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Friday, March 23, 2012

Barnaby

Anna writes:
Okay. Here's one for you. And I really do want your honest opinion. Our top favorite at the moment is a little out there, and I've never seen it discussed on your blog. I proposed it to my usual Impartial Island Name Tester (My hair stylist. They're perfect for this. They won't tell anyone, and they hear A LOT of names), and recieved NO RESPONSE, which I took to mean, "Um.....no."

We may use it anyway, but if you and your readers tell me what you think, I'll have at least heard it all.

It's Barnaby. And I want to call him Barney.

Hear me out. I think it has a pleasant sound. It is an old-timey, unusual name, yet you know how to say it and spell it. It seems of the ilk of Henry and George and all those others coming back into common usage. Actually, we would want to use George as the middle name, after my dad. Barnaby George.

I'm not really bothered by the Purple Dinosaur. My three year old has almost never watched that show, and a child born this year would see even less of it. Also, even if there WAS some teasing related to the dinosaur, I feel like there isn't much mileage there. "Like the Dinosaur?"... and that's really it. Maybe the song?

So, I guess what I want to know is, CAN THIS NAME BE SAVED? Or will everyone wince when they hear it and make fun of us behind our backs?

Thanks as always for your wise council,

I really really really really honestly like it. It was on our list for Edward, and the main reason we didn't use it is that it didn't fit with the "Top 50"-type style we'd been using for the kids so far, nor did it go well with our "I must use it or I will die" girl name (or actually, it went very well, but in a way we didn't want, and this is getting too confusing considering I use pseudonyms here but you will just have to trust me that all of this is to say I really like the name). I've suggested it a time or two or three, generally to parents who are looking for a totally established name with long roots---but also want something distinctive and unusual and kind of FUN. So many of the boy names that fit my own family's tastes are a little...well, boring to use. We LOVE the name and we want to use it, but it doesn't THRILL. A name like Barnaby has THRILL.

I think it falls into the category of "names that will startle people when you first tell them, but soon they will be thinking how adorable it is." Here is where I think the long roots help so much: if you use a Startle Name like Zophinion, you are ON YOUR OWN in justifying the usage. If you use Barnaby, you have THOUSANDS OF YEARS of name-usage backing you up.

Plus, even though the name has recently been almost unused in the U.S., it continues to be familiar. This to me is a huge selling point. With Zophinion, no one has ever heard of it; with Barnaby, people might be startled, but they'll know the name. It might not be to their tastes, but then, maybe their babies' names aren't to our tastes either.

If I used it, I'd want to use Barnaby as-is, rather than shortening it to Barney---but that's because one of my favorite parts of the name is the -aby ending. So cute! So whimsical! So fun to say!

I'm feeling tempted to push you to use it. I will try to stop pushing now and let other people give their opinions.

63 comments:

Meg @ Mr.C and Me said...

as much as i love Barney on How I Met Your Mother.... in the real world i think it's a little tough. and after thinking of Barney from HIMYM i immediately go to Barney the purple dinosaur. and other people will too..sadly.... I do love Barnaby though :) it's fun to say, old-timey, different...

Martha said...

I like Barnaby more than Barney as well. If you love it, you should go for it! I think it is great. I can understand objections though--I really wanted to name our son Clifford (my deceased grandfather's name) and call him Cliff, but my husband vetoed because of Clifford the Big Red Dog. Thankfully, I think my sister is going to use Cliff someday.

Amy said...

If I heard the name Barnaby, I wouldn't immediately go "Oh Barney the dinosaur!" even though I grew up watching. I would probably think of the character on How I Met Your Mother. I do like the novelty of hearing the whole name though!

SM said...

Use it! But use the whole name! I went to school with a Barnaby--he was an all around popular guy (cute, smart, athletic) and so the name is totally a positive for me. He was always called Barnaby or sometimes "Barn" by his teammates (never Barney).

Jen said...

I think Barnaby/Barney is usable in the sense Oscar is useable. Yes there is an association but people quickly lose that once they know a child with the name. Though I would probably stick to using Barnaby and not the nn Barney. But that's me and my dislike of nn's in general.

Elisabeth said...

I think Barnaby is great! It actually makes me think of Hello, Dolly (and the scenes that they use from it in Wall-E) long before any sort of Barney the dinosaur reference.

