Sunday, June 19, 2011

how to name a unicorn

Okay, we're down to five names (and four weeks to go).  If my hubby and I can manage to knock out one name per week, we'll know what to call our baby girl, who has been "Unicorn" to us for eight months now!

In no particular order, we like:
  • Aria
  • Gwyneth
  • Lorelei
  • Anne-Claire
  • Celeste
And the ones we have recently eliminated are:
  • Allegra (cool name, but also a medication)
  • Iona (which I love, but it doesn't work with our last name)
  • Miranda (also a good name, but lends itself too easily to the nickname "Randi," which definitely doesn't work with our last name)
  • Chantal (too many possibilities for misspellings by anglophones--Shantelle, etc.)
We've also narrowed the middle names down to two, which we're keeping to ourselves for now.

So we're curious to hear from some of you French speakers--what are your associations with Anne-Claire and Celeste?  Are they "old lady" names?

And to the anglophones (especially those from Great Britain), we need help with "Gwyneth."  That seems to be the most common spelling, which would imply the pronunciation is "gwin-eth."  But in the US, almost everyone refers to the famous actress as "gwen-ith," perhaps conflating it with "Gwendolyn" and "Guinevere."  And I just have a problem deliberately spelling my daughter's name in a way that doesn't reflect the pronunciation, and I do want to pronounce it "gwen-eth."  So then should we spell it "Gwenyth"?  I'd like to keep the "y," but not curse her with a name that everyone will have trouble spelling.  "Gweneth"?  That just looks ugly.  (But "Gwyneth and Griffin" sounds so good together!)

Please help!


  1. I work at a French American school and have many Celeste's and one Anne-Claire - I think they're both beautiful and outside the French community, unique. I called my daughter Simone - French people always tell us what an old-school name that is...

  2. Gwyneth and Griffin do sound good together, and if you spelled it differently I think it wouldn't look as elegant as it does, like you say - "Gweneth"? No. I saw it and read it "Gwen-eth" or "Gwen-ith;" I don't hear much of a difference there.
    But I also think Celeste and Anne-Claire (or Anna Claire) are beautiful names!

  3. If you choose Gwyneth, I'd stick with the current spelling.

  4. They're all lovely names :)

    My mum thinks she has an old lady name - Genevieve - but again I think that one's lovely too, in the French and English pronunciations. She called my brother and I names that would work in either language (Paul & Sophie).

    My maternal gran's name really *is* old-school though: Fernande!

  5. That is so cool that you call the baby "unicorn"
    Since I love names, I felt compelled to comment:
    It is very hard for me to distinguish the difference between Gwineth and Gweneth, but I also think pen rhymes with pin.
    I suspect this is a regionalism but my point is you can't really guard against that sort of thing, so I wouldn't let that stop me from choosing the name. They are all pretty.

  6. Thank you for your input on baby names, everyone! For now, we're calling her "unicorn" because we wanted a mythical beast nickname with positive connotations to go along with Griffin ("Gorgon" was not an option, for example, although given how crappy I felt the first 18-20 weeks it would have been appropriate!).

    I'm glad to hear that the French names sound pretty to you all. One of the French playgroup moms said that hyphenated names sound snooty to her and pointed out that "Anne" is pronounced the same as "ane," which means "donkey."

    I had no idea that Celeste was so popular that there would be several Celestes at one school alone! (Although that's less likely to be the case at the schools around here.) One of my colleagues says this name also exists in Spanish--and it sounds lovely!

    One potential problem with Celeste: it's an elephant. (Babar's wife and--scandalously--cousin.)

    @Sophie--My "French name" in high school French classes was "Genevieve" (and I still like it)! (Then at French camp I was "Arielle.")

    @Make! Do!--"Simone" is quite pretty too. And I think that a lot of formerly old-fashioned names are coming back into vogue in the US. Maybe in France too? Thanks for sharing your blog--I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    @Patty--Thank you for your very first comment on my blog! It sounds like my Gwen/Gwyn spelling/pronunciation issue is a bigger deal to me than everyone else!

  7. I love the name Lorelei! I also like Gwyneth (and do not think most people hear an "i" or "e" sound differentiation) and Celeste. These are classy, gorgeous, chic names! I know a little girl named Anna-Claire and it seems more folksy to me than chic, like Ann-Marie or Mary-Ann or Mindy-Lu get the point!

    I'm sure it will be lovely, no matter what! My daughter is Lyla and I love the classic names. P.S. my French name in H.S. was Gabrielle!

  8. Thanks! Would you believe that one of my top choices, which unforutnately didn't appeal to my husband, was Violet/Violette?!

  9. Sarah, Just reading this now and I noticed on FB that you decided on Gwyneth...beautiful! I just HAD to comment, though, because you and I have SUCH similar taste!!! For both boys, if they had been girls, several of your top 5 were on my top 5 too! I LOVE Celeste (Jarod hates), I LOVE Aria (Jarod absolutely refused because it's a word), and I LOVE Gwyneth!! Anyway, since we don't have a girl it doesn't matter, but I just wanted to share that I think they are beautiful. I hadn't heard of anyone else liking Aria, too!
    Hope you're doing well and are ready for the big day! Can't wait to see a pic!

  10. Quelle coincidence! They're all great names, aren't they? We just have good taste, n'est-ce que pas?!