Name Help is a series at Appellation Mountain. Every week, one reader’s name questions will be discussed.
We’re relying on thoughtful comments from the community to help expectant parents narrow down their name decisions. Thank you in advance for sharing your insight!
We are expecting our first boy this fall!
We both have fallen in love with the name Gable.
My husband is a builder/designer, and he loves the architectural reference.
We also both love alliterative names, and our surname is Gr33n, just like the color.
Then one day, out of the blue, my husband asked, “What about Anne of Green Gables?” It took me a while to realize what the problem was. But then I realized that both Gable(s) and our surname are in the book’s title, and it is noticeable if our son’s name would be written out as Gr33n, Gable.
Do you think this is a problem?
My initial reaction was that it’s not a big deal, because I love the Anne series and it’s certainly not a negative connotation. (One of my favorite girl names for years has been Avonlea, so I certainly am an Anne fan!) But I feel like I’m too close to the situation to really discern if it’s an issue or not.
We don’t seem to have any other boy’s name that we both agree on. We do like Garrett and Gareth, but I don’t get butterflies in my stomach like I do with Gable!
But my heart needs to know if I should close the door on Gable and move on. I think we can both commit to finding a new name we love if we know we have to let go of Gable.
I’d love some help on this issue! Thank you so much to you and your fabulous readers!
Please read on for my response and leave your thoughtful suggestions in the comments.
First, congratulations on your son!
And second, oh I am right there with you. Gable is a great name. It’s similar to Gabriel and Caleb and lots of familiar, Top 100 favorites. But it’s distinctive and different, too. There’s the architecture appeal, but there’s also Hollywood legend Clark Gable, which makes it rather dashing.
But would I want to be named Gable with a last name so forever wedded to Anne of?
Let’s walk through this:
Gable Gr33n immediately sounds familiar to me … but my brain doesn’t skip to Anne of Green Gables. Maybe that’s because I never went through a big Anne fan phase. That probably puts me in the minority for readers here, but I suspect that’s not terribly uncommon in the wider world.
Even if it were my first thought, it wouldn’t be a negative one. Right? It’s not the kind of thing that could bother anybody. It’s positive to nearly anyone who makes the connection. Possibly neutral. But it’s not like the name evokes a controversial celebrity.
How often are we really listed Last, First? I had to really think about this. Because it does happen. I’ve seen my kids’ names written that way on report cards and sports team rosters. And yet, I wonder if it’s actually a little old-fashioned? As databases have become far, far more sophisticated, I feel like I see my kids’ names as First Last nearly all of the time. And I’ve noticed that more and more places are quite sensitive to listing our names as we wish them to appear.
Ultimately, I think the question comes down to this: does the appeal of the name Gable outweigh nay potential friction with your surname?
My answer is a resounding YES.
It has deep personal meaning for your family. It meets your criteria for a strong name for your child.
But, but, but … I do think you need to really consider how you’ll react to others’ reactions.
Some of these cautions about truly unusual names apply, even though I would describe Gable as closer to the mainstream. How will you react when others ask about his name? Or point out the Anne reference?
When I gave my daughter an unusual and complicated name, I knew that talking about it would delight me. That daughter is growing up, and she’s more introverted than I am. She’s not quite as thrilled to spell and explain her unusual name … but she’s heard me do it for so long, that it’s second nature. In so many things, kids take their cues from us.
In other words, if you shrug off Anne references, your son probably will, too.
One other factor: I’m 99% certain that my school-aged son would respond “Who?” if I asked him about Anne of Green Gables. My daughter would know all about Anne … but her go-to reference is Anne with an E, thanks to Netflix. I’m not sure if this reflects my household alone, or if it’s the reality of SO many competing stories to claim our children’s attention? But it’s possible that it will be parents who make the connection, rather than his peers.
My first association with Gable is Clark Gable so the name is all debonair to me. I am an Anne fan so maybe my mind would get there eventually, but I think with the order of the fn ln being flipped from the order of the words in the title, it wouldn’t be an immediate connection. Like you said, if I did make that connection it would be a second of “awww, kind of like Anne” and nothing more.
I love Gable as a first name. It hits a nice sweet spot of being a familiar word, but not a super common name.
It is so hard to find a name you and your partner both love… go for it!
It didn’t bump me at all. Stick with the name you love!!
