Sunday Summary: Names as Recipes


I think a lot about how to deconstruct our favorite names. Because it’s easy to say that we like classic names or modern ones. And we know – often instantly – if we’re willing to consider this name or that one.

And yet, that information only sometimes helps us choose a name for a child.

It hit me this morning: maybe it’s best to think of names as recipes.

We know we want to bake, say, cookies. But what’s our favorite kind? Gingerbread or sugar? Something lighter and more sophisticated? Do we have specific dietary constraints? Heritages we want to showcase?

It’s a little the same with names, isn’t it? Some of us love a classic sugar cookie, heavy on the sprinkles and frosting. But others crave a recipe passed down from their great-grandmother, made with ingredients that aren’t found on the average grocery store shelf. Their process might take longer, both to source the necessary supplies and to craft just so. And some want to try something new every time, scrolling through Pinterest until inspiration strikes.

For my kids, the recipe was straightforward: family names were the base ingredient, with flavor added in from unconventional nicknames. Our son’s name ended up a little bland; we upped the seasoning for our daughter and got it just right.

What’s your recipe for a great baby name?

Elsewhere online:

Breonna is the Name of the Year for 2020. So much to think about here.

Just when I thought I couldn’t love Daveed Diggs more, there’s this. I mean … who knew a rap about Hanukkah and puppies was what we all needed right now? Anyway, I found myself reading about Diggs. He’s Jewish on his mom’s side, and they spelled his name Daveed to reflect the Hebrew pronunciation. Plus, his dad liked the look of the ‘ee’ spelling. It’s never been even a little bit common in the US, but I’m wondering if we’ll see some baby Daveeds in the next few years? Respelling a name to change the pronunciation is usually an exercise in frustration. Daveed is the exception that proves the rule.

Speaking of creative, Taylor and Natalie Hanson welcomed daughter Maybellene. She joins brothers Jordan, River, Viggo, and Claude, and sisters Penelope and Wihelmina. I wonder if it’s taken from the Chuck Berry song? Maybellene made my list of rare May names, but it’s still a surprise to hear in real life. I think it’s sparky and vintage, and the cosmetic company was named for a real-life Mabel, so I think it works …

Some lovely choices from YouTubers. Can’t decide which name I like best of all, but it might have to be Rook.

Name quotes from Nancy! I get a kick out of Nottilie.

That’s all for this week! As always, thank you for reading. Thinking of you!

And if you can’t get enough name chatter, please subscribe to my Tuesday newsletter, which is filled with more lists and thoughts about all things naming.



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