Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reclaiming names...

Deciding on names for the babies has been hard work. Picking one name was fine, fun even, it didn't take long before there was one that jumped out at us as just right. But then we had to pick another, one that didn't clash with the first but also didn't match it too closely (Emma and Gemma, Chloe and Zoe, Celia and Delia, Aimie and Jamie were all big on the web. I'll let you guess for yourself what we thought.)

But pick one we did. Eventually. But not without some enlightening discussion along the way. For example N had no idea that I liked names with so many syllables (Boy is seriously dyslexic and vetoed anything he couldn't spell. Bye bye Persephone and Ciorstaidh) and I had no idea he would be such a gigantic pain in the ass about names that 'belonged' to someone or something else.

There was a name that I loved but it just so happened to also belong to a national chef who was big about 10 years ago. N said he would never be able to hear the name without thinking of her. I told him that was rubbish and that within days of having our babies that name would be nothing but our baby's name, that he and everyone else would forget about that other one. He said I was wrong.

So I used the example of a friend who has a little girl who has an amazing name which also happens to be the name of a brand of beer. I told him that from a few days from her birth whenever I heard that name I thought of her and nothing else, and he did too, right? Wrong. Apparently he will always and forever hear 'beer. Crap beer' when her name is mentioned. WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?

I would have happily called our girls both of these names, I love these names and the fact that they 'belonged' to other people or things would never have crossed my mind. To me they're just great names and I would reclaim them in an instant.

What think you? Can you reclaim a name once it's gained recognition as a national or international brand or personality? Would you hear 'beer' or would you hear your dear friend's sweet kid's name whenever someone mentioned Stella?

* photo by Dave Knapik


  1. I have to say, I get the same thing. I knew an Iona in school who was evil incarnate and basically talked my friend out of giving her daughter the name (awful, I know).
    Also, my other half loves a very unusual name from a Scottish film we saw years ago but the character with said name is cheated on and dies of a terrible illness so I can't bring myself to name a child after that!
    I was named after the daughter from Gone With The Wind. Who dies. Made me think my parents weren't all that keen on me...

  2. I happen to love Stella Artois (the beer) and I know several little girls named Stella, and I have honestly NEVER thought "beer" when I see them or hear them called. I think "star" if anything...

    I agree with you on this one. Once you have the baby, the name will grow on you and belong only to your sweet baby!

    We adopted a dog named Jackie and even though I was not at all fond of that name, it is HIS now, and he is the best dog to ever walk the planet, and so now I think that name is wonderful. THE BEST.


    my best friend had this exact problem. every name she thought of, she would relate to someone or something else that had that name. she had the worst time finally picking one.

    i, however, am definitely on your side with this one. if you truly love a name, it shouldn't matter where it comes from. joe and i had our names picked within a couple of weeks. our girl's name, although not common, is highly recognizable... i'm not scared. ;)

    good luck, p.

  4. Perhaps I am a hermit, but I had no idea there was a beer by the name of Stella. But then I am in Wisconsin.

    I personally think of that movie where the guy is running around yelling "Stella!!!!", always seems to be parodied in everything else. It was Marlon Brando who had the line I believe.

  5. If we have a son, I'd like to name him after my husband, Jason, but he refuses because he said he was called Gayson all through school. We've tabled that argument for when we actually have the baby.

    I named my daughter after an obnoxious MTV actress but I say it's after the US president. ^_^

  6. Honestly, I don't think it matters all that much... As long as the name you pick doesn't have a high beat-up factor. Someone will always associate someone's name with something else - it's inevitable.

    We plan on having a short list of names we love so that when we actually meet the baby, we can go with whichever feels right. I've known several parents who decided on names and changed them when the baby was born because they just didn't fit the child. Have a back-up plan :-)

  7. I love the name Stella but Nate vetoed it... because of the beer. Basically he has the same attitude as Nye. He thought it was ridiculous that I even muttered the name Serena, because of Ms Williams. Like she's someone awful or something?! Weird. It's like any association at all is too much for him. Which is probably why we ended up gong for a name neither of us had ever heard of before I got pregnant. Then there was an episode of Wife Swap towards the end of my pregnancy with a less-than-desirable family with a little girl called Talia. We just hoped no one we knew saw it or noticed her name!

