Help us re-find our love for, and back ourselves about, the name "Mabel"
November 22, 2022 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Could you help us re-find our love for the name "Mabel", in the face of small-but-cutting amounts of negativity?

Hello all! My wife and I have recently had a lovely baby girl, called Mabel. The name "Mabel" was my wife's suggestion when she was around 6 months pregnant, and it took us both a little while to get from a place of slight ambivalence (especially on my part) to "yaaaas" (on both our parts!) about the name. But we did get there in time for the birth!

Fast forward to now, a couple of months later. My wife is having doubts about the name, which seem to come from the following sources:

1. A few of the responses she's gotten from people we know have been less than enthusiastic. (FWIW these people were generally much older than us, and not the socially deftest.)

2. People misspell it quite often, as Mable.

3. Some (not very close) acquaintances have forgotten the name and need reminding.

4. She's not sure it matches against the name of our firstborn.

Could we therefore ask your help on two counts:

Firstly, any words of encouragement of what an awesome name Mabel is would be extremely appreciated.

Secondly, any advice on holding firm and backing yourself when it comes to name selection would also be super en-Mabeling!

FWIW -- I think the name rocks (as did my wife a couple of months ago!), and at the front of my mind is the barrage of very lovely messages we've had from the majority of our friends about the name!

(Finally: we are not looking to change the name, so answers that are negative about the name would not be very helpful.)
posted by laumry to Grab Bag (77 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's got the femininity of May Belle, but encased in a camouflaging cardigan.

The fact that it doesn't "match" your other child's name means you are not forcing something on her just to fit some kind of theme.

Ugh so what if it's hard to spell. You're not going to be tested on it!
posted by amtho at 7:03 AM on November 22 [11 favorites]


I love the name and it was on my list of names I would love to give a girl (I had a boy). I love the long A sound and the B together which to me sound strong.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:12 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]


Our daughters are called Edith and Beatrice (or Edie and Bea) and we did get some push back from older people. Mabel was in the running for us too, and I think it’s a fantastic name.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:12 AM on November 22 [10 favorites]


Is the criticism that the name is old-fashioned? Because it is old-fashioned, but that's a strength! I feel like every trendy baby name since Jennifer has been something that came from two to three generations back. Emma? Charlotte? Sophia? These are people's grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Sophia was a Golden Girl, for chrissakes! The OLDEST Golden Girl!

Like these hyper-popular names, Mabel is classic (if people can't spell it that's on them), but unlike these names there won't be six in her first-grade class. It's just about ripe to come back around, given the cycle of classic to trendy, but it hasn't yet: the sweet spot. Anyone being sour about it just needs to get on your level!

Show her the Kevin Kline Pirates of Penzance when she's older; Mabel is the epitome of beauty and kindness and her name gets sung a lot. (Also, great movie for kids.)
posted by babelfish at 7:14 AM on November 22 [33 favorites]


I have a fairly uncommon name and the least common spelling of it, and people misspell my name all the time - even when I'm standing there telling them how to spell it - it is absolutely not a big deal. In fact, I think it's kind of hilarious. "Matching" sibling names don't matter at all.

Wikipedia has a list of people named Mabel, so find your awesome Mabels. Archaeologist? Botanist? Figure skater? Philanthropist? There are a bunch of them.

Eventually it will just be your kid's name, and nobody will think to question whether it was a good idea. But for the record, I think it's a great name. And who knows? Maybe there will be a flurry of Mabels in ten years, and you'll be ahead of the curve.
posted by FencingGal at 7:14 AM on November 22 [18 favorites]


My maternal grandmother was called Mabel and I'm sure she would have been happy to see the name being used more widely again.
posted by crocomancer at 7:15 AM on November 22 [7 favorites]


I guarantee you most anyone between ages 20 and 30 will know and love this name, as it was the name of a very beloved character on the extremely popular cartoon Gravity Falls. I associate the name with kindness, humor, creativity, and the best kind of fun and nonsense. It doesn’t ping as old fashioned to me either because of that character (who is a young girl).

I also can’t images spelling it “Mable,” what.
posted by brook horse at 7:15 AM on November 22 [33 favorites]


I LOVE THE NAME MABEL! It's delightful and I think you should go for it.

As with absolutely every other decision you make, you are never going to please everyone 100% so you might as well please yourselves.
posted by mochapickle at 7:16 AM on November 22 [9 favorites]


Mabel! It's a lovely name, like two notes of music.

