Baby Name Advice Column: Ask the Name Lady Baby Name Blog

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My Tween-age Dream Is a New Name!

I really want to change my name from Chelsea to Trinity. I like Trinity better and it fits my personality. But my parents like Chelsea. How do I get them to let me change my name even though I am a tween?

–Chelsea/Trinity

You're not alone in this. Many girls your age and a little older question the names they were given at birth. As you explore your identity, your little-girl name feels like it just doesn't fit.  This is a positive move—it's all part of growing up!

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Can I Nip This Nickname in the Bud?

Our baby's name is Silvia. My mother-in-law has decided to call her Silvie—not what we call her, but fine by me. The problem is that she has inexplicably been spelling it "Silvi" on cards, emails, etc. I HATE this! If my daughter came up with this on her own, I'd grit my teeth and wait it out, but I don't really want to encourage it. How should I address this, if at all? Or is this a grandmotherly prerogative and none of my business?

–Silvia's Mom

I'm glad it's the spelling that bothers you, and not the nickname itself. "Don't call your adorable granddaughter by a pet name" is a tough sell, and one that's kinder not to fight if you can avoid it. (Although you'd be well within your rights to speak up, loudly and often, if your mother-in-law mangled the pronunciation of your daughter’s name, or flat-out insulted your choice).

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Which Is the Right Spelling?

Please help. What is the correct or accepted spelling: Grayson or Greyson? I see things that are personalized with the "a" version, but not the "e" version.

–A Before E?

Good news: They're both right. Like Catherine and Kathryn, this is a name with multiple accepted spellings. The "a" version is more commonly used—about twice as often—but both spellings rank in the top 150, which means both will be accepted easily.

The question here isn't what spelling is correct, but how you choose which one is right for you. In a case like Catherine vs. Kathryn or Geoffrey vs. Jeffrey, you might choose based on first initial. Maybe one makes for a better monogram than the other, or repeats (or avoids repeating) a sibling's initial.

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Should I Choose Sass or Substance?

I am pregnant with my second baby, and looking at closely at girl names for the first time. The names I loved when pregnant with my son (Piper and Zoe) are both in the top 100 and increasing or holding steady in popularity. That eliminates them as options for me.

I've thought carefully about what I love about those names and it's the image of a fun and feisty little girl. I found two other names I love that I feel share a similar vibe but are less popular: Pepper and Cricket. In other words, I've discovered that what I love are peppy nicknames. I don't want to saddle my daughter with a nickname that might not translate to adulthood on her birth certificate but I can't find any real names that I like as much, much less names that match the nicknames I like!

There are a ton of names that are pretty and all, but I can't work up any enthusiasm for them because they aren't really my style. Please help!

–Looking for Spunk

I love the way you've thought this through. You get a gold star from the Name Lady for zeroing in on the name style that's right for you (which isn’t always easy!) and considering your daughter’s lifelong needs as well.

The problem you're having—you can’t muster much excitement over options other than Pepper or Cricket—is easily explained. Those non-nickname options just don't float your boat because they aren’t nicknames! 

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Can I Break the Syllable Rule?

I have a question concerning the "syllable rule" (i.e., no 2-2-2 pattern). My partner's last name ends with "O." The first name I love is Margaux, and the middle name I'm obsessed with is Kahlo. I'm a history teacher and I want my daughter's middle name to be history-based and/or awesome-based (other names considered: Hypatia, Clio, Sojourner, Abina).

I love Frida Kahlo for many reasons, but her gift for being completely unapologetic is what I love most. My daughter will be half Mexican, so I love that this name belongs to one of the most amazing women in history who also happens to be of Mexican descent. The issue is that the names don't follow the syllable rule—which isn't that huge of a deal, but also that all three names end in the "O" sound. I did consider using "Frida" instead of Kahlo, but I just love Kahlo as a name/statement much more.

-O Dear

Let's dispense with the syllable rule first. There's nothing inherently wrong with a 2-2-2 syllable pattern! It's the specific combination of sounds and rhythms that matters. So a name like Anna Marie Kepler sounds perfectly natural. Even a repeated stress pattern, like Anna Morgan Taylor, works fine because the sounds don't repeat or trip the tongue. But Anna Emma Lima is too much of the same.

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What's the Secret of Silar?

I like the name Silar, but cannot find any meaning or anything else about it. "Silas" always comes up instead. Is it a last name? Am I spelling it wrong?

–Bridget

I can see why you're convinced that this is an established name, even when you haven't found any evidence for it. It has a familiar, fashionable sound, thanks to list-toppers and up-and-comers like Silas, Cyrus, Skyler, and Tyler, or even the Spanish name Pilar (pronounced pee-LAR and used for girls).

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How Common Is Too Common?

I'm having a baby soon, a girl. I love a lot of popular names, like Emmy and Avery. But if I use one of them, I'm thinking of spelling it differently (like Emie or Avri or Abbi) because I have a very common last name. Also, I really like "i" at the end of girls' names to replace "y" or "ie," but I don't know if that will work.

–Worried Mother

Will it work? That depends on what you're trying to achieve. If you simply like the ends-with-I spelling, then using it works for you—no problem.

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Was This Baby Name a Bad Dream?

The other night my husband had a dream about our baby in which he was named Benjamin. Upon hearing about the dream, I absolutely fell in love with the name. I find it classy and dignified and like that it can be shortened many ways. The only problem is that our last name is Pender. I worry the rhyming aspect will lead to teasing. My husband feels it would help our child defend and stand up for himself. What do you think?

–Once Upon a Dream

Trusting dream logic to choose your baby's name may sound kooky, but your husband is in good company. Many religious traditions treat dreams as moments of divine inspiration. Psychologists like Freud and Jung claimed our dreams are a direct line to the subconscious. And as every fairy-tale aficionado knows, dreams can also manifest as prophecies, predicting black or golden hair, sorrow or joy, and powerful or important destinies.

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Don't Judge My Baby's Name!

I have two children: Adaline is 9 months old and Kristof would be four and a half, but he passed before Adaline was born. I just found out I am expecting again. If we have a boy, I'd like to name him Adolf. To me, it's in memory of Kristof and I also love it coupled with my daughter's name. My husband won't go for it. The obvious reason is he's too afraid of the name's history. I personally don't hold the name as a reminder of Adolf Hitler. Will other people really judge my son if his name is Adolf?

–Destiny

I'm so sorry for your loss. I understand your impulse to want to honor your first son, but this isn't the way to do it. Will people judge? Well, yes. Think of it this way. If you met a boy named Elvis, could you imagine that his parents never even considered Elvis Presley when choosing the name? That would be preposterous. So you can't expect people not to think that the name Adolf references Adolf Hitler. Your child will spend his life refuting rumors that he’s a neo-Nazi—or that you are.

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Is Indigo a No-Go?

I'm expecting our second daughter. I stumbled across the name Indigo and am surprised by how much I like it. I also think the nickname Indie is great. My husband likes it even more after discovering what a "rainbow baby" is; we have had several losses prior to this pregnancy. My concerns: Is it too masculine? Does is scream "my parents are hippies"? (We aren't). Our first daughter is Roxie. The other name in the running for this baby is Zora.

–No Hippies Here

This true-blue name does ring a little bit boy, with its –o ending, and a little bit hippie, with its origin in the worlds of color and nature. And yet Indigo has been considered an option for girls ever since the Indigo Girls hit the music scene in the 1990s. The only celebrity baby Indigo in our database is a girl (the daughter of actor Lou Diamond Phillips, born in 2007).

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