No A. Ness or P. Ness, Please…

“friend directed me to your page and I’d love some help! We are having a baby boy and want to honor my Grandfather by using a name that honors him for baby’s middle name. The issue is we do not want an A or P name since when either of those initials are put with our last name, Ness, it’s quite terrible (family members with A

Uhh….

or P names agree). My Grandpa’s name was Arnold Patterson, so both of names are out! He enjoyed hunting, fishing, camping, and baseball. I’ve tried anagrams and nature names, but nothing is jumping out at me yet. I’m at a loss! Thanks!”

I absolutely agree with your stand on A and P names! (Are B or E names out too, or anything that rhymes with A or P?) Sounds like a tricky situation but I’m going to toss you some middle name ideas and hope something sticks. Please keep us updated as we would love to know your choice!

First of all… did your grandfather have a middle name? Maybe that would be a good option. Anyway, here are some possibilities.

Barnaby
It contains “Arn” but also has that old-timey vibe that a grandpa named Arnold would have.

Fitzpatrick

Means the same thing as Patterson– son of Patrick– and very distinguished as a middle name.

John-Patrick

Acceptable fresh-but-traditional way of honoring Patterson with just a light tie-in.

Camp

A good way of summing up his outdoorsy interests.

Halder

Has sounds from Arnold, but also has an outdoorsy meaning, for someone who lived on the mountainside.

Wilder

Similar to above, and both have the added benefit of sounding like “wilderness” next to Ness!

Eagle

Since Arnold has an “eagle” meaning, this just makes sense.

Waldric

Combines the “wald” from Arnold’s original form with “ric” from Patrick. Two names in one.

Noble

Plays off of Patterson/Patrick’s supposed meaning.

Oakley

Has an older, rustic appeal to honor your grandfather’s memory and interests.

Olaf

Old-timey name that has sounds from both names, and means “ancestor’s descendent”, roughly.

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Middle Names for Ruth

Hi Elizabeth, I have been reading your blog and *love* your sense about baby names. My husband and I have decided on quite a few of our kids’ names in advance… Example: Our first son will be Isaac Jeffrey. My husband’s full first name is Jeffrey, and he has always loved the name Isaac. We are considering Amariah Joseph for a second son. Let me get to the point. We both love the name Ruth for our first girl with the nickname of “Ruthie“, but for the life of us, we can’t come up with a middle name. I came up with potential middle names Jahaziel and Eliora, both of which my husband stole for future daughter’s names. So while we have a 2nd and 3rd daughter’s name as Jahaziel Ruby and Eliora Rosemary respectively, we are stuck on a middle name for Ruth. I know… Such a huge problem when our first problem is being able to conceive these children to begin with… I guess it helps pass the time. Anyway, I thought I would see if you had any thoughts or suggestions. Many thanks!

Rachel

I would add that we are deeply religious and we love some of the meanings for these names… Jahaziel, Hebrew in origin and from one of my favorite passages in the Bible in 2 Chronicles 20. From what I can tell, it means something along the lines of, “Beheld by God, or whom God watches over. Seeing God.” Eliora, also Hebrew origin from what I have read, “The Lord is my light”. Rosemary… Well, I love Rosemary Clooney. There’s no mystery there. Ruby seemed to feminize (and perhaps balance/normalize) Jahaziel a bit.

Oh yeah, we have recently added Solomon to the list for a 3rd son. Perhaps combined with Jude.

Really looking forward to your input.

Update: Just an update… After a long year of ectopic pregnancy, surgery, loss of a tube, and multiple fertility treatments, we are finally expecting! We are finally going to get to use one of these lovely names we’ve been planning and talking about. And of course, we’re no close to finding Ruth a middle name. Lol

Hi Rachel! So glad you like the blog and I’d be happy to give you my thoughts.

One of the biggest things I notice right away about your name selections is that they are nice, but that they might have some sound flow issues.

Isaac Jeffrey is a handsome combo, but I noticed your surname begins with a G. Isaac G____ runs together. I typically advise against that because the flow sounds run-on, and in some cases (as is true in yours), it creates the sense of different words being spoken. Say Isaac + your surname out loud, fast and casually, and see if you can hear it. With these types of pairings the only way out is to very clearly and distinctly enunciate each and every time. That’s just not going to happen.

Other options for the name include swapping out Isaac for Isaiah, or adding another name after Isaac as a buffer (for example, Isaac John Jeffrey, first name being Isaac John).

