What matters when choosing a baby name


Jason scratched his head. “You named him Festus? You know that in Latin, ‘festus’ means ‘happy’? You want us to ride off to save the world on Happy the Dragon?”
Rick Riordan, The Lost Hero


What, in your opinion, are the most important name attributes?

  • The way it sounds?
  • The historical meaning?
  • The ethnic origin?
  • The number of syllables?
  • The compliance with the last name?

The author of this post thinks, that the most important thing is the association, that you, the parent, personally have with the name.

It can be the most adorable set of vowels and consonants, but if I know someone evil, unattractive, mean and unsuccessful carrying the same adorable set, I will probably refrain from this choice.

Does it sound stupid? Maybe, but this is the reality for the author of this blog and she is trying be on the right side of her intuition, common sense and information she gets in the internet.

There are (too) many ways today you can find sources of different names.

Names websites:

Hundreds of websites interpreting a name, a nickname, a variation of a name or a nickname and so on. Even when you narrow your search to the most specific options (“native american origin, female names, 2 syllables, starts with M”) – there are either no options given at all (the search was, probably, too narrow) or there are some two-three really weird names, that you don’t like.

Name forums:

With more human touch, name forums is where people (future moms, mostly) exchange their sympathy or antipathy for specific names, asking for advice or opinion and sharing thoughts. The downside of this way of choosing a name is, that there is not a lot of practical information on a specific name (e.g. its historical meaning), but rather the biased opinion of an undisclosed female, which, in some cases, can be nice nonetheless.

The good side of using name forums is, that you can get some information about nicknames and other versions of the name you had in mind – something you don’t always find on names websites.

What if you don’t want to use the internet?

At least at first stages of first rough choice (e.g. the first 5 optional names to choose later from).

I would do a traditional paper brainstorming. Take a pen and a piece of paper and write down all the names that come to your mind and make you feel good. Names of friends, literature heroes, movie stars (though I would be careful about that), ancestors (I would be even more careful about those ones) or names you might have wanted for yourself, have you been given the choice at your birth.

I think this nice and simple method open options that do not exist on the web, since they come from your own “field of information” (which is based, of course, on the reality you live in, but still – it’s something that has gone through your system and has not been taken fully and directly from outside sources like the internet).

Here is an interesting thought though, which is related to any choice, including that of a name.

“We seldom realize, for example that our most private thoughts and emotions are not actually our own. For we think in terms of languages and images which we did not invent, but which were given to us by our society.”
Alan W. Watts


Do brainstorming but be careful about associations with the ansestrs – you don’t always want your baby to repeat the same life as your great grandfather (no matter how magical figure he might seem to you – you don’t know all the details, plus, every person is unique).

Avoid celebs and famous people – naming your baby after a super star (I don’t mean a new galaxy or a supernova) doesn’t seem like the best idea, because the fate of living public people is way too unpredictable. It’s not the same about deceased kings, writers, philosophers and so on. Though I, personally, would refrain from naming a little new individual after anyone at all.

So what is the bottom line?

Use your imagination but don’t give your name a weird baby – sorry, your baby a weird name – she’ll have to live with it her entire life, remember?

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