Choosing Baby Names (or, “Help Me Name My Kid!”)

So the wife is finally pregnant. At last. After several long years of trying, and almost as many years of worrying that it might not ever happen for us, it finally has, and via natural processes! We had spent a pretty penny on fertility treatments, and were about to take them to the next level, but now we don’t have to. What a relief. We found out about 3 months ago, on my wife’s birthday. Hooray!

It’s kind of a funny story: For years my wife has struggled with health problems, some of which mimic the signs of pregnancy. On March 21, she took a half-dozen pregnancy tests, all of which confirmed she was pregnant, though she initially refused to believe it. (She had recently taken some other tests that had all come back negative). We had reason to believe we were a few weeks along. So we went in for an ultrasound, and sure enough, there was the baby. Except it was MUCH bigger than we expected. Turns out we were almost 5 MONTHS along. Amazing. We hadn’t correctly interpreted the signs. And so much for all those worries about whether we’d make it through the first trimester. For all practical purposes, there was no first trimester! Things have gone smoothly since then, and hopefully will continue to do so until my wife’s due date of August 20, or thereabouts.

By the way, it’s a girl.

Alas, all is not well in Zion. My wife and I cannot agree on what to name our daughter. We already had a boy’s name picked out, in the event that we had one, but picking a girl’s name has been trickier. And it’s not because we can’t think of any names. Stina likes Helena, Madeline, Elise. Meanwhile, I’ve got lots of ideas too: Medusa, Mordred, Bathsheeba, Beelze-babe, Red Sonja, Xena Warrior Princess. Fabulous choices, to be sure, but the wife is a stick-in-the-mud. I’ve tried to sway her, but she just won’t listen to reason. Even when I put my arm to the square and use my best “priesthood voice.” Sigh.

As the wife and I continue our negotiations on this issue, I have had occasion to ponder the various criteria I might employ in choosing baby names, or at least in excluding certain choices. Here are some of the criteria that I think matter to me:

1. The name should not be too common. In highschool, there were 11 Jennifers in my grade (out of 250 students). Eleven! I guess “Jennifer” was really, really trendy in the early 1970s. I would like my daughter to have a name that she doesn’t share with 50 million of her girlfriends.

2. The name should not be hard to spell. Seriously, this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. I can’t imagine the horror of having to spell your name out for everyone you meet for your entire life. Oh wait … yes I can! My name is “Aaron.” You would think this would be easy to spell. You’d be wrong. Nobody can do it! I mean, for crying out loud, it’s a Biblical name! There are variant spellings, but mine is by far the most common! All the celebrities named Aaron — Aaron Spelling, Aaron Eckhart, Hank Aaron, the other Aaron Brown — spell it just like I do! Nonetheless, a week never goes by that some moron doesn’t ask me if I spell it “E-R-I-N.” (“Yes,” I’ve taken to replying. “Like Erin Grey from Silver Spoons. I’m a woman too, don’t you know. And a real “hottie,” if I do say so myself.”)

I refuse to intentionally subject my daughter to this torture. Of course, I couldn’t prevent some idiot from misspelling “Jane” or “Liz” if they were so inclined, but I can still use my best efforts to minimize the chances of this.

3. No Book of Mormon Names. My apologies to all our readers named Nephi, but I don’t want my daughter sharing her name with some po-dunk town in the Wasatch Front. Of course, there aren’t exactly a lot of female names in the Book of Mormon to choose from, so maybe the point is moot.

4. No Pretentious “Euro”-names. My wife spent her highschool years in Berlin. Her ancestry is German and Danish. Thus, she’s always trotting out these names I’ve never heard of, that supposedly have to be pronounced a certain way or you sound like a “dumb American.” No thanks. I’m not European, and I don’t aspire to be. Furthermore, I’ve always thought there was something a little low-class and trashy about Americans with Euro-fetishes. Kind of pathetic. So no.

5. What about family names? I have mixed feelings about this. There aren’t any names in my family that I like all that much. My geneology is boringly British, and nothing really sticks out. If I were to discover something really cool, I might use it, but if I have to go looking to discover it, then it must not mean much to me, so why use it? My dad’s middle name is “Quvist.” (Don’t ask; and yes, I spelled that right). That’s definitely original. Alas, not in a good way.

6. The name must sound good with “Brown.” This makes things hard. Just admit it … “Brown” is a really boring last name, isn’t it? I sure think so. Nothing sounds that good with “Brown.” Maybe “Unsinkable Molly” or “Downtown Julie,” but those are taken. (My wife once suggested “Eva,” but that would virtually guarantee her future husband being teased with “Adolf”). I’m thinking that the name should probably have 3 syllables, so as to offset the bland, monosyllabic last name.

What do you all think? Help me name my daughter, please. If you were having a daughter, what would you name her? Give me ideas. And I’d be interested in hearing the criteria that you would employ (or have employed) in narrowing down your own list of baby names.

Aaron B


  1. you know what we need? another baby post!

    I suggest “Anamarie.” It has a ring to it.

  2. Penelope Jane Brown

    Penny, Nellie, PJ

  3. I agree with Steve.

  4. My favorite baby name website is

    You can type in a name and see its popularity over the years. If you’re anything like us, any names that sound sort of original and interesting to you will be experiencing huge peaks in the last few years. I realized I’m much more a product of my generation than I thought.

  5. Aaron – there are good British names!! :) We named our daughter a very British ‘Mary’, (and it’s not that common I don’t think?) with Elizabeth for her middle name, but I also really like Madeline (your wife has good taste!) – my own lovely name is pretty common alas, but it’s nice all the same!