Amariah in our society has a high probability of being mistaken for a girl’s name. In America, 135 girls received the name last year, while no boys to speak of did (if they did, it was less than 5). This may only have to do with the popularity of the girl’s name Mariah, but still. I understand it’s a great name with a great meaning so I don’t intend for this to deter you, just to prepare you.

Now let’s explore some middle name possibilities for Ruth (Ruthie!). Just playing around here, experimenting to see what jumps out to you.

Ruth Eliora
Ruth Rosemary
Ruth Jahaziel
Ruth Rachel
Ruth Kora
Ruth Madison
Ruth Esther
Ruth Zahara
Ruth Aries
Ruth Abigail
Ruth Tatum
Ruth Shay
Ruth Arin
Ruth Karrington
Ruth Amariana
Ruth Makayla
 Ruth Aleena
Ruth Kennedi
Ruth Clara
Ruth Mya
Ruth Caroline
Ruth Mckenzie
Ruth Malia
Ruth Olivia
Ruth Petronilla
Ruth Kay

Warning: some of those combos create initials RAG.

Jahaziel is very nice but has the same problem Amariah does, but in reverse– it may be mistaken for a boy’s name. In fact, it was a male name in the Bible. Last year in the US, 52 boys were named this and no girls to speak of. The Ruby in the middle does soften it up, it’s cute and a nice touch.

Eliora Rosemary has a terrible flow (sorry!). The way the Rs bump into each other is less than fluid. Eliora and Rosemary may be used better in other pairs. (Like, with Ruth.)

Noticing you liked Ruth and Ruby. Could be good twin names, or at the very least points to some sound and letter preferences you may have (short Ru names– not that there are many of them!).

Solomon Jude is great.

Thanks for letting us look at your names and good luck choosing! Please let us in on what you select!

UPDATE:

“We found out just before Christmas that we will be having a little girl… And we have decided on
Ruth Sephora.
Thank you and all your readers for your help!!
 “

Helping Denee Name Her 6th Child

Denee asked: I need baby name help!
OK,some names I like:
Girl-Everleigh

Boy-Colton

Names I am pulled to,though may not use because of popularity or other reasons,but might use for a middle name if it makes me swoon:
Girl-Meribel,Lucy,Ruby,
Boy-Sawyer

Family names I don’t hate,would be open to using:
Ruby,Rochelle
Ronald,Derek

Current children’s names:
Caleb Eugene
Jeremiah Scott
Payton Matthew
Jacobi James
Marlena Suzanne

(Hubby is Matthew James,I am Denee Rochelle)
All of their middle names are family names.

I would call my taste in girl names very feminine.
For boy names,I have gravitated towards jock or “cool” names.
HELP?!?!?!

Oh,and I prefer to keep the names out of the top 200.

 

What about Colton* Sawyer* & Lucie Rochelle?

I really don’t like Everleigh. It’s just really trendy, imho. I also don’t think it really goes too well with your last name (Metzger). She also stands out as being too not-timeless next to your other girl, Marlena. Actually, it (Everleigh Metzger) reminds me of Medgar Evers, which in itself isn’t a detraction, but might be an accidental association.

Here are some other ideas based on what you’ve said (I’m putting a star (*) next to anything in the top 200— I did not completely exclude those names since you already like ones in the top 200.):

Sophia* Colleen
Laurene Ciara
Matee Jennifer*
Rylie Ava*
Gracilyn Everleigh (initials would be GEM)
Nichole Abigail*
Hannabeth Lucy*
Aniah Mirabelle
Everleigh Braylynn
Rochelle Savannah*
Amaya Zoe*
Meribel Arianne
Cate Angela*
Miabella Chloe*
Karmena Season
Minerva Martinique
Cleo Ruby*

Kylar Adnan
Derek Marion
Vincent* Brandon*
Xavier* Colton*
Nolan* Isaiah*
Ron Josiah*
Elliott Marcelino
Harlan Michale
Colton* Erich (has same root origins as Derek)
Camryn Isaac*
Valor Bridge
Tsolomon Hand
Timmy Nicholas*

A lot of these are not my recommendations per se, just bouncing ideas off you to see what sticks. Please let us know what you end up going with since we’re all curious!

 

 

Classical, Flowy Girls Names on 2 Twin Sets (with a Shakespearian Vibe)

Saoirse and Aoife are authentic Irish names.

An anonymous fan asked:

Hi, I am now expecting a 2nd pair of twins and need some opinions of names for them.

