Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Powerful Names

I'm expecting my first baby this summer. I've been thinking about names for my kids for the last 20 years. But now that it's actually here, I'm having a hard time deciding what the name will be. Certainly, my feminist sensibilities are coming into play here, particularly for female names.

What I want out of a name for a girl:
  • I want it to not end in a "y" or "ie" sound. (no offense to those of you that have those types of names.) I'm worried about the trend of diminutizing female names - and that's what happens when you add that sound. Think "itsy bitsy spider." I suppose it's ok when she's a kid, but if that diminutized name gets carried into adulthood.... it just makes me uncomfortable. So definitely no Katy's, Susie's, Lizzie's (sorry Elizabeth Bennett!), Kitty's and so forth.
  • I want it to have a noble history. A history of strong women who have done good things.
  • I would like it to also have a noble literary history. Great, strong, female characters in classic books.
  • I want it to have two or preferably three or four syllables. I'm a sucker for long names. But it needs to go with its last name Kline McBride.
  • I want to avoid names that are two feminissima. Like Isabella, Evangelina, etc.

So this is what I've got so far.

Girls: Amanda, Alexandra, Athena, Victoria

For boys, I want strong mature names with rich histories that can't easily be shortened to nicknames. Here are some options:

Boys: Alexander, Evan,

What do you think? Give me suggestions please!


Blogger amelia said...

Esther!!! i love Esther.

Natasha (i'm a bit prejudiced on that one, though).


Elizabeth (just don't do one of the -y or -ie nicknames; do liz or eliza or beth instead).

1/24/2006 12:22 PM  
Blogger amelia said...

(would you look at that? i completely forgot boy names.)

1/24/2006 12:22 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Hah! my middle name is Esther. Also the name of my grandma, so I'm afraid my connotation is a really ancient old lady.

I like your other suggestions, particularly Natasha.

1/24/2006 4:48 PM  
Blogger Brooke said...

Names were always on my mind growing up too. Then, while pregnant, I had many sleepless nights over what to name my kids, and probably annoyed my husband to death. Anyway, I'm not sure about the literary or historical significance of these names (Ramona Quimby??) or whatever. These are just some of my favorites.

*Frances* (I would use this one if I had a girl--and call her Fran--but I don't really see that happening)

A friend of mine liked these (and I do too):
Ophelia (I don't know if I'd ever dare use it, what with its literary background)

Another friend just named her girl Charlotte and I like that too.

Boy names are much harder I think:
(I really like Evan, BTW)

1/24/2006 6:35 PM  
Blogger amelia said...

my problem with boy names (and girl ones, too) is that i really don't like trendy sounding names. though i have a nephew named logan and i kind of like it for him; it's cute.

i used to say i wanted to sons and i'd name them Gustav and Theophilus after Mahler and Mozart. but I knew that would probably qualify as cruel. though I did intend to call them Gus and Theo (which I think are cute; but I don't know anymore).

i'm with Brooke on Hazel. I also like Mabel. I'm into old-fashioned names just now.

for boys:

Luke (or Lukas)
Seldon (my grandpa's name; it's weird but I like it; my other grandpa was named Sharp and I like that, too; and yes--it is weird)

just a few that came to mind.

1/24/2006 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Why don't we just stick with Gunter?

1/25/2006 12:37 PM  
Anonymous Holly said...

I think Alexander and Evan are both fine names, but they can both be shortened to nicknames very easily: for Alexander you've got Alex, Lex and Xander; for Evan you've got Ev (which will for me always invoke Ev Mecham, the horrible governor of Arizona in the mid 80s who was impeached for being an idiot).

I'm big on biblical names, because most of them have accrued some dignity. (Gomer, of course, is a significant exception.) I think the sounds in the word "David" are lovely, and even when shortened to "Dave," that soft V is very delightful.

I also like names that actually mean something--"Grace" being my favorite. How marvelous to name a girl after the best thing that exists in the universe: love given simply because you exist.

I am extremely fond of my name: a good old-fashioned celtic fertility symbol that has become one of the primary symbols of Christmas.

1/27/2006 5:27 AM  
Anonymous Holly said...

P.S. I do really like the name "Alexandra Kline McBride," and I like the initials AKM. As someone with the initials HAW (my grandfather had the monogram SEW and one of my nephew's has the initials RAT), I think it's also VERY important to consider initials when picking out a name--because you never know when they'll get used. The university I teach at uses initials in setting up email accounts, and some initials just look silly.

Of course, sometimes initials start out fine but then someone goes and creates an acronym for something that ruins a perfectly good monogram: one of my colleagues, born in the 60s, was given what was then a perfectly respectable set of initials: STD.

P.P.S. I really like "Olivia" for a girl.

1/27/2006 5:38 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

Thanks for all the suggestions!

I like quite a few that you all have mentioned. Olivia is great, and Sabastian is interesting and unusual.

I also like Owen, Zachary, Nathanial and Grace. David is nice too, but unfortunately I've got a nephew named that.

I also don't like trendy names. I know in a few years all these McKenzie's and Madison's are going to be terribly dated.

Holly, your name is indeed cool. I like it's symbolic significance.

1/28/2006 7:57 PM  
Anonymous Patti said...

Victoria is my daughter's name. She's six-years old and I'm still happy with our choice. People comment often on what a beautiful name she has. No one has tried to shorten her name to Vicky (I *hate* that!). Victoria is not a common name--she's never had peers in pre-school or Kindergarten with her name.

Good luck on making a choice!

Oh, another one of our favorties was Charlotte Ruth. But when our daughter was born, she 'looked' like a Victoria more than a Charlotte.


1/29/2006 10:58 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Alexandra could be shortened to Allie, and obviously the male equivelant to Alex.

For a girls name I've always liked Deirdre or Deidre- however I haven't met many girls or women who agree with me so I doubt I will ever have a daughter with such an Irish name.

(and this is obviously a different Mike)

2/01/2006 1:08 AM  
Blogger jana said...

You can do what we did with our daughter and give her some extra names just because you can't make up your mind. I won't type her whole name here (for privacy reasons), but she's essentially got 3 first names. It gives her tons of options for nicknames. :)

2/01/2006 8:31 PM  
Blogger TftCarrie said...

If you are like me, you don't want your child to have the same name as all the other kids in his/her kindergarden class. The problem is, "old-fashioned" names are really popular right now. To see how popular your favorite names are, check out this site. You can look up any name by state or you can look up the most popular names of any year back to 1879. I found it to be a great resource when I was naming my girls.

3/01/2006 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here are some names i like


(and the one i love the most is) Axel
(i don't know why but it sounds so strong)

10/03/2007 5:26 PM  
Blogger john.white said...

The new comment has me reading this old post. Fascinating!

Personally, I'm a fan of the idea that your kid's name shouldn't be an indication to your peers about how creative you are. Generics are fine. But then, I might be biased. On the other hand, I have great middle names...

Also, think about how Google'able your kid might be in the future. And whether that's a good or bad thing.

I think you hit the right balance with mini-Mike.

10/04/2007 2:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband and I are trying to think of a powerful name for our next baby. Right now we are the parents of Ira Daniel, Eli Alexander, Margaret Grace and a Benjamin Tiberius. I like simple names that are easy for people to spell. I cannot send a child to school with a name that noone can pronounce or spell. Right now we are thinking of Atticus or Augustus for a boy.

11/07/2008 5:27 PM  

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