Thursday, June 13, 2013

What's in a name?

I'm interested in setting my child up in the most favorable position I'm able to. Elementary, middle, and high school choices will all be determined by how icy they are because, excluding genetic contributions, our most lasting influence will be contingent upon the kinds of people we surround him/her with.

I'm soliciting advice on naming my firstborn from those who've taken the red-pill. Don't get the wrong impression--I'm not going to be doing much helicoptering, nor will my fiance (who has spent lots of time with my nephew, interacting with him in ways that have been very encouraging). We should do pretty well. But if I can engage in some favorable angling, I'm all for it.

I've come up with a few parameters so far:

- If it's a boy, definitely no androgynous names, not even names that contemporarily still strike people as masculine, like Logan or Drew. With a few (I'm actually only aware of one, though I'd bet there are a handful of others) exceptions, the ratchet moves in only one direction. Names that undergo a sex change start out masculine and end up feminine--Sidney, Lindsey, Shannon, Lauren, etc began as men's names but have subsequently become girls' names. For boys, Steve Sailer suggests going biblical, or at least medieval, so that its gender-certainty is securely moored in history. Sound advice. If it's a girl, well, we may shamelessly contribute to such onomastic disenfranchisement. You've been warned--give your boy a reliably male name.

- Avoidance of the most popular and most obscure. The latter is more important, as it potentially becomes a point of fun for other kids at my own's expense if he's introverted or not particularly popular. If he excels at something (or a host of things!) and is able to parlay that into higher social status, a unique name becomes a boon because it makes him more memorable (Mitt, Barack, Rush, etc) and thus further perpetuates his social advantage, but that's attainable without resorting to something potentially derisible like Moon Unit. Get the potential upside without too much risking the downside. It feels like the sweet spot is somewhere in the range of 100th-500th most popular name given to newborns for a boy, and probably in the 50th-100th for a girl, since consensus and normalness are more important for women than they are for men.

- Grab a name name whose popularity has yet to crest so he doesn't artificially appear older than he actually is. This is more relevant for a boy than for a girl, so that at 28 he could conceivably be guessed at a cool 23 or 24 rather than a creepy 32 or 33 by the 18 year-old girls he'll be chasing if he's his father's son. The opposite might even be the case for a girl, because if she looks ten years your junior but can subconsciously be thought of as only coming five years after you, it might elicit less jealousy and bitterness, respectively, in the men and women she knows.

If I'm overlooking something, do make me aware. Many of you are more experienced in this whole child-rearing thing than I am. 

The top picks at this point are Sydney for daddy's little princess, and Carter or August for the surname's future standard bearer. Personally, I prefer the latter because it's just now beginning its cycle of rebirth--once all the old fogies who bear a name whose popularity peaked around the time they were born all die off and it exits living memory, the phoenix can rise again from the ashes of its great-great-grandparents (think Stella for a female example). Furhter, who doesn't want a son worthy of reverence and admiration? Even now at only 333th most popular, though, it's still perceived as being dangerously close to the perimeter of Moon Unit's territory, so I'm facing a lot of resistance to it. The more pedestrian Carter is an easier sell.


42 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you are of English ancestry, I'd look at old Anglo-Saxon names...

Stirner said...

No, No and No. Try to find a name is relatively unpopular, but still sounds completely conventional. I know you are trying to do that, but you are in the baby bubble, and inevitably you are compelled to pick a name that you will find that is surprisingly popular among your social peers. I bet you a beer that no matter what you do, there is going to be another Carter or August in some activity group or pre-school class.

Consider some old-school family names down the family tree. They tend not to be post-modern (Carter!), and have some retro chic appeal and normality. (Nathan, Tobias, etc.)

Consider Montessori pre-school for the kids. Most of your parent peers will be hippy-dippy liberals, but if you do your research you will find that Montessori does excellent training in executive function, and tends to nurture genuine exploration, learning, and creativity.

Alec said...

I'm sorry, but Carter is already a girl's name.

Shawn said...

Keep in mind that if you choose a very common name like John, Katie, etc., the child will always have to be identified by both first and last name.

I like names like Ethan and Austin (for guys); they are traditional, not weird, but not super duper common either. Avoid Trendy names like Aidan, etc.

Think of how the name sounds when linked with the last name. Is there a good flow?

Is your last name Hunt? If so, don't choose Mike. Even if it is not Hunt, Mike is still a way too common name IMO.

Orthodox said...

Rock or Stone. If you want to nudge a son in the direction of the Dark Triad, Godric. His nickname will be God.

ARoss said...

Can't go wrong with George's suggestions for boys names: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo8CrY_ZfFk

Anonymous said...

More reactionary is better - go through your family trees, choose an ancestor, and name the child after that person. Alternately, a name from history that means something.

