What’s In A Name?

As Game of Thrones ended this year, it was revealed that 2,542 children born in 2018 were named after the young heroine Arya. Baby names are always going in and out of fashion, while increasingly unusual new names become concocted (Abcde being a memorable one). Naming culture is constantly evolving and broadening.

This topic is of great interest to me because I am one of those insufferable people who have a comprehensive list of future baby names. Originally all my favourite names were based on my favourite book characters and many still are. A name like Lyra fits the bill of being inspired by a character but also relatively conventional. Katie Morag would be less subtle, but if I did Katie as the first name and Morag as the middle name I could maybe get away with it? Or if I named her after the Gaelic translation, Ceitidh Morag? Arriety is another favourite, a bit too ‘out there’ for a legal name but it could work as a nickname if I called her Harriet. Not that I’ve lain awake at night thinking about this or anything.

Naming your child after a favourite fictional character can be very appealing. It is, in a sense, a wish for all the things you want your baby to be. All the baby Aryas are going to grow up knowing that their parents believe that girls can be powerful, brave and resourceful. But what about the 560 babies born in the US last year named Khaleesi? There is a considerable risk to naming your child after a person or character. What if they have a fall from grace? What if the writers get lazy and give a likeable character a ridiculous plot twist?

I’m anticipating that there will be many more years before I become a parent, but my current favourite baby names are ones that are a lot more neutral. I really love Rowan, Eden and Briar: pretty, nature-inspired names that aren’t overtly gendered. Names that would be fitting for my long-haired hippy children with their homemade clothes and vegan lifestyles (of course the veganism would be a suggestion only). I haven’t planned their entire lives out for them, obviously.

Being a parent is a case of damage control: we must all try and minimise the ways in which we screw them up, and choosing their name should be thoroughly thought through. Luckily, our children will have the option of changing their name when we mess up on that front.

[Gracie Beswick – she/her – @graciebeeswax

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