By Any Other Name

My sister and her husband are expecting their third child sometime next spring, which made it doubly wonderful to spend time with the growing family over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Hanging out with a tween and a pre-schooler definitely honed the aunt skills, but suggesting potential names for the new sprout proved trickier. Although I’m very good at naming pets, none of my baby name suggestions, male or female, struck a chord with the parents-to-be.

To be fair, naming is a difficult thing, and a very personal one. Whenever you name a person, pet or thing, you want something that sounds good, carries meaning, and can’t be twisted into a cruel or otherwise unfortunate nickname. On top of that, there may be religious or cultural factors to take into consideration, as well as the desire to avoid–or accommodate– the trendy or unusual.

The world wide web is awash with baby name websites, to be sure, but if you have a name to choose, and you’re tired of staring at your computer screen, why not try a different tack?  Make yourself a cup of tea, then settle into a comfy chair in a quiet place with one of the library’s many books about names and naming.  Not sure where to start?  Consider these:

Penguin ClassicThe Penguin Classic Baby Name Book, ed. Grace Hamlin. Looking for a literary namesake? Take a flip through nearly 500 pages of options from the world’s greatest works of fiction.

Mother of all Baby Name Books

The Mother of All Baby Name Books, Bruce Lansky. Because puns are fun! Also, with 94,000 names to choose from, this is a great option if you don’t have room in your bag for multiple books.

Celtic Baby NamesCeltic Baby Names, Judy Sierra. If Western mythology and folklore tend to inspire you, grab this guide to pronunciations and meanings from the British Isles and figure out if Declan, Dylan, or Dana might be a good option for you and your baby (I’d avoid Tristan and Isolde, though, just on general principle).

World NamesA World of Baby Names, Teresa Norman. Diversity abounds in this collection of names that dedicates a chapter to just about every country and culture under the sun, including Czech/Slovak, Hawaiian, Native American, and Southeast Asian names. Perfect for families seeking to honor an ancestor, celebrate an adoption, or otherwise open up their naming options.

Auntie LAV can’t wait to see what they pick, but until then, she’ll just have to wait patiently.  Did you have difficulty naming your children?  Your kittens?  Your computer?  If you were going to take a new name to reflect the person you’ve grown up to be, what would you pick?

Dana Elizabeth Veronica Leigh Anne

4 Comments

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4 responses to “By Any Other Name

  1. avid

    Thanks, Leigh Anne, for a memory-rattling post.

    Her mom and I chose Sunshine as our daughter’s middle name. That was back in the day when Frank Zappa named his kid Moon Unit, you know, and when River, Rainbow, Sky, and Meadow joined the common moniker ranks. Uncomfortable with Sunshine, when our daughter was nine years old she changed that handle to Marie, whenever she was asked for her full name in print. Was I disappointed? I suppose, though proud, too, of her independence. In the same way, I was disappointed when, in her twenties my daughter augmented the back of her shoulder with a tattoo. No one in our family had ever done that. But I glowed pride that the bright pigments embedded in her skin colored a circle with emanating spokes—Sunshine.

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