Baby Girl Rahtickah, Sister to Beckett

Dear Swistle,

My husband (Brandon) and I (Julianne) are excited to be expecting our second child this March, and we’d love your and your readers’ input! I have always had a deep love of names – I have notebooks filled with name lists and imaginary families I created just so I could put names together! I thought I had a great list for naming my future children, and then I married an amazing man who was just a little more opinionated on baby names than I expected. :)

Our toddler son is Beckett (nn Beck) James, and our last name is extremely Finnish with lots of double letters and is pronounced “Rah-tick-ah.” I would describe our naming style as fairly traditional/classic with a unique twist. It would take a lot to get us to select a top-20 name, although it’s not out of the question. We love how with our son’s name, people often comment that they haven’t heard it before, but it’s not too strange that they struggle to remember or pronounce it. I felt like I had a similar experience growing up with the name Julianne.

My biggest challenge is that while I like the names on our current list, I don’t feel like I love any of them.

This baby is a girl, and had she been a boy (or if she turns out to be one!) our top name was Charleston (nn Charlie) Luke. Other boy names we loved included Jonas, Rhys, and Lincoln. We are hoping to welcome more children into our family in the future.

Here are some of our frontrunners:

Josie – my husband’s favorite
Cambridge (nn Cambrie) – this is what our son would have been named if he had been a girl
Hannah (although is the “ah” ending too rhymy with our last name?)
Charlotte (my #1 but it’s getting way too popular)

Names vetoed by one spouse or the other: Adalyn, Jacqueline, Annaliese, Lucia (love – but again with the rhyming last name), Jordyn, Mackenzie

Current middle name options (all honor names, but we are open to other options): Lauren, Kate, Esther, Elisabeth

We look forward to hearing your suggestions and promise to update!

Brandon and Julianne


If popularity is a concern, here are the names I would take out of the running:

Isabel: Isabel itself is safely out of the Top 20, but Isabella has been Top 20 for 15 years in a row so far.

Hannah: Gradually falling and is now out of the Top 20, but it was in the Top 20 from 1994 through 2008.

Charlotte: Entered the Top 20 in 2012 and the Top 10 two years after that; it’s still there, and rising (#7 in 2016).

Evelyn: In the Top 20 since 2013 and has risen each year since then (#12 in 2016).


You have a mix of traditional/classic (Charlotte, Hannah) and modern surname names (Leighton, Landry). Do you find yourselves agreeing which way to lean? If you like sibling names to coordinate, and you’re planning to have more children, this is a good time to see if you can narrow down your style. Which seems more like Your Family: breaking up a fight between Cambridge and Kensington, or between Josie and Violet?

Vivienne is a great alternative to Evelyn: similar sounds, but less common. The spelling Vivienne was #245 in 2016; the spelling Vivian was #95.

I like Josie, but as a nickname for Josephine, especially if sons will have longer-form names with nicknames.

Would “Beck and Brynn” make you feel stuck finding another snappy B-name for possible future siblings?


Let’s see if we can find more options to consider.

Along the lines of Charlotte/Hannah/Josie/Evelyn/Isabel:

Margaret (not sure about this with the surname)
Miriam (not sure about this with the surname)


Along the lines of Cambridge/Landry/Kensington/Leighton:

Callister (Callie)
Campbell (Cammie, Bella)
Holland (Holly)
Keaton (not sure about this with the surname)
Miller (Millie)
Winslow (Winnie)

Baby Naming Issue: Science/Scientist-Related Names for Girls

Hi Swistle!

I was planning to write to you a little later in my pregnancy, but since you wrote your post about being uninspired, I thought this exercise might be fun to do now.

I have a four-year-old son named after a semi-famous scientist. My husband works in the science field, and I am generally interested in sciency things so it worked out. I also liked that the name was used in a children’s book that I had read 20 years ago, and still remembered that particular character name. If you’re wondering, the name is Tych0.

The issue I need help with is this: We haven’t found out the sex of the second (and final) child, but we have generally discussed names, and for a girl, my husband’s favorites are Anastasia and Aurora. I think both are beautiful names, but something was bothering me about them. And then I realized—my main association with both those names are Disney princesses! It bothers me to have my son named after a scientist and then name my daughter after a princess. Just….No.

So I thought it would be fun to crowd-source and see what woman scientist names people could come up with. It’s surprisingly hard especially compared to male scientists. I know I could just Google, but I’m looking for names that are not totally and completely obscure, names that people might have heard of before and just don’t remember. That’s what I like about Tych0’s name. Some people have never heard of him, but sciency folks get a little twinkle in their eye when they hear it. My current list is:

Marie (Curie)

Jane (Goodall)

Kathryn (Johnson, from Hidden Figures)

Ada (Lovelace)

Mae (Jemison)

Sally (Ride)

…and that’s all I can come up with off the top of my head, sadly. I’d be excited to read what other names you and your readers could think of that fit this category.




