Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Names, Names, Names

It’s a weighty responsibility choosing a name for your child.  They’ll be stuck with the moniker you choose for the rest of their life. (Unless they decide to head off to deed poll at the earliest opportunity). I’ve always thought that, in theory, choosing a name for your child should be an enjoyable experience.  With the promise of a person forthcoming, it should be a joy to choose a name to bestow on them; a defining halo that they will carry with them all their life. 

That’s what I thought.

The reality is quite different.  Aside from the responsibility of making a choice your future offspring will be happy with, the majority of people usually have an accompanying partner, which means arriving at name choice you both agree on.  Sometimes it’s easy, you hit on a name you both love; job done. In other situations, such as mine, it’s the complete opposite, and you end up stalemated, like two opposing bookends either side of the baby naming books on the shelf.

I consider myself blessed that on most of the things that matter in life, my husband and I agree. In fact, so often are we on the same page, it doesn’t matter which of us turns it.  Names, however, represent one of those rare occasions in our relationship where our thinking is poles apart. 

I’ll admit, I’m part of the problem. I favour left- field, more unusual choices. (Due partly, I’m sure, to having the most popular girl name in secondary school, and thus always having to be referred to by my first name and surname in order to be identified. )  Husband on the other hand, is far more conservative.  Even finding the middle ground can be difficult.  In the past few weeks I’ve marveled at the fact that we even managed to agree on a name for Pip.  His name is an old biblical name, not chosen because either of us are particularly religious, but just because we liked it. I think one of the reasons Husband went for it, was the fact that if Pip had that name, he and his son would share the same initials.

For baby number two, selecting a name is proving far more difficult than first time around.  We both have certain criteria that the name must meet:

a) Not too popular, ideally, a little bit ‘different’.  (Me)

b) Not unisex (Husband.) You’d be surprised how many names that you’d consider ‘boy’ names in the UK, are also used for girls elsewhere in the world, particularly in the US.

c) Easy to spell (Husband). He thinks this will propel our child to the top of the class...

d) Not associated with a memory of anyone either of us have disliked, either in real life, on TV or in fiction.(Both)

e) Not associated with the name of a pet. (Both)

f) Not a biblical name. In light of son no 1’s name. (Husband.)

So, some basic rules, you wouldn’t think it would be that hard.  Would you?

A typical conversation...

Me: "What about Ptolemy?"

H: "We can’t give our son a name with a silent P. It’s just too much". (See criteria c)

Me: "Quinn?"

H: Checks internet. "No. It’s also a girl’s name in America."

Me: "No, it’s definitely a boy’s name - Irish heritage."

H: "Stats don’t lie - look." Shows me a graph and then firmly refutes based on criteria b)

Me: (Thinking I have a cunning plan). "Ok, Tarquin then. Quinn for short.  Tarquin is a good strong Roman name."

H: "I don’t think I can have a son called Tarquin. I’m worried it’s a bit...poncy." (Note, this name meets all criteria but he still refutes it.)

Me: "Rufus.  Rufus is a good name."

H: "I think I knew a dog once called Rufus." (Thereby referring to criteria e)

Me: "Well, did you or didn’t you?"

H: "I don’t know. Maybe it just reminds me of a dog."

Me: "Rex - What about Rex?"

H: "That’s definitely a dog’s name. Or the name of a dinosaur." (Criteria e again...note it has now been extended to apply to extinct species.)

Me: "Felix?  I like Felix."

H: "It makes me think of tins of cat food." (Applies criteria e to this claiming 'pet association'.)

Me: "Hugo. What about Hugo?"

H: Too ‘Made in Chelsea’. I could never say his name without thinking of the bloke from the programme. (Criteria d)

Me: "Solomon?"

H: "Absolutely not." (Criteria f)

Me: "Joseph?"

H: "No.We are not having another biblical name. It says something about us we’re not." (f)

Me: "Xavier?"

H: "No."  (Criteria c.)

Me: "Griffin?"

H: "Are you serious?" ( Not sure, just starting to feel slightly desperate.)

Me: "I seem to be the one bringing all the suggestions to the table.  All you do is veto the names I suggest.  You haven’t suggested a single name yet.  Go on, you suggest something."

H: "Well, there is one name I like."

Ah ha! .. I await with baited breath...

H: "Tom."

How does Tom meet criteria a) I wonder?
And so the conversation continues....

Possibly all is not lost. Pip has awarded baby no 2 a name in-utero. In the event we can’t decide, we could always go with that. 

I just wish he hadn’t chosen...


Unbelievably, it does however, tick all the boxes on our criteria list.

Did you struggle to determine the name for your child? How did you decide? I’d love to hear your naming stories.

*Disclaimer: If you are a parent of a Ptolemy , Tarquin, Felix, Rufus or indeed, a child with any of the other names my husband has vetoed, please be assured, these are his views only. Personally, I think these are splendid names. *


  1. Oh, I agree - it's a logistical nightmare. We both read a baby names book cover to cover and highlighted all the names that each one of us liked, then listed the ones that both of us liked on a piece of paper to choose from. There were about 3.

    In the end, we chose Rory. We had never ever considered the name before - it hadn't even crossed our minds. But from about 8 weeks pregnant, I was convinced that I was carrying a little boy called Rory, and fortunately my husband decided he liked the name so that was that. We love it - it's just the right side of unusual but traditional too. Annoyingly, it's growing in popularity (I blame Doctor Who - the character of Rory was introduced just weeks after I gave birth and I was furious), but it's still not in the top 100 so that's OK.

