I was just wondering which baby name you prefer.  I have got the list down to 3 names and would like an honest opinion and some feedback.

1. Maia
2. Ellie
3. Savanna

Thank you,


I chose this letter today because I really liked its simplicity.  People are always sending “my husband’s brother is named this, my family feels that”, and it’s kind of interesting to approach the whole thing with a cloak of silence over the opinions in the world and just look at the names.   After all, this is what people will do, right?  When all is said and done and they’re looking at your kid’s nursery school app or online dating profile and utterly judging a book by its cover, they will go on pure feelings.

So here are mine.

I like Maia a lot.  I’m more inclined to go for the “Maya” spelling, as the “Maia” one reminds me of the slightly ditzy character in Judy Blume’s “Summer Sisters” but either way, Maia to me is a smart girl, not just bookish, but kind of savvy.  She gets it, and she seems perfectly happy to do her own thing.  Maia seems self-possessed and, because the name isn’t trendy, she’d be less influenced by trends herself.  I’m pretty sure there’s also some sort of “brainiac” implication with Maia also, but I’m not sure where it comes from – anyone enlighten me? Is this a cartoon character thing?  Nonetheless, I don’t think that image is tied to it in a way that’s irreversible, and of course, Maya Rudolph has done so much for the name that people have an anticipation that Maia could be a funny girl, too.

Ellie is a name that has grown on me a lot.  I didn’t used to like it all that much but, in addition to sounding fantastic, with all those Es and Ls, I’ve never met an accidental Ellie.  It’s a name that somehow always seems given with straight-up love, you know?  Like Ellie is never a fallback accident, an “oh, I guess”.  People want their kids named Ellie (and, it follows, not Eleanor or Elizabeth or whatever).  In fact, I bet there are a lot of girls named a lot of things just to get to Ellie.  I think that’s fine because Ellie – which sounds to me like a tiny, elfin popular girl with a bit of a sophisticated streak – still doesn’t necessarily sound like a name on its own.  Or look at it another way -- it’s like if you name your big clumsy daughter Grace; I like that if she turns out not to be Ellie – at least, your/her interpretation of Ellie – she can use a more serious name.  And of course, if we apply the Supreme Court Justice test, the more formal name would win.

Savanna.  Well, it definitely sounds pretty, that’s for sure.  If you choose this name, please go ahead and put the extra “h” on the end, and not just because I’ve mistyped it several times already (then again, I also typed Ellie as “Ellis”, and there I have nothing to blame but my own Smash PTSD).

Savanna(h) is pretty – but I’m not sure it’s substantial.  Savanna screams ‘southern’ to me, and I don’t know if many other traits have time to be heard.  I think that, even more than most girls’ names, this one begs for its wearer to be pretty and sweet and soft, in order to “seem” like a Savanna.  (Also, full disclosure, people will put that “h” on the end no matter what, you should just give over to it).  Think about what it is that you like about it – the softness, or the ending-in-a, or the emphasis on the middle syllable, and see if you can replicate it elsewhere.  Vanessa is either a lot different or not very much, depending on how you think, but it seems almost like a homonym for Savanna, with maybe a different tone (or not.  I think of the Huxtable daughter but a lot of people still find it very hyperfeminine).

So I guess I like the names in the order you presented them – but does it make it any clearer for you?  Did any of the names hit what you hoped to achieve for your daughter? Ultimately she will grow to “fit” her name, of course – so which one is the one you think is most her?