The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived – Miami

After I graduated from high school, I started college as a Theater major at University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. Due to a combination of homesickness and insufficient funds, I only completed one semester of college there before I moved back to Pennsylvania. But I gained some good memories, some important life lessons, and a few good friends during my time in Miami, and for that I’m very grateful. So, this week’s blog is about names inspired by the greater Miami area, including the University of Miami campus.

Often assumed to be a term for the people of Basque, (Wikipedia, Biscayne), Biscayne is a very popular place name around Miami, with locations such as Biscayne Park, Biscayne Bay, and Key Biscayne. I love Biscayne as a boys’ name, with nickname options that include Biz, Buzz, Cay, and any of the various spellings of the name Cane (discussed further just below).

The U of Miami sports teams are known as the Hurricanes, Canes for short. The boys’ name Cane (said as it is spelled) has been translated to mean many different but related things: “warrior,” “battle,” “little battler,” or “spear.” While this name gets coolness points for being strong and succinct, the name might be a bit of a hard sell because of the negative role of Cain in the Biblical story of Cain and Abel. Still, this name has been gaining traction, especially as a middle name. Cane is also sometimes spelled Cain or Kane.

University of Miami is located in the city of Coral Gables, one of Miami’s many pretty, affluent suburbs. Coral (Cor-ull) is a nature / jewel name that was on the fringes of the U.S. top 1,000 sporadically between 1902 and 1939; Coral also barely made the top 1,000 in 1991 and 1992. I personally adore this girls’ name and have always been surprised that it is not as popular as other mainstream jewel names (that I also love), such as Ruby or Opal.

The dorm I lived in at U of M was named Eaton Residential Hall. This dorm was normally reserved for upperclassmen. But, since I had a sort of work study role at Eaton Hall, I got to live there. The boys’ name Eaton (Ee-tin) means “riverside” (Nameberry, Eaton).    

I don’t have any personal connections to this particular city, but Hialeah (Hi-uh-lee-uh) is one of the prettiest girls’ names I’ve ever heard. Translated as either “pretty prairie” or “upland prairie” (, Hialeah), this melodious name presents several nickname options, such as Isla (my fav), Lee, or Leah.

Islandia is part of the Florida Keys. And while I did visit the Keys once to sing in a concert with the university choir I was a part of, we did not visit Islandia. But I think this name is really pretty, despite the fact that the name’s ending makes me think of the show Portlandia, which then makes it hard for me to take this name seriously.  I also like the girls’ name Islandia (Eye-land-ee-uh) because Isla could be one of its nicknames, and I’ve been falling in love with the name Isla lately. Other nickname options: Landi, Landis, Andi, and Dia.

At U of M, one of the popular places to meet friends, grab a bite, and/or have a drink was the Rathskeller. While not a place I frequented, I do remember having lunch there a couple of times with my college pals. The boys’ name Keller (Kell-uhr) is a German occupational name meaning “cellar master” (Nameberry, Keller). I like the nicknames Kell or Lore for Keller.  

I don’t know anything about the city of Medley, but I do know that the word medley’s meaning (a varied mixture of things) is a lovely concept to attach to a child’s name. I also really like this name possibility as a fresh newcomer to the many music-related names that are getting a bit played out, like Melody or Harmony. (I actually really love both of those names, though!) I think Medley could work well on a girl or a boy, though I tend to think of it as slightly more of a girls’ name. Possible nicknames include Ed for a boy, Edie for a girl, or Lee for a boy or girl.

Sanibel Island is actually on the West Coast of Florida, about three hours away from Miami. But I recall taking a very fun trip here with a couple of my U of M friends, and I also just think this name is really beautiful. Possible nicknames for the girls’ name Sanibel (San-uh-bell) include Ani and Belle.

Another place I fondly remember visiting with my U of M friends is Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a lovely seaside manor with gorgeous grounds, open year-round for self-led tours. I tend to think of Vizcaya as a girls’ name, with possible nicknames Viz, Izzy, Cay, or Caya.

