For the 'different, not weird' baby namer

Beautiful Names from Orphan Black

Orphan Black is a fantastic thriller series that perfectly mixes futuristic science, human drama, and the phenomenal acting talents of Tatiana Maslany, who plays the roles of several very different human clones.  It’s truly a series like no other…if you haven’t seen it, go watch it!  Once you’re hooked, come back and read this post 🙂

Another thing I’ve noticed about Orphan Black is that the characters are superbly named.  This show is chock full of slightly off-beat names that are still very wearable.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Leda- This name from Greek mythology is used in reference to the entire line of female clones.  I think it fits in easily with popular Leah, Lily, Lila, and the like.

Helena- One of the most entertaining of the clones is Helena.  Helena is raw, impulsive, and at times frightening, but is as big-hearted as they come. Her name is an easily wearable classic, and a nice alternative to Elena or Hannah.

Cosima- Cosima, a scientist, is another of the clones, or “sisters.”  I think her name is a perfect choice for parents looking for something very unusual, but not clunky.  Pronounced “cuh-SEE-mah,” this sweet, feminine moniker has never ranked in the top 1000!

Mika- Pronounced “MEE-kah,” this name is worn by one of the most most mysterious sisters.  She also goes by the names Veera and M.K.

Delphine- The beautiful French scientist Delphine is also Cosima’s lover.  While Delphine is a bit frilly and dramatic for me, I think it’s a great choice for someone seeking an ultra-feminine girl’s name!

Kira-While Kira isn’t particularly unusual nowadays, I think it’s a very pretty, not too common name.  Here, it’s worn by the young daughter of one of the Leda clones, Sarah.

Evie- This villain has such a sweet name!


Castor- The male clones are referred to as Castor clones, drawing again from Greek mythology.  I wouldn’t use this name, personally, but for someone looking for an unusual name with a trendy sound, Castor could work!

Ira- For those looking for an alternative to the popular Noah, Elijah, and Ezra, consider Ira, worn here by one of the male clones.

Rudy- This Castor clone is recognizable by the prominent scar on his face.  I think the vintage nickname Rudy is cute and could easily be revived!

Cal– Cal is Kira’s father.  I think his name is super cute, and could stand for a variety of longer forms ranging from the obvious Calvin to the less common Callum, Callahan, or Calder.

Felix- Felix is an obvious choice for someone looking for that perfect mix of classic and edgy, and not surprisingly, this name has been climbing over the past few years.  In Orphan Black, the name is worn by Sarah’s sassy adoptive brother.


Isn’t this a lovely collection of well-named characters?  Who are your favorites from the show?


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Botanical Baby Names on Berry Juice Today!

Head over to Berry Juice at Nameberry for my article on unique botanical baby names!

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The Great and Glorious Names of ‘Gilmore Girls’

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the TV show ‘Gilmore Girls’ for its wit, its fast-paced dialogue, its quirky characters, and its collection of names!  With rumors of a reunion circulating, I was inspired to mine all seven seasons of ‘Gilmore Girls’ and pick out some of the most interesting names used throughout the series, from the obvious Lorelai to the obscure Drella.

Lorelai- The two main characters in the series are a mother and daughter, both beautifully named Lorelai.  Lorelei was a favorite of mine years before the series began, so I was delighted to see a variation used for such vibrant and lovable characters.  I think the show made this name wearable and familiar, but it isn’t too common, with Lorelei ranking at #479 and Lorelai at #821 in 2014.  The elder Lorelai, played by Lauren Graham, is a beautiful and quick-witted inn owner and mother.  Her bookish daughter and best friend, ‘Rory,’ is portrayed by Alexis Bledel.  There is also a third Lorelai, great grandmother to Rory, who is inexplicably nicknamed ‘Trix.’

Rory- The younger Lorelai goes by the creative nickname ‘Rory,’ a traditionally male name that now seems wearable on either gender.

Lane- This cool, concise name was worn by Rory’s best friend, whose strict upbringing couldn’t suppress her rocker spirit.

Sookie- Melissa McCarthy played the lovable and spunky chef, Sookie St. James.  The name Sookie (“SUE-kee”) originated as a nickname for Susan, and has never made the top 1000 as a given name.  It could make a cute name in the same vein as Bonnie or Frankie.

