How I Named My Baby: Casper Jerome
Andrea and Dylan are attorneys living in Arizona. They have a one-year-old son named Casper Jerome and are now expecting their second child this November.
We talked with Andrea about saints’ names, sibling names, and how they chose the name Casper for their little boy.
Tell me about Casper’s name!
Dylan and I played the baby name game even before we were engaged. I kept a running list on my phone of names that weren’t vetoed by either of us. It became clear that we were attracted to flowery, literary names. We had Caspian on the list forever — it was one of the first names we both really liked — but we both said it seemed a little much. It’s dramatic for a baby! I’ve never heard of another person named Caspian other than Prince Caspian from the Narnia books.
We’re Catholic, and we like the idea of having babies named after saints because you can celebrate the saint’s name day for the baby. It’s kind of like a second birthday every year. We’re not 100% tied to having a saint’s name as the first name, because if they have one as a middle name, we could celebrate that name day if we had to. But if a name is a saints’ name it gets triple points for us.
Casper is one of the three magi that brought the gifts to Jesus, and in the Catholic church, he is a saint. When we heard that, we started loving it. It moved to the top of the list pretty quick.
At what point in your pregnancy did you decide on Casper?
By the time I got pregnant! Casper and Felix were the top two and the choice was which one do we want to use first. We knew those were our two favorites for a while.
What was it about Felix that you liked?
Same kind of thing. It was on the list for a long time. Casper and Felix go together. They’re both saints, they both seem sort of European. They’re popular in Europe right now — Casper is popular in the Scandinavian countries whereas Jasper is more popular here. If you look up famous Caspers and Felixes, they’re all kings and princes and saints in Scandinavia and Germany.
I like that they’re both very recognizable — people instantly know how to spell them — but in the US they feel pretty unique. I’ve never met a Felix or a Casper.
What’s the significance of Jerome?
There’s a small town here called Jerome, Arizona. It’s kind of a ghost town now. Dylan’s grandparents are from Mexico — his grandmother’s family immigrated here, and she was born in Jerome, Arizona. His grandfather was born in Mexico, and his family moved to Jerome. It’s a special place for the family. Jerome is also a saint. And we just really liked the name!
We considered Jerome for a first name, but it didn’t really rise to the top, so we thought we would use it as a middle name and honor both of Dylan’s grandparents in one. We’ve visited Jerome a lot, so it’s a special place for us too.
Sometimes I kind of regret not saving it for a first name, but I think I’d have to have seven or eight sons till I got to liking Jerome that much.
What strategies did you use to narrow down your choices?
We’d be watching a movie or something and there’d be a character named Felix or something, and I’d say, “how about Felix?” and he’d be like “yeah, maybe” and I would just write it down on the note of my iPhone.
I had that list forever and when we started talking about starting to try to have a baby, I went back to the list. There were a ton of choices on there from years of talking about names. Then we started looking at the etymology and making decisions, thinking about which names sound good together, and finding trends in what we like. We found new names based on that. We seem to like these unique, vintage-type names and then looked at lists with that style.
Lots of the names we like are almost too compatible. They have the same sounds! We like Celeste and Hester and Esther, and those are even a little similar to Casper. Early on with Casper, we thought about that — we’re knocking out a huge block of girl names that we like. We like Ophelia but not Felix and Ophelia with the repeating “feel” sound.
Did you ask anyone for advice about baby names?
No! Our names are a little weird. Dylan and I both come from big, opinionated families and knew we would get some kind of hurtful comments even though people don’t mean it that way necessarily. It was a complete secret up until birth.
Especially with Casper the Friendly Ghost, we knew we would hear a lot of people joke about it, which would have hurt our feelings. Now that the name is set and we love it and it’s done, hearing Casper the Ghost doesn’t bother me. But so far, we haven’t heard it as much as I thought we would.
I’m on the Nameberry forums and I have a couple other apps with forums, so I asked strangers if there were things I wasn’t considering about the names or if there were connotations or associations I wasn’t picking up on. I did that with a girl name, Serena, paired with Joyce, another family name. But Serena Joy is apparently a villain in A Handmaid’s Tale — I don’t watch that, so I didn’t know! Being able to work that out in the forums was helpful.
