names in the news

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Why Can't I Read This Man's Name?

Every time I see the name Reince Priebus in the news my mind reads it as Prince Rebus. Every. Single. Time. Why is this happening???

- Rebused

Reinhold "Reince" Priebus is the chairman of the Republican party. Prince Rebus sounds more like the champion of a word-puzzle party. What makes you see one as the other? Maybe it's that the name Reince Priebus itself is a word puzzle.

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We Don't Want an Homage!

Oh no! My husband and I have already decided on the name we want to give our second son. It’s a three-part name (two middle), all family names that are important to us. I just discovered today that a trending author has that exact name—all three names, and in the same order.

I dislike the author's works and don't want people to think we are naming our baby after this author. Is there any hope? I'm not a fan of switching the middle names, but might if it would create enough of a distance. Any advice?

- Not a fantasy nerd.

The "accidental namesake" is a slippery naming dilemma. The strength of the pseudo-homage depends on the particulars of the name, and on the celebrity's place in our culture. Not knowing the exact name you're grappling with, here are some general guidelines:

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Are These Names Alive With the Sound of Music?

My fiancé and I are heading to India in two months to pick up our newly adopted daughter, and we still aren't sure what to name her! We both adore the name Birgitta and think it fits her perfectly. The only problem is our other daughter, who we adopted from Russia, is named Liesl…and both names happen to be two of the von Trapp girls in The Sound of Music! (Neither of us had ever seen the musical and had no idea they shared this connection.) To make matters worse, the other names we like Gretl and Marta.

We're both scared of the backlash our children might receive growing up just for having two Da's, let alone having two Da's who named them after a musical on top of it. What do you think we should do?

- Two Concerned Fathers

As Carrie Underwood's recent live tv version showed, The Sound of Music remains one of the world's "Favorite Things." But it's clearly not one of yours, at least where baby names are concerned. You've stumbled unknowingly into a theme; will it claim control of your daughters' names? 

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A Celebrity Just Chose My Favorite Name!

My fiancé and I are expecting a boy in less than a month, and our top name choice is Bodhi. It has a wonderful meaning, and isn't too popular either. But now we just found out that Megan Fox named her second son Bodhi!

The name Bodhi is definitely our favorite, but now we're scared its popularity is going to spike. We don't want any of our children to have a "popular" name, as we both grew up with them and know what it's like to have six other kids in the class with the same name. So, what do we do? Is Bodhi going to get super-popular now that a celebrity used it?

- Another Jessie

Bodhi is definitely one of the "buzziest" Hollywood names of the moment. But unless you and Megan Fox are eyeing the same preschools, Hollywood popularity isn't what you're worried about. Nationwide, does "buzz" necessarily translate to babies?

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Name Our Future Coach!

My husband really wants to name our third and final child after an NFL football coach. He did this in naming our second, Landry, but I didn't know it until after he was born - I just liked the name! I am hoping we can find another name like Landry that we both love but maybe for different reasons. Our other son is named Cade. Any suggestions as to a boy name that is also the name of of NFL coach? Luckily, we have a girl name secured so we only have to think of a boy name now!
- Coach's Mom

So, your husband didn't mention that legendary coach Tom Landry was the inspiration for the name Landry? Not to be a tattletale, but that's not the only football name he slipped past you. Cade took a huge popularity leap in the late 1990s thanks to quarterback Cade McNown.

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Does My Son Need a Secret Identity?

When choosing names for our first child, my husband and I had no problems. We both loved the name Christian Grant. We also both love the idea of giving our unborn second child a name that is related to a comic book character (a superhero, preferably). We found out that Superman's birth name is Kal-El, and Nic Cage gave his son that name. I personally think flat-out calling our son Kal-El is a bit much, so is there a way we can make it less dramatic and more...common?
- Not Superman's Mom

So, you want a mild-mannered alter ego to help super-powered Kal-El fit in with the common folk. Isn't that the same situation Ma and Pa Kent were in when they named Clark?

Your super-name dilemma is a little trickier, though. The Kents were focused on assimilation: hiding young Kal-El's Kryptonian ethnicity so that he would be taken for an All-American boy. You want to celebrate Kal-El's otherworldly style, just in a toned-down way.


Names in the News: Tilda Swinton

Names in the News: Tilda Swinton

Moonrise Kingdom actress (and fantastic dresser) Tilda Swinton is causing a ruckus on Twitter and elsewhere this week with her announced plan for a performance art piece called “The Maybe” which involves sleeping in a glass box in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. Bloggers are going nuts for this Sleeping Beauty-esque show, which will be popping up at random times in various places throughout the museum.  All this Tilda trending on Twitter had us asking exactly one question—what’s the story with her name?

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Are Scientists Too Weird?

My husband and I both admire Nikola Tesla, and we're thinking about naming our daughter Tesla (and calling her Tessie). Is it too weird?
- Science lover

Let's run through a few names that have made America's top 1,000 lists in recent years:

Lexus, after a luxury car
Nautica, after a clothing label
Raiden, after a video-game character
Cannon, after a war weapon
Gage, after a horror-film child
Alizé, after a liquor

But you, wild woman, want to name your daughter after one of the greatest scientists and inventors of all time? A name that's unusual but has a simple, name-like form and classic nickname?

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Will Vampires Doom My Future Babies?

I would like to name my future children Esme Violet and Jasper Kyle. I'm concerned that people would make a Twilight connection. I don't like Twilight, but I love both of those names. I am hoping that by the time I get around to having kids (at least 7 years), the Twilight craze will have calmed down. Should I still use those names?
- Not a Twi-hard

The paranormal romance saga Twilight has set new records for media-induced baby name anxiety. Author Stephenie Meyer had an astute ear for name trends, and managed to inject a dose of vampire venom into a lot of stylish choices. Your favorites, Esme and Jasper, were the epitome of cutting-edge cool before they joined the undead. Is that edge forever blunted? Are siblings named Esme and Jasper doomed to a lifetime of vampire jokes?

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Google Says My Baby Name Is a Soap Opera Stripper!

My husband and I picked the name "Rose" for our baby girl due in a few months. We have a very common last name, and when I Googled our daughter's first and last name together the top results and all of the images turned up as a soap-opera character (who happens to be a stripper) in the UK. We live in the Southern United States and had never heard of this apparently popular show. How important is Google in the naming of a child? Should we stick with the name we love or keep looking?

-- Brooke

In this globally networked age, it's irresistible to start Googling your kids before they’re even born. After all, our digital lives are becoming ever more real -- the stuff of friendships, romances and careers. And with brands and bloggers fretting over search engine optimization, a look at the query results for your future daughter’s name makes perfect sense.