Category: Family Names
Today’s Question of the Week is about naming a baby after an older relative or friend or hero.
Did you name your baby after someone in your family — grandparent, great-grandparent, long-ago ancestor, or maybe even yourself?
Or would you choose an honorific as a name for your yet-unborn baby, and if so, which one and why?
Looking at names that were popular in the early days of the U.S. gives us a chance to reflect on how much we have changed and evolved over the last two centuries. We are clearly more multicultural as a society in terms of how many different countries, languages, ethnicities and cultural traditions we draw from in choosing names for our children.
Most of the common names in the early nineteenth century in this country came from the British tradition, and in fact, the lists of popular names would be almost identical for England and America. And yet names were chosen from some of the same sources as today: family histories, celebrities, religious traditions and popular entertainment. The lack of variety or originality of the name lists from this period belies the fact that names were chosen to denote respectability rather than the individuality valued today.
If naming your first child is a challenge, naming baby number two – and maybe three and four – can start to feel like a puzzle. Should you repeat first initials? Should everyone share the same first initial? If your son’s name is a Top 20 standard, is it okay to give your daughter a name that’s never cracked the Top 1000? How about honor names? If your daughter is named after your grandmother, will his grandmother expect to be next?
There’s no right answer, but there is a right choice for every family. This week, sibsets were in the baby name news – and on my mind.
Blame it on a trip to the zoo. We’re lucky enough to live in the Land of Bao Bao, also known as Washington DC, home to the Smithsonian National Zoo. As we crowded into the panda habitat the other morning, parents called their kids’ names. Mostly Sophia, with Noah, Aiden, and Hayden tossed in for good measure.
Look up at the top of this page at the Nameberry Ticker. See it there, above the striped line — the thing that moves from left to right, broadcasting which names people are searching on Nameberry right that very moment?
(If you’re reading this on a phone, sorry, you’re not going to be able to see it. But rush to your nearest computer and check it out right away!!)
We sometimes get mesmerized by the Nameberry Ticker. Sometimes we think: What if we had to choose all our children’s names from the 12 or 14 names that show up on the ticker at any one moment? Could we do it. and what would we choose?
Often, the ticker yields surprisingly compatible choices. A few minutes ago, for instance, I put together a little family of son Blaze and daughters Elodie and Lyra. I could live with that. And now, I’m intrigued by the possibility of sons Lafe and Reynolds along with daughters Tilda and Carmelita.
But what about you? We challenge you to look at the ticker right this very minute and choose your children’s names from the group that’s passing by. You can pick as few as one or as many as a dozen, but you have to like them well enough to really plausibly live with them.
As always, bonus points for telling us your reasons: similar vintage, style, rhythm? Or just the most compatible choices up there at the moment?
Photo from Beverly & Pack via Flickr.
Okay, we know you might not really choose to theme all your children’s names.
But if you had to choose a name theme, which one would you choose?
Would you give all your children names that start with the same letter, like one friend of ours, whose four children’s names all start with Z?
Or maybe you’d cultivate a family of sisters who all charmingly have flower names: Azalea, Magnolia, Lotus. Or perhaps you’d pick color names as your theme, or Irish names, or mythological names, or royal names, or circus-themed names — Barnum, Bailey, and Ring?