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

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Your 'Uncommon' Baby Name Is Everywhere

A number of friends have told me that they've selected "uncommon" and/or "old -fashioned" names for their babies -- and then they proceed to say that the baby will be called Ava, Olivia, Isabella, Aiden, etc. They are all perfectly good choices, and there is nothing wrong with selecting a popular name -- but they honestly believe that these names are uncommon. They apparently don't follow baby-naming trends whatsoever. When this happens, should I tell them that the name they chose isn't as unusual as they think it is? Or smile and nod and then secretly giggle when their child is "Ava C." or "Aiden #4" in their kindergarten classroom?

- Common Conundrum

My dear, there's a name for people like you. (Don't worry, it's a polite name.) You're a Name Enthusiast. Like us, you carry special knowledge, and see things in baby names that others don't. The challenge for you, Ms. Enthusiast, is to spread the name knowledge around without coming off like a bore, or boor, as the case may be.

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Did I Give My Son A Girl's Name?

Our five-year-old-son is named Azure. It means blue in French and Azurite is the name of a mineral with several shades of blue in it. Have never met or seen the name used on anybody other than my son...however, on baby-naming sites, it's listed as a girl's name. Why? Blue is usually associated with boys not girls. It sounds like a boy to me.

- Mom of Boy Blue

Turning a word into a name is a daring act. You're striking out into uncharted territory, beyond the old-fashioned confines of tradition. That's what you wanted, right? For your son to blaze a new trail with his name, free of all preconceptions? Not quite, it seems. You still wanted everyone to see his name and assume he's a boy.

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Can the Right Baby Name Get You into Harvard?

Dear Name Lady,

What names are most likely to get my kids into a top college? I know this is a bit of a ridiculous question, but could a first name actually make a difference? If so, what names would be good?

- Probably Not Harvard-Bound Anyway

If you're looking for a sure-thing shortcut to the Ivy League, no dice. Your kid will be a lot better off studying calculus (or polishing his jump shot) than perfecting the name on his application. But if the question is, "What kind of name will make my kid sound like he ought to go to Harvard?" then I can help you.

The answer is the names that Harvard grads are giving their babies right now.

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My Friend is Spelling her Baby's Name Wrong

Is there a way to tactfully suggest an alternative (read: more traditional) spelling for a friend's baby name choice? A good friend of mine is giving her child a name with at least a dozen spellings and is using the one most likely to be misspelled. Oh, and get this: The name is also similar to that of a pseudo-celebrity with a less-than-stellar persona. I don't think my friend is doing it to be different. She just thinks it's cute.

- Concerned friend

We all know that bashing a friend's baby name choice is a fast-track to bruised feelings. But what about the name's spelling? Is it possible to suggest a more standard spelling without causing offense? The answer is often yes, but you have to tread carefully.

Here are some do's and don'ts for advising "kreative" spellers:

Do start by telling the mom-to-be how wonderful you think the name is, in its essence. The flattery will help take the sting out of any negative comments, and your arguments will be more persuasive if she feels that you're on her side.

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The Dingo's Got My Baby Name!

After much debate, my husband and I finally found a female name we agree on: Azariah (or Azaria). I like that it is a Hebrew name like my daughter Ariella's and about the same popularity ranking. Most of our friends' children have biblical names as well, so I think she'll fit in fine with them.

However, I put a poll online and got a lot of comments that I shouldn't name my baby that because the baby who was killed by a dingo was named Azaria. Do you think it matters? Will people always mention the connection to her/us or will they just accept her name once they know her?

- Would-be Azaria mom

You found the one and only name of your dreams, then polled the global, anonymous internet for opinions on it? That takes a thick skin. But I presume that you did it for a reason...and I presume that the reason was to see how the name plays to people whose perspectives are different from your own. So now that you have those perspectives, what do you do with them?

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My Friend Named Her Baby After Auto Parts

Someone I know is having a baby boy, and her husband has a family tradition of giving car-related names, like Mercedes and Axel and such. I'm fine with that (it sounds like fun), but the name she wants to give is Jackford. I won't criticize her name choice, but how do I come to terms with a decision that I feel is bad when there are so many better names out there?

- Ruby

First off, bravo for what you didn't ask me. You didn't say, "How do I tell my friend that the name she's chosen for her baby stinks?" If any other readers want the answer to that question, it's simple: You don't. You don't tell expectant parents that the special name they've selected for their precious new child makes you want to retch. The most you can do is say "Oh, interesting," with a polite little smile, and hope they take the hint.

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Summer Movie Baby Name Preview

This year's summer movie season kicked off with a baby naming bang. In the opening sequence of "Star Trek," a heroic Starfleet officer struggles to save his crew, all the while negotiating baby names with his mid-labor wife:

"Tiberius? You kidding me? No...that's the worst! Let's name him after your dad. Let's call him Jim."

What better introduction to the names of summer? If Tiberius (or Jim) isn't up your alley, here's a glimpse ahead at some of the names most likely to get a boost from Hollywood's blockbuster season. Remember, it's not about the size of the movie, or even the size of the role. It's about the perfect meeting of role, name, and style.

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We All Want the Same Baby Name!

There's only one name in our family that is considered ideal -- by every single person of child-bearing age. It's a family name that has become quite popular and trendy without being annoyingly common. Is it weird to have multiple cousins sharing a name? Should it be first come, first served?

- Competing cousin

Ah, family! Isn't it wonderful to have those shared roots, shared memories and shared tastes? Of course, you have to be willing to share.

Most families today do follow the "first come, first served" rule. The first-born female gets to be Great-Grandma Emilia's namesake, and everybody else has to accept it with good grace. But it doesn't have to be that way. If everybody really, really wants the same name, it's possible for everybody to use it.

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Namesake Confusion - Who's a Junior, Anyway?

My brother and his wife just had a baby boy (brother's second son)and named him after my brother which makes him a jr. My question is, is it ok to name your second son jr. and not your first son?

- JustAsking

If Richard Mark has a son named Richard Mark, Jr., does Richard Mark Jr.'s son become Richard Mark II or III?

- Not Richard Mark

In America, there are few rules to baby naming. You aren't required to name your first son after dad's father and your second after mom's father. You're free to name for family, friends, strangers or soap opera characters. You can make up a whole new name, or name the baby after the place she was conceived. (You've heard the old "baby Chevrolet" jokes, right?)