We are Maggie and Alonzo Lestrade and are expecting our third and final child, a boy, on June 1. We have two children, a boy, John “Jack” Colton, and a girl, Rachel Aurelia. The first name will be a family name and the middle name will just be one we both like. The family name is the first name because although I share my middle name with my grandmother, I have never felt any particular connection to the name, or to her so if we name our children after relatives, I definitely want them to feel a strong connection to that relative and feel that putting the family name as their first name will ensure that. Because I lobbied so hard for that, I gave up naming rights for our first two children. We have the name Harlow Wyatt or Harlow Ethan picked out. Harlow is my maiden name and as I will be the only one of my siblings to have children, I definitely want to pass it on. We have had this name picked out for a child since we got married and we like it very much. However, recently a friend confessed to me that seeing Harlow reminds her of the word harlot. No one has ever said that to me before and I did carry the name around for I was horrified. I'm in a complete panic about whether or not to keep the name. Alonzo insists it's fine and I admit, I did have to Google “harlot” to find out what it means. Are we crazy to still be considering naming our child Harlow if it reminds people of harlot? No one else I've asked has seen that connection. I'd like to know if most people are reminded of harlot when they see/hear Harlow. My husband and I have looked into using a similar name but have rejected Harley, Harper, Marlow, and Arlo. We don't like any of those names and I don't feel an emotional connection to any of them. If we don't pick Harlow, I don't know what else to do. There aren't any male relatives in my family whom I'm interested in naming a child after.
Several elements of this question are making it difficult to answer:
(1) If this is a name you have both liked, and have had picked out for a child since you got married, and you in particular had a strong motivation to definitely use it, how did it get to the third and final child before being used?
(2) In what way did your adamant stance on the first name being a family name lead to you losing all say in your first two children's names? And were your first two children given family names as their first names?
(3) How does the concept of "feeling a strong connection to a relative" apply when the name being used isn't the name of one single relative but of an entire branch of a family tree?
Harlow does not make me think of the word harlot. I don't even think of it now that it's been pointed out. Let's have a poll over to the right, to get an approximate feeling for what percentage of the population your friend represents. [Poll closed; see results below.]
The main issue with the name Harlow, for me, is that it is used primarily as a girl name: in 2010, according to the Social Security Administration, 349 new baby girls were named Harlow (and another 26 named Harlowe), but only 21 baby boys. It's too soon to call it (it's rising for both girls and boys), but my own prediction is that the name is going to the girls.
Another issue to consider is that I don't think it DOES guarantee a strong family connection to use the name as a first name: some people feel strongly connected to their namesakes and some don't. If you felt no particular connection to your grandmother, do you think that relationship would have been dramatically changed if her name had been your first name instead of your middle?
I suggest using your maiden name as his middle name: it will not matter so much if the name ends up being a "girl name," and I don't think having it in the first name slot will automatically create strong relationships with everyone on that side of the family. I suggest naming him Ethan Harlow or Wyatt Harlow: both names go well with Jack, though I think Ethan is better with Rachel.
But if you DO use it as his first name, I suspect it will NOT make most people think of harlots, and also he can say "It's my mother's maiden name," which I've found is the sort of explanation that makes people back WAY UP on any objections they might otherwise have about a name.
Poll results for "Does the name Harlow make you think of the word Harlot?" (417 votes total):
It DIDN'T, but from now on it will: 13%
Name update! Maggie writes:
Our son Ethan Harlow Lestrade was born on May 30. Eventually we decided that no matter how masculine the name sounds to us, we don't want him being mistaken for a girl his entire life. Thanks so much to Swistle and everyone else who commented!