Jessica Paré (A.K.A. Don Draper’s wife) just put “Blues” on the map as another baby name possibility. It’s amazing what one little letter can do.  We’ve see Blue as a first and a middle over again, but Blues has new musical connotations, even if it has one feeling a bit down.  This got me thinking, there must be a wealth of great untapped names inspired by Blues musicians themselves.  And indeed there are.  Here are just a few that are not only namesakes, but that evoke the spirit as well.



Alberta (Hunter)

Arvella (Gray)

Bessie (Brown, Smith)

Billie (Holiday)

Edmonia (Henderson)

Etta (Baker)

Hattie (Hart)

Ida (Cox, Goodson)

Joplin (Janis Joplin)

Lucille (Bogan, Hegamin))

Mamie (Smith)


Rainey (Ma Rainey)



Amos (Milburn)

Bo (Diddley)

Buddy (Guy)

Calvin (Frazier)

Cedric (Burnside)

Clarence (“Gatemouth” Brown, Garlow)

Clapton (Eric Clapton)

Floyd (Jones)

Hendrix (Jimi Hendrix)

Kokomo (Arnold)

Louis (Armstrong)

Luther (Allison)

Maceo (Big Maceo Merriweather)

Meade (Meade Lux Lewis)

Otis (Rush, Smothers, Spann)

Odie (Payne)

Percy (Mayfield)

Roscoe (Shelton)

Vaughn (Stevie Ray Vaughn)


Is your child’s name inspired by an artist or musician? Are there any names here that you would use?

I just received a frantic letter from a mother of four, soon-to-be-five.  She needs our help.  She writes:

Hi there!
I was so excited to find your blog! I felt that I had found an internet kindred spirit. There is such a wealth of information here, and you have such a clear yet entertaining style of writing. This is a site I can get on board with.

My husband and I are (now) from NC and are expecting our 5th child. As you can imagine, finding a name that fits with the others gets increasingly difficult. Naming our children is one of our favorite parts of parenting; we actually discussed baby names during our first conversation, before we had even been on a date. It’s something we really enjoy and we always eventually find names we both love. But now it’s harder. ..

So, if you wouldn’t mind letting the public weigh in on our decision, we might just find the perfect name.

Here are our rules:
1. Unpopular. We always look up the name in the social security website, and if it’s in the top 100 (or close) for the previous year–it’s automatically out. BUT, we still want it to be something that’s been used as a name before and sounds like a name.
2. Word. All our children are noun (first) names so far, and we’d like to stick with nouns or adjectives. We have: Ginger Anne, Felicity Rae, Ivy Rose, and Dean Benjamin.
3. Easy to spell. We don’t want to curse our children with a lifetime of having to spell out their name. We want a name that, if you had to guess, you’d probably be right.
4. No P’s please. Our surname starts with P, and we just can’t give our child the initials P.P.
5. Nothing that ends in a Y, we have two of those already and the poor kids get called the wrong name about half the time.

Can you see why we need help? Here’s what I’ve got so far:

For a boy: I’ve thought about Atlas, Earnest, Basil, Archer (getting too trendy?), Victor (husband’s pick, but I don’t like the nickname possibilities – Vic sounds like a used car salesman), Chip (husband not a fan) and Reed (hard for kids to say?).

For a girl: Violet (too trendy?), Daisy (ends in a Y), Giselle (love, LOVE, but isn’t a word).

Thanks for your help!
Katie P.


Hi Katie!  Thanks so much for writing.

What a challenge indeed.  I imagine it gets harder to name children the more you have.

I’ve actually written a post on uncommon word names before, which I consulted when thinking of possibilities for Cinco (the comments section is epic). A few things to consider when looking for another word name:

  1. Do you want another botanical or food (you already have Ginger and Ivy)?
  2. Do you want another occupation name?
  3. Would you consider virtue names?
  4. What about modern word names?  How “out there” are you willing to go? All of your children’s names are first recognized as names and don’t register as wordy unless you draw attention to it. 
  5. Does it have to be a word in English? Where are you on place names (Holland, Sonoma)? 

