Naming Showdown! But less dramatic.

I’m apparently psychic! That’s what it means when one foresees a reasonably probable event, right? Yesterday, my brother texted me, asking us to please not use our #1 girl name. He was actually really nice about it – he recognized that I’m more pregnant, and if we have our hearts set on it, etc., it’s not worth fighting about. But that it was their #1 choice for their first kiddo, had he been a girl, and now they would like to use it for this one (which they know is a girl).

As soon as he asked, the name in question went from being my probably-favorite to my Actual Favorite, but I also immediately decided it was not worth fighting about, or even having bad/sad feelings about. I mentioned it to Kevin, who I expected to immediately concede, not least because I wasn’t sure he even LIKED the name that much. He said that we should get to use it, because my brother lost the bet and I still haven’t named any of his kids.

As I relayed this joke to my brother, I became aware that Kevin wasn’t actually joking. And that in his mind, though he had not yet shared it with me, this was The Name (should this baby be a girl). (This is how it went with Eliza, too – I mentioned it as a possibility to no great reaction, and several days or weeks later, Kevin casually said ok, her name is Eliza, moving along.) So I backpedaled a bit with my brother and said we would discuss it that night, but that I also certainly didn’t want to fight about this.

Simultaneously, I had mentioned this (not actual) drama on twitter, which spurred a really enjoyable discussion of naming Dos and Don’ts, as well as myriad delightful lady name suggestions. I found my twitter friends to have interesting and useful opinions on the subject of baby naming, as well as baby naming snafus. Swistle has certainly weighed in on each of these points before, but suddenly they apply to ME and well, it was all very interesting.

1. Most people didn’t think it was weird at all if cousins have the same name.
1a. This applied more for boys sharing a name than for girls sharing a name
1b. This applied more for cousins that were not close in age
1c. This applied more for large families with lots of cousins (and aunts/uncles).

2. Many people thought I should have dibs on the name, or on deciding we could both use it or similar versions of it, because I’m more pregnant than my SIL, but also thought it was not worth fighting over (or even just having anyone feel bad about).

3. A lot of people get around this issue by just never disclosing the baby’s name or potential names until birth. Which, obviously, we could have done, but it seemed so POSSIBLE that we might pick the same name that we decided to discuss it. And it happened!

4. Of the people that I actually asked, none of them thought it would be odd to name a girl baby after my living mother (OK, except the jewish people, for whom all living relatives are off limits as namesakes). I know this is done all the time for boy babies and their grandpas, and even fairly regularly for girl babies and their great-grandmas (i.e. my grandma), but it seems like my mom’s name (Holly! I love that name!) would be weird to use. Well! Consensus (and Swistle herself!) say I am wrong. (That said, this name did not end up on our top three list this go round.)

5. Pretty much no one thought it was weird for two close friends to name their children the same name. This made me happy – I think that would be neat!

6. Most people thought someone else using your kid’s name is a compliment at best, and insignificant at worst. LOTS of people said, over and over again, you don’t own a name!
6a. Except sometimes when bad things happen, like miscarriages, etc., and then tread lightly.

Anyway, all of this certainly appears on Swistle’s blog, as this is her thing, I just really enjoyed talking about it for my specific situation. Which, I should add, we resolved easily last night. I think my bro and SIL asking to have that name (and the resulting twittering) kicked our butts into gear: we had a good and fruitful discussion last night. I think we have solid, agreed upon top threes for both boy and girl. I’m not sure we will pick or even rank the top threes before the baby comes, which sounds kind of fun but also crazy. Also, they are still subject to change, especially the boy names, because boy names are haaard.

SO. I am definitely not at liberty to share the name we are NOT using, because now that belongs to Johnny and Kim and is theirs to share. We DID divulge Eliza’s name once we chose it, and didn’t have any issues with people expressing negative opinions about it. Obviously this time we can’t CHOOSE the final name, because we don’t know what kind of baby it is, but I’m still debating sharing our contenders. I don’t particularly give a shit if people (even family! hi family!) don’t like them, so I’m not terribly concerned with people saying as much (who does that, anyways? JERKS, that’s who.) And I don’t believe in name theft – there’s room for everyone!

So yeah, I’m doing it. We haven’t picked out middles yet, but here are our top three girl and boy first names, in no particular order:

Ladies: Zora, Penelope (Penny), Hazel

Gents: Grady, Sawyer, Caleb, Wesley OK FINE THAT’S FOUR WHATEVER.

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20 Responses to Naming Showdown! But less dramatic.

  1. Adah says:

    Awesome lists!!!!!

  2. Temerity Jane says:

    In my head, it’s a girl named Penelope.

    Also, I really thought we had something with Envelope… ? No? Say it like Penelope. Say it with me. EnVELope. En-VEL-oh-pee. No? Fine.

    ALSO? MY baby is named Penelope, nickname Penny, and OTHER people all call her Penny, which is great, but we call her ONE MILLION THINGS. You get to try on SO MANY NAMES with a name like Penelope. Penelope is like THE OPEN PRAIRIE of namehood. It’s the frontier. You and Kevin could be like Ma and Pa Ingalls, coming out with your Conestoga and your Penelope and I’ll already be out here, so I’ll be like that guy, what’s his name, Mr. Whoever, the one who brought Christmas that time, and then onetime his wife gave them some chickens? Mr. Boast! I’M MR. BOAST BECAUSE I’M ALREADY OUT FRONTIERING BUT THERE’S STILL SPACE FOR YOU, TOO, PA INGALLS. (YOU ARE PA, KEVIN IS MA.)

