Which comes first, the origin or the name?

Aug 10th 2007

I field questions about baby names every day. They run the gamut from the profound to the silly, the deeply personal to the can-you-settle-this-bet. The variety is boundless, but one familiar question comes up again and again:

I made up this name for my child, can you tell me what it means?

On its face, this might seem like one of the silly questions. If you created the name yourself then surely you know where it came from. It's a new twist on a popular name, or a combination of your grandparents' names, or the catchiest arrangement you could make out of your Scrabble rack. That's its origin and thus its meaning, right? But the fact that this question is asked so often suggests there's more to it. Think of it as a call for connection in an era of extreme individuality in baby naming. We all want to go out on a limb, but with the comfort of knowing the tree's roots are still down there somewhere keeping us grounded. So parents choose a name first, then hit the books to reassure themselves that the name is "real."

Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of this post-hoc search for meaning is Jaden. Jaden is a biblical name. Don't take my word for it, look it up in an online name dictionary. You'll learn that Jaden is a Hebrew name meaning "God has heard," from Nehemiah 3:7. Granted, the Biblical version is Jadon and it isn't pronounced to rhyme with Aidan, but close enough:

Next to them repairs were made by Melatiah the Gibeonite and Jadon the Meronothite--the men of Gibeon and of Mizpah--who were under the jurisdiction of the governor of the province Beyond the River. (Ne 3:7)

Nehemiah 3, if you're curious, chronicles the vast construction project of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. You read of the many men (and a few unnamed women) who replaced bolts, rehung doors and repaired roofs. In fact, it may be illuminating to see the full range of names mentioned in this chapter. Due to space concerns, I'll limit myself to the first half, verses 1 to 16:

Eliashib
Zaccur
Hassenaah
Meremoth
Uriah
Hakkoz
Meshullam
Berechiah
Meshezabel
Zadok
Joiada
Paseah
Besodeiah
Melatiah
Jadon
Uzziel
Harhaiah
Hananiah
Rephaiah
Hur
Jedaiah
Harumaph
Hattush
Hashabneiah
Malchijah
Harim
Hasshum
Pahath-moab
Shallum
Hallohesh
Hanun
Machijah

A fashion goldmine this is not. As recently as 15 years ago, when the revival of Old Testament names like Ethan and Hannah was already in full swing, not one of the dozens of names in Nehemiah 3 cracked the top 1000. Even the best known of the names, Uriah (familiar through a different character in the book of Samuel), was a relic. But Aidan and rhyming names like Hayden and Braden were rising fast. A few Jaydens and Jadens -- not Jadons -- crept in around 1994. Then in 1998 Will and Jada Pinkett Smith named their baby boy Jaden. Open the floodgates! Overnight, Jaden was red-hot in every imaginable spelling, just like Aidan, Hayden and Braden. And parents of Jadens, Jaydons and Jaidens were explaining to friends that they chose it because it's a biblical name.

Are those parents wrong? Delusional? Not really. If they cite the biblical connection, I assume it's legitimately important to them. It may not be the real reason behind the choice, but it's a lasting justification. Knowing a biblical Jadon is out there gives parents a reassuring glimpse of the roots of a tree of fashion that we're climbing dizzyingly higher every day. Thousands of years after his first job, Jadon the Meronothite is performing another round of maintenance work: helping parents stay happy with the name they chose.

Comments

1
By Bad Friend (not verified)
August 10, 2007 5:08 PM

Okay, Jadon is in Nehemiah, but... what about when there's ZERO basis for the friend's claim that "the name X means Y in Z-ish." What if you know for certain that the name X actually means A in B-ish? Drives me nuts. I keep my mouth shut, because, as you say, they're just giving THEIR justification for the name, in the end. But GAAAH!

2
By Catharine (not verified)
August 10, 2007 5:29 PM

Harumaph cracks me up...it's like the sound I make when I get all cranky about these silly made up names: Harrumph!

3
By Anne/kq (not verified)
August 10, 2007 6:04 PM

Oh, I am so with you, Bad Friend. Except I've actually gotten into arguments over it. *blushes* "Really? I was under the impression that it meant A in B-ish." Then I look it up and make them come look with me. (I've only done that once or twice. Usually I try to stop myself.)

