What is most important to you in a name?

Hi Berries!

I’ve been reading a lot of your more narrative posts lately and they’ve gotten me quite existential about names. It’s extraordinary to see how everyone has combined family members, had baby name related dreams, or have otherwise intensely personal names. Then I went through the “what would you name yourself” thread and came out with this question:

What element of names or naming is the most important to you? I think, more specifically, when you’re thinking about what you would name an actual child versus just have on your long list.

Would you tend to weigh the name of a favorite character/author/poem/song the same as a family name? Would a distant family name of someone you’ve never had any relationship with really be an honor name? Are honor names too much pressure in general and you would tend to just want a name based on sound? Or meaning? Would you pick a name that you didn’t quite like as much because it has more personal meaning to you?

Let me know your thoughts. I’ll add that I’m not actually naming anyone right now, but you might be able to blame [name_f]Chrysanthemum[/name_f] for this post!


I mostly do honour names, but not for distant family members who I never met, for people who impressed me with their personality, intelligence, struggle against difficulties etc.
I’d honour a character/author/poem/song that’s important for me too, but right now there’s isn’t any that inspired me enough.
Name meanings are also very important, for combos as well as firsts. Name meanings are a good way to pass virtues and our wishes to our children.


I wouldn’t give my child a honour name I really don’t like, even if the person was somebody I knew well and liked. I’d go with a variation or a nickname. It’s important for me that I love the name and show my appreciation of loved ones at the same time.

When choosing names generally, I go by sound and look 80% of the time. More rarely will I grow on a name because of its meaning. The meaning is just another part of the name for me. I wouldn’t go for a name that only appeals to me by meaning, nor would I dislike a name just because it has a negative meaning.


Honor names/important names. Middles are more for how they sound, or if I really like them. Most of my names are honors, though.

1 Like

I go mostly off of the sound of the name. Names that sound beautiful to me make a good first impression. Then, I consider how intuitive the name is to spell/pronounce, because it is extremely important that the name is easily wearable in real life. Finally, the name has to give me the right kind of imagery. I imagine little girls and boys running through meadows and forests, and calling out their names to them. If they pass the three step process, and I really love the name, then it goes on the list!


My disjointed thoughts…

Obviously sound is key for the first name, and whether it translates well internationally. I don’t mind some variations in pronunciation, but ideally I wouldn’t want people to go huh? [name_f]Every[/name_f] time they introduced themselves. So I think first names will be relatively short and recognisable. I feel like I’ll be a lot more conformist when or if my time ever comes to actually pick a name for a human child. I just don’t want the name to be too much or maybe even too little to bear. I didn’t like my name growing up and it took me a long time to grow into it, sometimes I’m still bummed up by the omnipresence of women twice my age being the poster ‘child’ for it by now.

Where I’m from people will often frown upon middle names that are not honour names, so when the time comes I very much doubt I’d be as comfortable churning out all sorts of combos as I do now. I do know I’ve got a bit of leeway with my mum’s name as both she and her own mother weren’t too keen on it. There’s one name in the family that I happen to really like and it has always been one of my favourite names, but the person it belonged to passed away tragically at a young age so I would definitely need to get some opinions on that within my family before committing to it.

Some people in the Netherlands skip the middles altogether to avoid the situation of not having had enough children to honour everyone.

I also think I’ll end up avoiding too obvious a literary or TV/movie connection. Inspired by wouldn’t be a big deal, but I don’t think I’ll be the type who is comfortable naming a baby girl [name_f]Daenerys[/name_f] or [name_f]Sansa[/name_f].

1 Like

I go off of sound and (sometimes) meaning. If a name sounds beautiful to me, I would put it on my list. If I’m going for a certain theme, or a name just has such a nice meaning, it goes on the list. I would only do honor names if it’s very loose. Like, maybe an honor name that is of the same culture (ex. Both Celtic) and also starts with the same letter. Or an honor name that has to do with something the person likes.

1 Like

I really just go off of the sound and how they look written out, along with popularity. I’m not into honor names, and I don’t really care about meaning (with exceptions if the meaning is very important to a culture or something along those lines). When I have an actual kid I will most likely go with a name that is not too popular, I don’t know anyone with the name, but it is familiar enough or easy enough to pronounce that people won’t judge me too much (like [name_f]Sylvie[/name_f], [name_f]Flora[/name_f], [name_m]Reuben[/name_m], [name_u]Asa[/name_u], etc).