And a few bonus names:
Cosford—inspired by Cosford Cinema at U of M
Fisher—inspired by Fisher Island
Gable—inspired by Coral Gables
Mahoney—inspired by a dorm and a dining hall at U of M
Miami—inspired by, well, the city of Miami!
Pearson—inspired by a dorm and a dining hall at U of M

Photo credit: Ines Hegedus-Garcia

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived—Susquehanna County, PA (Part II)

Last week’s blog was about names inspired by place locations in Susquehanna County, PA. But my dear friend Kristen Shipsky—a Susquehanna County native—pointed out a host of great names I missed! So, here’s a Part II post, courtesy of Kristen’s personal knowledge and research efforts. Enjoy!

This name means “old river crossing” (The Name Meaning, Alford), which makes Alford (Al-ferd) a great name choice if you hope for a son who will always be able to stop and take a look at things from multiple angles before moving forward with a decision or a life path. Alford is a distinguished alternative to the more common boys’ name Alfred. I love Ford as a nickname option, though the more traditional Al is also a possibility.   

For anyone who has read the Bible, the Torah, or the Quran, this name likely conjures an image of Mr. Ararat, the mountain peak that Noah’s Ark landed on after the flood receded (, Ararat). Translated variously as “hill,” “mountain,” “sacred land,” or “high land,” naming your son Ararat (Ah-ruh-rat) can help give him an elevated presence in the world from the get-go. My top nickname choice for Ararat is Arrow.     

I really like the meaning of the boys’ name Brackney (Brack-nee): “wild or uncultivated land” (, Brackney). A newcomer to the surnames-as-first-names club, Brackney offers a variety of cute nickname options, including Brock, Brick, Rocco, and Ace.

Before 1990, the girls’ name Brooklyn (Brook-lin) would have been considered very unique, as it was not even in the U.S. top 1,000. But this name was #47 in 2018 and even got as high as #21 in 2011, so it is much more popular than the names I typically include on my blog. Still, because Brooklyn, PA is such a cute little place, and because I have a cousin named Brooklyn who is dear to my heart, this name makes the cut. While Brook and Lynn are obvious nickname options, I actually really like some of the boys-names-on-girls nickname possibilities for this Brooklyn, like Brody, Bo / Beau, Oak, or Oaklyn.  

As a teen, I loved attending the Harford Fair each year. I therefore like the boys’ name Harford (Har-ferd or Hart-ferd) for the nostalgia factor. Like Alford, my favorite nickname for Harford is Ford, but Harry would work as a more commonplace option.

I like the sound of the boys’ name Herrick (Heh-rick), but the meaning is what really sold me: “peaceful power” or “peace as power” (, Herrick). For me, the only downside of this name is that all the nicknames I’ve brainstormed are not very unique: Harry, Eric / Erick, and Rick. Even so, Herrick’s meaning trumps that potential issue in my mind, and I suppose Era could work as a fun, atypical nickname choice.

Oakland and Oakley
While the boys’ name Oakland (Oak-lind) has yet to breach the U.S. top 1,000, the gender-neutral name Oakley (Oak-lee) has been popular for quite some time now; in 2018, it was #388 for girls and #459 for boys. Both of these names bring to mind a forest full of towering oak trees, which is a beautiful image. And the nickname Oak is a popular choice for either of these full name options. (Fun side note: my father-in-law wanted to name my husband’s brother Oak, which would have been totally bad ass. Instead, they went with a much more mainstream name: Kevin.)

When I first encountered this name on Kristen’s list of Susquehanna County locations, I really liked it. I thought it was short, spunky, and definitely unique. But imagine my surprise when I found out that the name Royal (Roi-uhl) has made many appearances on the U.S. top 1,000, for both boys and girls! For girls, Royal only entered the scene in 2015 at #745, peaked at #632 in 2016, and still remained in the top 1,000 as of 2018 (#805). But the history of Royal on the boys’ top 1,000 list is much more interesting (and puzzling); Royal made the list every year from 1900 until 1971 and then resurfaced again in 2013. An obviously regal name for boys or girls, I like the nickname Ro (for either gender).

