Hi Duana!

I am due in early October, and baby's sex will be a surprise. We have a list of names, and despite my insisting that Liam is too popular my husband really, really loves it. I do too, but I just really do not want my kid to be one of 10 Liams in his class. Is this irrational? Does it really matter if we both love the name?

Other names on our boy list are classics like Colin, Henry, Ethan, and a wildcard - Lazlo. I realize aside from Lazlo, all of these names are pretty popular these days but there is a difference in using the #1 boy's name!

Do I need to let it go and embrace it as a top option?



(I don’t care if that’s stuck in your head now. I wanted to use the theme song from Popular, which is Ryan Murphy’s underappreciated first high school show, but it’s less titular. So.)

One of the things that’s proved to be true about people who write to me or talk about names is that people who already have a child have much, much more interaction with other kids and their names. Even if you would never in a million years choose the name Lucas, you know about how much frequency you’re hearing it at the park or the Starbucks or etc. 

And herein lies the problem. Liam isn’t just ‘popular’, it’s stupendously common right now. Partly because it’s a great name, partly because people who want to embrace their Irish heritage get to feel like they’re being authentic, but mostly because there’s nothing else out there that sounds like Liam. If it’s what you want, or a sound you’re attracted to, then only the original will do. And I wrote only a couple of weeks ago about how prevalent Liam is. Colin or Henry might not have another in their class, but probably in the class down the hall. Liam, right now, is going to have others everywhere. Now, there are legions of Chrises and Matts and Marks who will tell you they weren’t scarred by this, but the fact remains.

Henry and Colin and Ethan (which seems very 90s to me, though I know there are one or two running around the schoolyards) will have a little more name freedom, as will Laszlo, obviously (a name I love). But if you’re looking for other names that give you that Liam feeling:

Leland is the big one I wish were returning, though I understand it might be shortened to Lee, which is not terrible, but less attractive. Damian is that gorgeous one I come back to all the time that has an unusual ‘m’ in the middle, and it has Irish roots to boot. Graham, or Abram, or even Casey (remember Casey?!) have sort of similar feelings. Or of course there’s Liev – which is amazing, but maybe slightly less so given that people will think it’s Liam.

Let me know!

Note: Please send your name emails, once only, to [email protected] - duplicates or those sent to Lainey ‘just in case’ will be deleted.