Coming up with just the right name for your bundle of joy can pose a challenge. Current favorites among U.S. parents include Jacob, Mason, Sophia and Emma. But is it best to play it safe, or go for something a little more exotic? Recent studies suggest it’s a decision not to be taken lightly, with first names having an impact on the size of your paycheck. What factors did you think about when choosing a name? And what do you wish your parents had considered when naming you?

Pamela Satran, co-author of 10 books on names including "Beyond Jennifer & Jason," "Cool Names for Babies" and "The Baby Name Bible," columnist for Glamour and creator of Nameberry, an online baby name guide
Jean Twenge, professor in the Department of Psychology at San Diego State University and co-author of "The Narcissism Epidemic"

  • Felix

    Speaking of children, the CIA’s murderous Al Qaeda operatives in Syria recently dismembered a little Christian girl with a saw while she was still alive:

    The term “Al Qaeda” originally referred to a CIA database that contained information about the CIA’s Islamistic jihadi assets in the Middle East.

  • Carolyn

    When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had high blood pressure and had to keep still until delivery. As a result, I watched the complete X-Files series. Dr. Dana Sculley was my hero. She was the scientific voice of reason to Fox Muldar’s fantastic runs of fantasy.

  • Mary

    I am going through this now, 7 months pregnant with my first child- and boy oh boy is there a lot to consider! Meaning of the name, initials, what rhymes with the names, potential pitfalls when they grow up, etc. But for me it was really important to have a classic name that isn’t too popular anymore (not a huge chance of repeat in classes); as my husband is Latino and I am Irish heritage, we spent time thinking ab how the name sounds in multiple languages, and as I go by my middle name we had a bit of debate about how big of a deal it was to call her by her middle name. And we kept everything private until we had decided on a name and even after we had finalized the name people still feel it is their right to comment on the name, something I find so rude! What happened to “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” Especially in something as personal as naming a child…

  • doof

    I am a 37 yr old female and my name is Daryle. Silent “e” on the end can throw people off. I’ve heard many different pronunciations and it has been misspelled many different ways. I have always liked my name, though during elementary school I can remember being teased because other kids thought I had a boys name (and there were two other boys at my school named Darryl and Darrell). I have only met one other female named Daryl, but not spelled the same. My mother always told me that she couldn’t decide between naming me Daryle or Diana. I’m glad she chose Daryle. I can’t imagine being called anything else. Great show!

  • theresa

    My son was named after a deceased Uncle who had been named after a English officer who had saved our sons Grandfather during the war. His name is Rand not common but not far out

  • Christabel Choi

    Names… I was named after my g-grandmother, Christabel: her father had chosen it from a poem by Coleridge, with the line, “the lovely lady Christabel, whom her father loved so well”… It’s set in a medieval castle, and at first the line is sweet, but I wonder whether he read the whole poem, because he becomes bewitched and turns on his daughter, turning the line bitterly ironic. Coleridge never finished the poem, so we can hope the line becomes dear again…

  • Christabel Choi

    Also… Google the name and see what comes up… One name we wanted to use brought up plenty of famous and infamous people who had died of suicide and overdose… So we chose another

  • Christabel Choi

    So we chose Martin, an unspectacular name, but full of meaning. At first I was not sure, as it means “warrior”, but googling, we found it is held by warriors for peace and justice: Martin Luther King, Martin de tours, Martin de pooors…

  • amyj1276

    Several studies have shown that having an obscure (or somewhat ridiculous-sounding) name can damage a person’s ability to be taken seriously or get a job. I don’t understand why people would choose to put such a burden on their children. I understand the desire to have a unique name, but there has to be a balance between unique and completely out there, in my opinion.

  • Lana

    My 18 month old, Rocky, is named after his Grandpa. For his professional career we thought about Rockland, Rockford, Rockefeller, Roque… but we couldn’t agree on anything. really we just wanted to name him after my dad, and so we did. We didn’t tell anyone the name before he was born because people have their own ideas around that name. Now Rocky fits him perfectly, it was an easy choice.

  • Michael Smith

    I am named Michael Smith, there are 250,000 Michael Smiths in this country. My children have far more unique names for this reason.

  • Liz Landis

    We have 2 sets of multiples (twins and triplets) We didn’t want the names to be pairs since the kids share practically
    everything else. Especially with the triplets, we wanted the kids not to always feel ‘grouped’. No Jack and Jill type names all with the first initial or rhyming names and secondly the names needed to work in other languages since english
    isn’t the only language spoken at home.

  • Stacy

    Thank you for this show!! I have 2 months before my baby boy gets here and can’t think of a name. I made a deal with my husband to name our first child (son) John after my husband/his father/grandfather and I would name any other children. Now I’m stuck. I’ve noticed for boys there is a trend that uses president’s last names (Lincon, Grant), weapon (trigger, blade) and manly activities/occupation (hunter, archer, gunner). I’m just stuck. There is also to consider the spelling of the name.

    • TrainedHistorian

      I can understand why your husband wants a family name, and there is nothing wrong with John, (It’s certainly also presidential as several presidents are named that). Why don’t you give him John for the first name, and then one of the more unusual names that you like for the middle name. When he gets older, he can either go with the more common “John” or his middle name, depending on whether he himself prefers to have a common or unusual name.

      Also, see my comment above about the big disadvantage it can be to have a unique name in the Internet age when you’re over 35 and trying to find decent job.

  • Lia Seth

    It’s a rarity for someone to spell my name right on the first try. I want to give my future children a name that doesn’t require them to spend their life spelling it out to strangers, but I want the name to also be unique and reflect my parents’ Indian heritage. It’s a thin line!