Paris- Despite her abrasive exterior, Paris Geller turned out to be one of Rory’s best friends over the course of the series.  This intense, unforgettable character was perfectly executed by actress Liza Weil.

Louise- Louise Grant was one of Rory’s schoolmates at her private high school, Chilton, and was an amusing member of Paris’s entourage.  I think the name Louise is an adorable vintage choice and could easily make a comeback (especially considering the popularity of Eloise). I’ve even used this name for one of my pets 😉

Francie- Another unique, nickname-y choice, Francie was worn by one of Rory’s enemies at Chilton.  Rory’s estranged grandmother went by the more formal Francine.

Dean- Rory’s first boyfriend is the dashing Dean Forester, a sweet, loving character played by Jared Padalecki.  I find the name Dean as handsome as the character.

Tobin- Tobin is certainly on trend, with it’s surname origin and -n ending.  This moniker was worn by one of Lorelai’s employees, who appeared in a couple of episodes.

Rune- Comically obnoxious Rune makes a couple of memorable appearances throughout the series.  His unusual name is a point of interest for Lorelai, but despite her efforts, she fails to uncover its origin.  I can see Rune fitting in with other short boys’ names like Reid and Finn.

Drella- This unique appellation is worn by an ornery harpist the Independence Inn, one of multiple roles played by Alex Borstein throughout the series.

Other lovely (or just interesting) names:

Male: Hanlin, Luke, Max, Morey, Doyle, Finn, Straub, Beau, Brennon, Kirk, Jess

Female: Lulu, Georgia (GG), Shane, Babette, Tana, Honor, Clara, Shira, Althea, Martha

Some of the actors have great names too:

Milo- Milo Ventimiglia played Rory’s rebellious boyfriend, Jess. Though he certainly had a chip on his shoulder, Jess cared deeply for Rory, and was smart and alluringly enigmatic.

Aris- Aris Alvarado appeared several times as the cook, Ceaser, at Luke’s Diner.

Chauncey- Chauncey Leopardi makes a few appearances as the goody two-shoes Stars Hollow student, Kyle.  Chauncey is a little preppy for my taste.

Yanic- Yanic Truesdale plays the irritable, yet innocuous, French concierge, Michel Gerard.  Michel is known for his sarcastic quips and his unlikely soft spot for Celine Dion and chow chows.

Scout- Scout Taylor-Compton played Clara Forester, Dean’s charming younger sister.

Keiko- Keiko Agena played spunky Lane Kim.  Keiko is a Japanese girl’s name with several meanings, including “blessed child.”

Sally- Sally Struthers plays outspoken neighbor Babette.  I’d love to see this nickname come back!

Teal- Teal Redmann made frequent appearances as Chilton student Louise Grant.

Honorine- Honorine Bell plays Lulu, girlfriend of the hilarious Kirk Gleason.

Liza- Paris Geller is one of my favorite characters…ever.  I can’t imagine anyone doing as brilliant a job as Liza Weil. I find the name Liza more timeless than Lisa, and I think it could stand alone or serve as a less common nickname for Elizabeth.


What are your favorite names/characters from Gilmore Girls?


Moniker Morsel: Desmond

Desmond sounds suave and classy to me, but also cute and on- trend for boys. Think trendy Declan meets old-fashioned Edmund.  Desmond ranked #329 for boys in the US in 2014, and has hovered around that rank for the past several decades…never too popular, never too rare.  If you’re looking for a more unusual choice with a similarly sophisticated feel, consider Esmond.

Origin: Desmond is an Irish surname indicating the bearer is from a region called Deas-Mhumhna, later anglicized to South Munster.  Desmond has been used as a first name since the late 19th/early 20th century.

Nicknames: Des/Dez, Desi/Dezi, Denny

Famous Desmonds:

Desmond Tutu- South African civil rights activist

Desmond Dekker- Jamaican singer/songwriter

Desmond Harrington- American actor

My thoughts: I think Dez is a cute and stylish nickname for this attractive appellation.  Desmond would wear fairly well at any age, and is very accessible.  I like that it’s never been too common, so it won’t be associated with any particular time period.

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Comments on the SSA top 1000: My favorite new names!

