What If You Give Your Kid The Wrong Name?

Our daughter Maude, currently a freshman in college, was home over her Spring Break and at one point, we were talking about her full name — Maude Emma Blair. One of our family stories is about how “Emma” was never quite the right fit name-wise. And that we pretty much knew it wasn’t right from the beginning, but we used the name anyway.

As we started our naming adventures, we didn’t know how many kids we’d end up with, but we were picturing a big family. We focused on names from our grandparent’s generation. We wanted them to be simple — easy to pronounce, and to spell. Old names that weren’t in use much anymore. We ended up using: Ralph, Maude, Olive, Oscar, Betty and Flora June as our children’s first names. I love the names individually and as a group (I love the human people with those names even more).

Looking back, we feel like confident namers, but at the beginning of our parenthood, it felt somewhat nerve-wracking. Naming a human being is a serious task. Names are powerful.

What if we like a certain name, but our child grows up and doesn’t like it? So much is unpredictable with names. A name that seems just right today, may end up being the name of next year’s top pop-star (or criminal!) and develop a totally different feel. Which reminds me, a year or so after our Betty was born, the TV show Ugly Betty came out and the title totally worried me for my daughter’s sake. It was a cute show, but I was relieved when it ended after a few seasons. 

When naming Maude, we loved the name and settled on it mid-way through the pregnancy. The baby would be Maude, with the nickname Mimi. But right before she was born we got nervous about the name. Would it be too unusual for her generation? Our second choice was Mabel, and days before the birth we started leaning that direction. We figured we could still use the nickname Mimi with Mabel too. And then, at the hospital, as Maude was born, we had an amazing nurse named Miriam. And for about 24 hours, we thought the name should be Miriam — again, with the nickname Mimi. Ultimately, we came back to the name Maude. It was the right name.

We hadn’t really thought about a middle name for Maude, but the night before we officially named her, we had doubts yet again and decided to add Emma as a middle name — thinking of it like a backup in case she didn’t love the name Maude. 

Emma is a lovely name, but I could see it was about to pick up steam and become popular, and we really didn’t want to use any popular names. Somehow we used it anyway, but we probably shouldn’t have. It was never quite the right fit — an add-on that wasn’t as intentional as it should have been. 

Every once in awhile I’m bothered we gave her an add-on name, but mostly it hasn’t mattered. I figured she could always change it when she got older (she’s old enough now to make any name changes she wants), or she could keep it and have a interesting angle to her name story. : )

Speaking of wrong names, both Ben Blair and I had other names when we were babies — just temporarily. Ben was originally named Troy. And I was originally named Shoshanna.

How about you? Did you enjoy naming your kids? Do your kids like their names? Did you like your name as a child? Do you feel like your name fits?

P.S. — The best nicknames, and the best Grandparent names.

220 thoughts on “What If You Give Your Kid The Wrong Name?”

  1. Ooh. What a fun topic! My partner and I both love names from our grandparents’ generation as well. With our son—born with a thick head of hair so that he looked more little boy than baby—Arlo was the perfect fit. I have never had doubts about his name. His name continues to fit him well. I have always loved Beatrice (Bea) and when we found out we were having a girl, this was the name I wanted. My husband was initially for it, but as the pregnancy progressed, he expressed misgivings. We also considered Maude and Mabel, but ended on Mathilda (with a German spelling variation). My husband wanted Mathilde, but I felt that would be constantly mispronounced for her. Occasionally we get a “Math-ilda” rather than “Ma-t(h)ilda.” We call her Tillie or Tilda. While Tillie is a cute nickname, I don’t love it. I’m not fully certain the name fits her, so it’s helpful to hear that others have had this experience too. I still have occasional longings for the nickname Bea!

  2. Becki O’Brien

    When I was pregnant with our first child, we chose to not find out the baby’s sex. I had a strong feeling it was a girl, and I had a girl name I absolutely loved – Rosemary. My husband didn’t really love it, but he was adamant about the name David for a boy… which, of course, I totally disliked! In the end, I took a gamble and we agreed to name the baby Rosemary if it was a girl and David if it was a boy.

    The anticipation was high in the delivery room and I can honestly say that one of the best moments of my life was hearing “it’s a girl!” and having my sweet Rosemary Katrina placed on my chest. Six years later, my husband heartily agrees that our Rosie girl has the perfect name. ☺️

    Interestingly, we went on to have two boys and neither of them are named David… not even their middle names!

  3. When expecting my husband and I couldn’t agree on boys names, but we both loved the same two girls name. Guess what? We had two girls.

  4. We had Hillary on the list for our son, due July 2015 – inspired by down wonderful men, famous and family friends too, with that name. But thinking the US Presidential elections might go another way, we discarded it thinking our baby would be teased for having a girls’ name!
    Yes, we chose Donald, another name on the list.
    I love the name, and it’s perfect for our sweet and loving boy. Thanks to 45, there’s been very few here in the UK – so hopefully it will keep our old name from being too popular, and then when Don’s older, the association will fade.

