For the 'different, not weird' baby namer

The Beauty of Japanese Baby Names

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, but I wanted to give this one adequate attention. I love Japanese baby names; these names often have lovely nature and virtue related meanings. But, Japanese baby naming tradition is complex, particularly due to the thousands of kanji (characters) that can be used to spell names. Many kanji have the same sound but different meanings; thus, names that sound the same could have many possible spellings and meanings. Additionally, a single kanji can have more than one sound. Here are some kanji (spelled out phonetically, of course) commonly used in names:

ai = love
hana = flower
hiro = man/husband/hero
ichi = one
ji = two
ken = healthy
ko = child (common in girls’ names)
mi = beauty
rou = son
you = sun

Next are some Japanese names I find most beautiful in sound and meaning. You will see that several of the names I’ve listed have 2 part meanings, representing the kanji commonly combined to create that name. Keep in mind that I have grouped names by gender based on my personal preference or most common usage. Many Japanese names are not considered gender specific.


Aimi- Love+Beautiful
Airi- Love+Jasmine
Akemi- Bright+Beautiful
Akira- Bright+Light
Amarante- Flower that never fades
Aya- Color
Ayame- Iris
Chiyo- Thousand+Generations (eternal)
Emiko- Smiling child (there are a variety of other meanings but this is my favorite)
Hanako- Flower+Child
Kaede (“kah-eh-deh”)- Maple
Kaida- Little dragon
Kanon- Flower+Sound
Kaori- Fragrance
Kazuki- One OR Harmony + Radiance OR Hope
Kohana- Little flower
Maiko- Dance+Child
Miya- Increasing beauty
Moriko- Forest+Child
Shiori- Weave+Poem
Suzume- Sparrow
Tama- Jewel
Tsukiko- Moon+Child


Akio- Bright+Man OR Bright+Hero
Daichi- Great+Earth OR Great+Wisdom
Hajime- Beginning
Isamu- Courage
Kado- Gateway
Kaemon- Joyful
Kazuo- Harmony+Man
Raiden- God of thunder (Rai=thunder, Den=Lightning)
Ronin- Samurai without a master
Ryuu- Dragon
Sora (“so-ruh”)- Sky
Taiki- Great+Radiance
Yasuo- Peaceful man
Yoite- Evening rain
Yori- Trustworthy

What are your favorite Japanese names? Please add your corrections and knowledge of Japanese baby naming!

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Full Names for ‘Annie:’ Beyond the Ann Clan

Annie is sweet, spunky, and, I think, ready to be super stylish…She’s classic and a little vintage, but still seems universally wearable.

While Annie is often a full name on her own or a nickname for obvious choices like Ann/Anne and compound names beginning with Ann/Anne/Anna (Annabelle, Annemarie, etc), there are plenty of other ways to get to Annie! Here are some more unusual options: 

Anastasia– Sophisticated and fairly unusual, Anastasia would make a great “different-but-not-weird” baby name choice.

Andromeda– While this glamorous Greek name is a bit over the top for me, I think Annie could soften it up nicely.

Angeline– My personal favorite of the names beginning with ‘Angel__.’I think Annie is a perfect nickname for this sweet, girly moniker.

Aniston– Not a fan, personally, but with this surname name being on the rise I couldn’t leave it out

Annika– Fitting perfectly with the “classic-with-a-twist” trend, Annika would make a lovely choice and perhaps works best on this list with the nickname Annie.

Anthea– feminine, understated, and ethereal, this sweet and special name would make a lovely formal name for Annie.

Antoinette– Again, a bit dramatic for my taste but a beautiful choice nonetheless, and easy to make wearable with Annie as a nickname

Antonella– My personal favorite on this list, Antonella is super feminine and glam but can easily be brought down to Earth with a simple nickname.

Antonia– Skip Toni and go with the girlier Annie!

Anwen– A unique yet simple Welsh name, Anwen is sweet but not overflowing with femininity.

Rhiannon– A GORGEOUS name from Welsh mythology…We Americans may have trouble pronouncing this name correctly though.

Savannah– I love Savannah as a sneaky way of getting to Annie!


What’s YOUR favorite formal name for Annie? Or do you prefer Annie on her own?


Me llamo…

I am preparing for a trip to Central America!!! I am unbelievably stoked. As a baby name fanatic, I thought it fitting to round up some beautiful Latin and Spanish baby names!

Adriana– has a trendy sound, yet is completely wearable and not too cute
Amalia– soft and feminine, could yield nicknames Ama, Amy, or Lia
Ana-a sweet, feminine classic
Carolina– glamorous and spunky, could have nicknames Carly, Cara, or Lina
Catalina– I love this one! So pretty. Nickname possibilities include Cat, Calla, Lina, Catie/Katie, and Callie.
Lucia– Pronounced loo-SEE-uh here, I think this name is just gorgeous, and wearable for all ages.
Magdalena– Love this one too! Very glamorous with a touch of youthful charm and spunk. How about Magda, Maggie, Lena, or Mae for nicknames?
Marisol– I find this name so gorgeous and special
Martina– A girly name with the tomboy nickname Marty. Or, call her Tina for something short and sweet.
Selena– A very feminine name that I imagine flowing beautifully with a variety of surnames.
Valeria-A more timeless variation on Valerie, I hope this name becomes more mainstream.
Ximena– glamorous, yet could yield a fun tomboy nickname…Jimmy!

