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My Surname Doesn't Go With the Names I Like

Someone once told me that I need to keep my new last name in mind when picking baby names -- I shouldn't pick a name that ends with the same sound as my last name. Problem is, my last name is now Urban -- and there are so many names that I love that end in -an or -en. Would it really be so wrong to use one of those names?

My sympathies, Mrs. U. You've run into one of the stumbling blocks of modern style. As our first names start to sound more and more like last names, matching them with our actual last names gets harder and harder. You don't want a little Brayden Hayden, Bailey Dailey, or Paxton Saxton.

Surnames ending in -n like yours have it the toughest. Over a third of boys now get an -n name, making for a lot of iffy matches. I'm afraid I can't give you permission to ignore your surname altogether, though. You wouldn't be pleased to be called, say, Corbin Urban yourself, would you? And no, a middle name can't "fix" a problem full name.

The good news is that all -n names aren't created equal. Anything with three or more syllables (Donovan, Evelyn, Maximilian) should fit Urban fine. For two syllables, aim smooth -- Kaylin works better than Kaydin.

If you do decide to cross -n names off your list, don't despair. Write down a list of your favorites and think about what attracts you to them. Then look for non-n alternatives that fit your style: surnames (Walker), Irish names (Shane), elegant traditionals (Dominic), contemporary creations (Kyler). The other 25 letters will stand you in good stead if you give them a chance...and your child will be less likely to rhyme with the rest of the class.


Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

July 31, 2009 2:59 PM
By Lee (not verified)

Hrm, this one reminds me of a girl I went to school with. Her name was Denise DeLise. To be honest the girl loved her name, and so did everyone around her. Yes it was odd of her parents to do such a thing. But the way it rolled off everyones tongues we wound up practically singing it. On a few occassions people did (even teachers). I still think its a beautiful name, and its definitely a name I'll never forget! (I graduated manyyyy years ago :) I believe she is a designer now.

July 31, 2009 9:43 PM
By Evan's mom (not verified)

Our son's name is Evan, and our last name ends in "an". My husband's name is Dan, and he never had any issues with his name. I think you just have to say and write the two names together many times to make sure you like the look and sound of it. If you do, then your child will too!

October 28, 2009 9:06 PM
By kelly (not verified)

actually, i think it sounds odder (more odd?) to have a first name end the same way the last name ends. like john nelson. say it fast, it could be john ellson. or janelson. my husband convinced me of this when i wanted to name our son finn (our last name starts with ni-). i've liked the name finn since the ethan hawke version of Great Expectations came out, but it shall never be. knowing now that -n names are SO overused, i'm sort of glad i am locked out of it. i'm thinking of boy names that end in -m now :) (now if i can only get pregnant)

February 9, 2010 11:27 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

This post made me laugh because it is so true! My WHOLE life I have loved the name Rory - told everyone since I was a little kid I would use it for my firstborn son or daughter. Then I got married to man who's last name is Rohrs. lol - can you imagine Rory Rohrs? It sounds like Scooby Doo talking! Oh well. Sometimes we have to set our dreams aside for the greater good.

February 16, 2010 10:33 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I can feel the same way! I wish that I could find good names that don't interfere with my friend's names. I love my friends names and i don't want to take it away from them, but there aren't many other good names.

March 10, 2010 1:10 PM
By Rook (not verified)

I agree that you definitely have to take the surname into account when naming...boys. They'll be stuck with the same combination for their whole lives. But since you can't know what your daughters' married names will be, why not just pick a girl's name you like and not worry about that? It won't be her surname forever.

May 4, 2010 12:41 PM
By Pamela (not verified)

I think the suggestion to just practice saying it over and over is helpful. My brother, last name Scott, was darn near forced by by his first wife to name a daughter Ashley. I don't think Ashley Scott breaks any of the rules, and there is even an actress (the blond chick on Jericho) with that name; but say it three or four times fast, and it sounds like you're drunk. It just does not flow nicely.

May 4, 2010 12:45 PM
By 48 and still stuck with the name I was I born to (not verified)

Yes you do have to take just as much care to name a girl! Not every girl is blessed enough to get married. Not every girl wants to. Not every girl who does get married chooses to take her husband's name. And all the teasing takes place in childhood anyway. Once you're old enough to marry well, the teasing is over.

May 4, 2010 12:46 PM
By Allison (not verified)

Re: Rook's comment -- Plenty of women keep their maiden names after marriage. I would caution against using a name that sounds bad with a daughter's last name at birth, as she may never get married or want to keep her maiden name if she does. Even if she does change her last name later, childhood is when some of the meanest teasing happens, and a rhyming name is easy fodder for bullies.

May 4, 2010 12:47 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I know a couple who loved the name Peter, but had to pass on it because of the way it 'ran into' their last name, Abbott. Instead of years of teasing as "Peter Rabbit", he because Paul.

May 5, 2010 7:43 PM
By Stephanie (not verified)

To the girl who liked Rory and married a Rohrs, my last name is Rohrbaugh and my cousin's (same last name as mine) first wife wanted to name their daughter Laurelie- might be a way to get away with calling her Rory without her getting made fun of- lots of other nicknames could apply. Just a thought.

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