(yet more) dithering about Hermione

I'm sure that all the old-timers are totally sick of this endless dithering and have all spoken their piece already years ago... in which case, feel free to move along: nothing new to see here, I promise!

We have long loved the name Hermione, and thought it would be an obvious first choice for a girl child, but now that we're actually expecting said girl this fall, we're increasingly unsure about whether we feel comfortable condemning a real live child to a lifetime of "Oh, like Harry Potter, ha ha ha" comments. I'd expect these to be particularly prevalent since our last name starts with a hard-G sound (like that of a certain fictional Hermione), and we are increasingly secure in the knowledge (based on current n=2 sample size) that our kids are likely to feature bushy brown hair and bookish, know-it-all attitudes.

While we generally think of Harry Potter as a positive association, and the character Hermione as a good role model in many regards, the fact that it's such a big and dominant SOLE association means that it might end up a constant point of conversation. I can see how it might wear thin, especially since there aren't any good nicknames to seek refuge in, either. (Hero? Minnie?)

Everyone we've talked to about is has had very conflicted hand-wringing reaction as well: "Well, that's definitely a problem, eh? but maybe on further thought it SHOULDN'T be a problem, and it's such a beautiful name, so maybe I do want you to be able to use it..."

However, that the knee-jerk first response tends to be a "no, not useable" is hard to overlook. I find it a big hurdle to overcome, because it means that our daughter would be tackling that hurdle anew each time she introduces herself to someone. It was also our first reaction, and while we try to talk ourselves out of it regularly, I just don't think we can actually do it.

We do have another name that we like equally well, and so I think it's likely that we'll end up taking that, more nickname-filled, less conspicuously literary route. But! It is such a hard thing to take a favorite name off the list when it's nothing wrong with the name itself! When MAYBE it wouldn't be a problem after all! Maybe in ten years we'll be having to dodge copies of Harry Potter aimed at our heads by a Thomasina who is livid that we didn't name her Hermione!

Goodness, it would be very helpful to have a view into the future - even just for a momentary glimpse!


April 25, 2013 5:25 AM

I definitely think it's usable........ I'm not a Harry Potter fan (nothing wrong with the books, there just not my thing) but I do have that association. If I met a real life Hermione I would make a new association pretty easily. In some ways I think the new found familiarity of the name makes it more usable as people actually know how to pronounce and spell it.

I don't think the tangential connection to Rupert is an issue at all. Whether there might be a lot of 'oh like Harry Potter' comments....... I'd guess there will be but I don't think it's that big of a deal.  How your daughter may feel about it is hard to judge.  I agree it doesn't have any obvious nicknames to help minimise the association. What about middle names, are you going to use something that could be an alternative day to day name should Hermione become a problem? 

Honestly, I think you should definitely keep it in the running and plan on using it unless you feel like another name works better. I do also love Thomasina, but I think I slightly prefer Hermione.  Are you still considering Wilhelmina? I thought you had a couple of others in contention at one point? At any rate, I think Hermione is going to get mixed responses in the abstract. On an actual child I think the response will be more favourable. I don't think it's a particularly problematic name and is very wearable.

April 26, 2013 12:52 AM

Wilhelmina is off the table for this child, because we are planning on one more child after this, and we would like to be able to use Wilfred if our last child is a boy. If our last child proves not to be a boy, though, we'd definitely put it back into consideration. The Spouse has also tabled Sophonisba due to the large number of Sophies and Sophias nicknamed Sophie that there are in our community. We have agreed to think about Ariadne a bit more, to see how we feel about it, too.

(We have stopped worrying about the tangential Rupert association. No one has ever said "like Rupert Grint" in response to our actual real live baby named Rupert, not once, which to me suggests that it is not going to be something that comes up ofter or ever.)

