Category: Navigating Name Problems and Disputes
Welcome back to Nameberry’s newest column, The Name Sage. Every week, I answer one reader’s questions about naming a baby-on-the-way, or general baby name angst. We’d love it if you would add your thoughtful suggestions and comments to help expectant parents decide. Want to see your question featured? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As she’s shared the name with others, their reactions have been overwhelmingly negative. It’s too “old lady,” a name for a granny, not a new baby girl.
And so, the question is: What do you do when most of the people around you don’t like a name you love?
It’s a fact that my mother actually refused to tell her friends what I had chosen to call my third child. Instead she took the “I don’t think she’s decided yet” option. Which got a bit lame after about six months. She was actually mortified by our choice of name for each of the three children, but this last one was obviously one step too far.
We were intrigued by the question posed on the forums by jackal, who loves the name Ingimar, well-known in her native Iceland, but wonders whether she should give her son-to-be a name that travels more easily, like Robert or Matthias.
Jackal’s question came down to head vs. heart: Which is the best way, the right way to choose a baby name?
Of course, if your heart and head align in your name decision, that’s the ideal. But often the name we love, the name we want in our gut has some issue: it’s hard to pronounce or it doesn’t work with our surname or our partner doesn’t like it or we fell in love with it long ago but it’s since gotten too popular.
And then our head steps in, proposing the name that flows better, or the name that is immune from teasing, or the name that honors your beloved grandpa even though, ouch, Floyd…
When my husband and I had our first child thirteen years ago, choosing her name was one of the easiest decisions we made. We struggled more with the paint color of her nursery and which diapers we’d go with than her name. I knew that I wanted to use Maura somewhere in there but I wasn’t adamant that it had to be in the first name slot. We casually tossed around a few names that we liked, a couple that we didn’t hate and several that were absolutely off the table.
One day, my husband mentioned Juliet which I knew instantly was going to be our sweet wee girl’s name. Only, I wanted to spell if Juliette as it seemed a bit more feminine and I liked that it was a tad longer next to our short, masculine last name Wood. So that was it. It was very casual and stress-free and done.
I did consider that she may be teased as she grew older about the Romeo and Juliet association, but, really, that seems like a pretty awesome thing to be teased about to me. I can think of about a thousand worse things to be made fun of for… like the guy I went to high school with named Richard Head. When several of the boys in our school realized that Dick is a nickname for Richard…sheesh. I felt awful for him. A name used in a Shakespeare play seemed pretty benign, if not totally cool, to me.
Your mouth popped open.
Your jaw dropped.
You simply could not believe what your mother, your spouse, your college roommate, that stranger on the message board said about your baby’s name….or your own.
What’s the most outrageous, insulting, ignorant, ridiculous thing anyone has ever said to you about a name?
If you’ve been lucky enough not to be on the receiving end of a crazy name statement, what have you overheard someone else saying?