Name the Cool Kids' Firstborn

A friend is pregnant after much effort and having a boy. She and her husband are unconventional, literary, musical. Both do writing projects to be performed or published, and each performed an original song at their wedding. They're cool, quirky, forever young, and Whovians (among other beloved fandoms). They have a one-syllable surname that begins with "H," so they don't want a name that ends in /s/ because of the way it blends. They also don't want a name in the Top 500. (!) So Lincoln is out, among others. Many of their ideas are surnames-as-first-names, and some honor creative people they admire. When asked what they most wanted the name to convey, she told me "creative." She works with kids, so is very aware of trends in her northeastern state. Of names she told me were under consideration, Gibson was my fave, but I just said I liked it, in case she goes another way.

Your thoughts?


January 6, 2019 11:09 PM

Should read "Top 1500," not 500. Knocks out a lot of nice names.

January 7, 2019 1:01 AM

I think a lot of surname names convey "preppy" more than "creative", so I think it's a good idea to curate names based on inspiration. Gibson is nice, in that it makes me think of the guitars and also Gibson girls, but other names like it don't have that literary panache. Not all surnames are as strikingly associated: Baker makes me think of bread baking but not of Josephine. Maybe more unusual names, like Byron, are the way to go.  Other names I'm finding suggested: Alcott, Byatt (would be forever misheard as Wyatt though!), Millay, Tennyson, Thackeray (sure to be forever misheard as Zachary, though). 

I know a little D'Artagnan which certainly qualifies! Having used the porchsittery Wilfred, perhaps I could interest you/them in Ivanhoe?

January 7, 2019 1:04 AM

Maybe Zane or Zora or Zelda? Quirky initial, and the Zelda I know was definitely named after Fitzgerald and not Legend Of. Zane Grey is a little cowboy for the Northeast, but Zora has promise. ETA: darn it, somehow I missed the "boy" part of the query. Zane is probably too popular for their metric, too.

January 15, 2019 2:54 PM

All this talk of Zelda and surnames makes me think that Fitzgerald could be a nice literary option. I like Gibson, but Fitzgerald has a bit more pizzazz.

January 7, 2019 1:42 AM

Gibson would be for William Gibson of sci-fi/speculative fiction fame. :-)

I think their choices reflect the push-pull of their personal identities vs. their backgrounds. They are are each the beloved "wild child" of their families, which both are conventional, country-club, well-off old money (but not "crazy rich"). So, they're quirky and out there relative to their families, but are now joining their older siblings in a more staid married life with a child. No Moon Unit is going to fly here.

Then I think there is a feeling of this might be their one shot. They want more kids, but are cognizant that it might not happen. So this Naming Dilemma might be a name that has to convey everything they want to say.

January 7, 2019 5:52 PM

Ah I was thinking much more along artistic cool-kid lines rather than cyberpunk nerdy-cool. I *love* cyberpunk (our intersex baby name was Hero inspired heavily as a not-just-female name by Hiro Protagonist of Snowcrash), and thus William Gibson, although it definitely was not what first occurred to me when hearing the name. It's a better sound than Rucker (after Rudy) although Sterling gives it a run for its money. Sterling is particularly nice because I think it has a little hint of the Moon Unit appeal - it's a name that gets used here where word-names and unconventional virtue names are very much on trend among the artistic unconventional cool kid set. 

Exciting times ahead for them: I really wish them the best of luck in finding a name that can convey everything without being in a sibling grouping necessarily, although I also wish them the best of luck in having the number of children that their heart desires, too -- infertility is so hard.

Please keep us updated on this naming dilemma - it's very compelling!

January 7, 2019 6:53 PM

Hmm, I wonder if Sterling might appeal. 

Hero, like Paris, is good for any gender, no longer attached to its gender from antiquity.

We won't get an official name until Memorial Day!

January 7, 2019 2:12 AM

Gilbert Sullivan Tennyson kai zaide braith heath axle Marshall maverick Jonty jovani Cohen Dante Florian Atticus Quade river Zander 

January 7, 2019 3:43 PM

I think River was a consideration, being both "Doctor Who" and "Firefly." Thanks!

January 7, 2019 5:08 PM

Do they read fantasy? Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archives series has some great names. I'm partial to Dalinar (for a boy) and Shallan (for a girl). Also from Firefly there's Reynolds (for Malcolm), Jayne (alternate spelling and cross-gender namesake if used on a girl), or Shepherd. I don't watch Dr. Who (cue the horrified gasps), so I'm no help there.

