Hi Duana,

Love your name column. Hoping you can offer some advice and feedback. We’re expecting a baby and we’re not sure of the gender. We’ve got two girls already, Jiya ( pronounced Gee-ah), Ela (pronounced Eh-lah)... and we’re not sure what name to use for the third, if it’s a boy. We want the kids to all have Sanskrit first names. We also want the names to be easy enough to pronounce in small town Canada, and could be fairly mainstream, or if they are mispronounced, the names don’t sound awful. Jai, Raj (or any derivative), Ryan, and Sanjay are all out. I like Dev, but absolutely can’t use it for family reasons. We liked Rohan, but find it hard to get our mouths around... and don’t love it. Bodhi is growing on me, but I wonder if it’s too hippy/trendy. I did a quick google and noticed some celebs using it. Otherwise, we can’t seem to find anything we like. Your help would be amazing! 

Thank you,


Another question we’ve never had! God I love how literally names are the gifts that keep on giving. Thank you for letting us dig into this question – I notice that in addition to wanting a name that’s Sanskrit (and, I assume, having a third girls’ name already chosen) you seem to be really interested in short names, which is maybe why you’re not in love with either of your two listed choices. 

I’ll confess that I love Rohan, but I acknowledge that it requires a commitment to that ‘hard’ middle H (probably the only time I’ve ever typed that phrase!), without which it becomes Rowan. I think it’s gorgeous and easy to understand and pronounce, but if you’ve fallen out of love with it, it is what it is – still, I’d encourage you to have another look at it. 

Where Bodhi is concerned, I would 100% agree that it’s becoming more mainstream, and I’ve heard it used recently for both boys and girls – but I guess I can’t understand why that’s a bad thing in your scenario? If you’re saying you want it to be mainstream-ish and pronounceable (or rather, recognizable, since everything is pronounceable), I can see that popularity as actually being a plus, no?  

In fact I’d say the difficulty with it, if there is any, is not in the pronouncing, but in the spelling – at least initially, people who are unfamiliar with it will place the “h” in that name all manner of places, and that might just have to be something you come to terms with, especially if you otherwise like the name; and as for the hippiness of it, I don’t think it’s too much of a concern as compared to the other names you like but can’t/won’t use, Bodhi is only a little more familiar, and celebrity name influence has waned, incredibly, in the last 5 years or so, because the world at large is so much more interested than they were in names that they’re uncovering all kinds of amazing ones ‘first’. 

Which is where we come in. Your first two names are short, but two syllables, and full of vowels, so looking over boys’ Sanskrit names that don’t violate your restrictions above, I was surprised to find a lot of them with that H factor, again – I like Akash and Akil, both of which are somewhat familiar to North American ears via various celebrities, and I’m also really into Tahj; if I remember correctly (and I do, because you cannot beat me where The WB is concerned) Tahj Mowry was the lead on Smart Guy, and I always thought it was a charming, easily wearable name with a bit of zip and verve to it – not coincidentally, the same feelings I have towards Dev. 

You might also like Kian, which would fit beautifully with your other two names, or Eshan: they both have a very modern softness that lend themselves to the boys’ names trending today. I’m also really attracted to Tavish, and to Sachin – again with the H being a major factor here. 

I’m not sure if, including Raj, Jai, and Dev as no- goes, you’re hoping for a nickname-name, but I think most of these would be easily shortened; but if you want something that’s short by design, you could do worse than to use our very own Prem as an inspirational namesake! 

Very curious about this so please let us know!