Thoughts on Picking Girl Names

The Czarina and I worked hard to select appropriate names for our children, and with both twin boys and twin girls, we had a lot of practice. Our name selection followed a few simple rules:

  • Avoid highly popular names. Pick a top ten name and you pretty much guarantee your son or daughter will be in class with another kid who has the same name. While there are certainly worse fates to spare your child, we aimed to find unique names – but not too unique, which brings me to our second rule:
  • Avoid obscure names. If it can’t be reliably pronounced, or the gender is ambiguous, or a typical person has no clue that particular collection of phonemes is a name – it’s probably not a good idea.
  • Avoid trendy names. Names go into and out of fashion, and it seems the more rapidly a name zooms into popularity, the faster it falls back into obscurity. We found the Baby Name Wizard was a great resource for assessing name trends, avoiding names that might be skyrocketing today but will be forgotten tomorrow.
  • Pick classic names. Classic names have been around for a while. They are recognizably names. Although their popularity might wax and wane,  if you pick one that’s out of favor now (out of the Top 100), it will probably come back eventually.

We settled on Cora and Greta for the names of our twin girls.  Cora was a popular girl name – in the 1880s (the Czarina’s great-grandmother was named Cora). In 2004, it was the 434th most popular girl name. Since then, “Cora” has been trending upward in popularity to 303rd in 2009. Greta 387th in the 1930s (think Greta Garbo); in 2004 it was the 704th most popular name. Last year it was around 692nd most popular.

I think boy names are more difficult. But that’s a topic I’ll pick up again some other time.

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