Ask the Name Lady

Ask Now

Nobody likes my favorite baby name

I have been in love with the name Bright for a girl for a while now, but my husband is not so keen. He thinks that the name is too 'out there' and that she'll be teased very badly at school. I've been trying to think of nicknames for Bright to convince him, but as it's such a short name I can't think of anything! Can you help? Also, my mother thinks that the name is too juvenile and that Bright would encounter the 'Katie' difficulty when she's older. What do you think? - Questioning Mom

I can see how you'd fall in love with the name Bright. It's like a burst of positive energy, so that the more you think about Bright, the more other names seem, well, dim in comparison.

When you dive into a name so deeply, though, it's easy to lose perspective. For a fresh view, consider these names: Gleam, Clever, Glow. They all have positive meanings and plausibly name-like sounds. To a lot of people--including your own nearest and dearest--Bright belongs in that group. If those names give you pause, maybe that will help you understand their concerns.

In fact, Bright goes one step beyond Gleam and Glow because it's an adjective. Even in this golden age of meaning names, most parents shy away from adjectives. Positive nouns like Destiny and Justice seem like a celebration of ideals. An adjective, though, seems more like a description of the child; perhaps even a little immodest.

Does that totally rule out Bright? No, not really. But paired with something else in your letter, it may. My Name Lady alarms go off whenever someone asks for help "convincing" a partner to accept a name he doesn't like. Both parents deserve to feel the warm glow of calling a new baby by a special, beloved name. Given that Bright is so stylistically bold, I don't believe your husband will ever get to that point with your favorite name.

So where does that leave you? In search of alternatives or compromises, I'm afraid. You said you were trying to dream up nicknames for Bright. Try looking in the other direction, instead. You might find that people who balk at Bright as a given name will be surprisingly warm to it as a nickname. Options span the style spectrum, from Bridget to Briony to Brighton.

Comments

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

April 5, 2010 11:09 AM
By Joni (not verified)

Dang, I wish I'd thought of Bright! What a FABULOUS name! But of course Laura is right. If the partner has to be 'convinced' then it's a no go. I also agree that going longer with Bright as a nn is a good idea. I do see the father's point about teasing though - if she struggles in any area then she could be teased for being 'dim' or 'dumb'. That makes Bright as a NN more desirable.

April 5, 2010 1:27 PM
By Dorothy Hanna (not verified)

how about a mashup like brightlynn or brightalie? they're kind of long, but I think they sound pretty.

April 5, 2010 3:18 PM
By Elisabeth@YCCII (not verified)

I've always though Albright would make a nice given name.

Or you could go with a name that somehow connotes brightness: Phoebe, Clara, Lucy, Electra, Helen, Phaedra, Niamh, Roxane. Then you could use Bright as a nickname, but she could have another "more palatable" name as well. Good luck deciding!

April 5, 2010 7:02 PM
By Zoe (not verified)

Elisabeth, I was going to suggest similar names!
Claire/Clare/Clara (clear, bright, famous)
Lucy/Lucia/Luciana (light)
Phoebe (Bright, pure)
Zahra (bright, brilliant)
Liora/Leora (my light)
Meira (giving light)
Eloise/Eloisa (sun)
Sana (brilliance, radiance, splendor

Or if you want Bright meaning smart:
Dara (Wisdom, compassion)
Sophia/Sophie (wisdom)

Maybe you could use Bridget? I love that name and I bet you could swing Bright as a nickname. For bonus points Bridget was the Irish goddess fire and wisdom- which is kinda both meanings of Bright!

In any case, I strongly dislike Bright as a full name for a child. It seems like way too much to live up to.

April 5, 2010 9:34 PM
By Jenny (not verified)

I can see the appeal of Bright, and agree with the article; I was also thinking it might be better as a nickname; Briony and Brighton are nice names, too!
One more reason you might not want to name your daughter Bright is that there is a movement among some atheists to try to get people to refer to them as Brights instead of atheists. I'm not sure how successful they'll be, but it's possible that at some point in the future, people who hear her name will think atheist. Nothing wrong with being an atheist (I am one), but if you're not, or just don't want to give your kid a possibly charged name, I'd avoid just plain Bright.

April 5, 2010 11:04 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I immediately thought of Brighton when I read your question, I love that... I agree that Bright would be better as a nickname than a full name!

April 6, 2010 1:35 AM
By Sarah F. (not verified)

Perhaps you could use it as a middle name? I do think it is very pretty!

