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.)