  5. From the moment I read “Lord of the rings” when I was a teenager I knew if I’ll ever have a son I would name him Amon (which means mountain). Then I learned about Amon Göth, that filthy Nazi from Schindler’s List, but ultimately I decided that this would not keep me from naming my future son Amon. Years later I did get pregnant with a boy and Amon was still strongly considered.

    One evening while still pregnant I read a book about Oscar Niemeyer, looked at the name Oscar and noticed that it is an anagramm to my now husbands last name. What a cool coincidence! So decision was made, our son has to be named OSKAR. But I could’nt give up on the name Amon, so we decided that Amon would be his middle name.
    Oskar was born and in the hospital we announced him as Oskar Amon. When my mother heared for the first time that her grandson would be named Oskar she spontaneously said: “like Oskar Schindler”!
    That was too much for me. The night before we registeres him in the town hall (you have to do this in Germany) I was sleepless and decided right in the town hall that our son could not be burdend with both names.
    So I had to let go of my dream of a son named Amon.

  6. I only had girls named picked out. My whole life I thought I was going to have all girls. Well, I ended up with 3 boys! I love them and their names, Everett, Deacon & Finnley. But I would be lying if I didn’t get a little sad that I never got to use my girl names.

  7. I love this conversation! We had two surprise babies by way of adoption… we were not signed up with an agency but we’re simply called by acquaintances to ask if we would consider adopting in situations they were associated with. In my daughter’s case, we only even knew about her 7 days before her birth and had therefore went with the only girls’ name we had ever agreed on – Noelle. When we learned her birth mother’s middle name was Nicole it seemed we really must use it as that is also my middle name as well as the middle name of my older son’s birthmother. The number of like letters and similarity in the name Noelle Nicole still bother me, but I rest in the fact that it is perfectly imperfect.

  8. With my oldest daughter, my husband and I were so young (21!) and at that point had WILDLY different taste in names. So we gave our daughter a name neither of us loved but neither of us hated. I really wish we would have tried harder to find a name we both loved. Our three younger kids all have names we both loved and still do. She is 12 now and we have never told her that we don’t like her name but we talk about it sometimes when we’re alone. But what can you do!?

  9. Our third child was nameless for almost two weeks… I just couldn’t settle on a name! We have used family names for our four kids- one from my side, one from my husband’s, for each child. I cannot fathom having to pick from any name in the world! That’s too overwhelming for me. I liked the constraints of choosing from the family tree.

    We chose Clayborn, by the way, and called him Clay for his first five years. Which- frankly- I have never loved. Or even liked that much. A few months ago he asked to go by his “real” name, so now he is Clayborn and I like that more:)

  10. I think it’s funny that my daughter’s class has the following name list: Bella Bella Stella Ella Eleanor … goodness!

    I did tons of research on our daughter’s name to ensure that it was not wildly unusual, but also not within the top 100 most popular trending names of the time. It worked out! Everyone loves her name, we’ve met just a few other children with the same name, but so far – no duplicates in her class. This was important to me because, although I like my name fine – there are a lot of us! In college, there were FIVE of us with the same first AND last name! I use my middle initial “H” in everything, because it’s uncommon for women.

    One other name story that I think I’ve told here before – my maiden name (which I kept, and which we gave our daughter) is the same as my husband’s mother’s maiden name. The clerk at the marriage license office looked at us askance, wondering if we were first cousins!

    1. Love your daughter’s class list! My 9 y.o. has four girls they call the La-Las: Lorelei, Layla, Lilah, and Alivia. I get SUCH a kick out of that.

  11. I just delivered (February) our miracle little girl after infertility and a brain defect in utero that had the doctors telling us she most likely wouldn’t live, it miraculously fixed itself and stabilized. My husband was not emotionally/mentally able to discuss names throughout the pregnancy so it felt like we were scrambling at the end. Our top contenders were Eloise, Chloe, and Hannah. None of these felt right to me after i met her. The name Juliet came to me when she was five days old and it just felt right. Now I’m having second thoughts about the name, how it sounds, and “baggage” that may come along with it. Her middle name is Grace, all along it was going to be Rose (my middle name, my mother’s first name) but my husband wanted to change it for the meaning of Grace and it’s also a family name for him. I’m still having second thoughts about her name at 2 months old but I haven’t found a name I like better or feel fits her better. And I can’t pinpoint exactly why I’m not solid with her name choice.

