.

I don’t think Iris is stuffy, but I am increasingly aware of the difficulties of your surname. Iris Or-lee blends into Ira Sorely. Not that that’s a big deal, but it bugs me a little.

I wonder if you’d like Eliza. Similar to Ella in sound and Abigail in style, but less common than either. Eliza Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Eliza.

Or Fiona. Fiona Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Fiona.

If you don’t mind repeating initials, I like Bianca. Bianca Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Bianca.

Sabrina. Sabrina Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Sabrina.

Simone. Simone Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Simone.

Linnea. Linnea Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Linnea.

Rose. Rose Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Rose.

Stella. Is that too much L? Stella Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Stella.

Juliet. Juliet Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Juliet.

Claudia. Claudia Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Claudia.

Nadia. Nadia Or-lee; Maya, Benjamin, and Nadia. I really like that.




Name update:

Dear Swistle,

I wanted to express many thanks to you and your readers who really helped me with their contributions! Baby girl was born July 18 and after sleeping on it for a night, we decided on Naomi Rose Or-lee.  She’s happy, healthy and completely living up to the Hebrew meaning of her name (which is “pleasant”).  Maya and Ben are head over heels for her and the last 48 hours has been spent happily refereeing who gets to hold her next.

Thank you again- what a lovely community this is, especially when working through a rather stressful decision!

Very sincerely,

Alison Or-lee

Baby Boy Mailmen, Brother to Nathan, Clara, and Ivy

Dear Swistle,

I am emailing you after being an avid fan of your blog for years. You’ve taught me how to look at names differently (how they go together, how to choose a name), yet on this go-around I can’t seem to get it right.

We are having our last child due on August 16. Our last name is German and sounds like “mailmen” with some extra letters thrown in there. Our current children are Nathan (Nate) Carter, Clara Eleanor, and Ivy Caroline. I desperately want the names to “go together,” so that is how I began approaching the task of naming our fourth (a boy). I ended up on the name Peter Everett as a top choice, but my husband and I just didn’t feel like it was “the one.” This is pretty common for me. I changed both of our girls’ names very near the end of each of their pregnancies.

The hard part is the constraints of our last name. I feel like I can’t name him with a “B” name (for the initials), can’t end in an “N,” “M,” or “S” (don’t go well with last name), can’t start with an “M” (too many M sounds), can’t be a verb or adjective like “Reid” or “Gray” (sound silly with the last name). Also, the last name is super hard to spell, so I don’t want the first name to be. I don’t like unisex names at all. We like Biblical, timeless, or antique charm names and want our boy names to sound good together. I especially want the baby’s name and Ivy’s name to sound good together, since they are the closest in age (7 year gap between 2nd and 3rd), and I feel like I will be saying “Ivy ‘n’ ___” so much.

Current contenders are:
Jed (husband’s choice)

Middle names are not as hard for me. I like Everett and Theodore and will probably use one of those if they work.

I wanted Ivy to be named Everett if she was a boy, and that is still my favorite name. I put it into the middle name spot for Peter because I really do love it. I just don’t know if Ivy and Everett go well together as first names. Are they too similar? Should we just go with the “safer” choice of Peter even though we don’t love it?

Any advice would be so helpful. His room (and crib) is still occupied by his 3-year-old sister, so we just have nothing done for this little surprise and I’m starting to be so stressed!

Katie “Mailmen”


I think Ivy and Everett sound great together. They repeat only the V-sound: all their other sounds are different, and they have a different number of syllables. I think it achieves the goal of having the final two names sound particularly compatible. And Everett is your favorite boy name. And it meets all the other requirements. Everett seems like the winner to me.

But Peter is also terrific. Really, I love either Everett or Peter in this group. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, Everett. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, Peter. They’re both charming options. I would THINK I’d prefer the name Everett, but when I look at the two groupings I have trouble letting go of the name Peter.

I don’t see any reason to go with the name Peter if you prefer the name Everett. It doesn’t seem safer to me; they both seem like good solid choices with their own pluses and minuses. Peter has more of a timeless/biblical/traditional feel; Everett is more of a current vintage revival / antique charm.

I wonder if you’d like the name John. It’s timeless/biblical, and it’s a name I think parents’ eyes tend to skip right over in the baby name book: it feels common because it’s been so consistently used over the years, but it’s fairly unusual among current children. Many of the boys named John are going by Jack, or else they’re John IV so they’re going by something else. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, and John.

Or Henry? Nathan, Clara, Ivy, and Henry.

Or Elliot: it’s similar to Everett, but doesn’t repeat the V-sound of Ivy. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, and Elliot. One downside is the spelling: one or two L’s, one or two T’s.

Or maybe David? Definitely timeless/biblical, and easy to spell. I’m trying to think if there are ANY Davids among the kids’ classmates, and I can only think of one. It repeats the V-sound in Ivy, tying it in; but the strong consonants keep it from seeming too similar. And the long-A ties it to his brother’s name. Nathan, Clara, Ivy, and David.