Optatus Cleary


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December 15, 2017 10:26 AM
In Response to Dog names, 2017

I know a family with a dog named Kitty.  They went to the shelter to adopt a cat, but picked a small dog instead and named her Kitty to commemorate the event.  Later they got a large dog, and named him Bear.  I think it was to continue the dog-named-for-another-animal theme and to recognize his largeness compared to Kitty.

I had a dog named Fluffy that wasn't particularly fluffy.  I had had a larger dog as a child, and my parents were worried that he would attack my newborn sister.  I suggested a "little white fluffy dog" as an alternative (I was thinking of a Bichon Frise, without knowing the name or anything about them other than that they were little, white, and fluffy.)  My parents bought a brown shih tzu, which I named Fluffy to commemorate the fluffy dog I had expected.

November 7, 2017 04:09 PM

"Dashiell" is a name I just don't get at all.  I have never seen it anywhere besides this website.  I don't even know how it would be pronounced.  "Dash-ell"?  Dash-ee-ull"?  I often see it on lists of "Classic" or "Elegant" names, but it doesn't register that way to me at all...it strikes me as modern and made-up.  Like someone wanted to use the word "Dash" and welded it to "Daniel."  I don't have anything against it, but the frequency with which I see it suggested on this website and forums surprises me, and I wonder where people get their assosications with it when I have gone my whole life without hearing it or forming any associations.

I might be in the same position here that others were when my school had a student named "Blaise."  To me, it seemed perfectly normal and classic.  But everyone else perceived it as a kre8iv spelling for "Blaze."

August 10, 2017 02:09 PM

Nedibles, yes, that was my other thought.  That it was a sort of formal/legal synonym for "clarity," or perhaps a title for someone who is supposed to think clearly.

Miriam, I was 6-7 at the time.  I remember hearing very vaguely about all of that controversy.  I wasn't old enough to be allowed to follow it closely, but I remember hearing the names "Clarence Thomas" and "Anita Hill" regularly, and knowing that adults I knew had different opinions on the hearings/ truth of the allegations.

August 10, 2017 10:58 AM

I remember hearing about the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas when I was a child.  I had not heard the name "Clarence," and I assumed it was a title (that he had been a "Clarence" and was now being elevated to being a "Justice.")  I think I had combined "clerk" and "justice" in my mind.  This was something I never asked anyone about, and I later (of course) discovered that it was just his first name, but the sense that "Clarence" doesn't  sound a like a person's name has stayed with me.

August 4, 2017 05:35 PM

When I saw it, I instantly thought "like Atrus's grandfather?"  I probably was active on the same forum fourteen or fifteen years ago, actually. I have all three of the books, signed by Rand Miller, on my bookshelf right now.

I actually posted recently that my love of the name "Catherine" started with Myst. I don't care much for "Katran," however, and almost wish they hadn't introduced that element.

I think the name is easy to pronounce and wouldn't be made fun of. It sounds like a name, and fits the trends well enough to fit in. I would probably use "Atrus" rather than "Aitrus," unless you are specifically trying to use the grandfather's name.

July 27, 2017 02:54 PM

I think public perception of names lags behind the trends for a simple reason: the men named Scott don't all die at once. So there will still be plenty of people with names like Scott Hudson or Scott Connor or Scott Bryson, and even if they mostly aren't the same age as the hypothetical boy in this thread, the perception that Scott is a common first name remains. 

July 27, 2017 02:38 PM

(That is basically how it's pronounced. Mala-kee.  While "Malachi" would get Mala-kie)

Regarding Lola

Say: That's really cute!

Think: It is very much a "sound name."  It quickly just starts sounding like noises. 

Next name: Josiah

July 26, 2017 09:16 PM

Say: I love it!

Think: I actually do love it

Next name: Malachy

July 25, 2017 04:30 PM

1. Brendon: I love the name Brendan...Brendon seems like an unnecessarily odd spelling.  It's not really objectionable, it just doesn't seem worth it.

2.Spencer: I don't usually care for surname-names.  However, I have a soft spot for this one since it was almost my name until my mother settled on the name I actually ended up with.

3.Logan: Not my favorite, but I like it for a boy better than for a girl.

4.Bryson: Also not my favorite...sounds slightly trendy and slightly dated.

5.Joseph: I like this one, but it is one of those "no mental image" names.  The full name sounds slightly fussy to me, but not unbearably so.  Joe and Joey are good, solid nicknames, and allow some differentiation between prim-and-proper "Joseph," fun and playful "Joey," and midcentury blue-collar "Joe."

6.Jackson: I'm not crazy about it...if I were looking for a way to get to "Jack" I would use John, and the full name "Jackson" doesn't excite me.

7.Hudson: A surname-name or a place name...neither of those are my favorite categories.  It also sounds little bit heavy for a little boy: the "hud" sound really sounds "big" to me.

8. Conor: Not my favorite, but it's okay.

9. Jameson: This, to me, is the whiskey.  If I met a Jameson, I would think "his parents must love whiskey!"  Which is fine with me, but I don't know if I'd want my child saddled with an alcohol-related name.


It's obvious, as I go through this list, that we have very different style, so take my suggestions with a grain of salt.  None of these are objectionable really, and they all come across as solid, decent boy names even if they aren't my favorites.  Off your list, I would pick Joseph or Brendan, with Conor as a distant third.

July 25, 2017 11:10 AM

I have always loved the name Catherine, at least ever since I first played the computer game Myst and found the letters that Atrus wrote to his wife Catherine...of course, her real name turned out to be "Katran," but the romantic associations of the name stuck with me.  I find it much more beautiful and ethereal than the other varients (Katherine strikes me as an attempt to be cute by varying a classic, even though I know that the spelling has at least as long a pedigree as the "C" spelling).

