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

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Should I Be Traditional or Trail-Blazing?

Is it too cliché to name a baby with dad's initials when all his children from previous relationships have been named that way? Should I stick with the tradition, or blaze a new trail?

--Angel

A tradition can be a beautiful way to bind a family together. Or it can be a constricting tie, one that brings more conflict than comfort. The real question here isn't about whether this tradition is a cliché. It's whether this tradition helps cement a bond—or tries too hard to establish one that isn't really there.

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I Love a Terrifying Name!

I'm a hopeless Egypt lover and have dreamed of naming a future daughter Isis ever since I was ten. Now I am expecting boy/girl twins (and most likely giving the middle name Alexandra to my daughter in honor of my ill father). What do you think? Is Isis useable or not? No other name appeals to me more than Isis. Is a terrorist group really worth giving up my dream name? I must add that my entire family is Hispanic and the whole terrorist drama seems so foreign to us at times.

--Egypt Lover

I can picture you now, a little girl reading about the marvels of the pyramids, the incredible beauty of the hieroglyphics, the wonders of King Tut’s tomb, and the gods and goddesses and legendary kings and queens that inspired Egyptian culture. It probably seemed so fascinatingly beautiful, so far-off and thrilling. The name Isis—which refers to the ancient Egyptian goddess of marriage, motherhood, and fertility—represents all of that to you: the beauty, the enchantment, the wonder of a dream come true.

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To Junior, Or Not to Junior?

My wonderful husband has apparently wanted a Junior his entire life. Although I respect his passion, I have been completely against naming a child Junior my entire life. We currently have compromised with deciding to name our baby when we meet him (12 weeks away). I have a name, and my husband has Junior. He's not crazy about the name I've chosen. So basically, one of us will be unhappy with the name that's picked. Advice, please?

- Nameless for Now

You are in a tough spot, aren't you? You say you've compromised, but what you've really done is put off your decision—and you've rescheduled it for a time when you'll be under more pressure to make a choice, and have far less energy to think rationally. The time to solve this quandary is now.

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Is This Name Too Big a Burden?

I am 28 weeks pregnant with my second boy. Our first son's name is Callum. My husband and I like uncommon but not weird names. I suggested at least 30 names before he fell in love with the name Atlas. Is it weird? Too uncommon? I don't want people to make fun of my son's name.

- Worried About Weird

Atlas may seem like a big name for a little baby. In Greek mythology, Atlas was a Titan who was sentenced to carry the weight of the entire world on his shoulders. His name evokes both strength and suffering, in contrast to Callum, which suggests calmness and peace. Atlas is also associated with globes and maps.

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Can You Cure Our Baby Name Anxiety?

Our baby boy is due in two weeks and we don't have a name. I'm starting to feel like we won't ever decide on one. This has honestly stopped being fun! I'm not sure if it's because it's a boy, because it's our last, or because he's coming so soon after our last baby—a girl, Emerson. Her name eliminates most of my favorite boy names (Hudson, Jackson, Anderson). We want our son's name to be strong and classic, but still feel fresh. My husband likes Oliver, but I worry it's too popular. Please help!

–Paralyzed Namer

Sometimes it's harder to name that second (or third, or fourth) baby. When we make such a big decision, parameters or restrictions can be helpful, since they narrow down our options. But as you've seen, they also lock us out of some our favorites. If your firstborn is Abraham, you probably can’t use Lincoln for your second, no matter how much you love it. Ditto for Sara and Clara or Jack and Jill.

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Are These Names Too Silly For Siblings?

My husband and I are desperately trying to decide on a name for our second child. Our daughter is Mollie, a name that we decided on rather quickly and never had second thoughts about. We both like the name Oliver for a boy, but are concerned it is too similar to Mollie, with the "oll" sound. Also, we really don't want people calling him "Ollie" which sounds even more like Mollie. In your opinion, are these names too much alike and silly together?

--Non-rhyming Mom

A few years back, I offered some thoughts on too-close-for-comfort names: "Are other people likely to get the two names mixed up? If you holler upstairs to one child, will your kids be able to tell who you're asking for? Does it feel like you gave each child a distinct identity?" In that same post, I advised against rhyming names, which puts Ollie right out of the running for your family. Oliver, though, is trickier.

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Will I Ever Learn To Love My Baby's Name?

Our baby is now 1 month old. She is our 5th baby, and likely our last. We went around what seems like forever deciding on a name -- I wanted it to be just perfect. We decided on Ruby Lyn. Since announcing her name I have had doubts and even hate the name and cringe when I hear it. I really don't know what to do. Is this a bad case of name regret? Am I just hormonal and not thinking straight? Do I just get used to her name?

-- Momma 2 5

You're facing a sad irony of baby naming. It's the parents who put in the most effort -- spending months agonizing over the name, determined that their choice be "just perfect" -- who [LINK]face the greatest chance of regrets. The process ends up numbing your gut feelings about what you love, while raising your expectations to unreachable levels.

The good news is that you've chosen a fine name. If you keep it you'll almost surely find that your daughter grows into it, and you'll end up loving it as part of her.

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Why Can't I Find Any Bible Names For Girls?

What are some female biblical names?

-- Searching Mom

Let me start by pointing out what you didn't ask: "Who were some prominent women in the Bible?" Chances are you're already familiar with women like matriarchs Sarah and Rebecca, and with Mary and Elizabeth, the mothers of Jesus and John the Baptist. I don't even think you'd be satisfied if I pointed you toward additional admirable women whose names are less common, like Eunice and Dorcas. 

So what is it you're looking for? My guess is your question could be rephrased as, "Where are all of the girls' names to go with boys like Elijah, Gabriel and Josiah?"

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Will This Nickname Do?

I'm wondering if you've ever heard a junior nicknamed "Dos." It refers to the number two in Spanish.

--Mami-to-Be

I haven't heard of it, but it's a timely update on tradition that could certainly work. After all, there are Juniors called Deuce for "second" and Thirds called Trey and Trip. That style of nickname can help distinguish father and son better than "Big Tim" and "Little Tim" -- and they're often more stylish than traditional nicknames, too.

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We Have The Same Name!

I'm soon to be engaged to a wonderful man who has two children from a previous relationship. It's a second marriage for both of us, but I have no previous children. I am nervous about becoming a stepmother, but adding to that is that my first name is the same name as his daughter.

We plan to have more children together, and it's always been important to me to change my name to my husband's so that everyone in the family has the same last name. But I'm really torn here. I don't want his 8-year-old daughter to feel like I'm "stealing" her name, or to resent me for it now or later in life. I also expect that it may cause some confusion with mail, official documents, etc.Unfortunately our name is so short that going by a nickname isn't a possibility.

Am I dooming her (and us both) to a lifetime of confusion: "Nooo, thats my Stepmother, Marie B Clark, I'm Marie A Clark." Or am I overthinking this?

- Evil Stepmother, the Name Thief

Rest assured, you're no Name Thief. You and your soon-to-be stepdaughter are just the victims of bad name luck. But as in so many family naming dilemmas, the right path will depend on relationships as much as names.

You've mentioned that you're nervous about becoming a stepmother, which is natural. How well have you gotten to know the kids? Do they know yet about their dad's upcoming marriage, and if so, how do they feel about it? And critically, how does Dad himself feel about the name conflict?

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