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How I Named My Baby: Aria Sloane

How I Named My Baby: Aria Sloane

Sammi, a marketing manager, and Danny, a guidance counselor, live in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn with their daughter Aria Sloane.

Their little girl was long-awaited, but her name was decided years in advance. Here, Sammi shares Aria’s name story.

Tell me how you named Aria!

My husband Danny and I were in the car one day, driving home and we were talking about baby names. He didn’t really care — he’s a very chill, relaxed kind of guy — but I was like, “What about the name Aria?” He slammed on the brakes and said, “That will be my daughter’s name.”

I really liked the name, but we’re Ashkenazi Jews and you have to name your baby after somebody. And there were no As, so it wasn’t going to work. But when I looked up the meaning, I saw that it means “lion of God” in Hebrew and “air” in Italian. It was exactly what I wanted to honor my grandmothers, who were strong women who went with the flow of life. It felt perfect. And one of my grandmothers was actually a Yiddish singer!

It’s this nontraditional way to name a baby after someone. I feel like even when you use someone’s name, you’re naming the baby for that person’s essence, not just the name. It was really serendipitous.

How did you choose her middle name?

She’s named after my Grammy, Sylvia. My grandma, mom, and I all have S names, so I appreciated the connection since we weren’t going to do an S for the first name. And then when I read that it means “raider,” it really fit — my grandma was a redhead, a super tough cookie — it totally makes sense. I just thought Aria Sloane sounded super nice and sophisticated together, it worked with our last name, so I was just like, “Yep, that’s it, done.”

That’s been the name since 2012. We’ve had this name picked out for so long that when we found out we were pregnant and expecting a girl, there was literally no conversation. I was like, “Aria?” and Danny was like, “Don’t go back on me now!”

She was always going to be Aria. We’ve been married for seven years — we’ve been waiting a long time to have her. It’s almost funny we had a girl — our boy name was not set in stone. So, of course, this would be her.

Some people who pick out the name before they are expecting are disappointed they can’t talk about names during pregnancy!

I really felt that way! But we had her Hebrew name — thank God! — that was how I was able to choose a name. Amalia Tova. We knew we were going to use Tova because that was Danny’s grandma’s Hebrew name.

Danny was like, “Well why don’t we just use Aria or Ariella for her Hebrew name since it matches,” but I was like, “No. No. I waited. I want a name. I’m naming this baby.” I wanted it to be a powerful, meaningful name. I had a life-altering medical condition, and for a while, we weren’t sure we could have a baby. But we got pregnant with her quickly — she’s really a miracle. I wanted a name that encapsulated that.

I really liked Eliana, which means “God has answered,” but Danny vetoed it. I was looking for other names, especially A names to match Aria. I found Amalia — when I saw it meant “work of God,” I gasped. Not only is she the greatest work of God to us, but it felt very orchestrated that we even got her. It felt like the perfect name to be like, “Thanks, God!” And Tova means “good,” so her name literally means “greatest work of God.” The perfect baby name meaning! Bashert!

Tell me about your choice to use a nontraditional honor name.

Danny had such a strong reaction to Aria that it just felt meant to be. Most of Danny’s family has already been honored. My grandparents’ names were Mildred and Leonard cute names, but not what I’m naming my kid. Lennon was on our shortlist. Danny and I bonded over the fact that we’re both obsessed with the Beatles, and Leonard and Lennon are perfect. But Danny was not 100% sold on it. I don’t love Len or Lenny for nicknames — that’s my only hesitation.

God help us if we have another girl. I’ve got nothing. We both could not agree on another girl name. I don’t even know what we’d do — Aria was so set in stone. I’ve asked Danny about other girl names over the years but he’s just like, “Nope. Nope.” I loved Evie (EH-vee) — it means “life” — but we have no one to name after. For Ms I like Molly, but it feels so traditional. I’m going to have to work on M and L names.

How did being named Sammi affect your choice of Aria?

I’ve always been such a Sammi — I wrote Sammi on my school papers, I go by Sammi at work. Even my bat mitzvah invitation said Sammi on it. Sometimes I feel like Sammi sounds a bit childish, but it’s always been such a part of my identity that it’s just who I am. I love the nickname Ari for a girl — I call her Ari most of the time. It’s more of a boy’s name in the Hebrew world, but I like how she has both options. She can be Aria, or she can be Ari.

