Would You Let This Woman Name Your Baby?

Guest blogger Nina Badzin, a Pushcart Prize-nominated fiction writer, loves baby names so much she wants to pick one for you.Β  Here, her story.

I’m obsessed with baby names. Freakishly obsessed. In fact, I’d like to name your baby.

Ask my friends. I’m breathlessly giddy when someone asks my opinion on a combination of first and middle names with the surname or the siblings’ names. My heart races just thinking about it.

Thank goodness I write fiction, which means I can legitimately waste time on baby-name sites when I’m creating characters. Although last year I actually published a story about a couple arguing in the hospital over what to name their third boy. I warned you–freakishly obsessed.

So . . . clearly I have a problem. But lucky for you, if you’re expanding your family or naming characters for stories and novels, I’m offering my collection of names as a good starting point.

The names below have stood the test of time. Whose test? MINE! Hey–it’s my blog post. What is the “test” based on? Gut feel. That’s all. I like a name or I don’t. But for the purposes of the list below, I tried to provide some sort of logical headings. It should be noted (because I want kudos for my restraint) that I can provide an even longer list of names I think you should avoid, but I’d rather not insult the blogosphere. At least not today.

How the List Works:
  1. The headings–my attempt to “explain” my gut reaction to a name–inherently reflect what I value and admire in a name. (aka, you won’t find a category entitled: “names from Jersey Shore”)
  2. I’ve included more names for girls than boys because I don’t like foofy boys’ names. I could only do so much with my boys’ list.
  3. If you know me in any capacity (and even if you don’t) please do not resent meΒ  for leaving your child’s name off the list. The list is hardly exhaustive. My kids’ names don’t appear on it either! And you know I love those names!
  4. In general if a name is not on this list, it doesn’t mean I hate the name. It means the name is not among my *favorites.* Or . . . it means I’m hoarding it for myself. Because you never know. I have to save the absolute gems.
  5. The list is not alphabetical. For reasons of laziness.

Names for Girls

Feminine But Not Flowery: Lydia, Julia, Juliet, Elizabeth, Maya, Mia, Taryn, Caroline, Chelsea, Lindsey, Audrey, Sasha, Layla

Flowery or Cute But in a Way That Works (What do I mean by “works?” I don’t know. It’s subjective. Like I said–gut feel.): Daisy, Phoebe, Libby, Sadie, Lucy, Josie, Lila, Ellie, Ariella, Carly, Emily, April, Abby, Holly, Ivy, Chloe, Ruby

Simple Goodness: Margo, Anna, Annie, Jane, Kate, Lauren, Claire, Allison

Hebrew Names I Love But Didn’t have the Balls to Use for my Girls: Avital, Ayelet, Yael (pronounced YAH-el)

Names I Would Use or Almost Used But are Now Too Close to My Kids’ Names: Danielle, Ilana/Alana/Elana, Eliana, Aliza (pronounced: ah-LEE-za), Eliza (pronounced: eh-LIE-za)

Names for Boys

Boys’ Names I Like: Eli, Jack, Seth, Miles, Asher, Daniel, Ethan, Evan, Julian, Ross, Noah, Jared, Gabriel (Gabe), Max, Micah, Nathan, Saul, Zack, Charlie, Drew, Liam, Jake, Simon, Will, Avi, Zev, Ezra, Levi, Judah

So does anyone else collect names? What names would you suggest for my lists that seem to go with the themes? I’m not ashamed to steal ideas!

Nina Badzin is a Pushcart Prize nominated short story writer and an aspiring novelist. Read her blog about the writing life, marriage, and motherhood. Follow her on Twitter @NinaBadzin.

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44 Responses to “Would You Let This Woman Name Your Baby?”

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Adrianna Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 2:34 am

I sure would let her name my baby, seeing that both my childrens’ names as well as my top 2 for future children are on this list! πŸ™‚

Linelei Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 3:56 am

While many of these names are nice, they are way too boring and common for my own kids. Although the Hebrew names are fab! I’m currently in love with Avi as a nickname for either sex.

