Baby Names I Love, But Won’t Be Using

I love reading baby name idea lists. Even before I was pregnant, and now that I am not pregnant, there is something about the hunt for the perfect name that is very exciting and frustrating and adventurous for me. Finding a name is exactly the creative, practical, high-stakes kind of challenge that totally peaks my interest. And the fact that there are practically limitless options means that every list can contain new ideas, and maybe even the ideal.

FYI, I am not pregnant. This is not an announcement. But maybe you are pregnant/adopting a puppy/raising a sassy succulent and are looked for the *perfect* title for your new addition (Congratulations on the new houseplant, by the way).

Or, you are like me and just love looking at these lists. So here, I will magnanimously share a few names from my favorites list.

Here is how I define my taste in baby names: classic, old-fashioned, not trendy, meaningful, and longer (generally three-plus syllables). 

My one and only child is named Theodore Antonio.

(For the record, these have been veto-ed by my husband, so barring a shift in magnetic north, we won’t be using these.)

BOYS

Samuel

Means “heard of God/asked of God.” Ranked #21 in the United States, 2017.

This is a very strong name, without bringing to mind a former emperor or viking chief. I love the story in the Bible of Samuel’s birth. I almost got my husband to approve this name because of Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain a.k.a. his favorite). But he is not a fan or the nickname “Sam,” and this name is a little high on the trending charts for my taste. But it is still a kicking name and I totally see why it is high on the favorites list.

Raphael

Means “God has healed.” Ranked #519 in the United States, 2017.

Obviously, this heralds back to my pre-Massimo days when my plan was to have four boys and name them after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Shockingly, he did not approve of this plan. But this name is still beautiful, artistic, and mysterious. I love the cute nickname “Raph.”

Jules

Means “youthful.” Not ranked in the United States, 2017.

I used to have Jude on my list, but then some awesome friends stole it for their son and now it’s dead to me (lol, just kidding, shout out to John and Meyesa for the best two kids on the planet with the cutest names!). I found Jules as a similar version, but less common. You will probably like this name if you also like Julian. Also, I hoped to win over my husband by reminding him of how must he loves Jules Verne, but he did not go for it.

Clifford/Clive

Means “a steep cliff.” Not ranked in the United States, 2017.

So the meaning on this is not as deep, but, this name is on my list because it was C. S. Lewis’s first name and his writing has made a significant impact on my life. I also think these names are perfectly old-fashioned and not common at all. I love that it can be more laid-back and casual (“Cliff”), or high-class (Clive”), and I value versatility a lot.

Christian

Means “follower of Christ.” Ranked #52 in the United States, 2017.

I have a cousin named Christian and I have always loved it. Just *saying* this name is a beautiful experience, and many sounds are preserved in the cute nickname “Chris.” I like Christopher as well, but Christian is more meaningful for me, as it symbolizes my faith and what I want my family to stand for. Massimo, on the other hand, hates names that are also things (like colors, flowers, objects, places, etc.), so this is a no-go for him. You can see how limited I am….

GIRLS

Carmen

Means “poem” or “song.” Ranked #405 in the United States, 2017.

Who else saw Spy Kids back in their formative years and instantly knew Carmen was the most boss lady name there could be? And you were right. This name even has that Spanish flare I am apparently really in to, which makes it sound even more boss, and I think it is fiercely strong, while also being stunningly feminine.

Miranda

Means “marvelous.” Ranked #344 in the United States, 2017.

When I was in college choir, we sang this breathtaking song about the rose of Mary being chosen to carry the Son of God. The song included repeated long, swooping Latin phrases in which we all sang: “Res miranda,” which means “marvelous thing,” and I thought how beautiful “Miranda” sounded rising from the choir. This word was claimed as a name by Shakespeare.

Hattie/Haddie

Means “home ruler.” Ranked #480 in the United States, 2017.

This is technically a nickname for “Harriet,” but I like the nickname more than the full name, and nick names can be names (*cough* tell Massimo that) We came up with this name when we saw True Grit. Massimo and I had so much admiration for Mattie Ross, we started trying to find names that would remind us of her. Mattie, Hattie, and Addy were all in the running. I still love Hattie the best.

Cassidy

Means “curly-haired.” Ranked #327 in the United States, 2017.

I love this name: it is a little tough, and reminds me of a girl from the country with true grit, who doesn’t mess around with foolish dilly-dally. I also think it is just beautiful, and I simply love everything this name makes me think of, including a girl named Cassidy from my church where I grew up, who is pretty much a boss lady herself (shout out!).

Junia/June/Jane

Mean “youth” (not ranked in the U.S., 2017), “young” (#244 in the U.S., 2017), and “God is gracious” (#282 in the U.S., 2017).

A moment on this progression: I love all these names, and technically Junia and June are versions of the same name, while Jane is a female version of “John,” but it all started with Junia. Junia was the name of a female apostle in the early church (see Romans 16:7), whose female-ness was so offensive to early church leaders, they added an “s” at the end of her name in the Bible to make her a boy. (Check out The Junia Project for more information.) Being a co-laborer and apostle in the early church is just about as admirable as a woman can be, so I fell in love with the name.

Notwithstanding, “Junia” is a little more unusual than my husband would usually go for, so I thought of anglicizing it slightly, to June.

But of course, you remember the thing Massimo has about names that are also things….

So, I thought of shifting it one more time, this time adding a nod to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, to Jane.

And of course, Jane, John, Jonathan, and Theodore all have the same meaning and the same base Hebrew name. So basically, if I named a daughter Jane, I would be giving her the same name as my son. But I love all these names.

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