This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Baby Boy Bieber

N. writes:
We are expecting our first child, a boy, this January and I am having the hardest time settling/making my peace with a name! We had all sorts of girl names that we loved but boy names are a completely different story . . . honestly, my first thought when we found out the gender was - how will we ever find a name?!  And ever since then, I've just been going round and round in my head about it.

So, here are the details: our last name sounds like Bieber (No, "Justin" is not a contender) but is spelled differently and we will be giving the baby my maiden name as a second middle name.  My maiden name sounds like Elbrecht (pronounced *very* German, like you're sneezing at the end, not "Elbright").  We both would really like to use family names and would like something uncommon but not weird.  Although, to be perfectly honest, I'd be willing to break the family name rule if we found a name that we really loved.

Ok, the lead contender right now is Hartman David, but I keep worrying that Hartman is too strange and/or people hate it.  Does it make you think of Cartman from South Park?  Is it less weird if he goes by Hart?  But I do like that David means beloved and that Hart is close to, well, heart.  Goes together, right?  Plus, he could always go by David if he really hated Hart.

If we don't use Hartman as the first name, it'll definitely be the second as we're both agreed that we want to honor the person it'll be after.  Other possible first names under consideration:
Clark (husband worried about "Clark" being associated with Clark Griswold, I worry that Clark is too "hard" sounding)
Owen (possibly my favorite, although I worry that it is just too popular, and my husband has a mild distaste for it for some reason . . .)

Considered but discarded:
Xavier (my favorite, husband hates)
Wyatt (my second favorite but not a family name and previously claimed by friend)
Richard (hated by current name-holder)
Paul (just no love for it in particular)
Benjamin, Andrew, Joseph (too common)
Lloyd, Vernon, Virgil, Olaf (too weird, also, by this point, we are way back in ye olde family tree)

Although this will be our first babe, we plan to have several more so . . . hopefully they will be girls! (Just for ease of naming, of course.)  And, for reference, the girl name we loved was Eloise.

Please, please help!

Oh, I forgot one!  I also suggested Calvin in the beginning (because of my love for A Wrinkle in Time and Calvin and Hobbes) and we both thought it acceptable but ultimately haven't pursued it because it's not a family name.  Part of me wonders if I just need to let that go since it seems so constraining . . . but then I love the idea of making the name a tie to family history and previous generations.

Thank you!

Reading about how difficult it is to come up with enough family name candidates for even the first child of a hoped-for several, I do think you should consider changing that policy. Or rather, I think you should consider deciding that three family/honor names per child is enough to satisfy that preference, and the fourth name can be one you chose because you liked it. And then it won't matter as much if the family/honor name is one you don't fervently love or is a little unusual or is one that someone else already used, because you can use it as the first of the two middle names and voila! Or if you find you have plenty of family names to choose two different ones for every single girl you have, that will be fine too: the rule would just be "At least one family/honor name, in addition to the two other family names each child will automatically get," instead of "All four names need to be family/honor names."

The name Hartman first makes me think of Phil Hartman, which would be a positive association for me except that I also think right away of his sad death. But it's hard to say what percentage of the population would think the same way, and his murder was fourteen years ago now. It's unlikely the child's peers will make the association, even if a percentage of the peers' parents/teachers do.

I do then think of Cartman. It's unfortunate, because Hartman is a wonderful name. And if I knew a baby named Hartman, I wonder if both associations would quickly vanish? And having multiple associations does tend to diffuse the strength of any one association. And it's an honor name, and "It's a family name" is a very useful thing to say.

When I write out Hartman David Elbrecht Bieber, I notice that it looks like three surnames and one first name. Would you like David Hartman Elbrecht Bieber instead? It seems as if it solves all the problems while keeping all the names. The name David feels common, and was #18 in 2011 according to the Social Security Administration, but so far none of my children have had a David in the classroom.  Perhaps many of the children named David are namesakes going by middle names instead? Or perhaps it's that my particular town is David-poor and all the Davids are piling up in other children's classrooms.

For the name Clark, my first thought is "Oh, great fresh surname name!"---the same as I think when I hear of a child named Smith or Miller. My other association is with Clark Kent, and that's a positive one. I don't think of Clark Griswold, but I've never made it all the way through a National Lampoon movie. Paul has watched them repeatedly, so I emailed him at work and asked him "If you heard of a baby named Clark, would you think of Clark Griswold?" He replied: "No, I'd think of Clarks Kent and Gable."

I'd also suggest Grant, which is in the same file drawer of my mind.

Calvin seems like a wonderful option to me. Calvin Hartman Elbrecht Bieber, with the great nickname Cal if you want it. I love it.

If Owen is close-but-not-quite, I suggest Ian---unless that vowel sound is odd with the surname, as I think it would be if it were exactly like Bieber, in which case I suggest Evan or Nolan or Rohan.

Name update! N. writes:
I gave birth to our baby son a few days ago and wanted to write to thank you for your help!  We honestly hadn't thought about how much Hartman sounds like a surname previously - and how strange that would be to proceed a name that sounds like a first name (aka Hartman David) - so your advice decided us on using Hartman as a middle.  We were going with David Hartman for a long time, but ultimately I was just too uncomfortable with how popular it was and my husband didn't like the nicknames Dave or Davey.  Soooo, we went back to the family tree and decided on a male version of Eloise (you'll remember that this was our favorite girl name, and it is also a family/honor name for us) - and landed on Elliott, with the nickname Eli.  And we couldn't be happier with the name and our son!


Kiri said...

I actually just watched a show with a boy named Hart, which I thought was a great name. I agree that Hartman David Elbrecht Bieber sounds a little off...I would like David in the first name spot. What about Davis? also like Clark...I think of Clark Kent first. I would really consider not limiting yourself to only family Swistles said, that could be a problem for future kids, especially if they're boys! ;)

Wendy said...

