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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Baby Name to Consider: Willoughby

Rachael writes:
We are expecting our second baby in June! Our first is sweet Sylvia and I emailed you about why we chose to keep her name a secret until she was born in 2010. Loooong before Sylvia was born, my husband and I had settled on a girl name and a boy name that we both adored and loved and swore to always stand behind. No one has ever complained about Sylvia's name, especially since we kept it a secret. But with our boy name, I am much less confident, and alas - I'm stuck in this ancient and sacred promise I made to my husband.

He loves the name Willoughby.

We discussed this name after a few short months of dating and from the moment he mentioned it, I fell madly in love with it, too! It sounds British and sophisticated when I picture a grown up man, yet soft and cute for a cuddly baby boy. We agreed that he could have Willoughby for the first boy if I could have Sylvia for the first girl and that was all fine and good until I got pregnant I'm afraid! I know my family will think it's weird. I'm not against anyone calling him Will if they really have to, but I think Willoughby goes so well with Sylvia and I hate how "Sylvia and Will" sound together. I'll be referring to my kids as "Sylvia and Willoughby - cutest siblings ever." I also know my family will think it's too long (our last name is four syllables, very Italian, ends in "iotto"). I know they'll say it's a terrible name and I'm afraid everyone will hate it!

Should that matter? I still love it - I can't find any other name I like more than this one. My husband would be devastated if I even mentioned another name to him, but this case of cold feet has me worried to pieces! Talk me down, Swistle. Tell me this name is perfectly okay!

Willoughby is definitely in a different league, surprise-wise. It's not even in the Social Security database for boys in 2010 (which means it could have been given to 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 boys, but not as many as 5) (it was given to 6 girls), whereas Sylvia was #555.

I'm picturing it on grown men I know (my husband, my brother, my dad, my friends) and it is a little startle every time---in a way that another modern not-their-name such as Wilson is not. If I picture it on a cute little toddler or an elementary school child, it seems adorable.

The girl name Willow is an issue here: it gives a misleading clue. Ditto for girl names such as Shelby and Abby and Ruby and Libby and Gabby. On the other side of the scale is the common boy nickname Will and the -by ending boy names Colby and Bobby and Toby.

Length doesn't seem like it should be a concern, if they didn't object to Sylvia: both names have three syllables.

Whether everyone else's opinion should matter or not---well, it depends. On one hand, no, right? Parents get to name their own children. And it's classic for the grandparent generation to grouse about the names currently being used for babies: "Too weird! Why can't people use NORMAL names like the names WE used for OUR babies (which OUR parents thought were too weird)?" And of course there will always be some people who dislike the names we choose, no matter WHAT names those are. And it's also classic for people to come around to the names once they get used to it on the beloved baby.

On the other hand, this is why naming is such a huge responsibility: our children have to live in this society with the names we give them, and it's a hard row to hoe to live with a name everybody hates. And within our families and friend circles, of course we WANT people to respond favorably to the name, rather than cringing every time they say it.

So it's a matter of balance: weighing what we think society/family/friends will think of the name with what WE think of the name. This is one reason I like The Baby Name Wizard's test so much: she suggests considering whether you would like to be a child born now and given that name. I also like the test of looking around at grown-ups and imagining them with the name. And of course there's the careers test: imagine the name on a manager, a waiter, a coach, a lawyer, a teacher, a carpenter.

If a name fails too many tests, I think the middle name slot is an excellent place for it: there is still the happiness of using it, but without the downsides.

Promises to use a particular name shouldn't be made, or honored. Too much changes between the time the promise is made and the appearance of the actual baby. If you decide you're not comfortable using Willoughby (and I could be wrong about your feelings: I'm basing it on "alas" and "stuck," but the more important words could be "madly in love" and "afraid" and "cold feet"), it will be disappointing to your husband, but it's not something you have to feel contractually obligated to follow through on. My main advice for back-to-the-drawing-board situations is that the task is not to find a name the two of you like better than the name Willoughby, but rather to find your favorite from the names that remain. And also that both parents are responsible for finding the new options: this is not a matter of one parent needing to convince the other to dethrone a favorite.

