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

Ask Now
Ask Now

What Goes with Guinevere?

I am having a hard time finding a name that sounds good with our first daughter's name, Guinevere. I absolutely love her name and I keep hoping I will find a name I love as much as hers, but nothing has come up yet. Do you have any suggestions?

–Still Searching

Parents put a lot of pressure on themselves to find the perfect name, and the stakes only seem to get higher with subsequent children. If you've already used the best name out there, how can you follow that up?

Read More...
Ask Now

My Name Doesn't Match My Politics

My Republican parents named me Reagan in 1990 after their beloved president. Now I'm a solid Democrat, and I hate having to explain my namesake. I'm thinking about legally changing my name to Regan, but I want to keep the same pronunciation. Will I become "Ree-gun" without the "a"?

–Too Blue for Reagan

Names can send messages about everything from your age and sex to your religion and ethnic background. But your political party? Not usually. Most baby names transcend politics. Your name, though, is the exception.

Read More...
Ask Now

Does Popularity Rule This Name Out?

My husband and I fell in love with the name Jackson, only to realize it is becoming extremely popular, especially with all the spellings (Jaxon, Jaxson, Jax, etc.). We live in California and it seems a little less popular out on the West coast, but we are afraid the trend is going to reach out here too. Do we give up the name we love and choose something more popular? Help please!

–Trend-spotter

You've bumped square into a problem that many baby-namers face: The name you love is so good, lots of other people love it too. Jackson—just that spelling—is a top 50 name in most U.S. states, and it's in the top 20 in the West coast states of Washington and Oregon. So there's no question that the name is popular. But the more pertinent question in my view, is "Does that matter?"

Read More...
Ask Now

Is This Pair Too Perfect?

I'm pregnant with my second child, a boy, and my husband and I are facing a dilemma with respect to our favourite name. Our daughter's name is Ava. My husband and I both love the name Adam as a strong, short, masculine name.

However, we are worried about the sibling name pairing. My sister and mother have both commented that their first thought was that the children would be saddled with "Adam and Eve" references. I didn't see this association until it was pointed out, and now it's causing me and my husband some concern. We don't want our children to be the butt of jokes, but we're not sure whether it will come up that much. Is this really a big problem? Do we need to consider a different name for our son?

–Ava's Mom

This is a tough one! The pairing of Adam and Eve is a definite non-starter for siblings, on a par with Jack and Jill, or Barbie and Ken, or Romeo and Juliet. And yet, Eve and Ava are different. The question is, are they different enough?

Read More...
Ask Now

Is This Nickname a No-No?

My beautiful 8-year-old daughter is named Ilana. Though we both love her name, she more closely identifies with the nickname we have called her since she could speak, Nani (nah-nee). She wants to start going by her nickname not only at home but at school. Looking into the name Nani, it may actually be a Hawaiian name; but we are not Hawaiian. Is it acceptable to have everyone start calling her Nani even though it is not commonly known as a "real" name? Is it a nickname that should only be used in the family or is it something that could be used all around?

–Nani's Mom

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?

Read More...
Ask Now

Right Name, Wrong Letter!

I really love the name Ryker, but want to stick with M names for all my kids. I decided on Myker after seeing Ryker, but I am nervous about how it really sounds to others and if it has a meaning I can't catch (I am French Canadian and don't know all English words or expressions yet). How does it sound to you?

–M-loving Maman

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.

Read More...
Ask Now

Is a New Spelling the Answer?

I am Italian and want to give my daughter an Italian name. I love the name Lucia (pronounced "loo-chi-a" in Italian), but I know people will pronounce it "loo-sha." I don't want to be the crazy lady correcting everyone—or stick my daughter with correcting everyone her whole life! I have thought about naming her Luchia, but it's not Italian and looks weird. Any ideas for different spellings, or other names that are like this that I have overlooked?

–Italian Mama

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.

Read More...
Ask Now

Can I Go Back on a Namesake Promise?

My husband and I are expecting our first child. If we have a girl, we had planned on giving her my grandmother's name as a second middle name. My grandmother was always there for me while I was growing up. Recently, though, my grandmother has been treating my mother (her daughter) badly and saying cruel things about her. I don't think I could use the name of someone who acts like that. But I already told my grandmother we were thinking of giving a daughter her name as a middle name. Would it be rude of me to back out?

–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.

Read More...
Ask Now

Looks Like a Boy, Sounds Like a Girl?

My husband and I had a difficult time coming to an agreement on a name for our daughter. We narrowed it down to two names: a safe pick and a less safe one, which we prefer but also worry about. The safe name is Eliza. The less typical one is Ira. I love it, but will everyone hate it? I know it's typically an old man, but it feels similar enough to Ida to maybe work? We would give her a common, feminine middle name as a backup.

–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?

–Loving Lo

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."

Read More...
Ask Now

Help Me Connect These Random Names!

Is it possible for names with obvious backgrounds and histories to pair well with names outside of the same genre? I have a son named Elijah (Eli) and am now pregnant with my second son. My husband and I are in love with the name August, but we're afraid the pairing screams "random." A good-sounding sibling set is extremely important to us. Are we limited to biblical names, or are there other options for us to create a harmonious sib-set?

–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.

Read More...