Jul 26, 2013

Oh Baby... what's in a name?

So the baby we've all been waiting for has made his first appearance! Baby Cambridge weighed in at 8lbs 6 oz a few days ago...leaving the media breathless with anticipation at the choice of his name- a huge decision for his parents as he will be, at some point in his future, the King of England.

The name they eventually chose, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, is certainly befitting a monarch... but only because of tradition (there have been 6 King Georges in England since 1714). Odds that they would call him Kanye or North or Justin were pretty long.

Samuel Charles
Choosing a name for baby, and indeed for a character in a book, is a weighty responsibility. When my boys were born I was very aware that I was saddling them with a name they would have to live with for the rest of their lives. We also went the traditional route - my husband's surname is difficult to spell, so we wanted to give our boys a reasonable chance with a good solid recognisable first name, so Samuel Charles and James Alexander were chosen.

In a world that seems to be having a run of whacky names, such as Apple (Martin/Paltrow) and North (West/Kardashian), Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson (Uma Thurman's daughter), I realise I'm becoming a bit of a fuddy-duddy traditionalist - sure, we all want our kids to stand out, but a name that may get them bullied/laughed at isn't going to help them in those topsy-turvy teenage years.

It seems, however, that you aren't free to choose any name for your child particularly here in New Zealand where there are 77 banned names: anything that could also be used as title- such as, Duke, Royal, Major, Justice (co-incidentally I'm reading an american book currently with a character named Justice), Christ or Messiah... then some just plain nasty names that parents have actually tried to use: Lucifer, Mafia No Fear, 4Real and Anal (WTH?), anything with roman numerals and no single letters or symbols, backslashes or brackets: apparently someone tried to call their child  *.

What do you think about the royal baby name? Any strange names you love or hate? 


  1. I wish they hadn't gone sooo traditional but a friend of my son is called George and I've always kind if liked it.
    We went fairly traditional / popular with Jack and Claire.
    But I think the thing with "modern" names (and trust me, I work with babies, I've heard some incredible "made up" names) is that they're going to be the new norm and it'll be the john's, David's, Annes and Emily's that are getting beaten up in the playground for their "odd" names :-/

  2. Louisa, your post reminded me of the Johnny Cash song "A Boy Named Sue." :-)

    I don't mind the name George, but... I had a VERY old uncle called George when I was a child, so the associations are all old fashioned and a bit stuffy for me. Though, I expect there'll be a whole rush of babies called George now.

  3. AA, I guess you're right- the modern names will be the more popular ones- I need to move with the times!

  4. Michelle- it's funny how we all have connotations with certain names- people we know/don't like etc what works for one person is a definite no-no for another! Lucky we're not all the same or there'd be way too many folks with the same name! I agree with you, though, there will be a lot of Georges born this year- I imagine George will be the top baby name of 2013!

  5. You know, I really like George. Lots of history with St George, and the feminine versions (Georgia, Jorga, etc) have been gaining popularity.

    I was pretty sure they were going to use George or James - I ran through the Kings & Queens of England song from Horrible Histories (which my nephew and I learned off by heart a while ago - it's really fun), eliminated Charles, William and Henry/Harry (immediate family, which didn't matter in the past, but I think would for this family), Edward (bad taste after the abdication), Richard (the press would go silly about Prince Dick), Stephen and John (most people don't remember them as kings), which only left George and James.

    And my method worked!

    Btw, for a girl, using the same method, I eliminated Elizabeth (immediate family), and Mary (confusion in the PR game/press with the future Queen Mary of Denmark), and was left with Victoria. I think Victoria would have been a good PR move for the monarchy to bring back memories of glory days.

  6. Wow Rachel you certainly got technical! Funny, I never thought about St George (tut tut me, the English girl with the George surname!)- but that name should fire some strong patriotic feelings. I wonder if that's why they did it? Or whether it's just a name they like?

    I so need to find that Horrible Histories song!

  7. I had it figured out that the baby would be George. It seemed like the obvious choice. I like the name George and indeed his full name too.

    I hate names that ought to be spelled sensibly, but the parents get creative. Stop it right now!!

  8. Love the pic of your little prince, Louisa!

    As my own Prince Charming is called George I'm more than happy for another prince to share it :-) As my George is Greek we needed names that could be used in the Greek church for christenings so we have Ella Eleni, Sophia Sarah, Jay John (Yanni) and Luca Leo - each child has the name of a grandparent as their second name and they all ended up with double initials. As there were twins x 2 we had to be careful that each name wasn't too similar to the other as well!

  9. Louisa, what a fun post. I was interested to see that others thought it might be George too. Don't know why that was the name I thought of - perhaps because it's of an older vintage - so old it's modern again. Like Barbara I enjoy the Greek use of George. It's never got out of fashion there.

    The name that still sticks in my mind is Kane. I remember years ago being in a supermarket and hearing an angry mum yell that out at her child, with lots of swearing. Sadly for me what came to mind was Cain from the bible and a fervent wish that he didn't have a brother called Abel.

  10. Louisa, have to admit I preferred James. But George does come with history which is great. And like Michelle, I suspect many boys arriving soon will be named George.

  11. It couldn't be anything else but traditional for the Royals! My neighbour (85) is a George (lovely man), and his baby grandson is also a George. So the name has has a resurgence for sure - along with the Harrys and Jacks etc. I used to 'collect' unusual names through my job, and now my daughter does the same. Her most unusual to date is Watermelon. No comment! That photo, Louisa, is of a super-cute baby - can you still pat him on the head or are the roles reversed? :-)

  12. I wish they had put Alexander first and then they could nickname him Alex - after all, William gets called Will. I actually picked both my daughters names so they wouldn't get nicknames (but it didn't work lol). April and Alysa. April actually has gotten Ape (ugh) and Alysa never gets it spelled right or pronounced right (A-lis-a).

  13. Hi Mary, Good on you for guessing the name correct! Your comment re spelling made me laugh- my husband once asked a patient the name of her new baby, she replied, 'Chanel'
    He said, 'Oh, like the perfume?'
    She said, 'Yes..' and spelt it for him... 'Shinal'
    At least give us a fighting chance!!

  14. Wow Barbara, I had enough trouble finding two names each for my two boys!- You did amazingly well and they all have lovely names. I like the double initials.

  15. Annie, it's interesting how names stick out isn't it. I wonder whether parents even know the history behind the names sometimes.

    One of the funniest times was when I was in a park and a mother shouted out in a very northern English accent, 'Keanu, get here now!' That poor wee mite looked nothing like a Keanu - or how I thought a Keanu might look.

  16. Hi Sue- I preferred James too, but then I'm biased! I like George, though, and maybe traditional names will make a come back.

  17. Hi Clare- I imagine in your line of work you must come across some interesting names! Watermelon is a blast though. Poor kid, really.

    And yes, once upon a time my baby was super cute and tiny- if I stand on my tiptoes I can just about reach his head! Now he just tucks me under his arm and hugs.

  18. Hi catslady- I love the names April and Alysa- but kids always find a way to nickname (even making the names longer sometimes!). I hear you on the spelling, I have to spell my husband's surname every.single. time I mention it- and still people get it wrong.

  19. I do like your sons' names, Louisa!

    I so get what you're saying about the weird names. Cruel when it will almost certainly be a source of unnecessary pain and angst for the child growing up.

    Yay for NZ with the list of banned name - I wonder how long that's been policy? I remember when I worked in a hospital laboratory many MANY moons ago, a grateful young couple intended to name their baby after the hospital... I won't say the name but I will say that I think it would have been "difficult". I wonder if they were allowed to proceed...