While many place greater emphasis on the meaning of names, others believe that heritage and racial background are more important in name selection. A Southerner may opt for a typically southern American name. Or if you’re Latino, you could pick a name that originates from the Spanish language. The same could be said of all ethnic or religious names: whether you’re American, British, Kenyan, Greek, Irish, German, Dutch, Russian, Chinese, or Arabic — or you’re Christian, Jewish, or Muslim — it’s perfectly understandable if you prefer a name close to your roots.
Still feeling a bit adrift? No worries — there are plenty of free tools out there to help you find the perfect name. Just a handful:
Baby Center, This generator allows you to input gender (or a unisex option), meaning, origin, theme, and popularity. There’s also a fun Celebrity Name Generator mechanism. Mine: Maui Dove (girl) and Paleo Earl (boy). Baby Center, a member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, reaches 45 million parents a month in nine different languages. It also features mobile apps, online communities, email series, print publications, and more.
Belly Ballot, This interactive baby-naming website lets expectant parents select their favorite names and invite friends and family to vote via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. According to co-founder Lacey Moler, “Today’s parents are very social beings. They want to share important parts of their lives with friends and family.”
The Bump, From the creators of The Knot and The Nest, The Bump provides the low-down on babies, fertility, pregnancy, and birth with in-depth content, expert advice, style inspiration, and interactive tools. The search tools allow you to search by gender or categories like baby name popularity or meaning. And their online quiz determines your personal style.
Baby Name Genie, For grins and giggles, give this name generator a whirl — you can “make a wish” and you’ll be given a name based on your surname and baby gender (or you can click “surprise me”). My results for 3 wishes / 3 boy names: Dorian Andon Cohen, Vincent Devin Cohen and Layton Hayden Cohen. The Genie suggests you take the name for a “test drive” to see how it would sound in various situations. For example: “Do you Layton Cohen take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
Baby Names, Launched in 1996 by baby-name authorities and sisters Jennifer Moss (author of “The Baby Name Workbook” and “One in a Million Baby Name Book” and Mallory Moss Katz, this popular site boasts 1.5 million unique visitors a month. Thousands have used its customized naming service, which provides 12 names for $35. Thirty-minute phone consultations are available for $95. The site also has a baby blog with name advice, plus a podcast.
Best Little Baby, This baby-name generator and/or name combiner mixes parent’s names or random names. You can even combine your and your partner’s names by taking letters from both. And if you’re interested in learning what your surname means, check out the “Last Name” generator which provides meaning and origin.
Baby Names Science’s Smart Name Finder, This generator is all about the lyrical flow. Simply type in the baby’s last name and gender and voila — a list of popular first names for your last name. They boast data and insights for over 30,000 unique names, which are then cross-referenced with one’s last name to look for names that sound good. The site makes naming more a “science” by examining alliteration, assonance, consonance, length, syllable count, rhythm, and ending letters.
Hipster Baby Name Generator, This toollets you pick “non-conformist” as one of the gender options, and the search results are always unique. Whether you approach this as a bit of fun or take it more legitimately is up to you.
Prokerala, This is a useful site for those trying to perfect the flow between first, middle, and last name.
Pampers, This generator allows you to sort by gender, theme, origin, popularity, alphabetical order, and length. Apply filters — like colors or flowers — to improve your search.
Parent’s Choice Formula, This name generator is simple to use — just enter the first letter of the baby name you’re interested in into the search box, followed by gender. Also, check out their rich content and savings on formula.
Time.com, has an entertaining (and addictive) tool at that shows you what your name would be if you were born today. It is done by decade. Stacey ranked 244 in popularity in the 1960s — a spot now held by Rosalie. If I was born in the 1920s, I’d be Phoebe.
Nameopia, This tool includes baby names and meanings from a variety of cultures. The site also has names by gender, popularity, uniqueness, and celebrity, plus a robust array of articles and resources on naming.
SuggestBabyNames.com, This site allows you to search by country of origin.
Think Baby Names, This tool provides the top 2,000 popular birth names from 1880 to 2015, as well as the meaning, origin, pronunciation, history, religious significance, and popularity of first names. Added bonus: the trending names change on daily basis.
Meaning-of-Names.com, Here you’ll find meanings and histories of 45,000-plus baby names and surnames. I gave it a whirl by inserting “strong” in search bar category, which resulted in the name “Allona” (translation: strong as an oak).
Medieval Names Archive: English, Old English and Anglo-Norman Names, This site provides lists of names and articles on names from a variety of periods, from 1300 to 1600.
There are countless more tools available — they can help you find Irish names, African names, Biblical names, and far more. Try a Google search if you’re looking for a specific tool. Chances are, it’s out there. Here’s to happy naming!