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Showing posts from March, 2012


Marcheline (MARSH-el-een) is French, meaning "warlike" or "little warrior." It is the French feminine variant of Marcel, which comes from the Roman god of war, Mars. It is also the name of Marcheline Bertrand (birth name Marcia Lynne), Angelina Jolie's mother, and the middle name of her daughter Vivienne.

I selected Marcheline for March because March would make a super cute nickname. Chella, Marla, Marly, Marline, and Shelly could also work. In the past decade or more there were no baby girls named Marcheline, but that is not the case for Marchella, only given since about 1956 and last seen on 5 baby girls in 2012 (and never given to more than 11 in a year) and Marchelle, which peaked in 1963 with 64 births and was last seen in 2013 on 6 girls. Marcelle, which has little difference in sound from the masculine Marcel, is doing well in France but was only given to 8 girls in the U.S. in 2015. The spelling Marcela ranked in 1991, 1992 and 1999, while Marcella ran…

Reader Question: A Native American-Irish Wolf Warrior

HI there, I saw your website and was wondering if you would be able to help. We are looking for an Irish or Native American name meaning "wolf" or "warrior". We found a few but we couldn't find any with pronunciation help. Thank you _ _ _

Thank you for coming to me for help!

First of all, there's always Wolf if you have a boy. It makes an interesting and straight-forward middle name option. In Irish for boys we have Faolan (FEH-lon or FWAY-lawn), meaning "little wolf," and Phelan (can be pronounced both FAY-lan and FEE-lan), meaning "like a wolf," Conan (KO-nan), meaning "wolf," or Conall (KON-all), meaning "strong wolf." There is also Canagan, which means "wolf cub," Connor, meaning "wolf lover," Maccon (MAK-kon), meaning "son of a wolf," and Conry, meaning "king of wolves." Most Native American wolf names are very hard to pronounce, but one does stand out: Mahigan/Maheegan/M…

When does an unusual name cross the line?

Many people wonder either how popular a name can be for it to be usable, or how unpopular a name can be to be usable. When does it become too popular, or too unusual? I know my preferences are different from the next person, perhaps even extremely different. I would choose a name that is not in the top 1000, and has not been in the top 1000 for the past decade, but is not a word, place, or thing, and is not made up. In other words, a legit name that the child will likely never see on someone else their age, but something easily understandable. Definitely not something like Expo, but maybe something like Verbena. But I've always been drawn to rare, historical, and mythological names, having a naturally rebellious and creative nature. Everyone else I know, even if they want their child's name to be unique, tends to go for names on the top 1000 list, with popularity being an afterthought.

So as general advice, here's what I suggest: don't choose an unusual name that is al…


Odessa (oh-DESS-ah) may be a Greek name meaning "angry man" or "full of wrath," but it does have another meaning. Taken from the word odyssey, Odessa means "adventurous journey." Odessa is the female variant of Odysseus, which gives it that mythical, adventurous allure, and it was the name of a Russian port city supposedly named for the Odyssey. It is currently the 4th largest city in Ukraine, given its name by Catherine the Great, but there are many U.S. cities named Odessa as well. Maybe it's because Odessa is situated on the Black Sea, but to me the name has a nautical property. In fact, it is possible the word Odessa came from was borrowed by the Greeks and that the true meaning is "marine." So, goodbye negative meaning. Odyssa, Odessia and Odyssia are also legit spellings.

Odessa last ranked in 1959 at #959 after slowly decreasing in popularity, but it ranked every year since records started being kept. In 2010 there were only 48 baby …

If you were born in late March or early April that means you are an Aries (the ram). I chose Mars to be today's name because Aries is ruled under Mars, and there is a powerful connection between the planet Mars and the month of March. Mars was the Roman god of war, said to be as ruthless as he was handsome, with a gentle side seldom seen (he was the lover of Aphrodite, said to be most beautiful). His celebrations were mainly held in March. The red planet has two moons, Phobos and Deimos. (For you Sailor Moon fans out there, those were the names of Sailor Mars's crows.) Not only was the planet named for the god, but so was the month of March, making this a suitable name for a baby boy born this month. It is also important to note that Ares was the other name for Mars, so what a coincidence that his Greek name is one letter short of March's astrological sign Aries. The ram is also a truly fitting animal for an Aries, its hard-headed, strong-willed character matc…


Aquamarine is the birthstone for March, and what a pretty springtime color it is. I've seen a lot of unusual names being considered for middle names these days, such as Reverie, Fable and Wren. Even as first names. And I cannot think of a better middle name for a March baby (especially with blue eyes) than Aquamarine, if unusual names grace your list.

In 2010 there were 6 baby girls named Aqua, but none named Aquamarine. As far as middle names, I have no way to know. (Although, my guess is that generic middle names are still the most predominant, such as Marie and Rose.)

