RANSOM: Old English for "son of the shield" and Latin for "redeemer." A third baseman for the Chicago Cubs, Ransom Jackson, was nicknamed "Handsome Ransom." Relatives: Ransome, Ranson, Rankin, Ransford ("raven's ford"), Ransley ("raven's meadow"), Rance. Namesakes: John Crowe Ransom, Arthur Ransome.
RAPHAEL: From the Hebrew for "healed by God." An appealing name with a poetic quality. Relatives: Rafael, Rafaelle, Rafaello, Rafe, Rafer, Rafi, Raff, Raph, Rafferty, Raphaella. Namesakes: Rafer Johnson, Rafael Palmeiro.
RASHID: Swahili for "wise adviser." Relative: Rasheed.
RAVINDER: From "ravine." A variation for a little girl might be Ravinia, like the summer home of the Chicago Symphony. Relatives: Ravi, Ravinia. Namesake: Ravi Shankar.
RAWLINS: Old English for "son of a little wise wolf." Relatives: Rawlings, Rawson. Namesakes: Marjorie Rawlings, Rawlings sporting goods.
RAYBURN: Old English for "from the deer stream." Relatives: Ray, Rayfield, Rayford. Namesakes: Sam Rayburn, Sir Henry Raeburn.
RAYMOND: Old German for "worthy protector." This name faded in the 1960s and 1970s but is beginning to find a foothold again. Relatives: Raymund, Ramon, Raimundo, Raimund, Reamonn, Raynor, Rainer, Ray, Rae, Wray. Namesakes: Raymond Massey, Raymond Chandler, Ray Charles.
READ: Old English for "red-haired" or "reed." We are particularly fond of this choice, no matter how you spell it. Relatives: Reed, Reid, Reading, Reade. Namesakes: John Reed, Ishmael Reed, Reading Railroad.
REBECCA: From the Hebrew for "bound." Rebecca is keeping apace with Rachel in the biblical-names category. Relatives: Rebekah, Rebeccah, Rebeca, Rebeka, Rebeque, Rebequa, Becky, Bekki, Becca, Becha, Becka, Riba, Reba, Riva, Reeba, Rivka, Rifka, Rivca. Namesakes: wife of Isaac, Dame Rebecca West, Reba McEntire, "Becky Sharp," Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
REDFORD: Old English for "from the red ford." Both the name and the variations are handsome. Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal chose Redmond for their son. Relatives: Redfield, Redgrave, Redman, Redmond (Old German for "adviser"), Redwald, Redd, Redding, Red. Namesakes: Red Smith, Robert Redford, Vanessa Redgrave.
REECE: Old Welsh for "enthusiastic." A pleasant name, it offers a variety of spelling choices. Relatives: Riece, Reace, Reece, Rase, Rice, Rhys, Rhett. Namesakes: Pee Wee Reese, Jean Rhys, "Rhett Buler," Reese's pieces.