Naming Conventions

We’ve started closing off a lot of the stress items in the last two weeks: Where to live, where to give birth, will we sleep in July (we won’t) but the one that’s still outstanding is what to name our impending son. Names last a long time. Like, pretty much your whole life.
The big problem, of course, is that we hadn’t thought much about boy’s names. For some reason we got it into our heads early on that there was a girl on the way. Both of us were squirrelling away a super-secret list of awesome girls names that we were going to bust out at the second ultrasound. When the doctor gave us the news it took us both by surprise. For the next 3 days my mind struggled to come up with a name, but just ended up stuck in this obnoxious loop.

Jerome has since been removed from the list.
So, we’ve headed back to first-principles, and started by drafting a list of naming conventions by which to judge a name. Every time I’ve heard a male-ish name since then I’ve run it past these checks to see if it can make the short list.
Must be uncommon – but not too uncommon
We both grew up with pretty common names. My wife actually shared her name with 20% of the ladies in her graduating class. My name was common enough to warrant a song. Consequently, we are looking for something unusual, but not so unusual that a pronunciation lesson must accompany every first handshake.
And thus, Dave, Sarah, Bob, Tom and Xobile were struck from the list.
Should have a respectable shortform
Richard is not on the list for obvious reasons. However, we are also striking monosylabic names like John as they aren’t easily shortenable.
Should not imply a future career
Names like Cletus and Bubba come with a big rig license. What if he wants to become a Doctor, or a Prime Minster (Please welcome Prime Minister Leeroy!)
By the same token, Sarah is a little against the grander options, like Augustus and Percival, for fear his feet won’t fill the shoes that came with the name.
Must avoid obvious social memes
One of the really interesting things about baby names, is that there are huge trends in baby names that occur without people realizing. Normally what will happen is that some movie, book or band will come to popularity with an obscure name, and the world collectively thinks “Wow, Brittney is a really unique name. I’m looking for a unique name for baby. I bet no one else will think of this…”
Sadly, this sometimes leads to the axing of really great names. Isabella and Jacob and Edward used to be great names for a kid. But, no longer. Thanks Twilight!
Must avoid less obvious social memes
There’s also a certain set of names that fall into a very specific genre that we are trying to avoid. Nerd-names. And by that, I don’t mean Poindexter, I mean names that implicate the kids parents as openly geeky.
For example – I once worked with a woman who tried very hard to hide her middle name, Arwen, whenever possible. With a name like that, it came as no surprise that her parents were SCA members from a Science background.
This one might be the most difficult though, as these names tend to feel pretty natural for us. We got caught off guard one evening when debating the top three list of Patrick, Xavier and Jean-Luc. Not that there’s anything wrong with any one of those, but we definitely had to re-examine their merits once we found the thread.
Also shed from the list, Logan, Tiberius, Luke, Han, Xander, Fox, and a few others.
The List
The list so far is short, and a little Irish. But, we are managing to make some progress. In the end though, it will be in my hands. The one responsibility that is definitely attributed to the Father is the name registration after the baby is born, as this must be done within 3 days of birth, and the mom is very unlikely to want to stand in line at city hall at that point.
I guess that power is probably tempered a little bit by the realization that at some point, you’ve got to tell your wife.
In any case wish us luck, and feel free to make suggestions in the comments area!

2 thoughts on “Naming Conventions

  1. your list could be further refined, no?what about:1. unisex names?2. "ethnic" names that are common enough for people to know how to pronounce them

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