Afternoon InquisitionParenting

AI: _________

For those of you following me and the other Skepchicks on Twitter, or if you’ve listened to the latest Skepchick podcast, you’ve probably heard that my husband and I are engaged in full-on baby-name warfare.

Last night we fought until 12:30am, when we finally settled on a name for a girl (I won!), but neither one of us has emerged victorious on a boy’s name. So the battle wages on. Still on the table are: Voltron, Adelbert and Profiterole Anders. Off the table are: Cory, Phil, and Sal M. Anders. If we do not come to an agreement by the time the baby is born, we will go with the default Isl Anders.

Everyone has advice on names and naming strategies. But this is war, people, WAR. I don’t need names and naming strategies, I need troops! I need reinforcement! I need rocket launchers and IEDs. I am a pregnant woman on the front lines! Fuck the Baby Name Wizard; that’s for amateurs and single moms.

The interesting thing is that I’ve realized how much prejudice I have against so many names. I have very clear opinions of parents who name their kids things like Emmaleigh or use arbitrary Y’s. I have rules about “Top 100” names, and name “stealing”.

Do you have names that you hate for no reason? Do you think you judge people based on their names? Am I making too big a deal of this? Is a name really that important?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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111 Comments

  1. My parents were both teachers for many years before they had me. They had a hard time picking out a name, because just about every name had the memory of some terrible student attached to it. They eventually went with Jennifer because it was so common that it didn’t conjure up any specific person.

  2. I have always disliked the names Tim and Nick because I know two real jerks with those names. I also dislike any name that has unnecessary y in the middle like Kayden or Brayden. I don’t know why but they just seem like wussy names… Sorry to anyone with those names.

    I’m very glad my baby turned out to be a boy. We had a boy name picked out for years but we would probably still be fighting about a girl’s name.

    I also have a prejudice about naming kids names that are in the top 100. As someone with a popular name it is really annoying to have five girls in the same class as you with virtually identical names.

  3. My only gripe about some child naming is when the parents give no consideration to their child’s welfare and safety when giving them quant, creative, artistic, idiosyncratic, meaningful or pan dimensional freakazoid names.

  4. Absolutely. My theory is that parents give their kids a name that can’t be reverse-engineered by a competent person familiar with the prevailing language is making a huge mistake.

    i.e. A recent phone conversation: “My name is Lia. Spelled L-E-A-I-A-H”. I have no idea if they were going for Leiah and made a wrong turn at Albuquerque, or what.

    My usual unspoken reaction is “What a lovely stripper name you’ve got there.”

  5. I was so very very very absurdly glad when my little sister named her baby Andrew. A nice not Y or other absurd pseudovowel filled name.

    And part of me knows that language changes and names change and part of me is really old fashioned and hates my cousin’s naming of her eldest with a fakeymadeupbullshitnamewithtoomanyY’s and it isn’t like the girl even has a good sub-nick name with in it that doesn’t evoke old country singers. Sheesh.

  6. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to name a kid… Yes, absolutely, I judge people on their names -even though I know damn well that I shouldn’t. Any names that I hate are based on people I’ve known with those names, so I don’t think I hate any for no reason at all…

    I do think a name is important, though. Kids are mean, so you don’t want to give them any more ammo than they already have. And weird names are a toss-up between really neat and really annoying. My sister-in-law still fumes about her slightly unconventional name, and the fact that she doesn’t have a middle name.

    In short, this is probably why I named my first pet cat “Kitty” and why I would probably name my first child “Thing One.”

  7. Yes, there’s judgement. Really, it’s unnecessary y’s that bother me. Go for something bad ass, like Wolfgang.

    I think one of my friends has a good name game plan. He’s going to think of a name and then think of every possible way it can be made of by other kids (for example, “Dick” is just out of the question).

  8. I know some people with some weird ass freakin’ names but I hate mine the most. My grandmother forbade (FOR.BADE!) my mother from naming me Manon, which is my middle name, so I’m stuck with Faith which generally leads to: “What a wonderful name! You must be blessed” or “Oh, your name is Faith and you have no faith! Ha ha!” Yeah. You’re a fuckin’ genius.

    I’ve been considering changing it more and more recently.

    I hate people.

  9. what’s wrong with darwin? darwin anders slips off the tongue nicely, and sounds like the name of a swashbuckling gentleman scientist hero. e.g.

    ‘hey, who’s that guy with the awesome boots and puffy shirt and the astrolabe riding down that sail with a knifeblade?’