There’s a book on my Christmas wish list that I wish I had now so I could consult it:

(image from

Women in Science, by Rachel Ignotofsky

Ada Lovelace is the scientist who came immediately to my mind; and because her name is unusual, the scientist comes to my mind whenever I hear it. That’s my favorite from your list.

I can add Elizabeth Blackwell and Grace Hopper. But the names Elizabeth and Grace don’t bring the doctor or the mathematician/programmer to my mind.

I know we’re seeing what we can think of off the tops of our heads, but here’s a link to Wikipedia’s Women in Science page, in case anyone would like to jog their memories: Wikipedia: Women in Science.

Baby Girl or Boy @lexander, Sibling to Echo

Hi Swistle,

I am due on Oct 23, and we don’t know the gender of the baby. We are dead set on a girl name, but nothing feels quite right for a boy! Our last name is @lexander, and we have a daughter- Echo Marie.

If we have another little girl she will be Lorelai Catherine. Lorelai seems unique, feminine, and tied to Echo in maybe a mythylogical sense (that theme isn’t important) and Catherine is a very special family name (like Marie).

For a boy, originally our choices were Harrison or Henry, but now these choices seem way way to popular and basic? I didn’t name my daughter Echo to be weird, I just liked the name! But I’d like to stay out of the top 100. I also want to avoid my children sounding like a group of military call signs! Echo Foxtrot Alpha! We heavily considered Adler which feels like a good fit, but I keep thinking Adler @lexander sounds like a total tongue twister. Another boy name we really liked but now seems too out there is Indiana. I would also like to use the middle name Manning (my maiden name), with Bayer as a secondary option.

Please help!


You may already know about my extreme soft spot for maiden names used as children’s names, and so perhaps you anticipate my immediate, eager question: Would you consider using Manning as the first name? Manning @lexander. Echo and Manning. Well, if not, I love it as the middle.

Henry feels common to me with Echo, but I think Harrison is great. I don’t know a single kid named Harrison—though of course that will vary tremendously by area of the country. It’s a more common name than Echo, but it isn’t so common as to be a surprise. I like it, and I think Harrison @lexander sounds very nice.

Harris is even less common—more along the lines of Echo’s popularity. Harris @lexander; Echo and Harris.

Or Davis. Davis @lexander; Echo and Davis.

Or Rufus. Rufus @lexander; Echo and Rufus.

Or Gus. Gus @lexander; Echo and Gus.

I agree about Adler @lexander. I wonder if you’d like the name Aidric? Aidric @lexander; Echo and Aidric.

One of my favorites of the -son names is Lawson, certainly not influenced by a cute lanky funny boy in high school. Lawson @lexander; Echo and Lawson.

Every so often, usually when Paul is re-reading the Narnia books to the littler kids, I wonder if the name Caspian will ever come into common usage. I see it was given to 158 new baby boys in 2016, so it’s in the range of the usage of the name Echo. Caspian @lexander; Echo and Caspian.

Poking around in the Social Security database in that same area, I see Boaz. This is a name I’m surprised hasn’t joined the popularity of Noah and Isaiah and Ezra and Elijah. Boaz @lexander; Echo and Boaz. Bo for short.

And Smith! That’s a fun one. Smith @lexander; Echo and Smith.

And Murphy! I would love to see a Murphy on a class list. Murphy @lexander; Echo and Murphy.

And Garrison! Similar to Harrison, but definitely less common. Garrison @lexander; Echo and Garrison.




Name update:

Hi Swistle! Our beautiful baby girl was born Oct 30. Lorelai Catherine is so sweet and fits her name, and her nickname- Cubby – perfectly.

We got so many awesome suggestions for boy names from your readers and in your post, looks like we will have to try for a boy in a few years :).

Baby Naming Issue: How To Make People Stop Using a Nickname / Pet Name

Hello – I have a question that I need your help with as it’s driving me nuts. My daughter was born a few months ago and we’ve had a steady stream of friends and family come over to meet her. I always introduce her as her proper name, but inevitably someone starts talking to her calling her a nickname. How do I politely dissuade people from calling her a nickname that I hate? If I wanted you to call her something, I would have said so (for example, “her name is Violet but we call her Vi”).

PS – her name is not something that people commonly shorten, (such as Katelynn, nickname Kate). Her name is similar to Lydia and the nicknames would be like Ly or LyLy.

Thanks for your help,


I suspect it would be helpful to start by discussing the difference between a nickname and a pet name.

