I'm going to start this column off with a little test. Quick, Nani's Mom, which of the following celebrities are familiar to you: Mary Elizabeth Gore, Josephine Lauder, Rafael Cruz, or Elizabeth Jean Philipps?
To my ear, and mind, Ryker and Myker are worlds apart. Ryker is a super-charged surname in the "men of action" style. It turns up in high-energy, macho settings from Star Trek to Marvel Comics to professional wrestling. It’s a fast-rising hit and a crowd-pleaser.
You might be surprised to find that the Spanish pronunciation, "loo-SEE-a," is the most common guess, at least in the United States. Lucia is a classic name that happens to have more than one accepted pronunciation (it has three!). But a traditional pronunciation of a traditional name doesn't need to be a burden for a child.
–Having Second Thoughts
You're in a tough situation, and I sympathize. You made a namesake plan at a time when you wanted to honor the grandmother who meant a lot to you. Now that circumstances are different, can you renege on this offer? That could cause a further rift between you and your grandmother (and maybe make things worse for your mom too). And yet sticking with your plan feels wrong too, since a namesake is meant to pay tribute to someone you love and admire—not resent.
–Unsure About Ira
I recently came up with a name if we are having a boy, but my husband said that he only liked it for a girl. What do you think about naming a baby girl Arlo? Is it too boyish? It is growing on me and I'm considering calling her "Lo." What do you think?
As you know, it's not unusual for boys' names to turn up on girls (while the reverse is less likely). Making that choice is a style preference and the Name Lady typically doesn't hand down rulings on style. Both of these names contain elements that could help them read feminine: The -a ending on Ira; the liquid Rs, Ls, and vowel sounds in both. Those make them sound contemporary, rather than "old man."
–No Clashing Please
Ah, naming children—the only activity that doesn't get easier with practice! I've helped sib-set stumped parents before and it's abundantly clear that the addition of an extra variable (namely, your existing child) exponentially increases fears of failure.
– 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.
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.
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.
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!
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).