But this post is a good example of why I insist on traditional spellings. Kieran instead of Ciaran (and pronouncing Ciara "Sierra" instead of "KEE-rah", for that matter) is just as ridiculous to me as claiming that Jaden comes from Jadon...

I know, I'm just evil and judgemental.

4
By Darren (not verified)
August 10, 2007 6:15 PM

I'm sorry, but this origin of Jaden just rings false. I cannot see how Jaden can be a biblical name if it was spelled and pronounced differently in biblical times -- this is not "close enough". It seems that Jaden is a masculine transformation of Jade or Jada, or just Aidan with a 'J' in front of it.

5
By BoscoMama (not verified)
August 10, 2007 6:33 PM

Personally, I am more concerned with the perception of a name rather than the meaning (does it really matter that Calvin means bald if it's a cool name?) I don't like made up names personally, and I even have a made up name myself. I think if people are searching for a name with "meaning" they should look at names that have significance to them - a beloved family member for example - rather than making up a name and then searching for its meaning. I agree with Darren that claiming Jaden as a biblical name even though it's spelled and pronounced differently is not close enough.

6
By Penn (not verified)
August 10, 2007 6:55 PM

Well, you COULD use Zadok, or Joiada... they're two I can see on a person in the 21st c.

I've wondered about a connection to Jason too--Jason was the #3 boys name in the 1970s, so quite a few of today's Jadens probably have dads or uncles named Jason. Does it feel like an update on the 70s J names, to the parents who chose it?

7
By Rosamond (not verified)
August 10, 2007 6:56 PM

Darren and BoscoMama, isn't that the whole point of the post---that Jaden isn't really a biblical name, just a justification people give after the fact? It's kind of fascinating that people who like to make up names still care about their meanings. Why not just say "we thought it was pretty?" Are they embarrassed to have made it up?

8
By Howard (not verified)
August 10, 2007 7:32 PM

It seems this is just trying to rationalize a trendy name by digging up something vaguely similar in the Old Testament. I suppose this makes people feel better, but it seems silly to concoct an after the fact reason to like a name. "We just liked it," is an OK enough.

My son is named Curtis. That is from French meaning "courteous." Is that why we chose it? Well, no. We chose Curtis because it his great-grandfather was Curtis. And we sort of liked the name.

9
By deb (not verified)
August 10, 2007 8:31 PM

Parents probably latch onto the so-called biblical origins of Jaden because they hope people won't think they are sheep who copied Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.

10
By Tara (not verified)
August 10, 2007 8:45 PM

I am all for finding interesting unknown connections between the name you have chosen and legitimate sources. My daughter's name is India, to sell it to my grandmother I had to site 'Gone with the Wind' and the grand-daughter of Lord Mountbatten. Neither reference was why I chose the name, but it did make it easier to sell to doubters.

Tara

11
By Julia (not verified)
August 10, 2007 9:12 PM

Um, NO biblical names were spelled and pronounced the way they are now. Because the Bible was written in ancient Hebrew and Aramaic and the names were pronouncd by speakers of ancient Hebrew and Aramaic.

12
By Wendy (not verified)
August 10, 2007 9:15 PM

For me, finding out that the name I was considering for my daughter's (Suzanna) was a Biblical name, was a nice surprise (I was actually trying to avoid Biblical names as I am involved in church and know too many little Rachels, Hannahs and Graces...).

It helped me decide to use it. But only after I read that the Biblical "Sousanna" was a supporter of Jesus and his disciples... a person worthy being named for.

But I don't get choosing a random name or place out of the Bible as justification for naming a child something. I doubt that many people who who chose Jaden (and why don't they use Jadon?) and say it is Biblical even know the story behind it.

Laura, where did you get the meaning of the name is "God has heard". The sources I checked for Jadon in the Bible (not a baby name source) shows Jadon probably meant "He will Judge", although I also see it as "thankful".

And if I had to choose a name off this list, it would be Zadok or Zaccur. :)

13
By J&H's mom (not verified)
August 10, 2007 9:52 PM

Honestly, my dislike of Jadon/Jaden/Jalen is so irrational, that I don't even think I can react to this post!
It does kind of remind me of how some folks have to say, "It was the name I picked out when I was 12," or "It's a family name," after they say their little one's names.
I do know a sib set comprised of a Luke and a Jaden, which I found odd, but maybe that explains it....
My sister considered some truly bizarre names during her last pregnancy, and one of my chief complaints to our mom was that it sounded like she had pulled out a handful of scrabble tiles.
Rose's mom-Any progress?

