I Got My Name From Name Cupid: Meet Harper

It’s that time again: time to infuse the Name Cupid Hall of Fame with a fresh dose of cuteness. This third Name Cupid Hall of Fame success story wasn’t without its ups and downs (including differing parental naming styles and a celebrity name theft). But, it ended in perfection, two parents finding a name they agreed was a spot-on choice for their little girl.

Meet baby Harper! How did her parents arrive at their perfect name? We asked Harper’s mom to find out.

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Name Cupid’s New Classics: Most Suggested Names of Year 1

Now that Name Cupid is emerging from its own infancy—the site launched one year ago this month—I thought I’d take stock of the hundreds of names I’ve suggested for the parents-to-be who have contacted me for help in their search for the perfect baby name.

As I’ve written here before, the names I suggest are not based on my own preferences, but on the specifications each parent provides me. Maybe they are looking for lyrical, flowing names that would sound nice with big sister Julianna or strong, snappy names that would fit well with a long, complicated surname. As a result, the names I’ve suggested span a wide array— from Demetrius to Aria to Bailey. What is interesting is when a name itself spans a wide array of tastes, making it palatable, for instance, for parents looking for unique spunk, traditional flair, and a touch of strength. I’ve combed through the hundreds of suggested names and found those that I’ve suggested most for parents. Names that, due to their broad appeal, might just be new classics.


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Baby Names & The Beautiful Game: Euro 2012 Edition

It is official: The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship— better known as the Euro—is underway. Around the world, fans like yours truly are tuning in to watch the world’s most beautiful game. And you don’t have to be a soccer fan to appreciate the naming potential packed into this year’s tournament. While America trails the rest of the world in terms of football fandom, world soccer giants have made an impact on our name charts. The boys’ name Iker was the second fastest rising boys’ name in the US last year, likely thanks to this guy:


That, of course, is Spanish #1 Iker Casillas, who helped his team to World Cup glory and helped his name increase in the American consciousness. Names take off not only due to players’ dominance— I don’t expect Zlatan to reach the American Top #10 any time soon—the recipe for a hit baby name includes one part celebrity, two parts in-fashion sounds. With that in mind, here are some other Euro-inspired names that could make nice fits for baby boys:

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Blue Ivy & The Baby Name Rainbow

It’s been more than a month since Blue Ivy Carter made her world debut, but the fascination with her unusual name has yet to wane. Of course, Blue Ivy isn’t the first baby whose parents sought to "paint the sky blue,"  Alicia Silverstone had baby Bear Blu, Cher’s Elijah Blue was born more than 30 years ago, and U2’s The Edge moved Blue into the first name slot for his daughter Blue Angel. Still, Blue Ivy made her entrance and made a splash in name land.


But for many non-celebrities, Blue may seem too “out there” a choice. Here are some other hues that might appeal to parents-to-be drawn to the color wheel. 

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Outsiders V: Modern Sounds- Unisex Names & Surnames

We’ve been through parts one, two, three and four, and now it’s time to visit two of the hottest trends in the United States: traditionally masculine-sounding or unisex names for girls and surnames for boys.

There may not be two trends more en vogue. For girls, Taylor and Riley both rank within the Top #40. Mason and Jackson both chart in the Top #25.

There are plenty of other highly-popular examples where those came from.  Luckily, parents looking for hidden treasures can find many lesser-used name choices that follow similar themes. Here’s one:


That of course, is Blair Waldorf from “Gossip Girl” and the first of these Outsiders’ picks.

Here are some strong/unisex sounding girls’ names, and boys’ names of the surname variety:


Blair (222 born in 2010)- Blair is a name that’s fashionable on girls, but has the strong ‘r’ ending seen in boys’ names like Connor and Arthur. It has actually been much more common as a boys’ name in American history. That makes it right on the current trend: a name with a feminine feel but a traditionally masculine past.

Bronwyn (62 born in 2010)- There is no more popular kind of boys’ name  than those ending in ‘n.’ Unisex name Bronwyn is sweet on a little girl, and would be a solid pick to parents drawn to this vibe.

Jori (25 born in 2010)- A hip diminutive of Marjorie, Jori has a snappy, boyish vibe and is used on both genders. The name Jorie is also in limited use, 21 babies with that name were born in the USA in 2010.

October (62 born in 2010)- Month names like JanuaryApril, and August are all in use, so why not October? The most unconventional of my girls’ picks, it has warm, autumnal sounds and round vowels that appeal to modern parents. It also packs the cute, unisex nickname Tobi.

Greer (52 born in 2010)- Here’s a unique name that drew attention after Brooke Shields named her daughter Grier in 2006. While Greer is the more popular spelling, there were 21 babies named Grier born in 2010. Shields’ older daughter, Rowan is another unisex name parents might be drawn to, it ranks #327 on the current girls’ chart.


