Re: Surnames as first names

What is your honest opinion for surnames as first names? I suppose specifically for boys, as surnames I like most I would choose for a boy. Sometimes I love them, sometimes I find them too trendy, and sometimes I find them rather fussy/too much- sometimes it sounds pretentious to my ear.

I am a big fan of not putting nicknames on the birth certificate, with a few exceptions. I love names with a solid history. I am not sure why I vacillate so much about surnames.

I would love any and all opinions about it!

It depends on the surname.

[name_m]Jackson[/name_m], [name_m]Foster[/name_m], [name_m]Grant[/name_m], [name_m]Beckett[/name_m], [name_u]Brady[/name_u], [name_u]Parker[/name_u], [name_u]Quinn[/name_u], [name_u]Taylor[/name_u], [name_u]Bailey[/name_u], these kind of surnames don’t bother me a bit. I think they’re cute and often trendy and perhaps a bit pretentious at times, but not bothersome [name_f]IMO[/name_f].

[name_m]Anderson[/name_m], [name_u]Kennedy[/name_u], [name_m]Jefferson[/name_m], [name_m]Harrison[/name_m], [name_u]Emerson[/name_u], [name_m]Rafferty[/name_m], [name_m]Montgomery[/name_m], these kinds of surnames as first names I detest. It is just trying so hard.

@maryelise I agree that some are worse than others for sure.

Some I like are: [name_m]Bennett[/name_m], [name_u]Sawyer[/name_u], [name_m]Shepherd[/name_m] (word name w/ my preferred spelling), [name_u]Flynn[/name_u], & [name_m]Duncan[/name_m]

I think [name_m]Duncan[/name_m] has been around enough that it doesn’t read as all last name to me.

Does anyone else have any opinions?

I’d definitely have to agree with what was already said, about it depending. Pretentious isn’t a word that I like to use, because I picture someone just being all snooty up on their high horse while using that word to put down someone “lesser” than themselves, but it definitely can apply in some of these situations! [name_u]Presley[/name_u], fine. [name_m]Jacoby[/name_m], okay. [name_u]Harper[/name_u], great. But [name_m]Thompson[/name_m], Yard, [name_m]Anderson[/name_m], [name_m]Lawson[/name_m], Poole, [name_m]Brooks[/name_m], [name_m]Hughes[/name_m], [name_m]Saunders[/name_m], Cunningham? Who are they trying to impress? I know boys by all these last names…all prep school kids…trust-fund babies. So I guess there’s my answer.

As far as usability, I think it depends on what the child’s actual surname will be. I commented this on another post (cannot remember what post or who posted it), but I worked in the office of a school while still in high school, for a class, and got to work in files. One kid’s first was [name_m]Smith[/name_m], which isn’t so bad. However, paired with his middle and last names, the poor kid sounded like a bank! He was teased for it, too. So something like [name_u]Harper[/name_u] [name_f]Anne[/name_f] [name_u]Kennedy[/name_u] doesn’t sound bad, but something like [name_m]Jones[/name_m] [name_u]Tyler[/name_u] [name_m]Weston[/name_m] sounds blah…a bit much.

I like some and not others. It can sound really pretentious very often, especially on women/girls. The ones I am used to hearing don’t bother me so much… But I really like [name_m]Dawson[/name_m].

As someone with a son called [name_u]Sawyer[/name_u] I have a different take on this.

My son is named in honour of my brother who is a tree surgeon ( my brother is actually called [name_m]Ross[/name_m] ) we didn’t want to use my brothers actual name which could have caused confusion and we wanted our son to have his own name.

For next baby we have considered various gender neutral/ surname names because we like non macho sounding names, however we have limited ourselves to names within our family tree or have significance / link to important people in our lives. I wouldn’t use a ‘random’ surname name because it sounds cool or high class or trendy. But then I also wouldn’t choose a non surname first name that didn’t have more significance than ’ I liked the sound’ so that’s how I choose names

I personally love surname/occupation names for boys. Like others have said some are better than others. My two boys are Colson and [name_u]Hunter[/name_u]. I love them. I’m certainly not trying to be anything or do anything when choosing these names. They really were just names that I really liked. And I think that is okay. I am not someone who is super picky or stingy with names though. I have names that I like more than others. But that doesn’t mean I think the names I dislike shouldn’t be used or are bad choices. I certainly wouldn’t begrudge anyone else choosing them. It just comes down to personal preference.

