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Ask BabyNames

Name advice from Jennifer Moss, founder & CEO of
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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!


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.


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!
p.s. You can ask me a question via Twitter by using the hashtag #AskBabyNames

Polish Name Roots

Dear Jennifer,

I have always been fascinated by names, especially since I have an unusual name myself. I am of part-Polish heritage and have always struggled to get information on the Polish names that I have found on my family tree. I was wondering if you could tell me the meaning of the name Feliksa and if you think it would work in non-Polish society? Also would it be possible to give me any history of the name Eugeniusz? It was my grandfathers name and although quite popular for a time in Poland I have never been able to find any reliable information on it in English.

Thank you so much for the help,

Hi Genevieve,

Both Feliksa and Eugeniusz are variations of the Latinized names Felicia or Felix and Eugene. Felicia means “Happy, Prosperous” as Eugene means “Well born.”

Just like dictionary words, most names have roots and offshoots (prefixes, postfixes) that can be traced back to Roman or Latinized names.

Hope that helps!

Polish actor Eugeniusz Bodo and his dog Sambo

Polish actor Eugeniusz Bodo and his dog Sambo

Soundalike Names for Mom & Daughter

I recently came across the name Kenley and fell in love with it. I am just concerned if I ever decide to use it if it will clash with my name, Mckenzie?


Project Runway's Kenley Collins

Project Runway’s Kenley Collins

Hi Mckenzie,

You have to decide if there would be confusion in your household between the names Kenley and Mckenzie. Since they both have the root Ken, and end with the same ee sound, they are very similar names. I also see by your email address that you go by “Kenzie.” Is there a reason you want a name so similar to your own? I usually don’t recommend that children are named after their parents as everyone in the household should have his or her own identity.

Since it sounds like this is theoretical and you are not yet pregnant, I would see what happens when you and your partner are expecting and bring some other names to the list.


Popular and Trendy Names


I am currently pregnant and I don’t know the sex of the baby yet, but I already have a two-year-old named Owen. It seems that I am drawn to some of the more popular names, like Olivia or Henry. I do not want to meet other children and find out every other kid has the same name as my child. I know that there are a lot of names now as people create names and bring back older names, but I am still worried. What would your advice be? My friend told me she was on a flight with three infant girls that all turned out to be named Sophia. I just don’t want that to happen.

Thanks for your thoughts!


The name Piper is rising in popularity due to the hit show “Orange is the New Black”

Hi Jackie,
Well, if you are drawn to popular names, you’re going to meet other children of the same age group with that name. You can’t copyright a name and you can’t stop others from using it.

If you want to avoid trending names (or soon to be trending), take a look at the Popularity Lists. It is curated from our members’ favorite name lists and has actually predicted the birth name trends from 1-3 years!

Another way to see if a name is going to hit the top of the charts is to see how fast it’s rising. You may have heard the term “Number one with a bullet” from the music industry. It means that the song rose FAST on the charts! If you see a name was not on the charts one year, and #50 the next, and #12 the next, most likely it will keep rising.

Some girls’ names that are rising fast are: Elsa, Annabelle, Ivy, Hazel and Piper.

Hope that helps!

Feliz Navi – What does Navi mean?

Dear Jennifer,

Navi (NAH-vee) is a name I wanted to add to my list but you do not have it in your database. Looking up other databases I found different results.

I found Navi (nay-vee) as a boys name, based off of “navy”. I found a girls Hebrew origin meaning “to name” and a Hindi, Sanskrit origin meaning “new” but also with varying pronunciations of (nah-vee), (na-vee) and (nay-vee). I also read it is a popular shortened version of names beginning with “navi” in Hindi and Sanskrit.

I have met two females with the name “Navi” but both were nicknames to longer name both of different middle eastern origins.

Any thoughts or different info? Would it be possible to get this name added to the database? Thanks!!

Holly F.

Dear Holly,

Navi_ArtworkNavi is most often used as a female name, originally a diminutive form of the Hindi names Anavi or–like you mentioned–any female name that begins with Nav like Navya, Navita or Navistha. In pop culture, Navi has become more popular due to the fairy character of the same name from the game The Legend of Zelda.

I do not believe it is used as a variation of the word “Navy” and the most likely pronunciation would be “NAH-vee.”

