Hi Duana!

My husband and I are expecting a baby girl this summer, our first child.  For a boy, we were set on our name - John Ryan (so we'd like our girl's name to somewhat go with this in case we have a boy in the future).  For a girl...not so much.  My husband keeps suggesting names out of the 80's: Nicole, Madison, Lindsay, etc; whereas, I've been leaning towards names like Madeleine, Ruby, or Olive (I'm not committed to any yet though).  The middle name will be Elizabeth, and our last name is a German two syllable name starting with E.  Any suggestions?  I can't fight this battle against the 80's much longer and need something to come to the table with.  Thanks!



At last, someone having a girl. Man, what’s with all the Y-swimmers lately? OK. First the good news – you are absolutely right to push back against 80s names. Jennifer and Jessica are the names that are most commonly labeled as coming from that era, but I don’t know why Lindsay isn’t highlighted as just as bad – its footprint is even smaller, 77-85, at most. Every Lindsay I know is a mom, and probably every Nicole, too.

But my friend, you are performing the same sin. You really are. After years of no usage, Ruby and Olive are squarely in the 2008-and-up range of names. Madeleine had her day earlier, and yes I know it’s a much more classic name, but dude. There are enough Maddies running around to fill an entire high school, and if you don’t think I’m running away after this letter to pitch that Heathers-sequel satire to Lorne Michaels, well, you don’t know me at all.

So what you want to do here is pick classics that go with John Ryan (in case, if).   Please note that Classic does not mean Boring. Automatically for you I think of Lucy, which I think threatened to become so popular that a lot of parents did a u-turn and so it’s not all that big a name. Think about it. Or Renata, which never gets its due. Or Harriet, or Adele, or Margot? Margot Elizabeth. You know you want to.

If these are feeling a little stodgy for you, maybe the answer is Cora? Which is popular among name nerds but may not have reached the full-mainstream? Or Vivienne, Augusta,  Allegra?  

You’re right about steering your dude away from the 80s but don’t get so caught in a 2010s urban hipster loop that you forget to listen to all the awesome names being underused.