    ‘oh, that’s just darwin anders the swashbuckling gentleman scientist hero. he’s always doing shit like that..’

  10. Not sure if I judge people by their names… If I do, it’s only subconsciously, but I’d like to think I can separate people from their names. I can like Britney the person while (really really) disliking Britney the name.

    Which brings me to: I dislike names that end in ‘y’ and names whose nicknames can end in ‘y’ (or ‘ie’). I’m not particularly fond of Robert (too common), but Robert’s main offense is that it can be shortened to Bobby.

    There are several names off my list only because I don’t like the nicknames. Like all the Ed* names. Edward, Edwin, Edgar, etc… All awesome. But whoever he dated would probably try to be cute and call him Ned, Ed or Eddie and that would peeve me.

  11. I really don’t like the weird names that have been fashionable in the last 20 years or so, names that sound like porn-stars or tree species, or wannabe hippie names. Those all get my eyes rolling. If it’s something that would be at home on a soap-opera or a stripper pole, it’s probably an unfortunate name in my opinion.

    If your child wants to pick up an eccentric nickname when they’re older then let them choose that. Don’t burden them with something silly because you think it’s fancy or trendy. Kids aren’t pets so don’t name them like pets (on a related note, pets are supposed to have unusual names, not people names).

    My 2¢

    Your milage may vary.

    Oh, and girls named MacKenzie should kick their parents in the shins. Hard.

  12. I think getting too “creative” is a bad idea for kid’s names. It will be there forever, and other kids can be mean lil’ buggers.

    That being said, I don’t particularly like monosyllabic names, either. I like them to have meaning as well.

    My daughter’s first and middle names were taken from two different mythologies (Athena for example). Culturally the names symbolize wisdom, strength, and creativity – traits I’d like my daughter to have, and my wife and I are big frakkin’ bookworms.

  13. We made a point of naming our kids with nice, normal, run-of-the-mill names. Good names, mind you, but nothing oddball or fancy-pants.

    I grew up having been named after Karel Capek. You can probably imagine what my school career was like…

    Anyway: Sal M Anders gets my (not even remotely sincere or serious) vote!

  14. Since you’re so picky on names, I’d want to know what you’d make of the following situation :

    Your boyfriend wants to name his little girl by the name of a girl that you know he had an eye on a long time ago. But he doesn’t think about that, he justs think the name is very cool.

    What do you make of it?

  15. Bless you for avoiding popular names. I love that my parents considered both Amanda and Sarah for me because they thought they were unusual names. Right. Just like every other parent of a baby girl in the 80s thought.

    A coworker of mine has a brand new nephew named Brett Michael. My oh-so-polite response to hearing the name was, “Like the Rock of Love guy?”

  16. I hate hate hate the names Mackenzie and Madison, and every horrible variation on the spelling of them. While we are at it, I hate unnecessary Ys, Ks and Zs in girls’ names. Stop doing it, idiots. It doesn’t make your kid “unique”.

  17. Do you have names that you hate for no reason?

    No, I’m pretty sure I have reasons for all the names I hate – I just may not be aware of those reasons.

    Do you think you judge people based on their names?

    Oh yes – there was that study that sent out job applications that were identical except for the having “white” names vs. “black” names on them. Epic failure of racial equality.

    Doh! misread the question. No, of course I don’t judge people by their names – I judge their parents! Unless they picked their own name…

    Am I making too big a deal of this? Is a name really that important?

    Names are important. But if you are not up to the full responsibility, you could give your child only a first and last name at birth, then allow them to choose their own name at whatever you consider an appropriate age. Somewhere from 14 to 18?

    BTW Congrats!

  18. On the Pet Names thing:
    My wife wants to get a Rhodesian Ridgeback only so she can name it Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback from Harry Potter.

    @Peregrine:
    Kahless the Unforgettable is a wonderful name for a gerbil or hamster. The irony alone is worth it.

  19. My name is quite common, but if I give it to someone who is writing it down, I’ll often screw with them a bit by saying “It’s David… with a silent 3.”

    The half-second their pen stops while they process that is usually the highlight of my day. Really.

  20. I have a friend who’s last name is Ware. We used to joke that he should name his son Who What, and nickname him Huh?

    So when he was at school during roll call he would get “Who What Ware?” and could reply “Huh?”

    I also suggested that the family dog get named Be.

