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baby name help ’
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Baby Name Help, Baby Name News, Must Read
Wednesday, December 11th, 2013
Celebs may have picked offbeat monikers like North West and Rainbow Aurora for their kids, but they aren’t the only ones who chose oddly—at least if the survey by Baby Center is to be believed. They’ve come up with their list of the most unusual names of 2013, which included options like Cheese, Hurricane and Panda for boys—and Feline, Fairy and Chevy for girls.
But even among these offbeat choices, there were a few gems that even I would consider for my kids. Blue was among the girls’ choices—and I’m honestly surprised that hasn’t caught on as much, with Beyonce and Jay-Z handing that moniker to their own daughter. I probably wouldn’t put it in the primo slot, but I think Blue makes a lovely middle name. Also among their “offbeat” choices is Trixie, which is an old-school nickname for Beatrice. I’m loving it as part of the whole nickname-as-name trend. And Tulip makes a pretty and unexpected choice of floral name.
The boys’ names included Finch, an interesting tweak on the “Finn” trend—and a bird name. Ripley and Holmes are cool surname names for boys—love the idea of the nickname Ripper for a boy in homage to Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s heroic Watcher Rupert Giles. And while Stetson would seem a little weird for my East Coast crew, I think it’s a pretty awesome name for a young cowboy-to-be.
What’s the weirdest baby name you’ve heard this year? Do any of the offbeat choices sound like something you’d consider?
If you’re still looking for a great name for your son or daughter, check out our Baby Name Finder. You can also catch my picks for the most intriguing pop culture names of the year—and my predictions for the hot names of 2014.
Baby Names: Is It Too Unusual?
Image: Amir Ridhwan
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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
Monday, November 4th, 2013
It seems like finding a good name for the third child is a challenge for some readers—last month we helped Lindsay come up with a name for her third baby, and now Melissa’s having a hard time finding the perfect moniker for her baby.
I wanted to get your advice on a name for our 3rd baby due in only 4 weeks. We’re at a loss!! We have a son, Myles, age 3- and a daughter, Claire, age 1 (almost 2). We want something a little off the beaten path, but not something strange or hard to say/spell. No “trendy” names for sure! Our last name is Upton, and nothing that we’ve come up with seems to flow quite right. My hubby is from England so he’s kind of hoping to incorporate that maybe by using his grandad’s name, William, as a middle name. I like Isaiah but don’t feel it goes well with the names of our other 2. We also like Emerson but I’m not sure it’s something that we would love forever. Asher is cute but kind of “in” right now. And Kyler we like but are concerned people will always mistake his name as Tyler. Help! What unusual but not odd boy names could work for us?
I think you’re right about Isaiah not really matching his sister and brother—and because it ends with a vowel sound, it doesn’t flow nicely with Upton, either. Of the three possible contenders, I like Emerson best—it flows nicely with his siblings’ names, and is classic without being boring. But I’m worried that all those ending ns and ms in Emerson William Upton could be a little bit much.
I really love the name Arthur—it’s a classic Celtic name that means “bear,” and is important in English history (think King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table), making it a lovely choice that pays homage to your son’s English heritage. It has that “r” ending you like in Kyler and Asher, but since the name is only #355 on the U.S. list right now, it’s offbeat enough that you won’t run into another child with the name in his school.
Along the same lines is Alastair, the British version of Alexander, which is unique but not odd—and yet it isn’t in the top 1000 baby names, either. It means “defender,” which is a pretty great name meaning.
Maxwell sounds wonderful with this sibling set—and I especially love the idea of Max and Myles as brothers. Maxwell is a little more popular than either of the two names I’ve suggested, but it still hasn’t broken into the top 100.
Scandinavian favorite Magnus is an up-and-coming name, chosen by two celebs for their sons. It means “great,” but still hasn’t cracked the top 1000.
A few other options:
What do you all think? Did I miss any boys’ name gems that pair well with Upton? If you’re still in search of a great name, feel free to send me your dilemma at firstname.lastname@example.org, or log on to our Baby Name Finder to help find the right name for you.
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In Name Only, Must Read, Top Baby Names
Thursday, October 31st, 2013
This week, we’re taking Throwback Thursday way, way back in time, to the 1890s. We may no longer wear our hair up and our hemlines way down, but our current fashionable names bear a striking resemblance to the hot names of the 1890s. The girls’ top 25 lists boasts currently chic names like Clara, Emma, Alice and Lillian; the boys’ list features perennial favorites like Henry, William, and James. But the top names of the 189s, Mary and John, aren’t quite as in vogue right now. Mary dropped out of the top 100 after decades of reigning supreme, while John is less unscathed, but currently resides at #28.
One intriguing trend I’m noting from the last century: Even if the fashion was all buttoned up, the names definitely weren’t so stiff. Many of the top 100 names are shortened nickname names—names like Willie (for girls or boys), Mattie (also for either), Effie, Nettie and Nellie.
So what intriguing names haven’t yet made their resurgence? Here are my picks from the 1890s for your consideration.
Ida was the 21st most popular name back in the 1890s, and it means industrious. It was in its heyday in the 1800s, and dropped out of the top 1000 entirely in 1980. Perhaps, as our friends at Nameberry noted, it’s about time for a comeback, on the heels of red-hot names like Ava?
It took a little longer for Louise to drop out of the top 1000—after reigning in the top 50 names from 1880-1930 (it was the 36th most popular baby name back in the 1890s), it dropped out in the 1990s. It’s a French name that means renowned warrior, and is a nice way to pay homage to a Louis in your family tree.
Esther reached its peak back in the 1890s, but it’s never really gone away. This Persian name that means star is currently #242 here in the U.S.
Lena started a slow but steady decline after the 1890s, when it was in the top 50 baby names. This short form of Helena is the name of legendary singer Lena Horne and now known for Girls actor/creator Lena Dunham. It’s starting an uptick now—but it’s currently in the top 400 names, so it’s still pretty unlikely your daughter would end up with another Lena in her class.
Alma is a Latin name that means soulful. It was most popular back in the 1890s, when it was the 54th most popular girls’ name. It’s a chic alternative to Emma, and one that’s appeared in pop culture, including characters on Desperate Housewives and The Hunger Games.
The 17th most popular name back in 1890 was Clarence—you’ll probably remember it as either the name of George Bailey’s guardian angel in It’s a Wonderful Life, or as the legendary saxophonist Clarence Clemons from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. It’s a lovely name that means bright and clear, and could make a cool comeback name.
Roy seems like it should be a short name that means royal, but it actually means red-headed. It was the 19th most popular name back in the 1890s, and it’s currently in the top 600 names.
Archie, a nickname for Archibald, means brave. This casual name was #89 in the 1890s, and fell out of the top 1000 back in the 1980s. It’s more commonly associated with the comic character or the grumpy Archie Bunker from All in the Family, but maybe it’s time for Archie to have a reboot—especially since it’s becoming more popular over in the UK?
Ernest peaked in the 19th century—perhaps the 21st century is ready for it? It’s a name that means serious, and it’s barely charting in the top 1000 these days. Legendary author Hemingway is the most famous bearer of the name, followed by Ernie of Sesame Street.
I think the silly Simpson dad is keeping Homer—which was #72 back in the 1890s—from staging a comeback. This name has a cool vibe and a cool history, as the author of the Odyssey.
What do you think of these 1890s choices? Anything on there you might consider? If you’re still searching for a baby name, don’t forget to check out our Baby Name Finder for some great suggestions!
Image: 19th century woman by Dolgin Alexander Klimentyevich/Shutterstock.com
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