What’s in a name?

Everything. You probably don’t even realise how critical your child’s name is to her future. One wrong consonant and her life could take a dramatically different turn.

Just ask Baby Namer, Bob Powers, then, who knows first hand how complex the process of coming up with a name for your little bundle of joy can be:

“A frivolously applied baby name is a capital crime in my book. When you hire me, you’re trusting me with the task of defining a human being with a sound.

“I settle on the vocal sequence of syllables that baby—that person—will hear more times than any other word or noise in her lifetime. Her teacher will call it out on her first day of school. Lovers will scream it while in her bed. Bystanders will shout it when she’s in danger of being crushed by a falling piano.”

Over at McSweeney’s, he details the months, mountains and mulling that go into crafting his names. Remember, he doesn’t simply “pick” baby names; he “sculpts” them.

Read at McSweeney’s: Artisanal Baby Naming.




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  • Reply November 28, 2012


    I have often been struck by how our names make our vocations and direction in life. Ouch.

  • Reply November 28, 2012


    oooo hope I didnt bugger it up for my boy! we couldnt agree on a name so he got stuck with the nickname he got in the womb, we just changed the spelling. Tjay is quite a chamer already and hes only 3…. did we do that lol

  • Reply November 28, 2012


    The parents of Gaelen in my son’s class obviously had to sign him up for private school after deciding on that name. Also those of Jack Hamill in the same class didn’t say the name out loud before filling in the form.

  • Reply November 28, 2012


    Haha – snorting coffee at the thought of Bob watching the erotic act in question in order to influence the name choice (or sculpting, as this case may be!). This article was so beautifully written – comedy dressed up as fact! Bob’s tongue is very firmly ensconced in his cheek! Thanks or the arvo giggle Hoopla!

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Sue Bell

    One thing a parent cannot get right is the name of their child who then changes their last name on marriage, thus, Honour Brown can become ( and I know one who did) Honour Heap when she changed her last name. You have to think of how the name will be shortened, what the initials spell out, what the name actually means. My children got names that were very strong, Phoebe, Apollo Phoebus was the sun god whose mother Phoebus was one of the original Titans and Jack, the universal heroes name. Their names go well with their surnames. I didn’t change my name on marriage as I had chosen to change my last name by deed poll to my adoptive father’s name. Interestingly every one calls me by both my first and second names as if it is one name thus Sue Bell becomes Suebell. Some friends have spent years and years before they realise their mistake, only a few weeks ago a friend of thirty years asked me what my last name was. Names are very important and in mythology and legend the ability to know someones real name is to have power over that person i.e. Rumplestitkin or even the name of Yaweh.

  • Reply November 28, 2012

    Karolina Maya

    It’s a very personal topic for me! Name given in a good faith but with a tragic emotional charge had been influencing all my life without me even knowing that! See my blog on this topic where I share my “name story”.
    It’s important to know what’s the energy the name is holding!
    Thanks for your article!

  • Reply November 28, 2012


    Best one I’ve ever heard was Drew Peacock! Poor kid’s parents claim they didn’t hear it said out loud first.

  • Reply November 28, 2012


    After growing up with my name we chose a name for our first daughter that couldn’t be shortened. Unfortunately when we moved back to Australia every one pronounced it incorrectly and it had a negative impact on her self esteem. We offered to call her by her middle name but she didn’t want that either.

    I’m now in a job where I see a lot of different names and some of the names I see make me want to call parents and say why?????

  • Reply November 28, 2012


    Had me suckered until I got to the ‘watching the conception’ part. Well played!

  • Reply December 3, 2012

    Tony W

    “we just changed the spelling. Tjay is quite a chamer”

    Yes, I prefer “chamer” too. And I also like Tjay. One thing though – if I happen to meet Tjay one day, should I address him as Teejay, or is the T silent?

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