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Ask BabyNames

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

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Initials may be teasable?

Hi Jennifer,

My husband and I are trying to agree on a girl name. I like the name Leah, but my husband pointed out that with our last name her initials would be L.D. (without her middle initial). He thinks that she’ll get teased because LD is also short for learning disability.

What do you think? Is it really that noticeable or do you think initials are really that important?

Please help!

Thanks,
Raelyn

Dear Raelyn,

Maybe I’m out of it, but I really didn’t associate the initials with the acronym.  Is this common in schools? If so, perhaps it would be teasable, but very remotely. 

Here’s some homework: do some “field research” and ask some kids what they think of the initials LD. See if they make the association.  Always go to the source!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

For the love of Beatrice

Jennifer,

My fiancee and I are already considering names for when we decide to start a family. We both love Beatrice (especially me due to the name’s wonderful association with Dante’s poetry), however, my last name starts with an S and our fear is that Beatrice S**** will be too cumbersome to pronounce because the two S-sounds will run together. We’ve already looked at alternative forms such as Beatrix, Beatricia, Beatriz, etc., but we prefer Beatrice. Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Cole

Dear Cole,

Having a first name that ends with the same sound as the beginning of the last name does put a little burden on the child. For example, if you were considering Taran Nagel – people wouldn’t know if you were saying “Tara Nagel” “Taran Egel” or “Taran Nagel.”  The child would be doomed to spell it his/her entire life.

However seeing that Beatrice and your last name (which I saw on your email) are both common and cannot be confused with other names, I don’t see it being a problem with spelling or pronunciation.  I’ve said the name several times out loud and it’s not a tongue twister.

I say if you love Beatrice, go for it!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

Hail to the Elf Armies!
Hi Jennifer,
I was wondering what the name Alpherie meant. It was my grandfather’s name, and it’s not on your site. Do you know anything about it?
 
Sincerely,
Jean
Dear Jean,
As far as I can tell from my research, Alpherie is a French derivative of the German name ALFHER or more modern name OLIVER. It literally translates to “elf army” with alf meaning “elf” and “hari” meaning “army.”
Contrary to what most people believe–and other sites misstate–the names Oliver and Olivia do not mean “from the olive tree/branch.” They are both derivatives of this same name and meaning!
Hail to the Elf Armies!

Jennifer

Nadia+Aria = Nadaria

Hi Jennifer,
I was messing around with names recently and came up with Nadaria, a mix of Nadia and Aria.

I was thinking it could mean hopeful melody and am now thinking about using it for my first daughter.

What do you think?

Thanks, Anna

Dear Anna,

I think Nadaria is a great name.  I really like when people create names, especially when they are easy to spell and easy to pronounce. If you think about it, all names were “created” names at one point, right?

If you love it, use it!

Sincerely,

Jennifer

VIDEO: Name Sniping

Hello!  I’ve decided to answer some of our reader questions on video! Today’s topic is baby name sniping: when you’ve planned to use a baby name and someone close to you decides to use it first! This is particularly frustrating if you’ve chosen a unique name.  Have you experienced name sniping?  What do you think about the subject? Comment me on YouTube or drop me a line. ~ Jennifer.

 

Perception of the name India
,

Hi Jennifer,

I’m wondering about your thoughts on the name India. When choosing a name for me twenty-two years ago, my parents considered both India and Hilary, however, they went with the latter because they were too nervous to give me such an exotic name.

To this day, we all love the name, however, many people have criticized it. They say it sounds, for lack of a better term, like a stripper name. My mother’s name is Jane, my middle name is Jane, and I think India Jane sounds classy and unique. Not only that, I am a huge fan of Gone With the Wind, and I know there is a character named India in the novel/movie. It is easy to spell, and pronounce.

Is it cheap sounding? Would it be associated with the country?