I think the question is just whether the brief but eternal conversation about "ha ha, like Harry Potter!" will be irritating to our daughter. I'd feel better if I knew that a nickname could easily be used to bypass the conversation, which was a big part of what made us decide that a very unusual name with a dominant literary reference would be workable for first kid (if it is ever just too much hassle to having to repeat/spell/explain the backstory, he/we just introduce as Joe, no questions asked).

I do very much like Ione and Maia/Maya and Hero as names, but I wonder about whether they would actually work/catch on as nicknames in this case, since the emphasis in those names is so different from what it is in Hermione. Her-MY-(uh)-nee where the (uh) is a bit swallowed sometimes, versus eye-OH-nee or MY-ah or HE-roe.

April 26, 2013 12:56 AM

Actually, because the emphasis is on the MY, I think that Mya/Maya is a completely natural nickname! It takes me exactly zero mental effort to derive it from Hermione :)

April 26, 2013 1:35 AM

This is a good point! In the case of "the name that sounds like Mya/Maya/Maia", think it would be more a question of how you would spell it as a nickname for Hermione. Isolating the Mio letters that make those syllables in Hermione is rather bizarre and very counterintuitive. There's no requirement that the nickname be spelled like the full name, though... and Maia is sort of sweet because it's the name my mother always wished she had instead of Maria. (SHE could have used Maia as a nickname, too, but it never occurred to her!)

April 30, 2013 12:12 AM

Well I'm glad to see that Wilfred/Wilhelmina might still be in the running down the track!

Thinking about it I think Mya, Ione and Hero are all great nickname option and I don't think any of them are a stretch. I think you could definitely do any, and they all have a slightly different feel to them.

Yay for not worrying about the Rupert link!!!  

Oh and I adore Ariadne...... it's still on our list should our #2 be a girl!

By mk
April 25, 2013 12:56 PM

I think you can use it. I've never read the books or seen the movies, and I do recognize the character. But unless you have a problem with the character (which you don't) I don't think it's a huge deal that there is a connection.

Though truthfully, I prefer Thomasina. I never remember how to pronounce Hermione.

April 26, 2013 12:53 AM

Ha, I am so enheartened to hear "I prefer Thomasina" because it seems very unpopular in NE circles! I totally love it.

April 25, 2013 1:05 PM

Yes the name is usable, you can use any name, and yes the Harry Potter association will always be there.  It's an unusual name and most people have only heard of it because of the film.  

You know this because you wrote: "I find it a big hurdle to overcome, because it means that our daughter would be tackling that hurdle anew each time she introduces herself to someone."  Society isn't going to stop associating the name with the film. As was previously mentioned, the people who know your daughter will associate it with her.  But I think most people will mention the film, just as you said.  It may not be an issue in 20 years.  When I was a kid the name Luke was associated with Luc Skywalker but it isn't anymore. My friend loved the name Fiona and was angry when the Shrek movies came out but she still used it.  It annoys her when people mention the film as if she got the name from there. I don't know if she regrets using it or not.

It doesn't seem like you have an issue with the name but people's reaction to it.  That isn't going to change.  If it bothers you now, that probably won't change either.  

April 25, 2013 3:51 PM

HP isn't going anywhere for the next hundred years. Little girls still read the Little House books; schoolchildren will be reading HP for decades. So yes, a girl named Hermione is going to have to be prepared to have a (hopefully brief) conversation about her name with every third person she meets. Is that a dreadful thing? No. As you say, Hermione Granger is a positive character and there is much to admire about her. But I think I'd be annoyed if I had the name Hermione, especially with a last name beginning with a hard G. Give it to her as a middle name; it works well with Thomasina.

April 26, 2013 1:08 AM

Totally agree with all parts of this - it's not a dreadful fate to have that conversation, but it might not meet the "would I want it to be my name" test if I had a different personality.

We're sticking with honoring family middle names, so we've already got the middle name slot filled, but it's a good idea!

