October 11, 2004

Baby Names

I hate naming babies. This is because I feel compelled to find The Perfect Name that meets a long list of criteria, and since both The Boy and The Girl happen to be holders of The Perfect Name, the third child is in trouble. Not to mention that since I really have no idea whether this is a boy or a girl, I need to figure out The Perfect Name for each sex. No small task.

I don't require myself to go into the hospital with a name completely chosen and settled on. The Boy got a first name within a few hours after birth, although we kicked around a couple of options for a few days. He got his middle name as we were in the process of checking out of the hospital, so we had to call the harassing "name lady" and give her the name over the phone.

We did a little better with The Girl. I had pretty much settled on a first name for her when she was born, but it still took us another day to agree to the middle name that I had thought I liked best all along.

With this baby, we have what one might call "an extended short list." Probably half the names on it are things one or both of us really like, but that we almost certainly could not bring ourselves to actually saddle a child with.

So what do we -- mostly I -- require from a baby name for our child? It can't be too popular. If is in the top 100 baby names from the Social Security Administration, the name is immediately removed from contention (for a first name slot). It has to be a real name with a real spelling -- unusual is dandy, made up is not. It has to sound good with Adams -- a subjective criterion, I admit, but some names do sound better than others. The name must go well with our other children's names -- theirs are both rather British, so something too Italian, French or any other ethnic sounding name wouldn't sound right. The initials, if at all possible, need to not look too stupid or make too odd an acronym. With an "A" last name, almost every initial combination will sound like it belongs to some authority or association or administration, so this one is almost impossible -- but names forming the initials DOA or BRA would be instantly rejected. And finally, as I mentioned, although we don't mind giving the kids names that are hard to spell or hard to pronounce even (I've survived Jordana just fine) it should be something that will grow with them and that will never be a huge embarrassment to them (although I will grant you that at one point or another any kid is probably going to find any name embarrassing, and I was miserable as a small child because there were never any shoe laces, stickers, license plates or other kitsch with Jordana out there).

Should be simple, huh? I just hope this baby gets named before we leave the hospital.


You shouldn't post something like this when I'm around to read it; I'll start throwing names at you and think I'm really helping.

Good luck finding a name. The traditional Jewish way is to name after a decesased relatives.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at October 11, 2004 03:05 PM

As long as you aren't my mother, I don't mind name suggestions. :) My mother, though, loves naming babies, always thinks she knows more than anyone else, and tends to drive me nuts, so I've pretty much had to explicitly say, "I will not discuss names and don't bring up the subect."

I'm a rotten daughter.

As for relatives, one of my possible boy names is from a family member, but generally speaking even going way, way back there aren't many names on either side that we really like.

Posted by: Jordana at October 11, 2004 03:09 PM

You are not a rotten daughter. A little impertinent maybe, but certainly not rotten.

I'm resisting the urge to suggest names, but it's difficult. Li'l Tater got his real first name before I could have any say in it, and it's one of the currently popular Biblical ones (I'm like you and would prefer something out of the ordinary). Another youngster on his soccer team has the same name, so it makes barking out "suggestions" during the game a little more difficult. His middle name started out as Jaymes, but we did have that one changed to something else (MY middle name!). And no, his real first name is not Bartles!

Posted by: MarcV at October 11, 2004 04:06 PM

When I was young my name was uncommon; and I could never find a sign/plaque/key chain with just my first name---but now there are Rachel Ann's all over the place! It is odd how trends work.

My whole family of origin had biblical names. At one point we were on an island in the middle of nowhere and my mother called for us. Someone nearby said "You are Jewish aren't you?" I think they were the only other family in the vicinity.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at October 11, 2004 04:44 PM

Sorry, just a test comment...

Posted by: Pixy Misa at October 12, 2004 05:28 AM

Actually, Rachel Ann, that dead relative thing isn't universal. Certain Sephardic communities actually deliberately name children after living relatives, evil eye or no evil eye. For some reason I can't grasp, Morris is a name that has remained current in one Sephardic community in Brooklyn, NY where I'm from. And Hasidic Jews have a habit of naming kids after leaders of their sect. (A friend of mine used to joke that you could get a whole school bus full of kids from the Satmar sect to turn around just by yelling "Joel!", as a previous leader's name was Joel)

For our part, my grandmothers were Ethel and Sylvia, and Mrs. Skinny's late grandma was Mabel. We gave 2nd child a middle name related to Mabel, and her first name is similar to my Great Grandma Luba, but that's as close as we came. You can see we didn't have a lot to work with.

