What Were You Almost Named As A Baby?

Last week, someone on Twitter posed the question: What were you almost named as a baby? It got me reminiscing. Both Ben Blair and I had almost-names as babies. I was almost named Shoshana — in fact, I swear there’s some document in my baby book that lists the name Shoshana, written before my parents settled on Gabrielle. (I should go find my baby book and remember what it is! Also, I know it’s not a baby picture, but that’s me above. I think I’m age 3 or 4 in this image.)

Here are the names of me and my siblings: Jake, Rachel, Sara, Joshua, Gabrielle, Jared, Jordan, Salem. Do you think Shoshana would be a better fit in that grouping?

Ben Blair’s almost-name is Troy. Apparently he was called Troy all throughout his mother’s pregnancy. He’s number 7 in line and all the older siblings had been referring to him as Troy for a couple of weeks after he was born. But right before his baby blessing (where he was officially given his name), his parents had a change of heart and decided to go with Benjamin. But they didn’t tell anyone! So all the siblings were shocked to hear this new name during the blessing prayer. Hah!

This got me thinking about the almost-names of my kids, but they mostly don’t have almost-name stories. We never wavered on the names of Ralph, Olive, Oscar, Betty, and June — but for Maude, we came really close to both Mabel and Miriam. The plan throughout the pregnancy was to name her Maude, but at the last minute we wavered, and tried both Mabel and Miriam for a couple of days after she was born — then ultimately switched back to Maude.

What about you? Do you have an almost-name? Do any of your kids? I’d love to hear your stories.

P.S. — All the best nicknames.

69 thoughts on “What Were You Almost Named As A Baby?”

  1. I don’t have an almost name, nor do my kids, unless you consider what we’d have been called if we were the opposite gender. I would have been a Jason which sounded so unique to my mom but turns out to be one of the most popular names in the mid-70s. Both my kids are named after family (father’s mothers and mother’s fathers) although we had another name picked out for my daughter if she’d been a boy. It never seemed “right” but I somehow knew she was a girl and didn’t worry about it much. If she had been a boy we may have switched last minute! (We did not find out before they arrived with either of our kids.)

    Oh wait – I guess I do have an almost. My dad wanted a boy and a girl named Boris and Natasha. Yes, from Bullwinkle. My mom loved Natasha, but when I was born first she said there was no way she was naming me Natasha and risking having to name a boy Boris! :D

  2. I love seeing this picture of you as a toddler! What is it with the lilac haze on all the ’70s era studio portraits? I’m the same age as you and have a photo with the exact same tone to it. It just makes me smile. :)

  3. Oh this is a super fun topic! Can’t wait to read the responses. :) My folks were totally settled on my name, Constance, but if I had been born a boy, my name was to be Joshua James.

    If we had gotten to have biological babies, I was always fond of Lydia, Fable, Samuel and Nicholas.

  4. My father was convinced that I was going to be a boy, and I was going to share his and his father’s (quite common) first name, John, with a different middle name. I ended up being born a girl, and my first cousin — born a month after me — was named John instead. I’ve often wondered what my aunt and uncle would have named my cousin had I been a boy, as I doubt that they would have wanted two Johns so close in age.

    My mother wanted to name me Siobhan, as an homage to my father’s Irish heritage (he emigrated to the U.S. at age 20), but my father was against any type of Gaelic name, esp. one that he thought would be hard for Americans to pronounce. (He figured I would go through life being called “SY-oh-ban,” and given that I grew up in a small town in the desert southwest, he was probably right.)

    1. Oh my gosh, I was also supposed to be Siobhan! Same story too, my mother loved it but my father was totally against the confusing Gaelic spelling. And it looks like we both turned out with similar names too :)

  5. If I was a boy I would have been Zebulon Lloyd. (shutters)

    I think God realized that my parents were awful at naming little boys and subsequently blessed them with all girls.

  6. My parents were entirely convinced I was a boy until I was born, so my name until that point was Andrew Michael. We found out that my sister’s name was going to be Lorraine or Mary, but one parent hated each of them so they settled on something entirely different after she was born.

  7. My mom wanted to name me Siobhan also but had the same fear that no one would know how to say it. Then she wanted to call me Joanne, but they settled on Joan.