April 26, 2013 1:04 AM

To be clear, I don't have any issue whatsoever with the reaction to the name Hermione. *I* find the association to be positive and I wouldn't mind in the slightest having that conversation whenever I am asked what my children are called, so long as I live. (I REALLY don't think Hermione is going to go the way of Luke, popularity wise... if you look at Luke in the SSA stats in the 70s, it had already started rising by the time the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977, so it's an example of a name being chosen because it was already becoming more popular, a la Bella Swan, rather than the movie singlehandedly bringing the name out of obscurity into megahitness.)

However, the concern is that my daughter will have an issue with the reaction to the name... and her vote counts way more than mine, because it'll actually be her name.

April 26, 2013 1:46 AM

Well, if your big issue is her reaction you may be right when you say that she will wish you had named her Hermione.  If she grows up to love the books, she wll be happy to have that name. She is a great character!  And, it has adorable nn opportunities. I prefer it to Thomasina.

Yes, I see that Luke wasn't the best example.  

April 30, 2013 12:18 AM

I think this is the reason I struggle to give you a definite 'it will/won't be fine' on the Hermione issue. I highly suspect that your daughter will learn to love her name but it's hard to know whether a person you have yet to meet will get sick of having 'that' conversation about her name for the next 30 or more years.

You are right that it's a positive name with a positive association, but whether it will annoy her is pretty much impossible to judge.

I have one of the most popular names of my birth year (and decade) and it annoyed me that my parents picked that name. I actually quite like the name but it has never felt like me, and it's so popular that I got annoyed about all the 'oh another Nicole' comments all the time.  So, I don't think you can predict how your child will feel about their name.  Even my safe as houses name has negatives and my parents would never have predicted that.

The thing you are doing is thinking carefully before making a decision........... that is a positive, but I think you are in danger of overthinking something you ultimately can't predict or control!

April 25, 2013 4:42 PM

A go-to nickname might make you feel more confident about Hermione.  Minnie will just replace Harry Potter with Disney (Minnie Mouse), but what about Mya?  (long eye sound, schwa ending) That's a cute but ordinary name that wouldn't really attract attention, but is also a straight-foward derivative of Hermione.

Mya would be simple enough to give her an option if she got annoyed by the Harry Potter questions, so I'd keep Hermione on the table.

Personally, with two good options, I would wait and meet the baby when she's born before deciding. 

April 25, 2013 6:31 PM

I've always thought Hermione was usable.  I'd love to be a little girl named Hermione!  But then, as a kid I always wished I had been named either Laura or Pippi.

As for nicknames, I think Maya works, and so would Ione.

April 26, 2013 1:12 AM

I agree that there are loads of little girls that might really, really like to be named Hermione, but I could see how it would be a burden for some personality types, especially at some ages. Why oh why does our culture not name children at age 18? :)

April 25, 2013 7:54 PM

I would not use it, particularly if there is another one you love as much.

I do think both you and she would get very tired of HP references.

Also, as someone who was once a  bushy (well frizzy) haired, bookish, know-it-all, I am glad there wasn't one.more.thing going against me during the teen years (which is a smallish window of time-thankfully)!

On the other hand, if you're planning on a private school, and your circle runs heavily towards bookish hipsters, then perhaps it would be less of an issue.

I am, by nature, a very risk averse person, and my boys have quite popular, low-risk names, so take that as you will!

Another thought is to use a close 2nd in the mn spot, and then switch it up if Hermione doesn't seem to hold up in real life. I also think Minne would be a darling nn, not associated too much with the mouse. While I know that sounds odd, it was the name of a character in The Help, and I've seen it on some naming sites. I think for modern moms it might be more old is new again a la Hattie than Mouse. I could be totally wrong, of course.

April 26, 2013 1:25 AM

I don't think I'd tire of the HP references, per se, but I think she very well might, and that is exactly the point of concern.

We do live in a small, literally insular, community with lots of bookish hipsters, so while we will be sending our kids to public school, their classmates will include D'artagnan, Calliope and Beulah. We're definitely in a more adventuresome naming pocket, and we're adventurous namers, but we're conscious of the fact that there is a world outside our hipster naming pocket, and that our kids will probably move into that world sometime upon reaching adulthood.

