We are considering using Inara as a middle name and I am curious what people think of it. It's very uncommon, so if people recognize it at all, it's probably because of a fictional character from a particular TV show. I'm wondering -- how many people recognize the show? What do you think of naming your daughter after that character? If you don't recognize the character, what do you think of the name?

Note that this would be a middle name.



June 15, 2012 12:02 PM

I recognize it. Undoubtedly, others will, too.

Admittedly, a courtesan-style companion is much better than similar characters on other shows (and I remember a "Baby's Named a Bad Bad Thing" entry of Xev Chiana, combining pronunciation issues with characters with questionable morals).

On the whole, though, Inara's fine. The character is tough, wise, and deliberate, and the name is sonorous. I'd raise an eyebrow, but leave it at that. But I would expect people 20+ years older to know where it's from.

June 15, 2012 1:26 PM

I am over 20, way over, which is probably the problem, because I have no idea about the Inara character being referrred to.  However, I went to school with an Inara.  It's a Latvian name--my schoolmate came to the US from Latvia as a small child after WWII.  No one had any problems with the name.  No one found it weird or difficult to spell or pronounce or tease-worthy.  But, of course, in those days this mysterious fictional character wasn't an issue.

June 15, 2012 1:22 PM

I'm not familiar with the show, though I had a vague sense that Inara has a contemporary pop culture reference. However, I suspect I'm in the minority here, since I'm generally rather out of the pop culture loop. I would say in general that the middle name slot is a great place to be adventurous and use a more unusual name or a tribute to someone/something important to you even if the name's a bit outside the style mainstream. You don't have to be as literal as "My middle name is Danger" to capture some of the same appeal.

If I remember right, you were thinking of Lydia for a first name and considering the combination Lydia Irene. I still love that combination, love the family significance of Irene for you and the meaning "peace," and think in general a middle name not ending in -a flows better with Lydia (not that flow has to be the most important thing). Inara sounds nice enough, but it doesn't particularly grab me. I guess if I knew more about the meaning or history it might, but it sort of strikes me (perhaps inaccurately) as a sci-fi invention rather than an established name. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and there's plenty of history to Lydia, so balancing it with something light and different makes some sense. Other I- names I like with Lydia (better than Inara at the moment): Iris, Ingrid, Isolde ...

Hope that helps!

June 15, 2012 5:15 PM

Wow, you have a really good memory! Yes, we were considering Lydia Irene but neither of us loved Irene and we started looking for something a bit more unusual.

Also, the show did not invent the name. Inara is a goddess in Hittite mythology, sort of equivalent to Diana/Artemis. But I didn't know that until I looked it up.

June 15, 2012 1:52 PM

I did not recognize the name and looked it up, and I see that it's a show that I have not yet watched, but that my husband and many friends have, and they insist that I will really like it. It's on my Netflix "to watch" list.

In my experience, the people who have seen the show are very familiar with it, and those who have not seen it don't know much about it at all - if they even know that it exists. There are few casual watchers. I also find that people who saw it, loved it, so the people who will recognise the name are also the ones who will appreciate the reference - in the sense that you are less likely to get negative feedback for using it.

Personally, I think that it's a beautiful-sounding name. It feels soft and flowing. As for whether I'd name a child after a fictional character, the answer to that is no. However, I won't name a child any name that already has a person attached to it in my head, real or fictional. I'm actually intentionally not watching Buffy on Netflix because I don't want to associate my current name crush with any specific person. But I wouldn't look down upon someone who liked a name from a show and used it - assuming that I didn't think that the show was trash. (e.g., No naming after Real Housewives of Anywhere, please.) My good friend named her son Earnest after The Importance of Being Earnest, and the reason that they used it is my favourite part of his name.

And naming a child in honour of a fictional character is different from being inspired by the character's name.

June 15, 2012 6:27 PM

I completely agree that there are two categories of responses to this: either "Joss Whedon is my god," or "Oh, that's pretty and unusual." People who know the reference will like the character and the name, but most people will like the name without knowing the reference.

By Guest (not verified)
June 24, 2012 1:07 PM

As a Whedon fan, I can tell you that this is 100% accurate. Also, I love the name Inara and despite the character's profession, she is a great person.

Also, anyone here who hasn't seen the show should watch it! It's amazing!

June 15, 2012 5:52 PM

I am aware of the Goddess named Inara, but not the TV character.  Inara is (in part) a diety that offers protection, and I can understand the appeal of that as a baby name. Inara is pretty and sounds like a name.  I really don't see a problem with it.

By hyz
June 17, 2012 7:24 AM

Ditto this.

June 15, 2012 5:53 PM

Well, aside from her profession, she was a great character. And anything to get more people to watch "Firefly" is good in my book!

June 15, 2012 7:54 PM

I am a firefly fan so immediately got the reference. I actually considered putting the name Inara on our middle name list for our first child, as I like the sound and I am a Joss Whedon fan. She is a great character and I don't find anything particularly negative about her.

I think most people will either not have any idea where the name came from (although some name nerds seem to know the goddess reference) or be a firefly fan and have a positive association with the name. As a middle name I don't see it as an issue.

June 15, 2012 8:18 PM

Thanks everyone, this is very reassuring!

June 15, 2012 9:45 PM

Nope, had no idea where the name was from, but I think it's beautiful.  

June 16, 2012 5:54 PM

I recognized it immediately! :) But I don't think you can go wrong--it's very pretty in its own right. I'd use it.

By Guest (not verified)
June 18, 2012 9:17 AM

Yep.  Immediately.  I think nerdy people of my generation may remember it for a while.  Pretty name though.

By Guest (not verified)
June 18, 2012 9:22 AM

Frankly, I'm not a huge fan of naming from characters in books or tv.  Especially if the name is unique or completely defined by that character in popular culture.  To me it feels confining.  It's one thing to name your child Anne, becuase you loved Anne of Green Gables.  That name has so many more associations the child can discard their parent's intention or association and make the name their own.  But other names aren't so easy to do with this.

As I said above, it is a pretty name...

By mk
June 18, 2012 12:29 PM

I recognize Inara as a goddess, not a TV character. I don't see the problem with using it.

June 18, 2012 1:10 PM

I got the pop culture reference immediately, but it's not an obvious one unless you are a huge fan of the show (or the movie). 

I think in the middle name slot, it's just fine. :-)

And while she was not exactly working in a field I would want my daughter to work in, she was a self-confident, self-assured, strong, capable woman. Those are good qualities to emulate. :-)