  8. Such an interesting topic. I know names don’t really determine anything, but I do sometimes wonder if I would have been someone else if not named Miriam :)

    I only know my almost boy name: Simeon I had such fun working with my husband to name our girls; we pretty much had the names decided, and I like them, but my oldest really wants to change hers to Luna. Since she’s 7, we’re going to hold off on visiting the courthouse for a while. Does anyone else remember a stage around that age of desperately wanting to be someone else? I kept trying to convince my own parents to use my first name (Miriam) instead of the family nickname when I was 7, but couldn’t make it stick until I was almost 30!

    1. oh, gosh yes. Margaux was so WEIRD when i was a kid. i wanted to be Candi or Traci or Lisa. i think i mostly wanted a name with an ‘i” in it, so i could dot the “i” with a little star, heart or circle. i bet your daughter will grow to love her name.

    2. Yes– my name is Kate– not Katherine or Kathleen. It says “Kate” on my birth certificate. When I was a little girl, probably about seven, I wanted everyone to call me “Marie”. Then I wanted my middle name to be Marie. By the time I was a sophomore or so in high school, my mom offered to change something legally to Marie, and I declined. I did think about it, but having no middle name and being only Kate is unique, but not overly weird.

  9. My parents were fairly set on my name – but I would have been Rory if I was a boy.

    We recently welcomed our second baby and first son and he was nameless for 24 hours because he was so much bigger than I’d expected (a 9lb 6 chunk!) that he didn’t fit the image I’d had in my mind. So we tried out Henry (Hal for short) and Raphael before eventually circling back to our original choice, Nathaniel – aka Nat!

    1. We switched my sons middle and first names around because he was a large robust baby (8lb12oz) and the name we’d picked out – Sebastian – seemed too delicate. He became Evan Sebastian instead.
      When I was pregnant with our second child we considered whether our names would suit a big baby and it was good that we did as she was huge!

  10. Yes! In fact, my father went out and told everyone he had a daughter named Laura Lee. When he got back to the hospital, my mother had changed my name since I was born on Easter to Kristin Peggy (after my aunt). She also always joked that I should have been Easter! lol

  11. I would have been Peter had I been a boy (which my parents thought I was until I surprised them), my husband would have been Karen, and our daughter would have been Elliot.

    @Miriam, my daughter went through a stage around 7 (not sure of the exact age) where she always named herself Sarah in imaginary play. :)

  12. i was almost an Ashley, which blows my mind b/c what a different name than what i ended up with: Margaux. i think my parents did a good job naming me and my brothers especially considering it was the 70s: Lance, Beau and Margaux.

    my daughters are Remember and Olympia. Remember was almost a Plum, and Olympia was almost a Millicent. if either had been boys, they would have been Gil (for Anne of Green Gables) and Dexter (a family name and Dex for short).

    gosh, naming babies is fun.

  13. Great Topic!
    My parents spent a lot of time playing with names and wondering about nicknames and initials.

    In the hospital giving birth to me mom joked that, as our last name (my maiden name) is Cole, I’d be named ABC: Anthracite Bituminous Cole (joke being that Anthracite and Bituminous are the two types of Coal- my ancestry is Pennsylvania Dutch- Coal mining area) and then when the woman in the other bed gushed over the “wonderful name” my mom was too embarrassed to admit the truth. They also played with the name Whitney and I spent my early teen years wishing so hard that they’d chosen this name that I used it any time I went to camp where people didn’t know me. I discovered that there are many nicknames for Whitney: Twitney, Whitless…. etc.

    For my mother, an elementary school teacher, there were many names that never made the cut having too strong an association with other children so I ultimately became Debbie, sometimes spelled Debby, after Debbie Reynolds and other positively associated little girls. (I’d have been Bruce had I been male)

    Today I go by Deb and am much more satisfied with this shortening and less “cute” nickname.

