Tag Archives: boy names

Name of the Day: Orwell

Orwell was our most likely boy name for baby #3 until about 22 weeks. It’s a name we still love and honestly he may still end up with, as I’m having trouble letting it go completely. But as of right now, it’s our runner up option.

Orwell is a surname of English and Scottish origin. The Scottish definition is boring (in my opinion), new village. But the English definition I LOVE. The branch of the river.

Orwell is not a common first name. In fact it has never appeared on the social security list. That means there has never been a year where 5 boys or 5 girls across the country were named Orwell. However, with sounds similar to Orson and Maxwell, and with so many other surnames commonly used as first names, I don’t think it feels out of place.

Orwell is most associated with George Orwell, author most notably known for Animal Farm and 1984. If you have never read anything by George Orwell, I highly recommend him. Especially in our current time of political uncertainty. George Orwell is a phenomenal namesake. Not only was he extremely smart and talented, he was also brave and never hesitated to stand up for his beliefs.

Orwell has great nickname options (not that it needs them, it’s so handsome on it’s own). O, Ori, Oreo, Wells, Olly. Paired with a J middle name I think OJ is adorable, though you may get the side eye at the playground from people who only associate the name with OJ Simpson.

As we were set on using this name for some time, and did share it with those that asked, I can speak to the downside of it. Though I consider George Orwell a very worthy  namesake, I thought it’s downside would be that it’s overly associated with George and I worried that’s super corny with a brother named Lennon, who already has a name very associated with an artist from the past. As an individual name, I don’t see it as a huge deal, and since he won’t spend his life being compared to his brother, I decided it was okay.

When sharing the name with others we found (in our social circle, at least) that people didn’t automatically associate it with George Orwell. Which would be great considering my above concern, except, with nothing to associate it with, people struggled to remember it. A lot of people would say “I remember it was like Orville, but it wasn’t.” Or if we said “you know, like George Orwell, the author” next time we saw them they’d say, “What are you naming him again? I remember you said it was after an author….” I decided that instead of trying to get people to remember via the George Orwell association I’d probably say “like if you’re at a restaurant and the waiter asks if you want your steak medium or well…. it’s the last 2 words, or well!”

I noticed my generation didn’t seem to have trouble remembering the name, I think we’re more used to uncommon names. Our children’s generation will be even more used to uncommon names so I doubt he’d have this problem with his peers. It’s just our parents generation. Therefore, I don’t think it should allow the name to be ruined as only his grandparent’s generation will refer to him as “that kid with the weird O name.” But I thought I should mention it as it did genuinely surprise me, we had “easy to remember” as a pro on our pro/con list!!

Moving “easy to remember” off our pro list isn’t what bumped this name to our runner up name. Rather, one day I thought of a name that was on our list of 15 names that we agreed on as possibilities pre pregnancy. I thought back to when it was eliminated as a possibility during my first trimester. Peter said it didn’t feel natural. I had been very sick for a long time so when he said “don’t you agree?” I said “I don’t know, nothing feels natural. I feel like death. If you don’t think it feels right, it’s off the list.” But one Friday, months later, I thought, but I have literally a dozen reasons this name is great for us! I should have fought for it. So I stated my case that night, Peter agreed we should use it for a couple days and see if it feels better now. After just a couple hours he said he liked it more and didn’t want to go back to Orwell. So we haven’t. 

So what’s the new name that fits our family even better? It’ll be announced when we meet him in May!! (I promise. Even if we meet him and go back to our original plan of naming him Orwell.)




Name of the Day: Darwin

Meaning “dear friend” I find Darwin to be such a sweet and warm name. I love the nicknames D, Dar and Winnie. And it ranks in the 800s for popularity, so a Darwin is unlikely to have classmates with the same name.

Most commonly associated with the naturalist Charles Darwin, this name is perfect for a family with a passion for science. Or a family without it, as he’s still an amazing namesake.

Darwin published his theory of evolution in 1859. As this theory is still very controversial for those with certain religious beliefs, my biggest fear using the name was that it would be seen as an anti religious statement. However, I don’t think most would see it that way and frankly, those who do would be showing their ignorance as Darwin himself was very religious.

