FutureBaby Chronicles: Naming Names

We've asked not to be told the sex of FutureBaby, even though Kate's doctors know it, having done an amniocentesis to screen for genetic defects. So far, they've been very good about not hinting at anything. We may have cause to reconsider this decision, though, as we get deeper into the issue of names.

There's really nothing for exposing latent class prejudices like thinking about baby names. Not only do I cringe at names that have a hillbilly sort of ring to them, I also reflexively shy away from names that are too "Yuppie." This is somewhat ironic, because in social class terms, I'm solidly in the group of people who use those names, but there you go.

Anyway, after some deliberation, we've adopted a systematic approach, with each of us going through a couple of recent lists of popular baby names and crossing off thins we find unacceptable for whatever reason (any girls' name ending in "-elle" is out, for example, because I don't want to stick a child with a rhyming pair of names). This has cut it down to forty-ish (total for both genders-- slightly more boys' names survived, make of that what you will), all of which look perfectly acceptable to me. Now it gets difficult.

For amusement purposes only, though, I'll throw this open to the Internet:

What should we name FutureBaby?

One suggestion per gender per comment, please. I'm not half foolish enough to promise to use any of these, but it's possible that somebody out there might have a great idea for a baby name that we haven't thought of. So have at it.

This is your one and only chance for name-related commentary, by the way. When we make a final choice, it's final, and that's that. I'm undecided as to whether I'll be posting the name at all, or whether I'll use some sort of nickname to provide FutureBaby a tiny bit of distance from this blog, but regardless, you won't be told our choice until after the birth, if ever.

More like this

OK, not really a betting pool, as there will be no cash wagered. This is strictly for amusement. The projected arrival date for FutureBaby is July 28th, which is two weeks from tomorrow. Of course, the actual arrival date could be any day in the next month or so. We also don't know the sex of…
Kate and I have been discussing possible names for FutureBaby when he or she ceases to be a baby in potentia and becomes an ActualBaby. We've also talked a bit about the issue of FutureBaby's Internet identification-- specifically, whether I should refer to him or her by name in the eventual blog…
Most of my best ideas come from Kate, so I'll steal this one, too: If you could only give me one piece of advice [regarding FutureBaby, due in July], what would it be? If you've been itching to provide child-bearing or -rearing advice (and I know some of you have), here's your chance. Please limit…
Thanks again to all the people who left congratulations and well-wishes on last week's ultrasound picture post. The positive thoughts are much appreciated, especially since it's been a bit of a roller-coaster here in Chateau Steelypips. As you can guess from the fact that the ultrasound looks…

Girl: Caroline
Boy: Eric

Another thing worth considering is to examine the SSA's list of top names and rule out the top 10 or so. This is why I go by Cisko -- at one point I had four other Davids in my department.

But to the topic at hand:

Boy: Joseph
Girl: Julia

Whether it's a surprise now or in six months, does it matter? I can tell you this though, knowing the sex now makes it a lot easier to go through the whole name thing and it means you won't getting clothes that are gender specific for the wrong one from various friends and relatives (and no matter how much you protest, they're going to buy stuff for future baby now).

For boys, I've always liked Dylan, but Herr Zimmerman has sort of ruined it for me (I'm not a Bob Dylan fan...never have been...he's written some good stuff which has been covered by other artists, but I can't stand him as a performer).

For girls, I've always liked Noelle, but you'll get the inevitable Noel jokes in December (and other bits of the year from the truly socially inept) and she'll hate you for it.

This is only the way things are generally done in my family, but you find a grandparent or a great grandparent with a decent name, and then update it, introduce an ethniticy from a different side of the family, or change the gender as appropriate. Examples include:

Mary -> Maia
Peter -> Petra
Theodore -> Téa
George -> Yuri
Kira -> Kieron

etc. So without knowing the classic names in your family i can't make an actual guess, only suggest a line of thinking.

Seconding that babynamewizard link, it's quite interesting.

I think that you need to keep the family tradition of monosyllabic names, so:

Male: Will
Female: Ruth

(I have promised enough people that my first son will be named Agamemnon that I just can't avoid it, except by not having kids. Which is probably the better choice.)

By Aaron Lemur Mintz (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Boy: Keith
Girl: Ada (after Ada Lovelace; also, I like the name)

Sam, regardless of gender.

(It's not just me being lazy, I really do like both versions of the name.)

