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The Names We Choose, Those We Refuse

November 1, 2015 Abby Sandel

By Abby Sandel

Here’s something that fascinates me: the difference between the names that we truly love, but don’t use, and the names that we actually bestow upon our children.

My own shortlist tends towards the daring – Leif, March, Everild, Swan. But would any of those names make it on to my child’s birth certificate? Maybe.

Carrie Underwood recently dished about the names that she and husband Mike Fisher considered for son Isaiah, and the reasons that they rejected some of their favorites. She sounded remarkably like almost every mom I’ve ever heard explain why certain names just couldn’t be The Name for their new arrival.

This week’s baby name news was all about the names that we choose and the names that we consider before moving on.

Christian Carrie Underwood admitted that she decided against the name Christian, thanks to one of the main characters in Fifty Shades of Grey. Christian has been a Top 100 favorite since 1986, but could the racy blockbuster persuade parents too look elsewhere? It’s a classic name, with history dating to the ninth century. One fictional figure shouldn’t derail this name – but it might.

Roland – Pop culture takes away baby name possibilities, but it also adds new options. Brad Pitt is set to star as Roland in new movie By the Sea. If the movie is a success, could romantic, medieval Roland make a comeback? It’s not such a stretch from Roman, Rowan, and Ronan.

Simone – This is another name I’m watching. As French as Genevieve, as tailored as Charlotte, and yet Simone was given to fewer than 400 girls in 2014. Simone Biles just won her third straight gold medal in the all-around competition at the women’s gymnastics World Championship, and could be heavily favored going into the 2016 Olympics. Could she also boost her lovely, underused name?

Jane Jimmy Kimmel (shown) recently joked that he and wife Molly had “accomplished something” by giving their daughter a “normal” name. I’d agree that Jane is tailored, classic, and downright gorgeous. But it’s worth noting that Jane ranked in the 300s in 2014. If popularity is a measure of normalcy, the Kimmels could have chosen a name like Serenity, Skyler, Kaydence, Athena, or London – and those could have been normal, too.

Galileo – Meanwhile in Azerbaijan, some parents are avoiding normal. Names like Galileo have been registered for newborns in recent months, prompting a government official to suggest an official dictionary of names.

Zoe Ireland – While we’re in Europe, let’s talk about Ireland. It’s the name of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger’s twenty-something daughter, and it’s the middle name chosen by a Kentucky couple for their new arrival. Zoe Ireland’s mom went into premature labor on a flight from Paris to the US, and gave birth in a Dublin hospital following an emergency landing. It’s a place name with a very special meaning.

Scout – Meaning matters for many parents, and celebrated novel To Kill a Mockingbird has inspired many moms and dads to choose names like Harper and Atticus for their children. In the aftermath of Go Set a Watchman, it will be interesting to see if Atticus rises or falls, but Scout – the nickname for Mockingbird’s Jean Louise Finch – seems likely to rise. Right now, it’s more popular for girls, but recent birth announcements suggest that this one could be truly gender neutral.

Grayson – I was curious to see the outcome of this Swistle post. The couple have a son named Grayson and were expecting another boy. Was Jackson too much repetition? Swistle gave a great answer – as always – but the family ultimately went with Maddox instead. It’s a reminder that every name we love enough to choose for a child can potentially rule out others for future children.

Jovan – Despite all of the talk of normal names and worry about pop culture references or what’s too out there, plenty of families stick with the basics when naming their children. The Chew’s Daphne Oz and husband Jovan Jovanovic chose a bold name for daughter Philomena Bijou. But when their second child arrived at the end of October, they went the traditional route. Their son is named Jovan Jovanovic, Jr. They’re calling him JohnJohn.

Which names did you decide not to use?

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