Why Your Baby Name Choice Is Making You Miserable, Part 2

Mar 22nd 2012

Yesterday I discussed the "paradox of choice": that we try to maximize our options to give ourselves the freedom to pursue happiness, yet research shows that an abundance of choices actually makes us miserable. Now I'd like to show how baby name choices have exploded in the past generation, escalating angst and remorse for parents.

In theory, American parents have always had a wide-open choice of names. Choice, though, isn't just about the theoretical options available. It's about the culturally and psychologically realistic ones. (We all have the theoretical choice to wear our underpants outside of our khakis and tie socks to our ears for warmth, but none of us dresses that way.) In the past generation, our realistic baby name options have skyrocketed.

Historically, names in the English-speaking world were a relatively constrained set, with a small collection of classic names dominating. In England in 1800, the top three names for boys and girls accounted for more than half of all babies born. Traditions to name after relatives and benefactors clarified choices even further. I think it's fair to speculate that the typical name-selection process of that time was a straightforward one.

By 1950 in the United States, you needed 79 names (through Gregory for boys, Paula for girls) to get the same population coverage that those six names achieved in England in 1800. Today, it would take 546 different names, including names like Raegan, Yaretzi, Jace and Heaven. And even those names barely scratch the surface of what's considered "normal." There is no longer any pre-defined set of acceptable names. That means there is no limit to your choices.

The names marketplace does plenty to drive that message home. The very existence of a national top-1,000 names list encourages parents to think of 1,000 different names for boys and girls as “popular.” Then there are baby name dictionaries. You know how they like to include the number of names they list in their titles, impressing parents with the vast choices available? (“50,000 Best Names!”) Well, the number of titles doing that has skyrocketed, and so have the name totals themselves. Take a look at what an expectant parent would have faced in bookstores over the past century. Each dot below represents a new number-laden title, and the y-axis shows the number of names promised:

Baby name books with numbers of names in their titles

Yes, the current leader promises a soul-crushing 140,000 choices. That's already a guaranteed recipe for misery, but there's more. Today's parents also want to choose names that are distinctive and not too popular. Popular, of course, means "well-liked." So you're choosing from a limitless menu...with the most appealing options crossed out.

Now add in the perceived importance of the decision. In all phases of parenting, we've seen a rising obsession with doing all possible to give your child every advantage. Names are naturally part of that, and with good reason. As I've discussed before, your name literally means more today than ever.

Endless choices, challenging criteria, and high stakes. It's a decision-maker's nightmare. And brace yourself for the final kicker: both parents have to agree.

Take a deep breath, expectant parents. It's tough, and there's no magic bullet. But we're here for you, and we’ll make sure that the BNW book and tools keep focusing on making your decision easier, not harder.


March 22, 2012 6:35 PM

It's certainly more difficult for us this time around. When we had Henry twelve years ago, all of our friends & family were using trendy names (not "popular" in the way that Michael & Elizabeth will always be "popular") and we were the odd ducks. Now that the classically "popular" names are the "trend," there are certainly fewer names in the pool. The girl names we had on our list twelve years ago are all crossed out now.

So you're choosing from a limitless menu...with the most appealing options crossed out.

This sums up how we're feeling about naming this baby! Poor thing... due in 5 weeks and no name!

March 22, 2012 10:28 PM

Posted some thoughts on the other part of the thread.

Lara Jane-Do you want any help?

By Laura V (not verified)
March 22, 2012 11:43 PM

Maybe that's why naming was relatively easy for us. My husband and I elected to go with a family-names-only rule, because we felt it made things easier on us. Do we have a family member we like, whose name we also like? Yes? On the list!

Our son ended up named after my husband's beloved grandfather; our daughter after my favorite aunt. There's less room for agonizing, and less room for remorse, I think. If we have a third and it is a boy, he'll be named for my grandfather; another girl would probably be after his grandmother. We simply didn't have a wide-open field of choices; we do not have infinite relatives that we like enough to name a child after.

(I will admit that my son shares his first name with my least-favorite ex-boyfriend, and that took me a while to get over. But I went into that with my eyes open; my husband was willing to not use the name if I thought I couldn't deal.)

March 23, 2012 4:05 AM

I'm not sure how best to say this, so please bear with me as I suspect that this post will get long, but I think that both common and uncommon names can be the manifestation of multiple motivations.