    I have two sons (and with modern technology we were blessed to know their gender before their arrival). My husband is Jewish and there was enormous pressure to name our children using the first initial of deceased relatives… Yikes. My mother “helpfully” offered to knock off or disinter deceased relatives to give us greater options. There was great desire, on the part of my inlaws, that we name our first son after Grandpa Harry. I just didn’t like the name Harry or Henry or Harold (the school janitor at the school where I taught, who, I feared, would believe I’d named the child after him!)… Finally we settled on Noah (the N from my maternal grandfather Nelsen) Harrison (Harry’s son). Our second son was named Ethan Scott- a name not chosen for any dead relatives… a name just because we liked it!

  14. I have an unusual first name and love it because I was named after my maternal grandfather. My paternal grandmother wanted my parents to name me Araminta Sue. Even though I have spent a lifetime spelling my name, I still feel very fortunate that I am not Araminta/Minty.

  15. We’d decided on the name of my second daughter, but for a laugh my husband told the midwife he was honouring me with our daughter’s middle name and naming her Indiana Joan. It very nearly was written down by the midwife who didn’t get the joke, until I intervened and reiterated our carefully selected name – Imogen.

  16. My dad has always acted like I was *ALMOST* named Galadriel (from Lord of the Rings) and that by brother was *ALMOST* named Aragorn, but I suspect that my mother would never EVER have let that happen. They settled on my name, Aliesha Marie, thinking it was sweet and beautiful and unique. The day I was born, my dad was at the store buying a newspaper and bragging about his new baby girl, and the person in line behind him had a daughter with the exact same name :D :D “Lucky” for me, they got creative with my spelling (lifetime of spelling my name and no awesome personalized license plates for me!)

    For both of our girls, before we knew what we were having, we had an impossible time coming up with a boy name we could agree on. In the end, it didnt matter, because we had lots of girl names we liked, and two girls. Allie was *maybe* Leah up until about a week before we had her – she has my middle name (making our names extremely similar…didnt realize that until I kept spelling my own name instead of hers at doctor appointments, etc. With Lena, we were pretty sure we were going to name her Sydney until after she was born, but I think were also considering Lena and one other…Kaia, I think. Once we had her though, she was tiny and sweet and utter perfection, and we just felt like Lena was the name that fit her. Her middle name is my husband’s middle name, Ryan.

    Sometimes I wish I could have more kids just so I could name them!

    1. My sister really wanted to name her daughter Eowyn, as she and her husband were both big fans of the LOTR books. But the movies had just come out and she thought it might be weird (she was ok with a few people knowing she named her after a book character but not a lot thinking she was named after a movie character? I don’t know). Now her daughter wishes she were Eowyn.

    2. Oh my goodness, I was almost a Galadriel as well! My mother told me she would have called me Lady. My father wanted to name me Sarah, but because that was the name of his favorite cat, my mother vetoed that right quick. They ended up choosing my name, Kelly, off of a rack of bicycle license plates at Sears the night I was born; they were buying my crib.

      My husband, Eddy, was named after a French musician who had changed his name to sound more American. If he had been a girl his parents would have named him Peggy, after Peggy Sue. This was before Sesame Street came out in France, and it turns out that in France, Miss Piggy is called Miss Peggy! He’s happy things worked out the way they did.

      We named all our kids after family for their middle names, and names that we liked the sound and meaning of for their first names. We had to negotiate what they sounded like in French and in English, which was quite the challenge! Now we live in the States and their names definitely fit in here more than they did in France, but I still love them just as much.

  17. Also, Gabby, I think it’s funny, whether you had been Shoshana or Gabrielle, you easily have the longest, most exotic-sounding name of your sibs. Along with Salem in the *unique* category I guess! I really enjoy the nickname “Shosh” after watching Girls, but Gabby is great too :)

    Troy just cracks me up – maybe because you always say “Ben Blair”. It’s hard to imagine that flowing as well…Troy Blair :D

  18. I was almost Heather. When I found that out as a little girl, I started naming all my dolls Heather. I have a ton of Heather dolls in my life now.

  19. I was always meant to be a Savannah (my mom saw it in a baby book and immediately knew and my father went along ). When I was in college I reunited with my estranged father and he told me he loved the name because it was the name of one of his favorite porn stars. Yiiiiikes. Shockingly it hasn’t put me off loving it!

