Posted in Lost in Thought, Political and Social Issues, Rants

Variety in Names

In an earlier blog post, I was mumbling about the ratings received by the more ‘different’ names on Baby Names Country. There are also ratings on Baby Names World, but I couldn’t see a way to do that, so I imagine you have to register.

On Baby Names Country I was reading advice claiming that in the U.S., 85% of first names are chosen from a list of only 200 names – and other countries are more or less the same, presumably including the U.K.

That is shocking – I thought humans were supposed to be imaginative and adventurous? So many people would like to consider themselves as being apart from the crowd, but this naming convention is proof that most people prefer not to be all that different.

Of course there tend to be naming conventions within families as well – the same first name being used for the oldest son (so that you have to distinguish between ‘Carl senior’ and ‘Carl junior’ as in Snow Falling on Cedars), or the wife’s maiden name is used as the middle name of one of her children, or the mother-in-law hints she would be delighted if the first-born bore her name, and so on. Family connections are important, but when they restrict naming opportunities this way, they complicate life.

Perhaps it’s comforting to believe that there will always be a John Brown, son of John Brown, son of John Brown living in the village, and it all runs into one in your mind… you feel that life goes on forever. But sometimes you don’t want the different people to merge in that way.

There will always be bad and unfortunate names as well as good, but I wish we could have the courage to strike out a bit more; to search for a little more individuality.



I live in the UK with two cats -- Samson and Delilah.

7 thoughts on “Variety in Names

  1. I’m afraid I fell into the ‘unimaginative catagory’ with my first born and named him after both of his Grandfathers. For my daughter I had the opportunity to be a little more creative, almost. I chose a name that I thought ‘fit’ her little personality, you would be surprised how much personality you see in those first few minutes. My dad has a theory that a child should be given a ‘nickname’ until they are 18 when they can then choose their own. Whilst I think this is a little reckless imagine some of the names that may have emerged after a good afternoon in the pub! :o)

  2. LOL – if I had to choose my own name I would still be drawing up lists, looking for the perfect one. I read on one of the sites that some parents don’t name their child till it has been born – only then do they look at it and say “yes – it looks exactly like” (whatever name they were considering).

    With cats, I tend to feel they live up to whatever name you give them; I was considering names of ‘courage’ rather than shyness or secretiveness for Samson – after all if he’s shy, it does take courage for him to come up to somebody.

  3. I hear and agree, after all look how inventive we can be when choosing blog aliases.

    This is one of those areas though where the harsher aspects of life can sometimes, and sadly, get in the way as Johnny Cash illustrated with “A Boy Named Sue”. I wonder what kind of taunting a kiddie-winkle might receive in the playground if he went by the name of Bunny?

    Mind you, you should be safe with cats. Much more interested in the next meal and a cuddly warm body to snuggle up to than unsavoury name calling.

  4. Unfortunately true – one of the baby naming sites was offering feedback on to what extent people were getting bullied for the names they had, or how often they were mispronounced or misspelled.

    There was also a forum for various discussions, including a thread on names that people considered shouldn’t have been chosen.

    I remember someone telling me she knew of twins born at Christmas who were called Holly and Ivy, and she said that was dreadful. I hardly dared say I thought it was rather nice. :-). I liked the names. Again, I suppose kids would have thought them a prime target for teasing.

    A boy named Bunny… probably wouldn’t go down well in a school playground :-).

  5. I had a choir instructor in university who was a cruel man, for naming his son. His daughters were Melody, Harmony, Rhapsody (a bit odd), and his son was, Chord to keep the theme. Poor guy …I also went to high school with a Tim Burr and Ronald McDonald.
    I swear that when we have kids I am definitely thinking of every wierd possibility before I pick a name…

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