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

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Help! My Favorite Baby Name is Getting Popular!

My husband and I have been holding onto the name Archer for a few years now, so no discussion was needed when we found out we were having a boy -- we could use our favorite name. However, on the NameVoyager and elsewhere, it seems like Archer is surging in popularity. We want to avoid bestowing a trendy name, so now we are rethinking our #2 choice, Adlai. We love the name and it will never be trendy, but, everyone we've mentioned it to thinks it's a girl name! What do you think? - A's Mom

I can imagine your feelings watching your favorite name rise up the popularity charts. Archer's uniqueness was part of what drew you to it. Now you feel a loss, as if your special name has been robbed of its specialness. That's a natural emotional reaction, but don't let it become an over-reaction. If you confuse a run up the charts with true popularity, you might just talk yourself out of the perfect name.

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Can I Name My Baby After the Bad Guy?

If a rare name is well-known for being a bad character in legend, mythology or a story, does it mean you can't use it? - Notorious Mom

One challenge of writing a baby name advice column is that you can't change names to protect the innocent. If you're wondering whether Matilda is too old-fashioned, you have to say Matilda. Similarly, if you're wondering if your favorite name is too evil, you have to spell it out. Because when it comes to names, bad is sometimes bad, sometimes good, and sometimes downright cruelty to children. It all depends on the individual name.

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Is My Favorite Baby Name Really Off-Limits?

My last name is Ritz. My husband and I really like the name London but every time I make a name poll, everyone scoffs at the combination because they say it sounds like a hotel. Would this be something you really think she would be teased about in life, and would it be so bad? - Mrs. Ritz

With the surname Ritz, you have a lot to be thankful for. Your name is short and easy to spell and pronounce. It's flexible to match with many name styles. It has positive associations. The many families with names like Crumpacker, Slutz and Pincock dream of being in your shoes. But the one thing you can't go puttin' on the Ritz is a place name.

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Can Your Name Seal Your Fate?

Parents obsess over baby name choices, but do those choices really matter? Can the names we give our children really affect their life paths? That question is ostensibly asked by this promotional video for the new film Freakonomics (NSFW). Unfortunately, the video doesn't seem interested in the answer. It's too busy dreaming up nasty stereotypes and giggling about them to actually talk name science.

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Should We Use Two Middle Names to Keep the Peace?

What are your thoughts on using two middle names? I have two boys who would both like to select the middle name for their new brother. Of course, they can't agree! - Compromising Mom

This is a new twist on an extra middle name. Most parents who choose to double up are making some nod to tradition. In some cases, the family has always used two middle names: say, the grandfathers on both sides of the family. Other families want to honor prominent ancestors or proud lineages.

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How Can I Make My Family Accept My Baby's Name?

My husband and I are expecting a boy this November. Before we conceived him, we both fell in love with the name Bodhi. Now that we have informed our families of his name, everyone on both sides have expressed their distaste. How do we politely tell our family that we will not be changing our son's name?

- Bodhi's Mom-to-Be

Congratulations on taking this rejection so well. It's easy for hard feelings to grow when your joyous name announcement is met with grimaces.

I'll leave aside the question of whether your families' objections should matter. Readers, I urge you to put that -- and your opinions of the name -- aside, too. The naming decision has already been made. The project at hand is to prevent an extended-family meltdown.

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Miley Cyrus Ruined My Daughter's Name

In 1994, my husband and I had a daughter and named her Miley Elizabeth. Even though she was named way before people even heard of Miley Cyrus, people keep insisting that she was named after her and call her mean names because they do not like the Cyrus kid. My daughter hates her name now and wants to change it. I suggested we call her by her middle name but in our area there are a lot of girls named Elizabeth and pretty much any nickname for Elizabeth has been taken. She wants to change her name to Zarya because no one has that name and it means princess. Should we let her? I personally do not like the name Zarya and the name Miley Elizabeth means so much to my husband and me. - Miley's Mom

Ah, your poor daughter! There she was, all set with a creative, unusual name that put a smile on people's faces, when a celebrity came along and stole it right out from under her.

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Should the Child Who Inherited My Name Inherit Everything Else?

Each of my grandchildren have been given a family name for their middle names, two from the mother's family and two from the father's side. One of the children's middle name is my maiden name, which will not be continued other than with this child. Is it proper for me to leave this child, and only this child, with family property from that family? I can leave other equally valuable items for the other children, but they will not be of ancestorial value. - Grandmother

Names are my profession, and my obsession. So when I say this, I don't say it lightly: you're placing much too much importance on the children's names.

When your kids named their babies, they showed that family history and traditions were important to them. They spread around the family connections to be even-handed, not to divide up the territory! It would be a shame for a mere middle name to put distance between you and three of your grandchildren -- or between three siblings and the fourth.

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Can I Name a Baby Charlotte in Charlotte?

I'm a first time mom pregnant with a daughter. Our absolute favorite name is Charlotte. It's just so beautiful! Here's the catch. We live in North Carolina. Charlotte is the largest and most well-known city in our state. Is it out for us? - NC Mom

There's no simple rule for how a place name plays to people from that place. Some city names sound silly on babies to the locals, whereas others sound extra-appealing. And still others just sound like, well, names.

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Can I Honor A Male Relative With a Female Namesake?

My brother, Jacob, passed away in October. I was wondering if it would be okay to give a girl the name Jacob as a middle name, since I do not like the female versions of the name Jacob? - Remembering Jacob

I’m sorry for your loss. It sounds like you and your brother were close, and that having a child to carry on his name and his memory would be deeply meaningful for you.

I can understand why you'd be nervous about the middle name Jacob for a girl, though. Cross-gender names can be confusing and even controversial. (Ask any mom who named her son Ashley in the ‘70s what she thinks of girls taking over boys names.) And Jacob isn't even a common androgynous choice like Cameron or Peyton. Jacob is America's #1 boy's name, firmly in the snips-snails-puppy-dog-tails camp.

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