Part of that strategy is using more standard, low-risk names in the middle spot, chosen for honoring relatives, so that they can chose to be J. Max or R. James later on if it proves a better fit... so I'm pretty sure that Elizabeth or Adele are going to be the middle name this time around.

I'm glad to hear your opinion of Minnie, though!

April 26, 2013 10:34 AM

A lower-risk middle name would certainly give her a back-up plan in case Hermione becomes to much.  

As for nicknames, what do you think of Hettie or Hattie as kind of a Hermione Adele mash-up?  

Personally, I still think Maya would be the one I'd most easliy default to.  As a mom, yelling 'maya-nee in a hurry could easily become just Maya.   I also don't think it really matter much how nicknames are spelled.  Nobody has ever seemed too fussed about Peggy from Margaret or Dick from Richard, even though they don't make sense to most people.

April 26, 2013 2:09 PM

Well, I would consider Hermione much easier to pull off than Beulah, and I love both Elizabeth and Adele.

I guess the question is whether you do love both your current choices equally, or whether Hermione is the name of your heart. If it's the latter, than embrace the connection as others have suggested, and leap in!

April 26, 2013 10:14 AM

How your daughter will feel about her name will depend in large part on how *you* present it on a day-to-day basis. If you always have the inevitable conversation with a smile, and let her look forward to reading about her most famous namesake, she'll most likely love her name, and likewise confirm the "yes, like HP" thing with a smile. If you feel somewhat defensive about your choice, and it shows (as it most likely will), then she might come to hate her name.

The closest I can get in real-life experience is a friend (very late teens, college student) named Ariadne. Her brother is Just1n, and his name is much more typical of their environment, especially growing up, but as far as I can tell, she's always enjoyed her name's uniqueness. She does sort of alternate going by the full Ariadne and by Annie, although I haven't figured out any rhyme or reason to when she uses the one versus the other -- everybody knows both names for her. I think she definitely prefers the more generic name online, because with their fairly-common surname, it lets her blend in.

All in all, I think you need to assess your "quirkiness commitment" level, and use it as the deciding factor. I like Thomasina, but Hermione is better, if you can commit to it.

April 26, 2013 2:04 PM

Going by the "Would you want it to be your name?" test, Hermione easily passes for me. I don't think I would mind frequent Harry Potter (or Greek mythology) conversations. And for an introverted kid, an easy conversation starter.

There are many many names I wouldn't or couldn't wear, but this is not one of them.

April 26, 2013 3:50 PM

I agree with ThursdayNext.

Would you mind having Hermione as your name?

& also, personally, I am an introverted person, so I think if that was my name, it would be great, because it would be such a great conversation starter!

Now, if she doesn't like the books or films... it might annoy her to share her name with Hermione Granger.

Maia I think would be a good back-up though if Hermione in full is an issue

April 28, 2013 10:24 AM

I know a seventeen year old girl named Hedwig. Clearly her situation is very different to that in which your daughter will be at a similar age, but for what it's worth Hedwig loves her name. She's not a particular Harry Potter fan but the association doesn't seem to bother her. She claims, in fact, that she much prefers being named Hedwig now that others recognise the name as not-made-up and more easily remember it. Apparently, people don't even bring up Harry Potter much when meeting her. The association is clear so it doesn't really get pointed out, unless there's some serious lack of small-talk material to go on.
I love Hermione and think it is definitely usable. I actually really love Thomasina, too. Hermione has a bit of an edge over Thomasina for me because the feminine ending seems more imbedded in the name itself. Having said that I definitely don't hear Thomasina enough!
Have fun choosing your daughter's beautiful name!  

