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Thursday, March 6, 2008


Barbara writes:
Hi Swistle- I'm super psyched about your new baby names blog! I'm OBSESSED with baby names (I guess names in general) and have been for as long as I can remember. As a little girl, I was always "changing" my name and always wanted a name with a fun nickname. As an adult, I make baby name lists at least weekly. I love the meaning behind names, the sentimental or family connection associated with names, initials and monograms, and especially nicknames.

Here's my question: What names do you love but had to give up on because they just didn't work with your last name (aka unfortunate nicknames, initials or puns)? I know you're not keen on making your real name public, so you may or may not be able to reveal this info without giving away major clues to your true identity, but maybe your readers can?

I always loved the name Rose or Rosie for a girl, but with the (new) last name of Thornton, I just thought the pun was too mean. Another example, my sister-in-law was almost named Rachel Anne but her initials would have been RAT.

Looking forward to reading more about our favorite subject!


Paul and I have an ethnic and difficult surname, so we've avoided ethnic or difficult first names. And our surname is so surnamey, we think "surname names" (Miller, Sawyer, Carson) sound bad with it.

When Matt Lauer named his son Thijs (pronounced "Tice"), I instantly loved the name---but we weren't willing to take on the challenge of a totally unfamiliar (in the U.S.) name that follows the pronunciation rules of another language. We messed around with the spelling (Tyce, for example), but we only liked it with the Dutch spelling. So we gave it up.

The most Limiting Factor for me has been Previous Children. If you have children named Robert and William (to use their pseudonyms as an example), it's tough to suddenly add a Devereaux or a Thijs. Sibling names don't have to be matchy-matchy, but I prefer them to sound like they're in the same family: Robert and William, yes; Robert and Rocco, no. I would bend this for a name I really, really loved---but in general, it strongly affects my naming decisions.

Barbara and I are VERY EAGER to hear about the names you had to give up, and the things that most limit your choices. Initial problems? Surname problems? Sibling problems?


AndreAnna said...

I LOVED LOVED LOVED the name Evangeline (ee-vange-uh-leen) for a little girl (if this baby were to be one) and thought it went well with my other daughter Charlotte. But it rhymes with our last name. It made me SO sad! And I was distraught over finding another girl name I loved as much.

But, we're having a boy and with Swistle's help have named him Sawyer, which also goes with Charlotte. Seems very literary to me which I love, and it was important they had a flow as siblings.

LoriD said...

I had to give up on Alexandria (a place name that had great significance) as a middle name, because with a last name starting with D, the initial implications were not good (BAD, MAD, FAD, CAD, SAD... you get the idea).

Our last name is actually pretty good and tends to make most names sound like movie star or sports star names, but could just as easily veer into porn star range with the wrong kind of first name.

Clarabella said...

Our surname starts with a vowel, involves some "n"s and ends with an "s." (Left a lot of mystery there, huh?) So it made naming hard sometimes. For instance, I loved the following girl names: Nyssa and Tessa. Nope, not gonna work with the last name. Also, considering boy's names, there could be no "P"s as the obvious abbreviation of that name with our last would be . . . unfortunate.
I love Irish names, and since my SO 's family is Irish, I had a field day. He nixed all my "too gaelic/celtic" (his words) ideas: Rhiannon (loved, didn't work well with last name, in truth), Brighid (or alternate spelling).
Obviously, it was a blessing we had a boy, since we had the most issues with girls' names. For boys, we stayed simple: Jack, Max, Liam. We stuck with the last, made the family happy (lots of Williams), sufficiently Irish, not too "gaelic/celtic," although down here in the dirty South, you'd be surprised how many people have never heard Liam and think I named my son Lem--or the nurse at the doctor's office who insists on calling him Lima. True story.
Also, I held tight to the girl's name Reba because it was my grandmother's, and she was very special to me. It wasn't SO's favorite, but he would've conceded if we'd had a girl. She certainly would've been the only in her class, I imagine.

(Longest comment ever! Gah.)

Tessie said...

Our Very Hispanic Last name is a TOTAL DOWNER when it comes to picking baby names. Names from other ethnicities obviously don't "match", but since none of us looks Hispanic or identifies particularly with the culture, it seems odd to pick traditional Hispanic names too.

For example, Linus is a name I love that doesn't "match". Also, Simon, Finn, and Liam.

Linda said...

Gave up Sam and Liam because they end in M and our last name starts with M and the running together makes you lose part of the name.
Gave up Julia/Juliet/Julian because my sister got there first.
Gave up Per because Pear is not really a name and I'm not Gwyneth. Ooh, gave up Gwyneth because I suggested it and my husband said, "Paltrow?"

Elizabeth said...

