Significant Baby Names vs Insignificant Baby Names

I was just reading a transcript of a recent Voice of America broadcast, “More US Parents Think Beyond Most Popular Names for Babies.” No revolutionary baby-naming information to be found, but one thing did catch my attention.

The broadcast included mini-interviews with about a dozen parents. In several of the families, one or two children had been given names with some sort of significance, while another had been given a name that was basically random. Some examples:

Elizabeth is named after my grandmother. Daniel is named after Daniel in the Bible. And Zachary sounded wild and fun so we went with it.

Caroline was a name that we liked. We found it in a baby book. And then Michael we named after my husband’s good friend and my father.

Carla Marie. This is Ashley Lyn and William David. Carla was from a friend. William was from my husband’s uncle and Ashley we just picked.

I’d certainly feel short-changed if I were Zachary, Caroline or Ashley, wouldn’t you?

There’s nothing wrong with any of these names, of course…it’s just too bad that certain siblings will have cool stories to tell about their names, while others will only be able to say something like: “Well, my folks found it in a book.”


4 thoughts on “Significant Baby Names vs Insignificant Baby Names

  1. I totally agree with you. I would feel shortchanged in that situation too. I know siblings are individuals, and will not forever be tied to one another with their names signed at the end of a holiday card, but even still, I think #1 it’s nice when their names compliment one another & #2 that they are “evenly” weighted in terms of family, biblical, nature, etc, significance.

    I know for a fact that not everyone agrees with this, though. I have a friend who is 1 of 4 kids, and she is the only one without a family name in her own name. She & others have told me that they feel happier that their parents chose names that they liked & felt strongly about rather than “just” picking a family name “because”.

    I guess that I put such great value on family names, that I have a different perspective. I just knew, once we named our first child, that the general pattern would continue for any future children we might have; meaning, like their big brother, their middle names would be direct family names, and their first names would have a subtle link to someone else, but would be a “name of their own” that no one else in the immediate family shared.

  2. My younger siblings have family names — and both hate their names, whereas I have more of a “just because” name and it suits me. My sister hates her name because it’s a creative combo of names, making it completely unusual, but enough similar to other names that she gets called the wrong name a lot. My brother hates his name because he shares the same first name with his father (the problem of being a “junior”) and his middle name is that of our maternal grandfather, a totally unpopular old-fashioned name.

  3. I wouldn’t feel short-changed at all — so long as it sounded nice. In my experience, the worst sounding names are usually the ones that were given because they are family names or have similar significance. For example, one day a friend and my MIL and I were talking about middle names and my MIL mentioned that she didn’t care for hers — except she gave my husband the same middle name (and its not any better for a guy, imho). It’s got a great history, though. It’s actually the surname name of a family that helped out their family several generations ago.

    As for me, I changed my name (though I kept my original first and middle names as a hyphenated middle name). It was a family name and also very Biblical, but just not me. Meg was my initials so I started using that as a nickname and finally changed it legally.

  4. In my dad’s family, all the males have family names, and all the females had names Grandma just picked. I never heard any of them complain about this, but I always found it interesting.

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