No parent wants a child to get lost in the crowd. There are names that become fads for a limited period of time—an especially appealing character on television or in a movie or novel, for instance. Those children go to school and, in a classroom of multiple, say, Camerons, become "Cameron C," Cameron N," possibly Cameron N 2."
But the other extreme is not the solution. "Snuggy Bear" is adorable for a one year old. "Pumpkin" might be cute until the second grade or so. No matter how precious your new baby is, "Precious" is a bit cloying right from the start. Such names do not translate well into your child's adult life. They may even make school days difficult, inviting "teasing" that is, in fact, cruel. It's not fair to tie such a name around your child's neck. You might as well call him "Albatross."
A child is a gift and a responsibility. Yes, you get to name her. But it is part of your responsibility as a parent to prepare your child for adulthood. You are going to make sure she's educated, independent, well-mannered and a caring human being. Think about that adult when you name her. It's about validating the child and the adult she will be. It's not about using a child's name as a "memento" of something significant to you: your favorite color (Orange) or fruit (Kumquat) or band (OneRepublic), where you and your spouse met (Singapore).
If you've come up with a name that is creative and unusual, take it on a test run through the following exercises.
- Make up a mock resume. Put the name right at the top. Then become the HR recruiter with 75 resumes on his desk. He needs to pick out candidates for interviews and needs to do it quickly. "SugarSpice Smith" is going to get passed over. She may have graduated summa cum laude, volunteered to help the poor around the world and competed in the Olympics, but the recruiter is never going to know what a bright, well-rounded person SugarSpice is. He doesn't get past the name. There goes the resume into the circular file.
- Imagine working for a person with the name. Try it out. "Snorkle, here's the report you wanted." Are you going to be able to treat Snorkle with respect? Are you going to have to work hard to keep a straight face, whether talking to him or about him?
- Think about how often your child will have to spell or pronounce the name to others. Or explain why her parents named her "Marshmallow." In fact, you need to have a good answer when Marshmallow asks you why.
One other thing, as counterintuitive as it may be, people tend to forget outlandish names. You named your baby "Pookie" so he would stand out, and you've defeated your purpose. Perhaps the people that Pookie will meet throughout his life are going to mentally pass over it the same as the recruiter passed over SugarSpice's resume. Or they have nothing to connect to it.
Here are some names for boys and girls that they can wear well throughout their whole lives, and not one of the names has made it to the Social Security Administration's list of the most popular names—yet.
Audra: An Old English name originating in the 16th century and meaning "of noble strength." Today, it is predominantly known as a French name.
Aviva: Originally a Hebrew name meaning "springlike, fresh, dewy." In Latin, it means "youthful," in Spanish, "enlivens."
Blythe: Originated from the early Germanic word, "blithiz," meaning "gentle, kind." "Blithe" retained that meaning through its use in Old Saxon, Middle Dutch and Old Norse languages. In English, "blithe" means "joyous, cheerful."
Indigo: A blue-violet color extracted from the indigo plant, once so rare and precious that it was called "blue gold." It has traditionally been used for the purple in royal garments.
Honora: An Irish name meaning "honor." It also has Latin-American roots, meaning "esteem, integrity, dignity" in Latin.
Lakelyn: An American name, a female variation of the male "Lake." (See below.)
Saffron: Derived from "zafaran," the Persian word for "yellow," becoming "safranum" in Middle English and finally "saffron" in 12th century English. It is a vivid yellow color and the most expensive and prized spice in the world.
Taja: Originated in Hindi and Sanskrit as the word for "crown." In Arabic, as well as African cultures, it means "to mention, to name." Boy Names Arden: In English, means "ardent, sincere"; in Celtic, "eager"; and in Germanic languages, ssionate." It also references the magical forest in Shakespeare's As You Like It.
Birch: An English name, relatively new due to a trend toward names from naure. A strong, distinguished and graceful tree.
Jenkins: Originated as a Hebrew name meaning "God is merciful." In Hebrew and Welsh, it is a variation of "John," often used when a father's name is John.
Lake: An American name and another example of finding names in nature. Water is the universal symbol for life, ever flowing. A lake is usually thought of as calm and steadfast.
Quade: Derived from the Latin for "fourth" or "fourth born." It is also the Irish form of "Walter."
Pascal: From the Hebrew "pesach" for "Passover" and the Latin name "Paschalis," meaning "related to Easter."
Reed: Originated as an Irish surname for a person with red hair. Now, it is a name of nature, referring to the strong but flexible grass. It also has a musical reference in reed instruments, such as the saxophone and bag pipes.
Shay: Both an Irish and a Hindi name. In both languages, it means "gift."