5 things to avoid when creating a baby name


While researching baby names for this column over the past two years, I’ve come across some very (ahem) colourful suggestions for creating brand-new names out of thin air. I mean no disrespect to my fellow baby-name enthusiasts, but I feel it’s my duty to attempt to stop the following horrors from occurring. Here are five suggestions for creating your own moniker and why you shouldn’t follow them.

1. Combine parts of names

If your name is Penelope and your partner’s is Daniel, why not smash them together and call your baby Penaniel or Danelope? (I made this one up, but I have seen numerous examples out there in Internet Land that are just as bad and dead serious.)

You could also choose to honour your grandparents by combining their names, so Audrey and Ronald could become Audrald or Rodrey.

Or if you and your partner each have a favourite baby name and you simply can’t agree, mash ’em up to create a new one. Charlotte and Ruby could become Charby or Rulotte. Thomas and Ethan could be Thoman or Ethas. (Alas, similar examples abound).

Why you shouldn’t do this

Because it’s ridiculous. Just don’t. Please.

2. Change the spelling to honour someone

This one particularly depresses me because it takes a trend I dislike and puts an emotional twist on it so it becomes harder for me to ridicule without sounding like a total witch. “Oh, but I spelt my daughter’s name McKayla in honour of her late grandpa John McKenzie who died while saving 20 orphans and their kittens from a burning building.”

Sigh, what can I possibly say to that?

Why you shouldn’t do this

As I’ve said many times before, messing with the spelling of a name sets your kid up for a lifetime of headaches. If you want to honour someone, why not do it with your child’s middle name which they don’t have to use on a daily basis?

3. Get creative with your own names

If it’s a tradition in your partner’s family to pass on the same name to future generations but you don’t want to use his exact name, choose one that’s unnervingly similar to it. If his name is Julian, for example, you could name your son Jules or your daughter Julianna. You can also do the same with your own name if you really like it. So if you’re Erin, your son could be Aaron.

Why you shouldn’t do this

It’s weird to choose a name for your kid that’s same-same-but-different to your partner’s or your own. Stick to the family tradition if you must, or just pick a new name already.

4. Use your surname

Did you find it hard to give up your surname when you got married? No worries – it can live on in your child! Just whack it on their birth certificate as their first name and you’re sorted.

Why you shouldn’t do this

On the off-chance that your last name was something that’s acceptable as a first name, such as Harrison or Mackenzie, and that it actually sounds OK with your husband’s last name, it’s not so bad. But if you were formerly a Cockburn and your hubby is a Dickson, it’s a very bad idea.

5. Add a random apostrophe in the middle of it

Just not feeling the “O” in the middle of Thomas? Eff it off and whack an apostrophe in its place to make Th’mas. Heck, you don’t even need to follow the basic rules of punctuation that state that an apostrophe replaces an omitted letter. You can just put one in wherever you darn well please for style: Princ’ess, Kar’yn (notice the misspelling there, too – double whammy!) and Jas’on are totally legit.

Why you shouldn’t do this

No. Just no. I might have a heart attack and DIE. If you want that on your conscience, then go right ahead.