The Baby Naming Manifesto: Version 1.3

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A February 26th, 2008 Pew research study found that, "Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the largest families in America, among both religious and nonreligious groups." I did not read beyond that section, but it probably went on to also report that members of the LDS Church tend to have the most success on reality TV shows (the American Idol finals will come down to David Archuleta and Brooke White, mark my words) and that LDS children between the ages 18 months and 3 years know the words to "Once There Was A Snowman" better than any other religion.

Since we as a people tend to have more offspring than most, we have also learned some parenting lessons that we are obligated to share with those with less experience. For example, we know that there is one major decision that parents make that influences a child's future emotional well-being and overall success in life more than any other single factor. The secret to raising successful children is not dependent upon whether or not you use formula, expose the child to classical music in-utero, or deliver the baby in the hospital with a doctor instead of at home in a Mr. Turtle pool with a woman you met on the internet. The key is this:

Choose the right name!

My wife and I are happily expecting our third child in May (thank you, thank you). Our experiences in naming our children have varied dramatically each time we have gone through the process. We discussed the names of our first and third children for all of three minutes and we both loved the outcomes.

But baby number two? We disagreed on that one for months and then ended up selecting a name that was neither of our top choice (though in hindsight our daughter ended up with the perfect name for her). I mention this because it is pretty remarkable for the two of us to disagree on anything. Our relationship reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when Jerry begins dating a woman, realizes that she is almost exactly like him, and says, "All this time I've been waiting for me to come along, and now I've swept me off my feet!" If naming a baby can become such a serious matter that it caused even the NMH and NMW to dig in our heels and not back down, there needs to be some sort of guide to help couples through the process. Here are some of the lessons that I have learned and would like to pass along to the world, but please comment with your pearls of baby naming wisdom and I will update the list as needed:

New: The "Moe's Tavern" Test: Thanks to my little 'bro Tony for this rule, which has received strong support from the comments thus far. Bart Simpson would frequently call Moe's Tavern with bogus first and last names that sounded funny when said together, such as "Amanda Huggenkiss" and "Seymour Butz". One real life examples of this is former professional baseball player Joe Carter (Joke Harder). I'm going to expand this rule a little to include avoiding giving your child the same first and last name. For example, one local news anchor is Neill McNeill and the Carolina Panthers play-by-play announcer is Mick Mixon.

New: The "Logistical Nightmare" Test: Credit to The Wiz for this rule when she said that a name should be, "Something people have heard of before. Don't just make up a name that can be phonetically pronounced but nobody has any idea what the heck that's about." First of all, great point. Secondly, very appropriate use of the word, "heck", given the Utah roots of many of the readers of this blog. So why call this the "Logistical Nightmare" test? One night when my wife and I were first married we were watching a movie in our teeny, tiny Provo apartment when one of the actors said, "This is a logistical nightmare!" Neither of use knew what the word "logistical" meant and it took us about three years to figure it out. (From 1997-1999 I thought a "logistical" was either an Italian pasta dish, a deep sea creature, or a bone near the scapula.) To us, the word logistical looked good on paper, but it meant absolutely nothing. Several of you have voiced your support for this rule, which discourages made-up names like the following ones that have been shared thus far in the comments - Arvilla, Maristine, Eeston, Lundyn, etc.

New: The "I'm Changing My Name to Salem" Test: Thanks to Bwebster for inspiring this rule and for sharing his wisdom after having nine children and twelve grandkids, "When my (former) wife Marla and I named our last daughter 'Emily', we had no idea that roughly 40% of the US population was doing the same thing. 'Emily' now goes by 'Salem' and wears tattoos and piercings. Sigh." Most of the comments on this topic have recommended avoiding the top fifty most popular names for a given year, otherwise your child might suffer from an identity crisis. Failure to adhere to this rule will result in future dinner table conversations with your 1st Grade son named Joshua that sound like this: "I was trading Pokemon cards with Joshua P. and then he left to go play football with Joshua N. and Joshua R. But then Joshua T. sat down next to me and traded me an Infernape Level X for a Beedrill and a Raticate that Joshua Q. had given to him...."

The "Here Comes Pat!" Test: Thank you Jami for having this rule included by saying, "Must be able to identify gender by name. (A holdover from the 'Jami is a boy's name!' days.)" Well said, and we can all tell the wounds are still pretty fresh for you. This rule is so obvious that I am ashamed to have left it off Version 1.0 when it was released. If we learned nothing else from Saturday Night Live in the early-to-mid 1990's it is this lesson - using androgynous names like "Pat" makes life unnecessarily hard on young children. I discussed this with the NMW and together we came up with a few other names that could get you into hot water with this test - Cameron, Taylor, Jerry, Chris, and of course - Jamie.

The "Back Porch Shout" Test:
Emily made the following comment and gets credit for this rule, "My hardfast rule is it's got to sound good shouted from the back porch." This rule is very creative but also serves a practical purpose. It made me remember a girl named Carrie Anne who lived kitty-corner to me when I was growing up. Every evening at about 6:50 p.m. her mom would open the front door, take two steps on to the porch, cup her hands to her mouth, and yell at the top of her lungs, "Carrrrrr-iiieeeeeee-ANNNNNNE!" Halfway through the second syllable, poor Carrie Ann was already halfway home. As a parent, I have been amazed at how many times I have to shout my childrens' names in crowded places - the mall, Wal-Mart, Primary activities, Trick-or-Treating, the library (which for some inexplicable reason does not go over well), etc. - to get their attention. Before naming your child, go in you backyard and yell it three times to make sure that it carries well. You'll need it someday.

The "I Got An F in Geography" Test: Credit goes to Megan Hall's comment for this one. Apparently, most of you do no approve of naming children after cities, states, or countries. This rule says that if it appears on a map, it should not appear on a birth certificate. I have to admit that this rule makes me swallow my pride. We have absolutely loved living in North Carolina for the past five years and we are naming our soon-to-be daughter after our state. That's right, we are naming her "Northie". Just kidding. She is going to be named Caroline. If we we ever have another boy, we have discussed naming him Logan (we were sealed in the Logan Temple). Are we wrong for doing this?

The "La-Utah" Test: Megan either has too much time on her hands or is a very experienced baby namer, because she struck a nerve when she said, "Utah Test: Does it start with La-? (LaVerl, LaDawn, LaNye). I am glad that the "La" prefix was addressed, because I see this becoming an increasingly popular mistake as more and more professional athletes have "La" in their names. Here is a small sample of a few current pro athletes - LaMarcus Aldridge, LaBrandon Toefield (that's right - LaBrandon!), LaRon Landry, and LaDanian Tomlinson. The Tomlinson family takes the cake, however, as LaDanian's wife is named LaTorsha. Keep an eye on the "La" phenomenon, it could be the next baby name plague.

The "Ghosts From The Past" Test
: (Thanks to Erin for this update, which now includes the names of former flames.) Some names from your past or your spouse's past are forever tainted. Do not, under any circumstances, name your child after either of your former boy/girlfriends. Also, if the nerdiest kid in your spouse's high school was named Kyle, and Kyle just happens to be your all-time favorite name, it's over. The name comes off the list. No additional discussion is justified. Each of us have certain names from our past that evoke bad memories. When the "Ghost From The Past" card is played by your spouse, just respectfully remove it from your list of favorite names, ask no follow-up questions, and move on to the next one.

