Ask Design Mom Week — Baby Names

November 6, 2009

Question:
I’m wondering about baby names. I love love love your kids names and wonder where you got them. Is there a story behind each one or are they just favorites? Also, do you have any favorite resources for baby name finding? Ideas for baby #6? Thanks!Sarah

photo credit here

Answer:
For Ben Blair and I, baby names have sometimes come easily and sometimes taken forever to decide. What we look for: well-recognized names (not invented ones), easy to pronounce, possibly fallen out of fashion — so that they’re relatively unusual. If they have family connection, that’s even better. Our baby name stories in brief:

-During my first pregnancy, once we knew it was a boy, he was instantly Ralph Wallace Blair. Ralph is my dad’s dad. Wallace is Ben’s dad’s dad (and Ben’s middle name). We really liked the name Ralph. And my father passed away while I was pregnant with Ralph, so we like honoring his family.

-Once Ralph was picked, we felt like our future kids’ names should fit with it — maybe come from the same time or generation. We decided on the name Maude at a family funeral on Ben’s side of the family, where we discovered it on two family gravestones (Ben’s great grandmother and great aunt). At the last minute we added Emma as a middle name, because there was some nervousness that the name Maude would be too unusual. So she’s Maude Emma Blair. (Sometimes we regret the Emma. It’s a little random.)

-The name Olive we found in a book. It was the name of the mother of a great man (can not remember for the life of me what the book was). I could imagine two old ladies named Maude and Olive playing canasta at a card table and I knew it fit. Olive’s full name is Olive Jean Blair. Jean is my mother’s middle name and a popular name on Ben’s side of the family as well.

-Oscar was suggested by our friends. It was on their short list, but they ended up not using it. The full name is Oscar Stanley Groberg Blair. (Stanley is my maiden name. Groberg is Ben’s Mom’s maiden name.) Once, someone (mis)heard the name and said, wow, Oscar and Grover? You guys must really love Sesame Street.

-I have no memory of where or when we decided on the name Betty. But we deliberately did not give her a middle name. Because Betty Blair sounds so great — like the name of the alter ego of a superhero.

-We don’t know what we’re naming baby #6. We’ve decided we won’t even think about it till we know if it’s a boy or a girl. Any suggestions?

I’d love to hear your name stories, Dear Readers. How do you come up with names? What are your favorite name sources?

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{ 137 comments… read them below or add one }

1 mandi November 10, 2009 at 10:59 pm

i know this is an older post- but oh so fun! i can't resist!

please name your maybe next girl mabel. i can't get over how sweet that name is.

i read the comment from the person who fears naming her child and then a celebrity chooses the same name. that happened to our little levi.

my kids are

dylin rachel- my husband wanted a little girl named 'lenny'. we chose dylin thinking we could call her lenny/liny. we never have. she was conceived in ireland and we wanted a gaelic name for her. rachel- my husband's great grandmother

levi david- god gave me levi's name. i know that sounds weird, but it's true. and david is my husband's middle name. so we went with that.

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2 Vanessa November 10, 2009 at 11:21 pm

When I first began reading your blog and saw the names of your children, I could not believe my eyes because they were all names I just love. Especially Ralph, Betty and Olive… My husband's taste in names doesn't quite parallel my own though, so unforunately I won't be able to use some of my favorites, but maybe you can? I suggest (both boy names) Linus and Ansel–I think they would work nicely, no?

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3 Libby November 10, 2009 at 11:26 pm

I too am pregnant right now. We should be finding out the sex of our little bundle on Monday-can't wait!!

A name that I love right now is Dora. It's my grandma's name. I know that Dora the Explorer is popular right now, but that won't last forever right.

P.S. I support your intuition to go for a name that doesn't have 5 letters. Don't be pigeonholed!

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4 Holly November 10, 2009 at 11:30 pm

I was so so happy to see you have a Maude. I grew up hearing stories about my Dad's spinster aunts, Mae and Maude. Years ago my sister and I were pregnant at the same time and she was going to use Maude and I was going to use Mae. We both ended up having boys. I have three boys Henry, Peter and Oliver. Henry is a family name and the other two just fit(all have family middle names). I hope that my next one will be a girl, I'm all out of boys names. I'm totally in love with the old lady names. Mae, Penny, Louise and Harriette are some of my favorites.