  6. Matt Jacobsen says:

    I second Steve and Amri, but instead of Anamarie you can use my eldest daughter’s first and middle names, Anna Marie. Alternatively, feel free to use my second daughter’s name, Clara Grace. Clara is traditional and not dorky and not common (but she does get called Claire a lot, and Anna gets Hannah). I love our daughters’ names.

    Then of course, there is the name of our third daughter, if we were to ever have one — Eliza Rose. And daughter number four would be Eleanor (or Elanor for Lord of the Rings fans). Needless to say, my wife is not excited about daughter number four (or three for that matter).

    I also recommend the fun to had at the baby name wizard web site.

    Congratulations and good luck!

  7. If my last had been a girl, he would have been Ruth. Nobody in my family liked it but me, but I was almost 40 and cranky as hell. “You don’t really like Ruth? Tough.”

    We bought a baby name book and listed every name we liked. Then we compared lists. We took the names we both liked, checked for frequency of use on the “most common” lists, and whittled it down to one or two. Then, we just…chose.

    I like your list of qualifications. It matches ours very closely. (Has only one (typical) spelling, can’t be abbreviated to describe genitals, sounds good with our last name, and isn’t used by both genders.)

    My DH had wanted to use his middle name as the baby’s and I was appalled. That name has given him nothing but grief. People can’t pronounce it, and they think he’s just leaving letters out when they see it written. I was vindicated when our son’s blessing certificate came back with my husband’s middle name wrong – somebody in the clerk’s office just slapped an extra letter on the end.

  8. I’m trying to convince Kathryn of Zina in the case that we ever have a girl.

  9. Elisabeth says:

    Ann – I love the name “Ruth”. My sister’s name is Esther Ruth. Probably way more Jewish than Mormon, but I think it’s beautiful. (Wait, is this the Mormon names thread?)

  10. I love that link Gina provided. My advice is don’t name your daughter anything ranked higher than about 70 or anything lower than, say, 500. That is the sweet spot where you’ll get compliments for your creativity (for not choosing top 70 and all) but won’t come off as a weirdo who is just making names up to torment your daughter either…

    Or, just name her whatever you feel like. That usually works out too…

  11. I have the perfect name for you, but I’m saving it for my own someday-daughter. Therefore, I shan’t tell you, lest you steal it, and it become common…. :-)

  12. You should try feminizing some of the Book of Mormon names. I mean, who wouldn’t want a daughter named Amalakia? (Rhymes with Leah). Or Sheremette? Or perhaps Korihorina?

    I would avoid Laman, though, if I were you. It’s likely to send the wrong message.

  13. And Korihor won’t?

  14. My roomate had been planning to name a child Aidan since she was 12. She was furious when her older sister had a baby and named him Aidan knowing full well of my roommate’s plans. So I think that you are wise, EmilyS, in keeping the name a secret.

    My suggestion is Patricia.

  15. Stapley — I claimed Zina first, and you know it!

  16. (Can’t believe no one has suggested Seven yet.)

    We named our daughter Catherine Elizabeth, after my grandma. I don’t particularly like the name Catherine, but I loved my grandma. She goes by Cat now (which is very common these days among Catherines).

    If our last had been a girl, we were going to name her Jordan, also very popular these days. I read somewhere that the most popular girl names in the 2000’s so far have been: Emily, Madison, Hannah, Emma, Ashley, Abigail, Alexis, Olivia, Samantha and Sarah.

    For me, the meanings of names are important, which is why I love biblical names. (But please don’t name her Susan. OR Mary.)

    I like your wife’s choices, particularly Madeline.

  17. Elisabeth says:

    See, I don’t get the baby name rivalries!! Who cares if someone you know names their baby the same name as your baby? Unless you’re in the same family, but even then, I really just don’t get it. (sorry for being insensitive here, but I’m literally baffled by how virulent these baby name rivalries can be).

  18. We try to keep it simple since we have a difficult last name. You are in the opposite boat.

    Check out Luke for an interesting Star Wars correlation.

  19. By the way, if you name her Helena, people will ask her if she has a handbasket. And if you name her Elise, then she’d better get used to jokes about whether things are for her.

    Anyway, on reflection, I think you ought to hark back to the best of Mormon traditions, combined with the storied history of the Brown surname . . .

    . . . and just name your daughter Molly.

  20. You could do that Mormon than and combine your names. You referred to your wife as “Stina.” How about “Aarstin”? Or “Stinaron”?

  21. Kiskilili says:

    I’ve always been terribly fond of the names Kishkumen and Riplakish, though I guess they might not be appropriate for a girl (okay, or even a boy).

    Naming can be such a daunting task. My family spent untold hours last summer just arguing over what to name the car my parents bought, and I’m still not sure–is it Boga or Titania?

  22. My family is loaded with Zinas and when I was a little girl (up til about age 9) I was embarrassed to say my aunt Zina’s name outloud because


    it rhymed with vagina.

  23. Also, some of the best widely applicable advice I have heard is to avoid putting the diminuative or shortened name on the birth certificate. This way the kid that was Tommy, or Katie when they were little can more easily choose to go by Thomas or Katherine as an adult if they want to.

  24. Amri (22),

    But a name that rhymes with body parts has its benefits, too — you might end up in a Seinfeld episode..

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    Re: 24, how about Mulva?

    I like the name Genevieve. This is the name of my daughter’s friend, whom I’ve never even met, but every time I hear it I am just taken with it.

    It fails some of Aaron’s criteria, notably the difficult to spell test. Also, since Genevieve is the patron Saint of Paris, I guess it would also fail the no hoitie toitie Euro names test. (And there is a French pronunciation one could use, so I’m sure Aaron wouldn’t like it on that account.)

