When I was eight or nine, my grandad bought me a baby names book. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and that included dictionaries and reference books as well as fiction.
This book (I think it was the Oxford Dictionary of First Names) started a lifelong love of onomastics.
I’m a bit of a name snob, I admit. And my husband and I have talked about names for a long time – since way before we got married. He generally has good taste in names too.
So obviously, when we found out about this little one, I was so excited to start thinking about baby names.I really thought we’d find it easy and fun and the moment we knew the gender we’d be able to talk about this little one by name and everything would be lovely. Not exactly!
We’re at 32 weeks pregnant now and baby is still going by Shroody – our nickname for Schrödinger’s Baby, which we started using back before we’d even had the positive pregnancy test. At this rate, we’ll be putting Shroody on the birth certificate!
I never thought it would be this difficult, or that it would distress me like this either. I just want to know who this baby is! And naming feels like a huge part of that.
Our criteria were fairly simple.
Our baby names criteria
- A real name, with a history. While names like Daenerys might sound pretty, they don’t exactly have a history. We don’t just want a collection of pretty syllables. I’d like something with an actual meaning (and no, “mother of dragons” or whatever does not count!), previous namesakes and a history of use.
- On the correct gender. Seeing girls called Tyler, etc, always makes me wonder how much confusion they cause when people see the name before they meet them.
- Not too common. Obviously this is pretty subjective – does this mean not in the top ten or not in the top 1,000? I don’t really want baby to be Firstname C at school, although that’s not the end of the world. But popularity is more important to me because our surname is very, very common. It’s more that I don’t want baby to be one of multiple Firstname Lastnames in his or her class or year group. My husband was, growing up and also in one of his first professional jobs. It’s obviously not scarred him, but it’s an annoyance that we’d rather avoid if we can.
- Not too tied to any one namesake. Yes, Beyoncé Smith is never going to be able to escape her famous namesake, but Michael Jackson from Birmingham might also get some comments unless he can ensure he goes by Mick or Mike 100 per cent of the time. Having a popular surname, there are quite a few names that we’ve had to rule out because of actors, politicians, etc.
- Not from a vastly different culture. I really like Indira, but we are not Indian enough to pull that off. Ditto Aoife and being Irish!
- Can people spell it? See Aoife (ee-fa). It seems unfair to condemn the baby to having to spell out his or her name constantly.
- Something we like! This is the hardest one of all!
Baby names we have rejected so far – boys’ edition
- Theodore. Some of our best friends have a Theodore.
- Edmund. One of our rabbits is Ned. It would get confusing!
- Siegfried. Husband’s suggestion. Hard no from me!
- Lionel. Too similar to brother in law’s name.
- Walter. Husband doesn’t like it.
- Gabriel. Too popular.
We have a boys’ name all lined up, middle names and all. Obviously that means that we’re far more likely to have a girl! Although we’re not 100 per cent certain who’s in there – it wasn’t definitely clear at the 20 week scan.
Baby names we have rejected so far – girls’ edition
- Alys. The spelling will be a headache.
- Marina. Too similar to Marine Le Pen.
- Annabelle. Husband doesn’t hate it but it doesn’t feel like the baby’s name to him.
- Cassia. Husband knows a Cassie.
- Catalina. Too Spanish.
- Phoebe. Too popular.
- Josephine. Husband doesn’t love it like I do.
- Martha. Hard to nickname.
- Alexandra. Sounds too much like Alexander.
- Olivia. Too popular.
We’re probably down to our final two or three now, so we’ll see what happens. There’s one I love and one my husband loves, and one that is sort of a compromise. We’ll see.
How was picking a name for you? Was it harder or easier than you thought it would be?