  12. My husband grew up in Mexico with a name his American mother chose – and no one could pronounce!! So when we had our kids we wanted names that sound the same phonetically in English and Spanish. Our daughter is Nadia and I love her name. Our son is Matias and no one in the US can pronounce it!!! I feel terrible about it. He also ended up with red hair so he looks much more like a Colin. But so far he seems OK having a tricky name. His sister is great at correcting people when they get it wrong… “It’s ma-TEE-us!”

  13. None of my kids are named what my first pick was. I had to compromise on everything, ugh! :)

    I don’t know that I regret it, but I think if I was naming my oldest all over again, I’d pick something different. I wanted Stella from the beginning, but that got vetoed Rocky-style. She’s Kaylynn Noelle, the Kay is from my mom’s middle name and Lynn from my MIL’s middle name. She was the first grandchild on either side of the family, so we felt like we wouldn’t upset anyone using that name. I don’t hate the name, but we live in Texas and everyone calls her Kay Lynn. Emphasis on the “Liiin” part. Drives me bonkers. And it almost feels like a made-up name, which is popular in the south anyways, it seems. Or she has a ton of “friends” who call her Katelyn (which is a perfectly lovely name, but it’s not hers and it also drives me bonkers – if you are her friend, get her dang name right!!!)

    I loved Noelle and she was born in December, but I felt that Noelle Kaylynn sounded weird and so many people I knew had strong opinions about calling kids by their first name, so it is what it is. I’ve always kind of hoped that people call her Kay – nice and simple.

    My son is Benjamin Edward. With him, my husband picked Benjamin and I picked Sam (Samuel) we literally wrote the name on slips of paper and had a friend draw a name. Sam won 2/3 draws, but my dad and husband both pouted, so we have Ben! My dad is Eddie and grandfather’s middle name id Edward, so we invoked family in it that way. But 7 years later, I can’t see him as anything other than Ben and I love it.

    My third is Charlotte Quinn. I felt very strongly that she was a Nora, but my husband told me all he heard was Dora and started singing the Dora the Explorer song, which I loathed. We really considered calling her Quinn, but Quinn Charlotte sounded a lot like Queen Charlotte. We agreed on her name the day before the royal family announced the princess’s name was going to be Charlotte. We debated on changing it to Caroline, but decided to just leave it, because they weren’t going to be running around in the same circles. My dad called her his Princess anyways, which I’m totally not a “princess-y” type of mom, but it’s their special thing.

    Really hind-sight – I wish I would have picked an “A” name for my oldest, then they would be A, B, and C. LOL!!

    I love names – I could dream up of lists and lists of names. If I didn’t have to be pregnant again, I’d name all kinds of babies! Thanks for the fun discussion!

  14. My husband and I both have what were very common names when we were born in the late 60s. We didn’t set out to find an unusual name, although we managed to for our daughter. Her name hovers at the very tail end of the top 1000 and frequently doesn’t make the list at all.

    We were set on using family names for middles so we had that name first and worked backward from there. The middle is a classic so we figured she could use that if she didn’t like her more unusual first.

    Her name is not terrifically difficult; it’s pronounced as it’s spelled, but it can easily be misheard as a much more popular name. Knowing this would be an issue, we made up a song to teach her how to spell it so she could do that from an early age. We also told her she’d need to say it clearly for people.

    At 16 she seems happy with her name.

  15. In our ward in California, an amazing family adopted a family of 5 kids that were in foster care. They all had unique names and they didn’t like them. The parents agreed to rename them, but they told the kids they could choose from a few options they would give them. The parents researched names and meanings for about 6 months and then presented each child with a list of options. They felt that all children are named by their parents so they should be named by their new parents, but they should also get some say because they are older. So they all chose new names from a list they were given. It was such an interesting process to watch.

  16. I don’t feel like my kids have the worng name nessecarily but I do wish I had named one of my boys Stanley. Dad died while I was pregant with him. I also wish I had named one of my girls Daisy. Oh well.

    1. I love the name Stanley, it was my grandpa’s name and fits wth my daughter’s name, Cordelia. But, my husband wasn’t a huge fan and Thomas won out

  17. That is fascinating that both you and Ben Blair originally had different names!

    I have three names and my mom always intended I would go by the third name. I have always hated my first two names, and that has caused some issues on government documents as I switched them around a few times in my teens! I would love to legally get rid of the first two names, but so much paperwork! And without them my name (first and last) is terribly common.

    I love my daughter’s name! It’s French and just about everyone has trouble saying it (I blame that it’s 9 letters, no one looks at it properly, they just race through), but it’s so her.

  18. My mother still wistfully talks about discovering the name “Carson” when my brother was 3 months old, and wishing she could rename him. It’s been 25 years. I assume she’ll get over it eventually.

    She renamed herself in college: from Jill to Randy. Very appropriate.

    She named her Chinese-Hawaiian children with Irish names: Patrick and Bailey Kathleen.

