The problem is, it basically rhymes with my first name. I don't want the actual name printed, but think, "Ashley Blimey."
My middle name is Laura, which could sufficiently break up the rhyming. Should I change my first name to Ashley Laura, and introduce myself as such -- even though it's a mouthful and risks annoying people or coming across as pretentious -- or just include Laura whenever I say my full name, and risk people leaving it out and calling me "Ashley Blimey?" Are there other solutions I'm not thinking of?
- The Future Mrs. Blimey
When we name babies, we custom-select first names to pair attractively with our surnames. Marital names, though, are pot luck. The wheel of romantic fate spins, and the new name candidate may be lovely, ridiculous, or anywhere in-between.
-- Too Pale for Leila?
Would it reassure you if I told you that Leila doesn't really mean "dark-haired beauty"?
Baby name dictionaries aren't like the dictionaries we're used to, that describe what a word signifies and how it's used. Instead, they burrow into history to find the name's linguistic roots. Imagine looking up the word "spoon" in Webster's and getting the definition "splinter of wood (Proto-Germanic)." That's the baby name dictionary experience.
If it's any comfort, many parents-to-be share your struggle. Naming a baby is a challenge, especially today. Just a generation or two ago, most expectant moms and dads chose from much shorter lists: perhaps family names, saints' names, or commonly-heard-in-our-neighborhood names. Now that names are so diverse you have a wealth of options, which makes your decision much more difficult.
- Cautious Dad
I spend my days obsessing over baby names from every angle. So when I say this, please take it to heart: you are seriously overthinking this name.
Yes, the wrong set of initials can be a problem. In the past I've advised parents to reconsider name choices that resulted in monograms like PIG. But your choice is far from that level. LAE doesn't even spell a word, and the "ae" combo is unusual enough to keep most people from reading it as one. Your daughter's initials just look like...initials.
- SF Trend Watcher
You're right that a new round of "old ladies" is about to find the baby name fountain of youth. As a rule of thumb, it takes about four generations after a popularity peak before a name is ready to return. By that time, the name has passed beyond "old" into "antique."
Today's schoolyards are packed with girls' names from the late 1800s (like Grace and Amelia) through the 1910s (Ruby, Evelyn). The names of the 1920s and '30s, then, should be right around the corner. That's the generation of Dorothy, Shirley, Betty, Marjorie, Norma, Joan, and yes, Beverly and Nancy.
-- Emma, For Now
I'm glad you phrased your question the way you did. It's a simple, honest statement of a very common feeling.
Jeremy is kind of a stumper, isn’t it? When you see a long, traditional boy's name, you assume it will trim down neatly. Christopher becomes Chris, Benjamin goes by Ben, Nathaniel shortens to Nate, and so on.
But that’s not typically the case with Jeremy. In theory, the name does offer some nickname options. Jem is a potentially fashionable choice; Jerry is a natural but a bit out of style today; Remy is a possibility, though seldom heard. A Jeremy could also go by Jay, or add his middle initial and be called J.T. or J.D.
- Perhaps Hartley's mum
Many parents worry about a name being "too popular." You're smart to be worried about the reverse -- a mysterious lack of popularity. It's like a seeing a product advertised for a ridiculously low price. You figure there must be a catch.
Often, a name that other parents have passed on does have a hidden flaw. Maybe it's the name of a movie villain, or maybe it sounds like some rude slang term you're not familiar with, or maybe it just sounds unattractive to everybody else.
Following the girls we know named Madelyn, Brooklyn, and Ashlyn, we're really liking Gwendolyn. This has been met with mostly positive responses from our family and friends.
Inspired by Bella, Anabelle, Campbell, and many versions of Isabella, we're thinking about naming our other daughter Clarabelle. Our friends overwhelmingly don't like it.
I've been trying to figure out why a name that clearly fits in naming trends isn't a hit. The only 2 Clarabelles I can find are a cartoon cow from the '30s and a clown from the '50s. It's been more than 60 years since those characters were on TV--are they really strong enough to taint this name? If we use the name anyway, does she stand a chance at overcoming people's negative associations with the name?
I'm not surprised that you're puzzled. The fashion math doesn't seem to add up. If Clara is rising in popularity and names ending in "belle" and "bella" are red hot, why is the combo so much less than the sum of its parts?
The answer is that in the realm of style, illusion can be as powerful as reality. The -belle names have soared due to their antique charm. "Antique," though, turns out to be in the eye (or ear) of the beholder.
--Potential Parents of Peter
Grandma's got it both right and wrong. While it's true that the word "peter" was occasional used in the way she fears in the past, the slang is no longer current today. You could even say it has "petered out." After all, you've never heard that usage, which should be reassuring.
Peter is a classic name that might appeal to you because it's familiar, yet not common. It peaked back in the 1950s, and now sits comfortably in the 200 ranks in popularity. It's traditional, masculine, and solid. That's what people will hear when they hear the name.