Many traditional names are given to honour beloved family and friends. Other traditional names are given because those are the only names that the parents could agree on. Others feel like a good, solid, known name will allow the child to dictate the personality of the name, rather than vice versa. And some parents give their children traditional or common names because those names feel most right to them; a reflection of their values, how they see themselves, and thus how they envision their future child to be.

On the other hand, many parents want to give their children uncommon names because they want their children to stand out. Others are attracted to the creativity of "inventing" something special to give to their child - or even to make themselves feel clever. Others aren't motivated by the desire to be different and merely fall in love with a name that happens not to be well-known. And there is a difference between wanting to give your child a name that no other child has had or will have and preferring a name that is known but not often used.

Personally, I cannot imagine giving my children names that already belong to someone that I know, because I feel like those names belong to them. It has always been a fundamental part of my personality that I do not like popular things. It's not stubbornness, nor is it vanity, nor is it a desire to stand out - because I actually hate drawing attention to myself. I just like quietly to be me, and "being me" typically does not involve what is trendy. It never has. I don't want to be different for the sake of being different; I would actually feel like a fraud doing several things that are so ubiquitous that most others would never think twice about.

Is it self-indulgent to want my child's name to reflect me? Maybe, but at the same time, how can I give my child a name that I don't love? And I just can't love a name that is common. Much in the same way that associating a name with someone you dislike can tarnish a name, so can a name's popularity. I will not invent a name and I will not select a name that will make my child immediately stand out in a crowd, nor will anyone wonder where on earth I came up with that name. But I can pretty much guarantee you that my children's name won't be popular.

(At least not be popular at the time that I bestow them, because really, who knows what can make a name become popular. In 1950, my grandmother, a woman who DID value standing out, gave my dad a name that was given to 9 boys in the US. She would never have anticipated that in 2010, and 947 boys and 606 GIRLS would be named that! If she had, she probably wouldn't have used it.)

Names go in and out of fashion, and much like fashion, the same thing doesn't work for everyone. While one person will look at an orange dress and shudder at wearing something so flashy and form-fitting, another person will think about how nicely that dress will flatter her skin tone, nip in perfectly at the waist, and make her feel happy with its joyful sunniness. Two people can see the identical item and see two very different things.

One person can look at "Sarah" and see solid history, another may see a favourite aunt or a dreaded ex-girlfriend, another will see a versatile name that will let her be anything that she wants to be, another will see boring, generic, and unimaginative, and another will have flashbacks of bible class (which itself can be either horrifying or inspiring).

So, yes, choice means that decisions are more difficult and more nuanced because there are more details to consider. However, a society that values choice also permits a wide array of people to fit in while being able to express their values. As with any fashion, there are always those who operate on the fringes, but the wider the options and the wider the scope of what is considered "normal", the fewer end up as gawked-at outliers.

If you approach choice as a burden and pressure yourself into believing that only one outcome is acceptable then, yes, you're setting yourself up for stress, anxiety, and remorse. But if you don't put all that pressure on yourself and look at choice as the opportunity to pick what feels right - whether that means traditional or trendy or rare or honouring someone or whatever- then you can appreciate choice for what it is: the freedom to consider your options and make the decision that feels most right for you, right now, with this baby, whatever that choice may be.

(Sorry. I knew that this would end up being long...)

March 23, 2012 8:20 AM

My name has been a struggle for me all my life. In light of how it is spelled, my parents thought there would be no way people could mispronounce it (Tiana like Diana with a T). But I have been called Tee-ah-nuh (especially in light of the recent Disney heroine), Tatiana, Tina, Trina, Tia, and Tianee. When I was born at the end of the 1950s, no one had ever heard or seen my name. My father told me he named me after an actress he admired, but I've never seen this actress.

As a child, I wished for more girls with my name (mostly because I spent hours looking for the personalized ID bracelets, key rings, necklaces, ect. that were displayed at most gift shops). I was always disappointed. So many of my friends with names like Cheryl, Cathy, and Janice always had personalized souvenir key rings or other items; I felt left out and penalized. Little things like this can make a child feel accepted and part of a group, or ostracized and excluded. Once I asked my mother why she didn't just name me Diana, but she looked so hurt, I dropped the subject.

As an adult (yes, I'm caucasian), I got so tired of correcting people... "like Diana with a T" that I just gave up. I have adopted a masculine nickname "Ty" like Ty Murray the famous bull rider cowboy, or I just say "whatever" when people who don't know me slaughter my name.