If you interchange Felicity and Ivy by accident, I would eliminate Archer and Victor (as well as Clover, Jasper, Ever and Wilder) as being too close to Ginger. In addition to not being a word name, Giselle is also too close to Ginger for my liking.  Reed seems like it would be confusing with Dean.  A name like Honor, which I love, seemed too “Honor Roll” to Dean’s list. Love Verity, Amity, and Blithe, but not with sister Felicity. Violet and Daisy get somewhat theme-y with Ivy, but maybe we’re embracing that?  So the field does get narrower. Gemstones, birds, and virtues seem like good avenues to go down this time.

Opal. Temperance. True. Lark. Bloom. Regina. Marigold. Azalea. Celeste. Stella. Marina. Constance. Coral. Wren. Gazelle. Dove. Indigo.

Noble. Pax. Arrow. Fox. Anchor. Sylvan. Miles. Urban. Merit. Bard. Sailor. Shepherd. Grant.

Given that I actually know the last name, I have a bit of an advantage here.  I love Merit, Miles, and Noble for a boy, and CoralLark, and Marina for a girl.

We need to crowd source here for ideas.  Readers, what would you suggest for Ginger, Felicity, Ivy and Dean’s baby sister or brother?

Image: H-Luv


Welcome Esmeralda Amada

October 9th, 2014

We KNEW Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes had their baby.  But we only had one tiny clue what that name could be: that she joked with friend Salma Hayek that she’d “stolen” her baby name, Valentina. This was a good indication that they would go in the fluid, feminine, Latina direction.

And so it was.

Welcome Esmeralda Amada!  Your name means beloved emerald, and I have no doubt you are a shining jewel. My six-year-old, who was compiling a list of jewel names the other day, will be pleased with this one.

Incidentally, Amada was the name of Mendes’ character in the 2007 film “We Own the Night.” Proof that inspiration can come from anywhere!

Surnames with Girly Nicknames

September 24th, 2014

Parents today have such a vast array of options when it comes to naming their baby girl. The surname trend is red hot, and yet many parents may desire a more traditionally feminine nickname for their baby girl.  It might help appease the grandparents, too.


So look no further.  There may be a way to have your baby-naming-cake and it eat it too.


Abbot, Abernathy“Abby”

Adler, Adelson“Addie”

Calder, Calloway“Callie”

Campbell - “Cammie”, “Bella”

Carrigan, Carrington, Carlisle, Carroway“Carrie”

Connolly – “Connie”


Ellery, Ellington, Ellison“Ellie”

Embry, Emerson, Emory“Emmie”

Halliday, Halloway“Hallie”


Hollis  – “Holly”

Jamison – “Jamie”

Larraby, Larsen – “Lari”

Madden, Madigan“Maddie”

Marsden, Marshall“Mari”

Milligan - “Millie”

Sullivan - “Livvie”

Willets, Willoughby, Wilson“Willa”

Windsor, Winslow, Winthrop, Winthrow“Winnie”


I’m sure the list is endless.  You could get very creative with this.  What would you add?

(Image above: From my curated collection at UGallery this week, Fun by Talia Rainyk)

Rumors have been swirling for months that another royal might be on the way, but now we have official palace confirmation.  There has been much speculation as to what William and Catherine will name their second child.  While I got lucky predicting George, it wasn’t really all luck.  It was a process of elimination.

People are betting on things like James and Elizabeth, obvious choices. Yet I contend that the Duke and Duchess will go for something slightly more distant, yet equally royal. James, the name of Kate’s brother and a royal cousin, is likely out.  Elizabeth, while being the name of the queen, queen mother, and Kate’s middle name, might not wear as entirely her own.  The beauty of George, you see, was that it was not the name of any current living prominent relative, nor did King George loom so large as to dwarf any future namesake.  So where to go?

Alice Victoria Mary – I’m calling this as the full combination should they have a girl.  Alice Mountbatten was Philip’s mother, and descendant of Queen Victoria.  It’s tailored and has all the right pedigree. It’s current, but not flamboyant.  If the Duchess wanted to call George by his middle name Alexander, as is rumored, then perhaps her tastes run a bit more toward the romantic.  Victoria is ready to recycle again, and a nice balance with Alice.  Mary is Queen Elizabeth’s second middle (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary), and appropriately covers a nod to the Queen, as did Alexander, in albeit a much understated way.

For a boy, I’m going with Arthur.  This was my runner up for George, with the main caveat being the problem of “King Arthur”, the legendary and perhaps fictional king.  For a second son, this does not pose a problem. William is William Arthur Philip Louis, so it’s a nice hat tip to dad.