Ground the child in the past to prepare for the future.

Also, any name that looks contrived is contrived.

Polynices said...

I'd say your parameters are right on target. At least they're pretty much what my wife and I did for our 2 sons names.

However, don't inflict Carter on a child. He was an embarrassingly shitty president and is the worst ex-president in US history. No idea why you'd want your kid associated with that.

Aside from your good advice, the other thing my wife and I did was avoid any name that either of us had any bad associations with (i.e. knew a jerk with that name once, etc.). Carter is that in spades if you're not clueless.

Name him August. That's an awesome name.

Anonymous said...

It's all about ancestry and roots

Look at the old traditional names of your race and ethnic group(s)...and names your family has used in the past that are part of these traditions.

Go for an old Northern European name (assuming you're of Northern European ancestry) that has a Germanic root: Anglo-Saxon, Frankish, German, etc.

If you're mostly of Celtic ancestry, choose a traditional celtic name.

IHTG said...

Is it wrong that "Carter" made me think of the asshole from Aliens and not the President

Anonymous said...

I think it's appropriate to award names like Carter, Logan, Taylor, etc. if in fact they are family names; otherwise stick to Christian or biblical names. For what it's worth, my name is Carter and while it has definitely moved up the charts in recent years, having such a name has not always been easy. Also, keep in mind that it is not as masculine as you think: I already have one female cousin named Carter.
Why not troll the HRE? Maximilian, Otto, Rudolph can be quite impressive indeed!

DCThrowback said...

You're totally overthinking this and most of your commenters belong back chasing morlocks in the fucking realm.

If you're having a boy, go to Babynamewizard.com, check out the most popular names from the 1980s (Michael, Christopher, David, Joshua, Matthew) and grab one from a simpler, less divisive time. You'll can't go wrong (even better if an old relative in the family tree shared a name, which is highly likely). All names are masculine and timeless, like a Polo oxford or pair of Allen Edmonds. Fire and forget, that's what you want. Oh, yeah - also, congratulations. Raising kids is pretty great and is the ultimate cure-all for "me-first" SWPL-ism. But you knew that already.

August said...

Pity the popular baby names thing doesn't go back to 1974- though I know the answer. August was pretty rare as a name, and I got it because I am the fourth of the line, so to speak. My folks are Catholic, and after giving me my father's name, the baby naming for my siblings came from various saints. Most of us experienced having the unique name at school, so we were prone to getting crap, but I think we ended up feeling a lot better than the kids with made up or misspelled names. In the end, I think unique names are a plus, assuming they've got provenance.

Anonymous said...

Boys's names are wonderfully uncomplicated. Simply stick to the tried and true:

Robert
John
James
David
Joseph
Joshua
Mark
Paul
Alexander
Edward
William
Jacob

Biblical/Classical/English names like these have endured for centuries. None of them are going to go feminine.

Surnames as first names:

Very tricky for boys.They can go feminine very fast. I know a guy, for example, who named his son Jordan, and he is starting to regret it (his son has two classmates named Jordan, both girls...)

Anonymous said...

RE: August vs Carter*,

One thing to always bear in mind is nicknames/diminutives. For August, the more common ones would be Augie and Gus. Do you find either/both appealing?How will others react to them, etc.

*Does Carter have a "pet" form? I can't think of any.

Steve Sailer said...

Male names with off-color connotations, like Richard, are probably not going to go girly in the near future.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Haha, I can vouch for Steve Sailer's comment. My real life name falls into this category.

One other consideration is how the name flows together with the last name. August Epigone, for example, sounds better than Carter Epigone.

Audacious Epigone said...

The comments are much appreciated.

Stirner,

I think August pretty much fits the bill. There might be one or two others in the course of his childhood, but it hasn't broken the top 300 in the past century, so it's not especially popular.

Regarding flow, Carter does create a nice alliteration, which is part of the appeal. And I'm a big Dave Matthews fan.

Carter might shorten to Cart. Gus feels like an old fogey's name, and I'm not sure about a boy's nickname ending in "ee".

Anonymous said...

I named my sons after their uncles and grandfathers. German names, the meanings of which appealed to me. One uncle's first name is his own grandmother's maiden name.

My husband wanted my oldest to have his name as his middle name.

My son has already chosen to name his first son after his own great great grandfather because it showed up so many times among so many of his more prominent early forebears.

Personally, I prefer names with some dignity. Ancient names are cool, too. Stuff like Theobald and Aethelred.

Also, please don't name your kid something with a stupid meaning. I always feel sorry for girls named Madison which means son of Matthew.

Carter means cart maker.

Gunnar means warrior.

Seriously, think about what the name means.
Just 2¢.

Anonymous said...

August is an awesome name. Denotes good character etc. Since Carter means cart maker, it is kinda prole.

