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choosing one name

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Maybe you’re expecting triplets.  Maybe you’re Uma Thurman.

But chances are that if you’re narrowing down a baby name, you’re looking for just one first-middle combination, or maybe a first-middle-bonus middle.

It means that you’ll leave a lot of your favorite names unused, and you might hurt some feelings if your loved ones were hoping for a namesake.

Sure, you can go the royal route, and tack on extra middles galore.  Uma’s daughter Luna is actually Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence.  It’s not an approach most parents would consider.

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baby name Reign

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

From Grammy Award-winning rapper LilKim to a previously anonymous mom in Alaska, some parents are thinking big when it comes to baby names.

Not every parent, of course.  Casual choices like Charlie and Molly, Mia and Jack have been popular in recent years.  And I’ve always thought that George Alexander Louis was a pretty low-key pick for a future king.

But whether the name is an outlandish borrowing from the dictionary or one worn by an accomplished historical figure, it’s worth asking: When is a name too much to live up to?

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abby--infantas

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Here’s something I overheard recently:

Olivia’s a nice name, but Aria?  Who names a kid after Game of Thrones?

There’s something to that statement, isn’t there?  Olivia feels like a vintage revival, a literary choice thanks to Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, and a wildly popular name for over a decade.  Aria is a newcomer, a noun name that leapt from obscurity to prominence thanks to more than one pop culture reference.  They’re very different names.

Yet on sound alone, Aria and Olivia are similar.  Reverse the histories – make Aria the Shakespearean choice and Olivia the twenty-first century television darling – and it is easy to imagine the statement reversed, too.  After all, five of the current US Top 20 girls’ names end with -ia.

Nouveau or traditional, popular or obscure, our favorite names tend to share sounds.

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abbypp1-19-14

By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

How far would you go to find a truly stand-out name for your child?

Self-described geek dad Stephen McLaughlin has decided to let the internet name his daughter.  His wife insisted that they retain veto power, so the #1 name doesn’t automatically win.

Good thing, too, because as of Saturday morning, the wisdom of crowds had Cthulhu All-Spark as the top choice.

Other suggestions are very wearable, and a few of the most popular suggestions have ties to scifi that would make the geekiest gamer parents proud: Amelia, Luna, Zelda.

The full list alternates between the silly – Unicorn, Moonpod, Sprinkles, Fluttershy, and the truly lovely – Alice, Isla, Aria, Iris, Adelaide, India, Caroline, Claire, Elsa.  Odds are that baby McLaughlin will end up with quite the wearable name when she arrives in April.

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abby-8-06

In this week’s Nameberry 9, Appellation  Mountain ‘s Abby Sandel focuses on several interesting  unisex baby names in the news.

Few subjects are as divisive as gender neutral baby names, and yet I can’t stop talking about them.  Some of us deny their very existence.  Others are willing to call a daughter James, but hesitate to name a son Avery or Madison.  Many of us are discovering nature names or other novel appellations, ones that don’t easily declare themselves pink or blue.

Not every culture splits names into such neat categories, and names certainly shift over time.  Plenty of ends-in-a options, like Noah and Joshua have become favorites for boys, even though they’re very different from the once-dominant Bob, Tom, and Bill – proof that we can reconsider names every generation, if not more often.

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