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Name advice from Jennifer Moss, founder & CEO of BabyNames.com
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Onyx Objectification
,

Hey Jennifer,
I went on your site and looked up my name.
I didn’t get a real meaning except “black gemstone.” I’m sorry, I just think I should have a sincere meaning considering I can’t find my name anywhere. I don’t like being referred to as an object.

I love the fact that you have my name, though.

Sincerely, Onyx

Dear Onyx,

I’m sorry you are not happy with the meaning of your name. On BabyNames.com, we don’t make up the meanings of the names, we research and report them.

Onyx

Onyx


Your name comes from an object, as do many names like Meadow, Axel, Iris, and Crystal! That does not necessarily mean you are that object or that it’s objectifying you. But I have to say, if you have a problem with it…take it up with your mama! Or you can always change it when you turn eighteen.

For what it’s worth, the gemstone Onyx is a strong, beautiful stone. I even named my first band Onyx when I was 11 and wanted to be a pop star. You should be proud to be identified with it!

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Keiran – Boy or Girl?

Hi Jennifer,

My husband and I are having the hardest time coming up with a name for our first child…a baby boy! We like unique names and originally were looking for something to accommodate both his culture and mine. He is Indian (from India, but is Catholic) and I am white, American.

Originally we were looking at Indian names that are easy to say since our son will be growing up here in America but now we aren’t sure what to do and I am due in 5 short weeks!! The middle name is picked out (Charles) as this name is a family name on both sides and the last name is D’Sylva. The only name we have both liked so far is Keiran but I have been told that many people associate this with a girl’s name.

Kieran Culkin

Kieran Culkin

I am becoming very discouraged and am finding this to be very difficult. Do you have any suggestions? My husband want the name to have meaning and not just sound good. Any advice would be very much appreciated, my original goal was to have 5 names on the list and decide when we meet our son but now there is only one and most people tell me it’s a girls name! Not sure what to do….

Thank you so much!
Heidi

Dear Heidi,

Actually here in the U.S. Keiran/Kieran is considered a boy’s name. I don’t really see an issue with Keiran Charles, so if you love it, go for it! Stop listening to “people” as sometimes too much name input can confuse you.

Kieran Culkin (brother of Macaulay) is an actor. Kieran Bowtell is public diplomacy adviser at the British embassy in Madrid. Kieran Gibbs is a soccer player. The name comes from the Celtic Ciarán (Irish) or Ciaran (Scottish) meaning “little dark one.” The female form of the name is actually Ciara.

If anything, I would use the traditional spelling of “i before e” – but that’s up to you!  Let me know what you decide.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

How Dare you Have Foreign Names!

Hello

I have been looking for baby names for a while now and most of your names our foreign! I am English and would nice to see some nice English baby names that I can all pronounce! Awful sight!

You should advertise elsewhere except England!

Sophie W.

Dear Sophie,

See that WORLD in our logo? There's a reason for that.

See that WORLD in our logo? There’s a reason for that.

The staff and name experts at BabyNames.com pride ourselves in providing a database that is ethnically diverse.

A culture that may be “foreign” to you is not foreign to others who may be seeking names within their culture or of another culture.

I’m sorry you feel our sight [sic] is awful because we don’t just limit our database to Anglo-Saxon Euro-originated names. Let me know if you find a website of “Non-Foreign Baby Names,” as I’d be curious to see it.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Moss

Ethnic and Non-Ethnic Sib Names
,

Hi Jennifer,

Let me start by saying I absolutely LOVE this site and reading the Q&A section. Though I’m not a parent yet, I love looking up possibilities for when the time comes.

I recently read a question submitted to you about cohesive sibling names. You replied that you don’t like “matching” twins names or all names beginning with the same letter…and I totally agree with you! However, my question is about siblings with names from different cultures.

I’m Irish, living in Ireland, with a completely Irish background and a future Irish surname, McCormack. I have my heart set on Tuiren for a girl (Tuiren, in Irish legend, is Fionn MacCumhaill’s aunt, famed for her beauty). My problem is Tuiren is the only Irish name I love and my favourite boys names are DLittle_Women_1933_posteraniel, Matthew and Reese. Another favourite girls names would be Lexie. So my question is, would it be weird to name one child such an Irish name and use names from different cultures for her siblings?

Thanks,
Lauren

Hi Lauren,

No, I don’t think it would be weird. Your children will have their own identities and their own lives. Like I’ve said previously, their names don’t have to match and they don’t have to form a “theme.”

My mom use to say, “If I had known I was going to have four girls I would have named you Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy.” (A reference to Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.) Well, I’m happy that we’re Sue, Kate, Jennifer and Mallory!

The only problem I see is that Tuiren is not easy to spell or pronounce, unless it’s different in Ireland…?

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Thanks, BN!
,

Dear Jennifer,

A few months ago, I emailed you a question about names. To recap: my husband gets to choose our second daughter’s name and I was concerned because his front runner was Annabelle and our oldest is named Noelle, nicknamed Noelle-bell.
He ultimately decided against Annabelle and has chosen Lily Christine. I really like the name and was flattered that he chose a variant of my name for her middle name as Noelle’s middle name, Elizabeth, is a family name from his side (my side has several Christians and me, a Christy).

Our little girl is due at the end of June but this is pretty much final as it is written on his “to do” list as “buy a light for Lily’s room.” When I searched the name, Lily Christine was a burlesque actress in the early 20th century but I am pretty sure that will not affect her later in life.

Thank you so much for your help!
Christy

lvDear Christy,

You are very welcome, and I don’t think the burlesque actress will have any affect on your child at all. Congratulations and thanks for the update! Lily is one of my favorite names! I’m born in May and Lily of the Valley is my flower. :)

I also think Lily goes well with Noelle. They both have the double-L without being matchy-matchy sibling names. Tell DH good job!

