baby name conflicts

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Does a Nickname Disqualify This Middle Name?

Is Theodore Edmund a nickname disaster? We love both names. Both honour family. But can we use both in the same name, considering the risk of a deadly nickname combo like Ted Ed, Ted Ned, or even Ted Ted? You can just imagine the nurse at the doctor's office when she catches the joke. Or are we overthinking it, with Theo the new normal nickname for Theodore? In fact, could we even be so bold as to name this baby Theodore and save Edmund for a sibling?

–Not Ready for Teddy Eddie

I'd say this one goes into the "overthinking" column. Middle names are almost never reduced to nicknames. And what’s more, most people won’t even know what Theodore's middle name is. Even doctors, nurses, and teachers who might happen to see the middle name aren't likely to give it much—if any!—thought.

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How Can I Change My Husband's Mind?

I love the name Cristal, and I even have a nickname picked out for it. But my husband doesn't love it. What should I do? He wants the name Vail, but I think it's weird.


What should you do? Most likely, go back to the drawing board. You've found the perfect name, but your husband doesn't like it. He's found the perfect name, but you don't like it. The inescapable conclusion is that neither of you have found the perfect name.

I know that's hard to hear. Maybe you've loved the name for years, and dreamed of your daughter bearing it. It doesn't seem fair to have to give it up, when you could just get your husband to change his mind.

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Will Everybody Hate This Name?

I am having a daughter in three weeks, and my husband and I decided to name her Idabelle Fae. When I told people this, it seemed as if they were making fun of the name. Should I still name her that?

-- Lucy

I am currently expecting my first child. If it’s a girl, I really want to name her Ramona after my grandmother. Upon soliciting others' opinions, I got fairly mixed reviews. The negative reactions mostly stemmed from the "moan" part of the name or that it sounded too old-fashioned. What do you think of the name? Should I just go ahead with it?
-- Allison

It looks like focus groups have moved from the marketing department to the nursery. And why not? If film studio execs can rely on panels to amp up the laughs in a comedy, and car manufacturers can use them to choose features for a new convertible, why shouldn’t parents turn to the wisdom of the crowd to help choose their children’s names? Aren’t twenty or thirty opinions more reliable than two or three?

There are times when it’s invaluable to listen to the crowd. If literally everyone you speak to looks horrified by your future child’s name, it’s worth considering whether there’s something off-putting about your choice that you haven’t noticed. Perhaps the name carries a connotation that would weigh your child down.

But focus groups have their drawbacks too, in business and in naming.