Reader Poll: How Did You Name Your Child(ren)?

Our second child is due in three months—a boy—and baby names have become dinner conversation. My wife has shot down my first three suggestions:

1. Gamera, the flying turtle from Japanese monster movies, known by several aliases: Gamera the Invincible, Friend of all Children and Guardian of the Universe. Okay, I was only semi-serious, but think of all the turtle toys that would fill his room.
2. Huck, as in Huckleberry Finn, which my wife fears is a name that would be the object of taunts due to the ease at which it can be rhymed with a certain word that begins with F.
3. Flynn. Those first two names have been bandied about for months. Flynn is the first name I was really excited about because of its youthful familiarity (the Flynn character in the movie Tron). Flynn is also usually a last name, making it quite obscure.

My own last name is dime store common, so giving my son a rare first name is important. I use How Many of Me and the Social Security Administration as popularity references.

As you can see, I need a cultural frame of reference to like a name, sinking my mental hooks into an association with a book, TV show, movie, or I suppose, a historical figure. My wife meanwhile has run a list of 30 names by me to no avail. That’s how our daughter’s name was picked, by a list of 50 names provided by my wife, with one jumping out at me because of its use in my favorite 1990s TV drama (I wanted the middle name to be Roslyn, if that’s any hint).

In January, Thingamababy will be hosting a Name-My-Baby Contest, so hold off on giving me any suggestions.

My question for you today is… How did you and your spouse go about selecting the name(s) of your child(ren)? Name book? Naming website? Family tree? Dream? Next person to knock on your door?


27 Responses to “Reader Poll: How Did You Name Your Child(ren)?”

  1. Fran Magbual says:

    My husband thinks he’s Italian (he’s actually Filipino) so we looked for names that sounded Italian. We also picked names that would give the children the same initials as his and as each other. Sticking to one letter of the alphabet helped us narrow down choices really easily. Their middle names are family names. Our son has my father’s name and our daughter has my husband’s mother’s name. They both ended up with unusual names which is what we intended.

    December 20th, 2007 at 3:08 am

  2. John says:

    Our first method was an utter failure. We came up with 4 names, one of which I loved. We then asked various members of our family to choose one. Well, her family latched onto one and mine onto another. It got close to being ugly. We ended up scrapping the whole list and started anew.

    We then went with the social security administrations list. We took the list and eliminated the “obvious” and looked at what was left. Then one name just jumped out at us. After we chose the name, we didn’t tell anyone what it was until after she was born.

    December 20th, 2007 at 4:55 am

  3. Darcy says:

    For our daughter, the first name was easy; one we had always liked. The second came from a saint whose feast day was near her due date.

    But we did give our daughter a second middle name–Boudica, after the ancient British warrior queen.

    It’s been a dividing point with both friends and family. Either they think it’s cool or we’ve lost it. We figure if it’s a second middle name, she can ultimately decide whether to use it or not. We will tell her who Boudica was and why we chose it though.

    December 20th, 2007 at 5:14 am

  4. RobMonroe says:

    Ahh, the name game. We had two official names prior to our baby’s birth!

    My rule:
    At least two nicknames can be derived from the name. Robert = Rob, Bert, Bob. Charles = Chuck, Charlie. I like the idea that she can choose later what she wants to be called, and we’ve given her some easy options.

    The actual naming story:
    My wife decided that she likes her mom’s first and middle names (Carol Ann) enough to combine them into Carolann. I was very opposed to this, but did not seem to have a leg to stand on as I did not have a good substitute. When she finally told her mom of this idea, it was shot down immediately. (small victory for me)

    Two days later we ended up spending some time helping set up stuff at a homeless shelter with a woman from church that we knew, but not well. On the way home I said “I like Abby.” My wife said “me too.” I had to clarify that I meant as a name! (Carolyn as a middle name)

    Good Luck!

    December 20th, 2007 at 5:40 am

  5. mamarazi says:

    My maiden name is Flynn and I used to think I might use it until I married someone with the last name McGinn. I don’t think the world is ready for Flynn McGinn, but it might work nicely with your name. BTW I have a friend who named her son Flynn. As you probably know, the name means son of a red-haired (or red-faced) man. Her father, who recently died, was red-headed so she was particularly enamored of the name. Good luck! I’m in the same boat. I’ll send my other name options in January.

    December 20th, 2007 at 5:51 am

  6. dan says:

    For our first, my wife and I were trying to think up names. I joked that if it were a girl, we should name her Parker (after Miss Parker on “The Pretender”). Well, after the birth of our son, we were at a loss for a name. Parker was brought up, this time as a serious candidate. It worked good for a boy’s name and we had never met any Parker’s, so there we go!