When my son was born, the name we gave him (that we had both really liked) didn't seem to fit his body, somehow. I was tired and people had reactions to tell me his name was not what they expected, and I had second thoughts about the whole thing, but couldn't think of a better name because ... I was TIRED. The entire naming process seemed arbitrary and weird. So I left his name as it was, and he grew into it, and now, of course, it's his name.

Don't discount that you just had a baby, some things are going to seem a little strange. The name is lovely.
posted by Vatnesine at 7:16 AM on November 22 [14 favorites]


1. Who cares what they think?

2. People misspell my name all the time. An extra "h", an "o" instead of an "a", shorten in to "Jon" or change it completely to "John". Unless your name is Ed, there's a good chance that someone has misspelled it.

3. I have numerous close friends who have children whose names I can't remember. I generally am very good about remembering people's names, but we all have our limits.

4. I can't imagine why this should matter. You're not naming a new Apple product that's supposed to fit in with the names of existing products.
posted by jonathanhughes at 7:17 AM on November 22 [11 favorites]


Mabel comes from amabilis, the Latin for "lovable." I'm sure you find your Mabel lovable :) hence it's hard to imagine a more suitable name!

I bet you a donut that she'll find "Mabel" as lovable as you do as she grows up. "Jennifer" is a lovely name, but I grew up with (literally) 8 Jennifers in my grade school; Mabel will likely not have collisions in her name space! On the off chance that she wants options, she can go by "May" or "Belle" (or "Maybe?" or "M" or "Maisie" or a zillion others) as she grows up.
posted by adekllny at 7:17 AM on November 22 [14 favorites]


Mabel is fantastic! And there is absolutely no need for sibling names to match - they're individuals and not a set :) People hear my name and decide to pronounce and spell it any which way, sometimes going off into really unrelated territory, but that's okay by me. In comparison spelling variations for Mabel sound easy breezy to deal with.

It made me think of Mabel Pines from Gravity Falls, one of my most favorite cartoon series in the world. Meeting a real life Mabel would be a delight!
posted by It Was Capitalism All Along at 7:19 AM on November 22 [7 favorites]


In addition to Mabel Pines, the character of Mabel Mora (from Only Murders in the Building) will have primed a lot of people to have positive associations with the name as she's growing up.
posted by jedicus at 7:26 AM on November 22 [23 favorites]


My family has three girls and none of our names match at all. Growing up, one of my sisters had the same color of hair and was close in age to me and people got us confused all the time. As an adult, I worked with the other sister and people also confused us. It will happen with almost all same-gendered siblings and having more unique names will help lessen that. I like both of my sisters, but I am myself and not them.

I also have a very common first name (sarah) that has two spellings and feel that you will never win that fight. People will spell names however they want. I really like the new trend of the older classic names for girls. Nothing wrong with Jennifer and Jessica, but there were more than ten of us Sarahs in my graduating class. We can do with some variety, you know.
posted by soelo at 7:27 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


There are two girls in our friend group's kids named Mabel, which is wild given that there's like 20 kids total in our extended group. Both Mabels rule, genuinely A+ kids, both thoughtful and funny and smart and kind and cool. In my limited experience, Mabel is a great name shared by great kids.
posted by saladin at 7:27 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Not trying to derail, but I am trying to figure out how to approach your question…. You said your wife has some doubts about the name and is second guessing it but “we” are not looking to change the name. Has she specifically suggested changing it?

Without weighing in on the specific name, I’d make sure you listen to her thoughts and feelings and not just try to convince with lots of evidence to keep a name she is waffling on. Because kids names do get changed and before age 1 is definitely the right time.

But I’m making a lot of assumptions here, so please disregard if this doesn’t capture the situation at all.
posted by whitewall at 7:27 AM on November 22 [6 favorites]


Mabel is a lovely name, short and sweet and graceful. People are going to complain about whatever name you give a child, no matter how irrelevant their input is, so it might as well be something that you like. And don’t worry about first names “matching.” They’re names, they match just fine. I grew up in an era where all the kids in a family had names unrelated to one another and everyone turned out ok. In the event that your kids decide to form a vaudeville troupe or something, they can take matchy stage names for their professional engagements.
posted by corey flood at 7:29 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


The reason old people don't like the name is because they're too old.

Baby name trends skip by two generations--this has been pretty true for years.

You wouldn't name your kid a name that was popular during your parents' generation or your grandparents' generation, those sound dated to your ear because you've grown up associating those names with your parents' and grandparents' friends. But a name from one generation farther back? Perfect. Historic and classic sounding, with enough distance that you personally don't have any direct association with the name.

