The “Elda Rema” Baby Name Formula

baby name formula, elda rema

In his book The American Language, H. L. Mencken mentioned a “woman professor in the Middle West [with] the given name of Eldarema, coined from those of her grandparents, Elkanah, Daniel, Rebecca and Mary.”

The woman he’s talking about did exist, but Mencken didn’t get her name quite right.

Elda Rema Walker was botany professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. And so was her sister — here they are, listed one after the other, in the University of Nebraska General Catalog for 1916-1917:

elda rema walker, leva belle walker

(Leva Belle’s names were also inspired by family — parents Levi and Isabel.)

So here’s the Elda Rema baby name formula:

  • First name =
    • First 2 letters of one grandfather’s name +
    • First 2 letters of the other grandfather’s name
  • Middle name =
    • First 2 letters of one grandmother’s name +
    • First 2 letters of the other grandmother’s name

Using the names of your parents and your partner’s parents, can you come up with any usable first + middle combos?

The best I can do is “Aujo Elhe.” Hopefully you can do better…

Source: H. L. Mencken. The American Language. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1921.


Free Download: Weighted Decision Matrix for Baby Names

Free Download, Weighted Decision Matrix for Baby Names, from Nancy’s Baby Names

Need to narrow down your list of favorite baby names? See how they really stack up with a weighted decision matrix!

There are several ways to access this free spreadsheet:

Instructions are included in the file, but here’s a summary: you write in the traits you’re looking for in a baby name and “weight” each of those traits by importance. Then, you write in the baby names you’re considering and give each one some ratings. The spreadsheet will do the math and reveal which name best fits your criteria.

The file has two sheets — the first is blank, the second is filled out, as an example. (I randomly used the names Alexander, Zachary, Bartholomew, Heath, John, Ian, Xavier, Lucky, Walter and Maxwell on the example sheet.)

Let me know if you experience any problems with the spreadsheet and I’ll do my best to help you out.

If you find this spreadsheet helpful, please share it on Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Thanks!

(This is an updated version of one of the baby name spreadsheets I posted years ago. Last week I posted the new version of the paired comparison analysis.)

Free Download: Paired Comparison Analysis for Baby Names

Free Download, Paired Comparison Analysis for Baby Names, from Nancy's Baby Names

Need to narrow down your list of favorite baby names? Make your names go mano a mano in a paired comparison analysis!

Here’s a free spreadsheet that will make it easy for you to do just that. There are several ways to access it:

Instructions are included in the file, but here’s the gist of it: write in the baby names you’re considering, look at each possible one-to-one match-up, determine a winner, and rate each winner. The spreadsheet will then tally everything up and reveal which name is the most dominant winner.

The file has two sheets — the first is blank, the second is filled out, as an example. (I randomly used the names Chet, Robert, Anthony, Geronimo, Chase and Jayden on the example sheet. Feel free to play around with the numbers on that sheet to see how they affect the percentages below.)

Let me know if you experience any problems with the spreadsheet and I’ll do my best to help you out.

If you find this spreadsheet helpful, please share it on Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Thanks!

(This is an updated version of one of the baby name spreadsheets I posted years ago. Next week I’ll post the new version of the weighted decision matrix.)

Want the Dalai Lama to Name Your Baby?

dalai lamaBecause he’ll do it. You just have to call.

I learned this fact in an article about the New York City’s first babies of 2014.

One of the babies was Tenzin Choetso, a baby girl born to Tibetan Buddhist couple Metok Dolma (mom) and Dorjee Choetso (dad). She was born one second after midnight at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens.

Tibetan Buddhists often ask lamas to suggest personal names, both for babies and for older people who simply want a name change. So the couple called the 14th Dalai Lama and put in a request (via one of his secretaries).

He chose Tenzin, which happens to be his own name. (Not his original name, though. He was born Lhamo Thondup in 1935, but renamed Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso upon being formally recognized as the reincarnated Dalai Lama in 1950.)

Tenzin was also the name he chose for he couple’s first daughter, 2-year-old Tenzin Choezey.

Turns out the the Dalai Lama really likes to suggest the first name Tenzin (along with various second names). Tenzin is a unisex Tibetan name that has been variously defined as “upholder of teachings,” “holder of Buddhist doctrine,” and “to conquer the wisdom of Buddha.”

So if you want the Dalai Lama to name your baby, here’s how to contact him. Expectant parents of any faith can call. Just don’t be surprised if he picks the name Tenzin for you.

Sources: Dalai Lama names one of New York City’s first babies of 2014, 14th Dalai Lama – Wikipedia, Names in Tibetan Culture – Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies
Image © The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

No Name, Colorado

My husband and I have driven past the I-70 exit for No Name, Colorado, many a time. Finally, a few weeks ago, we stopped to take a photo:

No Name, Colorado

So where does the name “No Name” come from? Did some cowboy or prospector or railroad employee come up with it?

Nope, nope and nope.

It was a Colorado Department of Transportation official.

Back when I-70 was being built, the exit intended for a tiny, unnamed community in Glenwood Canyon was dubbed “No Name” by this anonymous official. But “No Name,” which was only meant to be a placeholder, began to grow on the locals. They liked it so much, in fact, that when the state asked the community to replace “No Name” with something more appropriate, the community refused.

The baby name lesson here?

Be wary of placeholder baby names — especially comical ones! Because, sometimes, they end up sticking. Cole Sellar and Press come to mind…

Source: Parker, Quentin. Welcome to Horneytown, North Carolina, Population: 15. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2010.

How Are Sikh Baby Names Traditionally Chosen?

The way Sikhs choose baby names — by using holy scripture in a rather creative way — reminds me a lot of the way Puritans used to select names.

Puritan parents — not all, but some — would invent a name using a word or phrase from the Bible. (Example: Fly-fornication.) Sikhs, on the other hand, determine the first letter of a baby’s name by picking a random passage out of the Guru Granth Sabib:

Once inside the Gurdwara the Guru Granth Sahib is randomly opened by the Granthi (priest) and a passage is read out aloud. The family will then choose a name by using the first letter of the hymn on the page opened. The baby’s name is announced to the congregation, the Granthi will also add Singh (lion) as a surname if the baby is a boy, and Kaur (princess) if the child is a girl.

And here’s another interesting fact about Sikh baby names: They’re usually not gender-specific. If the chosen first name is Pritam, a boy would be called Pritam Singh and a girl would be called Pritam Kaur. (Certain names are pronounced differently depending upon gender, though.)

Source: BBC – Religions – Sikhism: Baby rites

Does Arianne Make You Think “Aryan”?

A reader named Claire is having a baby girl.

“The name I really love is Arianne,” she says. “But I am concerned too many people will think of the word aryan. I don’t think of that, but I don’t want her to dislike her name.”

What’s your take?

Does the name Arianne make you think of the word "aryan"?

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My first instinct is to pronounce Arianne the traditional way, with a stress on the last syllable. So Arianne doesn’t make me think of “aryan” at all. (If the stress is going to be on the first syllable, though, I think Arianne could be a slightly risky choice.)

And now for question #2.

While Arianne is at the top of her list, Claire says she’s also considering the names Melody and Marion. The baby’s last name will start with an L and rhyme with “meow.”

Which name do you like best?

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The middle name for Arianne would be Elizabeth and for Melody would be Jane. (Claire didn’t mention a middle for Marion.)

Please comment if you have more to say on either question!

P.S. Lots of adorable pics over at Claire’s blog Two Little Monkeys. :)