14
By nina (not verified)
August 10, 2007 10:22 PM

J&H's mom - I agree 100% with your statement: "It does kind of remind me of how some folks have to say..."It's a family name," after they say their little one's names."

I find this increasingly annoying, although I'm not sure why. I've met a baby Violet-"It was her great grandmother's name, before Ben & Jen" and a baby Lola-"It's a family name, we didn't just copy Madonna/Kelly Ripa/Charlie Sheen." Similar comments about the little Ruby, Ella and August that I've met recently. Do these parents think they have more "rights" to these names than others and that's why they have to quickly add in the "family name" business? I don't know. But I do know that I don't care if their great-great-aunt-once-removed was named Violet. It's lovely, but still becoming slightly trendy. Plus, they probably wouldn't have used it 10 years ago. I'm rambling and annoying myself. Does this make sense?

15
By stella (not verified)
August 10, 2007 10:30 PM

I actually think the name Malchijah isnt too bad. Sort of a cross between Malachi and Elijah. I already have a boys ame picked out but Malchijah isnt terrible.

16
By Penn (not verified)
August 10, 2007 11:19 PM

Yeah, you're making sense, Nina. My rule is, don't explain your kid's name in chit-chat introductions, UNLESS SOMEONE ASKS YOU ABOUT IT. Explaining it without prompting always makes parents sound defensive, or inordinately pleased with themselves, like they're inviting admiration for their cleverness or taste.

What's the right response? "Oooh, how brilliant of you to have a great-aunt Violet!"????

17
By Elizabeth T. (not verified)
August 10, 2007 11:19 PM

A few months ago I met a baby girl named Chambers. When I asked the baby's name, the mother told me her name and immediately said, "It's a family name" in a defensive tone. It made me feel sad for her and the baby because she'd obviously been getting some negative feedback. What a bummer to give your child what you consider to be a wonderful name and then have to feel that you need to justify your choice to random strangers.

18
By Tansey (not verified)
August 10, 2007 11:55 PM

LOL what sensible people post here! I'm so glad Laura brought this up because if there's one thing I hate it's justifying a name by quoting bible/family etc rather than saying 'I just liked it.' I guess if you use Camrhyn/Hayden/Jayden/Mikayla/Shone-something or other' you need SOME justification for your 'taste'.
I have to say I named my kids names I loved but also weren't replicated(I thought) in my extensive family, and was most put out when relatives said 'Oh, Great-Uncle such & such or Second cousin whosit's real name was...'*sigh*. The burden of a family who uses nicknames...

19
By Tara (not verified)
August 11, 2007 12:20 AM

When I hear people say 'I had a great-great aunt named Violet' I always wonder how you choose the one great-great aunt that has a good name, especially given how many great aunties one person could have. If you have 16 great-great grandparents then you could have any number more great-great aunties. Probably every child named after great-great aunt Violet has been named after the same woman. :)

Tara

20
By RobynT (not verified)
August 11, 2007 12:33 AM

Yeah... I think people are obsessed with authenticity... probably has something to do with postmodernism and everything around us seems so surface and temporary... argh, can't really put my thoughts together right now...

21
By nina (not verified)
August 11, 2007 1:18 AM

Phew. I'm so glad I'm not alone.

I agree that if you pick a name "just because you love it" then you should stick to your guns and be proud of the name you chose. Loving a name is a great reason to use it! I'd rather carry a name that my parents simply adored than a name they picked off the family tree because they felt obligated to use it. (I'd be Carmela if that were the case. Shudder.) Perhaps if I had a close-knit family I'd feel differently, but alas, they are all nuts and crooks.

Re: the little one named Chambers. I think "Potts" or "Potty" might work as nicknames.