Mabel reached its height of popularity in the 1890s and petered out by the 20s. Your great and greatgreat grandmas may have been named Mabel, but not your grammies or moms. It's perfect to your ear, but sounds like a granny name to people a generation or more older than you.

This isn't opinion, it's science. Look Mabel up on this tool.
posted by phunniemee at 7:29 AM on November 22 [32 favorites]


I absolutely adore my colleagues' and friends' kids and their old-fashioned names (I know a Maeve, a Beatrix [Bea], and a Bernadette [Bernie]) but sometimes I have to sit and think which kid has which name just because they were all born around the same time during a pandemic and I just don't see them that often. It's not an indictment of their names, just of my poor name recall and the situation. It feels like for me, "unusual" names do take slightly more effort to remember, as if that name card in the rolodex in my brain is way too far back and it takes more repetition to bring it to the frequently-used section. But again, not an indictment of the name itself.

As the kiddos get older and have more of a personality (and I can interact with them more than just "oooh cute baby") it's getting easier and easier to remember their names without having to think about it.

I think Mabel is a beautiful name.

Also, you can't control the future and how names are going to evolve in popular culture, so don't even try. Trust me, 46 years old and I never had any issues with my name until the last 5 years or so. My name is Karen.
posted by misskaz at 7:35 AM on November 22 [15 favorites]


When one of my friends was pregnant, she and her husband had firmly decided on the name "Jonathan"* but were not sharing their choice yet, because they didn't want any negative feedback about it. In conversation with her in-laws and they literally said, completely unprompted, "I'm sure any name you pick will be fine so long as it's not *Jonathan*!" Anyway they named their kid Jonathan and I'm not sure whether they ever addressed it with the in-laws. Which is just to say that, no matter what, some people are going to have a problem with any name (and as phunniemee points out, names come in cycles, so yeah, the name will ring a little oddly to some older people).

Likewise I think points 2 and 3 are going to be true of almost any name. All names get misspelled. All names get forgotten.

On point 4, the names will go together because they're the names of the people in your family!


* (It wasn't actually "Jonathan" but it was a similar classically anodyne Anglo boy's name)
posted by mskyle at 7:41 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


1. I think I know why this is, and without going into it too much to avoid bringing up any negativity, I think the name will get a better reception around younger people, especially people her own age.

2. This is simple ignorance. I also assume the misspellings are typed, not handwritten. There's muscle memory in typing, and -able is a common English suffix, so people are used to typing that combination of letters that way. I do this a lot with a co-worker, but the difference is that I go back and correct my mistakes before sending any messages.

3. This is also ignorance, and, more importantly, not related to the name itself. These people would forget literally any name.

4. Probably a feature, not a bug. Unless your firstborn's name is like "Antimabel" or something. Although that would actually be funny. The matching names thing seems to be a millenial development. My parents' generation's names are all over the place. With seven kids on one side and five on the other, my grandparents were just looking for any name that hadn't been used already. Fun fact: three of my five maternal uncles married women with the same names as one of their sisters. Another fun fact: several of my aunts and uncles don't even have middle names - coming up with a first name was hard enough. Now that there are fewer kids per household, names are easier to come by, and so it's not a beggars-choosers situation anymore. But there's no rule that they have to match. And also keep in mind that, by the time they're in high school, they will match, because you'll have a decade and a half of referring to them as a group. Think about other groupings: There's no logic behind hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs. You're just used to hearing them together so it sounds natural.

5. My brother has a dog named Mabel, and while I understand skepticism about dog names translating to human names, he's the kind of person who doesn't have kids and names his dogs like they're his kids. They have middle names and stuff.

6. Before I had my kids, I was talking to a friend who did have kids at the time about the pressure I felt about coming up with names. She told me not to worry; the kids grow into the names. It'll become chicken-and-egg: Is she Mabel-y because you named her Mabel, or did you name her Mabel because she's Mabel-y? Yes to both.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:41 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Decades ago I watched and enjoyed an insufferably charming TV show called Mad About You. Eventually the lead couple had a daughter and named her Mabel because it was short for one of the grandmothers' favorite sayings, which was "Mothers Always Bring Extra Love." Ever since then I was smitten with the name.

Welcome to the world, brilliant and beautiful Mabel!
posted by kimberussell at 7:43 AM on November 22 [16 favorites]


Mabel Mora is the name of the character played by Selena Gomez in the TV series Only Murders In The Building.

