Fred’s list: Baby names for the inspired parent

November 24, 2008

What were they smoking?: The art of the tasteful hippy name

Filed under: Uncategorized — by junebelle @ 9:10 pm
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I am the owner of a boring name. It was the #2 name in the year I came to be and I was always one of several in my school class.  I always wished for something more unique and decided early in life not to bestow such popular names on my own future children. I am the now the proud momma of four lovely little ladies ages 10, 6, 2 and 4 months. So I have given much thought into the naming process over the years.

While I was expecting girl #3 I discovered the joy of on-line chat rooms devoted to nothing but baby names. I was overjoyed and quickly became a regular poster. It was a wonderful way to get honest, unfiltered opinions on our name list. Some of the advice was a touch harsh but I found the raw gut reactions helpful.  There is nowhere else I would find such blatant, unapologetic reactions. Face to face interaction is always confined to the politics of manners but that is not generally the case with the anonymity of the Internet. And of course being the fountain of opinion that I am,  I loved having an outlet from which I could dispense my advice.

Which brings us here where it is my turn to write something. I thought it best to start with a subject personal to me, hippie names. All of my girls have a nature element to their names. When people hear their names I get a variety of responses that range from compliments to a blank stare. My favorite bizarre comment over time has been that my daughter Maya’s name (Maya Sunshine) sounds like a designer strain of Marijuana. I take it all in stride because I love their names and so do they.

My belief is that the key to bridging the gap between a cute palatable hippie name and a oh wow mom and dad must do drugs hippie name is all about balance. Using a more traditional name with a more unusual name  gives a slightly more grounded feel and gives a name options for professional use later in life if needed. Take my daughter’s name for example, had I combined Sunshine with another hippie name like say Summer Sunshine or Aura Sunshine it may have become too much for the general population.  If perhaps you are very attached to the literal meaning or visual imagery of a name I recommend doing some  research for names with a similar meaning. A name like Sunny Sky may seem like a lovely name for a child now but as an adult it may be a touch juvenile. But if you went with something like Aurelia (meaning golden) Sky it becomes more versatile and appealing to a broader spectrum. Of course matters of acceptability and what is too much are purely subjective. I truly believe that no parent sets out to create a name that anyone find silly or bizarre.

Another recommendation is to test drive a name by introducing yourself by the name you are considering. If you cannot tell the guy at the quick change oil that your name is Atomic Angel without feeling a little goofy that is a good indicator that a child with that name may feel the same someday.

Always bear in mind that regardless of the lifestyle the parents have chosen the child could grow up to be different. Despite all my objections and motherly guidance my little Maya Sunshine may grow up to be an ultra conservative woman who thinks mom is a crackpot. In that case she can just go with Maya S on her business card and thank her lucky stars that I did not name her Sunshine Daydream instead.


October 8, 2008

July: Render Unto Caesar

Filed under: Due In...,Uncategorized — by Mary-Catherine @ 7:15 pm
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Searching for the perfect name for your baby due in July? You don’t need to look any farther than the name of the month itself! July was named for Julius Caesar, and has several related names that would be suitable for any son or daughter.

If you aren’t looking to honor Julius Caesar, you can of course look in other directions. The flower for the month of July is the Larkspur, and the gemstones associated with the month are the Ruby and the Onyx. The term Larkspur is use to refer to two related flowers, Consilda and Delphinium, and there are several related names that are similar sounding. Ruby can be used a name on it’s own for a little girl, or as a nickname for Reuben. The stone received it’s name from the Latin word ruber, meaning “red”, and there are multiple names with “red” meanings.

Gemstones often have special meanings associated with them as well. The Ruby, for example, is said to represent peace, contentment, love, friendship, and royalty. The Onyx is supposed to bring happiness and protection. Any name with one of these meanings would be suitable for a child as well.

For American’s, the month of July is most noteably associated with Independence Day. You could go ultra-patriotic and name your child America, Liberty, or Justice. Or, if you’re looking for a more subtle way to honor the founding of your country- what about Betsy (for Betsy Ross) or George (for George Washington) or any of the names associated with the founding fathers?

Still stuck? It might help you to know that July is national Family Reunion Month. Maybe it’s time to dust off the family tree and see if any names jump out at you. If you don’t have a family tree, maybe some of these turn-of-the-century classics will work.

October 7, 2008

Some Like it Short: Names with Great Nick Names A-M

Filed under: North by Pacific Northwest — by rothery @ 12:18 am
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There are parents out there—whose numbers are growing constantly—who hate nicknames. They stand adamantly in the “Name your baby what you will call him or her” camp. And then there are the other people, like me who love nicknames. I love the versatility. I love the romantic possibilities of more than one name. I love the Victorian feel of knowing Meg is probably Margaret.

