My husband and I are due with our first baby (a boy!) on June 18. We are at a stand off when it comes to names. Our last name is Veselka. It’s a Czech name that sounds exactly like it is spelled, but it stumps so many people. We have to spell it for almost everyone. His family is very Czech (grandparents only spoke Czech in the home.) My family is mostly English and Irish and I seem to be kind of partial to the Irish names. We don’t want a name that is TOO common since we both grew up with pretty common names, but we don’t want anything off the wall either. I think that’s every parent’s wish (except those crazy few.)
My husband’s name is Steven Rey. His dad’s name is Reynold and he goes by Rey, that’s where the Rey comes in. My name is Megan Anne. Simple, normal names. I want our son to have a name that is easy to pronounce and spell since he will most likely have to spell his last name for everyone already. This is the first grandchild on Steve’s side and the 4th grandchild on mine, all boys. That doesn’t really make a big difference, but it does make me want to kind of honor his side of the family some since this is the first.
Originally, my husband REALLY wanted to name our son Riggins, as in John Riggins, the old Washington Reskins football player who was his idol growing up. He loves last names for first names. I vetoed Riggins because, well, just no. I told him it’s a great dog name. We have been calling the baby Riggins kind of like you’d call him Peanut or something as a fetus nickname.
I would like our son to have his dad’s middle name, Rey, but I am not set on that. I’m not opposed to using other family names as middle names, whether they are from his side or mine.
My favorite name for our son: Emerson Rey
My husband’s favorite name for our son: Quinn (he hasn’t suggested a suitable middle name and I think Quinn Rey just does not sound that great)
We can’t seem to think of any other names we really like.
Here are some family names, both from his side and mine
Gordon, Emil, Robert, David, Henry, Jordan, Alden
So! Those are the details and I know I didn’t give you much to work with, but maybe you or your readers can help with some suggestions. Thanks so much!
Let’s start by taking a look at the name Emerson. I’m glad to have a chance to discuss it, because we received another letter awhile back asking if it was still a usable name for a boy, but I ran out of time that week and didn’t get to it; so if you’re thinking, “Wait, but I didn’t ask about this aspect of it,” that’s the explanation.
Here’s a look at the current usage of the name for girl (F) and boy (M) babies in the United States, and how it’s been changing over the last ten years:
2003: 324 F; 265 M
2004: 268 F; 266 M
2005: 683 F; 387 M
2006: 1068 F; 469 M
2007: 1079 F; 537 M
2008: 1161 F; 583 M
2009: 1016 F; 638 M
2010: 1009 F; 635 M
2011: 1149 F; 734 M
2012: 1301 F; 828 M
As you can see, the current usage of the name Emerson is unisex, rising for both girls and boys, with about half-again more girls given the name than boys. In 2012 in the U.S., it was the 364th most popular name for boys and the 244th most popular name for girls.
Alternate spellings should be factored in as well; there are more spellings than this, but I stuck to the ones with at least 20 babies given the name:
Emersen: 56 F; 12 M
Emersyn: 455 F; 8 M
Emmerson: 134 F; 9 M
Emmersyn: 57 F; – M
If we add those numbers to the 2012 numbers for the spelling Emerson, we have 2003 female babies and 828 male babies: more than double the number of girls than boys. The name Emerson fits well with the Madison/Addison trend, as well as with the recent popularity of Em- names for girls; for boys, it fits well with surname names such as Mason and Grayson.
Now that I’ve written out all this data, what is my point? It’s not that you shouldn’t use the name for a boy: tons of boys are still being given the name, and the usage is still unisex. But it’s good to know the numbers going into it. I have an acquaintance who named her son Mackenzie without realizing the current usage was primarily for girls (the only Mackenzie she knew was a male family member). It’s turned out fine (he goes by Mack), and she likely would have used the name anyway—but she didn’t enjoy the surprise of finding out after the fact.
I can’t tell from the letter how each of you feels about the other one’s top name choice. If the issue is that you each have your own favorite name and neither one of you wants to use the other one’s favorite, the most likely (and painful) solution is that both favorites will need to be scrapped and the search will need to start again—not for names you like as well as the names that had to be scrapped, but for the names you like best out of the choices that remain. Or maybe one of you would accept being the middle name choice: Emerson Quinn or Quinn Emerson. Or if you’re planning to have more children, and since both names work for both sexes, one name could be used for this child and the other for the next—though this is risky, as parents often feel differently about names with each baby. Or one of you might give up a favorite in exchange for another desired name: for example, would your husband agree to Emerson if Riggins could be the middle name? Would you agree to Quinn if you had more choice in the middle name?
One way to get more ideas for a shortish list is to chop up a name into the reasons you might like it, and then look for other names that match any of those pieces. Maybe you like the Em- sound of Emerson, in which case I might suggest Emmett and Jeremy and Remy and Emory—or Emil from your middle name list. Maybe you like the -son sound, in which case I might suggest Carson, Hudson, Lawson, Wilson, Samson, or Greyson. Maybe you like the unisex nature of the name, in which case I might suggest Avery, Rory, Rhys, Rowan, Finley, Casey, or Ellis—or Jordan from the middle name list, or your husband’s choice of Quinn. Maybe it’s something more general about the sound of the name, in which case I might suggest Anderson, Garrison, Harrison, Edison, or Davison. Maybe you like surname names, in which case I might add Davis, Bennett, Miller, Redford, Thompson, or Wells. Maybe it’s the poetry connection, in which case I might suggest Byron, Whitman, Blake, Tennyson, or Eliot. Maybe the name has another sentimental association for you, in which case I’d look for more names with similar associations.
We can do the same with Quinn. Finn, Quentin, Finnegan, Finnian, Griffin, Quincy, Zane, Flynn, Teague, Dean, Sullivan, Tiernan, Keane, Ian, Bryce, Kieran, Sean, Felix, Briggs, Seth, John, Casey.
Or there’s the game of baby-name-book surfing I like to play with The Baby Name Wizard: start with Emerson, and look at the suggested brother names: Everett, Paxton, Whitman, Beckett, Miles, Truman. Pick your favorite of those (even if you’re only so-so about all of them), and then look up THAT name and ITS brother names, and pick your favorite of THOSE. If you hit a dead end (for example, the name you like best doesn’t have its own entry), go back and choose again. Keep going until you feel like you’re narrowing in on a circle of preferred names or a preferred TYPE of name. Or maybe you’ll find that every name you choose belongs to the same one or two categories, so you can flip to the back and look more carefully through those categories. Another type of success is to think, “I really don’t like ANY of these names”—which may mean the name you’re looking at is an outlier for your style.
I keep finding treasures on your middle name list. Would you rather not use a family name as the first name? If you don’t mind it, I love Alden and Gordon especially. Alden would probably need to be spelled—but I think that’s okay. Both my maiden and married surnames have needed to be spelled every single time (and often more than once), and my first name also needs to be spelled every single time, but I wouldn’t say it’s been a big deal. Most first names (even easy ones) need to be spelled.
I think I’d add Riggins to the middle name list: I like Quinn Riggins, though then the name is very heavily chosen by your husband; I’d want to have an agreement in place to try to even that out with the next child.
Would your husband like to use John Riggins’s first name instead of his last name? Depending on where you live, John as a first name can be quite a fresh and surprising choice—like Mary for a girl, where it feels like such a common name but it’s not common at all for current babies. John has a similar sound to Quinn, and John Emerson Veselka would be a very handsome choice.