Sincerely,
Jennifer

First/Last Name Makes a Phrase

Dear Jennifer,

My husband and I just found out that we’re expecting. We don’t know what we’re having yet, but I’ve been thinking about names for a while and really like the name River for a girl. The problem is that my husband thinks it’s more of an actor name than a good name for a kid and doesn’t like the way it sounds with our last name which is Walker. Is there a way to convince him that she’ll be fine with that name growing up and won’t be teased for having the name River Walker?

Thanks for reading my question,
Janice

Dear Janice,

Because “River Walker” is a phrase with two English words, it definitely has connotations. To me, conjures up an image of someone walking on water, I would lean toward “don’t do it.” But I wanted a little more input so I asked our community. The responses I received to the post pretty much agreed with me.

Here is one such response in particular, from a girl named River: River

“Don’t do it. I can’t even begin to express how many people try to make river related jokes upon first meeting me, and then so many people ask for my surname as well to see if they can continue to jokes with that. Relegate River to the middle name slot for this one.”

Other comments:

“The problem to me is that their surname is a word. When your surname is a word, even an innocuous word like “walker,” you have to be careful about using a word name, or else it will sound like a phrase.”

“[No.] River Walker sounds kind of… hippie-ish. That’s like naming her Rain Dancer or something!”

Sorry!  I wish I had a more positive response for you.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Baby Name Briggs

Hello Jennifer!

My husband and I are looking to adopt an infant boy. Last year we had the pleasure of developing a wonderful relationship with a birth mom that grew up with my sister. Her baby was born 8 weeks early and we got to be there with them in the hospital. We named the baby Owen Briggs and spent 24 magical days with him before his mom decided to parent and keep the name. We still maintain contact with them and they are doing well! Anyhow, my husband and I are still considering using the name Briggs for our future son. I’d really like to see the name added to your site! Thank you!

Blessings,
Jessie

Hi Jessie,

What a nice gesture. I researched the name Briggs, which is actually an English surname. It literally translates to “Dweller by the Bridge” and was used for families who lived near or by a bridge! It comes from an old Scottish word for bridge: Bryggia. Related to the place name Brigham (city with Bridge).

We have added Briggs to the database.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Rural Bridge

Two names, Different cultures.

Hi Jennifer,

I am a transgender man and one of the greatest joys of transitioning was getting to choose my own name so that I would feel more “me.” I am now legally Aaron Kai. I chose Aaron because 1) I liked its meaning (exalted, strong) and 2) it is gender neutral when spoken but masculine on paper. Its popularity also coincides with my birth year. I chose Kai because it means “Ocean” and one of my biggest passions is surfing.

I am very happy with my name, however, do you think it is strange to combine a traditionally Hebrew name and Polynesian name as a non-Jewish white guy, or have these names become Americanized enough so that they sound appropriate for my background? For example, I think it might be socioculturally inappropriate for a white man to be named something like Muhammed Enrique or Ezekiel Keoni. Thoughts?

Thanks,
Aaron

Aaron, Oh Aaron

Aaron, Oh, Aaron!

Hi Aaron,

In this day and age it is not culturally inappropriate to combine name ethnicities. Because many people are now culturally combined! Regarding the name Aaron, it is being used across the board by all faiths and cultures in the U.S. Although it is a Hebrew name, it is not perceived as a primarily “Jewish” name in this day and age. As for the name Kai, I actually know a (Caucasian) family who have named their children Hana and Kai because they were enamored with Hawaii and its culture.

I have spoken before about the Native American backlash at white people taking their tribe names as given names. But as far as I know, Polynesians do not take offense. If there are any Polynesian/Hawaiian readers out there that could shed more light on the issue, please write me.

I’m glad you have found a name that suits your passions, interests and personality! Enjoy!

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Graham or Jared?

Dear Jennifer,
My husband and I are trying to decide on a name for our baby boy. It’s between Graham or Jared. We like Jared because we would use Leroy (which is my dad’s middle name) as the middle name so the initials would be JLB which is my husband’s father’s initials. So we would have both families represented.

We are also considering Graham which seems like it’s a softer (less rigid) name. Part of the problem with Graham is that my husband doesn’t really like the initials GLB so we were thinking about having two middle names Leroy and James (which is my husbands father middle name) so again…both families represented but my husband doesn’t really want two middle names.

Do you have any thoughts on this. Thanks for your help!

Sincerely,
Louanna

Jared Fogle of Subway fame.

Jared Fogle of Subway fame.

Dear Louanna,

I’m not a fan of two middle names. I think it’s clunky for a person to bear three given names and just looks like the parents could not decide.

Between Graham or Jared, my personal preference is Graham. Jared has become very popular lately, and I like more unique names. Also, I identify Jared with the Subway guy and the jeweler (“He went to Jared’s!”).

But like I said, that’s just a personal preference–and assocation–and not given from the perspective of a name expert. Ultimately, it’s your decision.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Beyond the Meaning of a Name

Do you agree that names can have meaning beyond what the name book says?

Hi Megan,

Absolutely, a meaning and perception of a name can be very personal and different for each individual. For example if you and your partner have a special place that you’ve shared–for a romantic getaway, honeymoon, or even just a favorite spot–you may want to use that place name for your baby.

Many people will name a child after a favorite fictional character or hero/heroine, mentor or influencer in his or her life.

It’s always great to have a backstory of a name, a story to tell your child that goes beyond the onomastic meaning.

Thanks for writing!
Jennifer
@mossifer
@babynamesdotcom
p.s. You can ask me a question via Twitter by using the hashtag #AskBabyNames