Hey Duana,

I hope this email finds you well. My husband and I need a bit of help naming our 2nd baby girl coming along this August. My big problem at the moment is that I kind of have an earworm of a name rattling around in my head that I know I shouldn't consider, but both my husband and I really like it. The name? Tempest. I know, I know, it's a word name that IMMEDIATELY conjures up literally stormy images. The weird thing is it doesn't fit with our other children's names (Fiona and Alastair) and it goes against my rule of adjective/noun names like Hope and Joy (not that they're not nice, but I'd hate to make a kid feel like they have to live up to any personality trait).

However, I think we like it because it sounds so strong and it's not a common name at all. We like other names, too, but nothing seems to pop. Some of our collective favorites are Catherine, Natalie and Marigold. I like Valerie, Darcy, Delaney, Penelope and Daphne. He likes Ariadne, Artemis, Adeline, Kiera, Natasha and Katia. 

We would like a name that fits with our other children’s names and isn't rhymey with the other two (so Aster is out and so is Ramona, both nice names). It'd be great if it wasn't super popular either (which, I think, is a given for most of the people writing in to you). Anyway, we hope you can help because we're not asking for anyone else's opinions (no pressure!) and I feel like we really need something to get this earworm out of our head.

Have a lovely day and thanks for your help!


You guys are getting too smart for me. You’re starting to outline all your name issues before you even write the letters. I’m impressed, but seriously, half the work is done here…

Let me be clear. Tempest in and of itself is a cool name. You know it and I know it and we all knew it from the time Tempestt Bledsoe walked onto our TV screens on Thursday nights back when we were all watching the same thing at the same time.  But almost as famous, if you’re a name nerd, is the story of the woman who admired the name as much as we all do, but misheard it, and called her daughter Temptress.

Obviously that’s not what you’re naming your daughter, but there are idiots in the world who conflate the meanings of weary, wary, and leery, so there’s no reason they might not think ‘Tempest’ is supposed to invoke being a temptress, or something equally horrible. Combine that possibility with the fact that it absolutely does not line up with your other children’s fantastic names, and I think that it has to go on the shelf, or at least in the middle name position.

But I hear you on the name’s attractiveness. It starts and ends in an unexpected place, and it feels grown up from the outset. Sound-alike Celeste isn’t quite the same, but it has a lot going for it – it doesn’t resemble any other names, but fits with your other childrens’, it’s not trendy, yet it has some of the romance about it that you like in the other names. 

To be honest, I wouldn’t eliminate Artemis right away, it’s a little out there, but it’s not so different from Alistair, really. In fact, you might run the risk of people thinking they’re twins, or of Fiona wondering why the baby wasn’t named more like her (mileage may vary on this based on whether she’s three or thirteen).

What I think you’re really attracted to, though, are some of the consonants –and looking at some of the names you like, including Penelope, Daphne, Ariadne, Artemis – they’re Greek, yes, but they also feel Shakespearean, or at least, names he would use if he’d thought to do so. (I’d even throw Delaney in that category, despite the fact that it’s pretty modern, and all soft consonants which is the opposite of what you’re looking for in Tempest.)

So I submit for your consideration something like Titania. A lot of name, but it feels strong and pretty and totally wearable, actually. This also made me think of Taissa—I’ve met two people with this name and always wonder why there aren’t more.  Imogen? Ceres? Anaïs, another wasn’t-a-Shakespeare-name-but-coulda-been? While we’re on the subject, there’s Juno, which would sound great with Fiona and is, actually a character in The Tempest…see where I’m going here?

Other consonant-heavy names that might give you a feeling of permanence include Bridget, Claret(!), Marit, or Garnet, though if you live in the South I understand it to be a name for boys.  Isolde? Sybil?  Oh – how about Renata? I almost didn’t include it, but it lands so hard on that T and flattens out those As, it might be exactly what you want and it is such a neglected beauty!

Interesting that your collective ‘likes’, Marigold, Catherine, and Natalie, don’t have as much power as your forbidden name does; I would lean toward your husband’s choice of Natasha here, or consider Lavinia, Talia, or Renata. Yeah, I said it twice.

Let me know what you choose!