    December 20th, 2007 at 6:26 am

  7. Beth A. says:

    The middle name for our first born son was selected the day we got married. My dad and my father-in-law have Edward for a middle name, so we decided that would be the middle name YEARS before we got pregnant!

    First names were harder:
    My husband really likes names associated with the Wild West. The problem being that we already had a Wyatt (Wyatt Earp), 2 Carsons (Kit Carson), and about a dozen Bills/Billys/Billies (Billy The Kid)…and I immediately rejected Jesse as an option.

    He also likes Scottish/Highlander names. His first name he suggested was Duncan. I didn’t care for that mixed with our last name…so I rejected that too.

    I like names that can be made into nicknames. I’m an Elizabeth, but have gone by Beth my entire life. I liked having the option to “pick” my name. I liked Jacob and Lucas…my husband squashed those names so fast I didn’t even get a chance to fully say them!

    So I decided to let him just keep suggesting names and when I heard one I liked, we’d use it. Finally he got around to Dalton (of the Dalton Gang — Wild West names remember?). The day after we found out our baby was a boy, I asked him if we could use Dalton Edward for the name. I never rethought that from that moment on. And now the name perfectly fits my son…he’s not a Luke, Jake, Duncan (*shudders*), or anything else…he’s 100% a Dalton.

    I just realized HOW long this post is…so I’m going to shut up now!

    December 20th, 2007 at 6:43 am

  8. Julian says:

    We’re having our first child in March, so we’re right in the process of choosing.
    One site that you didn’t mention which is very helpful for popularity/trends is the Name Voyager:
    By the same people, Nymber suggests more names based on a few you like… I don’t find it terribly successful, but it’s fun to play with:
    They also have a book which we like a lot better than others we’ve seen:

    We have probably 3-5 names each for boy/girl (we’re not finding out). Still trying to add a few to the list before we narrow it down.

    Incidentally, my wife loved the name Flynn, but both her parents and I hate it. Quinn is fine, I just don’t like Flynn…

    One we recently thought of that we both like for a girl is Malena, but we’re undecided whether the movie gives it negative connotations, and also whether it’s just too unusual…

    December 20th, 2007 at 7:22 am

  9. Nichole says:

    “Gamera is really neat!
    He is made of turtle meat!
    We all love him! Gamera!”

    (Thank you, Mystery Science Theater, for permanently embedding that little ditty in my head.)

    My husband’s grandfather flew a Piper Cub airplane, and we found a metal Piper Cub sign to hang in the nursery. A few weeks after we hung it up, we agreed that Piper would be a lovely name.

    Our son, Graham, doesn’t have any such story. We just liked the name.

    December 20th, 2007 at 7:29 am

  10. Hope says:

    For our two children, we pick a first name that we like. No meaningful ties, just something we both like. Also we give the full spelling of a name, so the poor kid has some options when they grow up. Our son is Alexander, and we call him Axel for short, but he could be Alex or Xander or Big Al. (if hes a mechanic) Our daughter is Aurora, and gets Rori for short. (We usually call them by the long names, but it seems no one else can say such long names.)
    For the middle name, we give them interesting names that have some sort of meaning. Our sons middle name is Trust, because he was born with the medical condition gastroschisis. I can not explain how helpless we felt when he was born, and we had to trust that everyone knew what they were doing and that it would all turn out ok. (with a normal healthy baby at the end)
    Our daughters middle name is Caprice, which means whim, or whimsical. People always think she was an accident because my kids are not quite a year apart. Well she wasnt an accident, but there just wasnt a whole lot of planning. Just a whim. It went like this “wow having a baby is way easier then people say it is. We should have another one!” Both of us forgot that Alexander spent his first 8 weeks in the hospital, and we slept very well at home.

    So we have an Alexander Trust and Aurora Caprice.

    And they never have to tell people their middle names if they dont want to.

    December 20th, 2007 at 9:52 am

  11. Daddy Dre says:

    Both of our children’s first names (Owen and Morgan) are the last names to two people who were instrumental in getting me and my wife together in the first place.

    December 20th, 2007 at 9:58 am

  12. Molly says:

    Our first baby is due in @ 6 weeks. Hubby and I didn’t consult name books or anything like that. We just started throwing out names until we came on a combination we liked. Since we don’t know the sex of the baby, we had to pick out male and female names. It took us a little while but we found ones we both agreed on.

    December 20th, 2007 at 1:20 pm

  13. Mama Peach says:

    We picked our DD’s name from a TV show. A great, witty, well-written, and FAR too shortlived TV show. I looove her name and get nothing but compliments on it. I don’t know how our second child’s name will be able to follow it up to tell you the truth!