As I see it you can believe one thing with your head and another with your heart. Darwin’s theory was scientific, based on evidence and logic. You can agree with his findings and admire his determination in putting everything together in a logical sense without disregarding the creation story you believe in your heart and soul. I don’t think you need to understand why there may he a disconnect between the two. There’s often a disconnect between facts and feelings, how you logically see a situation and how you can’t help but feel about it. The world isn’t black and white. There’s a lot of grey. And a lot that can’t be understood. But that doesn’t mean you dismiss it. I don’t think Darwin meant to insult any religious beliefs by connecting logical evidence to provide a different theory of origins.

Charles Darwin was obviously very smart, motivated and hard working. The biggest reason I consider Charles Darwin to be a worthy namesake though is his sense of justice. The reason Charles Darwin set out to prove evolution was to prove once and for all that all human beings have the same origin. This was for the purpose of racial equality. He thought proving that regardless of skin color we all have the same ancestors, would help us to live in harmony.

An uncommon name that symbolizes intelligence and social justice… what more can you ask for?




Name of the Day: Booker

Occupational surnames as first names are hot right now. I’m constantly meeting little boys named Mason, Carter, Cooper… But I’ve yet to meet one with my favorite occupational surname: Booker!

Meaning “maker of books”, it’d be such an appropriate name for a baby born into a literary crazy family, like ours. B and Boo are adorable nicknames. And in my family, where we affectionately tease each other with the least attractive versions of our names, I’m sure we’d call him Booger.

Booker T. Washington was an extremely influential and inspiring African American leader. Born into slavery, Booker and his family were freed under the Emancipation Proclamation when he was 9 years old. He believed highly that education and entrepreneurship could help his people to become equals with the whites. He was one of the founders of the National Negro Business League and is well known for his speech “Atlanta Compromise”.

Everything I’ve read about Booker T. Washington has led me to believe he was very hard-working and very eager to help others. He was one of the most notable black men of his time, and the last generation born into slavery who could speak from experience about that time in American history. I very much want to read his autobiography Up from Slavery.

In 2016 (numbers are not yet out for 2017) 58 boys were named Booker, making it the 2,269th most popular boy name. An uncommon choice that everyone will recognize and know how to spell and pronounce!




Name of the Day: Ernest

Meaning “serious”, this name is probably considered terribly out of fashion to many. Most. But I find it nerdy enough to be cool! I would swoon if I met a little boy named Ernest, it’s just so sweet and unexpected. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about the nickname Ernie, which I feel is inevitable. But the nickname could grow on me. (I didn’t like the nickname Lulu either and now it’s my daughter’s primary nickname!) I also like Ernesto, and think Nesto would be a sweet nickname.

My primary association with the name is the Oscar Wilde play, The Importance of Being Earnest.  A comical play that pokes fun of social obligations, and life’s general priorities, especially regarding love and marriage.  I love that this play is purely satire, just lighthearted and fun!

Another strong association is Ernest Hemingway. A Nobel prize and Pulitzer prize winner, Hemingway is one of the 20th century’s most notable writers. Another Pulitzer prize winner is Ernest Poole.

Ernest carries a lot of literary cred, but it’s also a popular name amongst athletes. A basketball hall of famer and several Olympic medalists answer to Ernest. A saint, a few actors, politicians, and a notable explorer as well as physician.




Name of the Day: Kipling

According to behind the name, Kipling (which originated as an English surname) means Cybell’s cottage… I can’t figure out who Cybell is though!  If I were to use the name I’d want to so further research on that. (Please comment if you have any knowledge.) But on the bright side, I love cottages. My grandparents had a cottage on a lake and many of my happiest childhood memories took place there.

This name is most associated with Rudyard Kipling, writer of The Jungle Book, as well as many other works. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, the first person who wrote in English to receive the honor, and also the youngest to receive it. He was 42.

I adore the nickname Kip and think Kipling sounds rather sophisticated as well! Win-win.