April 6, 2010 8:30 AM
By Allie (not verified)

I also like the idea of Bright as a nickname for Brighton or something. Sounds more name-like. And, there's always the middle name aspect. You can get away with a lot in a middle name.

Finally, you can always call them a nickname that isn't absolutely like their name. I have a friend named Amanda that goes by Bliss with her friends because Amanda looks like Ananda, which apparently means bliss in Hindi?

April 6, 2010 11:59 AM
By McKenzie (not verified)

Ladies, you are so smart! Brighton is a great name, with Bright as her nickname. And if she hated being called Bright, she could just go by Bri (rhymes with Lee).

April 6, 2010 12:01 PM
By KateLovesClaraandEmery (not verified)

Bright is a pretty cool name. You could call her Bri for short or use other name suggestions.My daughter's name is Clara and my family calls here Clarabelle. Only my husband and I liked her name, everyone else was like "you really want to name her that?". We stuck to our guns. I tried pushing for the name Ella or Emma for the second baby...but the only one my hubby would go for was Emery (close enough).

April 6, 2010 12:12 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

nooooooooooo! I can't think of much worse than Brightlynn. The name would really be a burden; can you imagine, "Judge Brightlynn Smith, presiding"...or can you imagine, "Here's tonight's striptastic entertainment, Brightlynn!!!" Yes. I agree, give the child a real name that can have Bright as a nickname. That way, if she wants to be taken seriously in any profession, she can use the formal name, and if she wants the sweet nickname, she can use that as well. But let's not limit our children before they even begin life!

April 6, 2010 12:13 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Wow, you know... I think Bright is a really cute name. I, too, wish I'd thought of it!

I agree that it could be a nickname for something, if you can't actually use it as the given first name.

Or, as others have said, I think it is 100 percent plausible as a middle name.

I have to say, though, that I REALLY dislike Brighton as a name. Like, really, really hate it. Bridgit is nice, though. I am sure there are others out there, too, that could be used.

However, one last thought: It's not clear to me; does the husband dislike Bright as something to call his daughter in general, or does he simply dislike it as the given name? If he is opposed because he is worried she will be teased, does he really want to use this name at all? It seems most teachers are perfectly willing to let a child go by her nickname in school(so long as it's not innappropriate). I can see a situation where the daughter gets to school age and thinks of Bright as her name. And what is the father going to say to the daughter: "Honey, I don't think you should go by this in school because, well, you're just not that smart and I don't want you to get teased." I don't think so. The point being, I'm not sure dad is ever going to get on board with Bright in the way that the mom wants him to.

April 6, 2010 12:16 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Good grief, ladies! Bright is not a name; it is a word and an adjective. It would be like naming your daughter Purple.

I implore you to pick a real name with a history of use, perhaps a suggestion from above with the meaning bright.

April 6, 2010 12:22 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

What if Bright ends up having a learning disability? Doesn't that make her a target for teasing?

Bad name. And Brighton isn't much better.

I'd go with a name that means bright/light/sunny/etc like Lucy, Clara, Claire, etc. Or a real name with a similar sound such as Bryony.

Don't make something up. There are lots of good names out there without forcing a word into namehood. It just makes the parents look illiterate.

April 6, 2010 12:26 PM
By jakadu (not verified)

Count me in for those who like the name Bright. There was a girl at my high school with the name Sunshine...which, although hippie, fit her perfectly. Sometimes as a nn we called her Sunny.

But if your husband is not on board, then you will have to come up with another name that you both agree on. As for teasing possibilities, I wouldn't even go there. Kids can be unusually cruel and creative when it comes to teasing and they'll find something that rhymes or has alliteration with any thing.

April 6, 2010 12:35 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I also agree that Bright is beautiful, but it gives a child big shoes to fill. It takes a very strong person to carry a name so uncommon. However, if you love it, there has to be some kind of compromise that can be reached. I love the idea of a mash up. Brighton, Brightlyn, Brightanne, Brightney (similar to the ever popluar Brittney). That was as stated above she has multiple options of names to go by if she does not share your feelings for Bright. She can go by Bright, Bri (Bree), Lyn, Anne, Toni, or any other variation of the beginning or ending of the name.

If your husband is not crazy about any of the variations presented to you here, I suggest you go to a library or bookstore's language dictionaries and find something pretty that translates to Bright or a synonym of Bright. I have heard of many people doing that too.

Best of luck!

April 6, 2010 12:38 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Lots of people name their children "words" And as for naming your child purple that may not be a name, but Violet sure is. Look at hollywood, those people name their children things like Apple, Coco, and other bazaar things, there is nothing saying that mother-to-be's cannot get creative too!

