Why is a Name such an Elusive Thing?

July 25th, 2009

As you may have read, we’ve got two boys on the way sometime in November. What you might not know is we’re having the worst time making up names.

A little background first . . . When Lorelei was on the way, I went a little nutty. We (mostly me) had all these odd rules on naming. Such as no “J” but more specifically, the name had to have a nice set of initials. Working with logos for my name, I never liked the J. Another rule (although we weren’t aware of the trend) don’t pick a common name. We wanted something that she didn’t share with four other kids in her class. I say her at this point because we know we have Lorelei now, but during the early naming, we didn’t know and we had the same rules for both boys and girls. Beyond the rules, my father has had a genealogy website, and I accessed this data and built a comparative list of family names by frequency, names from social security, and our working favorites. It was a tough process in coming to consensus. Ultimately we had a much larger list of girl names than boy names. So much so it was fortunate we had a girl.

On the whole I think we did a good job with Lorelei. Her name is unique, but not bizarre. And no, she’s not named from the TV show Gilmore girls; she is a figure from German literature. Her whole name sounds right, and her names make for good initials by making the nickname “Lea”. When we hoped to have only one more child, we kind of thought we could limit the field of choices to first names that start with “K” so in whole the family first names would be JKLM ( our children are the glue that holds us together). Cute but disgustingly cute huh? However with two additions that now breaks our other rules

So what’s changed? Not much. Early on, I think we waited for confirmation for what was growing in Michelle’s belly so we wouldn’t have to deal with the vast combinations of two boys, or two girls, or one of each. With a known sex, we could limit the choices. However we still have rules, and now we’ve added a few more. In many ways we’ve still set ourselves up for a much more difficult task.

The twin Rules:
Twin Rule #1: They can’t start with the same first letter. They are unique so we want to avoid saddling them with names that link them together. They’re brothers and family, but they shouldn’t always be one of a set.
Twin Rule #2: To further expand the first rule , no rhyming names. No Dan and Stan. Just like the first letter, a rhyme would link them more than being brothers already does.
Twin Rule #3: To the best of our ability the names should be individual but balanced. While we don’t want the names to be alike, they shouldn’t be vastly different. One child shouldn’t have a unique name and the other a common name; one a complex name and the second a simple name; or one has a family name and the other not. They are two individuals but we want to be as fair as possible. No favorites . . . yet.

The combination of twin rule #1 and twin rule #3 dashes our early desire to have a “K” named child.
The last twin rule changes our position on including Michelle’s maiden name in our son’s name. One son having “Vallelunga” wouldn’t be fair, and both might be too much and not unique.

Is that it? Of course not that would keep things too easy. We have still have the old rules we’re keeping, but we may not follow them as closely.
Old Rule #1: Avoid names that begin with “J” or “M”.
Old Rule #2: Avoid a very common name. We’ve been using the Baby Name Voyager (http://babynamewizard.com) to check on the number of children with that name. Little did we know when we named Lorelei that it was the trend to select more unique names, and her name is unique but not so unique that she’s not the only one to appear in Google, Facebook, etc.
Old Rule #3: Along with old rule 2 we’ve tried to stay away from bible names, not that there’s anything wrong with biblical names (Heck, I’m John), but most biblical names are pretty common.
Old Rule #4: The name should have a good set of initials. Something that would work in a logo. I like names with hard lines like LEA for example. Did I mention I had a hard time designing with my J? This rule also extends to avoiding ill grouped initials (Bartholomew James for example). No we haven’t toyed with Bartholomew, but I did like James for a brief period before another “B” name until Michelle pointed out the obvious.
The last set of rules are more goals based on the result and process we had with Lorelei.
Lorelei Rule #1: Part of the name should have some family history. Lorelei’s middle name was the most prominent girl name in the family tree. We had thought we’d use Vallelunga at one point for the middle name of a son, but we still want to some link to the rest of the family. Currently we like “William” and “Christopher”
Lorelei Rule #2: Although our daughter doesn’t have a real nickname from “Lorelei” her initials do “Lea”. We’d also like the boys to have some form of nickname available to them.
Lorelei Rule #3: The last Lorelei rule is the name should reflect a portion of our family ancestry. Lorelei is German, and so is a significant portion of Michelle’s family. Elizabeth is English as is a significant portion of my family (if you go back enough). So we’ve been toying with other family ancestral origins this time around.

So between Twin rules, old rules, and Lorelei rules, we have a lot of restrictions, but still there are a lot of options. I think the harder thing is boy names seem boring. Girl names all seem to mean something, translations or variations of lovely, happy, alluring, blessed, etc. Boy names tend to be places, by the burrow, under the hill, or a job like son of a blacksmith, etc. We’ll find something. We still have time. The process before felt just as painful until one day it clicked. If you have any suggestions feel free to comment.

2 Responses to “Why is a Name such an Elusive Thing?”

  1. marmen says:

    I DON’T like unique names. You only have one guess why!

  2. John Arnold says:

    Like Lorelei’s name, I think we’re thinking of names that a person would be happy to have, but they won’t share with many others in class, school, sports, etc.