Hi Duana,

For the last 15+ years, I have been a name nerd. I have an unusual name, and I come from a family of unusual names and nicknames. I had been carefully collecting and curatinga list of names for my future child and fiercely protecting them so word wouldn't get out. So it seems strange that now that I am actually expecting a baby, I am basically incapacitated with this task of naming a human. Chalk it up to years of over thinking I guess. Or to the fact that my husband has strong ideas about what he doesn't like (i.e. my carefully curated list) and no strong conviction on what he does like.

Baby is a surprise, and due mid-October. Last name is German, two syllables, and starts with R.

Generally we want a punchy name, something that stands out, but not silly.

For girls, I like flowery names and things that end with "a". Some things we have agreed on at various points in time include Arya, Azalea, and Maria. Azalea has perhaps come the closest - I like its opportunities for nicknames, it is certainly flowery, but it is unusual. Other times I feel like its a bit too over the top.

A hunch tells me we are having a boy, so I have put more effort into boys names. My husband has suggested things like Lincoln and Hunter and I'm just not having it. Some things we have agreed on but not with any conviction include Daniel (family name on his side), Oliver (family name on my side, but I think too popular) and Enzo - which we managed to agree on after a March Madness-style elimination round. But after sitting with it for a while I'm not sure either of us are sold. Boy's middle name was going to be Leverick, for place of conception, but here's the problem....

At some point, husband decided that Maverick is a cool name, kind of close to Leverick... and taken to calling baby "Baby Maverick". To the point where it is starting to stick. To the point where its kind of starting to grow on me, and I'm starting to overlook the shades of Palin and naming a child after a GMD character. I'm actually starting to worry that if we don't come up with a boy name alternative soon, this name is going to feel totally reasonable and rational. It isn't, is it? Or... is it?

As an update, Leverick has emerged as the front runner.... although I still feel like we're looking.


So I was having a conversation about that which is ‘curated’ last night. And I came to some very deep realizations, very deep. Like that anything curated, by definition, isn’t real because you’ve excised all the stuff that’s not worthy of being curated.

I know, like I said. Super deep. But in context, it has some validity. Stay with me. It’s all very well to choose a number of names that you’ve loved and protected all these years but when it comes down to it, they’re not useable for whatever reason.

Still what you have to do is word-cloud them. What’s similar about them? What’s a common thread you could pull out? Try it and see what it nets you.

The reason I know you haven’t done this yet is that you’re considering naming a child Maverick Leverick.

I know. I know you’re not actually.  And maybe the postscript that you sent about Leverick means that it’s actually taken the front-row spot.  You can use Leverick on the condition that you never tell anyone it was the place of conception – which, depending how many people read this column, may be a recommendation it’s already too late for.

But the scattershot of the rest of your choices tells me you just haven’t nailed what you want yet, which seems to be ‘literally unusual, not ‘Asher’ unusual’. So given that, I suggest…

Oswald? Benno? Von? Humphrey? Friedrich, or just Freed, if you want (there’s no hope that ‘Fried’ would be pronounce any way except ‘fried’).   Ruprecht, which I slip in now and again hoping it will add up for people? Beresford or Coleridge or Woodrow? 

I feel like you might also benefit from the work of Ann M. Martin. No, not a babysitter reference – there was another book where the ten kids were named in some control-freaky way from the name book, ergo there was a Bainbridge and an Eberhard and a Faustine and an Ira. (Hey, Ira?)

In any event, I have much less to disagree with in Azalea, because even though it’s an A-at-both-ends kind of name, it’s got different sounds in the middle, and I don’t think it’s in any way over the top – certainly no more than, like, Amanda or Aviva. If it tickles you though, you could also consider Zinnia or Azul or Persephone, right?

Let me know. Keep calm. Do not go Maverick, that’s not something you want in this scenario, not least because you don’t want the admission of giving in to be directly tied to someone whose best friend was called Goose.