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

Ask Now
Ask Now

Does This Baby Name Break the Rules?

We are thinking of using Abel Charles Campbell for our baby boy. What do you think of the name? Is the 2-2-2 syllable pattern an issue?

–Able to Use Abel?

I'm not sure who started the idea that a pattern of three two-syllable names is a problem, but I don't think it is. Like so many "rules" of naming, it is a preference that somehow grew into a prohibition.

Read More...
Ask Now

Will Everyone Think Our Girl Is a Boy?

We are expecting a little girl, and I have fallen in love with the name McKade. We have only seen this name on boys, especially in the south. Can a girl pull this name off? Do you have any suggestions other than the more common McKenzie or McKenna?

–Southern Mama

Hundreds of girls every year are given names like Campbell and Elliott, and we've all heard of starbaby girls named Wyatt and James. So a girl could certainly "pull off" McKade. The "McK" lead-in may have started out as a surname-influenced masculine name style, but these days it's used almost exclusively for girls: McKenzie and McKenna, as you mentioned, but also McKayla and McKinley, plus spelling variations of these, are all girl today—and all quite popular.

Read More...
Ask Now

Does This Baby Name Still Belong to Our Firstborn?

My son is named Atlas, but thanks to an incorrect ultrasound, we thought he would be a girl for several months before he was born. During that time, we planned to use the name Iris. Now I am pregnant again and Iris has been grandfathered in as our girl's name for this baby. But the name still seems to belong to my son, who was called that by friends and family for two months before his birth. Is it wrong to stick to Iris when it feels associated with someone else?

–Surprised Boy Mama

When you thought your son was a daughter, you imagined an Iris and all the qualities that name conjured for you: Radiance, perhaps; or blooming purple flowers, or rainbows, or Greek myths. Or maybe no images in particular, but the sense of a daughter, a girl called Iris who would take her place in your home.

Read More...
Ask Now

Is This Baby Name Out of Tune?

I'm pregnant with our second child (we don't know whether it's a boy or girl). Our first child has a name with strong family connections. We'd like to do the same for this one. I like the family surname trend (Jackson, Cooper, etc.) and for us, Gibson would be the name. It's not really used as a first name, but I don't mind the nickname Gib and I like the connection to the famous guitar maker, since we are a family of musicians. Is this too odd of a name for a boy?

–Family Namer

While Gibson is a rare name, I wouldn't call it odd at all. It is used as a first name: It's ranked among the top 1,000 names for boys for the last several years. About 250 new baby boys in the U.S., per year, are named Gibson (and so are a handful of girls!).

Gibson is a fresh twist on a fashionable style, being a surname with a –son ending. That means it's a classic recipe for an attractive name. The fact that it has both a family connection, and a musical one, and you like the nickname? That’s a smash hit.

Read More...
Ask Now

Has Disney Doomed These Brother Names?

My oldest son is Flynn Elias. I'm having another boy soon and love the name Rider. But I see a problem because of the Disney character Flynn Rider. Should I be concerned? Would spelling it differently help? My children's names would be Flynn, Beckett and Rider. Does it work, or would people think it's strange?

–Soon-to-Be Mom-of-Three

First, let's forget about spelling the name differently. How many people even know for sure how Flynn Rider's name is spelled? More importantly, how often will people first encounter your sons as a pair on paper, vs. spoken aloud—where the spelling doesn’t matter? So unfortunately, you can't spell your way out of this dilemma.

Read More...
Ask Now

How Do I Get Grandma to Agree?

Help! My mother-in-law loves the name Raquel. I want to name my daughter Mia, after my best friend who died in a car crash. My mother-in-law understands the sentimental value of Mia, but is stuck on Raquel as the best name for our baby. My husband goes along with what she says because he doesn't want to make her angry. What should I do?

–Dutiful Daughter-in-Law

Oh, dear: This is more of a relationship dilemma than a naming dilemma. At least in the U.S., choosing a baby’s name is considered a joint decision—but of the baby's parents, not the mother and grandmother. Asking for a grandparent's opinion is one thing. A grandparent who feels like she has the last word on the pick is quite another.

Read More...
Ask Now

This Old Family Name Is Too Old!

My husband's name is Charlie, and he is named after his father, whose name is also Charlie. I am now 6 months pregnant with a boy. My husband wants to continue the tradition and name our son Charlie, but I think the name is too old. What do I do?

–Not Sure If III Is the Charm

First, let's talk about whether Charlie is "too old." It’s true the name has been around forever, but Charlie—and Charles—are perennial classics, not so-retro-they're-out style duds. But of course, "old" is in the eye of the beholder, and the point is, you don't care for Charlie—at least for your baby.

Read More...
Ask Now

Our Favorite Name Is Taken – By a Dog!

My husband and I are expecting our first child, a boy, very soon. We've chosen a name, but haven't shared it with anyone. We have new next-door neighbors who moved in a few weeks ago. I just found out yesterday their DOG has the same name as what we planned to name our son. I feel devastated. We live in a city, in close proximity to our neighbors. It took me a long time to settle on a name, and we have no backups. Should I feel foolish or not care?

–So Defeated

Unfortunately, I'm a Name Lady, not a fortune-teller. And that's what we really need to answer this question. Do you have any idea how long you'll be in your home, or your neighbors will? Maybe they'll outgrow their space and move on, or you will. And—how to put this delicately?—the dog won't be around forever.

Read More...
Ask Now

I Need to Clone My Perfect Name

My husband and I are expecting our third child. We had settled on Asher as a boy's name: I love the rough-and-tumble sound, the biblical roots, and the positive meaning of the name (happiness). Unfortunately, we've realized just how popular Asher seems to be in our community. We've come across three little Ashers just this week! Can you suggest some other names that hit our three check points?

- Almost-Asher's Mom

This is the beauty and frustration of names: no two are alike. You can start with a list of thousands of boys' names and applying just three criteria narrows your list down to one. 

You've described Asher's unique appeal well. It's a have-it-all name, a Old Testament classic that sounds like a contemporary action surname. The name's literal meaning, from the Hebrew for "fortunate" or "happy," feels like an extra gift to bestow on a child.

Read More...
Ask Now

No More Nicknames, Please!

My name is Anastasia. I'm almost 25, and I have always been called by nicknames: Annie, Ana, Stasia, Nastia, Anya, Stacy, Tasia (only people like my mother, father, sister, and best friend are allowed to call me Annie). But I'm slowly getting sick of always hearing nicknames and never my full name. As soon as I introduce myself, people ask what my nickname is. I don't know what to do to get people to use my full name. Is Anastasia really too much of a mouthful? I hear it so little and I do love my name. Do you have any advice?

–Anastasia, Please!

It's clear that this really bugs you. But it’s not clear whether others really know that. So your first step is to make your wishes known, clearly and firmly, but also politely. It will be easiest with new people. If they ask you if you have a nickname, just say “No!” with a smile.

Read More...