    Since her birth, people like to tell us when they meet a Talia. "How old was she?" we always ask. We don't want it to be climbing the charts, see. But we're weird like that. (I have no idea why really, I always loved my very popular name, and our surname is rare. Like I said to you the other day, the combination makes for a very unusual name... funny how things turn out, I used to name my dollies Rebecca and Rachel.)

  8. I think it's important that you both like the name you pick for your baby. The exception to this is if he tends to come around to your way of thinking in the end.

    My husband tends to balk at "off the beaten track" ideas until he's either had a chance to "get there" on his own or to realise I'm not backing down.

    If you love the name go for it and good luck with it all.

  9. I had thought that after a long labour my laid back husband would let me have the final say about both our boys names, but like the carpet choice he had strong opinions! (he has only ever made two decisions the names and the carpets?)

    Anyway we couldn't name them for ages! until we told his mother what we were thinking of and she went mad - she said what an awful choice for her grandson - of course we chose it after that performance!

    Its amazing how many people freely give their opinions when you say, and influence you - I say stick to your guns its your decision. I found choosing a name a lot harder than giving birth - really!

  10. I have just almost had heart failure that you were about to disclose the names to the world without telling your nearest and dearest first! I was so glad to reach the end of the post and find that you are keeping us all in suspenders. The names are going to have to match the babies, so I reckon you might have a complete change of heart when you see them. Can't wait to find out. xxx

  11. Yeah, Stella always makes me think of A Streetcar Named Desire, which was (AHEM) a play before it was a movie. But I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. It's a really great play ;)

  12. The bonus to giving your kid a name that is familiar to people -- for whatever reason -- is they will know how to SPELL IT.

  13. I say you should whatever name you love! :)

  14. AGREE on people knowing how to spell it. (Have never heard Ciorstaidh before, and - ?!!? wishing I could even imagine how to pronounce it.) At least if people can link it to something they may know how to say your name (if it's remotely unusual). On the other hand, people do give you crap about it. I've been the brunt of Eliza Dolittle jokes my *entire life*. So, it's a double edged sword.

  15. stella makes me think "STELLLAAAA."
    (i'm with ya, esb)

    but i think i could get over it, if she was cute enough.

    the girls' name we picked is apparently a character in an old tv show. and i did not know this. but everyone INSISTS on telling me.

    we're still sticking with it.

  16. Someone is always going to have something to say, regardless of what name you choose, so you may as well go with whatever you love the most.

    I love the name Stella and would definitely use it should the occasion ever rise, but I'd be constantly tempted to re-enact Elaine from Seinfeld :)

  17. stella just reminds me of elaine from seinfeld screaming it. which i love to imitate after a few stellas if ya know what i mean. fun fact: i have a dear friend named jameson yingling. (someones parents like to knock some back huh?)

    i have a little trouble with name association, because mine - holli sims, comes pretty close to "molly sims" a victorias secret model & crappy actress. i just tell everyone we're sisters (har har) but in, fact, i was named after a carbuerator, which is spelled holley. huh.

    any-hoo, i wouldn't want my child to have the same name as a person i knew/know that instantly comes to mind. like, say, courtney. that bitch.

    the fiance and i have decided on "dude bro" for a boy and "poppy" for a girl. though we're very american we'll speak in british accents in front of poppy till she's a teen so she says "'ello, oim poppy harrington" really cute.

    that's all.

  18. I'm in the Streetcar Named Desire camp. I'd think of the play before I thought of Artois. But if I had a friend with a little Stella, I'd probably eventually think of her and then the play. The beer would be a very distant 3rd association.

    Familiar names *can* be good for easy spelling, but not so much when there are 10 different ways to spell the name. (I got Krysty once...)

