Confessions of a Desperate Baby-Namer

Guest blogger Teresa Strasser, a comedy writer whose new blog is called Exploiting My Baby, is desperate for one good boys’ name for her son, due in OctoberHow far will she go to find it?

I know from that stupidly catchy viral “Pregnant Women are Smug” song that pregnant women don’t usually share the names they’ve chosen for their babies.

That may be a smug choice, sure, but I think I get it now. You let the name cat out of the bag, and everyone judges the cat, they swing the cat around by the tail, they project their own issues onto the cat and now you want to put the whole incident in your emotional litter box and bury it so you can still like the cat as much as you used to.

And of course there is the danger of getting name napped. My friends just had a baby boy and named it Laszlo, and I am madly in love with that name. It’s Hungarian, as am I. Victor Laszlo is a character in the movie “Casablanca,” and my surname is also featured in that film. Who doesn’t remember the line, “Major Strasser has been shot. Round up the usual suspects?” Okay, that Strasser dude was a Nazi, but I still enjoy the classic movie name tie-in, and when you’re looking for magical name signs, anything seems to scream, “This is the one.”

Still, you don’t nap a name.

So we had to let Laszlo go, like Bogey did. And now I have four more months to come up with something.

The first dozen people we told we were thinking of the name “James” were dazzled. “It’s classy and simple,” they said, “It’s not like one of these new fangled Jayden, Aiden, Caden names,” they added. So James shot to the top of the list, but if you tell enough people, someone is going to hate on your name, which is what happened when a former colleague told me that anyone named James would become Jim, and there was nothing I could do about it. Jim. Jims are nice people, they coach girls’ soccer without inappropriately touching anyone, they do your taxes without massaging the numbers too much, they walk your dog when you have to leave town suddenly. I like Jims. I just don’t want one.

The “Jim hater” loved our only other name option so far: Shane.

After we got pregnant, we happened to go to the cell phone store and the guy who helped us had a shiny blue nametag with that moniker. And it seemed right with my husband’s crazy long, consonant rich Polish name. Shane would ride into kindergarten like a Polish cowboy. And all Shanes are hot. But so are Gabes. And Nates. And most Erics.

Once you rule out any names of ex-boyfriends, or names you would be napping from your immediate circle, or names recently used by celebrity moms or names you associate with high school bullies or former evil bosses, the well runs a bit dry. Trust me, when it comes to girl names, the well of adorably androgynous designations bubbles over, but this boy thing is tough.

I’ve been thinking that most parents have a few names in the running before choosing the one. What happens to those perfectly good runner-up names? Can I have them? If you loved your second choice but didn’t use it and feel it shouldn’t go to waste, or if you thought of it only after you screwed your kid with an average name, help a mom-to-be out with a name-me-down you no longer need.

Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required


33 Responses to “Confessions of a Desperate Baby-Namer”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

MePregnant Says:

May 25th, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Confessions of a Desperate Baby-Namer – Baby Name Blog – Nameberry…

This entry was posted on Monday, May 25th, 2009 at 11:15 pm and is filed under baby names from movies, boys’ names, ethnic baby names, guest bloggers, traditional baby names . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS ……

Jenmb Says:

May 25th, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Teresa, please do not listen to your former colleague! Jim is such a baby-boomer nickname. People born in the last 35 years can easily go by James and James alone. And if there were a nickname, it’d most likely be Jamie or Jimmy (and that’s just when he’s a child).

And my runner-up name for DS was Luke

Elisabeth@YCCII Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 12:00 am


Laszlo, James, and Shane have almost nothing in common! James, as you’ve said, is a classic. I can’t imagine he would become Jim. Jims are in their sixities now, not six. Shane is a very cool, Western cowboy sort of name. Laszlo (a favorite of mine), is yes, Hungarian, but also edgy chic, with all the right letters.