22
By Beth (not verified)
August 11, 2007 1:19 AM

O BadFriend, I am so with you. When I was a kid I knew a couple of kids whose moms had picked their names out of baby books without knowing the pronunciation. One was a Pilar, pronounced "PILL-er," and one a Gillian, pronounced with a hard "G" (which it turns out isn't a unique mistake, as I've since met another). But now we have to cringe at the horrible faux etymologies generated by those baby-name machines (sure, Alize' means "daughter of the dawn," not "cheap liquor brand-name"), or the embarrassing ancestral or Biblical stretch (um, yeah, OK, Mackenzie *was* a woman who fed Jesus's lost 13th disciple, and how come my great-great aunts are named Elfleeta and Hepzibah?).

OK, snark function OFF now. But RobynT, long ago I read a great special issue of a journal called "Fake Authenticity," which was all about what you describe: commercially "distressed" jeans, pseudo-micro-brew beer, and so on...

23
By Eo (not verified)
August 11, 2007 2:18 AM

I don't know-- I'm willing to cut these parents some slack, the ones who want to tie little "Jaden" to something real, like a Biblical personality! Makes me think they actually do have a sense of history, or WANT to have one. Gives me more hope for them, or something....

I suspect a good chunk of the parents giving what you could call "soap opera" names are very, very young. They'll evolve, many of them, and maybe they will start looking for connections and validation for the name they bestowed. That's rather nice, isn't it, for them and the child?

24
By melanie (not verified)
August 11, 2007 2:38 AM

I also thoguht about comments made in a previous post abotu people that state that it is a family name as justification when there isn't any real connection to the person. I think the bottom line is why the person is looking for the connection. You may not need to justify your name to strangers, but I do find myself trying to puzzle out the "story" behind the name we pick. I think that it is nice to have something to go with why your parents picked your name, and some of the connections may be secondary but still meaningful. We've considered Evan for our son primarily for his grandfather, but I like that Evan is Welsh for John because of the biblical connections between our other son's name James, and for an uncle. I would definitely emphasize that meaning even if it isn't why we picked it.

Personally, I've never cared what a name meant. I think it is because I was disapointed to learn that Melanie didn't mean anything cool.

25
By Donna, mother of mary and timmy (not verified)
August 11, 2007 2:40 AM

Eo, thank you for being the only reasonable person in this discussion. I dislike made up names also but to attack parents for having the "incorrect" pronunciation!!! Please everyone try to get over yourselves. I too doubt whether Jaydens are biblical in origin but if a parent wants to attach that idea to the name who cares???
As for naming a child after a great aunt I think it is a great way to find an old fashioned name. If I wanted that type of name I could do much worse than look to my ancestors for inspiration.
This forum is generally very good natured but I find it horrible when posters attack others for the names they choose or the reasons for choosing those names. Naming is a very personal family decision and shouldnt have to meet any internet surfers criteria.

Again if somebody attempts to tie their childs name to a biblical or familial reference that affects you all how???

26
By Jan (not verified)
August 11, 2007 2:45 AM

I'm so not into made-up names and am a member of the "why try to justify it?" camp. Live with your decision to pick a name that is made up and has no history. There is a reason people pick names with meanings, family ties, and that have been around for a while. Back to the family ties issue--Laura posted on that a while back about how we fish for family names that fit with the current day's trends.

27
By nina (not verified)
August 11, 2007 3:29 AM

Donna - Family names are great, but my point was that just because someone has a great aunt Violet, it doesn't mean that they are more entitled to that name than those who pick Violet just because they like it. I've had a few obnoxious encounters with this recently. I'm more of the "if you like the name, just use it already" camp.

Perhaps these "newer" names are also attractive BECAUSE they have no history or family ties -- they are blank slates, the kids can just embrace the name and make it their own. (I realize that you can take any name and make it your own, but you see my point here, I hope.) That's kind of a nice way to think about it actually. My oldest daughter has a name that my husband and I both loved the moment we heard it...and a big plus was that we'd never met anyone/knew anyone with the name.(Of course, I now know quite a few, but I wasn't hip to the Social Security list back then.)