Hope that helps!

Name Suggestions

Dear Jennifer,

My husband and I adopted a Maine Coon kitten last night…and of course went through the sweet agony of finding a name for her. We finally picked the name “Maya”. I checked your website AFTER we named her and found that yall had suggested that the following names would also please us: Ava, Mia, Olivia, Ella, Isabella, Emma and Chloe!

Believe it or not, the other names we had considered…in chronological order were: Chloe, Emma, Eva, Mia, Mila, Mimi, and Ella…In short, your website ROCKS!!!!!


Iman L.

kittenDear Iman,
It’s so great to hear that our collaborative filter works and thanks so much for the kind words! A collaborative filter is just a long name for the section on each name page that says “People who like the name —- also like…” The data comes from our members’ name lists, of which we have over half a million! I like to vote on them.

Have fun with your new kitty cat. Maya is a beautiful name!


Olivia’s True Meaning

Hello Babynames!

My name is Olivia Marie and I love your website. I do not have children but I have a very lengthy baby name list saved for when the time comes. I think there is so much in a name; I was that girl picking names out when I was 8 years old! That list has changed since then but one name I have always loved is my own name, Olivia. As much as I love your website, I am a bit troubled by the meaning you have for the name Olivia. I must tell you that you are the only website out of many that has it listed as ‘Elf Army’. I am curious where that came from? Every book that I have looked in and every other website has the correct meaning which is ‘Olive’ or ‘Olive tree’. Before I sent this email I did some digging to find out it’s origin and to refresh myself on what the Olive tree symbolizes. The Olive tree symbolizes dignity, peace, purity, and strength among other things.

I am aware that your meaning is not deterring people from naming their child Olivia since it is among the most popular. However, I do think that you should have the correct meaning since you are such a popular site. When I type in ‘baby names’ in Google yours comes up first. There are pretty names that have unattractive meanings but Olivia is not one of them. A name is more than just what we sign on paperwork or how others identify us. It is a identity in itself. It is what we are wrapped in, what we grow into. It is multiple parts of someone; their culture, personality, respectability, and so much more.

For this reason would you please consider correcting the meaning of the name Olivia on your website? Thanks so much! Now back to my list… 😉

Hi Olivia,elves

We get at least one message about Oliver/Olivia each month. :) We’ve done extensive research on this name and found that most sources credit this name incorrectly because it has the same sound and letters as “olive.” But the truth is that Olivia is the feminine form of OLIVER/OLIVIER, which most likely originated from the German name “Alfher” rather than the word “olive.” The name Alfher is  composed of the Germanic elements ALF (elf) and HARI (army/warrior).

Yes, now these names are widely associated with “Olive Tree” but that was not its original meaning. Unfortunately many of the baby name books and sites just propagate bad information instead of doing their research! We have two international name experts that research all our names and meanings.


Gender Bender Names


Me and my husband are expecting our third baby and are having trouble agreeing on a name. We already have two girls Lydia Rose & Clara Lorraine. I really like the names Leo, Theo, and Greyson for boy names and if its a girl I would like to name her Myka or Hazel. My husband thinks Hazel is too old of a name and that she would get teased. I on the other hand think its a beautiful name. We were also wondering what you thought of using Leo or Greyson as girl names?


Dear Layla,86th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Well first of all, Hazel has become a very popular girls’ name due to the novel and move The Fault in Our Stars. It was my grandmother’s name, so I’m partial to it. I do not believe your daughter would be teased at all.

Personally, I would not use Leo or Greyson as girls’ names. Greyson is currently at the top of the charts for boys and Leo is just such a masculine name, especially being identified with Leonardo DiCaprio. What about some Leo alternatives like Leah, Liana, Leona. There are so many!


All about Nene


Just wondering if you would know where the name Nene comes from. Pronounced like “knee knee.”

Jess N.

Hi Jess,TV Guide Magazine's 2012 Hot List Party - Arrivals

The name Nene can be traced back to many cultures: Aztec (Nahuatl), African and even Japanese. Most likely it is a variation of the male name John, meaning “God is Gracious.” It could also be a nickname for someone whose name begins or ends in ne or nee, like Renee.  In the case of celeb Nene Leakes, her real name is Linnethia.