Born This Morn.

September 29th, 2011

Siobhán’s been in touch with me lately but didn’t want me to post anything until the baby was here.  After much suspense, she gave birth this morning to a beautiful baby boy!  Many congratulations from the whole YCCII clan.  He still, however, needs a name.


Hi Elisabeth,

I would absolutely love your help, and the help of your readers in choosing a name for my second son, who arrived earlier today!

My partner and I have a two year old son named Luca Cy B– – –well (two syllable English surname), and while I’m not a fan of matchy-matchy names, I would love any siblings, including this baby, to have names that sit nicely together as a sibset.

As such, I considered several other European names, and have settled on the name Remy (pronounced ‘Rem-ee’ – I’m still trying to decide whether should add the French accent to the ‘e’ or not, and would love your thoughts).

Other names that I shortlisted early on include Rafferty, Rafael/Raphael, Aurélien/Aurelius, Roman, Etienne, Clement, Florian, Cassius, Caspar, Aubrey, Tobias, Tobias, Eero, Miro and Olmo, to give you an idea of the style of names I like, and all of these could now be middle name possibilities.

While I’d love your opinion on my first name choice, I would especially love to get some thoughts on my shortlist of middle names, as these seem to be proving particularly difficult. Originally, I had planned to give this baby only one middle name, as I did with my firstborn son, however I have been seriously thinking about adding another middle name to my son’s existing name (my current favourites are Luca Cy Theodore or Luca Cy Maxim, but I’d love other suggestions…), and as such, I think I would like to give this baby and any future children two middle names.

I’d like to find names that somehow tie together or bridge a European first name and an English surname. My shortlist of middle names to go with Remy includes:

Lucian** (or Lucien)






Maxim / Maxime








Clement or Clemént / Clemente







**I absolutely adore the name Remy Lucian, but wonder if it would be odd to give my newborn son a middle name that’s so close to my first son’s name, Luca (even though they apparently have different etymologies)? Originally, I had wanted to name my first son Lucian and use Luca as a nickname, but my partner refused, and I’ve always grieved the loss of that name, hence why I’d love to use it now! But I’m open to hearing other people’s (honest) opinions about this, as well as thoughts on each of the middle names mentioned above. Oh, and please don’t be too influenced by the fact that my son has a very short middle name, as most of the middle names I like for this and future babies tend to be longish, so Cy will just have to be the odd name out (we chose Cy after the late American painter Cy Twombly, a favourite artist of mine, and I would love to use Lucian as a tribute to Lucian Freud, another favourite artist…). Also, I really love the Lucian spelling, but wonder if Lucien flows better next to Remy, given that both names are French…

While it’s by no means essential that I use family names as middle names, the one person I would like to honour in naming each of my children is my youngest sister Mairead, who died suddenly four years ago. As she died in quite tragic circumstances, however, I feel uncomfortable using her actual name, but would like to honour her in some other way… One reason I named my son Luca was because he was born shortly after my sister’s death, and his name means ‘bringer of light’, which felt very significant at that time.  My sister was a philosopher/lecturer, whose main area of study and teaching was ancient Greek philosophy, and who was obsessed with anything Greek-related, and this is why I thought Theodore could make a good additional middle name for Luca, and why it could be nice to have a Greek influence somewhere in each name I choose for any other children. I am also open to hearing other name suggestions that could honour my sister in some way.

So… some of the name combinations that I’m considering for my son are:

Remy Lucian Atticus

Remy Lucian Aurelius

Remy Lucian Cassius

Remy Lucian Clement

Remy Lucian Caspar

Remy Lucian Casimir

Remy Aurélien Cassius

Remy Aurelius Clement

Remy Aurelius Maxim

Remy Aurelius Leon

Remy Etienne Casimir

Remy Leon Atticus

I would love to hear thoughts on the above, and welcome further suggestions on first and/or middle names, as well as name combinations.

I am as name-obsessed as everyone else who frequents YCCII, so I’m sure you can understand my desire to find the perfect name for our beautiful baby!!

Thanks so much for your help in advance!



Siobhán, I’m thrilled to welcome your son to the world, and absolutely smitten with your choice of Remy!  Even though this is a middle name poll only, we still have much to discuss.

As for the accent in Remy, depending on what country you live in, you may not be able to include it on the birth certificate at all.  I would go with your gut on this one, and what seems the most culturally appropriate to where he will grow up.