  19. I agree that no matter what you go with, someone, somewhere will try to mess with the names, so just make sure you are happy with them. Also, we named our son William at birth (2am) then looked at him after a good sleep and said, "what were we thinking!" Now he is Samuel. One of my best friends just had twin girls, they were named simone and renee, after her MIL and her MIL's sister. Maybe name them after a pair of wonderful siblings?

  20. i agree with him. i can't help it, but names always remind me of things. so they better be good things or my babies are screwed.

  21. I love the name Stella! Had a Great great aunt (who I never met) who was called Aunt Stell, short for Stella - our family told fabulous stories about her and she had incredible style and fashion sense (circa 1920's). I'd say for that reason that Stella is on my (hypothetical) name list.

    By the way, I very much like Stella Artois, it was one of the first beers I tried and actually liked, but I had never associated the name with the beer in that way!

  22. Wade has an aunt named Stella, and I don't think people think of the beer ... though Wade sometimes yells "Stella" like he's Stanely from A Streetcar named Desire, a connection others have noticed.

    Of course, the popularity of Stella as a name came from "Stella Maris", which I believe means "star of the sea", which I think is a lovely association!!

    I wonder, was Anonymous named Bonnie after the daughter who died, or did they just like the name? There's more to a name than one connotation :)

  23. I actually love the name Stella. Although I think of the designer not the beer.

    I change my mind about what I want to call our hypothetical babies all the time. I imagine it's even harder when you're actually having one! X

  24. It is difficult to 're-claim' I think, names get associations that are hard to shift. For example, when you hear 'Nigel' you think anorak, geek etc. and yet there are a few Nigel's out there who aren't at all (um...Nigel Havers). Similarly names that are deemed 'ugly', 'chavy', 'old fashioned' etc. Sometimes a name is so heavily branded that it becomes impossible to not think of the brand upon hearing it. Ariel is a lovely name and despite a mermaid and a Sylvia Plath association it's virtually unused becuase well, washing powder right? I think Stella is already there if not completely there. I think beer, I'm afraid.

    I'm afraid I too have names I veto becuase of people I have known with those names, I could never ever name a child Louise, for example and Verity is so totally ruined for me.

    So I think I agree with your other half on this one. *g*

  25. Oh, goodness..! There is always someone or something that has been named before you - so unless you go for nonsense language, there will always be some sort of association.

    (Just my two cents.)

    This is fun..! And two GIRLS!!! I did not know. Fantastic news all around.

    We have friends who named their dog (I know - not the same, still) Naia. There is a bottle water company named that. I still love the name.

    The names you choose will be your kids' names - all associations will fade because you'll choose the names that are right for them. And you.


  26. As someone who has spent a life associated with "The Margarine for Men", I can honestly say it's been 50:50...

    50% idiots taking the piss, and 50% lovely people saying what a pretty name.

    Rarely is it forgotten though.

  27. My husband said exactly the same thing about Stella, which just happens to be one of my very favorite names. Ditto Olivia. He can't hear that without either a, thinking of a pig (a REALLY CUTE PIG), or b, thinking of the stinky girl in his 1st-grade class. He is now 32 and refuses to believe that if we were to apply either of these monikers to our child, he would forget about the beer or the stinky girl. Wrongly enough, Stella is his favorite beer.

  28. It seems like the strong association b/t Stella and Stella Artois might be stronger on your side of the pond; I mean, I definitely know the beer, but there are enough other Stella associations that the beer association doesn't dominate. Know what I think of w/ Stella? The love object of Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella sonnets. And THAT is a lovely association!

    As for the chef name (I'm guessing, hmm, Nigella Lawson?) that one might be a bit tougher to dissociate as it's rarer. Still, it's pretty.

  29. My niece's middle name is Stella, and it's actually after her husband's recently deceased mother whose favourite beer was Stella! It's a great name though, classy and classic and I agree with you about reclaiming names and making them your own.

    Boy needs to stop being a pain in the ass and just be glad he's not the one carrying (and birthing!) twins.

    Good luck! xo

  30. I know and love a Stella, and it has never occurred to me to think of the beer... perhaps because we met when we were 12, and not actually aware of too much of the international beer market.

