For the 'different, not weird' baby namer

Nerdy Namesakes: choices for the LOTR lover

While I’m no Lord of the Rings aficionado, I have always been intrigued by the beautiful, often Welsh-inspired names in Tolkein’s novels. Considering the strong passion of many LOTR fans, I thought it might be interesting to explore wearable names from the trilogy. Here are a few I find attractive and potentially usable, at least for the adventurous baby namer. You’ll find names of characters ranging from obscure to essential, but I think all could be used to pay homage to a favorite novel.





My personal favorites are Théoden and Nienna, as I think they’re highly unusual names that would fit in wonderfully with modern name trends. I also love Arwen, Mairen, and Miriel!

Are there any Tolkein-inspired names you’d consider?


Moniker Morsel: Colette

The lovely French Colette just oozes femininity and glamour.  I think she could one day stand alongside Charlotte and Cora.

Origin: Colette is a French diminutive of Nicole, meaning ‘victory of the people.’

Famous Colette’s: Colette is a French writer.  Colette Carr is a young American musician.

Sibling name ideas:

Cora, Lucille, Rochelle, Diana, Stella

Justice, Casper, Sebastian/en, Christophe, Arlo


Colette Amabel, Colette Ismay

Amelia Colette, Nina Colette


My thoughts: I think Colette is a beautiful name that can go over the top, but can also be kept very classy and wearable in the right combo.  I think it can make a very sweet, ageless name!



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Names of Norway

Check out these intriguing names that make the top 100 in Norway in 2012, but not in the US!





What do YOU think of these popular Norwegian Names? Which would you use? Which do you think could catch on in your own country?

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My take on Nameberry’s Cool Unusual Boys’ Names

EEK! Yesterday Nameberry posted their Best 100 Cool Unusual Boys’ Names!

I’ll pause while you shriek/faint/dance with excitement.

SO I thought I’d share my personal thoughts on the list. There are some serious gems here, as well as a few I’m not feeling.

I love:

Aldous- Love Aldous Huxley, and his name is so sophisticated, but not too complicated (like, say, Algernon). And it comes with the approachable nickname, Al.
Calloway- Calloway has been on my list of favorites for a while, and I’m glad people are bold enough to use it! Not sure I am, but I adore the melodic sound and the nickname Cal.
Garth- I’m surprised this isn’t more popular thanks to country star Garth Brooks. The name is sleek, masculine, and pretty badass.
Keene- Clean and cute but not immature, I hope to see this name flourish!
Keir- I might be biased, as I know an adorable little Keir. With the popularity of Irish names like Kieran, I’d bet Keir is in the upswing.
Nicasio-OOOH! Trendy ‘O’ ending, several cool nickname possibilities, and a delightfully different sound. Intrigued!
Ogden- In my opinion, a much more sophisticated twist on the ‘den’ trend
Osric- LOVING this. Refined, and somehow complex and simple at the same time. Like a dressed-down Oswald, or dressed-up Eric.
Webster-In general I’m not the biggest fan of surname names, but something about this one makes it seem wearable.
Zed- Cool, sleek, and different.

I am totally not into:

Birch- To me, Birch is awkward, though Nameberry singled it out as a favorite
Driver- A bizarre choice. ‘Driver’ makes me think of a stereotypical excessively wealthy person yelling at their limo driver
Mackson- An awkward blend of Mason, Mack, and Jackson. Not working for me.
Oak- Sounds…truncated?
Phelan- There is no way to pronounce (or mispronounce) this name that has a good connotation. Felon? Failin’? Feelin’?
Pilot- Another occupational name…they’re not my taste
Satchel Satchel? Purse? Handbag? Pouch?

I’m intrigued by:

Cyprian- a delightful update on Caspian.
Finch- From Darwin’s Finches to Atticus Finch, this name is just too delicious to pass up!
Kelso- cute, rocking the ‘O’ ending
Saber-a badass name that, to me, is somehow softer than Dagger or Blade, but still cool.
Severus- Harry Potter fan geek-out time!

How do you feel about these names? What names on Nameberry’s list are interesting to you?


Honoring a loved one whose name you don’t love

With older “vintage-style” names coming back into style, many of our grandparents’ and great grandparents’ names would hardly raise any eyebrows. But some parents prefer more modern styles, and others just can’t fall in love with their favorite aunt’s appellation. One option is to tuck the name away in the middle spot, but if this feels wrong, there are certainly other ways to make it work. Here are a few ideas for how to modify hard-to-love names.

1. Use a diminutive. Former ‘nicknames’ are now making frequent appearances on birth certificates.

2. Use an international variation. Many names have several variants in other languages, some of which may be more attractive, and are almost certainly more interesting and modern to English-speakers’ ears.

3. Use a name with a similar meaning. This more cryptic approach may take some convincing to get family members on board

4. Use a similar sounding name. You’ll still hear your loved one’s name, but your child can make it all his/her own.

Put these suggestions to the test with some names I find unattractive or outdated:

Barbara–> International variations, such as Varvara or Varinka (Russian) or Baibin (Irish), may work best for this one.
Bernice–> Veronica is actually a variant of the Bernice in several countries. Nika is another possibility, as it is a dimunitive of Veronica. For a similar sound, consider Necia.
Bertha–> Berta, the Polish version, may be more wearable. Similar sounding names include Birdie, Bettina, and Bertille.
Carol–> Carol is derived from Charles, as are many other lovely female names. Alternatives include Caroline, Carla, Carly, Carlotta, Charlotte, or diminutive Carrie.
Eunice–> Eunice means “victorious.” One might use Victoria or Victor to honor a bearer of this dated, unappealing-to-most name.
Gertrude–> Wearable diminutives include Trudy/Trudi and Gerri/Gerry/Gerrie, which fits in with other unisex nicknames like Charlie and Georgie.