April 28, 2013 12:26 PM

Wow, a Hedwig? That's a name that I've certainly never encountered in person! If I met a young child named Hedwig, I'd assume a Harry Potter connection. However, with a 17-year-old, my mind went straight to Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Those are both very strong associations to have with your name. If she doesn't mind it, that's great! Though I have to say that I'm shocked that people don't bring it up to her. People are annoying in that they tend to think that they're the first to point out some amazingly obvious things. (Maybe she prefers the owl association to the other one...)

April 28, 2013 6:13 PM

I too think Hedwig and the Angry Inch before I think of Harry Potter.  But even more so, I think of a club St. Hedwig's in my home town.  It was ostensibly a place for polka dancing, but since it was familiarly known as the Bucket of Blood, its appeal was not restricted to the polka.  So it's not a favorite of mine.  I would prefer Hedy and Heda.

April 28, 2013 1:29 PM

Over the years that you've brought up Hermione, I wasn't one of the ones on board. However, I think the nicknames of Maya and Minnie (LOVE Minnie!) mitigate most of the problems I had with it, mainly that the association would be so strong, especially given that the last name would also be a hard G, and she would probably bear a striking resemblance to the character.

HOWEVER, I still want to sway you away from it because I absolutely adore Thomasina. It's been one of my favorite names since childhood, due to the little-known Disney movie The Three Lives of Thomasina. I actually gasped when I got to that part of your post. It's such an underrated/underused name that's jam-packed with so much charm. I think you should abandon all your pro/con swinging with Hermione and jump on Thomasina.

May 8, 2013 2:49 AM

I think we're actually most of the way there, with abandoning the pro/con swinging with Hermione and just jumping on Thomasina- we both really love it, and it is indeed jam-packed with so much charm. And there doesn't seem to be another Thomasina in the school system to the best of my knowledge, though there is a Tamsin (variant spelling). (See last post about my recent discovery of a little Hermione (variant spelling) the age of my eldest son... which does answer the question about whether the name is usable in our community, ha.)

The Spouse really dislikes Minnie, unfortunately, and also isn't particularly keen on Maia, so I think that is a major strike against.

April 30, 2013 9:46 AM

I was going to say the same thing as HugnarianNameGeek - your own reaction will strongly influence your child's reaction to comments on the name Hermione and its connection to Harry Potter. And since you seem to have a very positive attitude to it, I'd say go for it!

Also, there are more nickname options than I would have thought at first and among those already mentioned, are quite a few adorable ones (love Mya!). And, as you said yourself, you have the "safe" middle name as a fall-back as well.

Of course, it all comes down to whether you love the name more than the other names you are considering. I just think the potential annoyance of the HP association of Hermione won't be too great and shouldn't scare you off.

May 5, 2013 9:05 AM

I think you absolutely love this name and if you don't use it you will always wish otherwise.  I was talked out of a name I loved for my daughter and although her name suits her well and I love it....I kinda wish I used the one I really wanted.   The amount of remorse varies but its definitely still there, she's almost 6.   

May 8, 2013 2:39 AM

I totally appreciat eyour perspective on this one. I think whatever we chose it will be the name that we love best and that feels like it fits our daughter best. I've lately been really feeling very enthused and positive about the other non-Hermione name, so we may end up chosing a different name not because there's anything wrong with Hermione but because the other name just feels more right.

In an interesting twist, we toured a preschool in our small community and there was a student there named Hermione, albeit with a variant spelling. Ha! The name pocket phenomenon strikes again!

July 20, 2013 9:52 PM

If it helps at all I can give you a small glimpse in to what it means to parent a Hermione - my daughter is 2 and her name is Hermione Paige Stanton :D

For me it was a no-brainer.. I was familiar with the name long before the Harry Potter explosion as I majored in Literatures at University and the name Hermione popped up a few times - I always loved it. But the Harry Potter link makes it easier for other people to understand. A few pointers to consider, that may or may not affect your decision:

- people will spell it wrong ALL. THE. TIME. I hate this problem with a passion. Hermione is spelled the way it sounds (her-my-oh-knee) so you'd think it would be simple for people. 'fraid not.