    Needless to say, my suggestions were not considered.

  21. @antoinettemarie:

    I think one of my friends has a good name game plan. He’s going to think of a name and then think of every possible way it can be made of by other kids (for example, “Dick” is just out of the question).

    This seems like a good idea… until you actually get to naming your kid-to-be and realize there is no way to avoid kids turning any name into something ridiculous… seriously, when I was a kid, even though the best they could come up with was “Elyse the Chief of Police”, it didn’t stop them from saying that in the meanest way possible.

    Certainly you should avoid names like “Douche Lord” and “MaxVag”, but at some point, you just have to surrender to the third graders.

  22. I agree with Zapski about avoiding intentionally eccentric names. Unfortunately, Elyse, the three boys’ names that are ‘still on the table’ all seem like names that a kid would end up regretting for most of their lives, and just end up asking people to call them “Jim” or something. Hopefully those we just humor, and you’re not trying to go the Penn Gillette route for child-naming. Strange-ass names are fine for, say, a new character you’re creating for a D&D campaign – that’s all about expressing your artistic side. But, for something that somebody else is going to have to live with, ‘Voltron’ and the like just seem like a weight you’d be putting around their neck, just to please yourself.

  23. Aaaawww, why are people hating on MacKenzie so hard? That is one of my favorite names. I admit it’s biased, since I have never met a MacKenzie that I didn’t like, but still, why the hate?

    No matter, I have the perfect name:

    Max Power

    Or is that too much awesome for one baby?

  24. And I just had a woman get annoyed at me for misspelling her name. Her name was pronounced TO-mi-KA, much like our Asst. Manager. I tried spelling it Tomika. Then Tamika. Then, she got off the phone long enough to say it’s “Tamica”.

    If your name isn’t one most people are likely to know, hang up the goddamn phone and spell it.

  25. Depends on what you want to train your new child into being for the rest of his life. If you want him/her to be a movie star, then something like Rocky Gonads or if it’s a girl and you want an exotic flair, Pezón Montaña.

    Whatever you and the super-fantastic Brian name him/her, that baby is gonna get spoiled and loved (and i dont mean that in a “werewolfy-imprint kind of way) lots. :)

  26. Richard is a tough name to live with, esp if you are somewhere in a line of them in your family. No matter where you turn, there are jokes.

    Irrational dislike of names? Yes, I’m guilty. Bea, Cuthbert, Letitia and Randall are in the top 10.

    Maybe online communication makes names important in a different way. I judge people by their avatars, too. :P

    Names are important, but they are not permanent. Teasing will come and go with anyone’s name.

  27. @sowellfan:

    Nutella and Profiterole are classics. They’ve worked so well for the foods that I can’t imagine them not working for a little boy. And they’ll be great on top of a resume! Who wouldn’t hire someone that reminds them of something delicious every time he signs an email? (assuming they still email in 25 years)

    It’s not like I’m naming him something disgusting like Calamari Bananas Foster, Taco Bell or worse… Jayden!

  28. I was just thinking about this the other day. There are certain names that are so associated with famous people that a stigma is attached to the name. Adolph, Winston, Pablo, etc. Some conotations aren’t bad, but there is an expectation.

    I kind of like Flynn myself, but no matter the name the nickname (boy or girl) will have to be squirrel.

  29. I’m assuming that since Sal M. is out, that Phil is also out.

    I have a penchant for names of my grandfather’s and great grandfather’s generations. Oliver, Maxwell, (Max 1 and Max 2?), Alexander, Samuel… You could also go with the pop culture references and name him something like Snake Eyes, or Megatron. That might be a little weird though. If all else fails, you could name him Daniel… you know, cuz that name is pretty awesome.

  30. Basically, I very much dislike “common” names. Only because I think that lacks imagination and doesn’t help your kid stand out in any unique way. I hated my name growing up but now I LOVE it and fully appreciate what my Mom was trying to do (Stevie).

    I have the BEST name for a boy — but I don’t want to say it because I am waiting to see if I have a second child :-P I named my little girl Olive because it’s still a normal name, but not common enough to have 10 other children in her class. I also think it makes her sound like she should be in a book like A Series of Unfortunate Events, er something.

    My Great/Grandfather (can’t remember which) was named Harry Whitehead . . .

  31. @Ubermoogle:

    Psssst…

    Off the table are: Cory, Phil, and Sal M. Anders. If we do not come to an agreement by the time the baby is born, we will go with the default Isl Anders.