Let me give this a shot:

Instead of James: Edward, Luke, Henry

Instead of Shane: Jasper, Garrett, Vaughn, Jude, Henry nn Hank

Instead of Laszlo: Hungarian- Abel, Gaspar, Henrik, Oscar (or Oszkar); O names- Arlo, Cosmo, Hugo, Ivo, Milo, Philo, Zeno; Just cool- Axel, Declan, Raphael

Erin Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 12:09 am

Teresa, Laszlo was on our list! But she ended up a girl. I have a thing about boy “o” names — others on our list were Hugo, Milo, Theo, Enzo. I have to say, too, I totally disagree with your friend about James/Jim. Given names rarely turn into nicknames these days unless the parent decrees it. In my kids’ preschool, we have Gabriella, Maxwell, Nicolas, Madeline, August, and (yes) James — they’re never called by nicknames.

Best of luck — your name is out there!
-Erin, momma to Ronan & Beatrix

AP Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 1:06 am

Boy names are ridiculously hard. I also think you can go w/James, but I empathize with the kitty litter phenomenon. I loved Tilda until someone mentioned it would be awful w/my other daughter’s name, also a T name. We ended up with a boy, anyway.

Here were my runners up for him:


I also liked Hans and Lars, but couldn’t get my husband on board. We went with Viggo.

susan Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 1:38 am

Our runner up name for our first baby was James. We named our son Peter.
Six years later our taste had changed. If we had had another son, we would have named him either Philip Arthur, Philip Alexander, or Philip Andrew. We had a girl and named her Laura Elizabeth. I think Philip is a great name. So classic and not too common. But I don’t like the nn Phil.
Also love Henry, Lucas nn Luke, Nicholas nn Cole, Oliver, Edward, and Thomas. These are all names I would actually use. There are other names like Miles, Dexter, etc. that I love but would never really use. I love Arthur as a first name now. Maybe if I had a little son, I would name him that. But I bet I would name him Philip when it came down to it.
I also love Isaac, Isaiah, and Elijah. But my husband only loves Philip, Thomas, and Oliver.
One thing you can do to see what name you love is to imagine your little son at different stages in his life. Like imagine him getting a ticket for speeding when he’s 18. What’s his name that can still make you proud when you’re really mad? Or what about when he is graduating from 6th grade and is giving a little speech in his suit? What’s his name ? Or how about when he comes home covered in mud? That’s a great way to think of a name you really love.
Hope that helps!

Mila Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 5:19 am

I love both James and Lazlo, but there are already so many James. The “o” ending is really appealing, and that you are Hungarian is also a bonus. Other Hungarian boy names ending in “o” are Rego, Rezso and Lasio. As one other person mentioned, I also love Milo and Enzo.

A few more Hungarian names that might work are Kristof, Kardos, Lantos, Lorencz, Markos, Markus, Odon, Sandor, Taber, Tabor, Timur or Viktor (Viktor as in Victor Lazlo?)

Strasser would make a nice mn…and might not be bad as a first name.

Good luck!

Davena Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 6:17 am

We have two James’ at my work. Both in their mid – late 30’s.

One is Jim the other James. Jim sometimes goes by James, but mostly it’s Jim. James on the other hand… is always James. I personally think that it is possible to control the name based shortening of names.

Katherine Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 7:13 am

Don’t worry — James won’t become Jim; the good thing about that name being so out of date is that it doesn’t actually even occur to people to use it anymore. James will become Jay or Jamie. Go with that one. You get Sweet Baby James. Otherwise you get “Shane … Come back!!!”

Lila Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 7:30 am

I love James and Luke! They could be brothers! Either one is great…strong, masculine, and found in the Bible.

Nephele Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 7:53 am

I loved your “name cat” metaphors! Hahaha! Good luck, Teresa, on finding the right name for your October-due baby!

In the meantime, here’s a baby name suggestion for you (sorry it’s not Hungarian): “Aleister Dean.” That’s an anagram of “Teresa + Daniel.”

— Nephele

namefan Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 8:47 am

This is a repeat of the comment I posted at your blog’s site, but if you like one of those “androgynous” names you mentioned for a girl don’t be afraid to consider it for a boy as well if you like the name(s) (if I’m correct at assuming what kinds of names those are). I’m a guy named Kelly who does just fine with his name, and there are several names from this category that I like for a boy myself.

Stella Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 9:00 am

Lazarus Leon. That is all the awesome you need. And then you can END up with the nickname Lazlo.

Ashley Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 9:15 am

James is great – I don’t think he’d be destined to be a Jim.

