How to name a baby

Waiting for a baby to arrive is both very exciting and very boring. You know the baby is going to change your life, but most of the changes haven’t happened yet. You know the baby will be a lot of work, but the amount of preparation you can do ahead of time is limited. You know the baby will be uniquely important to you, but you have very minimal information about who they are and what differentiates them from all the other babies in the world. I think this is part of the reason many expectant parents end up making […]

8 Anglo-Saxon names that should be as popular as Edward and Edith

One of the things that always strikes me about Anglo-Saxon names is the way you’ll be immersed in a sea of unfamiliar, foreign names and then suddenly there’s an Emma or an Edmund or something else that sounds perfectly normal. What makes one name last while another fades away? I would guess that the main factor is that our sense of what sounds and names are appealing changes as time goes by, but I also think historical narratives have an influence. If a name was never borne by someone well-known enough to make it into the historical record, then it’s […]

English word names

Let’s talk about English word names, by which I mean “names for people that are also regular English words,” not “names of words in English.” There are plenty of languages where personal names are almost always regular vocabulary words, but English is not one of them. English speakers are used to name meanings being several steps removed – for example, you might see that Margaret “means” pearl, because the English name Margaret came from the French name Marguerite which came from the Latin name Margarita which came from the Greek word margarites which means pearl (and which probably was borrowed […]