While Kristen notes that Starucca township is technically in Wayne County, she included the (girls’) name Starucca (Stuh-roo-kuh) on her list because it has ties to Susquehanna County in a couple of ways. First, the Starucca Creek runs into Susquehanna County. Second, Starucca House—a defunct hotel that is now a historic landmark in the area—is located in Susquehanna, PA (which is, as you might guess, in Susquehanna County) (Susquehanna Station). One of the most unique and interesting names on this list, Starucca reminds me of the more well-known girls name Verruca, which I’ve always kind of liked. And any name with the nickname Star as an option is cool by me.  

According to Kristen, Tirzah is the name of a road in the township of Union Dale in Susquehanna County. By far my favorite name on this list, the girls’ name Tirzah (Tear-zuh) means “delight” or “she is my delight” (Nameberry, Tirzah). I really like Terra, Tira, or Tara as nickname options, though Zo or Zoey would also be very cute.  

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Susquehanna County, PA

As a teen, I lived in Susquehanna County, slightly north of my previous home in Tunkhannock. The two main towns I lived in were Springville and Lawton, both of which are very rural places. Here are a few of my favorite names inspired by this county.

Probably my favorite name on this list, the township of Auburn is a beautiful country locale with a population of less than 2,000 people. Not only do I love the sound of the gender-neutral name Auburn (Awe-burn), but the color auburn puts me in mind of the changing leaves during my favorite season—fall! Auburn is a unique alternative to more well-known names like Autumn and Arbor.

Dimock is the location of the middle school and high school I attended—Elk Lake. The name Dimock (Dim-ick) is a succinct and sophisticated boys’ name, and Mick or Mickey would be adorable nickname options.

Gibson is one of those nearby townships that I drove past a lot but which I never visited or had a personal tie to. That said, the boys’ name Gibson (Gib-sin) would be a fun choice for musicians, both because of Gibson guitars and singer Debbie Gibson. Gibson is also a fresh addition to today’s innumerable popular boys’ names ending in –son. Gibson has been at the outer edges of the U.S. top 1,000 since 2010, hovering between 850 and 1,000 during that time period.

My Dad lived in Hallstead briefly, but I was young enough that I don’t remember this location too well. As a boys’ name, Hallstead (Hall-sted) somehow has both a preppy and a hipster feel, and it is a unique alternative to other surname-based baby names that start with the –hall sound, like Holland or Hollister.

I am not actually familiar at all with the location Hickory Grove, but it is somewhere in Susquehanna County, which allows me to include the name Hickory (Hick-uh-ree) on this list. I’m a sucker for just about any baby name inspired by a tree. And I love Huck or Cory / Kory as possible nicknames.  

I lived in Lawton with my Mom for two years, from the time I was 16 to 18 years old. This time period was probably one of the best in my life. In particular, the move to Lawton not only allowed me to spend more time with Mom, but it also put me in much closer proximity to my two closest friends—Jen and Cortney. Lawton (Law-tin) is another very stately boys’ name that joins a host of similar L names, such as Lawson, Landon, Langdon, and Lochlan.

Another tiny township of less than 2,000 people, Lenox is on the periphery of the places I frequented as a teen. But the gender-neutral name Lennox (Len-ix) has long been a favorite of mine. (Casper Lennox was in my final top ten list when we were naming Felix.) My favorite nickname for a girl named Lennox is Lena, and my favorite nickname for a boy named Lennox is Knox. But while this name may seem unique to those unfamiliar with baby name trends, Lennox is actually getting very popular; for 2018, Lennox was #371 on the boys’ top 1,000 and #651 on the girls’ top 1,000.  

“Camp Archibald, hats off to thee!” Kingsley is the site of northeastern PA’s gorgeous Girl Scout camp, Camp Archibald. I have so many amazing memories of this place! From collecting and identifying leaves while on hikes to singing so many fun songs to swimming to making friends, Camp Archibald will always hold a special place in my heart. The gender-neutral name Kingsley (Kings-lee) entered the U.S. top 1,000 in 2010 and peaked at #584 in 2016. I also love this name because it makes me think of the badass Harry Potter character Kingsley Shacklebolt.

I don’t actually even know where in Susquehanna County Melrose is! But I really like the girls’ name Melrose. (And no, I’m not a Melrose Place fan, though that could be a cool connection for some parents.) While this name has never been in the U.S. top 1,000, Melrose has been trending on baby name forums over the last few years. Mel and Rose are obvious nickname choices, though Elle, Ella, Elra, Ro, and Cia are other possibilities.  

