Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name

I've never had problems thinking up possible names for my children. I remember throughout my teenage years depositing such lists in my journals at various times. I even remember once staying over in Manti after seeing the Manti Pageant with Martha and friends, where Martha and I not only thought up numbers of children (and I think some names), but even names of respective spouses as well. My future husband was to be Nate Ackerman. Oh, well, I suppose said Nate is doomed to wander the eternities alone. I've thought of various names with boyfriends, fiances, and my husband.

When Avram and I were dating, in one single half-hour conversation, we came up with eight names. I'd record them here, but unfortunately that journal's in Virginia. After that experience, I thought scornfully of couples that couldn't figure out what to name their children; after all, Avram and I had thought of eight names with no problems. We'd even done middle names, too. Among these was Lydia Elizabeth, Alexander Richard, Reuven Samuel, Hyrum Seth, Charity Anne, and Miriam Laiya (or Leia, or Laya or some other spelling that reflects the Hebrew pronunciation of Leah).

Then, we actually got married, and I got pregnant. It turns out that Alexandra is something like number 15 on most popular boys names, so that was out. And everyone we knew was using the name Elizabeth, so that was out. Avram secretly hated the name Charity, because he doesn't like naming girls after virtues (he threatened to name another daughter Chastity), but of course being politic, and also doing anything he could to get me to marry him, he didn't mention this at the time. (He also didn't tell me until we were married that he absolutely hates green beans, and doing dishes. Of the two he's since repented of the latter, and now faithfully does dishes all the time. To be honest, I never told him how obsessive I am about finishing a book once I've started it, or even just my obsession in general with hobbies/activities (currently it's knitting).)

And although Hyrum and Reuven are still up for names, we first have to name our first son so his initials will be ARS, so they're down the list, especially since so far we're 0 for 2 for boys. We did stick to at least one half of one name on the list, when we named Lydia, but that's more because I had wanted to name my first daughter Lydia after my maternal grandmother, Lydia Marchant Sorensen Merrill, for long before I ever knew Avram than anything else. After Lydia was born, another complication arose, when I completely changed my mind on our theme of names. We had decided, in that not so fateful conversation of yore, to name all of our hypothetical children names from the Scriptures. Well, this went okay for one child, but then I decided out of nowhere that I felt too constricted by this decision, and that made the remaining okay names on our list even less favoured.

This brings us to today, where I'm pregnant with our second daughter, and now none of these eight "perfect" names are any help at all. (Miriam should still technically work, but I just haven't felt like this name works for me with this baby). Oh well for our one mind, and our superior powers of reason and intellect. Now were like all the other couples I know, who are scrambling around trying to think of some name. I think the difference lies in that it's comparatively easy to list of names that you like, or have meaning to you, and even relatively easy to agree on them. But then once you're talking about a real, living person, who's going to bear this same name through the eternities, and all of a sudden no name is good enough, or fitting, or whatever.

My mother always needed a reason to name us. Sometimes this was familial, in Soren (after her maiden name, Sorensen), Thora Florence (after my paternal Great-great grandmother, and great grandmother respectively), or Mary Evette (after my father's parents, Mary, and Everette. Other times they were after people she respected; Camilla after Camilla Kimball, or Neal, after three different Neals (I think one may Neal Maxwell, but I'm not sure). She told me once that when she named me she didn't even particularly like my name, but that it had a good enough reason behind it that she went forward (and likes it now).

Now, I wouldn't go that far, to name my daughter a name just because it had a reason, but I would like a name that means something more to me than I liked the combination of vowels and consonants. For one thing, at least with Lydia, I've gone through times of doubt when I've wondered if I really should have named her Lydia, or whatnot, and it's always been a comfort to me at these times, that I love my grandma Lydia, and wanted to honor her with a Lydia. Being that we're in England, the reason, or theme we'd come up with is a British name. However, just knowing that I want an uncommon (this is another thing; both Avram and I, probably because of our own names, really like names that are unusual, although not made up or anything), traditional, old-fashioned British girl's name hasn't helped me thus far.

The one name that has stuck out to me, when I've thought of it, is Aurelia. It's not technically British, but it has been used in Britain, and I've always loved the name. There's only one catch; it's Lydia's middle name. We gave it to her back when we were planning to give all of our children scriptural names, and so it was out, but now that we're not, I dearly want to use it. I've thought of plenty of other names that I love; Gweneth, Lucia, Eleanora, Elaine, Arabella, Adela, etc, etc, but none of them have stuck at all. I just can't imagine this daughter with any of those names. But then we'd have to change Lydia's middle name, and that's complicated, and everyone would think I'm weird for not being able to come up with another name, and so having to plunder my first daughter's name.

