High-concept, high-risk names

Jul 10th 2009

The bedtime story in the Wattenberg family this week is Ellen Raskin's 1975 puzzle-mystery The Tattooed Potato and other clues. (More about the book below.) Much as I love the story, I'm having trouble focusing on reading it aloud. It keeps distracting me -- in a good way -- with names.

Some of the character names are jokey, like Mrs. Panzpresser and the corpulent, white-suited Mr. Mallomar. Others are enigmatic, like the artist known only as Garson. But what sets The Tattooed Potato apart to a name enthusiast is the way it engages with the idea of names and their relationship to our places in the world.

In the book, art students experiment with twists on their names to make their signatures seem artist-worthy. A man named George Washington III, descendent of an immigrant who changed his name to sound as American as possible, feels a special link to Washington Square Park. And most of all, the central character grapples with a name that has always felt like a burden to her: Dickory. Ms. Dickory Dock.

Dickory dreads telling anyone her full name, bracing for the nursery rhyme that inevitably follows. One character tries to get her to see the blessing in this, noting, "Not everyone can make people happy just by telling them their name." Indeed, for some real-world people a name like Dickory Dock would be a powerful asset, an instant conversation starter. A Ms. Toker I once knew, who officially changed her name to her longtime nickname of Midnight, comes to mind. The Dickory of the story, though, isn't the jovial, laugh-along sort. She's quiet and serious, and resents being pulled again and again into a joke that was never funny to her to begin with.

This is the dilemma of what I'll call "high-concept names." Like high-concept movies (Snakes on a Plane) or books (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), high-concept names have a hook. They build off of established conventions to make an unmistakable impact, sometimes at the expense of subtely. In the world of entertainment, where public attention means everything, a high concept is a great way to get yourself noticed. In the world of names, though, a high concept carries as much risk as opportunity.

An ordinary name is defined by the person behind it. It may conjure up images or color your impressions, but it doesn't really exist until it's embodied. A high-concept name, in contrast, scarcely needs the person. Dickory Dock and Midnight Toker are self-contained messages, pithy and complete. That's not to say that an individual Midnight or Dickory can't make the name her own. (As The Tattooed Potato puts it, "a name is just a label; it can stand for whatever a person makes of it.") It just takes a certain kind of person to embrace the challenge of a high-concept name and take advantage of the social opportunities that it brings.

If you're considering such a conspicuous name, be sure to leave room for the possibility of a child with a more private personality. One option is to bestow the "hook" as a middle name. That gives you the option to call your daughter by that name in the short term, while in the long term she'll have more control over the kind of attention her name attracts.


And finally, as promised, a few words about The Tattooed Potato and other clues. First, I must apologize for recommending a book which is so hard to get hold of. (Puffin Books, are you listening? Reissue time!) If you recognized the name of author Ellen Raskin, I'm betting you share my love of her 1979 Newbery winner The Westing Game. The golden Newbery seal has kept that book selling briskly, while most of Raskin's other books have fallen out of print. Right now her only other title available new is The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon (I Mean Noel). Also worth seeking out is Figgs & Phantoms, a one-of-a-kind comic fantasy that's incredibly moving and life-affirming, but appreciated best by adolescents and adults despite its reading level.

Comments

1
By Guest (not verified)
July 10, 2009 10:49 AM

I don't mind high concept names - for other people. I don't think I'd like one myself or choose one for my child. But speaking of children, if it is okay to ask off topic- I am pregnant with my first. We want to name the baby Samuel if he is a boy, and the middle name we are considering is Leo. Both of these are family names (one from each side of the family) and we don't love the other family name choices. We could choose something outside the family but we really like the idea of family names. However, I don't like names that end with the same sound that the next name begins with-in this case L (ie Jack Call; Janet Takati). My partner loves Samuel Leo and thinks it isn't a big deal. I worry that some people will feel bad for the kid when they hear it and think the parents didn't know any better. What do you well informed namers think?

2
By Riot Delilah (not verified)
July 10, 2009 11:00 AM

Laura - thank you!! I read the book as a child and I had long-ago forgotten the name, and I am delighted to know what I am now looking for again!!