    …. It’s hard to find since it’s all hidden there in the middle of like 200 words. ;)

  32. I feel like I possibly made a mistake in allowing my child’s father to pick her name. He chose Leilani for his Hawaiian ancestry… but:

    A.) she looks not the least bit ethnic, so the name seems a bit like a non-sequitor. Guess my genes were dominant.
    B.)her name shortened is naturally “Lani.” The “i” makes me feel like I’m a teenage single mother, and she should prepare for a life on the pole. Dangling “i”s are just trouble.

    Alas.

  33. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive my cousin for giving his daughter the name Diamond-Marie (yes hyphenated). It’s awkward and sounds like a stripper’s stage name. I went to school with a boy named Ransom (really, why?). Also fraternal twins named Zebediah and Diadem.

    I like some creative names but most are just trying too hard. This is another on a long list of reasons I don’t want a kid, I agonize enough over naming my pets.

  34. I am lucky enough to be blessed with a last name that is also a first name. I have heard every variation on “Ah, The Man With Two First Names!” that exist. It’s not my family’s fault, but the fault of immigration services, just like in The Godfather.
    There are certainly names that I used to like, but then I met someone with that name who was a douchebag and ruined the name for me.

  35. To be fair, there are older names that aren’t in fashion anymore that still sound nice and uncommon, without getting into the new-age-space-beatnik range, or into the soap-opera-stripper motif as well.

    A name that’s foreign could be nice, if it has a more common derivative. When I was in my first marriage, the Ex and I would discuss names that could work in both her native language (Korean) and English. I was especially partial to Mira as a girl’s name, but we never really did find a good boy’s name that fit that guideline very well.

    @OneHandClapping: Re: Max Power – I have a friend, last name Powers, who named his daughter Mystic. Misty for short. I rolled my eyes at that. Cute kid though, very nice and smart.

  36. I’m not sure what the hell I’d name any kid I had. I don’t really like overuse of the same couple of names based on what your progenitors and their forefathers were named (It’s how I got named William Scott Jones; go ahead and Google for me, you’ll never pick me out of the hundred thousand search results).

    But at the same time, I’m not a fan of the alternative of naming a kid 4 Real or Moxie Crimefighter.

    Teaching has shown me some hilarious names, though. Among them “Azia,” “Cajones,” “Octavia”….

    I can’t for the life of me remember who it was, but one girl’s name was an equivalent of Luxury Yacht (pronounced ‘Throat-warbler Mangrove’). I only saw it written down once, and can’t remember how she spelled it, just that I was perturbed by it.

  37. @Elyse: Yea, Apple, Moon Unit and Shebazzalou. I’m a third and saved my son from being a fourth. When he was born we had settled on Thomas and I can’t even remember why. I do remember that if he’d been born a girl we would have ended up going home from the hospital with no name chosen, we weren’t even close to a short list for a girls name so don’t feel a need to have it all sorted out way in advance. We did go a bit out of the ordinary and gave both of our kid’s two middle names which is apparently more common in the UK. I had a grandfather I really liked and he didn’t have a middle name so his name is my son’s middle name and includes my mom’s maiden name which I like. And using a grandparent’s name can be useful if there an inheritance hanging in the balance!

  38. I’m pretty weird about names. Having worked with kids there are some odd ones out there. My sister has two girls and named them both after Shakespearean characters: Viola and Rosalynd (shortened to Roz). They’re great names, unusual but not weird. Mine’s the same, and no one can spell it (or pronounce it despite the fact that I enunciate clearly whenever I tell it to someone. It’s Sharene, pronounced just like it’s spelled. Easy.

    I love the page http://www.behindthename.com because you can look for names by meaning or ethnic background or whatever. It’s been great for naming pets and such (grey cat – look up “storm” etc) and finding new and interesting variants.
    For boys, I’ve always liked Jeremy, as popular as it is. My friend’s boy children are named Leo, Nova, Seth, Evan, Gabriel, Aiden and Stephen.
    The two bits of advice I’ve heard are
    1. Give your kids a name they can be a rock star or a secretary with (as in no one is going to take a nuclear physicist called Tiffani seriously)
    2. Give your kids a name you can yell out the door when you want them to come inside for dinner. My friend suggests practicing this with the name to ensure you’ve got it right.