April 6, 2010 1:04 PM
By crescentstreet (not verified)

I know a talented young woman named Bright who is a jewelry designer. I think it's a fine name, but you don't want to use a name your husband really dislikes. I like the suggestions along the lines of Bridget as a sound alike with Bright as a nickname or the names connoting brightness and light. Ellen or Helen could be added to that list. I hope your little girl is both bright and sweet.

April 6, 2010 1:13 PM
By Heather (not verified)

I love the name, as a nn and a regular name, I have twin sisters named Sunni and Starla, although they did get some teasing during school (Sonny and Cher comments mostly) they love their names as adults. Go w/ what you love!

April 6, 2010 1:20 PM
By Yolanda (not verified)

I like Brighton, but it rings male to me. I think it might work to take names that usually start with "Brit" and replacing that with "Bright”. It will have a unique but familiar sound that others might find pleasing; but can easily be shortened to the nickname Bright.

Examples:

  • Bightney
  • Brightly
  • Brighta
  • Brighttanie
  • Brighty
  • April 6, 2010 1:21 PM
    By Alex (not verified)

    There is a Mr. Albright, I believe in "Tom Jones," and it is a name that seems to work for him. But he is male, it is a family name, and the man is fictional. "Albright" may simply not do for a little girl's name.
    Alex

    April 6, 2010 1:22 PM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    Brighton was the name of the boy on The Nanny. I think that would be a cute girls name! Maybe Brightyn for a girlie-er feel?

    April 6, 2010 1:25 PM
    By Alex (not verified)

    I like the Lucia suggestion because it comes with a built in nickname, Mimi, and a lovely association. Remember Act I of "La Boheme"? "My name is Lucia, but they call me Mimi."
    Alex

    April 6, 2010 1:32 PM
    By CP (not verified)

    Bright sounds refreshing & lovely & I love it... on someone else's child. I personally couldn't bring myself to name one of my own children Bright, though, for many of the above reasons. I like the concept of giving your child a more traditional name with either the nickname or middle name being Bright. Then your daughter could have a few more options. We call our youngest child primarily by his nickname but occasionally use his full name (not just when he is in trouble) so he responds to both, even though he isn't yet 2 so you could call her Briony/Brianna/Bridget/Lucy/Claire and Bright. And I can never help but cringe at the irony when I meet a Charity who is stingy or a Sunny who is dour.

    April 6, 2010 1:35 PM
    By Ann (not verified)

    I really like "Bright" but as a nickname. For Brighton, Bridget or Brightlynn. Do you like B names or the connotation more? And, I like "Sunny" too. I would not worry about teasing, because as it has been said, kids will find something to make fun of. And, why not be creative? Our president's name is Barack, and there might be lots of kids in school with multi-cultural names. Creativity is a part of culture. Names have to come from somewhere right?

    April 6, 2010 1:37 PM
    By Debbie (not verified)

    What about the name Brittney, and you can just call her Bright for a nickname?

    April 6, 2010 1:49 PM
    By Dianne T. (not verified)

    Love it! I say go for it, if the hubby can agree. And Brighton is a great name as well for a girl, with Bright as the nn. My son is Springer, and we call him Spring sometimes as a nickname. That wouldn't have worked for a given name for a boy, but as a nn for Springer, we can get away with it.

    April 6, 2010 2:43 PM
    By Jacquie (not verified)

    I was going to mention the atheist/skeptical association of "Bright" as well. And it's a bit more complicated than the previous poster let on; it was meant less as a replacement for the term "atheist" than as an umbrella word for everyone with a naturalistic worldview (atheist, agnostic, skeptic, etc.). Almost needless to say, it never really took off. Most atheists I know (myself included) don't like it because it does seem to have an implication of being smarter ("brighter") than everyone else, which is just not a positive image when you are trying to not come off as jerks to the rest of society. To me, giving the name to a child would cause the same concern. As far as the association with the movement itself, I doubt it'll ever be successful enough in the future for "Bright" to become synonymous with "atheist," but the history of the attempt is something to consider, and in-the-know atheists would probably make the association immediately.

    April 6, 2010 2:47 PM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    Bright is a bad name. To Dianne T., Springer is a dog.

    April 6, 2010 2:57 PM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    What about naming the baby Bridget and having Bright as the nickname. Or you could use Bright as the middle name. Jennifer Love Hewitt's mom wanted to name her Love, but gave her a normal first name in case. Her close friends and family call her Love.