    When my kiddo was born I had a gut feeling it was a boy, so we were all ready with Alexander Bryson LastName. When a girl popped out, we were lost for a few days. Almost chose Emily Rose until somebody (thankfully!) pointed out a horror movie with that name. Now I have a Lily (not Lilly!) that I wish I had spelled Lili, but it’s all good. :)

  19. Both my husband and I have family from Norway so all 3 of our kids have Scandinavian names. Malin Jane (my mom’s name and my middle name), Viggo Daniel (father-in-law’s name), and Aksel Henrik (random middle name). With the youngest I sometimes feel like I have to explain “Scandinavian Aksel, not Guns n Roses Axl”. Younger people don’t know what I’m talking about. :)

      1. Short – pronounced “mah-lin”. I have heard of the name “May-lin”. I don’t know where that comes from!

  20. My daughter’s name is Elsa. She was named for my Omi, Ingeborg Else. We changed the spelling so it wouldn’t get mispronounced. And we had it WAY before Disney used it for their most popular princess EVER. My daughter does not like her name. For a while, there was a girl at school who loved to sing “do you wanna build a snowman????” at my daughter every time she saw her. That sort of ruined the name for her. 😕 Hopefully she will like it when she’s older.

  21. Our last name is Smith. Because it is so common, my husband and I agreed that we wanted to have rare but not odd names. I LOVED the name Jane and James, but how boring and unmemorable would those be with “Smith”. So, our children all have names that aren’t common and are memorable. In fact, only our middle daughter has ever met anyone with her first name before.

  22. We have so many name stories in our families! My dad discovered when he applied for their marriage certificate and had to get copies of his birth and baptismal certificates, that they had two different names on them! My grandparents had named him Patrick Joseph, but his Godmother didn’t like it so she had him baptised Andrew Patrick. Ha!

    At the hospital where my mom was born, all premature girls were immediately baptised Mary and boys Joseph. All of the siblings were preemies, so they are named Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary and Margaret (twins!) and Joseph. They all go by their middle names.

    I’ve never liked my name, but never considered changing it. My dad used to always call me by my middle name because he didn’t like my first name either, he’d wanted to name me Daphne.

    With our own kids, we had the same idea as you, older or unusual names that weren’t too odd. We named our oldest after the region of France where my great-grandfather is from, and had never met anyone with the name before. About six months later it was the name of a character on a soap opera, and I think everyone for the next two years named their daughters Brittany. She’s 28 now and hates how popular her name is, but dislikes the nickname Britt so she goes by Bree.

    For our second we had Grace (after my grandmother) picked out for a girl, and Avery for a boy. She was born with pointy ears and thick, jet black hair, so we didn’t want to give up the name Avery (it means ruling with elf-wisdom, and she looked so much like a little elf!) so we named her Avery Grace. Avery is popular for girls now, but wasn’t 22 years ago, and she’s always loved it.

    Our third is our only boy, and we named him Oliver. We just loved the name and he does too, and though we hear it once in a while, it’s still pretty unusual. We called him Ollie or Olliebear when he was small, but when he was about 10 he asked us to use his full name, he felt Ollie was too babyish. Funnily enough, in high school his friends started calling him Ollie and it stuck! Now in college and in the restaurant where he works, it’s Ollie, but family still call him Oliver.

    Our youngest is Daphne, which tickled my dad no end since that’s what he wanted to call me! She’s 17 now, and we still have people commenting on how beautiful they think her name is, and we’ve only known one other Daphne and she’s much older. Her high school is 25 years old and has about 1500 kids every year, and she’s been the only Daphne ever registered there! She absolutely loves her name, but does not like it being shortened to ‘Daph’. She very firmly corrects anyone who calls her that :)

    1. Oh, and my MIL wanted to name my husband ‘Blue’ until someone pointed out to her that our last name (which is French) is often mispronounced as ‘Barry’. Haha!

  23. I regret naming our daughter Brianna- because everyone pronounces it wrong and apparently it was super popular in 2001. It’s pronounced like Ann and not AUHN but everyone gets it wrong. But I did good with her middle name- and so this year she started a new school using that name instead- Cosette.

  24. My husband and I both loved the girl name Audrey but ruled it out because it is the name of my grandmother’s estranged sister (who I never met).

    I was lucky enough to have planned homebirths with each of my kids which allowed us lots of time to meet the baby and decide – it was almost 3 weeks before we settled on a name. We tried out names for a few days each and nothing our long list felt right. We even tried naming her Nora after said grandmother.

    In the end we decided that Audrey was actually her name and went ahead with it.

    My father cussed when we called to tell my parents – he knew his mother would automatically think we named Audrey after his aunt. My Nana was quiet when I called her to tell her the baby’s name; a silence that was heavy with disappointment and anger. I hated that no matter many times I explained that we didn’t name her after my great-aunt and reminded her that I never even met the woman – my grandmother remained dismayed at our choice. Her failing memory made this a frequent conversation; and I hated that each time we talked about it she got hurt anew.