    December 20th, 2007 at 2:40 pm

  14. Sandra says:

    My husband’s older brother named his son after my husband’s middle name (Joseph), and his middle name is Christopher, which turned out both my hubby and liked, so that was good. We took my brother’s name as my son’s middle name, so Christopher Lawrence it was. It turned out nice that we were able to use both sides of the family.

    December 20th, 2007 at 3:37 pm

  15. Jana says:

    I checked out the 50,001 Baby Names book from the library and I went through it painstakingly and made a list. We already had two names that we each liked (I was in favor of Devin, he was in favor of Daylin). We already knew we were having a boy and we were thinking about giving him a name (either first or middle) that started with “M” (in remembrance of my stepfather who had passed away.

    My list of names was short, because we knew we were looking for a name that was unusual but not “weird”. I also had said each name I liked out loud with our last name – to ensure that the whole sound of the name was good.

    My husband and I went through my list, agreed on one name (Kieran) and decided to go ahead and name him after my stepfather (Michael). A few names we really liked (Aiden) were too popular to be chosen. We were unusual, we found our name around 6 months into the pregnancy and never wavered. Now that he’s here I have a million nicknames for him (booger butt is my favorite) that have nothing to do with his name. We still do get comments on his name (How do you spell it?) but everyone agrees that its a lovely name. So, hopefully, will he once he’s older.

    December 21st, 2007 at 5:57 am

  16. Kevin says:

    This baby name book is especially for you..

    December 21st, 2007 at 7:01 am

  17. Cecily T says:

    We jokingly decided that we liked a name from a book, Verity, since we were looking for something unusual. Mine’s really Jessica, and I was either one of 5 ‘jess’s’ or else someone would end up calling me Jennifer. :| It was a joke at first, since we weren’t certain people would get it, but it actually *has* been used as a name. It’s an old-fashioned name, like Chastity or Faith, but it means Truth. We used her great-grandmother’s name for a middle name.

    In the process, we came up with a 2nd girl name we like, as well as a boy name, so we are set when we have our 2nd. The only rules were that *we* had to like it, not our family or friends, and we agreed that it had to be unusual, so no ‘Jennifers’, ‘Bobs’, or ‘Mikes’.

    Unlike one of the previous posters, we disliked a lot of names on the basis of how they formed nicknames; we prefer that a full name be used. My husband’s name is Jeremy, and he hates “Jer”, “Jerry”, or “Jeremiah”.

    Good luck :)

    December 21st, 2007 at 7:40 am

  18. Doug Cornelius says:

    We let out son pick his name. We were having trouble breaking down our list to one final name.

    We took a monthly calendar, centered around the due date. My wife and I took turns filling in each day with a name we liked. Any name we liked on any day we wanted. We ended up putting down the names we liked best on the most days. Neither of us had much faith in the predicted due date so the names were not clustered around the due date.

    When he was born, he got the name assigned to that day on our calendar.

    December 21st, 2007 at 8:16 am

  19. Beckie says:

    My oldest, his dad named him, I had little to do with it :(

    Danielle, is named after my father. About a month after I announced my pregnancy, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I told him, if he lives I’ll name the baby after him, but if he dies, I won’t! LOL!! Lucky for us, not only did he live dispite some pretty bad odds, he’s still around with us today! (after another battle with brain cancer even!!)

    Jack, is named after any of an assorted number of Disney Jacks. Jack Skellington, Jack Sparrow, Jack-Jack from the Incredibles. Plus is other Grandpa’s name is John, and Jack is like John’s younger cooler version ;)

    December 21st, 2007 at 8:55 am

  20. wwbd says:

    We knew that we wanted an Irish name, but not one that was super common. The name that we picked (Anya) is the American spelling of the Gaelic Aine, although most people assume that it is Russian, which it is as well. We first knew of the name from Buffy, but met a girl while traveling in New Zealand who was a native Gaelic speaker who happened to be named Aine. We looked up the meaning:
    “Ancient Irish name from the noun aine that means “splendor, radiance, brilliance.” Aine is connected with fruitfulness and prosperity. The queen of the Munster fairies was called Aine as was one of the wives of Fionn Mac Cool (read the legend). Aine appears in folktales as “the best-hearted woman who ever lived – lucky in love and in money.”
    which was too cool.

    For boys names we were going to go more traditional with Patrick paired with my mom’s maiden name (a common Irish surname).

    December 21st, 2007 at 10:20 am

  21. Christy says:

    Since we are still working on naming our son due in February (I know, cutting it short aren’t we), I will submit our method for naming our last dog. She is a retired racing greyhound. We didn’t change our first grey’s name and kept it Heat from his racing name Feel the Heat. Then we adopted a girl whose racin gname was Bart’s Checkmate and they called her Checkers at the kennel. That wasn’t going to work for either one of us. So we made a list of names (most of which came from the atlas since we picked her out on a Friday on our way for a roadtrip and picked her up on Sunday). Anyway, had this list of names and each of us picked the three we liked best on separate sheets of paper. We decided that if any of them matched that is what we would use. Incidentally we both picked Memphis and we named her Memphis Belle because she makes this thumping sound when she sniffs and it kind of sounds like an airplane prop when it starts up.