Elizabeth bores me...the best thing about it is the nickname potential, but I feel like the variance of the nicknames demonstrates the formlessness of the name.  To me, Elizabeth doesn't call to mind anything.  The nicknames do...a "Liz" and a "Betsy" are probably quite different people.  But both of them probably answer to "Elizabeth" on the first day of school.

July 25, 2017 10:58 AM

Every "Ciara" I know is Irish...pronounced "Keera."

July 25, 2017 10:56 AM

That's funny...I love the name Cecily.  I think it's an extremely cute and elegant variant of Cecilia.  My image of it comes mostly from English translations of the Catholic Latin Mass...the Latin side says "Cecilia" while the English side says "Cecily."  I've never met any real-life people named Cecily, however.

July 25, 2017 10:52 AM


Say: I love it!  I like traditional names.

Think: It's okay, but it's not really my style.  The image of "Tobias" in my mind is a pious fronteirsman, alternating with Tobias from Arrested Development.

Next name: Cordelia

July 12, 2017 07:36 PM

No, it isn't. Cleary is a family name, however. Optatus Cleary is really a pseudonym that "corrects" my problems with my real name :).

July 11, 2017 10:37 AM

I would say I am okay with my legal first name, and dissatisfied with my legal surname.

My first name is perfectly acceptable, but rather common and unrepresentative.  When I tell someone my real name, I don't think any particular ethnicity, religion, personality type, or anything else really comes to mind.  It's a Hebrew-derived name, but one that is in wide use by English speakers in general.  I'm okay with that, since it fades into the background, but I might like something that is more unique.

My last name is really not fitting for me, but I'm basically stuck with it.  It's my father's surname, but he had a strained relationship with his parents, and I rarely saw them growing up.  I was resolutely part of my mom's family, and would never use my last name to describe myself ("I'm a [dad's surname]" would never occur to me to say, while "I'm a [mom's surname]" is something I say regularly.  It is also ethnically incongruous: I'm mostly of Irish descent, but German on my dad's dad's side.  Since I didn't spend time with my dad's family I was deeply immersed in Irish American and Irish culture, and know next to nothing about German culture (although I have been enjoying German food lately :)).  So it always feels odd to have a name that doesn't match my self perception at all.

My dad is actually thinking about changing his name, but my wife, who changed her name when we got married, resists the idea of me changing it.  If I were to change it I would probably use my mom's last name, which would fit perfectly and "feel" right.

July 11, 2017 10:11 AM
In Response to A sister for Astrid

Interestingly, Tilde instantly makes me think of the mark, but Tilda doesn't at all.  I pronounce them the same, but the spelling Tilde puts the image of "~" in my mind instantly, while Tilda simply doesn't.

July 11, 2017 10:00 AM
In Response to Alberta?

I'm American, and Alberta is absolutely the province as well.  I feel the same way about American state place names, although since there are more states that sound name-like it might register a bit less.  However, I would imagine that even people from the province of Alberta are aware that it is sometimes used as a name, even if that use is rare there.  I can imagine anyone from any country joking about it, but not seriously thinking that the name is unacceptable.

Where I teach I have frequently had students named "America."  I have even heard "California" used as a name.  Also, a few local towns are "namelike" enough that I have had students with the same name as nearby schools we play against in sports.  It comes up every so often, but not constantly.  For instance, an America might say "thanks" sarcastically in response to someone saying or reading "God Bless America," but usually it is easy to tell the difference between the various uses for the word "America."  I would guess "Alberta" would work similarly.

June 29, 2017 03:01 PM
In Response to Name Change Opinions

I am a practicing Catholic and I've done some in-depth study of St. Augustine of Hippo (my own pseudonym, Optatus Cleary, comes from that research...St. Optatus was one of the saints St. Augustine used as a source, and he is an especially obscure saint who I want to bring attention to...Cleary is a family name.)

I usually hear St. Augustine of Hippo pronounced "au GUS tin," while I have heard that St. Augustine of Canterbury should be called "AU gus teen," but I rarely hear anyone talking about him. Also, I have met plenty of Mexican American men named "Agustin" which is (roughly) "au goose TEEN."  So every pronunciation choice sounds "male" to me.

Augustine of Hippo is a highly important saint, and his works are important to many Protestant groups as well. However, I would say most Catholic or Protestant lay people have never read his works. It is certainly not an "off limits" kind of name, or "too holy to use" or anything like that. Also, I'm sure it's often used in women's names, if they are nuns: a "Sister Mary Augustine" is easy to imagine, and my mom's Confirmation name was a form of the name.  So, I would be surprised if I met a woman named Augustine, but not shocked or offended.  If I had a meeting with an "Augustine (Surname)" I would be expecting a man, but if she turned out to be a woman I wouldn't be unsettled in any way.  




June 28, 2017 12:50 PM
In Response to Name Change Opinions

I would pronoounce Augustine "au GUS tin" and assume that it's a man's name, unless I knew otherwise.  Then again, I love my 4th and 5th century North African saint names, obviously :).

I really like Augustina.

June 6, 2017 04:35 PM
In Response to Pulcheria

Pulcher is certainly mismatched between meaning and sound.  Although, to be fair, I feel like "beautiful" is a rather ugly word as well.  I wonder what the most beautiful word for beautiful is?

Pulcheria, somehow, appeals to me nonetheless.  I'm a big fan of Byzantine history, so that could be part of it.  But between the name and the story, it gives me an image of a young, tough, beautiful empress.  The type of person that is innocent in some respects, but not-to-be-messed-with.  I looked up Pulcheria, and found that her "full" name was Aelia Pulcheria.  Aelia I could see catching on much more than Pulcheria could. 

Somehow I don't think my wife would be okay with the name Pulcheria for a baby, however.