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This week for the Nameberry 9, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel takes a look at the shifting perceptions of boys’ baby names.

When we named our son Alexander in 2004, it was a no-brainer, a family name that my husband very much wanted to pass down.  Despite my baby name obsession, the choice was made without much thought.

I knew girls could answer to Alex as a tomboyish nickname for Alexandra.  Heck, it was the kind of name I’d craved as a child.  And I was fascinated by the medieval French Alix, the Italian Alessandra, the Russian Sasha.

The possibility of a girl Alex didn’t bother me a bit.

In fact, we proceeded to call our son the even more ambiguous Aly for his first six years on this Earth.

Then came first grade. Aly was a Girl Name, he announced.  From now on, he would be Alex.

The classmate who told him that his nickname was a gender bender?

His name is Delaney.

So what’s happening with boys’ names in 2013?  There’s pressure to choose a name that is clearly masculine, coupled with frustration that so many fresh possibilities for boys could easily be the next big thing for girls.  Parents will drop Elliot if they see it mentioned on a message board as a vague possibility for a girl.  Emerson has been ceded to Team Pink before she even cracks the Top 100 in the US.

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Nameberry Picks: The Best O Names

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We’ve always loved O Names, from our first book Beyond Jennifer & Jason when we declared names that ended (and sometimes also began) with the cheery letter O to be “So Far Out They’re In.” A quarter century later, they still are, with choices like Leo and Marlo officially stylish and a raft of other O names gaining much-deserved attention.

We’re still so fond of the O names that we find it difficult to narrow our favorites down to a dozen, but these to us feel both fresh and usable, contemporary and also deserving of respect. The only down side of the O names as a class is that there are more great choices for boys than for girls.

With photos that connect the letter O’s eternal circle with things relating to childhood, here are the best O names right now.

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junewed

Any minute now, June will be busting out all over—the summer solstice month of long days, of bridal parties and Father’s Day tributes.  If you’re anticipating a June baby, why not consider one of the names that relate directly or slightly indirectly to the month of its birth?  Here are some June names to ponder.

June—Too obvious for a June baby?  Perhaps.  Until recently, June was considered the quintessential fifties goody-goody girl name, as in June Cleaver– apronned mom of Beaver– and twinkly actress June Allyson (born Ella).  But as those images have faded to sepia, June is sounding less saccharine and more modern.  Balthazar Getty used it for his daughter in 2008, and Amanda Peet realized its middle-name potential when she named her daughter Molly June.

JuniaJunia is the name of a Roman woman who was an early convert to Christianity and in all probability the only female apostle in the New Testament, praised and complimented by the apostle Paul. A common name in ancient Rome, it also belonged to the first wife of the Emperor Caligula, Junia Claudilla, but is rarely heard today.

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This week for her Nameberry 9 report, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel looks at baby name regret and at new celeb and  blogger babies.

Do you regret your child’s name?  If you could go back, would you choose something less common?  More mainstream?  Would you use that out-there option that others dismissed as too weird?  Or maybe embrace something from your family tree that felt too old-fashioned to bestow on a newborn?

Every so often a study grandly announces that a percentage of parents – in the most recent article, it was a whopping 8%, rounded up to “a tenth” for the headline – wish they could get a do-over on their child’s name.  While plenty of parents report disappointment that their choice turned out to feel too ordinary, reports and comments tend to focus on the extreme cases:  “Yes, I knew a couple who called their son Bullet and really wished they’d stuck with Bill.”

But I can’t help observe that parents who have picked out-of-the-box baby names seem more satisfied than those who gave it less thought.  Rowan at Eponymia summed it up perfectly: “It hardly matters what the name turns out to be, but I believe naming someone is an honor, one that requires effort and thought.”

Which brings us back to one of my new categories of favorite names – blogger kids.  It comes as no surprise that writers put extra care into picking names for their children.

Ottilie Valentine – The deliciously frilly, but still edgy, name of Rowan’s daughter.  Her tale of spotting a related name on an athlete during the Summer Olympics, then thumbing through a short story collection and seeing it again is a great example of how, as she puts it, “the right name will find the right person.”

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Today is the official start of summer—though for many of us the weather announced its arrival weeks ago. Summer is one of the nicest times of year to have a baby, the warm weather and slow pace making it that much easier to relax into new motherhood. Here is our annual round-up of names that summon the season:

Summer — As a seasonal name, Summer may not be your top choice.  It’s feeling a tad shopworn as it’s been above number 200 for the past eighteen years.  Autumn is more popular but Winter is cooler.

Summer also has three excellent months’ names that include several usable variations.  These are:

JuneJune, a hip middle name du jour (Amanda Peet used it, for one), was out of favor for many years but now is back in a big way.  The name, and the month, are derived from Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage and finances (great role model!) whose name got a big boost from the teenage heroine of the eponymous 2007 film.  The related and obscure Junia is a New Testament name.  Male versions include the Spanish Junot, popularized by Pulitzer winning writer Junot Diaz, and Junius, Latin for “born in June.”

JulyJulius Caesar gave his name to this month, which has spawned many attractive first name variation.  Julius itself is being dusted off by a new generation of parents.  Julio is the attractive Spanish variation.  For girls, Julia is one of the most enduring and appealing classics, fashionable now.  The French Juliette or English Juliet has a tremendous amount of style and grace, along with Juliana.  Sixties-style Julie is the only variation on the wane.

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