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

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Please Help My Friends Use My New Name!

Hi! I'm a transgender boy and have started going by the name Kellin. My friends have said they support me, but they keep on referring to me by my old name. I don't know how to correct them without seeming rude. How can I be more assertive with my name?

–Kellin, Please!

Sometimes, a change like this just takes a lot of gentle, but persistent reminders, as when a teenager or adult wants to shed a childhood nickname. It’s not rude to say "It's Kellin now, thanks!" when friends forget. Just keep your tone cheerful and polite.

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Are These Brother Names at War with Each Other?

I have a 3-year-old son named Pax (meaning "peace"). I'm now pregnant with another son. This time around, I want a name that's simple, classic, easy to spell and recognize. I like the sound and simplicity of Mark, and how it sounds with our last name. Problem is, Mark means "warlike." So we'd have "war and peace" in our household! Big deal, or not?

–Peaceful Mama

The meanings are not a big deal. Most people don't think of Mark as meaning "warlike" for several reasons: It's too common and classic a name for anyone to recall its etymology. The meaning isn't immediately obvious, as it would be in a word name; it comes via the Roman war god, Mars. Above all, the notion that Mark truly means "warlike" isn't terribly accurate. Yes, Mark comes from the Roman name Marcus. No one really knows the origin of that name, but scholars assume it indicated a connection or dedication to Mars.

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Is Our Baby’s Name Too Short and Sweet?

My husband and I gave our daughter a short name that we love, Andie. We like it much better than Andrea or any other longer version, so despite some reservations, I went for it. However, we never get a positive response from people who ask us for her name, mostly just silence. I'm worried she will be teased in the future for having a boy's name and am considering changing her name to one of those longer versions (possibly Andriana—another name no one but me seems to like). My husband isn't on board with a change and thinks I'm overreacting, but I am terrified we set her up for a lifetime of name issues. Please help!

–Concerned Mama

Silence can mean many things: disinterest, polite disapproval, quiet appreciation. You interpret the silence over your daughter's name as a rejection of it by the people you speak with, and you may be right. I am not a participant in those conversations and can't read the body language and facial cues of your partners, all of which would help determine their exact stance toward "Andie" (the name, not your little girl).

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We're Halfway to the Perfect Namesake Name!

If the father's name is Steve and the baby's is Steven, will the suffix Jr. or II apply? I've been told that the suffix ISS, which means 1½ in Roman numerals, can be used to help distinguish between the two of them. I worry that that would happen often.

–Halfway There

Junior and a Half? That’s a new one for this Name Lady. There's really no such thing as a half-junior. It's like a half-rhyme, or being a little pregnant. Either you are, or you aren't. And while it sounds like a clever option, ISS is just not a thing. It’s true that "SS" can be used to stand for ½ in Roman numerals; pharmacists do it. But no one else does.

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Should I Stick With this Baby Name Tradition?

I have been debating whether or not to give my little girl the middle name Carol, which is a family name on my mom's side. Part of me wants to keep the tradition, but another part is not so sure. The first name that I have chosen is Ruby, but Ruby Carol sounds a little off. I'm a big believer in tradition, but should I give my daughter a middle name that I am unsure about? (I don't like Caroline or Carolyn.)

–Feeling Torn

You haven't said just what it is about Carol that's turning you off, aside from the way it sounds with Ruby. Perhaps it's the rhythm: Your ear craves another syllable after "Carol," but you've already said you don't care for Caroline or Carolyn.

Or maybe the pairing of two word names is causing your discomfort. In either of those cases, a second middle name, either before or after Carol, could help. How about a trio like Ruby Elizabeth Carol or Ruby Carol Jane?

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In Search of a Sibling Name with the Right Ending

We're having trouble coming up with a name that pairs well with our son's name, Easton. Names that end in the –on sound, such as Greyson, Ashton, Hudson, etc., are not what we're looking for. Our last name begins with R, so names ending with the –er sound are also out. Suggestions?

–Easton's Mom

Many parents who are drawn to this style of name run into this problem. Today's fashionable surnames for boys almost all end in –n and –r. That gets repetitive as your family grows. And then you have the added complication of a surname starting with R.

To preserve the style of Easton but break out of the ends-with-N pattern, there are a couple of other groups of surname-style names with different ending sounds to try.

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I’m Afraid to Ask for a New Name

I am 13 and want to ask my parents if they would change my name. I know the name isn't too personal, because it was from a TV or movie character. I am just scared of asking my mom. I know I am young, but I have thought about it for years and it would just feel right. I want to do it before I get a high school diploma or driver’s license. I have anxiety and don't speak to many people at school. Is there any possible way to bring this up to my parents without offending them? Is there a way to bring it up more casually? I just don't want them to get mad at me.

–Ready for a Change

I wish I could start by giving you a hug! I also wish I knew if you have a particular reason to believe your parents would get mad at this request. Are they prone to anger? Or is it possible that you are torturing yourself unnecessarily by imagining the worst? Could your anxiety be playing a role?

Many kids your age are hesitant to talk honestly with their parents. And yes, some parents fly off the handle easily, or are too controlling. But many would love to help if their kids would confide in them. They are well-meaning and want you to be happy.

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All the Nicknames Are Taken!

Can Laney be a nickname for Eleanor? I love the name, but both Ellie (in this case, short for Elizabeth) and Norah (as a full name) are taken by other kids in my family, and Nellie was a beloved dog.

–Still Love Eleanor

Sure, you could use Laney as a nickname for Eleanor! Parents have lots of leeway when it comes to pairing up names and nicknames. I think a lot of people will really like the combination of old-fashioned Eleanor with more contemporary Laney.

You could consider Elle or Ella as nicknames for Eleanor, but those might be too close to Ellie. Or you could use the full Eleanor and skip the nicknames altogether.

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Will Vikings Ransack My Daughters' Names?

My husband and I fell in love with the name Thora. We like that it's feminine, unique, traditional, and from his family tree. My only hesitation is that our first daughter is named Freya, which is the name of the Norse goddess of love and beauty—and Thora is the derived from the masculine Norse god Thor. I don't want people to think my husband and I are Norse mythology fanatics! Or think my daughter has a masculine name. Are those too many strikes? We had reservations about Freya too, but we're so happy we decided to choose it for our first daughter after all.

–Freya's Mom

It makes perfect sense that parents who love Freya would also be drawn to Thora—and not, as you point out, just because they face the twilight of the gods together. Both names are short and impactful, clearly feminine but full of brisk, strong sounds, and contain a mix of soft and harsh elements. They fit together beautifully without rhyming or obvious repetition. Their shared Scandinavian heritage is a point of obvious union, but no more remarkable than a pair of sisters named Francesca and Gabriella or Bernadette and Jacqueline.

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What's the Right Way to Pronounce This Baby Name?

My husband and I like name Lena. He says "Layna," however, and I say "Leena." Either way, we still like the name, but I was wondering if you could provide some insight as to which way is more widely accepted. Thank you!

–Tomato, Tomahto

While it's tricky to pin down, "Leena" (as in Lena Horne or Lena Dunham) is much more frequently used in the U.S. and Canada, while "Layna" is standard in Europe and Australia. So if you live in North America, you could use the "more common here" argument to break the tie in your favor.

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