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?


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
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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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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Looking Ahead: Springtime Baby Names

I am ready for winter to be over! I am SO DONE with the permeating cold, the wind, and the ice that is so determined to sweep my feet out from under me and make me look silly. So, to keep us all in the Northern hemisphere looking ahead to the warm breezes, sunshine, and blooming flowers, I’ve compiled a list of sprightly names suitable for springtime!


Aileana- ‘from the green meadow’
Alba- ‘dawn’
Aliza- ‘joy’ (pronounced ah-LEE-zah)
Antheia- goddess of flowers
Aurelie- ‘golden; soft breeze’
Aviva- ‘springtime’
Chloe- ‘green shoot’
Cira- ‘sun’
Hadley- ‘heather meadow’
Kore- another name for the goddess Persephone
Lara- ‘cheerful’
Linette- ‘songbird’
Magnolia- nn Maggie or Nola!
Maia- a Roman goddess of springtime
Meridel- ‘joyous’
Persephone- goddess of spring growth
Rae- ‘sunbeam’
Sahar- ‘dawn’
Susanna- ‘lily’
Zaria- ‘sunrise; morning star;” Slavic goddess of morning


Apollo- God of sun, light, fertility
Bradley- ‘broad meadow’
Cyrus- ‘sun’
Denver- ‘green valley’
Garth- ‘garden’
Khenan- ‘rising sun’
Kiele- ‘gardenia flower’ (Hawaiian)
Radley- ‘red meadow’
Varden/dan- ‘from the green hill’
Wesley- ‘western meadow’

Personally, I love the names Laurel, Maia, and Wesley, and I’m intrigued by Antheia, Meridel, Garth, and Radley.

What names make YOU think of the cheerful times ahead? Share some names you’d add to the list!

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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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Moniker Morsel: Fiery Fiammetta

Fiammetta is feminine and elegant without being totally over the top.

Origin: Fiammetta is an Italian name meaning ‘little flame.’

Famous Fiammetta’s: Fiammetta Cicogna is an Italian celebrity figure.  Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio used the name for a key character in several of his works.

Sibling Name Ideas:

Alessia, Flora, Freya, Petra, Monica

Domenico, Emilio, William, Cade, Jasper


Fiammetta Simone, Fiammetta Rose

Vivian Fiammetta, Antonia Fiammetta


My thoughts:

I love Fiammetta. She’s super feminine yet accessible. Fia, Etta, and Metta are girly, unique nicknames that would be so sweet on a little one.  I also think Fiammetta would make a chic first name to dress up a short, common surname, like Smith, Jones, or Johnson.



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Nerdy Namesakes: Brilliant Biologists

As a recent biology grad, I have many an idol in the field. Would I deliberately name my child after one of them? Doubtful, but there is certainly a wide variety of wonderful names to choose from!

Charles Darwin- English naturalist most notable for his contribution to evolution theory. Charles is a classic on the upswing, and Darwin is quirky yet dapper.

James Watson-
One of the first, along with Crick, Franklin, and Maurice Wilkins, to recognize the double helical structure of DNA. I can’t see sweet and sophisticated James ever going out of style. Watson would make an interesting choice for the daring namer, and would fit in with popular surname names.

Francis Crick- Collaborated with Watson in the discovery of the double helical structure of DNA. Francis is dated, but could be usable, considering the vintage trend. I cannot bring myself to advocate for naming a child Crick!

Rosalind Franklin- An X-ray crystallographer whose X-ray diffraction images led Watson and Crick to their realization of the structure of DNA. Franklin died at the age of 37, and therefore did not share in the Nobel Prize awarded for the work. Her contribution to the discovery and status as a pioneering figure for young women in science continue to be recognized nonetheless. Rosalind would be a beautiful, sophisticated vintage choice. Franklin may be so old it’s new again.

Carl Linnaeus- (Also Carolus Linnaeus and Carl Von Linne) Known as the father of modern taxonomy. Carl is clean and simple; Linnaeus might be a bit out there. The female name Linnea, however, comes from the genus name for the twinflower, which is named for Linnaeus himself. Linnaea would be a usable alternate spelling.

Thomas Huxley- An English biologist nicknamed “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his public support of Darwin’s ideas. Thomas is a great classic, and Huxley would make a unique, modern choice, with Huck as a potential nickname.

Gregor Mendel- The “father of modern genetics,” Mendel is best known for discovering the laws of inheritance by studying pea plants. I find Gregor to be a darling international option. Mendel would be an unusual and very obvious reference.

Elizabeth Blackburn- A molecular biologist who has made important contributions to the study of telomeres and the telomerase enzyme. You can never go wrong with a sophisticated classic like Elizabeth, and it has such a great variety of nicknames!

Frederick Sanger– The winner of two Nobel Prizes, Sanger made important strides in the areas of protein structure and DNA sequencing. While Frederick is a handsome choice, Sanger is a bit much for me. But hey, there were 7 Sadler’s, 8 Satchel’s, and 7 Sender’s born last year, so maybe Sanger will appeal to someone.

Kary Mullis A major contributor to the improvement of the polymerase chain reaction, an important method for amplifying DNA sequences. Both Kary and Mullis would make unique, potentially unisex choices.

Matthias Schleiden A German botanist best known for his contribution to cell theory, along with Theodor Schwann and Rudolph Virchow. I think Matthias is a very accessible international option. It’s off the grid and fairly rare in the USA, yet it’s stylish and on-trend. With its connection to Matthew, Matthias suits the ‘different, not weird’ criteria perfectly!

I do regret the lack of females on this list. Of course, the list is not comprehensive, and I hope that with these ladies paving the way, there will be even more wonderfully-named women to add in the years to come!

Feel free to add your own favorite biologist’s name to the list!

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Surnames as First Names: A Tribute to Favorite Writers

Surnames as first names aren’t my personal style, but they’re certainly becoming increasingly popular and adventurous. So, here are a few surnames I can live with…and that have the added bonus of paying homage to a literary great!

Alcott (Louisa May)- Strong and unisex (a la Madison, Reagan, and Jordan), Alcott would make a stylish and unique given name. The classic nickname Allie is sweet and simple.

Austen (Jane)- With Austin’s familiarity, Austen is no stretch.

Bronte (Emily, Charlotte, Anne)- Already in use, Bronte makes an unique yet accessible girls’ name.

Eliot (T.S., George)- With Elliot soaring as a boys’ name (and increasing for girls, too), this spelling is very accessible and serves as a subtle reference. Eli is a cool nickname.

Fitzgerald (F. Scott)- Formal and refined, Fitzgerald would be a daring choice, but I like Fitz as a nickname.

Huxley (Aldous)- Plays well with Hadley, Harley, etc. And how sweet is Huck as a nickname?

Verne (Jules)- Verne is unique and appealing as a sleek, modern sounding choice.

Runners Up: Conrad (Joseph), Cooper (James Fenimore), Hugo (Victor) and Lee (Harper)…already commonly in use as delightful first names.

Would you name a child after the author of your favorite literary classic? What do you think of surnames as first names?



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