    BUT! I am deeply besotted with the name 'Edie', and cannot convince my boy that Desperate Housewives is a flash in the pan that no one will remember by the time the kid can speak for herself (if indeed, she is a she). We never even watched the show, and still it was the first thing he could think of when I mentioned the name. 'That slapper off the telly.' Sigh.

  31. I'm glad you're not going for uber similar names. I had a dream the other night where I checked here to find you'd called them Ola and Olé (what can I say, Night Nurse is effing potent stuff...)

    I don't think of beer when I hear Stella. I think of a girl from school who had drawn-on eyebrows...

  32. Stella doesn't make me think of beer it makes me think of the movie Rocky. But I also think it's a cute name for a girl.

  33. As long as you don't name the other Artois...

    I am not so bothered but the popular culture references but there are names I love but will never use because of horrid girls from my past. Bye, bye Niamh, Jessica and Chloe.

    Also I am now in a race with my almost cousin to have a baby girl because she totally wants the same name as me. Stupid too few pretty names.

    Also Nye, if you can't be doing with the long weirder names you have to be willing to go with more "common" (sorry bad word) more easily associated names.

  34. It burns me deeply that my favourite girl's name for like 10+ years is now one of the most common girls names in Australia: Matilda.

    I always think though I couldn't have the names totally set in stone pre-birth. What if Stella comes out looking way more like a Lily? I feel like these days most people have their baby names ready to roll as soon as the baby is born, but when my brother was born 16 years ago, he was nameless for a few days. And no one thought that was weird at all.

    I am so excied to hear your names though.

  35. Give them the names appropriate for your class, so they won't feel themselves too posh or too poor at school or wherever they go.
    If you like something foreign - I can give you a list of beautiful russian and finnish names with meanings, like Vasilisa ("queenly"), Guzelle ("beauty"), Darina ("giving"), Evgenia ( my name ^_^ "noble"), Inga ('born in winter"), Lada ("proper, beautiful"), Milena ("love"), Ruslana ("lion"), Svetlana ("bright"), Yadviga ("lady-warrior"), Yaroslava ("ardent glory"), Koivu ("birch") and many more...
    If I had british husband, I'd gave my daughter name Liv - I like this name so much!

  36. By the way - my friends are Maria (our variant of Mary), Anna, Diana, Alisa (Alice), Elena (Helen), Yulia (Julia), Natalya (Natalie), Yana (Jane), Polina (Paoline), Ekaterina (Cathrine), Alexandra and not so british Tatyana (greek name), Anastasia (greek name), Vasilina (greek name), Bogdana ("given by God"), Nadezhda ("hope"), Olga (scandic name), Ksenia (greek name, "alien"), Marina ("marine")...

  37. I think it's easy to make associations with disembodied name, but I'm less likely to do so when it's actually attached to someone.

    Says the woman who has had a certain Boston song sung to her in every setting imaginable.

  38. I've always enjoyed having a sort of uncommon name - Lanie. The downside is when it gets mispronounced - though I generally just think people who believe any parent would name their daughter "Lanny" (rhymes with Danny) are total bone heads and dismiss everything they say. Completely.

    I have to say that, at least in California, Stella and Isabella have become the new Jennifer. Every third baby I see is named Stella or Isabella. I think "ella" names are totally played out. Though the name Jennifer obviously made a LOT of people happy, so......

  39. STELLAAAAA! I think we're going to have the same problem if we ever decide to procreate. I love the name Stella. I think of Streetcar Named Desire (and Seinfeld) but I still like it. He says everyone would want to scream Stellaaaa at her. I think the association changes with the person.

  40. Ha... my friend called her baby Stella recently and it didnt cross my mind at all about the beer!

    But I do agree with him slightly that if the name reminded me of someone (probably someone I didn't like) then it might be a bit odd...

    The twins in my family (we have 2 sets) are Amber & Casey and Mya & Keeley – and I'd never thought about the having to have co-ordinated names thing!


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