Had a lady stop me on the street the other day and ask me what I thought of Pumisum as a name for a daughter. I told her that sounded like a boy's name to me, and suggested Pumisae.

Boy: Schtolteheim Reinbach III
Girl: Lenneth

I avoided difficult decisions by choosing a name that existed on both sides of the family. For a girl there is a tradition in my family that the first girl is named after the maternal grandmother, the second after the paternal grandmother.

Check initials as well - avoid unfortunate acronyms.

Being Jewish, I have a dislike for naming anyone after living people, and like the idea of naming it after people who have passed, famous or relatives.

Any grand parents with nice names? Often that also gets a nice retro-feel to it, as long as it isn't TOO retro.

Also, I'd recomend against anything that starts with an 'O'.

Are you going to give it a middle name?

Following up on Zine's suggestion, try not to pick something that rhymes with something obscene. (Within reason, of course -- a dirty enough mind can rhyme anything with something obscene.) Consider the unfortunate collision of the Name Game with a friend named Tucker.

I'd also avoid names with accents in them (hassle to type, and that's if the system can even handle anything more than ASCII). Weird spellings, too, go without saying.

Girl: Maia
Boy: Drew / Andrew

Hmm, maybe you should tell us what the baby's last name will be. It's true, you should factor that into the naming equation.

So will FutureBaby's surname be "Orzel" or "Nepveau" or "Nepveau-Orzel"? (with or without hyphen)?

Girl = Rebecca
Boy = Justin

Oh sorry, didn't read the whole post. So let me correct my last question: will the surname be "Orzel" or "Nepveau-Orzel"?

A lot of baby names suggest that if your last name is two syllables, you should give your kid a name with one, three or more syllables (basically, anything but two). I sort of think that's nonsense, but I also like alliterative names (Owen Orzel?) so I might just have poor taste. Anyhow my suggestions are:

Boy: Damien
Girl: Eleanor (she can go by Nell, Nellie, Ellie, etc. if she wants)

I would steer clear of names starting with B...

By Olallieberry (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Jamie, I think gender-coding infants is stupid anyway, so I really don't care if we get the "wrong" clothes.

FutureBaby will probably have Nepveu as a middle name. Certainly not as part of an unhyphenated double last name or a hypenated last name.

For girls, I like the names Grace or Kelly, but that could be due to the stint of old movies I'm watching now. As nice a name as Kelly is, there's also the issue of kids calling her "Smelly Kelly" in the yard.

For boys, my name preferences I like names like Jared, Gerrard or Gareth for some reason. I think the name "Gerrard Orzel" or "Gerrard Nepveu" has a nice ring to it, but maybe that's just me. If you're compunding the last names, well, I'm not a big fan of compound last names because they seem so unwieldy to me, although I guess it's more egalitarian.

Girl: Jane
Boy: Ford

Something with "Thunderhammer" or "Widowmaker" in it. For a boy, I'm not sure.

The fewer syllables the better. Michael has to many.

Two syllables are pretty cool: Anna is a great name.

"Male Child Orzel" (*)

He can go by "M.C. O" which gives him a built-in rapper name, surely a positive in today's world.

(*) What some hospitals put on a baby's hospital bracelet, for you lucky single folks.

I tried to convince my husband to go for Jocelyn as a girl (and you can call her Joss, if you're a Joss Whedon fan)

For the boy, Alexander

I always intended to name my first daughter Sheherezade and my first son Sagan, but a) my husband objected and b) I went and had twin girls, complicating things. I guess I could have named one Shehere and the other Zade.

So I guess those are my suggestions:
Male: Sagan
Female: Sheherezade.

@ # 20 | cheem -- Yes, "Smelly Kelly" is a real concern.


We used Tristan for our son. We both liked it although we tell different stories about where it came from. She says it's after Brad Pitt's character in "Legends of the Fall", I say it's after Sir Tristan of the Round Table. Either way, we like it. These are the principles we followed:

1. Unusual, but not weird (i.e. Apple, Pilot Inspektor, etc.)
2. We did factor in syllable count. The surname is two, and his middle name is 1 (Earl), so it's 2-1-2. his sister is 3-3-2 (Alissa Julia)
3. We also made sure the sounds flowed smoothly. Not as big a deal when the surname starts with a vowel, but you want to avoid something like Austin Norman, or Ruth Thatcher. I'd suggest ending with a consonant.
4. Initials, although if the last two will be NO, there aren't many weird words or acronyms to avoid, other than ONO or perhaps SNO.