I think Hartman is lovely. And the full name seems like a bit of a mouthful, but since he'd usually just be Hartman Bieber, I think that's ok.

My husband is German, and a boy name we considered was Gustav nn Gus. I like Gus Bieber as well!

Anonymous said...

My friend recently had a baby boy Hartley.. Maybe that would work? You still get the Hart, without the Cartman association.

Otherwise, my vote goes to Calvin Hartman - very handsome!

Z said...

My vote is for seems like the only reason you're not using it is because its not a family name...and I agree that you don't need to give the child 4 family names

Anonymous said...

Hartman sounds similar to Harmen. We used Harmen to honor a family member, and they do sound very familiar without it sounding close to Cartman.

Teej said...

It warms the cockles of my heart that you like the name Calvin in homage to A Wrinkle in Time. Calvin O'Keefe is such a loveable character. It makes me want to say: doooooooo it. Name him Calvin!

Unfortunately, Hartman does make me think of Cartman. (Thanks, husband, for that.) I think it would be better as a middle name candidate for that reason. Cartman, alas, is not a loveable character.

Anonymous said...

As a child, I knew a boy named Hart. I think that was his full name, not a nickname. Would you consider just Hart instead of Hartman? That certainly gets rid of the Cartman association, but keeps the part of the name you like.

Personally, the full name Hartman David Elbrecht Bieber is a mouthful. Sounds more like a law firm than a little boy to me.

Anonymous said...

I also thought of Phil Hartman when I read the name. Cartman also came to mind, and combined with Bieber it almost seems like a bad SouthPark episode where Cartman gets a recording contract or something.
Most importantly, I agree that you don't need every name to be a family name. Use a name you love for the first & make Hartman the 1st middle. If you want a large family, you are going to run out of good names for the first slot, but one of the middle slots can handle something more unusual/unlikable. Your rule can be 1 family name for either first or middle & a name you really love for the remaining slot.
Of your other names, Clark is fine (I love Clark Griswold & he isn't my first association when I hear the name). Owen is also fine and like David, it doesn't seem as popular as the numbers indicate-at least not where I am.

Leslie said...

I do like the name Hartman; it's very handsome, and I don't make any associations (like Cartman) with the name. Hartman David sounds nice! If you don't go with Hartman as a first name, I love Calvin Hartman, too.

Angela said...

I love Clark for the first name for you. I honestly thought of Clark Kent first, and had to think, "Huh, yeah I guess Griswald's first name is Clark," even though I Love love love Christmas Vacation.

I also really like David, and it doesn't feel common to me, maybe because it's so classic.

I also love Calvin too though, especially because I love Calvin and Hobbes!

However...I'm not a fan of Hartman as a first name...I know a family whose last name is Hartman, so it just sounds really weird as a first name. I might could get used to it, but I still get a kind of feminine vibe from the nickname "hart."

Anonymous said...

I immediately thought of Phil Hartman! But I don't think that's terrible because he was ha-larious on SNL. Quite possibly my favorite ever. I remember him more for being funny than being murdered.
I think my favorite for you is Calvin though. My formula is name I love as a first name and family honor names for middles. I don't think there's anything wrong with using a non-family name amongst that many family names. And this way you have some freedom with future kids.
And hehehe...."You serious Clark??" National Lampoons :P Fair warning your son (should you name him Clark) will get that at SOME point in his life. No one will be able to resist!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear--am I the only one who immediately though "Hartman, Fartman"? Um, I guess my middle school experience has left me very wary. I think it's better in the middle and you should have the first just be one you love!

I do like the idea of Hart as a nn, or Hartley. But I confess, I love the name Calvin and think you should use!

I love Owen and Grant, too.

Nedra said...

I agree with swistle that David Hartman Elbrecht Bieber works better. In fact, in my head I kept inverting the David and the Hartman because David Hartman sounds a lot better to me than Hartman David. Plus, I have only seen a few episodes of South Park in my life and I can't break the Hartman/Cartman association.

Also, as an aside, I love the name Vernon and think it could still work well for a first or middle name. If this name were in my family, I would totally use it! (My husband has a thing about using "weird" names only if they are family names).

StephLove said...

I see how Hartman David Elbretch Bieber sounds like a lot of last name. I faced the same issue when considering a family surname as a first name paired with a hyphenated last name. But you really don't hear the full name very often so I use whatever is your favorite between Hartman, David and Calvin and use that as the first name. It's the name you will use the most.

Manday said...

I am not a big fan of four names. I like Hartman though, especially if it has sentimental value. I would personally go with Hartman Elbrecht Bieber, nn Hart.

Tara said...

I like Hart, but not Hartman. Hart also looks like Bart which reminds me of Bart Simpson and Bartman is his 'alter ego' (says google). Just thought I'd put that out there.

I wanted to suggest the name's like Calvin but I like it way more!

Patricia said...

I'm not especially fond of "Hart" or "Hartman" as a first name: way too many teasing possibilities. But Hartman makes a fine middle name.

As others have said, if you let go of wanting every one of the names to be family names,
Calvin Hartman Elbrecht Beiber
would be a stunning name for your son:
Calvin -- a name you both are drawn to and not overly popular
Hartman -- honorary name
Elbrecht Beiber -- his parents' surnames (similarly to hyphenating them)

Seems perfect for you son!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to quickly suggest Lachlan!

Trudee said...

If you like Xavier but your husband isn't so keen, what about Alexander nn Xander? Or you could just do Xander on it's own too.

Wendy said...

A first name ending with "man" seems pompous to me.

I love the name Cal/Calvin. But that may be just because my father-in-law (who died before I got to meet him) was a Calvin, and by all accounts, a wonderful and witty man.