Should you give your baby a unique name?

I had a van I called van Doesn’t.

Good stuff. Some other ideas for making your kid’s life easier:
-Conventional first name, unique middle name
-First and middle/last name that make a cool set of initials
-Names that otherwise lend themselves to nicknames
-Consider names that can work for boys and girls, or that have obvious opposite-sex counterparts
-Don’t make up creative spellings

No, that’s the name of a New Zealand flying pioneer.

My first name is Jonathan. Two standard spellings but people often completely butcher it. The surname is Norwegian. The combination is rare enough that if you Google it you find me. It is also rare enough that anyone with my last name in New Zealand is related to me.

David Mitchell’s Baby Naming Soapbox is quite a funny listen and actually sums up my philosophy towards this. It argues for “blank slate” names that won’t come with any baggage. I do think it’s selfish and arrogant to use the name your child is going to be stuck with as a creative outlet. If you want something to stand out as a testament to your superior creativity get a tattoo or change your own name.

Our kids have normal names, albeit a little “old school” (in the sense that someone might mildly associate them with older people). They’re named after great grandparents, which makes the families feel good and costs nothing. From our perspective I agree that what the names are largely don’t matter, you just get used to that being the thing you say to refer to a person / object. But of course the child has to live with the name and constantly introduce themselves to people. Seems mean to attach a lot of baggage to that for them just to “express yourself”.

I do this. I have an easy, common name but they always mess it up anyways, so I tell them something random but distinct, like “Lucy,” or “awesome.”

Well, I have a pretty bland, common, run of the mill name - up there with the Johns, Mikes, Steves and Jims and I am bloody happy with that. If I was a parent I would do the same thing, name-wise. It just seems wrong to me that some parents think that they have an obligation to use their children’s names as an expression of parental artistic originality or cleverness or whatever.

I’m okay with either meaning, but merely meant unusual. Probably not long before someone is named with a QR code and no phonetics.

A name shouldn’t be so remarkable that it overshadows the person, but not so common that it complicates their life.

Having said that, I vetoed ‘Jarvis’ when my partner suggested it for our son, and instead we chose a Top 10 name for him. He’s 11 and sharing his name with a classmate for the first time this year, but went to daycare with a Jarvis.

i pronounce it the danish way.

That’s my vote.

I got handed two very “standard” for the area names as first and middle names – but the middle name is the Anglicized version of the Yiddish name of my paternal grandmother. I use the Yiddish version.

While it’s very common some places in the world, the area in which I live is not one of them. I don’t expect people to know how to spell it or to pronounce it perfectly – especially as there are multiple ways it’s legitimately spelled in English, and my own pronunciation of it is probably not quite the way my grandmother said it as I use the American English pronunciation of one of the consonants, which is said slightly differently in Yiddish.

But I did get ticked off at the group of teenagers who once, years ago, put their heads together and muttered after I’d told them my name and came out of their conference to say ‘How about we just call you Susan?’ – which sounds nothing remotely like the name in question. No. You have to make a stab at it. You don’t get to just re-name me.

Are there any such things?

Aside from the huge difficulty in coming up with a name with no connotations: if anyone did pull that off, they’d then have a “unique” name, which has the connotation of “weird name.”

– I suffered through the video, which is fairly short, though I didn’t find it particularly funny. What he thinks of as names with no connotations seems to be names that have for many years been common in England. That in itself is a connotation, and certainly not a blank slate. My parents, in giving me names that are and were at the time common in English and American English, most certainly meant the connotations that came with them.

Since Mitchell mentioned the Beatles, I feel compelled to point out that Paul McCartney’s actual first name is James.

I am against unique (that is, made-up) names. Even a fairly unusual, non made-up name like Guy was unfamiliar to most people when I was growing up in Australia in the 50s. Combining that with a family name of which no-one had heard meant that I was constantly spelling out my name each time I met someone, had to register or request something on the phone, etc. The fact that my family name is fairly often taken to be my first name puts the cherry on top. Being called by my family name puts me in mind of British public (i.e. private) schools. I just say “You can call me Guy”, at which the person usually apologises.

