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Monday, April 25, 2011

Baby Boy or Girl Cysouw

Lisa writes:
My DH and I are expecting our first baby on May 21st and we are absolutely at a crossroads for names. Our last name is Cysouw (pronounced size-OH) and our names are Lee & Lisa - so all first names beginning with "L" are out. Our general tastes in names differ - he is a huge fan of strong, Biblical names and I am more mainstream, although some "older", Biblical names are nice.

We are fairly confident that we are having a boy - due to a slip up by the Ultrasound doc - although we never had the gender confirmed, because we didn't want to find out. However, since that slip up, the focus has been predominantly on boys' names.

If we have a boy, then Lee will be the middle name - it is family tradition to have the father's first name be the middle name of the first born son. DH has made a short list of names for boys, consisting of:

1. Isaac
2. Aaron
3. Enoch
4. Carson

My short list for a boy is:

1. Parker
2. Hudson
3. Dawson

I don't fancy Aaron or Enoch at all and Carson is borderline for me. Isaac only became something I didn't mind after I told a couple close friends, and they all love it. I'm still on the fence. My in-laws immediately jumped to nn's such as Ike or Zeke, which I don't like. If Isaac were to have a nn, the only one I've thought of is Zach. DH doesn't like the name Zachary - when I suggested it as a compromise for a first name.

Anyway, I am looking for more options to bring to DH's attention so that we can go into the hospital with a more aligned short list of names. We're looking for suggestions for first names that don't start with L, go with Lee as the middle name, are not too popular and have a nice meaning. That's one of the reasons we like Isaac - it means laughter and that does suit us. Or maybe I just need affirmation that Isaac is a nice name... I don't say no to it, I just don't know if I love it.

If baby is a girl, then I am set on naming her Brinley (the meaning I found is virtuous princess - which I thought was cute. It also ties in the Li and Le from our first names). DH is convinced baby is a boy - so he isn't even really focusing on a girls' name and he doesn't have an objection to Brinley. Although, I just thought of the fact that if the middle name for the boy is Lee - would that be too much having a girls name with a -lee ending ?

No middle name picked out at all. What would sound nice together with our last name is what we're looking for as there are no naming family traditions for the girls. My mom's middle name is Anne and his mom's is Joy - but would that be offensive if we chose one and not the other ? I don't like the combination of Joy Anne or Anne Joy but the sound of either one with Brinley is something I like. Any other suggestions ?

Thank you so much for your help !!

Let's see. For boys, he likes biblical names plus the surname name Carson, and you like surname names---so it's too bad you're not more fond of Carson. For girls, you like Brinley (another surname name), which I think goes better with surname brother names than with biblical brother names---but I also think it works fine to have different styles for sons than for daughters.

If you use Brinley (which, according to The Oxford Dictionary of First Names means "burnt clearing," but name meanings are tricky), I think it's no problem that a potential brother's middle name would be Lee.

A larger problem is the politics of family names: it SHOULD be okay to use one grandmother's middle name and not the other grandmother's (especially if you have just one girl), but only you two know your mothers and how they would react to this. It's too bad BOTH names are so good with Brinley, so you wouldn't even be able to say you chose based on sound! (I would myself avoid the initials B.J., especially for a girl, and would use that as my reason for choosing Anne, but I'm more opposed than the norm to meaningful initials, and it's not as big a deal when it's first/middle instead of first/last.)

Do you know what I might do, if I were you? I might flip a coin, and then explain to the two grandmothers that you love both of them and both of their middle names, and could only decide with a coin toss. (I'd do this only if I planned to use the other one's name for the next baby girl, if there was another.) (Also, I'd have no compunction about flipping the coin again and again until it gave me the answer I wanted.) Or perhaps you could use your first name or middle name or maiden name as her middle name, as your husband's name would be your son's middle?

And now I think we can turn to boy names: without your husband's input, there isn't much advice we can give about girl names---and if the baby IS a girl, you will have a funny story of the scramble to think of a girl name.

I'll start by saying I love the name Isaac, and I think it's a great name. I used to think of it as a name like Moses and Noah---unthinkable for baby-naming unless the intention was to broadcast hardcore religious affiliation. Then it went mainstream, as did Noah. It's Top 50 now, and I think of it as "the next Zachary." Ike and Zac are both nicknames for it, but it's not a name I think people leap to nickname---though, as you've noted, your in-laws seem determined to nickname, in which case best to choose a name with nicknames you really like. Isaiah might reduce the nickname potential.

