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Baby Name Rules: What are YOURS?

April 17, 2012 Pamela Redmond

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.

Be real names, spelled the traditional way. I am intrigued by names like Justice or Indigo, but for my own children, I wanted names that were actual names, that had been used for centuries and had long traditions behind them.  And Rory had to be Rory and not Rori.

Have some meaning beyond simply sounding nice. My children’s names didn’t need to be family names, per se. Rory is Irish (my ethnic heritage) and means red, which relates to my maiden name Redmond. Joseph is a family name on both sides. Owen was my grandfather’s middle name and he’s got Redmond as his middle name.

Nameberry’s baby name rules are, not surprisingly, not so different from my own as Linda and I tend to think alike on most things name-related. While we’ve detailed them throughout the site on many different topics in many different ways, a few general rules we subscribe to are:

No yooneek names and spellings.

The parents get to choose the name and should let no one else pressure them into or out of a choice.

Family or other deep meaning trumps style and popularity. So if your dear grandmother’s name was Isabella, who cares that it’s Number 1? Go ahead and use it.

But what we really want to know is what are YOUR baby name rules? And (if you’re so inclined), where did they come from? And how have they worked out?

About the author

Pamela Redmond

Pamela Redmond is the cocreator and CEO of Nameberry. The coauthor of ten bestselling baby name books, Redmond is an internationally-recognized name expert, quoted and published widely in such media outlets as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show,, CNN, and the BBC. Redmond is also a New York Times bestselling novelist whose books include Younger, the basis for the hit television show, and its new sequel, Older.

View all of Pamela Redmond's articles

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