    1. Lovely story. It's great when so early on you both just 'click' with a name. I don't think Doctor Who has over popularised Rory as a name. I've only known of 3 in my life, one as a childhood play friend, one at Pip's nursery and now your boy too. I'd love it if we could find a name we both loved that wasn't in the top 100!

  2. I read this post with a smile and a knowing nod! The problem with Daddy Lloyd and I we enjoy playing the "Friends - Ross and Rachel" game and like to veto each other's names. I would like to say we had criteria but we were not that clever!! We actually ended up using the name B Lloyd was calling the bump as we realised the names that we had decided nothing compared to being named by B, so Harry it was.

    Names are such a tough part, but I have to say I like all of your suggestions, Rufus being a particular favourite. But whatever you do choose will be just perfect for your little man XX

    p.s. I look forward to finding out what you go for!!

    1. At least Miss B chose something nice. I can't see us calling bump 'Egbert' in real life! I like Rufus a lot too but Husband is resolute - it doesn't look like we'll be having a Rufus... x

  3. :) I am so glad it's not just me and my partner, we have agreed on one girls name (that I originally suggested but not sure if I have gone off a bit now...). But boys names we have a grand total of 0! We don't really have a list of things we don't want but James is much more traditional than I am, I know Alex is traditional but I quite liked the fact that you can change the name to full version, or Xander etc that Alex can decide when he's older. We can't agree on much at all this time, and I am pretty sure it's likely to be a boy purely for that fact! Good luck!

    1. Isn't it strange - you think you've decided on something and then I really like it? Maybe the fact you've agreed on a girl's name means you are expecting a girl - Intuition? I'm with you on the boy's name struggle. It is so much harder second time around too with the same sex.

  4. Good luck. We eventually got a shortlist and waited until he was born before deciding 100% on the name we wanted. Just keep on talking about it, the more you come back to them the more particular names begin to grow on you! Fingers crossed you don't have to go with Pip's choice!

    1. You're right. Returning to names does help. Yes, definitely fingers crossed we don't have to go with Pip's choice, although I suspect whatever we choose he will be calling his bro 'Egbert' for a while.

  5. I asked my buns in my tum what their names were to be and they both told me. Ex - H went with it coz they were celtic enough (him!) Would love to know if it works for you! (Rhys and Adrian). X

    1. I did that with Pip but alas, didn't work. Shall try again this time and see if baby no 2 wants to be part of the decision making process! x

  6. Firstly, I have never even hear of Ptolemy - does that make me ignorant?! We have always struggled with names, but I think that is part of the fun of having a new baby....once it's decided, there's something a little bit too final about it. And remember, you'll be calling/shouting that name outloud for the rest of your life probably so you've got to like it! The other interesting quandary is that it has to sound ok with the first child's name.....and then you have a third child and that makes things even harder lol!

    1. Not ignorant at all. I think I'm just a bit left - field. There was once a programme on the BBC with an architect called Ptolemy. That's where I got it from.

      The name calling across the playground is a good tip to remember. Always a good test. x

  7. I had my names for both a girl and a boy decided years before I had my daughter. There was no doubt that this would be her name from the moment I knew she was a girl. If I'd had a second one it would have been more difficult to find a name I liked as much.

    1. How wonderful to be so certain on her name for such a long time and then to make the dream come true.

  8. how very dare you veto Egbert its my son's name! when I knew I having a girl this time I opted for Savannah, love it but veto'd it was (our surname begins with an S so I thought it illiterated perfectly!) but I kind of promised my grandmother I would name her after her because she told me in a dream before I knew I was actually pregnant that I would have a daughter (not its not Doris or Beryl sorry any Beryl's or Doris'). I do hear a lot of "different" names being called out at the swings, Sheherazade, my fav! (ps just kidding about Egbert, old biblical name for him too).

    1. LOL! For a moment I thought I'd really gone and put my gigantic foot right in it. Thankfully, not. *Wipes brow*

  9. Ha ha ha ha .... Great to return to this after my holiday - this made me smile and smile. My husband wanted Rufus if Little A had been a boy! I have to admit I thought that was a name for a dog too :o). We decided upon Little A's name at the eleventh hour - and it turned out to be the perfect name. I did find myself obsessing over some of the strangest names while I was pregnant though - I put that down to the hormones! X Ps. its a mine field!

    1. Ah, younger Dad and I would get on then. I keep plugging away, but alas Husband is having none of it. It is a mine field, and given my propensity for the slightly unusual goodness knows where we could end up. (Although getting it past the house registrar is very we'll probably be ok!) Hope you had a good holiday. x

  10. Oh the great name debate! Luckily, my husband and have similar tastes - solid, not too 'of the times', and not too fancy. The only name we've disagreed on is Iris - I love it, he says it only suits old ladies. With my son, we called him by his name from the day we found out I was pregnant. I was rightly convinced he was a boy and it was like there was no other choice of names for him. We have names picked out for the next one but it took us a bit more time. It's sure little Egbert will be very pleased with his name :-)

    1. I think Iris is nice. It is a traditional name, but not perhaps in the way, that Ethel is. Glad that you have names picked out. It is so much easier if you agree. I can see it going right up to the wire for us!