So next I'd open to the Biblical Names section of The Baby Name Wizard, and look for ones that sound more like the surname style you like, or at least getting closer to it than Aaron. (This list may include names that in their biblical context have a very negative association; if you were using a name for its biblical significance, it would be a good idea to look it up first to see what its biblical significance WAS.) Asher comes to mind: Asher Lee Cysouw. Reuben would be good: that's one I wish I could use in my own family, but it's awful with my surname. Simon, though I don't think I like the repeating "sigh" sound with your surname. Gideon. Barnaby is so cute. Jude or Judah. Tobias, but then there's the initials TLC, and the S ending blends with your surname. Jordan. Zion. Justus, but the S ending might blend with your surname: "just a Cysouw." Ezra: I like the repeating Z sound with your surname (Isaac has this going for it, too).

And now turnabout should be fair play, and we should be looking in the Last Names First section to find names that might be more your husband's style. But he has mystified me: Enoch and...Carson? Those are so far apart, I can't figure out where it is they intersect---and the Bible is sparse with surnames. Should I recommend Carter? Archer? Shepard? Redford? I could find biblical tie-ins (fill your quiver with arrows! and what could be more classic Bible imagery than a shepherd?), but I'm not sure that's what's needed.

If you have a copy of The Baby Name Wizard (my link is to, but I'd suggest looking for it in a physical store so you can get the newer 2009 edition, which has a pink dot on the cover mentioning that it's the revised version), you could have him go through it and see if there are sections other than Biblical that he likes---or sections other than Last Names First that you like. Maybe you'd both like Ladies and Gentlemen (Merritt, August, Julius, Hugo, Forest)? Or Antique Charm (Jasper, Abraham, Edgar, Everett)? Or Exotic Traditionals (Malcolm, Felix, Milo, Dashiell, Aidric)? It seems like the first step is finding a category where your tastes intersect.


The Mrs. said...

You seem to have girl names well in hand, so I'll comment just on boy ones.

How do you both like Levi? I know it doesn't go with 'Lee' as a middle name, but perhaps that tradition could be nudged around a bit. See, Levi has a surname feel, is biblical, and is fresh today without being popular. Bonus: no nicknames.

How do you feel about Andrew? Once again, biblical, not too popular, is a surname... but has two nicknames.

Cyrus was an emporer mentioned in the Bible (Persian empire). It might sound cool with your last name. Cyrus Lee Cysouw sounds like a hall-of-famer to me.

Finally, something unusual. Fisher. Fisher Lee Cysouw. Give it a minute. Fisher is a surname. It's new without being trendy. And Christ Himself told His apostles, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." THAT'S Biblical.

All the best as you welcome your bundle of joy. Can't wait to hear what you pick!

StephLove said...

Isaac and Aaron are my favorites from the lists. I liked the suggestions of Archer and Fisher, too.

I'm partial to Biblical names for boys. Here are some favorites of mine.

Isaiah <-- similar to Isaac

Lauren said...

I think that since the boy name tradition comes from your husband's family, you should choose Anne for your first girl's middle name. You can certainly use Joy if you have another girl, but it would be nice to have something that comes from your side first.

Anonymous said...

I love Isaac. I noticed that your hubby seems to like names with double vowels.

Do you like Canaan?

Or Creed?

Melanie said...

It looks like Levi would work well for you. Also wanted to mention that you could use the nickname Ike with Isaac.

kimma said...

I love Brinley for a girl and I would go with the middle name Joanne.

I think Isaac is a great boy’s name and if he is on board with Zac as a nickname that could probably be the end of it. But, if he won’t agree on Zac as the nickname perhaps you’d both like one of these…

Noah (already suggested, so seconding this)

Anonymous said...

I would use Anne for a middle name if you have a girl. Mostly to avoid the B.J. initials and secondly b/c Anne is your mom's name. If you have another daughter then go with Joy. Meanwhile maybe your husbands siblings may honor their mom w/ a namesake.

Lisa C said...

Thank you for encouraging the Isaac. When our little one came into the world, he fit Isaac Lee so perfectly.
Now we're expecting number two and Brinley has remained on the top of the girl name list (ok, the list is only one name thus far and to be honest, I'd like to keep the girl name discussion going in case she doesn't look like a Brinley). Boy names continue to be the tougher topic of conversation.
Suggestions for sibling names ??