Truman (193 in 2010)- A president, author  and the title character in “The Truman Show,” this is a strong and dignified surname. It serves as great pick for parents drawn to ‘n’ endings and the handsome ‘oo’ sound found in names like Luke and Julian.

Thatcher (161 born in 2010)- An underused boys’ name with a similar vibe to Sawyer, this would be a solid pick for a parent looking for a strapping but refined name with  a mischievous streak.

Foster (124 born in 2010)- A dashing surname with a similar vibe to Thatcher and Sawyer, Foster has numerous meanings including officer in charge of a forest or shearer.

Gannon (124 born in 2010)- An Irish surname with a Zelda connection, Gannon could be a solid pick for game-enthusiast parents looking for a sharp ‘n’ ending name.

Jenner (32 born in 2010)- Even though his dad was an Olympian, it’s the younger Jenner who catapulted this name into recent public consciousness via Reality Show fame. It’s got hip sounds, and the vibe of Jagger, a name I picked to rise.


For boys, Jennings (27 born in 2010) offers a surname with a sophisticated flair and Thayer (18 born in 2010) is a hugely underused ‘r’ ending surname.

For girls, there may not be a clearer blend of masculine flair and feminine sounds than the combination of “Ace” and “Lynn.” Spellings on this one vary: the most popular is Aislynn (97 born in 2010), but Aislinn, Aisyln and Aislin are not far behind.

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Name Cupid’s Pick of the Day: Isla

Like the sounds of names like Kylie and Lila but looking for something that feels a little bit more unique?

Check out Isla.

A Scottish name meaning island and pronounced Eye-luh, it is a top name outside of the United States, but is still underused here. The name’s sassy femininity is bolstered by a certain popular actress.


Just as Isla Fisher was disturbing Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers, she was familiarizing a large American audience to a beautiful and spunky girls’ name.

It has a hot, familiar sound and just enough of an off-beat vibe to attract parents looking for a baby name with a little flair. At #297 on the U.S. Chart, it is a lesser-used name, about as popular as Kerri and Haley were in 1982.

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Namer’s Dilemma: Finding an Elegant Girls’ Name

One Name Cupid mom recently came to me with a common problem. She’s looking for a beautiful and elegant girls name, something like Charlotte or Madeline, but those names aren’t quite cutting it.

Charlotte is a classic and melodious name, but for some, it will forever be associated with a TV character. She worried that for others, it would be permanently caught in a spider’s web.

And like many parents find, something just seems off. A name like Madeline should be perfect, it fits all of her specifications, but it just doesn’t quite seem to be “the one.”
So what girls’ names did I suggest for this mom-to-be? Here is a clue:
( via
That, of course, is one of the most famous first daughters, John F. Kennedy ‘s child, Caroline. (The president’s own name was referenced here).
Caroline- The #88 name on the most recent Top 1000, Caroline jumped out at me as a top choice for this mom. It combines the vibes of Charlotte and Madeline, has usage that dates back well into the 19th Century, and, like Charlotte, it is a derivation of Charles. 
Georgia-At #326 on the US charts, this is another elegant and strong name with a similar vibe. It peaked in 1880 and has declined in usage ever since, and has a nice meaning in earth-worker or farmer.
Violet- This name shares an ending sound with Charlotte, as well as strength, beauty, and a vintage feel. Violet is at #123 on the Top 1000, making it about as popular as names like Sharon and Tasha were in 1980.
Genevieve- A name that boasts Celtic and French flair, this is an antique name that peaked in popularity in 1910. More that a century later, it seems fresh again, and at #279 on the most recent American chart, provides a unique alternative to Jennifer. It is sensitive, strong, and similar in flow to the chosen names. It is also about as popular as names like Brianne and Kelley were in 1980.
Want personal and free help in naming your baby? Take this survey or email I look forward to hearing from you!

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New Year’s Babies: A Nationwide Sampling of Baby Names

Across the United States, Americans ushered in 2012 with a time-honored tradition: celebrating the first babies of the New Year.

So here at Name Cupid, I’ll bring you a New Year’s baby name from each state*, names as diverse as the country itself. I give you these 31 girls’ names and 20 boys’ names (Arizona had two New Year’s babies born near the same time). We’ve got the #1 name in America, and several names that may never have been used before: it’s a true cross-section of the country’s naming landscape. Perhaps here you’ll also find a name you’d use for your own baby to be!

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The Changing Taste of Baby Names

It’s a stalemate with which soon-to-be parents are all too familiar. You’ve got the names you love. Your partner has the names he or she loves,  and never the twain shall meet (when I was a kid I thought this phrase was based on an intentional mispronunciation of the word ‘train,’ but that’s neither here nor there.)

