Namesakes

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How Do I Say No to Grandma?

My grandmother, I'll call her "Elizabeth," has always wanted a girl named after her, but she only had boys. She now has three female grandchildren (including me; there are also five boys). One granddaughter has the middle name Elizabeth, but my grandmother constantly complains that "the middle name doesn't count." She's started trying to make us promise to name our future children Elizabeth! She's my grandma and I love her, but I'm not sure if I want to associate my hypothetical kids with her. I feel so guilty about even writing this. Is there anything that I can do?

–Not Elizabeth!

Wow: Grandma is really putting you and all her grandkids in a tough spot. The guilt trip is unfair, and as you're noticing, it isn't working at all. It's making you and your cousins feel less inclined to honor your grandmother with a namesake.

For now, it sounds like you're young enough for the easy out: "Grandma, I love you and your name, but I can hardly make a baby name pledge on behalf of a partner I haven't even met yet!" Keep reinforcing this message: You love her, but you may not be able to show it by using her name. Who knows: You might have only sons as well!

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How Can I Support My Wife's Baby Name Choice?

My wife is African-American and I'm white. My family had a hard time with our marriage and now that my wife is pregnant, they can't agree on anything. My wife wants to name our daughter after her late mother, Lillian, but my mother hates it and says it's too old. How should we handle this?

–Stuck in the Middle

You ask how to handle your mother's disapproval of your wife's preferred name. I can reassure you that your mother is far from the only grandparent I've encountered in this column to complain about the name of her grandchild. The vast majority of them (eventually) learn to keep their complaints to themselves.

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Is This Nickname Fine, or Far Removed?

We are trying to decide on a name for our fourth child, a girl. I love the name Philomena (family name on my side, plus my husband's name is Phillip), with the nickname Mena. My husband doesn't love Philomena and really isn't into Mena. He suggested Philippa with the nickname Pippa. I do not like Philippa, so I thought we might compromise: Philomena, with the nickname Pippa. Is that too much of a stretch?

–Give-and-Take

Yes, it's kind of a stretch. Philomena and Pippa have little to do with each other. But that doesn't much matter. There are plenty of nicknames out there that have taken a long journey from the original given name (like Polly for Mary or Peggy for Margaret). And regardless of tradition, you can use whatever nickname you like.

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Justin Junior ... For a Girl?

My husband's name is Justin. I want to name my baby girl after him, but I can't think of a name. Can you help?

–Need a Name for Daddy's Girl

There's an obvious answer here: Just take Justin and add an E. Justine is a familiar name, but perhaps there is a reason you "can't think of" it. Justine is not particularly popular right now; it peaked in the '80s.

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Will Everyone Get This Name Wrong?

We have found out we are having a girl! Yay! I am leaning towards the name Jadeanne, after my mother, Jade Anne. But I would pronounce it like Jayden. We just want an opinion!

–Just Wondering

The Name Lady doesn't give opinions on style, since that's in the eye of the beholder. So I'm not going to give a yay-or-nay vote on your pick. But it is my job to share opinions on how the rest of the world might perceive that pick, as an expert, objective observer.

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Don't Judge My Baby's Name!

I have two children: Adaline is 9 months old and Kristof would be four and a half, but he passed before Adaline was born. I just found out I am expecting again. If we have a boy, I'd like to name him Adolf. To me, it's in memory of Kristof and I also love it coupled with my daughter's name. My husband won't go for it. The obvious reason is he's too afraid of the name's history. I personally don't hold the name as a reminder of Adolf Hitler. Will other people really judge my son if his name is Adolf?

–Destiny

I'm so sorry for your loss. I understand your impulse to want to honor your first son, but this isn't the way to do it. Will people judge? Well, yes. Think of it this way. If you met a boy named Elvis, could you imagine that his parents never even considered Elvis Presley when choosing the name? That would be preposterous. So you can't expect people not to think that the name Adolf references Adolf Hitler. Your child will spend his life refuting rumors that he’s a neo-Nazi—or that you are.

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New Babies Alert: Kim and Kroy Do It Again!

New Babies Alert: Kim and Kroy Do It Again!

Real Housewife star Kim Zolciak and her NFL player husband Kroy Biermann welcomed twins and yes, each name begins with a K. PEOPLE reports that the couple had a boy and a girl this weekend who join older sisters Brielle and Ariana and brothers KJ and Kash.

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When Is a Junior Not a Junior?

My husband has his heart set on having a Jr. He believes it's a lost tradition. I don't LOVE his name, but I like it enough to pass on. But here's my dilemma: I don't want to have two Ryans in the house, nor do I want to call him "James" which would be his middle name. My husband's family calls him "Jamie," so that's out as well. I also have trouble with the fact that we'd like to give our children two middle names, yet a Junior would only have one. Could a child still be a Jr. if we kept his father's first and middle names, and gave him a unique second middle?
- Looking for a Compromise

For the middle names question, allow me to refer you to the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States. That would be George Herbert Walker Bush and his son George Walker Bush -- not George Bush Jr.

Traditional namesake rules say that a Junior is an exact namesake, no adding and subtracting parts. That makes sense if you think of the purpose of the Jr. suffix as distinguishing between identically named family members.

This rule is simply a matter of custom, not law. 

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After the Loss of a Child, Can I Still Have a Junior?

I had a son who died at birth whom we named after my husband, with a "Jr." added to the end. My question is whether it's legal for us to name a future son the same exact name, including the Jr.? Would this cause problems, since my first son has a birth certificate in his name?
- Dreaming of Junior

My sympathies to you and your husband. A name that's associated with the loss of a child can be a painful reminder of hopes and futures unfulfilled. When the departed child is a namesake there can be an added sting, as the name symbolizes the family traditions that the child won't be able to carry on. It sounds like you and your husband are very attached to the idea of having a Junior. It must seem cruel to have to give up that dream. Is giving a new baby the exact same name as a brother who died legal? Yes. Is it common? No -- at least, not in modern America.

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New Baby Alert: Scott Stapp's New Baby's Name

New Baby Alert: Scott Stapp's New Baby's Name

Creed frontman Scott Stapp and his wife Jaclyn welcomed a son named Daniel Issam last week on July 4. Daniel, a name that currently ranks as the 7th most popular boy's name in America, is named for his mother's brother according to PEOPLE.com. Issam

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