What’s in a Baby’s Name?

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What’s in a Baby’s Name?

By Martha Lee

Apparently a lot – and for good reason too.  Our names are only the main key to our own identity tracking us our entire lives! Better make it a good one, huh?  And that’s why I’m confused as to why so many parents these days are trending to give kids less than traditional names – names that are somewhat strange, perhaps?  Take Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s newest bundle of joy, Blue Ivy, for instance.  Sounds like a new villain on Batman to me.  Or how ‘bout Jessica Simpson’s new daughter, Maxi?  The jokes that that poor girl will receive come middle school will either make her laugh or cry.  And just last week, I saw a posting of the most popular baby names of 2012, and already, the top of the charts include names of characters from the Twilight and Hunger Games movies.  What’s all that about anyways?  I’ve yet to see the films!

I understand the desire to be different, I guess even the same.  We see lots of folks even change their birth names later in life in order to stand out or blend in – but with my own baby number two on the way, I can’t help but to contemplate rhymes and reasons as to what makes a baby’s name a keeper?

When naming an unborn child, it’s important to take a few things into consideration: nicknames, initials, and overall quality of a full name.  What I mean by quality is “does it sound good?”  Does it have a good ring to it?  For example, with my last name being Lee, I really have to watch out for the overall quality of a name. Brock is a good, solid guy name conceivably, but Brock Lee aka broccoli?? Not quite.  Norma is cute and dainty for a girl, but Norma Lee aka normally?? Not so cute.  See what I mean?  The quality can make or break the name game.

So what about nicknames and initials?  You’ve got to take those things into account too!  Initials like BUM simply won’t work, and nicknames, even though some can’t be avoided, should be considered as well.  My sweet, self-proclaimed comedian of a brother-in-law thought it would be humorous to call my daughter, Naomi, her name backwards – Imoan.  Yes, very funny – ha. ha. She’s Naomi or Omi all day long. Never Imoan, thank you very much. 

All kidding aside, it’s truly interesting to hear the stories behind babies’ given names.  Whether named for a family member, a favorite person, song or movie, or just named to be unique or popular, it’s always fun to discover meaning, significance, and parents intentions from the start.

So where do your children get their names?  What do their names symbolize or stand for?  Are they popular for their times or are they sentimental and sweet?  For any reasons mentioned above or not, we would love to know where your children’s names come from.  My kiddos are named for family members mixed with traditional names that we like (and that stand solid with the last name Lee).  Please feel free to share your baby naming stories with us!

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:

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Our daughter is Kacey Dawn, which means brave new day. Our first daughter was stillborn and we weren't sure we would have another, so when Kacey came along the name just really seemed to fit. Also Casey is my great grandmothers maiden name and Dawn is my sister's middle name

By Lisa on July 02, 2012

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My son Carlyle was named after my father George Carl and also the town of Carlisle, PA (home of the Redskins training camp-Go Skins!). My younger son, Elijah John, was going to be Dominic but his older brother didn't like the name (at 2 1/2 he kept saying, "no mommy, I don't like it!"). Maybe it sounded like 'dumb' to him. I named him Elijah because it means 'the Lord is my God' and he had a lot of trouble coming into the world. Such a strong boy needs a strong name and his brother liked it smile John is after my brother.

By Diane on June 01, 2012

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We named our sons Mark Thomas and Michael Christian. Mark was chosen because we just liked the name. The Thomas was for both my husband and his father. Michael was named after both of his great-grandfathers who were named Michael and Christian for his uncle Christopher. We always thought the names were beautiful and they have grown up to be outstanding young men.

By Karen on May 29, 2012

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My son is named Joseph Michael. When he was born I had thought that he was a girl so I had no name picked out. His father is Joe (Joseph) and my brother is Michael - so hence the name. My daughter is Mishelle Dawn - I wanted to call her Shelli (which we did) so I spelled it different, and the Dawn just seemed to fit. My grand daughter is Emaly Grace. Her mother (my step-daughter Krystal) wanted to spell Emaly different than the traditional Emily, so she did - and the Grace is after my mother. We nickname her Emi and her father calls her Ema.

