So here’s my question:  My husband and I are pregnant with our first child and have always agreed that we were going to name our child, if he is a boy, first name – Buster, middle name - Joseph.

You should see the looks, including looks of horror, that we have gotten from friends and family, along with comments such as “For a nickname, right?”, “On the birth certificate?”, “Good thing your grandparents aren’t alive to hear that” and “Oh god, no!”  I’m not so much bothered by people’s unsolicited opinions on our first born’s name, because for my husband and I, it just feels right. I believe names are really important but I don’t believe that the name Buster will disadvantage our child in any way.

What does concern me is that maybe we are blind to how “horrible” the name is.  I have seen it on “names you should never name your child” and “names that sound like pets” name lists and otherwise, there really isn’t a lot of opinion on it, on the internet anyway.  Our second choice, which we really like also, is Oscar, to be called “Ozzy”.  We have discussed using Buster as a nickname, but don’t like any other “B” names, and if we don’t plan on calling the kid anything other than Buster, what is the point?  Are we crazy?  I think it will, but want to know if you think it will it pass the name-on-the-resume test when the kid is looking for a job?  I would love your opinion on our sanity (or genius)!  Thank you so much!


Okay, well, before I begin, I want to remind you that you asked. You wrote in… so…I’m gonna answer you.

Here goes: I’m confused. You say it just feels right for the two of you and then at the same time say maybe you don’t know how horrible it is? Am I being punked here?  Maybe I am. 

But if not, I really have to ask what you’re thinking! I know you want a kid named Buster Brown who grins and has a messy freckle face or whatnot, but this is a name that applies when he’s four to twelve, max. What if he becomes a sullen teenager?  Are you still going to want to call him Buster if he never smiles? What if he goes goth or is a devoted ballet dancer or never swings a baseball bat in his life?

The problem is that “Buster” quite literally means busting things up. Being a bruiser, a knock-em-down bull in a china shop. That’s the meaning of the word. So first of all, why do you want to apply that label to a child? Again, fine for me if you want to nickname him that, it’s kind of a throwback and I won’t complain. But give the kid an out! You’re basically saying he can only be one very, very narrow kind of kid. What if he’s skinny and wears glasses and has adenoids? It’s going to be clear he doesn’t fit the expectations you have for him.

This is why, if you choose a formal name – even something hilarious like Bertrand or my beloved Bartholomew or Blakely or something – he’s got something else. A name he can fall back on if it turns out he doesn’t bust quite as much as you think.  

Oh, and then there’s that. You know the expression “Bust a nut”? It’s not exactly delicate, but it means to forcefully expel the contents of one’s balls. You with me?  And you know me, I mostly think kids get made fun of for everything, why distinguish? But if you call your kid Buster, he is going to be called “Buster Nut” every day for years, and it’s going to really bother him.  And that’s on you!

Look, if you really want a rock ‘em, sock ‘em nickname, go to it. I know of a guy named Chet who wears it well, I grew up with a Chuck who lived to tell the tale. But please, please give Buster a break. As in do not do this. It’s a bad idea.

You asked.