Hope that helps. Enjoy the experience. We didn't find out the sex until after the birth either.

I have an Anastasia and a Sebastian, with a one-syllable last name. Anastasia prefers that full name to nicknames, Sebastian hasn't decided yet.

We used Tristan for our son. We both liked it although we tell different stories about where it came from. She says it's after Brad Pitt's character in "Legends of the Fall", I say it's after Sir Tristan of the Round Table.

I, for one, have yet another take on that name: Wagnerian opera (Tristan und Isolde). Which must not have occurred to you, or his sister's name would be Isolde. For similar reasons, were I to have a daughter I would not name her Ilsa, an otherwise fine name, as I happen to have the same surname as Ingrid Bergman's character in Casablanca.

Chad: I would recommend avoiding the most popular names, since in a few years they will connote lower class. IMO you're a few years too late to have a Madison or an Emily. The Freakonomics chapter on baby names will have some more (admittedly a few years old) data, particularly some guesses on "up-and-coming" names.

It's probably best in your case to avoid names ending with an O sound to avoid the possibility of slurring first and last name. (This does make Nepveau problematic as FutureBaby's middle name, but Kate didn't get to choose her family name.) Other vowels are probably OK.

And one last thing: Promise us you won't name FutureBaby Amcher. (Freakonomics mentions a boy by that name, which was derived from the building in which he was born: the Albany Medical Center Hospital Emergency Room.)

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Boy: Miles
Girl: Arkady

(Actually, those are the names I've picked but my bf hasn't taken a shine to Arkady, though he is fine with Miles.)

I don't understand why one would choose from a list of popular names. Surely it's better to be original? Personally I'm very lucky to have a rather unusual name for my age group. In one school I went to there was one class with five Annas and one with three in my age group, and in another there were several Therese:s. I'm not suggesting you should make something up or anything, but I would definitely avoid top lists and go for something unusual that I like the sound of.

Not a specific name suggested, but a tested algorithm.

Kate makes a list of 10 names. Chad makes a list of 10 names. If there is one and only one name in the intersection of the two lists, done.

Elseif there is more than one name in the intersection of the two lists, use a choice sub-algorithm of your mutual preference.

Elseif the intersection was the null set, then: Kate makes a list of 10 previously unused (by her) names. Chad makes a list of 10 (by him) names.

If there is one and only one name in the intersection of the two lists, done. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Suggested also: run the selection past family members.

My parents did this, with "Jonathan" being the unique intersection. There were some interesting other 18 names on their lists which I don't recall, other than Alaric.

For a while, when my wife was pregnant, we did not know the sex. We used various placeholders for the future name, including "Muon" and "Infinity." One of that mentioned these once to my mother-in-law. In a later phonecall, she asked: "so how are things going with wee Finity?"

After amnio, we each made a list of 10. The unique intersection was "Andrew."

Both sides of the family were cool with that. On the Carmichael side, St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland (and Greece, etc.). On the Post side, I have a brother Andrew, in part because of my mother's brother being Joseph Andrew Vos.

Any comments on this comment?

Dr. Pain: No one who'd ever been stuck at Orlando Airport would want to burden a child with the initials MCO. Trust me on this one.

As far as my suggestions go (omitting my all-time favorite choice, Q*Bert, on the grounds that I'm not sure if it's a boy's name or a girl's name):

Boy: Thomas. Yeah, it's common, but it meshes quite nicely with Orzel and it offers nicknames for those times when he has a need to reinvent himself.

Girl: Lauren. It's just always been one of my favorite girl's names.

I don't understand why one would choose from a list of popular names. Surely it's better to be original?

You know, most attempts at originality in naming just make me want to slap somebody. They usually seem to involve misspelling existing names-- "Alexzander" or "Xzavier," for example. That's just dooming a kid to a lifetime of spelling the name five times in every customer service encounter, and we're already sticking FutureBaby with "Orzel" as a surname and "Nepveu" as a likely middle name.

I might shy away from anything in the top ten names, but the top hundred or so cover pretty much the full range of things I'm likely to find acceptable,and that's fine by me.

My advice, for whatever it's worth, is to pick something fairly traditional, since it is likely to age better than something trendy (a really unusual name might also age well, but you don't seem like the Moon Unit sorts).

I would also not worry about using one of the names on the "most popular" lists. We did, and had a little trepidation about it, but in practice our son rarely meets other boys with the same name.