    But on the plus side, it is not too common. It was ranked 403 in 2004, which puts it in the 70-500 sweet spot range. Its heyday was 1910, so you wouldn’t be competing with Emilys and Madisons.

    It’s not a BoM name, or even particularly Mormon.

    It has three syllables and would sound great with Brown, and it is sufficiently unusual that it would help to offset the commonness of Brown.

    You can shorten it to Gen as a diminutive.

    Its etymology is obscure. In its current form it is French, but it derives from the Late Latin Genovefa, which is probably of Celtic origin, meaning something like “woman of the people,” or “mother of the race” or “of the race of women.”

    If you still don’t like Genevieve, then I agree with others that Madeline is a winner.

  26. Costanza says:

    My favorite baby-naming comedy routine was from Saturday Night Live about 15 years ago. It featured a character who was unreasonably paranoid about the potential name of his soon to arrive son. He stubbornly fought his wife even on the simplest of names. The audience is left mystified by this until the UPS man comes to the door and announces that he has a package for “Mr. Asswipe Johnson.” Wearily comes the reply “It’s pronounced Ozweepay.”

  27. Matt Jacobsen says:

    Re: Book of Mormon feminized names –


  28. How ’bout Larissa?

    I like Emily, too, but it is pretty common.

  29. I lobbied hard for Thomasin for one of my girls. Didn’t get it. Ditto Veronica.

  30. And the prize goes to Matt! Hilarious.

  31. Mark IV says:

    Sweet Georgia.

  32. Kevin (#25) said,

    You can shorten it to Gen as a diminutive.

    Or, if you hate “Gen,” as I do, you can shorten it to Eve.


  33. I’m just so glad to hear that you guys are finally pregnant!!! I can’t get you to email me back so I figure posting on BCC will get your attention. And knowing you…you will not decide on a name until the last minute and it will be unique, creative, and fit all of your requirements. Congrats on the news!!

  34. You can also track popular baby names at the following site:

    There are also scientists who are doing studies on statistics and baby names. (See for an example.)

  35. Best site for researching baby names is here.

    As for female Book of Mormon names, I’ve known girls named Liahona and Cumorah.

    How about Lavender?

  36. Aaron Brown says:


    Are you Matt Evans? Have you been emailing me? I haven’t received any of your emails. Which address are you using. Try Maybe you’re landing in my bulk email folder?

    Aaron B

  37. A problem was encountered while processing your request.
    Anamarie is not in the top 1000 names for any year.
    Please try again.

    It’s got a ring but clearly not popular.

  38. I think Maya is actually a great name that fits your criteria well–depending on what your take is on the whole BOM historicity thing. :-D

  39. Mephibosheth says:

    A nice, traditional Welsh name for a girl is Nia.

  40. I knew a woman who went by “Lottie,” which I assumed was short for Charlotte, turns out it was actually ‘Ladi’ and was short for Galadriel. The Lord of the Rings is *almost* like the Book of Mormon.

  41. My daughter, if there had been one, was going to be Eliza Rose. But I have only sons. So Matt J., you’re in good company. I think Eliza would sound great with Brown, fit in with the British theme, and also win you spirituality points among Mormons. I also Kezia, an obscure, British/Biblical name, and Tamsin. Or, Petronell, or Tabitha. Or how about Tamora (from Shakespeare, and a very gorgeous David Austin rose). No European names? That leaves out one I like– Petrea. Well, and also another favorite– Maren (which does not rhyme with Karen). I have a somewhat strange British last name, so even if I had had a girl, I couldn’t have gone for anything too unusual at the front, at least in my opinion.

    An old British family name which has mercifully died out in our family was Apphia. Nickname was Effie.

  42. I’d suggest you drop by a library and pick up Freakeconomics and read through the section on baby names. You will learn a lot right there.

    Then work on a name with rhythm and cadence.

    Jessica Christine
    Heather Nicole
    Courtney Kathleen
    Robin Elizabeth
    Rachel Elaine

    (my daughter’s names) for examples.

    But read through Freakeconomics first.

    They also have a blog at which is pretty eclectic.

  43. If you mention LOTR you gotta throw in Arwen

  44. What about Adeline or Adelaide? Then you can call her Addy. At first I hated this name when my brother suggested it (as it sounds like an old slave name at least to me), but it has steadily grown on me. How many Addy’s do you know?

    (Actually we named our cat Addy, but I would still consider naming a daughter Adeline.)

    [I checked its popularity and it’s number 635… so maybe it’s more popular than I thought… ]

    Adeline Brown… seems a bit strange too, but it’s just a suggestion.

  45. Eleanor Brown or Gabrielle Brown or Maragret Brown

    Those are my suggestions. They aren’t extremely common… but they’re beautiful names.

    …. But I’ll probably name my girls Isabelle Elizabeth, Alexandria Christine, Adeline Lydia, and Eleanor Rebecca…

    I hope that helped a little or helped stear you away from a few…

  46. Well, we named our daughter Indigo. (Indigo Rose, to be exact. It’s a fun one — it shortens to cute nicknames, plus I get to tell her that she’s my little blue flower.) However, I don’t think that you need another color, with a last name Brown.

    Female Browns who I know in real life are Leah, Natalie, and Laura — all of which seem to work pretty well with that last name, but none of which particularly stand out.

  47. Go with “Erin”: Not too common. Easy to spell. Not in the Book of Mormon. Not pretentious or European. Plus, Erin Brown sounds really great, don’t you think?

  48. Aaron Brown says:

    I hereby ban you from BCC for your outrageous suggestion, DKL. Just try to post another comment. I dare you.

    Aaron B

  49. YES!

  50. Go with “Erin”

    I agree with my esteemed blog colleague DKL. In fact, I named my own daughter “Erin” 2.5 years ago. (Which was awkward, because she was 4 years old at the time.)