I am surprised though that your post didn't mention Dickory Dock's brother: Donald.

3
July 10, 2009 11:25 AM

Riot Delilah:

You've been greatly missed!

So glad you're back so I can harass you for your educated opinion:

We're considering the name Saoirse for our daughter-to-be. As an Irish Politics researcher, I'm wary of the political connotations in NI (where it's quite possible she will spend some of her formative years). Do you think it's becoming less divisive, or at least less identified with a "particular" community, given its popularity in the SOuth/RoI?

I'm tempted to use Sorcha as a substitute, but dh really prefers Saoirse.

Thanks for the help!

4
By Courtney C. (not verified)
July 10, 2009 11:55 AM

Laura, I had forgotten all about The Westing Game, but love love love it! Thanks for bringing it back to my attention. Now I'll have to hunt down The Tattooed Potato and other clues.

As for high concept names, they can definitely be fun on other people, and occasionally interesting to imagine for your children. However, there is always the worry that children will hate their names as they grow up. I recently got married and changed my last name to my husbands. I am now a Crocker, and it has ruled out the use of one of my fave boy names, Graham. How could I set up a son for that kind of hardship? Graham Crocker? I could never do that to him. However, I have known other people whose parents did that, such as Cole and Pepper Black. I always felt bad for them, for as boys they couldn't look forward to marriage to change their last names like a girl could.

5
July 10, 2009 12:09 PM

On my paternal grandfather's side, I have German ancestor called Otto...Graff.

Ironically, kids at school used to tease me with all the permutations: Auto-Graff, Spiro-Graff, Line-Graff, Bar-Graff, ad infinitum.

6
By Anna (not verified)
July 10, 2009 12:11 PM

PPP - Since it's the topic of the day, would you say that Saoirse is a high-concept name, or is the connotation not strong enough for that?

7
July 10, 2009 12:13 PM

Guest--I am by no means an expert :) but in my opinion if they are family names and you like them--use them! I understand your concern, but it seems like less of an issue with a fn/mn combo than a fn/ln. Do you plan on calling him by both names on a regular basis? I only use my son's mn when he is in big trouble:)

8
July 10, 2009 12:53 PM

I'm in a library as I am reading this column, just this minute heard a Sydelle paged over the intercom. Sydelle is a name I've only ever encountered in The Westing Game, and the coincidence seemed remarkable. It must be an Ellen Raskin kind of day.

9
By MelissaBKB (not verified)
July 10, 2009 12:58 PM

I wanted to ask this the last time Saoirse was mentioned - Could someone please expound on why the name is politically charged? Was the name claimed by one side? Thanks! And apologies if this has been explained before.

I remember when the movie Atonement came out and I looked up the girl who played Briony - Saoirse Ronan - and had to look on Wikipedia for the pronunciation :) It's such a gorgeous name!

10
By Amy3
July 10, 2009 1:18 PM

Guest, I agree with Landry, since you're considering a fn/mn combo it's less of an issue. I can't imagine you'd be calling him Samuel Leo all that often. As long as your ln doesn't start with an L or M (assuming you might shorten to Sam one day), you're good!

11
By Coll
July 10, 2009 1:25 PM

Circe, an Ellen Raskin kind of day sounds like a great kind of day! Full of wacky characters, mysterious plots, and clever puzzles. Considering how much I adored The Westing Game as a child, I'd better hunt down some of her others.

12
By jt (not verified)
July 10, 2009 1:53 PM

Guest, I agree with the other posters. If it was a fn/ln combo, I would think twice about it, but I think Samuel Leo works for three reasons: One, it's fn/mn, which won't be used together that often, and most of his peers won't even know his middle name. Two, it would seem to run together more if the emphasis was on the last syllable of Samuel, not the first (unless, of course, you pronounce it like the papier mache lady with chopsticks in her hair from Seinfeld...sam-you-EL). Third, it seems that this is the one name that you both love. I am due in two weeks with our first child, and know firsthand that it is VERY difficult for two people to find even one name that they both love. I disagree with the idea of going with a name you both find sub-par, just because the last letter of the first name was the same as the first letter of the middle name. So I think you should go for it. Congratulations!