For expectant mothers everywhere, I would like to plead your baby's case. Write down the name you are considering, and take it out to your work place or church. Ask people to read the name out loud to you (even ask strangers to read the name out loud). If the name is not pronounced in the fashion you intend to pronounce it at home, discard it! Go on to your next pick. You will save your baby frustration and hassle. And maybe your baby won't ask you why you didn't chose another name.

March 23, 2012 9:05 AM

Karyn-Well said and not too long for me :)

Tiana-I like it. It's not expected but pretty. Maybe you should just legally change the spelling? I would be more inclined to say it the way it was intended if it was Tyana.

By lynn341 (not verified)
March 23, 2012 10:17 AM

I agree with Laura V - deciding on rules that narrow it down really helps. We decided to choose an old testament bible name, which REALLY narrowed it down. I also wanted everyone in the family to have unique initials, and not the same initial as the last name, which also worked as a constraint. I have read the Paradox of Choice and it's a great book - I definitely feel stuck when faced by too many choices, so whatever helps narrow it down is really helpful.

March 23, 2012 11:07 AM

I would also add that the obsession with celebrity babies and their names adds to the pressure. People want a name to be distinctive like Honor but not too strange like Banjo or Bronx. And then you don't want people to think you named your child after a celebrity baby.

I think the recent attention paid to these "famous kids", fun though it may be, has upped the pressure.

By Sabby (not verified)
March 23, 2012 11:19 AM

I love your line about popular being "well-liked". I had always thought popular as being too common. Who doesn't want a name that is well-liked?

March 23, 2012 12:31 PM

On the last post, E Fin wrote: "I'm expecting my first child now. I'm worried about its personality being reflected in a name, what kind of status the name might indicate, how the name makes ME sound... In other words, I'm choosing my child's first accessory. I could very well regret it just as I may regret the shoes I'm currently wearing. A far different situation from my parents, who never regretted naming me after a favorite aunt."

Several years ago someone on this blog posted about a couple she knew who named their daughter something that she considered to be atrocious (Murgatroyd). The reason that she gave for being so appalled, however, was not the name itself (even though she clearly disliked it), but the vibe the parents gave off whenever the name was mentioned. Given that the name was so unusual, there were many such reactions, and thus many opportunities for this poster to observe the parents' reactions. According to the poster, the parents seemed to revel in the uncomfortable silences and awkward comments that the name generated. She felt very strongly that the parents deliberately chose a name that would provoke negative reactions so that they could then adopt an attitude of superiority about their own offbeat choices.

Of course, this is not what E Fin was saying, but the comment reminded me of this story. I have no way of knowing if the BNW poster was accurate in her interpretation about the motivations of baby M.'s parents, but I did think it was a fascinating story on many levels. Were the parents more concerned about their own image of 'coolness' than they were about the negative reactions their daughter was receiving? Or was the person who posted here projecting those reactions due to her own dislike of the parents and the name they chose? Is a name an accessory (which speaks more to the parents' motivations and raises a host of questions about today's attitudes toward parenting) or a gift, as zoerhenne indicated in one of her responses to the last post?

I love how names and the act of naming give us a lens into such interesting sociological questions!

March 23, 2012 1:32 PM

Elizabeth T-That's what makes this blog so great even for those of us not expecting (or soon to be either)!

By Cordy (not verified)
March 23, 2012 2:03 PM

Names are so interesting and strange. We named our toddler a staid English king kind of name, and now of course I periodically get bursts of "Oh no, what if his name becomes the new Braden?"

I don't think I'm at all bothered by a name's boring/traditional/commonnness, but I think having a name that is clearly tied to a spike on the graph is not something I want. I'm not sure why: do I fear trendiness? Am I worried about something seeming dated? Clearly my motivations are murky even to myself!

That Murgatroyd story is interesting. I know several people at this point who have given their son the middle name "Danger". They do seem to me to announce this with a certain "Isn't that just the coolest thing you've ever heard????" air, but of course I am someone who finds that name choice fairly perplexing, so I'm sure that's coloring my perception.

By livi (not verified)
March 23, 2012 2:47 PM

My husband and I went with a similar strategy as Laura V. We started within the family and expanded to people who were influential in our lives, then on to names that reflected our ancestry. Our daughter was named after both grandmothers because we like the names and they weren't too popular. Our son will be named a mix of ancestral and important mentor to my husband with a family name for the middle.

I can't imagine started from a clean slate and just picking up one of those books. That would be so overwhelming and, for me, would probably lead to naming remorse since there wouldn't be a story behind why we chose that name.