My suggestions:

Girl - Abigail (our top pick for a girl, unused since we didn't have one).

Boy - Benjamin (I think we liked Nathaniel better, but that gets ruled out by the rhyming rule)

@ Michael, #23 -- Another great thing about the name "Anna" is that it's reversible, so you don't wear it out as quickly.

Same with "Bob."

Boy: Temujin
Girl: Boadicea

Because nothing builds confidence like bearing the name of a bloody-handed war leader from ancient times.

I don't know why more people don't go the route of picking names that can be used for a boy *or* a girl. In that arena I like Robin, Kim, Chris and Jay. Jordan too, but I may be prejudiced on that one. (Though mine spells his Jordin.) I've known multiple members of each sex with these names.


Felicia @36 wrote: I don't understand why one would choose from a list of popular names. Surely it's better to be original?

As Chad says, it's easy to take "original" too far. I'm glad I didn't end up with a name like "Moon Unit" (who was born the same year I was). Dan's suggestion @41 to stick with something traditional is well taken. I agree that anything in the top 10 is bad news, but there are lots of other options that don't go too far down the "original" path. Since Chad is of Polish ancestry, the ethnic option, which would be a good way to get original for many, will add more spelling headaches (J pronounced Y, W pronounced V, gratuitously missing vowels, etc.) to what FutureBaby will have as _______ Nepveau Orzel--if male, he can thank his parents for not burdening him with a first name like Zbigniew.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

Boy: Alexander
Girl: Alexandra

Darn, "Moon Unit" is already suggested.

Boy: Alan
Girl: Ada

Why yes, I am a CompSci graduate; how did you know?

Boy: Adam. Adam Smasher!
Girl: Jezebel Megatron (jokingly suggested by one of my friends for his own daughter)

I always thought the greatest pro wrestler name of all was Justin Credible.

By Malcolm Cheste… (not verified) on 23 Apr 2008 #permalink

I assume the classic "Robert'); DROP TABLE STUDENTS; --" is Right Out.

Boy: Edmund (Ned for short)
Girl: Thalia (the muse of comedy and idyllic poetry)

I second the recommendation to fiddle around with the NameVoyager. It's one of my favorite internet gadgets.

Girl: Meredith
Boy: Robert

I like my name. It's supposed to be a man's name, but it's mainly used as a woman's name in the US (it's pretty rare).

Boy: Camille
Girl: Camille


Boy: Erasmus
Girl: Clothilde

We named our daughter Susan: traditional, but not very popular these days. I've only met one other Susan her age, though lots of Susans my age (it was very popular in the early 60s). We got it from Miracle on 34th Street, which we both liked (the original, of course). We never could come up with a boys name we both liked, but that turned out to be irrelevant.

Sophie, since Nepveau looks French, and Sophie is spelled the same way in French. If that's not a consideration, how about Rebecca.
Martin (same reasoning as Sophie). Again, if you don't care about other languages' spellings, maybe Matthew.

Hmm, how about Cade? Works for either gender. Has elements of both parents' names and is easy to spell.

These are 2 of my kids names...

Boy: Isaiah
Girl: Kailani pronounced( K-Loni)

My wife got the final say on our two kids, and they ended up as Chloe and Colin. However, the names I wanted, which are now still "available" since I lost out, were Fiona and Kadiri.

We both loved Fiona, but my wife figured Shrek has ruined that name for a generation. I argued that Shrek would not be that popular five years from now (Chloe is currently two weeks old), but it wasn't an argument I was going to win.

Kadiri was a name of one of students while I was in the Peace Corps in West Africa. I thought it was pretty and very unique. My wife found it too ethnic. Of course, I also wanted to name him after my great uncle Cloud, which made Kadiri less wussy by comparison. Alas, again, the husband never wins these discussions.

So really you go with whatever makes Kate and the two grandmothers happy...

By Harry Abernathy (not verified) on 24 Apr 2008 #permalink

I was sorta-kinda wanting to suggest something NetHack related, but decided not to...

Just a note from an author, because I name up to 50 characters a year, which was good practice for my own wee one.

Names sound better if the first and last name have a dissimilar number of syllables, so consider monosyllabic or trisyllabic (or greater) names.

Watch those initials, rhymes, and connotations. With a last name like "Orzel," you don't want any pasta connotations. Your kid will get teased about his/her name at some point. Just don't give those playground twerps good ammo.