  51. You give her a new last name too.

  52. So when you have a son, can I recommend that you go with “Melchezidek”?

  53. I’m going to have another daughter soon. I want to name her Maxine after the girl in Being John Malkovich.

  54. i vote for a simple name that now is considered a little old-fashioned, or one that everybody knows, but is rarely used. for example, i’ve known two marys my entire life. there aren’t too many annas or helens around either.
    in regard to number two: a friend was working at a call center when a woman called to order something. he asked for her name, she said starquisha jones. he said would you spell that for me please? she said J-O-N-E-S.

  55. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    I’m glad to see that my suggestion in another baby name blog to modify BoM names has been picked up by others (12 and 27), My original contributions were Shephi and Shelaman. Kaimi’s contributions to the effort to promote female BoM based names are laudable.

    Three days after her birth, we couldn’t decide what to name our fourth daughter. I began telling people that we were going to name her Generica (the no-name baby). Pronounced like “generic” because she was just a typical baby girl. I actually had people tell me that they thought it was a pretty name.

    We like the white bread and mayonnaise names. My son was the only William in his high school. Go figure; something that mundane actually becoming unique.

  56. Emmaline — tribute to two great Mormon women in one swoop.

  57. Kevin Barney says:

    Deborah, I assume you know your name is Hebrew for “bee.”

    I happen to be fascinated by your name, as I actually spent some time beating my head against it. Nibley argued that the BoM word “deseret” was Egyptian. His argument is interesting, but not a slam dunk.

    The -ah in your name is the feminine ending. It occurred to me that the more ancient form of Semitic feminine ending was -t. In fact, you can even see this in the KJV OT. We’re all familiar with the great warrior Deborah from Judges. But that word also appears as a place name, sometimes given in its later form with an -ah ending, but also occurring with its more ancient ending, as Daberath (or something like that; am doing from memory).

    It seemed quite a coincidence that the more ancient form of the Semitic word for bee would be DBRT, whereas the BoM reports DSRT. So I struggled to see whether I could figure out a known explanation for a consonantal shift between BoM S and Semitic B, but I couldn’t come up with anything. If BoM DSRT is a variant of Semitic DBRT, some linguistic evolution has taken place there that I can’t explain.

  58. I know! A biblical name: “Allthe” (Genesis 30:32)

    No? Perhaps:

    Sariah Olga Brown. For the acronym.

    Better yet:

    Betty. (Or you could give her a sort of rock-star/desert/Paltrow aura by naming her Apple Brown Betty)

    If you like poetry:
    * Renown
    * Don’t Frown
    * Simmer Down
    * Proper Noun
    * Georgetown
    * Triple Crown
    * Nightgown

    If she becomes fraternal twins, name her brother “Touchdown.”

    –The Practical Mormon

  59. Uh, yeah. Desert. Deseret. Dessert.


  60. Oh, I’ve got more!
    * Helen Girly (Sort of a pastiche of “Cosmo Girl” and “Helen Gurley Brown”)
    * Gray Red Brown (Or the pastel version: Ashley Rose Tan)
    * Bad Bad Laura
    * Check My Diaper It’s

    Oh, this is fun!

    –The Practical Mormon

  61. Oh! Oh! Oh!

    Althea Leavesare Brown


  62. Kevin: Yeah, I love my name. I know a couple of Jewish women with the Devorah version — I assume that B/V are linked somehow in Hebrew?? And Aaron, it barely registers in the popular name catagory these days.

  63. Since every third Mormon kid lately seems to have a name that rhymes with Aiden (Braden, Jaden, Hayden, Caden) I suggest you think out of the box and try “Squaiden”. You know… Mormonish but truly unique!

  64. My grandma’s name is Dora. Dora Brown is nice.

    I named my daughter Robin. Not too many Robins right now, not hard to misspell, and it’s not outlandish. Of course, don’t all of you jump on the Robin bandwagon or it will become the next Emma/Hannah/Madison.

  65. I can’t believe no one has suggested Sally. Charlie’s little sister, the blonde one.

    A Peanuts name I honestly like and will use if I ever get a girl is Lucy … Lucile is a family name for us. Plus there’s Lucy Mack Smith and Lucy Pevensie, both people I like. Lucy Brown would be cute, and I wouldn’t get mad at you for stealing my favorite girl name.

  66. Forget finding a name that she won’t have to spell. There are very few names that only have one spelling. Even the most common names have had creative spellers (or foreign spelling) change them so no one is ever sure.
    Jennifer, Jenifer
    Kathryn, Katherine, Catherine
    Zoe, Zoey
    Chantel, Chantelle, Shantell
    Katelyn, Caitlin
    Esther, Ester

    Even boys names are actually trickier than you know. You only are aware of your own name, but most people wouldn’t think Aaron would require spelling….but it does.
    Jon, John
    Mathew, Matthew
    Tomas, Thomas
    Eric, Erik
    Jeff, Geoff

  67. I just have to continue my list now that I’ve glanced again at some more names on this post. Most of us have alternate spellings to our names….
    Anna, Ana
    Deborah, Debra
    Stephen, Steven
    Elisabeth, Elizabeth
    Gina, Geena
    Jon, John
    Rebecca, Rebeca
    Chrystal, Krystal….
    Bryce, Brice

    I haven’t met an Amanda spelled differently…. Ditto for Eve. Emily? I can imagine some, but haven’t met any.
    As for Starfoxy and some other unique names, I haven’t met anyone else with the name period, so I can’t testify about spelling.

