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Category: baby name mistakes

Question of the Week: What was I thinking?

whatwasithin

Yes, that’s the question of the week:

Is there a name that you were seriously considering for your child that you now can’t believe you ever contemplated using?

Was it a fleeting idea or did it remain high on your list?

So what were you thinking?

And what got you to come to your senses?

Care to share?

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mistakehelgaweber

There are few things more thrilling in life than having your first baby.  But newbie baby namers are prone to making some mistakes that more experienced name choosers are able to avoid.

If you’re choosing a baby name for the first time, don’t make one of these 7 common mistakes:

1. Believing that the names that were popular – and creative – when you were a kid still have the same status.

Name tastes have changed radically over the last decade or two.  Goodbye, Jessica and Josh, hello Layla and Serenity, Landon and Tristan – all Top 100 names.

2. Thinking that the playground rules are the same as they were back in the day.

Kids no longer get teased for having names that are unique, androgynous, exotic, or hard to pronounce or spell.  Rather, name diversity is celebrated.

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These Names Mean Trouble (Literally!)

upsidedownbaby

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we choose a name that’s just a – well, not a mistake, exactly. In many ways, it might be a perfectly lovely name. Except for that little black cloud hovering over it.

If you’re aware of the cloud – and by cloud, we mean things like an unsavory meaning or disreputable association – then fine. You’ve consciously considered the down side of the name and chosen to embrace it anyway. That’s cool.

The problem comes in if you pick a name and then find out three months or three years down the road that there’s something wrong with it. Something that makes people look at you – or worse, your child – strangely when the name is announced.

That’s when we call it a mistake.

Baby names that might elicit an Oooooops include:

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oprah

This week, Abby Sandel of  Appellation Mountain serves up some invented baby names that came about through accident or misunderstanding, but which are accepted as the real thing today.

Wednesday, May 25 is a big day for the small screen.  After twenty-five years as the reigning queen of daytime television, Oprah Winfrey will broadcast her last show.  She’s not headed from retirement – far from it.  Ms. Winfrey commands a media empire, from her own television network to magazines to Harpo Productions, responsible for everything from feature films to satellite radio shows.

The story about her given name is well known.  Born in rural Mississippi, her aunt chose the name Orpah from the Book of Ruth, and that’s the name recorded on her birth certificate.  But Orpah never really stuck, and family and friends morphed the Biblical obscurity into a whole new name, destined for greatness.

Oprah isn’t the only name formed by a happy accident.  Sometimes they’re actual errors made by the officials responsible for issuing birth certificates.  Basketball player Antawn Jamison was supposed to be named Antwan – the phonetic spelling of Antoine – but his parents decided they liked the mistake.

Invented baby names get a bad rap, but there are a surprising number of mistakes, flukes, and misinterpretations that have led to some well-established names.

GIRLS

Annabel – She first appears in medieval ScotlandAmabel, Mabel, and other names based on Amabilis – an early saint’s name from the Latin for lovable – were common.  Annabel appears to be either an error in recording, or possibly a sign that creative baby namers have been at work for centuries.

Aveline – Parents are rediscovering her as something of an Ava-Adeline smoosh, but she was used in medieval England, either from the Germanic element avi – desired, or possibly from the Latin avis – bird.  She’s also the forerunner of Evelyn.

CoralineNeil Gaiman’s heroine was originally called Caroline.  The author explained that he mis-typed the name in an early draft and decided it suited his character.

ImogenWilliam Shakespeare’s Cymbeline is loosely based on a real-life king of the Britons.  King Cymbeline has a daughter called Imogen – except that Shakespeare almost certainly called her Innogen, from a Gaelic word for maiden.  Despite references to Innogen in the Bard’s notes, Imogen is used almost exclusively today.

Jade – She’s an ornamental stone and a popular choice for daughters in recent decades.  The Spanish name was originally piedra de ijada – stone of the flank.  It was thought that jade could cure ailments of the kidneys.  In French, piedra de ijada became l’ejade, and the English interpreted it as le jade.  Jade has been the English name for the stone since the 1600s.

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5 Mistakes Even Smart Baby Namers Make

vintagebrain

Ever feel like you’re a baby name klutz and that there are other, infinitely smarter baby namers out there who do everything right and magically arrive at the perfect name with no fuss or wrong turns?

Not true.  Here are the five most common mistakes even the smartest baby namers make.

1.     They try to psych out the Social Security list.

There’s something about naming a baby that can inspire even the most math phobic among us to turn to the Social Security list of most popular names and try to deconstruct it with the precision of an actuary.  But baby name ups and downs depend on much more than statistics, and you can drive yourself crazy trying to psych out the numbers in search of the name that’s unusual but not too weird, stylish but not in danger of getting overpopular.

How better to find names that achieve the golden mean?  By consulting nameberry, of course.

2.     They’re afraid to tell anyone their name ideas.

Many parents today keep their favorite names secret in fear of namenapping or harsh critiques, and that can be a smart thing in some cases.  But it can also keep you from learning a name’s pitfalls, such as that nobody can understand what you’re saying unless you spell it, or that it’s prone to mispronunciation, or that there are three little girls with that name in the local nursery school.

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