My first set of twins girls were Ariana Maeve and Serafina Blythe.

With this 2nd set, we have kind of settle with the names Ophelia and Emilia.

Thinking of middle names Saoirse and Aoife.

Which is better?
Ophelia Saoirse & Emilia Aoife
Ophelia Aoife & Emilia Saoirse
Any other suggestions are welcome too. Thanks in advance.

Update: Also thinking if I should have Aurelia instead of Emilia
Actually i might even replace Emilia
Putting the four names try together, we are looking at

Ariana, Serafina, Ophelia, Aurelia
Ariana, Serafina,Ophelia, Tatiana
Ariana, Serafina, Ophelia, Cordelia
Ariana, Serafina, Tatiana, Catriona

The first thing that occurs to me is that you “kind of” “settled” with Ophelia and Emilia. That was a red flag for me. You should never kind of settle for a name, you should absolutely adore it. You may not have meant it that way, but that’s how it read to me. 🙂 It was confirmed later when you easily chose to replace Emilia. You stuck with Ophelia for a while and then later replaced it, too. For these reasons and more, I would question the use of both Ophelia and Emilia.

I think Ophelia is a beautiful name but has some negative, tragic literary associations. Emilia to me is a little boring. Personally, it reminds me too much of Amelia, which is too common and plain (just my personal opinion). You obviously love grand, classical, beautiful feminine names. I just know we could do better to advise great names to go with your other twins.

If you kept the names Ophelia and Emilia, I do not think Aoife goes well with either. The vowels going from one name to the next is such an awkward flow. In most cases I feel a middle name like Aoife should be preceded by a first name ending in a consonant sound. It just flows better. If using Saoirse, it sounds better with Emilia, but since Ophelia, Emilia, and Saoirse all end in an “uh” sound, that might be a bit much. It’s not a deal breaker, but I tend to shy away from those. Your first 2 girls names flow great. Ariana Maeve and Serafina Blythe are very well done. No weird flow, there. Can’t we duplicate that on the next pair? 🙂

When you put all the names together, here were my thoughts.

Ariana, Serafina, Ophelia, Aurelia – don’t love it. Aurelia is too similar to Ariana and Ophelia. Aurelia is a beautiful name and I do like it much better than Emilia, though.
Ariana, Serafina, Ophelia, Tatiana – this is my favorite. A clear winner. Beautiful names.
Ariana, Serafina, Ophelia, Cordelia – Very Shakespeare… a little too much. I’d shy away.
Ariana, Serafina, Tatiana, Catriona – this one is nice.

You mentioned you’d be open to further suggestions. Okay, here are some. I did not pair twin groups together– I was hoping you could choose names you love enough by themselves and pair them together. Do let us know what your twins end up being named!

Aemilia Joette
Genia Millicent
Tatiana Keturah
Catriona Cymber
Gianna Lorelei
Aurelia Faith
Annika Riona
Kalyn Viola
Story Saoirse
Aoife Guinevere
Annalisa Tienne
Amberly Cora
Jayla Pearl
Willow Cordelia
Ophelie Jillian
Celestine Greer
Aemiliana Shantal
Rosemonde Saoirse
Pineda Gracenne
Celeste Bijou

 

Cowboy Prairie Style First & Middle Baby Name Combos

Joy asked:

We are due for our 5th baby end of June and have absolutely no names picked out! We don’t know the sex. We like unique names. Any ideas for us??? My fave name forever has been Prairie Rose but hubby hates it! He thinks Prairie is weird. Lol

These are the names of our 4 children:
Jack (family name) Wyatt
Corwyn Joy
CheyAnne Faith
Ainsley Eden

 

“So close!”

Which name do you think Joy should choose to join these siblings? (Choose carefully– you can only choose once.) Names are not divided by sex, they are in random order, and the suggestions came from me and from fans.

There is definitely a sort of modern cowboy/prairie feeling here, as fan Angel pointed out on our page. The style is definitely modern but inspired by dusty boots Americana– I call it Western nouveau. It can be really charming and you can take your inspiration from ancestors in the South during the 1800s, state, city and county names (appropriate to geography and era), and outdoorsy concept words.

Now some tips..
.