Our little boy ended up being named Isaac.
We seriously considered Finnian, Leo, Raphael, and Charles

kkronebusch Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 9:36 am

I’m going through the exact same problem…except I’m due in about 3 weeks. I have 3 boys and have another one coming. I feel like all my good boy names are gone. Personally, I think James is one of THE BEST names out there, but, I think works best for a middle name. (Colby James is my second.)

mamapajama Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 9:48 am

I would go with James. It is classic and no little boys in this generation go by Jim. It’s like saying every little boy named Richard goes by Dick. Our second choice for our son was Eli, which is trendy now even though we didn’t know it then.

Diana Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 10:01 am

I love the name Arlo.

Andrea Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 10:29 am

I have an Uncle Jim, my grandfather was Jim, my very difficult and temperamental boss was named Jim, the Vietnam vet who organized yesterday’s Memorial Day celebration is named Jim, etc. They’re all well over 50. Every boy I know named James goes by Jamie, which I personally think sounds pretty juvenile and cutesy. At this point I like Jim or Jimmy a heck of a lot better as a nickname. They sound like good, solid, American names: the freckle-faced boy who plays Little League and has a paper route and grows up to be the backbone of the community. James without a nickname seems rather too formal and buttoned-up.

Shane, on the other hand, is your typical small-town boy who wears his baseball hat backwards, works at the gas station and fancies himself a real ladies man. I don’t find it at all attractive or trust-worthy, maybe because I’ve known a few too many of them who fit that description.

Laszlo sounds like a rascal and a Lothario and I suspect people will have trouble pronouncing it.

Jenn Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

I say go ahead and use Laszlo.

In my mind you shouldn’t let a friend’s actions impact your child’s name. To me, it sounds like you have solid reasons for wanting to use this name. NONE of which are “Well, my friend used it and I like it too so I am going to take it.”

Instead of discarding your favorite name because your friend was due first, I think it’s reasonable that you at least keep it on your list.

My son, Griffin is five months older than one of my good friend’s sons. My husband and I hadn’t told a soul what we were going to name him. As soon as my son was born and named, she came to me and explained that Griffin was also topping her list for a boy. She said it was the one name that both her and her husband agreed on. Her husband is also very into mythology (so they had a tie in there of the mythological creature being ‘cool’ for them). Long story short, I told her that I would NEVER fault her for sticking with something she already loved/had on her list BEFORE our son was born. To me, the before part is key. If you had it on your list before, I see no reason to change your list after. Sure enough, they had a son and we both have little Griffin’s running around. NO HARM DONE! It’s not like only one child in the whole world (or even the whole school or whole classroom) is allowed to bear a particular name at one time. In fact, although we only lived a few miles apart when the boys were born, we have since both relocated to other states. When we get together for vacations or visits it’s not a big deal that they share a name. In fact, the boys themselves love it because they know nobody else who shares their name.

All of that being said, if the name Laszlo had not occured to you before she named her son, then I think it’s a gray area and it might be wise to leave it alone. Even then, how good of a friend are we talking about? Coworkers leave and neighbors move. Are you really willing to give up ‘the perfect name’ because someone who you are casual friends with used it first?

Are we talking an old high school or college friend who you see a few times a year? In this case, does it matter if both of you send each other Christmas cards with Laszlo signed on them?

Are we talking about your very good friends/best friend? Well then, shouldn’t she believe you when you explain your reasons and then understand?

And in all of the above cases, are we even talking about her son being a child that will be your son’s future classmate/friend? That might give me pause if I were looking to be ‘original’ with a name like Laszlo.

I think the “she stole the name I used” sentiment doesn’t apply in this case because you already had the name picked out (even if it was kept private and not yet in use). The fact that he rson has the same as your son doesn’t have to be an issue. Speaking as the one who used a name ‘first’ in the past, I had absolutely no problem with it. Just adds to my belief that my friend and I both have good taste. 😉 AND, I would have been more angry with her if she wasn’t honest with me about the name ‘issue’ she had versus just spilling it and going forward with what she had planned in the first place.

And lastly, would it really be so bad for him to share the name Laszlo with one (in all likelyhood) of other children on the playground vs. sharing the name James with so many more?