What names grace your family tree that you just can’t seem to love as much as the original bearer? Would you consider modifying the names? What would YOU suggest?

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Moniker Morsel: Abraham

Biblical, historical, and rhythmic, Abraham is an unexpected and refreshing choice for a boy. With multiple international variations and nicknames to choose from, including the warm, familiar Abe and the sleek, modern Bram, I think Abraham is certainly accessible.

Meaning: Hebrew “father of many”

Famous Abraham’s: Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States.

Sibling Name Ideas:

Eisha, Araminta, Bianca, Edeline
Arlo, Nicholas, Ezekiel (Love the sibset Bram and Zeke!), Josiah


Abraham Iago, Abraham Quincy
Emmett Abraham, Walter Abraham

My thoughts:
Abraham is a masculine, strong choice. He is grounded in history and sounds refined and mature, yet I think he’s easily accessible in today’s naming climate.

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Stylish Alternatives to the Top Ten Boys’ Names 2012

1. Jacob

I personally love Jacob and his cute, boyish, yet sophisticated style regardless of popularity. For those looking for a similar name that will stand out, consider Caleb, Jett, Jabez, Jared, and Zebulon.

2. Mason

Mason isn’t my personal taste. I think the name is kind of cute, but otherwise bland. I’d liven it up with one of these alternatives: Wyatt, Harrison, Brennan, Donovan, or Beckett.

3. Ethan

Ethan is cute, yet easy to wear as an adult. Match his style with a name like Graham, Wesley, Etan (Hebrew), Owen, or Dawson

4. Noah

Another biblical name, Noah is soft and sweet. Instead, try Niles, Josiah, Adlai, Jonah, or Asa.

5. William

William is strong, refined, and loveable. Consider Warren, Caspian, Miles, Maximilian, and Samuel as equally regal alternatives.

6. Liam

A diminutive of #5, Liam is a trendy take on an old classic, but still has plenty of history in Europe. To match his short and sweet sound, try Gage, Lorcan, Reed, Lyle, or Milo.

7. Jayden

Jayden is cute and keeps up with the “-ayden” trend that’s taken over this generation of baby naming. To break away but still fit in, try Keegan, Jovan, Alden, Stellan, or Riordan.

8. Michael

Always wearable, sweet, and strong, Michael is a timeless choice. Less common options include Timothy, Conrad, Mack, Levi, or Raymond.

9. Alexander

For Alexander’s strong and timeless style, try Evander, Leander, Lincoln, Dominic, or Julian.

10. Aiden

Aiden is the king of the “den” trend. More refreshing choices include Keaton, Cedric, Clayton, Damian, and Trevor.

Share your thoughts on the U.S. Top Ten! What alternatives would YOU suggest?

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Moniker Morsel: Xanthe

Xanthe is not yet ranked in the top 1000 in the U.S., but I think it’s a beautiful name that has potential to make it up there! Xanthe gets along well with trendy Daphne, Phoebe, and Zoe, but I think she has a little extra “X-factor” (no pun intended).

Roots: Xanthe is a Greek name meaning “yellow” or “blonde-haired.”

Famous Xanthe’s: In Greek Mythology, Xanthe is a daughter of Oceanus.

Sibling Name Ideas:

Daphne, Vivian, Marnie, Violet
Andre, Zachariah, Max, Vincent


Xanthe Laurel, Xanthe True
Elena Xanthe, Brenna Xanthe

My thoughts: I LOVE Xanthe! It’s unique yet accessible. I hope to see it rise a bit in popularity!

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2012 Top Ten Girl Names Remodeled

Do you love the sound of some of the most popular US baby names but hate the idea of using a ‘common’ name? For those who avoid the Social Security Top 1000 like the plague, here are a few lovely alternatives to some of the most popular girls’ names last year.

1. Sophia

To achieve the soft, feminine, timeless qualities of Sophia, try Saskia, Maria, Gabriella, Simona, or Louisa.

2. Emma

Emma is girly and sweet. Instead, try Etta, Emmeline, Eira, Annie, or Nola.

3. Isabella

Isabella is fit for a princess! Other glamorous names include Antonella, Calista, Estelle, Amabel, and Isolene.

4. Olivia

Like Sophia, Olivia has a timeless feminine quality. Consider Odette, Elena, Livia, Eleanor, and Ivy instead.

5. Ava

Ava is cute and simple, and contains a stylish ‘V.’ Some alternatives are: Vera, Adele, Adria, Eva, and Calla.

6. Emily

To match Emily’s spunky rhythm and classic femininity, try Felicity, Amity, Everly, Carly, or Briony.

7. Abigail

Abigail is a beautiful, versatile name with cute nickname possibilities. To match her style, consider Arietta, Caroline, Fiona, Pamela, or Clarissa.

8. Mia

Mia is short and simple yet lively. Alternatives include Isla, Kia, Mira/Myra (MEE-rah/MYE-rah), Nina, and Meta (I’ve heard this pronounced MAY-tah).

9. Madison

Madison is a cute ‘unisex’ name with an edgier sound compared with the rest of the top ten. Consider Brogan, Teagan, Hadley, Martine, and Madigan.

10. Elizabeth

Elizabeth is classic and elegant. For a less common alternative, try similar styles like Alba, Helena, and Lucille, or names with the same root, like Lisette and Elsa.

Of course, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a popular name. Names are often popular because they’re beautiful!
What do you think of these alternatives? What would you suggest?

Be sure to check back for Top 10 boys’ names: revamped!

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