LOVE your advice and hoping you can help us here...
My husband and I are expecting our first child, a boy, due this fall, and landed on a name we both adored from about Week 6 of pregnancy-- ARCHIE. Not Archer or Archibald, but Archie. Fast forward to that fateful day in early May when-- not to sound dramatic-- my child naming dreams crushed upon me and I realized we could no longer use it.
Our main issue using this name is that I am American, my husband is British, we live in California, and are right around Meghan's age. Of course, everyone will think we are copycats and/or weird Royalphiles (spoiler alert: I am and people know this about me). I am also just worried in general about the name's popularity increasing, but think it will be more of an issue in the UK (where I realize it was #18 in the past couple years from my pre Archie M-W research), and not the US, right? We are thinking we will sit on the naming for a while to see if we feel differently in October and if Master Archie really will be kept more private than the Cambridge children, but would like to start brainstorming others in case we need to pivot.
Alfie as an alternative came up, but we have a concern he might be on the small side due to genetics, and feel he needs a more guttural sounding letter in his name to compensate for his likely size.
There are a variety of Gaelic and Anglo names I like that my husband thinks are "chav" like Callum and Trevor, respectively. I also brought up Van, but because we have a side business that revolves around a VW 1960s bus, my husband thinks it's a bit too on the nose.
Other names I've considered (some pulled from your columns!):
Declan – Flynn – Griffin – Kieran- Nash – Rex – Rory – Rowan – Sullivan – Tate – Vaughn – Walt – Wyatt – Wylie.
In addition, our last name starts and ends with "S" so no first names that start with that letter.
Do we stick with the one we adore, or reconsider?
Thank you, thank you!
There should be no mystery about why I chose this letter today – those baby-meets-world-leader pictures appeared, and frankly, I think they almost render this column irrelevant, but let’s elaborate on why:
Come on! He looks like the platonic ideal of what you think of when you think ‘baby’ – and you know I don’t mean because he’s wealthy or anything about his physical appearance that dog-whistle pundits might vaguely gesture towards. Give me a little credit – I mean, he’s bald and smiley and giggly, and, as our friend Lorella pointed out, his socks are about ready to make a run for it. He’s a baby!
And his name is Archie! A name that is great for an adult but also allows for you to squeal ‘Archieeeee’! It’s a perfect name.
But more importantly, there’s no downside to any comparisons that may come up. Sure, you may run into people who make a grand point of saying, “Well he’s our baby Archie, not to be confused with their baby Archie!”, but, so what? It doesn’t change that it’s a great and charming name, and one you can’t wait to call your baby, does it?
“But people will think we got the idea from them!” This is where the real trouble comes up, isn’t it? I am thrilled beyond reason that the culture of naming has been changed so that we put a premium on individuality, after decades, probably peaking in the 80s, of rigorous conformity. But the thing is – everyone gets ideas from somewhere!
Trends start because you see a thing, and decide you want to try it out, or that it might work for you. I saw Kerry Washington the other night at the Emmys wearing ‘my’ haircut, and I labour under no illusions that she got the idea from me – but there are a million trends I’m not choosing, too, you know?
Moreover, I want to point out something about your paragraph that says:
“Our main issue using this name is that I am American, my husband is British, we live in California, and are right around Meghan's age. Of course, everyone will think we are copycats and/or weird Royalphiles (spoiler alert: I am and people know this about me)”
Okay – let’s go into this a little bit. So you’re a couple who have the same respective nations of origin as Harry and Meghan, and you have an affection for them, and so people will think you copied them…
Honey! This is the most negative possible extrapolation of these facts you could possibly come up with! My immediate take would be, “Sure, I guess the fact that we’re similar in those ways could point to a similar affection for Archie, the greatest name of all time.” You could point out your great taste that you’re pleased they share, or that their choosing Archie has pleasantly rewritten people’s former associations with the name which were previously (and so tiresomely!) either Bunker or Andrews. You could point out that it takes a certain sophistication to choose or enjoy the name!
Now, the next part of this Come-To-Archie talk is ‘why do you care what other people think?’ I don’t want to be disingenuous – I know that name choices are an expression of our tastes, that we all want to be seen as discerning individuals, and that our culture, including this column, has put a premium on having opinions about names at all.
But I want you to think about the names of other babies you know, in your family or your circle. Are there some that seem ho-hum or safe? Guaranteed. Are there some that strike you as desperately trendy, or even a bit lazy? I bet there are. Are there some that you feel are obviously derived from an affection for Game Of Thrones, or that you know they’d never considered before they read The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants? For that matter, do you have friends whose own names strike you as boring, pedestrian, trying too hard, or just not that exciting?
(By the way, every single person reading this column is either answering yes, or is a liar. See what I did there, by self-servingly constructing that paragraph so broadly?)
Do you feel any differently about those people than you did before? Do you feel any differently about those children?
Here’s the beautiful thing about names, in and among all the other beautiful things: all names come from somewhere, some inspiration or other. But then when they’re attached to people, they become individual and associated with the person and traits that we know and love – ergo, the judgments, including positive ones, we have about names as concepts are generally eradicated once we meet the people attached to them. Ever meet someone with a great name who turned out to be horrible? Sure. Vice versa? All the time.
So. You could choose another name, but that would mean you let people’s theoretical opinions about you or your child’s name supersede what you thought was the best possible choice – and is that the first parenting decision you want to make? That you want your kid to know about? “We worried about what other people would think, so we went a different way?”
Now, I know that argument is tiptoeing toward a straw man. And if you weren’t sure if it was the right name – if you’d been hemming and hawing over it but it was all you could think of – this would be a different conversation, for sure. But you love it, and so rejecting it because people might assume you were inspired from a different place than you actually were seems… drastic. Or, put another way, everyone feels like they chose the best name there is, because otherwise they wouldn’t have chosen it (except in cases of pushy families/regret, but that’s another column). So you know, going in, that someone isn’t going to love your name choice as much as you do but that’s the nature of the beast, you know?
Now, you do lose out on the joy of ‘reintroducing’ the name in your circle or even community. I’m not going to lie about that. But the novelty of people going “Oh, that name, I had forgotten that was an option” is a sporadic hit of joy that lasts between three weeks and three years, give or take. Getting to call your child by the name you love, dozens or hundreds of times a day, depending on how late they are getting their shoes on? That one lasts a lifetime – and ultimately that’s what I’d choose.
Let us know!