Name needed: What do you think of Stanley?

A reader named Whitney would like some opinions on the name Stanley. Here’s what she says:

My husband’s name is Constantine, and I thought it would be a subtly sweet way to name our boy after him. Unfortunately, we have received less-than-stellar feedback from a lot of friends and family members.

She also mentions:

I am a bit wary of going onto public forums, as I have seen many get effectively crucified for their name choices, and while it wouldn’t normally bother me, I’m just so attached to the idea of Stanley that I couldn’t stomach it well.

Personally, I think Stanley is a great name. And I love that it was inspired by Constantine.

But it’s certainly unstylish right now. This might be what’s behind all the less-than-stellar feedback.

A lot of people can’t fathom why a parent would use an unstylish name for a baby. They don’t understand why a parent would choose a fusty name like Clarence or Eugene when fashionable options like Caleb and Ethan are available.

(One day, of course, Caleb and Ethan will be out, Clarence and Eugene will be back in, and these people will change their tune accordingly. But I digress.)

Feedback that speaks to style or taste should always be put into context. Stanley isn’t a popular name at the moment, so it makes sense that people aren’t going to be too enthusiastic about it. This doesn’t mean that Stanley is a bad name; it just means that people’s opinions are influenced by prevailing trends.

Feedback that speaks to other things, though, is often much more valuable. Has anyone brought up unpleasant associations? Offensive nicknames? Vulgar initials? Trends come and go, but facts like these stick for life.

I’d bet that most of the feedback Whitney is getting falls into the first group. I think this type of feedback could be disregarded if Whitney is willing to acknowledge (and accepts the fact) that Stanley is simply not a popular baby name. Any feedback that falls into the second group, though, should be taken more seriously.

What do you think of the name Stanley?

P.S. Whitney didn’t ask for name suggestions, but I did want to mention Stanton and Thurstan as possible alternatives to Stanley. They have the same “stan” element, but neither has ever been in style (as Stanley once was) and therefore neither has ever fallen out of style (as Stanley now has). So people might find them more agreeable.

15 thoughts on “Name needed: What do you think of Stanley?

  1. I see “Stanley” but I hear “Stan Lee”, comic book creator. Which is just an AWESOME name for a kid. (Well, unless his parents hate comics.)

  2. I know that suggestions weren’t asked for, but in line with Nancy’s ideas, I’d like to suggest Tristan, Dunstan (for the -stan parts), as well as Connor, Conrad, and Deacon (for the ‘con’ parts), and Augustine and Valentine (for the -tine parts).

    Stanley is a solid, masculine name (heck, it rhymes with “manly”). If you want to use it, use it.

  3. I think Stanley is a lovely name. I was going to be called it if I was a boy and my best friend is called it. And Stan, for short, is a good nickname but still sounds like a good, strong name too from baby to old man :)

  4. You know, Harry, Atticus, Henry, Theodore–they were all uncool until the hipster generation decided to start naming their kids. I like Stanley because of Flat Stanley. And Stan Lee, indeed.

  5. Stanley is a guilty pleasure of mine and I would be DELIGHTED to meet a little Stanley.

    Really Stanley isn’t that off the wall, surnames ending with -ley are quite popular; Harley, Ainsley, Riley, Presley, etc. But Stanley has the advantage of being a decidedly male name, unlike some of the other -ley names that are becoming ambiguous.

  6. I had to click over to say that I LOVE the idea of a little Stanley. When I was in high school I babysat a brother pair named Carl and Stanley and they were the so incredibly sweet and cute.

    There is something about those old timey male names on chubby cheeked toddlers that is irresistible.

    FTR, I think Constantine is an awesome name, too.

    Only drawback I can see is the kids might call him Stanley Steamer. It could be much worse.

  7. I love Stanley. It’s classic, although as mentioned, not very popular right now (IMHO that’s a good thing). My father’s name is Stanislaw, Stan for short and associated with lots of good things like The Stanley Cup!

  8. First of all, thank you Nancy for doing this blog for me! I apologize I haven’t gotten to respond to it sooner, but a snowstorm rolled through Friday night (to welcome spring, of course!) and my hubby and I were stranded at a friend’s house, sans Internet connection, over the weekend.

    You hit the nail on the head that most (in fact all, I think) of the negative feedback we’ve received is because Stanley is “an old man’s name.” I still love it; even before I had my Constantine, I loved it, and now I see it as a wonderful way to honor my amazing husband without bringing another junior into this world.

    I love your suggestions of Stanton and Thurstan, Nancy, as well as Angela’s suggestions. I love them ALL a ton and they are definitely up for consideration for us, now :) Thank all of you who have responded for your feedback. It’s been immensely helpful for us to look into the minds of individuals who don’t believe every child should be named something rhyming with Aidan. We appreciate it so much and will keep everyone posted on the arrival of our baby boy :)

  9. Just one more thought to echo what’s above. Lee also makes a great nn for Stanley, which I see as being a ageless nn.

  10. Whitney recently commented:

    We have decided that we’re going with Stanley James for our little boy; Stanley, of course, for my husband and James for his brother!

    I’m so glad they’re sticking with Stanley. Great choice!

  11. Stanley is my real name. I always hated it and prefer people to call me Stan. But several people say that they like it. Most of my friends are named Chris, John, Brian, you get the idea. Most people prefer to call me Stanley vs. Stan. So I am used to it. But I also get called Stanton, Stanford or anything along those lines. He’ll get used to it and grow to like it.

  12. I personally love the name Stanley – as it denotes strength and intergrity. Both of these qualities are lacking in our society…

  13. Baby #2 is due next month, and we are planning on naming him Stanley despite some objections from some friends and relatives. Funnily enough, we named our first Eugene. And so we will have two boys, Eugene and Stanley. I think they go so well together, and I love the idea of two little boys with such old-fashioned names. I’m so glad I found this post with all its supportive comments. I’m taking it as a sign that Stanley is the right choice for us!

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