The county seat of Susquehanna County, Montrose is a quaint and quiet little town. One of my favorite memories from my teen years is of driving with my friends to get Pina Colada slushies at Antol’s in South Montrose. As a name, Montrose is yet another sophisticated (and borderline pretentious) boys’ name, though the nickname Monty could add a more down-to-earth feel.

Photo credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Tunkhannock, PA

When my siblings and I were still very young, my family moved from the suburbs of New Jersey to a tiny hamlet in Pennsylvania called Tunkhannock. Nestled in the beautiful Endless Mountains, Tunkhannock is bursting with small-town charm. I lived in Tunkhannock from the time I was three or four until I was twelve, so I have a wealth of positive childhood memories of living there.    

Two of my siblings still live in Tunkhannock, and I am actually visiting them there this weekend as we celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday that’s coming up on August 5th. (Happy Birthday, Momma!)

Here are a few of my favorite names associated with the Tunkhannock area.  

Beaumont is one of those places I’ve driven past a million times but never actually visited. But I’ve always wanted to see the inside of the quaint Beaumont Inn, so I hope I’ll actually do that someday. Though I’m not a Francophile by any means, I’ve been kind of obsessed lately with all the Beau-related names, including Beaumont (Bow-mont) and Beauregard, in large part because I love the nickname Beau itself. Or, if you don’t like the nickname Beau, Monty is another cute option for Beaumont.  

Growing up in Tunkhannock, my family lived in a residential development called Rivercrest. This community is aptly named, since it is perched atop a hill above the nearby Susquehanna River. Within this development, we lived on Birch Drive, so the unisex name Birch (Burch) is an homage to this homey little lane. Tree names are a staple of new-wave, nature-inspired baby names, with Birch joining a forest of other popular tree names like Cedar, Ash, Oak, and Hawthorne for boys and Laurel, Elowen, and Hazel for girls.

Dixon is so small that it is pretty much considered a part of Tunkhannock rather than a separate location of its own. But one of my favorite (and probably one of the only) features in Dixon is Lazy Brook Park, which features multiple playgrounds, some small hiking trails along a creek, and several pavilions for events. I recall many fun outings where we took some of my nieces and nephews to this park, and I’ve also attended a couple of great baby showers hosted at this park. The other noticeable landmark in Dixon is Deer Park Lumber, right across from Lazy Brook Park. This lumber mill often gives off an appealing aroma of cut or burning wood, a smell that I’ve always been a fan of. Besides these positive associations with Dixon, PA, I really like the boys’ name Dixon (Dick-sin) because it reminds me of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s crime-solving holodeck alter ego, Dixon Hill, on Start Trek: TNG. I like Sonny as a possible nickname for Dixon, though I guess you could also use Dick as a nickname (you know, if you hate your child).

In my previous blog in this series about my birthplace (in Bergen County, NJ), I discussed some of the good times I had at my Granny and Grampy’s home in Bergenfield. But when my nuclear family moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, Granny and Grampy followed shortly after so they could be closer to us kids. They bought a home in nearby Jenningsville, a place so rural that there are likely more cows than people there. This change was a dream for Grampy, who loved rural places and enjoyed tending his garden, fruit trees, and grape vines at his Jenningsville home. But poor Granny—a suburban Jersey girl through-and-through, was less than thrilled with the move. You’d never know that, though, from the happy, welcoming environment Granny created for us whenever we visited. From sledding in the wintertime to eating Granny’s famous pancakes on a Sunday morning to opening Christmas presents in front of a roaring fire to chilling on the sunporch in the summertime to taking leisurely evening walks down a dirt road, I am filled with joy whenever I think about all the good times I’ve had at the Jenningsville house. The boys’ name Jennings (Jen-ings) is a unique alternative to similar but more popular names like Jensen and Jenner.