Frederick is another contender. King George VI was born Albert Frederick Arthur George, and any of his names are ripe for the plucking.  My gut says they also could go with an outlier such as Sebastian for the middle.  Who’s in on Arthur Sebastian Frederick?

If they do go with Elizabeth, which honors both sides of the family, my bets are on “Lily” or “Lizzy” some other sweet diminutive as a call name.  Elizabeth Victoria Frances perhaps? Helena, Matilda, Maud, Adelaide, or Cecily would be delightful, but reserve your hopes for more exciting names to be resurrected for future little ones.  There is some money on Charlotte, but as lovely as it is, I really don’t think they’ll honor Prince Charles, Kate’s sister Philippa Charlotte, or her mother Carole.  I really don’t.  It also evokes Princess Charlotte of Monaco, who we “grew up with”, and is the name of a young cousin on the Spencer side.

The big question is will they use Diana? While I think it’s absolutely out of the question for a first name, I’m unsure whether or not this will make it onto the birth certificate at all.  Her middle name, Frances, is also a possibility, one less fraught with contention. I could be wrong, but based on George’s full name (George Alexander Louis), which didn’t honor living or close relatives directly, I don’t think either one will get used this time around.  I believe this baby will get a name very much his or her own, and as such ruffle no feathers.

So what would you name royal baby number two?

The Top 100 baby names from 2013 is not a bad list.  Not bad at all.  I can’t even believe I’m having to find “substitutes” for the likes of Penelope and Mila.  Great names are seeping into the American consciousness and are getting used!  Bravo!

Want to take things a step further?  Here’s an alternate 100 girls’ names, related in some way to their predecessors, designed for those who want to push the envelope just a hair.


1. Sophia –> Helena

2.Emma –> Willa

3. Olivia –> Louisa

4. Isabella –> Arabella

5. Ava –> Vera

6. Mia –> Nina

7. Emily –> Imogen

8. Abigail –> Adelaide

9. Madison –> Emerson

10. Elizabeth –> Beatrice

11. Charlotte –> Alice

12. Avery –> Bellamy

13. Sofia –> Cecilia

14. Chloe –> Thisbe

15. Ella –> Adele

16. Harper –> Palmer

17. Amelia –> Cordelia

18. Aubrey –> Auden

19. Addison –> Flannery

20. Evelyn –> Evangeline

21. Natalie –> Noemi

22. Grace –> Blythe

23. Hannah –> Susannah

24. Zoey –> Zadie

25. Victoria –> Wilhelmina

26. Lillian –> Gillian

27. Lily –> Lilac

28. Brooklyn –> Holland

29. Samantha –> Samara

30. Layla –> Lorelei

31. Zoe –> Echo

32. Audrey –> Margot

33. Leah –> Dinah

34. Allison –> Calloway

35. Anna –> Elsa

36. Aaliyah –> Eliana

37. Savannah –> Augusta

38. Gabriella –> Costanza

39. Camila –> Talitha

40. Aria –> Aida

41. Kaylee –> Zelie

42. Scarlett –> Carmen

43. Hailey –> Halliday

44. Arianna –> Ariadne

45. Riley –> Romilly

46. Alexis –> Maelys

47. Nevaeh –> Venezia

48. Sarah –> Esther

49. Claire –> Jane

50. Sadie –> Mabel

51. Peyton –> Tamsin

52. Aubree –> Adair

53. Serenity –>Verity

54. Ariana –> Aurelia

55. Genesis –> Jericho

56. Penelope –> Beatrix

57. Alyssa –> Alessia

58. Bella –> Bellezza

59. Taylor –> Carlyle

60. Alexa –> Azalea

61. Kylie –> Kirby

62. Mackenzie –> McClendan

63. Caroline –> Margaret

64. Kennedy –> Corcoran

65. Autumn –> Auburn

66. Lucy –> Polly

67. Ashley –> Embry

68. Madelyn -> Madigan

69. Violet –> Jonquil

70. Stella –> Luna

71. Brianna –> Renata

72. Maya –> Freya

73. Skylar –> Larken

74. Ellie –> Hattie

75. Julia –> Georgina

76. Sophie –> Camille

77. Katherine –> Frances

78. Mila –> Mika

79. Khloe –> Clio

80. Paisley –> Percy

81. Annabelle –> Rosabel

82. Alexandra –> Theodora

83. Nora –> Oona

84. Melanie –> Elodie

85. London –> Milan

86. Gianna –> Giovanna

87. Naomi –> Delilah

88. Eva –> Ada

89. Faith –> Ruth

90. Madeline –> Clementine

91. Lauren –> Wren

92. Nicole –> Corinne

93. Ruby –> Opal

94. Makayla –> Mahala

95. Kayla –> Veda

96. Lydia –> Delia

97. Piper –> Juniper

98. Sydney –> Sutton

99. Jocelyn –> Jessamine

100. Morgan –> Astor


What names would you substitute for the most popular favorites?