13
By Betsy (not verified)
July 10, 2009 2:31 PM

Those sound like awesome books. Just ordered The Westing Game and The Disappearance of Leon for my store!

Sadly, my recent test order of BNW2 to my store came in today from my distributor, but with disappointing though expected results (BNW1). Hopefully things still work out for the Amazoners out there as your orders arrive over the next couple days!

With a last name sounding like Koons, and having known my husband since I was 15, I planned out great names for our future children (like in post #4). Mine were Ty, Rack, and Cuck. These were always jokes for me, but now that I actually mull over real potential names, I realize I'll achieve the same sound as raccoons or cocoons easily, whether I want to or not(!), with a lot of name endings, ie. Tyra or Rebecca.

14
By Tirzah, not logged in (not verified)
July 10, 2009 2:40 PM

I met a woman who was named Truly Golden.

Most of the high concept names are actually low concept jokey names. I'm sure many parents came up with a list of funny first name/last name combos. (I could tell you ours, but then it would reveal my kids' last name!)

15
July 10, 2009 2:47 PM

In high school, I knew a girl named Justa Wall. I realize that having a noun as a last name might make selecting a first name more difficult, but Justa strikes me as dangerous regardless of the grammatical function of your surname. (For example, Justa Smith is less initially funny, but still kind of... reductive.)

16
July 10, 2009 2:47 PM

I emailed Amazon customer service to complain about their sending the old BNW. Here is the response I received from Amazon:

"Hello from Amazon.com.

I'm so sorry about the problem you had with your "The Baby Name Wizard: A Magical Method for Finding the Perfect Name for Your Baby".

I've placed a new order for you at no charge. You will receive the *revised edition* in this order.

Here are the details:
Shipping Speed: One-Day Shipping
Estimated Delivery Date: July 14"

Let's hope this works!

17
July 10, 2009 2:59 PM

Comments form the last thread before I read this one:

Thank you all for comments re Cathrin. It was just a name a saw in print and wondered "eww" just wondered if others had the same impression. Also, I agree, that there is a slight pronunciation difference btween Catharine and Kathryn.

Isabella Ells does not flow well for me. Hmm-have to get back to you on alternatives.

18
By slk34 (not verified)
July 10, 2009 3:08 PM

Lovey-- I honestly prefer Eva Marie, no hyphen. I do think it could potentially confuse some people-- I shared an office with a woman named Mary Lou for a long time, and once in a while I'd have someone come by looking for "Mary" and I would be thoroughly confused, especially because there was another Mary in the building). I also know a Maryann and even though her name is smushed together she still has problems with people separating her name and making "Ann" her middle name-- but I honestly think no matter what you do someone somewhere is going to mess it up, so you might as well do what you want.

I'm from Ohio and don't remember a ton of double names when I was growing up but it's not something that people wouldn't get used to. Eva Marie is going to go by Eva Marie, and she'll correct people who call her just "Eva" in the same way that anyone would correct someone who used a wrong nickname for them. I just personally think it looks better w/o the hyphen, and don't think the hyphen will prevent people from mixing things up anyway. :)

zoerhenne-- I'm also not liking Cathrin-- it just doesn't work as a name for me.

19
July 10, 2009 3:26 PM

Oh my-"high concept" names. Laura, I would also consider these "joke" names if intentionally given to spark attention. I prefer not to get my attention in that kind of way. However, I wonder what kind of title these names should recieve if NOT given intentionally or married into.

Also, I realize what a task it must be to choose a FN when you have a noun/verb/ending LN. We've been posting heavily about that now for 3 or so threads. But there has to be some common sense to your choice, and some respect for your future child. Bear Grylls comes to mind-Huckleberry is just not a proper name for a young boy these days. Makes me think of Huckleberry Hound and the cat in the Richard Scarry books.

Tirzah-my funny names when I was expecting were always those that sounded completely off the charts, in terms of being the opposite of my ethnic background.