The character is intelligent, sarcastic, dry, witty, and a talented painter. Also glamorous.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 7:45 AM on November 22 [7 favorites]


Phunniemee is right. You have to pretty much discount the opinions of people your parents' age or older when it comes to names. The way name trends work, it's basically guaranteed that people naming their kids now are going to pick a lot of names that sound weird or ugly to older generations. When I was pregnant 21 years ago, I got to talking to an older woman who was telling me how her son and daughter-in-law wanted to name their baby Isabel and she thought that was such a weird name. Obviously no one nowadays thinks Isabel is a weird or unusual name. I know of a young kid named Mabel. It's a trending name that will not seem unusual to anyone in Mabel's generation, or to the people in your generation who are her teachers or bosses.
posted by Redstart at 7:47 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Mabel! What a lovely name. It feels versatile to me - it can be cute, and it can also sound dignified (like Vice President of Accounting Mabel BlahDiBlah). I would smile if I encountered this name.
posted by cadge at 7:48 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Also, my super-popular 1970s name Kimberly is spelled incorrectly more than ever now. Kimburly, Kimberrly, Kym, Kem, Emily (??). Don't worry about spelling.
posted by kimberussell at 7:49 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


The name Mabel always reminds me of "Mad About You" - they couldn't decide on a name, and finally landed on Mabel as an acronym for "Mothers Always Bring Extra Love." Maybe the mnemonic will help folks remember how to spell it. But people will butcher any name, any time.
posted by BekahVee at 7:51 AM on November 22 [6 favorites]


the character of Mabel Mora (from Only Murders in the Building) will have primed a lot of people to have positive associations with the name as she's growing up.

Yeah, a few years ago I might have found the name a bit old fashioned, but now my primary association with the name is OMitB, a very 2020s show, and this character, and it sounds like an awesome, strong, versatile name.

People are going to misspell most names, some people are going to forget any name. That's not Mabel-specific.
posted by trig at 7:51 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


A very, very similar situation was a plot point on the sitcom Mad About You. The main characters had a baby girl but were stuck figuring out a name for her, and for the first couple weeks after the birth their daughter was actually nameless. Meanwhile, one of the grandmoms was always stopping by being a bit of a busybody and "helping". Grandmom had a habit of using mnemonics as teaching tools (for instance, to reinforce that the nursery should be kept on the cooler side, she told the new mom to remember "Crib" as standing for "Colder really is better").

Towards the end of the episode, the new mom had a bit of a spat with the grandmom for pestering, but that turned into a sobbing confession that she was feeling overwhelmed with her new daughter and was scared. New Mom and grandmom had a heart-to-heart, where grandmom encouraged her; and gave her one last mnemonic - "Mabel", which she said stood for "Mothers always bring extra love." It was so comforting that "Mabel" became the new baby's name.

(They even show a scene where the new parents are introducing Mabel to the rest of the family, and you can tell the rest of the family is underwhelmed by the name initially; but they accept it.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:52 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]


We named our son Henry. Our parents, and older generation relatives were on the terrible name side.

My mother finally admitted it suited him. He was 9 at the time.

I think kids grow into their names, and it just becomes them. And if they don't, they change them and that's ok too.

I think Mabel is a great name.
posted by Ftsqg at 7:56 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't know about you and your wife but my feelings about names are mostly defined by the people I've known who inhabit them. If that's how it is for you, then the more you get to know your Mabel, the more she'll inhabit the name and take it over - and take over your associations with it.

You also haven't mentioned if there's a nickname situation, but Mabel lends itself to any number of nicknames you might like the feel of.
posted by trig at 7:58 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Holding firm: Either you got it right and the child will keep Mabel happily, or it'll turn out your kid wants something else and will eventually tell you. Anyone else's opinion about it is utterly irrelevant compared to that.
posted by teremala at 8:01 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Oh, and a general note for how other kids might react to the name, if that's a concern at all:

My first day of kindergarten, I met another little girl named Krishna who became my very first BFF. It took me a minute to wrap my head around her name (my very, very first memory of Krishna is the two of us on the seesaw, and she was giggling at me because I kept asking, "wait, WHAT'S your name?"), but I quickly just rolled with it. Just like my younger brother very quickly learned to roll with it when he met Krishna's younger brother Theoden. Krishna's parents were not Indian, nor were they hippies - they just had a penchant for quirky names. Krishna does as well (she's got a son in college named Daedalus).

I have no memory whatsoever of either Krishna or Theoden, or their younger sister Guinnevere, getting any shit for their names. Kids maybe got confused when they first heard them, because they were uncommon, but then they just shrugged like "okay, whatever" and accepted it. And I think that's the case with little kids - all names are new and different to them, so you could tell a little kid that someone's name is Spackle and they'd be "okay, gotcha" and go with it. There are one or two bullies who may pick on kids' names, but that's more about the bullies being bullies than it is about the name causing the bullying, if that makes sense (i.e., if any bully had decided to make Krishna their target, her name being "Kathy" instead wouldn't have stopped it).

