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Nile: Yes, Like The River

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By Nile Cappello

My name is, without a doubt, one of my most defining characteristics. Yes, I am loud, outspoken, slightly (or more than slightly) obnoxious, extremely determined (read: stubborn), and quite a few other things — but with a name like Nile, I wouldn’t have to be any of these to stand out.

Most people tell me they have never met someone named Nile.  They also ask me if I was born in Egypt, conceived on the Nile River (ew), or am Egyptian. My co-worker said before my first day she was convinced I would be a tall, dark, Egyptian goddess. I am not. I am small, pale, blonde, and overwhelmingly white.

Although my name was clearly inspired by the river in Egypt, I’m actually named after my grandfather Neil. In a time when made-up names like Jazlyn and “creative” spellings like Madilyn and Joslyn litter the Top 1000 list, I’m thankful to have a bit of history and familial significance behind my name.

More than anything, I’m thankful to have my name at all. I’m thankful to have something that inspires me to stand out as much as it suggests I will, an automatic conversation-starter, a unique part of myself that immediately distinguishes me. I’m thankful to have parents who were brave enough to take a chance on a name that many people (many more than I know, I’m sure) thought would never, ever work.

And I like to think I’ve lived up to it — after all, it’d be hard to be a quiet, shy, or private person named Nile. I get asked about it constantly, have told the story of its origin more times than I can count, and am often having to chuckle at a joke despite having heard it 500 times prior (deNILE is more than just a river in Egypt, eh?). But I love it — every time I introduce myself, I do it with pride, and I do it with the confidence that I will fill the unique, distinctive, and eye-catching shoes that it sets in front of me.

For parents considering unique names, realize that choosing one will undoubtedly have an effect on the child’s personality. Whether the name makes the child or the child makes the name, I’m still not sure — and frankly, it doesn’t matter. If you’re a private family likely to be annoyed with repeatedly explaining the reasoning behind your child’s name (or names), maybe reconsider. More importantly, consider what a ‘unique’ or ‘creative’ name means to you — a funky spelling that will cost your child years of their life spent spelling it? A name not popular in your area? A name not popular yet, but likely to become more mainstream in the next few years? A spunky familial name with an honor tie-in? And most importantly, consider why you’re making this choice.

For my parents, you can see it was a combination of a lot of these things — familial significance, uncommon both by regional and international standards, spunk, funk, and everything in between. My name has always been something I speak about with pride instead of shame — and with a bit of foresight, I think any kid can wear (and rock) a name like Nile.

This blog post was originally featured on Yes, Like The River.

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About the author

nilecappello

It's no surprise that with a name like Nile (and a mother named Marva), Nile Cappello has been a name nerd since birth. She's a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and also runs a named-after-a-name blog, View all of nilecappello's articles View all Berry Juice Bloggers

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7 Responses to “Nile: Yes, Like The River”

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hermioneameliastyles Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 5:50 am

I prefer Niall to Nile

DracoDrake Says:

May 19th, 2014 at 6:55 am

I hated my name growing up b/c I was teased mercilessly..but I was teased not just for my name. I love it now b/c it’s unusual, and everyone I meet loves it too. It’s Karhma Harmony. I wish they didn’t put the extra h in though. Btw, for reference, I’m 39.

aylasoma Says:

May 20th, 2014 at 2:24 pm

My name is Ayla (Like Kayla without the “K”)- I was named after my parents’ favorite book series “The Clan of the Cavebear” by Jean Auel. The main character, Ayla, is a young beautiful blonde warrior-like woman surviving during the stone age. She gave me a lot to live up to by being named after her. However, it almost inspired me to stand out and be this beautiful person inside and out that you read about in her story.

I can definitely relate to Nile about how it gives you an automatic chance to stand out when meeting someone new. I remember in grade school whenever taking attendance for the first time, everyone would look at me and I would either have to correct the pronunciation or tell where the name came from. Right away, everyone knew who I was, and for some reason I loved that. It gave me confidence to stand in the spotlight when I’m not sure I would have done so easily if my name had been Jennifer, Ashley, or Amanda.

I also have reached into the fictional books about Ayla wondering if I was anything like her. I am blonde, strong, I survived a tough childhood and came out of everything as a published writer. Maybe the literary name stuck with me and made me who I am today? Very fun to think about.

