The name game

Hello, May has foolishly granted me author access on her blog. So, you may hear from me from time to time.

I’m starting off with a long list post. I found The Penguin Dictionary of First Names next to the loo the other evening and took it along to bed with me. I then proceeded to read out random suggestions of names I quite like, until May kindly hinted I quietly write down my favourites. May did the same the following day; we then bravely ‘marked’ each other’s lists:

  • X – no way Jose*;
  • ~ – maybe…;
  • √ – actually, now you come to mention it…; and
  • = – hey that’s on my list too πŸ™‚

*This doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t like the name, we may know people who already own the name or sometimes an annoying classmate/colleague beat us to it.

For your complete enjoyment here is the full list of the names in a table:

H’s names May’s marks May’s names H’s marks
Abigail ~ Abraham (Bram) ~
Abiline ~ Adelaide X
Aiden X Amos X
Amaryllis X Anaïs √
Araminta X Aphra ~
Aveline X Asa X
Azaria X Astrid ~
Caitlin = Austen ~
Caleb = Barnabas X
Christabel ~ Beatrice ~
Constantine √ Blaise X
Eaden ~ Blake X
Emeline X Caitlin =
Fidelma ~ Caleb =
Gamaliel X Catriona = (with a K)
Gennadi X Cecilia √
Gregory ~ Cosimo X
Guinevere ~ Cosmo √
Holly X Dinah X
Iagan ~ Dorothea ~
Isobel = Erasmus ~
Jocelyn √ Ezra ~
Karolina ~ Finn X
Katrina ~ Francesca ~
Katriona = (with a C) Fulke X
Kelan ~ Grace X
Madeleine = Imogen ~
Malvina ~ Inigo X
Marjoleine X Ira X
Meliora X Isambard √
Melissa X Isaac/Izaak ~
Monique ~ Isobel =
Morwenna ~ Isaiah X
Nadia = Isolde √
Nadine √ Jerome ~
Nerina √ Jonah ~
Nakita ~ Josephine X
Penelope X Josiah ~
Perdita X Levi X
Sabrina = Lily √
Tabitha = Linnea ~
Tiernan √ Madeleine =
Willow √ Martha X
Yolanda √ Maxine X
Miranda ~
Nadia =
Nahum X
Noemi √
Ngaio X
Noam X
Phoebe X
Reuben √
Rose ~
Sabrina =
Sappho ~
Solveig √
Tabitha =
Thaddeus X
Thea ~
Theo ~
Tycho X

So what have we learnt?

Like many other things from music to comedy we have overlapping, but not identical, tastes. I like longer names – having a multi-syllabic real name I really enjoy being able to shorten it when appropriate, e.g.Β  formal introductions full name, friends or people I like are allowed to use the short variant. [compartmentalisation much?]

We are rather snobbish when it comes to names – only a couple in the top ten lists (at the time of writing anyway).

I’m not keen on names starting with B or D [random], nor May on K or Mel… names.

Any kids of ours are probably going to have a dozen or so ‘middle’ names.

Finally, I must confess this isn’t really a result of renewed hope or optimism per se. Just something we did I thought interesting enough to share while I get used to the idea that we are not without hope and go on living and now blogging together.


28 responses to “The name game

  • May

    I’ve just been re-reading these lists and… my God… we’re SO middle class. *sob*.

    (For non-Brits confused by the British class system… eh, well, so are we).

  • QoB

    Can I suggest naming a baby girl ‘Sappho’ is maybe a bit prescriptive?:)

  • Twangy

    (I am middle class too. Well, Irish middle class. Whatever that is. I feel quite uncool about it, in any case. Though the JB is more – eh, how to say – blue collar with ambitions, and crampons on to aid the social climbing, so can I have some of his cred? Probably not. Too flipping privileged. Must stick with angst and guilt, insecurity, fussy table manners and so on.)

    Anyway! Names. Fascinating, are they not? And giving one to someone, for him or her to be referred to by, and associated with, to be printed on the front of his/her book/album/Nobel Prize, etc – the responsibility is huge. I like the idea of a big long name with different versions to be employed according to the situation, as H says. Yes. You have some lovely ones above. Tycho, cool!

  • womb for improvement

    Our top girls’ name is in May’s list but H has marked it with a maybe squiggle (which I can’t see on my keyboard) so chances are we won’t have a ‘you stole my name’ stand off!