Let's have a poll over to the right to see what everyone else thinks of the name Willoughby. [Poll closed; see results below.]

Poll results for the question "What do you think of the name Willoughby?" (519 votes total):

I love it! I'd want to use it! - 39 votes (8%)
I like it! I'd consider it! - 58 votes (11%)
I like it for someone else's baby - 161 votes (31%)
No particular opinion either way - 21 votes (4%)
Slight dislike - 136 votes (26%)
Strong dislike - 104 votes (20%)


Jessica said...

I completely understand the basic attraction to the name, but it does seem to have too many drawbacks in this case. And certainly you can find something similar.

Also, I know I can't be the only woman with an automatic dislike for the name because it's the name of the rascally character in Sense & Sensibility who jilts Marianne. Evil, evil Willoughby!

Jenny (Bring A. Torch) said...

I can see it working, but I want to make sure Rachael is aware of the Raffi song "Willoughby Wallaby Woo."

Sela Freuler said...

The first thought that came to mind is the character Willoughby in Sense & Sensibility. And that's not a good association. Willoughby is a womanizer, a liar, and an all around awful guy despite his charm. The popularity of Jane Austen would lead to a lot of women knowing about the character and having it come to mind when they hear the name.
If you still choose to go with it, the nickname "Wills," which is used often in the UK, could work. I think it's cutesy with Sylvia and especially Sylvie.
I, however, would not name my child Willoughby.

Allison said...

I LOVE the name, but only for a girl. It sounds beautifully feminine and romantic to me.

gail said...

In this unisex naming era, too much seems topsy-turvy and gender-bending. I'm not sure why it should matter to me if the gender of a child is signified by his or her name, but feels like a deluge.

Aside from all that, the discussion around Willoughby reminds me of another nameblog discussion a few months back around Huckleberry. Very similar issues regarding length, cute factor, associations.

I very much agree with Swistle that child naming should not become an arena of trades, bargains, or stone-walling, though....

Also so puzzling to me is the fact that there are literally thousands of names, yet we tend to like so few.

OK. I like Willoughby the way I like Christopher Robin, or even Barnaby. It is cute in a way that makes me wiggly, whereas Andromeda, another highly unusual name choice, seemed imaginative rather than cute.

Diane said...

When I saw the tweet leading to this post, I thought, "Willoughby! That's an adorable name!" Then I clicked through and saw it was intended to be a boy's name, which completely changed my opinion. It just SCREAMS girl to me.

But! My opinion doesn't matter! If I met your son, I'm sure I'd find the name adorable and refreshing. It's easy to turn up one's nose at a stranger's maybe-name. What DOES matter is your husband. My question to you is this -- imagine your first child had been a boy, and you'd gone ahead with Willoughby. How would you feel now if he were suddenly against Sylvia (for good reasons, of course)? Would you be willing to part with it, or would you be stung? (I'm not suggesting you should feel either of those ways, but it might give you a window into how best to approach the topic with him!) Good luck, and congratulations on your impending arrival!

Brenna said...

I'm another person who immediately associates Willoughby with the scoundrel from Sense and Sensibility.

Anonymous said...

I think this is a case where the name fails too many tests, especially since you don't much like the nickname Will.

Kristin said...

I'm in the minority in that it totally sounds "boy" to me... and no an unwearable name, either. (Of course, my sons' names are pretty unusual, too, so I definitely lean that direction). The association with Jane Austen would give me pause, more so than the Raffi song - although I did think of both. But I love the idea of Wills as a nickname, which brings it down to a very day-to-day usable level without sacrificing some of the uniqueness. I think if you and your husband both love it, and can see your child with that name at various stages and in various professions as an adult, go for it! One thing I've found with my oldest especially (named Cashel, which almost no one has heard of) is that with an unusual name, your child will define the name for the people he meets. So, if he's an adorable, sweet, smart kiddo as I'm sure he will be ;) that's how everyone will come to think of the name.