Guest-Samuel Leo trips me up slightly. I agree that if its one you absolutely adore then use it. Maybe Samuel Leon is better with a slight adjustment to where the emphasis is. Other choices:
Samuel Oliver
Samuel James
Samuel Phillip
Samuel Alexander
I think the repeated L or M sound is good to "carry" the name but maybe not so much in the first letter position.

20
July 10, 2009 3:42 PM

zoerhenne: Somehow I find Huckleberry less inappropriate than Grylls' other son's name: Marmaduke. At least Huckleberry has a well-known precedence as a boy's name, even if the singularity of that namesake is problematic. (I'm thinking of the Tatum problem mentioned in the last thread. I imagine that, "Oh, like Huckleberry Finn?" would be the chorus of his lifetime.) The only Marmaduke I can think of, however, is the cartoon great dane. (Okay, I take that back: there is a Sir Marmaduke in Trollope's He Knew He was Right. But I only remember this because the entire time I was reading the novel, I kept imagining him as a dog.) Plus, Huck at least sounds like other names--Hank, Chuck--but Marmaduke is hard to pass off as a variation of anything but itself. Of course, Huck sounds like other, less-appealing words, too...but, if forced, I would pick Huckleberry over Marmaduke any day of the week.

21
By Lara Jane (not verified)
July 10, 2009 3:55 PM

I don't know about "high concept," but with the last name White we had to rule out Lily for a girl.

The book sounds quite interesting!

22
By hyz
July 10, 2009 4:57 PM

Count me among those who would never pick a "high concept name" of the sort described. I haven't known too many of these people in my life--I recently met a Barb Rawls (said at a normal pace, sounds like "bar brawls"), and my husband went to school with a guy named Child King (FN LN), but I think that's about it, aside from your John Johnsons and such. I think the more common scenario is just "high concept" first names with unrelated, normal last names, like the Marmaduke and Huckleberry thing. This is a harder issue than the jokey fn/ln combo to me, because I see it as falling more along a spectrum, and people will be apt to draw the line different places. That is, everyone can recognize that Dickory Dock is silly, but how bad is Huckleberry, really? The same question could be asked about names like Precious or Lexus, or Hyacinth and Barnabas--they're not for everyone, certainly, but I think they could all conceivably be either great or terrible, depending on the tastes and personality that little Precious or Barnabas eventually grows up to have.

23
By Anna (not verified)
July 10, 2009 5:05 PM

Circe, Zoerhenne,

What I find even weirder is that the name of his third (first) son is totally normal: Jesse. So it's Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry!?

And for some reason I'm reminded of Jamie Olivers' children Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo and Petal Blossom Rainbow. Couldn't he at least have given those children a middle name with a hint of potential for being taken seriously?!

What's worse - bizarre, odd names vs cutesy cute names?

24
July 10, 2009 5:19 PM

I knew a guy whose last name was Dive. And his dad's name was Cliff. And I seemed to be the only person that found it funny, which is crazy to me!

I don't know if the next example counts as a 'high concept name' per se--but I have trouble with Rs and Ws in the same name, I always want to make Ws out of them. In my head the author Randy Wayne Wright always comes out as Wandy Wayne Wight.

And @Anna, I think cutesy cute names are actually worse. I mean, will you ever really be taken seriously as a Petal Blossom Rainbow? Whereas if your name is, say, Cascade Falls, you can always go by Cass, or say that your parents were hippies or something.

25
July 10, 2009 5:21 PM

Re: Justa as a FN

I know of a woman named Justa Dahl (pronounced doll).

26
July 10, 2009 5:24 PM

Goldenpig, thanks for sharing Amazon's email response to your complaint about receiving the incorrect edition of BNW. I plan to email them similarly if I receive BNWI on Tuesday -- which wouldn't be such a bad 'deal' since I wouldn't mind having a FREE extra copy of BNWI! But still, I'm hoping the edition on its way to me is BNWII...

27
By Blackbird (not verified)
July 10, 2009 5:41 PM

This post reminds me of a birth announcement I saw in my local newspaper last week for a child named Warren Peace LastName.

28
July 10, 2009 6:06 PM

In defense of the name Delilah (discussed in the previous thread), I want to share what may be Delilah's side of the story which I found when researching the name recently: http://www.bible-topten.com/bad_women.htm (I noticed that Eve is listed among the top 10 bad women of the Bible too, and yet her name is doing very well: Ava, Eva, etc.)

