Category: family namesakes

How to Reinvent Family Names for Baby

Family names

By Abby Sandel

This week brought us two celebrity baby names inspired by loved ones. But they’re not just simple honor names.

Lacey Chabert revealed that her new daughter, Julia Mimi Bella, is named for Lacey’s mom, Julie. Julia is the first child for Lacey and husband Dave Nehdar.

Actor Rob Schneider also welcomed a daughter – his third. Daughter Elle King, from a previous relationship, is now a successful singer. Now he and wife Patricia are parents to Miranda Scarlett and newest addition, Madeline Robbie. Robbie seems like a sweet nod to dad.

Would you name your baby after yourself? How about your mom or dad, or another loved one?

Both the Schneiders and Chabert-Nehdars made some subtle changes to the names before handing them out down to the next generation. If you like the idea of choosing family names, but aren’t sure about the names themselves, there’s no shortage of ways to reinvent them for your children.

Here are nine ways to honor a loved one with names for the newest members of your family.

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Why I Picked a Traditional Baby Name

traditional baby names

By Antonia Malchik

I was sitting at the lunch table in fifth grade when I decided that if I ever had a daughter I’d name her something normal.

I grew up mainly in two different towns in Montana. In the first, all my friends had names I coveted: Katie, Stacy, Tiffany, Angie. Their names were pretty, and, importantly for an early 1980s childhood, normal. My name was not. I was named “Antonia” for Willa Cather’s novel My Ántonia, “Louise” after my maternal grandmother, and “Evgenia” after my father’s cousin who still lived in the Soviet Union where my father had grown up. All of which got shortened to the decidedly unmusical and definitely not normal “Nia.”

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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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Weird Uncle Sebastian.  Nice name, but not exactly the kind of guy we want our baby to emulate.

Grandma Hortense — sweet lady, yet that name….no.

It may be a name that’s important in your family but that you just can’t bear to foist on a newborn baby.  Or maybe it’s  a name you like of a relative you don’t.  But  some family names simply don’t make the list as baby names.

What name from your family are you NOT going to pass down to a child?

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How To Update Old Nickname Names


In 1963, there were 23,900 baby girls named Lori, the same year that there were 21,191 little Tammys and 11,000 Cindys, not to mention all the Mindys, Mandys, Marcys, and Marnies with the then modern-sounding nicknamey, quasi-unisex, names popular from the mid-fifties and into the next couple of decades.

So is it any wonder that so many of today’s parents have moms and sometimes grandmothers with these vintage nickname names?

But as much as we love those family members, and would like to make them namesakes, would we really want to name our own little girls Mindy or Cindy?  Probably would be  better to seek a related substitute that would still serve to honor them.

Here are a few random update ideas, some that relate fairly directly to the mother name, others that are a bit more of a stretch.

                 More obvious: Candace

                 Less obvious: Candida (and yes, we do know its downside) or Dulcie (means sweet)

                More obvious: Caroline

                 Less obvious: Carys

                 More obvious: Lucinda

                 Less obvious: Signy/Signe

                 More obvious: Daria

                 Less obvious: Dorothy

                 More obvious: Jamison

                 Less obvious: Jamaica or Jane

                 More obvious: Josie

                 Less obvious: Josephine

                 More obvious: Jolie

                 Less obvious: Joanna

                 More obvious: Keira

                 Less obvious: Kerensa

                 More obvious: Laurel or Laura

                 Less obvious: Lorelei

                 More obvious: Amanda

                 Less obvious: Manon

                 More obvious: Marcella

                 Less obvious: Maribel

                More obvious: Marlo/Marlowe

                 Less obvious: Marin

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