What’s In A Name?

Choosing your child’s name might be harder than you think.

1st May, 2014.

When it comes to baby names, celebrities are apparently above reproach. We classic non-celebrities would question the sanity of our friends if they gave their child the name North West, but it’s not like Kim and Kanye are going to incur the dinner party finger-wag like the rest of us.

Naming a child is difficult. There’s so much to consider and prepare for. Whilst it might be the domain of celebrities to break the rules, there are clear do’s and don’ts for the rest of us to strictly follow.

Firstly, it’s a good place to start by avoiding anything remotely connected to a natural disaster or tropical disease. Sure, ‘Chernobyl’ sounds exotic, but it probably shouldn’t be the first choice. Likewise, no-one should look at their newborn and say, “Honey, let’s call her Malaria.” DOCS probably has a whole team devoted to flushing out this sort of parental abuse. It can’t hurt to Google before saddling the hapless babe with a misbegotten moniker. They’re going to have it for the whole of their life, so it’s pretty important to get it right.

Some names just don’t suit a newborn. A classic warning is if the name suits your grandmother’s bingo buddies better than your toddler. Of course, you may want your five year old to enjoy BBC documentaries and smell like mothballs. No judgment, do what you like.

Historic and literary names are particularly difficult. In one sense, you want something unique that will inspire your child to greatness, but you don’t want to overwhelm them. Imagine the expectations on the sixteen year old Aphrodite. Or, the insurmountable life achievement goals of your son, Romeo! If he’s not dead by thirty, he’s already failed.

When choosing a name, the child’s future career options should be considered. It’s one thing to make like Frank Zappa’s daughter and use Diva Muffin, but it is a completely irresponsible if there is any aspiration of her becoming the leader of the United Nations. “I call to the stand, Secretary-General Ms. Diva Muffin McAllister.” Queue dignitary giggling.

Food names should also be avoided. The world was only just able to cope with Condoleezza Rice and Kofi Annan but it’s doubtful something like Teriyaki Chicken will ever be accepted. When questioned on the name choice of her daughter Apple, Gwyneth Paltrow said that “Apples are so sweet and they’re wholesome, and it’s biblical…” That may be true, but it’s also irrelevant. An apple is a food, not a person.

A child’s name has the power to affect their destiny. Celebrities can afford to risk that when they name their children, because after all what matters when you’re famous is not social dignity but rather shock value. Just look at Lady Gaga (if that is your real name). Naming a child is not like naming a Melbourne Cup horse; the ideal does not make the best headline pun.

It may stand as a vulgar reminder but we need to keep in mind that Princess Di, really did.