Reader Q&A: Naming Boy #4!

Naming Boy #4

Anytime a new reader signs up to become part of the UBN email community, I ask the reader to share their biggest baby name challenges.

I was intrigued when reader Britney shared the following:

The most difficult aspect is naming multiple of the same gender! I am expecting my 4th son. 🙂

I asked Britney if I could offer some suggestions and share her predicament with all of you. She graciously agreed and added more information:

I actually found your blog because of your post on Nameberry where you mentioned all 3 of my boys’ names as names that could become Modern Classics. My boys are named Jacob, Colin, and Maxwell (nn Max). This was the post:

Many of the other names you mentioned in that post are names we have considered. My husband is also a 4th son, and out of the 12 grandkids on his side so far, 10 are boys! It must be something genetic to have sons in this family.

Do you want to know some of the names we are currently considering? Or would you like a blank slate? Our last name starts with R and rhymes with Tool, so names with a heavy R don’t seem to have as good of flow.

I would like each boy to have their own initial and sound of name. There are a lot of names we’ve thought about that feel too similar to another. I like Oliver, but we call Colin Collie, and an Ollie and Collie would be confusing. Dylan has been another name we like, but I wonder if it’s too close having 2 names that end in the sound -lin. I’ve also liked Caleb, but it’s almost a letter for letter exchange of Jacob and Colin. Owen and Colin also feel too similar.

That’s one of the reasons we are struggling, beyond just the normal trying-to-get-two-parents-to-agree problem. Thankfully, my husband and I have similar taste.

My response:

The first name that popped into my head was Simon. To me it flows well with your other boys’ names and your last name.

  • Jacob
  • Colin
  • Maxwell/Max and
  • Simon

Simon “Tool with an R”

The next name that comes to mind is Felix:

  • Jacob
  • Colin
  • Maxwell/Max and
  • Felix

Felix “Tool with an R”

Simon and Felix do share the same endings as Colin and Max, however, that isn’t a drawback in my opinion. Colin and Simon do sound a little more repetitious than Max and Felix, and may have the same concerns you had with Colin and Owen. But Colin and Simon do not seem as confusing as your Collie and Ollie example.

This just shows that once you get to the point of naming your fourth kid, especially when all four kids are the same gender, there is bound to be some repetition. In this situation, I would only avoid the repetition if it’s excessive.

Thankfully Simon and Felix don’t share the same first initial as your older sons’ names and don’t have the strong R sound that conflicts with your last name.

I think you can’t go wrong with either one of these names, however, I did some digging to come up with other ideas:

Henry (I totally overlooked the R! My oversight.)








This is a good example of how older kids’ names eliminate other options. I considered Adrian, but nope, it has the R. I thought of Martin, but again it repeats the first initial M with Maxwell. (And again, Martin has that pesky R.) After doing some digging, I’m starting to really like Isaac from my second list. It doesn’t repeat initials, has no R, and even has a different ending than your other sons’ names.

I look forward to hearing what readers suggest.

Good Luck!

I got some more feedback from Britney that really drove home how personal preferences can really paint parents like her into a corner when naming the fourth baby:

Thank you so much for spending time to get us some ideas! You have some really good options here. I think my favorite of the list is Henry. Even with the R, this is a name we keep coming back to. It could be a name we would go with!

Issac would be a great fit with our boys, but my husband has a cousin with the same name. We both come from large, well-named families, so that is a further difficulty. 🙂 Logan is also the name of a cousin of my boys. But they are both fantastic names. I also think Nolan is a little close to Colin, but it’s a great name, and one we’ve thrown around.

I think Simon is a name that could fit with our current sib set. I’ve never considered it, but I think it could grow on me. Felix is a name I’ve been hearing a lot more of lately, and it’s growing on me as well. This is why I’ve been trying to find out an answer early–some names take a little time to simmer! 🙂

Again, thank you so much for the suggestions! You did a great job nailing our style.

