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Name advice from Jennifer Moss, founder & CEO of
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A Natural Name

Hi Jennifer,

My husband and I have been talking about names ever since we first found out we were expecting our second child. We had decided on Maggie for a girl, and now that we know for certain that we are expecting a daughter, Maggie it is. However, I recently read a celebrity baby name article where someone named their daughter Magnolia and called her Maggie for short. I LOVE the idea!-but, my husband isn’t sure because our last name is Cobb. He fears she might be teased for being a Magnolia Cobb.

Does this name sound too “nature inspired”?

Sincerely, Tia

Dear Tia,

I absolutely love the name Magnolia and LOVE LOVE LOVE it combined with your last name. Magnolia Cobb is easy to spell and pronounce but put together is so distinctly unique it sounds like a very important person.

My opinion: Magnolia Cobb is an A+++ baby name. Run with it! And if you don’t, let me know. I’ll  use it for a character in one of my books :)



Be True to Your Name!

Good Afternoon,

I have a 14 year old Emma, and a 3 year old Matthew with a possible new one on the way. My daughter loves the name True and we considered it for my son had he been a girl. The name of course has popped into my mind again with the surprise blessing. My question is True sounds like a sweetest nickname to me, does Truen (true-in) work for a girl? or am i missing an obvious name to use True as a nickname. I am looking for a name that will not be in the top ten the year after i use it this time?

Thank you.


Dear Frances,

I do like the name True, and at face value Truen does follow my basic naming rules: easy to spell, easy to pronounce.  However it does sound very similar to the word “truant” which means a child who is ditching school.

Truly Scrumptious from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Truly Scrumptious from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

If you don’t mind that association, I’d say go for it.  But bounce it off some friends and do our Coffee Shop Test: when they ask you your name, say Truen. See what kind of reaction you get.

Other suggestions would be Trudy or Truly with nickname True.

Good luck!


Christian: Name v. Faith
Hello, Jennifer!

I’ve been reading your BabyNames site for a while and I really enjoy it. I have a question about the name Christian. Can it be just a name, not connected with religious views of a person who bears it or his/her relatives? I mean, is it OK if people of other religion than Christianity name their son Christian or is the meaning of the name too strong? I just wonder, not having plans of naming someone with that name.

Thank you!

Kitty, from Moscow, Russia

Dear Kitty,

Christian is an adjective. Here in the U.S., yes, the name is closely associated with the religion and I would guess most often used for Christian children.

Personally, I don’t recommend it for any child. It’s what I call an “expectation” name. An unspoken–well really SPOKEN–expectation is put on the child to live up to the name. Same goes with Charity, Honor, Justice, you get the point.

The names Christopher and Christina, however, have a basis from the word Christian and its faith but are not as closely tied to it. If you are open to using similar names, I would recommend those names.




Similar Sibling Names


My boys are 2.5 years apart and we wanted to give them strong Persian names. Our oldest is Darius (Dariush) and our youngest is Darian. I loved their names until recently when people/strangers started commenting on how similar they are, and it’s confusing. Our family voted on our youngest name and chose Darian (who is 16 months old).

Now I’m worried that they are going to be made fun of at school. In your opinion, should I start calling Darian by a nickname like Rian or Ian…..or am I over-analyzing this situation?

My husband thinks Darius and Darian are fine and there is no issue, but I’m losing sleep over this. Your advise is really appreciate.


Shadi (confused Mom)

Dear Shadi,

If you had asked me about your second son’s name before he was born, I would have advised against Darian. Yes, the names are too similar and it is confusing.

However now that Darian is over a year old, he has already identified with his name and I would not go do anything rash like changing it. Your solution is perfect: start thinking of some nicknames that you can at least call him at home that will avoid confusion in the household. If he likes his nickname, he’ll take it to school with him. If not, maybe he’ll choose his own.

Good luck and let me know what you choose!

On Name Sniping
Hi Jennifer,
My husband and I are expecting our first child in a few weeks and we do not know if we are having a boy or girl.  We have been set on a boy’s name for more than two years, and it is actually my great-grandfather’s name, and I love it.
My husband’s distant cousin who lives one state away just had a baby this week and gave their son the same name.  Also, unfortunately, this child shares the same last name as ours.  I feel very heartbroken over this and hate to pick another name as we have become so attached to this one.  I have never met this cousin and my husband has only met him a couple of times in his childhood.  Would it be poor etiquette to keep the same name or should we think of an alternative?
Thank you for your help!
Dear Jessica,
It’s one thing to have a close family member snipe a name (especially if you share a surname)!  That is inexcusable. But I don’t see a distant family member being that much of an issue.
My advice on name sniping:

* If the two children will not be in close proximity, i.e. not live in the same community, not share schools or friends–then it’s not an issue.

* If the two children do not share the same surname, then it’s not an issue.