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5 auto insurance with free start up March 7, 2014 at 6:32 am

This piece was cogent, well-written, and pithy.

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6 Krista November 11, 2009 at 12:24 am

I know the person that asked you how you named your kids…so this is the first time i am on your blog.

I only have one daughter who is 4 months now and we didn't decide on a name until the day after she was born.

My husbands name criteria: Had to originate from somewhere that we are from (ie our ancestors – scottland, germany, and a few other places). It had to be a strong name that would look good on a lawyer's business card. It could not look like a nick name. His top picks were – Ainsley, Fiona, and Isobel.

I just needed the name to be some what original but not weird, and if it could be a family name it would be a bonus. My top picks were – Paige, Lydia, Blair, and Sydney.

After we met her i was finally able to decide and we went with Isobel Paige. The only criteria that wasn't met was there is no family name.

Thanks for sharing your stories, I really like Maude but i don't think my husband would ever agree to it.

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7 Marly November 11, 2009 at 7:03 am

A name is a gift that you give. The best gifts are the ones that reflect the person you're giving it to. I recommend picking a name that best fits the child, even if it means waiting until after the baby is born. I am passionate about names and have talked to hundreds of people about their names and I believe the most interesting ones are those that have stories behind them. Thanks for your post.

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8 youcantcallitit November 11, 2009 at 7:25 am

With your permission, I'd love to do a post for you to help find the perfect moniker for #6. :-)

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9 Amy H. November 11, 2009 at 9:31 am

Oh how I adore names…
Usually my first question to anyone else with childerns "So what are their names?" Having a VERY common 70's baby name, I had three very close girlfriends in high school with the same name, Amy. I really tried picking names that were not super common but where not like "Apple Seed Bottom".

So with my daughter we went with Avery (I loved its meaning elfish leader) , I at the time not heard it but one other time. Now of course it is like number 30 on the name list, so I was little upset by that. And her middle name Belle was an easy choice it was my husbands grandmothers name. So Avery Belle is our little princess.

Reason for my late post on this is due to me having baby number two only 5 days ago.

I had a little boy who we names Nolan David. I fell in love with Nolan (the champion of the people) and David was after my husbands brother and grandfather.

Great post thanks, off to go nurse!

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10 The Love's November 11, 2009 at 10:48 am

oohhhh, I finally found the website I had come across at one time. It is very neat, because it lets you put in names you like (or your children's names) and gives you other suggestions that go with your style. You may come across something you love….
http://www.nymbler.com/

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11 Jessica Lords November 11, 2009 at 2:34 pm

We don't have any children, but the hubs and I are planning on 'trying' starting summer 2010. We've had a girl's name picked out for quite a while… Mayadelle. It's my grandmother's name. Apparently she didn't love it as a child, but I think it's so sweet. We'll probably call her May, but possibly Adelle. It's such an unusual name, but definitely seems to have an aged quality about it. My grandmother is the only person I've known with this name.

My husband loves the name Atticus. I really wasn't that into it at first, but it's really grown on me.

So that means so far we have:

Mayadelle Lords
Atticus Lords

The other names I really love are Henry and Harrison. I just like them. :) For girl's names I also like Clare, Clara, Adeline, Emmaline, Irene, Norah, Evelyn and Sariah.

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12 Familia_Henderson November 11, 2009 at 8:51 pm

All my favorites! Good luck!
Girl-
Blythe
Mabel
Oakley
Alice
Lucretia (Lucy for short)
Louisa
Beatrix
Eliza Jane
Bronwyn
Hazel
Adella
Eleanor

Boy-
Finn – Phineas or Finneas
Alden
Emmett
Sterling
Roman
Bronson
Bingley
Graham

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13 Mel November 12, 2009 at 8:30 am

I have two names to suggest: Clyde and Gladys! These are my grandparents' names, and I've always just loved them. And I've never met another child with either name. And they, I think, would go great with your other kiddos' names. Just so you know, my grandpa would call my grandma "Happy Bottom!" Isn't that cute?

