Category: crowd-sourced blog

What’s YOUR Question of the Week?

We’ve now posed more than sixty Questions of the Week– covering topics from nicknames to namesakes to namenapping to name crushes.  But I’ll bet there’s some query you’ve been wishing we’d put on the table.  Maybe it’s a topic that’s been up on the Message Boards that you’d like to hear further opinions on.  Maybe it’s something that hasn’t been discussed at all.

For that reason,  we’re turning the tables this week and asking you berries to suggest a future Question of the Week.  We’ll pick the most provocative one(s) and post it here.

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Sibling Names: Does Flow Matter?

A lot of the discussions about sibling names on the nameberry message boards come down to one question: Does flow matter?

To some parents, flow seems to be the most important quality, and any names of little brothers and sisters have to “flow” — be perfectly compatible in sound and feel — from the names that came before.

Some passionate berries, as nameberry aficionados have come to be called, talk about sibsets: groups of sibling names high on flow.

To others, flow and sibsets matter less….or not at all.

What’s YOUR feeling about sibling names? How much does flow matter? Did you think about sibsets when choosing names?

And what, in your opinion, are some of the best and worst sibling names you’ve ever heard? Tell all!

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changing your name

Changing your name is many a name nerd’s ultimate fantasy (right up there with naming a dozen children, including two sets of twins.) What name would you choose, if you could choose anything? And why?

I first considered seriously the whole issue of changing your name at a large, riotous dinner with all my college friends, when the first among us announced she was expecting a baby.

We threw out the usual compliment of ridiculous baby names for her consideration, and then started talking about how we felt about our own names.

While a few of us were content with our names, most of us had…..issues. Pam, I’d always felt, was too bland, too prissy. And my husband’s name, Dick — fuhgeddaboutit.

And so we set out to rename each other, which became a huge joke of its own. The name I was given by my friends, Tish Tania, I liked even less than the one I was given by my parents.

It’s time, then, to take matters into my own hands and choose a name for myself. I think, if I had to pick this very minute, I’d become Eliza Bridget Redmond. Eliza because it’s been long and is still my favorite name, modern and classic at the same time; Bridget because it was my beloved grandmother’s name, and one she felt she had to hide when she immigrated to the U.S. as it had become an Irish joke; and Redmond, because, as much as I love my husband and even love his name, I wish I’d never given up my original surname!

If you were changing your name today, if you could wave a magic wand and have total control, what would you choose? And why?

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Family Baby Names

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is an ancestral name, one that forms a strong link to his or her past, and more and more parents today are searching and researching their family trees to find names that have personal significance as well as style.  And with genealogical websites like, it’s now possible to dig deeper into the roots of the tree to find forgotten nuggets, maybe an unusual middle name of a great-grandmother, or an interesting maiden name that could work as a first.

Using the name of a living or fondly remembered relative has the satisfying benefit of conveying the essence of that loved one, in the hope of bestowing their admirable qualities on your child.  But even with a more distant forebear whom you might not have known, family stories of that person’s achievements can come alive again through the name, providing your child with an immediate and precious legacy.

I myself have not been able to trace my family history back more than a few generations, and for the most part the names reflect the Jewish immigrant experience: the expected Sarahs, Samuels (many), Sols and Sauls, Rachels, and Rebeccas, but there were a couple of more unusual, untranslated from the Yiddish, exceptions:



NAHOMA (called Nelly)



From my husband’s more mixed background (English/Guernsey French), we’ve found:






LOL (male, probably a nickname for LIONEL — in the days before laugh out loud)






I’ve used my father’s name Sam as the inspiration for daughter Chloe’s middle name Samantha, and Pam has incorporated one male ancestor of hers (a grandfather’s middle– Owen) and one of her husband’s (Leopold, which became the middle name of son Joe).

On the Name Talk forums you have already posted some wonderful family names of your own. (unicorngal put together a fascinating compendium a few months ago at, including such gems as :











But I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg (to further mix my metaphors), which led me to think of this as a perfect crowd-sourced blog topic.

So let’s hear your own favorites from your family tree.  Have you incorporated them into your child’s name?  Do you plan to in the future?  Does you family have any particular naming traditions?

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It started, as so many good things do, on the nameberry message boards: I love the name Maggie, the poster wrote, but notsomuch Margaret.  What are some more original baby names that will get me to Maggie?

And just like that, the creative nameberry community jumped in: How about Magnolia?, someone suggested.  Or Marguerite. Magda, or MagdalenaMargo, Margot, or Margaux.

Then the suggestions got even more inventive.  Magenta.  Magalin or Magaly.

Which gave us an idea, not for yet another way to get to Maggie, but for a new way to create a nameberry blog.  What if we pose a challenge — Inventive ways to get to a popular nickname, say — and then turn the solutions over to the nameberry community?

Here’s how it will work.  Cite the popular nickname you’re starting with: Annie, say, or Jack.  Then, with a nod to the usual ways to get there — Anne and John — move on to the most comprehensive and inventive list of proper names  you can think of that might theoretically lead you to your nickname of choice.  You’re allowed to build on somebody else’s list of original baby names, but we encourage you to start your own.

And while of course you can do more than one, try and leave some good popular nicknames for the other players.  The more people who join in, the more interesting this will be.

Ready, set, blog!

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