Rumored: Ethel Mary Cooper

December 12th, 2011

Hat tip to faithful reader Jane for this one.

Have you heard?  Though not officially announced, internet rumor has it that Lily Allen and Sam Cooper’s new baby is named Ethel.  Ethel Mary Cooper to be exact, per this tweet from a friend.

I think it’s lovely!  While Ethel is not necessarily an oldie I would have predicted to make a comeback quite so soon, it does have soft sounds of other names popular today, like Lily and Isabel.  Most people will still put her in the same category as Beulah and Irma, though it wasn’t so very long ago that Mabel and Hazel were unthinkable.

Internet rumors proved to be true with Casper and Aleph.  There’s no reason to believe a friend would purposely put out a red herring that appears by all accounts to be so believable, right?

What do you think?

Happiness is the definition of Joy Cho.  Do you read her style blog, Oh Joy!?  It’s a delight.  I love her “this and that” combos and that she incorporates all her passions from food to flowers.  Not long ago she and hubby Bob announced that they were going to share their joy with a new bambino.  And then we found out that it was a bambina (which is fab — Joy’s design sense has a distinct feminine sensibility).

She’s due super soon, and I’ve been laboring myself over what name matches them best.  It should be something cheerful and slightly hip, but manage to stand the test of time.  Here are a few recommendations/guesses.  Will she go a heavy duty Agatha-Winifred route, with a happy-go-lucky Daisy, or with something else entirely?  We’ll know soon!

Agatha - If anyone can pull off Agatha, it’s these two.  Can they breathe new life into this old saint?

Blythe – If my name were Joy, the felicitous Blythe might be too tempting to pass up.  It might be anyway.

Cecily – While Cecily may not mean “happiness”, it connotes it in the bounce and rhythm of the name.

Cordelia- Shakespearean Cordelia.  She could go by Coco or Dells, Delia or Cora.  Though Hollywood’s already gone there, the symmetry of Coco Cho could be appealing to a designer.

Daisy – If ever there was happiness wrapped up in a name, it would be here.

Elsa – Should they opt with short and sweet like mom’s name, Elsa is like the chic up-do of Ella.

Flossie” (Florence?) – The British are coming, and names like Flossie are long overdue on these shores.

Georgina- I do see these two picking something with a vintage European flair.  Though I don’t know him one iota, perhaps daddy Bob would like having a daughter George, but Georgina is just enough frills for mom?

Harriet- Compiled before yesterday’s bombshell of an announcement, I almost left this one off.  While I can’t see them choosing to call a daughter Hattie now, Harriet is still just the right amount of retro for a pair like the Chos to bring it boldly back to the fore.

Imogene – I was preferring Imogen until I met a local girl who uses the long E version.  It’s due to return, so I bequeath it to this baby.

Louisa- While sister names Sophia and Olivia reign, Louisa is another queen’s classic that has been overlooked.  They could be “Lulu” types.

Marjorie- Yes, I love Marjorie for many of the reasons mentioned above.  Retro chic, unexpected, and undeniably peppy on the right child.

Mirabel- Will Joy go for something classically “pretty”?

Penelope – My gut instinct and first thought for them.  Not sure if the celebrity birth of Tina Fey’s babe will have any bearing on this one way or the other.

Poppy- While it could be a nickname for Penelope, it deserves its own entry.  Poppy Cho has designer written all over her.

Susannah- Will somebody please use this?  You could call her Zuzu, Susie, Sanna, so many options!

Sylvie- Sylvie gives the somewhat dowdy-but-not-dowdy-enough Sylvia a lift.

Tabitha- It would take just one more style maven in the public eye to push this into the mainstream.  That of course may not be what Joy wants.

Viola- Love the long O repetition of this with Cho.  Fits the criteria we’ve set up nicely.

Winifred- I’ve met several Chinese women named Winnie, no doubt because it works well in both languages.  I believe Bob’s family is Chinese, I’d be just tickled if they had a little Winifred.


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.