The "Wayne-Ray-Lee" Test: Credit to Shelley for the following revision: ***(The Wayne-Ray-Lee test is only applicable to boys. Girls are exempt since they are far less likely to end up in the Big House regardless of their name. Shelley's daughter has the middle name "Rae" and my niece is often called "Ray Ray", and their names suit them perfectly.)***When watching the news tonight, listen for how many people being arrested have the names Wayne, Ray, and/or Lee somewhere in the mix. Credit for this rule go to my sister Angie and her husband Forrest who brought it to my attention several years ago. I have put their theory to the test and it is remarkably true. About 63% of all convicts are cursed by the Wayne-Ray-Lee syndrome. In fact, I heard that in Georgia a boy by the name of Ray Wayne Lee was born. Instead of taking him to the nursery, he was immediately 'cuffed, taken to prison, and placed in solitary confinement. Ironically, the name of the prison is Wayne State Prison in Wayne County Georgia. Even if your favorite uncle was good ol' uncle Ray, avoid these three names at all costs.

The "Mean Jay" Test: When I was growing up there was an older boy who lived down the street who went by the name, "Mean Jay". He would do horrible things like pretend to be a burglar and break into our house when he knew our parents were not home, or pin us to the ground and not let us up until we sniffed smelling salts. (I'm actually crying right now amid the flood of repressed Mean Jay memories). Parents need to remember that every neighborhood has its own Mean Jay. Therefore, when considering baby names you have to ask yourselves, "If I were the meanest kid in school, what could I do to make fun of this name?" The Mean Jay test eliminates names like Melvin (eternal wedgies), Duncan (could not go near a swimming pool), Ralph (so many vomit and Ralph Wiggum jokes, where do I start?), and Chastity (Jr. High would be miserable). For example, my full name is Dennis Andrew. Even with those seemingly normal names, I was subjected to my fair share of "Dennis the Menace" slurs and Mean Jay used to walk by me and say, "An ugly kid drew...and drew....and drew...and was he ugly!" If the name fails the Mean Jay test, spare your child the trauma and leave it behind.

The "Helaman Chapter 5" Test: The Book of Mormon prophet Helaman named his sons "Nephi" and "Lehi" so that they would remember the good works of the original Nephi and Lehi and act accordingly. Sometimes it is good to give a kid a name to live up to. This test explains why the names Joseph, Spencer, Talmage, Gordon, Eliza, and Rebecca are so popular within the Church. It also explains why if you ever meet two brothers named Alma and Amulek, they were probably born within an 80-mile radius of Vernal. Parents need to keep the Helaman test to within reasonable limits and remember that this does not justify you naming your daughter Abish or your son Teancum. If the name you are considering is scriptural or meaningful in Church history without becoming too obscure, go for it. (The only excusable obscure name from Church history is any of the following - Orrin, Porter, or Rockwell. A boy with any of those names would automatically become the toughest kid in his class. I'm seriously considering "Rockwell" for a boy's middle name. How cool would that be?)

The "Queen Lili'uokalani" Test
: Queen Liliuokalani was the last monarch of the kingdom of Hawai'i. Her name is so difficult to both spell and pronounce, she deserves this rule to be named after her. In short, the Queen Lili'uokalani test encourages parents to choose names that are easy to spell and just as easy to pronounce. However, this is the rule that my wife and I could not agree upon. When we were expecting our second child, both loved the name Allison and wanted to give this name to our baby. I wanted the traditional spelling while the NMW wanted it spelled Alisyn because she felt the "-son" ending was too masculine. I felt like our poor little daughter would spend most of her life telling people, "No, it's not pronounced 'Alley-sign', it's just plain Allison". I am pretty sure the reason that Asia'h Epperson got the boot tonight from American Idol was due to the Difficult Spelling Test. Please help us settle five years worth of debate and post comments to tell us if you would have used "Allison" or "Alisyn" if you were naming your daughter. While we get that debate cleared up, my advice is to avoid names that require people to sound it out three or four times before they attempt to pronounce it.

The BAD Initials Test: With the amount of texting that most kids to today, the wrong set initials could doom your son or daughter to a difficult childhood. Families with the last name of Thompson, for example, cannot, under any circumstances, name their daughter Felicity Amber, regardless of how much they like it. Other initials to avoid - LSR, DRK, NRD, LOL (unless you want a really silly little girl), and JRK.

The Letter Hog Test: A lot of families end up with this type of a problem: The first pregnancy results in twins and they are named something cute, like Nathan and Natalie. When baby number three comes along, the parents feel obligated to continue with the "N" names and come up with Nancy. By the time Naphtali, Nebuchadnezzar, and N'Asia'h are born, the parents have violated almost all of the previously mentioned baby naming rules. The lesson, if parents are going to be letter hogs when naming their children (my family, for example, consists of Angela, Andrew, Anthony, and Amy - I think Amtrack and Aurora would have been next), use a letter that will leave you with plenty of wiggle room. This is especially true if both you and your wife have a lot of siblings. Afterall, it is inevitable that one of the cousins will eventually be named one of your pre-determined letter hog names, so you need to be able to adjust on the fly.

Those are the first few rules that I could think of. Now your help is needed: Please comment with the following advice:

1. Which rules listed above are the best.
2. Additional rules that should be added.
3. Help settle the "Alisyn" vs. "Allison" debate.

Through our combined efforts we can create the most effective baby naming system in the known world. As a result, a young set of parents could be influenced to switch their baby's name from Gadianton Ray Johnson to Thomas Michael Johnson. On behalf of the almost-Gadianton's out there - thank you.


dan said...

My 2 rules are:

1. When you look at my child's name you will immediately know how to pronounce it

2. When you hear my child's name, you will immediately know how to spell it.

So obviously I'm with you on the Allison.

5:30 AM
The Wiz said...

OK, tell your wife that "syn" connotes illness, (as is "syn"drome) and thus should be avoided at all costs.

1. I'm with you on the weird spelling thing. Avoid it. Mormons like to do it a lot, for some reason.

2. No weird spellings. Have I said that already?

3. Something people have heard of before. Don't just make up a name that can be phonetically pronounced but nobody has any idea what the heck that's about.

4. Leave the boys names to the boys and the girls names to the girls.

6:05 AM
Shelley said...

I've already broken a few of your rules:
1) my middle name is Rae, after my grandfather, Raymond
2) I gave my daughter a name that can't be spelled when you hear it (and I'm not sure if it can be read when you see it, but I think it can): Shaelyn

But I have a child naming rule of my own. As a recruiter for almost 4 years (and you being in HR, I'm sure you'll agree):

Your child's name MUST pass the resume test.

Meaning, when a potential employer sees your child's name on a resume, they must not make immediate negative assumptions about your child before even reading their qualifications (which I can assure you they do). Names like Barbie, Candy, and Fantasy (not making any of these up) do not do well in the resume test. So if you feel it necessary to call your child these types of names, give them a good resume name (like Jessica or something), and then call them Barbie to your heart's content. Either that or prepare to finacially support them for the rest of their lives.

6:45 AM
Carolyn said...

