The Name Game

Now that we’re expecting our first progeny, there’s a million decisions to be made. There are many nearly inconsequential ones like the color of the bedding, but there are other decisions like giving the kid a name. The kid will never remember the bedding, but they’re pretty much stuck with the name for their whole life.

To make this process work, we laid down a few simple rules. The first was that if a name suggestion is made and the other one of us doesn’t like it, it can be immediately vetoed – no questions asked.

Then there’s just a few more rules:

  1. No names of family members, including extended family (Sorry, Mom)
  2. No names that are really popular (which seems to be most Irish names these days)
  3. No names of friends’ kids (that kills quite a few, actually)
  4. No names of girls Jeff has dated (that Anne can remember 😀 )
  5. No names that are hard to spell over the phone (Machenzzie, anyone?)
  6. No names that are of ambiguous gender (Chris, Sam, Jordan all out)
  7. No names with too much alliteration (Buffy Boulter)
  8. No names that will get the kid beat up (Melvin)
  9. No names that make for weird initials or initials that spell things (hub, pub, cab, bub, bob, bib, dub, tub, sub, sob, rub, rob, rib, orb, nab, lab)
  10. No names of particular children that Anne worked with who died (sigh)
  11. No names of people’s pets (well at least the ones that can be names of humans too)
  12. No names of Greek Gods (Athena, Venus)
  13. No names that sound like strippers (Destiny, Bubbles, Precious)

We’ve got about 4 books, each of which has at least 25,000 names in them. After applying all these rules and our vetos, I think there’s about 5 possible names left. They all start with X and contain no vowels.

So is “child #1” an acceptable name?


  1. Sounds like a pretty good system you guys have developed there. Here’s a some more names you might want to cross off the list-Skye, Moon Unit, Dweevil, Rumor, and names such as that. Have fun with the name game! Oh, and when you have a boy, forget Ellsworth!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 😉

    Hey-What’s wrong with Buffy? 😉 😉

  2. Great article.

    A couple other points to consider.

    Girls names are easier than boys (imho). Mainly because of rule #8.

    Also, girls seem to be winning in the ambiguous naming wars. There are a lot of names that used to be acceptable for guys, but the women co-opted (Jordan, Mason, etc). So when naming a guy, you always need to be aware of that dynamic. You don’t want your kid to end up with a girl’s name 15 years in the future.

    Oh, and big kudos for sticking to rule #2. I’m always amazed by the trendy names, b/c you’ll meet a half-dozen kids with variants of the same name. Definitely better to go a little off the beaten path.

    Good luck!

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  4. Going through the same process on this end, the kid’s due end of next month. About to give up and just go with “Monday” for the first, “Tuesday” for the second, and so on. Or possibly just sticking our surname onto the end of a famous person’s name, like George Washington Carver and the like.

  5. I never did make up any fast and hard rules. I’d always wanted to name my daughter Emily, if I’d ever had one, since I very much loved Emily Dickinson’s poetry. But a decade later discovered it was insanely popular for 5 years running.

    So what I did was look through the Social Security’s website where it lists the most popular names in order for each year. The Java applet linked above does that, too.

    I wound up going with Audrey for the girl, and Trevor for the boy. Both names that aren’t absurd, but not so common they’ll require their surname to communicate in grade school. Stay out of the top 20, and odds are decent they’ll have no more than one friend withthe same name.

  6. Big mistake, Jeff, soliciting names this way, because just think what happens if someone suggests a name that really rings nicely… one that makes you intuitively think “yes, that’s it!”? You’ll then be faced with the decision to 1) forgo a name you love, or 2) admit that some random stranger named your kid.

    About rule #1 (no family members), you didn’t clarify whether that included you and your wife, but I hope it does because I think it’s really tacky naming a kid after yourself. Rather, if a boy, you should name him after me.

    Oh, and BTW, congratulations!

    Some tips that might come in handy:
    Essentials for a First Time Parent


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