Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Baby Names!

I have an insane list of requirements for baby names. So long, in fact, that almost no name actually FITS all the criteria and I end up falling in love with some name that breaks half the rules. It’s quite convenient when shooting down names Thomas likes, though. The name he’s proposing always breaks at least ONE of the criteria, so I have a “legitimate” reason to veto. Plus, he doesn’t argue, because he agrees with almost all, if not all, of the rules (and came up with several of them).

Anyway, here’s the list. As you can see, Meg’s name breaks several of the rules.

1. Can’t start with M, as our last name does. This is one of my more important rules and I spent MONTHS agonizing over M’s name. I love it and desperately wanted to use it, but didn’t know if I could deal with the double M’s. It has turned out to not be a problem at all. Doesn’t bother me. But this is now called THE UNBREAKABLE RULE as I do not want people thinking I deliberately choose M names so my children will all be little MM’s. NO WAY. It’s proving to be a problem again, because both Thomas and I like the name Matthew, but neither of us are in love with it enough to break the rule.

2. Can’t have a nickname that ends in ‘ie’ (or y). This is more of a guideline than a rule. Its more Thomas’ rule than mine, since being called Tommy makes him SO ANGRY you can’t believe it. Actually, I can, because if you call me Jessie, I swear, I’ll punch you. Strangers almost never do that, though, while they sometimes do say Tommy, which is why Thomas is more passionate about it than I am. It was his most important rule last time, but it has been waaaaay downgraded, since last time we ended up choosing Meg’s name with the intention of calling her Maggie all the time (we don’t – it didn’t stick). We felt Maggie was more ‘grown up’ than Tommy or Jessie. Do you know any adult that actually goes by Tommy or Jessie all the time? (Assuming it isn’t a GUY named Jesse, which is way different.)

For this rule, it’s also important to clarify we’re usually talking about the most common nickname a name has. As an example, someone named Matthew could be called Matty, but he’s much more likely to be called Matt, so the name passes the test.

3. Must be a short-ish name, because our last name is long-ish. Our last name is 9 letters, which isn’t terribly long, but if you pair it with a really long first name, can be too much. Again, Meg’s (real) name doesn’t pass this rule.

4. Can't have been one of the top 10 baby names in recent years.  Preferably not top 20. This is Thomas’ rule. Jessica was the number one girl’s name the year I was born and I don’t care AT ALL. At one point in elementary school there were 3 Jessica’s in my class of 80 students and it didn’t bother me. If you have to call me Jessica N all the time (Jessica M, now that I’m married), that’s fine with me.

I am ever-so-mad, because our second girl name, which we’ve had picked out since before Meg was born, is climbing the top 100 list rapidly. I want people to stop using MY baby name.

5. Must be a commonly accepted name FOR A PERSON. We are not naming our child “Seven” or “Soda,” no matter how much my husband loves George Costanza (from Seinfeld). Also out: Apple, Rain, Sunday, etc. (Although I do think Sunday is a cute name.) (And yes, I know the inspiration for Sunday Kidman-Urban’s name was an actual historical person, not the day of the week, but I still can’t do it.) (No, that doesn’t mean I think other people shouldn’t do it. It’s just not for me.) Interestingly enough, I do like names that are also cities/locations, like Brooklyn, London, Sydney, etc. (Not Paris, though.)

6. Must be very easy to pronounce. Our last name is ridiculously hard to pronounce. No one EVER gets it right and most of the time they don’t even try. Can you imagine if every time you met someone new, they struggled with your first name AND your last name?

7. Must be easy to spell and must use the most common (or at least a commonly accepted) spelling. For instance, if we were to name our child Aiden (which we’re not), we would spell it Aiden, not Ayden or Aydin or Aedin. This is partly my own preference, partly to do with our last name. Not only can people not pronounce it, they can’t spell it and I think it would stink to constantly be correcting the way both your first AND last names are spelled. We have to give the kid ONE name that’s easy to spell and pronounce.

Note: I’m not saying if we chose the name Caroline, we’d have to pick whichever is currently the more popular of Caroline or Carolyn – both are commonly accepted spellings, so either is fine. Karolinn, not so much.

8. Can’t be the name of a (uniquely named) character in a very popular TV show/movie/book. I love the name Addison. LOVE. But, not only is it trendy right now, it’s too Grey’s Anatomy/Private Practice. Also out: Hermione.

And, of course, you’ve got your obvious rules: can’t rhyme with our last name, initials can’t spell something bad, no obvious playground-taunting nicknames, can’t be the name of someone Thomas or I don’t like, etc.

I’m sure there are more rules I’m forgetting right now, but that’s at least most of them. It’s a wonder we came up with two girl names and no surprise we can’t come up with even one boy name. If this baby is a boy, we’re in big trouble.


  1. OK I have another rule for you. Sorry to add complexity. I think you should google the full name and make sure there isn't an axe murderer or a porn star with the same name. We really liked the name Cassidy but there was a Cassidy w/our last name who's a porn star that came up #3 on the google search. So that was unfortunate.
    I had the not in the top most popular names rule but we obviously threw that out with Anna.
    Good luck!

  2. FYI, Caroline and Carolyn are two different names. Since I used this name for one of my children, I feel I am obliged to point this out. One is pronounced Care-oh-line and the other is pronounced Care-a-LINN. There is a difference. It is two names. But it doesn't sound like you're planning to use it anyhow, so I guess it doesn't matter. But much like you hate "Jessie" I hate it when people confuse those 2 names.

    I've heard the La-a urban legend before. I roll my eyes.

    I like your rules. I had a few of my own when I started naming kids. Of course, I am a name enthusiast, so when we got pregnant, I handed my husband a list that had 70 names on it. He handed it back and said he wouldn't look until it was much shorter.
    I actually like the pop culture references, as long as the name isn't in the top 100. I would have possibly used Addison if it didn't mean "child of Adam" and I had an Adam as an ex-boyfriend.

  3. My only rule for naming was that I wanted to be able to see myself yelling it out the back door in 15 years. So I ended up with Henry and Spencer. No girls, but I'd probably be looking at Claire, Sylvia, Margaret, Lillian or Annabelle. Probably not the last one but it's a holdover from when my husband was in love with the name Isabel for EVER even when it hit the top 10 and I said no. Thankfully I never had to have that fight since we didn't have girls.