Also, I wouldn't worry much about people making fun of you behind your back. At least half of the names that someone brings up to me in conversation as a "weird" name I end up thinking "Hmm, that might actually be awesome."

Emily said...

I think Barnaby is pretty awesome. It will startle people at first because it isn't the typical Aiden or Jack, but that isn't a bad thing imo. If you love Barnaby - go for it!

Sarah said...

You know, I like Barnaby pretty well and I think it's a legitimate choice for a baby boy. My general feeling is that it might not be an instant hit with your friends and family, but it has a great chance of growing on people.

I really like the nickname Barney for it, but apart from The Dinosaur, there is also the cultural heritage of Barney Fife from The Andy Grifith show. For what it's worth. Also, I don't know how many British TV shows you watch, but there is a massively popular murder mystery that is also popular in the U.S. called Midsomer Murders. The main character is one Detective Inspector Tom Barnaby and he is almost universally called "Barnaby". The show is in its 17th season right now so it's got some standing.

I don't know if any of this matters to you, but if it were me I'd want to be aware of it.

Veronica Mers said...

I like Barnaby. My immediate association with it is a very positive one...the late 1970s private detective show "Barnaby Jones" which I loved watching re-runs of as a kid. It is certainly unusual, but it is a perfectly good name. I like it better than Barney though so I wouldn't bother with the nicknmame.

theladyisugly said...

I love Barnaby! And like Elisabeth, my first association for it would be Hello, Dolly! and WALL-E, not Barney—and I grew up watching Barney. :)

ccr in MA said...

I too like Barnaby, not shortened, and now I have the song from Hello Dolly running through my head! (Which is awkward since I don't remember all the words.)

Kit said...

I like it, but agree that I would call him Barnaby, just because it's so awesome.

If you do go the Barney route, it will be fine. My youngest has a Dora in her class. The first time I heard it, I thought 'explorer', but it's not a lasting issue.

Auntie G said...

I love Barnaby. My first reference point would definitely be Hello, Dolly! - and that's a good thing. My boys are named Theodore (Theo) and August (Gus), to put things in perspective. DO IT.

StephLove said...

Like nearly everyone else, I like Barnaby better than Barney. Can't get past the dinosaur, even though I have some positive associations for the name (mainly Barney Frank). But Barnaby is cool.

-R- said...

I think that if you like it, you should use it. It reminds me of the name Walter- seems kind of fuddy duddy at first, but it seems cute and normal after you get used to it.

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

I very recently met a Barnaby (of the older gentleman variety) (which sounds weird - it wasn't like a ROMANTIC encounter) and his name struck me as unusual and distinctive, but not weird. I don't have any negative associations with the name at all, and I do like how it's a little old-fashioned but still recognizable.

As others have said, I have a harder time getting behind Barney. For an odd reason: There's a line in Clueless where someone refers to someone else as "a Barney." Which was an insult. A comparison to Barney Rubble of Flintstones fame, I think. And unfortunately, I don't have any positive non-dinosaur Barney associations to weigh against that one.

Anonymous said...

ditto the rest. i like barnaby but not barney so much. barnaby sounds regal and important. barney sounds fuddy-duddy to me. but as usual i say name your kid what you want! we just named our baby walter without asking any opinions because frankly, i don't care what others think: i like it!

Fran said...

Barnaby, yes (I think of the scene in WALL-E or of Buddy Ebson in Barnaby Jones) but I cannot like the nickname Barney. Not just the dinosaur for me but poor Barney Fife. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

Funny, I live in MA and my first association was our retiring Senator Barney Frank. But that just tags me as impossibly old, I'm guessing. FWIW, I think Swistle nailed it with the "names that will startle people when you first tell them, but soon they will be thinking how adorable it is."

Anonymous said...

I like Barnaby & agree with Swistle and other posters who say you should use it as. Barnaby doesn't need a nickname. When I read Barnaby George out loud, I really want to say Barnaby Jones. I don't think that should be a deal breaker, but maybe something to be aware of. & FWIW, my youngest is George-I love the name.

Sarah.Jane said...

I adore Barnaby and Barney. Once it's attached to a sweet baby you would be really surprised how quickly people come around to loving the name!

Janet said...

I love Barnaby, and it's on my (longer) list, but my DH vetoes it completely. I'd love to meet a little Barnaby or Barney, and I think Neil Patrick Harris makes the name even better.

Barnaby is way better than some of the really crappy names out there, even if you will get some snickers or silences when you say it to people.

Another name I like that seems similar to me is Barton.

Gail said...

I love it. I think you're on trend.

M.Amanda said...

Add me to the "Use the whole name!" group. For me, it's in the same fun-to-say category as Penelope.

Stefanie said...

Love it. Barnaby was my heartbreaker partner-nixed name when I was pregnant with my son. I still wish I could've swayed him, but that would-be Barnaby is a George. :)

Shannon said...

Great name! Not as much a fan of the Barney nickname but you should use it if that's what you love.

The Mrs. said...

Barnaby has class. WHAT a great name!

It brings to mind The Matchmaker by Thornton Wilder (Cornelius and Barnaby).

Barnes is a good nickname for any age, but the whole name is a real winner. Good for you for breaking outside the norm! All the best!

Magic27 said...

Nothing but good connotations here! There were no purple dinosaur shows in Britain when I was growing up (but there was, most definitely, this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t53D7kG7phA) and I've still never actually seen that show.
I have British friend here in France whose son (now 11) is called Barnaby, and I had a lovely French student many years ago called Barnabé...
I'd say go for it!
Like many other commenters, I do prefer Barnaby to Barney, though...

Anonymous said...

I love this name! It is fresh, handsome, and intelligent-sounding all rolled in to one. genius!

(I live in a big city down south, if that contextualizes my opinion at all)

Sara said...

Barnaby...LOVE Adorable. Adorable Adorable!!!

Would not in a million years be okay with Barney :(

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s-Mz2rmKQd4

We sung randitions to that song when I was in school, and a few years ago my oldest came home singing something similar about hanging barney from a tree with a rope and a shot to the head or something. I put a stop to it because we don't allow songs like that, BUT I'd be TERRIFIED to name my kid something that kids might oneday bully him about. IN SONG FORM.

Again though, LOVE Barnaby. Barnaby George is adorable. I think I'd call him BG for short. Which I guess if you hate the Bee Gees than you probably wouldn't.

I'd probably totally go with the BG nickname and then push it further by singing him Bee Gees songs...

Islands in the stream, that is what we are, no one inbetween how can we be wrong, sail away with me, to another world and we rely on each other un huh, from one lover to another un huh.

or...

how deep is your love, how deep is your love, i really need to learn cause we're living in a world of fools, breaking us down, when they all should let us be, we belong to you and me, da du du da daaa.

I'd totally sing him how deep is your love. Good luck!!!

Jenny Grace said...

I love Barnaby. Barney: there's how I met your mother and the dinosaur (which are associations, be they negative or positive). I actually think of Barney Rubble, of the flinstones. So there's also that.
Prefer Barnaby to Barney.

Rebecka said...

I live in Europe and don't make the same associations as you Americans, and I definitely don't think of the dinosaur, although I know who he is. I think of the character Tom Barnaby in the British tv show Midsomer Murders, which is extremely positive to me because it's the best show there ever was. I love the name and would definitely use it myself if I lived in an English-speaking country (I live in Sweden and barn means child in Swedish). I think Barney works fine for a nickname, sure, I thought of the How I Met Your Mother character but not more than I'd think of the That '70s Show character Donna when I hear that name. Do you see my point? People are always going to have associations no matter if the name is Hermione or John. There are of course limits like most people would probably not use the name Adolf for obvious reasons. Go for it! :)

Anonymous said...

Love it! Prefer the whole name, not using Barney as a nickname, but even that is ok. I have a friend named Barnaby (he's in his mid-30s). We call him by the whole thing most of the time, or sometimes shorten to "Barn" if we're in a hurry. His wife's name is Anne. "Should I call Anne and Barn and ask them what they're doing this weekend?" Barn isn't a nickname. More like an occasional abbreviation. If that makes sense. Anyway, I love Barnaby. Lukewarm on Barney, but not put off by it.

Anonymous said...

I like Barnaby, but Barney just sounds bleh to me. I went to h.s. with a guy named Barney and always felt embarrassed for him.

Robyn said...