We've never called Lydia "Lydia Aurelia," or really used her middle name much, but Avram does feel like it's attached to Lydia, and so that, combined with the technical complications of changing Lydia's name has him unconvinced that this is a viable idea. But I don't like any of the name alternatives we've been able to think of thus far. And more and more, I want a name that is not only uncommon now, but has always been uncommon, so that suddenly when our daughter is a few years old her name doesn't go through a popularity boost. Lydia's name is too common for our liking (it was 126th most common girl's name in the US the year she was born). So a lot of the names that just naturally come to mind don't work, because even if they're uncommon now, they were usually very common 50-100 years ago, which based on how these cycles work, means that they will be so again. Bertha would probably be the exception to this, but this name was never in the running, so there you go.

I know that I'm still almost four months out from delivery, but I really want to think of a name before she comes, because first I would like a name to associate with her, but also for practical reasons; we have to name her the day she's born, because we need to get a passport as soon as possible, and I don't want to be stressing when I name her, so she ends up being named Murgatroyd or something just because it's what I could think of at the time.

In other baby news, we are now planning on having a home birth. I never thought I would want one, let alone have one, but it's nice to know that when I go into labour, it's on everyone else to get to me, and not the other way around. Without having the car, it really feels much less stressful to have a homebirth. And hopefully I'll have a shorter labour than I did with Lydia even.


  1. Well, a Rose by any other name . . . and Rose is probably never going to go through a popularity swing . . . I've only met one other person with it as a first name, though I've seen it as a middle name on two occasions.

    Okay, kidding.

    British names are good, though of course in my particular literary period there are only like four of them. (You could name this girl Catherine, and just go up the Bennet girls in order until you get to Jane.)

    It would be troublesome, and really quite odd, I think, to move "Aurelia" from your first daughter to your second, but on the other hand "Aurelie" has always been one of my favorite French names, because people who have it are almost always nice. Not so with Catherine (French pronunciation). So, yeah, I'm unhelpful, but there are some random thoughts (with no particular goal in mind) on the subject.

  2. you should name her after me! (teehee)

    I'm afraid I side with Avram on this issue. It's stealing Lydia's name, in my opinion.

    I am sure you will think of a good name in time. I think my particular favorites that you listed are Eleanor(a) and Miriam (thought Samuel and I would like to use Miriam possibly). If you can't think of any British names, what about Arabic names (since you know the language)?

  3. You could always go the British/Tolkien route: Arwen. I know, Liv Tyler would always be somehow associated with that name. But there is Elanor, one of Sam's daughters.
    Anyhoo, just a preference, and I know I'm taking a risk, but I've always been preferential to the name Esther. Yes, there's the biblical connection, but it was my granny's name as well.
    Best of luck.
    Poor girl will have a baby picture for 16 years on her passport!

  4. Sorry. There was this sweet pronunciation:

  5. Actually, Eirwen is a welsh name (I think that's where Tolkien borrowed Arwen's name from), so it would be legitimately British and everything. (A women from my church's older sister had that name, and she's welsh. Her name is Gweneth, in fact). I like Eirwen, but Avram's not so sure.

    Aleatha, if you want to feel free to use Miriam, even if we have used it. I don't think cousins would mind having the same name; they'd probably think it was cool.

    RoseE - if I named this one Catherine and so one, does that doom Lydia to be incredibly stupid as a teenager and run away with Mr. Wickham?

  6. I just did a survey of our English genealogy for some inspiration. It was not inspiring. The names found were Agnes, Harriet, Elizabeth, Sara, Ann, Mary, Gertrude. All common names or undesirable. But if the choice were mine, I would definitely want a name that said "England" to me.

  7. Uncommon "British" girl's names 'eh? Hmm.. Here's a few off the top of my head:

    Pearl (see also the poem of the same name by the Sir Gawain poet.)
    Æðelinda (with the 'Ash' and the 'Eth')
    Æðel (or, Ethel, for that matter)

    Or, you could do like folks do here, and name their daughters after city discricts like Brooklyn or Chelsea, or Yonkers, but with the historic names of English counties. Who could resist a little 'Essex' or Lancashire, or, Berkshire?

  8. Couple more that I've forgotten

    Matilda (and, Maude)
    And (how could I forget?!)

  9. we have the same name trouble. I havew found that names we both loved four years ago, now are not names I want anymore. We have a girls name we both love, Margaret. I like that its from the same time period as my boys names, and i am not a big fan of recent popular names or made up names either. The problem is most likely we wil have a boy and we just dont have any boy names we both love. Cory wants to use Arthur but i just cant picture myslef calling my baby that. i kind of have the same dilema you do in the sence that I like the name Everette but we already used it as Porters middle name. And since Theodore and Taylor and Cory all ready share the middle name of Joseph I feel like using everette for a second time would just be a bit silly like we cant find another name we like? So i hope that you bones are right and we will have a girl so as not to have to cross that bridge! of course we can not agree on a middle name for Margaret as of yet... we want to use a family name but cory wants to use Ruth ( his moms given first name) and it makes me think of our great aunt ruth who was always mean to me.

    anyways look at me just runaway thoughts there... i love the name Miriam. I also think gweneth is pretty, or Jane. I hope that you can find a name you just love, maybe it will come to you while in labor. Taylor was not named until il was in labor.

