Duana Names:….And Called It Macaroni

August 17, 2016 20:04:03 Posted at August 17, 2016 20:04:03
Duana Posted by Duana

Hi Duana,

My sister, Dominika, is one week over her due date and totally dunzo. She and my BIL, Paul, still don’t know the gender and have no names at all! They have "writer's block" when it comes to names and have begged for your help. Both times they have decided not to find out the gender and it was so special when we found out her first baby was a boy! They named him Leo (one of their top choices, just Leo...like you said in one of your columns, my buddy Leo!).

So the issue is, we have a very international family, half of whom speaks primarily Polish and the other half is Italian American, based outside of Philadelphia. It needs to be pronounceable (we thought Leo was fool proof but Polish people are crazy about nicknames and he's usually called Leonek or Lilusz by the family). Their last name is Italian and long - starts with S and sounds like macaroni. Paul likes names that start with J. The first time around, Maya and Luke were also strong contenders. I love Julian (family name), works in both languages, and I think my sister and BIL do too but my husband really wants to keep it for us while I'm happy if it stays in the family! If it's a girl, I like the name Vada for them. It goes so well with their long last name.

I personally think my sister had the most beautiful name in the world, so nice with both a European and North American accent :) Really hoping the baby comes soon because this 100°F weather is not helping. Any suggestions you have will be greatly appreciated!

Thank you so much in advance!


You know, I kind of love people who can do this. Your description tells me so much about them. Not only are they just chilling, waiting to find out what kind of baby they’re having and what name is best, they just happened to find the perfect one the first time out, last time they did this. I might love them.

Secondly, I LOVE a nickname that is longer than the actual name. I think it’s the best. I might also appropriate “Leonek” as something I recommend wholesale, no matter how kosher that isn’t. So I feel really good about the chances of them finding a great name again, and everyone in your family making it their own.

I’m vaguely thinking I would steer them away from Julian, though. I deeply love this name but I think it will seem overly decorative beside the spare ‘Leo’, and that Jules might be the better choice. Then again, that eliminates anyone using Julian…I’m torn. I also love Vada, and think that complements Leo perfectly while remaining unusual and fresh.

Staying on the one-to-two syllable tip, to counteract that last name (with apologies for calling your future niece or nephew ‘it’ in the title), what about Thora, Anya -- sure to be turned into Anyanka by your Polish relatives, if Buffy the Vampire Slayer taught me anything at all-- Zosia, or Portia? [Sidebar: I get worried about Portia, which should be back by now. Are there really that many people avoiding it because it’s a sound-alike with Porsche? Anyone know anyone who is using this freely?] Esme would fit in here, as would Nadia, even though it’s a slight syllable cheat—Luna or Dahlia or Sylvie?

For boys, there’s even more opportunity, which you know is something I don’t say that often. Just about everything is on the table, which is spectacular. We’ll get the obligatory Duana faves out of the way: Enzo and Bruno would both pair nicely without being too matchy, and they don’t have complicated pronunciations, right? Moving out from those, how about Ivan? Oscar? Reuben? Leo and Reuben have a really nice rhythm, as do Leo and Rufus, which I’d love to see brought back to life. I’ve been feeling like a D name would work, almost as though the sounds of D and L balance each other out…but I think Dean is too modern and Dante too pretentious. Damon? Dieter? I actually think Dieter and Leo are well-matched, sound-wise, but is it too serious for fun-loving Leo?

Finally, I agree with you that Dominika is an awesome name. Hope this helps the most chill parents I’ve ever heard of (and one very attuned, helpful, dare-I-say invested aunt) find what they’re looking for…let me know!

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