Would You Give Your Child a Name You Wouldn’t Want for Yourself?

Our Question of the Week

There’s no denying that the “Nameberry style” of baby names is generally a little — or a lot! — more adventurous than that of the general population.

Fabulous names featuring in the Nameberry Top 100 include Rumi, Astrid and Allegro for girls, and Dante, Magnus and Winston for boys. And it’s not at all unusual to see real rarities like Balthazar and Bellatrix, Warwick and Willodean swimming across the “Names Searched Right Now” banner, or thrown out as suggestions in the Forums.

Plenty of Berries love the idea of that truly unique baby name: that stunning, surprising, show-stopping choice that can’t help but stand out in a crowd… for all the right reasons, of course.

But how often do we stop and think about whether that’s really something that we’d want for ourselves?

So, today’s Question of the Week is specifically about those names on your list that you couldn’t imagine on yourself, but would love to use for a child. Perhaps they feel too quirky for you, or too cutesy, or simply don’t seem to “fit” your personality. Perhaps they’re associated with a certain country, culture or character that you have no ties to. Or perhaps they’re even too popular for you, when you’d personally prefer a more distinctive moniker.

Would you — should you — bestow these kinds of names on your child?

Are there any names on your own list that you just can’t picture on yourself? Why not?

How do you even begin to go about choosing a name for someone you haven’t met yet? How can you ever be sure that they will like your final choice?

And the kicker: how much of modern naming do you think is about the parents, and how much about the child?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, or come and join the conversation on our Facebook and Twitter pages!

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16 Responses to “Would You Give Your Child a Name You Wouldn’t Want for Yourself?”

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emmievis Says:

October 5th, 2018 at 2:00 am

There are some names I like that I wouldn’t want on myself.
For example, Nordic choices like Freya, Ingrid and Astrid. They’ve become more familiar in recent years, sure, but for a baby born when I was born a Nordic name would seem odd.
Plus some names are lovely but just don’t fit my personality at all. My own name, Celia, isn’t a bad name, it just doesn’t suit me.

briarblossom Says:

October 5th, 2018 at 5:28 am

I think it’s the number one rule in naming a child. I have fun with names but in reality I think it’s something that has to be considered.

LLBaby22 Says:

October 5th, 2018 at 6:36 am

The only way I would use a name I wouldn’t want for myself or my husband wouldn’t want for himself is if the name didn’t fit my ethnicity but it did the child’s. For example Aiko I think is a lovely name, but being German and Irish it wouldn’t fit me. If my husband was Japanese though and our daughter would be 50% Japanese, suddenly I could consider that name.
I love names that are uncommon but I think when naming a child the name should also be versatile, as we know nothing about this person’s personality or their future appearance. So I consider if I would like the name on myself. Then I picture it on a large variety of people to make sure it doesn’t seem jarring with any personality type. If I loved a name and could picture it on myself and my outgoing best friend, but it’d embarrass my more reserved sister, or just seem ridiculous on her, I don’t think it’s fair to give it to my child who may be mild mannered and shy.

Janie_Larkin70 Says:

October 5th, 2018 at 6:53 am

I gave my daughter a name reflecting the ethnicity of her dad, a culture I do not share. It’s a lovely name that suits her beautifully, but it is so strikingly different to my background that it would seem incongruous on me. The other two are boys.

Myosotis Says:

October 5th, 2018 at 7:36 am

I think, at the end of the day, my child won’t be the same person that I am. There aren’t many names I can really imagine on myself, because I’ve got used to my name. I do tend to choose the sort of names I’d like to have, like less popular options because I love having a less popular name, and I wouldn’t use names that I doubt anyone would want and see as problematic. But just because they don’t fit me, doesn’t mean that might not grow to suit my child. So I’d use a name that’s usable and would work on a real person, but not necessarily a name I would use for myself or that suits my personality.

SparkleNinja18 Says:

October 5th, 2018 at 9:58 am

Yes, I think I would. My child won’t be the same person I am. They’ll have a different personality, might look different, might have a different surname than me, and will be growing up in a different time than I did. I think the only reason I wouldn’t use a name is if I would’ve been embarrassed to have it as a kid, or if it would’ve made life difficult in an another way. For example, I love the name Eilidh but I probably wouldn’t have liked having it as a kid because it would be almost impossible for Americans to pronounce and spell. So I’d use it as a middle name, where it would be less likely to be a problem. I think it’s more important to consider whether the name would work on a real person in general than just focusing on whether it would work on you.

Beort12 Says:

October 5th, 2018 at 10:06 am

As a general rule I don’t think you have to choose a name you would personally like, but I do think you should consider whether a reasonable person would be okay with the name within the context that they live. Obviously you have no accurate way of predicting your child’s personality, looks, or interests when they are born, but you can think broadly about a variety of different people and whether this would be a name that would “fit” them and that they would probably be content with.

