I’m due with our second child, a baby girl in 6 weeks. We like unique first names with personally significant middle names and we have an 18 month old whose name we still absolutely love, Atticus, with his middle name being the name of the small town where we met & got married. We’ve had this baby’s full name picked out since before we even knew she was a girl but suddenly I’m having second thoughts. Her first name starts with E and is unique but a recognizable and easily pronounceable one-syllable word. Her middle name will be Elizabeth, a 4th generation name from my mother’s side, and our last name is two syllables and starts with W. My husband and I both love the name and have already revealed it to a few close friends and family members to positive reviews. But have you figured out my problem? Her initials will be EEW. I know it’s not the way most people spell eww when they’re talking about something gross and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to use my full initials for something but I can see the potential teasing of “Your parents named you ewwww?!” written all over it. Is that what it makes you think of?
I’ve thought about changing the spelling to Alizabeth to avoid the issue altogether but it feels like it would be taking something away from the family significance of the name. I’ve also considered adding another middle name before the Elizabeth but it feels wrong to just tag some other random name along that we don’t really care about just to change her initials. I’ve also thought of shortening the middle name to Beth, which I don’t like as well, but it sounds terrible when said aloud with her first name. What should we do? Am I making a bigger deal of this than I should be? Should we stick with it and hope it’s not something that comes up often? Are there any other spellings we could use or maybe foreign options of Elizabeth or…? I don’t want to give up the name we love but I also don’t want it to become an issue she’s unhappy with later and have her name tainted for me anyway with “Why did we do that to her?” guilt.
I keep telling my husband he wasn’t even in the room when I filled out the birth certificate for Atticus so I could change the spelling to Alizzabegth if I really felt like it but I don’t think that’s going to go over well!
Help! Time is running out!
I would not change the family name. There are many alternate spellings and other-language variations on the name Elizabeth, but if it’s for fourth-generation family significance I wouldn’t mess around with it.
You don’t mention the option of changing the first name/spelling, so I assume that’s not changeable.
Well, it’s a difficult situation. In general, I don’t like initials to spell things—even good things. And initials such as EEW or EWW are not great. But…I’m disinclined to try at this point to talk you out of a name you’ve solidly chosen just to avoid some initials. If the name were, for example, Anna Sue Stevens, I would tell you that sad as it may be, an alternative would need to be chosen; but EEW seems on the line to me. I’d certainly avoid it if I thought of it beforehand, but this is very close to being afterhand.
My favorite “solves the whole thing” solution is for you to add another middle name. I agree with you that it seems silly to just toss a random name in there merely for the purpose of solving the problem—but I think if we avoid the random and the tossing and instead find a name you DO love, or a name with significance, that it no longer seems silly at all. It takes the name you love and improves it in two ways: by getting rid of the problem initials, and by letting you use an additional name you love.
If the name Elizabeth is from your side of the family, are there women on your husband’s side you might like to honor? Or perhaps a surname with a pretty sound? Or your own maiden name? E__ Elizabeth Name Surname is the order I’m thinking of. I think this could end up being a very pleasing revision, and fun to choose.
Name update! Amy writes:
Hi Swistle. A few weeks ago you helped my husband and I with the initials problem for our daughter- EEW. Your advice and all the comments helped us to feel confident to go ahead and use the name we loved the way it was and that the initials really weren’t that big of a deal. Elm Elizabeth W. was born on Monday and she’s perfect, just like her name. Sending along a picture. Thank you and your readers so much!