By Angela Dawn (not verified)
March 23, 2012 4:54 PM

My daughter was born 5 years ago, and if she was born today I would have picked a completely different name for her. My son is 2, and we went with a different name for him than the top boy contender for my daughter.

I went about a different process naming them.

With my daughter, I was looking for a name that wasn't too popular but fit in with the popular names. I ended up picking a name that wasn't terribly popular when she was born, but has risen almost 100 places since then. At first this bothered me, but just today, she told me, "I like being Fiona," and that means a lot to me.

Still when it came time to name my second child I went a different route. In order to avoid picking a name that was not only not too popular, but wasn't susceptible to becoming popular either, I went with something that has been trending down for years, but is a classic and, for me, has family connections. I also got more resistance from my husband this time, who only rejected one girl name on my short list for my daughter, but rejected almost all of my boy names three years later, but agreed to the name we picked, Paul, due to the family connections.

When I named my daughter, I was excited about the choice but honestly I'm sort of tired of it now, but still like the name because it is my daughter.

I was initially bored with my son's name after he was born, but already the name has grown more and more satisfying.

But both names fit my kids, and for that reason I don't regret either one.

March 23, 2012 5:47 PM

All this talk about family naming makes me want to throw out my own story about that. My DH and I absolutely did not want to name my son after family. Both sides have names that just keep repeating for either first or middles. Many of the names are dated. Even though they are classic and "not weird" they just aren't used very much. We wanted our son to have his own unique name. The other restriction we had was biblical names-we couldn't use them either. We aren't very religious yet live near a concentration of Amish. We didn't want to use a name that is very connected to them. I never really thought about us having narrowed down our field but I guess in a way we did. His name is not in the top 50 but is sweet and simple and not as dated as some.

With our dd, we sort of did the opposite. I wanted a pretty, slightly frilly name that would fit in with the popular crowd but again be unique. Classic was good but not an absolute this time. I still had the no living family rule though. In the end her name ended up 17th or thereabouts and is a derivative of my gr grandmas name.

By Anna S (not verified)
March 23, 2012 6:04 PM

Great post. The observation that not all names are culturally and psychologically realistic is spot-on. It reminds me of how I've occasionally tried to "defend" the infamous lists of pre-approved names used in/by Scandinavian name laws.

The numbers - using Denmark as an example: Denmark has a population of 5.5 million, is culturally homogeneous, has a unique language (very similar to Norwegian and Swedish, though) - and there are 26,000 names on the pre-approved lists.

If you try to scale this to match the US population (330 million) we'll be looking at a list of 1.5 million names. (Quick, list your absolute favourite 1.5 million names!!) And I haven't even tried to factor in the cultural diversity of the US and the number of English speakers worldwide... Basically, we don't need that many names!

When I look through the list with those 26,000 names, half of them are something I didn't even know could be a name. And if I think long and hard, I might be able to recall hearing about a person, real or fictional, with 10% of the names. For reference, in 2009 the #1 girl's name (Freja) was given to 649 girls and #50 was Liv with 151 namesakes. My own son shares his name with 13 other boys born in the same year... and yeah, he met one of those in kindergarten ;-)

Back on topic; this inflation in the number of babynames available-to-you-my-friend-in-this-book--buy-me!! is most likely brought on by the demand for uniqueness. But really, does it change much when there's a separate entry for Erica, Eriica and Eriiica? The core pool of names, whether we're talking English/American or Scandinavian, is sort-of already set. Occasionally a new name will make its way into the (history) books - like Nevaeh, Katelyn, Espn - while some oldies drop out. But I'zayah, AaschzLinne, 4Real... should those be added to the "complete list of babynames" just because 1-5 children are given this name? I don't think so, not really, and I take it with a grain of salt when some babynames book claims to suddenly feature 20,000 new, unique names...

March 23, 2012 7:37 PM

Anna S-Good point about the alternate spellings making additional entries. I wonder how many "actual" names there are if we take out variations of spellings. Does someone already know this or does it need to be my spring break/summer project?

By Jane 7 (not verified)
March 23, 2012 9:32 PM

Hi everyone! For those asking about me on the last thread, I am expecting baby number 7. (And Patricia, you did get the names of my other kids right: Juliet, John, Charles, James, Patrick, Joshua:)) We will find out the sex of the baby in a few weeks. Meanwhile, for a boy I am currently leaning toward William... but we'll see.

