Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What's in a name?


To borrow a line from Shakespeare, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." But what about a little boy? While I'm normally the type of person who makes quick, confident decisions, I find myself almost completely immobilized when it comes to naming my future son. I'm afraid of making the wrong decision, of saddling my son with an overly popular or trendy name, of having the other parents in my son's class silently wondering "what were they thinking?" In short, I'm feeling overwhelmed here folks. And, to be honest, Dave hasn't been much help as he's preferred to veto names rather than offer up suggestions or provide any ringing endorsements.

At the start of my pregnancy, the proverbial question was "what are you having?" Now, the question has become, "what are you naming him?" Even my OB/GYN asked me the question at my check-up last week! My answer so far has been a noncommittal "we're working on that," but I know that I'd like to sort that out before I get to the hospital -- if not long before that so that I can get my family and friends off my back. After all, they're desperate to start monogramming!

There are a few things that I know: (1) I'd like to use at least one family name, if not two; (2) I'd like a name that works as well for an adult as it does for a child; and (3) I want a name that fits with our last name (Conn), a task that's tougher than I'd thought.


I also know that we've narrowed down the potential universe to four possibilities...okay, at least I think we have. And since Dave and I have been testing these names out on friends, family and co-workers to gauge their reactions, I thought I might as well open the vote up to a wider focus group, if only to get a more accurate reaction. Bear in mind of course that I reserve the rights to ignore everyone's input altogether or even to go in an entirely different direction.

Here's a quick rundown on the origins of the names (in no particular order) that are still in the running:

William Evander: Named for two men in my mother's family (William Evander Averill and William Evander Hall), the former being my own namesake. William has also been a common name generally in my mother's family -- in fact, both my maternal grandfather and my uncle are Williams (though they went by Bill and Wendell, respectively). Unrelated but nonetheless interesting is that Evander is Greek for "good man" and a deific king in Roman mythology. The classicist in me loves that. Downside: William is uber-popular; Evander may conjure up images of boxer Evander Holyfield.

James Michael: Named for Dave's father Jim and my father Mike. Pretty simple, really. Downside: Both James and Michael are popular (though less so than William); feels rather uncreative on my part.

Graham Kirk: Named for both my uncle and great-uncle, the latter of whom was killed in WWII. Kirk is Dave's middle name as well as his father's. Downside: No workable nickname for Graham (that could be good though, too).

William Moultrie: Named for this guy, a direct ancestor of Dave's through his paternal grandmother. And, as noted above, William is a frequently used name in my mother's family. Downside: Again, William is uber-popular.

And now you get to vote. Of course feel free to leave me comments explaining your vote or even if you've got another name you'd like to throw into the ring.

35 comments:

Anonymous said...

I tend to be against names that sound too unusual, so Evander and Moultrie were out for me (I can also imagine how little fun it will be to get people to spell the latter correctly). I think Graham is too old-fashioned these days. Hence, I stuck with the oldie but goodie, James Michael (James William or William James would also be okay, by the way).

Cristin said...

Picking a name for your child is not an easy task! Our first one was easy, but the second child didn't have a name until we got to the hospital. The funny thing too was that both were girls and we had very different short lists for each. Go with your gut and don't worry about what all the relatives think!
xo,
cristin

ps- I voted for Graham!

Liz @ It's Great To Be Home said...

Those are such great names, you've done a great job!! I can't choose between them. :) And I love that you want to incorporate family names, I hope to do that someday as well. Just to play devil's advocate, what about a different combination of those names, like William Graham?

As a side note, it drove my mom crazy when I started going by Liz because then I was Liz Clore (my maiden name) and she thought it sounded too choppy since each name was only 1 syllable. For what it's worth!

Julie said...

I'm 23 weeks and planning on naming our son William, too. It's funny .... I have been hearing about friends of friends who are naming their kids Will for a few years now .... I think it's definitely increasing in popularity!

Christy said...

Graham Kirk got my vote! I love both names, and the history. But I might be tempted to use Graham Evander! I remember how hard it was to name both of our kids - we actually bought a few books, two of them just on Celtic names! Good luck - and whatever you decide will be perfect for him. (And of course, you can always change your mind, as we did on day 2 of Ms. Foo's life! Ha!)

Anonymous said...

I actually think it's great when people bring back older names, like Graham. It's not too different but not too common either. After all, it's the person that makes the name, not the other way around!

Patch said...

All of the names are lovely. One thought -- do you you think that with the first name Graham, he would spend a lot of time saying "like the cracker" when he first meets people? I don't mean to be mean, I just wonder!!!

Averill said...

P - You know I didn't even THINK about the whole graham cracker thing...it's a good point!

Nikki said...

I love to vote for stuff so I came over from 3 men and a lady. I love William Evander. It sounds both casual and strong and proper. Plus if nicknames evolve and he doesn't want to be a bill or a will, he could be an Evan.

Good luck!

Laura@JourneyChic said...

I have way too many Williams (all nicknamed Bill/Billy) in my family, so that was out for us. I voted for Graham because one of my friends has an adorable 2-yo Graham. :) Our kiddo's middle name, Thomas, is super-common on my husband's side b/c it was his grandpa's name.

Junior's name is not weird, but not at all common and is decidedly Irish. We chose it from a huge spreadsheet of nearly 80 names that my hubby downloaded from the web. We rated each one of them: -1 = hate, 0 = indifferent, 1 = like. Then, we did the math to pick the top 3 and duked it out from there. No one knew our chosen name until I went to the hospital for the induction and the nurses coaxed it out of me! Super nerdy methods, but effective!