Abbe said...

Of all Jane Austen's cads (she has one in every story!), Willoughby is the worst. And it was the first thing I thought of when I heard the name. I thought maybe mine would be an isolated reaction -- Sense and Sensibility isn't as popular as Pride and Prejudice -- but it seems like that's a major association.

On the other hand, if I try to separate the literary association from the name itself, it's kind of adorable. For me, the saving grace is the nickname Will, but if you're opposed to it, you could have a problem.

I guess you could say I'm on the fence. I wouldn't use the name myself, but I think I'd adjust to it if a family member used it. Of course, I'm very restrained and cautious, so I'd never say I didn't like it, especially if I found out after the baby was born and named. Sounds like your family has a different approach to sharing their opinions :).

Annika said...

I love it! I voted I'd use it, because it conveys the strongest like for the name. (I would not actually use it, because my husband is a William and it's too close yet not close enough, if you know what I mean.)

Emily S. said...

As a kindergarten teacher, it seems long for the boy to be able to spell. is there a way to shorten it down?

Do you live in the US or UK? It seems more popular in the UK. A lot of names do come over from the UK like Isla. If you really love it go for it. Other possibilities:
What about Wilber? Wilson? Weston? Wilbert? Webster?

Carolyn said...

I only saw the movie, but I have to say the handsome actor who played Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility did sway me on this being a masculine usable name.

I know he was a rascal in the story, but (and here I go showing my nerd card) a friend and I got into a heated debate during a Jane Austen book club, in which I staunchly defended the "bad boy" whom Marianne loved over the "nice guy" whom she settled for.

So I vote Willoughby. :)

Peyton said...

I'm with Carolyn. I immediately thought of Sense and Sensibility (the movie rather than the book), but while I know that Willoughby is the rake, I also found him to be romantic, handsome, debonair. I love it, and honestly can't understand why anyone would think of it as a girl's name.

It is rather long for a small child to write (my mom likes to tell the story about how my sister came home from school her first day and asked her, "What were you thinking? My name has 9 letters in it!" Apparently it took her half of the time they had on a worksheet to write her name, and she was sitting next to a Ben.) but if you didn't mind him using "Will" or "Wills", I would totally go for it.

Helena said...

At the top of the post, I was trying to decide if the name was for a boy or a girl, and I couldn't. I like the "feel" of the name, but not the name itself. Perhaps other similar names... All I can come up with is Henry, which I believe is rising in popularity...

Helena said...

Also, to the anonymous poster saying she has to keep up her end of the bargain... that's a terrible reason to name a child. Think about all the names you loved in yesteryear (my cousin SWORE she'd name her son and daughter Tyler and Taylor respectively because Tay and Ty sounded cute together, but she matured out of that line of thought). The child has to live with the name. Kids ask their parents where the name came from, and "Oh, honey, Daddy and I were at dinner and I promised him," is a terrible story.

Leslie said...

I love the name Willoughby (as a boys' name - it never even occurred to me for girls). I find the name absolutely charming!

If you adore the name, and the only thing worrying you is family reactions, I would say go for it. In your previous post, I thought some of the responders had good suggestions for politely telling your family that your secretly chosen name was a bit unusual but was set in stone. Plus, having a story later for your little guy about how much you and daddy loved his name so much from the very beginning is a special thing.

If, on the other hand, you yourself are less sold on the name, though, I think it's fair to approach the subject with your husband. You can still try to honor the spirit of the pact - using the names you each love - while changing the specific name involved.

Either way, I wish you guys luck, and please let us know what you decide!

(P.S. The name Sylvia is gorgeous!)

AirLand said...

This name is all boy to me, but it seems like if someone hasn't heard it before, he/she may think it's a girl's name. I don't know if that would bother you or not.