Name of the Day: Roscoe

Derived from a place name, Roscoe is used as both a first and last name and means “doe wood”. I believe there are 15 Roscoe towns and villages in the US.  It was only given to 63 boys last year, which I find incredible! It’s so handsome, why are people not using it?

With the name Otis I just linked to a bunch of youtube videos of artists with the name… it seemed to resonate with my husband, so let’s try that approach again!

Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbucke, a silent film star who mentored Charlie Chaplin and discovered Bob Hope. Other actors include: Roscoe Karns who comically starred in 150 films, Roscoe Orman (Gordon on Sesame Street), Roscoe Born, Roscoe Lee Browne and Alan Roscoe.

Outside the arts, there have been many influential politicians and accomplished athletes bearing Roscoe as a first or last name.  Several professor and scientist Roscoes have contributed research advancing the scientific world. It’s also the name of several war heroes and the first ever direcor of the CIA. Roscoe Pound is one of history’s most influential legal scholars. Roscoe Nicholson is one of the earliest advocates for conservation of forest life in the US.  Will Roscoe is an author and activist who’s works largely involve rights of the LGBT community.




Name of the Day: Reynard

An Ancient Germanic name meaning brave advice, this name has lots of spelling variations. I really like Rainard as it has the word rain in it, which I find peaceful and cleansing, but I struggle to find as much information about it being a legitimate spelling…So I’ll go on with Reynard as it’s the most common spelling… though it was still given to less than 5 babies last year.

Reynard is the name of a sneaky Fox (Fox could be a cool nickname) in which many many forklores have been based. These tales started in the middle ages and were popular in Germany, France, England and the Netherlands. In fact these tales were so popular that renard became the new word for fox in France (it used to be goupil.) Reynard’s stories often involve him out smarting the upper class authorities.

His first documented tale is a Latin poem from 1148 called Ysengrimus. Reynard is renamed Rossel in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The character was also used by the Nazi party in an Anti Semitic children’s book (not all the history of a given name can be good!). Disney’s Robin Hood was a fox to make him similar to Reynard. These are just a few of many many examples of Reynard’s many many appearances in pop culture over the years.

I found a modern day pop singer names named Reynard Silva… maybe he’s a big deal… I really don’t keep up with what’s currently hip. Whether a household name or not though, I think he’s pretty talented.

Paul Reynard was a French born artist and art teacher. Many of his paintings exist in the United States, including a mural at Harvard. He was also a very skilled stained glass artist.

 




Name of the Day: Otis

Peter’s rejected Otis several times already, but I just love it!! So, I’m going to look into it’s history anyways. Peter says it’s a cat’s name… which is so stupid because it’s the dog’s name on Milo and Otis, which happens to be a phenomenal movie that I loved as a kid and my kids love now. So if I’m going to name my kid after a dog, it’d be that protective little pug!

Otis has 2 different origins, cognate of Otto (which is another name I love) it means “wealth and fortune”. Or the Greek version of Latin Nemo, it would mean “no one”.

Several musicians bear the name Otis. For the sake of (somewhat) brevity I’m just going to provide links to some of their music and let that inspire you (or, rather my husband.)

Otis Dudley Duncan is one of history’s most influential sociologists. Much of his work focused on social mobility (or the lack of it) in the United States. His works are still being expanded upon today. When he retired in 1987 he took up composing electronic music and computer graphics. I love to learn how people influential in a given field are multidimensional and see how their passion drives them to other hobbies. In 2000 (4 years before his death) he published a few more pieces as a member of the Humanist Society. These included topics such as euthanasia, atheism and creationism.




Name of the Day: Bayard

Meaning “bay colored” this name was used in a medieval poem for a horse that could change size to accommodate more or less passengers. In some areas it’s become a common synonym for horse. But not where I live, so I shall continue.

Bayard Taylor was a 19th century poet, novelist and travel author. His travels were many, and he did his best to fully immerse himself in the culture. This led to both literature about his journeys and inspired creative fictional pieces. His most well-known travel piece is probably his book on the gold rush, El Dorado. His 2nd novel Joseph and His Friend: a Story of Pennsylvania is considered the first gay novel in America. A smart, adventurous and talented man, he makes the perfect namesake.