- people will accidentally assume her name is Hermoine. They don't look at the letters properly and for some reason this has happened a few times.. they glance at her name on paper and start calling her Hermoine, until I (or she!) politely corrects them.

- people will assume your a bit posh. I'm not sure how this one happened, but the assumption is that it's a bit of a la-dee-da name. That said, all of the Hermione's I've met (well, all 4 of them) have been polite, friendly, privately educatued University graduates, so hopefeully it's a bit fortuitous hahaha

- your parents/grandparents/that old lady down the shops will think the name is 'a bit wierd'. Which is odd, considering what a classic, traditional name it actually is.

- There are lots of options for nicknames - Hermione gets called Miney and Minnie by various members of the family, and it's very easy to take the formality out of the name by using an affectionate nickname within her circle of family and friends.

- "Yes, like in Harry Potter" will be the second sentance you say after introducing your daughter. Without fail. But that's okay because at least the Harry Potter fans know how to pronounce it properly. :)

I know it sounds like I'm being a negative nancy, but these are the realities of having a name that is both strong and elegant,  but also very unique in a world full of Kaydees, Ella's and Sophies. But the reality is that when our daughter arrived in the world, even though we had alternatives picked out, she was undeniably a Hermione Paige.. strong and beautiful. <3 Best wishes!

P.S For reference, we also have a 6 yo daughter, Charlie Pearl. :)

July 22, 2013 8:01 PM

This is so interesting!  Thanks for posting.

It's funny how people mix up letters.  Lots of people mispronounce my name Tizrah, instead of Tirzah.

July 22, 2013 11:43 AM

Since you love the name & it has positive associations for you, I would use it.  However, I would give her a nice middle name (or two) that she could use if she ended up hating it.  I think that as long as you give her options in case the association wears thin, it would work. 

July 22, 2013 2:28 PM

I hear you. Right now our #1 choice for our boy (due in just 4 weeks) is Linus. *sigh*  I love the name. It's a good strong name that has a lot of history... until that blasted character with the blue blanket monopolized it. I hate to think it's "unusable", but I also don't want to set him up for a lifetime of defending his name.

July 22, 2013 9:41 PM

Well, first of all, I always thought Hermione was pronounced "Air-me-OWN-nee."  Oops.  I have never seen Harry Potter.

Secondly, I think all your names...Hermione, Thomasina, Ariandne...are beautiful, feminine, and--like you said--adventuresome.  Whatever name you give your daughter, it will be HERS and not some character's.  FWIW, I think you are over-analyzing it.

Can't wait to hear which name you ultimately choose!

July 23, 2013 4:05 PM

You mentioned how you're considering Elizabeth for the mn.

I think this would be a good mn if you're concerned about Hermione nns. (Or are you happy with the nn Mya as an option? I couldn't really tell by reading the comments & I haven't read all of them yet.)

Elizabeth has lots of nn options if your daughter doesn't end up liking Hermione. 

July 27, 2013 9:02 PM

I think that your indecision/uncertainty/questioning about the name speaks volumes (the fact that you've been coming back to the question for years). I have only ever once advised someone not to name their child something, and it was because they were choosing the name Lucian with a last name that looks a lot like Malfoy. It was just too similar. 


I personally would not use it—and anyway, I like Thomasina A LOT better and think it goes better with your boys' names. Just my way of looking at it. :)

July 31, 2013 11:09 PM

MamaG - it is so funny that you had an issue with a Lucian Sounds-like-Malfoy -- that is pretty much the closest thing to a mirror for our dilemma that I've found! And yes, I agree that our very long-term lack of resolve in the matter (where we are generally rather decisive people) is very telling.

Anyway, naming her Thomasina is exactly what we are going to do. We've ordered stuff with her name on it, and it just feels very right to us, that that is definitely her name. We may revisit the Hermione issue if our last child is a girl, but for now, for THIS child, she is definitely a Thomasina.