I have a somewhat general question (with ulterior motives) for you and the lovely commenters. It's clear to me that certain combinations of initials are best avoided, but when we discuss this issue we most often talk about names that result in three initials. What about names that have four initials (or, presumably, more)? If three of the initials spell something that we would avoid if there were only three initials, can the fourth initial fix the problem? Does it depend on the choice of the fourth initial or do we always see the three letters that we're trying to avoid?
A mild example:
SAG seems best avoided. But what about JSAG or RSAG?
If you think the fourth initial solves the problem, would it also apply to a set of letters that spelled something more extreme?
I'm asking, of course, because my husband and I have been leaning toward a middle name that would give our child (due in a little over two weeks) the last three initials of FKR and I'm wondering if there's any way to salvage the choice or if it's a lost cause. The placement of letters is fixed, that is, it can't be KFR instead. Clearly the first name couldn't start with an M. But is there a letter that would work?
Thank you for your help!
I see it as a spectrum thing. At one end of the spectrum are the initials that don't spell anything particularly bad (ER, MD, DOC, INK), where we might prefer to avoid them but if we really love a name it's not worth giving it up just to avoid the initials. At the other end of the spectrum are the initials that are bad enough that we have to sacrifice names we love because it's just too awful. (Different people will have different ideas of what's intolerable, but some of my own would be the initials from names such as Abigail Sarah Smith, Gideon Andrew Young, Sarah Isabelle North, Kiley Katherine Kingston, Finn Alexander Greenfield, Felicity Anne Taylor.)
In between the two ends of the spectrum, it's a matter of trading and balancing: of thinking "Would _I_ mind having these initials?" and "Is it worth it, or is this just one of many situations where a name we love is out of the running for reasons that are unlucky and unfair but it's nothing A Feeling Of Injustice can change?"
Sometimes there's an easy fix, like using a C spelling instead of a K spelling, or using one of the two names for one child and the other name for a future child, or your example of switching the names. The 4-initial idea is another such possibility, and I'd say it sometimes works and sometimes doesn't: it depends on the severity of the Bad Initials, and also on which name is the fourth name. My children and I have four names, and I've found that the first of the two middle names is the default initial for one-initial situations unless I specify otherwise. So if the name were, for example, Abigail Sarah Harrison Smith, I would still hesitate to use it---though if I were determined to use Abigail Sarah no matter what, it's a big improvement.
In your specific example (FKR), I'm not sure. I would want to avoid those letters, but I'm not POSITIVE I would have noticed them as I'm positive I would with, say, FUK or FCK. I do think this is a situation where a fourth initial would improve things, but I'm not sure if it improves things ENOUGH. I was going to have us examine a few possibilities, but of course it's in our minds now so I'm seeing problems EVERYWHERE! Like, if you'd told me her initials were going to be AFKR, I don't think I would have been able to see what the problem was---but I'm not SURE, because now that I'm thinking of it I'm seeing it as "a fkr".
I DO THINK that if I wasn't in the mindset, I wouldn't be seeing a problem. EFKR. KFKR. RFKR. I think these work. I THINK.
But it is a matter of the trading and balancing mentioned earlier: it IS a little risky, and what if I'm wrong that adding that fourth initial makes the problem significantly less? So it comes down to how important it is to you to use the names. (And could the K name be spelled with a C? I think FCR is a little better than FKR.)
I think we need a poll here, but I suspect many of you will run into the problem I ran into: once the idea is planted, the letters stand out too much for a detached evaluation. I did a quick poll on Twitter, but unfortunately I used BFKR as the random example---and of course I was asking if there was a problem, which tips things. To me, the BF at the beginning had my mind going in the BFF direction. The overwhelming response on Twitter was, um, a different direction. Someone had a good point that a lot of us are getting used to textspeak, which leads us to be quicker to see words in partial-word letter combinations.
In any case, about 1 out of every 4 responses were that they didn't see any problem with the initials, and about 3 out of 4 were VEHEMENT amused/horrified responses that they DID INDEED see a problem, with further jokes suggested. But several people mentioned that if they hadn't been LOOKING, they wouldn't have seen anything, or that they knew people with similarly problematic initials who reported never having the predicted problem (TheGoriWife knows a FRT who was aware of the potential problem but said it had never come up).
I asked if anyone could think of a first initial that would remove the problem, and most of the responses were again negative: people said no, it was the FKR they noticed immediately, and anything else either changed nothing or made it much worse. But Dashoff suggested: "A 'J' or 'R' in front would draw me to noticing JFK or RFK instead of the FKR standing out at the end."
After that quick and informal poll, I find my opinion is going toward "It would have to be REALLY IMPORTANT to use those particular names." I think I feel the way Lynnette does: she said "I think that one would be a stretch to come to a real conclusion, though I will not use my favorite boy name because : FKD."
Let's put a poll over to the right. [Poll closed; see results below.] The question is: GIVEN THAT the parents would prefer not to spell something bad with the initials (that is, we are not voting on whether initials-spelling-things matters, because it DOES matter to the parents), do you think the initials FKR are salvageable with a 4th initial? And if so, please put in the comments section which ones you think would work.
Name update! Cara writes:
Thanks so much for the feedback! Reading your response and all the comments really helped me clarify my thoughts. I realized that I probably wouldn't be able to forget that when I see the initials _FKR, I see a word, even if other people don't. We decided that when the baby was born we'd decide on the first name and then deal with the middle name (expecting that we would probably have to scrap the F name and pick something else). But ultimately the whole thing was a nonissue---I was absolutely convinced that we were having a girl (I thought the same with my first and was right), but we had a boy! The F middle name we were in love with (Freya) was off the table. But you can be sure that I wrote out my son's four initials before we did the paperwork just to make sure I wasn't missing anything! Thanks again!