So no worries about little kids thinking "Mabel" is "weird". Little kids will roll with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:09 AM on November 22 [6 favorites]


Mabel is a beautiful name.

Re: misspelling, I have one of the most common names of my generation. So common there were never fewer than two of us in any class I had from Kindergarten through university, and usually more. And people STILL misspell it. I don't think a name immune to misspelling exists.

My sister and I have rhyming names. (Mom is a twin and couldn't help it.) People have teased us about it all our lives. So having all your children's names not "go together" is a GOOD thing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:14 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


So you are feeling maybe about the name Mabel. Is now when you start calling her Maybe? I think that would be the best nickname both from how it sounds and that it will cause you to recall this very rich discussion that made you really love the name!
posted by oxisos at 8:18 AM on November 22


I think it’s a lovely name!
posted by ellieBOA at 8:18 AM on November 22


It's such a beautiful name! It was on my list, but I ended up having a boy. I gave him an "old-fashioned" name that people often lightly misspell -- think Wallter instead of Walter -- but you know what? We just shrug and correct them and onward we go. Welcome to the world, Baby Mabel!
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:22 AM on November 22


3. Some (not very close) acquaintances have forgotten the name and need reminding.

I regularly forget the names of not-very-close acquaintances' kids until I meet them a few times. As others have said here that's totally on me, I'm working to do better, and it has nothing do with their names.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 8:26 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Mabel is a lovely, lovely, lovely name.

Perhaps getting down to a playlist full of songs by Big Maybelle (I know, not the same spelling or pronunciation, but still) will help your wife find the groove again.
posted by brookeb at 8:34 AM on November 22


I love the name Mabel. My friend has a red headed daughter named Mabel, and she is sweet, funny, and incredibly creative, so I associate those qualities with the name. Her nickname is Mae, which is also beautiful. I think “old fashioned” names are back in style.
posted by sucre at 8:35 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


When we were little, our neighbor's name was Mabel, and she was just the sweetest person. She and her husband never had children, but she was involved in the community (4H especially) and delighted in having my little sister and me over to have a snack and play a game. So I am delighted to hear the name coming back into circulation!

I remember as a kid meditating on Mabel vs. Mable, and Mable makes me think of maple which is just another sweet and wonderful thing.

I have an often-misspelled first name and, meh, you learn to live with it.
posted by BrashTech at 8:37 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


I really wish people would learn to stfu about other people's name choices. I had a post-divorce name change all picked out and felt really great about it and then one of my closest friends pooped all over it and I still haven't recovered.

Anyway people can and will misspell anything. My married name I took specifically because it is simple to spell and can only be spelled one way (and my birth name a nightmare to spell), I have NEVER seen this name spelled any other way, and yet I am routinely asked if it spelled some other way. People are hopeless at spelling. Ease of spelling should not even be a factor for you.

People will also forget names. People like me. We're sorry. It has nothing to do with the name itself. We're equal opportunity forgetters.

Matching names--ehhhh. I can see the appeal and in fact I have done this with my pets, but I can also see the appeal of just giving the kid the name that's right and letting that be its own kind of theme.

Most importantly, Mabel is a genuinely great name. It just is. Go forth and Mabel!
posted by HotToddy at 8:43 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


My parents gave me an extremely old fashioned name. When I was little kid, adults would ask my name, and I would tell them, and they would invariably respond with something like "oh! my dead great-aunt had that name!" It was fine, and just always gave us a laugh.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 9:07 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Mabel is super cute, I love it!
posted by Glinn at 9:19 AM on November 22


Soon enough, the only person whose opinion will matter is Mabel. If she doesn't like it, she can change her name to Jennifer or Anthony or Meadow or whatever better fits the person she becomes.
posted by dusty potato at 9:23 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]


Mabel was my maternal great-great grandmother's name. I never met her, but a quilt she made covers my bed (and is cat-approved). When Grandma Mabel and the aunts would come over with their quilting supplies, it was guaranteed to be a party. My mom says she loved to hide under the dining room table eavesdropping on all the gossip until someone remembered she was there and announced it was "bedtime for little girls!"

I think it's an absolutely lovely name, one which will serve her well at all life stages. My own first name is uncommon and a bit "old ladyish" but I love it. It suits me perfectly and I've never wished to be called something else, even when I was a child and couldn't find personalized stuff. People do have trouble spelling it, but I don't mind that.