Personally, while I don’t believe I can only consider names I would like to have individually, I do think they should fall under the umbrella of names I can reasonably imagine wearing. For me, that means a name that is classic enough not to be too tied to any particular era, appropriate for my ethnic and linguistic background, and relatively easy to spell and pronounce. I think my favorite girls names (Liana, Paola, Carmen, Noemi, Esperanza…) fit within those perimeters well, and I am content with them. In fact, Paola IS a name I have though I would like for myself! My top boy’s names, however, are actually a bit more out there than my girls names (bucking the cultural trend, for sure) so I may need to have some serious thoughts about if they are stylistically something I can imaging wearing if I were male.

paw Says:

October 5th, 2018 at 11:04 am

I do like the Starbucks test with a name. If you thinking of giving your child a specific name, use it at Starbucks and see how it makes you feel when they call it out. Then reflect on those feelings before you decide on the name. In theory, you might love the name Pandora but when they call it out and everyone stares when you go get your coffee, you might think differently. You might love the name Siobhan (Shi-von) but if you hear it pronounced (Si-ban) several times, you may decide not to pass that challenge on to a child.

As for sticking to names that I would like, I agree with some of the earlier posters. A name might not work for me personally for ethnic or surname reasons but might be very appropriate for my child if those factors are different. Another reason, I might not like to have a particular name is because I associate it with someone I didn’t like or was a negative factor in my life. My child would not have those same associations with the name so if I could get past thinking negatively about the name I might use it for a child even if I wouldn’t want it for myself.

I do sometimes wonder, with the names some parents choose, if they give any thought to whether or not the child would like it. We can’t know the personality of our child when we name them so I think parents should be given a lot of slack here. It is silly to resent a parent for naming you Melonie when you feel you more of a Scarlett. However, there are names parents choose names that they could anticipate would be difficult for most people to wear – Princess, Younique, etc.

Conqueror1991 Says:

October 5th, 2018 at 11:50 am

I love long, elegant, super feminine girls names, but no, I couldn’t imagine having a name like that for myself. I have a short, unisex name and, although it has a Male and female spelling, it does not sound super feminine or masculine. It suits me very well and I wouldn’t change it. However, although my taste in girls names is super girly, my number one girl name has unisex and boyish nickname options if my daughter ends up hating the long version of her name. I love that about it. So, no, most of the names I like I probably would not like for myself because I’m not always super girly (only sometimes), but a lot of them have nickname options that I probably wouldn’t mind having.

WhiteGardenia Says:

October 6th, 2018 at 7:07 am

I think that sometimes, parents are thinking only of themselves hoping stand out for the unique choice they make, but should be considering the child first. Naming our child is one of the most important, beautiful gifts we give them so we need to think of how it would be to wear that name for the child keeping in mind that we have no way of knowing their personality. Most names are fine but I am thinking of choices that are risky such as very traditionally male/female, not unisex names, some word names, etc. I am glad my name is neither James nor Waterfall!

cat_atk_snyder Says:

October 6th, 2018 at 3:22 pm

Personally, I would love to be called the perspective names I pick. I feel like some of them probably wouldn’t go with my features (for example Raven, and I’m blonde). I actually picked the name Cat myself and although it isn’t legally changed the majority of my friends call me that. I don’t want my kid to have Cat as a first name but I like it as a middle name. My former best friend used to sometimes call me Sakura (I came up with it), and I like that as a middle name too.

I don’t want to give away my name ideas (I have an intense fear of name-snatching) but they are pretty strange, and I love that. I already have three middle names but if I could have another one I would definitely pick one of my choices!!!

arietta-rose Says:

October 7th, 2018 at 9:28 am

I’m perfectly happy with my given names; thus, by giving my child ANY name, it would be a name I didn’t want for myself. However, that does not in any way mean I don’t like the name! I love the name Ada, but wouldn’t want it on myself because I love my own name.

babymagic Says:

October 7th, 2018 at 11:22 pm

I would never bestow a name on a child that I wouldn’t be ok with on myself – that would be wrong, and maybe even cruel in some cases. However, it’s much easier for me to pick a hypothetical name for a daughter by imagining it on myself (a female) than it is picking a name for a son. As much as I can try to imagine what it would be like being a boy with a particular name, there’s naturally more guesswork involved.

oliviamcdonald Says:

October 8th, 2018 at 12:21 am

My favourite girls names are ones I wish were mine! I go for names that suit me, but that might be a problem if my kids end up totally different to me in personality.
This question has made me re-think a few of the really vintage “old lady” names which I definitely wouldn’t want for myself. For example, Hazel I would like on myself, but not Agatha, Ivy, Agnes or Edith. Maybe old lady names seem cooler on little kids than on women in their 30’s, but this question has completely turned me off using old names!

As for boys names, it’s a bit harder to imagine on myself but one of the questions I ask myself is whether I would like to date a guy with that name!

acf876 Says:

October 8th, 2018 at 2:14 pm

I gave my daughter a name I have always loved, Hannah. It is 100% about what the parents want. You aren’t asking the child what they want their name to be. I am an Amanda in a sea of 1980s born Amandas. I never minded my name and didn’t care how popular it was. I wouldn’t change it.

owllover96 Says:

October 9th, 2018 at 6:52 am

arietta-rose says it right. Why should we worry about whether a name fits us? To me, it should be about picking a name that fits the person you and your husband/boyfriend make together. Maybe the baby won’t look anything like you and it will look just like its father and then by picking a name you like for yourself, it might not suit them. I also understand that you want a name that suits our child perfectly. We don’t know what they will look like or what personality they will have. If you give them a unique name that fits more of a loud and wild child but your child is shy and meek than maybe the idea of that name will change. Maybe that name won’t suit them at all. But if you give them a plain Jane name than it might work for any personality. Why rely so much on personality and looks to define your child’s name? It’s just a name.

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