    In the end, my husband and I are confident we chose the correct name for our daughter. She’s 100% an Audrey.

    My son has the same first name as about 80% of the men in my family (Thomas) but goes by one of his two middle names, Garrett. On school paperwork I fill it out as T. Garrett which makes it pretty easy for teachers to know what to put on his cubby / hook.

  25. Interesting conversation, as always! We have two kids, Jonah and Alida. Jonah was just this weird thing where, when we were first dating, my future husband said he thought it was a nice name and I agreed and we kind of looked at each other like we knew what we were both thinking… 5 years later we had our Jonah. What’s weird is that the year he was born, Jonah was the most popular it’s been in 50 years! How weird is that? Kind of annoying but whatever. Alida was one of my great grandmothers, and I just always liked it. What sold me was that when I looked up the meanings, by coincidence, Jonah means ‘dove’ and Alida means ‘small and winged’! My two little birds. But now if we have another I’m a bit stumped for bird names, lol. I haven’t regretted those names at all.
    And I always loved my name. It was kind of old fashioned and uncommon when I was a kid and I loved that.
    My husband, Achim, has never liked his name. He’s german, and it’s not super uncommon in Germany but it’s a bit of an Opa name, but he is most bothered by the fact that it is kind of a nickname, short for Joachim, but his whole name is just Achim. He always wished his parents had just gone with the whole name and let him shorten it if he wanted. This is a bit of a tangent, but he’s also really unsatisfied with his last name, which is extremely common here. He’s an academic, so having such a common German name is not great, but you can’t change your last name here in Germany. Ever the questioner, he’s actually done a bunch of research about it, there’s lots of evidence of benefits to having a name that’s earlier in alphabet, for example. When he talks about changing his last name though, people often kind of have this feeling that you shouldn’t do that, that it’s in poor taste. But he’s looked into that as well, and believe it or not, these strict laws against changing names in Germany are not so much practical as class based and have origins in the nazi regime. It’s pretty crazy stuff. He’s actually thinking about writing an economics paper about it!

    1. Wow, that stuff about German last names is fascinating! Our daughter is Elena (pronounced the Spanish way). Paired with her middle name Claire, it means “a bright, clear light.” We have friends who considered naming their daughter Wren. I thought it was really odd at first but the idea grew on me-h then they picked something totally different when she arrived!

  26. My brother was originally named Jack after my Dad. Driving to church on the day of his baby blessing, my Dad leans over and quietly whispers to my Mom–I hate having someone named after me. My Mom as so relieved and said she hated it too. They decided on the name Mattias on the drive to the Church and didn’t tell ANYONE about the name change. When my Dad blessed him as Mattias instead of Jack, My Grandma stood up and yelled “THAT’S NOT HIS NAME.”

    1. My grandparents named my dad Patrick Joseph, but his Godmother didn’t like it so she had him baptised Andrew Patrick. He had no idea until he needed his birth and baptismal certificates to get his marriage licence! Ha!

  27. I definitely named my youngest daughter wrong. It’s a meaningful name and I don’t think I would have the heart to change it – plus she loves it – but my husband and I never realized that it sounds like our two names put together (the equivalent of a Jason and an Amy having a baby named Jamie, if that helps you imagine it). That’s a nice idea but not at all our style and it never even occurred to us that people would hear it that way. Every time someone asks if that is the meaning behind her name I have to fight off a cringe.
    There is a name that haunts me, one that I wish we had given our daughter, that I think would suit her personality just as well as the one she has. A few years ago I told my sister in law what it was and she nearly used it for her own child! Thankfully she ended up having a boy. I would have been (very selfishly, I admit) devastated if I had a niece right now with the name that part of me still feels belongs to my daughter.

  28. My 12 yr old is not crazy about his first name – Paul. He was named after his godfather and feels it is an older person’s name. Besides honoring an important person in my husband’s life, I like that it is easy to spell and pronounce, not terribly popular and a straightforward boys’ name. I’m hoping he will like it more as he gets older. He prefers his middle name, Michael which is my husband’s first name. My husband however is of the age that there were always multiple Michaels/Mikes in his class.

  29. Two of my girls have male middle names. I loved not sticking to the conventional when choosing them. I have always loved the name Patrick better than Patricia, and in honor of my dad, stuck to it. Rose Patrick is called by her full name and she loves it. One of our daughters has the name Brigid Grace, and my mom didn’t want Big Brigid Little Brigid so we called her by her middle name. I only taught her how to spell her middle and last name so in 1st grade, they called her Brigid (but spelled wrong), and when we went to conferences and they handed me papers with Bridgette on it, I told them they had the wrong child! All of my sisters and my mom’s sisters have the first name Mary. Very Catholic thing to do.

