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Fun and games with baby names

By Nick Turner

It’s April Fools’ Day — a perfect time to explore the subject of baby-name riddles and other mischief.

For some parents, choosing a name is an opportunity for wordplay. They favor palindromes (words that are spelled the same way forward and backward) or try to pick sets of sibling names that are anagrams (meaning they contain the same letters).

My general philosophy with baby names is you should try to have fun but not too much fun. And that applies to riddles as well. Having twin girls named Isla and Lisa (anagrams) is playful without being too outrageous. Naming your kids Geneva and Avenge, meanwhile, would be harder to pull off.

Let’s start with my favorite naming trick: palindromes. This is a low-key way to add a little zip to your child’s name, and there are more than a dozen options to choose from.

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presidential losers

By Nick Turner

It’s been said that history is written by the victors. But losers leave a legacy of their own.

That’s the case with U.S. presidential elections, in which fondly remembered statesmen often wind up as the runner-up — not the chief executive.

In an earlier column, I examined the names of American presidents (specifically, their surnames) and whether a candidate’s rise to power influences baby-name trends.

This time around I’d like to look at names of presidential losers.

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Sassy Double-Syllable Names for Girls

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sassy double-syllables

By Nick Turner

Anyone who watches panda videos online (and what kind of monster doesn’t?) knows that the animals often have names with repeating syllables: Bei Bei, Gao Gao, Lun Lun and so on.

This is a popular naming convention in China, where pandas originate, and it’s undeniably cute. In France, they create diminutive names by adding an “-ette.” Spanish speakers may tack on an “-ita” or “-ito.” But in China, they’ve doubled down on doubling down.

Among U.S. babies, “reduplicated” names like Ling Ling and Tian Tian are uncommon. Still, there’s a fairly strong tradition of repeated-syllable names in English-speaking countries.

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Top Brand Baby Names: From Audi to ESPN

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brand baby names

By Nick Turner

There are many places to seek out baby-name inspiration: your relatives, a favorite book or movie…maybe even the pages of a celebrity rag.

But it takes an especially brave soul to name your baby after a corporate brand.

And yet, every year lots of U.S. parents do just that. There were 73 baby girls named Lexus in 2014. Twenty-three kids went by Kia, and 20 were christened Audi. And those are just some of the car names.

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Lofty Mountain Baby Names

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mountain baby names

By Nick Turner

President Obama caused a stir last week when he scrubbed the name Mount McKinley from America‘s highest peak, bringing back its traditional moniker — Denali.

Fans of William McKinley complained that our 25th president — assassinated in 1901 — was getting snubbed for political reasons. Supporters of the Denali name, meanwhile, pointed out that McKinley had no connection to the area (he never set foot in Alaska, which became a state almost 60 years after his death).

For me, the controversy is less interesting than the implications for baby name picks.

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