I agree with all those who have said that limiting your own choices can be really helpful. Having several children automatically does this for you. If this baby is a boy, picking a 6th boy name will be difficult, but NOT because I have too many options!

By Jill
March 24, 2012 11:34 AM

zoerhenne, I do know that when I combined spellings of the top 1000 names in 2010, I get 781 boys' names and 685 girls' names.

Karyn, your post was inspiring!

We, too, have a lot of "rules": name must be old, not currently popular (like, not in the top 500), can't start with J or C, can't end in -en, and we prefer family names in the first and/or middle spot.

By UsuallyALurker (not verified)
March 24, 2012 11:42 AM

@ TianalikeDiana, I don't know about the actress but there is a Native American author Tiana Bighorse who was born in 1917. http://www.ipl.org/div/natam/bin/browse.pl/A219

By ilovewords - nli (not verified)
March 24, 2012 3:01 PM

For DH and I (expecting #1, a girl, in July), the list of personally acceptable names is a pretty limited pool. We are very Catholic, so we feel that a "Catholic" FN for any child is essential, limiting ourselves to Saints and biblical names. For MNs, we are willing to add family names to the list, but that doesn't add to the list by much. Naming our LO was easy. We had pretty much agreed on a FN long ago (Cl@re--a pretty, classic-but-current (well, sound-wise since Cl@ire is top-100), with a beloved Saint to look after her), flirted with some others, but knew it was right as soon as we learned the sex. For a girl, the MN was set in stone as L0uis3, for my mom who I lost as a teenager.

What I love about her name is that, first it already feels like hers (we're the polar opposite, probably because of our faith values, to going to the hospital with a list. It was important to me to give my baby a name as soon as possible because they are a person from the get-go; not trying to get political, just sharing the way we view naming). Second, I can picture her any way she may turn out. (Athletic? Sure. Bookwormish? No problem. Popular? It works. Dark hair like Mom? Okay. Fair like Dad? Just as good. Etc.)

I can already see, though, how naming future children becomes more challenging, especially with a limited (personal) name pool. A boy? Okay. Another girl? Okay. After that...things start getting murky, especially when you have two people trying to agree (which limits that name pool very much).

Jane 7...I totally feel you pain on this one, at least mentally.

March 24, 2012 3:11 PM

hi everyone. i haven't posted in a while, and last when i did, it was about a prospective future pregnancy. however, now, we are expecting a baby, but do not know the sex, as it is too early. we have a boys name in mind already Grant James B^rro^ghs and for a girl, i really love Elise, but need help with the right sounding middle name, and one my husband will like as well. though, i must say, he is not as enthusiastic about naming talk, as i am, and you all are! i get responses such as 'that's nice, or oh, i knew someone with that name and didn't like them.' or ' where did you get that name from?", but never, "ooh, I LOVE That Name!" so anyhow, some ideas i have thought of are Elise Rose, it does kind of rhyme with our last name and may not flow, but it is a family name, or Elise Simone, or Elise Amelia.
Do 1,2, or 3 syllable names seem appropriate here? please list what names you think would be the absolute best fit. to remind anyone that may have seen my posts in the past, we do have a daughter Clair (Clairissa is her legal name, but we only call her Clair) Clair Joyce. Rissa is my mom's name, joyce is his mom's name. i went from wanting to have her named uniquely after no one, to honoring both grandmothers, while keeping Clair as her own name.
Suggestions for middle name for Elise pls!

March 24, 2012 5:17 PM

I've joined the list of long-time-reader, first-time-mom. I'm 29 weeks along with a baby girl! I really thought I would be firmly in the frilliana camp, since those names dominate my extensive list (Anabella, Ariana, Arisana, Serafina, etc).

However, now that hubby and I have talked it out, it seems we prefer the more traditional names for girls - sort of. Names we're considering:


The women in my family do have a sort of tradition, though it's not long-standing. One grandmother is Susan, my mom's middle name is Sue, the other grandmother's middle name is Ann, and my middle is Suzanne. I would like to try to keep some element of this in my daughter's name if possible, but I don't want any repeats. We considered Susanna, but I don't love it.

Also, my grandmother perplexingly told me recently that I needed to name my daughter Anna after HER grandmother, and it was one of her favorite names. She has never expressed a preference with any of her other great-grandchildren, and I do love the name (it was already a leading contender), so right now it's the front runner.

Elizabeth is a family name on my mom's side. My husband has absolutely no desire to use any family names for girls.