This post is near and dear to my heart. My husband and I often wonder what other parents were thinking when they named their children!? Why would any loving parent saddle their kids with some awful name that will follow them them their entires lives??!! I hope every parent follows your list of rules.

As for your questions, I think I'd have to agree with the comment of my husband (dan). You've got to be able to look at the name and pronounce it easily and you've got to use traditional spellings. Don't be making up crazy names and spellings, people! I have a pretty normal name, but people ALWAYS spell my name Caroline. It drives me nuts.

7:04 AM
Anonymous said...

Definitely Allison.

My hardfast rule is it's got to sound good shouted from the back porch. As in, "Jehosaphat, time to come in!" Yeah, doesn't work and breaks at least 2 other rules.

7:52 AM
Susan M said...

Reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons where they're choosing Bart's name. Homer gives it the teasing test by looking for words that rhyme with it: "Art, Cart, Dart---We're good!"

I like boy's names being used for girl's. If our third was a girl we would have named her Jordan. But it was a boy and his name was Elijah. We didn't have any choice in the matter---his name was Elijah.

My oldest two are Nathaniel and Catherine. I was horrified when a neighbor started calling them Nate and Kate. Nooooo! Nathaniel occasionally goes by his middle name, Si (pronounced "sigh"), and Cat goes by Cat or Kitty.

8:26 AM
bwebster said...

Some thoughts from a man with nine kids and stepkids and with 12 grandkids:

First, my own parents (in 1953) named me Bruce Francis Webster; 'Bruce' after Robert the Bruce (go look him up); 'Francis' because it was my grandfather's and great-great-grandfather's middle name. Little did they know that by the time I hit high school in the late 60s, both names would be considered quite gay. (A friend of mine, talking to one of his friends back during those halcyon days, mentioned both my first and middle names; his friend said, "Boy, his parents must have really hated him." That's a good test right there: what will your child's friends think of your naming skills 16 years from now?). So, sometimes, you just don't know.

When my (former) wife Marla and I named our last daughter "Emily", we had no idea that roughly 40% of the US population was doing the same thing. "Emily" now goes by "Salem" and wears tattoos and piercings. Sigh.

When our first daughter was born, Marla wanted to give her the middle name of "Arvilla", which was the middle name of her beloved college roommate. I looked at her and, with all the tenderness I could muster, said, "Are you kidding me? You're joking, right?" So, Jacqui got the middle name of "Elisabeth" instead.

Our first daughter had the initials JEW; our second daughter had the initials BMW; our son had (and has) the initials JAW. So, obviously, we weren't paying too much attention. (Jacqui, since marrying, now has the initials JEH, which is kind of cool, from an Old Testament sense.)

Our married children free to name their children as they choose. It has been, ah, interesting. We have several pop culture references: Raiden (Mortal Combat); Sydney (Alias); Evangeline (Lost). We have some, ah, obscure names: Adwen (male); Ksenia (female). We have one biblical name: Elias. We have several standard, even classic names: Ashton, Ethan, Jackson, Mary, Vernon (though on that last one -- named after a great-grandfather -- I'm hoping all cultural memories of "Y'know what I mean, Vern?" have vanished by the time he hits middle school).

And we have "Robert Bruce" (God bless him), which is so much better than Bruce Francis. ..bruce..

8:32 AM

I happen to be a fan of uncommon or unusual names. But to me uncommon or unusual does not include made-up or spelled weird. I see absolutely no point to spell a normal name weird- where is the benefit? I hate not knowing how to spell someone's name, and of course, everyone hates it if their name is spelled wrong, so no one is happy. Thus, Allison is my choice. I also HATE it when people name their kids nick-names (goes along with Shelley's rule). Jack is a nickname for John, Max is short for Maximillian, Kate is short for Katherine, Chuck is short for Charles. The whole point of a nickname is so family members have an endearing name for the child, but when that child is out in the "real world" they have a name people can respect. The Russians did it right- every name has a nickname already built in.

9:01 AM
Natalie said...

This post was fantastic! And let me tell you...even though we don't have kids yet, and aren't expecting, we are always going over future names of our kids.

I have to agree with Andrew on the Allison spelling. Alisyn? Are you serious? I can't stand it when people do stuff like that to normal sounding names! No! NO! NO!

And my brother initials are ADD and he turned out to be very ADD. So do avoid that one when you have the chance.

I try to talk David into naming our kids hero names all the time. My tops are Sawyer (LOST), Bauer (24), and Elijah (after Elijah Wood). He is not going for it.

And as for the worst resume name I have come across in my HR would have to be 'Dee Best'. For reals yall. That was her name. Reject pile!

9:12 AM
Jami said...

Totally agree with all of your rules.
Our family naming rules.
1. Must not be a noun unless it is a virtue and even then Chastity is a poor choice. (Gentry, Tyrany, Ecology, whatever.)
2. Must be able to identify gender by name. (A holdover from the 'Jami is a boy's name!' days.)
3. Must be the normal spelling. (Holdover from J-A-M-I-noE. NoE is not a letter I shouldn't have to say it EVERY time I give my name.)
4. Must not be in the top 50 the year before child's birth. We actually do a social security search with all of the variant spellings. (This rule came after the Jacob in our family.)
5. I win. We compromised on the first three, but after that I played the 'all the pain is mine' card. My husband took it with good grace.

We broke the initial rule with our 'NFL,' the popularity rule with Jacob, the don't name your kid after a near-by town with Lincoln. So far none of them have complained--too much.

9:19 AM
jeff said...

I think that intentional alliteration should be avoided.

My mom named my sisters Jennifer Joi, and Shannon Sunshine. She had Rebecca Rainbow(you could call her Becky bow for short) and Nicole Noel (if the baby was born in December) in the queue.

10:01 AM
Megan said...

Allison. Definitely. We have problems with Katherine (Is it with a C or K? Is it -ine or -yn?) We call her Katie (which could also be Catie, Katy, Kady, etc.)

Bad initials. MPH were mine until I just decided to drop the P.

Totally agree with the Back Door Shout Test. Yell it 9 times (first, middle, and last because when you're shouting for the 30th time at twilight, you'll be at that point)!

My childhood ward had a family with the following children: Brigham, Joseph, Hyrum, Liahona (Liah), Helaman, Abish, Rebekah, and more I can't remember... Need I go on? Not a fan of that.

Other rules to consider:

Family Name Test: Does another cousin or close relative have the same (middle) name? That was a shocker to one of my SIL's when she realized she'd given her daughter the same middle name as a cousin. (It wasn't a family name.)

Compound Name Test: Are you branding your child with an unusual name that is a conglomerate of names? Same SIL came up with Brocquin and Maristine. Brocquin came as a derivative from one of Spencer's D&D characters. Maristine was her mom's middle name (Marie) and her MIL's name (Christine). Bummer that she's no longer Christine's DIL.

Utah Test: Does it start with La-? (LaVerl, LaDawn, LaNye)

Nickname Test: How many solid nicknames can the name provide? 3 is our minimum. (Thomas/Tommy/Tom, Katherine/Katie/Kate, & Daniel/Danny/Dan)

Crayon Test: Will your child no longer be using crayons when they figure out how to write their name? My grade school BFF was Madeleine Elizabeth MesKimen. I think it was 3rd grade for her. Kidding.

