We’re expecting our first child - a boy, due August 31st - and so far picking a name has been the most difficult decision yet….also, arguably, one of the few we actually have to make before the baby arrives (eep!).

So far none of the names on our short list have really stood out as totally “right” and we are definitely starting to feel the clock ticking! I jokingly told my husband about writing in to your name column, and he encouraged me, in all seriousness, to send you an email. Let’s face it - we need help!!! We want something that is less common, but not totally bonkers, unpronounceable, or cumbersome. We would also like to honor our cultural heritages, if possible (though certainly not a deal-breaker). My background is Northern European/Scandinavian/English/Irish/Italian. My husband’s heritage is primarily Scandinavian.

Our current top picks:

Thorinn  - My husband also likes Thorian, which I’m not as keen on, although I’m not sure why.
Ferian (or maybe Farran)
Laszio / Laszlo - My husband likes Laszio, although I’m not convinced that’s a name. I like Laszlo, but my husband thinks that’s an “old man” name.

Still in the running, but not as exciting:

Rowan / Roan, Arlo, Andras (or variants thereof)

Some of the names that used to be on the list, that we’ve since ruled out:
Eivind, Jannrik, Walker (family name), Leo / Leonidas, Eamon, Knox, Julian, Vincent

I’m starting to realize that wanting an “unusual” name is kind of a trap, because as soon as we find one that feels exciting and uncommon, we start to see/hear it everywhere. Case in point - in my pregnancy group at our birth center (where there are only 7 other women), one of our members said she was probably going to name her baby Ronin. Different spelling, sure. But let’s be real, it’s the same freaking name. What are the odds!? Ronan was one of our early favorites, and continues to be one of our top choices. I’m trying not to let this affect our decision, because her choice has nothing to do with us (and hey, maybe she’ll change her mind!). Also, I have to keep reminding myself that even though my name has pretty much been in the top 50 since the 1800s, I don’t often meet other people with my name. Besides, Ronan is a name that we have agreed on (and liked!) since beginning our name hunt.

Another factor (that may also be entirely in my head) is that the baby will have his dad’s last name – P____n. For some reason, I’m worried that giving him a 2- or 3-syllable name ending in “-n” will sound too matchy-matchy. I’m not even convinced that it does, though. Initially, all the names we liked ended in “-n.” We had to challenge ourselves to find names that ended differently, but it’s been a long road. And, if I’m being honest, I may well be overthinking it with this “-n” thing.

We would like to have a (very) short list prepared so that when we meet the baby we aren't scrambling to make this decision. I feel like there are probably so many wonderful names we haven't even considered. Or, maybe I just need a little validation on the names we like so far? In any case, I know you will have some creative suggestions and rational advice!


Well, you’ve hit a couple of the biggest naming conundrums right on the head so I’m not going to lie to you about either of them. Yes, it’s unquestionably true that no matter how rare you think a name is, as soon as you decide on it, you’re going to start hearing it more and more often. Partly that’s because the reason you like it at all is because you’re hearing things like it. Either in the books your friends are recommending or on the tertiary characters in Game Of Thrones, you’re hearing suggestions of names… and then when you give voice to yours someone say, oh I love that name! And you feel like, no you don’t! Go away! It was ours first!

The other truth is that the names with ‘n’ at the end are super popular. They were unheard of for the longest time, and felt super-fresh… all at the same time. Which means that now they all feel like secrets that are being uncovered more quickly than we can keep up with them… and yeah, as Aiden begets Eamon which leads people to be interested in Ronin, you can feel like there’s no name that’s truly unearthed. I’m not always bothered by names that sound or end the same way, like Ronan P_____n or Thomas Staines or etc, but I can see how if you felt like originality was hard to find in the first name this would be compounded with the surname.

But I gotta say you’ve got a lot of names that really don’t fit this description. Like Laszlo or Darius or Elioor Andras, which I really don’t feel are going to be popping up all the time. I do think that if you want to feel like you’re all the way out there that you might be offended by names like Enzo or Lucian or Caspian, in that they’re encroaching on your originality – but I don’t think you’re going to find other people with your names. That is, if what you want is names that feel unusual, you’re set, but if you want sounds you’ve never heard before or names that people don’t come across, you’re a little harder up. I eliminated Ferran because of your n-ending issues and Lyam because, whether intentionally or not, I assume it’s going to be misheard/written/pronounced as Liam. But that still leaves you with four that are great – give or take that I’m not sure about Laszio as a full name either, and seems more like an (awesome) nickname.

The good news is that if I have license to look ‘along these lines’, there’s a whole untapped world out there – I immediately thought of Vadim, Octavius (no, nobody’s going to think he’s your eighth kid, come on now), Ivor, Balthazar, Ludo (with or without the ‘vic’), or Pascal – all the names that are rare but not confusing, that feel like they fit in a world you want to live in but don’t require explanation. Are they anywhere close? Darwin?

I’ve found in the last few years that people searching for rare names actually don’t want them to be all-the-way unheard of – it’s much more appealing for a name to feel unearthed, that it was lying unused for a long time until someone as smart and thoughtful as yourselves decided to pick it up. Often that triumphs over obscure spellings or retrievals from hundreds of years back – and winds up feeling fresher in the process.

Let us know!