Bayard Rustin was a civil rights activist. Many consider him influential in gay rights as well. As an out of the closet gay man, he certainly spoke out in support of gay rights. However, he did not feel comfortable being known as a gay role model. He was outted on accident, he believes a person’s sexual preferences are private and he never had any intentions of letting the public know his. However, the public did know and in the last five years of his life he spoke out more about it. In 1982, since homosexuals had no way of marrying or solidifying their relationship legally, Bayard and his partner took an unconventional step; for themselves and to start discussion. Bayard adopted Walter, so that the law would recognize them as family. Walter was, of course a grown man, but his mother gave up her rights and a social worker had to approve Bayard as an acceptable care giver… the process seems ridiculous… but I wholly admire their desire to do something official! And they didn’t have other options.  In 1986 (a year before his death) he made a speech in support of New York State’s Gay Rights Bill called “The New Niggers are Gays”. In his life he’d seen (and helped provide) many improvements in the treatments of African Americans in our society… but believed gays were now the most vulnerable group.

Bayard was a big proponent of non violence, having worked with Gandhi during his movement in India. He helped Martin Luther King Jr to fully understand the movement, and Martin then brought it more attention. He worked behind the scenes with Martin and many other civil rights leaders and organizers but was rarely a spokesperson. Because he was known to be gay and have a previous association with the communist party he wasn’t a very wholesome figurehead. The list of all that he worked towards for equality is so overwhelming I can’t begin to summarize it in a paragraph. If you’d like to read more, check his Wikipedia page. Interestingly, Bayard was also an accomplished tenor who’s voice can be found on several albums from the 50s-70s.

I love the history of this name but I also love the nicknames Bay and Bear. I wish this name was used more. To appear on the social security list a name must be given to 5 or more babies in a year, Bayard was given to 5 boys in 2014 and has not reappeared since.




Name of the Day: Malcolm

The name of 4 Scottish kings, an Australian prime minister and of course Malcolm X, this name is great for a boy you want to teach to be a strong leader. An old name, with lots of history, Malcolm is pretty uncommon, ranked at #410 in 2016.

I think for my generation the 2 immediate associations with the name Malcolm are Malcolm in the Middle and Malcolm X. Malcolm in the Middle was a fictional show about a gifted boy in a dysfunctional family.. it was funny. It was clean humor without being goody goody and boring. I think it’s a positive association. I have fond memories watching it with my brother on Sunday nights.

Moving to Malcolm X, the real life association. I’m embarrassed to say that my knowledge of Malcolm X from my public school education is very limited. I was taught that he was a civil rights activist, but resorted to violence and anger..  the educators of my youth presented Martin Luther King Jr as the good guy and Malcolm X as the bad guy. As an adult I obviously recognize that they can both be good while having different methods and different journeys. I wonder if my teachers truly thought of Malcolm X as a bad guy, or if they were just scared to teach about his complex and murky history. To summarize my opinion, in case anyone reading this is realizing that their own education on the subject is lacking: Malcolm X had spent his life being treated unfairly. In looking for a fix to the solution, he presented ideas in a compelling manner, with good intentions. Though I disagree with many of his ideas, I can appreciate where they were coming from. By the time of his death has had reformed many of his ideas. He was more peaceful and loving. If given the chance to live a full life, he may have changed his position on other matters, too. He was young and excited and I think, like most young people, he expressed some of his feelings before properly exploring them. Overall, him and Martin Luther King Jr were on the same side, after their deaths, their widows were best friends.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth Malcolm is based of the real life Malcolm III of Scotland. The rightful heir to the throne, this reference combines royalty, leadership and literature in one.

Malcolm Young is one of the founding members of AC/DC, Malcolm Lowry a poet and novelist (best known for Under the Volcano), the list of great namesakes goes on and on… Lastly I think the nick name Mac is adorable!