One of my kids has a nickname that we call her consistently. She hardly associates with her formal name. The other child has a series of pet names and short forms but insists that her legal name is the one and only. We’ve given her options and she can use them as she likes.

This is a list of suggestions for parent like me who want options, romance, and versatility. I’ve picked through and selected a few of my favorite names and their possible nick names. It’s no where near an exhaustive list–even for the letters A-M. Hopefully it will be just enough to spark a new idea or remind of forgotten favorite.


Adele: Addie, Della, Del

Alessandra: Alice, Ally, Sandra, Sandy, Sasha

Annika: Annie, Ann, Anna, Nikki, Nika, Nina

Abraham: Abe, Abram, Bram

Alfred: Fred, Alfie

Andrew: Drew, Andy, Anders


Belinda: Bella, Linda, Lindy

Beverly: Bevy, Lila

Bethany: Bette, Betty, Annie

Bennet: Ben, Nat, Nate

Byron: Ron

Bernard: Bernie


Celandine: Celia, Lana, Dina

Camille: Camie, Millie

Claudia: Cloudy, Dea, Dee Dee

Charles: Chase, Chuck, Charlie

Caspian: Cas, Case, Ian

Calvin: Cal, Vinny


Desdemona: Desy, Mona

Diana: Di, Nan, Anna

Dorothy: Dora, Dot, Thea

Dashiel: Dash, Eli

Dalton: Dal, Tony


Elaine: Ellie, Laine, Aina

Eleanor: Ellie, Lena, Nora

Eugenie: Gina, Gigi

Edward: Ed, Ward, Ted

Ernest: Ernesto, Ernie

Erickson: Eric, Rick


Felicity: Lissa, Tia

Fiona: Fifi, Ona, Fae

Francesca: Fran, Nan, Frankie

Finlay: Finn

Felix: Fox


Gloria: Glory, Lea, Lori

Georgia: Georgie, Gia, Gigi

Genevieve: Vivi, Gena, Jenny, Neva

George: Geo

Gideon: Gid, Dean, Ian

Gilbert: Gil, Bertie


Harriett: Hattie, Etta

Helena: Helly, Lena, Nell

Honora: Honey, Nora, Ona

Henry: Harry, Hank

Harold, Harry, Hal

Hadrian: Hayden, Had


Imogen: Immy, Gina, Jenny

Indira: Indy, Dea, Dira

Isadora: Issy, Dora, Addy

Isaac: Ike, Zack

Ian: Johnny

Inigo: Nico


Jessamine: Jessie, Mina, Mia

Josephine: Josie, Posey, Phina, Nina

Joanna: Joey, Joy, Anna, Annie

Julian: Jules, Jude

Jonah: Jo, Nat


Katerina: Kat, Katya, Rina

Kiersten: Kiera, Kiki

Kimberly: Kim, Lea

Kiernan: Kenny, Ky

Kenneth: Kenny, Ken, Kent

Kyle: Ky, Lee


Lorraine: Lori, Rainy

Lenoa: Lea, Ona, Leonie

Louisa: Lou, Lucy, Issy

Leander: Lee, Andy, Anders

Leopold: Leo, Lee, Polo

Lucas: Luca, Luke


Margaret: Margot, Meg, Greta

Marianna: Maren, Anna, Mary

Melinda: Mel, Lindy

Maxwell: Max, Mac, Well

Marcos: Mark, Mars

Matthew: Matt, Matteas, Mats

September 29, 2008

Hello from Fredder Land!

Filed under: Introductions — by Mary-Catherine @ 10:58 pm

I developed my love of names early on. As the second of six children, it seemed normal to me that names were always discussed; my parents would talk often about the names they were considering for the new baby. From them I learned the importance of compromising between naming styles, as well as to appreciate passing on a name that holds great meaning to the child’s parents. They encouraged my curiosity, and always answered my questions about what a name meant, and why it was special to them.


My own name, Mary-Catherine, is a prime example of compromise and choosing a name with family meaning. My father wanted to name me after my mother, Mary. She wanted to name me after her sister, Catherine. Their compromise was a hyphenated first name, and the understanding that I would always be called by both names. While having a double first name caused some confusion at times, I loved knowing that I was named after two special people in my life, and appreciated how each name was carefully chosen.


Names and their origins, meanings, and histories continued to fascinate me, and I spent a great deal of time flipping through the family tree my parents compiled, as well as the family Bible, which had a section dedicated to names (mostly Biblical and Saint’s names) in the back.


