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abby--double

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Good things came in twos this week, as the baby name news was dominated by interesting sets of twins, and two new ends-with-R names for boys.

Let’s start with the letter R.

This past spring, the mainstream media picked up on a phenomenon we name nerds have long recognized: two-syllable, ends-with-N names for boys are big.  Whether we’re talking chart toppers like Aiden and Mason, or new inventions like Zennon and Dreyson, N has been the go-to letter for ending boys’ names in recent years.

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Brother and Sister Names in the News

abby--sib--6-14

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

If naming your first child is a challenge, naming baby number two – and maybe three and four – can start to feel like a puzzle.  Should you repeat first initials?  Should everyone share the same first initial?  If your son’s name is a Top 20 standard, is it okay to give your daughter a name that’s never cracked the Top 1000?  How about honor names?  If your daughter is named after your grandmother, will his grandmother expect to be next?

There’s no right answer, but there is a right choice for every family.  This week, sibsets were in the baby name news – and on my mind.

Blame it on a trip to the zoo.  We’re lucky enough to live in the Land of Bao Bao, also known as Washington DC, home to the Smithsonian National Zoo.  As we crowded into the panda habitat the other morning, parents called their kids’ names.  Mostly Sophia, with Noah, Aiden, and Hayden tossed in for good measure.

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By Abby Sandel, Appelation Mountain

Between Kendra and Ciara, it was a busy week in the world of out-there celebrity baby names.

Both new arrivals names’ are definitely distinctive, and at first glance, it might seem that they wouldn’t have much impact on what the rest of us name our children.

But high profile birth announcements – even the most extreme examples – do change the way that we think about possible names, often for the better.

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abby 5-5-14

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Snooki is looking for another Italian name.  David Arquette promised to name his baby something normal.  Kerry Washington honored her daughter’s Igbo heritage with a distinctive middle, and blogger Dana Miller borrowed a street name for a deeply meaningful choice.

For many of us, we know the characteristics we’d like in our child’s name long before we arrive at the actual name.

It seems sensible.  It’s the way we shop for a car – seats six, good safety record – or a couch – stain-resistant fabric, big enough to fill up the family room, convenient delivery available.

But it isn’t the same at all, is it?  When it comes to naming our children, we’re not completing a checklist that gets us to good enough.  The standard is higher – we’re looking for a certain magic.

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abby-4-29-14a

There are a handful of super-controversial topics in baby naming.

Creative spellings.  Surnames-as-firsts.  And, of course, boys’ names on girls.

The first two are easier, I think.  They’re about style and preference.  If you love the look of Madelyn, no amount of cajoling will convince you that it really must be Madeline.  And either surnames like Lincoln and Bellamy make your shortlist, or not.

But when it comes to gender, there’s more at stake.

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