I think we're going to save Solomon for a hypothetical future son, for reference.

We'd love any opinions!!

By Anna S (not verified)
March 24, 2012 6:02 PM


Well, I'm an Anna, so I can fill you in on how it feels to be an Anna this day and age:

I love it. I'm a displaced Scandinavian in Europe... but it might as well have been the US. Anna, combined with my middle name and surname gives me a Scandinavian root in all of this multinational'istic world. I like that it's easy to spell - a few countries/languages have Ana as the default but "2 n's" solves the problem. I like that it's feminine in the sense that nobody is ever confused about my gender (practical issue). I like that it's a well-known name - in my experience people find it easier to deal with a person whose name they "know"... because it means I'm kinda/sorta just one of them. I also like that it's not the most-popular name among my peers but a new-gen hottie name - makes me feel a bit younger ;-) Overall, I would definitely recommend it - it's a safe bet!

Victoria/Elizabeth probably have a similar thing to them - they're well known, they have history, they're in the can't-go-wrong category. Karina is a bit more novel in the sense that it's a short form of Katherine mainly used in certain countries. It's dated where I'm from but it still has that timeless feel to it - a less frilly version of Katherine/Caterina/Yekaterina.

Dunno if this helps or just makes you more confused... Good luck!

March 24, 2012 6:06 PM

Jill-Thanks you for those numbers.

Scout + danasurfside-I am happy for you both. It is so exciting to hear of new little one being expected.

danasurfside-If it were me I would use Elise in the mn spot for flow. Names like Samantha Elise B, Opal Elise B, or Ruth Elise B sound pretty good. However, I am guessing you have a special reason for Elise being a FN. I think 2 syl's work the best for a mn. I also think since the S ending in Elise is more fluid/open (i don't remember the proper words), you need more of a closed/stopping sound for the mn. Grant James sounds as equally nice as James Grant so that one is great! So, mn' for Elise:
Elise Corrinne; Elise Michelle
Elise Madeline; Elise Justine
Elise Caroline; Elise Marilyn
Elise Janet; Elise Violet
Some end in -a or -ey/y work too like Alexandra or Ruby.

Also, I just noticed that all the kids will have J mn's if you have a Grant James. Maybe a J name would work: Justine, Juliet, Joanna, Jillian...

March 24, 2012 6:10 PM

Scout-I agree with Anna in that you can't go wrong with any of them you've listed. I personally like Victoria though. Have you considered Suzette as a form of Susan?

March 24, 2012 8:02 PM

thanks Zoerhenne for the suggestions
Scout- i like Karina

March 24, 2012 8:06 PM

Zoerhenne and anyone else who cares to comment,what are thoughts on
Elise Sophia B^rro^ghs
Elise Victoria
Elise Avril
Elise Autumn

March 24, 2012 8:07 PM

I almost forgot to tell you all about a name I came across today. I was at an education seminar. We all know the marvelous stories about La-a and Shithead. Well HONEST-this story is real-the girl's name was Chutney pronounced (Sha-nay). Never would've figured that out if just seeing it on a roster.

By FormerEliseMiddle (not verified)
March 24, 2012 10:53 PM


If you like Elise as the name you hope to use, please don't put it in the middle, regardless of the flow! I was an Elise-middle growing up who was never called by my first and had to constantly explain that my parents never intended to use my first, but put it there for the flow (and the flow didn't even work in my case -- it created an awkward run-on when placed before Elise).

I dropped the first when I got married and have never looked back, but being a middle (by someone else's choice) was a real pain before I changed my name.

By FormerEliseMiddle (not verified)
March 24, 2012 10:54 PM

I like Elise Sophia :)

March 24, 2012 11:07 PM

I like Elise Sophia, too. I think a 3 syllable middle works, and the rhythm is good with the last name. I think the sounds in Elise and Sophia are also light and airy enough to balance out the earthier last name.

FormerEliseMiddle - It's interesting to hear you say that about your middle name. I was considering using Simon Xavier for a boy, thinking he'd have the option to go by Xavier. But maybe that'd be too much of a pain - too confusing. I just can't find a middle name for Xavier that I like, though. I think it's probably because Xavier's originally a last name.

Impatiently waiting until we find out the gender. We still have awhile...

March 24, 2012 11:47 PM

danasurfside-I happen to like Elise Avril and Elise Autumn for the reason I stated above. I think you need a stopping letter if it follows Elise but you don't if its before. This is all personal taste by the way and merely subjective. Any comment about making the name Elisa?