Nice post! :)

10:11 AM
Megan said...

Forgot one:

Geographic Rule: Child is named after locales. My cousins have Austin, Sydney, Milan, and Parker. I think the dog was Nevada or Arizona or something like that. And I don't think they've been to all those places either...

10:13 AM
Heather O. said...

Don't name your kid after a town. I know a kid named Dresden, because his dad served his mission there. Poor, poor child.

Don't put "La" before any name--ie, no LaVern, LaVerl, LaVinna, LaRell (all real names). It's just...bad.

And sorry, I vote against "Alisyn". A child won't be traumatized by having a masculine ending to an obviously female name. She will, however, be traumatized by having to spell her common name for the rest of her live long days.

One more--avoid trendy names. Heather was a HUGE name, top 10 in the seventies. Now it's a stripper's name. Who would've guessed.

10:19 AM
Anonymous said...

1. I think all the rules you cited are appropriate. The letter hog rule could be expanded to include cases where all the sibling's names rhyme. Chase (ok, i guess), Grace (old ladies), Race (WTF?)

2. There may be a few others, but I think you nailed them all.

3. The "Alisyn" vs. "Allison" debate: Allison. Unique spellings of names can really make the parents look like doofuses no matter what the actual intent of the alternate spelling was. I knew a family where they decided to double up letters in somewhat normal names: Dakotta, Eeston, and so on. Disaster.

Combining letters together to make new words and sounds is a wonderful power that should not be used outside the bounds that Webster has set.

10:29 AM
Erin said...

Allison. Definitely Allison. I'm completely with you on the difficult spelling test. I married into a last name that looks nothing like it sounds, and I hate constantly having to say "I know it looks like this, but it is said like this." I'd hate having to do that for my first name too.

The rule I'd add is that the names of major ex-boyfriends/ex-girlfriends are off limits. Nuff said.

10:30 AM
The Wiz said...

You spelled Version wrong.

11:00 AM
andrea said...

OK, OK. I concede. I'll give up on the Alisyn thing already. Sheesh, I didn't realize everyone would be so opinionated about it. Doesn't anyone have my back on this???

However, I'm still not giving in to "Allison" either. It just looks masculine to me. Call me crazy. Thankfully, we've already picked a non-allison name for baby #3. And we have thousands of other names to choose from IF/when baby #4 comes along. (Although I feel like my options are becoming more and more limited as rules keep getting added.)

Personally, I don't have a problem with correcting the spelling and/or pronunciation of my name. It happens with both first and last. My first name doesn't sound the way it looks. You say it Awn-dray-uh. I LOVE it and don't hesitate correcting people when they get it wrong. It's the Spanish pronunciation and is about the only thing this white-looking girl has to show for her Mexican heritage.

Anyway, you win, NMH. Alisyn is off the list. Happy?

11:07 AM
Jessica said...

I support you Andrea!! I've always liked original spellings of names, they just somehow seem more personal and cute! For example, I've always liked Kathryn better than catherine or katherine.

To add to the list, there should be a Favorite Characters Test. (from a book or movie) We have to find some way to include Edward and Jacob!

11:33 AM
Jami said...

Alice Anne?

1:15 PM
Our Family said...

We don't have an Alisyn or Allison. We have an Aliselyn. Even more confusing I know. But she is an original.

1:42 PM
Sandy said...

My favorite rule so far is the one another poster added - the Utah rule. We are always making fun of Utahns by adding "La" to the beginning of names. LaRobert, LaSarah, etc. Now I can also add LaFawnduh to the list, haha - thanks Napoleon.

I'm agreeing with the Allison. I like unusual names...but they need to be immediately pronounceable. I say that because my name was ALWAYS pronounced wrong. Sandrina - San-dree-nuh. I got Sabrina, Sadrina, etc. NEVER correct.

Anyway -- the rule I'd add is to not use "objects" as a name. I have known kids with the following names: Rocky, Pebbles, Dusty (all in the same family - there was a fourth kid with some sort of "dirt" name as well...just can't remember), Wisp, Shade, Sunshine, Ruby, Penny (I seriously knew a woman whose married name was Penny Nicholes)...I'm sure I could go on. You get the picture. You want people to hear your child's name and picture their angelic face...not some random object that may or may not be a good association.

Another rule - no rhyming names (like Dawson Lawson) or names that include the last name in the first name (or vice versa). Like John Johnson, Eric Ericson, etc.

I'm also not a big fan of family "theme" names, although much of Jake's family is...and have come up with cute names...but like the letter hog thing, eventually you're gonna run out! My SIL named her kids after presidents - Lincoln, Madison and Ford. She basically has Carter and Kennedy that could possibly make cute names and after that she's stuck with such doozers as Taft or Nixon. Jake's cousin named her kids after bands - Halen, Boston and Jovie. You gotta admit - very cool names - but what the heck are they going to name their fourth? Chicago?

1:58 PM
Susan M said...

Geeze, if you're going to name your kid after a band, at least choose good ones. Like Cannibal Corpse.

I love the name Ruby.

Allisyn isn't the only spelling issue with that name. There's also Alison, Allison, Allyson, etc.

2:01 PM
ang said...

One very important rule you left out: No naming your sweet, beautiful children, whom you both adore and love, after a former ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.

New rules after learning names of other people's children:
1. Don't name your children with the same first letter. You can never expect anyone to remember which child is which---which brings me to my next rule....

2. Don't name your children the same name, or a very close version of the same name. Briana and Brenna--sorry, same name.

Your "difficult spelling test" rule reminds me of the comedian Brian Regan bit: Amy--Amyie!

2:16 PM
Megan B said...

Sorry sweet NMW...I'm with Allison. Too many weird spelled names. Talk about teacher torture!

And please as a rule, try to avoid naming your child after a city...a girl I worked with in Utah (at NuSkin no less) named her daughter "Seattle" only to be horrified 2 years later when her husband got transferred there. So not good. You just never know.

2:22 PM
Robyn said...

I'm with you. Allison it is. How are kids ever going to learn to read and spell if their own names don't make sense?

In my son's class there's a Lundyn. I mean, come on. A misspelled city. Why? Poor girl (Sorry if her parents see this).

Ex-significant others....definitely a bad thing. I have a friend who's daughter is named after one of her husband's ex-es. I could not stand it. I'd be angry everyday.

I think the syllable count is important, too. Definitely don't do all three names with one syllable each, like Jill Sue Smith. Just feels weird. I, personally, like the 2-1-2.

So, you have to tell us your name choice for #3, so we can test it out and make sure it passes the "Bully Test". :)

3:31 PM
Pappy Yokum said...

1. spelling and hero are the two most important rules.
2. Can't think of any additional rules, you pretty much covered them.
3. Allison - there's just something evil about the spelling Alisyn.

3:55 PM
bwebster said...

My favorite rule so far is the one another poster added - the Utah rule. We are always making fun of Utahns by adding "La" to the beginning of names. LaRobert, LaSarah, etc. Now I can also add LaFawnduh to the list, haha - thanks Napoleon.