If a name is familiar to people, they can deal with it. If not, it throws sand in their gears. (Fortunately, the name Guy is becoming more common, so I can say “like Guy Pierce”. When I was growing up, the only other Guy I knew of was Guy Fawkes.) I don’t really get parents who supposedly want their kids to have a unique name, i.e. a name that no-one else has. A person’s combination of forename and family name is usually distinctive enough. A made-up name is just condemning them to a lifetime of spelling out their name. Adolescents in particular often just want to be like their peers. A made-up name like Jam’ai means they will never be anonymous. People will say their kid shouldn’t want to be anonymous. Well, that’s their stuff that they are visiting on the kid. People can always call themselves something different if they are unhappy with their formal name.

So, my advice would be: think about it, and don’t do it.

We chose uncommon (in the sense of not in the top 100 baby names any time in the last few decades) but pre-extant (in the top 2000 names sometime in the last century or so) names for our kids. Seems like a nice balance. We’ve yet to meet another child with those names, but also they are recognizable as names that people have heard before.

A lot of people have mentioned spelling, but there are lots of common names that also have common spelling variants, so it’s not like choosing a common name necessarily gets you out of that if you ever want your name spelled correctly.

Thankfully, “Chasity” has fallen greatly in popularity, but is still far from unique.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel unusual names are much more accepted these days than they were when I was a kid thirty, thirty-five years ago. I can’t really say I have a pulse on today’s youth, but it doesn’t seem to be as big a deal – I could be wrong.

Kids don’t make fun of you as much as they used to, but teachers still curse the parents the first day of school every year.

I remember quite a few years back when a clan in town christened all their spawn in Gaelic. I was the only person on campus who could even begin to pronounce their names, and that was mainly because I was a fan of “Ballykissangel” on BBCAmerica.

Currently I have 6 girls named “Haley.” Or “Haylii.” Or “Halie.” Or…

Personally, I’m a fan of giving children a “normal” first name, but then a wild-and-crazy middle name. That way, when they’re old enough to have a preference, they can choose to embrace the wild name, or to just ignore it.

My last name comes from German. We spell it the same way as it’s spelled in German, but pronounce it as it would be in English. There’s a moderately-famous person whose name comes from the same source (I think my father once tracked down the common ancestor), but her family keeps the German pronunciation, and Anglicized the spelling to match. I do get folks using the German pronunciation sometimes, but it never bothers me: If it’s someone I’ll be interacting with a lot, I’ll correct them once, but make no further fuss about it even if they persist with the “wrong” pronunciation.

That’s how I am. Most people who have some inkling of Polish but are not Polish have a half-ass pronunciation of my last name, where they pronounce the “w” as a “v”, but schwa the first vowel and don’t get the second vowel right. I don’t care. Close enough. It just feels weird to me to “correct” their pronunciation to some arbitrary Anglicized pronunciation we apparently decided upon. (And I don’t think anyone really “decided” on the way our English name is pronounced. It’s just whichever ended up being the most common. I’ve never in my life heard my mom or dad correct someone’s pronunciation of our last name.)

Sure, but that’s because he’s English and those are the names that come to mind as examples. I don’t think there is anything inherently different in picking a typical Arabic or Hebrew or Xhosa, etc. name based on your cultural identification. And I’ll take the point that you could deal with racist prejudice depending on where you are and the like. But I don’t think that’s what he’s talking about. He’s talking about the specific desire to saddle your kids with SkyPixie or XK-154/AR or whatever it is you think highlights your self identified wild and crazy side. At best, you’re outsourcing the inconvenience of having to deal with your creative tantrum.

Oh my God that monstrosity was a trend?! On the recent season of Project Runway there was a designer named “Chasity.” That was the first time I’d seen that name. That one is horrible in every sense, it’s got the “parent who cannot spell” aspect mixed with “parent who thought the word chastity was a good name for a child.”