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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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abby-khaleesix

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Take a few minutes and try to list all the girls you know named Sophia – or Sophie or Sofia.  How about Isabella?  Zoe, Ava, Madison?

Now list the names that are one of one.

I only know a single girl called Ida, and just one named Arcadia.  My son built sand castles with a little Maxine on a long-ago beach vacation, and I’ve never forgotten her name.  Cordelia and Monica, Zinnia and Murielle, Helen and Claudia – they all stand out, associated with just a single child.

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abby--4-7-14a

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Thank you, Zanna Roberts!

Just when it seemed like no one was having babies this week, the fashion stylist welcomed twin daughters.  You might have caught Zanna talking fashion as a correspondent on The Today Show, or as a judge on Project Runway.  She’s also senior fashion editor at Marie Claire, so no surprise that she and her husband, Milk Studios founder Mazdak Rassi, have chosen stunningly stylish names for their girls.

But the new arrivals’ names aren’t just stylish – they’re downright quirky.

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abby--3-26-14

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Confession: I’ve watched Kid President’s latest YouTube video more than a dozen times.  It’s called “Letter to a Person on Their First Day Here,” and even though little Robby Novak (a.k.a. Kid President) never mentions names, it reminds me of the happiest part of talking all things onomastic.

Around 360,000 babies are born every day.  That’s 4.2 newborns every second.  Even if we limited it to arrivals in the English-speaking world, it would take a lot of berry brainpower to help find names for all of those lovely new people.

It’s worth looking for the right name, isn’t it?  All of these new people are going to do some amazing things.  At their best, the names we bestow on our children honor that potential.

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