  • Try to avoid overuse of brand and object names next to each other (Lincoln Axel might sound like a car part).
  • Be cautious when choosing Native American words– especially if you are not a tribal member and are using an authentic personal name. It can be disrespectful or ignorant. Although many Native American names are also place names and you may be naming a child after a place and not a tribe, being aware of the true origin of a word and its meaning will help you navigate its usability. Your best bet is: whenever in doubt, steer clear of trends. Our fan Joy named her daughter “CheyAnne”, and while in many cases I would refer to something like this as a “bastardization of a Native word” and lecture on cultural integrity, this time it actually serves us well by changing the name enough to make it her own. In this sense, CheyAnne is closer to Shy Anne (good old shy Annie of the plain) than any original word referring to an “Indian” tribe.
  • Listen to the sound of things. Although some fans recommended Owen and Meadow, the last name will be Owens. An alternative to Prairie or Meadow might be Savanna or Dusty.
  • If you love the name Prairie, consider this thought from fan Aileen: “Well…you wouldn’t want anyone calling a beautiful girl Prairie Dog lol. Maybe he’s right, there are other nice cowboy themed names.”
  • Middle names Rose and Dawn would be popular choices for this theme. Virtue names Love, Hope, and Grace seem next in line. One of the suggested first name choices was Felicia, but perhaps Felicity would be more keeping with the theme. Another virtue name that could work would be Amity. It’s seldom used and has a good meaning, and fits well with the theme (could that be because it reminds us of Calamity Jane?).
  • Fan Angel said, on Juniper:  “I thought it was a nice tie in with June and the middle name style.” If you are due in June and enjoy this style, June would be a great middle name. For something a little longer with more modern and fresh appeal, Juno or Juneau works (but not next to surnames like Owens).

For more on Cecily or Cece Lia, make sure you check out When Names You Love Mean Bad Things.

If you’re curious about Silas, we have a post about that, too.

If you’re into vintage Southern names, try this.

One fan recommended the name Phoenix for either sex. What do you think? Is it unique enough? Does it fit well with the siblings? What middle names would you pair with Phoenix for a boy or a girl?

UPDATE, JUNE 30, 2014: Joy shares, “Our baby boy was born at home on June 24th. He’s 9# 5oz!! And we actually came up with a name for him after he was born….
Weston Arrow
Weston is his daddy’s middle name, and Arrow for psalm 127:4,5 of the bible. he is the
last arrow in our quiver of five children. “

Weston was actually also recommended by us. (Combo Weston Huck, as seen in this post, got the top boys vote.)

Congrats, Joy and family!

names

Combining 2 Names & Choosing a Middle Name

Recently on our page we discussed name-combining for two parents. In fact, it was the subject of one of our last posts. Commenter April came and asked for some input:

Can you have any combination of my name APRIL and my hubby HERCULANO Jr…. I can’t think of any combination from it ☹

I responded:

Culari, Capri, Culil, Lanori, Aprilano, Aprilana, Hera, Prilano, Rilano, Rilan, Ilano, Priler

April said:

I like hera for a girls name … Thank you …

And then she asked:

I want to ask if you can help with a middle name that goes with ISHAAN its an Indian name … Any names that goes with it for a baby boy … Or ISIAH …
I have thought of Yves for it but I want another option …
Also a middle name for the name HERA for a baby girl
Thank you I know I can find some good names in here … 😊 I’m due on July

And then this:

I have a list of names for a baby girl … Can you tell me which of them sounds good or can you suggest a middle name for HERA I’m stick with that name….
This is my list:

HERA LANORI
HERA ASHLEY/ ASHLEY HERA
HERA KELLY
HERA YASMIN

The last name would be KINLEY

THANK YOU

I’m really glad some of my suggestions on the page (Hera, Lanori) appealed to April. It can be quite fun to try to mash two names together to “invent” “new” names (or discover which old ones work). I tend not to simply mix up the letters (that’s too easy and anyone can do that to make virtually any anagram name) but to try splicing the names 50/50 or to take obvious pieces and mix them with other obvious pieces. Sometimes this is loose (Hera is Herculano plus the “A” in April), and sometimes it is hard to see where it comes from right away (Lanori is “Lano” in Herculano + “ri” in April). It all depends on the names themselves and how easy they are to work with. April + Herculano can be kind of tricky to do in a straightforward way, so it causes us to get more innovative to find possibilities.

Anyhoo, to answer April’s questions!