January 7, 2019 8:03 PM

Some not-top-1500 boys' names that might fit literary/creative/musical/unconventional and don't end in -s:










January 10, 2019 11:14 AM

I'm reminded of the Allegory of the Cave, which may be the earliest version of the concept of world-as-projection, which over millennia morphs into the concept of the virtual world. From there we see a whole common motif of cyberpunk take form, all stemming from a concept developed in antiquity and now readily visible everywhere.

And so, there's a name that's "on trend," but would never be used. It's a name everyone knows, but still stands out as unique, different. There's no doubting its pedigree.

For their son, I recommend Plato.

January 10, 2019 4:58 PM

Can I suggest Arthur.

Old-fashioned in a way to please the families, yet ready for a resurgence.

Literary-cred in the form of Arthur Millar, Arthur C Clarke, Arthur Conan Doyle, plus links to King Arthur and the legends that surround him.

Geek-cred in the form of Arthur Dent among others.

Rising in popularity in the UK yet relatively unused in the US (I believe).

January 25, 2019 2:42 AM

I've always been surprised that Hawthorne hasn't ranked.  It's literary (Nathaniel Hawthorne) and has a nature association, too (hawthorn trees and shrubs).  As a bonus, Wikipedia lists a lot of folklore relating to the plant.

February 17, 2019 10:06 PM

Oooh, it's a good name, but I know it won't work with the surname. I hooh I get a chance to suggest that to others!

February 17, 2019 10:05 PM

Here is the current short list. To help you recall issues with the surname (one syllable, ends in /s/ sound), pretend the last name is Loose. Could use some thoughts, especially on the new-to-me Tilden.


Ryd3r (one loves, one not so much)

L1nc0ln (mutually adored, but way too popular--#41!)


$im0n (which I feel like is the "safety school" of the bunch: wholly unobjectionable, but nothing special for them)

There is one more name he nixed because she has an ex with the name. I think merely dating, no cohabitation or engagement, is not enough to rule out a name, but maybe you see it otherwise? Now that I write that, I try to think of my DH suggesting our DD be named a name.of on his exes, and it's no bueno, but the names I know are not at all casual or short-lived relationships....

February 17, 2019 10:43 PM

I like Simon best and I would nix the exes, Lincoln is nice. Not so keen on Ryder, Gibson or tilder

February 17, 2019 11:23 PM

Gibson is fantastic.  I also think Wilder would fit their criteria.

February 18, 2019 5:53 AM

I wrinkled my nose when I saw Tilden... it really just isn't my kind of name. Then I googled it, and saw that it's a national park (great!) a chemist (great!) and a 19th century politician (meh). So it definitely has some stellar connotations. It still doesn't look much like a name to me though, and unless it were also a family name, I don't think I'd warm to it.

G!bson is definitely the one that makes me most likely to think of the parents as "cool kids." L!ncoln could also work and I don't think it being #41 is a dealbreaker...though your friend is probably more conscious of how that usage is reflected in the area.

Ryder isn't at all what I would expect from creative, literary parents, but sounds like it's unlikely to go ahead if only one parent likes it anyway.

I think I would probably be okay with exes (my husband has some really well-named exes -- Candela, Violeta). I would just nix the one who wrote a bad-tempered book about their break-up!

February 18, 2019 10:08 AM

If the surname is Hayes, I would definitely forgo Tilden. Tilden was the Democratic candidate in the 1876 election and beat the Republican Rutherford B. Hayes in both the popular and electoral college votes. Through some strange backdoor machinations, the 20 undecided electoral college votes went to Hayes and the Republican party with Hayes at the helm agreed to pull troops from the South, thus effectively ending Reconstruction. Despite my distaste for Hayes as a president, I have always thought he had the coolest presidential name ever (until Barack Obama, who wins through the sheer snappiness of his first name). Because of my love for his name, I read a biography of him years ago, which caused me to wrinkle my nose at the man, but did not dampen my enthusiasm for his name. 

I actually like the name Tilden for your friends.

February 18, 2019 12:52 PM

Yay, thanks for extra info and thoughts! Tilden has stuck with me since Matchmaker suggested it. As has Gibson.

Hayes is not the surname. :-)

February 18, 2019 6:39 PM

Simon is easily my favorite, as surname-names aren't my thing.

Ryder is nearly opposite in style to what I think they're going for - closer to bogan (as the Aussies say) than educated and literary.  Lincoln is pretty ho-hum pedestrian.

Tilden and Gibson are kind of interesting.  I don't dislike them, really.  That's strong praise from me, for surnames under consideration as first names. :)

February 18, 2019 2:58 AM

I will Gibson.