The day the SSA list of most popular baby names comes out is one of my favorite days of the year. I’ve spent nearly every moment of my free time pouring over the list for several days now, and I’ve picked out a few newcomers to the top 1000 list that I find most appealing (or at least interesting!). I’ve also noted some of my favorites that are returning to the top 1000 this year. What do you think of these names that have fallen short of the top 1000 in the past? Will they continue to rise?



Eliezer- This biblical moniker last appeared in 2010 and joined the top 1000 for the first time in 1982, also his peak year. With his stylish “El,” “z,” and “-er” elements and a popular nickname, Eli, I predict Eliezer will continue to rise. Consider Eleazar as an even more rare alternative.

Eliseo- Eliseo made the top 1000 in 2012 but fell short in 2013. With his popular “El-“ beginning and stylish “-o” ending, this Spanish and Italian variant of the Hebrew Elisha would fit in perfectly without being too common (Eliseo reached his peak popularity at only #830 in 1977).

Anton- Cute and versatile Anton returns to the top 1000 after only a brief hiatus in 2013. He’s made significant progress, ranking at #978 in 2012 and soaring to #897 in 2014. Anton isn’t modern, as he peaked before the 20th century, but I think the “-ton” ending makes him super stylish.

Henrik- This sharp variant of the popular Henry appears in the top 1000 this year for the first time, making a respectable debut at #863.

Gordon- Old man names are back in style, so it’s not too surprising to see Gordon resurfacing. Gordon peaked at #70 in 1935.

Leif- This Scandinavian name rhymes with ‘safe’ and is, I think, an intriguing and cool choice. He hasn’t made the top 1000 since 1987.

Dimitri- This cute, unusual, and exotic boy’s name peaked in 1992 at #502, so he’d certainly make an uncommon choice.

Axl- Axel has been around for a while, but this variant debuts this year at #850, perhaps getting a boost from singer Fergie.

Dash- This slick, cute boy’s name makes the top 1000 for the first time this year at #951. I predict Dash has yet to peak!

Chevy- This bold, sporty choice makes the top 1000 for the first time this year at #903.

Judson- This super masculine surname peaked at #431 in 1911 and has been absent from the top 1000 since 1986. I think Judson is very wearable and has several stylish elements.

Bode- Usually pronounced to rhyme with Cody, Bode has appeared in the top 1000 in only two other years: 2010 and 2006. This cute- sounding, sporty name was likely brought into the public eye by Olympic skier Bode Miller. I think it’s a cute name, but with the confusing spelling and similarity to the word “body,” I, personally, wouldn’t choose it.

Anakin- Yes, TWO HUNDRED EIGHTEEN boys were born to extremely dedicated Star Wars fans this year.



Cordelia- I could not be more thrilled to see this beauty finally make the list! Last seen in the top 1000 back in 1950, elegant Cordelia has a vintage feel and a wide variety of nickname possibilities, from sweet Cora and Delia to tomboy Cory and Cody.

Louisa- Soft, feminine Louisa hasn’t been seen since 1969, and I’m glad to see this classic name making a comeback. Most popular over a century ago, Louisa fits in well with other returning classics.

Mattie- Mattie seems like an adorable vintage-style variation, and perhaps a needed update, on the ridiculously popular “Mad-“ names. Mattie was last seen in 2012, and was extremely common in the early 20th century, but she hasn’t ranked within the top 500 in the last several decades, making her an unusual choice despite the popularity of Madison/Madeline.

Bonnie- Bonnie is another cute, older choice making a comeback. Last seen in 2003, Bonnie returns to the top 1000 at #866. She peaked in 1950 at #33.

Emmeline- Sugary sweet Emmeline makes the top 1000 this year for the first time, ranking #907. An adorable update or full name for popular Emma with a lovely vintage sound, I think I actually prefer Emmeline to both Emma and the similar-sounding Adeline. Variant Emmaline has ranked for the last 3 years, coming in at #880 in 2014.

Julieta- Julieta logically expands on the popular Julia/Juliet/Juliana series. She has made the top 1000 in only one other year: 2011.

Faye- I’ve always been attracted to Faye, so I am quite excited to see her making a comeback! I love her simplicity, femininity, and whimsical meaning: “fairy.” Missing from the top 1000 since 1979, Faye returns this year at #908.