I think you should use it- you and your husband both love it. If it were me, I'd give more thought to using the nickname Will though. My guess would be he will end up with a nickname whether you want one or not if you go with Willoughby.

Amy K said...

I'm with Diane on this one. I thought, "Oh, cute name for a little girl," and then when I saw it was for a boy I didn't like it at all. It's just too close to Willow. Maybe you could get away with it in the UK, but I think it's a little frou-frou for US sensibilities.

Peace said...

My husband & I just discussed it for you. We were both surprised it could be a girls name, we both thought all boy. Neither of us are Jane Austen fans, my only association with it is the Twilight Zone episode about the town of Willoughby. I like it. NN could also be Obie, my husband thought Willo. Actor Wil Wheaton is called Willo by his family. I actually like it quite a lot now that I've considered it. That's just our two cents.

Angie said...

I find Willoughby is more boy than girl despite the fact more people are using it on girls.

In this day and age where names like Atticus are rising in popularity, I don't think Willoughby is unusable.

But as someone else with a long Italian last name that could be similar to yours (my last name ends in "onato" so we share the double o and the t near the end) I do not like Willoughby paired with my last name.

The combination is very clashing to my eye and ear - sort of like pairing purple stripes with red plaid.

Maybe our last names aren't as similar as they seem. I don't know how many syllables are in your name, mine has five (and 12 letters to boot).

I'm not saying pairing a long first name with a long last name can't work, but with my last name, if I used a long first name, I would at least keep the first name Italian (or a similar language) so the two names share a similar style.

You're right - Willoughby seems very British. I would use it in a heartbeat with a very common, short, British surname name, such as the obvious Smith and Jones.

BTW - Sylvia sounds like it would sound perfect with your last name. It might have 3 syllables, but only 6 letters and Sylvia originated from the Italian language – derived from the Italian boy name Silvio.

JoLee said...

Willoughby is on lots of lists and blog posts on

(Check left sidebar for lists and blog posts with the name Willoughby.)

So it's definitely out there and being considered by others.

Diane said...

Like others, I immediately thought Jane Austen when I saw the name, and the association is a very negative one. (Willoughby is a scoundrel of the worst kind.) That alone is a deal breaker for me.

It is all boy for me, though, because of that association.

I asked my husband if he would like to be named Willoughby, and he looked at me like I had two heads.

The style clash with your last name also gives me pause.

In my mind, there are so many strikes against this name (despite it's pleasant sound), that I would not consider using myself or recommend it to others.

I do think that Sylvia is lovely though!

Meredith said...

I say go with it! What an adorable name, and with "Will" as a nickname, it evens it out. Listen - I know you and I think the name works perfectly with who you and your husband are. Any other name for a boy just wouldn't do. I think it sounds dignified and unique without sounding weird. WILLOUGHBY ALL THE WAY!

liz said...

I would use it. As an Elizabeth, I have no problem with the length. I do, though, have a pause about how it goes with your last name.

I also thought of Jane Austen when I first saw the name in your post, but forgot WHO that name belonged to.

Suggestion: if YOU really don't like the name, rent Sense & Sensibility (the Emma Thompson version), and watch it with your husband. That way a discussion about your changing view of it can arise naturally.

The Mrs. said...

I'm of two minds on this post.

Willoughby SOUNDS like Willow Bea to my ear... feminine.

My mind, on the other hand, associates Willoughby with the wretch from Sense and Sensibility... masuline but bad.

If I were in your shoes, I'd only call him 'Will' (or maybe 'Wilby') because the name brings too many issues to mind.

But I hate saying that I don't like a name without offering a few other options.
Do you like a name like:

Nicodemus (Nick or Nico)
Alfred (Alfi)
Barnaby (I think someone else may have mentioned this one, too)
Fitzwilliam (from Pride & Pred., good guy, still has a 'will' in there)
Whitaker (actually know a ten-year-old by this name... very cool)

All the best to you and your growing family. I really, REALLY love your daughter's name. Please let us know what you and your husband decide!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the above poster that with names like "Atticus" becoming popular, "Willoughby" isn't too far-fetched these days. I can imagine a "Willoughby" on the playground, and it is one letter shorter than "Christopher"! I don't think it's a feminine name, either. I could see it on a girl, but I like it for a boy.