I would not name my kid after a character or song because I don’t have any that are impactful to me. I do like some names if they have a notable namesake such as [name_u]Marlow[/name_u]/Marlowe, [name_u]Auden[/name_u], etc (mostly poets and authors). I wouldn’t purposely use a family name or honor name. Too much pressure.

1 Like

[name_f]My[/name_f] ideal names:
-Classic yet very rarely used (outside of the top 1000 US names if possible)
-Have a cute, sweet, friendly nickname option
-A striking full name
-A name they won’t be ashamed to see on a wedding invitation or job application
-This may sound odd but I prefer honor names of deceased relatives or ancestors. I hate family drama over a baby’s name, when everyone demands their side be ‘honored.’ I also avoided names that have bad family associations. A baby should have a name that’s truly their own! That said, one of [name_f]Bea[/name_f]'s middle names was my great aunt’s name. Everyone loved her and had no objections or drama over the name.
-Literary/pop culture names carry more weight with me than family names.
-The sound of a name is important to me, and a good meaning definitely helps.


I love names that have personal meaning and are stylistically appealing to me. I wouldn’t choose one that fits one category, but not the other.

I don’t take into account the actual meaning of the name. [name_f]My[/name_f] favorite is [name_u]Claude[/name_u], “lame” :grin:

I wouldn’t name my child after a living relative, but I love names that honor ancestors and heritage. I’m very into genealogy and I love coming up with names that represent entire branches of my family tree. [name_f]My[/name_f] favorite honor names are based on family surnames (like [name_f]Pelagia[/name_f] for Pel@ez).


Meaning matters a lot to me! Probably because I love the meaning of my own name so much that I feel it’s informed my identity. “[name_f]Beloved[/name_f]” So I want to pass a good meaning on to my children too. Next sound and flow matter a lot to me. I’m not as interested in honor names unless I really like the name or my husband cared more for them.

1 Like

I’m enjoying reading your responses!
This may be incongruent but here are some of my thoughts:

My mom is a late bloomer as a name aficionado. I have a popular name and other considerations were other popular names like [name_u]Ashley[/name_u] But over the summer she said if I had been born “now” she would have liked to go with [name_f]Cordelia[/name_f] or [name_f]Beatrice[/name_f] after characters in the [name_m]Shakespeare[/name_m] plays she would read with her father.
I don’t think I would use a name that I loathe, but I could see myself going with a name that has meaning to me but is an acquired taste opposed to a passing fancy.

Secondarily, I’m Jewish so I couldn’t name a child after a living relative. And using the direct name of someone feels weird. To use the name of an 8x great-grandparent who I’ve never met feels like a way to honor roots without the pressure of carrying on a legacy. (Still patch working together my diaspora genealogy on one side of the tree).

On the other hand there are always names that just make me happy for no apparent reason. So I guess we’ll see how far the ideals go:)

The first name is a name I love.

I usually love a name due to it’s sound. I can’t have any personal negative associations for the name, like a person I didn’t get along with. It can’t be a name that would be considered cultural appropriation for me to use. The meaning of the name has to resonate deeply with me. It needs to give me confident and strong vibes. The name also can’t be common or popular. There’s nothing wrong with those names, but it’s simply not my style. I’m a bit of an outsider, I embrace differences and uniqueness. I prefer the path less taken. So I can’t see myself using a name that is heard often. Lastly, the name can’t be too difficult for my parents to get on board with, nor too unpredictable for people (teachers, receptionists, etc) to understand and pronounce.

The middle name is for one or two honor names. I don’t expect to have more than one kid, and I have a lot that I want to honor, so I don’t think I’ll be able to narrow it down to one name! But I have no qualms with a double middle name with a space or hyphen :blush:

I think that’s about it… But I feel like I’m gonna wake up tomorrow with more I want to say :sweat_smile: :woman_shrugging:t2:

1 Like

Options. It’s important to me that a name have options. We used formal-sounding first names with an “official” nickname that offers a totally different feel. Each name has at least one other potential nickname too, and a variety of pet names. Example: [name_m]Sebastian[/name_m] “Bash” could go by [name_m]Seb[/name_m], Sebby, [name_m]Baz[/name_m], etc. Whatever suits him, or whatever he likes.

For middles I do honor names, always the precise name, nothing that just relates to the person, even if the name isn’t a favorite. I’m not sure why that matters to me, but it does.

Aa far as meaning goes, as long as a name doesn’t have an awful one I don’t care too much. I should, it feels like, but I don’t.


