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.

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?

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57 Responses to “Baby Name Rules: What are YOURS?”

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Dove14 Says:

April 17th, 2012 at 11:10 pm

I have similar rules, except that I avoid popularity like the plague. 🙂

TinaBina Says:

April 17th, 2012 at 11:20 pm

One of my rules are it has to come from me and DHs heritage, ie French, Japanese, Scottish, German, Irish and Czech. Both our names are found under the Latin category so that’s ok too. Leaves a lot of options but rules out Spanish, African, Russian and other Asian decent names etc (his Japanese born grandma would be very upset if we chose a Chinese or Korean name for example).

No yooneek speling.

No too popular “right now” meaning it can be classic and well known but not the top right now. It’s not that I dislike the names, I love a lot of them but I like to live a little bit on the wild side.

Nothing that can be nicknamed Al either 🙂 I’m sure once were pregnant we’ll establish more significant rules too.

Darci Says:

April 17th, 2012 at 11:27 pm

Nothing in the top hundred popularity, if it’s in the 100-200 range, it depends on how quickly it’s been moving up (I escaped naming my daughter Addison back when it was number 160 this way).

Unusual is good, but the more unusual it is, the easier it should be to pronounce by looking at it. There also has to be a reason behind it-no unsual for the sake of being unusual.

No yooneek spellings.

Unfortunately, no nature names (my surname is Day).

No one syllable names (sounds weird with my last name).

The middle name is the place for family names, super popular names, nature names, and really odd or difficult to pronounce names. Also a good place to honor my Hispanic heritage.

wootz Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 12:04 am

Just mainly that the we really love the names and that they have had thought put into them, and mean something to us. My Mom thought I was going to be a boy, and so my name was last minute, not given any real thought and means nothing to anybody in my family. It has always bugged me. I always knew I’d be able to tell my kids how and why they were named the way they were.

danahc Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 12:46 am

Flow is probably most important to me. For example, my husband and I both like Kirk (boy) and Esme (girl), but they sound HORRIBLE when paired with our last name. It all runs together. A personal rule for me is no jr.’s for a boy. Everyone in my family has done this. My cousins are in their 30s and 40s and still being referred to as “little x”. A.J. works as a NN because of my husband’s name. So, I might be swayed on that one.

amandaberry Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 1:33 am

My name rule are different between the boys and girls. But with both I like to honor special family and friends.
It must have a continuous sounding flow for girls, and a more choppy sounding boys.

Girls: Feminine First name, prefer “a” endings, no consonant endings. First girl will be named after my grandmother. The girls will have two middle names because I love so many girls names and it feels elegant with a longer name. One middle name per girl is reserved for honoring a couple of my best friends.
Boys: Simple, short, strong, very masculine first name, one or two syllables only which honors my grandfather and maiden name. Nothing too nontraditional. Middle name less well known but still not unheard of, one honors my husband but a variation on his name.

blaire_em Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 2:15 am

My rules are just basic guidelines, I’m pretty all over the place with my taste in names so I have to be a little flexible with rules.

1) Has to be below the Top 100 (except Morgan for a girl, which is currently #56 but I can’t seem to take it off my list)
2) Has to be a real name with a rich history
3) Has to have personal meaning to me or my husband, something that makes the name special.
4) Can’t end in -son or -sen, because of our last name
5) Preferably a Welsh/Celtic or Hebrew origin (based on our ethnic backgrounds and on sound)

No middle name rules though, anything goes.

theNAMEgirl Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 5:50 am

For my son we wanted to use a D initial (to go with his surname), and I needed it to be a strong sounding name that was a real name but rare (never in the top 1000 names). I avoided the -n ending, because to me it sounds too soft. For a girl we would still want a real name that is rare with a D initial, and not necessarily a frilliana name.

Oddly enough, I wrote about Character Naming Guidelines in my blog today.

xiabelle Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 6:14 am

With some flexibility:

Not ridiculously popular. We tried to stay out of the top 100, but would have been willing to go up to top 50. I do lean more traditional with boy names though.

Different, but classic.

Any unusual spellings had to have a reason and also had to be legitimate (example: Katharina was our #2 name. It’s different but still familiar and draws from German as well as Shakespeare.)

More than one syllable

Girl names had to have strength to them; boy names had to be distinctive in some way.

We had to like the potential nicknames. I love Thomas and Daniel, but despise Tom and Dan.

Our daughter is Vivian. We’d had it picked out since before we got married. The rise in popularity irked us some, but we decided we were comfortable with it, and I don’t think it’s going to shoot up much past where it is now.

Dantea Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 6:58 am

Our rules are similar to the ones in the blog.

1. The names had to be distinct. My husband has several siblings and listen to their names — Cody (my husband), Shelby(b), Brady, Katie, Tracy, Hayden, Jessica (Jessie), and Eric. His dad and uncles — Tony, Billy, Rusty — His grandfather is Larry. We obviously didn’t want that.

