Have you seen this viral Tweet?
I’m begging y’all to remember that you’re naming people, not just babies. A 17 year old will have that name, a 28 year old will have that name, a 43 year old will have that name, a 77 year old grandparent will have that name. Maybe we should rethink choosing McKeinsleigh Graycynn
— incubator (@mummabryan) August 7, 2022
Okay, I get it. (And thanks to everyone who sent it my way.) McKeinsleigh Graycynn is a lot.
But, but, but:
- We talk about “baby names” because we name our children at birth. I’ve yet to meet a parent who isn’t keenly aware that the name has to wear across a lifetime. We just value different qualities and perhaps have slightly (wildly?) different visions for what our children’s futures might look like.
- All names grow up with their generation. If your new primary care doctor was named Michelle or Ashley, would you blink? I mean, yes, the first time the HVAC company sent over a Tyler, I thought “but won’t he be late for homeroom?” But then we adjust, realize that 1995 was a LONG time ago, and get used to hearing – and being! – responsible adults called Brianna and Justin.
- It’s easy to be subtly classist and racist when talking about names. This is painful, but true. And I suspect most of us don’t even realize when we slip into these patterns. Older moms name differently than younger moms. Parents’ education levels impact name choices. If I’d had a baby at 19, I promise you the names would’ve been COMPLETELY different than the names that 30-something me eventually chose. And that’s perfectly fine.
So what’s the real problem with McKeinsleigh Graycynn?
It’s putting a hat on a hat.
McKinley Grace? Totally fine. Kensleigh Grace? Sure. Kinlee Grayce? Okay.
In comedy, putting a hat on a hat means layering a joke on top of another joke. It ruins the impact of the original, and makes the whole thing less funny.
More broadly, it can mean complicating the plot in fiction: She’s an orphan who developed the power of telekinesis in the same car crash that took her parents’ lives. AND those parents were top secret CIA operatives involved with a plot to hide the existence of alien life on Saturn.
It’s just much too much. An extra layer that weighs everything down.
In naming, it doesn’t happen as often as you might guess.
Searching through the US data for any name given to at least five girls in a single year, I couldn’t find McKeinsleigh or McKinsleigh. There were 13 McKinsleys born in 2021, but that feels like a manageable name.
Creativity is amazing. Self-expression matters. But restraint is a wonderful thing, too. I suspect that most parents do their best to find balance.
It’s not always obvious when you’ve put a hat on a hat.
So I’d suggest this: try paring back some element of the name. Does it have more impact with one less syllable/a more streamlined spelling? Or has something been lost?
There’s no absolute right answer.
I’d take Nora Maddalena over Nora Madelyn. You might settle on Nora Madeleine, or even Nora Mae.
And that is perfectly fine.
Just know that more isn’t always better, and sometimes simplifying a name choice is the right decision.
What names are actually given to boys and girls in nearly the same numbers? Nancy has all the data. One possible takeaway: Parker is about to be everywhere. River and Charlie, too.
Nameberry has a similar list, with some thoughts on under-the-radar possibilities, like Linden and Arrow.
This remains one of the most popular #namehelp posts ever. And yes, there’s an update!
We need to talk about Kevin. It’s a whole thing in France – and Europe, more broadly. Kevin is viewed as vulgar, an ugly American import. But the Kevins? They’re striking back.
I’ve talked with lots of families who share the same first initial across siblings, even generations – some joyfully, others reluctantly. But this is the very first story I’ve come across that all start with the same TWO letters: CH. Big sister Chanel was joined by quadruplets – sisters Chesley and Chatham, and brothers Chance and Cheston.
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That’s a lot of CH.
Lauren Steenkamp says
I think Kevin is only seen as a vulgar (American) import to non English dominant speaking European countries because of the Home Alone franchise, in Great Britain and Ireland Kevin is seen as an uncool old man (usual dad) name
Lauren, thanks – I do hear it mostly mentioned in France/Germany, so perhaps it’s even more narrow? It’s definitely more of a dad name in the US, no stigma attached.