Jehu said...

I like Augusto or Augustus myself. With a name like Augusto, your firstborn can even get default Hispanic bonuses.

MC said...

Rex:

http://www.babynamewizard.com/voyager#prefix=rex&ms=false&exact=true

Latin, inherently male, dominant (can't get much higher than "king"), still not very common. I would use this but it doesn't go with my last name well, so feel free to steal.

Michael Ryan said...

Well I think it ought to do with your own ethnicity. Ones name is the first thing a child learns of their culture.If you family has been doing this a family name can tie him to a sense a family tradition which connects to an ethnic tradition.I am of Irish Celtic descent I choose Aiden and Dierdre I could have gone even more hardcore on the Boys name but Dierdre at least has a great legend to go with it.I will say its not the same sending them to an upscale suburban school than a catholic school for imprinting. the genetic faces of your clan are simply not there in sufficient numbers to make an impression neither are your cultural markers those schools I went to no doubt are long gone though. sadly my daughter is much less Irish than I despite being genetically just as much so. She thinks Blacks are the coolest and feels sorry for the poor Hispanics who are hated for stealing jobs. Yet this was the public school in one of the top three wealthiest zipcodes in America so good luck Id home school

Michael Ryan said...

also One gift you can give your child is anonymity. they will pressure you but you do not have to get them a social security number at birth. You may lose the tax deduction I did but felt it worth it. Perhaps a high powered tax attorney could even have salvaged that.
Oh I dont really care for those names why not a feminine name for a girl Claire means about the same for instance unless you want to signal some masculinity. personally i think women have an equal but different power have her watch 30s and 40s films with stars like Hepburn,Stanwyk,Grable,Crawford,Bacall,Dietrich. I remember explaining how to my Viking Princess how if you want to show a man whos boss just pause when you get to a door, once he figures it out he will never forget it and ladies dont get date raped. you can deconstruct some amazing female game in those old Noir films. The same goes for how a gentleman should act and be treated.

Dan said...

I think flowers are terrific for girls.

I've got a Lillian and a Rose. My sister has a Violet.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered anything truly audacious like giving him a first and middle name of someone famous like Charles Martel? Charles means strong, and the Martel was added because he hammered his opponents.

Anonymous said...

My younger son's first name is a family name but also conveniently is the hero of the battle where the Muslims were driven from Europe. Yeah, my older son enjoyed that epic poem.

Audacious Epigone said...

Re: audacious names, yes, but the middle name is going to be family-historical.

Anonymous said...

I like Matthew. The diminutive is "Matt" . Both are reliably and strongly masculine. It's bibical.

I have a good friend named Matt, always sounds good to me.

My two cents, and congrats on your new child!

Anonymous said...

Girls' virtue names can be very nice and feminine such as:

Grace, Faith

But Temperance is for another another era.

August said...

I think the nickname is up to you.
I was stuck with Augie, but that is because that is what my parents called me. The hispanic side of the family called me Augito, and tend to continue to do so, long after I got taller than Dad.
But, I call myself August, and pretty much keep the nickname stuff out of my immediate life, since I live six hours away from anyone who would use the nickname.
So, if you don't do the nickname thing, it probably won't come up. If I get called anything other than August, it is Austin. Some people do that by mistake.

Anonymous said...


Girls' virtue names can be very nice and feminine such as:

Grace, Faith

But Temperance is for another another era.



Oh, how that reminds me of pilgrim names. Talk about wacko. Kid born on the way over, named him Ocean.


http://thehairpin.com/2012/01/your-2012-baby-name-guide-puritan-edition

AnotherDad said...

Audacious,

I think you have this more or less backward. The girls name can be fairly unique and as long as it's suitable feminine, that's fine. If a guy's name is goofy, sounds weird, then that's an issue. (Guys names cluster a lot more around common names than girls.)

"August" to me does not flow naturally off the tongue. And the nicknames are unimpressive. (Historically guys like to get down to a mono-syllabic nickname—Jack, Rob, Bob, Bill, Jim, Dick, Rick, Matt, Mike, Dave, Al, Ed, Sam, Chuck, Jake, Pete, Frank …) August has Gus? Furthermore while the actual meaning of August is awesome, the month names are owned by girls—April, May, June, and I’ve heard of January Jones. Summer is a girl’s name. I can imagine if August starts getting some positive more boy action, some mom’s will name their August born girls, August. Has the same vibe as “Summer”.

Like many of these commentators, I’d go family, national\ethnic, preferably both, and either masculine standard or unique and associated strongly with Euro-male champion against the dark forces. (Charles Martel does rock.) And if longish I’d have a short dynamic nickname at the ready.

BTW, when there are so many beautiful girls names … Sidney? Always reminds me of kidney, and nicknames as “Sid”.

jim

AnotherDad said...