  3. agirlandaboy says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this on Swistle’s site, but I love this story, so: When my husband’s parents were just about to have their first kid, they met some friends of friends who’d just had a baby girl with a name they liked. “But would it be weird to use the same name?” they thought. “Well, no,” they decided, “because we just met these people and we’re not really friends with them and who knows if we’ll ever see them again.” Forty-four years later, guess who we spent Easter with? The girls grew up as best friends and had the same name (slightly different spelling) and everyone thought it was awesome, the end. So yay for using a name you love, even if someone else is using it! (We had an internet friend ask if it was okay to use our first son’s name for her second son, and we thought it would be cool. Then we freaked her out by joking we were going to name our second son after her first son. Ha.)

  4. Katie says:

    I’m mostly amazed that you were able to agree on so many names. My husband and I agreed on exactly one and it’s a damn good thing Eli is a boy.

    I love both your name lists (I especially love Penelope, though TJ’s Envelope is another viable option) and now desperately want to know what your top girl name was.

  5. Swistle says:

    I just loved this WHOLE ENTIRE POST.

  6. Diane says:

    HAZEL. Oh I love that name. Hazel and Eliza. They both have the Z. Actually all the same letters except for one! I love it! You could name a third daughter Zelda! Okay now I’ve taken it too far!

    And Wesley like in Princess Bride ahhhhh I can’t deal with these names they are too good. Way better than that other name I gave you half of yesterday.

  7. Erica says:

    I like all your names. We have our middle name: Vaughan. It’s a family name and its my husbnd’s middle name as well as his dads middle name so that was pretty much a no brainer. First name? No idea. No top 3 even. Good for you guys.

  8. meanliving says:

    YAAAAY! I love your names. And I would TOTALLY tell you if I hated them, right to your face. Like, I’d make a special point of letting you know. I’d text you about it multiple times. But I don’t, so we’re cool.

    As Diane pointed out, the two middle-Z names are delightful together! I have a friend with a daughter named Zola Sophia. They said when they named her that they chose a “safe” middle name in case she grew to hate her “circus name” (Zola).

    However, UNLIKE Diane I know that the delightful chap in The Princess Bride is actually named WesTley. And I know for a fact that @saly loves that name. Because Westley is awesome, as is Wesley (Snipes! Stace! Medical Center in my hometown! Crusher!).

    • snoozical says:

      I knew I could count on you for candor. That’s why I didn’t call Diane out for the missing T. That, and the assumption that she knew, because she knows more about pop culture than me by a long shot.

  9. HereWeGoAJen says:

    You have good naming taste. I vote for Penelope and Caleb. Wait, this is up for an internet vote, right? A binding internet vote? I think this is binding. Just mail the birth certificate to Swistle and let her fill it out.

  10. joaaanna says:

    Zora! ZORA!!! What a WONDERFUL name. The others are lovely, but Zora is really great!

  11. Elsha says:

    I love all these name choices! You are a baby naming expert! (Also, are we going to get to know the non-used name after your brother’s baby is born? Because I’m curious.)

  12. Michelle says:

    I love all of your names. And yay for no baby naming drama.

    I have to give props to my sister for letting me use one of her names she picked out. She had mentioned once that she wanted to name a girl Emery after our grandfather. But her husband said no way. I really, really liked the idea of being able to use the name and since I knew her husband was against it for them, I asked if we could use it. She was just happy it was getting used and she likes to tell Emery that she named her.

  13. K says:


    Holy crap I love that name.

  14. I don’t know, I’d say that was at least a *little* dramatic! I love all of the names you have listed, but I have a very strong feeling you are going to have a girl (I’m always wrong, so you’re going to have a boy), so I paid more attention to the girl names. I’m seriously loving Eliza and Hazel together. Although Penelope/Penny makes my heart go pitter pat. And how could you not be an insanely awesome person with a name like Zora???

  15. Manda says:

    Ok seriously? I don’t think it’s ok to ask someone to NOT name their baby something (even if he IS your brother). You can name your baby what you want to! It’s YOUR baby! I just … that is not sitting well with me. I am a very Justice-oriented person, as you can tell. I think it’s up to THEM if THEY want to name their baby the same name as YOURS (if it is indeed a girl). And if you DO name her that? Then THEY should be the ones who have to decide what they are going to do. NOT YOU.

    (as it were, this is why we refuse to disclose our baby names to relatives before the birth. I do not care for their input in any way shape or form. They all get their OWN TURN naming babies and most of them cannot keep their critical opinions to themselves. AHEM.)

    (But if you want me to tell YOU what I’m naming my baby I will. Just so long as you do not tell my mother or my sister SO HELP ME.)

    So yeah. Not that you asked, but I’d tell your brother that you reserve the right to name your baby whatever you choose and should he choose to name his baby the same thing then? THAT’S HIS CHOICE. See how that works Brother Person?

    I should really go take this out on my kitchen floor or something. Rage much, Manda?

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