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

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There Must Be a Better Name for This Baby!

My brother and his girlfriend are having their first baby and it's a girl. They've got a name in the works for her, but we don't believe that it suits the little girl. However, my family has Scottish and English heritage and I'm wondering what would be a good Scottish English name for a girl? Any ideas?

–Proud Auntie

"We" need to back way up here. When you say "we" don't believe the (chosen and shared) name "suits" the baby, who is "we"? It's not the baby’s parents, of course. Perhaps a group of relatives? Are you a committee designated by the parents to choose a name?

Also, how can a name "not suit" a baby who isn't even born yet? It sounds like you're trying to find a gentler way to say "we hate this name and they should pick something else."

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We’ve Already Used the Perfect Baby Name!

My husband and I are stumped on a girl name for our third baby. We both like Claire, but it is our oldest daughter's middle name. Is it weird to reuse a middle name as a first name? My husband suggested Clara. I love it, but think it is too close to our younger daughter's name, Nora. We also both like Stella, but our oldest's name is Adelle. What do you think?

–Mom in a Middle Muddle

This can be a tough call! Is it okay to reuse a middle name for a younger sibling's first name? There are strikingly strong feelings on both sides. In some families, every child has the same middle name (say, Dad's first or Mom's maiden name). In others, a middle name can return as a first name without a second thought. And in still others, parents feel it would never be fair to give a child a name that's "used." The older siblings, if old enough to have an opinion, might love the practice—or hate it.

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How True Is "A Boy Named Sue"?

We are expecting a girl and are thinking about naming her Harvey, after a relative. Are we crazy? Are we essentially "naming a boy Sue"?

–It's a Girl, Really

In the Johnny Cash song, released in 1969, the eponymous narrator laments:

And it got a lot of laughs from a' lots of folk
It seems I had to fight my whole life through
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head
I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named "Sue"

It turns out that Cash (and the songwriter… Shel Silverstein!) was on to something.

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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?


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 Baby Name All Wrong for an All-American Girl?

Does the name Britton, for a girl, make you think of the country of Great Britain? Does it seem like it is just a changing of the spelling of the country? I went to high school with a boy named Britton and I have always loved it for a girl. But I am American and don't have any ties to Great Britain. I wouldn't want the name to be heavily associated with the country.

–Born in the USA

In this case, the name Britton is very different when it's read or written, vs. spoken or heard. On paper, Britton looks like a surname. Aloud, it does sound similar to the country, although you could pronounce it with more of a "ton" sound than "ten" to make a distinction.

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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.


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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Are These Sister Names Sweet or Silly?

We are expecting our second daughter soon and are struggling with a name. Our firstborn is Rylin, named from my maiden name and my husband's middle name. For the next girl, we like Taylin, but don't know if they are too close. We also like Logan and Remy. We're running out of time to decide!

–Too Close for Sisters?

"Too close" is generally a matter of personal taste. Some parents deliberately aim for a matching set, like Ethan and Nathan or Kayla and Kayden. It seems like you don't want that, though; you asked whether the names were too close, not whether they are close enough. Two names ending in –ylin do come across as a thematic set.

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Does My Baby’s Name Have a Pronunciation Problem?

I've always regretted my daughter's name. It's Esme, pronounced Es-ME (as in "me, myself, and I.") People regularly say Es-may. I really am struggling with the guilt of giving her a problem for the rest of her life. Is it worth changing her name when my husband loves it so much and it would hurt him a lot for me to change it?

–Me, Please!

You haven't mentioned how old your daughter is, which could make a big difference in how you respond here. Many parents experience pangs of regret or namer's remorse when their babies are little, and these fade as children grow into their names. And if your daughter is old enough to know her name, it is more difficult to change it.

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I Love Everything But His Name!

I've been seeing a man for about four months. We have incredible chemistry, we want all the same things in life, and a long-term relationship, including marriage and children, is a distinct possibility. There's just one problem, and I realize it might seem silly. His last name is McAnally, pronounced "MACK-an-al-ee." He joked about it briefly but otherwise it hasn't been a topic of conversation. I'm sorry, but I cringe at the thought of my children growing up with this name. How soon would it be appropriate to broach the possibility of changing it to McNally or giving any future kids my last name? It honestly bothers me enough to be a dealbreaker, so I'd want to know before I get any more attached to him.

–One Big But(t)

I feel for you: This is a challenging situation! It's not easy to figure out what the etiquette is on telling a man that you consider his surname cringe-worthy. But if it really is a dealbreaker for you, you might as well bring it up sooner rather than later. (Just be sure that it's a dealbreaker in case the conversation does lead to a break-up!)