On middles:

I’m afraid I won’t be the only one who is genuinely twitchy at the thought of LUCA Cy and Remy LUCIAN together. You said yourself you wanted to name Luca “Lucian”, but got vetoed.   You chose Luca for a reason.  For me that would mean that the ship had sailed on the name Lucian, which while according to scholars do derive from different sources (Luca being “from Lucania” and Lucian being “of light”, from the Latin lux) are awfully similar.  Luca is also sometimes used as a nickname for Lucian.  What if by chance, Remy found his name too feminine and wanted to go by a middle name some day?  You would have sons Luca and Lucian.  It’s much, much too similar.  Plus, there’s such a wide variety of amazing names to choose from.  If you do opt for this in the middle, note that the French spelling Lucien does have a different pronunciation, though English speakers will likely say them the same.

My condolences on the loss of your sister Mairead.  I love that you want to honor her by choosing something she would have loved.  We’ve featured several posts here offering a host of names inspired by Ancient Greece.

Remy needs robust, masculine names to balance out its softer feel. For this reason I would personally eliminate Etienne or use it third.  Atticus, being a name of the moment, feels like too obvious a choice in this case.  Artemis is a girl’s name.  She was the goddess of the moon and of hunting, and Apollo’s twin.  Apollo could be nice!

I advocate for Remy Aurelius Clement, a heavenly combo.

Raphael would be a nice tribute to your sister as well, with the meaning “God has healed.”

I also favor:

Remy Cassian Aurelius

Rémy Aurélien Cassius

Rémy Cassius Aurélien

Remy Casimir Leon

Remy Ulysses Leon

Remy Raphael  Aurélien (love the alliteration here)

Remy Raphael Tobias

Remy Theodore Leon (again, the alliterative repetition in sounds is intentional)

Remy Magnus Casimir

Remy Casimir Hugo

Remy Maxime Theodore

Remy Tobias Hugo


For big brother, the combo Luca Cy Theodore is calling to me.  Luca Cy Raphael would be lovely as well.  Another thought– if you are changing his name anyway and you truly mourn the loss of Lucian, why not call him Lucian nn Luca as you had originally intended?  For balance, his brother could be Remus nn Remy.

Readers, are Luca and Lucian too close for comfort for brothers, even if one is used in the middle?  

Have you changed or added to a child’s name years after their birth?  What was your experience?  

What fabulous three name combos can you come up with for both Remy and Luca? 


Image by Cy Twombly

A Sibling for Virgil and Hector

September 26th, 2011

Lots of pleas for help in the inbox this month culminate in one great week of consultations.  To start, put your thinking caps on and let’s assist Alexandria in naming her third.  She writes:

Hello Elisabeth!

Thank you so much for your website. I’m a long time reader, but only now find myself in serious need of some baby-namin’ inspiration. And after pouring over your site for hours and hours, I’m so sure I’ve come to the right place.  Here’s the situation:
My husband and I have two fab boys, Virgil Ephram and Hector Adrien, 5 and 2.5 respectively, and I am pregnant with our third. We’re so super psyched, and not so secretly crossing all our fingers and toes for a girl :)
But we’ve decided to not find out the sex of the baby until he/she arrives, so we’re trying to decide on names for a boy and a girl.
Some details about us and our naming style:
When we decided to give our first son the name Virgil, most people thought we were completely bonkers. We got, ‘Hahaha… but seriously, what’s his name?’s and “The poor kid…’s left and right and we just didn’t understand why. I mean sure, it’s a letter off from Virgin and it’s not terribly common, and we certainly took that into consideration and went back and forth a bit, but in the end we were just so in love with the name there really was no other option for us. We have zero regrets. At home we call him Virg (read like verge) affectionately but he goes by Virgil to everyone else and he wears his name very proudly for such a little guy. The story behind us choosing that is as simple as that, we just really loved it. Ephram is my father’s name.
Hector (Heck to us) was named for Hector of Troy, my most beloved literary character in all the literature I’ve ever read or studied (I literally weep over my book every time I read his death. I can’t even explain the connection I feel with him). Since I first read the Iliad as a girl I’ve wanted to have a son to call Hector. And I do, and his name suits him so perfectly. Adrienne is my husband’s mother’s so Adrien is in homage to her.
We love names from literature and myth, uncommon names, sturdy names. My husband’s last name is Armstrong. Some names we’ve been thinking about but simply aren’t in love with (asterisks next to the top contenders):
Girls: For a girl we want something feminine, but strong. Nothing too frilly and that fits in with the boys.
Boys: Again, something strong that goes with the boys.
I hope this gives you an idea of our tastes and what we’re looking for for our third-to-be.
Any input is beyond appreciated. :)
Oh Alexandria I do hope we can help!  Thank you for your sweet words about the site.
If you’re not in love with your current list, I’m inclined to say keep moving.  Maybe one of your old favorites will present itself in a new light, or maybe you just haven’t uncovered “the one” yet.  I will say I’m loving Lavinia and Remus.
Your boy’s names are divine and you’ve shown you can really do this all on your own.  BUT, I have a few additional ideas that you might like.  I have a feeling you actually like “frillier” girls’ names than you’re willing to admit to yourself.  Your own name, Alexandria, is an ancient city that fits with your children’s names, but it’s also used today as an amped up version of Alexandra.  Valentina and Ophelia certainly both fit into the frilly category for me.
With that in mind, here are a few thoughts culled from the ancient world:


