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

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We Need a Baby Name That’s Not Too Old, Not Too New

We are having a hard time naming our baby girl. We have three boys, Dillon, Jacob, and Ryan. I want our daughter's name to flow with them. But I like more modern names (like Lylah and Mia), and my husband likes older names (like Olivia and Emily). Please help!

–It's a Girl!

It sounds as if you and your husband might be closer to agreement than you think. Set aside, for a moment, the idea of modern vs. old-fashioned names, and listen to the sounds of the names you mentioned. Now they have a lot more in common: the vowel sounds "ee" and "ah," and the consonants L and M.

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Do These Baby Names Go with the Flow?

My sons are Hunter and Tanner. I am having a third son soon and would like the baby's name to flow with theirs and not be very popular (in the top 100). What do you suggest I choose?

–My Three Sons

The idea of sibling name "flow" is a new one for me. Name flow typically applies to a single name's different components—to the smooth sound pattern of first-middle-last name combinations rather than to an easy verbal transition between three sibling names. But whether you're worried about the three brothers' names falling trippingly on your tongue or have the more common concern of wanting your kids' names to "go together"—to sound like a matched set—you've got the same major issue at stake: To –er or not to –er?

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Does My Baby Need Her Own Special Name?

I've had a first name chosen for a girl for years: Elliana. I'm struggling with her middle name. My mom's name is Kathryn, and I would like to honor her. Should I go with Elliana Kathryn? Or use Elliana Kate as a way to honor my mom, but still give my baby her "own" name?

–Like Mother, Like Daughter

It seems to me that your baby would already have her own name: Elliana. But let's look at the question of what constitutes an homage: What's the best way to honor your mom in her granddaughter's name? Generally, the standard is: Will the honoree (or if she is deceased, the people who loved and remember her) feel suitably honored by the name you choose?

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When Is a Baby Name Out of Bounds?

I have one son named Felix, and a million girl names that I like. I have such a difficult time with boy names. I like Reuben, Sawyer, Isaac, and Spencer—but I knew someone named Spencer in high school, so I can't use this one. What is the thinking on giving your child the name of someone you knew but weren't really friends with?

–Felix's Mommy

We should distinguish here between honor names and name associations. An honor name, of course, is one you give to your child as a way to show admiration, respect, and love for the honoree. It's a deliberate choice to have your child share his name with someone who is important to you.

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Can I Irish-ize This Baby Name?

Is there an Irish equivalent for Henrietta? This is my first and only choice for my soon-to-be-born daughter, but I would consider an Irish version.

–Mam-to-Be

The real question here might be "What is an 'Irish version' of a name?" That’s because American or English names are linked to Irish names in varying (and inconsistent) ways. For example, the Irish name Aoife is often called the Irish version of Eve or Eva—but only because the two names sound similar. They don't share an etymology. But the Irish name Séamus and its English counterpart, James, actually derive from the same source and refer to the same Biblical name.

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Please Help My Friends Use My New Name!

Hi! I'm a transgender boy and have started going by the name Kellin. My friends have said they support me, but they keep on referring to me by my old name. I don't know how to correct them without seeming rude. How can I be more assertive with my name?

–Kellin, Please!

Sometimes, a change like this just takes a lot of gentle, but persistent reminders, as when a teenager or adult wants to shed a childhood nickname. It’s not rude to say "It's Kellin now, thanks!" when friends forget. Just keep your tone cheerful and polite.

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Are These Brother Names at War with Each Other?

I have a 3-year-old son named Pax (meaning "peace"). I'm now pregnant with another son. This time around, I want a name that's simple, classic, easy to spell and recognize. I like the sound and simplicity of Mark, and how it sounds with our last name. Problem is, Mark means "warlike." So we'd have "war and peace" in our household! Big deal, or not?

–Peaceful Mama

The meanings are not a big deal. Most people don't think of Mark as meaning "warlike" for several reasons: It's too common and classic a name for anyone to recall its etymology. The meaning isn't immediately obvious, as it would be in a word name; it comes via the Roman war god, Mars. Above all, the notion that Mark truly means "warlike" isn't terribly accurate. Yes, Mark comes from the Roman name Marcus. No one really knows the origin of that name, but scholars assume it indicated a connection or dedication to Mars.

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Is Our Baby’s Name Too Short and Sweet?

My husband and I gave our daughter a short name that we love, Andie. We like it much better than Andrea or any other longer version, so despite some reservations, I went for it. However, we never get a positive response from people who ask us for her name, mostly just silence. I'm worried she will be teased in the future for having a boy's name and am considering changing her name to one of those longer versions (possibly Andriana—another name no one but me seems to like). My husband isn't on board with a change and thinks I'm overreacting, but I am terrified we set her up for a lifetime of name issues. Please help!

–Concerned Mama

Silence can mean many things: disinterest, polite disapproval, quiet appreciation. You interpret the silence over your daughter's name as a rejection of it by the people you speak with, and you may be right. I am not a participant in those conversations and can't read the body language and facial cues of your partners, all of which would help determine their exact stance toward "Andie" (the name, not your little girl).

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We're Halfway to the Perfect Namesake Name!

If the father's name is Steve and the baby's is Steven, will the suffix Jr. or II apply? I've been told that the suffix ISS, which means 1½ in Roman numerals, can be used to help distinguish between the two of them. I worry that that would happen often.

–Halfway There

Junior and a Half? That’s a new one for this Name Lady. There's really no such thing as a half-junior. It's like a half-rhyme, or being a little pregnant. Either you are, or you aren't. And while it sounds like a clever option, ISS is just not a thing. It’s true that "SS" can be used to stand for ½ in Roman numerals; pharmacists do it. But no one else does.

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Should I Stick With this Baby Name Tradition?

I have been debating whether or not to give my little girl the middle name Carol, which is a family name on my mom's side. Part of me wants to keep the tradition, but another part is not so sure. The first name that I have chosen is Ruby, but Ruby Carol sounds a little off. I'm a big believer in tradition, but should I give my daughter a middle name that I am unsure about? (I don't like Caroline or Carolyn.)

–Feeling Torn

You haven't said just what it is about Carol that's turning you off, aside from the way it sounds with Ruby. Perhaps it's the rhythm: Your ear craves another syllable after "Carol," but you've already said you don't care for Caroline or Carolyn.

Or maybe the pairing of two word names is causing your discomfort. In either of those cases, a second middle name, either before or after Carol, could help. How about a trio like Ruby Elizabeth Carol or Ruby Carol Jane?

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