– William Shakespeare,
Romeo and Juliet
It’s a beautiful line from an amazing play, but is it true? Would we still be talking about these star-crossed lovers more than four hundred years later if they were Bartholomew & Agnes? Maybe, maybe not.
So what is in a name? Face it: We conjure up images of people by hearing their names. What do you think of when you hear Brittany, Chelsea, Katelyn? Ladonna, Shaneka, Selena? Gertrude, Hazel, Beulah? Maria, Lupe, Consuela? Even a name that has the same meaning can sound different depending on how it’s used – such as Joe vs. José vs. Joseph vs. Joey.
Maybe the words that matter most to us personally are our own names. Do you like your own name? I didn’t like Julie growing up. I wanted a more distinguished name – like Priscilla. But I have come to appreciate that my name suits me well. It’s straightforward, not terribly common, and has an upbeat sound.
The concern of what is in a name came to bear pretty heavily when choosing our children’s names. After I unceremoniously threw out my husband’s first picks and he did the same to mine (ah, marital compromise!), we were then faced with the task of choosing a name that was acceptable to both of us and communicated what we wanted to say about our child.
I have to say that I am not personally among those comfortable with naming my child after a fruit (Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter is Apple), an object (Michael Jackson named a son Blanket), or a place (Ireland belongs to Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger). Not to mention Facebook’s Like button. I also did not feel the need to have Joseph John Glover IV –no family names came into play. Moreover, I insisted that the name be pronounceable: Some people seem to think they can spell a simple name like Cindy as Zynndee. Really? That just confuses me.
So after going through the Baby Name Book we had (and there are thousands and thousands of baby names!), we gathered a group of names to work with. We ranked them and picked out top girl and boy choices.
The next test came when I asked teachers in my family how schoolchildren could use these potential names to mock and bully my future children. Honestly, if you name your child Buford Ulysses Grant and he wears glasses, expect him to be called BUG eyes (and worse). There are some names or initial combinations that are like painting a bull’s-eye target on your child’s back.
I think my children like their names okay. They are strong male names, with no mockability factor thus far, and they have special meaning to us.
I like my first name as well. And I have the special happiness of liking both my maiden and married names (lucked out on that one).
What do you think of your own name? Does your name have special meaning? Is there a story behind how you got your name? How about your children’s names? How did you pick them? If you are a writer, do you have a pen name? How did you choose it?