Ariadne- I’ve always found this Greek name so incredibly beautiful. With elements of both stylish Penelope and long-popular Ariana, it’s no surprise she’s finally made the top 1000, ranking at #801. I’m sure this mythological moniker will continue to rise.

Jessa- I find this minimalist modernization of outdated Jessica refreshing and very pretty. She barely made the top 1000 for the first time in 2012 at #992 and fell short the following two years. In 2014, however, she seems more firmly seated at #849, perhaps thanks to celebrity Jessa Duggar Seewald.

Frida- For those seeking an uncommon name that isn’t overly frilly, Frida seems like a nice choice, and she’d make a good alternative to very trendy Freya. She’s never been popular, yet doesn’t have a particularly modern sound.

Thea- Delicate Thea first appeared in the top 1000 back in 1965, but she’s currently at her highest ever rank: #776.

Cambria- Only making the top 1000 for the first time in 2009, girly Cambria combines cute and popular elements “cam” and “bri” and has several potential nicknames. She fell short of the top 1000 in 2013 but returns this year at #928.

Reina- While I prefer the similar Raina, I still love the sound of this Spanish name, last seen in 2010.

Nala- Two syllable girl’s names starting with ‘N’ and ending with an ‘ah’ sound seem to be trending, with at least 11 names fitting these criteria appearing in the top 1000. I think simple Nala is very cute and clearly fits in well, yet she’s far from being too popular, making her debut at only #995.

Naya- Like Nala, Naya seems to fit a growing trend. Naya makes a strong top 1000 debut at #778, likely aided by celebrity Naya Rivera.

Landry- An interesting and out of the box surname choice for girls, Landry makes her debut in the top 1000 this year at #981. I bet we’ll see her advance next year, but I’m not sure I can get past the similarity to “laundry.”

Montserrat- I don’t get the appeal, but I absolutely had to mention this adventurous choice for making such a fantastic debut in the top 1000 at #571, surpassing variant Monserrat, which has ranked since 2000. I really don’t find this place name, which means “jagged mountain,” wearable in the US (though it certainly has a history in other countries), but with over 1000 girls receiving Montserrat or Monserrat in 2014, it seems there are quite a few parents who would disagree!

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Head over to Nameberry today for some fun surnames!

Check out my article, “Last Names First: Science hero surnames” on Berry Juice today! 🙂

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Noun Names that Need More Love

Yikes! I’ve just finished my first semester of graduate school and I’m WAY busier than I ever thought I’d be. Namesplash has certainly been neglected over the past few months, but since I have a short break for the holidays, I have the time to give it some much-needed attention! I’ll put an end to the Namesplash drought with some of my favorite noun names.

I, personally, am not a big fan of most noun names. I feel that they often have too much meaning attached to them for the wearer to make the name his/her own.  I do, however, have a soft spot for the nature inspired variety, and I’m sure many of you more open-minded readers can find appeal in others, from flowers to virtues to occupational names. So here are a few unusual noun names I think are lovable:


Atlas– Stemming from Greek mythology, Atlas would make a great alternative for those who love the sound of Silas but find it too common (Silas was #116 in 2013).

Colt– Slick and boyish, Colt is a cool, modern choice.

Flint– Isn’t Flint adorable? He’s a great alternative to Finn, I think.

Justice– One of my favorite virtue names, Justice is a stylish choice, and at #475 in the US in 2013, he’s uncommon but not unheard of. Do you prefer Justice for a boy or a girl?

Reed– My favorite nature name for boys, Reed has a sleek sound and will age well.

Shade– Cool and slightly enigmatic, Shade would fit in with common sounds like those in Shane and Caden.

Thane– As you might have noticed, I love the simplicity of single syllable boys’ names, but simple isn’t synonymous with boring. Thane would make a very unique pick.

Thatcher– This occupational surname has an appealing, on-trend sound.

Warren– A more subtle nature name, I think Warren is perfectly on-trend with his n-ending, and I love that he has more of a classic feel than many modern choices.


Ambrosia– A glamorous floral name that’s a bit over the top for me (I lean toward Iris and Lily), but would sound amazing with a single syllable surname.

Camellia– This frilly flower name is easily balanced out by the tomboy nickname Cam or even sweet and simple Mia.

Echo– An adorable addition to the o-ending trend.

Ember– While Amber is outdated, I think Ember has a completely different feel and could easily take off. The similarity to popular Emma allows Ember to fit in easily.

