Baby Naming Rules: One man’s humorous take

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.

1) Prior to picking a name, Google the phrase “Most Popular Baby Names,” which will take you to the Social Security list, and then cross off the top ten or twenty names that pop up for the past three years. Simple. Effective. Efficient. Now your child is guaranteed to have a reasonably untrendy name. This way, when your eight-year-old daughter is playing soccer and you yell, “Nice hustle, Ava!” the entire team of girls doesn’t turn to see which of their dads was cheering for them.

2) Babies named after cities or states are hit or miss. Brooklyn Decker — perfect. Dakota (either North or South) Fanning — decent. Rochester Stevenson — Huh?  Cities in Texas tend to work out best when it comes to names, like Dallas and Austin, while cities in Iowa tend to work out worst, like Des Moines and Cedar Rapids.

3) For girls, seasonal names seem to go well with alliterative last names. Summer Sanders — good. Summer Blaskovich — not so much. Autumn Appleton — good. Autumn Linhoffer — a little tougher. (My apologies if one of these examples happens to be your name.)

4) If you have a last name with three syllables or more, opt for a short, one-syllable first name for your kid, or at least a first name that can easily be shortened. Leonardo (Leo) DiCaprio is a good example of the latter, Jack Nicholson of the former.

5) If your child’s name is going to be Jonathan Leibowitz and you want him to be a talk show host on Comedy Central, change his name to Jon Stewart when he’s born and save him the trouble.

6) Don’t turn everyday nouns into names. If you can find your child’s name in an aisle at the grocery store or Home Depot, you might want to pass on it.

7) Google your child’s potential full name before he or she is born. At some point in their life, whether it’s in first grade or freshman year, some kids are going to Google it, and it would be a shame to wait until then for your son to find out he shares a name with an America’s Most Wanted criminal who is on the no-fly list.

8) Don’t make stuff up. If you have never, ever heard of anyone naming their child by the name you are thinking of, there’s probably a great reason for that.

9) Keep initials in mind with both middle and first names. My old buddy Steve Timothy Durkee wishes his parents had. Same with Hailey Ingrid Vecchio and Aaron Scott Shotland.

10) Keep luxury car names and other luxury item names where they belong — on luxury cars and items. Naming your daughter Gucci guarantees that her ceiling in life will be a role as a cast member on Jersey Shore: Season 17.

11) Solid boy names like John, Mike, Ed, Matt, Jim, Bill and George never go out of style.

12) Boy names for girls are okay, but be careful breaking new ground. Sam is now perfectly acceptable because of Samantha; naming your daughter Hector is going a little too far and will surely cause an identity crisis.

13) If you have a last name that screams that your family is from a certain country, there is nothing wrong with giving your child a first name that is also from that country. Feel free to be proud of your heritage. Chow Yun Fat didn’t change his name to Tim Fat before crossing over into American films.

14) On the opposite side of this coin — and this is coming from a man with a very Jewish last name — if your last name is Goldbergman, and you’ve been in America for several generations, you don’t have to hit the Jewish point home twice as hard with your kid by giving him a first name like Elehu or Ravi … Unless of course you’re actually from Israel, then Rule 13 applies.

Journalist Jon Finkel has written for GQ, Details, and the New York Times, among others. He has recently published a comedy/advice book called The Three Dollar Scholar: Awesome Advice for Acing Life’s Major Decisions and Mindless Debates, from which this is adapted.

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17 Responses to “Baby Naming Rules: One man’s humorous take”

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i.heart.nerds Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 10:37 am

Lol. This make me laugh. Some very sound advice here!

corsue Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 11:06 am

HaHa! This is fantastic!

Lola Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 11:10 am

I’m still laughing! I’ve got

Lola Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 11:15 am

I’m still laughing! My surname fits #13, like crazy. But pairing a Scottish first name with a Scottish surname here in Boston is askng for trouble. I stuck with simple English first names and am happy with the way things turned out! It’s also a 3 syllable surname, and the girl’s got a 3 syllable first & middle. Lucky for me she goes by short forms 99% of the time! 😀 Some solid good advice here!

Wyndre Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I love this one! It fits exactly how I feel about most things.

Nyx Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Love the article… now to get the non-berries to read it! 😛

tavn Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 12:28 pm

This is one of the best blog posts I’ve ever seen on Nameberry!

tikicatt Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 1:19 pm

He hit the nail on the head. My best naming advice – your child will be an adult in the working world for 80 years (life expect of 100). Think of how your kid’s name will sound in the retirement home, on a resume. In the working world you interact with people in an age range of 40 years or more. People definitely judge the creatively spelled,infantile and awkward names.

skizzo Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Disagree with #12. Boy names on girls isnt ok, because they are, guess what, boy names. Sam doesn’t count because it’s a nickname, and one that can be used for either sex.
Also I disagree that “solid” boy names never go out of style. I personally find John, Mike, Bob and Bill really dated.

chapitaism Says:

November 23rd, 2011 at 4:04 pm

“Don’t make stuff up. If you have never, ever heard of anyone naming their child by the name you are thinking of, there’s probably a great reason for that.”

good point!!

vanessaaball Says:

November 28th, 2011 at 9:20 am

Love it! I think “Don’t try to be clever” should be included with “Don’t make stuff up”. With the last name Ball, there were a lot of interesting name combinations to consider. Even Mason Ball or Lucille Ball would have subtle but silly.

emilymaryjane Says:

January 18th, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I know a girl called Jasmabelle and she just goes by Jas cos it annoys her dont do combo names Jas wishes her parents called her Jasmine Isabelle

McKenzieGrace Says:

July 23rd, 2012 at 10:58 am

Haha this was a great article! It was funny but those are some seriously real points! Great post!

LexieM Says:

August 25th, 2012 at 8:52 am

This article is fabulous and probably a really great guide for all our non-berry counterparts. I got to remember to send it to friends when they tell me they are pregnant. Hopefully they’ll stop thinking about naming their tinny baby girls after huge male athletes. | Jon Finkel Says:

September 24th, 2012 at 2:13 am

[…] Scholar. The feature titled “Baby Naming Rules: One Man’s Humorous Take” can be read here. This entry was posted in Press, Press – Other by nimda2. Bookmark the permalink. […]

Ibabylovebug Says:

October 3rd, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Love this! Btw for number 13. His last name is Chow not Fat. So it would be Tim chow for the example to work.

Baby Name Rules: What are YOURS? – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry Says:

October 15th, 2016 at 10:25 am

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

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