2. I wanted the traditional spellings, except with Damien as I believe Damian is the traditional spelling.

3. Every combo had to have a Greek name in it as the Greek culture and ancient religion is special and important to us.

4. The meanings needed to be pleasant and meaningful overall.

JessicaT11 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 7:28 am

I use to have name rules.
1. I would never use anything in the top 20 (and would actually prefer a name not in the top 100).
2. I wanted the middle name to be bold and daring (Blue, Darling, Courage are good examples).
3. And the first name had to be something that would be credible for a middle aged man/woman in a professional setting, (not a NN or cutesy little kid name, because I went to school with a kid whose legal name was Joey not Joseph).

Now that I’m actually pregnant all that went out the window. My main rule is just something I can get my husband to agree to.

That being said our daughter’s name will be Avery Jane. Not something I thought I would ever pick before but we both really like it and it feels right for her.

Trustedwriter Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 7:40 am

Must flow well as a whole name (I’m not as concerned about the FN/LN combo flowing, oddly enough).

FN and MN together must create a meaning I would wish on my child.

No J names because of our surname. 🙁

Nothing too uber-popular, although this isn’t as important and we like a lot of classic names that tend to stick around in the top 50-100, so unless it’s in the top 10-15 I probably wouldn’t balk.

Middle name must be awesome. 😀

Danni Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 7:49 am

I still have a good 5-8 year wait before I have any children, so perhaps by then my naming rules will change. But currently, they are:

1. Although I have a fascination with certain word names at the moment (December, for example), I want my child to have a real name with tradition and roots behind it.

2. Although I really like some traditional and names in the top 50, I want a named that will set my child apart. I don’t want my children to be referred to by their first and last name during their childhood, which happened to me.

3. I want the names to be special and chosen with purpose by my future DH and I. My name was chosen literally at the last second and my mom still can’t tell my why she picked it. That always bummed me out.

4. The first or middle (or both) needs to honor a family member without having a John III. That won’t fly.

5. I am definitely hoping to experimenting a bit with the middle spot 🙂

mermuse Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 7:52 am

My rules are the same as yours. I guess I would also add that I try to avoid popularity. I want my children to feel unique, not just another Madison.

zara-b Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 7:54 am

My (rather long!) list:

BABY NAME RULES

– A legitimate name, spelt correctly
– Not too popular (definitely not in the top 50, and preferably not in the top 100 names in my country)
– Not be a faddish name, or easily representative of a particular era (so unlikely to date)
– Must go with surname
– Doesn’t rhyme with surname
– Neither first or middle names starting with the first letter of surname
– Neither first or middle names ending with the last letter of surname
– Neither first or middle names ending with the first letter of surname
– A name that will suit a baby, a child, a young adult and an elderly person
– Should ideally have a beautiful meaning
– Interesting or meaningful middle names (eg. meaningful family name, named after someone we admire etc.)
– In considering family names for middle names, I would only consider names of family members I have actually known and been close to (so no naming my child after my great, great grandfather who I never met)
– No mind-numbingly common middle names (eg. Rose, Grace, May, James etc.)
– I’m really loving the idea at the moment of the middle name being a place where you can be a bit more creative, and there have been some recent celebrity examples of this, such as Agnes Lark and Arthur Saint, both of which I like.
– Relatively easy to spell and pronounce
– Must not have a negative association (eg. Adolf)
– A name without obvious teasing potential
– Unlikely to cause schoolyard bullying
– A name that has been around for a long time, and has a rich and interesting history
– A name with interesting historical namesakes
– No last names as first names
– Not be used by someone we would expect to see frequently throughout their life
– Nothing that reminds us of someone we don’t like
– Not generate unfavourable initials, or initials that spell out a word
– No boys names for girls, or girls names for boys (though I can think of a couple of exceptions to this rule that I would consider!)
– No names that will always be shortened
– Won’t sound ridiculous or embarrassing if yelled out in the supermarket, at a park etc. (striking off some names I would otherwise like, such as Pallas and Hero…)
– Must look aesthetically pleasing when written
– Should ideally suit: a) a Prime Minister b) a supermodel d) a garbage collector
– Avoid names of well-known celebrities and their babies if possible
– No obvious place names (eg. India, London, Dakota etc.)
– A name I have loved for years, so am unlikely to tire of hearing

SIBLING NAME RULES

– Preferably not give siblings names with the same first initials
– Works with other childrens’ names as a sibset, without being too ‘matchy’
– Doesn’t rhyme with the other children’s names
– Last syllable is different between kids (ie. not Hunter and Archer, Carter and Spencer or Millie and Charlie) – esp. between consecutive siblings
– Have a preference for names with a similar number of letters and syllables, as long as they don’t look too ‘matchy’
– I’m a bit funny about names in the one family (just children’s names) having different origins – eg. a mix of Asian and European names, or even a mix of Continental European and English names. I’ve decided to stick with a European ‘theme’, and conveniently my four favourite names happen to be Italian, French, Greek and Spanish!