My first thought was a paint colour, and I can’t get past it. I don’t think the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ thing is an issue – it’s the combination of a common noun and a colour. Plus, the alliteration reminds me of a comic-book character (Peter Parker etc.)! So it’s s definite ‘no’ from me. Can you learn to love Abel or Gabriel? Or find a name with an equally cool meaning that isn’t a common noun?
Personally, I wouldn’t use “Gable” with the last name Gr33n but I think if you love a name & it fits your family b/c of your positive connection to it (whatever that may be!) — don’t back down. And I’m saying this as someone who will likely have a word-like surname, if I marry my current partner. Trying not to daydream of future kiddos with surname-names or names that sound like words can be tough, since I tend to appreciate those styles. It would just be tough for my partner & I to use any names that sound like objects since the surname we’d share would sound like an object. Everybody has their name challenges but I think it helps you have an adjective-like surname.
Honestly, I think “Gable” is brilliant and old-fashioned yet dignified. Another plus, if you wanted, you could use the name “Gabe” without trying too hard or having to use “Gabriel” & stay true to your family’s story (your husband’s work).
People also name their kids word-like/word names all the time – like “Daisy” and “Gage”. And I actually knew a girl named “Avonlea” – she had a beautiful voice & people often called her “Ally”. So if you love the name, just know that in the end – it can work out & mature!
I think the only real problem would be that it might eliminate Avonlea for a future girl – Gable Gr33n with a sister named Avonlea might be too AoGG.
As a huge Anne fan since childhood and a classic movie buff, my first thought when I heard Gable was the film star, but when I saw the last name, it was all Anne. Not a bad thing, and obviously mileage will vary, not only with the Anne association but also in the “would I want this name for myself” question. The answer to the last is maybe? If I wasn’t much in to Anne and didn’t know much about it apart from the references the occasional person would make I would find it not a problem to minor annoyance. If I knew about the books/movie/shows and didn’t like Anne, or heard it referenced *all the time*, I probably would wish for a name with less association to it.
Alison Doherty says
I would smile if I saw a Gable Green, even if I did see that Anne of Green Gables connect!
The Mrs. says
This name has all sorts of awesome happening in it.
He’s dashing, memorable, only has positive associations, and is just cool.
Do it! The only problem you’ll have is naming his siblings as equally well!
I think Gable is all kinds of handsome. And I agree that Gr33n, Gable would be a rare problem and even then delightful not truly problematic.
My only hesitation is it sounds a bit like a paint chip color…. Gable green. You know that pale green of oxidized copper? That is what I see. Again. Not a bad association, a good one in fact, but an association.
When you have a noun last name, it complicates noun first names. Lily Gre33n… Gr33n, Lily. Archer Gr33n.. Gr33n, Archer. Yo are going to get an association with two noun names.
I’m echoing that I see ALL of the appeal and barely notice the maybe sometimes awkwardness that may never happen. While very occasionally his name might be listed Gr33n, G@bl3, I think far less people would make the connection than you fear. And I’d wager he’ll never say his name in that order aloud.
The nickname Gabe — Gabe Gr33n — would give you and your child an option if Gable Gr33n proved to be problematic.
Gable could also lead to the nickname Able or Abel.
I do love Gable as a name, and my first thought was also Clark Gable. I think the noun-color pairing would be the more striking aspect. Think Blue Ivy. I also love alliteration, and think Gable is a very dashing choice!
I would like to suggest Gavin.
Gable Gr33n immediately reminded me of the name of a local politician, G@rret G0bble. The first time I saw his name on a yard sign I found it amusing, but I did remember it; G@rret G0bble has the name recognition every politician seeks. Gable Gr33n strikes me the same way.
Green Gables aside, I think the name Gable Gr33n would be a name that is often remarked on, sort of a curiosity.
It seems that the “Starbucks test” would be a good one for Dad to try out: would you feel comfortable giving your name as Gable Gr33n?
I’m wondering if alliteration that doesn’t pair a noun with your color/ adjective surname might work better.
Gavin Gr33n would give you that without any issues I can think of.
I’ve been a HUGE Anne of Green Gables fan since I was a child, but even I didn’t make the connection to Anne of Green Gables. My immediate connection as a Classic Hollywood fan and an interior designer was “Omg, Clark Gable and a beautiful architectural feature rolled into one!” I’ll also note that if as a child, I had ever met a boy called Gable Green and DID make the connection to AofGG, it would have been an immediate swoon. Plus I adore alliteration. I think it’s a perfect modern-vintage name with a lot of appeal. I think she should stick with the name!