Readers, what do you love with Virgil and Hector?
Image: Hector Reproaches Paris by Pierre Claude François Delorme

Tina Fey Names Baby #2

August 13th, 2011

Before it was only a mild flirtation, but this has done me in.  I officially want to marry this woman.

As if Alice Zenobia weren’t absolutely fabulous enough, Bossypants author Tina Fey and her husband Jeffrey Richmond now have a second daughter.  Please, join me in a round of quiet applause for the birth of:

Penelope Athena.

Swoon.  I love it.  Can’t say that enough.  The quiet beauty of Alice paired with the zany Zenobia was genius, and Penelope exists in the same echelon as Alice while bumping up the quirk.  Athena serves to amp up its Greekiness.  It’s not an uncommon choice among fashion conoscienti. Ranked at #200 in 2010 it’s poised to break into the precarious top 199 next year and continue to climb.  Still, Penelope the Weaver is a symbol of creativity and steadfast loyalty, and I shall be forever loyal to her.

In case you were wondering, yes, Tina Fey is of Greek descent.  She was born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey.  Stamatina derives from the Greek stamato, which according to Behind the Name means “stop.” Her mother (Zenobia), was a Xenakes who went by the simple Americanized Jeanne.  I love that Tina went full throttle with her heritage this time, though I’m told Penelope is very old fashioned, even laughable, in Greece.  Can anyone confirm?  Maybe she’ll spearhead the old lady chic movement there.


Mythological Sisters

June 6th, 2011

File:Primavera 01.jpg


Bridget is due very soon with her third baby girl, and know how hard naming a third child can be!  She needs our help:


Hi Elisabeth! My name is Bridget, and I’m having another little girl. My husband and I already have two daughters, Iris Elizabeth and Cecilia Ariadne. A little background on us: I’m a stay at home mom and former marketing professional. My husband Will is a dermatologist and we love to travel and my husband is very into music and plays numerous instruments. I was a classics/marketing double major in college and I love Greek mythology. It’s been a passion of mine since my mother read me the myths when I was child and I’ve always loved the names. Our first daughter Iris is named after the Greek goddess of rainbows so that was how we incorporated mythology into her name. Her middle name is Elizabeth because it’s been a tradition in my family for five generations. Cecilia was similarly easy to name; Cecilia is a name we both really liked and felt went well with Iris. Cecilia is also the patron saint of music which really sold my husband. Then we incorporated Greek mythology into her name by giving her the middle name Ariadne, like the woman who helped Theseus defeat the Minotaur. It’s my favorite myth and I loved the name and I love Cecilia’s name. However, this baby is proving harder to name. My husband and I are having trouble finding a name we both love equally. On our list are both mythological names and names that don’t link directly to mythology; if we do go with a non-mythological first name, I’d like to use a mythological name in the middle name slot like we did with Cecilia. The two forerunners that we have liked are also the two names I have the most worry about. We both really like both Willa and Persephone. My worry about Willa is that my husband’s name is William, and I don’t want their names somehow getting confused. Willa and Will are awfully close and I don’t want our little girl getting confused with her dad. Then, there’s Persephone. It’s a mouthful of a name and I’m not sure how it’ll actually work on a little girl. I watched the new Upstairs Downstairs and liked how they used Percy as a nickname, but I still feel like it might be too much. The other names on our most recent short list are Penelope, Rose, Mercy, Leda, Thalia, Danae, Phoebe and Rhea, but we’re open to any and all suggestions. If you can do a post for me that would be fantastic, but if not, of course no worries. Thanks so much!



