Baby name needed: Libertarian boy name for first baby

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:

1. Hayek

  • 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?

2. T

  • 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?

3. Atlas

  • 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?

9 thoughts on “Baby name needed: Libertarian boy name for first baby

  1. I would strongly urge them not to use Hayek because of the Selma connection. Nobody is going to get the economist link. They’re all going to think they’re big actress fans.

    I love names inspired by literature (I have daughters with middle names of Esme (from Salinger) and Beatrix (Potter)). Atlas does have the Greek myth connotation, but compared to Hayek it is the clear winner. Atlas Fletcher, Atlas Parker, Atlas Zane all sound intriguing and vaguely upper-crusty. But they also sound like 55 year old men, and I think something should be considered for childhood. A nickname, for instance, or a name with more of an age-neutral feel like many of the names on Julie’s list.

    Using one of these heavy meaning names as a middle name is a great idea.

    Or maybe they’ll have a girl and can put it off til later (this worked for us!!)

  2. I just wanted to say that you did an outstanding job with this post. You teased out many new name options where I would have seen very very few. I hope they find something they like.
    About T. One of my girl guilty pleasures is Tea but I think people might try to say Tay-ah instead of Tea like the beverage. it does sound nice to my ears, but I agree that it isn’t enough of a name.

  3. Random comment @Erin: I’m an actress, and I recently did a play reading of a new work called “Three for Tea”, in which I played a character named Tea. Her real name was Tillie, which she hated, so a tea-drinking acquaintance recommended the nickname.

  4. I was at a restaurant years ago and the kid waiting on me was named Roark, which I accurately picked out as having been named after Howard Roark in The Fountainhead.

    My sister’s middle name is Ayn (for Ayn Rand) and my high school English teacher stopped a little short when I correct her pronounciation in the middle of class (it was force of habit; everyone who doesn’t recognize it as coming from Ayn Rand mispronounces it as ‘Ann’).

    Also, I wouldn’t recommend Reardon because he’s not really the hero in that story.

    Alas, my husband won’t dare let me use the name Dagny but I like the suggestion of Taggert for a boy (although it can easily be mispronounced to rhyme with Fagg*t).

  5. How to pronounce Ayn:

    “Ayn” rhymes with “mine.”

    Excerpted from a letter to a fan, 1937:

    “Your letter inquiring about the origin of my name has been forwarded to me. In answer to your question, I must say that ‘Ayn’ is both a real name and an invention. The original of it is a Finnish feminine name. . . . Its pronunciation, spelled phonetically, would be: ‘I-na.’ I do not know what its correct spelling should be in English, but I chose to make it ‘Ayn,’ eliminating the final ‘a.’ I pronounce it as the letter ‘I’ with an ‘n’ added to it.” Letters of Ayn Rand, page 40

    Source: Frequently Asked Questions About Ayn Rand

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