    April 6, 2010 3:17 PM
    By Christiana (not verified)

    I immediately thought of 2 things: 1) that dopey character on the show Everwood who's name was Bright (a male) and 2) Why not something like Brighton (which Laura mentions in her answer) and you can call her Bright as your own personal nn for her if your family prefers not to shorten it? (or prefers to use something like Bree which is a little more mainstream) Also love the name Claire, which has "bright" as the meaning and you could do the same. Just a thought.

    April 6, 2010 4:27 PM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    These examples from above make you look illiterate

    Examples:

    Bightney
    Brightly
    Brighta
    Brighttanie
    Brighty

    Please, I'm begging. Don't do this.

    April 6, 2010 4:40 PM
    By Marci (not verified)

    I LOVE the name Bright for both a girl and a boy, Brighton being the full name. I think that the full name adds a seriousness to a more whimsical, "out there" name, and it could change the father's perspective, if YOU like it...Another note: my former "Girl's Name" growing up was Bri, pronouced Br eye, and of course the spelling could be made more pheonetic by changing it to Brye. I feel this name has a similar feel to Bright. Good luck!

    April 6, 2010 5:11 PM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    well, i've heard stupider names. when i read the title of this article i was expecting a lot worse. and brightlyn? are you on crack? thats the ugliest name i've ever heard! and brightalie? COME ON PEOPLE.

    April 6, 2010 5:17 PM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    Although I lean towards conservative names personally, I can totally see the appeal of the name Bright. But I have another reason you should steer clear of it - we have a friend with the surname Bright, and his nickname is Dull. All of his friends have called him that since high school. I don't think you'll want that kind of nickname for your daughter!! I agree with Laura - give her an official name that you and hubby both love, and use Bright as a nickname. It doesn't even have to be something obvious - if Destiny Cyrus can be nicknamed Miley by her family and everyone else, then the possibilities are endless!

    April 6, 2010 5:20 PM
    By Kritsin (not verified)

    Girl: Brightlyn Boy: Brighton
    Never looses the charm

    April 6, 2010 5:49 PM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    brightlyn= disgusting

    April 6, 2010 6:44 PM
    By Elle (not verified)

    Well it didn't take long for the vitriol to begin.

    I like Bright. It has a crisp, fresh sound and a positive connotation. It's unique and not inconceivable as a name. I could see it as one of the ubiquitous nicknames for an Elizabeth. Elizabeth, nn Bright seems charming and clever.

    I agree that Brightlyn, Brightalie, Brightnee, etc. seem clunky and forced. However, Brighton and Brightley seem like a natural progression of other names. Is Brighton all that different from Leighton (Meester)? Of course I could never see Brighton without thinking of poor Lydia's downfall, but a literary association would do the name no harm.

    April 6, 2010 8:12 PM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    Good grief, ladies! Bright is not a name; it is a word and an adjective. It would be like naming your daughter Purple.

    I implore you to pick a real name with a history of use, perhaps a suggestion from above with the meaning bright.

    WHAT THIS PERSON SAID!

    April 6, 2010 9:46 PM
    By Dianne T. (not verified)

    It's your child and you should name her whatever you like best. You've put a lot of thought and care into coming up with the beautiful name Bright, and she would almost certainly appreciate it. My sons are Field and Springer, and while nearly everyone loves their special names, for the ones that don't...who cares! You just can't please everyone. A couple on the reality show "Millionaire Matchmaker" named their son Sin Halo, and while I may not like that name, it's not my child! It's what's meaningful to the parents that matters. You might consider Bryce or Bristol as possible compromises with your husband, and you could still call her Bright, perhaps...as your own nn for her. We know a girl named Breezy, though her given name is Brianna.

    April 6, 2010 11:09 PM
    By Portia (not verified)

    I would never hire someone with the name Brightalie.

    April 7, 2010 1:57 AM
    By Elizabeth (not verified)

    What I have loved about this blog since the first day I found it is how smart the comments are. Like so many of the snippier comments, I find Bright unthinkable, but then to read all of your thoughtful remarks, and to see so many possibilities is a treat. My favorite comments have always been the lists of names that fit either the feel or the meaning. My mind would never take me there, and those lists never disappoint. But then MY people are all here as well, the atheists with the literary references, who think and read and travel. I love seeing you here!

    I am pulling for "Lucia, they call me Mimi", but love Lucy, Claire, Phoebe and Eloise. What I am really pulling for is turning this name around to a real name, with meaning, history and then using a darling, personal nickname.