I'm Australian and we have a politician with the name Barnaby Joyce so the name has strong associations for me that you obviously wouldn't have. I think if you love it, use it and people will quickly start to associate your gorgeous little boy with the name rather than the dinosaur (or the Flintstones!).

Anonymous said...

I also really like Barnaby and am not so keen on Barney. I would use Bumblebee as a nn, but maybe not at school!

I like Barnabas as well with nn Bas/Baz or Abbas. Maybe it is a bit of a stretch, but I like it!

That said... I like Abby as a nn, but perhaps it is a bit girly.

It is Johnny Depp's character's name in the new movie 'Dark Shadows': http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1077368/ Wouldn't put me off though.

All in all, if you like Barnaby nn Barney, then go for it!

brynnash said...

Barnaby nn Barney is kind of cute. I don't think kids would make fun of it. There are plenty of new babies being named things like Arthur, Millicent "Millie," and Walter.

My great-grandfather was named Byron and called Barney. Another way to get Barney if you were concerned about Barnaby.

Anonymous said...

This is so funny, because right before I checked the website, I was thinking of baby names I'd love to use, and I was specifically thinking of BARNABY. What an awesome name. Use it!!!

Taylor Rauschkolb said...

LOVE Barnaby, but I'd suggest "Barnes" as a nn. There's no Dinosaur/Andy Griffith connotation, plus it would probably age better, since it seems a bit more masculine to me.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't name my child Barnaby but I pictured someone telling me their son's name is Barnaby and my reaction would be "Hmm, interesting! What's the story behind the name?"

each of the two said...

call me crazy, or just call me a theatre person, but MY first association, and a fond one at that is the Barnaby character in Hello Dolly! (look it up, I actually suggest the barbara streisand movie over the carol channing), this charcater is so lovable and cute and wonderful, and I am ALL about names one has rarely heard but doesnt sound weird or made up, its a constant disagreement the hubs and I have... USE IT!!!

Anonymous said...

My grandfather always called my brother Brian Barney. Nobody else ever did. And my grandfather had no special nicknames for any other of his many grandchildren. I always thought it was a cool nickname. This was before the dinosaur. But Barney Rubble was on TV and it didn't make me think of that.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my oldest favorite names. I love it so much and would totally use it myself if I could. 15 years ago I named my cat Barnaby and he died last year and I would STILL use it, but my husband says we can't now. All this to say, please use it! It is wonderful and underused and not too weird at all!

Jodi said...

This is our favorite boys's name!!! We've so far had five girls (and adopted one boy whose first name we kept) so no opportunity to use it, but I'd be THRILLED to see someone else use it! (Or sad? Not sure.. but either way YOU SHOULD!) We have always planned on using the nickname Barnes, but if you like Barney, I have no issue with it. You're right: our kids are not the Barney generation anymore. Moms will giggle maybe, but kids probably won't.

Anonymous said...

I like it, but i see it more on a kid than an adult.

Johanna said...

I love Barnaby. I hate Barney.

Leslie said...

I love the name Barnaby. To me, the name manages to sound handsome, dashing, quirky, and friendly all at once, which few names manage to do. Go for it!

Like many of the other posters, I do have a Fife/Rubble association with the name Barney which makes it seem a bit more bumbling to me. I think I could get over it fairly quickly, though, if faced with an actual person with the name.

Angela said...

I'm with everyone else. I like Barnaby, but Barney makes me think of Barney the dinosaur and Barney the drunk from the Simpsons. I could probably get used to it if I knew a kid named Barney though, and both of those associations will not be with your child's generation.

I think if you love it, use it!

kimma said...

I'll join the general consensus on love Barnaby, not fussed on Barney.

bellaf said...

I love Barnaby. Barney not so much.

beyond said...

I love Barnaby. LOVE. I'm not as much in love with Barney, but very positive it would grow on me extremely fast, if I had a baby Barney in my life.
(I actually started liking it a bit more as I was writing baby Barney!)
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I like Barnaby.

No, I don't think anybody will wince.

I think you will get a lot of compliments on it.

I think it sounds older, romantic, stylish.

I think even if people wouldn't choose it for their own child, they will like it for yours.

I also like the idea of using it as-is: Barnaby. Or maybe, just calling him Barney as a pet-name but still introducing him as Barnaby and frequently calling him that as well.

My first thought with Barney though was the character from How I Met Your Mother, not the purple dinosaur.

I think if he is Barney he may get purple dinosaur comments a few times, but it won't be as if it would have been had he been Barney in the 90s.

You like it- USE IT!

Grace said...

That was my comment. Didn't mean to push anon.

Leah said...

LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!

And that's coming from someone with a 5 year old Dorothy, so I totally sometimes get the "wow, that's one you don't hear much anymore" comments. And we did call her Dorrie for short, but mostly because Dorothy is a mouthful (3 or 4 syllables depending on how you say it). For you I'd say to use Barnaby and let a nickname happen organically. If you end up calling him Barney, awesome. If you don't and another nickname just happens, also awesome.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I do not like Barnaby at all. Honestly I would wince if someone told me they named their child Barnaby. I think it would take a pretty special kid to pull it off, and if they didn't pull it off, well I could only imagine some teasing in the playground.

In saying this, if I met a cute little Barnaby I am sure it would grow on me :-)

NameLover said...

I love the suggested nicknames Barn and Barnes (especially Barnes). :)

Anonymous said...

I went to school with a Barnaby and it always seemed like an unusual but not crazy, out-there, or overly old-mannish name (then again, my name is Ruth, so maybe I have a high tolerance ...). The name seemed to fit him well, and certainly it was always memorable and everyone knew who you were talking about when you mentioned Barnaby. Go for it! I agree with the consensus that full Barnaby is much preferable to Barney, but I think you should call him what feels right to you.

Anonymous said...

My 3 year old son is called Barnaby. We chose the name for a number of reasons, some of which have already been mentioned. We wanted a traditional name but one that wasn't not too popular and something with multiple syllables as we have a short surname but also something that could be shortened itself. I expected us to shorten it to Barney pretty quickly but we haven't as yet so maybe we never will, he does get shortened to Barnes now and again though. We are very happy with it as a name and really struggled to find a name that we liked as much (and fulfilled the same criteria) for his 1 year old sister. I say definitely call your son Barnaby, but then I appreciate I am biased!

We did get a lot of silences when we first told people the name but we expected that as I can't imagine anyone would have predicated it as a name. So definitely worth preparing yourself for that. Also worth bearing in mind that young toddlers almost always call him Barbie at first, before they can pronounce Barnaby (I assume the NA but must be the trickiest for them to say) - I didn't particularly like this, especially when his whole nursery class called him Barbie but they soon grew out of it and it's really not that big a deal.

We live in London and I have come across 2 other Barnabys of a similar age at various groups but it's still pretty unusual.

Emmy Jo said...

Is anyone else trying to guess what Swistle's "must-use-it-or-die" girls' name is? I'm guessing Elizabeth nickname Betty. It's top 50, plus it would yield the undesirable siblings "Barney and Betty." Any other guesses?

Anonymous said...

Anna here!

Oh my goodness! I am so happy with all of these responses! Thank you all so much for your thoughts!

Thanks especially to the anonymous who actually used Barnaby. I am happy to know all of that information. And the commenter who brought up the terrible ways kids can sing the Barney song! Gah! Hadn't thought of that. The only think that's giving me pause now is the commenter who brought up Johnny Depp's character in that new movie. *sigh* My husband said, "Yeah, but it's Barnabas, and that movie isn't going to do very well." :)

Emmy Jo: YES! I have been trying to figure it out, too! She uses fake names for her kids, though, so Elizabeth's name really isn't Elizabeth. I keep thinking maybe it's Barbara? Something B---ee? Brandie? Doesn't seem her style. Maybe it's something like Ellery that would sound too rhymey? SO MYSTERIOUS. :)

Frevisse said...

Coming late to this thread but I have my own Barnaby (20 months) and have a hugely positive response to his name. Everyone loves it. It was always my favorite boy name and I love its old-fashioned but funky flavor! I would never use Barney though. We use Barn or B and Barnes, but generally use the whole name. Go for it!

Anonymous said...

My brother's name is Barnaby and I have always loved his name! (he is now 15). He has actually gone by Barney his whole life and I couldn't imagine any other name fitting so well. I wish I could use this name for my son!

Anonymous said...

We are also thinking of naming our son Barnaby but are a little nervous about reactions from family. Also we're British but living in the US and not sure how the name will go over here. Great to read all these helpful comments!