What’s In A Name?

I give you an excerpt from Freakonomics:
Would a Roshanda by Any Other Name Smell as Sweet?

Temptress, a fifteen-year-old girl whose misdeeds landed her in Albany County Family Court in New York. The judge, W. Dennis Duggan, had long taken note of the strange names borne by some offenders. But Duggan considered Temptress the most outrageous name he had come across.

“I sent her out of the courtroom so I could talk to her mother about why she named her daughter Temptress,” the judge later recalled. “She said she was watching The Cosby Show and liked the young actress. I told her the actress’s name was actually Tempestt Bledsoe. She said she found that out later, that they had misspelled the name. I asked her if she knew what ‘temptress’ meant, and she said she also found that out at some later point. Her daughter was charged with ungovernable behavior, which included bringing men into the home while the mother was at work. I asked the mother if she had ever thought the daughter was living out her name. Most all of this went completely over her head. 

Was Temptress actually “living out her name,” as Judge Duggan saw it? Or would she have wound up in trouble even if her mother had called her Chastity? ”

Naming your kid is hard. For some, it’s easy. They’ve had a favourite name since they were 5, or they are monogramming and making announcements as soon as they learn the gender. For us, we really had to sit with the names. We know the middle name is Andrew, a family tradition of the son taking the father’s first name as the middle. That leaves just one to work with.

We started with three. One super traditional, one middle road, and one not so common. Choosing a name came down partly to trying to see if I could a) hear my dad say it appropriately b) tell my dad without him making the “what kind of name is that” face.

After a lot of negotiations, trying out the name, talking to him, etc., Mr Baby has somewhat chosen his name. Andrew and I each had a moment where we felt that the name stuck. We will await his arrival to get a look at that adorable mug before we announce anything to anyone, even you Norak.

Seven Costanza… You’re serious?” Go back and watch that Seinfeld gem when you’re choosing names.

In the end, not everyone will like it. Come on, we ALL have opinions. “Oh, I knew a fat kid in kindergarten that went by Harry,” and so on. But that’s the chance you take and if anyone has anything to say about it, well I’ll have to punch them in the throat.



  1. At a restaurant in beautiful Oviedo, FL, when I was pregnant with my first (with gender unknown), my husband and I had a discussion with my parents about the baby’s name.
    Me: We’re thinking about Emma for a girl.
    My dad: Emma was the name of our first mule.
    Me: Oh. What about Ben for a boy?
    My mom: I think that Ben may be a Jewish name.
    Me: Huh. Really? How about Samuel?
    My dad: I had a cousin, Sammy Price that was married to a girl whose brother was a horse thief.
    My husband: Did he steal Emma?
    My dad: Huh?
    Me: That was a mule, not a horse, Honey. So, what do y’all want to do tomorrow?

    We named the first “Harrison” and decided when I was pregnant with #2, we could not ask anyone in the family for their opinions and wait until the babe arrived to reveal his/her name. So, right after that bouncing baby boy entered the world…
    My mom: Oh, he’s precious. What are you going to call him?
    Me: Carter
    My dad: Well, I hope you didn’t name him after that damned Jimmy Carter!

    Actually, it didn’t dawn on me until later that we had chosen two Presidents’ names for the guys. All we had really discussed was that we didn’t need to saddle anyone with a name that would let kids twist it into something embarrassing with the “name-game” rhyme. You know, “Chuck, chuck, bo-buck, banana, fanna, fo…..”. Actually, we decided not to worry about that too much by the time we had definitely decided on Carter. “Carter, Carter, bo-barter, banana, fanna, fo ……”

  2. Well I can’t be as creative with my baby naming as Leigh. Of course you were supposed to be Amanda but at the last minute your father decided differently. Maybe if you have a girl you can name her Amanda..
    Well whatever the name he will be loved. I’m with Leigh don’t tell anyone because they will have an opinion.

  3. “did he steal Emma?” LOVE it ^ ^

    and I love that you referenced one of my favorite books AND a favorite television show.

    and yes, I agree with everyone here that you should announce it when the baby is here and named, not before! 😉

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