They have a favorite name picked out for their son, but some have dismissed it as a dog name. What does that mean, exactly, in 2017? Should they choose another name, or stick with their first choice?
We are expecting our first baby boy in just a couple weeks and still haven’t decided on his name.
Hipster baby names are big where we live. I love most of them, and prefer “old man” names for the most part.
The middle name will be John, another family name. Our last name starts with a T and sounds like tunes, so names ending in a T don’t work well, and I tend to think names ending in S don’t sound very good, either.
Our current frontrunner is Murphy. My husband is a surfer, so the meaning – sea warrior – is perfect. Plus, there was a comic strip from the 1960s about a little surfer dude named Murphy, drawn by one of my husband’s favorite artists.
Also, lots of people call it a “dog name.” Which I’m really sick of on the whole. I always seem to like all those so-called dog names. Who cares if people named their dog a GOOD name? Does that mean we should just turn the name over to the dogs indefinitely?
Thanks for any advice you have. I want to just fall in love with Murphy, but I can’t shake this feeling that I’m not all the way done looking yet!
The Name Sage replies:
I am so glad you brought up the dog name question!
You’re absolutely right – dog names are people names, and people names are dog names. Gone are the days of Fluffy and Fido. Now Gracie could be the name of the family’s golden retriever – or their new baby.
The next time you hear someone dismiss Murphy – or Dexter or Coco or Bailey – as a dog name, know that she’s saying something different. Imagine she said, “Hmmm … that’s not really a name I can imagine on my child.”
People do choose great names for their pets, as they should. And you’re right! It doesn’t mean that those names should be off-limits for people.
Now, back to Murphy.
Murphy is an upbeat name, friendly and familiar without being common. Fewer than 150 boys were given the name last year. That puts it very much in the same column as Betsy, comfortably outside of the current US Top 1000. Style-wise, they go together very well.
Do they match a little too much? I don’t think so. If you were considering Margot and Milo or Lola and Louie, I might answer differently. But Betsy and Murphy only share an ending sound, and seem distinctly different. Siblings answer to combinations like Henry and Mary, Lucy and Charlie, Aubrey and Riley. Betsy and Murphy work every bit as well.
It also sounds like there’s some magic to Murphy.
Your connection to the name’s meaning, and the fictional Murphy from the comic strip, sets it far ahead of Stanley and Victor. If we were talking about style alone, I might rate Otis or Fletcher more “country casual” than Murphy. But this decision seems to be about story, rather than style. And in this regard, Murphy seems tough to beat.
Still, since it seems like a few more suggestions might help you decide, I’ll offer some ideas:
Garner – An overlooked surname name option.
I think any of these names, or any of the choices on your shortlist, would wear nicely. But I’m rooting for Murphy this time. I think the meaning and significance for your family far outweighs the possibility that your son might someday share his name with a neighbor’s dog.
Do you avoid "dog names" for your kids?
- ANo. My favorite names for kids aren’t that different than my favorite dog names.
- BYes. I have rules about which names work for people, and which are reserved for dogs.
- CIt depends. Some names work for both, but others seem like a dog-only or baby-only choice.