Name Sage: A Name to Remember Dad

Name Sage: A Name to Remember Dad

Barbie writes:

I would like to honor my recently deceased father, Early Bernard, but I am drawing a blank! I just cannot see myself naming my child a name that would be shortened to Earl. His nickname was Early Bird, so I have flirted the idea of incorporating Bird somehow. But how?

Our four daughters are Taegan Elizabeth Claire, Madeleine Alexandria Rose, Julie Isabella Maria, and Willow Delilah Blue. As you can see, I like a variety of names.

I gave them all three names for personal reasons, and my son will have three names as well. I would prefer that no two of my children have the same first initial, so J, M, T, and W are out.

The Name Sage replies:

Congratulations on your new baby on the way! How lovely that you’d like to honor your father with your son’s name.

At first glance, Early Bernard or Early Bird isn’t terribly flexible.

But you’ve got interesting, eclectic taste in names – everything from modern Blue to classic Elizabeth. That’s good, because it means that there are lots of possibilities to honor your dad’s memory.

You’ve mentioned that Earl isn’t your style. I wonder if using Early as a middle – or second middle – name would be a possibility? It’s a cool, quirky name to have on your family tree. It’s also a tough one to reinvent, though I did think about Prior. It’s not exactly a synonym, but the meanings are close.

Bernard and Bird give us some other options. Bernard is originally a Germanic name. The first element means bear; the second, brave or hardy. And avian names are quite popular today.

Let’s look at some names that mean bear, bird, or brave, or come from Bernard:

ArthurRegal, vintage Arthur is making a comeback. It may come from the Celtic artos – bear, making it a cousin to Bernard.

Orson – In Latin, a bear is ursus. It became ors in French, so Orson means little bear. I love the unexpected sound of Orson, and I think it works well in our age of Oliver and Mason.

BennoBenno is a nickname for Bernard, and it’s also the name of a medieval saint from Meissen, in Saxony. That ‘o’ ending has a lot of energy, and Ben– names have been trending upwards. It’s more of a stretch, but Bennett might also work.

Bear – Animal names are more mainstream than ever, from Leo to Fox. Bear was given to 129 boys in 2014 – a new high. It might work as a bold first name choice, and definitely feels like a possible middle.

Brave – If you like the idea of Bear, I wonder if you’ll also like the sound of Brave? Again, it might be better as a middle than a first, but there were 18 newborn Braves last year.

Hardy – Now here’s one that I think works as a given name. Hardy comes from an Old French word meaning courageous. It fits with traditional names like Henry, as well as surname choices like Crosby and Wesley.

Everett – Speaking of surnames, how about Everett? It’s more common than many of the names on this list. Everett comes from the given name Everard – same ending as Bernard, and same meaning – brave.

Adler – If you’re thinking of a bird name, I wonder if you’d like Adler – eagle. Another eagle possibility is Ari.

Bird, ByrdBird might make a great middle, but I’m partial to Byrd – an alternate spelling of the surname. It brings to mind jazz great CharlieBirdParker and Antarctic explorer Admiral Richard Byrd.

Phoenix – This might be my favorite. A phoenix is a mythical bird, said to be reborn from the ashes. Naming Early Bird’s grandson Phoenix could feel a little bit dramatic – but I think it hits the right note. While the myth has its origins in ancient Egypt, it has equivalents in many of the world’s mythologies, and has also been retold from a Christian perspective. It’s truly a culture-spanning name!

Do you want all three of your son’s names to honor your father? A few combinations that appeal to me: Everett Phoenix Early, Orson Hardy Adler, Benno Arthur Bear, Benno Arthur Early, Everett Bernard Bear, Phoenix Hardy Adler, Arthur Phoenix Brave.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to honor your dad’s memory. Names might be inspired by his month or place of birth, his favorite pastimes, or his heroes. Even when a name feels challenging to reinvent, there’s always an opportunity!

Berries, are there any great ways to honor Barbie’s father that I’ve overlooked? Which names would you combine to honor Early Bernard?