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Every Name Tells a Story

What inspired your children's names?

By Abby Sandel

If there’s one rule of modern baby naming, it might be this: expect to tell your story.

How did you choose her name?” is one of my go-to conversation starters with new parents. It’s as reliable as “how did you meet?” to a newly engaged couple, or “do you have any fun plans for the weekend?” to … well, almost anyone.

Sometimes the response is a vague, “Oh, I don’t know, we just liked it.”

But usually there’s a story, and it’s often a great story about going through dozens of possibilities until one clicked. Or discovering that her favorite fictional character was also the name of his favorite great-aunt, so the baby had to called Eglantine. Obviously.

This week was filled with stories about how parents chose their favorite names, as well as a few birth announcements that hint at stories to come.

Here are nine stories in the news about choosing that elusive, exactly right baby name:

Ariah – Let’s begin with a correction. I guessed that Tamera Mowry and Adam Housely were thinking music or television when they named their new arrival Ariah. Not so. It’s pronounced like Mariah without the M, and Tamera tucked the name away years ago. The couple spotted a shop called Araya, but worried that the spelling would cause confusion. A few years later, they settled on Ariah for their daughter’s name.

Thor – Would you let your older child name a new sibling? Kylee and Robbie Wieczorek’s son Owen suggested they name his new brother Thor Captain American Ironman. The parents jettisoned those supercharged middles, but Thor stuck. It sounds crazy, but I know a family who named their second son Logan when his big brother got stuck on the idea of naming the baby after Wolverine. There are some great superhero possibilities, and more are emerging all the time.

Georgina, Genevieve, Sian – British Baby Names blogger Elea helped Marisa and her husband brainstorm names to honor grandmother Jeanne, called Jeannie. Reinventing the name of a loved one is increasingly common, a way to connect a child to a favorite grandparent or a dear family friend while still giving the child a name of his own.

Thia Patrice – Family inspiration was everywhere this week. Swistle helped a couple settle on a middle name for their new daughter. Thia is named after grandmother Cynthia, and is pronounced just like Thea. Patrice is another family name.

Everett, Calder – Crowdsourcing is more and more common. It’s one thing to take suggestions, but Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson, a gold medalist in ice hockey at the 2010 and 2014 games, and husband Scott Reid, have devised a tournament-style bracket to narrow down their son’s name. Everett and Calder are two of my favorites on their shortlist. Let’s assume Molson won’t win!

Rafael Thomas Alec and Hilaria Baldwin recently shared pictures of new son Rafael Thomas. Rafael joins big sister Carmen Gabriela. Hilaria was born in Mallorca, so the children’s Spanish names reflect mom’s heritage. There’s another layer of meaning to Rafael’s middle: Hilaria’s maiden name is Thomas.

Esther Ballantine – Speaking of family middles, did you hear that singer Sophie B. Hawkins welcomed her second child? Daughter Esther Ballantine joins big brother Dashiell Gaston. Sure enough, Ballantine is the B. in Sophie’s name, too. Sharing a family middle is a great way to connect the generations.

Charlie Ocean Jeff Goldblum and Emilie Livingston are new parents. Jeff had previously shared that Elliot Charlie was their favorite name for a boy. No word yet on why Charlie was promoted to the first spot, or if there’s a story behind Ocean. Here’s hoping the proud papa gives an interview soon.

Zelda Violet Frissberg – We’re not just choosing firsts and middles anymore. Parents are thinking differently about surnames, too. Emma Bloomberg, daughter of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, and her husband, Chris Frissora, took a fresh approach. Their new daughter’s full name is Zelda Violet Frissberg – a smoosh of their surnames. The couple welcomed their daughter in March. Zelda joins cousin Jasper, son of Georgina Bloomberg.

Readers, what inspired you?

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10 Responses to “Every Name Tells a Story”

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mistletoenargle Says:

July 13th, 2015 at 10:43 am

I have no kids, but the story about how my dad gave me my first name is somewhat interesting, I guess.

My first name is Kaylee.
I was born in 2000, and my dad was a big Eminem fan. If you’re not familiar with Eminem, his daughter’s name is Hailie. He wanted to name me Hailie, but he knew that all his friends would know who he named me after and would make fun of him for it. He also knew that my mom may know, and she isn’t the biggest Slim Shady fan. So, he changed the spelling. Hailie -> Haylee. He still felt as if it was too recognizable, so he swapped the H for a K. Instead of telling my mom the actual reason for my name, he just said ‘it wasn’t a popular name at the time,’ it was #72 on the list that year. She didn’t find out until I was 12.
My middle name, Mary, is my grandmother’s name and my aunt’s middle name. I plan on passing the name down to my children too.

Abby Says:

July 13th, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Ha! That’s a fabulous story. How cool that your dad was so into choosing your name!

JH Says:

July 13th, 2015 at 3:42 pm

My sister-in-law picked my husband’s name. Thankfully she chose a good one! It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure what my boys would choose….

SimoneKadele Says:

July 13th, 2015 at 8:05 pm

I was three years old, and I wanted to name my sister Mia. She ended up an Astrid, but I could’ve done worse! 🙂

capturedcastle Says:

July 13th, 2015 at 10:26 pm

My name was the only one that my parents could agree on =/ 30 years later they finally separated. Good name tho, Hannah–it wasn’t so popular back then as it is now, but I get lots of compliments on it, especially from older generations.

bookworm26 Says:

July 13th, 2015 at 11:07 pm

My mom was named after a character on the show Gilligan’s Island, Tina Louise.