FormerElise-I don't care for the practice of calling the child by a mn unless there is a naming after pattern. If the father is Joseph Carl and goes by Joseph the child could be Carl or even JC.

PennyX-I still like Simon Xavier as a combo.
Xavier Lucian; Xavier Richard; Xavier Quentin
Xavier Wendall
I think it has to be something flowing in that mn spot and Xavier covers it beautifully. Also something surnamey would work but Simon doesn't particularly hit the mark.

March 25, 2012 7:49 AM

danasurfside, I knew an Elise Katherine. I always thought it was quite pretty and liked the flow. Her middle name was a form of her mom's name. Also, I'm going to vote for Elise Victoria :)

My husband goes by his middle name and loves it. His first name is after a beloved family member, and he feels like it's his "secret" identity. I would personally hate to go by my middle name, and have vetoed that option for our children, unless he can come up with an outstanding combination.

Anna, thanks for the insight. I really appreciate it. I was hoping you might chime in! I really want a name that travels well, as there's a good chance we won't live in the US long term. I also want more of a classic name not tied to one generation. Last night at a get together, my grandma started a campaign in the family for Anna!

We're now thinking Anna Victoria. Or maybe Karina Elizabeth. Still open for options, though! We also think we want to wait to reveal the name until after she's born, which I know is an entirely different conversation and one we've talked about here before.

March 25, 2012 9:41 AM

thanks Zoerhenne and Former Elise and Scout

@ Penny X i liked the suggestion of
Xavier Lucien or even lucas, what did you think of it?

Scout- i like Karina Elizabeth or Anna Karina, though that sounds naggingly familiar and i'm unsure why.

finally at all of you:
some more options-

Elise Sabrina B^rro^ghs
Elise Jodelle B^rro^ghs
Elise Maeve B^rro^ghs

(actress jodelle ferlan inspired this thought)

March 25, 2012 9:46 AM

@ zoerhenne- forgot to answer your query about Elisa, while i think it is a lovely name, i prefer endings such as Marie instead of Maria and Sylvie as opposed to Sylvia and Clair as opposed to Clara and so on, which i realize is not the majority of peoples preference. love your input and fresh thoughts!

March 25, 2012 10:48 AM

danasurfside-:) of the three of the newly listed names I prefer Elise Jodelle. Btw, I continue to type "Elsie" every time I respond to you and have to go back to fix it. Keep that in mind as others may do/say the same.

Anna Karina sounds familiar due to Anna Karenina(sp?) the book.

Scout-I really love Anna Victoria! Are you pronouncing Karina with more of an EE sound like Cah-REE-na? or is it like Kah-Rin-ah? Just curious.

March 25, 2012 11:18 AM

thanks Zoerhenne. i realize that my name picks for kids must be derived subconciously from 80's sitcoms, such as The Cosby Show- Clair Huxtable and Family Ties- Elise. if it weren't for an unpleasant association in my family with a certain Meredith, i probably would have gone with Elise Meredith, but cannot without really causing a huge rift. anyhow, i'm sure you must remember my old regrets of clair without an e at the end, now i wonder if the Cosby show at the beginning or end used to show in print the characters names and maybe that is part of the reason i omitted the E, unwittingly, just occuring to me now. i am a bit of a late bloomer or slow reactor.lol.

any more suggestions for mn for Elise still being sought out-thanks everyone!

By Laura V (not verified)
March 25, 2012 12:36 PM

Elizabeth T -- Hm. I think some parents conceptualize the name more as an accessory, and some as a gift, and some as both, and some as a charm, and probably some as other things.

For example, my son's name -- the one he shares with my least-favorite ex! -- I do think of as a good-luck charm. My MIL always said that my husband got his personality (very funny and sweet) from her father, my son's namesake. By agreeing to that name, I felt like I was giving my child a good-luck charm for his personality, an assist to being like the grandfather my husband adored, the man from whom he inherited so many good qualities. (It was an odd feeling, because I do not believe in luck, nor am I superstitious, but that is how I felt.)

So I think the feelings and concepts that parents have around naming are likely to be many and varied and really complex in some cases. (How can I dislike that ex so much and still feel that name is a charm? And yet I can.)