When Granny and Grampy lived in Jenningsville, the closest place with a grocery store and a post office was the nearby “town” of Laceyville. I put the word “town” in parentheses because Laceyville has less than 400 residents, so I’m not sure if that even formally qualifies as a town. My Granny is not normally a complainer by any means, but she often loved to gripe about how small Laceyville was. Despite its tiny size, or perhaps because of it, I think Laceyville is actually quite charming. I’ve always really liked the girls’ name Lacey (Lay-see), though it is quite a bit more common than most of the names I love; Lacey has been in the U.S. top 1,000 since 1975, having peaked at #116 in 1984.

When I was about 16, I lived in Lemon with my mom for a hot minute. Since we weren’t there long, I don’t have an abundance of memories of my time there. But I do remember that it was during the time I lived in Lemon that I began watching one of my favorite shows of all time: the angsty, admittedly-trashy teen soap, Dawson’s Creek. I remember hunkering down every Wednesday night to find out what kind of hijinks Dawson, Joey, Pacey, Jen, and their family and friends would get into, and it is a testament to my mom’s love for me that she watched this show with me every week (even though it probably seemed utterly ridiculous to her). Like the tree names discussed above and many other nature-themed names, fruit names are definitely trending more and more each day, including names like Apple, Plum, Kiwi, and (one of my personal favorites) Huckleberry. On a personal note, the girls’ name Lemon (Leh-min) happens to be a favorite of my sister-in-law, Carrie.

The Nicholson Bridge (also known as the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct) is one of the most well-known landmarks in the Tunkhannock area. This historic bridge turned 100 in 2015, and its classic, multi-arched structure is a sight to behold. Nicholson (Nick-uhl-sin) is a distinguished boys’ name that is especially appropriate for anyone who is a fan of actor Jack Nicholson (so, everyone, since Jack Nicholson is awesome). Nicholson also has ample and terrific nickname options, including Nick, Nico / Niko, Cole, and (my favorite) Colson.

Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but I included the boys’ name Miller (Mill-uhr) on this list to honor the elementary school I attended, Mill City Elementary. Sadly, this school recently closed, since there were not enough kids among the multiple elementary schools in the Tunkhannock area to justify keeping them all open, and Mill City was unfortunately one that did not make the cut. I also chose this name as a nod to the town of Mill City itself and especially to one of my all-time favorite eateries in the area, the Mill City Dairy Bar. As a kid, I loved the Dairy Bar for its ice cream, the coin-operated horse mom let us ride when we went there, and the Qbert arcade machine that used to be there. As an adult, I still love the ice cream, but this small-town establishment surprisingly has some of the best vegetarian food around, with innovative and delicious items that rival some of the best big-city vegetarian creations I’ve tried. (And, as you’ll see as this series on where I’ve lived continues, I’ve lived in many a big city in my time.)

Lake Winola is a lovely lake community just outside of Tunkhannock proper. I’ve always enjoyed driving past Lake Winola on my way to various places (like Mill City and Scranton) so I could see all the beautiful lakeside homes and dream about someday living in a place like that. (Unlikely, but a girl can dream, right?) I have several happy memories of Lake Winola, including going to the annual Lake Winola carnvial and attending the yearly candlelight Christmas Eve mass at our local Catholic Church. I’m not a Catholic / Christian now, but there was always something beautiful and moving about those candlelit holiday services. In particular, there was one Christmas mass when my sister Katie, who was probably about eight at the time, sang a version of “Oh Holy Night” that was simply breathtaking. I’ve sadly never swum in Lake Winola, since it is a private lake community, but maybe someday! I think Winola (Wih-no-luh) could work well for a boy or girl, though I tend to like it slightly better for a girl. Possible nicknames for a girl are Wynn, Winnie, or Nola, and nickname options for a boy include Wynn, Eno, and Ollie.  

Tunkhannock is located in Wyoming County. When I think of Wyoming County as a whole, I am most put in mind of the annual Wyoming County Fair, which I always loved attending as a child. In particular, I remember dancing around to an oldies cover band that played at the fair each year, The Poets. As an adult, I am much less enamored of county fairs, with their sub-par food and over-priced rides. #Jaded. While only a few state names are considered classics (like Georgia and Virginia), Wyoming (Why-oh-ming) fits in well with more modern, trending state names like Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, and Tennessee. I’m a fan of the gender-neutral name Wyoming not only because I lived in Wyoming County but because I’ve always idealized the state of Wyoming in my imagination, in part because of its open land and lack of people, as well as in part because my Grampy always wanted to visit it and never got the chance. I actually did have the opportunity to visit Wyoming a few years back, and it was definitely as awesome as I had hoped (visually and in terms of hiking; Wyoming is less of a fit for me in terms of the people / culture). My only regret is that I didn’t see a moose while I was there!     

