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

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Will This Name Haunt My Baby?

Is Kasper still too associated with the ghost to use as a baby name? It's been decades since the TV show. No child under six that I have asked knows the connection. We love this name, with this spelling, and it is a name in our family tree. But would we be setting our child up for ridicule from adults if we used it?

– Not Afraid of Ghosts

Casper may be one of the most famous pop-culture ghosts around, but he was a friendly ghost! I’m with you in thinking the fear of Casper is a little overblown. Even Oscar gets a lot more baby-name love, and he's best known as a grouchy, ill-mannered monster who makes his home in a trash can.

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Is This Name Okay for an Atheist?

My partner and I are lucky enough to have similar tastes in naming styles. Our top contender for a girl's name is Remy Evangeline. We absolutely love the rhythm and sound of it. The problem? We are both atheists, and while we obviously have no way of knowing if our daughter might someday choose a theistic lifestyle for herself, we have no intention of raising her in a religious context. To further complicate matters, our last name contains the word "Saint." I'm concerned that two overtly religiously affiliated names for one child might make us conspicuous for comment among friends and family who are aware of our irreligious persuasion, and that strangers hearing the name might make erroneous assumptions about our family. So what do you think: Can style trump meaning, or should we look for another name we can love as much as this one?

–Secular Mama

The irony is that Remy won't come across as religious at all, even though it's a saints name, while Evangeline sounds spectacularly saintly when in fact it comes from a poem (Longfellow's Evangeline: a Tale of Acadie) and isn't a traditional religious name. And yet, style can indeed trump meaning. I don't think any parents of Claudias intended to call their daughters "lame." Nor must boys named Calvin inevitably grow up to be bald.

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Is This Baby Name Really a Name?

I am pregnant with number 3. Our boy name is rock solid, easy, no questions. However, the girl name is hard. Recently the name Covie came to me. The problem is that I don't know if it's even really a name. I love it, though. Thoughts?

–Uncertain Mom

No, Covie is not traditional as a given name, surname, place name, or any other kind of established name. But is it "really" a name? It will be, if you give it to your daughter! After all, what makes a name a name is use. Writers have been inventing names for centuries, including now-familiar names like Amanda, Evangeline, Jessica, and Wendy. And parents have often chosen surnames and words to become first names, or adapted traditional names with nicknames or variants.

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Did Romeo Have a Brother?

My daughter is due with her second baby boy soon. Her first son is named Romeo Louis. Romeo was his daddy's nickname when he was little. At first, not too many people liked the name, but when he was born, he looked every bit his name. It's perfect for him, and now everyone likes it!

My daughter would like to keep up with the same theme, kind of, and has been thinking about Valentino or maybe even Casanova. Most everyone can't stand those names, and she isn't sure of them either. I have suggested Royce, Rhett, and Ryker—going with "R" names. I even like Lorenzo, keeping up with the "O" at the end. Any input, advice, or name suggestions would be much appreciated!

–Romeo's Grandma

You've made some smart suggestions, Grandma. Romeo is a tough act to follow! Steering your daughter toward complimentary names that don't fall into the category of "notorious romantic fictional characters" seems wise. And Romeo has much more familiarity, and usage, as a contemporary first name than Casanova does (according to the U.S. Social Security Administration, it's given to fewer than 10 baby boys a year).

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Must the Nickname Match the Given Name?

Normally I'm against the idea of calling a child by a name other than what you actually named her, but I'm wondering if it's socially acceptable to do it. My husband and I have agreed on a particular name for a few years, but this whole pregnancy I've been referring to the baby as "Daisy." Would it be totally off the mark to give the baby a first and middle name that in no way relate to Daisy, but still call her that?

–Name Her, Name Her Not

This kind of nicknaming is not only accepted, but classic: think Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, or Mary "Sissy" Spacek. But you're right that it’s less common today than it once was. Contemporary parents often favor full names without nicknames: James but not Jimmy, Elizabeth instead of Beth. Or they go straight for the nickname, especially in the U.K., where names like Rosie, Evie, and Lexi are climbing popularity charts.

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Are Calendar Names Cool or Cheesy?

How do you feel about calendar names and whether or not they coincide with the time of year when a baby is born? I know an April born in September and an Autumn born in midwinter, but also a Natalie born on Christmas Day. I feel that names like this should fit somewhat with the season of birth (if June is born a few weeks early, the parents shouldn't have to change her name to May, for example). A friend, however, thinks this is cheesy and names that fit too well with the season or month of birth should be avoided. Can you settle our debate?

--'Tis the Season

This has been a cultural change over time, which means that while your view was once the prevailing one, opinion has now shifted toward your friend's position. It used to be that seasonal names were selected based on the season. But today, style trumps meaning, and April and June are farther apart in style than they are on the calendar. June is enjoying the 100-year resurgence that we often see in baby-name style trends (the name peaked in 1910 and has been on its way up again since 2008).

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Will Everyone Get This Name Wrong?

We have found out we are having a girl! Yay! I am leaning towards the name Jadeanne, after my mother, Jade Anne. But I would pronounce it like Jayden. We just want an opinion!

–Just Wondering

The Name Lady doesn't give opinions on style, since that's in the eye of the beholder. So I'm not going to give a yay-or-nay vote on your pick. But it is my job to share opinions on how the rest of the world might perceive that pick, as an expert, objective observer.

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My Husband Won't Name Our Baby!

My husband and I are expecting our first child this year and he doesn't like any names! No matter how traditional or unusual the name, he always turns his nose up. How can I help him discover names that he likes? I've asked him to look up names himself, but he is still incredibly picky. He doesn't have to like the names I do, I just want him to like something!

–Not as Picky About Names

Perhaps it will help to know, my not-so picky pal, that you're in good company. Over the years, I've responded to scores of questions from women like you, frustrated that their naming partners seem to be both full of criticisms and utterly short on ideas. I'll suggest some strategies for helping your husband tone down his name-negativity below.

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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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