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

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Does This Name Go With My (Ethnic) Surname?

Our baby will have an ethnic last name that comes from my husband's Slavic heritage. I love slightly offbeat names like Harper, Milo, Piper, and Asher, but my husband thinks they sound "silly" with our last name, since they have such a modern, trendy vibe. Is he right? I don't want to choose a boring first name simply for the sake of syllabic harmony. How can we find a happy medium? - Mismatched Mom

If I I looked in your husband’s sock drawer, would I by any chance find neatly-rolled pairs of socks perfectly matched to his daily wardrobe? Unlike socks, names don't have to "match," they just have to "go." A first-last name pair, or a pair of sibling names, come across best when they harmonize but aren't too similar. And choosing names just because they sound natural with your surname is giving that surname too much power over your baby name choices.

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He Chose A Name Without Me!

Back when my husband and I got engaged, I stupidly insisted that we discuss baby names. He rejected my first four suggestions but said the last, Natalie, was nice. Ever since then, he has referred to our imaginary future child as Natalie. I am now three months pregnant, and there are lots of names I like better than the one we happened upon in 30 seconds years ago. He, however, absolutely insists. He even says things like, "I'm going to tell Natalie when she's older that you tried to CHANGE HER NAME!!" I think he's sort of joking, but sort of...not. So I'm very torn. My husband never really wanted to have children in the first place. He reluctantly agreed because it's so important to me. Now he has this emotional connection to imaginary Natalie, so part of me thinks I should just give in. But I strongly dislike the nickname Nat, and I would much rather choose a different name. I've been looking forward to naming a baby my whole life. What's a name enthusiast to do? -Maybe Accidentally Natalie's Mom

There’s something sweet about your husband’s devotion to a baby name you once mentioned. He took your casual suggestion and built from it an entire fantasy of parenthood. It's touching to see a name become such an emotional connection, especially for a man who's skittish about becoming a father.

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Can I Turn a Word Into a Name?

I'm obsessed with the concept of 'Chlorine' and 'Adrenaline' being names for girls, as I love the way they sound, but I'm worried that people will find it odd or weird because... well, they're words. Would altering the spellings (Clorine, Adrenalyn, etc.) preserve the sound but keep people from connecting it with the word?
- Name Lover

This Name Lady wasn't born yesterday. I'm not convinced that you're really planning to name your daughter Adrenalyn. I am convinced, though, that your question has a worthwhile point behind it.

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Back Off Our Baby Name, Brother!

How do I get my brother-in-law to back off about our name choice? Everyone in my family has accepted and warmed up to the name we chose for our girl, Persephone Helen. He seems to think we're crazy and is campaigning for a more "conventional" name. No matter how many times I tell him it's not negotiable, that my husband and I have settled on and love the name, he continues on as though I haven't said a word. It's disrespectful, and it's driving me nuts. -Happy to be Persephone's Mom

I have a bone to pick with aggressive name-buttinskis like your brother-in-law. They're ruining the name game for the rest of us.

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My Favorite Name is NOT Horrible!

I like the name Talon for a boy. I read a debate about this name online, and some people thought it was horrible because it means a claw. I think it's symbolic of an eagle and its strength. (Did you know an eagle's talons are 4 times stronger than human hands?) Anyway, I like the name. My name translated means dirt, so why do so many people hate the name because of the literal translation? - Tara (Dirt)

You say people hate the name Talon because of its "literal translation?" My friend, you don't have to translate Talon. It's already English.

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Is This a Baby Name Insult?

We're naming our son Wallace. Everyone keeps asking if it's a "family name." Is this code for "what a terrible name?" We love it, and don't understand why we'd need a family connection to use it. My own name is a name my parents just like, and I don't think they ever were asked to explain any family connections. How do you think we should respond to this question? - Wallace's Mom

You have sensitive name radar, and you're picking up a real signal. "Is that a family name?" is indeed a charged question. It means the people you're talking too are surprised by your name choice, and curious about it. It doesn't have to mean they're wrinkling their nose at little Wallace, though. Here are some possible translations of the question:

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That's Not Your Daughter's Name!

My son and daughter-in-law named my granddaughter Aida. I pronounce it aeedah, my friend pronounces it aydah. We are constantly being corrected by my daughter-in-law who pronounces it Ida. Please help me with the correct pronounciation. - Grandma

If you want to know the correct pronunciation of your granddaughter's name, I'll be happy to tell you. It's whatever her parents say it is, of course. They named her, and they know perfectly well what name they chose.

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How Do I Choose a Girl's Name When I Wanted a Boy?

I was really hoping for another boy, so when we found out we were having a girl, I feel horrible to say I was disappointed. I have finally warmed up to the idea of a girl, but my husband and I can't agree on a name.

I want a name for my girl so badly, in hopes of making it a bit easier to accept that I am having a girl. (I feel horrible for saying that, too.) All suggestions that I get, I just go silent or get mad that I can't accept anything. How can I learn to love a name in the 10 days till I'm due?
- AnxiousExpectant

Please don't beat yourself up about this. Your feelings are much more common than you'd imagine.

Lots of expectant parents hope for one sex or the other. Sometimes they don't even realize they've been hoping "F" until the ultrasound comes up "M" and disappointment sets in. It doesn't mean they won't love their babies with their whole hearts. It just means that they had spent countless hours dreaming of a particular baby and a particular future family, and they have to let that dream go. That can be a painful separation -- and as often as not, names are wrapped up in it.

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Is This Name Over the Hill?

My husband and I are expecting our first child, and he really loves the name Jason. I don't mind it, but we were both born in the '70s -- back when Jason was at its peak -- so I went to school with tons of them. While the name is still popular, it's nowhere near what it was. My concern is that it's a "fading star" name, one associated with the previous generation. I'm worried it seem like an "old" name when my son is in school, the way I always regarded those rogue kids named Bob or Eugene. Is there a stigma attached to names that have peaked and fallen? - SummerMom

A stigma? I wouldn't go that far, although it's true that most people sense when a name has fallen out of favor. The effect ranges from the fairly innocuous "dad name" (Greg) to the fusty (Donald) to the genuinely tone-deaf (Buford). Your image of a "fading star" is fitting. The brighter the star once shone, the more obvious the fade. In extreme cases, you even find falling stars. Parents feel the name's momentum turning, and they rush to abandon it like a sinking ship.

But not all "faded" names are created equal.

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To Name a Mockingbird?

My husband is a movie fanatic. His all-time favorite films are To Kill a Mockingbird and It's a Wonderful Life. He is bound and determined to name our next child either Atticus (from Mockingbird) or Zuzu (Jimmy Stewart's daughter from his Wonderful Life). He wants to be able to scream with pure joy, "Zuzu's petals! Zuzu's petals!" I, frankly, am frightened, yet I want my husband's favorites to be included. Are Zuzu and Atticus TOO weird? - Attack of the Atticus

At first blush, I'd say that any name that "frightens" the baby's mother is, indeed, too weird! But if you're personally open to the names and just worry what the neighbors will say, I might be able to reassure you.

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