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Name advice from Jennifer Moss, founder & CEO of BabyNames.com
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Pronunciation of Maille

Hi Jennifer!

First off, let me just say I love looking at your website. I’ve been coming to your website since I was young just to look at names for fun and I love all the advice you give!

I’ve always wondered how to pronounce the name Maille. I’ve looked up how to pronounce it and some sites it says it’s pronounced like ‘Molly’ or ‘Mehl-leh’ or ‘May-lee’ or ‘My-lee.’ Is there any certain way you would pronounce this name?

Thank you!
Georgie

Dear Georgie,

Maille is a French surname. It came from the name of a small coin, and subsequently a tax of the same amount. Most likely the surname came from a nickname for someone who collected this tax.

In its original language it would be pronounced similar to “My” or possibly “MY-ah.” However, since the name is so rare and nobody in the U.S. really knows the proper pronunciation, you can pronounce it any way that you want.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Cool Vermont Name

Hi Jennifer,

My huband loves going to Vermont, and his parents own a house in Stowe, Vermont. I was looking up names that we could use as a middle name when we have children that had something to do with Vermont, and I found a name that isn’t in your database. The town of Stowe, Vermont was chartered by a man named Benning Wentworth. When I heard the name Benning, I thought it would be good as a first name too. Do you know anything about this name? Thanks!

Sarah K.

Hi Sarah,

Very often early Americans from prominent families were given surnames as first names. This was to show their glowing lineage! As in, “Oh, you’re a BENNING! I know that family.” This naming practice has now become trendy again, but not for those reasons. Names like Mason, Harrison, Taylor and Harper are all top names that were originally surnames.

Interesting fact: Benning is one of the earliest surnames recorded in history. It is derived from the Latin “Benedictus” which means “blessed.” Other related surnames are Bennett, Benedict, and the French Benoit.

Thank you for the new name! I will make sure it is added to the BabyNames.com database.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Kreatyve Name Spellings
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Hi Jennifer,

I was wondering your opinion on using names with non-traditional spellings. My name is spelled in a non-traditional way: Karlee instead of Carly. I am almost always called Kaylee or Callie when first meeting people; not to mention I have to spell out my first name or have it spelled wrong every time. Even after I have told people how to spell my name they still spell it wrong (even family members)! Honestly, it can be a bit frustrating at times. I know my case isn’t as drastic as some such as Emmalie for Emily or Cidnee for Sydney. Just to clarify I’m not against changing a letter or two, and I’m not saying everybody has to be the same either. I just think sometimes people go too far with it. I would love to hear your insight on this. Thanks so much!

Sincerely,

Carly with a K and two EE’s

Dear Karlee,

Personally, I hate them. Professionally, I hate them. For the reasons that you stated, above. When I approach a name professionally, I approach it from the perspective of the child–the person who will bear the name for the rest of his or her life. Can the name be a burden on the child? And how much of a burden? Will he/she have to spell it for people their entire lives?

Some people with (what I call) “Kreatyve Names” say that they like their different spelling. That it makes them unique. But most of them say they only learned to accept it as an adult. As a child, it was a burden.

If you want a unique name, choose a unique name. Don’t choose a popular name and misspell it. Life is hard enough for kids. Any comments from Kreatyve namers or namees?

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Cohesive Sibling Names – yes or no?

Hi Jennifer!

First, I have to thank you for this amazing site! I’m always on here looking for inspiring baby names. I have read nearly every Q&A so I am familiar with your “rules for baby naming”. One thing I have always wondered about, and have never really seen you talk about (forgive me if you have and I missed it!) is if you have an opinion on the cohesiveness of sibling names. Does it matter to anyone out there that all their children have names that mesh well? Or would you have a “Fifi”, a “Zion”, a “Shantel” and a “Keoni” all in the same family?

Thanks!
Casey

Dear Casey,

Thank you for being a loyal reader!

