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  • Name advice from Jennifer Moss,
    founder of BabyNames.com

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

Meaning of the name Chainie

Hi Jennifer,

My husband’s cousin’s name is ‘Chainie’. I have never heard of this name before until I met her. As far as I know this is not a nickname and is her actual first name. I could not find it on your website so I was wondering if you could shed some light on her name’s origin and/or meaning.

Thank you,

Kaitlyn

Dear Kaitlyn,

Sometimes you just have to sound it out!  Chainie is an alternate spelling of the surname Cheney.  (Remember, our Vice President under G.W. Bush?)

According to the Surname Database, the surname Cheney is from the Old French words “chesne, chesnai” meaning oak tree, oak grove. It is most likely a geographical surname, indicating that the family comes from a certain area of that name or where the oak trees grow.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

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!

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Blending Surnames

Hi Jennifer!

I’d love to hear your advice about blending my last name, Rothschild, (ROTH-child) with my fiance’s last name, Meyer (MY-er). The readily available options are Rothsmeyer and Meychild, (although we’d probably do Rothmeyer or Mychild, to spare our kids the trouble of spelling it over and over for people). Which of those do you think makes the better last name? We are partial to Mychild for some reason, even though it sounds like “my child.” What are your thoughts?
 
Thanks in advance!
Chelsea
Hi Chelsea,
Interesting question. I’ve heard of couples doing this instead of hyphenating. I think it’s a good alternative, since hyphenating can get long and tedious. As for your question, I will apply my tip on first naming to say that Mychild would be the easiest to spell and pronounce.
 
For what it’s worth,  I also kind-of like Mythchild–it sounds like a name from a fantasy novel! Rothmeyer is also perfectly acceptable, and I don’t believe your kids would have any problem with that.
 
Good luck and let me know what you decide!
Sincerely,
Jennifer
Christmas Favor

Dear Jennifer,

I was hoping you could help me with one of my Christmas gifts for my mom, whom I’m very close to. We spend a lot of time discussing the potential names of my potential children, and I thought it would be really awesome to get her own name added to your database. My mom’s name is Danon. From what I understand, her name comes from the surname of a character in the movie “Westward the Women”, and the surname is a Catalan derivative of the name “Daniel”. I could be wrong, but you’re the expert here!

Please and so many thanks!
Cate

Dear Cate,

Danon is indeed a surname variant on the name Daniel, which means “God Is My Judge.” Merry Christmas, we have added it to the BabyNames.com database: http://www.babynames.com/name/DANON

Sincerely,

Jennifer

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