If you love it, go for it. If you're worried about it, put it in the middle name slot.

He will probably end up with a pet name, and there are some options for him as he gets older. - Will, Wills, Wilby, etc. You never know!

Emma said...

I was so excited to read a name post on the name Willoughby! My adorable godson (and cousin) has the name Will as his full first name. It is a wonderful name and suits him to a tee. However his Dad often calls him Willoughby! And it's a growing trend amougst the family who are tending to call him this wonderful reverse nickname if you will. Just to confirm Will is his given name not Willoughby! I think it is a brilliant name - strong and charming and very boyish! I must say I'm astounded that some posters consider this to be a girlish name!
You will seldom choose a name that pleases the masses - choose a name that you love - it will mean so much to your son that he bears a name both you and your husband love.
Good luck :)

Anonymous said...

Oh! Haven't read the rest of the post, but the only Willoughby I know is female, and it reads very, very female to me.

Jessica said...

I saw this post in my feed reader this morning and just now got around to reading it. All day long I've been considering Willoughby as a girl's name and was surprised to find it's for a boy. I actually kind of like it better for a boy, but wouldn't use it since I think people might assume he's a girl. But unisex names aren't my style - if it's yours, go for it.

Pocket said...

Wow! Thanks for the great feedback Swistle and Readers! At this particular moment, I've had some wonderful discussions with the husband and we've both read over the post and all the comments - I think we're going to use it, if it's a boy, of course. Then again, we might change our minds tomorrow. Who knows! I'm basically starting to think that I'll really regret it if we don't use it, and if we do use it, the worst that could happen is people call him Will and that's what he goes by. We'll see :)

vanessa said...

I find that I am totally conflicted! I generally speaking don't like the name at all, but I think I would find it useable in this circumstance because you have a good story behind it. However, I would use it ONLY if you are willing to use a nickname--I think Wills is perfect.Sylvia and Wills! So cute!

StephLove said...

I have been wondering why the combination Sylvia and Willoughby sounds so familiar to me. I had to mull it over for a day before I remembered one of the main characters in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (great kids' book btw) is named Sylvia. I don't think that's a drawback but just something you might want to know if you don't already.

Patricia said...

I too think of the scoundrel Willoughby in Austen's Sense and Sensibility when I hear the name Willoughby. (I just discovered that the character's given name was John.)

I can't see the appeal of the name for a boy/man. To me, the name is too close to the increasingly popular girls' name Willow. It also sounds rather pretentious for an American boy. I'm wondering if a boy named Willoughby would soon become "Will" and might eventually abandon his full name Willoughby altogether.

I just now checked out London Telegraph birth announcements for the past several years -- since 1/1/2004 -- and did come across a few mentions of boys called Willoughby, along with their siblings' names:

Honor Matilda Alice, a sister to Willoughby Robert John

Grace Margaret Wreford, a sister for Natalia and Willoughby Robert

Clementine Isabel Lily, a sister for Willoughby.

Cosmo Edward Stanley, a brother for Willoughby Frederick Charles

Willoughby Patrick Ernest

Willoughby David Thomas, a brother to Tallulah

Amelia Scarlett India, a sister to Orlando, Felix and Willoughby Sebastian Auberon

Willoughby Frank Stuart, a brother for Alexander

Willoughby Thomas Bey (Will), a brother for Beatrice and Harrison.

Willoughby George. A brother for Eliza, Minna and Tom.

Tirian Hector Ivanhoe, a brother for Willoughby, Florence and Georgiana

I'm guessing the name works better among the British upper class than it would most places in the U.S. Have you considered using it as your son's middle name?

Patricia said...

