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

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We Know the Middle Name, Now What?

If my husband and I have a girl, we'd like to give her a middle name after my mother, Nancy. We're having trouble finding first names that sound good with Nancy. Any advice? -Anagogic

Indeed, I do have advice. You're doing this backwards.

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Can I Name My Baby After the Dog?

I am 7 months pregnant with my 4th (and last) boy. The name we are strongly considering is Jasper, however, that was also the much loved name of our much loved dog - my "first baby" - who has been dead now for over 5 years. As we live somewhere new, no one knows it was our dog's name, only family and older friends. I love the name, he was a great dog, and I am running out of boy names! Is it OK to call my new son by this name? -- 4BoyMom

All of you dog lovers out there, see what happens when you give up on canine classics like Spike and Buster?

In an age when so many of our dogs have their own beds and their own wardrobes and special organic doggy diets, we've gone the extra step to make them true members of the family. We've decided to give them people-styled names.

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The Most Popular Baby Names of 2009: The Triumph of Isabella

The U.S. government has announced the nation's most popular baby names. America, here's your Top 10:

BOYS
1. Jacob
2. Ethan
3. Michael
4. Alexander
5. William
6. Joshua
7. Daniel
8. Jayden
9. Noah
10 Anthony

GIRLS
1. Isabella
2. Emma
3. Olivia
4. Sophia
5. Ava
6. Emily
7. Madison
8. Abigail
9. Chloe
10. Mia

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Is He Name-Flirting?

My formal name is Christine. My friends all call me Chris. I like the name Christine, but I'm use to being called Chris. I have a male interest at work who insists on calling me Christine. Is he trying to be formal or is he flirting? - Chris

Is he trying to be formal, or is he flirting? Both, dear. Isn't that lovely?

Affectionate nicknames can work equally well in both directions -- more casual, or more formal. Ben's wife is just as likely to call him Benjamin as Benjy. In the early flirting stages of an acquaintance, though, formal is the way to go. It's respectful, admiring and a bit mysterious, rather than presumptuous.

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Where Have All the Boys' Names Gone?

Q: Where are all the boy's names? Now that unisex/male names are becoming a trend for baby girls, it's hard to find a masculine name for boys! And even though girls can be Ryan and Brett and Cameron, boys can't be Ashley - they'd be laughed at. Any advice? -MasculineNameSearchingMom

There's no doubt about it: if naming is a turf war, the boys are losing. Old favorites like Ashley and Leslie are long gone, Avery and Bailey are teetering, and even the biblical classic Micah shows signs of androgyny. It would be nice to think that boys and girls could play nicely and share their names, but historically it seldom happens.

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Are matching twin names too cheesy?

How do you feel about anagram names? I am debating whether or not the names Celia and Alice would be okay for my twin girls. My husband says that this might be too cheesy, but I think that ryhming names are cheesy for twins, but anagram names are fine. Alice is a beloved family name, and I love the more modern name Celia. Is my husband right; are anagram names too much for twins?
- Anna Gramm

Here's my rule for "theme" baby names: never, ever choose a name to fit a sibling theme if you wouldn't have chosen that name on its own.

Each child deserves a name that's whole in itself, and that was chosen with her parents' total enthusiasm. A little Tulip with big sisters Lily, Rose, Violet and Daisy has been shortchanged.  Tulip comes across as just one more blossom in the bouquet, not an individual. The sibling set mattered more than her name. Worst of all, she'll always know that her parents considered her name fifth-best out of a very small pool.

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Nobody likes my favorite baby name

I have been in love with the name Bright for a girl for a while now, but my husband is not so keen. He thinks that the name is too 'out there' and that she'll be teased very badly at school. I've been trying to think of nicknames for Bright to convince him, but as it's such a short name I can't think of anything! Can you help? Also, my mother thinks that the name is too juvenile and that Bright would encounter the 'Katie' difficulty when she's older. What do you think? - Questioning Mom

I can see how you'd fall in love with the name Bright. It's like a burst of positive energy, so that the more you think about Bright, the more other names seem, well, dim in comparison.

When you dive into a name so deeply, though, it's easy to lose perspective. For a fresh view, consider these names: Gleam, Clever, Glow. They all have positive meanings and plausibly name-like sounds. To a lot of people--including your own nearest and dearest--Bright belongs in that group. If those names give you pause, maybe that will help you understand their concerns.

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Do I Have to Give Up My Daughter's Cute Nickname?

As a mom, do I ever have to stop calling my child by her nickname? I don't do it in public, as that would embarrass her, but I call her by her nickname at home. - Mom

When do you have to stop calling calling your Vanessa "Nessie" or your Sofia "Fifi"? When she asks you to, that's when.

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A tabloid star is ruining my name!

My name is Vienna. Unfortunately, this name is shared with the latest winner of the Bachelor, and people do not like her very much. I have heard people saying "I HATE Vienna! She's disgusting! Why would he want HER?" It takes me a while to realize that they're talking about the reality-show Vienna. I love having such a unique name! I don't want it to become popular and I don't want people assuming Viennas are bad people. Help? - Vienna

Vienna, you're living out the fear of every name-obsessed parent. "What if the stylish, creative, unusual name I choose for my child suddenly hits the headlines?" The poor souls who share their names with notorious criminals know your pain well. But you're in a better position than the law-abiding Theodore Bundys who woke up one morning considering a name change. Your namesake is guilty only of crimes of taste and fashion, neither of which carry a 30-to-life sentence.

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Will a namesake bring back bad memories?

Should I use a family name that's tied to a tragic memory for everyone? My mom's sister Cora was killed by a drunk driver when they were little girls. The driver was my grandfather's best friend. I want to name my baby girl after the aunt I never met, but I'm afraid it'll bring up too many sad emotions for my mom and my six aunts and uncles, rather than honoring her. I LOVE the name though, and I've always been told how much I remind everyone of little Cora. - Concerned Daughter

Whenever we name children after relatives who have passed on, we tap into a swirling well of emotions. Introducing a newborn James, named for late Grandpa Jim, is likely to bring tears to your family's eyes. They come from a mixture of joy, mourning, and sweet remembrance of a lifetime of memories.

When the first lifetime was cut short by tragedy, though, the mixture of emotions can be even more volatile. You may tap anger, pain, even guilt. Yet the positive effects of a namesake can be heightened, too.

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