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Is This Syllable a Non-Starter for My Baby's Name?

I hate super-popular or trendy names. However, I have found myself in love with a name that starts with "Em." The name itself is not popular, but with all the Emmas and Emilys out there, I'm scared I will regret it later. I should also note that I have cousins named Emma and an Emily (both in their 20s). Help me figure this out!

–Not Enamored of All Ems

"Em" doesn’t need to be a syllable to fear. Not all Em- names are created equal: Unlike the Lat- or Kr- names of the 70s and 80s, or the –ayden names of the 2000s, Em- isn't a pure sound-based trend that parents are running wild with. Rather, a handful of smooth, classic names—like your cousins, Emma and Emily—have been revived.

While it's true that Emma and Emily have brought some variants and relatives up the charts with them (Emmaline, Emery), these feel linked by more than just the Em- sound. They don't make other Em- names, such as Emmanuelle or Emerald, any less distinctive.

I also don't think having cousins with Em- names is an issue. These young women are a generation removed from your child, and you're talking about using a different name anyway. Even if you are very close to your cousins and see them frequently, there isn't enough overlap to cause confusion or a misplaced sense of homage.

Lastly, remember that just as Em- isn't a syllable to fear, neither is popularity. We can't predict which names will take off after we've bestowed them on our children, of course. But neither are today's "popular" names as all-encompassing as they once were. As Laura Wattenberg notes at our sister site, Baby Name Wizard: “Today's #1 names, Noah and Emma, aren't what John and Mary used to be. But they're not even what, say, Gary and Cynthia used to be." So enjoy that Em- name with no remorse.


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December 13, 2017 3:19 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

“Em” is likely to get more popular... like for boys, Emmett and Emerson too and yes trendy per se! But if you like saying it and might I suggest finding a way to take authentic ownership of it with a meaningful connection use it. It kinda feels like you’re worried about what others think. This also might be a positive exercise in prioritizing your own parenting over what others my say or project.

December 13, 2017 2:25 PM
By AnneE (not verified)

I am rather partial to Emmeline ... ;o)

December 15, 2017 3:46 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I'm not sure I agree... "Em" is the default nickname for Emma and Emily, and would also be the obvious nickname for another "Em" name. That means your distinctive name instantly turns into the most common nickname around. Some people would see that as a plus, but not all.

December 15, 2017 3:05 PM
By Anon (not verified)

I even know someone whose name starts with M who goes by Em, which stealthily increases the potential number of people using that nickname.

January 7, 2018 2:28 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Has this site been abandoned?

January 21, 2018 2:50 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think it's fine. True, many Emilys and Emmas go by Em, but largely in an informal, around-friends kind of way, and less often as an official nickname in the style of Mike or Chris.

It also depends how similar to Emily/Emma your Em name is. Emmeline does seem to be clearly piggybacking, but I agree that Emmanuelle doesn't at all.

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