    When it came to my two girls we never had any trouble once we knew they were girls! But we ended up with names that would support a gender non binary individual- Winnifred can be Fred and Eleanor can be Ean without much fuss. It wasn’t intentional and I suppose they might want a name change for symbolism but I’m glad if they didn’t want to change their name they wouldn’t have to.

  20. My dad wanted to name me Louise, which I would have hated as a kid. As an adult, I love the story of the woman it was to honor, and would be thrilled to have her name. My great, great aunt Louise graduated from the UC Berkeley medical school (before it was called UCSF) in 1904, and went on found the Berkeley Health Clinic, and later in her career was the president of the school board in Berkeley. Pretty amazing woman.

  21. My mom wanted to name me Jennifer (it was 1973), my dad wanted to name me Lisa. But if I was a boy they were going to name me ZEKE! A few weeks before I was born they got a puppy and my mom suggested naming him ZEKE, to make sure the name was out of the running for any of their children.

  22. We were considering the name Noor for my first daughter, and although I love the name she has, it has become quite popular and I often wish we had gone with Noor. I do feel that both names suit her well.

  23. My dad wanted unusual names for his kids since his was so common (Tom Brown). My mom said the girls could have unusual names, but the boys couldn’t. So then he suggested that if I was a girl I should be named Cinnamon, and then they could have a Ginger, and then maybe a Nutmeg. I’m sure it was mostly in jest, but it’s a favorite family story. Luckily my mom came up with Summer instead and they both loved it. Had I been a boy, I would have been Caleb. In a fun twist of fate, I had forgotten that fact and named my youngest son Caleb. My mom reminded me of that and we thought it was a fun factoid!

  24. My parents almost made my middle name Gretchen instead of Mariah. It’s because I was born on Easter Sunday and it would have made my initials spell EGG! Glad they didn’t though ;)

  25. My mom added Mary on to the beginning of my name at the last minute, so I was almost just Samantha, but now have four names! Mary was the name of her great grandmother…or so the family thought. After she passed away someone found her birth certificate and she was actually born Marian. She also went by Molly sometimes.

    My first son was Silas for three days, then we changed it to Owen. If I had gotten my way my boys would have been Crosby and Everett, but are Owen and Wyatt.

  26. My mom wanted to name me Parrish Elizabeth, but my dad didn’t like it – too much like perish. So I ended up one of the very many Jennifers born in 1976. Never complain to me about how common your/your kid’s name is.

  27. My Dad was a decade older than my mother and already middle aged in 1976, wanted to name his new daughter something “more mainstream” like Margaret or Marjorie! I have always been grateful that my Mom would have no part in that and won out in the end with, Bethany, instead!

  28. Liverpool! My parents met in that city when they were serving Mormon missions. My grandpa found out that was going to be my first name, and paid my parents $50 to name me Lauren instead. My full name is Lauren Liverpool and I love that I have a middle name with such a story behind it.

  29. I was going to be Elizabeth Ellen but then friends of my parents had a baby shortly before I was born and named her Elizabeth. So they reversed the order to Ellen Elizabeth. I personally like Elizabeth better, but I’ve rarely been in situations with multiple Ellens. If I was a boy my name would have been Martin which I do not care for at all.

  30. So my mom desperately wanted to name me Sienna Magenta. ……..My Dad wanted Jennifer…..they settled on Bethany. I love my name and I’m pleased the other two contenders that made it to the hospital didn’t leave with me!

  31. No, I don’t think you should have been Shoshona–Rachel would have been all alone as the only non-S-or-J name in the family. Besides, you would be a completely different person if you were named Shoshona.

  32. We had a hard time naming our daughter- we went into the birth thinking she’d be either Edie or Lila, but once she was born, the other names on our list bubbled back up, like Serena, Claudia, and Lydia. The hospital put a lot of pressure on us to pick a name (I had a c-section, and therefore was on drugs and had a few more days to stay, I’m not sure why they pushed so hard) so we panicked and went with Edith Frances. I really like her name, but would have gone with the middle name Iris if I’d been in my right mind so that she and I could share an initial (I kept my “I” maiden name). Conversely, when our son was born we took one look at him and knew he was a Louis- I don’t even remember debating it in the recovery room. It’s been funny to see their personalities play out similarly to how they were named- Lou is predictable and an open book and Edie is a bit of a wonderful enigma.

