We have some strong opinions here at ApMtn. In some cases, we recognize that they are simply that – preferences and inclinations. But when it comes to a few naming transgressions, they are serious enough to be known as The Seven Deadlies.
Today we address The Sixth Sin: DIY Names. If you are thinking of creating your child’s name from scratch, we urge you: don’t go there! There is a galaxy of interesting, appealing choices for your child to wear. Sadly, most names that are invented by proud parents are something of a mess.
But, you protest, every name was invented at some point, by someone. Jessica, you insist, was created by Shakespeare. And someone had to be the first to pluck Journey or Lyric out of the dictionary and declare them fit to wear.
We concede that this is absolute fact. We also counter with this: If you can compose sonnets worthy of the Bard himself, perhaps you merit an exemption to this rule. And if you’re hoping for an original name, by all means flip through the dictionary or spin your globe and see what catches your eye. No one said that you had to choose from a list of 250 pre-approved appellations.
The trouble with DIY names is that most have an unavoidably downmarket feel to them. They tend to fall into the following categories:
- Kreeatif spellings: Mayleah, Kaelinn, Sarenniah, Kesten, D’Metrius. Yes, I can puzzle out how to say them. And yes, they look like they almost could be real names. They’re just a bit messy and imprecise.
- Kreeatif spellings gone wylde: K’Maisa, Kaidhence, Jirzee, Marrittse. As the sage coolteamblt once wrote, “If you have to add a pronunciation key at the end of a potential name, run away.” These names are not merely messy, they cause eye strain when you look at them.
- Syllable overdose: Makensielee, Julisiana, Dakwindrey. Somewhere in there, a reasonable name lurks. But it’s buried, like the proverbial needle in the haystack. If you’re adding and adding and adding, soon the name will tumble under its own weight.
But the biggest crimes seem to be committed in the name of mash-ups, a good idea gone bad.
At ApMtn, we’re very much in favor of honoring loved ones with your child’s name. And sometimes, it makes sense to change it up a bit. So Grandpa Gary’s namesake is your darling son, Garrett. (See this post for more ideas.) Great Aunt Marilyn might inspire you to call your little girl Mariel. We are not opposed to renovation.
And yes, when we’re likely to have small families – maybe only one child – it *is* tempting to honor your favorite cousin, his dear departed Dad and the doctor who delivered your precious newborn in a raging Wisconsin snowstorm, too.
But can you really make a reasonable name out of Lori, Henry and Gwendolyn? Or will your child, Helorlyn, go through life with a monster of a moniker?
Our personal pet peeve is parents who mash-up their own names. (Hi! I’m Kelsey and the dad is Matthew. Can you think of the perfect name for our little boy?) You’ve already combined your DNA. Why not let your son have a name that is, at least slightly original?
Or follow the example of the stylish Will and Jada Pinkett Smith and choose one name after each parent – Jaden and Willow.
If we haven’t convinced you, we never will. But our judgment is this: better to thumb through a dozen baby name guides than to simply re-arrange letters until you arrive at something that doesn’t pop up when you Google it. After all, the name might be unique – but the practice is, unfortunately, common.