Joy– Perhaps she’s outdated, but doesn’t the name Joy just make you feel happy? I think she’s ready for revival.

Laurel– Another floral choice, uncommon Laurel combines the sweetness of a flower name with the familiarity of Laura and Lauren.

Magnolia– With the timeless Maggie as a nickname, Magnolia makes a wearable, classic nature name.

Mesa– I think Mesa would make a truly stand-out choice and would age well.

Perry– I think Perry has a uniquely adorable sound, but would you associate it with singer Katy Perry?

What are your favorite noun names?  Would you ever use one?  Share your thoughts here!

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Moniker Morsel: Galilea

The name Galilea (“gal-uh-LAY-uh”) is sure to turn some heads, but with her soft ending and similar sound to mainstream picks Lily and Laila, I think she could make a wearable yet bold option for a baby girl. I like that Galilea could lead to a popular nickname such as Lily or Lea, yet is clearly distinct from the endless iterations of these and similar names.

Origin: Galilea, also spelled Galilaea, is (in several languages) a feminine form of the biblical place name Galilee, a region in Israel. A better known reference is of course the famous physicist Galileo Galilei, whose name shares these roots with Galilea. Thus, Galilea could just as easily acknowledge a religious background as pay homage to a science icon.

Famous Galilea’s: Galilea Montijo is a Mexican actress and comedian.


Gala, Gaia, Lila, Lily, Laila, Lea/Leia/Laea

Sibling Name Ideas:

Galilea & Isadora (Lea and Dora, perhaps?)
Galilea & Genevieve or Geneva
Galilea & Clara

Galilea & Gideon
Galilea & Domenico
Galilea & Willem

(I had to resist some cheesy astronomy-related matchups!)

Possible Combos:

Galilea Aurelia
Galilea Garnet
Galilea Camille
Galilea Grace

Lyra Galilea
Ruby Galilea
Tamsin Galilea
Serafina Galilea

My thoughts:

Galilea is a unique and bold choice, yet she’s grounded in history and comes with a variety of sweet and delicate nicknames, so I think she’s wearable!

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Popular Baby Names: Let’s crunch numbers

The SSA released the top U.S. baby names of 2013 in May. Perhaps you heard, or perhaps this is your first time on the Internet since May.

If you’ve sought out this blog, chances are you prefer uncommon baby names. I’ve heard of people who refuse to consider top 100, or even top 1000, names for their children. Many parents (likely parents named Jennifer, Ashley, Michael, or Christopher) don’t want their kids to be one of 3 in their class with the same name. Others want to stretch their creative muscles when picking a baby name, and perhaps others may feel pressure from their baby-making peers to search for the coolest, most unique name that will turn their friends green with envy.

I, too, have my aversions to popular baby names, and I certainly have my beef with the cutesy, the trendy, and the kree8iv. Today, though, let’s take a step back and look at what makes a name ‘popular’ in this era of baby naming, and whether it’s really so bad to choose a top 100 name.

With regard to the argument that kindergarten classes will be packed to the brim with Sophias and Noahs, consider the fact that the number of children with ‘popular’ names has decreased dramatically in recent years. Last year, 137,991 girls and 163,214 boys received Top 10 names. Now, consider the year 1970: 284,440 girls and 499,229 boys received Top 10 names, more than doubling the counts for 2013! Thus, since far fewer children are actually given ‘popular’ names, it seems much safer now to use a popular name and trust that your child won’t be drowning in a flood of Noahs.

To add to this idea, let’s use the -den trend as an example. Last year, 22053 boys received names OUTSIDE the Top 100 but within the Top 1000 rhyming with Aidan (this number excludes other -den names such as Holden, Madden, and Kamden). That’s higher than the number of Noahs! Thus, are Braeden (#710) and Rayden (#747) really that unique?

So, just for today, let’s put aside our notions of popularity and our obsessions with rankings, and let’s appreciate all names, common or not, for their individual appeal. After all, the reason many of these names are popular may simply be that they are strong, beautiful, and versatile!

