Does This Name Cross the Line?
- Jen (from the 70s)
Jen from the 1970s, your bittersweet sign-off speaks volumes. When you’ve lived your whole life as one of many with your name, unconventional baby name choices can be tantalizing, full of that certain something your name never had. But you don’t want to go too far beyond the curve, giving your children names that move past edgy into burdensome.
I can understand your confusion in this case. If everybody's fine with Tytan, a creative twist on a brash word name straight out of American Gladiators, why would they object to Nytro...a creative twist on a brash word name straight out of American Gladiators? The two names share so many elements, from the y-for-i swap to their popularity as brand names for power equipment. How can a grandma who accepts one flip out over the other?
The simple answer is that even tiny steps of style can be enough to "cross the line" with a name. To start with, Tytan is more comfortably name-like, a mashup of popuar choices like Tyson, Tristan and Payton. You can get away with a lot more boundary pushing when you wrap the name up in familiar sounds.
Then there's the meanings. As words, titan and nitro both suggest explosive strength, but in different ways. Titans are mythical deities, or towering figures in real-world arenas. The word's associations are positive, bathed in the mist of legend. Nitro, in contrast, is a very real substance that shows the dark side of power.
It's telling that your mom hates the name so much, while high school kids love it. For teenagers, nitro may just seem like a vague power prefix, along the lines of "turbo." Their associations with the word probably run to snowmobiles or comic book supervillains. Your mom, though, might know more about actual nitroglycerin, a substance so explosive that before Alfred Nobel figured out how to turn it into dynamite it killed many people, including Nobel’s own brother. An ever bigger turn-off for your mom’s generation could be the medical uses of nitroglycerin. In drug names like NitroMist and Nitrospan, the prefix nitro- has come to mean "heart disease."
Where does that leave you? The high school kids’ reaction tells you that the name should play well on the playground. The adult world, though, is likely to react strongly to it throughout your son's life.