28
By nina (not verified)
August 11, 2007 3:54 AM

Eo - I'm going to be very lame here, but on a soap opera that I *occasionally* watch, many of the names aren't too bad: Maggie, Caroline, Alice, Samantha, Hope, John, Kate, Steve, Lucas, Philip, Isabelle, Shawn, Chelsea, Kayla, Nick, Abe, Claire, Abigail, Max, Roman...and of course, Stefano and Marlena. :)

29
By Catherine (not verified)
August 11, 2007 4:14 AM

My husband and I named our daughter after his grandmother for a host of reasons. But I really don't like the name, it's just ok to me. I'm not going to say the name because it is the name of an active poster. It is also the name of a couple of b-list celebrities I wouldn't want anyone to think we named after. It is different than many of the names discussed above primarily because it has strong historical roots and is definitely not made up. That said I find myself justifing the name not because I'm trying to find a connection but insted to explain the name to people who may share my views of the name. So please don't be quick to judge why someone explains the backgroud of a name. They may not be smug, instead they may just want to give it context.

30
By Celia Fae (not verified)
August 11, 2007 4:57 AM

So I once knew this woman named LaRee. She told me her name was French. I asked her how she knew it was French and she told me that she knew from a song at girls camp. Parlez-vous francais, la ree, la raa, la ray. It still makes me chuckle.

31
By Katharine (not verified)
August 11, 2007 10:25 AM

I read somewhere recently that a famous rock musician (at this precise moment the name alludes me) called his newborn Violet after (you guessed it!) his grandma... Now I think it's lovely to honour relatives in your newborns name but call me cynical I can't help wondering if he would have felt the same urge had his grandma been a Maureen or a Doris...

32
By Katharine (not verified)
August 11, 2007 10:27 AM

no offence to any Maureen's or Doris' - they were just the first non-trendy old fashioned names that popped into my head!

33
By Deborah (not verified)
August 11, 2007 12:17 PM

All you namers out there: think about how often your child will have to spell and explain the name you give them during his/her lifetime. It can become really tiresome.

I grew up as "Debby" during the 1950s when most of the many other girls who shared the name were "Debbie." I stopped feeling like a "Debby" when I reached my mid-thirties so I reverted to my given name, but live now with explaining its origin, which is Hebrew (D'Vorah).

My own name is pronounced with three syllables, emphasis on the second, and rhymes with Laura. People are constantly asking me to explain this, especially over the phone.

I named my daughter Nina because it is:

1) familiar but not trendy;
2) easy to pronounce and spell;
3) international; and
4) not susceptible to cutesy nicknames.

34
By nina (not verified)
August 11, 2007 12:43 PM

Deborah -
I'm a Nina! :) I agree with your comments about the name, but I'm in my 30s and I've surprisingly heard the occasional "Nin-na"? or "Nine-a"? which baffles me. And the only chants I ever had to put up with were "Nina, Nina, Ballerina" and of course "Where's the Pinta and the Santa Maria?" (As a teenager, I would sometimes hold up two specific fingers in response to that question, in case you were wondering.) So pretty good name, overall!

35
By nina (not verified)
August 11, 2007 12:46 PM

Katherine - It was David Grohl of Foo Fighters, and they named her Violet right after Ben & Jen, I believe. And I am just as cynical as you. There's no way they would have used Darlene.

36
By Eo (not verified)
August 11, 2007 12:47 PM

Miss Wattenberg, as in so many of her insightful pieces, addresses the "upward mobility" of names and name-giving. Whether conscious or not, people are aware of the power of names to shape our perceptions, and make us perhaps "think better" of the named person.

As someone who's been a fanatical name-nut since childhood, I have to fight an unattractive sort of "name snobbery" that I find creeping into my judgments...

On a related note, has anyone noticed how politicians shape our reactions to them by the names or nicknames they adopt? Read an article once that said that they love to go for one-syllable nicknames, thinking this will make them more friendly and accessible. Wonder if that will hold true now, with the new full-name formality-- "Henry", "Catherine", "William"? Now they seem to favor the single name formulation-- "Rudy"! No last name necessary...

37
By melanie (not verified)
August 11, 2007 2:17 PM

As to whether the people that picked Violet would have used Maureen or Darlene for a name instead, probably not, but that's a good thing. Because my first son is named after his father, we decided we wanted a family connection to this second one as well. However, I instantly vetoed the Lars, Johans, Hyrums, and Altons in my family branch because they just didn't fit our family style. My husband hs a great uncle named Orville Webster that hated his name but still passed it on to his kid, how hated it and still passed it on to his kid. I don't think bypassing names that seem wrong means you have to be insincere about picking a family name. That said, I also vetoed going to some random great great grandfather just because we liked Walter. I don't think a family name means much if you don't have information about the family member that goes with the name. It can still be used as inspiration, but loses the connection value.