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14 Alli November 12, 2009 at 12:25 pm

My brother and his wife named their daughter Elizabeth, but they call her Elsie.
My favorite girl's name at the moment is Sophia or Sofie, I can't decide which i like better. :)
Can't help you with the boys names, I don't have any that I love right now.

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15 rum sum mum November 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm

We didn't find out the gender of any of our children – they were all a surprise – so had to pick both a girl's and boy's name. The first name my husband and I agreed upon was Mietta (meaning 'sweet little one') for a girl. It took us a while to agree upon a boy's name, but we finally chose Gabriel.

When our first son was born, he didn't look like a Gabriel, so we had to think again. We finally chose Luc Preston. Luc (using the French spelling) and Preston after my grandfather (and his mother's maiden name). A very unusual name in Australia – but (unfortunately) more common in the US.

Our second child, a boy, didn't look like a Gabriel either. Again it took a day to name him. This time Nicolas George. Nicolas (using French spelling and pronunciation) and George, after his paternal great grandfather.

Finally, we had a Mietta Hazel. We didn't have to think about this! Mietta O'Donnell was a famous restauranteur in Melbourne (where I am from). Hazel is after my mother and her great aunt.
I am eternally grateful to my husband who was insistent that we used family names as second names.

We have since met a number of Lukes and Nicks (many of whom are brothers) – we hadn't any idea how popular these names were at the time – but were thankful we chose the more unusual spelling. We haven't yet met another Mietta.

Not more kids for us, but I love the names:
Amelie
Poppy
Tessa
Maddy
Marion Louise (p grandmother's name)
Ella Winifred/Winnie (m grandmother's name)

Henry
Alister (dad's middle name)
Edward (mum's maiden name)
Reid (my maiden name)

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16 Chris November 12, 2009 at 4:18 pm

We just had our first 4 months ago and for a while it looked like he might not get past BB (Baby Boy) in the hospital but in the end the family ties pulled through.

My whole life I have thought of names
Bo, Penelope, Roxcy, Jesse, Kasey, Lucious, Kit (short fro Elizabeth), Kip, Asah and was holding true through out my pregnancy for one of these but then when he was born, I could not decide.

My husband is from New Zealand and because of his accent we say many names differently and I thought it pretty much ruled out any name with an 'r' but he said it would be cool because then he would know his parents are from different countries. I was still not sold on it.

He was routing for Lars (my maiden name is Larson) but he says Lahs and I saw Larrrs. Wouldn't that just be annoying for him but after he was born the idea of calling him after our dads seemed so important and right so we now have Peter Larson and funnily enough stateside he is called Baby Lars and in New Zealand he is called Baby Pete. How lucky for this little boy to have 2 names!

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17 Amber November 12, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Edison….we love our Eddie. When I was pregnant the second time, my son (William Turner…it was before Pirates of the Caribbean) was sitting on my lap we were reading a book. He didn't talk well yet but he could say the name of the boy in the book Edison. My husband came out of the kitchen and said boy or girl I think we should name the baby Edison. We hadn't yet found out what we were having but it turns out it was a girl. The name stuck. And she loves being an Eddie or Edison or Ed. Edison Paige. And then, loved the lets not know what were having game so much….for our third we decided not to find out till they were born what we were having. We picked the name Cameron Jay for a boy or Emelia Jane for a girl. And Emelia Jane was born. She is our tom boy full of life and energy! GOOD LUCK.

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18 Nicky C. K. November 12, 2009 at 8:39 pm

our baby boy was named McAllister before we even knew he was a BOY.

It's his father and his grandfather's name… so he'll be a third!

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19 Sarah November 12, 2009 at 10:28 pm

I just read East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. In the book it John talks of his of his Mother, Olive. Mother to a fabulous son. Is that the book?