  68. My favorites that I haven’t been able to use:

  69. I use the same criteria as #54: classic, slightly old-fashioned, and not terribly popular now. Be sure you look at one of the current name lists, like others have said, because what today’s babies are being named differs a lot from the names of our peers or our parents’ peers. If you want the Social Security popularity list with similar spellings grouped together, go to If you want to see a list of some interesting trends, go to Ava is #16 on this list! I suspect that many of those parents chose that name thinking it was uncommon.

    With a last name like Brown, go for a long first name.

  70. Kevin Barney says:

    Deborah, yes, the b and the v are really just different representations of the same letter in Hebrew. In this case the letter beth (or “b”) is aspirated, so it is pronounced as if it is immediatley followed by an h, as in bh. In scholarly transliteration, this is often represented by putting a line under the b. Modern Israelis tend to just use the English letter v to represent this sound. That is why Avraham Gileadi spells his name that way; it is the same as Abraham. There are lots of modern Jewish names that are simply alternative transliterations of classical biblical names. For instance, Itzhak Perlman is the same name we know as Isaac.

  71. Chad Too says:

    Ana, you stole my thunder!!! I was going to suggest “Charlie.”

    Charlie Ann?
    Charlie Sue?
    Charlie Lynne?

    All kidding aside, I personally think Charlotte is a lovely name, and then if she wants to go by Charlie… all the funnier!

  72. Aaron,


    On names, a few things thoughts:

    We used the ssa website linked to above. The first thing you figure out as you look across years is that there is no name with the market share of Jennifer back in our day. Naming has diffused alot. Unfortunately, the lists do not amalgate spelling differences, so names might be more common than they first appear.

    The chapter is freakonomics makes pretty clear that names do not just vary by state, but by socioeconomics. Thus a name that is mildly popular among all people in your area may still be insanely too popular among Lawyer Mormons (for example).

    All our kids have Bible/BoM names (Sariah, Samuel, Jacob). We’ve gotten some mileage out of having names they can relate to in the scriptures. Every child named Samuel has, as his heritage, the right to stand on furniture while people throw things and he yells “Repent! The Savior will be born in five years!”

    Sephora is a slightly mangled version of Moses’ wife’s name. I could never get it past my wife so you are welcome to it.

    We were going to name Jacob — Eliza Rose, if he’d been a girl. Obviously this is the bloggernacle trendy name. A great name, but I bet you’ll meet more of them…

  73. Elisabeth says:

    What about Miranda? Not too common, but beautiful (especially if you like Shakespeare).

  74. Zina is a name I like. Good, solid Mormon roots, and it sounds cool.

  75. How ’bout “Goofusina”?

  76. Steve Evans says:


  77. Miranda–that’s ingenious! Why didn’t I think of that?!?!

  78. Elisabeth says:

    That one was for you, DKL :)

  79. belch.

  80. I am an Emily. I was born in 1975 and when the doctor delievered another girl, he told my mom “whatever you do, don’t name her Jennifer–I have delivered 5 already today.” It was 1 pm.

    Although Emily is said to be a common name, I have not known many, for which I am glad.

    I strongly suggest you haunt some local library story times, especially if they have a books and babies, to get a feel for popular names you wouldn’t have thought were popular. At ours, we have about 5 Jacks, a Lucy, an Adeline, an Iris, several Masons, etc.

    One that has not come up and that I love but does not fit our naming criteria:


    It is strong, long, several shortened versions, easy to spell, etc. Victoria Brown–I love it.

    ps–I have a sister and a cousin who have exactly the same unusual name: Erin Maurine. I honestly don’t know how that happened.

  81. Kevin Barney says:

    a spectator, my daughter born in 1981 is named Emily. I liked the name because I had studied classics (which includes Roman history) at BYU, and the name derives from an important clan name during the Roman revolution, the Aemilii. I was kind of oblivious to how popular a name it was.

    I still love the name (and the girl who bears it, naturally), but if I had it to do over again I would go for something a little less common.

  82. Kevin–

    Everyone I have ever met seems to know an Emily, but I have met relatively few. Even in the high school I attended (about 2000 students) there were only 2 other Emilys, none in the same grade. At BYU, where I thought the name might be popular, I had one in my ward once or twice, but we certainly were not knocking each other over, like the Jenns. My sister once roomed with 3 Jennifers.

    But Emily makes the baby name charts, that is for sure.

    My mom chose it for Emily Bronte and my dad liked Emily from the Newhart Show. You probably have better reasons.

    n/b I conclude, based entirely on anecdotal evidence, that Elizabeth MUST be the most popular middle name for girls. Take that for what it is worth.

  83. I’m a high school teacher, and I think another thing to think about is the nickname that the kid will adopt for herself. An awful lot of kids don’t like the name that their parents have spent hours pondering. I was in charge of senior class tshirts a couple of years ago, and the names of the whole class were printed on the back. The kids could give me whatever alternative to their given name they preferred, and I think about 1/3 had another preference. So Victoria became Tori, Christina became Tina, etc. It’s probably impossible to predict what they’ll come up with, but still something to consider. I wouldn’t be so worried about the spelling– no one can spell any more anyway.

    Rather than the story hour, you might just pop down to the nursery at church tomorrow and see what’s popular there. We have a Clayton, Lola, Ella, Della, Ruby, and Ezra, among others. All names which sound as though they belong to nursing home residents to people of my generation.

  84. anonyros says:

    #80: “ps–I have a sister and a cousin who have exactly the same unusual name: Erin Maurine. I honestly don’t know how that happened.”

    Uh-oh, spec, I think you just blew your cover! (with me, at least)

  85. Kevin Barney says:

    In my extended family, the most popular middle name for a girl is Marie. I think this is because it make a really euphonious combination with so many other names, with its two syllables and accent on the final syllable. That is my daughter’s middle name: she’s an Emily Marie.

