Baby Name Meanings: Choosing Margaret

Naming your new baby has got to be one of the most exciting parts of pregnancy and parenthood! Like many women, I had compiled a secret list of baby names before I even became pregnant. Some baby names and meanings were classic, some were trendy, and some were taken from literature, but all struck a chord with me in some way. 

I had never shared my list with anyone -- and then one day my husband and I found out we were expecting! Suddenly, those treasured baby names didn’t seem so significant. There was now an actual person who would be walking around with this name, so we didn’t want to pick just any name. Of course, we paged through the baby name books and marked our favorites -- none of which matched -- and so the conversation continued.

We weren’t finding out the gender of the baby before birth, so we had to decide on not one, but two names!  We agreed on the boy’s name easily, but choosing the girl’s name proved more difficult. To complicate matters, I was teaching at an all-girls school and had so many associations with so many names of former and current students that I was having trouble coming up with a baby name meaning that was perfect for us…and time was running out!

I mean that literally -- we were in the hospital and still hadn’t decided on a name!  All through labor my husband and I couldn’t agree. We said the usual, “We’ll see what the baby looks like before we pick a name." Well, two days after the birth of our daughter -- yes, a girl! -- we still hadn’t picked a name!  I felt bad that after years of adding to and perfecting my baby name list, my precious new daughter was being referred to as “Baby Girl.” We were told we had to have a name before we could leave the hospital. And then my husband suggested the perfect name: Margaret.

Of course! Why hadn’t we thought of that sooner? It is the name of the great-grandmothers on both sides of the family; it is classic; and it has many possibilities for nicknames. Uh-oh, nicknames? Let’s just stick with Margaret for now. We love our choice and our little baby girl, Margaret!

Photo by Tanaphong Toochinda on Unsplash

Most Popular Baby Girl Names By Country

Hundreds of thousands of babies are born each day, and although each is wonderfully unique, many share a common baby name.

Last year, America’s favorite baby girl names included Sophia, Emma, and Isabella. Italians were drawn to a similar top pick -- Sofia -- but also loved Giula and Martina. Aussies adored names like Charlotte, Ruby, and Lilly, and Indians named their baby girls Saanvi, Angel, and Pari.

Internationally popular girl names included Sophia, Olivia, Ava, Emma or Emily, and Mia. If you’re looking for an unusual baby name -- at least in the States -- why not consider Esra? It was the sixth most popular name in Turkey last year!

United States

1.    Sophia

2.    Emma

3.    Isabella

4.    Olivia

5.    Ava

6.    Emily

7.    Abigail

8.    Mia

9.    Madison

10. Elizabeth


1.    Sofia

2.    Giulia

3.    Martina

4.    Giorgia

5.    Sara

6.    Emma

7.    Aurora

8.    Chiara

9.    Alice

10. Alessia

United Kingdom

1.    Amelia

2.    Olivia

3.    Jessia

4.    Emily

5.    Lily

6.    Ava

7.    Mia

8.    Isla

9.    Sophia

10. Isabella


1.    Charlotte

2.    Ruby

3.    Lilly/Lily

4.    Olivia

5.    Chloe

6.    Sophie

7.    Emily

8.    Mia

9.    Amelia

10. Ava


1.    Mia

2.    Emma

3.    Hannah/Hanna

4.    Lea/Leah

5.    Sofia/Sophia

6.    Anna

7.    Lena

8.    Leonie/Leoni

9.    Lina

10. Marie


1.    Saanvi

2.    Angel

3.    Pari

4.    Diya

5.    Ananya

6.    Aadhya

7.    Pihu

8.    Khushi

9.    Kavya

10. Avni


1.    Martina

2.    Sofia

3.    Florence

4.    Valentina

5.    Isidora

6.    Antonella

7.    Antonia

8.    Emilia

9.    Catalina

10. Fernanda


1.    Zeynep

2.    Elif

3.    Merve

4.    Busra

5.    Fatma

6.    Esra

7.    Irem

8.    Ayse

9.    Kubra

10. Emine


1.    Lucia

2.    Maria

3.    Paula

4.    Daniela

5.    Sara

6.    Carla

7.    Martina

8.    Sofia

9.    Julia

10.    Alba

Photo by Cristina Anne Costello on Unsplash

Baby Name Traditions

Ah, the perfect baby name. There ought to be some kind of formula, a goof-proof recipe for naming success. Here was ours: We coupled my husband’s Irish/English last name  with a Jewish-sounding first name that reflects my cultural identity and isn’t too hard for Americans to pronounce. Then, we added a middle name honoring my  recently deceased grandmother. It was a crowd-pleaser, because everyone had some say.

It seems like we came up with it pretty simply now, but the truth is, there are so many different places to take inspiration from when choosing a baby name. Many naming traditions take cues from family trees, national history, and even popular culture.

