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baby name advice ’
Thursday, December 19th, 2013
Today’s Throwback Thursday heads back to the turn of the 20th century, when many of the old-fashioned names that we’re loving now were in vogue. For girls, that meant names like Lillian, Grace, Rose and Clara, while William, Jack, James and Charles were stylish for boys.
But there are some unique names from the top of the list that haven’t made it back into fashion. Could one of these vintage baby names make it on your short list?
Inez is the Portuguese version of Agnes, and means pure. It hit its peak in the 1900s, when it fell just a bit outside the top 100. It hasn’t been in the top 1000 since the 1970s, but I think it’s ready for a fresh run for the top.
With names like Ruby, Jade and Pearl becoming popular, could other gem names be far behind? I love Opal, which was the #98 name in the 1900s. Consider it especially for a daughter born in October, when opal is the birthstone.
I’m pretty partial to the name Margaret (it’s my youngest daughter’s name), but Marguerite is pretty darned stylish, too. It’s the French version of Margaret, which means pearl—and it’s also the name of a flower.
Lucille was nearing its peak in the 1900s, when it was the 51st most popular name. It’s a fun way to get to Lucy, and pays homage to the legendary comedienne. If you don’t want people to think of the wacky redhead, try the variant Lucilla.
Edith has a lovely meaning—prosperity—and the perfect way to follow the E-name trend without going for the overused Ella or Emma. (And I love the nickname Edie!)
Gladys was the 14th most popular name back in the 1900s, a Welsh gem that actually means “lame.” I think it’s a lovely name, though.
Roosevelt reached its pinnacle of popularity for boys back in the 1900s, thanks to the indomitable prez Teddy. It’s a Dutch surname that means rose field, and fell out of favor back in the 1990s.
Willard has the Today Show’s longtime weatherman/100th-birthday wisher Willard Scott to recommend it, and a cool meaning—brave. It’s a nice way to get to Will without the uberpopular William.
Virgil was Rome’s finest poet—a Latin name that means staff bearer. It was at its peak of popularity back in the 1900s, and comes with the cute “Gil” nickname
Luther is a German name that means army people, and stayed in the top 100 until 1910. Consider it a cool way to pay homage to Martin Luther King—or Superman baddie Lex Luthor.
Howard means brave heart, and was a top 50 name through the late 19th and early 20th century, before a steep nosedive starting in the 1980s (could the infamous 80s-era flop Howard the Duck be to blame?). Skip Howie and go with the cool Ward for a nickname.
Albert was one of my front runners for a royal baby name—it means “noble,” and was the name of Queen Victoria’s beloved husband. I love the nickname “Bertie” for a little boy. Too cool!
What do you think of these turn-of-the-century names? Could you imagine a little Willard or Edith? Look for the perfect baby name with our Baby Name Finder, and check out my advice for the biggest baby name trends of next year.
Baby Names: How to Pick a Great Name
Image: 1900s couple by velora / Shutterstock.com
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In Name Only, Must Read, Top Baby Names
Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
A reader is trying to help a friend with a not-so-easy baby name challenge:
My friend would like to name her baby girl after her deceased mother, but her mom hated her name. She is looking for a variation but we have had no luck helping her brainstorm. Her mother’s name was Ernestine, no middle name. Any suggestions?
I can understand not wanting to pick Ernestine itself—it’s still plagued with a bit of a clunky vibe, and hasn’t been in the top 1000 in nearly 50 years. Its international variations and common nicknames, like Erna and Ernesia, don’t exactly sound as “wow” as your friend would probably like. Plus, since her mom hated her own name, it may not be the best way to honor her mother’s memory.
So here are my suggestions:
1. I could make a case for Nessa or Tessa being nicknames for Ernestine. Nessa is a Scandinavian name that means “headlands,” and Tessa means “to reap.” I think both names seem fresh and modern, and worth a look. Other variants on the name include Tina (which just fell out of vogue earlier this century) and Nettie.
2. Pick a name with a similar meaning to Ernestine. Ernestine is the feminine version of Ernest, which means serious or resolute. Along those same lines are Severine, Wilhelmina and Willa. Willa is a red-hot name, and Wilhelmina may follow suit, too—especially as it’s been picked by a few celebrities recently.
3. Honor her by choosing a name with the same initial, and even the same number of syllables. There are so many wonderful E names—I love Eleanor, Edina, Elena, Ellery, Emmeline, Eveline, and Everly.
4. Consider making Ernestine the middle name, and picking another name for the first name. That way, her mother is still honored, but her daughter isn’t stuck with a clunky name.
5. Is there a name that her mother wished she had? If your friend knows what her mom’s dream name would have been, that could also be a valid way to honor her mother.
What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions for names that honor Ernestine without actually using it? Share your thoughts in the comments!
And don’t forget to use our Baby Name Finder on your own baby name hunt, or share your baby name dilemmas with me at email@example.com.
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Our Favorite Celebrity Babies of the Year
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Baby Name Help, Baby Name News, Must Read
Monday, December 16th, 2013
Our friends over at Nameberry discussed what boys’ names are cool and current—and which ones are verboten. The debate started because there’s a new French movie, What’s in a Name? about the drama associated with that very personal choice—especially if you choose a powder keg name like Adolph.
While Adolph may still be controversial pretty much anywhere on the planet, thanks to Germany’s former leader, I found pick on their list of “daring” boys’ names that I’m kind of loving: Walker.
Walker is an occupational name—like Mason and Tanner—and has a pretty cool pedigree. It’s a middle name for both the Presidents Bush, and a common surname, for everyone from football great Herschel Walker to author Alice Walker to late actor Paul Walker, of The Fast and the Furious franchise. And of course, it was Chuck Norris’s character on Walker, Texas Ranger, and is currently the nickname given to the zombies on the uberpopular Walking Dead series—both of which give the name a little extra dose of cool.
Walker’s currently just outside the top 400 names for boys, making it a name that’s common enough not to provoke a “huh?” response, but will probably ensure that your kiddo’s the only one sporting it in his class. And I can kind of make the case that it’d be a way to pay homage to a Walter in your past, with a fresher and more current name.
Walker seems suited for a one-syllable middle name pairing. Something simple like James, Jett or True works in my book.
What do you think of the name Walker? Are there any other occupational names you like? You can hunt for your own perfect baby name with our Baby Name Finder, or get a little guidance on your particular baby name dilemma by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to like In Name Only on Facebook to keep up with the very latest in baby names!
Baby Names: Is It Too Unusual?
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Baby Name News, In Name Only, Top Baby Names
Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Reader Lisa is pretty set on the name Joseph
for her son—but is looking for something other than Joey as a nickname. Here’s the scoop:
We are having a boy due early April and my husband is pretty set on naming him Joseph, after himself. I’m okay with that but I don’t like the nickname Joey and that’s what everyone is going to call him.
If I give him a middle name I like I could use that for a nickname. But then I run into the problem of people calling him by two different names, any suggestions on ways around that?
The name I like is Joseph Lincoln and call him Linc. Or we’re thinking of Michael, after my grandfather. But since Joey/Mikey are equivalent in my book, I would probably end up calling him Joe (not thrilled about that either).
Do you like Joseph Lincoln even though I will call him Linc? Or do you think a strong family name will have more importance to the family and my son, and should I suck it up and just name him Joseph Michael? Also, another curve ball, my grandfather’s nickname is Roman and my maiden name is Romanelli so we could also go with Joseph Roman.
I totally get wanting to pick your child’s nickname—we picked our daughters’ names and nicknames long before we met them. Your influence can play a part in what your child’s called, at least until he hits school. So if you and your husband both agree to call him Linc (or whatever name you pick), that’ll be what he’s called. Of course, once they hit school, all bets are off—as my aunt discovered, when the boy she insisted upon calling Matthew
became Matt sometime in elementary school.
I really love the name Lincoln—it was picked by Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard for their daughter, but it’s much more popular for boys. And Linc is a super cute nickname.
Your son’s going to have a name with significance, since you’re naming him after his father. So don’t feel obligated to use Michael or Roman, unless it’s a name that floats your boat. Of the two family names, I like Roman best—and it also gives you another unique nickname option: your son’s initials. (JR, anyone?)
What do you think? Is Lincoln a great pick? What would you do in this situation?
If you’re still looking for a name for your child, you can e-mail me at email@example.com, or start searching on Parents.com’s Baby Name Finder
. Happy hunting! (And don’t forget to keep watching In Name Only
for the latest in baby names!)
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Baby Names: Avoid Baby Naming Regret
Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
The 1990s may feel like yesterday—but it is already 20 years ago! As with most recent top 10 girls’ names, the 1990s chart topper, Jessica, has had a sharp decline since its heyday—it’s currently at number 138 and dropping. Michael, the top boys’ name of the decade (and really, for several decades when the current crop of dads were born), fared a little better than poor Jessie—Michael’s still in the top 10!
Many of the recent hot names started their climb to the top during the 1990s, but there are still some gems that may deserve a second look.
GIRLS’ BABY NAMES
The place name trend started at the turn of the century, when names like Cheyenne and Alexandria were hot. Cheyenne was #100 back in the 1990s—it’s a Sioux name that means “people of a different language,” and is also the capital of Wyoming. Alexandria is another take on Alexandra, but one that has more international flair—think the city in Egypt.
Sabrina was the 91st most popular name back in the 1990s. It’s the name of a Celtic goddess—and the title of the classic film, starring Audrey Hepburn.
Pretty Paige reached its pinnacle, #66, in the decade of flannel and grunge. Its most famous bearer was one of the sisters on Charmed.
The #33 name back in the 1990s was Kelsey, an English name that means “island.” Kelsey was a relatively new name, first breaking into the top 1000 in the 1970s—but since its peak in the 1990s, it’s back down to the top 300. Still, it’s a fun alternative to Lindsay or Kelly.
Spencer, a name that means “steward,” was the 98th most popular name for boys in the 1990s. It’s tapered off into the top 205 since then, but thanks to its association with silver screen icon Spencer Tracy, it still has glamour.
Mitchell is a British version of perennial favorite Michael, and reached its pinnacle of popularity in the 1990s, when it was 91st most popular name. Consider it as a way to pay homage to Michael, without choosing that top 10 name.
An early Irish favorite was Garrett, which reached its peak at 85 20 years ago. It means strong, and has had a slight decline into top 250.
Blake, which means fair-haired, was the #84 name in the 1990s, and has stabilized in the top 100 ever sense. Thanks to country star Blake Shelton, this is likely destined to remain a hot name for the foreseeable future.
What’s your favorite 1990s name? If you’re still searching for the perfect name, check out our Baby Name Finder.
Baby Names: How to Know You've Picked the Right Name
Image: Guryanov Andrey
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Baby Name Stories, In Name Only, Must Read