My opinion is that every child in a household should have his/her own identity. I therefore advise against naming children after parents, “matching” twins names or even creating sibling patterns, such as all names starting with the same letter. I understand that parents like to show the cohesiveness of the family unit through naming patterns. It’s sort of like doling out uniforms for a team. However I believe sharing a surname is cohesive enough. Don’t box your children (or you) in with unnecessary name rules! I would love it if I met a family with a Fifi, Zion, Shantel and Keoni! Those are fascinating name choices.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

New Name: Lillia

Jennifer-

I have recently met someone who named their daughter “Lillia” (LIL-LIA). Could you add it to your database? Do you know what the meaning of this name is? Thanks!

Anna

Dear Anna,

The name Lillia is a variant of Lily/Lilly/Lilia and means “lily flower.” I have added it as an alternate spelling to our LILIA page.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Emily too Diminutive?
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Hi Jennifer,

I’ve seen you advise many times not to name your child something ending in -ie or -y. I really like the name Emily for my daughter, but do you think it would age well? Or should I name her Emmeline and call her Emily for short?

Sincerely,
Autumn S.

Dear Autumn,

Emily has been a very popular name in the last ten years and yes, I think it would age well. But because it has been so popular, I would recommend a less common variant, like Emilia or even Emile. Emmeline is a great choice too. Let me know what you choose and thank you for reading my column.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

The Name Joaquin

Hello,

Question… what do you think of when you hear Joaquin? I’m trying to see how this name will work on a Resume when he is older.

Hello,

Answer… I think of the actor Joaquin Phoenix. I’m not sure how the name will work on a resume, but there may be some people who will not pronounce it correctly throughout your son’s school years. The correct pronunciation is “Wah-KEEN.”

Hope that helps!

Jennifer

Seasonal Names
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Hello Jennifer,

I am starting to love month and seasonal names. Right now I like April. Must my daughter be born in April to receive that name or is that tacky? Same with Summer or Autumn, do they need to be born in that season, should I avoid matching birthday with name, or does it even matter?

Thanks,

Ali

Dear Ali,

No, there is no hard and fast rule that a baby named April has to be born in April, or Winter in Winter. However, be prepared, because that is the FIRST question everyone’s going to ask! If you don’t mind, then go for it!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

Beige as a Name
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Hi Jennifer,

I recently met a young lady with the name Beige, and I simply love it! I think it is a great alternative to Paige, and I noticed that it is not in the database! Could you add it?

C Lou

Dear C Lou,

I love adding new names, so yes I have added the name Beige to our database. I don’t know how I feel about it, though, and probably would not recommend it as a baby name. As you know it is a color, but it’s also an adjective for things that are…well, boring. That being said, the name Gray and Grayson have become very popular!

Readers: what do you think about the name Beige?

Sincerely,

Jennifer

Native American Names

Jennifer,

I’ve always loved the name Dakota. While I’m not yet expecting, it’s at the top of our list for a girl as it’s one of the few names we agree on. Recently, though, someone mentioned to me that it’s a culturally insensitive name due to the Native American tribe and that it would be cruel to use it for a child’s name. If I were to name my future daughter Dakota, would people commonly make this association?

Also, I’ve noticed that you don’t have the names Gloriana or Alexianna (a name that a friend of mine made up but that I’ve seen mentioned on a few name blogs) in your database.

Thank you so much for all of the work you’ve put into your site. As an author, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred to it for name inspiration! It’s truly helpful. :)

Jody

Dear Jody,

Thank you for your compliments. As an author, I appreciate it!

To answer your first question, yes. I’ve been told that Native Americans are offended when white people use tribe names for their children. What I was told was that they feel that we have taken so much from them, now we want their names, too? It is insensitive. That being said, Dakota is a U.S. state name and a more widely accepted Caucasian name than say, Cree or Lakota.

As for the second question, Gloriana and Alexianna are both combination names of two other names. To find their meanings, look up Glory and Anna or Alex and Anna. I will put them on our list to add to the database but it’s almost impossible to enter every combination of two names morphed into one!

Hope that helps!

Sincerely,
Jennifer