A time-honored way to find baby name meaning inspiration: Honor a relative. Many cultures follow this baby name standard, but it can be executed in different ways —using  the same first initial or the exact name of a beloved grandmother or grandfather, or using a family maiden name. This can make the naming challenge easier—though it could also make it harder, if the name is odd (Wellford, for a girl name), or if the name is already in use by four cousins.

Other parents have been inspired by rock stars (Dylan), book or movie characters (Katniss), historical figures (Columbus), famous writers (Emily), saints (Sebastian), Biblical figures (Noah), cultural heritage (Seamus), star formations (Orion), favorite foods (Apple), aspirations (Joy), cities (London), flowers (Dahlia) and even bugs (Cricket). Some parents simply make up their own baby names, like Mareau and Thaura, who live down the street. Or Janicxa and Camajerie, in my daughters’ school. 

For more ideas, there are umpteen books, websites, and even name-generator websites – which make suggestions based on your taste. When you’ve got your list of top contenders, imagine yourself leaning out the back door and calling this child to dinner. If it doesn’t roll off the tongue, go back to your muses and try again.

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Most Popular Baby Boy Names By Country

Hand Jacob the crown! For the fourteenth year in a row, Jacob is king of baby boy names, at least in America. In Italy, Francesco reigns supreme, followed closely by Alessandro and Andrea. In England and Wales, Harry, Oliver, and Jack top the baby name list. Popular names in Germany include Ben, Luca, and Paul, and in Spain, nurseries are full of Daniels, Hugos, and Alejandros.  

Read on to discover the Top 10 baby boy names across the world!

United States

1.    Jacob

2.    Mason

3.    Ethan

4.    Noah

5.    William

6.    Liam

7.    Jayden

8.    Michael

9.    Alexander

10. Aiden


1.    Francesco

2.    Alessandro

3.    Andrea

4.    Lorenzo

5.    Matteo

6.    Gabriele

7.    Mattia

8.    Leonardo

9.    David

10. Riccardo

United KIngdom

1.    Harry

2.    Oliver

3.    Jack

4.    Charlie

5.    Jacob

6.    Thomas

7.    Alfie

8.    Riley

9.    William

10. James


1.    William

2.    Jack

3.    Oliver

4.    Noah

5.    Ethan

6.    Thomas

7.    Lucas

8.    James

9.    Cooper

10. Jackson/Jaxon


1.    Ben

2.    Luca/Luka

3.    Paul

4.    Lukas/Lucas

5.    Finn/Fynn

6.    Jonas

7.    Leon

8.    Luis/Loius

9.    Maximilian

10. Felix


1.    Aarav

2.    Vivaan

3.    Aadi

4.    Vihaan

5.    Atharv

6.    Sai

7.    Krishna

8.    Mohammed

9.    Aryan

10. Arjun


1.    Benjamin

2.    Vicente

3.    Martin

4.    Matias

5.    Joaquin

6.    Agustin

7.    Cristobal

8.    Maximilian

9.    Sebastian

10. Tomas


1.    Berat

2.    Yusaf

3.    Emir

4.    Mustafa

5.    Mehmet

6.    Ahmet

7.    Muhammed

8.    Omer

9.    Emirhan

10. Cinar


1.    Daniel

2.    Hugo

3.    Alejandro

4.    Pablo

5.    Alvaro

6.    Adrian

7.    David

8.    Diego

9.    Mario

10.    Javier

Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

Baby Name Meanings: Why We Chose Fiona

There’s no doubt about it: Picking a name for a new baby can be rather stressful. When my husband and I were casting about for a baby name for our second daughter, we debated for many weeks. Eventually, we stumbled upon the beautiful name Fiona, and we knew that we had found the perfect moniker for our new baby.

We didn’t know the sex of our next child, so we had to come up with both boy and girl baby names. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a single boy name we both liked. Nicholas was okay, though very popular at the time; my brother-in-law suggested Hector, which wasn’t exactly embraced. I liked Gordon, my dad’s name, especially because of the alliteration with Geddes (our last name). Linus was on the list but didn’t sound right with our last name. I started to worry we’d never find a boy’s name that my husband and I both liked!

We tried taking our family history into account when choosing baby names. Geddes is a Scottish name, and with my Irish maiden name (Kelly), we considered many picks from these parts of the world. I also love Russian names -- the language and its literature were my major in college -- so names such as Anastasia were also considered.

We named our first child Isabel, which to me, was easy to pronounce and spell and had a musical quality. I wanted the same for my next child. I loved Ruby, June, and Rosemary for girl names, but my husband would have none of these.

Finally, we hit upon Fiona, but not because we found it in a baby name book. Instead, I happened to be reading the novel, Fiona Range by Mary McGarry Morris when I was pregnant, and we both thought it was perfect. It’s easy to say and spell, plus it hits the Scottish and Irish note. Her full name is Fiona Kelly Geddes, and it truly suits her.

I learned that choosing a baby name takes time and often, many hours of research. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t immediately find a name both you and your partner love. The perfect baby name will come to you eventually!

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash