I’ve struggled my whole life to come to terms with my name because not only did my Chinese parents give me a French name that they can’t pronounce, they had to go and spell it differently! They did the same cruel thing to my sister. It’s been really fun hearing other people’s horror stories and also learning to embrace the different-ness of my name.

Anyhow, I am writing in for my best friend, who is pregnant with her first child, a girl, after many years of disappointments. Needless to say, the kid is special already! Despite their eagerness to become parents, they never picked out names, I think partially in fear of  “ruining” a good name in hand, in case things didn’t work out.

They are looking for name starting with a “K”, as it is a family tradition. Middle name will start with a “W” after a relative, and last name is single syllable, beginning with G. So far, they have Kailen Willow, which they like a lot, but they don’t know if they love it yet. Thoughts?

The sense I get is that they like modern names. They floated around the names “Kennedy”, “Kamryn” and “Kylie” for a while before ultimately vetoing. They have also ruled out any Kardashians (for obvious reasons!), as well as the names Kaya, Karen, and Kathy. They would like a name that won’t be shortened to something awful on the playground. For example, she loves the name Kennedy, but the thought of her beautiful baby girl being called “Kenny G” is horrifying.

Hope you can help! In any case, I am glad I finally had the opportunity to write in my own name nerd puzzle!



Okay, name enthusiast! You know the power of names and all the ways an unusual one can be unintentionally difficult, even with the best of intentions. So it’s going to be on you to help your best friend.

You’ve taken that first step by writing here, and I have to believe that partly it’s because you know they can do better than ‘Kailen’. Not only is it a trendy-sounding name, which will have a whole lot of sound-alikes, I’m not sure anyone would automatically think to spell it with a K. I know you say that they like modern names, and I hear that—but it seems like between Karen and Kathy, who are in their late 40s by now, and Kamryn and Kylie and Kailen, which seem so modern they’re disposable, all Kardashian links aside, there’s an entire generation of ‘K’ names that have been overlooked!

Maybe it’s because the tradition means the names are already worn by other people. But, you know…what about, like, Kate? It’s short which gives it a modern feel, and less fussy than Katherine if that feels like it’s too much.  What about Kendra? What about Keira? Katrina, another derivative of Katherine, is pretty without being too ornate, and while we’re up, Kathleen gives you the awesome nickname ‘Kath’. The gorgeous, oft-neglected Kezia?

Okay, I get it. Maybe I’m being too fussy or traditional? They want more up-to-the-minute. That’s cool, but knowing that some K names can be seen as more disposable (your example of “Kamryn” comes to mind), I’m treading carefully. There’s unisex name Kai? Or Keiko, in honour of Gilmore Girls’ imminent return? Kenzie, which is used both as a nickname for Mackenzie and on its own? Or maybe something unisex like Keane? Dare I give breath to something I’ve been thinking about, something that makes me a hypocrite? That Keith would be a great name for a little girl, while it lies dormant for boys?

Finally, a note and maybe a reprieve for your friend—how many kids who will be born at the same time as this little one are going to know who Kenny G is? That’s right, you guessed it…not a single one. I’m not saying no kid is ever going to be made fun of for their names, but first of all, Kenny for Kennedy is really cute! And secondly, the idea that the possible punchlines of our generation are going to matter to kids who are big enough to tease each other is as funny as imagining they’ll ever listen to a thing we say.

I have no bad feelings about Willow. I think it is a nice name and unexpected in the middle. But clearly the issue here is the first name…

Let me know what they choose!