Besides the biblical reference, there's the contemporary connection with the song, "Hey, Delilah" -- which is what drew my expecting relative to the name. The story behind the song is sweet, and the Delilah it was written about would make a fine role model for any girl: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/22799483/from/ET/

I also found a darling set of books about "Delilah Darling", by a British author
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_b?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=delilah+darling&x=0&y=0

and a darling real-life baby girl named Delilah Jane (exactly the name that was being considered) with her own website http://delilahjane.com/index2.html

Now I'm feeling much more positive about the name Delilah, with it's cute nickname "Lilah"... but the expecting mother has moved on to other names, for the time being at least. (Baby's not due until Jan., and gender is still unknown.)

29
By Anna (not verified)
July 10, 2009 6:17 PM

Jennie Taylor - another unfortunate combination (from a BBC article).

Anne with an E - yes, I also feel sorry for Jamie Olivers' children. Grylls' children can go by (Jesse), Duke and Berry. At least that's fairly normal, if that's what they want. But what nickname can make Poppy, Daisy and Petal bearable beyond their 2nd birthday?

30
By jenmn (not verified)
July 10, 2009 6:24 PM

Patricia,
"I plan to email them similarly if I receive BNWI on Tuesday -- which wouldn't be such a bad 'deal' since I wouldn't mind having a FREE extra copy of BNWI!"
Actually, at least in my experience today, you still need to send back the incorrect BNW1 book at Amazons cost. I don't get to keep the incorrect BNW1 book for free and get the revised BNW2 book sent to me as a replacement.

31
By PunkPrincessPhd (NLI) (not verified)
July 10, 2009 6:45 PM

@MelissaBKB:

Re: Saoirse

Saoirse means "freedom" in Irish, but that becomes politically charged in a divided state where "freedom" means very different things depending on which community you're from.

In the South (which became the Republic of Ireland) it was initially adopted by members of the emerging Gaelic League in the early 20thC, but later became associated almost exclusively with the Nationalist/Republican community. In fact, the political predecessor to the Republic was called "SaorStat na hEireann", or Irish Free State.

In the present day RoI, it's outgrown the blatant nationalism, however, in Northern Ireland, it is still used exclusively by the Republican (re: hardcore Catholic and Nationalist) community. WHile most Gaelic names are associated with nationalism in NI, Saoirse hits harder bc Unionists tend to read it as an overt expression of republicanism.

So, to answer the other question, perhaps this is high concept in a way, though one that needs a translation?

32
July 10, 2009 7:03 PM

jenmn, so you received BNWI from Amazon too? This isn't looking good for my delivery on Tues. :-( . Are they asking YOU to pay the postage to return it? That doesn't seem at all fair -- kind of a misrepresentation with the cover of the new edition showing on their website, plus what Laura's publisher was told. Did you send them a copy of the 'deal' one of their customer reps made with goldenpig?

It appears that there have yet to be any sightings of the IRL revised edition.

33
July 10, 2009 7:10 PM

Reread your post, jenmn, and I see that Amazon is willing to pay to have the book returned. Still, they could save you the trouble of taking it to the PO (UPS?) by just letting you keep it.

Glad I didn't join Amazon Prime (all that personal info. entered online scares me) just to get the wrong edition of the book in a hurry...

34
July 10, 2009 7:33 PM

I also wouldn't use a 'high concept' name. I think that different people consider different things 'high concept'. I grew up with a girl called Apr!l May W!nter. I am in the southern hemisphere, so yes the months go April, then May, then it's Winter. To make matters worse she had lovely red hair and freckley skin, so very Autumnal. Until you knew her middle name, it really wasn't that bad.

I was also thinking of the Oliver kids when this topic started. I guess I'm not alone. Personally I think Poppy and Daisy got off fairly lightly, both are acceptable first names. While their middle names are a bit silly, in my opinion, Petal is not a great first name. The Blossom Rainbow makes it even sillier. I actually was hoping they would have a boy for #3 to see what their boy naming style was.