  30. Ah! I love this post. My parents were originally going to name me Maude. No middle name. Just Maude. Then my Grammy said, “They’ll call her Maude the Mule!” Because that was the name of some movie from the 1920s, and I guess that’s what people called her sister. She didn’t realize that having been born more than 50 years later, that would never be something kids would even think to call me. But my parents heeded her warning, and instead named me Jasie Maude. I’m named after two of her sisters.

    I hated my name growing up. People mispronounced it (J.C., Jazzy, Jassy, Jay-Z, Josie) and called me J.C. Penney. I thought Maude was an old lady name. Now people STILL mispronounce Jasie (it’s not a hard name. It rhymes with Casey, Stacy, Lacy, Macy, and Tracy), but I’ve grown to love Maude.

    We named our son Harper. And 13 years later, I still love it. But I’m irritated that a couple of years after he was born, Victoria Beckham named her daughter Harper. Now there are a ton of female Harper’s just behind my male Harper in age. My dad was annoyed that I didn’t name him Harper James (giving my son his first name as a middle name). I chose Joseph. I would walk around the park with my (then) husband, and we would practice “scolding” with the first and middle name of our unborn son. We decided Harper Joseph had the best ring to it. Plus, even though my ex-husband’s name isn’t Joseph, his name is a nickname for Joseph, and I liked the sound of it.

  31. For both of my children their names came to me in about month three of pregnancy. With our first we settled on her name (Eliza) and never wavered, even though we didn’t find out the sex ahead of time. For our second, I made the mistake of telling a couple of people and had such bad reactions that it kind of threw us. So we spent his first ten days trying out different names. Eventually I couldn’t stand it any longer and put 5 names in a hat (including the original favourite). We ended up pulling the same name out of the hat 6 times in a row! After the first three times I had to keep trying for interest sake, ha ha. It was our original favourite (Archie) and no one can imagine anything else for him. Both of our kids have two middle names also as I wanted to use some family names.

  32. I really wanted to name my second son Bernard after my husband’s grandfather. My husband’s grandfather’s initials were BM and he complained he was teased about it as a child and how it is cruel to give a kid bad initials. Our Bernard’s initials would have been BS, and all I could think was how unhappy the original Bernard would have been about that, so I couldn’t do it. Like it wouldn’t really be honoring him. We somehow ended up with Theodore Bernard. We call him Theo but I really regret not naming him Bernard. He’s a total Bernard. A few times a year I suggest he should go by Bernard. He says maybe Ted. 😟

  33. Carolyn in Utah

    My mom was always fervently hoping for boys, so I was her 4th girl and by that point she didn’t really care so she let my then-5-year-old sister name me. For a blonde actress she’d seen on a vampire soap opera in the 60’s. Ugh. Carolyn is a name from the generation before me & I truly dislike it & people seem to have trouble pronouncing it. Even though she’s my wonderful sibling, I’ve never forgiven my sister!
    I let my husband give 2 of our boys their middle names, names I don’t like at all, and my kids don’t like them either! Before we had kids, my husband and I went to Ireland twice and I heard the name Aidan a lot. The only time I’d heard it used in the U.S. was the actor Aidan Quinn. So I named our first boy Aidan and suddenly it became the hot, trendy name (and always misspelled with an E) and now my son is annoyed with his trendy name. It wasn’t trendy 21 years ago, I swear! :)

  34. What a fun post! I was also very struck picking a name for our daughter. In most cases, you meet someone and they say “Hi, my name is ___.” So immediately you associate that name with that person and that’s that. With your child, you look at them and say, “Hello, your name is ___.” That feels so odd! It took me months of looking at her and saying “your name is Camille” to finally feel like, yes, that truly is her name. I guess it probably helps that my husband and I both agreed to it and love it, and I don’t feel any second guesses about it.

  35. During both my pregnancies my husband and I could not agree on names for the entire 9 months. Both girl were named after their births, the first on the 3rd day as they were about to kick us out of the hospital, the 2nd after about two weeks (she was a homebirth). It was so stressful for me not to have the names settled both times! Maybe the birth was what we needed to find something we both liked, and of course we love their names now. Their names are Mira and Elaina.

  36. OK, I’ve read the entire comment thread to see if I’m duplicating but I don’t see anyone else asking, so, Gabby, a burning question I’ve worried is inappropriate until now: are you willing to share why you call your husband Ben Blair? Is this customary in your family? I’ve just never heard this anywhere else and in the past I’ve scoured your blog (“About” page, posts with the tag “family,” etc) for the answer! I’m so curious!

