choosing a name

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Are These Baby Names Hip, or Hippie?

What do you think of names like Rose Dorinda, Fox Alexandria, and Raven Thalia? They are all girls' names I am considering. I wonder how far I can go with my name themes, because none of the boy names I like go in that direction (Killian Alexander, Ezra Raphael, Aedan Ezekiel). Are my favorite names too hippie/tree-hugger?

–Nature Lover

Trees deserve a hug now and then, don't they? So "tree-hugger" doesn’t have to be a negative. Not all nature names automatically fall into the "hippie" category (that is, too weird for mainstream), anyway. If you love nature, it's only natural that you're drawn to baby names that celebrate flora, fauna, and the outdoors.

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When a Baby Name Is Not a Namesake

My husband and I are having a very hard time coming up with a name for our second son. We both like a specific name for its sound and meaning, but when combined with our last name it is the name of a celebrity. (Think along the lines of "George Lucas"). It's a fairly common first name, but this celebrity is definitely the first, if not the only, search-engine result for the name in full. Is that a deal-breaker? How awful is it to give your kid the same name as a celebrity, and does it make it more acceptable if the given celebrity is older and might not be around for much of the child's life?

–Not a Celebrity's Mom

It's difficult to weigh in on your dilemma without knowing the actual celebrity name you're considering. "Harrison Ford" has a much different connotation than "Dustin Hoffman"—or than "Bill Gates." Both the celebrity's image and the prevalence of his last name will affect how your son might be perceived in light of this semi-namesake.

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I'm Looking for a Baby Name that Pops!

We have a daughter named Poppy and are having another girl. We're looking for a name that's equally as spunky, young, and unique. I had Luna and Nova picked out, but found out that both are on track to become very popular. What other unique names might fit? The middle name will be June or Ruby, but I don't like those as firsts; they sound dated.

–Seeking a Sister Name

Trying to ride the line between "unique and fresh" and "too popular" is very difficult. Names are unpredictable, and can suddenly rise and fall without a lot of warning. Plus, what sounds young and spunky to you may also appeal to lots of other parents.

What we can do is look at trends and see what’s happening. You’re correct that both Luna and Nova have spiked upward recently, while June and Ruby (for comparison) peaked a century ago—although both are rising again today.

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Is This Baby Name Too Shady?

Hello! I love the name Grey for a boy. My husband's first name is Christian (which I love) and I love them together. I don't think Grey Christian sounds right, but after the books and movies do you think Christian Grey is a problem? I love the name, don't really care about the books.

–But Grey Is Great!

Pop culture associations often fade over time, but this one is 50 shades of problematic. You didn't even need to name the books and movies that concern you, because the connection is obvious (and uncomfortable).

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What’s the Best Name for This Sweet Child O' Mine?

My fiancé and I are having a little boy! We have chosen the name River Axel Rose for him. We want to give him two middle names, following my parents' choice to give me two. Neither of us are big Guns N' Roses fans. We just thought the name sounded extremely unique and bad-ass! I've gotten strange looks after sharing the name with some, while others have loved it. Do you think it's a little too out there?

–Katherine

It's not necessarily out there; each name is both stylish and fairly established. (Note that River is being given to both boys and girls right now, in a 60/40 split favoring the boys.) And so is the concept of having two middle names.

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Is This Boy's Name Right for My Girl?

I recently found out I am expecting a girl, and I love the name Evan for her. I have tried to consider other names, but they all fall flat. I know that boys' names on girls are hated by many and are trendy now. Still, I can't shake Evan for this little girl. My sister and I both have masculine names, so it's not really uncommon in my family. My husband's family will think this is a bigger deal. What do you think? Should we go with it or avoid the conflict?

–Lovin' Evan

While Evan is a traditional men's name, its style—light, trim, and modern—crosses genders pretty fluidly these days. And Evan itself has been given to American girls at the rate of about 100 a year for decades (since the 1980s). So for most audiences, it should go over just fine.

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How Can I Change My Husband's Mind?

I love the name Cristal, and I even have a nickname picked out for it. But my husband doesn't love it. What should I do? He wants the name Vail, but I think it's weird.

–Jade

What should you do? Most likely, go back to the drawing board. You've found the perfect name, but your husband doesn't like it. He's found the perfect name, but you don't like it. The inescapable conclusion is that neither of you have found the perfect name.

I know that's hard to hear. Maybe you've loved the name for years, and dreamed of your daughter bearing it. It doesn't seem fair to have to give it up, when you could just get your husband to change his mind.

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Is Our Favorite Baby Name Too Popular?

I'm having a boy soon and need help! I love the name Maddox and that's the one name that my husband and I can agree on. But is it too common?

–Mad About Maddox

"Too common" is in the eye of the beholder. Maddox is not a top-100 name in the U.S.; on the just-released official Social Security Administration list, it is ranked #143. The name ticked up just three places from the previous year's list. Names as varied as Eric, Santiago, Ezekiel, and Damien are all "more common" than Maddox.

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We’re Stumped by a Single-Sex Baby Name Style!

We have two boys, Grant and Clark. We are now having a baby girl and cannot agree on a name. We like older names, obviously, but not so outdated they're only for the elderly. Can you help? Our last name is two syllables and starts with W.

–Need a Name for Baby Sister

"Older but not outdated" is at the top of many parents' baby name wish lists, and unfortunately it doesn't do much to narrow down the field of options. There are hundreds of names that might fit the bill, and many ways to define both "older" and "outdated." If you then turn to your boys’ names for inspiration, you're up against a single-sex style: The sturdy, manly "thunk" of Grant and Clark doesn't correspond in any obvious way to a particular strain of girls' names. So you're once again stuck.

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Which Baby Name Is Better for a Blonde?

Do you prefer Maeve or Norah? I like Norah, but it's very girly and super popular right now. Maeve sounds tougher and is more unique. I like it better, but my husband prefers Norah. So the deciding factor will be her hair color: If it's dark, her name will be Maeve. If it's light, her name will be Norah. What do you think?

–Mad About Maeve

If all things were exactly even—you loved both names equally, and so did your husband; and you loved them both so much you just couldn't choose between them—then I'd call your hair-color tie-breaker a clever solution.

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