Duana Names: Put Them On The Map?

December 4, 2015 19:18:11 Posted at December 4, 2015 19:18:11
Duana Posted by Duana

Hi Duana!

We are due with our second baby at the end of December, and are at an impasse regarding his/her name. It feels like our 2-year old daughter, Florence, was named for a perfect storm of reasons (Florence was the last place I visited with my Dad before he passed away, my Mom is a nurse (Florence Nightingale reference), and it is a name in my husband's family tree). Enter baby number two...my husband thinks we should go for another geographic name to have them match, but is that ridiculous? For a boy, I'm fairly set on Caspian, which to be honest, is more for the Narnia reference than the Sea (but don't tell my husband that). For a girl, we are struggling! All of the names he is suggesting sound way too matchy or obvious to my ears (London, Vienna, Sienna...). Should we maybe alter our strategy and think about names that are more from the time period when Florence was really popular (which based on my husbands family tree seems to be the 1900-1930ish) rather than geography? Thanks for any insight!!


The thing with the geographic names is twofold. Few of them work as well as Florence, first of all. I’m probably conservative where this is concerned, but, like you, I don’t love London or Brooklyn as names, and I’m not sure a kid named Antwerp or Manila or Berkeley is going to thank you for the name. There’s totally a kid out there named Berkeley. Probably dozens. The other thing is that some people – NOT YOU – but some people who first popularized this concept explained that the names were chosen for where the kid was conceived. Even though you would never, you may have more weirdos than you expect coming up all ‘so….Paris, huh?’

So. Yes, your instinct to go with something that is a similar vintage to Florence is excellent. The other thing is that in terms of familiarity, Florence lands somewhere around ‘oh, huh! I forgot about that name’, just behind ‘I think that’s my sister-in-law’s aunt’. Neither of those are bad things, but it will serve you well to look for names that are similarly preserved. Like, Florence and Henry might have had dinner together in Edith Wharton’s New York, but in today’s, Henry is far too busy with Evelyn and Lily. In North America, that is. Florence is climbing right up the charts in Britain, which means that it will become more popular here soon – and that you’re more right than ever to avoid calling your next child “Auckland”.

So. I think of lacy, lovely names like Celia or Agatha or Winnifred. In fact, you may hit the sweet spot with other very feminine names that end in a consonant – some of the French names like Celeste or Estelle, Delphine or Simone. Ianthe may feel just a little rare, but it’s surprisingly easy to say and I love its delicacy too. Or maybe Anaïs? I’ll show you how to make the umlaut on your keyboard. Hermione? Briony. Harriet?

For boys, I think Caspian is a lovely fit with Florence. Together, as you hoped, they feel a bit storybook-y and adventure-y, and as if someone was going to write a fantasy series about their adventures. If anything, I think his would be a bit more imaginative than hers, which maybe makes me feel a little protective of her, but that’s my damage. However, if you start to waver… 

I think about Ivan, or Desmond or Casper – names that have the aura of being known, but not familiar, and a bit of an air of yesterday about them. Barnabas!

On the not-humble side, there are great examples here. On the humble side, I truly have no idea which way you’re going to go. Let me know what you think, and what you choose?

Also, maybe Oslo would be a super-cute kid’s name. Right? 

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