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What’s In A Name?

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In the grandest scheme of things, especially my utterly chaotic life, finding a name for a child shouldn’t be such a big deal really – BUT IT IS. There are far greater ramifications behind one’s name that just letters and syllables.

And everyone wants in on the action, which unfortunately, I invited upon myself.

I am pretty sure that whatever name we come up with for “Junior” – that’s what I call him for now – it will feel like we merely settled for it rather than came up with it by “knowing” the right name.

It’s different for boys, it really is.

Choosing Lily’s name was a virtual breeze compared to naming this child. For one, we had a bevy of family names to choose from and old-fashioned names for girls have made a resurgence, so it was a glut of choices.

Lily was born of Lila, who was one of many aunts on Eric’s mother’s side. It was perfect and we KNEW and KNOW we made the right choice.

But this kid, he is going to get something truly uninspiring. Eric HATES all things new-agey. His offer so far was Theodore, which (and no offense to any Teds, Theos, Teddys out there) but that just strikes me as being a really fruity sounding name just begging for a playground beating.

I liked Nicholas, Benjamin, Max, Riley and so one and so forth. HE HATES ALL OF THEM and won’t give an explanation as to why, just says “IT’S WRONG”. Ahhh, wrong. Okay well that’s helpful.

So then I thought, ‘how about some good old fashioned Norwegian name?’. But let me tell you, he (Eric) already has the only good one that doesn’t sound like some kind of yuppie sportswear – BUT GET THIS – I am not allowed to use Eric because of some stupid opinion he has about Jr’s. and offending his oldest son.

In his words, “Chris will want to know why he wasn’t given that name.” And my answer would be, because his mother was a fool. So as usual in my secondary role, I get seconds.

The other name of course I love is Christopher, which happens to be Eric’s middle name, but that is also taken his first son. So I guess this kid will have to ask his dad, “Why was my brother good enough to get one of your names, but I get the shaft?” and I will be standing behind him with hands on hips, head cocked to the side and a smirk on my face saying, “Yeah ERIC, tell him why.”

Anyway, moving on from that psychological mess of crap, I am stuck with the current “well, I don’t hate that one” names of Thomas and Alexander, which are okay and I don’t hate either, but who wants to explain to their child “well we named you _______ because we didn’t hate that name, sorry it sucks”.

Not to mention all the suggestions we have been given and the pressure from certain family members to use names that may just not be “the one.”

I know this is silly, but a name is important. It defines you, helps in creating your experiences, your past, present and future – especially for boys. I just want something manly sounding, but also endearing to loved ones.

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About Dawn Olsen

  • Johno

    Dawn, I feel your pain. My family put a fair amount of stock in giving me family names, since I was at the time (and still am) the last male in the line. The choices: Myron, Stanley, Homer, and John. I got John Myron and count myself a very lucky man.

    I now feel the same pressure, and the situation isn’t helped much by my wife’s family names, who bring Darl and Fred to the mix on the boy’s side. Homer Darl? Fred Stanley?

    Since I live in Massachusetts now, I’m pushing for the old-school route with any kids I have. Boys get Increase, Cotton, and Constancy and girls get Ethelmer, Susannah, and Fight The Good Fight Of Faith.

  • Dawn

    Homer Darl? Jeebus who would do that to a child? That is abuse in the highest form.

    Thanks for feeling my pain, as it is severe and unmitigating.

  • Eric Olsen

    Dawn, I believe names are a matter of inspiration, inspiration that bubbles closer to the surface the closer the time comes. Also, whatever you think of a name before a baby is born, once he/she is born the name becomes the person, and unless it’s REALLY weird (see comment #1), no one thinks much about it as a name anymore because it isn’t a name it’s a person.

    the correct name will appear, like Lily, the little man will name himself

  • Tom Johnson

    Were it a girl, my first suggestion would be “Lovette.” I threaten my wife with that all the time – that if we have a girl, I’m going to have all kinds of stuff printed up with “Lovette” all over it. Since it’s a boy, may I humbly suggest “T-love”?