March 25, 2012 1:12 PM

Laura V-that is a very sweet story. I'm sorry you had so much trouble with your ex :(

danasurfside-I do remember your regrets about Clair-no e. I am warming in general to no e in that name. I hard thing since I am a "with an e" in my own name. The 80's sitcom thing is funny. You could go with Elise Blossom (j/k)! I like Elise Meredith. I will have to think further on something with a similar sound/flow.
Elise Blythe? Do you like the name Leisel instead of Elise? Elise Blair?

ETA:Elise Cordelia; Elise Siobhan(Sha-von); Elise Gretchen; Elise Gwyneth; Elise Genevieve; Elise Bridget; Elise Megan; Elise Whitney

March 25, 2012 1:28 PM

zoerhenne, I pronounce it Cah-REE-na. It was inspired by a friend of mine. To get to Kah-rin-ah, I feel like it would need another n, Karinna, but I know not everyone would agree.

danasurfside, I love Anna Karina, but the hubby didn't. For some reason he liked them as separate names. I thought that would be an easy way to get to the nickname Annika, which I think is cute but I'm not sure I want to put on the birth certificate. I also love Anya, but that was vetoed a while back.

As far as flow for Elise, maybe what your looking for isn't how many syllables the middle name has, but rather where the emphasis is in that second name. For example, Elise Jordelle puts the strong syllable at the end. Elise Autumn is a completely different flow even though it's also 2 syllables because of the emphasis. A third syllable changes the flow again. Just something to consider!

March 25, 2012 3:37 PM

Scout-I do agree and pronounce the names similarly. I like them both as well as Annika and Anya.

By SabbyLo (not verified)
March 25, 2012 4:09 PM

Frilly but traditional plus family: Annabelle
I also think Annabeth or Anna Beth is pretty.
Good luck!

By SabbyLo (not verified)
March 25, 2012 4:11 PM

Sorry, the above post was for Scout. :)

By SabbyLo (not verified)
March 25, 2012 4:22 PM

danasurfside - I like 1-syllable mn's for Elise.
Elise Jane
Elise Paige
Elise Pearl
Elise May (my favorite)
Elise Hope
Elise Faith
Elise Claire
Elise Wren

By considering (not verified)
March 25, 2012 5:32 PM

Scout, I like both Anna and Karina, but not together because of the similarity to the novel Anna Karenina... I think some people will think she was named after the character.

Laura V, I am also limiting my list by sticking only to family names. I like the idea of having a "story" for the name and something that connects it to the rest of us. At the same time, I want the name not to be the name of anyone currently around, so that there's no confusion, and I'm eliminating ones that I don't really like. So my short list for a girl is Anna, Magdalena (nn Maggie or Lena), and Johanna (not sure because of the potential for constant mispronunciation). Three choices feels much more manageable!

March 25, 2012 5:37 PM

SabbyLo, my husband actually suggested Annabelle. For some reason, I'm not 100% sold on it. Not sure why, because I like both parts individually. Maybe because I already know a baby by that name??

considering, maybe that means we need two girls named Anna and Karina!!

March 25, 2012 7:40 PM

@Scout, congratulations!

I like Anna, Elizabeth and Victoria. All lovely classic names :) I am not sold on Karina but do like it in the vetoed Anna Karina combo. I think I like the nickname options for Elizabeth better than Victoria. Zibby, Libby, Beth, Eliza are all favourites.

Anna I like without nicknames and I know a couple of Anna's and they are lovely.

@danasurfside, congrats to you too. I love Elise, especially with a sibling Clair. I think I like the multisyllable middle names for you. Elise Genevieve, Elise Juliet, Elise Gwenyth, Elise Vitoria and Elise Autumn were all stand outs for me.

By Laura V (not verified)
March 25, 2012 9:02 PM

considering -- the not anyone around rule is probably a good one! I was named for my mother, and hated having to spend my life asking which Laura phone callers, etc. meant. Now, as an adult, I hate having to monitor my credit reports to make sure my mother's info doesn't end up on there. Mom is cranky that I point-blank refused to name a daughter Laura, but much as I like my name it's been nothing but hassle.

zoerhenne - the troublesome ex is quite far in the past now, but because we share mutual acquaintances he sometimes crops up in my life. My son's name has stopped jarring me by now, but I think it took my mom a little longer to get over it! :)

By JustPupsTilBeckettEamon (not verified)
March 25, 2012 9:46 PM

Glad to hear Tiana's post and plea. I don't think true stories of living with a difficult spelling are shared often enough! Thank you for the gentle reminder when all too often we're told not to share before a the child is born and named if we don't want feedback!