We named our first (and only) son Eli, so we will now have to really careful with other names (Noah comes to mind) to avoid sounding like really religious.
Also, our last name is Ekdahl, so a lot of names we like run together with it and sound funny. My husband loves the name Sam, but I think samekdahl is too weird.
We also didn't realize that since all three of our names now start with E, everyone asks us if we're naming all our kids E names. Um,no? Will the next one feel left out? Hopefully not, I'm not a fan of all the kids having names that start with the same letter. Especially since I'd have to pick some names I don't even really like, just because they start with E.

Mrs. M said...

I went to grammer school with a girl who had the last name flowers. Her parents were mean and cruel people and named her Lily Rose. Tragic I tell you. True story! Another true story: Girl with last name Justice, her parents name her Liberty. Clever, eh?

I have a neice whose name is Mia Isabella. Her last name begins with an A, therefore her initials spell her first name. It wasn't really planned, just turned out as such.

My husband likes the name Molly. But saying Molly with our surname is one big tongue twister! Which is fine because I think Molly is a cute name, but I'm into strong names and not so cutsy names. I do however like Lilly (strong but still cute) but that is a bit too much with the surname too.

Fun post!

Anonymous said...

Being anonymous for this since I plan to give out info: :)

Our last name is Parker, and I love girl names like Darby, Darcy, and Carson, but they just don't work for me with the AR sound in both of them.

Everybody kept telling us to name our little boy Peter. Poor kid. We didn't.

I also really like Chase, but he would sound like the daycare.

Barb said...

Thanks for addressing my question! I am excited to read what everyone has to say on this topic. I posted about this on my blog today so hopefully we'll get some good discussion going.

Stephanie G said...

Oooh, this is a fun one! As someone without any kids, I don't quite have a story yet... but I enjoy reading these comments!

One thing is, as I've mentioned in other posts, my boyfriend and I like to discuss our future kids' possible names (because we've been together long enough now that we figure we'll be married eventually, etc)... one name we both really like is Owen...

The only other boy's name we both liked for awhile was Luke.

But Luke and Owen? WILSON? LOL. Wilson isn't his last name, but I just can't bring myself to name my kids after a celeb sib-set.

That's another thing about names - how about when a name you like is the same as a fictional character or famous person? That can be a total deterrant sometimes! I'd hate to be continually asked, "oh like [insert famous person with same name]". Sort of like the Gwenyth example above.

Anonymous said...

I love the name Benson for a boy. My last name is Gibson. Benson Gibson ... it's just not gonna work.

Ami said...

Hmm, I have no kids yet, but I'm fairly recently married and we talk about baby names a lot. Our issue is that I am East Indian, and my husband is a White Boy From Wyoming. There are one or two Indian names that we both like, but if we give only one kid an Indian name will the others feel "left out"? Or with the one with an Indian name wish they had a more traditional "American" name? Swistle, I'm dying to hear your opinion on this.

Swistle said...

Oh, Ami! What an interesting question! Should we do a post on it? Send me an email with as much info as you want to give, and I'll post it!

Mayberry said...

I had to give up Oliver and Elinor because our last name is vowelly and includes an "ole" which sounds like "uh-leh."

On the flip side, though, we considered the name Anton (family name from my side) and it actually moved up the ranks, IMO, because it sounded good with our Eastern European last name.

Anonymous said...

My fiancĂ© and I are our expecting our 1st and we have the girl’s name down to a tee. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the boy’s name. I like the sort of different names like Braden, Aiden, Hayden, Brennan, Briton, Cason but he doesn't. So were opting to go with Daniel a family name as the 1st name, however were undecided on a middle name. We both like the name Isaac but the problem is the last name starts with a C and we can't give the poor kid the initials DIC. I am not sure what the name will be if it's a boy. We need a name that flows. Contenders are Daniel, James, Robert, Nicholas, Alexander, Isaac, and Isaiah. Man I hope we have a girl

Jenny said...

My last name begins with a J as well, and I've lawasy disliked th harsh juh-juh sound of two J names together. I hoped that when I got married I would lose the second J, but I married into another J family.

So, I've had to give up on some of my favorite J names:

Jude for a boy
Judy Caroline (someone plese use Judy. I love this name)
my previous last name as a fist name for a boy

gah. the list goes on.

Bird said...

We have a very french last name that sarts with M--think famous, imprssionist painters. I had to give up some good girl names because I thought they sounded too matchy-matchy with our last name. For example, I loved Simone--it's a no go. I can't think of any others at the moment, but I know there were more. Luckily, we had a boy.

Chez Bacon said...