Back in the 1970s when I was an undergrad at BYU, there was a student academic journal called "Century II" (BYU had just celebrated its centennial). One issue had an article on Mormon naming patterns, which of course included the La- construct among many others. I should dig the article out -- I'm pretty sure I still have the issue somewhere -- because it struck me a few years later that there were strong parallels between those Mormon naming patterns and common African-American naming patterns. ..bruce..

5:03 PM

Hey, some other Ang posted and SHE'S NOT ME!!! Weird, this newfound fame of yours, my brother.

Okay, here's my rule, and I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it. It's the "2 Generations Gone By" rule. What this means is that if you reach into the past to name your child, at least two generations must have passed in order for the name to be cool again. It's the reason we have these little Claras and Elizas and Henrys and Charlies running around and we think it's cute.

Here's a great example. Our mother, named Barbara (as you know), is a lovely person, and her name is perfectly appropriate and fitting. (My mother in law is named Barbara as well--"Barbara" being an "Emma" of the late 40s and early 50s). But I've always felt very sorry for poor Barbara Bush (the younger). Not only must she be a 20 something with a name that connotes a 50 year old, but everyone also associates her with her Grandmother.

So--do not name your little girl Linda or Cheryl or Donna. Do not name your little boy Larry or Gary or Bob. And you should be fine.

But isn't it weird to think that our grandchildren could be naming their own kids Tiffany or Kevin or Crystal or Shane . . . and end up thinking it's charmingly old fashioned?

6:04 PM
Maren said...

This is all good stuff. Sorry, NMW, but my advice is that fairly common names like Allison deserve to be left in their common form. If you want interesting spellings, go for a slightly funkier name.

We are coming up on naming baby #4 here. I second all the rules given except that I like unusual names which don't always pass the spelling test. My husband says "It has to sound like a normal name- something people have at least heard of before." So we have Sonja, Laurel, and Torin. Ok, neither of us had ever heard the name Torin before, but I know people who have. Plus it was the only thing we could agree on that time. One time I picked the first name and he picked the middle name, which worked out fine.

Mine is an old family name- Maren- and was very unusual growing up (though getting more common all the time) and I had to help people spell/pronounce it all the time but I didn't mind. I grew up in a mostly non-Mormon area, so having an unusual name just went with the territory of being part of a "peculiar people". Actually, it helped me feel like an individual who could make my own choices about who I was. Didn't need to follow all the other Jennifers or whatever. This could backfire in a mostly-Mormon setting.

I like it when sibling names sort of go together, but really obvious themes make me feel weird. Maybe there's an argument for building a family culture, but I would avoid it personally.

Naming someone is a serious endeavor- something that will have an impact on every day of their lives. It's challenging... and fun. Good luck!

7:35 PM
Barbie said...

Everyone should name their children either Angela, Andrew, Anthony and Amy.

8:27 PM
Barbie said...

oops "or" Amy

8:27 PM
Workman Family said...

I HATE creative spelling w/names. Avoid having your child have to say then spell their name the rest of their life. I'm completely w/you on AlliSON.

My husband is VERY big on the "bad nickname test": what nicknames could kids call you w/that name. He's GREAT at coming up w/nicknames, so that narrows it down a ton right there.

Totally w/you on the nerd test.

Give your kid a name w/meaning--something strong they can be proud of (we're big on bible names)

8:43 PM
susanstayner said...

1. Don't make the name difficult to spell or her teacher (let alone her friends) will have spelling problems.
2. As a former teacher, I loved different names. I never forgot Tess' name from the first day.
3. However, back to rule 1, there was a year when I had Alicia, Alissa, Alysa, and Alisha. Now that was trouble.

9:25 PM
Jo Gram said...

Those are some pretty solid rules. We unwittingly violated the top ten and the difficult spelling rules with #1. With #2, however, I had one hard and fast rule: The name we pick MUST WORK IN ENGLISH!

Dh is from Argentina, and he kept suggesting the name Facundo (I'm not kidding). Can you imagine the pain of elementary and junior high with a name like that?

I ended up checking out names in a book that listed the frequency of each name in the last century. I ruled out anything in the High or Moderate frequency category, and we actually settled on one that was marked "rarely used." It was a great book.

9:35 PM
go boo boo said...

No silly spellings. Stick with Allison. Love the Wayne-Lee-Ray bit, that is funny!

6:04 AM
Amy said...

First off, I have to disagree with the Rob, Jax, and Max squad. I believe in naming your child what you want them to be called. Our son Jack, for example, I didn't want to name John because he'd spend his whole life saying "I go by Jack." I have a friend Jenny whose real name is not Jennifer and know many Nathans who aren't named Nathaniel. Much easier.
Second, if it's a girl be very careful with the initials. I have a friend named Amy Sue Peterson who married a guy whose last name begins with S. Sorry if that's inappropriate for this blog.
Finally, I completely agree with Sandy in not using objects as names. Canyon and River (to use one family I know as an example) are not names.
I realize I completely broke NMH's number one rule in naming my child Jack. NMH even told me he was against it from the beginning, but I still love it and it fits him. I just can't yell "Hi Jack" when we're in the airport.

9:24 AM


I actually think Jack is an adorable name an it is different enough that most people don't realize it's a nickname for John. The only reason I included it with the others is because of the naming nightmare in my family. John is a very prominent name on my dad's side- my grandfather's brother is John, but he goes by Jack. He had one son, who he also named John, and he goes by John. Jack also had a daughter, and she married a John. They then had a girl who they named Johanna. Their other child, s boy, they named Jake- which is close enough to Jack that it gets confusing. Now my grandfather named my uncle John, but he goes by Jack too. And then my parents had m and decided to throw me in with the rest by naming me Jacqueline and call me Jackie. Needless to say, every summer when we all go to the beach it gets a little confusing. Then we I got pregnant my husband wanted to name our son John after his grandfather, but I would have none of that. So, the main reason I put in Jack is for the people who think that Jack and John are different names. And I hope that in my family the John/Jack situation is done with. It has certainly scard me away from the name. But my teacher did know a couple who named their son Chuck- and I'm sorry, but that's just weird.

But I think regardless, people really should name their children what they want- you're never going to find a name EVERYONE will like- that's why we have our own children, so we can use the names WE like. Oh, and no matter the name, kid will ALWAYS find a way to ruin it. They're pretty creative that way.

1:18 PM
The Motherboard said...

Holy Cannoli, Batman! We are having the exact same argument at my house right now... we have #4 coming in less than 8 days, and we STILL have no name! My husband, really hates the whole "Utah Mormon name thing" where, according to him we take perfectly nice names and get all jiggy with the spelling. I told him all 70's - 80's names are OFF THE LIST... so now we have nothing. I have been joking that we should just name her Moxie Crimefighter like Penn and Teller did (the weird Vegas magic show guys)... who knows. Poor baby.

I HAVE to agree, even though my husband will rub it in, I hate the weird Utah name thing too.

I also run any name through the "scream test" You know when you're mad and stumble through all your kids names, including the dogs, to get to the right kid that has made you mad?! Has to pass the scream test!

I have had to pronounce my first and last name (both maiden and married) my whole life, and its really bugged me. Especially when people argue with me on the pronunciation... so no freaky-deaky spellings!

Lastly, the name can not have any weird little nicknames that people could obviously pick up on... ie:William=bill or Thomas=Tommy or Katherine=katie. I want the name people see to be the name they call the kid... and the family be the only one with the nickname.
Yup. Makes for finding names very hard. Good luck with the name game! I hope you have more luck than we have!