When I married my high-school sweetheart, John, I had to remember the lessons on naming compromise that my parents had taught me. It seemed in the beginning that we would never settle on a name for our first child. He preferred trendy or off-beat names; I had a fondness for older, more traditional names. We discovered that we both loved names that reflected our Scottish and Irish heritage, as well as names with family meanings. He willingly gave up his trendy choices, and I let go of my turn-of-the-century name lists, and we found names that we both loved.


I wanted my children to have names that meant as much to us as my own name meant to my parents- and names they could be as proud of as I was of my own name. The names we chose for our son and our daughter, Sian Alasdair and Fiona Cathleen met all of our requirements. They each have one name that was chosen for its family significance, as well as one name that we both loved that reflects our pride in our heritage.


What I learned from my parents, as well as in my journey to find names for my own children, has molded the naming philosophy I now have. I strongly encourage that parents look for names that mean a great deal to them, rather than just names that sound “cute” Naming a child gives a parents an opportunity to pass along part of themselves to their children. We chose names with connections to our family and ancestry- and there are so many other choices out there. I think that one of the greatest gifts a parent can give to their child is a name that they can be proud of, a name that means something special to them and to their parents.

September 26, 2008

Little nuances…

Filed under: Views from France — by chichiboulie @ 5:55 pm
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I have to admit, I’ve been thinking about what to write for sometime now, but it just hasn’t come to me. It’s not that I haven’t had any ideas, it’s just that nothing has really cried out to me so much that I want to put it down in words.

Until today.

Today my oldest came home from school and told me about the school photos that were taken today and the fact that when you have a brother or sister in school with you, you automatically have your photo taken with him or her as well. As such, my daughters had their photo taken together. I’m so happy!

But WHAT you ask does this have to do with names? Hold on, I’m getting there.

Because my daughter is slightly detail oriented in certain areas (mostly in what she’s eaten at lunch that day), I got a run down of who had his or her photo taken with a sibling. And Basil is what gave me the idea.

Not basil as in the stuff you make pesto from, but Basil as in a super-cool, very-British, lovely yet underused name. But it wasn’t just Basil that piqued my interest. It was Basil’s brother Harold as well. Now as much as I can get behind Basil, I don’t get the same warm and fuzzy feelings about Harold. However, Basil and Harold as a sibling set and when pronounced with a French accent….

Well, that’s something else all together!

September 12, 2008

Creating Namesakes and New Family Traditions

Filed under: North by Pacific Northwest — by rothery @ 3:16 am
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I have a knack for mindless chatter. Especially when faced with awkward silence. In fact, awkward silence makes me feel rude. I feel called to use my gift for mindless chatter to break the ice.

My in-laws are a quiet family.

Many years ago, around the dinner table, I found myself square in the middle of a quiet lull. It went on and on. Being naturally equipped for just such emergencies I began to chatter. I chattered about what Daniel and I could name our babies.

Daniel and I had been “naming” our babies since the early days of our dating. We had picked such big winners as Buelah and Ernest. I left those names behind for the moment and chattered about ways we could incorporate their family names with ours.

It turns out names aren’t a universal conversation starter.

Nonetheless my mother-in-law beamed sweetly at us and shared the dear hope of her heart. Her mother was Susie. She is Beverly Sue, her daughter is Sueanna Jean. She thought how lovely it would be to frame a picture with all of the generations of Sue’s in it. And I agreed that my sister-in-law Sueanna really ought to use Sue for her daughter someday.

Mother-in-Law assured me it would be even more wonderful to have all of her first granddaughters share names that incorporated Sue.

She illustrated how special this could be by sharing the tradition that comes down from my father-in-laws family. My father-in-law’s mother is Eleanor Jean. Her daughter is Holly Jean. Holly’s daughter is Sally Jean, and as I mentioned earlier, my sister-in-law is Sueanna Jean.

And there it was. The expectation hanging in the air. Someday Daniel and I would have a daughter and her name would need to be Sue** (please pick the variation you love the most) Jean.

I didn’t want my first act as a member of this family tree to be insulting. And yet, I don’t actually like the name Jean. And for a first name I had my heart set on Norah.

It was three years before the situation came up. But by the time my own little one was nestled in my arms, warm and soft and sweet and beautiful, we had found a great way to make everyone (at least sort of) happy.

My husband and I found a way to honor his grandmothers, Eleanor and Susie without using the prescribed names. The prescribed names didn’t speak to us, but the grandmothers themselves are worthy namesakes.

To my delight my husband did not shy away from such an off the wall choice as Eleanor for our daughter’s first name. We call her Norah.