We have a really difficult last name (Bacon) that eliminates so many great names. Off the bat, we couldn't use any names that are also words- harder for girls since there are so many awesome flower/jewel/virtue/color names. How great is the name Ruby? How awful is Ruby Bacon? etc. Boys were less of a challenge, but things like Hunter were out right away. The boy name that I liked but couldn't use was Gabriel (Gabe Bacon=Gay Bacon, every time I said it) and my husband really liked Duncan but that sounded awful together. Also, my mom kept suggesting the name Kevin. Kevin Bacon? Maybe not.
Also, lots of people had fun giving us "great" name suggestions: Hickory. Smoked. Eggs and. etc, etc, etc.

Courtney said...

I had a friend whose last name was Mount and that was difficult to work with because everything sounded like a geographical location or a sexual inuendo. Also, I had a friend named Benjamin Dunn. When he got older he actually decided to go by the nickname Ben. Ben Dunn.

Mairzy said...

We've got what I call a "grounding" last name, like Brown and Johnson. You can't get too flighty with your first names or it sounds like comic relief. Plus no alliteration, which means that I had to strike out an entire section of my baby name books.

Our children's names are along the lines of Abigail, Philip, and Phoebe. So I'm not seeing any Larks or Fletchers in our future.

Anonymous said...

Our last name is Grove, and I've had to give up on a lot of girl names that I love... Lily, Rosemary, basically any plant name is out because it sounds so twee.

And for boys, well, I have *loved* the name Oliver since I was little. We're using my husband's middle name, James, though. There's no way I can have a kid who could potentially be called OJ.

Anonymous said...

Augh! What a great question. We are expecting our first. Our last name starts with K and ends with, a WHOLE lot of hard C and K first names don't work for me, because they are too cutesy. AND, a whole lot of great names for either gender that end in th (or even contain th) are also out, for the alliteration factor. (Is it still alliteration if it's not matching beginning sounds? Do I have to turn in my English major badge now?!)

*sigh* I don't think I'll ever get to use Meredith, Elizabeth, Kate, Claire, Keith, Ethan, etc...

Misty said...

So, this hasn't been mentioned yet, but I had always love love loved the name Bonnie for a little girl, but when I became pregnant with my first, I just didn't feel like the name would work because it seemed so 'white' to me and the child would be Eurasian (That is someone of European and Asian decent, just in case someone might be wondering). I couldn't reconcile the name I loved with a dark haired, dark eyed, dark skinned little girl. So I went with Maia instead.

And then, she turned out to be a boy.

Saly said...

I had to give up Olivia, as you know, because a name starting with O along with our last name would be a curse to any child.

Mommy Brain said...

I just wrote about how I was glad that my sister in law picked a baby girl name that sounded "went with" my daughters' name. Because you're right, Devereaux would have sounded jarring and out of place among William and Robert.

Initials are always important as are thinking about unfortunate initials that girls may have if they marry. My cousin had the first name A., maiden name S., and married a guy with the last name S.

Ami said...

Thanks Swistle, I think I will email you! I'll probably wait until I'm actually pregnant. It'll give me something to do while I'm NOT drinking wine. Heh.

Anonymous said...

I mentioned in another blog that we would name our next baby (if it's a boy) Theodore, but already having a Calvin, it would sound as if we were breeding chipmunks (Alvin, Simon, Theodore).

And, most of my favorite names, both boy's and girl's, begin with C, and I do NOT want matching first letters.

Another bummer - my very favorite girl's name, Felice, turns to mush when pronounced with our last name which begins with S. Same with Miles. And I can't use Judah because our last name would make it sound like Judas.

Anonymous said...

Having a surname that could tell me how sophisticated my neighbors are based on their reactions ("Mayo as in the condiment?" vs "Mayo as in the clinic?"), we've had to be careful. I've sadly ditched Duncan (condiment association), Mary (shares almost all the same letters), and Willow and Milo (rhymes) so far, and I anticipate having to ditch other names, as well. I'll also need to look out for names that spell out LAM and ATM and such (though I've been blessed in finding an ALM and a GEM).

Barb said...

Misty- my husband actually has a cousin of Eurasian descent named Bonnie and it totally fits her!

marilyn c. cole said...

My mom always had "Nicole" in her mind as her daughter's name, until she went and became Mrs. Cole!

Now it's nice because I love the name Nicole (and Cole) too, and will let me carry on my maiden name to my kids.

Anonymous said...

My last name is in and of itself rather unfortunate - remove one consonant and suddenly everyone's "gay" My brother and I were tormenred with this as children.

Thankfully, my newest addition has Daddy's last name. The only issue we ran into was people constantly asking if we were going to name him Billy-Bob (as in Angelina Jolie's ex)
Coming up with a middle namr for Shaun was difficult - bf wanted to use his Dad's name, but then we'd have a little "Shaun John" ew.