Examples of nicknames:

Elizabeth: Liz, Libby, Bessie, Beth
William: Will, Bill, Liam
Charlotte: Charlie, Lottie
Madison: Maddie
Nicholas: Nick, Cole
Isabella: Izzy, Bella
Joshua: Josh
James: Jim, Jimmy, Jamie
Lydia: Liddy

Nicknames are part of the parents’ name choice until the child is old enough to take control of that decision. Parents are well within their rights to announce: “Her name is Elizabeth; we’ll be calling her Bess”—and then to kindly, politely enforce that. “Actually we’re calling her Bess, not Beth.”

Examples of pet names:

Jacob: Jay-jay
Josiah: Jojo
Anna: Anna-Banana
Jared: Jare-Bear
Naomi: Nay-nay
Julia: Jujubee
Riley: Ry-Ry

Some short forms are on the line between nickname and pet name, and some can go either way depending on intent (Wills, for example, as a nickname for William, or Lulu for Lucy). The rule of thumb I use is this: Is anyone going to write it on a school paper? A child might very well write Liddy, Beth, Liam, Maddie, or Cole, but they would not write Ry-Ry, Jare-Bear, or Jujubee.

Pet names are like baby talk. They’re silly affectionate wordplay with the baby’s name, usually done by people who are dazzled by the baby’s cuteness to the point of losing some of their ability to form normal words. Pet names are a verbal form of love not intended as a parent-overriding attempt to create an official nickname. They’re a useful way to take a respectable given name and make it fit the temporary Tiny Squoodger stage. Later, pet names are still affectionate but generally less baby-talky, like using Soph for Sophia or Em for Emily. (Though I understand Anna-Banana and Hannah-Banana tend to be permanent.) They’re still not likely to be written on an inter-office memo the way Will or Liz could be.

If the parents truly, truly hate a pet name, they can attempt to stop it, though it may take more effort and energy than new parents want to spend. Ideally, the parent would be ready with a back-up pet name: “Oh, Dad, I just hate the nickname Jelly-Belly for some reason. How about Bella-boo instead?”

Of course if we are talking about something more like a nickname (Coco for Cora, for example), then I think you can nip it in the bud the usual way: “Oh, we’re not using the nickname—it’s just Cora.” But if we’re talking about pet names, I would advise letting people do it, just as I’d advise allowing them to squeeze cheeks and make kissy noises and ask WHO is the best baby in the world, WHO is?

Baby Boy Wooder, Brother to Brynn

Hi Swistle,
My husband and I are excited to be expecting our second (and final) child due in early March, 2018. We have a daughter already named Brynn Marley Wooder and her name was so easy for us to decide on. For some reason I was absolutely certain that this baby would be a girl as well and we had already chosen her name before we even knew the gender, Blair Leo. Then a wrinkle in the naming plan happened when I found out we were having a boy…
The problem with boy names is this: my husband likes somewhat traditional, masculine names for a boy while I like somewhat unique names. We have come up with a few names but none of them feel 100% right.

The names are:

We ruled out Alexander because of the nickname Al and Benjamin based on the nicknames Benji and Big Ben. My husband has also ruled out names like Hudson, Emerson and Reese because he thinks they sound pretentious.

We have settled on Leonard as the middle name as it is the name of the residence where we met in university. Our last name is Wooder. We are not set on this baby’s name matching our daughter’s name in any way. We like one syllable names but aren’t 100% set on that.

I think I am having trouble being truly decisive about names because of the emotional state that I have been in for the last month. My mother tragically passed away after a very difficult battle with cancer and it has left my whole family emotionally raw.
If you could help us decide on a name that would be so appreciated.
Thank you for your help,



Would you be interested in looking for a name to honor your mother? Perhaps her maiden name, or a name with the same initials, or perhaps her first or middle names have versions that would work for a boy.

We need more data points than just mine, but I will say that I have not run into the nickname Al used for Alexander; the only nicknames I’ve encountered are Alex and Xander and Xan. I don’t think you need to rule out Alexander over the possibility of Al. On the other hand, you’re looking for something more unusual, and according to the Social Security Administration, Alexander only dropped out of the Top Ten in 2016 after an eight-year stay, and was in the tens and twenties rankings for decades before that.

It looks to me as if each name on the list of finalists fails to meet either your husband’s traditional/masculine preference or else your preference for something unusual. Drew is unisex: 216 new baby girls and 793 new baby boys were given the name in 2016. Owen was #23 in 2016, and is a rearrangement of the sounds of Noah, which has been #1 for four years in a row. The name Nathan has been in the Top 50 since 1975; Nathaniel was in the Top 100 from 1978 until 2015; Nate is such a familiar nickname at this point.

I wonder if any of these would work: