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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Baby Naming Issue: A Nickname for Bert

Lena writes:
Swistle, I am due with a boy in 9 days, and having last minute doubts about our name choice!
My name is Elena Maeve (EH-LEEN-AH), always called Lena, and my husband is Bert Adam. The baby’s last name will be Reiser (REE-SIR). My husband has been pushing so hard for a junior, and after being skeptical at first, I am now in love with the idea. Our son will most likely be Bert Adam Reiser Junior. The problem is what to call him on a day-to-day basis. We have vetoed Bert, because it is just too confusing, and I dislike the idea of calling him two names, like Bert Adam. To make things more complicated, my father, brother, and 2 year old nephew are also named Adam. My father is Adam Nolan E_______ who goes by Adam, my brother is Adam Nolan E________ II who goes by AJ (Adam Junior), and my nephew is Adam Nolan E__________ III who goes by Tripp. So my son cannot be called Bert, Bert Adam, or Adam. We thought about BJ (Bert Junior), but I refuse to give my son those initials. So then Bert came up with just calling him Junior, and surprisingly, I LOVE it. It sounds so cute to me, perfect when he’s a child, and as he grows older we will let him decide if he wants to be Bert, Bert Adam, or some other nickname. So, we were all set to name our son Bert Adam Reiser, and call him Junior, when my mother visited and I made the mistake of telling her his name. She told me that she thinks Junior is a hideous name for a dog, and while it is our decision, we should definitely NOT use it. UGH!!! Then I started to ask some of my friends, and they all told me the same thing (much politer of course!!). So now we are totally rethinking this with only 9 days left, and have no clue what to do. The other option is to name him Tobias Bert, called Toby, which is our runner up name (We both love this too, just not as much). We don’t think that we want more than one child, although you never know. If this baby was a girl she would have been Lucille Greta, called Lucy, or Louise Greta, called Louie.

Some names that we loved but eliminated for various reasons were: (to give you a sense of our taste):


(We’ve been told we like Grandpa names☺)

Our final questions are, should we just go with Junior if we love it, or does it sound too doggy, is Tobias Bert a better choice, what are some other nickname options for Bert Adam Reiser Junior???


Nicknames come into and go out of style, just like names do. For awhile, most of the Elizabeths are called Bess or Betsy; then most of them are called Liz; then most of them are called Beth. Then Libby, then Elizabeth-no-nickname-just-Elizabeth, then Ellie---and then Betsy and Bess come around and start sounding fresh and pleasing again.

I think what is done when a father and son share the same name is similarly a matter of current styles. For awhile it was Junior/Chip/Trip, but that gave way to using Bob and Bobby, or Big Bob and Little Bob. Then that seemed to cause problems as well, so we started calling the child by his middle name, or even by a nickname of the middle name. And now I think we're coming back to Junior and Trip.

It's always an issue when two people in the same house have the same name---but then it's different when the child grows up and has a home of his own. When the child is older, he can help choose his own nickname if he doesn't like the one you've chosen; and when he grows up, it'll no longer be an issue: he can continue to use his nickname, or he can use his given names. So all that is needed here is a Temporary Childhood Solution (Junior, Bobby, Little Bob, going by a middle name, etc.).

In my opinion, you've found it. Junior is a little startling because it's gone out of usage, but I found that after a moment or so it struck me as very pleasingly retro. As with names such as Sally and Hank (and Archie and Bert!), I think it's ready for reuse.

Because you'll be on the cutting edge, I suspect you'll encounter a little resistance---but I also suspect the resistance will fade quickly. It will be harder for the older generations: just as we're more resistant than current teens to the re-emergence of shag haircuts and leg warmers, so the older generations are not quite as ready to hear Junior brought back. I'd be gentle and jokey about it: "It's hip, mom! It's like orange and owls and daisies: it's HAPPENIN'!" (And maybe let her use her own nickname for him, if you're willing and if she really can't get used to it.)

The dog-name aspect, however, does not seem like an issue; I'm not familiar with Junior as a common dog name, and even if it IS common as a dog name, it is much better-established as a nickname for your exact situation. And you love it: you love the idea of a junior, and you love the idea of a Junior---so it seems like you should go with both, instead of changing things around because of an initially unfavorable or tepid reception (which, again, I think is likely to improve with time). And it's just a nickname, so it can easily be changed if you're not happy with it. Perhaps after he is born, a different nickname will naturally emerge.

If you decide against Junior, though, I suggest Barry. It's a bit of a reach (it comes from the initials BAR; it could also come from the first three letters of Bert, but I think Berry may look too feminine), but I think it would work. Or Bertie, of course, which I'm fond of because of the P. G. Wodehouse books (that Bertie is a bit dim, but also good-natured and likeable and kind and generous). Or you could call him B: this is a nickname style I've been seeing more and more, and I like it.

Or you could call him B.A. for his first and middle initials, or B.R. for his first and last. Over the years I've known a few people who went by unusual initials (i.e., not the more common ones such as T.J. or R.J.), and what I've found is that it seems a little awkward at first but soon becomes natural. (B.A. sounds natural to me already, because I used to babysit for one.)

He could go by Reis, as a short form of your surname. Or, was your husband named Bert after another Bert, maybe a Bert whose legal name was something longer, like Robert or Herbert? That might be another place to look for nicknames.

Name update! Lena writes:
I'd just like to thank you and your readers so much for helping me and Bert find a name we love for our son! Bert Adam Reiser Junior was born May 23, and is gorgeous and healthy! We decided that we really did love the name Bert, and the idea of having a junior, especially since we don't think we want any more children. After reading what you and your readers said, I decided that I wasn't so sure about calling him Junior anymore. We loved the suggestion of Berry and Bear, and had planned to call him Junior just inside the family, and Berry on a day-to-day basis. However, from the day he was born the name, Bo just fit, and we've been calling him Bo ever since. When he gets a bit older we might call him Junior or Berry, but for now we love Bo, and it fits him perfectly!

Thanks for everything,
Lena, Bert and Bo!


Allyson said...

Along the lines of the Barry suggestion, what about Bear? It uses the same concept, the initials are BAR, while being a little more edgy and cool.

Anonymous said...

I was also going to suggest Bear. I think it's cute for a child, but I could also see it being good for an adult too - rugged and manly sounding, at least to me :)

denese said...

I think if you love the idea of calling your son Junior, you should do it! Your baby, your reasonable informed loving choice. Like Swistle says often, people will make up their own nicknames, no matter how much you insist otherwise they will choose to call him what they want which sounds like your situation with your mother.

We named our now-6-month-old son Sebastian; through my entire pregnancy my mom forcefully insisted that he will forever be tormented by bullies calling him Bastard. What?! Call your son Junior!

Anonymous said...

My dad is a junior. His initials are DAH. His mom used to call him Dahjr. Initials+jr. Sounds like dodger.
It could work with Barjr. (Barger?)
Or not. :)
I like the idea of Barry if Junior doesn't work. I think you should go for it, though. It's cute.

Anonymous said...

I think Bertram is cute, and might fit with your affinity for "grandfather" names. Even if only Bert is on the birth certificate, it seems natural enough to add the extra syllable casually, especially with Ad-am as a middle name.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of Junior. I do, however, like the suggestions of calling him B.A. or Reis. I actually LOVE the idea of Reis.

Anonymous said...

I was also going to suggest Bear! I would stay away from B.A., for sure, since many people shorten "bad a**" with those initials.
Junior is definitely not my style, but YOU love it and love the idea of having a junior, so I say go for it, as long as the idea of people turning up their noses at the name doesn't bother you. With my third, a boy, I loved ONE boy name my entire pregnancy, even though my husband had to warm up to it and his parents AND my parents were opposed to it. We went with it anyway, and I'm so glad we did. Everyone got used to it... I think... and if they didn't, it doesn't bother me because I love the name THAT much. :)
Best of wishes!

Anonymous said...

Go with Junior! It's cute! And Swistle's right: you need a childhood solution. You'll figure out what to do when he's 18 (or he'll figure that out himself.)

BTW, I love the idea of Bear too. Or Beau - my husband was a junior (a John) - and his family called him Beau when he was a kid.

Meg @ Mr.C and Me said...

like swistle - I was going to suggest B.A. (I know someone who goes by this b/c her name is Beth Ann, but it works for Bert Adam too). but I adore the suggestion of Bertie or even "B". But honestly, if your heart is set on Junior go with that one :)

Nicole said...

A co-worker of mine has six kids, and his first son is nicknamed Bear (I forget what his actual name is, but I believe it's similar to dad's in some way). This man is an adult and still goes by Bear, at least to his family. I didn't even know he wasn't actually named that until last week.

Anyway, my point is that I love the idea of using Bear and I think it can absolutely work as the Adulthood Solution as well.

Anonymous said...

I think you should go with Junior. It's the name that you both really like.

I really love Reis. It reminds me of my childhood friend that we call Shep because his last name was Shepard.

Brittany said...

I think you got great advice and some wonderful back up suggestions from Swistle (and the commenters who have suggested Bear). Junior isn't my style, but it seems to be you and your husband's, and that's what matters in naming your son! When Junior is attached to your child, objections will quickly fall away and it'll fit him. And you can always call him Junior AND one of the other great nickname options.

I grew up with a Junior that was called JR (like the initials), which I also like. I'd also agree with someone above who suggested not going with BA, due to the bad a$$ association, though it seems to work for other kids. I think that we sometimes worry about names, but when they're attached to someone so lovable, the name wins us over because of it's association with the person.

Anonymous said...

I dont see anything wrong with using Junior as a nickname if that is what you and your hubs like. We call one of our sons junior on such a regular basis that he responds to it and he is not even a junior.

liz said...

I like Junior.

But I'm also in love with Bear. What a great nickname!

Reis is good, too.

What about Barge from BAR Jr.?

What about Pete (short for Repeat?) or TwoBert (stolen from Laid Off Dad)

M.Amanda said...

If you like Junior, your mom might just get over it. However, I was going to suggest JR for Junior, like Brittany did.

Bear or Barge would be cute. I also was going to suggest BA, like B.A. Baracus, Mr. T's character in The A-Team. I'd never heard the abbreviation mentioned above. Perhaps I'm naive and that was intended when naming the A-Team character? It seems appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I love Swistle's Reis suggestion! I know A LOT of people who go by their last names or a version of it.

Anonymous said...

What about demi, as in demi-bert? If you like junior though, go for it!

I also think bear is a great suggestion!

sarah said...

I went to high school with a Robert III who was called Treb. This could work for you since it is Bert spelled backwards. It kind of sounds like Tripp but I think it's different enough that you could still use it and not be confused with your nephew.
I also like the suggestion of Bertie.
Bud or Buddy might also work for you.
But if you both really love Junior, I wouldn't be worried about some people thinking it is a dog name. Lots of dogs have people names these days.
Good luck!

Laura said...

Are you 100% set on Adam. It seems to me that your little one can't use his first name because it's your husbands and can't use his middle name because it belongs to others as well. Is he really getting a name that is his to use? If you went with a new middle name then he could go by that.

Anonymous said...

Bertie! That's the obvious nickname for a little Bert - it's very sweet.

You could always name him Albert or Robert instead so you can call him Albie or Robbie.

Anonymous said...

I like Junior and it didn't sound odd at all to me, but then again my 70+ year old uncle has always gone by that name (within the family anyway).

But I also like Bertie. It reminds me of the King's Speach.

Anonymous said...

I really love the suggestions of Bear and Beau. I suggestion Bam, since it's a combination of Bert and Adam.

Meg said...

I like Beau/Bo, junior, and Bear. I'll throw Bram out there as another combination of Bert and Adam that I think could work too. Good luck!

hillary said...

Ooh, I was going to say I like both the Bear idea and Bertie more than Junior, but Meg's idea of Bram is fantastic too. For me, Junior is fine within a home/family but in a classroom or workplace it makes me uncomfortable for some reason...perhaps because it implies the family relationship, akin to being named Daughter or Nephew. Probably just my own weird preference, though! If it feels good to you, everyone else will get used to it.

Anonymous said...

BerT ADam gives you Tad, which is adorable and has the same feel as Tobias/Tobin/Toby. Tad Reiser sounds like a movie star.

Bird said...

What about J.R.? It stands for junior but also sounds like a name.

The Mrs. said...

Other nickname possibilities:


Junior is a fine nickname. But I understand if you may not feel it's usable after your mother's comments.

The idea of Tad (mentioned above) is pretty awesome... Bear, too.

Best wishes as you anticipate the arrival of your sweet boy!

Anonymous said...

I really like Junior, I also like names like Juniper, Junia... Junior sounds just as pleasing to me!

Your mother will get used to it! My mum hated our baby name (which we told her after the baby was born) and now all she says 'I had to get used to it'. It may be a little while, but as soon as your mother associates Junior will your gorgeous sweet baby boy, she will warm to it! Just stick with what YOU love and others will follow.

StephLove said...

