How big of a deal are initials??

My husband and I have narrowed our name choices down to Hunter and Garrett. I'd be 100% convinced on Garrett if we didn't plan on using Alan as a middle name. Garrett Alan sounds good together but my concern is initials.


Our last name starts with an giving a child the initials of GAS a really cruel thing to do? My husband loves the idea and thinks it's just fine. Our other options for middle names are Kenneth, Samuel, Jon and Robert (all family names). 


August 21, 2016 11:02 AM

Initials matter more for some people than others. How often do you use yours? How about your husband? If (like me) you have to wrack your brain to come up with the last time you used your initials for anything, then it really won't matter. Plus, there's always the option of using just first and last, and there's nothing objectionable about GS.

The objectionability of GAS is debateable. It's not obscene, although it is used as a euphemism for a somewhat rude word. It's what you put in the car to make it go, and a common scientific/physical concept. It's also used as a slangy synonym for 'fun' or 'funny'. I come down on the side of "acceptable" -- I wouldn't greatly mind an automatically-assigned email address like gasurname, and everywhere else I could always fall back on GS.

(I suppose if your surname is Michaels and you want to name your child Catherine, you shouldn't honor great-aunt Ursula directly in the middle spot. But even if you do, the option of CM still stands.)

August 21, 2016 4:49 PM

I care more about initials than some people because I use them a lot. That said, I really only object if it is a negative word. GAS is borderline because of the euphemism for flatulence, but if your kids are anything like mine they use the word "fart" almost exclusively and "passing gas" is the sole domain of my very prim and proper mother-in-law. I think I would probably pass on the initials because I myself would find myself unable to resist jokes when handing the baby off (I am 100% the demographic that "Swiss Army Man" was made for!) but my sense is that it won't otherwise be a big problem because by the time kids are polite enough to be using "passing gas" instead of more colorful language, they'd also be past the age of teasing. So, I'd actually expect it to mostly be a benign word for your child... Which I prefer to avoid with initials but don't prioritize heavily, either. One of my kids is TAG and it has been fine.

I think it is very much not in the cruel category, in any case.

By mk
August 21, 2016 5:47 PM

I don't think it is a big deal at all. my initials spell a word and I loved it as a kid, always used all three. he may enjoy it too, if not many people leave out the middle initial anyway. Unless the initials spell something truly inapprpriate, I wouldn't worry.

August 21, 2016 7:13 PM

I care more than most people about both the initials and the monogram because I was teased for my intials as a kid and I just really love monograms. (GSA is fine, by the way.)

My initials spell an impolite slang word if you randomly insert a particular vowel between my first and middle initial. That apparently is enough reason for 3rd to 5th graders to tease someone. GAS is a little more neutral than the word my initials almost form, so I don't think it's as bad. I certainly wouldn't categorize it as cruel, though personally I would still avoid it.

August 21, 2016 11:22 PM

Personally, I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't like those to be my initials, so I wouldn't give them to my child.

The only caveat is that you're naming a boy, and in my experience, boys A) tend to give much less thought to their names, B) are less embarrassed by their own flatulence than girls, and so C) may actually enjoy having those initials. (Your description of your husband loving the idea supports that theory.)

But in my house, gas is the main word that we use, since I despise the word fart, so the connection is very strong for me, and I still wouldn't do it.

August 22, 2016 1:29 AM

I agree with all this.

August 22, 2016 2:47 AM

It is really hard to predict how much initials will be present in your baby's life.

For instance, he may work at a job and his email address could be assigned as, or, or you never know.

I went to a military school, and we had our last name and initials stenciled on many uniforms, like Smith GA, and it was a high-hazing environment, so the upperclass cadets probably would notice and remark on it (make fun of him for it).

However, i think in normally elementary/middle/high schools, other kids wouldn't know the middle names.


August 22, 2016 11:05 AM

I don't think it's true that school friends don't know each others' middle names. It was always something that we revealed to each other when I was a kid -- and I don't think that it was my interest in names that prompted those discussions. A middle name is a piece of personal information that kids have available to them to share and it can often feel like a step taken when a friendship becomes closer.

Further, if a middle name is different or "weird", in my experience, that can become a topic of conversation. I don't know if this will still be the case in today's classrooms where, it feels like, anything goes, but, for example, when I was in high school, there was one boy whose friends always called him by his middle name to bug him because it was such a different style from anyone else's first or middle name. (I find it so funny that the name, Tobias, was tease-worthy in the mid '90s to high school boys, and today would easily be someone's first name and would be completely unremarkable.)

August 22, 2016 12:29 PM

I asked my about-to-enter-8th grade son about these initials; he didn't think they'd be a big deal. He said he only knows the middle name of his two very best friends (and we live in a town where he's basically known 80 out of the 100 kids in his class since kindergarten), so initials in general aren't on his radar.