Another fun thing about having an old fashioned name is that almost everyone else with it is an elderly woman, and they always get a real kick out of running into a younger Meredith. Several years ago, I was in the waiting room at a doctor's office. When the nurse called for "Meredith", I and four other women, none of whom could have been younger than 80, all stood up, much to the amusement of all parties.

(Also, even if Mabel weren't a perfectly cromulent name, I think it's extremely rude for your friends and relatives to make judgemental comments about a name that you've already given to a real baby. It's her name. They can either learn to love it because they love her, or they can learn to keep their unnecessary comments to themselves. I also think the whole "forgetting" her name thing is just passive aggressive bullshit and I would call it out.)
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:25 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]


I have a first name that friends and strangers regularly mispronounce and misspell. This has not been a significant problem for me.

I have only positive associations with the name "Mabel" -- including a fun hedgehog character in the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. This character is a loving and supportive sister and an entrepreneur. There are probably plush toys available.
posted by brainwane at 10:23 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


It's a strong name with lots of nickname options; I like it. But really came into say that you might find the concept of "name remorse" or "name regret" useful, if you don't already know the phrase. It is evidently very common. Some links: here and here and here.

British Baby Names did a focus on Mabel a few years ago.
posted by paduasoy at 10:26 AM on November 22


I have one of the top most common names and people still always spell it wrong, hear it wrong, assume my last name is my first name, anything you could imagine.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 10:54 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


People are out here naming their kid Jennifer and spelling it Ginyffor, so even if it were hard to spell, that would be right on trend. Cross that concern off the list entirely.
posted by Ausamor at 10:59 AM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Mabel is the name of the first niece that appeared in my friend group from high school. She is now a young teen and absolutely delightful.
posted by PussKillian at 11:09 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Great name. Little e has a name from a similar era. As one or two people upthread surmised, we got some raised eyebrows from people in our parents’ generation, and a lot of support from people in our own, and while she was the only one we knew at birth, we learned pretty quickly that there are two others just in our neighborhood. I think you guys have an ear that matches your time and she will fit in fine.

Seconding the comment that everything is a bit weird right after a birth. For a long while we would get mail addressed to Little e and we would think… that’s not a real person, we just made that up. Well, we did, but she is!
posted by eirias at 11:26 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


My parents gave me an extremely old fashioned name. When I was little kid, adults would ask my name, and I would tell them, and they would invariably respond with something like "oh! my dead great-aunt had that name!" It was fine, and just always gave us a laugh.

I named my 18-year-old Carl. When he was a baby, strangers would ask me his name, and I'd tell them, and they'd say affectionately, "That was my grandpa's name!" It was an out-of-sync name, but for the most part, people liked it. He loves his name.

I wanted to name a baby girl, if we had one, Hazel for a great-aunt of mine. My partner vetoed it for being too old fashioned. It turned out that Hazel was on the way in, and I know a zillion kids named Hazel now. From the popular pop-culture references, it seems like Mabel may be on the same path. It doesn't matter, ultimately. I had one of the most common names of my generation (3-5 in elementary school classes; 4 or 5 on my floor in the dorm sophomore year) and it doesn't really matter either way. Each of us made the name our own. Sometimes, I don't even notice that another person has the same name as me, if we spell it differently even by one letter, or if we use different nickname forms of it.

Also, I have four children, ages 15-28, and only one of them, the aforementioned Carl, still uses the name he was given at birth. If "Mabel" is wrong for your Mabel, she'll figure it out and fix it, as long as she has your support.

I have anxiety, and sometimes it manifests by focusing on a weird small thing. When traveling, for instance, I can get really worked up about being on time to the airport. It's where I focus ALL my anxiety about all aspects of the trip. Your wife might be doing something similar with Mabel's name. It's OK for her to have doubts. It sucks that people have been rude about Mabel's name. But live into it for awhile, get to know Mabel a bit better (I feel 100% sure she is absolutely amazing), and trust that it will all work out. Because it will.

Congratulations on your amazing new human being, Mabel.

The more I say "Mabel" the more I like it. Mabel, Mabel, Mabel. It's a good, good name.
posted by Well I never at 11:43 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]


In a past life, I spent lots and lots of time in onomastics forums. Naturally, many parents also passed through these spaces. And over the years, I saw plenty of name regret. PLENTY. Much of it was far more severe than what you're describing.