  10. Obviously, Amelia is out! But what about Shoshanna-- Hebrew for Rose? English names-- be ABSOLUTELY sure they don't mean anything, or even sound like it! I know a Chris Craft, Christian Marder (he's Jewish), and an Anna Recksic.

    That being said, have ou thought of Aurelia Lydia? Folks do stuff like this to twins all the time, and think it's CUTE!

    Beware of multiple names, too. Had a co-worker whose parents couldn't decide between the various alternatives to Mary, so they named her Merry Margaret Peggy Marie Scott. She was later adopted by a family of Stewarts, and kept all six of her names, plus her husband's name (Unselt) when she married. She got writer's cramp when they closed on their house. All true!

  11. I love that you remember that night! Holy cow how time flies. I'm SO glad that we married totally different names. You only have four months left?! That's awesome. I personally like the name Ivania - or Eve - its kind of "mother of the earth" :)

  12. Emma is a good name and the name of a great Viking Queen of England. Jane could be a nod to Ms. Austin and is an uncommon name among girls these days. Welsh names are okay but you'll never know if you're saying them right. Olwen though is the earliest Woman in an Arthur text. Catherine seems to fit with you family. You could go the puritan route, Fight the Good Fight Mary Shannon, think of the monogramed towels FGFMS

    Please Aeowen(please) over Arwin.

    Beatriz or Beatrice is a nice one.

    Along the Norse line
    Freya would sound nice.

    you also could choose the the most blessed brittish name of
    or Elizabeth

    Ambrosia is a nice name as well.

    Shakespear gives us a fine assortment of names.

    And come on Catherine would be wonderful for when she is dating and a clever young man can use the lines from Henry V

    Lots of idea but also think of nice sounding places in England as well. I mean Thames might not work but Somer for Somerset or Oxona(I think I just made that up) for Oxford

    Okay just ideas hmm gives ideas for eventual daughters I might have. However the first will be Emily Veronica because we missed on this last one.

  13. I wouldn't say Amelia is "obviously out", I don't care if you use my name. Ha, you said you like Elaine, so you could name her Elaine Amelia Shannon. :) I tell Elana that she's my namesake.

    I don't think it would be odd to use Lydia's middle name, but I wouldn't change her middle name just because you use it for her sister. I don't think that's especially odd, I mean, how many people will even know Lydia's middle name?

    Seems a lot of us are one the same wave length when it comes to names, I like old fashioned, more uncommon names, but not made up ones too. Oliver hasn't been in the top 500 I think ever, but no one is going to mispronounce it or misspell it. I love Elanor, and Eloise, Miriam, Maren, Olivia, Gertrude (LOVE the nickname Gertie!) Margo, Isabella, Magdalena... I've got a long list of girl names that I love, I'll see if I can find it, those are just some off the top of my head.

  14. "Will you please call me Cordelia?” she said eagerly. "CALL you Cordelia? Is that your name?" "No-o-o, it’s not exactly my name, but I would love to be called Cordelia. It’s such a perfectly elegant name."

  15. Thought of some names I like:


  16. I am at a complete loss to provide names, and even if I did they would probably not be too useful. I would suggest not changing Lydia's middle name though. It is her name. It is the name that she was blessed with before the Lord. And while I am certain that God does not care too much, I also know that there is power in names. Anytime God changed someones name it was for the good of that individual, with some form of ritual attached.

    I agree with what has been said by many others. If Aurelia has to be the name then let the girls share it.

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  18. If you have one daughter named Lydia Aurelia and one named Aurelia Lydia, then they'll never know if you're calling both of them ("Lydia! Aurelia!") or you're calling just one of them and are really mad ("LYDIA AURELIA!!!") My middle name is exclusively reserved for when my mother is really, really mad at me.

  19. Just thought of something: In case you hadn't thought of it yet, Aurora sounds a bit like Aurelia, and is a very pretty name, and somewhat uncommon.

  20. I think you should use it. and for the record, devin has five brothers, and two of them share a name. Dayton daniel, and then the next brother is daniel george. and guess what Daniel named his son? daniel. and Guess what else? No one out side of the family knows or even cares. well now you know. and when you see them you can call them dayton and daniel like the rest of us. And think about it. when our parents called all of us together how many times did they use all of our first and middle names. never. If you have more then one kid. it takes too long. and how often do parents get thier kids names mixed up? It might even be something that bonds them together, that they think is special later on when you have other kids and they are older. But I just really love the name aurelia. I ahev since I first heard it.