What’s In A Name?

What’s In A Name?

I never imagined that Aaron and I would be soooo indecisive when it came to choosing a name for our child.

I was wrong.

We are painfully undecided with 2(!) short(!) months to go, cycling through a new favorite every few days like we’re sampling flavors-of-the-week at an ice cream parlor, enjoying the scoop but gun shy about investing in a full gallon of any one variety.  After all, one name may be very lemon sorbet-ish, while another, equally likeable name is full on mocha almond fudge – how’s a person to commit to one over the other, for life??  The proposition seems totally crazy.

In our quest for the perfect name for our son, we have drawn inspiration from the following sources, complete with real-life examples:

*Cute little boys I used to babysit (Isaiah)

*Men in the Bible, especially OT (Noah, Isaiah)

*Characters on totally sophisticated hit TV shows, like “Revenge” (Declan, Jack)

*Aaron’s childhood cabbage patch doll (Henry)

*Our favorite journalist (Anderson, Cooper)

*Common tried-and-true names that we just plain like (Andrew, David)

Some Hurdles We’re Running Into:


Okay people, has anyone else experienced this “Aha” moment, when you realize a  name has to “work” not just for this new person as an adorable, innocent little infant, but also as a rough-and-tumble 10-year-old, a rebellious high schooler, a professional adult man, and eventually a father and even grandfather?  Seems really obvious, I know, but I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the “baby name book” culture that it can escape your attention that you’re not just giving a baby a name, you’re giving a PERSON a name – one that they’ll carry with them their whole life!  There are some names I absolutely adore for a baby or young child, but struggle adapting in my mind to fit an adult.  Likewise, there are names I can clearly envision our son with as an adult, that seem a little too mature to use as a baby and little kid.  I’m finding that most names are easier to envision on someone in one life stage or the other.


I’ve always said I don’t want to give my child a Top 10 baby name, because I don’t want them to have to compete with the 3 other Emmas or Ethans in their class. Noah has always been one of our top boy contenders, and it is currently reigning within the Top 10.  This makes it a less appealing option to me, but at the same time it must mean there’s a lot that’s “right” with a name if so many people are endorsing it.  Surely, others have weeded out any possible pitfalls, right?  On the other hand, you don’t want to go so far in the other direction by picking a name so rare, that your child spends their entire life spelling, pronouncing and explaining it to everyone they meet.  The rarest name we’ve seriously considered is Declan, and that experience has taught me that, the rarer the name, the stronger the love/hate reaction is.  People either love it for its refreshing uniqueness, or totally don’t get it and think you’re saying “Duck-lan.”

I’m also a stickler for maintaining the traditional integrity of a name, and don’t believe in re-inventing spellings – Isaiah should never be Izayah, and Dylan shouldn’t be Dillan, in my humble opinion.  I respect those who don’t agree and have a hey-day with spelling reinventions – it’s just not my cup of tea.


If you look hard enough for a reason to pick apart a perfectly good name candidate, or to find a negative association that has somewhere, at some time existed with that name, rest assured, you WILL find it.  Whether it’s your grumpy old neighbor or that bully in middle school or the actor who’s spent all year in the tabloids, there’s always SOMEONE who has given a name you generally like, a bad rap.  For your sanity, I’ve decided, you  just have to “let go” of the less-than-stellar role models who have previously worn your name of choice, and be committed to your child making the name his own, fresh and new, fitted just for him.  Adolf and Osama are probably wise exceptions to this rule.


If we name our son Isaiah, I don’t want others taking it upon themselves to call him Izzy.  That’s our dog’s name.  Enough said.

Well that’s all I have, foIks. I hope you’ve enjoyed this long, rambling diatribe of the agony with which we’re crawling toward the finish line that is a blank birth certificate.  I really would LOVE to hear YOUR name-choosing philosophies, stories from your own experiences, and any other inspiring words or anecdotes you’re so inclined to share.  Feedback on any of the names mentioned here and/or advice is welcome too, though we’re clearly fickle and may or may not take it.

With love! (and confidence that we WILL eventually settle on the perfect name….)

Beth (and Aaron)

One response

  1. I have been reading all of your blogs..which are wonderful I might add..and I am so glad you are doing this! This blog really brought back memories for me and I thank you so much for that. A name is so very important and as a parent you want the best of everything for your child…but please..rest assured that when you look into that little face, you will know in your heart that the name you choose is perfect. Don’t over think top ten, bottom ten…but I do agree on the spelling reinvention, not a fan..and please don’t name him after any fruits or vegetables. Love you both and know that whatever you name this baby, he is going to have the best parents to guide him through life and he is going to be so loved..and by so many people.

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