“Names that Go With….”
We did a recent post on this too. See my philosophy on that here. As far as the names themselves, Ishaan is alright. Isiah I have issues with because I can never be sure if people mean Isaiah (eye ZAY uh, this spelling!) or actually Isiah (appears it should be pronounced iz EYE uh with this spelling, is often an unintentional misspelling of Isaiah). If you just want to know if I think something sounds good, then no, I don’t think Yves really goes well with either name, simply because there are too many repeated sounds amongst them. Unless you are repeating sounds on purpose, I find it more pleasing to the ear to diversify the names’ sounds more. Here are some middle name choices which would be more pleasing to my ear (at least), for Ishaan.

Ishaan Johannes Kinley
Ishaan Jedidiah Kinley
Ishaan Lennox Kinley
Ishaan Eyoel Kinley
Ishaan Ares Kinley
Ishaan Xzavier Kinley

Middle Names For Hera

Yes, I know I recommended Hera to you, but I firstly want to let you know that you might want to research the Greek goddess Hera (her personality, her life, her actions, etc.) before you solidify this choice as your name pick. If you are not deterred and are still satisfied after learning all you can about her… here are a few ideas! A lot are ambiguous or unisex so could be used on a boy as well. “Hera Kinley” in itself is already a very feminine name, so it works out well.

Hera Pritchard Kinley
Hera Signe Kinley
Hera Hyde Kinley
Hera Teal Kinley
Hera Klive Kinley

Comments for Hera Combos

My favorite pair you listed is Hera Lanori Kinley, and not just because I suggested both of those names. 🙂

I dislike Hera Ashley because I don’t think there is a good sound flow. The vowel “ah” ending in Hera goes awkwardly into the vowel “A” beginning in Ashley, so I’m not a fan. Speaking of fans, a fan of our page saw your question and pointed out that Ashley with Kinley was too much. I wholeheartedly agree. Two 2-syllable ends-with-LEY names is overkill. Besides, Ashley is kind of done, anyway. It was super trendy in the ’80s and ’90s and needs a good long break before it’ll be usable again (sorry to the Ashleys out there).

Hera Kelly Kinley is almost exactly the same as above. Too many “lee” sounding endings; Kelly was once really en vogue and now it really is dated; “Hera Kelly” sounds a lot to me like either Hercules (which would be a really clever tribute to Herculano, I admit!) or singer R. Kelly. Nope.

Hera Yasmin Kinley is not bad! One thing I would point out, just in case it would bother you (as it would, me) is that her initials will be HYK. I see that and see “hick”. Others might see “hike”, so I don’t know. Just be aware because there is often a teasing factor with initials to be noticed.

Good luck in your search and please let us know what you decide!

Readers: Please feel free to answer April’s questions for yourself here in comments and make your own recommendations.

Theoccoles: Over the Top, Too Death-Themed?

Grace asked: Thoughts of the name Theoccoles? Our first son is Lazarus, and we found it crazy that when looking into the name Theoccoles it means “bringer of death” I don’t know if I like this whole death theme for my boys but we do love the name Theoccoles but worry about it being a little too over the top?

My first impression is that it is a cool name. It’s not popular, and if desired, Theo becomes a great nickname. I think it goes very well with Lazarus. Considering both Lazarus and Theoccoles have somewhat darker (potentially, anyway) themes, it seems cohesive and styled.

However, Theoccoles does not mean “bringer of death“. Well, not directly! Simply, Theo means “God“. I’ll get more into the meaning possibilities in a second, but Theoccoles (or Theokoles) is very much a gaming and series name. Maybe certain characters bearing the name are known as bringers of death, but I wouldn’t say that’s a literal translation. Right now I’m under the impression that the name is mainly a modern craft. Theoccoles definitely looks like a legitimate Greek name.

Theokoles in “Spartacus”

If we were to use a death meaning, though, perhaps “thanatos” would be part of the name (think “euthanasia”). “Bringer” is typically “phoros” (think Lucifer, Christopher— “light bringer“ and “Christ bearer“, respectively). “Bringer of death” in Greek might be something like Thanasephor, as a name.

Theos in Greek naming can be about God/god, and can even refer to might, or a placer of something (“bringer“?). That’s if you consider Theos to be loosely about might and not God, maybe relating to the name Thetis (disposer, placer, to set up, to establish). Usually though, Theos in naming is just making a statement about God (think Theodore, “God’s gift”). I guess God does bring death, so maybe the name is trying to say that God is the bringer of death, but the name bearer himself might not be.