Thanks, Hilary

Hi Hilary,

I’m not sure if you’re asking about the name India for you (changing your name) or for a baby or a character in a novel. Either way, I can only give you my opinion.  I do not perceive the name India as being cheap, at all.  Yes, it is a place name and therefore will be associated with the country. For a fictional character, you are right: it is easy to spell and easy to pronounce and therefore gets my approval! As an aside, Margaret Mitchell did an awesome job naming her characters in GWTW.

From the point of view of an American, the name India could seem “exotic.” But exotic does not equal exotic dancer! I don’t see India as a stripper name, at all.  But like I said, everyone has their own name perceptions.  Maybe I can put a call out to the readers of the column?  What do you think?

Sincerely,

Jennifer

Gloriette

Dear Jennifer,

My grandmother’s first name was Gloriette, pronounced glory-et. I’ve tried looking up this name before with no luck. Does the name come from somewhere? People used the nickname Glo for her a lot. That side of the family also has a strong French Canadian background. Thank you for any information you might be able to give!

Sincerely, Alexandra

Hi Alexandra,

Yes, the suffix -ette is a diminutive used to mean “young” or “little” in the French language. Gloriette, then, would mean “Little Gloria,” most often used for a daughter–or relative–of someone named Glory or Gloria.

It would have the same meaning, then, as the name Gloria: “Glory (to God).”

Sincerely,
Jennifer

The name Chapin

Dear Jennifer,

I recently watched a movie called “Triple Dog” and the main character was a girl named Chapin.

I noticed you didn’t have it on the website and I would really like to know what it means.

Thanks, Anna

Dear Anna,

That’s a great question!  Chapin is a surname that is derived from the French word “eschapin” or Spanish “chapín,’ which both mean a type of women’s shoe. 

Most probably it was used as an occupational name for a shoemaker or someone who wore this type of footwear.

I remember musician Harry Chapin (“Cat’s in the Cradle”) and think it would make an awesome first name. I have added it to the database!

Good luck,

Jennifer

Liam or Asher?

Hi Jennifer,

Which name do you prefer, Liam or Asher with the last name Bowman?

Sincerely,

Ashley

 

Dear Ashley,

If you say both names out loud, Asher Bowman sounds better than Liam Bowman. With Liam, the ‘M’ in both the first and last name makes it a little clunky.  Also, Liam is trending high and we predict will be the #1 name for boys very soon.  If you do not want a super-popular, trendy name, then that would be something else to consider.

Sincerely,

Jennifer

How to Ask Jennifer

I receive hundreds of emails a month asking for name advice. I do love researching names!  However there is a right and a wrong way to ask. So I thought this was worthy of a post:

1. If asking about the meaning of a unique name, first look up alternate spellings of the name in question. Sound out the name. In other words, please don’t ask me what “Tiphanie” means because it’s not in our database. In these cases, I take a drink of my coffee (or wine if it’s after 7pm), mumble “People are stupid” and press DELETE.

2. If you are asking about a family name, it is helpful to know: your surname, where you grew up, and the ethnicity of the person with the name. Names are very much tied to region, and that cuts down immensely on research time. I’m more likely, then, to take a drink of my coffee (or wine if it’s after 7pm), say “THANK you!” aloud and commence my research on your name.

3. Please do not ask me to suggest names for you. I am busy running a big company and rarely have time for name consultations unless they are paid–and when I do agree to be hired, I charge beaucoup bucks. Bucks that would be better spent on a crib. Or coffee and wine, for when you’re not pregnant anymore. If you want solid name advice, join our BabyNames Community. There are many parents, name-o-philes and even several name experts in our community that are happy to help you!

4. Keep it simple. If your email/question requires me to scroll and scroll and scroll, chances are I’m already bored with the story and have jumped out of my chair to refill my cup. This does NOT contradict #2, as most times the long letters are about family drama, in which I am not interested as I have more than enough of my own.

5. If you have created a name, don’t ask me what it means. And don’t tell me it means “Beautiful Princess” because it does not.

Cheers,
Jennifer
glass-of-red-wine