Duana Names: One Name. Lots Of Love.

Duana Posted by Duana at November 9, 2016 21:13:10 November 9, 2016 21:13:10

Hello Duana!

I’m writing to you from Portugal – which means this is not a question about Anglo-Saxon names or about people living in an English-speaking country – so I completely understand if this doesn’t interest you or if you don’t think you’ll be able to help. But as I venture through this challenge of naming an unborn person I keep going back to your column and to how everything there is absolutely right, from “of course we’re having the opposite gender that we expected” to “I like it but don’t love it”. So, here it goes:

My family is having a baby (I’m not sure you’ll want to include this bit but by family I mean I’m polyamorous and live with three more people; two of them have been a “couple” for over 10 years and are now pregnant) and we just found out it’s a boy. Of course we already had a girl name: Aurora. During a possible names discussion someone mentioned the name and it just clicked – I really felt that yes, the baby could be Aurora, as opposed to just liking the name. That feeling has not been there with any of the boy’s names. Names that have been discussed but vetoed are: António and Francisco (António because it would always be Tony and I hate that nickname, and Francisco because it’s way too popular). Names still in discussion are: Jaime, Vicente, Baltasar. Jaime (rhymes with dime) is the front-runner right now, but it didn’t click like Aurora. I’ll attach a list of the top 100 male names in 2015 in Portugal, it will help because there are great names that are just being overused and this is such a small country that we don’t want the kid to be one of 5 João’s in the neighbourhood. Last name will be hyphened ending in “arte” and no middle names. We don’t want a popular name and we want something that sounds right altogether – plus, we all work in artistic fields but don’t want to go too over the top with names – older names with some history that have not been used in a while seem to be our preference.

Thank you in advance if you can help us, and I completely understand if it’s not possible!


You know I love a name question, the trickier the better.

You know I would have been delighted in answering it no matter what. 

But on today of all days, when there’s nothing to say, and we feel helpless – today, especially, you are goddamn right that I am going to include the uniqueness of your family, and point out that you are just as entitled as anyone to celebrate your love, and to remind people who may have forgotten that there are many, many, many of us who support your family’s right to exist.

I’m not trying to politicize a question that’s just about a baby name, but on today of all days, I want to point out that a family who loves each other loves each other, and that there are places, like this one, where we believe there’s no room for the kind of hatred we’ve seen far too much this month.


I love Jaime and Vicente and especially Baltasar; the anglicized version, Balthazar, is one that I cannot believe hasn’t caught on more. Don’t people want to nickname little boys Baz? Obviously Jaime will have pronunciation challenges depending where he travels, as the ‘J’ is read different ways – but it’s a great name and not worth walking away from just because of that.  I also think the shorter name feels more rhythmic to you with the hyphenated last name, so maybe lean into that?  Similar in roots to Balthazar is Bartholomew, or maybe it’s Spanish variation Barolo?

I appreciate the link to the top 100 names in Portugal – educational! As always, some names are universal: Lucas and Matias, Leonardo and Bruno (!) are popular here too, and others surprised me. Like for example, both Brian and Bryan are in the top 100?

Names that really strike me here are short-ish, but with plenty of personality? I can’t not suggest Bruno, but if you fear popularity, I can see why you might be shy. What about Ivan, or Ivar? I must be on a particular tip, because I was also charmed by Gaspar, at #88, which maybe works in your artistic-but-not-overly-so aim?  

I get from your letter a real sense that you want to avoid that which is cute or cutesy, so I don’t know if this will work at all, but is there anything in the name Philo – that is, with the long ‘i’ in the middle? If it’s not for you, what about something like Pascal or Reuben/Ruben? Obviously I’m going to be in favour of names I like in particular, but as I search through names that are similar and that appear on some of your lists, I’m surprised at how often I keep seeing Edgar, and how much I love it.  Not only is it a great name on its own, but if you want to separate him from all the Eddies and Eduardos, you can always nickname him ‘Gar’ – one that I’ve liked whenever I’ve come across it. 

Finally, I thought it was interesting that Aurora was in spot #92, so I checked on #92 on the boys’ side, to find Emanuel. I love this name, and I wonder if, in spite of thinking you might like a shorter name to balance the hyphenated surname, it might be exactly right for you?

I am thrilled to run this letter, to hear what you choose, and to contemplate the delicacy and difficulty of choosing a name that is just right for everyone in your family. I am delighted that this unnamed boy-to-be has so many people who love him.

Let us know!

iStock/ Getty Images

Tags: Name Nerd
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