It’s been a few years since I’ve done a Top 100 Alternates list!  High time for a revisit, no?  So many new names to look at, and think about differently.

The boys’ list has a plethora of Biblical favorites, common classics, and “N”-dings as I like to call them, especially those of the Jayden/Kayden variety.  Not easy to find substitutes for all of those.

The idea is to morph these names into less popular versions of themselves, and open up the viable options for new parents.  Some may share a common root, others may sound similar but be of different origins.  Shop around, you might just find something that suits!


1. Noah –> Jonah

2. Liam –> Callum

3. Jacob –> Abram

4. Mason –> Thatcher

5. William –> Philip

6. Ethan –> Egan

7. Michael –> Malcolm

8. Alexander –> Frederick

9. Jayden –> Damon

10. Daniel –> Raphael

11. Elijah –> Elias

12. Aiden –> Aubin

13. James –> George

14. Benjamin –> Phineas

15. Matthew –> Matthias

16. Jackson –> Jasper

17. Logan –> Lorcan

18. David –> Abel

19. Anthony –> Antonio

20. Joseph –> Moses

21. Joshua –> Asher

22. Andrew –> Alasdair

23. Lucas –> Luca

24. Gabriel –> Gideon

25. Samuel –> Simon

26. Christopher –> Theodore

27. John –> Paul

28. Dylan –> Declan

29. Isaac –> Ike

30. Ryan –> Orion

31. Nathan –> Thorsten

32. Carter –> Cormac

33. Caleb –> Silas

34. Luke –> Clark

35. Christian –> Abbott

36. Hunter –> Archer

37. Henry –> Edward

38. Owen –> Rhys

39. Landon –> Lachlan

40. Jack –> Gus

41. Wyatt –> Wylie

42. Jonathan –> Elliot

43. Eli –> Asa

44. Isaiah –> Ezekiel

45. Sebastian –> Ambrose

46. Jaxon –> Maxwell

47. Julian –> Lucian

48. Brayden –> Brennan

49. Gavin –> Calvin

50. Levi –> Leo

51. Aaron –> Soren

52. Oliver –> Louis

53. Jordan –> Dorian

54. Nicholas –> Nico

55. Evan –> Finn

56. Connor –> Conrad

57. Charles –> Arthur

58. Jeremiah –> Nehemiah

59. Cameron –> Duncan

60. Adrian –> Hadrian

61. Thomas –> Lawrence

62. Robert –> Peter

63. Tyler –> Turner

64. Colton –> Harlan

65. Austin –> Augustin

66. Jace –> Rex

67. Angel –> Emanuel

68. Dominic –> Vincenzo

69. Josiah –> Tobias

70. Brandon –> Quentin

71. Ayden –> Eamon

72. Kevin –> Kieran

73. Zachary –> Everett

74. Parker –> Palmer

75. Blake –> Reid

76. Jose –> Hugo

77. Chase –> Pierce

78. Grayson –> Truman

79. Jason –> Atticus

80. Ian –> Milo

81. Bentley –> Bennett

82. Adam –> Ephraim

83. Xavier –> Oscar

84. Cooper –> Graham

85. Justin –> Julius

86. Nolan –> Ronan

87. Hudson –> Holden

88. Easton –>Heath

89. Jase –> Blaise

90. Carson –> Larson

91. Nathaniel –> Ishmael

92. Jaxson –> Magnus

93. Kayden –> Cassius

94. Brody –> Wesley

95. Lincoln –> Franklin

96. Luis –> Lorenzo

97. Tristan –> Felix

98. Damian –> Desmond

99. Camden –> Calder

100. Juan –> Joaquin

The Happy Mother’s Day, Ladies.  Our proverbial box of chocolates has arrived!  The top baby names in America for 2013 are out.