Rhythm & Blues

July 20th, 2011


A big thank you to my readers Kristen and Debbie for urging a return to this topic:

Rebecca Woolfe is just taunting us!  After our speculative Girl’s Gone Child post I really wanted to let her completely surprise us, but she has alluded to twins “Rhythm and Blues”– their pseudonyms, and even bought the letters “R” and “B” for their room!  So it seems a second shot at this is inevitable.

The question remains, after son Archer and daughter Fable, will she stick to word names for her twin daughters?  My gut tells me yes.  How will the names relate to one another?

Here are a few “R” and “B” names that to me, feel very her.  We’ll have to wait until October to find out what they choose for sure!

B: Babette, Bijou, Boheme, Bronwen, Briar, Blythe (on the discarded list, sadly), Bryony, Bronwen, Bard, Bright, Bloom, Bliss, Ballad, Bellamy, Brio

R: Reve, Reverie, Ray, Rhea, Rain, Raven, Rhapsody, Roxanne, Roxy/ie, Regina, Renata, Rio, Romy, Rowena, Rue, Runa, Ruth, Rune, Rowan

I absolutely love the way Reverie flows, its dreamy connotations, and the nickname “Rev” feels very rock and roll.  Rune, a name I was previously unfamiliar with, has a layered meaning I can see appealing to them:  according to Behind the Name, it’s derived from the Old Norse and means “secret lore.”  Pronounced with two syllables, it’s a common name in Norway, though the Irish have a word with similar meaning, rùn.

For the Bs, Bloom keeps calling to me, as does Bijou.  It’s so hard to speculate beyond this.  I do love how R and B honor the mother (Rebecca nicknamed Bec), and wonder if this was subliminal or intentional.  What do you think Bec and Hal will name their baby girls?  What do you like paired together? Renata and Bloom ? Rune and Bijou . . .?


Hipster or Hickster?

May 31st, 2011

Atticus and Clementine made the great migration.  Loretta and Otis went from fogey to hipster in the blink of an eye when chosen by Sarah Jessica Parker and Tobey Maguire.  This, my friends, is a trend to watch.

As we dive further and further into the quest for an unusual, yet legitimate name for our child, the questions pop up:  how unusual is too unusual?  Is it on the right side of the line for a comeback?

I see this all the time in my line of work.  Dad has fallen for Cletus and wants to convince mom that it still holds its Ancient Greek clout.  Mom wants to resurrect great-grandmother Beulah‘s name for their first child.  It’s only a slight permutation from Bella, right?

So lets take this to a vote.  Onto what side of the line do these fall?  Are they cool and funky, or cruel and unusual?  For yourself, does location and the culture come into play when choosing a name?

From YOUR vantage point, are these HIPSTER or HICKSTER?


































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?


This week has been a great one for peeking into the lives of other people via their children’s names.  We’ve done music, fashion, and are now back to one of my favorites, interior design at Ohdeedoh.  These parents probably aren’t interior designers by profession, but they are creative and tend to bestow a really interesting crop of monikers!

Ohdeedoh is hosting Smaller Cooler right now, and you too can rate the rooms on their site.  Please restrict any ranking of the names to this one though.


Adelaide Bee (Brooklyn)

Alina (San Francisco)


Beatrix (CT)


Cleo (New York City)

Edie (Tommy) (Portland)


Ellen (San Francisco)

Eloise (Vancouver)

Elsa (Brooklyn)




Lioba (& Elias) (London)

Ljupka Mia (Slovenia)

Maggie & Ruby (Bronxville)

Maren (Brooklyn)


Piper (Philadelphia)

Rosa (The Netherlands)

Rosie (CA)

Violet (Brooklyn)

Zea (Chicago)



Atticus (OR)


Bowie (San Francisco)

Caedmon (CA)

Calvin (Chicago)


Dex (OH)

Elias (& Lioba) (London)

Elouan (Montreal)




Harry (New York City)

Julian (Toronto)



Mattias (Portland)

Miles (Los Angeles)

Milo (MA)


Remi (Boston)

Rex (Utah)



Tommy (& Edie) (Portland)

Wylder and Arlo (OK)

Soaring ~The "It" Girls~

May 9th, 2011

Mass hysteria ensued last week after the Social Security Administration released the top 1000 baby names of 2010. Twilight inspired a rise in well named lucky little ones (Rosalie, Alice, and Esme among them), while those who followed the lead of teen moms unwittingly hopped on the downwardly mobile train (they have Macy, Aleah, Aubree, Bristol, Bentley to show for it).  We’re also seeing the effects of LOST (Eloise, Penelope), and may for some time to come.

