6 Common-Sense Baby Name Tests
6 essential tests that parents should use in order to evaluate whether a baby name is a worthy choice.
Considering names for your little-one on the way? We’re sure you’ve worked out a system. Some will create a name out of the combined names of their parents or grandparents; others will add a special twist to an existing name, by adding an “h” or switching S’s for X’s.
You’re the parents, you make the rules. But think about your kid’s welfare, too. Remember, your kid will grow up, and have to live with the consequences of their name’s extra X’s or syllabic soup.
Before you make that big baby announcement, we suggest that you subject the name to one or more of the following tests, to make sure you’re giving them a name that provides an advantage instead of a handicap.
The “Presidential Address” test
Good parents want the best for their children’s future. So you want them to get an ideal start, even from day one: research suggests that giving children names that positively leverage other people’s biases can set them up for success early on.
Write out the name, and see how it looks with a respectable addendum, say, “His/Her Excellency” before the name (as if being announced prior to a Presidential address), or “M.D.” or “attorney at law” afterward. If it’s a poor fit (something like “Xelum Bzymaris Cruz M.D.”) then go with something a little more presidentiable.
The “Fill out the Form” test
Have a care for how the kid’s name will affect their day-to-day lives. This includes filling out forms: imagine how much time the Duke of Cambridge might spend on their paperwork! (For the record, his full name is “William Arthur Philip Louis Mountbatten-Windsor”--try writing that out in longhand).
Long names can be a hindrance; imagine the aggregate of all that time wasted on reading/writing/signing the long name you saddled them with. Roll calls; filling out forms; double-checking for errors. Think of how many letter boxes there are on a government form, and the chances of running out of boxes before they fill their full name in. Wouldn’t you rather give them a break?
(Here’s a tip: your kid really doesn’t need a second name. It’s like an appendix: you’ll hardly even know it’s there until it causes trouble.)
The “Spelling Bee Championship” test
You may think you’ve come up with a unique masterpiece of a name—like you’ve bedazzled a boring name with all those extra H’s and ZX’s. But will it age as well, as your kid grows older? Will they get tired and frustrated having to spell out their name for the millionth time? (“Yes, I know it sounds like Amy but it’s spelled “A-M-H-I-E”). Will the name trigger some good-natured teasing from friends—or will the teasing not be good-natured at all?
The test is simplicity itself: if someone else hears the name, but can’t spell it the way you want it, then consider the regular spelling instead. If you’re bored by the name, changing the spelling isn’t the right way to make it more exciting!
The “Playground Bully” test
It’s more than a name, it can be a key to success, or ammunition for bullies in school. Sure, bullies can be quite imaginative—they can take any name and turn it into a taunt—but if you really care about your kid, try not to actively help them in the first place!
Does the name sound too close to an intimate body part? (“Regina” and “Ennis” come to mind.) Does it sound hopelessly old-fashioned? Does it interact with their last name to comic effect? (Think of the names Bart Simpson uses in prank calls.) If there’s a chance it sounds anything close to these examples, then it’s time for a baby name rethink.
The “Acronym” test
You may think you’ve hit on the perfect name… until you realize their initials spell out something completely inappropriate. Your lovely Andrea Simone Sanchez will NOT appreciate her name spelling out A.S.S.
The profusion of Internet-based shortcuts has further extended the list of unacceptable acronyms, so you have your work cut out for you: you’ll need to rule out FML, LMAO, OMFG, ROFL, SMH, STFU, and WTF, among others. (This works both ways: you might argue that a name that spells out FTW is, well, a win.)
The Test of Time
“Trends” are great for food, clothes and cars—not so much for names that will have to be shouldered by children all their long lives. Think of all the proud Game of Thrones-watching parents who named their kids “Daenerys” or “Khaleesi”, then regretted their choice when the character took a much-derided villain turn at the end of the series!
The best thing you might hope for is that the inspiration for the name can be forgotten in time. At worst, your kid will go through life bearing a name that reflected a temporary fandom for a fleeting fad. If the name doesn’t stand the test of time, it shouldn’t pass muster at all.