So what do you do when you have your heart set on Ariadne and he’s always wanted to name a daughter Shannon, a name that’s never struck your fancy? Or you think Jude is the perfect pick for your baby boy, and she can’t stray from the idea that your son should be named Richard, which only makes you think of this guy

It can seem a conundrum. And while there may be a few of your partner’s choices that will never work for both of you- you shouldn’t toss out the one’s he loves, that you have only a “maybe" feeling about.

Why? Because, the first time I heard a song sung by what is now my favorite musical group I wasn’t a fan . Tastes evolve. Repetition changes things. And if I gave up after that first listen, I would have missed out on some lyrical wisdom and amazing beats.


Put that Atmosphere (above) on your Christmas wish list. So, tastes can change. You might not like an exotic new wine on the first sip, you’ve got to swirl it around a bit and test all the flavors. That holds true with names. Keep tossing Summer out into conversation, google Ezekiel and see what references you find. Put faces with the names. Think about what they bring to mind. Names can and will grow on you.

It is perhaps easier to prove that it works the other way, too. Because I’m a life-long name enthusiast, I chronicled my likes and dislikes. I recently found a third grade autobiography I had to write for class, wherein I saw fit to include my favorite names: ones like Carin and Chelsea, Luke and Danny. When I got a little older, my sights turned to names like Braden  and Michelle. Still later, Landon and Samantha were my clear favorites. If I were to have a child, I wouldn’t use any of these names, for various reasons.

Our tastes are not set in stone. So take a nibble on an unlikely name or two, you might find an unexpected favorite.

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The Outsiders Part IV: Around the World

With parts one, two, and three of the best names outside the top #1000 down, its time for part four, a look at some names with international flair. A glance at the top of the USA’s popularity charts shows names from a variety of cultures. They are names that might have one country of origin, but are used by people from a variety of backgrounds. Not every Anthony is Italian, not every Sean is Irish, and many little Isabellas have no Spanish ancestry.

And those are just a few popular examples of names with cross-cultural appeal. Many lesser used, but perhaps equally appealing options, make up Outsiders IV. For these names, I’ve channelled an awesome song from my high school days and gone Around the World.


Here are some hidden gems of the international variety:


Colette (205 born in 2010)- This name boasts French flair and a recent hit kids’ movie connection. It also packs nickname Colie, a diminutive that drew attention as the name of a cast member on the MTV’s granddaddy of all reality shows, Real World.

Xenia (47 born in 2010)- Pronounced sen-ee-uh or zee-nee-uh, its a name with Greek origin and a saint connection. It is also a name whose beauty is augmented by the connection to a world-famous model, and that’s made lovable by an underdog young contestant on “The Voice.”

Petra (98 born in 2010)- The #8 most popular name in Hungary, here is an easily pronounced, strong and feminine classic, in use by famous Czech tennis player Petra Kvitova.

Chiara (140 born in 2010)- The Italian form of antique favorite Clara, this name is pronounced kee-ah-ra (many equate the ‘Ch’ sound to that of Christine). It has the hot sounds of hit name Sierra, and was the fifth most popular girls’ name in Italy in 2008.

Verona (30 born in 2010)- This Italian city is a Shakespearean favorite, the setting of plays like Romeo & Juliet. It is a name that won’t be limited to theater buffs or Italy enthusiasts. Like a fresher update of Veronica, Verona is a name you could picture on a pre-schooler or distinguished grown-up.


Dimitri (177 born in 2010)- A Greek name that is #5 in Russia and has risen on the USA popularity charts in recent years, Dimitri could appeal to a wide array of parents. It seems to be gaining traction in all its spellings (there were 62 babies named Dmitri born last year), and Demetri has the ever-important connection to a certain sparkly vampire pop culture phenomenon

Giuseppe (97 born in 2010)- Admittedly, this one might appeal more to parents with Italian roots, but here’s a fine name far less popular that Italian-American favorite Giovanni. Giuseppe’s got the nickname “Juice,” and loads of famous Italian namesakes.

Augustine ( 187 born in 2010)- Pronounced aw-gus-tin or aw-gus-teen, this Latin saint’s names mean great and could be a great pick for parents drawn to its distinguished quality and nicknames Auggie and Gus.

Rome (71 born in 2010)-  With Roman, Romeo and Jerome all firmly within the USA’s Top 1000, how about shorter variant Rome? The ancient city packs the hot ‘long o’ sound, the trendiness of ‘place names’ and seems the short, strong boys name so many parents are after.

Massimo (148 born in 2010)- An Italian name that could provide an alternative for parents who think Max in its various longforms is too popular, its also just one letter off from ’ east coast attitude meets west coast cool.’

Today’s Bonus is brought to you by the letter ‘P’;

Boy’s name Patricio (100 born last year in the US) and girl’s name Pilar (82 born here in 2010) are snappy, underused Spanish names that are easily pronounced by English speakers.

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