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20 Barb @ getupandplay November 13, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Calvin or Nina are my picks for your cute family :)

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21 JC November 13, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Evelyn Caroline for a girl and Earl Anderson for a boy. Best wishes for a happy, healthy little whoever.

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22 Wimzie Prints November 14, 2009 at 12:42 am

While pregnant we couldn't agree on a name until one day while riding in the car my husband suggested Calvin. As soon as he said it I felt the baby move for the first time. We figured he was telling us something and the name stuck!

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23 Beth Layton November 14, 2009 at 1:17 pm

For girls I love the names LaRue and Hazel. My middle name is Earline (pronounced er-lean) it's a family name. I love it as well though it often does get mispronounced.

For boys I like Spenc.

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24 unaprix.com March 7, 2014 at 6:58 am

That’s a posting full of insight!

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25 Jennifer R. November 14, 2009 at 2:07 pm

When we named our son, we had similar criteria as you: unique, but not too weird. So we decided on Hugo Simon. Now, faced with naming baby boy #2 due to arrive in February, it's an even bigger challenge to come up with a name.

Thus far our list consists of: Malcolm, Jasper and Angus. Such joy to name a new baby!

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26 brit November 14, 2009 at 9:09 pm

i love mabel, autumn, gentry and vera for a girl. i will never have a girl so i long for these names. my boys are drake, tanner and deacon. i would have NEVER agreed on tanner, but he was over a week old and my husband would not budge. his middle name is pete (family name) and i was certain i would call him pete. didnt happen. peter is adorable as well. best of luck. naming a baby can be an exciting yet somewhat daunting task.

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27 MB November 15, 2009 at 8:52 am

I love the name Evelyn (my mom's name), Lucille or Lucy, Annie, Cole, Lula, Avery, Roy (a little country but I think it's still cute), Charlotte (Charlie for short). Good luck with the names!

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28 MB November 15, 2009 at 8:53 am

oh and Ruby too. That was my Grandmother's name. Love it!

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29 nichole November 15, 2009 at 9:10 pm

My daughters are London and Daisy: London b/c my husband spent time there and loved the city, and it sounded so feminine to me. Daisy happened when were visiting NYC one summer and we walked past a mother and 4-year old daughter. Not even pregnant yet, I heard the mom say, "Come along, Daisy!" and knew that 'if ever', I would name a daughter Daisy. (Ironically enough, we moved to NYC 18 months ago!) McAllister is the name of my son, we chose it b/c it's the MAIDEN NAME of a well-loved and amazing great-grandmother whom I actually remembered growing up. Well after his birth I researched out her father and grandfather and found out they were amazing men in their own right.

So:
London Emilie
McAllister J (just the letter after my FIL)
Daisy Caroline (which to this day I still dislike the middle name, it was all my husband's idea. When we fight, 4 years later, I'll still say, "and I don't even like Daisy's middle name!")

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30 vfg November 17, 2009 at 1:52 am

Name Voyager for us, too: Our Audrey and Marian hit peak popularity in the 1920s, so the 3rd needed to be near the same era. Reuben: 1890. aw, close enough.

I love the middle name variation you have going: 1, 0, 2…

(we have a doubler middle, too)

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31 Pacifier November 17, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Alma or Amelia

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32 Hannah November 18, 2009 at 9:59 pm

For a girl: Stella
For a boy: Arthur

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33 beautiful things November 19, 2009 at 12:35 am

I know this is a bit late but I'll post anyway. My grandmother's name was Iona, which she hated but I think is unique, and my husband's grandma is Ruth Beatrice. My greatgrandmother was Jeannie, which I also think is lovely. I love the idea of going with family names. As for boys some unique family names include Willis, Francis, Howard, Herald and Fredrick.

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34 faxmachineanthem November 28, 2009 at 10:46 pm

I also want to toss in the name Ethel for a girl…

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35 Emma December 13, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Names that I think fit with your current brood are Audrey for a wee lady or Angus for a little lad.

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36 mabel December 23, 2009 at 11:46 pm

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Lucy

http://maternitymotherhood.net

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37 Caroline May 18, 2010 at 9:52 am

Your kids have such creative names!

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