@penguinkin - I have a pool of honor names, but I am most likely going to use them in the middle. The one exception is [name_m]Bennett[/name_m] (and [name_u]Eloise[/name_u]) as spins on [name_f]Bernadette[/name_f] (and [name_f]Louise[/name_f]). I approach first names with the idea of a nod to family is great, but I have to love it first. Right now my absolute favorite surnamey names are [name_m]Shepherd[/name_m] and [name_m]Bennett[/name_m].

I would use [name_m]Bennett[/name_m] in a heartbeat. I love the name, [name_m]Ben[/name_m], [name_m]Benny[/name_m], and [name_m]Benji[/name_m] are sweet, gentle, and down to earth nicknames. I would not think twice about the surname-ness. However, [name_m]Shepherd[/name_m] is not in my family tree. I like the occupational names in general, but I also like that [name_m]Shepherd[/name_m] is so underused. It also has a slight nature feel to it. It feels gentle and strong. I really just like it a lot lately. Sometimes I pause because I really go back and forth on how I feel about surnames as first names. Sometimes I wonder if [name_m]Shepherd[/name_m] is just too much. Idk.

Right now there is not a little human to name, so I have the luxury to float around in my preferences.

I have never understood why this is such a big deal.

I don’t really see that much of a problem with surnames as first names, but my approval does vary in accordance with the type/style that is being used and, indeed, what sex they are being used for.

For example, go back several hundred or thousand years and a vast majority of surnames were originally designed and intended for male usage. Females often weren’t given surnames and, when we were, the surnames in question were specifically feminine, and a lot of them ended in ‘-dóttir’ – the female counterpart to ‘-son’. And while I am well aware that surnames are now unisex and have been for a long time, I can still see or sense the masculine intent and origin in most of them, so with the exception of very few choices, like Melrose (which I would still accept on boys), I really don’t care for surnames being used as first names on girls at all. But that’s just my opinion.

When it comes to using surnames on boys, I personally see most of them as being quite appropriate. In particular, I’m fond of subtle surnames like [name_u]Quinn[/name_u], [name_u]Riley[/name_u], [name_m]Bennet[/name_m], [name_u]Sheridan[/name_u], [name_u]Flannery[/name_u], [name_u]Quincy[/name_u] and [name_f]Carol[/name_f] – the kind that you can’t tell are surnames based on sound or looks. I do appreciate their subtlety and think that they make for wonderful and exciting boy name choices.

I also have no problem with ‘-son’ names as, while they’re more obvious as surnames, the fact of the matter is that they were intended for boys and, since ‘-son’ is not a ragingly common type surname, I think it’s perfectly fine to rediscover them as first names for boys. In particular, I’d like to see [name_u]Madison[/name_u] and [name_u]Allison[/name_u] being revived for boys and, that aside, enjoy seeing people taking up the likes of [name_u]Ellison[/name_u], [name_m]Greyson[/name_m] and [name_u]Emerson[/name_u], thus adding diversity.

Having said that, I also don’t mind the ‘posh’ and ‘snobby’ surnames like [name_u]Remington[/name_u] and [name_u]Ellington[/name_u]. Some people see them as over the top, and quite rightfully so. But for me, that’s hardly a bad thing. Boy names have, for several generations now, been very bland and run-of-the-mill (again, in my opinion), with nothing too exciting being introduced or encouraged for one reason or another, which is in complete contrast to the past, wherein a lot of boy names were quite elaborate, innovative and defined. I would like to see a return to those days of exciting and expressive styles, and as such support and encourage any deviation from the short, common and underwhelming choices that are the often enforced standard for boys today.

