Monday, July 25, 2005

What's in a Name?

Deciding what to name an expected baby is one of the most fun times in a pregnancy. Mothers and fathers-to-be read baby name books and make lists until they can whittle it down to just a couple of names. Then it is time for the big decision of what to name the baby when the "big day" arrives and he or she is born.

It is always a good idea to get one of the most comprehensive baby name books when you are starting to decide on a name. If you don't want to actually own such a book, check on availability at the library.

Next you will be deciding if you want to choose a name for the melodic sound of it standing alone or with the middle name or surname, or if you want to choose a name for its meaning. Try to avoid names that could give the child problems growing up with the nicknames that could be derived from the name. Also pay attention to names that are too "cutesy" because what might fit for a baby or toddler may not be so great for an adult.

Many of the baby books that are available will divide the names into sections according to their origin or ethnic background. You should be able to find everything from American to African, Celtic to Russian, and Native American to Biblical names all in the same book.

To get you started, here are a dozen American names, both male and female, and their meanings. Try them out with the surname the baby will carry and you may come up with a "that's it!" moment.

Names for Boys:

Name: Andrew ------ Meaning: Manly
Name: Anthony ------ Meaning: Priceless
Name: Dakota ------ Meaning: Friend
Name: Ellis ------ Meaning: God is Salvation
Name: Jason ------ Meaning: Healer
Name: Kevin ------ Meaning: Little Gentle One
Name: Matthew ------ Meaning: Gift of God
Name: Nicholas ------ Meaning: Victory of the People
Name: Ray ------ Meaning: Wise Protection
Name: Steven ------ Meaning: Crown
Name: Vincent ------ Meaning: Conquering
Name: William ------ Meaning: Resolute Protector

Names for Girls:

Name: Alyssa or Alicia ------ Meaning: Nobility
Name: Amanda ------ Meaning: Lovable
Name: Bonita or Calandra ------ Meaning: Beautiful
Name: Eden ------ Meaning: Delight
Name: Felicia ------ Meaning: Good Fortune
Name: Hilary ------ Meaning: Cheerful
Name: Katie, Kathleen, etc. ------ Meaning: Pure
Name: MacKenzie ------ Meaning: Fair One
Name: Megan ------ Meaning: A Pearl
Name: Sadie or Sarah ------ Meaning: Princess
Name: Sophie ------ Meaning: Wisdom
Name: Zoe ------ Meaning: Life

Another thing to keep in mind when naming a baby is that you probably won't want to "go with the crowd" and use whatever name is most popular at the time. Each generation has had its own overflow of names in the same classrooms from the Jean's and Jane's of the 1940s and Susan's, Karen's, Linda's and Debbie's of the 50s, to the more modern Tiffany's, Brittany's and Emily's in the more recent generations.

If you have done any genealogy work, you will notice that it has always been basically the same. Take notice of all the Catherine's, Mary's and Anna's in your family tree. Giving a baby his or her name that will travel along all throughout life needs to be given the care and attention it deserves. When a name is chosen, it's a great feeling of accomplishment.