10:44 PM
HCJ said...

Sorry. I don't go with either of you on the Allison/Alisyn whatever the spelling is. My second daughter is "Allyson." It shortens nicely to Ally. We used the same spelling as a sister missionary that my husband and I admired and we've never regretted it: no question about the name or how it is pronounced, no thought that it might be the name of some obscure African disease.

Otherwise, I'm forwarding the URL for this entry to my sister who is expecting her first child.

11:37 PM
Anonymous said...

BWebster... one word: hilarious! I loved it. Okay, so here's my two cents: I hate it more than anything when people make up stupid alternate spellings for a perfectly spelled name. In some countries there are laws against this... no joke. Google it. I mean that's a little extreme for me, but I bet things run smoother there. I don't know, but for me, it just feels like parents are trying to hard to be different when they go making up spellings. Your kids should be unique because they are your kids, not because their name is spelled funny.
The only other rule I would add is you shouldn't be making up names out of thin air. I live in Malibu and I hear some of the strangest names on earth. It's like I have to keep from chuckling when I hear some of them... and I'm an adult. I can't imagine what ruthless teenagers will unleash.
As a disclaimer however, my kids don't have the most normal names either (marriage... it's a give and take thing... I gave a little in the naming department). I have a daughter named Hayden - yes a daughter. I loved the name for a boy, but my wife convinced me (There's like one young girl actor whose name is Hayden) it could be a girls name too. My boy's name is Beckham. And no it is not after David Beckham. My wife came up with it and she knows nothing about soccer. It did make the top 1000 list on the ss website in like 1912. Evidence that you can be unique without making up names or spelling them in some incoherent way.

11:58 PM
Lindsay said...

Another important rule--can you find a license plate with your kid's name on it? Because if you can't, they will feel bad. And if you can, they can rub it in all the other kids faces who are named things like Deverl, Lundyn (worst name ever!), and Jaeden.

Confession--grandma is named Lavon, aunt is named LaDean. Best friend named her baby Stockon Malone--no joke. Divorced now.

12:17 AM
saranicole said...

GOSH, I can't stand unisex names! I'm going to have to vote for "Here comes Pat" as my favorite. My husband and I are determined to give our children names that no one can dispute. I do like Erin/Aaron, but those are common enough that people would ask, AND the spellings are different, so at least you can tell on paper.

I like place names within reason. I loved my time in South Korea, but I won't be naming any of my kids "Chinju", "Osan", or "Seoul". I like "Sydney" though.

Ghosts from the Past... *sigh* It's not that I don't LOVE being named after my dad's ex-girlfriend... I mean, at least he took the completely ridiculous silent H of the end of Sara. But it's just rude to my mom!

GOSH, the Helaman 5 Test.... I totally know a kid named Teancum. I about died laughing when I read that. I've told my husband that we will under NO CONDITION name a child Hyrum. It just isn't happening. Oh, and my parents also knew a girl growing up... her parents named all of their kids out of the Bible. That's fine. There are plenty of good, solid Bible names, but DORKUS is NOT one of them! (They obviously didn't have the "Mean Jay" test back in the day!)

The Alliteration rule... You know, my biggest problem with the alliteration in families is that most parents use the letter J. I can't hardly keep all my FRIENDS with J names (mostly the guys... John, Jason, Jacob :), Justin, Josh, Joe, Joseph, etc., etc., etc. plus all the 40,000 Jen/Jenny/Jennifers and Jessicas I know) straight! I really don't like J names at all. That's why I married my husband, Jason. :)

I'd also like to point out that parents should be careful with alliterate within a child's name. Madeline Mary Martin? Or Jessica Jo Jensen? Don't take it overboard!

You've really got it all covered. Except for the rule that would have saved my brother(s). My youngest brother is Hans Christian Andersen. Seriously. Now, I suppose it could be worse, since, apparently, not that many kids even know who Hans Christian Andersen WAS anymore, but still. I think there should be a famous/infamous person rule. My other brother's name is Ian Andersen (Ian Anderson was the flautist/singer for Jethro Tull--although this is probably obscure enough to pass the test, I'd say.)

(Just in case you think we ALL got bad names, my sister's is fine. Suzanne. Suzi for short (though no one spells it right). Plus, it's FABULOUS to yell on a porch! ;) )

As for the Allison/Alisyn(?) thing. I'd be okay with Alyson--that's an acceptable alternative to Allison, but Alisyn? *shakes her head no* Allison all the way, brother! I don't like weird spellings. I don't always like the MOST POPULAR spelling (I like Katelyn over Caitlin), but I don't like off-the-wall, I-got-an-F-in-spelling versions. My husband and I had the same argument with Megan vs. Meagan. Fortunately, it became a moot point when his brother and sister-in-law named their daughter Megan, declaring me the winner!!

Oh, and related to that is the Y-Substitution/Y-Addition problem. It's one thing to take I's out of girls' names and substitute Ys (Alison/Alyson), (although in most cases (Madison/Madyson), I still think it's fairly dumb) but it's COMPLETELY DIFFERENT to do that with BOYS' NAMES! Unless it's been spelled with a Y for hundreds of years (Kyle, Tyler, etc.), don't put Ys in boys names! It makes the name look feminine! It's Brian, not Bryan. Justin, not Justyn. Kevin, not Kevyn. It looks like you're trying to turn a boy's name into a girl's name. As for Y-Addition... It's Jason, not Jayson. Ugh!

To finish of this ridiculously long post (SORRY), I just wanted to say that it's not the worst thing in the world if your kid's name isn't 100% unique! Being one of 4 Sara/Sarah's in a class didn't kill me. BUT, it's REALLY annoying when NO ONE can spell your name! I imagine it would be even worse if people couldn't spell or PRONOUNCE your name because of how strange your name is.

8:45 AM
Lindsay said...

Speaking of terrible bible names, my soon to be born nephew will be named Noah Mathias! And a cousins little boy is Malachi Norbitt! My cousins have children named: Hannah, Isaac, Abraham, Gideon, Sebastian (not a bible name but too old timey methinks), Hyrum--those are the ones I can remember. Pretty certain there's a Nephi and an Alma in there too. And some children named after General Authorities.

4:09 PM
Researcher said...

I was at an appointment last week and the doctor came in and said, "How do you say your name?"

My response, "First or last?"

Now that I'm married I have a Mormon culture-type first name that no one can pronounce (doesn't start with La-, however) and an archaic French last name that no one can pronounce, even in the Americanized version.

From someone who has a non-standard name: don't do that to your kid. Please. Take my word for it. If they're at all sensitive, they'll hate it.

And my parents didn't even give me a run-of-the-mill middle name that I would be comfortable with using instead.

Actually, I fibbed when I said that no one can say my name. Since we moved to our current location where there is a large black population, I've never had so many people be able to say my name. Of course they all think I'm black until they meet me.

12:12 PM
Jill L said...

In support of the "normal" name test, ask yourself this question: When you take unnamed child on that Disneyland vacation of a lifetime will you be able to find keychains/pencils/notebooks/hats etc with their name already printed and spelled correctly or will the poor kid have to get the one that says, "Daddy's little girl" or "#1 soccer player" just so they can have one?