Only once, in all that time and in those places, did I see regret persist to the point that the child's name was changed. In that case, the child had the same name as an elder sibling that was stillborn. In other words, I think 99% of the time, name regret is passing, and rarely lasts past 18 months or so. Even if Mabel never does settle as The Name, it's not as big a deal as you might fear. So many people go by names that are not their given name. They go by middle names, random nicknames, names they chose themselves, names they legally changed to. My grandma goes by a name completely unrelated to what's on the birth cert, and it's just a fun fact, not a problem. No matter what happens, it's going to be fine.

Anecdotally, I did sometimes perceive the name regret as a symptom of post-partum depression that wasn't quite being dealt with. Is your wife struggling with this? If she hasn't said anything, it might be a good time to ask.

For the record, Mabel is a lovely, strong name that's become plenty common for young kids. If you said your kid was named Britomart or something, then yeah, maybe there's a discussion to be had. But Mabel is terrific and not at all strange!
posted by desert outpost at 12:02 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


I'm just here to chime in on the name being beautiful (both visually and in how it trips off the tongue).

Mabel herself will imbue it with all the meaning, as time goes by. You'll find out what Mabel means when she shows you herself. That's a big part of the adventure of parenting, I think. My kids took names that I _thought_ had meaning, and gave it so much more meaning than I could have guessed would be there, once they started hanging out in the real world and being who they are, with those names.
posted by Shunra at 12:45 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Also Mabel is really fun to write in cursive! The sweeping peaks of the M, the playful hook and double rebound of the a to the b, the loopdy-swoop of the e-l.

Trying writing it in the air with a pointed finger! It's one of the best ways to test for a good name.
posted by mochapickle at 12:50 PM on November 22 [6 favorites]


According to this reddit chart, 90% of new baby girl's names in the US end in one of six letters: A, E, N, Y, H, and I. Only 2.1% end in an L. That's kind of a neat fact, right?
posted by rollick at 1:01 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


I think Mabel is a pleasant, yet slightly distinctive, name. It is now borne by a famous and incredibly sweet yellow lab. I think "grandparent names" get cycled first through dog names (because there's extra cuteness in giving a wee goofy dog a Serious Old-Fashioned Name) and, thus revived, pass into the child name pool. So you're right on time.

Older generations may be thinking of "Mabel, Mabel, strong and able, get your elbows off the table," but I seriously doubt Millennials on down have ever even heard that.
posted by praemunire at 1:17 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Someone mentioned Gravity Falls Mabel:
Here she is!
posted by Omnomnom at 1:25 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


I love Mabel, and the answers above about names skipping two generations and it sounding "old fashioned" to people of a certain age ring true to me.

My son has an unusual name, and early on lots of people would mishear or misremember it. We didn't get specific "I don't like that name" comments, but it definitely didn't land cleanly with everyone. But it very quickly just becomes the kid's name and will sound "right" to you and to anyone who knows you reasonably well.

You picked a great name and people can go pound sand. Your child's name is none of their business.
posted by that's candlepin at 1:28 PM on November 22


Mabel is gorgeous! I wish it was my name. (Mothers Always Bring Extra Love from Mad About You.)

But, you know, I don't think this is about the name -- I think it's a second kid thing. When you have your first kid, you have often thought about the name forever, and it just sounds right! When you have a second kid, you're trying to fit this person into your existing family, and their name is a big part of this. (You're used to saying "My kid Paul" and now it's "My kids Paul and Mabel." It just sounds odd at first, no matter what the name is.) So I suspect it's not about the name -- it's about, how can we make this person fit into the family? And it takes some getting used to, even though you obviously adore the kiddo and are so glad she's here.

Mabel is amazing, I would not be surprised to see it get much more popular. My daughter's name was in the 700s when she was born; now it's in the top 100 ten years later. Nobody could put their heads round it at the time at all and it really depressed me -- now people say it's too trendy!
posted by heavenknows at 1:28 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


My name is 3 letters, and people misspell it constantly, even as I'm literally spelling it for them. This isn't something you can really second guess, so don't worry about spelling. Think about why you two chose the name and what it means to you. In the future your daughter may choose another name or nickname, but right now all that matters is how your small family feels about it. And FWIW I know a Mabel who is about 9 or 10 now and is an awesome kid.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:44 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Came in to recommend Only Murders in the Building, see that others have beat me to it. Watch it! it's a hoot, and the Mabel character is great, you'll end up loving the name again for sure.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:22 PM on November 22


Mabel is a lovely name! It sounds sweet and trusting. It makes me think of maple trees and of the sister from Trade Me. And, you know what? If your kid decides that it doesn't suit them, they can change it. You don't have to change it for them.
posted by spiderbeforesunset at 3:10 PM on November 22