    (a spectator, I love the Bronte sisters, so Emily Bronte seems like a great reason to be given the name. Not so sure about Emily on the Newhart Show. (grin))

  86. jjohnsen says:

    When we picked my daughters name, we went to the SS site, as well as a few baby-names sites. We settled on Sidney, which wasn’t in the top 100 at the time, so we thought we were safe. Now in our ward we have a Sidney, who’s last name is the same as ours, and there is another Sidney on my daughter’s kindergarten. I guess other parents were looking at not-too-popular names the same time as us.

  87. Veritas says:

    My sister just named her baby girl Willa Rose. It totally fits her and I think it is a beautiful name. Its a name people have heard, but never actually known someone with that name. I immediatly thought of Willa Cather…but it was a family name they found from like the year 800 of something. They weren’t trying for unusual names but had a really hard time deciding on a name, she was 2 days old before they figured out that was her name. Some Other choices were Claire and Regan. I like Maya, Sierra, Kira, Mily, and Marisol.

  88. Here are my rules for baby naming:

    0. Names are for the children, not for the parents.

    1. If there are multiple spellings of a name, use the most common one.

    Example: Amy instead of Aimee, etc. John instead of Jon (although, I love Jon as a spelling, but people can’t get it right).

    2. If you’re going to call a kid by his middle name and not his first name, then just reverse them (and make his first name the one you plan to use). No use in giving the kid a complex on ever single government form the rest of this life.

    Example: Avoid the GA-style names.

    3. However, if the child decides to use his middle name when he goes to college, fine. But the middle name has to be one he can use, which eliminates surnames and old archaic family names.

    Example: Somehow, my parents got on a kick of using old family surnames or maiden names for my brothers. There are 7 boys in my family (of 8 children). Our middle names are my dad’s first name, which is tolerable, my mom’s maiden name (unusable as a first name), my grandfather’s first name (which was antiquated), an uncle’s first name (which was antiquated) my paternal grandmother’s maiden name (unusable as a first name), my maternal grandmother’s maiden name (unusable as a first name), and another family surname (which could be a first name, and is actually cooler than our surname). Of the 7, two are usable.

    4. It’s got to pass the unintentional nickname and bad email tests for all permutations.

    Example: First and last names that together sound funny. I have a list of great examples, but I don’t want to publicly embarrass those people if they are reading (but one of them, if you take the first and last names, form the name of a tropical region). Also, just look at the initial combinations (including monograms for shirts and first initial-last name). No one should name their children with P-I-G or A-S-S. And yet, I’ve seen those.

    5. It’s got to be a name the kid would be proud of if s/he runs for elected office or becomes a CEO or a prominent attorney.

    Example: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the honorable President of the United States, Picabo Street!” Enough said. No shame in allowing for a distinguished name.

    6. No gender-questionable names.

    Example: Kerry, Kris/Chris, Kim, Lynn. Some would say that these are OK for the “dominant” gender children (i.e., go ahead and use Lynn for a girl). I saw just avoid them.

    7. Avoidance of initials that get confused with their pronunciation.

    Example: Avoid Y, G, or U. I have a friend whose maiden name was “Yu”. When she got married, she looked at the prospect of having her middle initial be “Y”, but her middle name being “Yu”.

    8. Give daughters middle names.

    Example: They’ll be X on many government forms if you don’t them one. My sister doesn’t have one. She gave herself a middle name in her late 20s.

    9. It’s got to pass the “yell across a public park” or “youth soccer league” test.

    Example: There’s a reason why kids aren’t named “Bartholomew” anymore. Not because it doesn’t sound good — but because you can’t yell it 20 times.

    10. No names of disrepute.

    Example: My wife wanted to combine some family names, but it would have resulted in the name of an infamous president. No can do.

    I could go on, but this is a start.

  89. For middle names, our daughter and oldest son have my wife’s first name and my first name, respectively. Not really for vanity, but because they sounded good with their first names and we wanted there to be a “chain” from parent to child.

    We kind of thought we were done after 2, because we went several years not being able to have another child, but we had a horrible time when we got finally pregnant with our third (another son), coming up with a suitable name.

    We selected both of his grandfather’s first names; his maternal grandfather got first-billing (so his paternal grandfather got the middle and last names). Since his first name is quite common in my wife’s family (there are a lot of people with that name), her parents’ family has taken to calling him by both names, which sounds pretty cool. [My extended family and our own family do not use both names, though.]

  90. OK–one more I love but can’t use:


  91. The following female names not in the Top 100 names of 2005 but in the Top 500 names of 2005, which are not spelled (particularly) oddly and sound like the sorts of names that work well in a) school, b) church, c) team sports, and c) working/adult life, are (in order of decreasing frequency):

    Amber Brown
    Catherine Brown
    Alexandria Brown
    Naomi Brown
    Courtney Brown
    Cassandra Brown
    Mallory Brown
    Josephine Brown
    Rebekah Brown
    Michaela Brown
    Miriam Brown
    April Brown
    Heidi Brown
    Helen Brown
    Aurora Brown
    Ruth Brown
    Ainsley Brown
    Tabitha Brown

    Most of those will also work well with a variety of new surnames (my sisters have spent the better part of the last year collecting last names they think will work well with their first names — it’s an excellent “sit around the house and be silly” activity,) and though they’re not especially common, are all names most people will have heard of. None begin with the letter “B”, almost all are two syllables long, almost all have serious history of one sort or another, several are Biblical, etc.