  37. I’ve been obsessed with names since I was about 12 — my friend and I used to make lists of the best ones and talk about names all the time! So when I was having kids, I had literally dozens and dozens of names I’d considered and discarded or knew I loved, which made things a little harder for my husband!
    We are named Jessica and Matt, so basically the two most popular names for the years we were each born, so I wanted names that weren’t super popular (I’d always hated being one of 6 Jessicas in my class in high school). I looked on the Social Security Admin database of names to make sure the ones we picked weren’t in the top 50 in the previous few years to be sure we were “safe” :)
    And I wanted Irish/English/Scottish names because my grandparents or great-grandparents were all immigrants from one of those three places. AND, we also gave all our kids middle names that wereafter a parent or grandparent. It sounds like a lot to consider now, but it wasn’t actually that complicated. We have Bridget Michaela, Gabriel Patrick, Owen Matthew, and Quinn Stanley. All their names really fit them and I wouldn’t change a thing!

  38. When we found out our first was going to be a boy, my husband quickly suggested the name Theodore. I was okay with it, but then while listening to a book about Theodore Roosevelt it was solidified for me—not because of Teddy Roosevelt but because of his father, also named Theodore. I loved learning about him and was so impressed by his philanthropy and relationship with his own children. Our son was born and we named him Theodore, and call him Theo. To our surprise, when our son was a few months old we found out that he and Teddy Roosevelt share a birthday! October 27. We couldn’t believe it.

  39. My mom has always loved telling the story of the names of myself and my two brothers. I see why because now I enjoy it too. Our initials are all TJL (even though I’m now TJT because of marriage), each of our first names has 4 letters and each name has a repeating letter. Todd James, Tara Jo and Tate Justin. Good thing she stopped with my little brother because she would have probably had a challenge on her hands to continue the trend!!

  40. I don’t like to share our baby names until baby is born…my husband and I feel that baby should be the first one to hear their name, and we need to make sure the name fits ;)

    Here are the names of my three kids: Cordelia aka Cordie, Peter, aka Petey and a Thomas or Tom Tom. There were a few neighborhood Peter’s at the time (all of whom have since moved, actually), but I didn’t care. Peter is the name of my uncle who passed away, and I was go8ng to use no matter if there were other peters around. I’m a little pickier with boy names, anyway.

    I love discussing baby names, and following all the new trends! (Although I think our names are not trendy…which I like)

  41. i love names so much. i think about them all the time. when i was in college i worked in a coffee shop and there was a regular who went by peg. one day I asked if her given name was margaret. she said that it was, but that every couple of years she would change what she went by just to keep things interesting. maggie, margot, peg, peggy, madge, she went by them all!

    my name is breanne, but my family has always called me b/bea. i went by brea (pronounced bree) in school, but rarely go by that anymore. somehow it just stopped suiting me. still, people who met me as brea call me that. i also just go by breanne as well. i guess i kind of unknowingly turned into peg!

    on another note, i changed my name when i got married to my wife’s last name. i remember sitting at the social security office when she was typing my new last name into the computer. she looked up and said, “any other name changes?” and it was like time slowed down. i felt so much power in the possibility of changing my entire name to ANYTHING i wanted! thankfully, i had my wits about me and just said, “no.” ha!

    1. Lucky – you could have been the next Princess Consuela Banana-hammock! Or Crap Bag! (Sorry – major Friends fan over here)!

  42. I love older names, ones that babies have to grow into. My husband is Italian, and I loved so many Italian names but he vetoed them all. I didn’t know the cultural nuances, just he wouldn’t hear the generational differences between Tiffany, Dorothy, and McKayla.

    The plan was to give the baby my last name as a middle name, and by the time I went into labor we had narrowed it down to two names: Ottavio and Viggo. I was really against nicknames, and knew people would shorten Ottavio to Otto or Tavi. Right before he was born, I said I wanted Viggo and that I didn’t think my last name flowed well. So we gave him my middle name — Viggo Serrell.

    I like that it’s not a common name (at least not in the US), but it’s not so unusual that it’s often mispronounced. I think it fits him perfectly.

  43. Twila Newey-Warner

    Twila, yes, I love it. I wanted to be Stephanie in the 5th grade though. We have a Zola Joy after her paternal grandmother, which is also where my name came from and Joy because well, first baby and a girl to boot. Then Abraham Max (Abe Lincoln and several family Max’s), Atticus Lance (Atticus Finch and my brother), and Walt Asher (Walt Whitman and the female Hebrew goddess Asherah.) Walt tells strangers he’s named after the great American poet pretty regularly. I’ve brainwashed all my kids into thinking everyone loves poetry, that poetry is super cool. That everyone also loves and knows good literature. Zola, 15, is starting to suspect that I might be a little out of touch. In hindsight, I might have named Atticus, Max, because he is my wild thing. We also love a good picture book and even the big kids will still come and listen when I read aloud. The spine of our copy of Where the Wild Things Are has so many slipped discs it will likely collapse soon. How did this become about books? Oh yeah, my kid’s names. On the whole, everyone here seems fairly happy in their names, including my husband, Jon.

