Archive for February, 2010

What’s In A Name?

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

We’re having trouble finding a middle name for Elliott.

Who’s Elliott, you ask?

Oh, right. That’s the name of the fetus formerly known as Squirt. We kind of love the name, and in struggling for a good middle name to accompany it, we’ve pretty much ruled out the possibility of scrapping it and starting from scratch. I call him Elliott more often than I call him Squirt, and any number of “we’re keeping it to ourselves for now” decisions have been ruined by my off-handed “Whatcha doing in there, Elliott?” remarks when he starts wiggling around.

There’s only one problem with his name: finding the right middle name to accompany it. Right now, “Michael” is in the lead, but it’s a default “I guess that’ll work” sort of lead. That’s lame. Nobody wants to tell his 4th grade class that he got his middle name because his parents couldn’t be bothered to try harder.

Besides the obvious “initials that spell trouble” issue, Elliott has a few more complications.

Elliott’s first and last names have 3 syllables each, so a one-syllable middle name is ideal. Two will work if it’s the right sort of two and we’ve discovered that the more clipped or staccato-sounding, the better. Phonically, Elliot flows and the stops, while Stephenson “stops” then flows. If you put to much more “flowing” syllables in the middle, his name sound extra long.

Elliott, with its syllabic density and “fancy French-ness” needs a strong, no-frills middle name. It has to have a similar agelessness as well. Cole or Jacob might sound okay otherwise, but are just too trendy to pair well. (Yes, I’m aware Jacob may be the oldest name ever, but it’s super-hip right now, so no).

We’ve entertained both “Ryan” and “Robert” as middle-name candidates and they pass both the “sounding good” and “no bad initials” tests. The problem is that we either are the people who name their children after family members or we aren’t, and we don’t think we are. Plus, when we’re being extra cross with Elliott, nobody wants punish someone else’s names. “No family name” rules out other decent candidates like “Paul,” “Richard,” “Arthur,” and “Alan” as well. And while we’re at it, that means close friends, too. “Mark” and “James” are other likely-but-inelligable names.

We briefly tried to be entertaining, figuring if we couldn’t find something that fit, we could find something that was at least entertaining or interesting. We looked at just initials. Ryan suggested a number, possibly the day he’s born, and then spelling out the number for the name. “Elliott Twelve Stephenson” just doesn’t work for me.

The greatest idea we had, that’s sadly something I might do to character in a book, but not to my own children, was “spelling” the middle initial. Think about it. If you were the sort of person who liked messing with folk’s expectations, how much fun could you have with this?

“What’s your full name?”
“Elliot Sea Stephenson.”
“What’s the C stand for?”
“What C?”

“What are your initials?”
“E. W. S.”
“What’s the W stand for?”

It’s an Abbott & Costello routine just waiting to happen! Sadly, I’m sure it would get old before he even understood what we’d done to him. Kinda brilliant though, since no matter which letter you pick, it going to sound right.

Setting all silliness aside, what we need is:

  • a short name
  • low-frills/strong
  • classic sounding
  • not the name of someone special to us (or, naturally, someone we collectively or individually dislike)
  • doesn’t give him any awful initial issues.

That’s not too much to ask is it?