Baby Name Needed – What Do You Think of Phineas?

A reader named Virginia is expecting a baby in September. For a boy, she’d selected the name Phineas. She liked “that it was unusual without being bizarre,” and that it started with ph. But now she’s not so sure about the name:

All was fine and dandy until I read an article about violence in the Bible. It vaguely mentioned Phineas as a name from the Bible used as a talisman by white supremacists. What!?!

That was a shock to me too. According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Phineas Priesthood is “a violent credo of vengeance that has gained some popularity among white supremacists and other extremists in recent years.” I’d never heard of the Phineas Priesthood before–not even when Julia Roberts named her son Phinnaeus a few years ago.

Virginia doesn’t want to give up her favorite name, but she also “can’t live with such an association,” so she was hoping for some name suggestions. Other names she’s considering include Joel and Samuel (for boys) and Sigrid, Phoebe, Elisabeth, and Anne (for girls). All are family names.

First, a few thoughts:

  • I doubt many people are aware that white supremacists use Phineas as a code word. It’s an odious association, but maybe it’s also obscure enough that it’s not worth worrying about…?
  • I really like Sigrid and Phoebe–they’re both significant and unusual. Especially Sigrid. (Phoebe is being used more and more every year, so it might not be unusual for long.)

And now, name suggestions. Here are some unusual-but-not-bizarre boy names that I think Virginia might like:

Amos
Barnabas
Baxter
Ephraim
Ezra
Felix
Horatio
Humphrey
Lazarus
Matthias
Maximilian
Moses
Peregrine
Ralph
Raphael
Rufus
Silas
Simeon
Ulysses
Zephaniah

And some girl names:

Clotilde
Cybele
Daphne
Dagny
Delphine
Drusilla
Esther
Fabiola
Georgia
Josephine
Lucretia
Ophelia
Penelope
Phyllis
Ruth
Salome
Seraphina
Talulla
Tryphena
Verena

What other names would you suggest to Virginia? (And, what’s your take on the Phineas dilemma?)

Update: The baby has arrived! Click here to learn the baby’s name.


9 thoughts on “Baby Name Needed – What Do You Think of Phineas?

  1. I doubt that other people would make that connection, but I think it would bother ME if I was aware of it when I made the name choice. I also think that Phineas (certainly Finn) may be on that same path to “not that unusual,” as Phoebe.

    Phineas could be great as a middle name. Samuel Phineas? There are a lot of nickname opportunities there.

    I have always loved the name Sigrid. Love it! Unfortunately I’ll never be able to use it because I first heard it when my uncle named his poodle Sigi & put Lady Sigrid on the registration. It is such a great name, though!

  2. Here are some more unusual, but-not-bizarre boy names:

    Arthur
    Atticus
    Cassius
    Fintan
    Gideon
    Hector
    Hiram
    Leander
    Linus
    Phelan
    Philo
    Priam
    Sebastian
    Solomon
    Thadeus
    Theophilus

  3. I think that every name in the world has a bad association with something somewhere. She ought not worry about it so much.

  4. My name is Sigrid! I’m expecting my second child next month and I stumbled across this site… imagine my delight to find a woman considering this name! :) I will tell you– Sigrid is very unique, and if you do name your daughter Sigrid, she will have to spell it every time she introduces herself. But I’m usually met with positive reactions to my name. Good luck!

    Oh, and by the way… my middle name is Elisabeth (with an S– one of the other names under consideration!).

  5. Thanks for all the suggestions!
    And, Sigrid, thanks for the reassurance that this Scandinavian name is a pleasure for you.
    The ultrasound says it will be a girl, so Sigrid Margaret is the current choice. I have to spell it every time someone asks about our name choice. Many times they think I have said, “Secret” because I’m “not telling”. LOL
    I’ve put the boy name dilemma on the back burner, but you never know.
    Thanks to everybody.

  6. I’m due in August, and honestly my husband and I’ve decided to name our son Phineas. We have a toddler and yes, we watch a lot of Phineas and Ferb. But that was not the reason we went with it. I wanted to remember a dear friend of mine that died almost 2 years ago, I mentioned naming the baby Finn or Finney to remind me of her…but that didn’t quite go with our last name that starts with and F. We needed a more substantial name that we can shorten at time if we want, but that sounded better as a whole.
    So regardless, we are still going with it. There’s a jazz musician named Phineas Borne, there’s of course Phineas Gage, and Phineas and Ferb (which some like and some don’t) but regardless I think you’ll always find someone bad with the name.

    You just have to know your reasons for choosing the name and decide what’s best for you.

  7. Just heard from Virginia! She had a baby girl named Sigrid Margaret a little more than a week ago. Here’s what she says:

    I’ve been pleased to learn of many more women named “Sigrid” in the world which gives me hope that she won’t find the name awkward later.

    She also mentioned that people sometimes mishear Sigrid as “secret.”

    It’s teaching me to enunciate carefully.

    :)

    Congratulations!

  8. I was not aware of that assosiation, however, Phineas is the name of an evil king in Greek mythology. I have never liked the name. It’s the sort of name the villain in a Disney movie might have. You may savor the uniquness of the name, but I think it lacks masculinity, and for lack of a better word it’s a bit creepy!
    ….oh I just read the my advoce is useless…congrats on the baby girl, and I like the name you chose!!!!

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