    Or maybe “Thomas.” I like that one.


    May I suggest “Bricklayer”? Since my very own little one is “Brick Jr”, it would create no confusion amongst the little ladies if these 2 little tykes were to ever share a homeroom, or professional football club.

  • TDavid

    Bricklayer, no offense mon, but the name “bricklayer” is ripe for abuse in school by other children. Not that that is the reason not to take a name, but some parents pick really far out names that subject their children to ridicule.

    Whatever the child’s chosen name I believe they grow into it, so while it is very important it is perhaps a bit overstated to go with the idea that if a mistake is made when naming the child the name won’t fit.

    There’s always the possibility of nicknames, abbreviations and the like no matter which way a parent goes.

    Good luck on the name choosing :)

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Does anyone else remember the funniest one-joke sketch of all-time on SNL, starring Nic Cage? He plays an expectant father discussing possible names with his pregnant wife. He rejects each one as ripe for ridicule by the other kids in school. The punch line is that we find out from a delivery man that Cage’s character’s first name is “Asswipe,” which he perturbedly insists is pronounced “Ahs-wee-pay.”

    “Ahs-wee-pay” became the ultimate insult in my family that night, and remains so.

    My unasked-for suggestion, as a copy editor by trade, is that whatever you name him, spell it traditionally. This will save him the annoying task of having to spell his name thousands of times in a lifetime. It will also make copy editors’ jobs much easier when the child becomes, inevitably, recognized as a genius and we all must write about his his various glorious accomplishments.

    Best of luck.

  • Chris Arabia

    i knew a medical supply salesman in the boston area named–

    palmer dinkle.

    that traditional spelling thing is GREAT advice. we don’t need every taughm, dicque, and harrie having some spelling disaster.

  • ClubhouseCancer

    Kryss is right.

  • Tom Johnson

    I have to agree with Kryss/Chris and Mr. Cancer: please do the little one a favor and give the name the traditional spelling. My wife’s name is Alissa, which rhymes with Alyssa (short ‘i’ sound) but she regularly gets called “Alicia,” “Alison,” and “Lisa.” Why this trips people up, I don’t know.

    Of course, I still stand by my suggestions of “T-Love” and, of course, “Thomas.” What a great name, huh?

  • Eric Olsen

    Saged advice all, so if we do go with “Bricklayer,” we should spell it that way, right?

  • TDavid

    You could of course name the child TDavid and then folks will call him “Dave” or “David” or add periods and such like they do with me.

    Or maybe like Eric where he now calls Taloran and me both “T” … If Mr. T becomes a blogcritic, he’s going to be in trouble (i’m just joking, kids LOL)

    As a rule I don’t take liberties with people’s names, although on the internet it seems pretty standard to butcher folks nicks/handles, which probably aren’t their names anyway.

  • Tom Johnson

    As a rule I don’t take liberties with people’s names, although on the internet it seems pretty standard to butcher folks nicks/handles, which probably aren’t their names anyway.

    This is why I chose as my “handle” a name like Tom, which can’t be too mangled. My real name, however, is actually Chopper. Chopper Johnson.

  • TDavid

    Whenever I hear the word “Chopper” it takes me back to that classic scene in Stand By Me. Do you get a lot of that, Tom?

  • Tom Johnson

    No, but before I gave up Cheetos and ice cream on a daily basis, I got a lot of “Hey, Lardass! Chow down, wide load!”

    Okay, maybe not, but I thought I’d continue with the Stand By Me thing.

  • bookofjoe

    Dawn, go here

    A most unusual name! Then there’s Capability Brown who, until her recent death, was considered England’s greatest gardener.

  • Eric Olsen

    Our almost-4-year-old Lily likes to play the “silly names game.” Her favorite so far is SpiderwebToothpasteHead.

    Kind of long, though.