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The Best Names in Your Family Tree

family names

Let’s face it: We all have embarrassing names in our family trees. Great Aunt Hortense and Uncle Myron, Grandma Gladys and Dad Brad. They’re the family names we hope we won’t be expected to pass down to our children.

But hey, today we’re here to celebrate the wonderful names, and we all have those too. Searching through the family archives, you discover that your great-great-grandmother was named Marguerite or Flora, or that you have a handsome Henry or Nathaniel among your forebears. Or it might be a surname or a middle name you discover that’s worth polishing up and passing down: Callahan or Keene or Caruso.

So what’s the best name or names in your family tree? The names you’re actually excited about passing on to a child? And who and where did they come from?

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9 Ways to Choose an Unusual Baby Name

unusual baby names

By Abby Sandel

There’s more than one way to choose an unusual name.

Classics like William and Elizabeth are evergreen. And who doesn’t love Ava and Mason?

But if you think you’d like something different – maybe even dramatically different – for your child’s name, it can be tough to know where to start.

Here’s a road map with nine different paths to choose an unusual baby name. Celebrities are fond of each one of these strategies, but they’re not exclusive to Hollywood. Anyone can use these same approaches.

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family names

Let’s say right up front that we don’t advise naming your daughter Davette to honor Grandpa Dave, or any of the other similarly awkward cross-gender namesake names.

So how do you, did you, can you best choose a name for your baby that honors a relative or friend or hero of the opposite gender?

Some parents simply use the name, as Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard did when they named their daughter Lincoln or several celebrities recently have in giving their daughters the middle name James.  But this cross-gender appropriation happens most often when giving male names to girls, which may be inherently sexist — though even the most feminist parent may stop short of naming a son Mary or Patricia, even in the middle place.

So what do you do then, use the name Patrick?  Or choose a name that’s more conventionally gender-identified that starts with the same first letter?  Or maybe appropriate Grandma Mary‘s maiden name as a first?

There are all kinds of ways of approaches and beliefs on this subject, and we’d like to hear yours.

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Where’d You Get That Name, Baby?

family names

Today’s Question of the Week is about naming a baby after an older relative or friend or hero.

Did you name your baby after someone in your family — grandparent, great-grandparent, long-ago ancestor, or maybe even yourself?

Or did you give your baby the name of a beloved teacher or maybe even a political hero like Lincoln or fictional heroine like Jane Eyre?

Or would you choose an honorific as a name for your yet-unborn baby, and if so, which one and why?

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What Name Theme Would You Choose?

circus

Okay, we know you might not really choose to theme all your children’s names.

But if you had to choose a name theme, which one would you choose?

Would you give all your children names that start with the same letter, like one friend of ours, whose four children’s names all start with Z?

Or maybe you’d cultivate a family of sisters who all charmingly have flower names: Azalea, Magnolia, Lotus.  Or perhaps you’d pick color names as your theme, or Irish names, or mythological names, or royal names, or circus-themed names — Barnum, Bailey, and Ring?

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