By Sandy Munn on May 25, 2012

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My daughter Krystal named her little girl (my grand daughter) Emaly Grace. She wanted to spell Emaly different instead of the traditional Emily, and the Grace is after my mother Grace. We love her name - and it really fits her. We call her Emi and her dad calls her Ema.

By Anonymous on May 25, 2012

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Wow! I am truly touched by all of your comments and stories - some even brought tears to my eyes! Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts and inspirations with us. I wasn't aware of actually how many people pass down names from generation to generation, and since I am using family names for my own children, those are especially near and dear to my heart! Thanks again for sharing your personal stories with us on PaulaDeen.com!

By Martha Lee on May 21, 2012

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I named my daughter, born on May 29, 1994 Amber Marie. Amber is Arabic meaning jewel and Marie because it is a family middle name on my mother's side for about 4 generations. I always loved the name Amber since I was a kid but never knew the meaning, good choice because she is the most precious jewel I could ever have.

By Sharon Rubin on May 10, 2012

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I named my daughter after my fiance's great aunt Willa Lee - I thought the name was beautiful so I named my daughter Willa Grace. It was only after I decided on that name that a relative pointed out that it was the feminized version of William which was my fiance's fathers name who passed away several years ago.

By Lori McClain on May 10, 2012

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Both of our family's come from an Irish heritage, so we choose to honor that when naming our children. We also happen to be huge Chicago Cubs fans which is sneaked into our name choices a well. Our oldest is Kaitlyn(Irish) Grace (Mark GRACE, former 1st baseman). Next we have Ryne(both Irish and Ryne Sandberg former second baseman) Joseph ( family name). Our youngest is Addison (street in front of Wrigley Field) Clare (county my Murphy side came from). Our choices reflect both our family's heritage and interests. They fit our kids perfectly!

By Abby on May 10, 2012

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My children's names are Biblicly based. I am expecting a baby in July and her name comes from God himself. I prayed for months about what her name is to be. Jaleyah Shae means God's courageous miracle! She has such a story behind her name already! I believe that names have meanings...good or bad. We should be cautious as to the names we give our children. It either blesses or curses their destiny and purpose in life.

By Christina on May 10, 2012

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My daughters name came from Shakesperes play "The Tempest". She is named for Prospero's daughte, Miranda. It means exceptional, which she is.

By Suzan Sawyer on May 10, 2012

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You ask what's in a name ? Well, here's what's in mine. My first name-Marion-was my maternal Grandmother's maiden name. My middle name-Ruth-was also my Mom's middle name. She's been gone 27 years now. My maiden name-Crabb-is obviously the one I got the most grief for. I think I've heard it all on this name.

By Marion Ruth Crabb Hall on May 10, 2012

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MY DAUGHTER , WHO WILL BE TURNING 10 IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS WAS BORN SEVERLY PREMATURE AT 24 WEEKS. SHE WEIGHED A WHOPPING ONE POUND, ONE OUNCE AND WAS 11 INCHES LONG ! THEY SAID THAT IT WAS A SLIM CHANCE THAT SHE WOULD SURVIVE, BUT I AM A LONG STANDING BELIEVER THAT FAITH AND PRAYER OVERRULE MEDICAL SCIENCE. HER NAME REMAINED BABY GIRL FOR NEARLY 3O DAYS UNTIL WE CAME UP WITH A NAME THAT WOULD SUIT HER. HER NAME " RAHMATU" ARABIC FOR 'MAY GOD HAVE MERCY' - AND THAT HE HAS DONE.. WE LOVE OUR "TUTTI" WHO CONTINUES TO BRING JOY TO OUR FAMILY EVERYDAY......