For the first name, I prioritize names that I like for the sound and style. For me that also means ideally not extremely popular, fairly intuitive to pronounce, and works in our multi-lingual family. Then what puts the name over the edge from liking to loving is if it has a meaning I love, has a connection of some kind to our family, or potentially is connected to a cultural or historical figure I admire. I haven’t yet chosen names for a cultural connection but I can see this being a reason to decide on one name over another.

For the middle name, honor names take more importance but sound, style and flow with the first name also matter. Personally I prioritize an honor name that connects to someone important to me and/or my husband, but ancestral names are also nice because it feels like the new baby is already rooted in our family.

1 Like

[name_f]My[/name_f] criteria for a name for a real child:

First, I want it to be easy to say and to spell. It should have an air of familiarity for [name_f]English[/name_f] speakers, even if it’s a rare name ([name_f]Tansy[/name_f], for instance, is so similar to other popular names that it feels familiar despite its uniqueness). I prefer short names on the whole. And I like names that are friendly and down-to-earth. Nothing frilly or potentially construed as “pretentious.” I would choose [name_f]Amy[/name_f] over [name_f]Arabella[/name_f], and [name_m]Jack[/name_m] over [name_m]Julius[/name_m], even though they’re less exciting to name nerds.

I don’t care too much about popularity, but I’d like to avoid trendiness. [name_f]My[/name_f] name, [name_f]Lily[/name_f], has been super popular for the last 10 years or so, but it also shows up in historical records and period dramas. Basically, if my kid were to get into a time machine and pop out 100 years in the past, I’d want their name to be the least of their troubles. :laughing:

This one is obviously the most flexible. It could mean an honor name, or a name that just has a really positive association for me, or a beautiful meaning. Lots of nature names fall into this category because I love the plant or animal. When my child asks me about their name, I want to be able to say something more than “I liked the way it sounds.”

And finally, it just has to have a certain spark. I like lots of names, but certain combos just sound right together. Either the final full name has the magic, or it doesn’t.


TL;DR: Sound, Spelling, Vibe / Imagery, Meaning(fulness) - not necessarily in that order

Sound and Spelling are self-explanatory, I suppose.

Vibe / Imagery - there’s a life I imagine myself living in the future - a little bit of British or Irish countryside, lakes and hills and freedom, a little bit of old towns, crooked houses and cobblestone alleys, train-rides to adventurous cities and big places - museums, theatres, the ballet; many more adventures at home, somewhere between a cozy little cottage and a Victorian townhouse, between Mary Poppins, Peter Pan and The Burrow; looking out on the water or the mountains - where life is simpler and yet it is not because it is life and it is messy and it is beautiful.
Sometimes this future looks completely different, takes place somewhere else, in different houses, different towns, other languages are spoken, but it is equally lovely.
Wether or not this life ever becomes reality is secondary, but I want the names on my list to remind me of those day-dreams.

Meaning - more the personal meaning to me rather than the literal meaning.
This becomes important in the middle name spot as I love for names to have a story. Wether they are to honor someone who I love and whose story I want to “attach” to my child
or they are a family names from the 1700s, something to anchor them to their ancestors, their family that was long before them, yet so integral for them being here
or a character who I find inspiring and who I would want my child to relate to / be inspired by.
Ultimately, I just like names with a (his)tory. They don’t have to be overly complicated, I prefer them not to be most of the time, or very rare or interesting to anyone else. Not all the names on my list are like this, but I like to have at least one per combo that fits into this category.

1 Like

Most importantly, a name needs to feel pretty to me, like the imagery, for me to like it.
I’d like for a name to be meaningful as well, it doesnt have to be an honour name or the meaning of the name itself, but more like what I associate the name with, and what it means to me.

1 Like

[name_u]Unique[/name_u], unique, unique.

No matter how many other qualities I like in a name, if I already know someone with that name then it’s a write off. Checking popularity is a tool I use to help improve likelihood my kid will be unique in their peer group.

Intuitive spelling.

I’m the kind of person who needs spelling and sound to make sense (in [name_f]English[/name_f]). I also don’t like alternative spellings, even if they make more sense than the original spelling.

On the subject of honour names

I LOVE when other people (not me) use honour names for middle names, but seeing them as first names gives me anxiety! Like I’ll defend the use of the most outrageous middle name if it’s an honour name. But I always worry about a child feeling like they need to live up to their namesake and I think that would just be so difficult to live with. Seems to just be me though - plenty of people do it and everything turns out fine :woman_shrugging:t2:

1 Like

Meaning means more to me than sound! :slight_smile: But I really need it to be 100% beautiful meaning and sound to even consider it.

1 Like