Ellie’smom Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 4:24 am

My daughter’s name is Eliana nn Ellie. What would be your first choices for sibling names? Gender unknown…

BasicSand Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 6:25 am

Ugh on Jack. There way too many male characters named Jack! Right now, I can’t think of which other baby name sites also mentioned this. Jake feels like it’s going to be the new Jack.

Overall, I feel the character naming belongs in the genre. It varies so much when it comes to fictional characters. The time period and the location of the narrative is for me what sets the naming. For historical fiction, I want to go with what’s going on in that era: Honor for Puritan New England, Cormac for Ireland, etc.

For romance work, I feel you can truly get more creative and lean toward more feminine and more masculine names as well. I’d pass on characters named Ethel and Stanley and go with perhaps Raphaela and Lars.

When it comes sci-fi and fantasy, I’d steer toward more uncommon names. Female characters could be named Tempest or Gaia while males could range from Justice to Triton.

For young adult and children’s lit, I would focus more on readability. I’d probably steer clear of a harder pronounced names like Esme or Bryony. Shorter forms like Charlie and Maggie seem better used for kids. I’d also choose too popular names like Jayden, Kaitlyn, and Ryder that I’d rather pass on personally.

In the end, I feel that the theme of the work dictates more of the style of the name. I let the voice of the characters speak out and them come up with their own names.

caitydaisy Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 8:07 am

I love the name Avital! I know someone who recently had twin girls named Avital and Matar.

caitydaisy Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 8:07 am

I love the name Avital! I know someone who recently had twin girls named Avital and Matar.

tarynkay Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 8:57 am

I love that you list “Taryn” as being particularly feminine. My name is Taryn (thanks for liking it!) and I’ve never thought of it as feminine at all because there was a boy in my kindergarten class named Taran. Taran is also the boy hero of Lloyd Alexander’s book, The Black Cauldron. My mother also always told me that it was a variation of Tyrone. So I grew up thinking I had a boy’s name. I am pleased to find out that somebody at least thinks differently.

Brooke Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 9:00 am

I would totally let you name my next child. I am curious to know what your kids names are….do tell!?

Stephanie Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 9:55 am

Hmmm. I expected more. Those lists are a bit boring and predictable. The only stand outs are Ivy, Seth, Margo and Juliet.

Danae Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 10:01 am

You and I have very similar tastes!!!! Mirrors my lists (and I say that cause I have many.) You could so name my child. Now all we need to do is hogtie my husband. And thanks for liking Micah for a boy!! That is my sons name and I have been seeing many like it for a girl. No offense to anyone, but I am totally not a fan of making boy names also for girls.

Greythatch Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 10:43 am

Interesting how trends come and go. Many of the names could have been taken off my Grade 3 class list from 1988!! Lindsay, April, Allison, Chelsea, Taryn, Simon, Seth, Zach(ary), Nathan, (An)drew, Emily, Claire and Daniel.

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February 17th, 2011 at 11:13 am

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Nina Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 11:35 am

Hi everybody! Thanks for chiming in! Just want to say that what some call “boring” and “predictable” others (like me) call classic and solid names. πŸ˜‰

Basic Sand–I agree with you about characters. This list is for babies! Born today! Greythatch above said these lists names were around in 1988. Yup, classic. That’s my point. πŸ˜‰

Lisa Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I would add the author’s name (Nina) to the “simple goodness” list too…I am guessing she has a far too complicated relationship with that name (as we all do with our own names) to include it on any list.

Lauren Kay Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Finally someone who likes my name! I like the list. Sometimes I think baby names are over over thunked, and people go too far in trying to find a name that no one else has. I agree with Lisa – Nina should go on the simple goodness list. Love it πŸ™‚

Triceratops Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I like classic names, but like Stephanie, I found the lists a bit boring. Names like Beatrice, Theodore, Susannah, and Abraham are all timeless classics, but they still have personality to them unlike some of the names in the list up top.

Most of the names up there are good names, with a few expections, and there are some names I truly like. However, most of them are like a house with all white walls: impeccable, but not stylish by any means.