I've never heard of Junior as a dog name, so if you love it and it's the only thing holding you back, I'd use it.

If you decide you don't want the hassle of two people in the same house with the same name, however, I thought Bertram was an excellent suggestion, or you could consider other names with Bert, like Robert or Albert. Those could be nods to your husband's name without being a Jr.

Caroline said...

after reading about your son being a junior and seeing the title being "nickname for Bert", I immediately thought "call him Junior!". I don't think their is a problem in calling him Junior at all.

Good luck!

Claire Wessel said...

I know lots of guys named Junior, some that is even their legal name! If you guys are happy with it, use it. Another thing that is sorta "old man" that I love are nicknames that exist just for being male, like Sonny, Bubba, Buster, and Butch. Maybe you could just go with your planned Bert Adam and try out a few of those all-boy nicknames until one sticks??

jerilyn said...

I think the problem is too many great nickname options!

I like junior and your mom's comments wd make me want to use it even more- I'm a rebel.

Speaking of being a rebel I like B.A. because of the bad @ss association :) I like b.a. tho. I like j.r. too.

I like bear, bram, reis, bam, bertie, treb, etc

Anonymous said...

I don't know any dogs named Junior. B.Reis can become nn Breeze. ?? Lots of good suggestions.

Anonymous said...

What? I've never heard of a dog named Junior! I guess that's not the real issue, though, it's more the fact that your mom hates it. I would use it anyway and I'm sure she'll get over it, especially when she meets adorable Junior!

I love some of the other suggestions as well, especially Bear. In Ausralia, nicknames often end in "az" (Charles becomes Caz) which lead me to the idea of Baz.

Patricia said...

I'm wondering if anyone really likes being called "Junior". And if it's fair to give a child the name of a parent and then call him/her something else that's not really related to that name because the parent is already called by the name. I would name him Robert Adam and forget about the junior. Your son would clearly be named for his dad, yet would have his own name too. He could be called Robert: Bert and Robert, very nice together, and maybe "Robbie" part of the time. Best wishes.

Mrs S said...

I agree with a previous poster. Why is your son getting 2 names that he can't use? It sounds like Adam has been used a lot in your family. Maybe you don't need to use it....? I would absolutely use Tobias Bert or Robert Adam. Your list of names is fantastic. I actually adore all of them.

Elijah Elijah Bert is a winner...I think:)

Anonymous said...

What about TREB? It's Bert backwards, and the more I say it out loud, the more I really like it. Treb. Treb. Treb.

It sounds familiar--I know several Trevors who go by Trev--so I don't think you'd get the raised eyebrows you might get with Junior.

I don't know if you or your husband is into music but if you are it's an added plus (in my book, anyway) that it's like the Treble Clef.

Oh! And there's another cute nickname for the nickname: Treble, like trouble.

I'm blabbering on and will stop now. But I think Treb might be the answer.

Elle said...

I'm an elementary school teacher and we have a 6th grader who goes by Junior. I really like it! I've never heard anyone say anything negative about his name, and I've never met a dog named Junior. Your mom just might find the name adorable once it's attached to her grandson. And if not, I like Swistle's suggestion of letting her come up with her own special nickname for him.

Oh, and I also have a friend that goes by B.A. I think that's a good choice as well. Although I vote for Junior!

gail said...

Bertie is so big in England that people are naming baby boys just that. Names such as Bertie Andrew, Bertie Edward, etc. They're doing the same thing with Archie. It follows the Poppy, Daisy, etc. trend for girls, and if trends move from the UK to the US, we'll probably be seeing more nn's of this kind used as fn's in the US. I'd just go with Bertie.

I also like Tobias Bert, nn'd Toby. The "b" sound connects the two. I'm not a big fan of Junior, not sure why.

Anonymous said...

In the South, Juniors are often called Sonny. I kind of like "Bear", though.

Anonymous said...

It seems that naming your son for his father is causing a lot of problems so I urge you to rethink whether naming him Bert Adam is worth it. Your son will have two names he will never be able to use until his father dies and, even then, they may seem so indelibly associated with him that he can't use them.

I understand the desire to name him after his father but I don't think any of the solutions proposed are viable. Would you really want to go through life called Bear? Yes, it's very cute but isn't it just a bit ridiculous if you're a grown man? What if he's not very cute when he's older?