  33. Almost Carol.. My mom, sister, and niece all share the same middle name – my grandfather’s first name, Allen – which makes me wish I had been the first born! Barbara Allen, Jo Allen (lots of grief over that one!), Jana Allen.

  34. My mom wanted to name me Gretchen but my grandma thought kids might call me Gretch the Wretch! So she named me Gail. I asked her why such a boring name after wanting Gretchen and she said that she figured all the other kids would be able to say it (I was the 6th of 8). No nickname for Gail which has always made me sad. I gave my kids all names that could be shortened or changed to a nickname. (Katherine, Emily and Samuel)

  35. My daughter Violet was almost Louisa. I was pregnant at the same time as my husband’s cousin who was going to have a child with severe special needs. She was due before me and one of the names she had picked was Violet. This special needs child had a very high chance of dying right after birth and I couldn’t be so rude as to use the same name as a child who could have either died or lived their life with intense needs. It just felt wrong. So I waited until that baby was born (happy to say she is doing great today) to see what they decided for a name. They didn’t use Violet, so my possibly-Louisa was Violet.

  36. Oh, this is fun! If I was a boy I would have been named Peter. Other girls names that my parents considered were Emma, Margaret, and Tess. They almost gave me the middle name Columbia (after a great aunt) which would have been awesome!

  37. I was almost a Megan, because when my mother was pregnant with my older brother and my parents were contemplating girl names, my father “did not like the name Ann.” Never mind it’s my mother’s middle name and his mother’s middle name… So my mom chose another name she liked (after rolling her eyes), and moved it forward when they were pregnant a second time. Sometime near delivery, however, my dad asked, “what about Ann for a name?” My mother, knowing an opportunity when she sees one, responded what a good choice it was, and that she always liked it, too. (And probably gave another eye roll.)
    I love my name, and am so glad I’m not a Megan. Nothing against any Megans, but I have always liked being an “Ann”.

  38. I didn’t have an almost-name, though if I was a boy I was going to be Scott. My brother had an almost-name. My parents ended up choosing Chris at the last minute, but had planned to call him Jesse (whether he was a boy or girl actually!). Jesse is one of those names that has a certain “reputation” and we laugh to think that my brother could have been one! He’s definitely not a Jesse (he ended up being Chris).

  39. No almost name for me and no boys name My parents came across the name Grania (Grainne) on honeymoon in Ireland, but chose the keltic spelling Grania over the Irish one, as our main home was in Germany. My brother Robert would have been Golo or Garaint, my brother Philip Augustus (as born in August) or John. My son Conrad could have been Miles, but I thought it too difficult for Germany, girl’s names Giulia or Georgia (it was Olympics in Atlanta the year he was born). My daughter Lynn would have been an Oscar as a boy and Conrad actually cried when he realized she would not be called Oscaline as a girl ;.)

  40. I was to be Penelope. My mother loved the name Penny but in the end I was named after my two grandmothers. When I was in my early teens we acquired a new boxer puppy who my mother named Penny. She finally got to use her favourite name!

  41. My mom wanted Cecile to be my first name, as she had a good friend with that name who went by the nickname “‘Cile” (seal). But the nickname would have made me a target for schoolyard teasing when combined with my last name, so she made it my middle name instead.

  42. I was named after my sister’s friend who had died. I didn’t know that until I was in my 30’s. Kinda gruesome. But my poor sister, who grew up in the late 60’s, was named Mary Jane. I can only think of all the marijuana jokes she got back then.

    She was going to be Jean and I was going to be Joan. Meh. Not sure why that didn’t happen, but that’s ok.

  43. I was going to be Emily, until my parents realized they had given (apparently unintentionally) all of my siblings names starting with the letter “A”. For a while, they thought of just changing the E to an A and name me Amily, but (thankfully) settled on Anne.

  44. My mom always wanted to name her daughter Emma, but she ruled that out when she realized that Emma Mechanic sounds awfully close to “I’m a mechanic”. Thanks for catching that, mom! Saved me a lifetime of teasing.

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