Dear Bruce: How Do I Start Thinking about Names?

Dear Bruce,

I just found out I’m pregnant. What’s a good way to get started thinking about names for my baby?

Bruce:  Your first goal should be to make a big list of names that have special meaning for you and your partner. Look through the top-100 most popular names to see which names call out to you. Look through lists of names from around the world to see whether a name from another culture might be of interest. If you speak foreign languages, look at names from that country. If there’s a place you love to visit, think about whether the name of that town or mountain or river could work as a name.

If there’s a food or wine you love—consider whether it might work as a name. Think about historical figures, movie stars, literary characters, or sports heroes who appeal to you. It can help to use a name book, which will provide you with hundreds of interesting lists of names to consider. Write down all of the names that you love.

The second project is to narrow down your list of potential names by considering which of them are most likely to work well for your child. I suggest you consider practical issues such as: Does the name make a positive first impression? Is there a risk it will be misspelled and/or mispronounced? Will people be able to guess the gender of your child when they hear the name? Is the name versatile enough to work on formal and informal occasions? Consult a name book that provides you with practical information and star ratings to help you decide which names will work well for your child and which ones may cause problems.

If you’d like to submit a question, please leave it in the comments section here.  

© 2009 Bruce Lansky
All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without proper notice of copyright.

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