Bridget, your question is a fun one for me because as of late I’ve been a wee bit obsessed with names from Greek mythology!  Iris and Cecilia are that perfect mesh between familiar but not overused, and they are beautiful to boot.  Iris made my “Sweet Spot” list and I remember having Cecilia on there as well but took her out because there were too many C names.  Also on that list?  Phoebe, Petra (Greek), Mira (Latin), and Louisa (similar to Cecilia).  I could see any of these working for you.  From your list, Phoebe and Penelope strike the perfect note.  I love that they have different endings from both Iris and Cecilia (my reason for striking Leda, Rhea, and Thalia– though not a deal breaker).  Mercy sounds a little hissy with all the S sounds going on in Iris and Cecilia.  This is where the surname also becomes important.  I’m a huge fan of Rose as a first name but then one daughter, the middle child at that, is left without a flower name.  Will she feel left out?  Danae is intriguing but somehow your other names are prettier to me.


From my own secret stash of Greek names, I love Xanthe for you, a magical name.  Other possibilities that have likely been nixed– but hey– I’ll throw them out anyway, include: Daphne, Evadne, Gaia, and Helen. They may not be your favorite stories I gather?


It sounds as if you are likely to choose between Willa and Persephone.  Willa would be a nice tribute to daddy William, but I do think as a first name it could get confusing.  How lovely would Persephone Willa be?  You could call her Percy, Perry, Sephie, Ephie, Eppie, Poppy, Posy, Nonie, any number of things really!  And with lengthy names like Isabella, Olivia, Mackenzie, and Alexandra at the top of the charts, Persephone only has to become more familiar to people.  It is a name that winds up on many people’s lists of loves-that-are-too-over-the-top-to-use, but I say if you are in love, go for it.


Readers, what is your favorite name for Bridget, and have you ever regretted not going with your favorite, or conversely, been glad that you did?


How lovely is this woman?

This is Rebecca Woolfe, who writes the popular blog Girl’s Gone Child.  Aside from an egregious propensity for terrible puns, she’s a lovely writer and by all accounts, seems like a really fun person to know.

She has two children, a son Archer and a daughter Fable, and as luck would have it, finds herself currently pregnant with the namer’s dream:  twin girls.

I’ve literally lain awake at night trying to “name them” for her.  Yes I KNOW naming is a terribly personal thing, of course it is (I don’t actually want to name the twins for you Bec & Hal).  But I am extremely excited to see what this couple comes up with.  Like us, they take this naming business terribly seriously.

Yesterday she posted her discarded list– the names she’d like to see go out and find happy homes, she’s generous like that.

But when I made the majority of my list below, this is what I had to work with to gauge her style.  We share a love of Salome and Mirabelle.  I’m still trying to talk her into Zelda.

The trickiest part is trying to figure out if she’ll use another word name.


Echo- My first thought.  How poetic is this Ancient Greek beauty?  I thought the concept of an “echo” might appeal to Woolfe’s sensibilities, and as it turns out, I was right!  But Rebecca’s thought this through, it just doesn’t work for a twin.

Calliope- Muse was a name on the first long list.  I prefer a specific muse to just “Muse” itself.  Calliope has a galloping sound in the same vein as Tallulah, and is less common than her long time love Chloe.  Rebecca’s passion of the written word may find her attracted to this goddess of epic poetry.

Juniper- Has a similar modern, galloping feel to Tallulah and Indigo.  The Juniper tree is associated with being able to ward off negative forces and illness.  They have Cypress on the most recent list of hand-me-downs, so trees are a possibility (though she has said they will not be named for flowers).

Zephyrine- Zephyr was a possibility for Fable, so if she likes that, why not Frenchify it with this obscure but legitimate gem?  Also, they live on the West coast, and Zephyr is the God of the West Winds.

Vesper- Greek for “evening.”  Perhaps a possible middle depending on when the babes are born.  I like the style and feel of this but don’t love the -er endings with big brother Archer.

Mercy- Rebecca and Hal have overcome some serious strife together.  Someone has shown their family mercy.  Why not?

Blythe- Blythe might be an easier name to carry, and a more fun sentiment to try to live up to.

Verena, Verity- As the great Keats said (in Ode on a Grecian Urn no less): “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.”  They want names that match, but aren’t matchy.  One of these could pair well next to a name that symbolizes beauty, as though there is a part of each twin in the other.

Zelda- The wife of F. Scott FitzGerald, a brilliant mind with a troubled life.  Zingy vintage find.

Clio- The Greek muse of history.  I know they’re great admirers and students of history in this family.

Thalia- Muse of comedy and idyllic poetry.  Rebecca makes us laugh as often as she makes us cry.

Oona- Irish “lamb.”  A super cool name that this super cool fam could certainly pull off.  I like the flow with Archer and Fable, but don’t know if it’s common in LA.  I’ve met a few of them here.