Without further ado, I’ll share my personal favorites from the 2013 Top 100:


Elizabeth- with her plethora of nicknames, Elizabeth can always be updated, yet she’ll have a solid, elegant name to fall back on.
Aria- a less frilly, more practical alternative to Ariana
Scarlett- vintage chic
Sarah- another classic that will never sound outdated


William- timeless and sophisticated, but not stuffy
Luke- I love 1 syllable names for boys

Many, if not all, of these names are unlikely to ‘go out of style,’ in my opinion. Sydney and Blake may be exceptions, but I just happen to love them anyway 🙂 These are names that will never sound too young or too dated, and have plenty of character and charm. Yes, they’re in the taboo Top 100, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.

What are your thoughts on this year’s Top 100? Have you ever crossed a name off your list due to it’s popularity?

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Zippy, Zesty X- and Z- Names

From Xander and Xavier to Zoe and Zayden, X’s and Z’s are all the rage.  They certainly make for quirkier, bolder baby names, but many parents seek names that both have history and aren’t overused (these criteria would exclude recently invented names like Zayden).  While I think there are several names in this category that wouldn’t age particularly well, there are certainly a variety of very tasteful and wearable X and Z names.  Here are some of my favorite zesty X- and Z- containing names:


Cruz- A surname of Spanish origin meaning ‘cross,’ Cruz has a sleek feel to it and could easily fit in with modern trends while paying homage to a Spanish heritage.

Lorenzo- An Italian and Spanish variant of Lawrence, Lorenzo is also the name of a ruler of Florence.  Lorenzo has an older, vintage feel, and would make a great off-beat alternative to the trending Leonardo.

Zadok- Zadok is a biblical name of Hebrew origin meaning ‘righteous.’  Whether you’re seeking a more grounded alternative to the modern invented name Zayden, or an update on the classic Zachary, Zadok seems to achieve the perfect balance of fitting in and standing out.

Zedekiah- Another biblical name, Zedekiah means ‘the Lord is just.’ Zedekiah ranks outside the top 1000, yet I feel he’s just as accessible as Zachariah. Zed is a great simple, slick nickname, just like Zack.

Zuriel– Zuriel is a biblical name meaning ‘stone.’ His sound a bit more ‘out there’ than that of many of the others on this list, but I think Zuriel would make a great alternative to the popular Gabriel.

Lennox- Falling somewhere between Leonardo and Knox, Lennox is on trend, fairly simple, and made super cool by the X ending.

Lex- A diminutive of Alexander, the cool Lex could work well both as a nickname and as a given name.  He’d sound great with a longer surname, I think.

Paxton- This English surname has a cute, trendy sound, fitting in with Peyton and Jackson. I think Paxton is one of the few names of this style that could truly age well.


Adaliz- A gorgeous, unusual name to add to the Addie club, Adaliz is of German origin and means “noble.”

Azalea- This floral name is on the rise, ranking #900 in the US in 2012 and #631 in 2013. Azalea is is flowing, special, and I think, pretty wearable.

Aziza- Aziza is of Arabic origin and means ‘powerful’ or ‘beloved.’ She’s clunky but spunky, and if you love the Z sound, she could be just what you’re looking for.

Eliza- Eliza is perhaps my favorite of the names stemming from Elizabeth.  She’s a little vintage and she’s simple and sweet, but not at all boring.

Fiorenza- This glamorous Italian variant of Florence is sure to make a splash. Meaning “flowering,” Fiorenza is feminine and lively.

Hazel- Hazel fits into several trendy categories, from vintage monikers to nature names, and has a delightfully sweet but not-too-feminine sound.  She’s on the rise but hasn’t broken the US top 100…yet!

Nazanin- This beautiful Persian name means ‘sweetheart.’

Zara- This versatile name of multiple origins is sweet and simple with just a dash of quirky.

Calixta- A Spanish variant of the Greek Kallisto, Calixta means ‘most beautiful.’  Calixta is a bold choice, but the girly nickname Callie could make her very wearable.

Xanthe- Xanthe is a beautiful Greek name meaning ‘golden.’ She’s feminine but not excessively girly, and she’s unusual but accessible.

Xylia- Xylia can be pronounced “ZYE-lee-uh” or “SEE-lee-uh” (like Celia). The name may have multiple lineages, but at least one is from the Greek word for ‘forest-dweller.’  I personally think the “Celia” pronunciation is prettier, but if you’re looking for something bold and lively, the alternative pronunciation could work for you!

What do you think of X and Z names? Would you use any of these?

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