Cultural traditions aside, I wanted Aria to be named after someone because I’m named after my grandpa, and he died five weeks before I was born. I always loved the fact that I was named after him and that connection — I felt very close to my grandpa even though I never met him.

What would your younger self have liked to name a baby?

I was so trendy. I was obsessed — obsessed — with the name Alexis. I don’t know why. It’s just such a cool girl name. I also really liked the name Madeline. I still like it!

I also liked Alexa, which clearly you can’t really use anymore because of Amazon. So just these very trendy names. But then I also loved classic names like Rose and Katherine.

For boys, I always liked Max and Carter — short, simple names.

I took the Baby Name DNA quiz and got Star Charmer. When I saw the names, I was like, “Nameberry knows me too well!” It was exactly who I am in the bucket of the baby name world.

No one else guessed that we were having a kid named Aria, which I kind of liked. One friend was like, “I love it, but I did not expect it.” But once, years ago, my friend and I were chatting and she said, “You would totally name your kid Sloane.” We already had Aria’s name picked out. I was like, “Oh, yeah, maybe…” How did she know?

What did people predict you would name your baby?

My mom initially thought it was going to be an S name. I eventually did tell her that the baby’s name started with an A, because she was really fishing. She guessed Ava! I love Ava, but it’s almost a little too popular. Even though I don’t know any Avas.

My best friend had her daughter six weeks before Aria was born, and we live on the same block. We were like, “What if we give them the same names?” We went over the initials she told me, “My name is a C name,” and I told her my name was above hers in the alphabet. She guessed Avery and Ava.

Her daughter’s name is Camryn, which I love, and she told me that Sloane was actually on her list. Another friend of mine who has a son named Max said that they loved Sloane as well. I didn’t realize it was so popular! If they use it, I wouldn’t care. I know some people get territorial over their names, but it’s a compliment!

What are the popular names in your social circle?

There are so many names in Brooklyn. I know two Rubys and three little girls named Noa. There are classic names like Henry, then there are funkier names. Danny’s two best guy friends each have a daughter, so it’s Noa, Liv, and Ari. Aren’t those great friend names? It would be a good sibset.

Names are so personal. I’m really proud of it — I gave her a name that is special. It’s a powerful moment for parents.

I’m always fascinated when people are like, “Oh, I just liked the name.” That’s totally fine — there’s nothing wrong with that — but I don’t relate. Or when people have never asked their parents about how they chose their name. Maybe it’s just because I always knew how I was named that I’ve had an affinity for it. It’s a choice that your parents make for you, but it defines you.

What were your biggest fears related to baby names?

We didn’t say her name before she was born. I didn’t really care, but it’s such a superstition that you’re not supposed to say the name for seven days. We couldn’t do that because if Danny had to go name her in Synagogue to make it official, I didn’t want random people at Synagogue to know our daughter’s name before my parents! So we did end up telling everyone in the hospital. My parents were like, “How do you say her name?” You watch Game of Thrones, Dad. Aria!

Before she was born, I was like, “What if she doesn’t look like an Aria?” A lot of people say they have two names and then go in and see what the baby looks like. Poor thing — even if she didn’t look like an Aria, she probably still would have been given the name!

And I was so worried about her initials — ASZ. I even googled, “bad initials ASZ.” Are people going to make fun of her? Does it look like “asses?” But then I was like, “Okay. You could just say it’s ‘aces.’”

It doesn’t look that great in a monogram, and the Southern piece of me loves a monogram. But it doesn’t look terrible. Right?

What advice would you give someone who’s just starting the baby name process?

Be open-minded. Aria isn’t a name I would have necessarily picked. You should be open about finding a name anywhere. And try to find those interesting connections! If you like a name, go beyond the name itself. Think of the meaning or connections to your family tree.

Thank you so much, Sammi!

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About the Author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top baby name trends of 2021, baby name synesthesia, and the top names in each state. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at sophie@nameberry.com. Sophie lives in Chicago.