Acronames: The Sneaky-Clever Baby Name Alternative

Apr 16th 2015

When it comes to naming babies, most of us choose a..."name." You know, one of those strings of letters, pronounced like a word?

Before you laugh, try saying the names J.R. Ewing and H.P. Lovecraft aloud. Initials like those aren't pronounced like words. Rather, the letters' names form the sound. Those are the two main name modes, though you can mix them up for a hybrid like J. Paul Getty or today's new punctuation-based mashups like K-Den and J'Lah.

In this spectrum from word to initials, where would you place Jeb Bush? His name Jeb occupies a different kind of middle space, the same space that the word laser occupies between LED and lightbulb. Jeb is an acronym -- or if you like, an "acroname" -- for John Ellis Bush. It's initials, pronounced like a word.

That's a common story for men named Jeb, from Confederate General James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart to soccer player John Eli "Jeb" Brovsky. Jeb is something of an orphaned nickname, without a natural parent name. (Nope, not Jebediah. That name isn't nearly as traditional as you may think.) Some families just go with Jeb as a full name, but the acroname option opens up new possibilities, for Jeb and beyond.

Plenty of parents fall in love with a nickname but don't like the formal options. Let's say you're drawn to Wes, but find Wesley and Weston a little stuffy. Wyatt Ethan Samuel, perhaps? Or maybe you want to name your daughter after Grandma Meg without using Margaret. Marlowe Emry Grace could do the trick.

Any short name could work as an acroname. 19th century writer Emma Dorothy Eliza Nevitte Southworth had a string of hit novels under her initials, as E.D.E.N. Southworth. If you get lucky with letters, you might even use an acroname as a namesake for all four grandparents without actually calling your kid by any of their names: "Jerome Anita Stewart Eileen" = Jase. For extra flexibility you can include your surname initial or leave it off. It's one more potential pathway on the journey to the perfect name.



April 18, 2015 11:26 PM

"Jerome Anita Stewart Eileen"  Bwahahahaha!!  What on earth, Laura?  Have you gone off your rocker?  I can't decide if little Jase is a girl named Jerome or a boy with the middle names Anita and Eileen.  I think I'll pass on this one....

I do rather like Jeb though.

April 19, 2015 9:56 AM

Guest, you're not reading the words that are there: the four names are the grandparents, and the acronym is the grandson -- Jase was the second-fastest-rising boy's name of 2013 (

By mk
April 20, 2015 12:31 PM

Guest: As the article states, Jase is a child named Jase after all four grandparents without having any of their names.

Wouldn't work for me since none of my grandparents had names begining with vowels, but pretty cool if one is lucky to have the right set of initials to work with.

April 21, 2015 2:23 PM

Oooh, thank you guys!  I was thrown off by "Jase" not following the pattern of the previous examples, where she was talking about deriving nicknames from the person's own full name.

April 22, 2015 6:07 PM

I have a cousin named Miah Isabel Andes Hardy (all her siblings are named after mountains) and I've met a Zoe Olivie Emerson.

April 23, 2015 7:55 AM

I do this this with my personal nickname for my daughter. She is Isabel with most people calling her Izzy, but her initials are I.S.B. and I always call her Izbee!


April 23, 2015 5:35 PM

My mother's initials were SB, and her family of origin called her Ezbee until the day she died--and even afterward.  Which she hated.  When she married and moved to a different town, she ditched the Ezbee and used her given name Sylvia.

By Aiea
April 24, 2015 2:32 PM

I know an Ivy whose name is Isabelle Verity (initials I.V.)

By Aiea
April 24, 2015 2:33 PM

On "Arrested Development". The character George Oscar Bluth II goes by Gob (pronounced like Job with a soft g, rhymes with lobe).

December 24, 2015 10:46 AM

I love this acroname idea! We recently gave our angel baby who passed through miscarriage an acroname. We named him/her Remi. It stands for Rest Eternally My Innocent.