*FYI, I have two boys named Luca and Remy

thrallamanda89 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 8:27 am

As somebody who has been obsessed with names since I was a kid, I am really upset with myself for not listing and following some rules when I was naming my two boys. My first son is Pilot. I didn’t get the name from Jason Lee nor did I even realize that his sons name was Pilot. I got it out of an old baby name book. #1 I loved the fact that it was an untouched occupational name. #2 I loved the meaning: guide #3 my grandfather was a pilot. So it definitely fit. And after much deliberation, I finally got my fiancé to like it as well. He’s into more trendy names. But it proved to be more difficult with my second son. We literally stuggled the whole time I was pregnant to agree. It was frustrating. I wanted something just as different and meaningful as pilot and also fitting together well. Instead we settled on Dexter. Which is way to common for my taste but it was better than his choice of Cadence. But now that I look back I honestly wish I would have fought harder. Or looked more. Don’t get me wrong Dexter is a fantastic name and it fits him so well but the pair Pilot and Dexter seem so far from each other in style to me. Dexter also has no meaning to me or my family. And his last name Also ends in er. So I violated almost everyone of my would be rules.
For middle names I like family names so Pilot got two. Pilot David Patrick. And if course I violated that rule with Dexter and made his name Dexter Audio. Mainly because DH wanted his initials to be the same so we needed an A middle name and for me striving for my style I picked Audio. My DH is a recording engineer and producer, so it has meaning.
Sorry. I know it wasn’t meant for me to write my whole story. But now you see why I think rules are important. Here are mine listed out.
1. Different. Never close to the top 100.
2. Flow.
3. Meaning to me or DH.
4. Family name for middle name.
5. Sibs match in style but not in sound.
6. Don’t care if others don’t like it.
7. Don’t settle.

IndianRuby Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 8:42 am

I used to have a lot of similar rules to everyone else. My name is Ashleigh and I was born in the early 90’s so popularity is kind of an issue for me. I am, however, head over heals in love with Lucy, though, so I think now my only rule is finding a name that feels right for my child. I hated the idea of having my childs name be in the top 100 for my country, but Lucy, Rose, Isla and my boys name Felix are all in the top 100 and I don’t even really care anymore. I’d still consider using all of those.

christinanicole14@hotmail.com Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 8:49 am

I am pregnant with my 2nd, our first is named Stratton, a boy of course. We are finding out in a couple weeks we are having another boy (as I suspect)or a girl, so right now I am obsessed with names!

Here are my “rules”.

1. I try to be practical, thinking about how this is not just a name for a baby, but one day will be a name of an adult. I try to think of the name in question on a baby, child, teen, college student (graduation), young adult (looking for a job), married adult (what it will look like on wedding invites), and older person with kids of their own and beyond. . .if it doesn’t seem to fit all those categories I throw it out! A name has to stand the test of time.

2. No funny spellings. It should be spelled the way it sounds and be easy to pronounce. And I don’t like names that have a ton of different spellings.

3. It needs to have a flow. It usually has to have one more or one less syllable than the last name, to have a flow. Most guys have a good point in naming their boys. They think about how it’s going to sound being called out by the announcer at a football game or other sports game. As silly as that seems, having a good flow with the first and last name and sounding good when said aloud is a big deal. I mean the kid is going to hear it said like that from the time they are in daycare to college graduation and beyond!

4. It has to look good written out. This is a hard one for me, since I am so visual and drawn to names that look great in print.

5. No names that end in S. Our last name begins with an “S”, which makes it hard for names like Hayes, Myles and names that end in “son”- like Anderson but are really hard to say with our last name. There are so many names that end in “son” out there right now that I like so I’m not totally knocking them out if they end in the “S” sound but they’ll definitely lose a point or two!

* I love alliterations, but it’s not a rule- just a personal preference!

pam Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 8:53 am

Zara, I just have to say, Wow, that’s a lotta rules! Though when I really think about it, I’d share most of them. Thanks for taking the time to think them all through and set them all down! I’m loving reading everyone’s rules and the thinking behind them….

epfrance Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 9:08 am

Just had 2 simple rules before I got married and actually had kids, and those were a ‘unique’ first name, as in their own, not named after any one in particular, and middle name did need to be named after a close friend or family member.

My first daughter was named Eva Rachel because of a dream my husband had during the pregnancy and because my cousin Rachel died tragically during the pregnancy. I am a little annoyed that Eva and Ava are so popular among little girls her age! But I still love her name.

During the second pregnancy, my husband made a rule that all girl names ending in a were now out, since we already had Eva. We chose Heidi for it’s German roots, my husbands family background, and her middle name is Kathleen after my Mom.

