Hi Duana,

I am expecting our second child and while I had every intention to get feedback with the first, he made his debut a month early and I was still fully in denial I was to become a mother. He went nameless for 2 days in the hospital however we chose Simon William. We had it narrowed to Sebastian, Simon, Gabriel or Arthur (too weird with our last name) but truly, the list wasn't that short until a day after he was born and the shock had subsided. We ended up asking the person who registers all the names in the hospital to help us through the final decision. Surprisingly, she said that she hadn't registered any Simons or Gabriels.

I have been panicked about another early arrival so I'm sending this now. As with our son, we don't know the sex. We prefer a recognisable name and a name that won't necessarily have an obvious nickname (though not a deal breaker). I am notorious for shortening words and I really liked that Simon is only Simon...there hasn't been a shorter version that has naturally evolved. We certainly aren't breaking new ground with some of our likes however, we'd prefer something at the tail instead of right in the middle as far as popularity- an improper stats reference but I think paints the pic we want: 

My husband picks these for a girl, all of which do not appeal: Emma, Emily, Ella. Those are basically in the center of popularity (or were years ago) so I'm a hard pass on them. Names I like which he is not sold: Eloise, Zella, Zaida, Genevieve (but no because of Gen/Jen shortened); M: Shae, Sacha.

Names which we like but um not sure bc of popularity and ?: Bianca, Penelope, Mathilda; Gabriel, Felix.

For both there will be family middle names. A girl will be Jean, a boy? Oh yeah, also unknown.

This letter is so long you would think I'm trying to write a name manifesto. Save me from myself!


What’s my favourite part about this email?  There are two contenders. One is the title as it appeared in my inbox. Usually when I get an email with a great title, I use it as the article title itself, but this one had to be held back in case you thought I was the one admonishing the letter-writer. The title was: 

“Someone Needs To Chill The F Out”

Perhaps it’s because of that title that I was so charmed by the inclusion of a GRAPHIC OF THE BELL CURVE. You guys! I love the whiff, however faint, of academia here… so I am feeling generous, and not going to draw this out longer than I have to. 

Instead, I am going to grant you some great news here – and that is that the names you’ve included on your ‘we like’ list are probably your best bets. 

Longtime readers of the column know I don’t really f-ck with names one of you likes and the other one hates. It’s a losing battle, and in this case that’s good news, because Emma/Emily/Ella deserve exactly the attention you’ve given them (new readers – these are gorgeous names but TOTALLY SATURATED RIGHT NOW, don’t yell at me), and the names you like are not going to pass muster for him and frankly don’t add up to the inherent coolness of Simon anyway. So. 

Bianca is a totally sage choice which will work for just about everyone and not elicit any questions; I also kind of like the style differences between ‘Bianca’ and ‘Jean’. Other names that have this sort of slight exoticism but are still readily wearable and pairable with Simon include Nadia or Cosima (actually almost a Simon-letter-scramble if you look closely, but it doesn’t bother me), or Cecily. Any bites there? 

Penelope is not heard that often, but for some people it’s verboten because of the Kardashian usage, and while I don’t agree with that I get it – then again, I was shocked to find that some people are ‘bending the rules’ of the current trend towards older, more formal names by using ‘Penelope’ as an excuse to get to ‘Penny’.  Why use such a gorgeous name only to shorten it so… pedestrian-ly? Maybe I’ll feel differently the more the penny itself becomes legend rather than actual currency, but right now I feel offended on Penelope’s behalf. In any event, you should be aware that Penelope may know others, but they might be the kind who all but deny being Penelopes in the first place. 

Now I’ll pause and tell you that while Genevieve might not pass muster I am not done with recommending Geneva just yet… see if that works in your house… then go forward to Mathilda, which is one of those names that I always say is more talked about than used (whereas something like Keira is more used than talked about). Definitely a safe place to go and a very British, Nanny-takes-us-to-the-nursery feeling when paired with Simon. 

Your boys’ names are both favourites of mine, but it must be known that they’re not as terrifying (and thus rare) for parents as they once were – I know several Gabriels and assume it’s only a matter of time before I meet a Felix. I kind of can’t believe it hasn’t happened already. For alternatives along the same lines, you would do well to consider the neglected-but-amazing Oscar, which I was hugely hot on circa 2014/15, or Casper or Magnus or Dexter or Gideon… but these are all in the ‘on-the-table’ front for parents these days, whereas names like Sacha or Leif or Gerald or hell, even Bruce, are about to be on the forefront of naming for those who dare. 

As for the middle name, why not use Gene for a boy? I can see how it might be less appealing if his first name also starts with G, but if I’m being honest, it feels pretty damned stylish right now.  

I have an image of Simon sitting back and watching this all go down, content in the knowledge that his is the name to beat. I don’t know if this is the dynamic you want between your kids, exactly, but it’s creating a pretty entertaining character out of your first born so I’m going to go with it. 

Let us know, yeah?