If you’re a teacher, every name can already feel taken by a former student! What’s the best approach – choose something truly unusual? Or choose a baby name you love, knowing that it might appear on your class list, too?
We are having trouble agreeing on a girls’ name. We have a strong-sounding, single-syllable surname that starts with S and rhymes with deal. I’d like to use Elizabeth for the middle.
But here’s the real problem: I come from a huge family with lots of girls, so many names are already out. And I teach dance, meaning I’ve heard all the common names out there, spelled every which way. I don’t want to name my daughter after any students, especially current ones.
Is there something out there that my husband and I haven’t thought of and isn’t too common? Or am I being too picky?
The Name Sage replies:
Teachers – and pediatricians and coaches and anyone who works with kids – face an extra challenge when naming their own children.
Not only do you need to find a name you and your partner love, but it can’t remind you of your students.
And if you’re planning for the future? You might want to avoid any popular name that’s likely to appear on your class list anytime soon.
That might mean that letting go of Top 100 choices like Sadie and Quinn. And almost certainly Finley, too. According to the most recent popularity lists, names like Sadie and Quinn were given to more than 3,500 girls each. Only 1,850 girls were named Finley – but so were 1,200 boys. That’s fewer than the more than 8,000 Averys and nearly 20,000 Emmas. But there’s still a good chance they’ll appear on your class roster – eventually.
Instead, let’s consider some names given to more like 100 to 200 girls. There are oodles of great possibilities that almost no one is using, names that would fit right in on a playground today, without being overwhelmingly popular.
Choose one of these choices, and chances are your daughter will have it to herself, no matter how many kids pass through your classes.
Libby – A traditional Elizabeth nickname, Libby is out of the spotlight today – despite the popularity of names like Lily and Abby. It might make a great substitute for Sadie, but of course, that means you’d have to rethink your middle name choice. In the most recent data set, 237 girls were named Libby.
Sally – Sadie started out as a nickname for Sarah, and so did Sally. While Molly and Ellie have been favorites in recent years, just 242 girls were named Sally. I think it’s a great fits-in/stands-out choice.
Finding something rare isn’t the only approach, of course, and it’s worth noting that unusual names come with their own pitfalls. They can be misheard and misspelled, no matter how straightforward they seem.
If none of these choices feel right, I wonder if you might want to rethink the need to find something uncommon?
You could always opt for a traditional name. Elizabeth might make a great first name, instead of a middle. Or maybe another classic, like Anna or Claire? When a name is so evergreen, it’s tough to associate just one figure with it – I’m guessing you’ve known women in their 60s with these names, as well as six-year old aspiring ballerinas.
It might be helpful to hear from others in the same position, so let’s have a poll. And please suggest some uncommon names that Caity and her husband will love!
If you work with children, how did you approaching naming your own kids?
- AWe chose names we loved, even if it meant hearing them on our students.
- BWe went with really unusual names, hoping to avoid duplication with our classes.