6 Creative Ways to Turn a Family Name into a Baby Name

Let’s say you want to name your baby after a grandparent, but you don’t want to pass the name down exactly as it is. What are your options? Here are some ideas:

  • Flip the order of the first and middle names.
    • Henry John Peters -> John Henry Peters
    • Helen Jane Peters -> Jane Helen Peters
  • Add a name to the mix.
    • Henry John Peters -> David Henry John Peters, Henry Aaron John Peters, Henry John Kevin Peters
    • Helen Jane Peters -> Alice Helen Jane Peters, Helen Winifred Jane Peters, Helen Jane Laura Peters
  • Use an alternative form of either or both names.
    • Henry John Peters -> Hank John Peters, Henry Sean Peters, Harry Ivan Peters
    • Helen Jane Peters -> Nell Jane Peters, Helen Joan Peters, Helena Jean Peters
  • Change one name, but retain the initial.
    • Henry John Peters -> Harold John Peters, Henry James Peters
    • Helen Jane Peters -> Helga Jane Peters, Helen Joy Peters
  • Change one name entirely.
    • Henry John Peters -> Jason John Peters, Henry Kent Peters.
    • Helen Jane Peters -> Donna Jane Peters, Helen Ophelia Peters.
  • Change both names, but retain both initials.
    • Henry John Peters -> Hector Jason Peters
    • Helen Jane Peters -> Jennifer Harriet Peters

What other ideas would you add to the list?

P.S. Here’s a related post from about a year ago: How to End a Family naming Tradition.

3 thoughts on “6 Creative Ways to Turn a Family Name into a Baby Name

  1. Great list! My favorite is to think about family nicknames. My grandfather wrote poetry under the pen name Archie White, my dad (Eric) answered to the nickname Clark and my sisters are known as Bird and Bo. So far the only one we’ve incorporated is Bird (though we used Wren), but nicknames can be a rich trove of options.

    You could also go farther than John/Sean/Ivan – In Isabel Allende’s “The House of the Spirits,” Clara names her daughter Blanca, who in turn names her daughter Alba – they’re all linked by meaning. It doesn’t work for every name, but when it does, it can make for some truly appealing options.

    And, of course, there are always family surnames. My neighbors, both born in the South, named their firstborn Tucker. As it turned out, she’s a girl – but they didn’t find out the gender ahead of time, and since it was mom’s maiden name, it was non-negotiable. Another friend has a son called Catesby for similar reasons.

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