The third girl was really a challenge because now my husbands rule about endings knocked out all names ending in a, like Eva, and all names ending in an ee sound,like Heidi. That eliminates A LOT of girl names! my youngest’s name is Claire and her middle name is Auguste after her great grandmother whose last trip out of the house was to come to the hospital and see her when she was born.

Eva Rachel, Heidi Kathleen, and Claire Auguste, I love you all!!

For the second child

Sassy Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 9:21 am

I don’t think I have a lot of rules but Hubby and I can’t seem to agree on anything. We’ve got 7 months to figure it out, lol.
I would prefer something not too popular but at the same time I want something that people will recognize and not be like “what were you thinking?”
I don’t want a name of someone we know or that someone we know has used for their children nor do I want a family name in the first spot. The middle spot is reserved for family names if we choose to use them. I want my child to be their own person and not have to live up (or down) to a name of someone else.
No “yooneek” spellings. (It makes me cringe writing that) It has to sound good with our last name although with the middle names the flow doesn’t have to be perfect. It is rarely that I hear anyone called by all their names.
I also google any potential names with our last name to make sure there wasn’t any crazy people with that name. (Murderers,felons, that sort of thing)
I also check out the meaning behind a name. I was always found my meaning kind of boring but I feel bad for the Camerons (crooked nose) and the Kennedys (misshapen head). I think I’d be embarrassed to tell people the meaning of my name if it was that.
It would be nice to honour my father’s scottish heritage but it’s not necessary. I find I like scottish boy names better than the girl names.

brynnash Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 9:23 am

Our rules:

– Familiar, but not common. He is Kevin (and it seems every third person is a Kevin) and I am a Brynn (I’ve only met one other). He hated having a common name growing up, and I often didn’t like having a “weird” name. Our top names for children are Caroline, Desmond, and Genevieve – all are familiar but not trendy or too popular. That being said, if we really do love a name, we would use it regardless of popularity.

– We’d like the names to have meaning as well. We like the meanings of Caroline and Genevieve, and think Desmond Tutu is an excellent namesake.

– Middle names should have significance – not just, “it sounds good.” Both of our fathers are named David, and so we want to use David as a son’s middle name. Almost all the women in both sides of our family have an “A” middle name, so we want daughters to have “A” middle names too. Their second middle name will be my last name.

– Names should have a good flow – we love long names but want to make sure they sound alright together.

– We also want sibling names to sound good together (not matchy or themey, but fluid). This is more important to me than it is to my husband.

– I also like the possibility of many nicknames. We have a tendency to nickname everyone – our dog has about 15 that she regularly gets called…so it’s kind of inevitable that our kids will get nicknamed as well 🙂 It also gives them options in case they don’t like their given name.

Alexia Mae Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 9:33 am

For me, it’s meaning. The first name and middle name need to have meaning. I feel like a name should have a lot behind it and a lot of thought put into it.

hoges20 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 10:32 am

My rules are pretty similar to the one’s listed though we’re pretty open minded

1. If you love the name, it trumps most other rules (like I love the name Hannah, regardless of it’s popularity)

2. Avoid the top 100

3. Try to avoid matching syllables between siblings, but beyond that we don’t really care about ‘sibsets’

4. Avoid rhyming with our last name

5. The name has to have history, not necessarily meaning, but previous use in real life or literature.

6. The name should have good flow and rhythm

MistyStar Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 10:39 am

My guidelines (rules are meant to be broken)

1). Non popular, but still a known name

2). Non stripper or trashy sounding (I grew up as Misty (FN) Star (LN), a name that has taken a lot of beating)

2a). I have a hard time with adjective FN’s, and noun MN’s. No Flowy Skirts, Misty Star’s or Blue Ivy’s here

3). I would prefer one of the names to be family related, but it does not have to be a direct copy. Meaning works too.

4). Spelling: ewenique, not so much my cup of tea.

His guidelines that I know of:

1) No unisex names (must be able to read it and know it is a boy a girl- his rule not mine)

I bet you can find exceptions to these guidelines of names that I like. We have one son, Brecken Andrew.

jpruitt76 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 10:47 am

1. Everyone in the family has their own unique first initial (including parents). This is probably a hot button with me because my entire family had J names – even the pets!

2. Styles are complementary but not matchy matchy. For instance, had our youngest been a girl I was considering Frances (my husband’s paternal grandmother’s name) and we both liked the nickname Francie…but I was leery of having a Lucy and a Francie due to the similar ending sounds.

3. Middle names are family names from mom’s family (since all my children carry their father’s family surname).

4. No names already used by family or friends (at least friends I see somewhat regularly).

5. No cr8tiv spellings (although I did use the Norah spelling for my oldest, but it seems to be a legit option albeit not the most traditional one).