38
By Katharine (not verified)
August 11, 2007 6:32 PM

alas Deborah my name is spelt wrong consistently too - even if people have just seen me write it or in some cases have known me my whole life!

But as someone who has always been obsessed with names I love this distinguishing feature! (and every now and again it can act as a benchmark for how well someone knows you/how much attention to detail they pay...

39
By Amber (not verified)
August 11, 2007 7:25 PM

It saddens me to see name snobbery. Thank you all for stopping. I may not personally use a name style that is trendy, but I don't go so far as to make fun of people who do, or assume all sorts of negative or shallow things about them.

It's interesting how these people who choose a name because they love it work hard to make the name they choose equal to other names.

When I chose my daughter's name, I had the oppocite problem that some people had: my daughter's name (Hazel) is the name of a sweethearted ancestor, but I chose it before I realized that it was in the family. I met with a lot of resistence on it, and I finally had to stamp my foot and say "I'm choosing HAZEL because I LIKE it, and I'm NOT changing my mind!" Hazel had all of the "cred" of a "real" name with connections to me, but I had to emphasize to people that I chose it because I like it. I guess that people who justify their names had the oppocite problem, namely choosing a name they love in a world in which "I like it" isn't good enough.

40
By Eleni (not verified)
August 11, 2007 8:21 PM

Not to pile on here, but Gillian is perfectly appropriately pronounced Gil-ee-an, with a hard G. I think it's the Celtic version, because I've known two Irish women in my lifetime with the name Gillian.

Eo: I think you're right to be generous in your interpretation of parents' eagerness to explain or justify a name. It's true, it does broadcast insecurity, which is why I don't do it. But I won't lambast others for being insecure (at least, I try not to!) because I feel for them - they obviously want to have done a good job naming their child. I can't fault them too harshly for that.

Unless they named their child Jaden or Casen (kidding - maybe these names are both invented as tributes to older Jasons?).

Anyway, I agree with the poster who said there's something to be said for a made up name. If a parent decides to use one,
they should embrace the newness and relish the sound. It *hasn't* accrued any history, but that should be part of the name's charm, not something to be falsified or in any way remedied.

41
By Joni (not verified)
August 11, 2007 9:24 PM

I gave my child a "made up name" and I am proud of it. Actually WE didn't make it up - it came from, of all places, a comic book. Gasp! "It's not even a real literary form!" someone might think. And I don't care. The name has a meaning for US, but the reason we chose it is because we just liked the name (Kylun).
Name meaning *is* important to me though and it was certainly a reason that we didn't choose some names (negative meanings), and one of the reason that we are proud of our dd's names (1 boy - Kylun, 3 girls).

42
By Joni, again (not verified)
August 11, 2007 9:29 PM

I have a friend whose son is named Jadon, with that Biblical spelling. And I heard her say more than once "it's in the Bible" in response to people who looked at her like she had two heads when she told them the name. Those people turned 180 degrees from being "oh, that's a weird name" to being "wow, great name!" on hearing. (Jadon is 7 and was the first Jadon that most knew.) So it DOES matter not only to the parents but to the perception of the non-parent as well.

The fact is that people in our society DO give more 'weight' to a name with a meaning and a history. There is a snobby attitude toward 'made up names' and parents soon figure it out when testing names out on their friends and family. They are also quickly figure out that names with history and meaning take on an 'uncriticizible' quality.

43
By Rachel G. (not verified)
August 11, 2007 10:19 PM

nina-- The name Alice is on my short list for a girl, and I'm not embarrassed to say that one of the reasons I love it is for Alice Horton! :)

I have to say, I'm saddened by the snobbery and classism that is creeping into many of the posts here. I don't particularly like the name Jaden/Jayden. Just not my cup of tea. But I know 4 moms who named their kids Jaden or Jayden (maybe more, but 4 off the top of my head), and all are intelligent, well educated women, with ages ranging from their mid-20s to late 30s. I don't understand the hate. Is it because Jaden is trendy? We've discussed more popular names without disparaging them or the namers. Is it because it's a newer name? Classic names are not the only worthwhile ones out there.