I think Mabel is a lovely name. And I never loved my second kid's name, and now that they are an adult, I can not imagine another name for them. It was one of the most popular names for my kid's cohort, and my ex-husband wouldn't budge on it. The name I wanted was ruined by someone saying it sounded like chlamydia (Lavinia.) I am just saying, that feeling ambiguous about your kid's name isn't a rare or awful thing. I also think when you have two of the same assigned gender at birth kiddos, it is hard to come up with a second one that seems as good as the first name.
posted by momochan at 4:08 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


I think Mabel is a lovely name! And, in the spirit of your question, I really appreciate Andrea Gibson's short poem:
May our children know
their names are gifts
they can return
if they don’t fit.

posted by xedrik at 4:24 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


This sounds less about the name and more like your wife was expecting a more positive reception to the birth. Which sucks, I know. Make sure your wife is getting screened for PPD/PPA, and try to make connections with other new parents (who have also gotten crap from older relatives about their name choices, I guarantee).

Also remember that you are Mabel's advocate so make sure you are acting like it. Grandma says she would prefer a different name? "Mom, you've already voiced your opinion. We love her name. We hope you can get past your name preferences and can enjoy getting to know your granddaughter." Spelled wrong? Let this go, except for repeat offenders. For them "Actually it's e-l. Better add it to your auto-correct dictionary!"

If you don't have some sort of personalized name thing in your nursery, get one. The more you see the name, the more it will feel "right". It also will reinforce to visitors that the naming process has concluded.
posted by jessica fletcher did it at 6:36 PM on November 22 [3 favorites]


Re: Famous Mabels, in addition to The Pirates of Penzance, Mad About You, and Only Murders in the Building, there's also the spokeswaitress from the famous Carling's Black Label Beer commercials.

I may have told this story before, but there was an old studio portrait of a beautiful young woman in one of Grandma's photo albums. I remember asking her who it was, and she just sighed, shook her head, and said, "That's Mabel. Poor Mabel." One didn't feel like pressing her, but we never did find out who Mabel was or why she inspired such sadness. Every time we'd look through the album, Grandma would sigh, "Poor Mabel," and I think I'll always regret not trying to find out more.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:10 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Mabel is an exceptionally lovely name, for all of the reasons listed above. Don't worry about it sounding old-fashioned to older folks. I too have a very old-school first name, deeply unfashionable, and it's been a joy my whole life long not to be one of 6 Jennifers or 5 Sophias or whatever. When I was searching for a name for my child, I very purposefully made sure that none of the names were currently fashionable (if he'd been a girl, he'd have been Edith Shirley. Nothing fashionable there). Mabel is grounded in the past but points toward the future. Just lovely.
posted by pleasant_confusion at 7:11 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


As for the spelling, I just want to mention that my name is "Michael" and people have been spelling it wrong my whole life. People can misspell ANYTHING.

You know why you'll love the name "Mabel" in two years? Because it reminds you of your daughter. Who needs anything else?
posted by mmoncur at 9:01 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


I also love the name and it is on my name list.
posted by thereader at 10:22 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Really important - did your wife have a traumatic pregnancy or delivery? My first sign of postpartum PTSD was calling my daughter by a different name (I loved her name but somehow using it felt wrong to me.) I suffered a lot and I wish someone had been able to recognize that what I was doing with her name was not normal and was a symptom of mental illness.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 10:51 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


Mabel One and Only is a modern, lovely children's book about an adventurous girl.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 11:02 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


One of my kids is a Mabel, and I can assure you Mabels are very cool people. If you need pop culture reinforcement, Motormouth Maybelle (different spelling, sure) from Hairspray, and Mabel Anderson (platonic ideal of the sassy friend trope) from the Fred & Ginger musical Swing Time are fabulous examples.
posted by threecheesetrees at 1:07 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


If you keep calling her Mabel, in no time at all it will just be your daughters name and you will associate it so strongly with her, you won't be able to imagine anything else. It's a straightforward name, easily pronounced in English, and about right for a baby born in the 2020s. Just relax into it.
posted by plonkee at 6:38 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


I know 2 Mabels under the age of 10 - lovely girls and a lovely name. Perhaps you're just on the front edge of a trend.

I admit, the first time I was introduced to a young Mabel, my brain immediately returned "Mabel, Black Label" (which the underpants monster mentioned above) - I also immediately recognized that the jingle wasn't likely to be familiar to those (parents and child) of tender ages.
posted by she's not there at 6:31 AM on November 25 [1 favorite]


“Mabel, Mabel,
strong and able,
keep your elbows off the table.
This is not a horse’s stable,
But a first class dining table.”
posted by bendy at 10:51 PM on November 26


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