The answer to honoring Sue and family tradition on that side was a little harder. We talked and talked and hunted and hunted for just the right middle name. To me, that would be a quirky and sweet name. I like to hide something unexpected and charming between the two names you use to introduce yourself.

Grandma Susie’s mother was Alice Berry (Berry was her maiden name.) Susie herself was Susie Berry. My brother-in-law is Jonathan Berry. Berry, unlike Jean, is sweet, quirky and surprising. Exactly what I love in a middle name. It was a tradition hiding in plain sight and it was perfect.

Historians, family genealogist, the sentimental types, basically people just like me, love name traditions. They tie generations one to each other. They connect families to their stories. Here in the States especially, the story of where a family came from and who sacrificed in the past for today’s blessings is venerated.

And yet, no mother waiting with baited breath for the safe arrival of her first child should have uncomfortable name obligations. I think my mother-in-law was sad that her first granddaughter didn’t share in the tradition of Sue. But she was also touched that we had used Berry, a name still very important to the family. Grandma Eleanor didn’t seem time mind this baby not being a Jean. But she was thrilled that her own great granddaughter shared her first name. She even liked the name Norah for short.

We found a way to please our family even though we didn’t do what was expected. And we found a way to give our daughter a name from our heart. A name we love to say that honors people we cherish.

September 7, 2008

Expanding Your Inspiration: Saints’ Names

Filed under: Uncategorized — by Camilla @ 10:06 pm
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You do not have to be religious to choose a saints’ name for your child. Many of the saints have a history anyone can appreciate, a history of bravery, ethical fortitude and above all – some really cool names. I am going to be writing a regular piece on using criteria to craft a name you might never have thought of before, and I’m starting with the one of the pieces of my naming rubric: saints’ names, in whole or in part.

St. Lucy of Syracuse – alternate names, St. Lucia, St. Lukia – legend has it she committed herself to God and refused to marry a pagan. When pressed, she prayed to God and became immovable, the pagan would-be-husband tried to have her burned, and then stabbed, and finally had her eyes gouged out. She remained true to her pledge and herself and has been venerated in nearly every Christian society. Lucy, Lucia or other names associated with her sad tale would make fantastic names.  Possible nicknames include LuLu or Lucy from Lucia

St. Lawrence Justinian – left a fairly comfortable life and a future marriage to work for a religious order. He begged for the poor, held several administrative positions and then became a bishop. He wrote extensively on contemplative matters. Possible names include Lawrence, Justinian, Justin, Justus and Lorenzo and possible nn Larry. I know Larry might seem terribly out-of-touch, but I foresee a re-branding of 50s and 60s names as the next big thing, and Larry would seem very cutting edge.

St. Lydia Purpuraria – St. Lydia was St. Paul’s first known convert. She was a businesswoman who made purple (read: couture) garments for the extremely wealthy. She gladly invited the forefathers of the early church into her home, showing not just a head for business, but hospitality as well. Lydia would make a lovely name nn Lydie or Porfirio for a boy – it means “purple”

St. Louis Bertram – St. Louis (Lou-iss or Lou-ee) was a teacher, determined to follow the faith from a  young age.  St. Louis trained preachers in their vocation and showed mercy and care to plague victims in 1557. In addition, he survived an attempted murder by S. American shamans. He was very successful as a preacher, it is said that he witnessed 15,000 converts. Possible names are Louis, Bertram, Dominic (he was a Dominican), with nn Lou, Bertie, Dom. The names in their entirety, though, are incredibly handsome and would make stately names for any child.

These are just a random sample of the “L” names you might add to your inspiration – names with stories, history, but that will either fit in with current naming trends (as with Lucy) or take us into the future (Larry, Louis) and seem at once familiar and new (Lydia, Lawrence). A1

August 21, 2008

His name is longer than he is: The reasoning behind two middle names

Filed under: Beyond Fiona & Séamus or Sage & Jasper — by Philomena @ 1:44 pm
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When, I was a middle-schooler I became friends with a young lady with three middle names. A bit excessive I thought, but her whole name was so fun to say that I didn’t think much of it. She is the only person I know for certain who had more than the standard form of name, i.e. first name, middle name, last name. Five years ago, I started wondering and contemplating using two middle names for any future off-spring. I was pretty sure that I probably wouldn’t have more than one or two children, and wanted to make sure they would have a name to honor both halves of my family tree. So I started playing with combinations and came up with a few that appealed to me. My son did end up with two middle names. One is after my paternal grandfather & the other is from my maternal grandmother. Should I have any more children the same will be true for them, potentially giving further rise to the sentiment expressed by my mother when my son was born, “His name is longer than he is.” In fact his name is 5 characters longer than he was in inches, and yet is only 3 characters longer than my standard name.