6. Flow has to work with surname and no unfortunate initials (e.g. we avoided any names starting with P like our surname or ending or any T-heavy names as the flow was off with our T-heavy surname).

7. Our goal was to stay out the top 100 but I counted that as secondary to the above rules. Our youngest is Henry and we went with that one due to family significance…plus, we feel that truly classic names are somewhat exempt from the popularity numbers.

ferntailwp Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 10:57 am

My rule is: There are no rules. What I like is what I like, and if people have a problem with it so be it. That said I seem to subconsciously have these guidelines:
–Has to be unique, like never in the top thousand. My only exceptions are Heather, Thomas and Oliver, but Thomas is ending up a mn and Oliver a double-barrel.
–Has to flow well, but first to middle to last is more important to me than first to last.
–Should have at least one name with meaning to me. This could be a family, literature, greek mythos, or “famous” (not like celebrity, but know for a reason) person, but most end up being music related.
–Disregard the following rules.

babytren Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 11:49 am

do you think Jayden is more for a boy or girl ?
im planning on naming my baby boy Jayden Nicholas last name (Johnstone) what do you think ?

regina Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Hi!!!! I love your blog, thank you for sharing everything.

kyemsma Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I have a son and a daughter. Rules for both:

1. The name had to sound nice with our
3-syllable, Irish last name.

2. For my son, his name had to have Celtic or Irish history. Hence, Kyle Patrick.

3. For my daughter, her name had to be a classic, and from my family’s background (French or Russian), which is how we decided on Emily Catherine.

4. Popularity was an issue, but ended up not being the deciding factor in both names, as we loved each of them too much!

rachel27 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

1. Nothing made up, or yooneekly spelled.
2. Nothing that rhymes with the last name or a sibling’s name.
3. Nothing alliterative, either with our last name, or with their siblings names. (I love “A” names, but I don’t want to give all my children the same first letter.)
4. Not in the top 100. Probably. I am most flexible about this one.

I think that’s all.

caracakes Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I have a few rules myself 🙂

I totally agree on quite a few of yours! No unique spellings, traditional spellings, etc. I want my child to have a name that isn’t going to be a hassle to him or her! I would love to have meaning behind the name, however its not necessary. I feel like the middle names will probably have meaning. I know that the plan between me and my SO is that our first girls middle name will honor his grandmother, as she is a very important figure in his life. Nothing is necessary for boys yet though!

And the naming will most definitely be between ONLY me and my SO. I will not let anyone else influence my naming choice. I want it to be an intimate moment between me and him 🙂

And definitely nothing too matchy! I don’t want a Kayden and Jayden or anything of that sort. I wont have all my kids have the same letter first name, or same sounds. No Dylans and Ryan or Tylers all together. They do sound different enough to get by, but they are most definitely too close for my taste.

Thats all I can think of at the moment 🙂

dillonsfan01 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 6:06 pm

1. No yooneek or kre8tive spellings!
2. Must honor a family member, saint or someone/something special to us
3. All combos must have a saint’s name or a variation of a saints name.
4. Initials cannot spell anything negative. We seem to have a knack for coming up with combo’s with the initials GAY. We like for them to spell something positive if possible such as our Kate combo which gives her the initials KEY which relates to the theme of our wedding.
5. Something we both really love!!
6. Preferably ranked in the top 1000 in the 1800’s – 1930’s so it has a classic/vintage flare, but this is not necessarily a requirement

emstermeister Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I share a lot of the rules already mentioned, but thought I’d point out which rules I DON’T have. The meaning thing is no big deal to me. Now, a word name with a strong meaning like Danger or something is out, but the whole look up the name meaning thing and oh no, my favorite name means weak or some such thing, I could care less. Because honestly, when your child introduces themselves nobody is going to know that obscure meaning and think less of them. I completely understand looking up the meaning and finding a positive one that further supports a name you already liked, but going just by meaning is silly in my mind!

Mcdonak1 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I broke so many of my rules with Beatrix. Like you, I wanted a real name with no youneek spellings, so I followed that. I preferred something very uncommon, although I was flexible with that, but I definitely think that Beatrix fulfills that one. My last name is the name of a famous business, and I wanted to avoid the Paris Hilton problem of sounding like a particular location of that business, so I wanted to avoid place names and adjectives. I wanted a name with meaning, preferably a namesake who was a strong woman who bucked expectations and did something for the world, preferably an author. Beatrix Potter wrote a best-selling book for children at a time when published woman authors were still far less common than men and did some cool things with conservation at a time when that also wasn’t too much of a priority, so I think that I fulfilled that one. And her middle names are my grandmothers’ names, so I liked tying her into the family that way. But I also wanted a name with no nicknames (fail), a relatively short name (fail), a name that had one immediate and clear pronunciation (fail). Also, while this wasn’t a rule for me, I was concerned that people would hear “Beatrice” when I said that my daughter’s name is “Beatrix.” I was 100% right on that. Oh, well.

