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.
Are you lucky enough to know the names of your great-grandparents?
They were born in Ireland and Austria and Scotland and right here in the U.S.A., and their names make a combination of classic standards and intriguing vintage names. Plus at least one great-grandmother had an intriguing maiden name that might work as a middle: Early. Love it.
What were your great-grandparents’ names? Do you know anything about their names or the lives of those more distant ancestors? Where did they come from and what did they do? Would you name a child after them?
Here, some notable names of famous people’s fathers.
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.