I just expect more from a Nameberry blog I guess. But a story about a couple arguing over a name certainly sounds interesting. πŸ™‚

kashed22 Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I have to agree with Greythatch. I wouldn’t call names popular and trendy in 1988 like Lindsay, April and Chelsea “classic”, at least not yet. Even Allison screams 80s to me still. These names were epidemic when I was growing up. I’d like to give them some time before they come back for babies.

Nina Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Hi group! A few people commented on my name, “Nina.” Actually, I give my parents huge kudos for it and I recommend it for sure. (Seemed to narcissistic to put it on my favs list.) I think it’s feminine without being fussy, easy to say and spell, and different without trying too hard. I’ve loved it!

Lyndsay Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Shocked to see my name on anyone’s list! Personally I find it dated, but I suppose I’m glad someone likes it. Elizabeth, April, Ivy and Margo are the only one’s I would use myself, but I like quite a few (just too popular for me). I think a lot of the names are way too 80s for a baby, though. I like most of the boys names, but again, too popular for me.

Brooke Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I like your style ; )

Nina Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 5:50 pm

kashed22–that’s fair, I don’t disagree. Maybe classic is the wrong word . . . perhaps I mean simple. I just don’t like fussy or uber-trendy names for girls. Same goes for boys. And I don’t like feminine sounding names for boys (the whole Brayden/Jayden/Peyton/etc trend, for example). Of course there is no right/wrong in names . . . this is all my personal opinion. Which is why I love talking about names!!! All fun stuff. πŸ™‚

Chicachu Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I love the “flowery or cute” category! πŸ™‚ Can you give us more of those? And what are your kids’ names??

babynamesrule Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 7:28 pm

I definitely would let you name my baby lol. I have made lists like this pretty well since I bought my first name book since I was 10. Currently my lists are divided up into “Love but May Not Use”, “Grown on Me,” “Negative Connotations,” “Positive Connotations, and Top Firsts, Top Middles.

Boston Girl Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Hmm…Nina, you and I have a lot in common! Though we have only somewhat overlapping taste in names… πŸ™‚ I agree that it’s easier to come up with girls’ names than boys’ names…and I don’t care for “foofy” boys’ names either (if “foofy” equals trendy or just plain silly). It’s so hard for me to find good names for new male characters in my stories because so many boys’ names have gone irretrievably over to the girls’ camp, and there are only so many surnames that work as first names.

I’m proprietary about naming my characters, but I’d let you provide suggestions! πŸ™‚

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

February 17th, 2011 at 9:58 pm

NO I would not let you name my baby! But that’s probably because I’m equally freakishly obsessed.

I do share your love of Juliet, Phoebe, Lydia, Julia, Lucy, and Julian. My list dovetails into the more obscure and foreign from there…

rachelmarie Says:

February 18th, 2011 at 12:29 am

Well I’d let you name my children. Claire and Jack are my two favorites right now!! (Well, besides my less popular favorites, which I love just as much.)

Our family friends are expecting a child, and they know my love for names. So after they found out they were expecting a boy, and enlisted my help. I gave them a very extensive list of one syllable names (per their request) and I was so very excited to help them! I even offered some advice for some of my teachers… Haha

Luka Says:

February 18th, 2011 at 10:11 am

Oh, I’m a little let down, too. So many of those names are super trendy right now. If I meet any more Liams, Jacks, Noahs, Levis or Lilas I may scream. A bunch of the others are 80s.
Love Judah!

brannon Says:

February 18th, 2011 at 11:28 am

Love Margo but hubby vetoed vehemently … we went with Minnie. My Oliver is still my all time favorite boy name and if we had another boy, I would be in big trouble as I like nothing else even half as much. Names are fun πŸ™‚

rachel t Says:

February 21st, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Wonderful list! Many of my favorites are on here too! Thanks for the inspiration!

rollo Says:

February 22nd, 2011 at 12:56 am

After being on nameberry I would not let her name my child. I thought that there were too many nickname type names eg Ellie and Annie.

A little too safe, a little dated eg Daniel/Danielle/Chelsea, some of course I like a lot, but no I will stay with Nameberry.