KourtneyQ Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 8:27 pm

The only real rule I have is that the name has to be something we both like and not what everyone else tells us we should like.

Poppy528 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Wow! So many rules! I asked hubby what our baby name rules are and he just said “Nothing dumb.” The last name I married into is a nice preppy, two-syllable X-name that everything kinda sounds great with (lucky me).

No rules, just likes: would LIKE each name to honor a passed family member (Etta, Scarlett, Fay, Harriet, Jack are all possibilities) with traditional spellings, would LIKE a Hebrew middle name, would LIKE something not too popular (but see we like Jack so no sense in having real rules). We LIKE yupster names and don’t care if it’s alliterative. We’re pretty laid back I guess 😀

Poppy528 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Shoot, okay my one rule for naming boys:

Name must be suitable for a Senator, an MMA fighter, and a gas station attendant ALL IN ONE. Ex: Alistair, Abraham, Edgar, Wallace (all respectably handsome, STRONG, easily shortened).

pam Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Poppy, “Nothing dumb” is great — reminds me of Google’s “Don’t be evil.”

Like the all-around rule for boys though hard for me to picture poor Alistair working at a gas station, what with those delicate hands of his and the thick glasses….

miloowen Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 9:00 pm

I guess my rules were:

Girl names for girls, boy names for boys.
Classic names that could be easily translated into other European languages.
At least one name after deceased loved one.
Meaningful Hebrew names.
Had to not be too clumsy with a hyphenated surname.
Wouldn’t allow anyone to figure out right away that my kids were Jewish Americans so they could be targeted by terrorists.

sarahrickard Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 9:54 pm

i’m pretty flexible on most things, but my non-negotiable baby name rule is that the last letter of the first name can’t be the same as the first letter of the last name. they run together and something gets lost. for example “sam murphy” ends up sounding like “samurphy”.

Poppy528 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Pam – Alistair, Abraham, Edgar, and Wallace would be Al, Abe, Ed, or Ace on their shirt patches at the gas station.I like names with the “every man” nicknames incase he’s not as nerdy as his parents

Miloowen – I too will skip the super Jewish first names as I worry about targeting (especially when we move back to the bible belt). However, Hubby has latched on to the name Zev so we will see… at least it’s not Menachem.

freya6903 Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 10:14 pm

one name (middle or first) must have significance

no crazy spellings

no two syllable boys names ending in -en/yn/in/an/on

must not be top 20 (preferably not top 100)

must not have been used by someone I know

must not be a standout name in current pop culture

Do You Have Baby Name Rules? « Citizen Wife Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 10:19 pm

[…] Here’s the post on nameberry detailing theirs:  http://nameberry.com/blog/baby-name-rules-what-are-yours#more-18521 […]

shieldsc Says:

April 18th, 2012 at 10:42 pm

My original name rule was nothing too popular, but I had to sort of abandon that one to find a name that my husband and I could agree on for our first child (now 9 years old). We went with Alexander Patrick (nn Xander). Patrick is my brother’s name and my dad’s middle name. Alexander was (I think) number 22 the year he was born. Of course, now it is in the top ten, or maybe even top five. Our daughter is Madelyn Esther — named after my favorite grandmother and my husband’s favorite grandmother. I didn’t care that Madison was number 3 the year she was born because I always knew I would name her after my grandma. For daughter number two, we needed something classic, longer (to go with the other two names), and I wanted something not too popular but also not unique. We ended up with Genevieve. Her middle name is Susan, after my mom and my sister-in-law. So I definitely agree that honoring family trumps popularity concerns.

Gigi_mk Says:

April 19th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

The only rule I had for my son was that his middle name was David (family name) and whatever his first name would be had to go with. It was almost Jensen, but my mom (our number one babysitter) couldn’t pronounce it to save her life. So I settled on Khyler, which I love, but I still wish I’d chosen Jensen.
With my daughter, since my son’s middle initial was D just like mine, I wanted my daughter to have an R middle like her dad. And her first name, Malia, is Marie (my BFF’s middle name) and Mary (my mom’s nn for me) translated to Hawaiian. And we chose Regan for the middle just because we could both agree on it, even though I really wanted Roslyn (my hubby middle is Ross and my sis and mom’s middles are both Lynn).