BTW Audacious,

Not sure I’ve got this right, but sounds like a bun’s in the oven, but the papers aren’t yet signed. If this be so—or even if the baby is just prospective—this is a great time to use this leverage for a prenup.

Having contemplated our civilizational disaster, it seems to me that the key thing to get is hard mandated joint custody. What I’d want written is that custody is shared, no money changes hands, each parent supports the children while they have them and additional expenses (eg. Boy Scout summer camp—comes to mind as I collect each year for our troop including handling the a rancorous divorced couple) are split. Secondarily that both parents remove from and sell the family home.

The key idea here is simply that your prospective wife does not think there’s an option to kick you out—stop polishing the family silver—and yet go on living exactly as before.

We have a highly feminized and female favoring state and a completely lawless judiciary, so even if a completely solid pre-nup the judges will do what they want. It’s extremely unlikely they won’t make you pay—that’s what the divorce industry does, thrives off of. But the joint custody idea, down in black and white probably has some sway. And if your wife does not *believe* that she can just steal the kids and keep living as before … then she’s way, way, way less likely to try it. And in fact, way less likely to even entertain thoughts of doing it. Or even start down the road of believing that she’s “unhappy”.

So putting the joint custody thing down in black and white seems pretty critical to me. Remember everyone has a pre-nup, if you don’t right your own you get the state’s version which is “bend over boy!”

jim

Another Dad said...

BTW Audacious,

Congrats on the kid thing. Despite the era we live in … still the most marvelous magical experience of life.

I’ll be down at Key Arena this evening watching my third and final graduate high school. I’ll miss her terribly when she joins her older brother and sister at UW come September. If I had a reset button I’d happily press it to hop back to 1995 and do it all again.
I had some good times at school, and did some good work and made some good friends at work, but nothing is in the ballpark of seeing, helping, sharing your children growing up. The very best experience of life.

Enjoy,
jim

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. After all that, you came up with 'August' as one of your options? The only August that comes to mind is the playwright, but I doubt the average person would get that reference. Moreover, the first association that comes to mind for 90% of the population when hearing 'August' is the month, not awe-inspiring. It sounds like all the other silly, pretentious names that you have pooh-poohed.

To get an honest opinion, ask someone who doesn't know you are expecting a child about the name 'August'.

Audacious Epigone said...

Jim,

We've decided on August as the middle name and are going to look through our family trees for the first name, probably English because I'm English on the paternal side and she is on the maternal side (a mix of Irish and German on the other sides). My father goes by his middle name, so there's family precedence if August seems right for the boy. This shit is harder than I thought it was going to be, ha!

Prenup is already done--everything we bring in separately is ours, everything we acquire once we're married is to be split 50/50, including custody.

Incidentally, we--the fiance (yeah, she'll be carrying a bowling ball by then), my best friend, and I--are spending through labor day weekend in Washington, flying in Thursday morning and spending the day and night in the Seattle area and then driving through the cascades to George for a three night concert. Always interested in meeting people in person if you are.

Audacious Epigone said...

Anon,

I have been. The reaction is positive among women, mixed among men, giving me enough concern to ax it as a first name.

Stirner said...

Sounds like you are all squared away namewise. The commenting masses would no doubt nitpick your ultimate selection, but in the end the decision is in your wheelhouse and your decision criteria seems perfectly sensible at this point.

Again, I would push the Montessori for daycare/preschool if it is feasible. Do the research, see what you think.

Install a damn dimmer in the nursery for the lights. It seems obvious, but many don't bother.

And don't sweat the new baby. It's not complicated, and there is nothing that you can't figure out. The maternal propaganda is just that - propaganda. There really isn't that much to figure out about taking care of a baby. BUT, it is freaking demanding and relentless - that is the challenge. It's much more a matter of stamina and stoic calm, rather than being some mystery that has to be solved.

Last point: fuck all that nesting and preparation shit that your wife is programmed to implement. This is your last chance for *years* to take that cruise, or visit Yellowstone, or whatever. To the extent you can, try to squeeze in a bit of adult oriented vacation time while you still can.

Audacious Epigone said...

Stirner,

I have a friend who teaches in the montessori method. I'll do my homework. Thanks for the advice. Both grandparents are in the area, too, so I'll still be able to escape from time to time.

Steve Setzer said...

What, no love for Thomas? Great name, and Tom is a great nickname. If you name a boy John, consider Jack as a nickname.

Timeless English names are great, especially those with biblical roots that are also the names of famous people. Benjamin is another good boy name, and Elizabeth and Ann or Anne are great girl names.

Audacious Epigone said...

Steve,

That's my middle name. What about "doubting", though? Maybe that concern is antiquated, more fit for a pious age?