The big news:  there’s a new sheriff in town.  Noah debuted #1 this year, followed closely by Liam.  Both are somewhat of a surprise.  Just two years ago, Liam wasn’t even in the top 10 at all.  Who would have thought Liam would ever edge out big brother William, or that Mason, last year’s #2, would not get his chance in the sun?

The girl’s side is a bit more static.  Sophia maintains her throne, followed by Emma, Olivia, and Isabella.  Will Emma ever wane?

The official top 10 lists are as follows:



1. Noah

2. Liam

3. Jacob

4. Mason

5. William

6. Ethan

7. Michael

8. Alexander

9. Jayden

10. Daniel



1. Sophia

2. Emma

3. Olivia

4. Isabella

5. Ava

6. Mia

7. Emily

8. Abigail

9. Madison

10. Elizabeth



The top ten names reveal several trends in name sounds that are pervasive in today’s popularity.  The group belies a preference for comforting sounds in the M and L families.  Even the very word “family” encompasses what I’m talking about.  Emma, Liam, William, Mia, and Emily all share soft consonants.  In addition, Mason, Michael, and Madison all start with the M.  The N sound is not far off in sound from M, and Noah and Ethan are homey and soft to the ear, as are Daniel and Abigail, which end in that lilting L.  On that L, by the way?  The fluid Olivia, Isabella, Alexander, and Elizabeth all have it (the unspoken rule being that L makes it ok to have a four-syllable-name).   Which leaves only Jacob, Jayden, and Ava.  All, not coincidentally share a popular long A (along with Mason), a prediliction for which we continue to see.  Long O (Olivia, Sophia, Noah) and V (Ava, Olivia) are also popular further down the list.

The takeaway?  We will also see an uptick in names like Owen, Oakley, Emerie, Everly, and Evelyn.

Of course, not all hot names fit neatly into these categories.  Trends include rising imports like Thiago and Freya, a willingness to adventure beyond boys’ names that end in “N” (Atlas, Ezra) , new surnames as firsts for girls (Henley, Collins), and spellings that “Boggle” the mind (Jayceon).


Class List Time!

August 20th, 2013

Are you getting nervously excited for the start of school?  My big girl starts Kindergarten, but she’s staying at the same school for one more year so no heartache just yet.  We did get the class lists, and there were some fantastic monikers happening in this next generation.  Highlights from new names in our lives (some from summer activities) include AnnikaCollins (girl), Desmond, GenevieveGusHolland, Louis, Margaret, Mercy, MilaMiriam, Nina, NixonOrla, Oscar, PattonRex, RhysSully, SylviaThatcherViolette, Willa and Willow.  Central Texas has definitely hopped on the name nerd band wagon in a big way.  I can’t tell you how exciting this has been for me.  My children’s names fit in here far better than I ever predicted they would when they were born.

What new names have you come across?  Anything you would love to use yourself?  Share those camp and class lists!  If you feel comfortable, include your general geography too — always interesting to see what the trends are across the country / world.

Image: Jordan Ferney, Oh Happy Day! 

We know now!  He’s here, and he’s named.  As predicted, the future king of England is GEORGE!!! (I really cried it from the hilltops too — whew). His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.

Just as YCCII arrived at George by process of elimination, so too did the royal parents, I imagine.  It is the name of many kings, and most recently belonged to Queen Elizabeth’s father.  Alexander, which for some reason was calling to me yesterday, honors the queen in the best way they could.  It’s after her second middle name, Alexandra.  Louis is slightly more of a surprise.  There are many names that could have taken precedence: Philip after Wills’ grandfather, Charles after Wills’ dad and next sovereign, Michael after Kate’s father, Francis, after Diana’s middle and Michael’s middle, and so on.  Louis is likely after Louis Mountbatten, Philip’s uncle who featured prominently in his upbringing and died in an IRA attack in 1979.  It is also William’s third middle name.  His full moniker is William Arthur Philip Louis.

Is anyone surprised?  They straddled tradition and modernity: George is as regal as it gets, Alexander is somewhat more pedestrian but recalls voyagers like Alexander the Great.  Louis is worldly, regal, and slightly exotic.

Expect a rise in the name George on both sides of the pond.

The biggest surprise to this name nerd is why on Earth did they not seize the opportunity to use at least four names?