Jacquelini Says:

April 20th, 2012 at 4:14 pm

My flexible guidelines are:
1. Unique sounds for all children. Within a gender I don’t want more than 1 girl name ending in “a”. Although this might end up happening anyway
2. Can’t end in “son” or “sen” because of the last name and even other “en” or “on” “an” or “in” endings are often removed form the list or put in the middle spot
3. Initials can’t spell anything. I don’t mind if they spell AIR but bf dislikes any words spelled
4. Good flow
5. Good nickname options are an asset but I don’t like names where the nickname is well known and will therefore be automatic. I prefer the full name to be used and nn only at home or within the family
6. I don’t want to pressured to use a family name

MrsWilson Says:

April 24th, 2012 at 9:58 am

It’s easier to see our rules now that we have had our children. In some instances, we didn’t realize we had rules, in others we made very deliberate choices:
1. Classic names, but not necessarily popular. I always joked that they should sound like characters out of Jane Austen or Dickens. 🙂
1a. No weird spellings (I’ve spent my life telling people my name is “Kristina with a K”)
2. After baby 1, we established a “Celtic middle name” rule to represent our combined heritage (my husband is from Nova Scotia and I’m from Glengarry County, Ont.)
3. All 4 kids have a middle name starting with R. (Only our oldest has 2 middle names; one is Celtic, the other starts with R.)
4. Last three kids have unisex middle names (deliberate choice).
5. First names happen to be bilingual (or at least don’t sound horrible when pronounced in French).

carlson.camille Says:

May 4th, 2012 at 9:15 am

One of my favorite rules for girl’s middle names is that the emphasis has to be on the second syllable (for two syllable names). It just sounds better that way! Even wonder why there are so many “Hannah ma-RIE’s out there?” Marie sounds good with everything because of the rule! Here are some of my favorite two-syllable-emphasis-on-the-second-syllable-middle-names:
Elise (my middle name)
Monroe
Kristine
Aldine

Nedra Says:

May 15th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I have lots of name rules because I have some interesting experiences with my own name.

My rules (not necessarily in order of importance, just in order of my stream of consciousness):

1. No two members of the same family should have the same initials — ideally, the first initial would be different for everyone. My sister and my mom had the exact same initials. I don’t know if it ever bothered her, but I always thought it was really sad that they had to share. Ideally, I wouldn’t want anyone’s first name to start with the same initial as anyone else’s. My husband’s first name starts with a “B” and mine starts with an “A,” so I’m pretty much skipping over any “B” or “A” names — although I’m fine with using them as middle names. Makes things simpler too!

2. All names have to sound good with our last name. This is hard because our last name is a long, hyphenated name with 4 syllables and a staccato kind of sound to it. The two names sound very distinct from one another — my maiden name is a classic girls’ name and ends with the fashionable “ee” sound at the end and my husband’s “bachelor name” has the fashionable “an” sound at the end. This means that most names ending in either of these sounds (Delaney or Finley, for example, or Declan or Gillian, etc) are off the list, since they sound matchy-matchy with our name.

3. No excessively popular names. I have only met 2 or 3 other individuals with my name in my entire life. And the only times that I’ve met them, it was because someone brought me up to them and said, “You two should meet! You have the same name!” I have NEVER met anyone with my name organically and I have never been around someone with my same name for more than 5 minutes, so I have no idea what it would be like to be the kid who has to have their last initial included when speaking of them in school (example, “Emma S. and Emma H.”). I think I would hate that.

4. Despite my preference for unpopular names, it has to be a clearly-recognizable first name. As I said in #2, the last name that I grew up with was a common girl name when I was growing up. Because of the unpopularity of my name (described in #3), people always got my name wrong and thought that my last name was my first name. Even now that my last name is hyphenated, people still call me by my maiden name as my first name. Drives me crazy! People even have called my husband by my maiden name as HIS first name! Anyway, it’s really important to me that my kids have clearly recognizable first names and not surnames so that it will be clearer that our last name is a last name and their first names are their first names.

5. A name that has at least a few possible nicknames. My parents named me specifically with a name that could not be shortened to a “diminutive.” I always was really said that I didn’t have a fun nickname and I had not flexibility with my name. I like my name, for sure, but I thought it would be fun to take on a new identity for awhile. I was always really jealous of the kid named Andrew who could easily tell a teacher, “I go by Drew” one year and tell another teacher, “I go by Andy” the next year without having to come up with a totally new name. This is especially useful if Andy finds out that there’s another Andy in his class that year and doesn’t want to be known as “Andy S.” — he can choose to go by Andrew or Drew that year and it’s not a big deal. As a teacher, I have a few students who go by a completely different name than what’s on the roster and I have to say that it’s much easier to remember to say “Karlie” instead of “Karla” when I call attendance than it is to remember that “Anna” goes by “Frances.”

Mom_of_3 Says:

May 20th, 2012 at 5:25 pm

1. Our first three have ties to me and my husband, and the next 2 we plan on will too. I’m Catherine Lynn and he’s Elliot Benjamin, our kids so far are Ellery Blythe, Clara Leigh, Easton Cole, and our choices for our next 2 are Connor Evan, Eric Cameron, Cassandra Eve, and Evelyn Carol.

