A reader named Sarah writes:
We need help finding a boy name for a very challenging last name…Gripe. We tend to like classic names (Henry, Charles).
Ah, the surname-that-is-also-a-word. I know this one well: my married name is one of these. They can turn great first names into puns, insults, unpleasant phrases, and who knows what else. Names like Kurt, Will, Harry and Roman just won’t do with a surname like Gripe.
I think the key to dealing with a word-surname is to select a first name that does not call attention to that surname, in terms of either meaning or sound.
- Meaning: Steer clear of first names that are words, that sound like words, or that have short forms that are similarly word-like. We want people to think of Gripe as a name, not as a verb or a noun. (I’d also keep away from A-names and I-names, which could turn into A. Gripe and I. Gripe on, say, a résumé. Not too helpful for making a good first impression.)
- Sound: Avoid names with the same sounds as Gripe, especially those with a G, long I, or G-R combination. The repetition in Gregory Gripe, for instance, makes the name sound like it belongs to a character, not a human–and it’s easy to think of character names in an abstract, meaning-laden sort of way. (Think Holly Golightly.)
The names below seem to me to be good matches for Gripe:
Do you like any of the above? What other names would you suggest to Sarah?
Update: The baby has arrived! Scroll down to see what name Sarah chose.