What’s In A Name?

As time inches closer to summer and the kicks in my belly become more forceful, there is no denying that another little one will be making her entrance sooner rather than later. Since I am well into the sixth month of pregnancy, I’m often asked if we have a name picked out. The answer is no. We have our list narrowed down and we approach the topic about once a week or so, but  we’re not ready to make the choice just yet, and we may not be for awhile.


I find the whole baby naming process absolutely fascinating. And I know that I am not the only one. For example, I first read Freakonomics back in 2005 and enjoyed the unique approach to explaining the science of economics beyond financial numbers. The authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, also wrote an article in 2005 for Slate titled Trading Up: Where Do Baby Names Come From?which highlights the soci0-economic impact of names and how names migrate through the population. Because children were the furtherest thing from our minds back then (you know, the days when sleep wasn’t viewed as a commodity), I never bothered to read the article until the summer of 2009, when I was first pregnant. And boy, were my eyes opened to a whole new world (sans magic carpet).


Unlike some of our family and friends, Clay and I never discussed baby names until we were well aware of the existence of our spawn. I didn’t grow up with names already picked out (although I did fancy Ryan for a girl) so the process was a bit overwhelming the first time around. I was introduced to the world of Nameberry and the Social Security Administration’s rankings of name popularity and I became aware of entire communities devoted to baby names. Obviously, we chose the name Weston for our little boy. His name simply means ‘into the west’. And since the west has a historical connotation of opportunity, we found it fitting to give our son a name literally filled with opportunity. Weston met our requirements of not being too popular and not being so unique that it causes people (and future employers) to side-eye the choice. When it came time to decide on a middle name, there was no doubt that we wanted to use a name rife with family significance, so it was an easy choice. For us, it is extremely important for the middle name of our children to be more than just a name we happen to like, we want it to be part of their history.


So in short, only time will tell the name of our little girl.

What about you? Did you have your names picked out long before you had children or did you decide last minute? Did you research name meanings or just choose a name simply because you liked it?



23 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. We had Maureen’s name all picked out as our girl name (back then you had to wait to find out) and her name was to be Hillary Maureen. As soon as she was born I said she looked like a Hillary and Mike said he thought her name should be Maureen! So after 9 months of thought, we were scrambling for a middle name. The second time around is worse because your number one name is already gone. (if the same sex)
    Aunt Sue

  2. No experience with this, but I’ve heard people say that they had names all picked out…but when they actually saw and held their child for the first time, the name didn’t fit and an entirely different name popped into their heads as perfect for THAT CHILD. Maybe you’ll be among that group. 🙂 Interestingly, before getting married (and deciding that we might not actually want to have kids, to the dismay of wannabe grandparents on both sides), we liked the names “Emma” and “Megan” – both of which went on to become extremely popular in the last 13 years, which just proves that we are, in fact, trendsetters without even knowing it. 😉

  3. I heard Grayson back in ’06 and loved it. It was always in the back of my mind. There are a lot mire Graysons now, but we didn’t care. When we found out we were having a girl, we weren’t sure what her name would be. We had a little list if names we both liked. Aaron came up with Kinley and we both loved it. l and I talked about names for fun many years before we had kids. It was fun!

    1. Interestingly enough, all of the girl names that were on our ‘list’ before we found out Weston was a boy are no longer on our list for a variety of reasons. I am still waiting for Clay to suggest a name that I absolutely love…so far, he has suggested a lot of “Meh, I don’t hate it” names. Haha.

  4. My husband and I were on opposite ends of the name spectrum when it came time to name our little girl. He likes classic ‘ normal’ names, and I veered more toward the semi-trendy side ( with normal spellings). We were 100% sure of her first name and had been throwing around a middle name. It was only until we were on the way to the hospital that we nailed down that she would be named Rebekah James. It’s such a daunting process. Good Luck. I know your little girls name will be perfect for her.

    1. I love the middle name James for a girl. I’ll admit that I just adore the name Elliott for a little girl but Clay doesn’t share the love. 😦

  5. We had a very hard time. We didn’t love any boy names. Years ago I liked names that were way too popular by the time we had a baby.

    The middle name was also important to us. I didn’t want a filler. We chose Jason’s mothers maiden name (Bryson) and if we had another child, male or female, we would use my grandmothers maiden name.

    1. I really like the idea of using a maiden name as a middle name. Unfortunately, the maiden names in our families are not middle-name friendly. Bryson is great!

  6. When my parents named me, their choice was very uncommon. I can still remember adults saying “I’ve never heard that before!” Now it’s everywhere, go figure. It seems Delaney is more popular these days, but have yet to meet another Sawyer. Is Clay going to pick out the new punkin’s name?

    1. While still not popular, Sawyer is rising in popularity for girls…at least according to the SSA. I have yet to meet a little girl names Sawyer. I did meet a little Delaney last month and she is the only other one I’ve come across other than your sweet little girl. 🙂

  7. My husband and I have names picked out and we don’t have any kids yet lol. For us, it’s important for the name to have significant, not just be a random name that we like. So all of the names we have picked out are family names.