    Here’s boy names I like:
    Quinn
    Vaughan
    Vincent
    Marshall
    Zillah (boy or girl)
    Andrew
    Antony

  39. we were not very creative with our kids names. 1st born was in honor of my best friend, 2nd we had to come up with a name before they let us leave the hospital,…. by the time the 5th one came we gave up and just named him Quinton, could have been Quattro since he was born on the 4th of July. Don’t use Dweezil or Moon Unit.
    I have 2 girls names… gene beth… that’s been fun for the last 53 years ;( gotta love my parents, don’t have to love my name.

  40. One of the few good things the Bible is for, as a source of names. Not that there is any religious significance to the name, just that they are then common enough that there is less likely to be abuse over them.

  41. @James Fox: I know a “the fifth,” and he loves it. It’s not a bad thing to have a little history in your name…

    It’s best to give your kids sensible names because they will be judged on them, and it’s usually best to be taken seriously.

    The name I feel most strongly about is my own, Zachary. Here’s a secret; we’re all kind of jerks. Seriously. I have never met another Zach that I actually liked.

    James is also a terrible name, because you never know what to call them. Jim sounds like an old man, Jimmy is that kid down the street that picks his nose at you, and James has a stick up its metaphorical ass. Ugh.

    Any son I have will probably be saddled with “John Donald” because that calls back my two best friends and both of my grandfathers. JD is an easy nickname to live with anyway, so that won’t hurt him much. Little jerk’s gonna eat all my food anyway, he can suck it up.

  42. @Tanstaafl56: The whole ’must name before leaving the hospital’ notion is nothing more than nurses wanting to get their paperwork filled out. You can leave when the child is medically ready and file the birth certificate name info with the state at a later date. Often a state will have a time limit like four or eight weeks before you need to file the info.

    @ZachTP: I even had teachers say , well whoohoo we have a third in the class. Some teachers are asshats. And I guess it’s a good thing James isn’t my real name!

  43. I have FEELINGS about real names spelled incorrectly, such as Aashleigh. No. You want an unusual name, name your kid a real, yet uncommon name. Like Moira.

    I also disapprove of top-20 type names, mainly because the kid will probably go to school with millions of them, and also because everyone will know their age in the future. Names like Tiffany spring to mind.

  44. But seriously. Don’t make it a pun together with your last name. Don’t go cute. You can choose from many foreign names. There’s some lovely nordic ones. Dutch has some english pronouncable ones too. Or just plain Harry. Or Dan. or Jerry… :)

  45. I really enjoyed the names of the brothers in Neil Gaiman’s Stardust; Primus (first born) Secondus, Tertius. My father’s name was Carter, and I like that one, would name a son that if ever I reproduce. My father was worried about naming his kid after himself, because he thought it put a burden on the kid, or didn’t give him a chance at his own identity, or something. I always liked Hazel for a girls name. That is all.

  46. I’ve always liked the name “Jonathan”. However, I think that, whatever you name your son, his middle name should be both something opposing and something that could make cool initials.

    Like, if you wanted to go with something like “Tristan” for a first name, pick something more basic (like “David”) as a second name, so the kid can choose to use either or just abbreviate if he wants (T.D. Andrews sounds like a financial institution or something).

  47. @Austin:

    TD Andrews? Yuck! Good thing my last name is Anders!

    So I guess you wouldn’t approve of Moose’s full name: Maximus Fenway :)

    Tip: unless you want your kid to turn every object in your house into a baseball and/or bat, don’t name him after a baseball stadium… even though I really like the name Voltron Bank One Ball Park.

  48. My name is Heather Weathers, so I hear all the “good” name stories. Such as: Maximus Johnson, Thonqua, Rowdy Male….
    Also, My friend’s last name is Place and his grandfather was in the army. Yeah, Private Place. Heh.
    I thought this might be appropriate to watch:

  49. I’m very fond of a few girls names, but am not really attached to any boys names.

    I’d like to name a daughter after my Swedish great-grandmother, Seari. But I really liked the names of some of the girls I went to school with, Dorilynn and Marcinda. (I was on the Navajo reservation at the time). Though I realize they violate the ‘y’ and ‘i’ rules.

    Of course my hypothetical wife may feel she has some say in the matter, as well.

  50. Look at a web site called the Utah Baby Namer.
    I particularly like the Kingon Ward. Great names that people actually gave their children. As I taught
    high school for a long time, I am with those people who have known dreadful people with almost every possible name. We had a Thor and his brother Odin. I also had a lovely girl named Breezy Summer Day. She was a charming as her name. I knew a kid named Hashley once, too.
    I asked him what his parents were thinking. He said it had more to do with what they were smoking. Good luck.