It sounds like you found the perfect name for your little girl - Sylvia, a lovely name of Latin origin that pairs well with your 4-syllable Italian surname. Although you like the names Sylvia and Willoughby together, I really can't see any connection between the two. Also Willoughby is an English surname, and I think that's a bigger disconnect with your very Italian surname, than the length of the name. Willoughby ___-____-lotto doesn't seem to be a pleasing combination. Too, as you noted, there is a rhyming quality with Sylvia and "Will".

Here are some names that are popular in Italy which seem more compatible with Sylvia and your Italian surname:

Daniel (Daniele)
David (Davide)
Andrew (Andrea)

Many classic English language boys' names work well with Italian surnames because these names -- often biblical -- are close to names used in Italy.

Patricia said...

A suggestion: Syvia and Vincent

Both names are Latin in origin, and the strong letter V is in both names. Darling sibling names!

Vincent ____iotto is a good fit: the names sound very compatible.

(Whereas Willoughby comes across as being so English and unusual that it clashes with your Italian surname. Too, if he ended up being called Will, he'd have a much more common name than Vincent. William -- many/probably most are called Will -- is a top 10 name, whereas Vincent is below the top 100.)

Anonymous said...

Pocket--So glad you chimed in!! I LOVE this name. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, Sense & Sensibility. It is my all time FAVORITE movie. I've seen it a million times!!

Yes, John Willoughby, (Lady Allen's nephew) :) is a bit of a jerk in the movie. But, SPOILER ALERT, one of the last scenes of the movie shows that he did have a deep love for Marianne and seemed to regret his selfish decision to ditch her for a wealthy woman after losing his inheritance.....redeeming him a bit. What I think of EVERY TIME I hear of/think of this name and I thought of it immediately after reading this post was the scene in the movie where Marianne goes to Willoughby's estate after he leaves her. She's standing in the rain, quoting Shakespeare sonnets and the way she says his name....almost as a whisper....I just LOVE it! If you haven't seen this it!! I think you'll love the name even more!! (Plus, it's such a fun name to say!)

As for the Raffi kids LOVE to hear their names in songs or stories. I think your little boy would LOVE to hear the song Willoughby Wallaby Woo. And I am pretty sure big sis would LOVE to sing it to him too!!

I am REALLY hoping you have a little boy and get to use this name!! :) Please let us know what you decide.

Jaime S.

beyond said...

Use it! My only association is Raffi's Willoughby Wallaby Woo song. It's cute. Doesn't seem feminine to me. I like Will or Wilby as a nn, too.

lacey said...

Willoughby is FANTASTIC! It totally reads boy to me, and it is completely playground-fitting-in in the Atticus way like people said, yet very unique! Perfect perfect perfect. Definitely use it!

Susan said...

When I saw the name Willoughby in the title, I immediately liked it a lot, but I was sure it was a girl's name, and I was surprised when I realized it was a boy's name.

Personally I would rather use a surprisingly boyish name for a girl than a surprisingly girlish name for a boy.

If I were considering the name, I would want to find out if a majority of people thought the name sounded girlish. If a single person here or there considers the name girlish, that's no big deal, but if, say, 3/4 of the kids in his class think his name is girlish, I'd say he will have a big and unnecessary problem.

Anonymous said...

I like it. I don't even understand how it is a girl name. To me, it falls into a last names as first names category, and I like it.

Anonymous said...

I don't like it at ALL with either Sylvia as a sibling name or with the Italian surname. There is an extreme disconnect with the name and the circumstances in which it would be used. A person's first and surnames need flow but Willoughby and _iotto don't seem like they go together. This isn't as big a consideration as the former, but Willoughby and Sylvia do *not* go together at all to me (same kind of dissonance as Valentina and Tarquin for example) although Will is a better match.

I live in the UK and doubt it's used much here-- and it's definitely a 'poncy' name!

Anonymous said...

I find the name Willoughby rather geeky and pretentious. Has your husband considered whether HE would like to have grown up with Willoughby as his name? If so, then the name may be a good match for your son's personality and interests. If not, then another name would probably work better for your son. Best wishes!