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Bergen County, NJ Edition

For being only 36 years old, I’ve lived in a lot of different places in the U.S. Each of these locales has left a lasting impression on me as a person, and I’ve made great friends in the majority of the places I’ve called home. Recently, a girl I went to high school with, who is about to have her fourth child, mentioned that all her children are named after locations near where we grew up. This fabulous avenue for name brainstorming, as well as the fact that Kyle, Felix, and I have finally settled in the place we’ll call home long-term, inspired me to blog about lists of names related to all the places I’ve lived.

This multi-part blog series will start with the place where I was born and proceed in chronological order. Today’s blog thus focuses on my birthplace—Englewood, NJ. Englewood is located in Bergen County, just across the Hudson River from the Bronx and Upper Manhattan. Since my family moved to Pennsylvania when I was only four, I don’t have as many direct memories of my childhood in New Jersey as I would like. However, because I still have close family members who live in Bergen County and the surrounding areas, I am very familiar with and have a special place in my heart for this region.

So, please enjoy these unique names inspired by my original hometown area!

The boys’ name Baker (Bae-curr) is more popular than most I include on this blog; it debuted on the U.S. top 1,000 list in 2018 at #712. Still, this name makes the cut because I needed a way to honor the beloved Hackensack bakery, B&W Bakery. As a piece of general knowledge for those of you who have never lived in or been to New Jersey, bakeries are a huge cultural Jersey tradition. As such, the quality of these establishments is just plain superior to bakeries pretty much anywhere else (in the U.S, at least). B&W is most renowned for its coffee cake, a treat that my family has to have every time we visit Jersey or have our Jersey relatives come visit us. Baker is one of many English occupational surnames (Baker), and Bay or Kerr are cute nickname options.  

As noted above, Englewood is located in Bergen County. But the name Bergen (Burr-gin, with a hard g) has special meaning for me primarily because I spent a lot of time as a child at my Granny and Grampy’s house on Moose Lane in Bergenfield. One particular random memory that always sticks out in my mind is picking and eating fresh-grown chives from Grampy’s backyard garden. I also recall fondly many a New Year’s celebration at the Bergenfield house. Bergen is a unisex name of Scandinavian origin that means “lives on a hill” (Bergen).

Cress / Cressa
Cress (b) and Cressa (g) (Kress / Kress-uh) are inspired by the town of Cresskill. This is another place I have great memories of, since some of my dearest family members still live there, and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to visit them once or twice a year. Cresskill is your typical Jersey suburb town—quiet, somewhat affluent, and full of diversity. My favorite memories of Cresskill are of spending time with my family and eating delicious, authentic Jersey pizza and bagels. The boys’ name Cress and the girls’ name Cressa are inspired by a group of cruciferous plants, whose leaves are often used in salads (Cress). Cress and Cressa join a long line of baby names ending in –ess / essa, such as Jess / Jessa, Tess / Tessa, and Kess / Kessa. Or, for those who prefer something slightly more recognizable, Cressida could also be considered an honor name for the town of Cresskill.  

Dumont (Doo-mont) is another classic Jersey suburb. When I was young, I often visited (and, at one point, lived with) my grandparents on my Mom’s side, Mimi and Pop Pop. And though Pop Pop is deceased and I do not have a relationship with Mimi (for family drama reasons I won’t bore you with), I do have some fond memories of being at their home with my Mom, playing with their Collie dog, and playing in their sun porch and backyard. Dumont is a distinguished, preppy boys’ name that means “of the mountain” in French (Dumont). I think Monty would be a very cute nickname for Dumont.