  51. When my best friend was pregnant with her first (and so far, only) child, I lobbied hard for the middle name “Danger”. What is a middle name for if not fun? Plus he’d have a built in pick-up line for the ladies. I think I had her convinced, but the husband vetoed.

  52. I went to school with two boys with the last name “Case”. They were named Casey Case and Justin Case (really). That’s just mean.
    My husband and I had 6 years of actively trying (in various ways) of becoming parents. We both had “lists” of names that had nice meanings (I like Claudia, but it means “lame”, so it was off the list), and weren’t too popular. When we were told the child available for us to adopt was a boy, we both came up with our 2 favourite names and Adam was on both lists. I think it’s an A+ for meaning; it means “from the red earth”. He was born in Ethiopia (were the soil is reddish). Also, many people instinctively think “first man”, and Ethiopia is where the real “first man” came from. It was right for him on so many levels. Yes, it is on the popular side, but his middle name is an Ethiopian name, Tilahun, which is a very unusual name in Canada.
    On the topics of names that drive me around the bend, I really dislike Mackenzie and Madison. I saw M’kenzie once and just about threw up. People being “creative” with spelling names is a pet peeve of mine as well. Oh, and girls being named “Asia” who are not asian.
    Hmm, maybe you could name your son North America.

  53. I’m suddenly reminded that a family friend has twin daughters named Autumn and August. My favorite season is Autumn and my birthday is in August, so I always thought the names were lovely. I can’t remember them ever getting grief over the uniqueness of their names, either. Then again, they were both really pretty, so they could have gotten away with being named anything, honestly.

  54. My wife is Japanese, so when naming our daughter we also had to worry about the multiple meanings of the characters. Also the fact that names can be represented by several different characters. And we wanted a non-Japanese middle name, so they had to sound good together.

    We went with a not-too-common-but-not-strange name represented by an easily recognized character.

  55. If I were in a baby-making situation with a boy on the way, it would be William all the way. On the one hand, it’s a bit of a family name; plus it has good nickname options (Will, Liam, Bill). Aren’t there any family male names to draw on, or is that too old fashioned? (Or are the family names like Zachariah, Obidayah, Jehosephat or some such?)

  56. As long as the name doesn’t have any blatantly obvious embarrassing nicknames or clashes badly with your last name (like naming your kid Roger Rogerson), then they are okay.
    Kids are always going to find some horrible name for each other – just don’t make it easy for them.

  57. I’ve got a normal name myself – Laura – and I like it a lot. Not sure why, I suppose just because it sounds pretty. My alias, skylyre, which I also like, is a play on words of the constellation Lyra… again because I think it sounds pretty.

    My daughter is named Alivia which I decided on due to the fact that I liked the name Olivia, but not so much the olivey “O” part.

    I don’t really see the fuss over names honestly. My coworker is prego and is going through a ton of names and being worried what other people will think about them, will there be stationary with the name on it, etc. I just say look, if you like Nayanni, then fuck, name her Nayanni. If you like Amber, no that does not mean she’s going to be a stripper.

    If everyone liked the same name.. well we’d all have the same damn name wouldn’t we?

  58. I had only one demand when we named our kids, the name had to flow with the last name. I didn’t care whose last name we used (though that might have been trouble if our kids had different last names from both my wife and I) as long as it scanned.

    How does it look on a business card? On a book cover? A rap sheet? OK, scratch that last one bit if it works for the other two you’re probably covered for everythng else.

    I don’t worry too much about the ridicule factor. Don’t go naming them Erasimus Q. Piddleworth, but kids will find a way to make fun of every one no matter what their name. Don’t use fear as an excuse to deny them a great one.

  59. @skylyre: “If everyone liked the same name.. well we’d all have the same damn name wouldn’t we?”

    Exactly. I mean, I get that we have preferences, but can we please not make people feel bad about their names or the names they give their kids? Just because it has a freakin’ y in it?

    I tell people who don’t like gay marriage not to marry a gay person. Same goes for you: if you don’t like the name MacKenzie, don’t name your kid that – but don’t judge everyone named MacKenzie or who names their kid that just because you don’t like it.