With this in mind, the root “kolos”  (meaning “dwarf”) may be the ending root word here. That root is used in Greek words to show cutting something short, striking a blow, mutilating or punishing. Cutting life short would be bringing death, if this is the metaphorical intention of the name. “God cuts short” could then be the meaning. Of course, you could also say “God’s dwarf“, if you like– that’s more literal.

If you take the “placer” meaning seriously, “placer of punishment” could be cutting life short, and maybe in that way Theoccoles could be a “bringer of death”.

So anyway, a death theme itself can sometimes be cool, but all things considered, I would probably leave this one alone. It is pretty negative, kind of holds a geek status presently, and may be loosely interpreted (giving us debatable meanings). Other than that, it wasn’t too over the top in my opinion.

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Using Parents Names or Initials to Name a Baby Girl

Fan Question: Can you suggest beautiful, unique baby girl names that start with E & J? Or do combination names of/for Excell (wife) and Jonathan (husband) for a baby girl? Due in March. Names can be anything starting with E&J or J&E, or nevermind and just suggest name combinations. Thank you!


Sure! My husband and I are actually an E and a J too. We have a daughter named Eve (Evie). We have played around in the past with using both our names in honoring or name combining in order to add new names to our names lists. We are due in February right now! Congratulations to you and your family.

You have a bunch of different directions you are going in, so let’s split it up a bit.

-Beautiful, unique baby girl names that start with E & J
Elka Jindřiška
Engelica Jett
Jayden
Embry

Juniperia Eon
Epiphany J

-Combination Names with Excell and Jonathan for a baby girl

These first ones will literally combine or splice your names.

Jonell Excatha
Exona Jacell
Thanell Excjona
Jonacelle Exthana
Athanelle Jonex
Allonna Jexceth
Natani Excell
Excelle Jonna
Celona Xanthe
Axelle Johanna
Joni Excellence

These next ones will just use your names or versions of them in combos, sometimes with other unrelated names.

Đoàn Thị Exara
Llin Jonika
Jonabeth Rexcell
Natania Celine
Joninti Violet
Margo Jona
Judith Excell
Excanne Kay
Jocasta Rexanne

These might have given you some ideas and you can play around with splicing, mixing and matching on your own, as well!

-Anything starting with E&J or J&E
Etanya Jadako
Jaylynn Efra
Ekaterina Jordan
Jacquette Edith

-Toss out the rules– just name combinations
Thea Brigitte
Dexter Mary
Bastiana Chrétien
Ki Novelle

I hope any of this has been helpful, and thanks for taking time to write to me. Let me know what you choose, as the readers and I will be curious to hear it!

Readers: What suggestions would you give to Excell & Jonathan?

Narcissistic Names: New Trend, or Imagined Crime?

ABC News and Good Morning America recently presented a piece called “Messiah, King Rise in Popularity for Baby Names“. Within, they quote psychologist Jean Twenge, who claims that the numbers prove our culture is on a narcissistic bend. Her outlook is so extreme that I believe that this is all sensationalism meant to stir up publicity for a book she is promoting, because a well-reasoned discussion can easily be had to negate her claims. (For instance, maybe she’s just mad her name is Jean.)

Messiah has been in news recently when a judge ordered a mother to change this name, given to her son. The ruling was of course thrown out (this is America). 811 total children were given this name in the USA in 2012. While Messiah as a name feels somewhat recent and sheds light on our taboos, this style of naming isn’t new. In Latin-influenced cultures, the name Jesus has been used for quite some time, for example. Other names we’ve come to accept include Angel, Heaven, and Salvatore (or, savior). The only thing that makes Messiah so special is people are not used to it yet. To that I say there is a first time for everything.

Yet, the author/psychologist goes on to say:

“The way people parent their kids has shifted. At one time there was the idea that you raise the child with the lesson that the world does not revolve around them and now we raise them that it does. This is witnessed in various ways from singing preschool songs like ‘I am Special’ to dressing up little girls in t-shirts that say ‘Princess.'”

I blame Disney.

Ah, the old school parenting nostalgia. Yes, there was a time you told children they were to be seen and not heard, and kids knew they were not special. This was back when wives stayed in the kitchen and if any of the household stepped out of line, they were beaten. Good times.

What times might these be referencing, exactly? Let’s look at the 1950s. Names in popular use then include dish detergents Dawn (does she think the sun rises on her?), Joy (is she going to think everyone is happy with her?), and other had-the-nerve names like Rex (who does he think he is? a king?) and Max (you mean, like the max or highest level of something?). Yes, the good old days, when kids were taken down a peg. When we had no hopes or dreams for our kids, except that they work at the mill. A nice dream, but our names don’t necessarily reflect that version of history. We’re just so used to them that they seem like conservative, safe choices for us.