35
By May (not verified)
July 10, 2009 7:45 PM

To Guest, who is wondering about Samuel Leo -- I think it is an excellent name! I wouldn't worry about the 2 L's running into each other, because the names Samuel and Leo are so recognizable that there is no ambiguity about where one name ends and the other begins. I think it sounds great!

36
By Deb Morrissey (not verified)
July 10, 2009 7:45 PM

For fun character names, I've always loved Charlotte MacLeod's mysteries. Her characters haave included Appolonia, Bodicea, Joris, Alding, Bartolo, Carnaby, Jenicot, Lisbet, Ridpath, and my personal favorite, Vercingetorix Ufford. Plus the nicknames: Miffy, Lassie, Tweeter, Bill (whose unfortunate full name was Nehemiah Billingsgate).

37
July 10, 2009 8:25 PM

Guest #1 I think Samuel Leo is fine, and I normally don't like names that run together too much.

Courtney C - I forgot to say before that the Graham Crocker example would be fine here in Australia, we say Graham as GRAY-am. Plus, we don't have gram crackers (not sure how you spell it, sorry!). I think the UK might be the same?

I just saw in my local birth announcements an Eve Marie!!! Also the pick of the day was an Edith, sister to Tobias. Not that I'm in love with Edith or Tobias, but makes a nice change to see something different.

38
July 10, 2009 8:54 PM

"What's worse - bizarre, odd names vs cutesy cute names?"

i'm not sure exactly what is meant by this. cutesy as in "ellie" or "maisie"? because if so, i'd take that any day over something bizarre (petal rainbow blossom). on the other hand, if you think "petal rainbow blossom" is cutesy and a bizarre/odd name is more along the lines of persephone or octavius or marvolo, i think i'd definitely go with bizarre. so it would just depend for me. petal rainbow blossom seems to be in BOTH catagories to me.

patricia,
also, i just want to say that i definitely don't think that delilah should NOT be used. i think it is great that it is overcoming the associations it has (i think the song by the plain white Ts and the radio host have done a lot for that). it's a very pretty name. i was just trying to say that i don't think the biblical connotations should be overlooked. at this point, i think it's something that would at least be a factor for me. i also don't think it would be true to say that eve doesn't suffer from any negative connotations: ava may be number 5 and eva may be number 114, but eve is still at 655, right there in between yazmin and shyanne.
but i think delilah is a lovely name and i wouldn't think anyone who used it chose poorly--i was just pointing out a concern. i'm sure any connotations can be overcome (it's number 193, which i think must mean it is well on its way). after all, david did some awful things and that name has been quite well used.

however, i'm afraid i can't quite get behind that defense of delilah (delilah "probably" felt sympathy for samson, delilah "probably" expected him to be killed quickly). i will defend eve to the death (i've written papers on it), but i just can't do the same for delilah (just as far as a discussion on her character goes though, not her name!)

also, bad news regarding BNW2
my amazon order arrived today and it was not the new edition....

39
July 10, 2009 9:00 PM

oh, interesting about australia and and the name graham. for the record, (i think) the crackers and the name is spelled the same in the u.s. (both graham) so that would be a problem (well, if the parents thought it was a problem).

40
By NinaS. (not verified)
July 10, 2009 9:08 PM

yeah on the "high profile" names, my dad went to school with a Harry Dick... yes, i know. Back in the early 70's though it may not of been on purpose, but the poor guy...

Re: Cutesy, cute vs. bizarre, wierd
i definitely think that cutesy cute is FAR worse than weird. I mean Dasiy Boo, Petal Blossom Rainbow. Come on the poor kids. Poppy Honey, I think is the most manageable out of the 3 girls in the Jamie Oliver clan. I just really hope that he is no more girls to name. Or boys. What if they get a frilly name too?! ok I'll stop before I have a panic attack. JK :)

41
By Lissa46 (not verified)
July 10, 2009 9:25 PM

Hi, I've been reading all the comments on the topics posted, and I'm confident that all of you can answer my question.

I have a beautiful daughter named Amelia, with the nn Mia, and my husband and I have decided we both like the name Cara for daughter number 2.

