For the 'different, not weird' baby namer

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Ember– While Amber is outdated, I think Ember has a completely different feel and could easily take off.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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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?


Cool Biblical Baby Names

Here are a few less common names from the Bible to consider!




Seffora (form of Zipporah)

What are your favorites? Add to the list!

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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
ElĂ­as– On trend
JerĂłnimo– 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!
MatĂ­as– 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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S Ending boy names

S endings are hip and cool for boys. Perhaps you’ll fall for a name that sounds like a plural noun (Myles) or perhaps a Latin inspired name (Marcellus). Either way, S endings provide a treasure trove of cool options.

“Plurals” (I love these!)

Other S-ending names
Gus (Short for the trendy August, perhaps?)
Matthias (Can be pronounced ma-THIGH-us or ma-TEE-us)

What’s you’re favorite S-ending boy’s name?

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