And yet… in that golden era of child-rearing, princesses like Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora (like Dawn, a narcissist) were still teaching little girls that you could be beautiful and kind at the same time. Even worse, they taught that anyone could be special and be a princess. Those stuck up witches!

Twenge’s stance assumes that a name denoting high self-worth will equate to a self-absorbed or even inconsiderate person. Isn’t it possible to be both celebrated as special and someone who cares about others?

All parenting styles have been used throughout time and culture. There were no “good old days” to be nostalgic of. There have always been loving, doting parents as there have also been parents who emphasized obedience and humility above all else. Sometimes there are parenting trends in certain times and places, and that is not constant. Even the Puritans (known for being real killjoys– sorry, Joy), who were masters of Obedience and Humility (real names they bestowed) had occasions to show softer sides. Names like Happy and Trinity were also used. Trinity– there’s a blasphemous, narcissistic name if ever I saw one. This girl doesn’t just think she’s the Messiah, she thinks she’s the whole Holy Trinity!

Or could it be that names like Messiah and Trinity are often done in homage to one’s faith, not in declaration of what one is? And either way, who are we to judge or care? Any faith-related name is a personal matter that every parent has the freedom to express in a country that upholds religious freedom and freedom of speech. If you think your child is the Messiah, who am I to judge?

In fact, another Puritan name, Christmas, was listed in this spin-off by The Stir as an up and coming narcissist name. Christmas may not be a name in popular use, but it’s not new. The article seemed tongue-in-cheek, but the lacking historical perspective of people labeling people in the present as “narcissists” (or worse, condemning our kids to being narcissists over their names) strikes as ignorant. By the way, the French word for

Noël, Noel, Noelle, Noelia, Noella– all names for self-centered jerks?

Christmas, Noël, has been in use for males and females in its various forms for ages (without criticism or spite). Again, a little cultural understanding and perspective on history and language goes a long way.

Back briefly to the subject of parenting, how dare we teach kids to sing songs about being special, or give them shirts that say “Princess”? I think the self-esteem culture is a culture created after years of damaging abuse. Everyone gets a medal, everyone is a winner, anyone can be anything, etc., were ways of combating an excess of “tough love”, or no love. Is uplifting children and giving them hope for their potential wrong? Would we prefer people sing songs about being not good enough in pre-school? Would we rather our kids wear shirts that say “Normal”? Would creating a culture of children who embrace a taught sense of only adequacy be helpful, or would it really just make other people feel more adequate? Let’s be truthful. We are coming out of a recent past where kids felt they had to constantly prove themselves to earn their parents respect and approval. Sometimes that token never came. It made for some seriously damaged adults. It makes sense that a new approach would be attempted in the aftermath.

Is it just me, or do some people in the older generations come off as a bunch of haters regarding baby names (and parenting)? Naming our kids some of these lofty things may not always be my own personal style… I prefer things a little more imaginative than Awesome, and a little less severe sounding than Major. However, if they and other names of this “narcissistic” variety are part of a parenting culture that is expressing its hopes for our children, I would never put that sentiment down.

Let’s take a look at some of the other names Jean Twenge and The Stir picked on, and really think about them:

Princess– It’s a sweet-sounding and -meaning name. Not my style because it is so literal in a common-use way, but we’ve been naming our children after royalty since forever. I don’t suppose using a title instead is terribly different. The problem here is whether or not one has a mental image of a spoiled brat when they hear the name, when it could really be a sweet little girl with loving parents.  It could be a longed-for girl after a string of boys, or an only child after years of infertility. Crying “narcissist” here is more about the psychology of the person judging than the child and parents, I would think.
Prince – This name is not just the name of one of my favorite musical artists (born in that golden era, the 1950s), but this name was also in use 100 years ago in America.

Prince was named after his father (his nickname or stage name, actually), partly because he had high hopes for his son.

