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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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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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sibling names

When i was pregnant with Baby Number 3, my older son, aged three, had lots of ideas about what I should name his little brother.

Rainbow Boy was one prime contender, I remember.

He also had an inordinate fondness for the name Jim.  Not a bad name, though I feared that for a baby name expert to name her own sons Joe and Jim might be a bit too basic, like a fashion designer dressing only in white tee shirts and jeans.

Older siblings often have strong and amusing ideas about what to name the baby.

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posted by: irishmom View all posts by this author

By Tara Wood

When my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child, a girl, choosing her name was efficient and simple. We tossed around a few names that neither of us hated and within 5 minutes decided that our wee girl would be called Juliette. We never wavered or second guessed ourselves. We had no idea at the time that we’d have 5 additional children rounding out our family. I didn’t recognize that choosing the first couple of kid’s names sort of sets the tone for additional kid’s name. It certainly doesn’t have to if sibset continuity doesn’t matter to you but for me, that is something I wish I’d considered.

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posted by: upswingbabynames View all posts by this author
matching names

by Angela Mastrodonato, Upswing Baby Names

Did you give all of your dolls perfectly coordinating names as a child? Maybe you had dolls named Sandra and Chandra. (OK so you probably didn’t name your dolls Sandra and Chandra; this is just a random example. Please go with it.) Maybe once you became a teen that same combo grated on your nerves.

Opinions vary widely on how much sibling names should match. And the rules can be different for same gender vs. opposite gender siblings and twins.

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