FYI, Aquamarine was also a movie abouts Mermaids. Aquamarine is a variant of beryl, and Beryl was also used as a given name, but is now considered vintage and dated.

What would you have named yourself?

Here's an alternate way of going about choosing your baby's name...what would you have named yourself, or what would you rename yourself, or your spouse (if the baby is not the same sex as you). What name fits you, or you and your partner combined? What do you "look" like? Or, from the list of names you're considering, which would you most like to be called?

This week I took out a few pictures of myself and my husband from varying ages (baby to adult) and asked myself if the names I was interested in looked good on us, because in all probability a baby would look like us. I found that Lina and Domenica looked very good on me and an imagined mini-me, but Minerva and Aria didn't feel right.

It's a little like waiting to see what the baby looks like before naming him or her, only without the wait and guessing instead, but I certainly think it would help narrow down the list.

Even if you're not expecting, what would you have named yourself? I would have c…


I find Penelope to be just the right kind of name. It's not too frilly, it's not too plain, it's just right. It's got a historical background and famous namesakes, and it sounds fresh and fun. Plus, it has super cute nickname options: Penny, Lola, Poppy, Nellie, Pen.

I think it's safe to assume we all recognize Penelope from the Greek myth Odysseus. She patiently awaited the return of her husband, Odysseus, who went to war. Meanwhile, many suitors tried to marry her, claiming that her husband was either dead or would never come back. This is one Greek story with a happy ending, as the two were reunited and their son became a man.

Her name derives from a kind of duck, which is said to have protected her as a baby. Although, it is also possible it derives from robin, or pene, and the meaning would be "weaver," which could be accurate as Penelope was said to have spent her time weaving.

Penelope ranked at #169 in 2011 and #200 in 2010, which rose from #946 in 2…


No, not Keanu Reeves, just Reeve, which is one of those rare names that sounds appealing, and you have to say it out loud. It is a Middle English occupational name meaning "bailiff." Not the worst I've heard, and better yet, there's no rule that says you need to go around telling everyone what your baby's name means. And if you do, no one's going to say, "Oh, how horrible." There is actually a rich medieval history (including one of the stories in The Canterbury Tales) with a long list of duties a reeve held, and it was in fact a high position. I believe in part they later became sheriffs.

An alternate spelling is Reave, and there are dozens of namesakes with Reeve or Reeves as a surname. Two familiar namesakes other than Keanu Reeves are Reeve Lindbergh and Christopher Reeves (but don't let the associations deter you, it's just one distant recollection). Reeve is very similar to the French word for "dream." It is also similar to o…

Reader Question: Amy vs Caitlin

I loved your blog! I'm still torn, I love the name Amy (a girl I adored in kindy), but we have chosen Caitlin, surname [sounds like furry], her middle name will be Claire or Grace. I'm just not settled with this choice yet. What to do? I feel like it's such a responsibility to name her correctly. I'm also worried about her needing to spell her name out. I do want a name that has a easy nickname and sounds good for a professional woman.

Would love to hear your thoughts!



Hi there!
First of all, it truly is a responsibility to bestow a name upon a child. It should be meaningful to you in some way, even if you just think it sounds pretty, and parents need to remember that this is a name their child will most likely carry for life.
My first concern is always popularity. I like to take into consideration the current popularity as well as past popularity. While both Amy and Caitlin rank outside the top 100, they have long been popular names. Caitlin currently stands…


Hyung Jun Kim - Leda and the Swan

Leda, pronounced LEE-da or LAY-da, is a beautiful, ancient Greek name rarely heard today. In mythology she was the queen of Sparta, the mother of Helen of Troy (and others, by way of Zeus disguised as a swan), so she must have been beautiful if Helen's beauty was so well known. From the word lada, meaning "spouse, woman." Keep in mind, this is one name I strongly advise you to research before using.

Leda is also one of the moons of Jupiter, a ballet, and a poem by William Butler Yeats.

In 2010 there were only 9 baby girls named Leda, and 14 in 2011, along with 14 spelled Lida.


First of all, thanks to everyone for over 10,000 pageviews and many email subscribers. I never imagined there would be so much interest before seven months passed. Thanks so much!

On to today's name, Sheldon. Many parents try to find girl's names with masculine nicknames, like Reggie for Regina, but not many are interested in feminine nicknames for boy's names, such as Shelly for Sheldon, although Sheldon can also be shortened to Don, Shea, Shy or Shel.

Sheldon is Old English meaning "deep valley." It has been used both as a surname and given name. Namesakes are Shel Silverstein and Sheldon Silver. It is one of those seldom heard, reserved, unassuming names that at first you think is weird, and then it really grows on you. Kind of like the nerdy little boy who grows up to be a firefighter.

There were 196 baby boys named Sheldon in 2010, ranking at #990, along with 10 spelled Shelden. In 2011 it dropped off the top 1000 with only 174 births.