Anna Says:

March 3rd, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Hi, I was just wondering if three names is too much? Do you think my children would be upset if they had long names? For example: Arthur James Thaddeus + lastname or Clementine Daffodil Arabella + lastname

star Says:

March 10th, 2011 at 6:59 pm

For a girl, Innana or Shala. For a boy, Judah.

Jaydra Says:

March 28th, 2011 at 3:21 am

I absolutely love your list of names! My favorite girl’s names are Lindsey, Carly and Sadie. I named my daughter Lindsey Elizabeth. I also considered Alana which is my mom’s name (spelt Alanna though). I really like all the boy names you listed too~

Jen Says:

March 30th, 2011 at 9:36 am

Great list!
Loved the cute/flowery ones. While I think our taste for boys is so so similar, I’m a bit more picky with the girls names.
Nice to see someone also has an absolute OBSESSION with hoarding names. The only difference is Im still in my early twenties and not nearly ready for kids yet!

Other names for girls:
Imogen, Cora, Harper, Madeleine, Ella, Olivia

Alexander Says:

April 12th, 2011 at 9:44 am

For Boy I suggest the name Alexander Andy Roger Shawn Mark Johnny I like this name very much. http://www.bestgenericlyrica.com/

babynamesgalore Says:

June 6th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I wouldn’t let you name my baby, but that’s because, as someone else stated, I am too obsessed with names to let anyone else have a say. My husband and I don’t have the same taste in names so fighting with him is enough input for me. πŸ™‚

I LOVE classic names like Lydia or Josie. As you stated, I’m not in to exptremely flowery names, but I have to admit I’m in love with Felicity. I think it would go nicely on your “Flowery or Cute” list.

Boys names are much harder for me. I’m not drawn to many of the names on your list, but part of that is because of my husband and how many names he has vetoed. I love names like Oliver, Owen, Fletcher, or Sullivan, but alas I will never have son’s with those names.

My daughter’s name is Blakely, a bit trendy I know, but I fell in love with it. Any suggestions for siblings?

babynamesgalore Says:

June 6th, 2011 at 2:34 pm

oh and it was also nice to see my name on the list, Danielle.

Shoshana Says:

July 17th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

I love your whole list My children are Noah and Eliana, I also love Ayelet and considered it however I thought it may not be pronounced correctly as Eye-yel-it and confused with eyelet but it is so very pretty. I also love Atira which is Eliana.s middle name Eliana Atira meaning my G-d has answered my prayer.

Help My Husband Name Our Baby – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

August 4th, 2011 at 12:17 am

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Help My Husband Name Our Baby – Nina Badzin's Blog Says:

October 4th, 2011 at 1:48 am

[…] Aren’t I the person whose meanderings about baby names got reprinted on BlogHer and Nameberry? No decent person in his right mind would take away what will likely be my last chance to name a […]

missdayene Says:

November 3rd, 2011 at 6:53 am

I loved your list.. so I definitely want your input. We have a boy named Cash and we are looking for sibling names for a girl or boy and middle names too if you can. Our last name ends with …son. So, Hudson, Mason wouldn’t work, although I like those names.

I love the Harpers, Gunnar, Hunter names but we are from South America and their’s no way that my family members can handle saying those names. They can say “Cash” and they can spell it too πŸ™‚

Here are some names that are on our list:
Cruz
Holly
Saylor

And I love Riley but I have a cousin that used that name for her baby girl.

noramiriam Says:

January 2nd, 2012 at 2:47 am

I’ve been obsessed with baby names since early childhood, so I understand how you feel! Your lists are made up of some of my favorite and some of my least favorite names. One I disagree about: Carly. I like it, but I’ve always thought of “Carly” as very tomboyish and scrappy, not flowery at all. And I’d put “Lucy” in your “Simple Goodness” category.

TinaBina Says:

January 28th, 2012 at 4:10 pm

This list seems predictable to me. I’d call is a safe list. I’d also call it my graduating class.

Help My Husband Name Our Baby | Nina Badzin Says:

October 10th, 2012 at 12:59 pm

[…] Aren’t I the person whose meanderings about baby names got reprinted on BlogHer and Nameberry? No decent person in his right mind would take away what will likely be my last chance to name a […]

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