For the 'different, not weird' baby namer

Honoring a loved one whose name you don’t love

on December 9, 2013

With older “vintage-style” names coming back into style, many of our grandparents’ and great grandparents’ names would hardly raise any eyebrows. But some parents prefer more modern styles, and others just can’t fall in love with their favorite aunt’s appellation. One option is to tuck the name away in the middle spot, but if this feels wrong, there are certainly other ways to make it work. Here are a few ideas for how to modify hard-to-love names.

1. Use a diminutive. Former ‘nicknames’ are now making frequent appearances on birth certificates.

2. Use an international variation. Many names have several variants in other languages, some of which may be more attractive, and are almost certainly more interesting and modern to English-speakers’ ears.

3. Use a name with a similar meaning. This more cryptic approach may take some convincing to get family members on board

4. Use a similar sounding name. You’ll still hear your loved one’s name, but your child can make it all his/her own.

Put these suggestions to the test with some names I find unattractive or outdated:

Barbara–> International variations, such as Varvara or Varinka (Russian) or Baibin (Irish), may work best for this one.
Bernice–> Veronica is actually a variant of the Bernice in several countries. Nika is another possibility, as it is a dimunitive of Veronica. For a similar sound, consider Necia.
Bertha–> Berta, the Polish version, may be more wearable. Similar sounding names include Birdie, Bettina, and Bertille.
Carol–> Carol is derived from Charles, as are many other lovely female names. Alternatives include Caroline, Carla, Carly, Carlotta, Charlotte, or diminutive Carrie.
Eunice–> Eunice means “victorious.” One might use Victoria or Victor to honor a bearer of this dated, unappealing-to-most name.
Gertrude–> Wearable diminutives include Trudy/Trudi and Gerri/Gerry/Gerrie, which fits in with other unisex nicknames like Charlie and Georgie.

What names grace your family tree that you just can’t seem to love as much as the original bearer? Would you consider modifying the names? What would YOU suggest?


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