Here’s a breakdown of the girls’ names that we talk most about here at You Can’t Call It “It”!  These are the ones that made the biggest splash, the ones that I believe my readers have their eye on.

For those of you that see your favorite THIS IS NO REASON TO PANIC.  Yes, it means that more people have discovered your once hidden gem.  But it also means that unusual names are more familiar and acceptable, and that people love the name.   Just because a name has made big strides this year doesn’t mean it’s destined to supernova.  I’ve reserved that list to a mere three names at the moment.  Name nerd favorites like Eloise, Adelaide, Penelope and Juliet will likely evade the top 10 for some time, hopefully forever.  And really, it’s the top 10-25 that we have to worry about.  It’s a numbers game, but the numbers for most of us are not nearly as scary as they first appear.

Eloise, which has made one of the most noticeable leaps, went from 0.0146% of all female births to 0.0282%.  So there are now 3 in 20,000 people her own age born with the name Eloise.

People who have most cause for concern are those who live in hip, urban bastions where everyone is trying to come up with something really original, but we’re all choosing from the same pool of names.  It’s here that we run the risk of a class with multiple Loreleis or Hazels.  My advice if this sounds like you, either choose your most beloved name regardless of popularity, or if the popularity nags you too much, look further afield.

To try to guess whether a name is going to make an Ava like jump over a ten year period, look at the trajectory of the names.  Factoring in speed of the leap, sound of the name, and overall appeal to different demographics, I have my eye on Harper, Stella, and Charlotte to attain the highest numbers in the coming years.  Charlotte has already held steady the number 1-5 spot in many countries over seas including England, France, and Australia, Stella capitalizes on the Hella Ella trend but has the double meaning of “star” that appeals to everyone from hippy mamas to stage moms.  Harper suggests Southern charm, a literary background, and musical tendencies.  It can sway both naturey and preppy.  Of these three, Charlotte will fare the best because like Olivia and Sophia, it is a truly timeless classic.

Of the following names, which do you think will weather the storm, and which do you think will date?


Eloise 913 to 530 (295 births vs. 547)

Eleanor 218 to 165 (1479 births vs. 1843)

Penelope 252 to 200 (1293 births vs. 1535)

Amelia 55 to 41 (4678 births vs. 5417)

Scarlett 179 to 114 (1919 births vs. 2700)

Adelaide 568 to 434 (534 births vs. 705)

Lucy 101 to 75 (3170 births vs. 3604)

Giuliana 705 to 376 (410 births vs. 835)

Lorelei 597 to 531 (503 births vs. 546)

Quinn 487 to 253 (630 births vs. 1267)

Rosalie 837 to 590 (332 births vs. 492)

Alice 258 to 172 (1267 births vs. 1761)

Annabella 460 to 310 (669 births vs. 1019)


Josephine 201 to 186  (1619 births vs. 1658)

Clara 199 to 167 (1638 births vs. 1822)

Hazel 293 to 262 (1119 births vs. 1232)

Violet 141 to 123 (2255 births vs. 2531)

Juliet 319 to 285 (1020 births vs. 1135)

June 661 to 597 (440 births vs. 487)

Elsa 684 to 599 (423 births vs. 484)

Isla 345 to 297 (945 births vs. 1090)

Nola 948 to 859 (280 births vs. 308)

Destined to Supernova:

Harper 172 to 119 (1898 babies vs. 2601)- 336 boys were also born with this name in 2010, 316 in 2009

Charlotte 68 to 45 (4171 babies vs. 5314)

Stella 126 to 85 (2551 babies vs. 3407)