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


It’s not Kaidence.  It’s not Kai.  And thank heavens she kept poor Clementine from bastardization with a K.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have evidently chosen the cheeky North to add to his surname.  According to People Magazine, this is the name on the birth certificate at Cedars Sinai Hospital.  ETA E! Entertainment News, Kardashian’s host channel, is also reporting now that she is North West, no middle name.  They might have considered a double middle name, South Easton, perhaps?   If this is indeed it, trademarks and domain names will be a trick.  Although “North by North West” might still be available in certain genres aside from film…

Their baby will at least have some direction in life.  How awesome would it be if she grew up to be a crunchy Doc Marten sporting hippy on the Oregon Coast? It would also be nice if the child can always listen to her own true north if you catch my meaning.  I guess if they have another child this really only leaves South (South By South had become a running joke for this babe), East, or Easton, which they actually love.

Kim indeed did throw us a red herring, as she denied that North was even in the running.  Many people thought at the very least it would be something like Knorth.  It’s much more gender neutral than I might have expected, and really quite simple, beyond the obvious pun.  Maybe my compass is off, but I don’t actually hate it.

Welcome little North West, A.K.A. “Nori.”  We can get back to regular programming now, and rest easy knowing that our choices are likely still safe from going the way of celebribaby.  That’s all I really cared about anyway.

With my girls.

The mystery is solved.  After months of plotting, scheming, guessing, canoodling, and even attempts at bribing the mother in question, Rebecca Woolf has given birth today to twin girls. (We’ve talked about this before here AND here).

Their names, as previously indicated, begin with R and B.  Rhythm and Blues they are not.

Last chance.  Anyone want to venture a guess?

They are so her.  Perfectly lovely in every way, and word names of French extraction.

Let it be known that the twins’ names are

Reverie Lux, 5lbs 3oz, 18 inches and

Boheme Shalom, 5lbs 12oz, 18.5 inches

They join siblings Archer Sage and Fable Luella.  As per her tweets, one is raven haired and the other is flaxen. Yin and yang.

I feared my hopes for a little Reverie had been dashed when they revealed that Revere Blaze had been on of their picks for a boy (Vox Shepherd was the other).  Reverie was my favorite R!  Yea!  And Boheme?  SO them, so right for this child, and just delightful to say aloud.

Their names are a gift from Bec and Hal, as if to say, “Dare to dream!  Be an individual!  Peace and Light!”

They done good.

Pic from Twitter.

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 . . .?


As we all know by now, Natalie Portman and fiance Benjamin Millepied chose the name Aleph for their son.  Aleph represents the space marker in the Hebrew alphabet or aleph bet, that takes on the breathy position of a glottal stop or pronunciation of the vowel adjacent to it in the word.

Jewish mysticism associates Aleph with air, a oneness with God, and infinity.  In the sacred text Sefer Yetzirah, “Aleph is King over Breath, Formed Air in the universe, Temperate in the Year, and the Chest in the soul.”  In Rabbinic Hebrew, the Bible begins with Bet, the second letter of the alphabet.  To reward Aleph for “his” humility, he is given the task of starting The Ten Commandments.

In addition to the first letter of the alphabet, it also represents the number one.  Both Natalie Portman’s father Avner and her grandfather Arthur‘s names begin with the aleph, and it perhaps honors both men without explicitly naming her son after a living relative (her father is living while her grandfather has passed).  After reading more about Aleph, I’ve come to really respect the choice and expect my research only scratches the surface of this spiritual name.  Natalie Portman is a Harvard graduate would not take a decision like this lightly, so while at first it may have seemed like a wacky celeb name, it’s actually one chosen from careful deliberation.


The week also brought us news of another much anticipated babe, the child of David and Victoria Beckham.  They shocked us all when they chose zeitgeist sweetheart Harper as their daughter’s first name, but stuck to their convention of choosing the unconventional with they put Seven in the middle.

Despite being the fourth child, Seven is David Beckham’s lucky number. 7 was his Jersey when he played for English team Manchester United and the national team.  Harper Seven was also born in the 7th hour on the 7th day (Sunday) in the 7th month and weighed 7 something pounds.  It looks like it’s her lucky number too.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Seven used as a name.  Erykah Badu dubbed her son Seven way back in 1997, and as readers so astutely pointed out in the comments, Seven was George Costanza’s unborn child until a couple overheard him and “stole” the name.  My generation will recall Six on Blossom, and Novogratz child and fifth son Five made is reality TV debut last year on Nine By Design.

I went to high school with a boy called “Cuatro” because he was the fourth in line to bear the name.  Trey and Trip are also variations on this theme which sometimes wind up on the birth certificate.  I’m partial to Sixtine (sic) and Octavian myself.  In some languages Nina is the number nine and Una number one.

Do you think letters and numbers are the next wave in baby names? It’s just an extension of the word name trend, and has the capacity to dip into religious and cultural symbolism of the power of symbols, scientific and mathematical harmonies, and the history of language.  I can see Brooklyn parents really digging this.  Gone are the days when being “just a number” is construed as a bad thing.

Are there any letters or numbers you particularly would like to see on a child?

Uncommon Word Names

June 20th, 2011

We all grew up with Amber, Summer, maybe a Harmony.  The latest local newbs on my radar?  Freedom and Blaze.  Our birthday gal last week?  Galilee.

The parental quest for the increasingly unusual leads us full circle to that with which we are most familiar:  the common English word.

Abby posted about Crew on Friday, and I did not expect such different cultural responses.  For Real Baby Names rounded up Wisdom, Tulip, Drummer, Creed, Pleasant and Butterfly.  Celebrity babies include Honor, Ever, Poet, Story, RiverBear, PetalCrimefighter and Bandit, among countless others.  Blog land?  Forget about it.  We know about Archer and Fable, but are you acquainted with True, Brave, and Soul?

The allure of the word name is a strong one.  Some are virtue names and were used in the 17th century.  Others feel futuristic and sci-fi.  But primarily, it’s a simple, direct no nonsense way to bestow upon your child a quality or association you hope will somehow both shape that child and symbolize who they become to the world.  That, and it feels distinctly their own.  What we all loved about the Galilee post, apart from her yummy cuteness, was her great and NEW name!  How fun to hear something so ordinary take on a completely different tone when worn as a name?

So I want to hear them.  Your nominations for words that should or could be names, as well as the kooky friends you have whose parents braved this vast frontier before us.  Come to think of it, Frontier has a pretty nice ring to it.

My go:






































(which are boys, which are girls?)

Image: Gerard Way, Lyn-Z, and baby Bandit