My husband and I are now trying to have a baby. Since my unique name has made such a large impact in my life, I’ve vowed to give my own daughter a very beautiful yet strong name (nothing vulnerable and frail like Lulu or Flower) – I want my daughter to feel feminine and confident – yet I want her to stand out. This is a difficult road to go down because it’s so easy to get sucked into the megapopular names like Aria, Ava, or Olivia, but I have to keep reminding myself that I would not be satisfied with my daughter going to school and having 3 other girls named the same thing in her classes. It sounds so bland and boring.

Here are a couple of my ideas for my future baby girl(s):
Thea – Greek for “Goddess” or “Godly”
Ember – I like the “glowing” or “fiery” implication of the name
Haven – I love the “safety” emphasis in the name as it brings peace and confidence

*Elsa – Used to be our top choice before Disney used it for the movie Frozen 🙁 I loved how it was a little different (at least in the US), & you picture a beautiful blonde girl when you hear it and it means “pledged to God” which is beautiful.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject. Looking forward to seeing other people’s unique names and hear their experiences with them!

aylasoma Says:

May 20th, 2014 at 2:24 pm

My name is Ayla (Like Kayla without the “K”)- I was named after my parents’ favorite book series “The Clan of the Cavebear” by Jean Auel. The main character, Ayla, is a young beautiful blonde warrior-like woman surviving during the stone age. She gave me a lot to live up to by being named after her. However, it almost inspired me to stand out and be this beautiful person inside and out that you read about in her story.

I can definitely relate to Nile about how it gives you an automatic chance to stand out when meeting someone new. I remember in grade school whenever taking attendance for the first time, everyone would look at me and I would either have to correct the pronunciation or tell where the name came from. Right away, everyone knew who I was, and for some reason I loved that. It gave me confidence to stand in the spotlight when I’m not sure I would have done so easily if my name had been Jennifer, Ashley, or Amanda.

I also have reached into the fictional books about Ayla wondering if I was anything like her. I am blonde, strong, I survived a tough childhood and came out of everything as a published writer. Maybe the literary name stuck with me and made me who I am today? Very fun to think about.

My husband and I are now trying to have a baby. Since my unique name has made such a large impact in my life, I’ve vowed to give my own daughter a very beautiful yet strong name (nothing vulnerable and frail like Lulu or Flower) – I want my daughter to feel feminine and confident – yet I want her to stand out. This is a difficult road to go down because it’s so easy to get sucked into the megapopular names like Aria, Ava, or Olivia, but I have to keep reminding myself that I would not be satisfied with my daughter going to school and having 3 other girls named the same thing in her classes. It sounds so bland and boring.

Here are a couple of my ideas for my future baby girl(s):
Thea – Greek for “Goddess” or “Godly”
Ember – I like the “glowing” or “fiery” implication of the name
Haven – I love the “safety” emphasis in the name as it brings peace and confidence

*Elsa – Used to be our top choice before Disney used it for the movie Frozen 🙁 I loved how it was a little different (at least in the US), & you picture a beautiful blonde girl when you hear it and it means “pledged to God” which is beautiful.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject. Looking forward to seeing other people’s unique names and hear their experiences with them!

Cheyenne Says:

May 20th, 2014 at 2:30 pm

I love my name! I was born in 1980 (before the Cheyenne name popularity in the early ’90s). I also say my name with pride and I love that my parents chose a name that was unique and meant something to them. I come from a Rodeo family, and the name is a wonderful nod to that. I then named my daughter Holland. Also a unique name with a nod to my Dutch heritage. I have never wanted to make Cheyenne into a nickname (Anne or Shy. Why? My name is CHEYENNE!) and that goes for Holland, too (I didn’t name her Holly, so why would I call her that?!). Love your name!

gwednesday Says:

May 20th, 2014 at 5:04 pm

my name is Gwendolyn and I constantly get complemented on it!! I honestly used to hate it but now i love that I’m not just another Hannah, Rachel, Olivia, or Katie. People always come up to me and say how much they love my name. It doesn’t really have significance but that’s ok!

I am very thankful for my unique name!

indiefendi Says:

May 20th, 2014 at 5:27 pm

My name is Kaprice and in grade school I always had to tell people “no dumbass it’s not like Capri Sun!” but now people always ask me the story behind it. “Caprice with a K! Oh I like that! Where did your mom find it?”

Btw Nile is a cool name! I like it.

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