By RAMONA C. on May 10, 2012

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My daughter is savannah are ... Loved it 18 years Go and still love it today smile

By Kim on May 10, 2012

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My daughter was born this past January and we named her Audrey Ellen. Her name means noble streangth and light. Now adays the norm is to use a new fangled or "popular" name but I wanted to give my daughter a good strong name to stand being her. She is the 8th generation Ellen and Audrey happens to by my husband's great aunt's name. However I have been planning to use this name for a long time. My name is Kathleen and having a name rooted in tradition and in my Irish heritage has served me well and I wanted to give this to my daughter.

By Kathleen on May 10, 2012

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i HAVE THREE SONS, THE ELDER IS JAMES STEVEN, NEXT IS LESLIE KEITH, AND HUBERT ERIC. JAMES WAS FROM MY UNCLE WHO NEVER MARRIED AND WAS A WONDERFUL MAN WHO LOVED HIS MOTHER AND SAW THAT SHE HAD ALL SHE NEEDED; STEVEN JUST WENT WITH IT; LESLIE (NAME OF HIS GREATGRANDFATHER) AND KEITH SOUNDED GOOD WITH THAT; HUBERT (DADS NAME AND GRANDFATHER) SO HE GOT STUCK WITH IT, ERIC WAS ANOTHER NAME THAT SOUNDED RIGHT. WE THOUGHT WE WOULD CALL HIM RICK OR RICKY (AFTER RICKY NELSON) BUT A FRIEND HAD HER BABY A FEW DAYS AHEAD OF ME AND NAMED HIM RICKY; SO ERIC IS ERIC NO RICK OR RICKY.

By Vinnie Hahn on May 10, 2012

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My daughter the youngest of 4 children is named Gracelyn Rene'e Hughes...Her first name came about as a result of 2 things..Grace came from(graced by God)..We already had 3 son when we found out we were expecting.right after our 22 weeding anniversary... Our sons were 22,17 & 15 when our daugter Gracelyn was born..Upon a result of a amnio test,we knew early on it was a girl...it had to be Grace,then my favorite sister in law /sister/friends middle name is Lynn...so we combined the two..Renee is a longtime family name...So glad almost 9 years later for our Gracie Girl...