How did you decide between Casper and Felix?
It was basically a coin toss at the end. We talked about it for a long time I asked Dylan which he would like better if he had to pick. He said Casper, and so did I, but it just barely edged out Felix. We had pretty similar styles and everything went smoothly, but we disagree on spellings always. He wanted to spell it, Caspar, with an -ar, and even after he was born, we were still arguing about it.
So you won that one! How did that happen?
I think he just let me win at the end. I never convinced him! Dylan was Caspar to the end. My argument was that we liked the pronunciation CAS-per but he liked the spelling Caspar. He just thought that in America everyone would pronounce them the same regardless, but I disagreed. I thought people would think that if you’re spelling it differently, you’re meaning it to be pronounced differently. To already have a weird name and then to have to spell it out is difficult. In the end, I had a tough labor and it’s kind of hard to argue with that.
Are you finding out the sex of this next baby?
I am, but Dylan is not, so I have to keep it a secret. Casper was a surprise and Dylan liked that, but I didn’t. This time I said I’m going to find out and I’ll keep it a secret, but we have to have both names picked by 20 weeks. Our boy name is Felix Joseph. And if it is a boy, I don’t want to play some game where I have to pretend to care about the girl name.
So you’re coming down to the wire on deciding a girl name! Where are you in that process?
We have the top five, the top three of which have been pretty consistent for a long time. The other two are still ones that we talked about and liked for a long time. It’s really just a matter of finally picking one.
We love that Celeste-Hester-Hestia-Esther group. I don’t think they’re all necessarily all out, but if this baby is a girl, we wouldn’t do them right in a row since the sounds are similar to Casper. If Casper was a girl, he would have been Celeste.
None of our girl names have that magical perfect feeling like Casper did, which made me feel so secure in it. Just for naming purposes, I’m praying it’s a boy.
How do you feel about your own name and how do you think that influenced your choice of names?
I’ve always liked my name! I’ve never met an Andrea anywhere close to my age. A couple of my friends’ moms were named Andrea. It always felt unique to me. My brother and sister and 10 and 12 years older than me, and my parents let them be a part of the baby name process. My parents said they wanted a name that nobody hated. They got a big baby name book and if anyone put an X next to a name, it was out. Andrea was the only name in the book that none of them X’d. So I’ve always liked my name because of the story.
What was your biggest fear related to baby names?
We’re both very anti-nickname. Neither of us has ever gone by a nickname — no one has tried to call me Andi or anything, I’ve always been Andrea to everybody. And Dylan hates all Dilly-related nicknames. Since neither of us had them, we don’t prefer them for baby names.
Also, in law school, there was a huge wave of all the girls that we knew transitioning away from their nicknames to seem more professional. We knew a Cami that went back to Camilla, and many others with -ie and -y ending names that started going by their full names. Even outside of grad school, a bunch of my friends felt the need to move away from their more childish nicknames. You’re letting go of what you think your name is. So I always think about that. We didn’t want any names with an obvious nickname or a nickname we didn’t like, so I’d say my biggest fear was trying to anticipate nicknames. With Casper I didn’t want Caspie — it sounds awful!
What was the most surprising part of the baby name process?
I thought I would have more fun. I’m glad we started as early as we did, because it was fun before we were engaged and married and had kids on the horizon. It was theoretical and we had tons of crazy names on the list. It was more whimsical of a game. Once the pregnancy became real, we had to consider things that were less fun, like the nicknames and the initials. It kind of hit me that this is a real person that will have this name forever. They have to have it as a cute baby and a professional adult. Reality set in and it was a lot of pressure.
What advice would you give to someone just starting the baby name process?
I see so many couples on these threads that are like, “well this is my list, and this is his list, so which is better? Vote on who should win.” I came into it with the story from my childhood of a veto is a veto — if someone hates the name, it doesn’t matter how much you love it. There are lots of names I like that were completely vetoed by Dylan early on, and I haven’t thought about them since. If he doesn’t like the name, I’m not going to give it to our baby. Our strategy was always to find names we both like and go from there. It takes a long time to do that, but it’s best to go from that mentality if you have a partner. It should be a joint effort. You should want them to love the name as much as you because it’s their kid too.
Thanks so much, Andrea!