The name game

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but trying to choose the right name for your baby is still a BFD.

Almost from the time we broke our happy news, friends and family—and even strangers—have asked if we’ve picked out a name for Peeper. We’ve had lists going since before that fateful pregnancy test those three pregnancy tests but nothing has stuck yet. Now that our due date is less than two weeks away, the pressure is on!

Or maybe not. Eric’s brother and his wife just had their fifth child, and the little guy was nameless for three or four days before they settled on Sawyer James. As long as you have something to put on the birth certificate before you leave the hospital…

When going through our possibilities, Eric and I have brainstormed the potential schoolyard taunts, looked up meanings (why does every name have to do with fighting or God?) and recounted stories of people we know by the same name. Still, we’re undecided.

Eric, sporting his vacation hat, reads me ridiculous names from one of the books we brought to the beach.
Eric, sporting his vacation hat, reads me ridiculous names from one of the books we brought to the beach.

It turns out that names might subtly influence more than just how kids tease you on the playground. Female lawyers with more “masculine,” or androgynous, names like Kerry were more likely to become judges than lawyers with exclusively female names, according to a post in the New Yorker. Women with more feminine names are more likely to elect classes in the humanities rather than math and science, says another study, and people are more drawn to careers that mimic the sounds of their names, explains this article. So there tend to be more Dennis dentists because “we’re all unconsciously attracted to things that remind us of ourselves.”

How much is all this true? Well, the stats bear out the studies—but I have a hard time basing our naming choices on such research. Names are extremely personal, and when I veto one Eric suggests, it’s most often because I don’t like the sound of it or my gut says, “No way.”

For now, then, we’ll keep our lists. Hell, we haven’t even decided on the kid’s last name. The idea is that after Peeper arrives, we’ll come to know what to call him or her. Unless we just give up and settle on Peeper.

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