I'd name him Robert, Herbert, Albert, Bertram, etc. if you really want 'bert' in there - at least those mean you don't have to call your husband and son the same name. Otherwise, call him Bertie at home and let him be who he wants to be at school. What if he hates all of the names you've tried to give him and just wants to be a Bert?

Swistle said...

Keep in mind that most of these issues are part of the Childhood Issue, not part of the Adulthood Issue: no one is suggesting the child can't use his given names even when he is grown. The first 18 years or so is when it's a problem to have two people with the same name in the same household; after that, it's not such a big deal for the next 60 or so.

Jane said...

Bear is wonderful, use that!

AirLand said...

I like the suggestions of calling him B, B.A., or Reis. B.A. Baracus was Mr. T's character on the A-Team. Don't know if that's a good association for you or not.

If it were me though, I'd pick a different first name entirely and keep the middle name Adam, since it honors both of your families. Having a first and middle name that other family members share and that both don't have any natural nicknames seems unnecessarily difficult to me.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add that it does same like name issues is for only childhood but the problems can extend for like. This like having credit reports over lap. I work with credit and it happens all the time because 2 people with the same name and adress get linked. so if your son has bad credit it could affect or husband or vise versa. It will get fixed but can take years.
That being said I really like bear!
Also I worked with a guy called Junior that what he went by everywhere even at work. I know that wasn't his name but I don't even know what his full name was! It totally fit and no one thought it was odd, or a dogs name

Anonymous said...

I knew a guy who went by J.R. (as in "Jay Arr") because he was named after his father. It had a nice ring to it. :)

Noelle said...

Junior is cute. I love nicknames and you have lots of adorable nicknames for Bert:
J.B. as in Junior Bert
Bertie J.
J. Bert
Oh my goodness when he's little he can be, Baby Bertie. So sweet!!
Good Luck

liz said...

Of the suggestions that came after mine, I really like Treb, Tad, and Bram. Especially Bram.

Mary said...

I don't understand Junior as a name, because it is a name in relation to another person but doesn't signify a stand alone identity.

I like the suggestion of Bear. What about Bey or Bam? I have to say, Tobias is awesome!

Joanne said...

I think Junior is fine - I do think it's retro and cute. But I would like to suggest Bam for a nickname for Bert Adam, I think it's so cute. Bam Oliver. Cute! Best of luck!

Veronica M. D. said...

Yeah, I hate to go against Swistle, but I am definitely not a fan of the Junior either. But in all honesty, you often plan a certain nickname for your child, sure you will call him/her that, but sometimes you surprise yourself and go in a different direction. You might find a totally different nickname you adore for little Bert Junior. OR, you might decide to call him Junior and then when he's finally here it will "click" for your family and they will love Junior, too. Good luck!

(And sorry about the mom thing; that really must have been hurtful. That is precisely why I refused to tell my mother our daughter's name until it was on the birth certificate, even though the name honored both her parents! You never know!)

Tara said...

I LOVE the nickname Junior! And there's always BJ, even though it has certain, ahem, connotations. (I knew a guy in high school who was called BJ, and was popular enough and much more likely to be teased for driving a miata or being a male cheerleader than to be teased because his name was a nickname for a sexual act.) I say go with your gut. Everyone else can get used to it!

Grace said...

Some great suggestions! I can't wait to see the update!

Sucks about your Mom, my Mom said something similar, but it was just about one of the names on our long-ish list during my pregnancy (Damian- which to her is like naming a child 666).

Like other, I don't prefer Junior, because it makes me think of country folk. But, I love your naming taste in grandfather names and I love some of the suggestions you got from previous commenters.

Bear is my favorite. Bertie, Bertram, and Bam are all fantastic too!

Still, if junior is the name you think fits your child, ignore Mom and call him that anyway. (We too didn't tell people the official name until after birth - partially because we didn't know ourselves but I would have kept it secret anyway). She can always call him Bert or Little Bert. Since she doesn't live with you, it won't be a point of confusion.

Anonymous said...

I went to school with a boy who was a Blake Junior, he went by L.B., for Little Blake. L.B. is always an option...Little Bert

Diane said...

My brother has a friend called B.A. He is also named after his father, so the B stands for "baby" before the first name that starts with A, hence "B.A." My first thought was to use B.A. for the first and middle initials, but you could also do B.B. for Baby Bert, and that would sound sort of cute as well.

Jilian said...

Another option. My cousin is a Jr and has gone by Jere (pronounced Jerry) his whole life. He's in his 50's now. Best of luck!