Thanks again Britney for sharing your story.

And if you find a name you really like that breaks your no-R rule, I encourage you to use the name anyway. I don’t think R always causes any problems with your last name. I would only avoid names that end in R to prevent run-on.

Readers: What is your favorite name for Britney’s fourth boy?


Emma: The Comeback Queen – Video

A couple of years ago, I wrote about Emma, and what makes it different from other top 5 names.

Fast forward to 2014 and my brother and sister-in-law name their daughter Emma.

Now seemed like the perfect time to remake that post into a video presentation and dedicate it to our newest family member: Emma Winifred.

Winifred is our 96-year-old grandmother’s name.

The charts show visually what makes the name different from other top vintage revival names. You can see where Emma ranked when different pop culture events from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s help propel the name back to the top.

Some people might think that I, someone who likes finding uncommon names, wouldn’t be excited about my brother and sister-in-law’s name pick. Those people would be wrong. Emma has been a top 3 names for along time for good reason. Emma is cute and smart. It pairs nicely with longer middle names like my grandmother’s name, Winifred. I would only discourage Emma if it didn’t go well with the baby’s last names, and it goes well with most last names.

Having a niece named Emma has helped me rediscover what’s great about the name.

And as you will learn by watching the video, Emma has so many wonderful namesakes.


Updated for 2013: Top 22 in 2022

Updated for 2013: Top 22 in 2022Predictions are based on assumptions, the big assumption being that trends from the past will continue today.

Someone from the ‘80s making predictions about the top boys’ names for 2014, might assume that boy trends wouldn’t turn over that often because historically up until that point, they hadn’t.

Take a look at the table below and see how long each top boy name since 1880 had held on to the top spot in the past.

In 2012 I wrote the Top 22 in 2022, a list of the 22 boy and girl names I predicted would be among the top 22 U.S. baby names 10 years from the time I made my predictions.

Top U.S. Boy Names from 1880 - 2012

In the Top 22 in 2022: Revised for 2013, I share some updates on which predictions I feel were spot-on and which ones I feel totally missed the mark–as of 2013 that is…

And with eight years being a long time into the future, at least as far as name trends go, I wouldn’t be surprised if predictions that I doubt now based on 2013 numbers start to look good again based on 2021 numbers. The opposite could also be true. Predictions that look good based on 2013 numbers could look bad in 2021.

If you already signed up for the original Top 22 in 2022, you should have already gotten the 2013 version in your email. If you haven’t signed up yet, enter your email below.

In addition to The Top 22 in 2022: Revised for 2013, you will get email updates for UBN and occasionally stuff I don’t share on the blog. Emails are sent every couple of weeks and you can unsubscribe at any time.

To get the Top 22 in 2022: Revised for 2013, enter you email:


Guest Blogging News: Will They Ever Make The Top 10?


I am often shocked at which names never made the top 10. These are wonderfully appealing names, like Owen, Max, and Lucy.

I share this list of top 10 caliber names with Nameberry readers today.

Some of these names seem like they should have made the top 10 decades ago, such as Ann / Anne, while others, such Owen, Max, and Lucy, feel like they should be in the top 10 now.

Do you agree? Disagree?

To see the list and find out why I feel these names have top 10 appeal check out my guest post: Owen? Max? Lucy? Will They Ever Make The Top 10? 

Are there any names you are surprised never made the top 10?

Photo credit

Does Pottery Barn Predict The Next Names? Part 3


This is the third part in a series addressing the burning question: Does Pottery Barn Predict The Next Names?

The long-standing theory is that names appearing on the personalized items in the Pottery Barn Kids catalogs are baby names on the rise.

To figure out if this is really the case or just a rumor, I took samples of names from the 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Pottery Barn Kids catalogs.

Past installments of this series were:
Part 1 which focused on 2010 (Names were examined from the Autumn 2010 catalog)
Part 2 which focused on 2011 (Names were examined from the Fall 2011 catalog)

And part 3, which focuses on 2012, examines names from the Fall 2012 catalog.