  • Bryony

    Only today a friend and I were discussing what a responsibility naming a child was – she and her partner went down the conservative route, whilst we went a bit off piste (but relentlessly middle class)

    Bryony (Finn’s mum)

  • Betty M

    Ooh lovely lists of names. Although could you really call someone Isambard even if you are a super engineering fan? I am wary of the top 10 lists as one of mine has a name which is way way down the list in the 90s but he has 2 in his class. It is apparently super popular in middle class north london. At least it has varients so they are all called something different. On the other hand it drives me mad when I get called certain varients of my name without being asked first.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    Harry was *this* close to scoring Isambard as a middle name. We both loved it; we just didn’t quite have the stones to give it to a possible future Warwickshire farmer. If he grows up to be a stockbroker, we’ll know we missed a trick! Immanuel also got a surprisingly long chewing-over, and I was mad-keen for an Emperor’s name I could get past John, who stamped unequivocally on Humphrey.
    Pronunication of Ngaio?

  • May

    I feel I ought to clarify. Just because I love a name to pieces, doesn’t mean I’m going to send the Beloved Hypothetical Offspring off to face a play-ground full of jeering hoi polloi while adorned with it.

  • arminta

    A) So sweet that H is writing here!
    B) Love your name lists and your methodical way of providing each other with feedback.

  • Ben Warsop

    As the owner of a difficult name I should perhaps mention that the bullying only lasts 20 or so years. Though it took another 20 for me to be able to look my name squarely in the eye.

    My ex, or I suspect his wife, have taken the intelligent decision to give their offspring Anglo/Scottish first names to match his Anglo surname, and this Anglo/Scottish identity brackets an entirely Irish middle name and her entirely Irish surname. Et voila, an alter ego right there on the Birth Certificate.

    I’m a fan of names that can be shortened in a variety of ways, thus Cat, Kitty, Katie, Cathy, etc, or Liz, Eliza, Libby, Ellie, et al. James, Jimmy, Jamie, Jimbo, perhaps. Again, it gives a person choice over who they are and where they are that person. It’s a pain that Catherine in particular can be spelled in so many ways.

    I’m also a fan of gender-androgynous names: I know an Alexandra who’s transition was considerably eased because her previous name was Alexander. Alec, Sandy, Lexy – it hits all my buttons and was at the top of my list.

    Incididdly, I think somewhere around 1980 it became ok to be middle class: I notice that middle class people conceived when Thatcher was in power seem to feel no sense of class-based shame.


  • manapan

    It never fails to amaze me how different the names of British children and their American counterparts can be. I’ll be reading the Daily Mail (for the gossip only, I swear!) and wonder “how did they come up with that?”

    (Then again, how did my family come up with the crazy names they picked? I mean, I get it. You like the letter Y. Does that mean you have to misspell it as Kaytlyn?)

    I can totally picture you two with a Tabitha. It just fits with your personalities. πŸ™‚

  • valery

    Just wondering, is there just one boys name you both like? with = ?

  • everydaystrange

    Christabel = someone’s been reading some AS Byatt again.

    Ngaio? Um….really? Isn’t that a sound that the Ptui Ptui tribe make when trying to conjugate verbs in the future perfect? No? My bad.

    Tabitha is fab. I also love Emmeline (then I loved Evangeline, also, which is also of the bourgeois). Isembard is cool, but that has “beat me up after school” written all over it. Can I just point out that May’s names seem to come from the Judaism Book Of Retro and H’s seem to come from an as-yet unfound Tolkein book? Can there be middle ground, like Seth Calendrielle or something like that?

  • carole

    Wow, big and impressive lists! Admitedly I had less time (“This baby is going to be here very soon. Think of some names pronto!”), but I could only think of about 10 possibles. Generally hated anything in any baby name book. And then my dear other half ran the red pen through my entire list except one and that’s the one we went with. Add both grandfather’s names and there we were.

    It’s really difficult to come up with something you think everyone can live with. And the more you say a name and write it down the stupider it begins to look!

  • Amy P

    When I became pregnant with Faith, we already had lots of boy names, because one of the keep-the-driver-awake games we had for long trips was “Let’s start with perfectly sensible names and see how quickly we can get Amy to wish she wasn’t trained to not hit the driver” (names like Beavis, Butthead, and Cornjulio were about in the middle of the scale, if that gives you any idea…). We kept Faith’s sex a surprise, so about halfway through, I realized we should pick out at least *one* girl’s name, just in case. I’m glad it fit!

    In Grace’s case, you might remember how I was going nuts trying to feminise my late father’s name (because this time we didn’t keep it a surprise). Since he went by his middle name, I was trying to feminise Edmund… I finally realised I could more easily feminise Kenneth, and so now Grace goes by her middle name, just like the grandpa she’ll never know. Except on paperwork, which is a pain in the rear I hadn’t thought of… I make a point of letting the nurse know at checkups that Grace won’t respond to her first name, “Because she doesn’t know who Kenna is.”

  • Martin

    I’ll wager, when it comes down to it, what you would end up choosing isn’t on either of those lists!

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