    There’s no hope in trying for a rare name. Hardly anyone was naming their kids Sarah Marie when my parents were in high school, but out of the 22 girls on my dorm floor when I started college, two were Sarah Marie and three more were Sarah or Sara (I’m a Sarah Marie, and my youngest sister is Mary Elizabeth…) My parents gave us all very unusual names: Richard Stephen Douglas, Sarah Marie (with a hyphenated last name), Caroline Ainsworth, Laura Catherine Grace, and James Donald. Only Mary Elizabeth lost out; she has a Top 10 last name. And actually, one of my cousins is also named Mary Elizabeth, and has a different Top 10 last name (my last name is a hyphenated combination of those two last names…)

    Whatever you do, I recommend treating the middle name as a thing worthy of respect. Ironically, in my family, being called by just your first name is more indicative of someone being annoyed at you than both first and middle together. All of us kids like our middle names, which I think is pretty cool since we have very different middle name formats (double middle, very common combination, and family surname.)

    Also, congratulations. ^_^ Babies rock. Have you started contemplating the baby blessing? There have been lots of posts about that lately…

  92. I knew a girl in Jr. High called Velvet Brown.

  93. Kiskilili says:

    My vote is for Gwendolyn. I think it satisfies your criteria fairly well, and it fits smoothly with Brown.

  94. Nonetheless, a week never goes by that some moron doesn’t ask me if I spell it “E-R-I-N.” (”Yes,” I’ve taken to replying. “Like Erin Grey from Silver Spoons. I’m a woman too, don’t you know. And a real “hottie,” if I do say so myself.”)

    You actually don’t have it that bad. I have a friend who’s a man, and who’s name is spelled E-R-I-N. How would you like that?

  95. John Taber says:

    Alisa and I agreed on first and middle names for four children, and the middle name for a fifth, I think before we were even engaged. It looks like they all (generally) meet queuno’s rules in #88, even.

    I’ve started to lobby, though, that we change one of the middle names so one of the boys is named for our stake president who was released today. (See my post on the recent Father’s Day thread.) That actually would go along better with queuno’s rule 10: The current default for the middle name is Alisa’s grandfather’s first name, and that together with my first name is the name of an astronaut/U.S. senator/presidential candidate. (Not that he’s a bad guy, but that’s not who we’d be naming our kid for.)

    Incidentally, the first son having my first name is part of a tradition in Alisa’s family. (I made it clear that there’s no way that I’m going to go along with John Winder Taber, Jr.)

  96. 95 – Yeah, there are enough things named after John Glenn, you don’t need to name your kid after him, because then for the rest of his life, he’ll be that kid named after the astronaut, even if it isn’t true.

  97. Just to be the voice of dissent: I really haven’t been bothered by my own very unusual, unusually spelled, and long first name or by my lack of a given middle name (now I use my maiden name as my middle name).

    Someone mentioned gender indeterminate names, which made me laugh: I went through a phase in high school when I wanted to have five daughters and name them all slightly tweaked boys’ names: Kyal, Kevanne, Mikal, Ryanne, and Devin, I think. Thank heavens I wasn’t a teenaged mother! For a long while I also thought “Vienna” was the most beautiful girl’s name.

    Another thing to consider: future children. Since the unfortunate high school phase, I’ve never wanted a particular naming theme for my children (all Js, all prophets, etc). But it is important to me that the names “match”, in a way—that they all have the same basic flavor. So while I love the traditional anglo-saxon-normal girls’ names—the Charlottes, the Margarets, the Lauras—I was set on having an “Elena”, and I don’t feel like Elena really goes with Margaret or Laura. So all my girls will have latinate-ish names—so far Elena and Mara. But my first son had to be John—family tradition—and my husband preferred him to be Jack, so all my boys will be sort of anglo-saxon sounding—Beckett (called Beck), Miles, maybe Soren, although that’s Danish.

    So anyway, something else to complicate matters!

  98. #88: As an owner of an non-gender-specific name, I can say that it’s, surprisingly, not that big of a deal. However, my experience may be unique, as, by the time it mattered, I had made it known that I wouldn’t take crap about it from anyone.

    It’s kinda like “A Boy Named Sue.”

  99. Re: #97,
    About the matching thing, we didn’t do it consciously, but both of our boys’ names are Hebrew. I guess since we named the first one Ethan it was natural to name the second one Caleb. It would be weird to have an Ethan and a Stanley or John or something like that. But Ethan and Caleb just seem right together.

  100. Heidi Parry says:


    As for a name, based on the choices you list above, my vote is for one of your wife’s choices . . .

    We named our daughter Arianna. My husband and I both love that name for some reason.

  101. john scherer says:


  102. cchrissyy says:

    our criteria? As statistically unpopular as possible while still being an actual name people have already heard. My husband states this rule as “it has to be a name I’ve heard but never met somebody with it”
    And it must work for a toddler and a respectable professional adult.

    For girls, I suggest Laura, Clara, Hannah, Rebecca, Megan, Eliza. But my husband doesn’t like any of them. which reminds me- we only got our daughter’s name by prayer and simultaneous revelation. Good thing too, we never would have agreed otherwise! so if you’re really stuck, try prayer.

    also, we’ve got a theme. wierd, I know. but if we have enough boys, they’ll be Elijah, Noah, Malachi, Enoch, Issac and all with new testament apostle middle names.

    But above all, do NOT tell people what names you’re considering, lest they insult you. better to spare them the chance of embaressing themselves by offering opinion where it isn’t wanted. Most people won’t be so bold once baby really exists and the name is set in stone.

  103. How about Juliet? Classic, but uncommon.

  104. Aaron Brown says:

    Hey Heidi. Good to hear form you. Good to see that you’re still lurking here.

    Aaron B

  105. The idea of not giving girls a middle name works only if they marry and thus take their husband’s name. But if they don’t marry, then they’re stuck in this sort of “no middle name” rut.