To be honest, the only surnames I don’t particularly like are the ones that I consider less-than-charming. Occupational names have never been my thing, as your average [name_u]Mason[/name_u] and [name_u]Hunter[/name_u] are anything but elegant. [name_m]Fisher[/name_m] is one that bothers me a lot as well, as I’ve seen its popularity increase recently and just don’t understand the appeal. [name_f]Do[/name_f] you love fish that much? [name_f]Do[/name_f] you have a particular talent for fishing? With these particular surnames, I feel like some deep personal significance needs to be present if they are to be selected, though I’m sure others would disagree.

The style/type of surname I really can’t stand are the try-hard hyper-masculine ones. I’ve noticed that they were practically non-existent until the ‘unisex’ trend came into full swing. Now that once untouchable male names like [name_u]Rowan[/name_u], [name_u]Elliott[/name_u] and [name_u]James[/name_u] are either being used by girls in great numbers, or starting to be used by girls, all of a sudden [name_u]Jagger[/name_u], [name_m]Jett[/name_m], [name_m]Ryker[/name_m], [name_m]Gannon[/name_m], [name_m]Nash[/name_m] and [name_m]Gunner[/name_m] have popped up. That bothers me for several reasons, but the biggest reason I dislike these names are because they’re so manly, in an overcompensating way, and they seem to be selected by some people in a serious attempt to force machismo on a baby. [name_m]Even[/name_m] if I was dead-wrong in that regard, I just don’t like the look of them, and I really don’t like their harsh and abrasive sounds, and overall they’re not something that I could picture looking good on a professional or well-to-do young man. But again, just my opinion.

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough. The gist of this whole thing is that, 9 times out of 10, I think surnames as first names for boys are just fine, with a few exceptions, which ultimately come down to personal taste.

Well, my favorite name is [name_m]Shepherd[/name_m], which is a surname. I also really love the name [name_m]Smith[/name_m] after meeting one in real life.

I don’t believe it is ultimately a big deal, where surnames names are awful and unusable for anyone. My personal feelings about them change frequently, and I wanted to see how others felt.

It depends on the surname. The ones I like as first names are [name_m]Montgomery[/name_m], [name_m]Fitzgerald[/name_m], [name_u]Sawyer[/name_u], [name_m]Griffith[/name_m], [name_m]Griffin[/name_m], [name_u]Parker[/name_u], [name_u]Hunter[/name_u], [name_m]Rafferty[/name_m], [name_m]Shepherd[/name_m], [name_m]Hawthorn[/name_m]. The barrier between names and surnames is very thin, and has always been thin. A long time ago, what we call today “surnames” were actually names.
Can we still consider [name_u]Hunter[/name_u] as a surname considering that it reached 13,000 births in 2000? Why can’t it be a name AND a surname afterall?

I generally don’t like them on girls because they sound super masculine. The only one I actually appreciate is [name_u]Emerson[/name_u] (and [name_u]Spencer[/name_u] because of PLL, but not sure it’s a surname). But some are still better than [name_u]James[/name_u] or [name_u]Elliott[/name_u] for a girl…

I like surnames a lot, honestly, although I’ve drifted from them a bit in the past couple years. Some of my favorites are [name_u]Everett[/name_u], [name_m]Grant[/name_m], [name_u]Sullivan[/name_u], [name_u]Harper[/name_u], [name_u]Bailey[/name_u], [name_u]Avery[/name_u], [name_u]Addison[/name_u]. I sort of like [name_m]Smith[/name_m] because it was my mom’s maiden name, and my grandpa only had a set of initials, so he went by [name_m]Smitty[/name_m] a lot. (I think [name_m]Smitty[/name_m]'s adorable!!!)

I like -son and -ett names a lot, but I also used to love [name_u]Morgan[/name_u], [name_u]Taylor[/name_u], etc., all of those, too. I feel like some name nerds turn their noses up on surname choices as second-class names, but I’m not sure that reputation is entirely deserved? But ah, well. To each their own. Some (like [name_u]Emerson[/name_u]!) sound a bit preppy, but I still adore them.