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

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To P or Not to P (Is the Baby Name Question)

All of my kids' names start with P. Should I change it for this one?

–Princess P

As with everything else in baby-naming, there are no hard and fast rules about themes like this one. But there are some principles to consider, which might help you make a decision about your new baby's name.

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When Is a Baby Name a Political Statement?

Are Sasha and Malia political statement names? What about Melania? When does a name switch from trendy to controversial?

–Pregnant and Political

Political homages used to be a routine part of American baby naming. Today, though, parents across the political spectrum avoid politically tinged names. We didn't see a surge of babies named after Clinton, Bush or Obama, and we shouldn't expect a wave of baby Donalds, either. 

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Is This Baby Name Too Extreme?

My wife and I are considering the name Champion for our third son. We didn't use traditional names for our other sons, Adonis and Legend, but my wife is really not sold on Champion. She thinks that it is too unique and could make him big-headed. I like the name and thinks it flows nicely with our last name, Lynn. Is it too much?

–Proud Dad

Your first two sons have bold, confident names; should your third one follow suit? Yes and no. I can see your perspective: That the exalted word name Champion is right in sync with big brothers Adonis and Legend. It makes sense! But the fact is that "too extreme" is a matter of personal preference. Champion does cross a line—because your wife thinks it does.

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Is This Nickname Workable, or Weird?

My name is Maria Alejandra, which is Spanish. I'm studying abroad, and nobody can pronounce my full name. I go by Maria for now, but there are about 20 of us and it gets quite confusing. I want to start going by "Malendra." It's a play on both my names and I like the sound of it. However, after doing some searching I've realized that that's a name commonly used by Indian men. Do you think it would be weird if I took it as my name?

–Need to Shed Some Syllables

Making a contraction of a name starting with Maria is a time-honored tradition: Maria Teresa becomes Maite, or Maria Soledad is known as Marisol. So your nickname idea makes a lot of sense.

It's also smart to have some cross-cultural sensitivity about names. If you had invented the name Aditya for yourself, I'd caution that it is a familiar, and hugely popular, name among Indian men and boys.

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Does a Nickname Disqualify This Middle Name?

Is Theodore Edmund a nickname disaster? We love both names. Both honour family. But can we use both in the same name, considering the risk of a deadly nickname combo like Ted Ed, Ted Ned, or even Ted Ted? You can just imagine the nurse at the doctor's office when she catches the joke. Or are we overthinking it, with Theo the new normal nickname for Theodore? In fact, could we even be so bold as to name this baby Theodore and save Edmund for a sibling?

–Not Ready for Teddy Eddie

I'd say this one goes into the "overthinking" column. Middle names are almost never reduced to nicknames. And what’s more, most people won’t even know what Theodore's middle name is. Even doctors, nurses, and teachers who might happen to see the middle name aren't likely to give it much—if any!—thought.

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Is This Baby Name Too Like Tallulah?

My husband and I are having a lot of trouble finding a baby girl name. We have a 15-month-old daughter named Tallulah. We recently fell in love with the name Ayla. I worry it is too similar to Tallulah, especially as they will be so close in age. What do you think?

–Looking for a Sweet Sister Name

Picking a name is so much harder the second time. You're in good company with your questions about sib sets, as many of my previous columns on this subject show. While the whole world of names was open to you originally, now you've got another child to consider when debating your second daughter's name, and your striking, fashionable choice for your first daughter will foreclose other possibilities.

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Can the Right Spelling Fix this Baby Name?

What do you think of the name Anneli or Annelie? I initially had Annali in mind, but then changed the spelling to distance it from potential teasing. Please advise.

–Looking for Letter-Perfect

Every imaginable spelling of the name pronounced "ann-a-lee" has been used in recent years: Anali, Analeigh, Annali, Annaley. There have even been dozens of baby girls given the name "Anally." The telenovela El Rostro de Analía, which ran on Telemundo from 2008-2009, helped spark a trend.

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We're Starstruck By This Baby Name!

My husband and I are in love with the name Stark (yes, we are Game of Thrones and Marvel comic nerds) for our son, due next month. I can't imagine his name as anything else. The issue I am having is our last name: Stichler, pronounced "Stickler." Stark Stichler, or we could choose Stark Elijah Stickler. Can we get away with this? Or is it too much?

–Stuck on Stark

You're right: Stark Stichler is pretty hard to say, and the clump of consonants can merge together and make people hear the first name as Star or Starks. A few months ago, I advised against the name "Clark Markley" because of the rhymey, tongue-twisting nature of the combination.

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Is a Rose by Any Other Name the Right Choice?

I love the name Rosalie, but I already have a daughter named Everly Rose. Are there any other names with the same ring? Maybe Daisilie? I'm just not sure. I like unique names that are appealing to many people and not difficult to pronounce.

–Need a Sister Name

First of all, let me answer the question you didn’t ask: Are the names Everly and Rosalie too similar to give to sisters?

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Suddenly Feeling the Baby-Name Pinch

My husband and I feel in love with the Hebrew name Pinchas (pronounced "Pinkus") for our third son, due to arrive in a few weeks. It's an old family name, and we like that it is uncommon. It also fits well with the names of his brothers. However, a friend pointed out that phonetically, the name is "pinch-ass." My friend meant well; she has an odd name and had a very difficult time with it at school. But now "pinch-ass" is what immediately comes to mind when I see the name. What do you think? Would we be inflicting an unfair future on our son if we go with it?

–Grateful for Your Help

Pinchas is a classic Biblical name, but even in this era when a name like Ezekiel can be a popular hit, you almost never hear Pinchas outside of religious Jewish communities (and famous violinists); it has never been in the US top 1000 names. Not only does it start with the negative word "pinch," that word's sound is "pink," which has issues of its own. The –as ending is less problematic when it's not paired with a word-y opening syllable; think Silas, Elias, Tobias, and so on.

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