2. Names that will age well. I didn’t to have a grown daughter with a name like Kimmy or a son named Bobby.

3. Not too popular, but not too out there.

doughrita Says:

May 29th, 2012 at 9:01 pm

1. Last name for a first name
2. Classic first name for a middle name
3. Animal meaning in one of the two
4. Cool nn option in case they hate both
5. Family reference a bonus rule
6. Nothing popular, misspelled
7. Nothing starts with a vowel or Q,X,Z
8. Tell no one until the name is concrete, if you love it then you the looks and ew’s just roll off your back.

kenniebear Says:

June 22nd, 2012 at 5:02 pm

#1.Never name your kid after a famly member ITS WEIRD
#2.When your picking a name dont find it off of one of your friends
#3.if the name is like kaylee but its too popular spell it diffrent caylie
#4.Dont tell anybody your names they might steal it
#5.this is important IF YOU KNOW A ANIMAL LIKE BAILY DONT NAME YOUR KID BAILY!

augusta_lee Says:

June 22nd, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I’ve loosened up on my naming rules considerably. They used to be:

– No names in the top 1000 (HA)
– Must be deeply personally meaningful, as well as having some positive, aspirational association (aka “Harriet” as in Tubman)
– Must not be even remotely trendy

Since then I’ve realized that it’s idiotic to try and out-obscure every other namer on the face of the planet. Look, who would have guessed ten years ago that Harper and Jayden would be white-hot commodities? Instead of worrying about popularity and trendiness, I look for names with a sound I LOVE.

In fact, sound has probably become the most important name criteria for me. Who cares that the name Sojourner has an awesome meaning and an incredible namesake and is super rare if I think of “surgeon” every time I hear it? On the other hand, Eloise is trending sharply upward and a blah meaning and brings to mind the brat at the Plaza (an association I actually embrace), but it has such a light, gorgeous sound that I want to say it over and over — which makes it a far better name for my future child than Sojourner.

I often see people on this site who have such insanely involved and restrictive rules that it’s clear no name will ever ever suit, or are so allergic to trends that they discard extremely obscure names if it has ever been used by anyone other than themselves (I saw this recently on a thread in regards to the name “Clover”, of all things!). To take Eloise as an example: yes, it’s getting popular. But it’s still only in the 500s (or it might be the very low 400s now). Besides, I love it and I want to say it every day. That’s my major name criteria.

That said, I probably wouldn’t choose a name in the 100s or even the 200s, never mind the top 50. Another rule is that a name MUST have only one pronunciation. Mine has been mispronounced all my life, and it’s extremely annoying. I also want my names to have, if not a PERFECT meaning, at least not a negative one — which is why I had to let go of Calvin, a former favorite.

Style cohesion is also important to me. I’m planning on having more than one kid (I have my heart set on more than four, but we’ll see what happens) and I don’t want to give one child a name that sets a definite and specific theme. For instance, I love certain word names, but I feel that using, say, Solace for my firstborn would lock me into using word/virtue names for the rest. I also adore the name Atlas for a boy, but would hesitate to use it because it sets such a strong mythological theme.

As for middles, it’s important to me to honor family and friends who have been influential in my life. Flow between fn and mn is important as well. That said, flow with last name is something I’ve only just started considering, and to my dismay it’s knocked off one of my all-time favorite names, Miranda, which is a direct rhyme with my last name.

KnikkiCharles Says:

July 12th, 2012 at 12:29 pm

No same first letter or last sound….therefore with #1 being declan, we’ve eliminated anymore D’s or -an sounds….

Middle name is after significant people in our families who have been inspirational and who have qualities we’d like to see in our children…

Meaning is everything~I will not name my kid something that means dirt, fighter, etc…if I dont want them to be it, I should be nameing them it…

Style should be taken into consideration…there has to be a theme in there somewhere…similar meaning, origin, etc…

Cannot be in the top 100…I named my son a few years before it shot up to , now, 177…it was in the 300’s when I picked it…

It has to be different but not so different that people cant wrap their heads around it…

Spellings will be kept as traditional as possible so as to try and avoid constant correcting in spelling and pronunciation…

I guess thats it??

mrssarasmith Says:

August 20th, 2012 at 5:45 am

The name has to work with the last name. Something elaborate like Leonardo or Evangelinea would sound goofy combined with Smith or Jones.

kittykate928 Says:

July 28th, 2014 at 12:14 am

Even though it’ll be a while before I have kids, my rules now are:

1. Must be an actual name, with a valid spelling. Nothing kree8tif.
2. There must be flow with the full name, FN/LN, and FN/MN.
3. Even though I have FN/MN combos on my favorites list, the middle name slot will be where I honor important people in my life. First name, too, if the name is already a favorite, but middle name especially.
4. Must be something they can wear at all ages, in any career. Nicknames are great when they’re kids, but they should have something they can carry on their birth certificate.
5. Classic names with history are always great, and they’re even better if they have family history.
6. Nothing too popular.

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