    Elizabeth, who named her daughter Josephine after being reminded of the name in these very comments nearly 3 years ago.

    April 7, 2010 3:45 AM
    By Faye (not verified)

    I love the name Bright. It reminds me of the virtue names (Grace, Felicity, Hope etc) which are all also nicknames and have that same optimistic charm about them.

    Actually, it makes me think religious which is ironic given the nod to atheism noted above.

    Bry or Bri could be a nickname?

    April 7, 2010 8:38 AM
    By NAMES (not verified)

    Frankly, Bright on its own is a little strange, I agree with your husband on this one.

    BUT I think Bridget is a WONDERFUL alternative and you can still call her Bright as a nickname, ohterwise there are not too many nicknames for Bridget. I love the name Bridget and I think Bright would be a PERFECT nickname for Bridget.

    Ask the hubby, see if he likes Bridget, if so, then you're golden!

    April 7, 2010 10:15 AM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    it amuses me looking through these that PORTIA said she would never hire someone named Brightalie or any of the other names...Portia, really lets think long and hard...is your name really that far off from and of these other creative names?!

    April 7, 2010 12:24 PM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    The real issue isn't if random people like the name. The fact is you husband doesn't like it. How would you feel growing up knowing that your dad didn't really like your name, but he caved because your mom wanted it. Not cool at all. Everyone should be able to know that there name was a gift that both their parents bestowed on them. Sorry in my book 'convincing dad' only cheats your daughter later in life, when she'll know dad didn't really like her name.

    April 7, 2010 6:12 PM
    By Caitlyn (not verified)

    Someone had to be the first person to name their child Pearl, or Rose, or Robin, or Glen. Admittedly adjectives are more unusual than nouns (though there was a fascinating post earlier this month about other color names) but our culture has a long tradition of words becoming names.

    Since the husband doesn't like it, using Bright as a nickname is a better choice - you can take comfort in the fact that many nicknames have become given names, so it's possible that your granddaughter or great-granddaughter will have Bright as a given name.

    April 8, 2010 1:44 PM
    By Bethany (not verified)

    Violet is a flower name, not an adjective.

    I have to cast my vote with the people who are against the use of "Bright" as a given name, if only because it is not only "edgy" but also limiting with respect to the child's being able to grow with the name. I always think it is best to give a child a name with prospects for growth and development. If her name is simply "Bright," then "Bright" becomes a "baby name" that is difficult, as you realize from the difficulty you had generating nicknames, to grow out of and into something more mature (and as someone else said, able to be taken seriously as an adult).

    Brighton and Albright sound like good strong names for boys. Brightlynn and the rest, I have to agree, sound more "cutesy" and "stripperish" than respectable, for girls. If you just love Bright as a call-name, though, AND your husband is okay with that (which may, as someone else said, never be the case), then I think the best idea is to give her a name which TRANSLATES to "Bright" (many suggestions already given), and use "Bright" as a nickname. That way you give her some fun encouragement for language exploration early on, and the "Bright" is enormously easy to do away with if it should ever become a teasing problem.

    But get really real with the husband. If he just flat doesn't like the prospect of calling her that (for any reason), then that will be ever-so-clear to the girl as she grows, and a constant source of tension and unpleasantness regarding her name. Who knows? You may just not have come across that one magic name that BOTH of you will fall in love with. Best wishes!

    April 8, 2010 1:48 PM
    By Bethany (not verified)

    Oh, and for the Anon who quibbled about Portia: that is a perfectly respectable name with a LONG history of use. The best-known example for our culture would probably be the clever female lead in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice." Portia is definitely not an "edgy" name, although it may not be terribly familiar to the less-than-very-well-read, theses days.

    April 9, 2010 6:26 AM
    By Anonymous (not verified)

    I'm all for unique names, although I prefer names that are actual names as opposed to words. The TV show "Rainbow Bright" is what this name brings to mind for me. And I do think it has a Katie effect. I can't really see a grown woman with the name.

    If we ever have a little girl, my husband is dead-set on Sunshine as the middle name. I spent my entire pregnancy trying to figure out how to gently talk him out of it, but got lucky when we had a boy instead. We chose the boy name together and were both 100% on-board with it. Some of the above comments make me feel that I should stand up to him more on this issue next time around. I was feeling "mean" for not liking his name, but the truth is, we both should feel pride & joy in the name that is chosen, just like we do with our son's name.

    Post new comment

    The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
    • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
    • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

    More information about formatting options

    CAPTCHA
    This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.