Hi Duana,

My husband and I are expecting our first baby in early November and are hitting a bit of a wall on names. We were in agreement about baby girl names for the most part (Dorothy/Dotty as a front runner) and only found out the gender because we were pretty divided on boy names.

As fate would have it, we're having a boy! On paper it should be simple, we both seem to like southern names. In reality my husband seems to like hillbilly-esque names, like Ricky* (not short for anything) and Gunnar, or names with a heavy religious connotation (we are not religious in the least) like Jebediah, Issac, and Jeremiah. I have used up valuable vetoes on the above, and couldn't even bring myself to pretend to have dated a Ricky in order to have it excluded without penalty. I like Winston, Franklin, Fletcher (Fletch), Deacon, all of which he has vetoed.

We seem to agree on a couple names but I'm just not 100% behind them yet, maybe that won't happen until we meet our little guy but I'm hoping you might have some suggestions for us to mix things up a bit. We both like Shane, Wyatt, and (lukewarmly) Ethan.

Wyatt would actually be my preference but with our last name it sounds like a type of food (Wyatt Rice- White Rice, still better than Sticky Ricky Rice).

For middle names we are going to go with a family name, potentially Randall, Donald, or Robert.

Any help or new ideas would be very much appreciated! We're planning on having a couple kids so having some possibilities on reserve would mean I can stop inventing past boyfriends (who all amazingly have crappy names).

* I'm sorry to all the Ricky's out there

Thank you!


You know how, when you get to a certain level of interest and engagement with something, everyone sends you every article they see about it? Like if you’re really into, say, veganism, every friend your Mom has ever had from work is laboriously passing on articles or links?

I’m no different, especially in the last year or so when there have been a bunch of slow-news-day stories about name consultants making millions by creating new names for people who pay thousands for them. But (putting aside that certain stories lack that ring of, you know, truth) I now have the perfect response, all thanks to you!

I’m going to make a name-your-baby party game! You can have x number of vetoes, like you say above, but if you dated someone with that name it can be excluded without spending one of your vetoes. And I assume you can bargain for a ‘wild card’ spot that’s a no-questions-asked, the kind of name your partner would never even consider? Get the Cards Against Humanity people on the phone.

The joking comes from the fact that you’re facing the same issues as everyone else, but you’re being so amusing about it – which means you get a pass on some things that would otherwise raise my eyebrow. For example, I have a whole line of Rickys here, from My So-Called Life’s Rickie on down the line, ready to tell you how it’s not a ‘hillbilly name’; also, despite the fact that they do appear in the bible, I don’t know a lot of people who would automatically think of Isaac or Jeremiah as biblical. (Jebediah, okay, you’re getting closer.) 

The great news is that you have a pretty good handle on what your style is, and I really like that the names you love – Wyatt and Ethan and Shane – all have long vowel sounds, and, as you say, a ‘twang’. That’s a great place to start, even if half the names I’m going to suggest violate that rule in one way or another.

The key, as usual, is to choose names that are slightly less popular, not because any of the names you’ve suggested are “too popular”, but to help you disassociate from images you might think they already have. For example, I felt like it was time to choose something with a ‘V’ – Virgil? Victor? Or maybe you want something like Caleb or Reed or Zane – they are kind of twangy, but there’s a significant overlap with hipster names, so you can find one that might work? Levi is, of course, technically biblical, but also falls into this category of fitting into both worlds. It’s not what you asked for, but I think it might be what you want.

The say-their-own-name vowel thing points to the trend of names ending in ‘O’, but I don’t think Milo or Enzo or Otto are for you. But that doesn’t mean O might not work for you in the sense of Orson or Orville or Oscar…or if they’re not for you, how about Amos or Jasper or Otis? How about something akin to, but not the same as Fletcher—would you ever go with Forest, or Forrester?

Let me know what you choose, but be a little willing to uncategorize some of the names that might be too far in one direction or another. Also, please send me a note saying you totally absolve any rights to the Name Game/party trick which you created and I will monetize! K thanks!