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Category: baby name rules

Baby Name Rules: What are YOURS?


We were intrigued by this thread on baby name rules over on the Nameberry forums, where visitors detail their personal and family rules for choosing names.

It made us want to write down our own baby name rules; I mean, our personal rules as well as Nameberry’s rules.

As a mom, I’d say my rules for my kids’ names were that they:

Sound distinct from each other. My husband’s family has a Tom and a Tim, a Jane and a John, and I wanted to avoid that kind of matchy-matchy thing.  So one of my first rules was that my kids’ names sound very different from each other. I didn’t anticipate that Rory, Joseph, and Owen would end up being called Ro, Joe, and O.

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baby name rules

Today’s guest blogger, writer Jon Finkel, has come up with his own idiosyncratic set of baby-naming rules—see if you agree.

With the average life expectancy in the United States pushing 80 years, picking the wrong name for your kid could turn out to be an eight-decade mistake. Think about that. In eighty years you’ll be dead; the house you lived in, the cars you drove, the clothes you wore, will probably all be recycled, rebuilt or destroyed; but your son, who is now living in an old-age facility in 2091, has to go by the name Mason S., because Mason A., Mason G., Mason L. and Mason P. live on the same floor in his retirement home, were all born in 2011 and also had parents who went the unoriginal route and simply picked the trendiest name available.

So though Mason is a solid name, when it comes to your child in 2011, unless you have always loved Mason, or you are named Mason (or work as a mason) and your son is going to be a Mason Junior or a mason, the name is just too popular. This thought led me to compose what I’ll call “The Not Another Mason and Other Rules for Baby Naming” list.

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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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9 Timeless Rules for Naming Your Baby


On this 98 degree day, I’m doing the only chore that makes sense: cleaning the basement. That’s how, deep in a dusty box, between my now adult daughter’s kindergarten drawings and my ancient college essays, I found a draft of the proposal for our very first baby-naming book.

What struck me most about our early work was a list of rules for choosing the perfect name, as relevant today as they’ve ever been — and will continue to be. Whether your taste in names tends toward the traditional or the trendy, whether you’re picking between a few finalists or still playing the vast field, these guidelines should help:

1. Start Thinking of Names Early — Make some tentative decisions, and live with them for a while. If you’re tired of a name after two months, imagine how you’ll feel after 20 years.

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Breaking the Hundred-Year Rule

It’s one of the unwritten rules of baby names–well, actually it’s been written more than once, including by us–that it takes a century for a name to feel fresh enough again to be used for an infant, to no longer sound like a mommy name (Jennifer) or grandpa (Irwin) or great-grandma (Ethel) name.  This might account for the recently rejuvenated returns of Alice and Grace and Frances, Josephine and Emma, Ruby, Beatrice, Leo and Charlie–all of which were in the Top 50 in 1908.

But rules were made to be broken, and a hundred years is a long time for a name to wait in the wings.  It’s actually not that hard to find examples from every decade of the 20th century, popular from the 1910s through the 1980s, that are worth a new look–even if some of the early ones sound a little fusty and funky, and others sound a little only-yesterday.  So, from way back when to nearly now:

1910s: Geneva, Hazel, Mabel; Oscar, Clyde, Otis

1920s: Nellie, Pearl, Viola; Calvin, Chester, Russell

1930s: Pauline, Patsy, Lula; Floyd, Lowell, Felix

1940s: Penny, Kay, Lydia; Archie, Mack, Rex

1950s: Roxanne, Laurel, Ginger; Terry, Perry, Patrick

1960s: Jill, Gwendolyn, Ramona; Marcus, Vincent, Kyle

1970s: Veronica, Tamara, Meredith; Adrian, Ian, Jared

1980s: Miranda, Jillian, Felicia; Logan, Luke, Omar

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