How I Named My Baby: Viggo Edmund


McKenna York is an artist living in Louisville, Kentucky with her husband Joel and their two sons, two-year-old Boaz and five-month-old Viggo.

We talked to her about how she chose the baby name Viggo Edmund for her son.

How long did it take you to decide on a name?

We had mostly decided on Viggo‘s first name before he was conceived. We were 99% sure about Viggo Edmund before our 20-week anatomy scan when we chose to find out his gender. After we found out he was a boy, we started calling him Viggo right away to make sure it felt right. Once we were sure of Viggo, we played around with a few different middle name options. We kept coming back to Edmund, both because of how it sounded paired with Viggo, and the meaning. 

When did you know you found “The Name?”

I felt really confident about it very early on about the choice. I’m an over-researcher, probably to a fault. I knew the ins and outs of the name long before we officially decided. I knew what the general public liked and disliked about it, who and what it would be associated with, and how people could potentially mispronounce it. I like going in with my eyes wide open. Knowing all those things and still loving it and thinking it was a worthy choice only made me feel more confident. 

Is your baby named after anyone?

No, not particularly. We initially were attracted to Viggo to honor my Scandinavian heritage and the more we understood about the history of the name, the more it grew on us. It means “to battle,” or “warrior,” and relates back to the root word for Viking. We loved that, as I had a high-risk pregnancy and he was certainly a warrior through that and his NICU stay. In addition to the meaning, one of my favorite paintings is one called “Silent Night” by Danish artist Viggo Johansen. I am also a huge Tolkien fan so having the association of actor Viggo Mortsensen was a bonus!

What name did you hate to let go of?

Leif. I will always, always love Leif. My husband is open to so many names and I’m truly thankful that we have it a lot easier in the baby naming department than many other people. But I will always be a little bit bummed that he just can’t get on board with Leif, no matter how hard he tries. 

What would your younger self have liked to name the baby?

I LOVED the name Avan for a boy for a long time. I still think it’s cool.

Did your feelings about any of the names on your list shift over time?

Initially we LOVED Edmund for a first name choice. Our first son, Boaz, was almost named Edmund. Ultimately, we couldn’t go through with it because “Edmund York,” while sounding very cohesive and lovely, I couldn’t convince myself to use it. Ultimately, we decided to use Boaz but keep Edmund on our list in case we changed our minds about the flow of first and last name in the future. When considering a boy name for our second kiddo, we came to the same roadblock with using Edmund as a first name. We love the meaning of Edmund and the redemptive story line of Edmund Pevensie in the Chronicles of Narnia

Was it important to choose a name that ‘matched’ your baby’s older siblings’ — or future siblings’ — names?

I used to really not care about sibling names coordinating and I truly thought it was silly to worry too much about such a thing. But then we named our first Boaz and I quickly realized how natural it is to want to make sure that one child doesn’t feel like they got the short end of the stick with their name. Having a rare, historical, strong sounding name for our first, I felt we had to find something that would match Boaz’ ferocity. 

Was it easier to come up with girl or boy names?

We are WAY better at boy names, thankfully. We both love a lot of girl names but are so fickle with them. I have a list of about 20 girl names that I have loved for many years but I’m constantly changing which ones are my favorites. Our boy choices have a lot more stability. We have a top 5 that we’ve loved and talked through and haven’t changed too much since we first started talking about baby names. I suppose that is reflective of how the US popularity lists fluctuate as well, eh? Boy names are more stable, girl names fluctuate. 

What are the trendy names in your social circle?

That’s a good question. I often feel like my social circles have a really fun mix of names. For boys, the names I hear frequently are Ezra, Owen, Emmett, Aiden, Oliver, Silas, and Asher. On the girl side, I hear Eleanor, Nora, Charlotte, Addalyn, Lily (and variations), and Ellie pretty frequently. 

Have any unexpected nicknames come up for your baby?

We call him Teddy Vigs pretty regularly, which was completely unexpected. Teddy, as a nickname for Edmund, and Vigs is just short for Viggo

What was the most surprising part of the baby name process?

Naming a child is so much more intimidating than one expects. At first, it seems so straightforward. Choose a name you like that isn’t gross or offensive, you’re good to go. Alas, it is hardly ever that straightforward. Like most things that have to do with bringing a brand-new human into the world, parents quickly realize how completely overwhelming the task can be. With our first, I was surprised by how many factors came into our decision-making process. 

What advice would you give someone just starting the baby name process?

Instead of focusing solely on finding one perfect name, focus on creating a pool of names that you both appreciate and really like. This makes it easier to talk about styles and form opinions together rather than just shooting down name after name that the other person likes. 

Ask these questions: if you like this name for your baby, will it also be suitable for them when they are a grown adult? Will it translate well throughout your child’s life? 

The coffee shop trick is a great. It’s a completely candid sneak peek at what it would be like to bear the name you’re considering giving your child. How does the barista react? Is it a nightmare to spell? How many times do you have to repeat yourself before the barista hears you correctly?

Thank you so much, McKenna!

About the Author

Sophie Kihm

Sophie Kihm has been writing for Nameberry since 2015. She has contributed stories on the top middle names of 2019, the top baby names in each state, and the hottest nickname names of 2018. Sophie is Nameberry’s resident Name Guru to the Stars, where she suggests names for celebrity babies. She also manages the Nameberry Instagram and Pinterest. You can follow her personally on Instagram or Pinterest, or contact her at Sophie lives in Chicago.

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