Hi Duana,

Writing to you for a friend (whom I got hooked on your column but so far has been UNMOVED by any of your great, great names and is due in, like, 4 days).

The facts: mom and dad have very 80s first names (Julie & Trevor), last name is distinctly Nordic. Older sister is named Neve.

The problem: mom and dad's choices are ALL OVER THE MAP. My friend likes the names Ramona, Sabine and Thea (my/your suggestions!) On her own she also likes Sara and Hailey, and REALLY likes Romie.

Her husband hates all of these names except Hailey and has himself come up with.... Amberlee. And Magnolia. He particularly dislikes "old lady" names.

She is a much more compromising person than I and won't just steamroll over her kiddo's dad, so we're really hoping you can help us find a perfect match.

For the record, other names I've suggested that she's nixed for one reason or another are: Cosima (this makes me weep because it is SO f'ing perfect with Neve), Nora, Claudette, and Veronica. And honestly scads of others but these were my favorites. In fact the only suggestion of mine she's taken seriously is Sabine, and her husband can't stand it. 

Also of note, she has a much-loved grandma named Mildred whom I think she'd like to honor, but without actually naming her daughter Mildred.

Thanks for all of your thoughtful columns; can't wait to see what you do with this one (IF you can/want/will do anything). 



Hates ‘Old lady names’… wants Magnolia. Hates ‘Old Lady Names’… wants Magnolia

I am having trouble reconciling this.  

Look, don’t get me wrong. I like Magnolia and think it’s a very valid choice for a baby girl born in 2018, but you’re going to tell me that Ramona and Thea and Sabine feel old fashioned, but ‘Magnolia’ is fresh and new? And let’s not discuss Hailey… again, nothing wrong with the name, but let’s not pretend that the vast majority of Haileys aren’t the ones currently in the position to be naming the children, as opposed to being named. 

That said, I just finished binging the Esther Perel podcast and so I’m going to try to be like her, and point out the similarities between the couple rather than the differences. 

They both come together on names that end in the ‘ee’ sound, and Hailey and Romie and Amberlee have some similarities to them that we can use to triangulate a name that fits with their choices, and also with the beautiful and undersung Neve. 

Obviously the first name that comes to mind is Freya, which might once have seemed overtly leaning-into-the-Nordic-thing but is now a popular choice for parents - I know several, and I understand why. It’s one of those names that feels distinctive but easy, unusual but not troublesome. It doesn’t end in that ‘e’ sound though… 

Something like Ivy might work well here, something that doesn’t pin them too overtly to a place and time. I defy him to tell me it’s an old-lady name, but I bet he might. 

If that’s the case, is something like ‘Vega’ too odd? Something like ‘Malin’ too masculine? I feel like what he’s looking for is a bit of overt femininity, which these names haven’t historically signified… so maybe the answer is something like Aubrey or Lena or Esther (yep, why not?) or Edie, which is short for Edith and which I can totally grant might feel like the ‘old lady name’ he’s afraid of, but which is being used by parents for their young ones anyway. 

When you hear me rant about names that have been overused, it’s partly because there are situations that call for names that have been too-populared into being irrelevant suggestions; in a different time I would have loved to suggest Neve and Lola or Neve and Elsa… but for obvious reasons those don’t really pass. 

Is it time to pull out my beloved Daphne, or something like Eilish or Greta? I suspect Enid and Delphine will go the way of Sabine, but they might lead to some conversations. Elise?

I am amused by this because I picture you running hard-copy lists into the delivery room all “Just stopping by, don’t mind me!” and dashing out again. You’re a good friend, and I know you’ll give these names the amount of hype they deserve… let us know!