    We have also decided not to share our name choices until the baby is born. I see all the time that women tell their family and friends what they are naming the baby when they are pregnant and everyone feels the need to give their opinion, like they can convince you to change it since the baby isn’t born yet.

    1. I think it is smart not to share until the baby is born. It also prevents you from getting a lot of monogrammed stuff before hand that wouldn’t work in case you changed your mind at the hospital! 🙂

  8. When we started going about finding a name, we wanted something, like you, that was unique – but not side-eyeable. I don’t remember where I heard Braxton – but I loved it. When we found out we were having another boy, with Kieran – we knew we needed to give him a high scoring scrabble letter, too. (Braxton Xavier, and Kieran Quinn). Holden is a combination of my maiden names, and his middle name is his grandpa’s middle name.

    Since having Braxton – whose name ranked something like 637th in popularity at the time, his name has risen to top 25 in 2012. So, it turns out we’re trend setters.

    1. You’re so much of a trendsetter, that you don’t even notice you’re trendsetting. I like the idea of providing high scoring scrabble names…

  9. Are you ready for a long comment, Karen?

    With our first, Ryan, just loved the name and it felt right. Of course we looked up the meaning and were happy with that. It was pretty nice to be so confident so early on.

    Pat really wanted a second boy to be named Sean, and he knew this back when we were pregnant with Ryan. I wasn’t over the moon with it, but I was totally willing to go with it. Plus I liked that it was also four letters and also a nice meaning. Originally he was going to be Sean Patrick. The day we found out he was a boy, I said I didn’t want to use Patrick in his name. So his name is Sean Thomas. Almost everyday I reflect back on how thankful I am that we went with the name Sean….it really seems to fit him and into our family.

    When we were pregnant with our first we kept going through girl names and couldn’t agree on ANYTHING. We knew we’d use Ryan for a boy, so we decided to look at 4 letter girl names. So that narrowed it down. Sometimes I would google 4 letter girl names. One day I saw Leah and loved it. You see, my maiden name was Leahy. So I LOVED that the name Leah could represent that. I asked Pat and amazingly enough he agreed. He always liked Rachel so he wanted that as a middle name. I wasn’t sold. I knew a mean Rachel once. But after more research I was reminded of the sisters Leah and Rachel from the Bible. One was beautiful and the other was righteous–I thought that was a great combo if put together. (And secretly I liked that Rachel has the chel just like Mi-CHEL-le). SInce the name has so much meaning for us, I didn’t really care that the meaning of Leah is “weary”.

    So there you have it. I’m sure you guys will come up with something great for your baby girl.

    1. I think it is fabulous that you were able to tie your maiden name into your little girl’s name…how unbelievably sweet. Sadly, my maiden name is so unique and so not even remotely close to a usable first name that this is not an option for us. 😦

  10. We didn’t find out the gender so had to make sure we had both the girls and boys name picked, which was so difficult! But I SWORE up and down that the baby was a boy, his name would be Connor William, and we didn’t even really need a girl’s name, but would go with Katherine just in case the impossible happened. The day before I had my c-section, Nick realized we did in fact need a girl’s name (just in case) and suggested Audrey and I quickly threw it out the window. Right before my c-section, I was getting nervous it could be a girl so we made a final decision: if she had blonde or no hair, Katherine (Kate). If she had dark hair, Audrey (like Hepburn). Wouldn’t you know? It was a girl and she had a full head of dark hair and when the nurse asked what to put on the birth certificate, I hesitated. I wasn’t crazy about Audrey and spent the first two days in the hospital wondering if we made a mistake and if we could change the birth certificate. Now, I LOVE her name, even though she turned into a toe head 🙂

  11. Hi, Karen! I am a new follower of yours! Currently stationed at Ft Belvoir as well! We have 2 boys, Beckett and Kelley. We are Red Sox fans, so we ‘think’ Beckett came from Josh Beckett, but who knows? I am half Irish, and love Irish names. My husband didn’t agree with Liam, so Kelley was our next choice. Both names suit the boys very well. Clearly, if they had come out with big ears like their father, they’d both be named Jared! 🙂

    I love reading your blog! Thanks for doing it!

  12. First off I loved Freakonomics and had obviously read the article on names long before ever getting married. I had names I liked but not marriage or baby in sight. After a little bit into our marriage we started to try for a child. We would random throw names around and whatever we remembered would obviously be the front runner. After two years of ttc and lots of fertility treatments we finally got pregnant. I am 19 weeks along and we jumped back to the list. We had it narrowed done to 2-3 names each for a boy or girl. The day before the gender ultrasound we made an official choice for each name. When we heard them out loud we just knew that that is what we wanted. We didn’t plan on it being settled until much closer to the due date but that is just how it worked out. Now we are waiting for the second ultrasound to confirm the gender of the first.

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