Sure, the numbers have risen, but then again so has the population.
King – Roy (roi) is a French word for king, no one minds that. Ryan is an Irish word for king (+ “little”), no one minds that. Why is this any different? Because English is your only language? Keep in mind too that King is also a surname, so sometimes people are using the name to honor heritage. Or, maybe the use of the surname King is narcissistic, too? King has been used for well over a century in America.
Beautiful Bella and Belle are pretty well accepted, as is Jolie. Beautiful may seem more literal to us English speakers, and maybe less romantic or poetic, but still? So what? In the 1950s, Linda was very popular, and it essentially means pretty or beautiful. Another one was Donna, a title for lady (think of the Madonna). Similarly, Gorgeous shouldn’t faze me– not on meaning alone.
Amazing Again, so what? 100 years ago we were using names like Fairy, Ivory, and Golden. Fifty years ago we were using Ginger and Cookie. It’s all going to be okay.
Greatness- Big deal, but get this. Only 6 baby boys in 2012 were named Greatness in the USA. Just as many were named Hawkeye, and even more were named Napoleon. This is not an epidemic. But, of course, that doesn’t sell books…
Life- Eve, Vivian, Zoe— accepted girls names which literally mean “life” in their languages. The Stir jokes that this is the next name for narcissists, but how can you have inflated sense of self about being living, full of life, a life-form? Leif— an accepted, traditional boys name which is pronounced “Life” in certain accents. Lif is a legitimate Scandinavian girls name. Are they narcissists, too?
Queen– Guess which one they aren’t complaining about? Queen, and her sisters Queena and Queenie. That’s right, I added this name myself because Queen was actually more popular 100 years ago, and also in the 1950s, than it is today. Those weirdos and their delusions of grandeur! I’m glad we grew out of that era of entitlement we were burdened by for so long.

Twenge goes on:

Too bad the data actually shows that very limited numbers of babies compared against the general populace are a part of this “epidemic”.

“Vanity and grandiosity are two of the subscales for narcissism and we know that the narcissism is related to materialism and an inflated sense of self. So that’s why these names jumped out at me when I began looking at the data,”

But one thing didn’t jump out at her– materialism in our culture sometimes reflects a desire to rise above circumstances. As much as I despise brand names on a baby (like Armani), you have to recognize that a lot of this use comes from the lower classes. It isn’t that they worship material per se, but it’s an aspiration. People in privilege are often ignorant of this naming aspect. They can afford to be traditional or average when name-selecting if they choose, having all other advantages in life. In fact, sticking to tradition can signify a desire to maintain the security of status quo. Less privileged namers may decide to take more of a chance on a name if they feel it sets their child apart, gives them an advantage, or acts as a blessing on or wish for the child. This is partly a study in sociology, not just psychology.

Someone like Kim Kardashian, for example, isn’t naming her child Lexus. Why would she? She could have any car she wants.

Vanity? There’s another Puritan name. In terms of our “inflated sense of self”, is it wrong to call each other great or beautiful? Many of our names mean great or beautiful, literally or subtly. Are we saying we aren’t really great and beautiful, and we are giving our kids more confidence than they’re worth? Are our kids actually Ugly, Plain, or Mediocre?

You may be familiar with the fact that I am very picky and critical when it comes to the topic of baby names, but this is a bully mentality being applied. The misunderstanding here with names lies in the context. To label something as narcissism when it’s really a) not as widespread a problem as it’s made to be and b) more about repairing damage (years of abuse or poverty) is completely backwards and picks on the downtrodden. It favors sticking to the norm and status quo, even if that norm was dismal for many, because it suited the critic better. Narcissism may exist, but what we are witnessing is a trend into loving adoration in order to compensate for and break away from decades/centuries of culturally conditioned self-loathing and oppression. It’s a movement that needs to happen for our culture to thrive.

So is naming a child after yourself narcissistic? Some parents think so, but not Twenge.

“Naming a child after yourself has a number of elements to it. Naming a child Junior or ‘The Third’ is a long tradition and in some ways can be seen

Ah, it’s all starting to come together now.

as communalism, which is in many ways the opposite of narcissism. And

it’s actually the opposite of uniqueness because it means two people have the same name.”

Yes, naming a child after yourself has a number of elements to it. (I fixed that for you.) So basically, Twenge, you are for tradition (even though you ignore our grandiose naming of the past), but more importantly, for not being unique. And, this is a good thing, because when more of us are alike, no one is special. Got it, Jean.

You can read more about how Twenge is “Seeing Narcissists Everywhere” (“Except the One Inside the Mirror”) on this Psycritic post entitled, “What Jean Twenge Gets Wrong About Narcissism“.

When it comes to names, either we’re not narcissistic or we always have been. In any event, this is nothing new. In fact, these naming traditions are older than the profession of psychologist.