While I don’t have any direct memories of Garfield, my mom often regales us with tales of how she and my dad once lived in a very tiny apartment in this town when my siblings and I were very young. One (kind of embarrassing) story Mom tells is that, in the Garfield apartment, Mom had a special wall reserved for me to projectile vomit on every day, since I apparently had some stomach issues as an infant. (TMI?) Though sound-wise the boys’ name Garfield (Garr-field) is stately and unique, the meaning is somewhat pedestrian: a triangular field. (Garfield). And the association with a U.S. president who got assassinated may give parents pause (James Garfield). Still, if you’re hoping for a son who loves to sleep and houses multiple pans of lasagna in one sitting, then Garfield could be the right name for you.  

Leonia (Lee-oh-nee-uh) is one of those Jersey towns that I’ve passed signs for my whole life but never actually been to. But, if I’m not considering personal connections, this is probably my favorite name on today’s list. Leonia means “lion” (Leonia), and it’s a pretty, shorter alternative to longer (but still gorgeous) girls’ names like Leonida or Leocadia.  Lee, Lia, or Nia are all great nickname options.

Ramsey (Ram-zee) is my second-favorite name on this list, despite its association with the famous hot-headed chef, Gordon Ramsey. I have not spent a ton of time in this particular Jersey town, but I do have family members from there who I enjoy seeing at Jersey family events. A place name of Scottish ancestry (Ramsey), many might think of Ramsey as only or primarily a boys’ name, but it is actually gaining traction as a girls’ name as well.

Ridgewood is yet another consummate Jersey suburb. Located next door to many of the Jersey towns I frequent most, I’ve been in Ridgewood for many things over the years. In particular, I remember once participating in a 5K walk / run in this town with my dad. And I also have fond memories of going to the Ridgewood outdoor pool with Dad and my two youngest siblings, Sarah and Josh, during visits to NJ. Ridge is a word name that has become increasingly popular since 2015, especially as a middle name; it was #702 on the U.S. top 1,000 in 2018 for boys’ first names. This name is considered a boys’ name only for now, though I could easily see it transitioning to a unisex name over the next several years.  

Rutherford is another Jersey town that I’ve always seen signs for but never visited. But I like Rutherford (Ruh-thur-ferd) a lot as a boys’ name, especially with the possible nickname Ford (which I love because it’s a nod to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). Rutherford is a Scottish / English place name.

Though Waldwick is another Jersey town that I don’t have a deep personal connection to, I spent a lot of time visiting family in the neighboring town of Midland Park. In particular, I spent a lot of time there hanging with my cousin Kim, rocking out to the classic 90s band Hanson. And even though names that end in –wick are super pretentious, I must confess I still like the boys’ name Waldwick (Wald-wick). As a nature lover, perhaps my affinity for this name comes from its beautiful meaning: “village in the forest” (Waldwick).

Photo credit: Doc Searls

The Baby Name Buff: Mountains Edition

This week’s blog features a list of names inspired by the majestic mountains of the world.


Adirondack Mountain Range, United States

Mount Andromeda, Canada

Antora Peak, Colorado

Mount Asgard, Canada

Blanca Peak, Colorado

Cascade Mountain Range AND Cascade Mountain, Canada  

Cypress Mountain, Canada

Delano Peak, Utah

Mount Delphi, Greece

Mount Denali, Alaska

Eldorado Peak, Washington

Sierra da Estrela, Portugal

Mount Everest, Tibet and Nepal

Mount Fuji, Japan

Mount Galatea, Canada

Galeras Mountain, Columbia  

Mount Garibaldi, Canada

Humboldt Peak, Colorado

Irazu Volcano, Costa Rica

Mount Kimball (Alaska)

Mount Lafayette, New Hampshire

Mount Langley, California

Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Italy

Mount Melbourne, Antarctica

Mount Nirvana, Canada

Mount Oxford, California

Ozark Mountains, United States

North Palisade Peak and Middle Palisade Peak, California

Coma Pedrosa, Andorra

Mount Rainier, Washington

Monte Roraima, Brazil

Mount Shasta, California

Mount Sidley, Antarctica

Great Smoky Mountains, United States

Taramati Peak, India

Teton Range, Wyoming

Mount Tirsuli, Himalayas

Tressider Peak, Alaska

Mount Tyndall, California

Vesper Peak, Washington

Mount Vesuvius, Italy

Photo credit: Pug Girl