By gina Hughes on May 10, 2012

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My name is Jennifer and I married a Michael. Our names are the most popular names for people our age. Michael has always been popular ButI was born in 1970, the summer after the movie Love Story came out. The lead character in that story was Jenny. The day I was born the nurse came into my mom's hospital room with the birth certificate. She asked my mom what she was naming me. When my mom told her Jennifer, she actually said to my mom, "Are you sure you want to name her that, the last 5 ladies named their daughters that!" My mom had liked the name for years and had never seen the movie, so she just looked at the nurse and said, "Yes, Jennifer." So that should have been her clue. Jennifer was the number 1 name for girls for YEARS!!!! So where did that leave me? I was never in class without atleast 2 other Jennifers with me. I was never just Jennifer, I was Jennifer A. Two doors down from me on my block was a Jennifer. She was a year younger than me, so we became, Big Jenny (me) and Little Jenny (her). So when I wanted to name my children, it was really hard. There is no name out there that is a "common" name that I liked. So I went to the other extreme. I named my daughter Skye. Then I had to be even more different and I gave her 2 middle names. Ariel Katrina. So her name is Skye Ariel Katrina. My mother in law HATED the name. She said she was praying that the baby would be a boy, because she said Skye was a strippers name and she was not going to call anyone Skye. So she insisted I change her middle name. She wanted her name to be Skye Ariel Marie. Then she would take the first letter from each name and call her SAM. I refused this. My daughter's middle names were just as important to me. Ariel was after a friends daughter who I was very close to and Katrina was after my favorite aunt. My mother in law reminded me of her dislike for the name I chose for 8 months of my pregnancy. But I held strong and named my daughter what I wanted, not what she wanted. How does my daughter feel about her name? Well, sometimes when she was younger, she did not like it. Especially when people tried to be funny, asking questions like, "What is your middle name? Blue....Sky blue....get it" After awhile she started liking her name. Now she likes it. Especially when people tell her she has a pretty name. And her name fits her! Funny though....when I named her in 1995 we did not hear about many Skye's or Skylar's our there. Now the name is popular. So then I got pregnant with my 2nd child. A boy this time. This was harder for me. My husband never batted an eye at my daughter's name. He liked it. But he did not like any of the boy names I liked. OH and my mother in law....she was not allowed to know the baby's name until he was born, I was not going through that again. Anyway, back to the names. I wanted t name my son Storm (my American Indian apparently comes our in the names I choose for children). My husband said "NO". I said okay, how about Stone? Nope, he didn't like that either. He asked me why we can't have a normal name for our child. I said, "You can't have Skye and Bob! One would say they got the weird name and the other would say, you did not think hard enough!" So I went back to the name game. I said how about Forrest. He said no, he could only think of 2 people noted for being named Forrest. One for being an idiot, Forrest Gump...and yes he did the Run Forrest Run thing around my house. The other was General Forrest in the Civil War who apparently is noted for founding the KKK. I looked at my husband and said," Only you would know that fact. I do not think people will look at our child and say, Oh, you named him after the Civil War general who founded the KKK!" NO Joke...2 days later, I was watching Jeopardy. In an "F" Category the $2000 question was "What Civil war General founded the KKK?" I laughed and laughed! So then I said how about Dakota and we can call him Cody? My husband said, "ONly if we can put Bismarck or Fargo in the name somewhere." So that was a no. Then I told him, I only had one name left and then I was out of names. I said, "Hunter". Low and behold, he liked that name, it was one of his favorite author's names. Hunter S Thompson. I was fine with that, although I did not know that author. Then I found out he was a political satire author and now he has committed suicide. Lovely! But my boy had a name. Hunter. And of course he needed 2 middle names. So it became, Hunter Michael Forrest. I still got Forrest in there. LOL And my husband got his name in there too. BUT...I was right! My son is a Storm! I knew it even before he was born. He walked at 9 months and ran the next day! He has kept us on our toes!

By Jennifer on May 10, 2012

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I love the idea of passing down names of loved ones. My 4 year old son's name is Jackson Alan Hawkins. Jackson was passed down from the only man I would ever consider a step-father to me growing up, William Jackson "Jack" Young, who died of cancer when I was 16. Alan is my dad's middle name and in the end, his initials are the same as my dad's as well. And the best part is when you ask my son what his name is you will get the same reply 99% of the time, "My name is Jackson Alan Hawkins". He melts my heart. <3

By Heather Hawkins on May 09, 2012

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My husband named our first baby...after himself, even though that went against his own family's tradition of naming the first boy after the father and the middle name being the mother's father's first name. I guess he thought more of himself than tradition! I named all the rest (6) myself. My first daughter was named after my maternal grand mother (first, middle and last name). My second daughter was born a year after the first test tube baby, Louise Brown in England, so I chose a female Bible name and used Louise as her middle name. My third daughter has 2 female Bible names. My fourth daughter is named for a female Russian monarch and has a Bible name for the middle name. My second son was named for a male Russian monarch and given an Irish middle name. My mother said the names were her two favorite saints! And my youngest daughter was given a very old fashioned first name. It was the name of a sad little girl who my son went to pre-school with. She was always getting in trouble at school, and came to school dirty with ratted hair. Her parents lived in a trailer and looked like getting high was more important than the little girl was. You should have seen her face light up when I told her I was going to name my baby after her! My daughter's middle name is a variation of my name. So, there you have it! Bet you weren't counting on someone with 7 kids commenting on your post, were you?? LOL! grin Sue in Mo.

By Susan on May 09, 2012

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