Posted by: skinnydan at October 12, 2004 08:47 AM

My parents really messed up with my sister's initials. First name "Frances;" middle name "Currier;" last name "Kern." I won't spell it out for you, but suffice to say, it does not look cute when the monogramed baby clothes started to arrive.

Make sure you write out the proposed initials and STARE at them for a few minutes.

Posted by: David Kern at October 12, 2004 09:17 AM

You are right Skinnydan, I should have been more specific. Sometimes we become very self-centric.

My kids all have the Hebrew version of their grandparents names.

What was really funny was one child is named Betzalel. Well my granfather, after whom he was named is Charlie in English; couldn't figure out the connection till a friend asked me if we were going to call my son Solly for short.

End of mystery.
(sorry Jordana, I know this is off topic.)

Posted by: Rachel Ann at October 12, 2004 11:14 AM

I will boldly give ideas, knowing you have no qualms about nixing them. One of my favorite names is Aoibheall, which is traditional Celtic. I know a woman with that name, and she is delightful, so it may be one reason I like it so well. It's pronounced "A-ah-vull", which is very musical. And my niece Haydon's middle name is Aisling, also Celtic, and pronounced "ASH-ling".

Boy's names are harder. I'm on an Irish kick (did you guess?) and Padraig looks good to me - the Celtic spelling of Patrick. But that is prone to "Paddy" or "Rag" as nicknames, so... Nicknames are more of an issue for boys. Don't just look at initials, think of all the little ways nasty little boys in first grade could think to say it.

I have always loved my name, which is unusual enough to feel individual, but not so difficult as to cause people to look at me blankly when I say it. The only downside is that I have to listen to a lot of people sing "Oh Susanna" to me, most of whom act as if it's a grand joke I've likely never heard before.

Posted by: Susanna at October 12, 2004 02:53 PM

Note to Susanna...Hey, my first daughter's name is Susanna and spelled exactly like yours! Most people try to cram an "h" at the end or use a few "z"s. And you're right! They ALL want to sing the folk song.

Anyway, Jordana, having just been through this exact nightmare of naming a baby, I must say that once he (or she) is finally named and a few months have passed, the name seems to fit pretty well. I venture to say that any name you pick would be wonderful, after a few months. I really did not care too much for the name "Luke", but here we are almost 5 months later and in all honesty, it pretty much fits him. I was pulling for "Josiah", as it is biblical and has 3 syllables ending in the "ah" sound (to go with the other 2 kids' names), but, alas, I was vetoed.

Naming a child is to be tackled only by fierce people. I'm sure whatever name you choose for little Adams will be simply marvelous and he (or she) will love it (I pooled for a boy, don't ya know).

Can't wait to hear the news! Do keep your adoring public updated regularly!

Posted by: Angie at October 12, 2004 06:09 PM

For some reason, there are not many girls named Jezebel these days...

I wonder why?

(Hey, I like to start with a list of names that I would NOT name the kid!)

Posted by: LittleA at October 13, 2004 08:34 AM

Dangerous, LittleA... I thought I was joking when I asked Paul if he wanted to name his first-born Johann Sebastian Baxter. He would have, too, but I put my foot down at the J-pronounced-like-a-Y thing.

Posted by: Lenise at October 13, 2004 12:47 PM

Jordana, you're welcome to use Honoria, as long as you promise not to start a trend. I'd still like to use it if we get a girl somewhere down the line. Maybe you should charge Justin with finding the boy name. Paul was eager to take that duty on- though it didn't take long for him to decide this time.

Posted by: Lenise at October 13, 2004 12:50 PM

Honoria is a beautiful name, but it does have bad Bertie Wooster connotations -- not that most people are P.G. Wodehouse fiends like we are, I suppose.

I can't just go letting Justin pick out the boy's name for two reasons. (a) I'd be giving up control, which I prefer not to do. (b) Our son would be named St. John (pronounced Sinjin, for those of you not into Britishisms).

Posted by: Jordana at October 13, 2004 01:31 PM

Ooooo...St. John-Smythe. Now THERE'S a name!

Posted by: LittleA at October 13, 2004 04:33 PM