Last week, a reader named Julie sent me a fascinating e-mail:
My husband and I are trying to figure out what we want to name our first child. We have a girl’s name (Darby) but a boy would be a real problem.
The name he really really wants is Hayek (after 18th century economist – Friedrich Augustus Hayek – surely you’ve heard of him…no? really?).
He also likes “T”. Just the letter. Perfect because it works for a boy OR a girl.
His third option is Atlas from Atlas Shrugged.
I am not a fan of any of these. I am looking for a name that’s not super-traditional, but also isn’t on the Top 100 names list. I also think it’s unfair to give the child a name they constantly have to spell/pronounce/explain.
Our last name starts with an “M” and ends in a “ee” sound, so names that also end in the “ee” sound sing-songy.
Julie tried giving her husband the following list of names: Archer, Barrett, Campbell, Dexter, Dixon, Duncan, Everett, Felix, Fletcher, Flint, Ford, Gardner, Garrett, Gibson, Grady, Griffin, Holt, Langston, Leo, Lincoln, Marshall, Parker, Powell, Quentin, Tate, Weston, Zane. He didn’t care for any of them.
This is a tricky situation, but I think there’s a bright side. Julie and her husband seem to be looking at baby names from two different angles. Julie’s husband is focusing on significance, while Julie is more concerned about style. This is a good thing; I’m sure there are names out there that could satisfy both of them.
I think best way to tackle this would be to start with the more constrictive angle–significance. I’d say collect as many meaningful names as possible, then look for stylish names among them. That way, both parents get something they like.
I don’t know Julie’s husband, so I can’t say for certain what names he’d find meaningful. But I can make inferences based on his current top three. Here are some ideas:
- How about variants of Hayek’s first or middle name? Friedrich could be Frederick, Fred or Fritz. August could be Augustine, Gus or Austin.
- Hayek chose the name Laurence Joseph Heinrich for his own son. Would any of those work?
- I think many people will assume that Hayek was inspired by actress Salma Hayek. Is Julie’s husband okay with that association?
- What other economists does Julie’s husband admire? Would any of their names work as a baby name?
- I can’t say much about this one, but I wonder: Does it stand for anything? If there’s a story behind it, what other (more traditional) names could be teased out of that story?
- I think several characters in Atlas Shrugged would be good symbols of the book itself. (Even better than “Atlas,” which is more likely to make people think of myths or maps.)
- John Galt. The name John probably won’t appeal to Julie, but what about Galt? (Galt isn’t far from Holt, which is on Julie’s list.)
- Hank Rearden. Henry, like John, could be too popular/traditional for Julie’s tastes. But Rearden might work.
- Dagny Taggart, the female protagonist. Taggart could be a cool name. Nickname could be Tag. (Or even T!)
- Ellis Wyatt, Quentin Daniels and Hugh Akston are minor characters with good names. In fact, Quentin is already on Julie’s list. (Maybe Julie’s husband would like it more if he were reminded about the Rand reference?)
- How about an author-inspired name? Randall, Randolph or even Rand itself.
- What other writers and philosophers does Julie’s husband admire? Would any of their names (or character names) work as a baby name? What about other book titles?
Finally, if Julie and her husband can’t come to an agreement on the first name, I’d suggest a compromise using the middle name. Perhaps one of Julie’s names could come first, then Hayek or T or Atlas could come second.
What other ideas would you offer Julie?