Category: Name Nerds
By Abby Sandel
When it comes to naming, plenty of new parents hesitate. “What if she hates her name?” they ask.
We name strangers. There is an excellent chance that your child will find his name too ordinary/too weird/too traditional/too crunchy/too hard to spell/too something at some point.
But I am here to tell you that even if this happens – if your child so thoroughly dislikes the name you choose that she pursues a legal name change – you have not failed.
I’m one of those kids, one who disliked her name at five and 15 and 25, until I legally changed it as an adult.
My mother’s name is long, lovely, unusual. A family name dictated by custom. My given name is a rebellion against all that. Short, simple, very common. Easy to say and spell.
It turns out that I was meant to have her name; and she, mine.
By Duana Taha
For a certain type of outspoken, literary woman, Harriet M. Welsch is a touchstone figure. She is mouthy and candid and brutal in her pursuit of the truth. I mean, she has to be. She’s a spy. For the uninitiated, I’m talking about Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, and if you’re reading this in a place that sells books, you should purchase that one to go along with this wonderful volume you’re holding.
I’m not saying an eleven-year-old Manhattan-based spy is my role model but, you know, listening to everyone talk about their names for years is a form of observation, and Harriet certainly taught me all about that—you see where I’m going here? She’s not not my role model.
My love affair with names began in elementary school when I selected a book about the meaning behind names from the monthly book order catalog. I enjoyed it so much I asked my parents to buy me a second name book. I picked up the original Beyond Jennifer and Jason, and highlighted it within inches of its life. I loved the way names sounded in my head and how Pamela and Linda took thinking about names a step further than most books. They gave them new meanings and classifications and offered insight into how names might be perceived by other people at all stages of someone’s life. It fascinated me and thus, a name nerd was born.
For years, I scribbled stories here and there but my favorite part of the process was always naming the characters. I labored over who would get which moniker, many times to the detriment of the story. I’d have two full pages of characters with spectacular names and one page of actual story completed before I gave up and started something new.
Here at Nameberry, we know a lot about name obsession: We’ve been pretty obsessive about the subject ourselves for as long as we can remember. And one of the great things about running this site is that it’s introduced us to a lot of fellow obsessive name people. Maybe you’re one of them?
Here, 19 signs:
1. You’ve memorized the Social Security Top 1000 names. And you’re fully prepared to take the quiz.
2. American baby name books weren’t enough for you, so you’ve also amassed a collection of British, Australian, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and one Japanese baby name book. In Japanese.
3. You’ve made a spreadsheet to analyze the results of your online baby name polls.
Being a name nerd used to be hard work.
Do you remember paging through lists of Olympic medalists in the paper, gazing at name plaques in art museums, seeking out family trees in history books at the library? Did you know exactly which days the local paper ran birth announcements?
Then you must be a thirty-something or better name nerd.
I borrowed my mother’s only baby name book and kept it on my bookshelf, between Sweet Valley High and Nancy Drew. I read it obsessively, even the small print listing nicknames and foreign variants. That long lost book is where I fell in love with Libby and Nan, Katrinka and Alexei.
So many stories about twenty-first century baby naming trends are dismissive. They claim parents are trying too hard for their children to stand out and be unique.
Maybe that happens some of the time, but to me it seems straightforward.
With access to all of these fabulous names, why wouldn’t we consider a wider range of possibilities?