Category: Family Names
By Abby Sandel
There’s more than one way to choose an unusual name.
But if you think you’d like something different – maybe even dramatically different – for your child’s name, it can be tough to know where to start.
Here’s a road map with nine different paths to choose an unusual baby name. Celebrities are fond of each one of these strategies, but they’re not exclusive to Hollywood. Anyone can use these same approaches.
Let’s say right up front that we don’t advise naming your daughter Davette to honor Grandpa Dave, or any of the other similarly awkward cross-gender namesake names.
So how do you, did you, can you best choose a name for your baby that honors a relative or friend or hero of the opposite gender?
Some parents simply use the name, as Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard did when they named their daughter Lincoln or several celebrities recently have in giving their daughters the middle name James. But this cross-gender appropriation happens most often when giving male names to girls, which may be inherently sexist — though even the most feminist parent may stop short of naming a son Mary or Patricia, even in the middle place.
So what do you do then, use the name Patrick? Or choose a name that’s more conventionally gender-identified that starts with the same first letter? Or maybe appropriate Grandma Mary‘s maiden name as a first?
There are all kinds of ways of approaches and beliefs on this subject, and we’d like to hear yours.
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?
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?
My husband and I have six kids. If naming babies were an Olympic sport, I’m pretty sure I’d medal. Not necessarily in quality or creativity but in experience.
When we had our first daughter in 2001, choosing her name literally took 5 minutes. My husband suggested Juliet. I loved it immediately but suggested the longer French version, Juliette, because I thought it made a better balance with our short, somewhat masculine-feeling last name. He agreed.
Her middle name was chosen before I was ever even knocked up. In 1998, I was visiting Ireland when a bomb blast in the Northern Ireland city of Omagh claimed the lives of 29 people. One of those souls was that of a little girl named Maura. I made a silent and personal vow to use that name if I were ever to have a baby girl. Also, Maura is the Irish form of Mary and we are Catholic, so it was especially precious to me. We never looked back or second guessed our choice of Juliette Maura.