Since deciding to give my child two middle names, I have noticed that it isn’t as uncommon as one might think. Many of the Fredder children have two middle names, and some celebrities have used it (Apple Blythe Allison Martin, comes to mind). Yet, every once in awhile someone will post on the name boards asking about using two middle names, whether or not it seems excessive and what do you do when filling out a form that only allows one middle initial. Respondents are generally split 50/50 on whether or not it is excessive or even desirable. When some ask for opinions on a double-barreled middle name, they are frequently encouraged to drop the second one. Sometimes the reason is excess and other times it is seen as pretentious. My favorite reason of all is that it could cause problems in school when the child has to learn to spell his name. And yet the practice continues. It isn’t for old money families or royalty. It is for families who have a lot of relatives to honor, women who want to keep their maiden names, families who want to pass a double last name down without hyphenating, and those who just can’t decide when the baby is born which name they like better and so use both.

So what do I do with that middle initial on forms? Generally I leave it blank. Has having two middle name caused my son insurmountable difficulty in school? Well, he is just starting pre-school this fall. We aren’t quite to the writing stage yet. That said, it has floored one or two people when he comes up to them and says, “I don’t know who you are. My name is fn mn mn ln.” He knows his name and rarely introduces himself by just his first name. He is a smart cookie. It will come. In the meantime, I know that I have given him a name rich in history and family significance. That means something.

August 1, 2008


Filed under: Introductions — by Fred @ 2:13 pm

I’m Betty. Thirtysome-odd years ago, I bestowed the dull if classic handle “Bunny” upon a blue stuffed rabbit who, bless his heart, forgave me this rather uninspired first foray into naming.

From this humble beginning, I’ve developed an abiding interest in the names of people, words, streets, pets and inanimate objects, and have diversified my tastes extensively. Now mother to children NOT named “Boy”, “Other Boy,” or “Baby on the Way,” I am a student of name trends and their socioeconomic and demographic implications, and a bit of a fetishist on the subject.

My personal penchant is for names with a history that still ‘fit’ into the era in which they’re being used. I scour cross-cultural mythologies, literature, history books, and obscure song lyrics looking for names that have caché both in the present and across the time-space continuum. I like recognizable names and standard spellings, but if a name suddenly pops across my radar more than ten times in a year, I begin to yawn.

I’m drawn to the quirky and unusual, the just-about-to-break-the-big-leagues. If I like a name, you can pretty much be guaranteed that it’ll be way cool for a few years, and – for name fetishists like me, at least – a wee bit tired in ten. And by then, I’ll be loving on something utterly new…but still classic.

July 31, 2008

Hola, me llamo Maureen

Filed under: Introductions — by mommymo @ 2:27 pm

According to my mother, I exhibited a fascination for names as soon as I could talk. I named my first doll ‘Flora’ when I was just under two, and my first dog, a poodle, was proudly named ‘Francois’ when I was about three. Mom said that I would point to strangers on the subway and tell her, ‘That man’s name is Ralph’, or ‘That lady’s name is Lucy.’ I sort of remember that, and I think that I was convinced of their ‘names’ because they sure as heck looked like a Ralph and Lucy to me. Back then, the sound of a name and the visual image it created were the foundations of my fledgling interest in names.

Now that I sit here as a 40-year-old mom of two, I can say that my little love of names has morphed into a full-blown passion. Born in New York City, I had one set of grandparents from Ireland and one set of grandparents from Honduras. Growing up in a Spanish-speaking home with an Irish name generated an interest in the effect culture has on names, and how names affect culture. I can also recall creating lists upon lists of names, comprising of mixing name combinations from my own family tree, other names I would have liked for myself, and names of my future children. These days I have extended my naming interests into following trends in pop culture (particularly sports and 80’s), and modern twists to traditional names.

My naming philosophy is pretty straightforward. I believe a name should have an important meaning or be attached to some type of family history or event. A name is a beautiful gift, and should be something that can grow with the child, make them proud, and remind them that they are loved. I abhor cutesy names or overused, popular names that are bestowed for the sake of being trendy. That said, yes, I have an Aidan…but there is some family history behind it, so it’s OK! My mom’s name is Aida, and as I mentioned, I am also Irish, so…Aidan was just perfect. I had a much more difficult time naming my daughter, but I had set criteria, based on what was meaningful to myself and my family. I wanted a variant of Mary, since the Blessed Mother is very dear to my heart. After going through all the naming books at the library, I discovered the girls’ name board at Baby Center. There, I met this incredible group of women who also shared my passion, and I officially became a Fredder. My daughter’s name is Mariella, by the way, which made my Italian in-laws very happy.

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