I remembered this rule for child #1 KYLE, even knowing the risk that his name might make him a dork, but forgot the rule for child #2 MAREN who will never get a pencil or keychain in her life with her name on it.

11:30 AM
Pat said...

My wife and I are expecting our first child and this has been both hilarious and informative. Someone needs to come up with a rule about Adelaide - although I suppose that falls under the place rule, as it is the 5th largest city in Australia. The wife wants that for a girl. She is going to have to do some serious work to get that past me.

As for the genderless names, although my name is Patrick, I was subjected to an unholy amount of "it's Pat" jokes, especially after the movie came out. It didn't help that when it came out, I was a portly 6th grader.

The "mean jay" test is an obvious winner. If you sit and think about some names, they just don't work. Chuck, Chuck banana bana bo ... It's going to happen. Just spare the kid.

I must say, that even though there have been a few whoppers on the list and in the comments nothing tops a few from the mish. I went to Samoa and they have an entirely different take on naming. Often, they name their kids based on current events, or just plain random crap. Here are just a few, Nifo - Teeth, Land Cruiser (the parents' first and favorite car), Aoleaga - Ugly (literally, and she was a girl), Pa'umaile - dog skin (also a girl, and coincidentally, they were both teenagers), Lefiti - he who bounces or the Fijian depending on context, Vevesi - argument (an adorable little girl) and Nofoa - chair.

I just about wet my pants when I heard Pa'umaile. I'll take Pat any day over that.

3:22 PM
Pat said...

My wife and I are expecting our first child and this has been both hilarious and informative. Someone needs to come up with a rule about Adelaide - although I suppose that falls under the place rule, as it is the 5th largest city in Australia. The wife wants that for a girl. She is going to have to do some serious work to get that past me.

As for the genderless names, although my name is Patrick, I was subjected to an unholy amount of "it's Pat" jokes, especially after the movie came out. It didn't help that when it came out, I was a portly 6th grader.

The "mean jay" test is an obvious winner. If you sit and think about some names, they just don't work. Chuck, Chuck banana bana bo ... It's going to happen. Just spare the kid.

I must say, that even though there have been a few whoppers on the list and in the comments nothing tops a few from the mish. I went to Samoa and they have an entirely different take on naming. Often, they name their kids based on current events, or just plain random crap. Here are just a few, Nifo - Teeth, Land Cruiser (the parents' first and favorite car), Aoleaga - Ugly (literally, and she was a girl), Pa'umaile - dog skin (also a girl, and coincidentally, they were both teenagers), Lefiti - he who bounces or the Fijian depending on context, Vevesi - argument (an adorable little girl) and Nofoa - chair.

I just about wet my pants when I heard Pa'umaile. I'll take Pat any day over that.

3:23 PM
jaimilyn said...

Having no kids of my own, I can't really comment, although I've always been a bit bummed at how common my name is. There were 5 people with my first name in one of my classes in middle school. Yikes!

Currently, I serve in Primary, and there are 3 adult leaders/teachers with my first name.

At work (I'm an administrative assistant), my boss's wife and I share the same first name, which has led to some confusion.

As for the person who doesn't want to name their child something with a nickname, that's all well and good in theory, but 90% of the time, people will be able to come up with some kind of nickname. Currently in vogue in one of the groups at my job is calling people by their first and last initials. There's just no way to avoid that :)

And finally, two of my favorite websites of all time:

Utah Baby Namer:

Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing: A Primer on Parent Cruelty
(Only start looking at that one if you have a lot of time to kill, it's like a trainwreck)

--jaimilyn (my nym comes from taking my nickname and "utahifying" it... apparently I lived in Provo for too long...)

6:04 PM

Thou shalt not name your child after their birth order lineup. Quadra,Sixta, Octenta, Noventa, Tentha, etc...

If you spell like an illiterate, people will think you and your child are uneducated.


8:56 PM
Anonymous said...

Hope I'm not hitting too close to home on this, but can't resist.

A rule (or at least a suggestion) that others seem to have overlooked: How will the first and last name sound when pronounced together? For example, try to avoid giving your child a first name that ends in "S" if his/her last name begins with "S".
When heard together it's just about impossible to tell where the first name ends and the last name begins.

Can't agree with the "no former girl/boy friend" rule.

Our first daughter and third daughters were named after two girls I knew in high school and had "crushes" on both of them.

"What's in a name? A rose by any other would smell as sweet..."

"A rose is a rose is a rose."


7:57 PM
Anonymous said...

Above all, in naming your child, keep in mind two extremely important rules:

#1 --How will it look on the marquee?

#2 --Will it fit his/her image as an adult?

Best example of how important these rules are:

Marian Michael Morrison

Too long for the marquee.
And who would go see "True Grit"
"Rio Bravo" "The Searchers" if they had starred MMM?

Old Movie Fan in Sandy

8:16 PM
Laura said...

Definitely "Allison".

Why? How fun is it to be able to buy pencils, post-it-notes, mini license plates with your name on it? You'd NEVER find "Alisyn" on a pencil in a million years.

8:42 PM
Mandi said...

Have to comment on the “Orrin” “Porter” “Rockwell” comment. Grandpa’s name is Orin Porter Reid. No one was brave enough to go for Orin, but we have Reid as a middle name for 3 of us, and our Porter is the biggest stub in the world (he is handicapped, so no one will think he’s out to get them.)!!
Also, is there any chance your children’s names rhyme, or even sound the same at the end? Do the yell test on your prospective name, and if a brother or sister comes-a-runnin’…think again. IE: Mitchell is 10. He HATES it when I yell for Rachel and he comes, and it’s not for him- How dare I call him away from the x-box, computer, or Wii?
We have Mitchell, Austin (notice, there is no Y. Y does not go in Austin, even if you did go to BYU) (sorry, it’s a city, but if you know the kid, it TOTALLY fits him), and Rachel Kathryn. We did do the Y on her, but only because we named her after the cute girl who introduced us.

10:53 AM
elaine h said...

1. I go by the "great-great-grandma/grandpa" rule: give your kids names that will still sound okay when they're senior citizens. in other words, names like Britney or Courtney are taboo. Or for boys, Blaine or Chase.

2. My mother used to work in a children's hospital and some days would come home saying "I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this kid's name." Names like Handsome Stranger, or Chosen One, or my personal favorite, a word that I shouldn't put in this comment, but is pronounced "shih-THEE-id." Use your imaginations on that one. Or, the mother who thought the nurses already named her daughter and named her Baby Girl. I honestly don't understand what's going on the heads of some parents.

6:36 PM
Anonymous said...

I'm with you on the Allison thing, My mother's name was Allison (though she was a motorcycle-driving tomboy the fellas called her Alie or Al.) But Allison doesn't sound like a boys name at all.

and as per the country thing, Carolina & Logan are perfectly good names, but what people mean with the map test is don't nae your Daughter Utah, Texas, San Hose or Alabama and make sure you don't call your son Mexico, Guam, USSR, Portugal or AriZona. I Knew a kid named Pummas {after Pummas, Montana} once. Poor, poor poor Pummas. And lastly do not, Do Not DO NOT give your kid te innitials WTF or ASS! I knew a fellow named Ash Sydney Stevensone once and the neighborhood bully {Big Al} he never let him live it down. I'm pretty sure theres a law against saddling your kid with that name, it violates at least 5 diferent baby-naming rules.

