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

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What Makes a Mom Name?

Is Grace a mom name?

–Naming a New Generation

It’s funny to think of a Victorian favorite as a "mom name," in the same vein as Ashley or Krista, rather than a great-grandmother name! Grace was at its most popular in the 1880s, alongside antiques like Minnie, Martha, and Florence.

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Which Name Spelling Is Better?

Which spelling should we use for our baby boy, Silas or Cylas?

–Psyched for Our New Son

This question is more nuanced than it might seem at first glance. It should be a pretty straightforward question, and answer: What's the best spelling for this baby name? But when we look at it, things get interesting.

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Is This Nickname Unstoppable?

I love the name Harrison for our baby boy (big brother is Henry). But we're worried that people will call him Harry, a nickname we're not too fond of—my husband despises it! Do you think the nickname is unavoidable?

–Not Wild About Harry

No nickname is truly unavoidable, especially these days when plenty of boys are named Thomas and Michael—but never go by Tom and Mike. We're quite used to hearing full names instead of nicknames, and both parents and children are comfortable saying "It's Daniel, not Danny" until they get their point across.

But some nicknames are more likely than others. There are a few risk factors that come into play. One is when a name has a single, obvious nickname, like Chris for Christopher, or Beth for Bethany. Another is a formal name of three or more syllables.

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There Must Be More Baby Names Like This One!

Today, I came across the name Benton. I really like it because it's unique, but it still has familiar sounds: It has the nickname "Ben" and the trendy "-n" ending all rolled into one! It got me wondering: Are there any other names like Benton out there?

–Been Thinking 'Bout Benton

I love this question because there are so many ways to look at it. And no matter how you define "names like Benton," there are plenty of choices that fit the bill. Benton's brother could be a new invention like Daxton, an old surname like Wickham, or a new take on a chart-topper, like Jules or Harris.

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I Need a Reality Check on This Baby Name!

I love the sound of the name Elmer. I love that it includes a nice tree. I love that it fits with other names of the moment, like Sawyer and Asher. I'm having only a slightly hard time letting go of associations like Elmer Fudd, but I'm afraid other people will find it impossible. Do you think style can win over cultural reference in this case?

–Am I Crazy?

Alas, you're right: Other people will indeed find this name impossible. And it's not just Fudd that makes this name a dud for a contemporary baby. Elmer is at the extreme end of style, and while some people will appreciate how it bucks the trends, many more will still think of it as something of a joke.

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Is This Too Much T?

Our last name starts with a "T," so we had been staying away from first names that start with T as well. We feel that the alliteration sounds awkward. The trick is, we really love the name Tess and just can't get it out of our heads. Is loving the first name most important, as you use the first name on its own much more than you hear it with the last name?

–Mrs. T

When you start the process, it helps to have some baby-naming rules for yourself (like, "no surname names," or "no sharing names with a first cousin," or "no matching initials," just for example; every set of parents will have different preferences). Sans rules, it's very difficult to narrow down the huge universe of potential names to the ones that you like.

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We’re Hunting for the Right Baby Name!

We have a boy name picked out, but we are trying to find the perfect girl name for our first baby. I am wondering what you think about the name "Quarry." We have talked about Cora (which is one of our faves right now) and mentioned Quincy. The state park that is located in our town has a beautiful quarry. We spend quite a bit of time there, took our wedding pictures there, etc., so Quarry seems somewhat fitting. It's obviously not a common name so I just need a second opinion if it sounds crazy or not.

–Due in May

A meaningful word or place name can often be an inspired and inspiring choice for a baby name. Nature words, in particular, often make for popular and well-received names. Autumn, Lily, Savannah, and Jasmine were among the top 100 names for baby girls in 2014 (along with other word names such as Aria, Serenity, Genesis, Piper, Faith, and Ruby). Hazel, Willow, and Juniper are all up-and-comers from the natural world.

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Help Me Stop This Bad Baby Name!

My daughter-in-law wants to name their baby Levanie. This is really upsetting me, so how do I deal with this? I know how mean children can be. And I have a hard time remembering and pronouncing it correctly. When I mention it to anyone they say "What???" Help me.

–Worried Grandma

Grandma, you may not like what I'm going to say, because I'm going to side firmly with your daughter-in-law (and your son, right? Where's he in all this?). Here's why.

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Is This Baby Name Wonderful, or Weird?

My husband and I love the name Darby for our baby girl. We are planning to pair it with an ultra-feminine middle name, like Olivia or Charlotte. It works well with our last name too. Though we both feel it's our top pick, we're still a little concerned that it's too traditionally masculine, or that there's a reason we haven't discovered yet about why it's not commonly used. Is this one of those "love it or hate it" names? Will some people think it's a bizarre, unappealing choice? Above all, we want our daughter to love it as much as we do!

–Never Met a Darby

Welcome to a classic baby namer's struggle: Is this name undiscovered, or just … odd? You're right that it's not commonly used. It was given to just over 100 baby girls (and 30 or so boys) in each of the last three years. Even at its peak, in 1995, there were just under 500 new baby girls named Darby, while the top names of that year, Jessica and Ashley, went to over 25,000 babies each.

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How Do We Announce Our New Surname?

My fiancé and I are considering choosing a different last name than either of our current surnames. How would we announce this at our wedding? Or should we? Do you have any advice for breaking the news to his parents?

–Engaged to Change

The occasion of marriage is a perfect time to really think through what you both want your surnames to be. It sounds like you are doing just that. I'm all for it! As you've noted, though, it brings up at least two tricky situations.

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