I receive hundreds of emails a month asking for name advice. I do love researching names! However there is a right and a wrong way to ask. So I thought this was worthy of a post:
1. If asking about the meaning of a unique name, first look up alternate spellings of the name in question. Sound out the name. In other words, please don’t ask me what “Tiphanie” means because it’s not in our database. In these cases, I take a drink of my coffee (or wine if it’s after 7pm), mumble “People are stupid” and press DELETE.
2. If you are asking about a family name, it is helpful to know: your surname, where you grew up, and the ethnicity of the person with the name. Names are very much tied to region, and that cuts down immensely on research time. I’m more likely, then, to take a drink of my coffee (or wine if it’s after 7pm), say “THANK you!” aloud and commence my research on your name.
3. Please do not ask me to suggest names for you. I am busy running a big company and rarely have time for name consultations unless they are paid–and when I do agree to be hired, I charge beaucoup bucks. Bucks that would be better spent on a crib. Or coffee and wine, for when you’re not pregnant anymore. If you want solid name advice, join our BabyNames Community. There are many parents, name-o-philes and even several name experts in our community that are happy to help you!
4. Keep it simple. If your email/question requires me to scroll and scroll and scroll, chances are I’m already bored with the story and have jumped out of my chair to refill my cup. This does NOT contradict #2, as most times the long letters are about family drama, in which I am not interested as I have more than enough of my own.
5. If you have created a name, don’t ask me what it means. And don’t tell me it means “Beautiful Princess” because it does not.
Jennifer Moss (she/her) is the founder of BabyNames.com, author of The Baby Names Workbook, and Producer of The Baby Names Podcast. Jennifer is widely regarded as the leading expert on popular baby name trends and the naming process, serving as the authoritative source on the subject for national and international media.
Jennifer entered the tech arena in the 80s as a software developer and database architect, and became a pioneer in the Internet industry. In addition to operating BabyNames.com, Jennifer owns a web development agency in central California.