Good luck,
TK Kenyon
Dylan Alexander Krishnan's mommy

(Note that we did not manage to avoid the double 2-syllable rule. There were significant cultural things going on. The name had to have both Indian subcontinant roots and be Euro-passable. "Dyl" means "heart" in Sanskrit.)

My given name has been right around 30th most popular for boys for the last 35 years (though it's risen slightly over the last 5-10 years). It's worked really well for me; I seldom meet others with the same name, and when I do, it's fun and exciting rather than repetitive and annoying (like I assume it must be for Davids). If I were naming a baby, I'd look for names that have been ranked lower than 20th but higher than 50th in popularity for the last 20-30 years. That gives the best chance of picking something that sounds normal but fairly unique for a schoolkid but won't sound old-fashioned when the kid gets older (like Jennifer and Jason will in 20 years).

Benjamin, and Sophia. To show that I heard Kate, the results would be Benjamin Nepveu Orzel or Sophia Nepveu Orzel. Both names have the benefit of easy nicknames, but also can be kept as full without being ridiculous. The problem with Sophia is that it can't be shortened to a one-syllable nickname well, but that may not be a criterion for you. I would suggest my favorite name (and my daughter's name) but having two Kate's in the family would probably cause unwanted confusion.

Re: #61. I apologize. It was stupid and lazy for me to have cut & pasted from a comment rather than from Kate's fine blog or other primary source. No disrespect was intended. I try to be precise and careful with the names of high school students, as a substitute teacher, even when (as yesterday) they came stright from their probation officer's meeting.

Please allow me to try again, anagrammatically:

Lever Zone Up
Revel Zone Up

The former being more Physics-related; the latter, more Con-ish.

Boy: Paul Andre Maurice
Girl: Emmy

Since we had in vitro mixed set twins we had double the work and no surprise. This allowed ample time to come up with appropriate monikers, though due to a slightly premature arrival time (certainly not my tendency to procrastinate) the still arrived home as "Baby Boy A" and "Baby Girl B" and now have two page birth certificates.
Consider a multitude of names. First, I have two middle names and thought that my children should have two as well. This provides an opportunity for a child to call themselves different things at different times of their lives. Four or (or more) names offers the opportunity for a name to become more poetic (my daughter's full name rolls off the tongue), allows inclusion of a family names and provides a platform for eccentricity. One of my son's middle names is "bandicoot", because my wife's water broke while playing crash bandicoot on a borrowed playstation. Eccentricity is highly undervalued in modern American society and as a wise man once said "a riot is an ugly thing an it's about time we had one".
I am also considering having and amendment ceremony as my kids come of age, where they pick a name and add it to their title (thus generating a 3 page birth certificate). Should we have some say in what other call us above and beyond "don't call me Eddy". For uber nerd status and extra point s one could choose names that form an appropriate acronym from their initials. Have fun.

You could always come up with some arbitrary selections, like "must not have the letters J, K, W, X, or Z" (so that it is generically pronounceable in a variety of languages) and "must be able to be written using elemental symbols" (so that it is sufficiently yet subtly dorky enough). Then, you can let a perl script decide for you! Another way to arbitrarily whittle down the list is to only allow names which can't be turned into nicknames so that FutureBaby will actually wind up being called by their name (like Chad, to pick a random example).

Female: Clytemnestra
Male: Abraham

If you use either of those, I will drive out there and apologize to FutureBaby in person. But I do like them.

By Mike Bruce (not verified) on 25 Apr 2008 #permalink

How about...

Boy: Henry
Girl: Valerie

[non-reader from Whatever's links]

I think using some sort of nickname to give the child distance from the blog, and protect the child's google history, is a good idea.

If a boy, keep in mind that some male names are so common it's like not having a name at all, as John Orzel, for instance, would probably just be called Orzel all his life.

As someone with a difficult name myself, I think children will get over them, especially if there is a good reason/story behind it. But do consider that the child will live in a print culture---a name that doesn't look roughly like it is pronounced, or doesn't accurately connote gender, will have to be dealt with in a world where the child will meet many people over email/web/whatever, not in person.

Presented for your consideration:

  • Selene (three syllables; accent on first syllable, of course)
  • Timone (ditto)

No input as to which name goes with which gender. Feel free to choose whichever fits best.

And also: Congratulations and best wishes to you both and to your soon-to-be descendant!

By Christopher (not verified) on 27 Apr 2008 #permalink