I was named after a doctor from the show the Bold and the Beautiful, Taylor and I was given my moms middle name. So my name is Taylor Louise.

On my stepdad’s side of the family all the boys names start with ‘r’ and all the girls names start with ‘j’. It’s a tradition that my great grandparents on my grandfathers side started. My grandfather is Ronald “Ron” and his brothers are Russell “Russ” and Randall “Randy”. His sisters are Janice (or Janet, don’t know which) Judy, Joyce. My stepdad is Ryan and his brothers are Rhett and Raffe. My brother is Reece and he has my grandfathers middle name, Craig. My sister is Jena and she has my grandmothers middle name, Ann.

Jena is spelt with one ‘n’ because when my mom was pregnant with her, my stepdad was learning Arabic for the military and learned that meaning was little bird, and he’s an avid bird watcher.

Bobcat108 Says:

July 13th, 2015 at 11:27 pm

I didn’t find out until I was in my mid-40s that my first name was chosen by my dad because it was the name of one of his cousins. My parents had evidently settled on Elizabeth Anne until my dad got a bee in his bonnet that I needed to be Sheryl nn Sherry. My name is just one of the many reasons my mom hates my dad… ; )

My daughter’s name comes from one of my favorite YA books in which the protagonist is Kirsti, which is Finnish (in that book). My ex & I have no Finnish in our ancestry, plus we wanted a name that was more formal, so we chose Kiersten, which is the English variant of Kirsten (my ex has English ancestry). The other option left on the table at the time of my daughter’s birth was Melissa & I left the final choice of fn up to him. We had settled on Elizabeth as a mn early on, as it’s my favorite aunt’s mn, my ex-MIL’s favorite grandmother’s name, & it was almost my name.

caty_beth89 Says:

July 14th, 2015 at 9:07 am

I was named after my mom’s bridesmaids, Kathryn and Mary Elizabeth. Mom changed the K to a C so I’d have my dad’s initials and so I became Cathryn Elizabeth.
My son’s name was thought up by my husband and I when we were dating, long before we got pregnant. We were talking about family names. I liked Benton from his family and he liked Thomas Grover from mine, so we decided that if we ever had a son he’d be Thomas Benton Grover. When we finally were expecting our first son we decided to drop Thomas and he became Benton Grover.
Our first daughter was really hard to name. We went through so many names with her. In the end my husband chose Arwen from a list of my favorite names. Her middle was originally Louisa (family name on my side), but DH kept accidentally calling her Arwen Elizabeth, so we changed it when she was 4 weeks old.
I’m currently pregnant with our second daughter. It really felt like she needed an N ending name too since we kind of accidentally tripped into a theme. We’re Brian, Cathryn, Benton, and Arwen. I wanted something a little “magical” to go with Arwen and kept overlooking Raven until DH picked it from my HUGE master list. Raven’s middle name is going to be Antoinette after DH’s grandmother Harriet Ann.

ilovenames89 Says:

July 14th, 2015 at 10:42 pm

My name was suppose to be Ayla or Alaina. Middle name Inez which I have like my older sister Jessica. My name became Machion(Michon) my mom misspelled it. it’s was a close friend’s daughter’s name they haven’t seen in years. I love it. it was a huge surprise to my dad and still is after 26 years lol. my siblings are Jason(Born in 1972 he passed at 11 days old) ,Jessica(1974), & Jordan(96).

my daughter is Murron Lydia Genevieve. A full name. In high school i had a friend Lauren I placed my first letter to her Auren., hence mauren. fast forward when hubby and I met we were watching Brave Heart and william wallace’s wife’s name was Murron(Mauren) hubby looked at me asked if we got married and had kids if we could use that and i looked at him and told the story from above. that was that. he didn’t want family name’s but I loved Genevieve so much in general i needed to use it. it was my grandma’s name. He didn’t want 2 middle name’s but last minute he caved. I had Lior picked i loved the meaning it means Light. but it felt forced. Lydia came about a month or so before her birth, my dad has Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. He kept saying it was a girl and her name was Lydia. we were team green. Lydia was his grandma’s name and great Aunt. His great Aunt was born in the early 1900’s. Last minute we decided to use Lydia. I love her name! it fits her. Murron being Scottish and our heritage somewhat with other mixture’s. She’s Red headed, blue eyed and has one dimple. We couldn’t agree with her spelling though so we kept it traditional. it’s suppose to be Mer-rin but in the movie they use 3 type’s of pronouncing. We fell in love with Murron. even though on FB i had friends defriend me. lol Lydia means Beautiful and she is beautiful. Genevieve means tribal woman and white wave. Murron means bitter like the name Mary and that was my hubby’s grandma’s name. it all worked out. but if she were a boy Solomon Jace. Song of Solomon was our wedding verse and Jace after my big brother Jason to honor my dad in a way.

Haids1987 Says:

December 3rd, 2015 at 12:03 pm

The year was 1987. Mom was carrying around a big ol’ belly with Unknown Baby Girl D inside of it, and she and Dad couldn’t agree on a name. Being the Disney family that we are (Mom was still working at Disneyland back then), my parents were watching The Parent Trap. As the credits rolled and Haley Mills’ name came up, the lightbulb went off. The angels sang, the harps were plucked, and the golden light shone down on the TV.

“What about Hailey?” suggested Dad.
“I love Hailey!” answered my pregnant mother.

And so it was. They chose Hailey Ann, the Ann to honor my grandfather’s mother, Anna. Lucky for me they were ahead of the curve–my name was only 378th most popular in 1987, and last year it was the 51st most popular name. Go Mom and Dad!

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