  44. My husbands name is just the letter M (no period) and he goes by his middle name (which begins with an S)—and I HATE that his parents named him M. Since most forms only want the middle INITIAL, we get a lot of forms for Ms. Surname. It is always causing problems with airline tickets and government forms. If it had been more intentional, it wouldn’t bother me so much. I feel bad for it annoying me so much—and as the one who fills out forms, I spend a lot of time on the phone saying, “yes, just the letter. No, there is no reason.”

  45. My name is Ann Marie, but everyone except my immediate family calls me Annie and has for as long as I can remember. One time when I was in high school, my mom was listening to her West Side Story record on the song “Maria” and said “This is what always made me want to name my child Maria.” Me: “You didn’t name any children Maria.” Mom: “YOUR middle name is Marie.” Me: “Your sixth child’s middle name is a variation of Maria. That barely counts!!” I don’t know if my dad just hated the name or what! I changed my middle name legally to my maiden name when I got married and still feel kind of guilty about it! I think we’re done having kids, but if we weren’t, I think I would consider Maria for my mom.

  46. Well my parents spent a week to decide my name coz they had their own idea, then my name is the combination of their idea. It is a funny story coz they wanted I become a girl like my name but finally I am contract with it. Anyway it is a beautiful name!

  47. We didn’t find out before birth for the first child, so we had a male and female name picked out. Everyone except my MIL and step-daughter thought it was a boy. While I was in labor, I had a strong sensation fall over me that we had to rearrange the girls name, making one of the middle names the first name. Everyone looked at me like I was nuts, and my husband said, it doesn’t matter, it’s a boy, but I was so adamant that he agreed. Now she’s 19 and her first name fits her so well it’s crazy. When we got pregnant again and found out it was a boy, we both came home from work and discussed how we both thought of my son’s name that day separately. And again, his first name is so perfectly him still 15 years later. Their middle names are okay. I am relieve that my kids like their names and the nicknames they’ve developed. I was a little sad, because my daughter is Issybella, and not long after she was born, that name (Bella) exploded again. But she is an original lol.

  48. My husband was born in Los Angeles in the 1970s. His parents were immigrants from Mexico who spoke very little English. They named him Eduardo Moreno (first, middle) but the nurses at the hospital anglicized it and filled in Edward (no middle name) on his birth certificate. His parents didn’t feel like they had any recourse, so it’s never been changed. This story still makes me so angry to hear! I always tell him we should go get it changed, but my husband doesn’t care as much as apparently I do about it!

  49. Raleigh-Elizabeth

    Our children’s names are family histories. Hunter Womble bears his father’s middle name for his first name, and it’s also his cousin’s name, who was named after his great-grandfather. Womble is my mother’s father’s last name, and we’ve traced the family back several hundred years. Our eldest daughter, Sidney-Anne Baynes, goes by Sibby, but bears her maternal great-grandmother’s first name (and HER father’s first name before her), Anne belongs to my aunt who died really tragically but was like a mother to me, and Baynes is my mother’s mother’s maiden name. Their photographs are on the wall outside her room, and we tell her their stories. She’s three, and she’ll go right up to the pictures and show you whose names she carries on. Our littlest girl is Rainey Woods, and I only wish that I’d thought that people would hear “soggy forest,” but I wasn’t thinking of it that way. Rainey is the original Sidney’s dad, and Woods is a family name that’s been carried through many generations and a great deal of strong matriarchs. RW goes by Woods anyway which is a fabulous name. Hunt, Sibby, and Woods have long, complicated names when they’re written out, but their day-to-day monikers are short, easy to spell, and pronounce. I like that they carry their family histories in their names – and for now, they like that too. I also like that both of our daughters have names they could put on a resume one day (Sidney, Woods) and not be tied to a gender. That was a huge help to me (Raleigh) – in many an interview, I was met with “oh, i didn’t realize you were a woman.” (Really, the 7 sister school on the resume didn’t give it away?)

  50. It is definitely a very difficult thing to name a human being! My husband and I toiled through my entire pregnancy with our first to agree on a name but we finally did in the hospital and are fully happy with the choice, as is my son :). For our daughter we only came up with a single name we agreed on and that ended up being just perfect.
    My husband actually hates his name because it is sooooo common. He talks about changing it legally and has long gone by a nickname he created for himself!
    My parents knew my name long before I was born. They didn’t know what they were having but had a boy and a girl name selected and even had it engraved on the inside of a bracelet my dad gifted my mom that Christmas – Emily or Ben? My mom recently gifted that bracelet on to me and I love wearing it and the memory it holds :)

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