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Suddenly Feeling the Baby-Name Pinch

My husband and I feel in love with the Hebrew name Pinchas (pronounced "Pinkus") for our third son, due to arrive in a few weeks. It's an old family name, and we like that it is uncommon. It also fits well with the names of his brothers. However, a friend pointed out that phonetically, the name is "pinch-ass." My friend meant well; she has an odd name and had a very difficult time with it at school. But now "pinch-ass" is what immediately comes to mind when I see the name. What do you think? Would we be inflicting an unfair future on our son if we go with it?

–Grateful for Your Help

Pinchas is a classic Biblical name, but even in this era when a name like Ezekiel can be a popular hit, you almost never hear Pinchas outside of religious Jewish communities (and famous violinists); it has never been in the US top 1000 names. Not only does it start with the negative word "pinch," that word's sound is "pink," which has issues of its own. The –as ending is less problematic when it's not paired with a word-y opening syllable; think Silas, Elias, Tobias, and so on.

I really hate to advise anyone not to use a beloved family name. But if you're worried that this name will be tough on your son, the answer is "quite possibly, yes it will." It's a shame, but it is something to consider when using an unusual name.

If you decide that you can’t use Pinchas, Phineas is a more fashionable form of the same name. And it gives you the nickname Finn—which may or may not be too common for your liking; you could always stick to the full Phineas.

Perhaps you can go back to your family tree and look for some more candidates. Or scan this list of uncommon Old Testament names and see if one could work for you. Yes, it's hard to start over at this point. But you still have time to find the right name for your lucky little #3.


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January 8, 2018 10:46 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Oh, I like Phineas and didn't know it was related to Pinchus. I do think it would be a better option.

There is also the option of moving Pinchus to the middle spot, or perhaps he could use it as his Hebrew name?

January 10, 2018 2:17 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think this name depends a great deal on your community. If you live in a heavily Jewish neighborhood/enclave, this may blend in some. If you live in a more secular or mixed neighborhood, Pinchas seems like it would be better suited for a middle or Hebrew name. Which is a shame, on its own, it is lovely.

January 10, 2018 3:50 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Another issue with Pinchas is that it sounds very similar to the Spanish word "pinche," which is not a nice word.

January 10, 2018 3:51 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

...or, rather, looks very similar.

January 11, 2018 10:41 AM
By Juli (not verified)

Since Hebrew names are transliterated anyway, you could go with a more phonetic version like Pincus or Pinkas, but I do like the suggestion of Phineas or Phinehas as the English form of the name.

January 18, 2018 12:11 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Phineas fits in with mainstream culture... Pinkus is a great nickname for Phineas!

January 30, 2018 4:55 PM
By not telling (not verified)

I was thinking Pinch us when written, like kick me or something. Or maybe even sounding a little like pink eyes when spoken. Yeah, there's going to be some teasing there, sorry.

March 30, 2018 7:53 AM
By eczeem oorzaak (not verified)

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