44
By Laurie (not verified)
August 11, 2007 11:16 PM

It is all fine and good to say -just own up to liking a name as a reason for giving it to your child. We gave our son a name that we liked, we tell people the reason we gave him the name is that we liked it. Then we are given the face (you know The Face). So, I further explain it is a Russian name. At that time they will say -what a nice name it is. In their eyes it has been authenicated.

45
By Arlo's Mama (not verified)
August 12, 2007 12:37 AM

This discussion is making me think again about what the acquaintance is really thinking when his/her response to hearing my son's name is: "Is that a family name?" I typically think this means,`Well, that's a name I don't hear very often; it must come from the family tree." Now I'm seeing a bit more judgment revealed. Perhaps the acquaintance is really thinking, 'I would only give a child a name _like that_ if it meant honoring a relative' or it's the most polite thing that comes to mind when the person simply doesn't like the name.

I'm also curious to hear people talk about the meaning they associate with the chosen name, the extent to which this matters, their justification of it to peers, etc.

In my mind, the fun (and important!) part is trying to predict the name recipient's feelings and associations, for the name will mean far more to the child in the long run who must live with the repercussions of all associations, facing a completing different generational audience.

46
By Joni (not verified)
August 12, 2007 1:32 AM

Rachel G, I couldn't agree with you more. Just because *I* wouldn't use a name doesn't make it a BAD name.

Laurie, I am SO with you on "the face" - the look people give when encountering a name they don't like or are unfamiliar with. That's exactly what I was saying in my post when talking about the name Jadon. People give'the face' and then when they learn that it's an 'acceptable' name (cause it's in the Bible or foreign or whatever) they look relieved. :-\

47
By Beth (not verified)
August 12, 2007 2:26 AM

With all due respect and true apologies if I inadvertently hurt any feelings, this is a discussion board where people are allowed to have strong opinions about hypothetical or distant things. There really is a difference between saying "I hate this particular practice" or "X name makes me laugh" and saying "So and so on this board is moronic for doing X." If everyone just blandly agreed that all names are just fine, there wouldn't be much to discuss! One of the things I love about this board (and the reason I do so even with my one and only child now a toddler) is that people here care about language, and love it. When people do get personal here, they are very generous, and usually say "So and so, if you love that name, use it!" or "Here are some problems you might not have thought of." I don't think anyone needs to get over themselves as long as people don't attack one another directly.

48
By Beth (not verified)
August 12, 2007 2:34 AM

I've never done a double post before and won't again, but to continue:

I also don't think disliking made-up names is in and of itself a form of class snobbery, any more than I think liking them is a sign of trendiness or stupdidity. I loved Joni's proud explanation of her use of Kylun. And I'm OK with the fact that I chose my daughter's name to honor my family's (not particularly high-class) history rather than because I adore it. I just don't like it when people resort to fakery to justify what is a perfectly legitimate choice on its own terms. But with all that said (whew), again, I mean no personal, individual harm when I express my nutball opinions.

49
By J&H's mom (not verified)
August 12, 2007 3:09 AM

I have to agree with Beth.
I do try not to critique individual names in my posts (I admit I slipped on Jaden), but what makes this site addictive is the lively discussion about names and linguistic trends in general. Not to mention the fact that the posters here are incredibly smart. Do you know another name board where posters reference Henry James? I don't!
I know that my boys' names aren't universally admired, and when someone posts something negative about one of them I realize that it's one poster's opinion, and that he/she is talking about it in terms of a hypothetical person and not my actual flesh and blood.
Finally, there are plenty of boards where one can mention any name under the sun and be greeted with, "Oh, I love it. It's so original."
Happily, this isn't one of them.
At the risk of breaking my own rules and getting called snobby and classist, I just have to say that we really could have helped that poor woman before she saddled her daughter with Chambers!
Take care, all.

50
By Rebekah (not verified)
August 12, 2007 3:25 AM

I sometimes find myself explaining the meaning of my youngest daughter's name. When I introduce her I get the 'confused face' that means I have never heard that before it must be a made up name. For some reason I feel like I have to justify that it is NOT a made up name. After seeing "the face" ,and only after seeing it, I will explain that it is Hebrew and it means such and such. I also want them to knowl them we really like the meaning on top of how it sounds.