You know, I’m considering just running updates, because frankly, the letters make us all feel so good. I mean, this is the beauty of what we do, the search for the perfect name becomes the person, who then becomes the embodiment of everything we love about the name… it’s basically alchemy and magic and benevolent witchcraft, and it’s all due to you guys! Okay, here’s the delightful update to Lost That Loving Feeling:

Hi Duana

Thank you so much for all your wonderful suggestions. I was so chuffed to see your response. Now that the baby is here I thought I should reply to let you know how we got on.


It's so funny that you said Adelaide and our options gave you a Southern vibe. I'd say those names are much more English/fuddy duddy/traditional feeling where I'm from - I love that names can have such different vibes depending on background and location. Perhaps I should have mentioned that I'm Australian and Adelaide is a riskier choice here, with one of our capital cities also having that name ...and I live in that city. Australians generally don't use patriotic names (even though the two famous Adelaides I'm aware of are both Australian). My daughter's name is usually met with a "oh...well I guess that's actually a lovely name" or "oh... okay" then a swift change of subject. We love it though and that's the main thing.

You really do have a knack for names. Almost all of your name suggestions featured on our name list at one point or another. We particularly loved Gilbert but we didn't like Gil as a nickname. My son was two weeks late and finally born via c-section (a 10 pounder!) and was unnamed for a day while we debated what we should do. My partner really loved the name Llewellyn (another Steel Magnolia-type) but although I loved its whimsical sounds it felt too close to Lou-Ellen and too feminine for my tastes. His back up was Ewan which I also love but the moment I met my son I knew that wasn't his name. He needed something stronger.

We went with Edgar Bruce. Edgar isn't a common name here. I've never met one. But I loved that it's from the same era as Adelaide and it has some cute nickname possibilities in Teddy and Ned. Bruce is a family name from my partner's side that felt a good match.

After doing some quick research it seems Edgar is a name usually associated with Hispanic backgrounds in North America. It's definitely in the old fuddy duddy group here in Australia.

Just as you said, this is his name now. We didn't love it when we gave him this name but it felt like a good option. It's now his and we love it as we love him.

His big sister calls him "my baby Egger" so maybe even an Eggsy nickname is on the horizon.

Thanks for all your dedicated work. Names are important :)

Names ARE important, and your update highlights one of my favourite things about this process (among all my other favourites) – you can love a name, think it’s spectacular, and still, when the child in question arrives, go ‘but it’s not for this child, not this time’. See? Alchemy! 


Next up we have the much-debated and long-awaited update to Fame, In A Name. After I published this one the letter writer thanked me for running it, and I wrote back to tell her that “after I published your letter I also got a note from a woman whose son is also named Henry Mancini -- she points out that he sometimes goes by his nickname Harry, but can choose which he uses when he gets older. 

Hope you're having a nice easy pregnancy, and please let us (or at least me, lol) know!” 

And now, the final verdict: 


Hi Duana, 

I just wanted to send you an update! We had our baby boy on November 20, and... there's a new Henry (Bradley) Mancini in the world!

We ended up waiting for almost three days before we made the decision - I kept agonizing over it, and had to ask all of the nurses what the name "Henry Mancini" meant to them - but in the end, I just love the name so much. My husband and I re-read your response to my question about a dozen times before signing the birth certificate papers, and it reassured me a lot!

Anyway, thank you again so much for your thoughtful response! If we have another child, I'll be sure to get your input again :) 

Thanks again!

Okay, now the question becomes ‘what were the nurses’ associations with Henry Mancini?’, and because of my previously-documented Call The Midwife binge, I’m imagining a generational divide, and the two hilariously updating each other in between deliveries… don’t mind me, I’ll be over here apparently writing fanfic.

Speaking of inter-generational considerations, here’s the update to One Vowel To Rule Them All


Thanks for answering my letter! We ended up choosing “Nolen,” which my mom came up with independently of your answer. The unique spelling (not “Nolan”) is because this name was the English surname of a Choctaw ancestor who was removed on the Trail of Tears. As an added bonus, this spelling makes the pronunciation more similar in Japanese and English. Part of my challenge was finding a name that goes well with big sister Elena—I love that Nolen is the same length, features many of the same letters, and is about equally familiar but not common.

What an update! What a name choice! I love the origin of the spelling and the family name connection, the link to his older sister. Well done you guys, though I’m sure you already feel proud, and you should. 


Next up, I love all my letter writers and I do feel proud of many columns, but I still wonder if I should have titled this one ‘Desperate Preggos’. Here’s the update to The Ballad Of Against The Grain

Hi Duana,

Thanks so much for publishing my cry for help. Your advice was so spot on— many of the names you suggested were ones we had thought of but couldn’t agree on! I love love love Vada, for example. You definitely helped us veto some names and showed us our style. We ended up naming her Alida.

Thanks again!


Alida is amazing. It fits every single criteria you wanted and I’m so glad you chose it.  That’s the thing – I don’t need or want people to choose the names I suggest, necessarily (though I’m never going to be mad if they do, and I’m still waiting for an influx of babies named ‘Duana’), I want them to work through their consternation to figure out what’s really important to them in a name. That’s what happened in the case of Pragmatic, Practical – and Perfect?

Thanks for your thoughtful response - it came just in time as your post went up the day my wife birthed our daughter Gwyneth. One reason I enjoy your column is that you are partly a therapist- helping people get comfortable with their own inclinations and cutting through noise that gives them pause. While Ms. Paltrow can be divisive to people and consequently her name could be divisive, we just like it and think it will age just fine (as will GP's "Q-score"). If they share characteristics - including wit, sophistication, and taste, if not beauty- not to mention being someone who doesn't seem too caught up in how others view them- we'll be thrilled. Thanks again!

Oh my God. “If they share characteristics – including wit, sophistication, and taste, if not beauty – not to mention being someone who doesn’t seem too caught up in how others view them – we’ll be thrilled”

Sir, you basically just outlined the entire thesis of this column as articulately as I could have hoped, in addition to which, you are as fond of multiple dashes in a sentence as I am. I am in your debt, no joke. 


Finally, another letter that got my heart both with name choices and punctuation quirks – here’s the heart-warming update to Names (First and Last) (With Qualifiers):  


Thanks for your help with my naming questions - it was thrilling to read my email and your response online! I promise to use less parentheses this time. After I wrote to you I totally freaked out about using Lando because of the Star Wars connotations and no other associations. I ended up being between Baxter and Roscoe at the end while my husband still had his heart set on Lando.

Baby arrived on September 30, to have the same birthday as my grandfather (with whom I am quite close), and my husband suggested that, instead of using the honeymoon-referenced name of Csongor, the middle name be Sam after my grandpa. For some reason that did the trick, and while I couldn’t get there on Lando Csongor, Lando Samuel felt absolutely perfect for him.

Lastly, I have to back you up on the associations never being as bad as you fear - most of the people we tell his name to ask where we got it and either don’t know the character or don’t know the reference. Now his name is so “his” that when we went to see the movie it barely registered that onscreen Lando even had the same name. We did go with our portmanteau last name for him and while our families aren’t in love with the idea they are coming around and we have no regrets.

Thanks again!

You must NEVER apologize for using the punctuation you need, that’s why it’s there! I love it, and more importantly, I love your son’s name and I know he does too, and will as he begins to process where it came from. See how good it feels when you choose the name you really love? 

That’s it for today -- Monday will of course be wall-to-wall Oscar coverage but we’ll have more updates next week, including the update you’ve all been waiting for about a certain poultry-based name concern…