MaryBeth said...

Can I go completely off and say Michael Moultrie sounds fabulous to me

Robin said...

Just as yesterday, I am outvoted!

My reasons are entirely personal. When I was in high school I knew an adorable young man named Willie, who I'm sure eventually morphed into a lawyer named Will.

And Moultrie Creek is near St. Augustine, one of my favorite places.

None of this is of any use to you, but it was fun to think about.

Kelly said...

don't forget- you can call him Liam if you name him William. Liam was my #1 but hubby didn't like it :( it's also getting popular!

Annaliza said...

I have a Graham and a Kirkman, both family names....I vote Graham Kirk.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, why is you maiden name not a contender?

Amy said...

I think they are all great names. As a mother of three it is also a good idea to look down the road to think about the types of names you want to give your other children. If your first child is family names, you might want to stick with that trend. If you choose something traditional, then do you want that for the others? Kids do actually talk about their names in relation to the siblings in the family.

I personally love traditional names, and named my children after family members...Emma Elizabeth, Samuel Patrick (I wanted his middle name to be Shannon which was my husbands mother's maiden name...he thought it sounded too girly---I should have fought harder) and Mary Margaret. In the end do what you love. And seriously, once you see your baby the name will come.

BTW, I love that you are waiting to find out the sex. I never found out and was wrong all three times...it was the best surprise each time. Good luck!!!

Averill said...

Anon: My maiden name is Harrington, which I have considered as a middle name, but it's rather long and definitely unusable as a first name.

Anonymous said...

I'm partial to William because that was on our short list. We almost had a Will but went with Luke instead. If we ever had another little boy he would probably be Will. I also like Graham a lot. Couldn't you always do William Graham or Graham William?

Sara

Quotidian Grace said...

I have to say that no one ever made that cracker remark to your Uncle Graham. Of course he is imposingly tall and scary!

Hello Lover... said...

Love your choices! For some reason I really like Graham Kirk - I'm sure you guys will find the perfect fit!

Anonymous said...

Congrats! I think it's funny that one of the choices is James Michael Conn. That is the name that my parents picked out for a boy if they ever had one. I still can't get over your name. :) Just don't take my boy baby name... Connor. ;o) (p.s. this is April "Conn" LaBoda)

Nichole@40daysof said...

Have you read Freakonomics? There's some really interesting stuff in there about names.

beesus said...

I love the name Graham Kirk. And I don't think it's un-nicknameable. In fact I can guarantee someone will call him Gray.

Janell @ Isabella and Max said...

As I began reading this post I was thinking how I would suggest you make your decision and not share the name...well, then I read on! That approach worked for us, we didn't want any feedback, pro or con, to feel completely free to make our own decision. But now that you've opened it up to the world...I love the name Graham!

I did hear one piece of advice that I thought was great, when considering names. It was this: Imagine your saying the name over and over again, hundreds of times a day, and if you are not sick of it afterwards, then it is a good name!

Janell

Couture Carrie said...

Fab choices, darling!
Especially loving the last one!

xoxox,
CC

Susie @ Maddie's Nest said...

I like them all...although must admit that I did immediately get the boxing image with Evander. We used a family name for the middle (my Dad is "Aubrey") and actually wanted a "Harry" and came up with Harrison after my sister said she refused to have a nephew named Harold :) I didn't vote b/c I cannot choose but I really love Graham. It was one on my short list for our son.

casey at loft and cottage said...

Janell was right--you have to love the name that you're going to be saying time and time again, and as you said, one that works for a boy and a man. That said, I like Graham. It's just different enough, but not weird. And it's cute for a boy but mature for an adult too. But take your time, and pick what feels best for you!

The Glam Lamb said...

Im a jewish girl - so had to say... Mazel Tov - also --- I know you don't know me, but you have the name "William" on the list twice - so I'd go with your gut and go with that name. Its great long, or nicknamed to Will (every guy I know names Will has been way cute!) LOL!!
Best wishes to your family!

Patch said...

I actually really like the name Gray!!! One of your commenters suggested it as a nickname for Graham...Maybe it's because it's a color you use a lot in your design, but for some reason it sounds great to me.
Gray William Conn? (That way he can go by Will/Billy if he doesn't like Gray?)

maureen @ The Inglenook Decor said...

Graham Kirk has a great ring to it.:)

Anonymous said...

Graham got my vote!! Gray is a good nickname - I knew a guy who went by Gray and it totally suited him! All the best with deciding!

LindsB said...

Do you like the name Evan? I think Evander is a great name and I didnt even think of the boxer once :) Other then that I LOVE the name Graham!! Maybe because there was a really hot guy I went to high school with and I just get that "hot boy" sense when I hear the name. Oh and Kirk- awesome name- totally cool, but not too cool that its trendy- I think its awesome!

Megan {Honey We're Home} said...

I had to go with James- it's my baby's name- but I didn't have much of a choice- he's the 4th!

Sarah Klassen said...

I have to be honest, I love the name William for your son. It is such a strong name, and I could truly see you having a son named William, yet I cannot explain why. I know this does not help, but I love the perimeters you have set for selecting a name. It will be honorable and a beautiful name, no matter which you choose :)

Rachel said...

I'm a little late to this post, but just wanting to point out that Liam is a great nickname for William. My nephew is William Phillip, but with a plethora of Bill's, Will's, and William's in the family my sister decided to call him Liam.. everyone always loves the name and the history behind it.

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