When he told me his two friends' middle names, I said "Hey, so J's initials spell JAR?" He had never noticed. Then I said, in full-on name-geek mode, "You should give him jars of stuff, or fancy jars or something, for his birthday." My husband, of course, said "You could call him Jar-Jar!" This, my son said, would be cruel. Worse than GAS, I asked? Absolutely yes, he tells me. So there you go: a floppy-eared incompetent (who may or may not be the ultimate evil in the galaxy) is a worse monogram-association than flatulence (but still not really noticeable) to at least one middle-school boy.

FWIW, I'd still avoid it if possible, for the reasons mentioned by other posters. Maybe just add a second middle name? Jon-Alan would still be a fairly short total syllable count, for example, and would solve the initials issue.

August 23, 2016 1:33 AM

I know a man whose initials are roughly equivalent. He's the kind of guy nothing phases. It comes up in work discussions every couple months, with an immature adult sniggering or asking if he realizes what his initials spell. He says it has happened throughout his life.

After hearing what a frustration it is to that guy and seeing him go out of his way to obscure or hide his name, I wouldn't consider using the initials GAS as lovely a name as Garrett Alan is.

By rooo
August 23, 2016 2:02 AM

If it's avoidable, I would avoid it. Two anecdotes to share about this... I have a friend who goes by her middle name, which her parents wanted to be her first name but they realized what the initials spelled at the last minute and flipped it. If you did that it would be Alan Garrett Smith, who goes by Garrett.

I don't notice initials as a big deal in general, but I have worked with people who share my first and last initials, so in versioning files I always use all 3 initials (as do most of my colleagues). He may not get made fun of in a professional setting, but you still don't want his manager thinking of him as GAS whenever receiving a file.**

** I recognize that by the time this child has his first professional job we will have significantly more sophisticated file sharing and versioning. But I expect initials will still be used in some capacity in the workforce.

August 23, 2016 9:44 PM

Thanks everyone for the replies! I think I'm leaning more towards the not using it, not that we really use initials much but I imagine as he gets older, his older brother will love to tease him about it!


My next question would be, out of the other options for middle names, which one sounds best with Garrett?


We could also use Nicholas as a middle name.

August 24, 2016 1:50 AM

Garrett Nicholas is my favorite, followed by Garrett Samuel.

August 24, 2016 5:31 PM

I agree. Garrett Nicholas Surname is my favorite and Garrett Samuel Surname second.

August 24, 2016 10:40 AM

G@rrett Nichol@s is a great name.

August 26, 2016 8:40 PM

Another vote for Garrett Nicholas (I like the flow better), but Garrett Samuel sound great, too. If you like Samuel better, though (well, I got that from your putting Samuel up there among your alternates for Alan), go for Samuel.

August 24, 2016 2:51 AM

[Spam deleted]

August 24, 2016 5:09 AM

What about the Hebrew name Elan as an alternative to Alan?  Very similar, but you get out of the awkward initials.  You could also go with Ballan, Kallan, Galen...


I agree that if my initials were GAS, as a kid my brother would have never let go of it. 

August 29, 2016 3:28 PM

The truncated version of my initials (the ones that got used all the time growing up, especially in Elementary school) is BS. No idea how mom and dad let that happen.  Had they been thinking about initials at all, they probably wouldn't have.  But in all honesty,  I can probably count on one hand the number of times I got teased about my initials.  The few times kids teased me about my name, it was usually because I had the misfortune to be named Brittany and in middles school in the late 90s.  So many Britney Spears jokes...  But again, not something that my parents could have prevented given that she was unknown when I was born in 1984...

Also, as I've gotten older, I just use the long form of my initials when I have to initial a document or sign an email. I assume your son could do the opposite.

September 18, 2016 11:53 PM

Country star Barbara Mandrell has been known to say "I love my name but I hate my initials," all in fun, of course.

I live in Nashville, TN, and when I first moved here in the late 1980's, I worked at Barbara's museum for a few years.

The man who was our manager there for awhile had the initials GAS, and I noticed them monogrammed on his shirt cuffs.  He was quite a character and a cut-up, so he laughed about his initials and clearly never was bothered by them.

Not including my middle name, my initials are PP.  When I noticed the monogram on the manager's shirt cuffs, I asked him what his middle name was.  He answered, and then added, "We both have initials that have to do with bodily functions."

I glanced at the cardboard stand-up of Barbara Mandrell and responded, "We're in very good company."

Who knows if your son will have the attitude that Barbara and my former boss and I have!  If he does, you won't have a problem!

Growing up, I knew someone whose name was Scott Alexander and his last name started with an S.  Come to find out, his father had the same name only with the first and middle names reversed - Alexander Scott S-last name.  I'm guessing the father got needled about his initials so when his son came along, instead of saddling him with the same issue, he just changed the order of the names. 

October 3, 2016 4:06 PM

So my first and last initials are BS and It's not horrible, but every time someone sees them they feel the need to make a joke. It's a bit annoying, but nothing more. 

October 3, 2016 6:03 PM

I think it's like how every pseudo-wag out there feels compelled to make Hungary = Hungry jokes. Really, people, we've heard ALL of them, and they were never that funny to begin with.