Gee Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

You can’t predict what nicknames a child will pick up! He might like James. He might like Jay or Jamie or Jim. I don’t think Jim is automatic these days. But I think a parent should be prepared to enjoy all the more common nicknames. You might find you have boys and girls calling your home asking for Jim or Jimmy. (If kids still call their friends.)

I had a friend who rejected his parent’s selected nickname. I’m not sure even they call him by it anymore.

If you want a Hungarian name, Lazlo is not the only one out there. How about Tibor?

Malia Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 1:51 pm

I wanted to point out in response to a pp that I have a girlfriend named “Garrett” and we are thinking of naming our daughter “Jude”… So those names are getting into the gender mix category.

I also wanted to second the name “Axel,” which is awesome. Our favorite name for a boy is Henry nn “Hank.” Also like Jack. But since we are having a girl, those names are on the back-burner…

But I think James is great as well but it’s a toss-up if he gets called Jim. I guess it’ll be up to him later in life as to what he wants to be called. Dang kids making their own decisions!

Shannon Berg, West Palm Beach, FL Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Jameson (nice alternative to James)
Nash (this would be a great middle name for many of these. If we had a boy we were naming him London Nash)
Colden (Cole for short)

J Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 6:06 pm

I say go with Laszlo, it was your first choice and your heart was set on it. They are only friends, it’s not like your brother named his son Laszlo as well. They may be out of the picture if a few years and you will have sacrificed the name you wanted for your child for them.

– J, Mother of Asa & Samara

Amanda Says:

May 26th, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Lazarus would be an awesome name. I also like Milo. For the Polish connection (I’m Polish, too!) try Thaddeus. Call him Ted. So easy with a multi-syllabic surname. And Ted is cute, stylish, and friendly.

Adelaide Says:

May 27th, 2009 at 12:26 am

At some point, you start to know the name. You start to feel the name is right, even start doubting it, but secretly know it’s right.

With that said, a close friend of mine just stole the baby name I’ve been in love with since I was 7 (so, over two decades) and knew that she was stealing it. And it feels crappy.

One of the reasons I loved the name was because it was traditional yet unconventional enough so that he’d most likely be the only kid in his class with that name, but not so off the wall that it seemed made up. That meant something to me – I loved being the only girl in my entire school with my name. It helped mold my identity.

My favorite baby name was a good, strong, biblical name. And now I’m starting to hate it, because she stole it. So, it stinks when someone out-procreates you and steals your name. Bad karma.

krisann313 Says:

May 29th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Teresa I feel your pain. This boy-thing IS hard! I have 3 girls, and I am also due in October with our first boy! It was never this hard with the girls, but we cannot find a boy name. I’m liking Laszlo though…. 🙂

Teresa Strasser Says:

May 30th, 2009 at 8:37 pm

How can I thank everyone for these amazing boy name suggestions? Little Baby No Namesky remains nameless, but this gives us lots of ideas to ponder. Please, keep them coming.
With so much naming gratitude –
Teresa Strasser

Madeline Says:

June 2nd, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Actually, in my high school, there’s a freshman and a senior who are named James and go by James. Always have, and they haven’t had a problem with ‘Jim’ so far.

ewe_are_here Says:

June 5th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

We have a longtime Hungarian friend whose name is Keve (pronounced Kev-uh); I’ve always liked his name.

stephanie_elizabeth Says:

June 16th, 2009 at 6:21 pm

My cousin just had a baby girl…and she named her Brooklynn. That was one of my favorite names (not number one, but pretty high on my list), so now I have to cross that one off, which is bit depressing. She “stole” my name, but in her defense she didn’t know that name was on my list. Her sister named her daugher Millie on month later, but that was never on my list, so that was okay. 🙂

Lynda Says:

June 17th, 2009 at 6:43 am


Addie Says:

July 1st, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I love River, but I suggested it to my cousin who used it now I can’t. Also Gabriel, but my sister in law has a step son (baby’s first cousin) by that name. You are welcome to either, or even the names we chose Efrim Phoenix and Julian Russell.

Kisha Says:

July 7th, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Go with Laszlo. . . if you alter anything remove either the ‘s’ or the ‘z’ in the spelling because people will TRY to pronounce the name literally, which is kind of difficult.

In love with Laslo/Lazlo/Laszlo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.