Letters, Spellings and Sounds: The Nameberry 9


For this week’s Nameberry 9, Appellation Mountain’s Abby Sandel looks at x-names, o-beginnings and endings, and other letter and sound matters.

 My favorite find of the week isn’t a name. It’s a random name generator, at a website called Roses and Cellar Doors. (Hat tip to Ren for the link.) The generator apologizes that “on occasion, a ‘real’ name might be generated.” Most of the results are rarities that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear in real life.

A few minutes of clicking created Loralyn, Kayabella, Annla, Annraya, Madalee, and Briabella for girls. For boys, I found the generator slightly less successful, but Mathan, Keedon, Jarison, Dasen, Jaxin, Zaylen, and Caydran all seem both unusual and perfectly possible.

Randomly generated names aren’t my style, but it is easy to see that we’re attracted to certain letters, syllables, and sounds. A name that seems outlandish at first glance might work if it contains a desirable letter or two. Our focus on x and y, k and o is sometimes called the Scrabble effect, but I think it goes deeper than just respelling a familiar name.

This week’s baby name news was filled with choices that make good use of letters:

AjaxAlex made room for Axel. Could Ajax be far behind? This name made the list about a year ago when mom-to-be Marni Kostak arranged to deliver her firstborn at Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn as an exhibit called “The Birth of Baby X.” Baby X has now celebrated his first birthday – where else? – at the Microscope Gallery. Yes, there’s the cleaning product, but there’s also the Trojan War hero.

Orion – Speaking of heroic names, For Real Baby Names spotted Orion twice – on a boy called Elijah Orion, and a girl named Iris Orion Evelyn. Actor Chris Noth welcomed Orion Christopher in 2008. The name has been slowly climbing in use since the 1990s.

Dex – Have you noticed that Dex seems to be emerging as a new nickname for new Irish favorite Declan? Parents on Swistle listed it as a possible combination, and I’ve heard it on the playground, too. He could stand alone, too, just like Jax and Max.

Zane – This one has me fascinated. Soap opera star Heather Tom played Kelly Cramer on One Life to Live. Tom’s character gave birth to a son called Zane in 2006. Just last week, Tom welcomed a son in real life – also called Zane. Coincidence?

Thiago – Soccer star Lionel Messi chose the lively, ends-in-o Thiago for his firstborn. Messi is a native of Argentina, and plays for Barcelona. Santiago has held the top spot in Messi’s home country, and is popular in Spain, too. Tiago is popular elsewhere in Latin America and Europe. The Thiago spelling is unusual – for now.

WellsWelcome to the world, Owen Wells Kleon, son of writer Austin Kleon. Owen’s o is stylish, but I’m beginning to think the letter w is equally appealing. Wells is also the name of maternity concierge Rosie Pope’s middle son, and a name that I’m hearing more and more on message boards, along with Wesley and West.

Hallow – If w is popular in the first spot, the letter is also at the end of stylish surname choices Harlow and Marlow. Isadora has me convinced that Hallow could be an auspicious choice for a child, rich with meaning.

OfeliaBaby Name Pondering recently discussed Ofelia and Ophelia. Mad scene aside, I’m struck by her resemblance to Olivia, Amelia, and Sophia. She’s little used, but 2006’s dark fairytale of a movie, Pan’s Labyrinth, included a heroic girl by the name, and is often cited as a reason to reconsider Ofelia.

G.R.A.C.E. – Instead of ending with one name, how about five? Nancy reported on the Ferraro quintuplets of California. Together, their given names – Gabrielle, Riley, Cooper, Emerson, and Addison – spell grace. Pretty clever, huh? The quints joined big sister Gianna.

Are there sounds and letters you truly love in names? Are they the familiar X, Z, and O, or do you find yourself drawn to something else? And could you spell a word from your favorite names? That last one has me stumped!

About the Author

Linda Rosenkrantz

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