My question is, since Mia has a full name, should Cara too? I'm thinking Caroline.

What do you think? Amelia and Caroline? Or just Amelia and Cara?

Thanks!

42
By Lissa46 (not verified)
July 10, 2009 9:25 PM

Hi, I've been reading all the comments on the topics posted, and I'm confident that all of you can answer my question.

I have a beautiful daughter named Amelia, with the nn Mia, and my husband and I have decided we both like the name Cara for daughter number 2.

My question is, since Mia has a full name, should Cara too? I'm thinking Caroline.

What do you think? Amelia and Caroline? Or just Amelia and Cara?

Thanks!

43
July 10, 2009 10:29 PM

emilyrae, I know what you mean about the biblical Delilah. That's who has always come to my mind when I've heard the name, and I was therefore taken aback to hear we might have a little Delilah in the family. So I set out to 'redeem' the name, at least for myself, and came across another take on the Samson and Delilah story. I first came across some reference to that on some name website, similar to what the one I gave the URL for said: that Delilah probably wasn't an Israelite and therefore her loyalty might be to another group (maybe even the Philistines); that she may have worked for the Philistines to improve her own situation and no longer have to be a prostitute (if that's what she was), and that as a married man, what was Samson doing being with Delilah anyway? But, of course, the 'standard' Delilah story has given her and her name a very negative image, and a lot of people will always have that association with the name.

The more recent references to the name Delilah (the song, the Delilah Darling children's books, the increasing use of the name for baby girls) make me think that the name is probably all right, though most likely I still wouldn't choose it.

Sorry to hear that you too received BNW1 from Amazon.

44
July 10, 2009 10:17 PM

Lissa46, I think Amelia "Mia" and Caroline "Cara" would be perfect together! The longer forms of each name are very compatible, as are the nicknames. Lovely names, all of them!

45
By Amy3
July 10, 2009 10:34 PM

Lissa46, I don't think you need to feel obligated to give a longer formal name to get to Cara. If you both really like Caroline, it's a very nice name and would shorten easily to Cara, but just because Amelia has a nn doesn't mean daughter #2 has to have one (or will feel left out if she doesn't). More important would be choosing a name you both love for her rather than trying to "match" the firstborn's name.

46
July 10, 2009 10:36 PM

Lissa46-With regard to the topic at hand, I hope you are not worried by people saying the names together as in "Cara Mia". It's a popular saying and was a song back in the 50's which I believe means something like my heart. Not a bad thing but it would get old for me. Cara is cute though and I like it short for Caroline or maybe Carina or something like that.

Circe-Forgot about Marmaduke but I'm with ya. Loved those cartoons.

I think I'd rather have a cutesy name than a bizarre one depending on the extent of the awfulness. I was on a website the other week where I was giving opinions about name choices to posters. One women had just given birth on July 4th and lived in USA and wanted L!berty Fr33dom. Her nn would be Libby. I didn't think that was so bad.

I've always thought that the actress Fannie Flagg had a funny name.

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By Amy3
July 10, 2009 10:40 PM

Re: cutesy v. bizarre names, it would really depend on what you meant by a "bizarre" name, which seems more open to interpretation than cutesy. If the name were Maud, I'd take it (I happen to love Maud, but know a lot of people would find that an awful name). If the name were Surreal (a high school classmate named his daughter this), I'd pass.

I suppose for anyone saddled with a name they don't love, there's always the hope of changing it later (or electing to use a mn, if it's "normal" to you). However, you still have to spend your formative years struggling with the name.

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By Amy3
July 10, 2009 10:47 PM

zoerhenne, according to Wikipedia Fannie Flagg was born Patricia Neal. Wonder who thought of Fannie Flagg?

ETA: If only I'd read farther, she couldn't use Patricia Neal because there already was an actress named Patricia Neal.

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By GuestSuzanne (not verified)
July 10, 2009 10:48 PM

My parents knew a guy in the 70s named Richard Head. He never went by Dick as far as we can tell.

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By Angela (not verified)
July 10, 2009 11:25 PM

My stepfather knew a kid named Dick Payne as a young man. I just wonder how people don't think these things through!.. or don't care?