    Unless they become great Brazilian athletes or American pop stars, then they can just drop their last name and go with the single word name.

  106. anonymous says:

    I think the name Jezabell Brown would be cute, with the last name Brown the first name has to be somewhat unique and original.

  107. JJ Daddy Baby Momma in Savannah says:

    Please, please do not name your child Savannah.

    Let me suggest


    These are the tofu of girls names – both beautiful in themselves, and able to still taste like chicken in a variety of ways.

    Liz, Beth, Liza, Eliza, Lizzi (with a heart or smiley face over the “I” when she’s 13), etc. etc.

    Same with C or Katherine. Katy, Kit, Kitti (see “I” above), Kiki, etc. etc.

    Good luck – we only had girls, and a good thing as our boy names included Hamish, Finbar, Inigo and Tomochichi.

  108. Another good book/website to look at is The Perfect Baby Name ( They recommend choosing a first name that has at least one similar sound as in your last name (can be at the beginning, middle, end) – in your case a B, R, OW, or N sound. They also have advice on intonation/syllables and lists that fit all sorts of criteria.

    Bethany Brown
    Rebecca Brown
    Roxanne Brown
    Veronica Brown
    Antonia Brown

  109. Another thing I like to do is google the name combination to make sure it isn’t too popular:

    “Roxanne Brown” (967 pages)
    “Antonia Brown” (3,170 pages)
    “Rebecca Brown” (239,000 pages)

  110. How about

    Elizabeth Brown (and call her Libby)
    Aislinn Brown
    Chandra Brown
    Leah Brown
    Candace Brown
    Tia Brown
    Lena Brown
    Gina Brown
    Vivianne Brown
    Suzanne Brown
    Whitney Brown
    Lauren Brown
    Anika Brown
    Annette Brown

  111. Yikes! JJ Daddy Baby Momma in Savannah had the same boy names on her list as we do: Inigo and Finbar!! I didn’t think that was possible! (We part company on Hamish and Tomochichi though…).

    Anyways, you seem to have the opposite problem to ours — we are having a boy, and find girl names much easier.

    Personally, I think that Brown is a great name to pair up with; you just have to avoid the more traditional names (sorry to the other posters, but I think that names like Mary, Laura, Elizabeth, and so forth are just too much like Brown to work as a good combo). One of my favourite girl names that would sound lovely paired with Brown is Jemimah. It is a strong name (biblical), but soft too. I know that you would have to be courageous to pick it (I really resent the tyranny of that damn pancake mix!), but it is so beautiful it is worth a try.

    An alternative to Jemimah is Gemma; it has the same softness and also pairs nicely with Brown.

    The name we had picked for a girl was Romy. It is sometimes used as a nickname for Rosemary, but we liked it in its own right.

  112. Kevin Barney says:

    Or, if she has four musically gifted sibs, you can just call them collectively the Five Browns. Oh, wait, that’s been done already.

  113. “Sadie Louise Brown”… Don’t you just love it?

  114. How about Amelia?

  115. If you’re going to go scriptural, pick some Assyrian names. They always sound like names from another planet.

  116. If you want some unusual American names think about these. According to the Social Security office these were almost never popular:


    I think Muriel would be best as it’s 3 syllables like you asked.

  117. Hey, good luck picking a name, i would suggest my own name Brydie Elise, which is not very common, and not too hard to spell, but i agree with the many people who suggest a longer name to go with brown, and i have a surname starting with B, and i am sure your daughter would dislike being named BB as much as i do.

    A longer name, which is Japanese for princess, although it is a bit hard to spell is Takarah.

    Takarah Rose Brown sounds good in my opinion.

  118. Has anyone said the name Keoke? My little neighbor girl was named Keoke. Keoke Kim. I actually love the name Mary.

  119. natalie says:

    my boy is Xander Graham Kurt

    my girl is Miette Lisbeth

    if i have another girl – am unsure

    if its a boy it will be thurston gailee… or maybe denree

    i love choosing names

    i got to name my best mates baby…. she just knew she wanted a Zed name – so I suggested Ziggy because he looked like a spaceman something like Ziggy Stardust….

    mmm… If my surname were brown, I would maybe have Autumn Brown or Maeve Brown – just sounds right… Elizbeth is a good english name isnt it

    However I choose my names on MEANINGS…. and popularity. in australia Xander hadn’t even had over 1000 births in 100 years (that was 2002) now it is really popular :(
    and if another person asks me if we got it from buffy…………..

  120. Kevin Barney says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! The following was mass mailed from Aaron just a moment ago:

    Annika Cannon Brown was born at 4:12 am on August 21, 2006. 22″ long and weighing in at 10 lb, 2 oz. Mother and baby are both doing well.

  121. Steve Evans says:

    Heaven help us all, another Brown.

  122. Kevin Barney says:

    Libby #110 appears to have won the prize, with her close spelling variant Anika.

    Aaron, I think Annika is an excellent choice. It evokes thoughts of Annika Sorenstam, a very positive role model. The name is well enough known, but unusual enough that it balances out the ubiquity of Brown. Enjoy your new daughter with her newly-minted BCC-approved name!

  123. Julie M. Smith says:

    As someone who birthed a 10 pound, 3 ounce baby, my admiration for Sister Brown knows no bounds.

    Congrats all!

  124. I’m having another boy and can’t come up with a name. I have two other boys by the names of Elijah and Isaiah, I would like a name that matches these names. I thaught about Josiah but my husband doesn’t want that name because a friend of our’s(her newphew) has this name. He says the name is too close to home.
    Can anyone help?


  125. the name Genovefa is a great name. It’s not common. I love my name which is Genovefa but its up to you. Good-luck with your baby!!! xxxx

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