    I personally would never name my kid Amanda or something similar because I hated having such a popular name. That being said, I don’t think everyone who does is an idiot, and I don’t roll my eyes when I hear the name. I’ll probably name my kid(s) after people I love or give them a name I think sounds nice. Biblical names are out because I am not Christian, and really wish Christianity wasn’t woven so deeply into everyday language.

  60. Having an unusual name does require patience. (Hi, I’m Baranduin) Not only for me, but for the people around me who have heard the origin story so many times, they can recite it along with me.

    I have a couple of rules: I cannot be frustrated with someone if there as at least some attempt to get it right. I can be frustrated if they decide to give me a nick name (No. I do not answer to Brandy- do you answer to Fred? Why would I? It’s not my name. I’m George. And my name is not Brandy.)

    I do really like having a different name. I like telling the story of how my parents chose it (and there was much disagreement – I’m really glad Maude Alice didn’t win out.) To carefully select my right name is a wonderful gift my parents gave me.

  61. When my aunt and uncle were expecting their baby, if it was a boy they were considering calling him Fagan after the little boy out of Oliver Twist. No joke. Luckily it was a girl.

    If I ever have kids I’d probably name one something really traditional and one something really wacky as a social experiment. Which is why I shouldn’t have kids.

    My name’s fairly unusual and I’m happy with it (Fern’s my first name) although I have been given endless mispronunciations and spelling mistakes.

  62. My first name is Biblical; it means “devotee of the goddess Neith”. I go by Neith on occasion and by a version of my middle name [Kait] on occasion. Small children have no problem with my name, but adults usually have to have me spell it for them. My surname, however, is fairly common, in that there are towns and other place and product names that use it. That, however, many people mispronounce, frequently turning a good English-since-1066 name into something vaguely Arabian.

    I am, however, very glad that I was not named after my great-aunt Borghild. [Resistance is futile…] I would have liked “Maren”, my grandmother’s name. Or “Halla”. When we didn’t know whether we’d be getting a boy or a girl, those were two names we considered for a girl.

    The name I hate most? “Geoffrey”. I don’t know why; it just annoys me.

  63. Personally, I hated sharing the same name with my father. Something about having always having “Junior” attached to my name really irritated me. Still, it’s better than being named Clyde, which according to my mom was the only other name my dad found acceptable… I have this feeling that my parents weren’t trying very hard.

    If I had a girl I’d probably want to name her Aerin after the heroine in “The Hero and the Crown”. If it was a boy I’d name him Majordomo Executus after the penultimate boss in Molten Core.

  64. @austin

    Like, if you wanted to go with something like “Tristan” for a first name, pick something more basic (like “David”) as a second name, so the kid can choose to use either or just abbreviate if he wants (T.D. Andrews sounds like a financial institution or something).

    My first names are Bruce James, but never ever call my BJ.

  65. @LtStorm: I always thought that Magnus had the coolest name ever. I mean, how did his parents know he’d be the world’s strongest man???

    I absolutely hate the name Jonathan, because every person of that name I’ve ever known has been a douchebag.

    Elyse: Fenway. Despite the fact that it *sounds* kinda cool, it represents the dark side of the force for me (as a diehard Yankee fan), and that I cannot abide. That being said, you did make up for it by naming your son Maximus. Total win there. Voltron is pretty neat, too, but I might go with Wolfgang for a boy and Rachel for a girl. Okay, I know it’s kind of boring but I just love that name.

    BTW, my name (which I’ve learned to love) is Garry (yes, with 2 r’s) but my brother’s name is Barry, so there’s that. My parents were both highly intelligent people, but when it came to naming their kids, not so much.

  66. You are definitely not caring too much about it! I could have an hour-long conversation about the stupidity of most names and which ones irk me and why.

    Sticking extra vowels everywhere and swapping out letters for Ys is definitely the worst. Well, second worst; the worst thing possible is the name “Mackenzie” for a girl. I know 50 people with that for a last name. WHY does everyone seem to think it’s a cutesy name for a girl??

    I have a cousin named Christian and I’ve always felt pretty bad for him. It’s like naming your kid Faith… nothing like setting them up for indoctrination at the get-go, hm?

    Something popular where I’m from is naming children after parents. I’m aware this goes on in a lot of other places, but I have friends who are like, John-Angus the sixth.