Anne said...

There's probably no point in chiming in at this point, as I will merely be echoing prior posters and it sounds as if you have made up your mind already, but I truly dislike the name Willoughby as a first name for an American boy with an Italian surname... It SCREAMS Jane Austen to me, and not in a good way, and just pronouncing it in my head gives me a stiff upper lip -- and makes me feel like the combination of this name with an Italian surname is just... wrong. I do think names from different backgrounds can work, and in fact my children have such names and I find them lovely (this is all subjective, of course), but to my ear, this is not one of those cases. And although I definitely think "boy" when I hear the name, I think "effeminate boy" -- in this day and age, I just don't believe that the name would be viewed as even remotely masculine by your son's peers. Which may or may not be important to you -- but I am pretty sure he would soon be going by Will and would be really embarrassed to admit what it was short for (I may be callous, but I am pretty sure if I had dated a boy named Will when I was young and he had told me his full name was Willoughby, I would have burst out laughing). At any rate, you should do what feels right to you, and the fact is that I know plenty of kids who have names that I think are ridiculous or horrible, but once the name is attached to the kid, I think people are a lot more accepting and a lot less judgmental and focus a heck of a lot more on the CHILD and the child's personality than the name.

Also, for what it's worth, I asked for advice on this site and ultimately went against the grain, and am happy I did! So again, if Willoughby is it for you, go for it.

Good luck!

Joy & Michael said...

I don't know if you have made a decision, but I want to say that you should not worry about what people will say. We named our son Oscar and our family hated it. In fact my parents and my husbands parents called him by a different name because they hated it so much. Of course we had to ask them to stop and call him Oscar and a year later his name absolutely suits him. In fact my MIL told me the other day that she loved his name and didn't know why she had such a problem with it. So, my advice is if you love the name enough that you are willing to overlook the talk and defend it until it fits then go for it. Plus, this is a VERY easy name to shorten if you should decide it's too long or if he wants it to be shortened. Best of luck on your decision and the remainder of your pregnancy. Little boys are amazing little creatures!!

Nanette said...

Okay, I just wrote a really long post and it did not work (I don't think) so here I go again...just shorter this time...

I have a Willoughby! He is 13 months old. He is the happiest, coolest, funniest, toughest little guy around. Some people tell us his name is great. Others say that but I can tell by the looks on their faces they don't mean it. Others say "well, that's one you don't hear everyday." Ha. I can only guess what they are thinking.

Here's the deal...if you love it, follow your heart. My husband had to convince me and I am glad he did. Willoughby suits him perfectly. It isn't feminine at all any more than the name Dylan is (which is also used for both sexes) and Will is a great nickname.

But you must be brave.

When you spell it for someone on the phone (usually at a doctor office or pharmacy) do not be insulted by their questioning tone. And be prepared for lots of people to think it is his last name. Lots of puzzled looks, too.

And remember, Willoughby sounds a whole lot nicer than lots of more popular names that frankly are rougher on the ear. Braxton? Are you kidding?? Braydon sounds like a noise a donkey makes. So really, Willoughby makes a much nicer sound when you say it.

And yeah, no kidding that Willoughby was a Jane Austen character. No one loves Austen more than me. Doesn't mean your son will act like a cad. They don't inherit personality traits from characters in books (though the people who name their kid Atticus might not want to hear it).

Do it! If it feels right, ignore the haters. Chances are, they have sons named Max. And that's the only kind of safe name they like.

Anonymous said...

I like Willoughby, can't understand why anybody would think it's a girl name (and wish people would stop acting like that's the most horrifying thing ever), think going through life as Willoughby Italian-Name would be no more confusing than going through life as Italian-Name Italian-Name and having to repeatedly explain that no, you've never been to Italy and you don't speak Italian, and at worst the kid will have a nice conversation starter about how his parents were kind of eccentric while getting to pass incognito as Will whenever he chooses to.