Findings from part 1 and part 2 suggest that the names appearing in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog were in reality slightly behind the baby name trends. I suspect I know why this is, but before drawing any conclusions, I want to complete the series and see if the findings remain consistent.

One finding is that many of the names from the 2010 catalog also appeared in the 2011 catalog. It seems that Pottery Barn likes to reuse some favorite names.

And while some of these familiar names were back in the 2012 catalog, there were also some new names in 2012–many which seemed more fashion-forward than names from earlier years.

In fact some of these new names were on my favorite list, and I even featured one recently.

Here are some guidelines that remain the same from part 1 and part 2 of this series:

Names used for girls are coded pink, boys are coded blue, and if the gender is undetermined (or cannot be assumed) the name is coded green.

For example, Chloe is always assumed to be a girl’s name, even if the decor in the catalog is unisex or even traditionally masculine. For a traditionally unisex name like Taylor, the gender is determined based on the decor in the catalog; depending on whether the decor is traditionally male, female or unisex, the name will be color coded accordingly.

Based on when each name peaked, each name is categorized as:

  • Current (on trend for the catalog year)
  • Traditional (never out of style)
  • Down-market (dated)
  • Up-and-coming (ahead of trends)
  • Original (unknown, invented or rare)

Names from the Fall 2012 online issue:

Current Names

These names from the Fall 2012 catalog peaked around 2012 (and in most cases these names are still at their peak):


Traditional Names

Name from the Fall 2012 catalog that have been fashionable for at least a couple of generations:


*Could be considered down-market since it has steeply declined since its 1980s peak (when it was just outside the top 10), but has been in the top 25 for nearly 40 years and seems imaginable on a couple of generations.

Down-market Names

Names from the Fall 2012 catalog that statistically were on the decline in 2012:


Now we are getting to the exciting part. The following lists of names are either up-and-coming or original, and were ahead of their time in 2012. If Pottery Barn predicts name trends, these lists should be the longest.

Up-and-coming Names

These names were on the rise and fashion-forward in 2012:


*Only a few years ago, Blair would have been considered down-market, but in recent years it has made a comeback. After being moderately popular in the 1980s, it left the top 1000 in 2001 only to return in 2011. Its rank increased in 2012. Appellation Mountain recently wrote a post on Blair which gives some explanations for Blair’s recent resurgence.

Original Names

And here are that names that were completely original in 2012–so uncommon they weren’t on many people’s radar (and in many cases are still under-the-radar):

Blythe (One of UBN’s recent Names to Watch!)

*As nicknames for several fashionable names, Addy and Maddie may not come across as original, but as given names they are rare. If statistics on nicknames (which are very difficult to track) were available, these names would probably count as current or up-and-coming, but I can’t prove that and I had to count nicknames as if they were given names.

Insights from Pottery Barn Kids Autumn 2010, Fall 2011 & Fall 2012 catalogs:

Here’s how Pottery Barn names compare from 2010 – 2012 based on the samples I took from the online archives:

2010 2011 2012
Current 30% 25% 23%
Traditional 16% 9% 6%
Down-market 33% 42% 31%
Up-and-coming 12% 22% 31%
Original 9% 2% 9%


Based on the samples from the 2010 – 2012 catalogs, the group of names labeled “traditional” shrunk over the course of three years.

The exciting part is the gradual increase in up-and-coming names each year. I’m curious to see if the up-and-coming names continue to increase in part 4, when I sample names from the 2013 catalog.

Do you think Pottery Barn is trying to live up to its reputation as a baby name trend-setter? Have the marketing people at Pottery Barn begun reading baby name blogs? Or is the increase in up-and-coming names coincidental?

Stay tuned for part 4, the last installment of this series for the conclusion.

Image credit: Pottery Barn Fall 2012 Catalog