    I am extraordinarily picky with names, so it’s a good thing my parents were sensible and I like my own: Amy-Jean. With a Y and no funny business. Although a lot of people seem to have a really difficult time grasping the concept of going by two names, so I get called Amy a lot and as a result I get irritated a lot (clearly you and I have the same pet peeve…)

    Oh, and for the record, I can’t even think of a male name that I particularly like. If I popped out a boy I’d be at a total loss. I am combatting this by planning on never having children ever.

  67. @“Other” Amanda:

    We can have opinions, but not voice them?

    The fact is that the name you choose for your child is a statement about you. It’s like having an unlimited budget and selection of clothing, you can choose whatever you want… no matter what you wear, someone is going to think you look ridiculous. It’s kind of the same thing… except that your kid gets that “outfit” for the rest of his or her life. If you choose to put that kid in a Miley Cyrus T-shirt and a pair of Crocs, don’t be shocked when people raise an eyebrow.

  68. @noisylights: ” It’s like naming your kid Faith… nothing like setting them up for indoctrination at the get-go, hm?

    I also went to school with three sisters: Faith, Hope, and Charity. And they had an older sister named Ann Scarlet. Apparently their parents really liked ‘The Scarlet Letter.’

    On that note, there’s a family in Terry Pratchett’s books who never really grasped the idea. They named all their daughters after virtues, and all their sons after vices; Glutony, Lazy, etc.

  69. I know we had a terrible time figuring out a name for our son. I do think it’s a big deal as there are many preconceptions people have when first hearing certain names.

    My other half is very academically oriented with a fondness for Old English names. His suggestions were things like “Rycroft”, “Hrodbert”, “Mirden” etc. My suggestions were much more of the garden variety so as to avoid the classmate beating factor.

    We eventually found a middle ground, not clobberworthy, but not overly common. It took MONTHS. Xavier Keating seems to like it though.

  70. @weatherwax:

    I actually like the idea of naming children (no just daughters) after a quality that you find desirable. I’ve thought about naming my (future, hypothetical) children things like Wisdom, Intelligence, Reason, or Success, but those just seem too weird. They’re still on the hook for middle names though, if I have enough kids that I run out of relatives to middle-name them after.

  71. @catgirl: My middle name is Walters, after my grandfathers first name (another story). But I always pestered my mom she should have named me Axl, his middle name, after his father. Her response was always “don’t be rediculous! whoever heard of anyone named Axl these days?”

  72. @Lilo:
    I love the Utah Baby Namer, the prescription-sounding ones are my favourite. And “Slaughter”? Gold.
    Hashley? That’s a new one. I’ve met both an Indica and a Sativa. At least “Sativa” means “cultivated”, which has interesting meanings. Indica sounds pretty, but it just means “from India”.

  73. There aren’t many boy names that bother me, but a lot of girl names set my teeth on edge. Ashley, Brittany, Haley, Madison, Tyler, Sierra, and especially Chrystal bug the hell out of me. For some reason, if a girl’s name ends in “lyn”, like Brooklyn, I’m a little annoyed. I can’t really say why these names bother me, other than I see them so often, and they don’t sound like strong names to me. And if those names have a bunch of extra letters tossed in (like many other people have already mentioned) it’s that much worse. I’ve got no problem with most unusual names, if they’re not hard to spell. I know a girl named Tristan, and I love that.
    If by some odd twist of fate I ever wind up with a daughter, I’d love to name her Scarlet Jewel, after my favorite color and my great grandmother. Plus, the two names together make a ruby. It might be a good thing if I never wind up with a daughter, though, since people tend to roll their eyes when I tell them my grand name idea. So I’m just as guilty of thinking up annoying names as somebody with a kid named Haileigh.

  74. I do have name prejudices. I hate made up names. Although I guess every name had to be made up at some point, you need to draw the line somewhere. When I found out a woman I know named her kid Destahnee, I wanted to drop kick her. Her name is Kimbralee though so, maybe it’s genetic.
    If I ever have a kid (which is vanishingly unlikely, as I detest children) a girl would be Prudence Ainslie. Ainslie is mine and my mom’s middle name, so I would want to keep that up, and I absolutely love the name Prudence. It reminds me of the Beatles song, and the nickname Prue is the best thing EVER. Boys names on the other hand I have none. My boyfriend seems to favour Megadeath, Slayer and Satan, so I think boy kids would be a bad idea.

  75. You should definitely name a son Thomas, Paine, or Seth. Just my two cents.

    Names I hate… William and Alexander. I’m ambivalent about George. With reason, I think.

    Perhaps it goes without saying that Benedict is off the table for any number of reasons.

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