Duana Names: Committing to a Fit

Duana Posted by Duana at June 12, 2015 19:23:05 June 12, 2015 19:23:05


Just read your column on how tough boys names are, and that is right where we are. We don't know if we're having a boy or a girl, but we have lots of girls names that we love, and I have no concern that we'll be able to pick a name we love if we have a girl.

We are stumped on boys names. The main problem is that we love the one form of a few names, but aren't sure if we love the full version/nickname. We are people who will use the nickname more often than the full version.  The names I have loved for a long time are Rafa (Raphael) and Hugo.  I love Rafa, and also the alliteration with our R last name, but I don't know if I love Raphael.  We aren't French or Spanish, so would that seem odd to use that as our son's name?  I love love Hugo, but not Hugh.  I'm assuming people would call him that sometimes, if we went with that name?  Recently I started getting into Atticus, but don't know of a good nick name for it.

Can you talk me into fully committing to either of Raphael or Hugo? Or do you have other suggestions? My husband thinks I'm crazy because every boys name he suggests I say no to. He can't get a handle on what style of name I'm going for, and I can't explain it well either. For reference of what style of name that I like I'll give you our top contending girls names: Harriet, Alberta, Louisa, Luna, Imogen.

Thanks!  Excited to hear your thoughts.


So I think this is something that is important. You can’t name a kid Thomas and not expect Tom or Tommy. I’m so glad that you know this. But yeah, the other version is that you have to be comfortable with both names. You have to get down with every version that people are going to use. So if you aren’t into Raphael, even occasionally, from the second-grade teacher or your mom’s best friend who she golfs with, then I’m afraid you aren’t into Rafa. Now, there are other ways to get there: Rafa from Ralph, whether you pronounce it “Ralf” or “Rafe”, but really consider that the kid is gonna need a full name for when he’s an investment banker or United Nations lawyer. So there’s no reason not to use Rafael unless you actually, actively hate it.  Other names that feel this way, although not getting you to Rafa, are Marcel, Raoul, or even Raymond, which leads you to Ray, which I have been maintaining is an awesome and underused name.

For what it’s worth, I don’t share your concern about Hugo. That is, I think the name is more popular and easier to say than Hugh, and I think that while Hugh may be on the rise soon, I don’t think anyone would think to say Hugh for Hugo. Ever, actually.  So I send you wholeheartedly in that direction.

Do not name your kid Atticus. This is a hyper-trendy name, and everyone who chooses it likes it for the same reason, and you will be annoyed if your kid has the same name as three other kids at the farmer’s market. I know this because the names you’ve highlighted are not the popular names going around, and for what it’s worth, I like them all a lot, in this order: Harriet, Louisa, Imogen, Luna, Alberta.

So I actually think you’re less badly-off than you think you are, but if Rafa is the goal, you might have to get down with Raphael.

Let me know!

A note to name-nerd letter writers,

I love getting your letters. In order to give them the best chance of being answered in a timely fashion, could I please trouble you to include the due date in the subject line of your email? Also, please send only one email – duplicates are deleted and may result in your email not being answered. Thanks!

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