    December 21st, 2007 at 12:57 pm

  22. LindaW says:

    We had the name talk before knowing the baby’s gender. I told my husband that if it were a girl, her middle name had to be Christine. I said if it was a boy he could name him, but that I had veto power.

    He wondered why Chrsitine. I explained how the family tradition went. My Aunt Gladys had named her daughter Susan Jean after my mom, Nella Jean (always called Jean by her family). I was named Linda Sue after Susan Jean. Susan Jean named her daughter Crystal Lynn after Linda Sue. So to not break the chain, our daughter would be named “Something” Christine after Crystal Lynn.

    Well, he so liked the idea he decided should do the same for a boy, using his brothers middle names (okay, so it’s trading middle names to first and middle, but he thought of it as being the same. It’m male logic, so don’t ask me to explain it…)

    He had three brothers, so to leave no one out we decided Danielle Christine for a girl and Justin Thomas for a boy.

    Unfortunately it looks like out generation is gong to be the one to break tradition anyway, since we did not have a girl and may stop with just one child.

    *sigh* ah well…

    December 21st, 2007 at 1:16 pm

  23. Dawn says:

    My husband and I could absolutely not agree on a name for a girl. When we found out we were having a girl, the pressure was on. We both lived and studied in Germany and during a brain-storming session in the car, we tossed around the idea of a German name. After considering names like Heidi, Gretl, Liesel, Luisa, Brigitta (think “Sound of Music) etc. the only one we liked was Annika, and we had friends (from Germany) who had already claimed that name for their baby. We started getting silly and throwing out names of German cities. We both studied in a town called Jena (pronounced YAY-na), but everyone here says “GEE-na” or “JEN-na” We suddenly both looked at each other and said that we liked Jenna. We looked it up and saw that it meant “one who seeks peace,” and it was decided! My grandma’s name is Grace, so our little girl became Jenna Grace. The name is perfect for her.

    December 21st, 2007 at 4:05 pm

  24. STL Mom says:

    My husband and I had trouble agreeing on a girl’s name. His first choice was Sarah, but that was a top-ten name and I didn’t want her to be “Sarah N.” all the time. My first choice was Naomi, which my husband just didn’t like. At the last minute (I think actually in the hospital, after we found out she was a girl) we agreed to name her after my husband’s recently deceased grandmother. She was a wonderful woman, but I wasn’t sure that her name would sound great for a little girl.
    However, it only took a few days of saying our daughter’s name to make it sound perfect for her. I suspect that once you associate a name, – any name – with your child, you will love that name.
    Well, maybe not Gamera…

    December 22nd, 2007 at 8:47 am

  25. Tara says:

    We chose our daughter’s middle name (Christine) first. It’s my husband’s grandmother’s middle name and 1 child in each generation has the name, ours being the 4th.

    We chose her first name by my putting all of the names I liked and that went with Christine on a list. I used the book Beyond Jennifer, Jason, Madison and Montana, and narrowed my list down to 6. Then I gave the list to my husband who mulled them over and marked out the ones he didn’t like. The only one he circled was the one we went with. Her name is Aidan Christine. Aidan is Gaelic (the traditional Gaelic spelling is Aeodhan) and means fiery one which fits her personality perfectly. Both of our names are Gaelic so we’ll give future children Gaelic names as well.

    December 22nd, 2007 at 6:28 pm

  26. rachel says:

    The naming story for my own child is long and boring but I have a friend with a funny idea (at least for a girl). She continuously suggested names to her husband throughout the pregnancy. He did a google image search on each name. The rule was the he would automatically veto any name that turned up a naked lady on the first page of results. Their daughter’s name is Eloise.

    December 29th, 2007 at 9:38 pm

  27. thordora says:

    My oldest daughter’s name was picked because it was interesting but not common, and classic enough to endure into adulthood (and my choice solidified when I had a dream in which I was calling her Vivian.)

    My second-my husband wanted a variation of Rose for his paternal grandmother, so we went with Rosalyn. Neither name is common, but both, I feel, will serve them well when they’re older. My husband was insistant on avoiding “weird for the sake of weird” names. Since I kind of have one of those names myself, I mostly agreed with him. Going through your entire life correcting pronunciation is irritating.

    For boys we could never agree, but tossed around Darwin with the first pregnancy, and Kieron/Ciaran for the second. I preferred Atom, Finn or Marcus myself.

    December 31st, 2007 at 9:46 am

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