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

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What do you get when you cross George with Edward?

We would like to use our grandfathers' names -- George and Edward -- to name our son but we don't want to call him either of those names. Can you come up with some combinations of those two names for another name to call him? - Loyal granddaughter

In the great baby name revolution, grandparents have been the biggest victims. Oh, we still love them, and we still want to honor them. But their names? That's another matter.

For centuries, the way to honor Grandpa George and Grandpa Edward was obvious. George Edward. Or Edward George, if you prefer. That's what a namesake is, right?

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What's the Right Nickname?

My husband and I named the oldest of my two sons Quinlan and we call him Quinn for short. My father thinks it's confusing and wacky to spell Quinn Q-U-I-N-N. He thinks it should be spelled Q-U-I-N, the first part of his formal name. Is he right? I sincerely don't think so. But I don't want Quinn to be the kid at school whose name always gets botched. Any advice? - Mom of Quinn, not Quin

A nickname doesn't have to be a chip off the old full name. Plenty of traditional nicknames look different from their sources. Think of Hank for Henry, or Peggy for Margaret. Back in the day, plenty of folks also answered to nicknames that had nothing whatsoever to do with what was written on their birth certificates. If you met a Buddy or Red, you understood that he was probably also Howard or Francis, and it wasn't a problem.

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Babies named Abcde?

Someone I know just named her baby girl "Abcde." What do you think of that??? - Julie

Someone you know? Not just someone you heard about? I'm just asking because reports of babies named Abcde outpace real Abcde's by a mile.

That said, this name is not just an urban legend. There are some real Abcde's out there, ranging from babies to young adults. The name is pronounced AB-si-dee, and it seems to be exclusively female. You'll find Abcde's most often in Latino families and in creative-naming outposts like Hawaii and New Mexico.

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Why Does Everybody Misspell My Daughter's Name?

My daughter's name is Caitlin, and I have the hardest time finding anything with her name spelled the correct way. This is the traditional Irish spelling, as noted in baby-naming books. So why do I constantly see her name with a "K?" And worse Katelyn....what the heck is that? - Melissa (one "L" two "S's")

You're absolutely right that Caitlin is considered the traditional spelling of the name. Why do so many American parents spell it Katelyn? Well, let's turn the question around. Why do you pronounce it Katelyn?

Caitlin is an Irish form of Catherine. It has been an Irish-American favorite for generations, in the Anglicized spelling Kathleen.

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Fresh for Fashion Week: Designer Baby Names

Armani. Valentino. Gianni. Chanel. Today's lineup at New York Fashion Week, perhaps? Not this time. Those four names were plucked off the official listing of America's top 1000 baby names.

Parents have always had grand dreams for their babies, and those dreams have always rubbed off on names. Scan through the popular name charts from the 1800s and you'll find vintage visions of the high life. There are boys named General, Noble and Prince and girls called Golden, Blossom and Queen, along with the more familiar Ruby and Pearl.

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Naming siblings as a set?

Dear Name Lady,

I love interesting combinations of sibling names. It's so sweet to meet families with multiple children who have intriguing names that go well together. For instance, Sarah Palin caught my interest with her children's names Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper and Trig.

However, when it comes to naming my own children, I have long cherished a group of sibling names, but I don't really care for some of the names when they stand alone. It seems foolish, but I can't give up the sounds of the names together, nor can I find equally suitable alternatives. Help!

- Naming in Bunches

I'm a big believer in thinking about siblings when you pick a name. The names don't have to match like a set of china, but they should be equal in the ways that count. For instance, if one child has a middle name, they all should have middle names. It's the same story with wildly creative names, family namesakes and so on. But it's possible to go too far, and you, my dear, are about to cross that line. How do I know? It's simple. You're breaking the Golden Rule of Baby Naming:

It's not your name. It's the baby's name.

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Back to School Name Report: The Straight-A Generation

Kindergarten is the front line of the naming revolution. By the time a generation of names hits college, we've had time to get used to them -- Alexis and Cameron, your dorms await. But the 5- and 6-year-olds starting kindergarten in the coming weeks carry names as new as a freshly sharpened number-two pencil. What can America's kindergarten teachers expect? Think straight A's.

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A Boy Named Precious

My little brother's name is Precious. He's starting school next month and I am scared of what other people will say about him. When he gets older I am so sure that he is going to get teased about his name. Our parents are Nigerian so our middle name and our last name are Nigerian names. Please help me help him to deal with it. Do you have any tips?

- Big Sister

You're a caring sister, and it's tough when you see a problem that your parents don't. For centuries, immigrant families like yours have grappled with names that don't fit in smoothly to American culture. The good news is that in most cases, it's getting easier -- Americans today are more open to diverse names than ever before.

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Gender-Bending Names: Readers Weigh In

In a recent column, the mother of a boy named Azure was dismayed to find that name listed under the girls' column in name dictionaries. The issue clearly struck a nerve. Readers flooded the Name Lady in-box with their own experiences in the gender-bending name world.

Some letters were positive, like the mom of a male Kiley who wrote, "Who cares if it's a boy or girl name, if you like it what does it matter? No regrets here!"

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Will Your Child's Name Affect His Personality?

My son wants to name his unborn son Maverick. Do you think this will undermine his personality?

- Concerned Grandfather

Dear Grandfather:

A maverick is an independent spirit who doesn't bow to convention. (During the 2008 presidential race, "maverick" became a political buzzword. But it doesn't sound like you're worried about that kind of convention.) As a name, it's the stylistic equivalent of bungee jumping in a cowboy hat.

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