Melba- Retro vibe that could rock with their decor and meld with the likes of Ava and Harlow.  I see an LA baby as giving this name new schwang.

Hedy- Ditto  Melba, but more Hollywood.

Dove- Rebecca talks about peace and strength a lot.  Dove sounds nice with the sibset as well, but what do you name her sister? Paz?  Turns out, they do like Pace.

Snow- The antidote to the hot Cali sun.

Neige- Ditto Snow, the Francophile version.

Capricorn- She’s admitted to being a huge Henry Miller fan.  Would this work for a girl born in October?  Would this work with Snow or Neige?  Not my favorite.

Merritt, Merit-  This name boasts the feminine sound of Mary with a familiar surname twist.  Spell it like the word to get closer to the admirable meaning and further from the surname trend.

Thisbe- Greek inspiration continues with one of my favorite names for somebody else.  The Juliet of mythology. Somebody please use this!

Colette- Colette is another name that I love on somebody else’s child, but for some reason can’t quite bring myself to use.  Come to find out Rebecca feels the same way, but only because this would have been Archer’s name had he been a girl.

Hermione- Perhaps too Harry Potter, but has that lilting quality we like from so many on her list.  Also, Hermione was a messenger.  Hermione and Dove maybe?

Simone- Simone de Beauvoir and Nina Simone.  I could see a daughter of Rebecca’s pulling this off, to borrow Rebecca’s word, with aplomb.

The following four were added to the list after I read her most recent castaways:

Pallas- She loves Zenith, and Pallas Athena was at the apex of the Greek gods.

Cerulean- This should be a name, and symbolizes the sky and even at times, the ocean.

Solstice- She likes Season, so why not Solstice?  I’ll tell you why not– these babies are due in October but may come early.  Equinox just doesn’t have the same ring to it, plus it’s a gym.

Xanthe- She likes Zs and Xs.  Xanthe was a near miss for me, plus it’s Greek to boot.  I really think they’re going to go Greek with at least one baby.  It means blond.  Rebecca is really a blond too.

Rebecca Woolfe and hubby Hal, I do apologize if I’ve exposed your secret names.  Only time will tell, and (obviously) I can’t wait to see what you choose!  Those babies are going to a wonderful loving home.

Would you pair any of these names with one another? What would you name Hal and Rebecca’s twins?  What would you name your own?

Junior Pantheon

April 1st, 2010

What is it with celebrities anointing immortal status to their little ones?

Padma Lakshmi’s Krishna Thea, (whose full name packs a triple threat of holy power), is among the most recent to join the ranks of the Junior Pantheon.  Celebrities, alas, may be the modern equivalent of gods on Earth.  Many treat them as such.  Is it a case of hubris to call one’s child after an immortal, or merely wishful thinking in hopes that the child will mimic their wonderful qualities?

Iris, Maeve, Maya, Lorelei– goddesses of Greek, Celtic, Hindu and German origins respectively, along with Celtic boys Dylan and Finn, have infiltrated the modern name scene to such an extent that their origins are largely forgotten.  The English upper class has been hip to Greek chic for a century, and France has followed suit. Isis, Egyptian goddess of nature, is quickly becoming a star in the African American community.  Others I’ve run across in real life include Adonis, Mars, and Zephyr.  Ambrosia, Bodhi, Eden, Heaven, Heavenly Joy, Seraphina, and Zion, are still more celestially inspired celebrity choices.

Other celebrity children inducted Junior Pantheon include:

Athena, daughter of Laetitia Casta

Atlas, Anne Heche’s baby boy

Gaia, Emma Thompson’s tween

Hermes, Kelly Rutherford’s son

Maya, child of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke

Ptolemy, Gretchen Mol’s boy

While the possibilities are practically as endless as the stars, here’s a small offering:


Aoife- Pronounced “EE-fa”, she’s a warrior princess from Irish Lore.

Ceridwen-Welsh goddessof poetry, said with a hard ‘C.’

Freya- Norse goddess of love, popular in England.

Ixchel- Mayan goddess of medicine, the earth and the moon, Itzel is a common variant in Mexico.

Niamh- “Bright one”, daughter of Celtic sea god Tír na nÓg.

Thalia- Greek muse of comedy and one of the three Graces.


Emmanuel- Judeo-Christian name of the return of an earthly God.

Odin- King of the Norse gods, who was in charge if such disparate elements as art and death.

Ramses- Variant of Rameses, the name of various king-gods, all sons of Ra, who reigned supreme in Ancient Egypt.

Thor- Odin’s son, Norse god of thunder and war.