10:46 PM
Rachael said...

I have one of those names that everyone always spells wrong. While its rarely pronounced wrong, it is never, and I mean NEVER spelled right. I love it. Especially as a child you love correcting the teacher. It gives you attention and makes you feel smart. So if your worried about the name getting pronounced wrong or something, take it from me, it's not going to be a problem.

7:52 PM
Shallyse said...
This comment has been removed by the author. 9:57 AM
Anonymous said...

Well, we broke a couple of your rules in order to follow a couple other rules. Do two wrongs make a right?

We have a terribly difficult to pronounce last name, and figured our children would be spelling their names for the rest of their lives, anyway. Plus, I have a "different" first name, and while I didn't like it so much in elementary school (I went through a phase where I told everyone to call me "Nicole"), I love having a unique name now that I'm older.

Our daughters are Malia and Kairi. Malia is pretty easy to pronounce (especially since one of our presidential candidate's daughters has the same name - darn it!!), but Kairi not so much, I suppose (it's KY-ree).

However, I prefer the Allison spelling. Not that it will make it any easier for people to spell the name correctly - they'll still ask if there's one "L" or two.

I think another rule that needs to be mentioned that corresponds with the "Pat" rule is to please not give your boys girlie-sounding names or spellings. Once a boy's name has crossed over into the threshold of girl's names, it's no longer appropriate for a boy (The name Ashton/Ashtyn comes to mind). And please, whatever you do, don't name your children "Pergatory" or "Majestic" (I've heard both of these before).

10:01 AM
Selly said...

A true story: A woman was pregnant with twins. While pregnant, she always craved lemon jello, and orange jello. Whatdid she name the twins? Lemonjello and Orangejello (pronounced Lu-ma-zhul-lo and O-razh-llo). Tis scary.

Others I have seen Cinnamon, Shithead (pronounced shith-eed) and Nevaeh. I know Neveah is sort of common, but I personally despise that name, for no particular reason.

5:37 PM
ProMom said...

The Supreme Court Justice test:
Don't give your child a nickname for a legal name so that it will look good on diplomas and a supreme court justice plaque. My niece's legal name is Katie. She'll be a good waitress, but will never make it as President.

12:04 PM

I have a cousin-in-law named Alyson. For the first few years she was part of the fam we spelled it wrong. I don't know how many times we sent her shower invites, wedding invites, Christmas cards, and so on with her name spelled Allison. She was cool about it, but I felt bad. Don't give your daughter's future cousin-in-laws the same kind of frustration I have! Go with Allison.

12:02 PM

Also, speaking of cousins, don't name your kids similar names to his/her cousins. I am Rachel and my cousin, six months older, is Rachelle. Rachel and Rachelle. What were our mothers thinking?

12:08 PM
Eric Boysen said...

I like unique names but have only used one, for my daughter Zoralei. It does give people fits to pronounce sometimes, but on the whole my daughter loves it.

Next time I'll head your advice, particularly about avoioding the "La" prefix. But I'm not sure how our next child will like being called Ura.

2:07 PM
Christa Jeanne said...

I totally agree on the mean kid test. My parents couldn't compromise on a name for their firstborn, so they gave him a compound first name: Benjamin-Joseph. And yes, they always called him by his initials. Ah, how naive my folks were. When my aunt protested that one, my dad just figured her mind was in the gutter. Well, needless to say my brother was mocked mercilessly growing up!

Also, I second the sibling-rhyming test. For years we were just the two - BJ and Christa - so no problems there. But my dad and stepmom named my little half-sister Tessa, and it really throws me off when I'm over there.

Whoever tossed out the grandparent test is right on, too! Can you imagine Grandma Destiny or Grandpa Deshaun? Nothing too trendy.

There's a definite advantage of having a name that's a little offbeat, but it took years before I really liked my name. People NEVER get it right!!! Christina, Crystal - just about everything but Christa. I, for one, will avoid Chris names altogether. I know way too many people with 'em!

I side with you on Allison - but there are plenty of alternate spellings you could consider, too, like Alicen, which is more feminine. I do like Alyson, personally.

10:55 AM
Admiral Lily said...

Personally, by the logic stated here it's going to come down to naming our kids after their social security numbers since these rules combined rule out ever name ever given, as far as I can tell.

Here's my rule: Pick a name you like no matter what. If the kid decides to change it? So be it. They'll get their shot when they are parents. The fact is no matter what name you choose someone is gonna hate it and someone else will be able to make fun of it. If neither of these can be done then those names left will become too popular to use by the logic in this post.

Also, one last thing. I love your blog. Really I do. You seem to me quite the intelligent guy. But I have a hard time believing that at an age old enough to be married you had never heard the word "Logistical" used. And assuming you hadn't ever heard it before (because I like to give people the benefit of the doubt), you're honestly telling me that at marrying age it took you three years to find a dictionary? Provo may be a black-hole of sorts but I'm pretty dang near sure they've got a dictionary or two.

I mean no disrespect but wow...

1:56 PM

I served my mission in the South. They have just as weird names as Mormons. One rule my husband had no problem agreeing with was to combine the names of Mom and Dad to get a new name. IE: Jason + Karen= Jasren or Kason or Jakason or Karson or Jakaren or Karenja, etc. Hideous.

9:29 AM
Stacey said...

Love this! You have really covered a lot of my unofficial rules (working in a medical office I've heard some doozies, and had to ponder how to pronounce them, or figure out whether the patient was male or female!).

My husband and I compromised on our older daughter's name: he wanted Hannah and I wanted Jane, so we named her Janna, which I had found in a baby name book. It means "the Lord has given" which really moved us. Plus, we liked it because it was unique. She absolutely hated her name growing up, because it failed the "can't find it on a license plate at Disneyland" test. Also, she often has to correct people's pronunciation and spelling (it's not "Jenna"). We didn't get the whole "J - name" thing going on in the 80's either. Her college roommates were Jenn, Jenny, Jenna,,,you get the idea. Oh, and she married a guy named Justin! (He prefers to be called Eric - his middle name).

So, we thought we'd do better the second time and named her Emily (which was our second choice the first time), and of course that's become the most popular name of the century...

4:55 PM
Sierra Wisor said...

The only name that I can think of that follows every rule posted would be my name--Sierra.

Except my initials are SEW, but I'm fine with it. I love pointing that out.

4:21 PM
Kayleigh said...

My parents epic failed the Queen Lili'uokalani test with my name. I've never had a teacher spell it correctly, and nobody ever pronounces it correctly the first go. I spent elementary and middle school being very bitter about my name.

Of course... a counterpart to "I'm changing my name to Salem" test could be the "Name-on-a-keychain" test. Part of the bitterness about my name was not just that it was difficult to spell and pronounce, but girls with easier spellings of my name could buy pencils, keychains, and all sorts of cute things with their name on them. When I went to Disneyland when I was 16, I discovered(to my great joy) that I could have MY name embroidered on a hat. So I plan on giving my kids fairly common and easy-to-spell names, Salem test aside.

1:01 PM