* If you had made clear your baby name choice and a close relative uses it before you–close meaning a sibling or next-door cousin–then they’re just jerks! Stick to your guns and use it, anyway, following the two points above.

So, yes, stop being heartbroken and use your intended name!  I’m happy to hear from others who have actually gone through this with their relatives or BFFs.



Origin and Meaning of Alyda

Hi Jennifer!

I love your site; it’s Internet candy for me!  I have a quick question about my middle name: Alyda.  It’s tough to find name meanings for it and I have no idea what the origin of it is.  I inherited it from my grandmother (whom everyone called Lyda) and I’ve only met one other person who has this name.  Can you tell me where it’s from and what it means?  If we ever have a daughter, I’ll be passing the name on and I’d like to know the origin.  

Thanks a bunch!


Dear Lauren,

First off, I love the term “internet candy!” Thank you so much for your kind words.

Your middle name, Alyda, is most likely an alternate spelling of the Germanic/Dutch name, ALIDA. Alida was originally used as a diminutive (nickname) for Adelaide, which means “Of noble kin.”  

I have added your spelling to our database. 




Hi Jennifer!
I’ve recently gotten into the show “Game of Thrones” and I have fallen in love with the name Daenerys. I know it’s made up, but I can’t seem to find a meaning of it anywhere! Do you have any ideas? I’m all out except for asking George R.R. Martin himself!
GoT lover.
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen

Dear GL,
I’ve just recently finished the first season, myself, and do love the creative names of the characters! (List coming soon)  As far as I’ve researched, many of the character names were inventions of Game of Thrones’ author George R. R. Martin. Including Daenerys.  He’s done a great job naming his characters, clearly following our advice to make the names easy to pronounce and easy to spell. Well, most of them! The name Daenerys does follow standard Gaelic naming conventions. So unless you contact George R.R. Martin to ask him about his naming thought process, there really is no “meaning” per se.

Since the popularity of the HBO series, there have been baby girls named Daenerys–at least 400 documented!  So if you do decide to use it, she won’t be alone.

Play it again…
Hello Jennifer,
I was researching my family tree, and I discovered my mother has a cousin named Adagio (we call him Donny or Dom, so I always thought his name was Dominic). It was his father’s name and his father’s father’s name. I know adagio is a music term for playing slowly, but I wondered if there was any meaning beyond that. 
Hi Stephanie,
Adagio is indeed a direction for playing music at a slow or slower tempo. Literally, in Italian, it means “To lay carefully, lay down, subside.”
I, personally, have never heard it as a given name! There are records of it being an Italian surname, which may have been occupational (bricklayer or something?) or possibly just “that slow guy.”
Hope that helps!  We’ll add it to our database.
Is Name Spelling a Burden?


I love reading the naming blogs, BUT I have to say my #1 pet peeve is when the “experts” advise not to use a name that is going to cause your child to spell it.  I agree that very unusual spellings can make a name seem less “classy” but simple variations seem perfectly fine to me.  My main irritation is that even the MOST simple of names, take John or Catherine for example, which are VERY traditional, have variations in spellings, and will require your child to spell out their name.  Therefore, I don’t see the point of trying to avoid spelling your name—it’s so common that I don’t think that should be an impediment.  I’ve had to spell out my name my whole life, and honestly it never bothers me.  I’d love to see a poll taken, where people answer whether or not it actually bothers them to spell out their name, before putting such an emphasis on avoiding it…



Dear Joni,

Thank you for your input. We always encourage our readers to tell us about their real-life name experiences. We would love to hear from others about this issue.  Did you have a common name with an unusual spelling? Was it a burden for you? Let us know.



The Dexter Association

Hi Jennifer,

My husband and I have a last name ending in –er so I always said I would NEVER name a child something ending in –er to avoid the rhyming sound. Lately, I’ve been hung up on Trent and he’s liking Dexter…I actually don’t think it sounds as rhyming as a lot of other  –er names and actually do like it, but I’m not sure I like the idea of telling our son we came up with his name from a serial killer on TV. Neither name actually has much meaning either. Thoughts?

Carolyn Cooper

dexDear Carolyn,

Dexter has always been one of my all-time favorite names ever since I first saw the movie Philadelphia Story, where Cary Grant played C.K. Dexter Haven. Then the cartoon came out, and I loved the cartoon and it still topped my (personal) name list for boys. Then came the TV series, eponymously named after the serial killer anti-hero.  And although I loved the series, the name is now unfortunately associated with that character. For that reason, I’d avoid it. At least for now. Perhaps ten years down the line there will be another Dexter that will “cleanse our palette” of the name, so to speak.

That being said, I don’t think you have to avoid “-er” names if you really love them.  The rhyming factor isn’t the issue, but I think I would avoid using a name that was originally an occupational surname–like Parker or Mason. To me, having two occupational surnames is less attractive than the rhyming factor.

Hope that helps!