Ambrosio– manly and refined, but can you think of a good nickname? I veto ‘Bro.’
Andres– A cool Andrew variation
Elías– On trend
Jerónimo– Fun and spunky, this one could have nicknames Jerry, Ron, Ronnie, or Jon.
Joaquin– popularized by actor Joaquin Phoenix, this name wouldn’t come as too much of a surprise in English speaking areas, which is great because it’s a sleek, cool name!
Matías– Cute and very wearable
Thiago– Love this one. I think it’s just the right balance of boyishness and manliness. Very cool.

I just LOVE Marisol. What are your favorites?

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The long and short of it

It has been a VERY busy couple of weeks, and for the first time in a long time, baby names have barely crossed my mind!  Next week I’ll get back to writing, but to get us through the weekend, here’s a quick post about my personal favorite long and short names.

These sophisticated-sounding long names could easily dress up a short last name, and have tons of potential nicknames, while the cool, sleek short names could balance out a long surname.

Antonella- Feminine and uncommon in English-speaking countries, I find this exotic-yet-accessible name to be a great girly alternative to names like Isabella and Gabriella.

Ariadne- I’ve never been sure what I love about this name, but I just think it’s gorgeous! The mythology reference is…unfortunate, but the name is elegant nonetheless.  Less over-the-top and glamorous than some other long names.

Elizabeth– Timeless and ageless, Elizabeth will always be classy and stylish. I just love Elizabeth and all her variations and nicknames!

Fay– I love the simplicity and softness of Fay.  She’s a bit dated, but she’s so sweet and easy to wear, I think she could make a comeback!

Eve– I think Eve sounds so sophisticated.  Though she’s short, I certainly don’t think she’s boring. She’s a stunning classic, and I like the Wall-E reference, too 🙂

Niamh– She rhymes with Eve, but I think Niamh has a more modern feel while retaining the refined elegance of Eve.  Another gorgeous and chic choice, I think.

Ambrogio– For me, this a family name (Italian origin) and I’d probably save it for the middle spot.  I think he’s intriguing though, don’t you?

Nathaniel– Although he’s getting popular, this name has a classic sound, a la William and Daniel, and a cool, crisp nickname in Nate.

Zachariah– I think Zachariah is a more grown-up, sophisticated alternative to the cute Zachary, and you still get to use Zach/Zack/Zac, etc as a nickname.

Max– Max is a warm, comfy sort of name…and he’s a classic that boasts the trendy X.

Dean– I think Dean is universally wearable, and can work equally well for a cute toddler and a professional adult.  Again, simple but not boring.

Blake– Blake is one of the few names that I find are cute and modern sounding, yet I definitely love.  I think he’s fairly versatile, and isn’t SO cute that he’ll be outgrown.


What are YOUR favorite long and short names?


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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?


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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The Naming Climate: Unique but not weird

“Unique but not weird.” This is the holy grail when it comes to baby names nowadays.  Parents today are wrapped up in a frantic search for that one special name that all their friends will think is clever. 

The phrase means something different to everyone.  Some parents choose to breathe new life into an old, forgotten, “granny” name turned suddenly stylish.  Think Arthur, Mabel, Walter, or the wildly popular Florence.  Others prefer a name with firm ethnic roots and a long history, but a history outside the parents’ own home country.  Consider Alessandra, Niamh, Luca, and Callum: names commonly heard in areas of Europe but obscure in America until recently.  Finally, there are parents that want to create something all their own, yet something that still sounds like a name.  These parents might turn to spelling changes (Rylee, McKayla, Jaxon), variations on common names (think Aiden clan members Zayden, Graydon, Kaydyn, etc), or gender-bending names (Maxwell, Elliott, or Parker for girls).  Note that several of the names mentioned here are firmly established names, but still might carry a bit of a shock factor when they reach the ears of a less name-savvy family member. 

Whatever your personal style, it is clear that the current baby naming climate is entirely different from what it was decades ago, as everyone searches for a name that both stands out and fits in.  Perhaps this is a silly, frivolous ideal. Perhaps it is a fantasy never to come to fruition, but certainly, once a child arrives the name will seem far less important.  Regardless of your motivation or your style, please share your thoughts on modern baby naming here at NameSplash!


Welcome to NameSplash!

NameSplash is a diary of baby name thoughts, a collection of themed lists, a place to discuss baby names, and more! Please visit often to share your opinions, ask questions, and to find a baby name that’s sure to make a splash!

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