  • Wynne Kwan

    My name is Wynne, pronounced like Winnie. Growing up I hated it, because of Winnie the Pooh, but now I love it since there aren’t too many Wynne’s in the world spelled my way. I’ve gotten called everything possible because it’s not a familiar name, I’ve also been accused of misspelling my own name at conference (they thought it was Wayne). My parents did not name me after anyone. Instead, they were given a name book at the hospital when I was born, and my mother chose Wynne because it was unique. And, unlike other Chinese families, my parents chose my English name and then created my Chinese name based on it (My Chinese name is Wing Mei). My sister is named Cynthia, whose name was chosen by my father.

  • theintern3t


  • Tam Gray

    We’re part of a family that is passing on the name of Thea through five generations. We do seem to note that it’s growing in popularity. It means ‘goddess’.

  • Lily

    I’m in my early 40’s and am named Lily. I have only twice come across another Lily around my age – one in junior high, and one later on in work. And that’s been it. It’s amusing to me that Lily has come back in roaring popularity. Now on my street, there are 4 Lily’s – me, a 5 year old girl, and two dogs!

    I LONGED to have a name that other girls had (Kristen, Lisa and Jennifer were very popular) – possibly because I am Asian and was a minority already in my school to begin with.

    I named my daughter Katherine. Very glad that it’s not so popular, but also glad that it’s not so uncommon.

  • Wei Chuang

    My baby boy was born 3 days ago. Some things we considered were:
    * sounds good
    * high in the alphabet so he will be towards the front of a alphabetical queue
    * difficult name to tease with
    * has some meaning- e.g. we are progressive minded, and named him after an important supreme court justice.
    * has ties to relatives’ names

    I wrote a very detailed back story to send out with the birth announcement, and for the most part it was very received though it garnered a lot of curiosity also.

  • Mrs. Eccentric

    haha! another person here with a ‘starbux’ name. After tiring of endless queries about ‘do you spell ‘stephanie’ with an ‘ie’ or a ‘y” ‘with an ‘f’ or a ‘ph” (truly i do not give one little fig, especially prior to my morning coffee) i started giving my husband’s name of ‘Tony’. That worked for about a year, then i started getting the spelling questions again….

    …now i’m ‘Bertha’. A couple of years now and so far so good. ‘Bertha’

  • jo

    When I was pregnant with my first baby, which was a girl, as we are immigrants from Taiwan, an English name is a totally new “tradition” for us, since we didn’t have the heritage of naming our child(ren) with grandma’s middlename, or greatgrandpa’s first name, etc. So I went to buy a baby name book to find out the meanings of the names. My husband had an idea to name her “Valley” since we live in the Silicon Valley and my husband was an engineer. BUT, Valley did not seem to be like a REAL name, since I never in my experience hear someone with that name. SoI refered to the book and found Valerie means BRAVE, so I set my mind on that name. That was one of the choices before her birth. After her birth, as she was born in April, and our family name initial is L. The choice of Valerie seems really perfect—the initials V.A.L. is also the short of the name Valerie. The name of my third child was unexpectedly suitable—as I was having very painful morning sickness with her, and she really made me very uncomfortable all along the terms. I decided to name her “Sunny”. And now she is really a sunny, merry, happy child! I do think names have an important impact on a person! As for my English name, it’s just the same pronunciation with my Chinese name, and that’s how I chose my English name. I guess I am just lucky!

  • Christabel Choi

    My husband is from Korea, where first names are not used by someone you’ve just met. So it was easy for him to choose an English name for people to use. Some people want to use his (unpronounceable by English-speakers) “real” name, thinking he is giving up his culture, but it wouldn’t fit his culture for them to use it

  • Guest

    I am a baby boomer child whose mother named all 6 of her children
    from the Catholic calendar, that is, using Saint’s names, and she gave us all
    the same middle initial. We are John, Linda, Verena, Bernard, Valerie
    (me; from Saint Valerian) and Joel.

  • TrainedHistorian

    A strong word of caution to those parents picking a first name because it’s unique or stands out, My last name is practically unique: almost everyone in the US with this last name is related to my father.This became a big disadvantage after age 35 when I was looking for jobs. Because of the Internet, every employer could now know exactly how old I am. I am sure that is one factor behind not being able to find full time employment after age 41. But I cannot easily change my last name for the same reason: because a new potential employer will need to call former employers for references. So even if I put a new last name on the resume, the former employer would have to know my original name in order to confirm my employment history, and the new potential employer will then search my original name on the Internet and find out how old I am.

  • Ruth Miller

    We wanted Raven but being the child was going to be a boy we decided to make more masculine thus Draven Wolf Miller was born and a few years later his brother Dante Phoenix Miller was born..
    Dante being named after the famed poet adding the twist of the Phoenix bringing about thoughts of fire adding to his name..
    They have revived nothing but compliments on their names.
    I don’t feel that they would have trouble with jobs later in life shortening the name from Draven to DW Miller if needed or vinny even and Dante is often called Don or Donny

    • TrainedHistorian

      It’s interesting that all the Dantes I have met in person are black American males. Interesting because presumably the Italian medieval poet was not black. Personally, I like Dante, but notice that one other parent (Lalee) has expressed concern that a child might unwittingly become the victim of unconscious racism.Later in life, and in many contexts, including on resumes, full first names will be required, so it will not always be possible to hide behind initials. This is something for parents to consider.

  • Lalee

    Hello, I am of French-Persian descent and I’d love the Persian name Darius if our baby to come is a boy. My husband who is American tells me it is a “black” name here in the U.S. and could hurt him b/c this is such a racist country. I’d like to elevate myself beyond this racial divide, but I don’t want my kid to have a hard time when seeking jobs etc. Thoughts?

    Thank you,

    • Ruth Miller

      That was one of the names on our list! I love the way that name roll off the tongue and you can yell it real good too!

  • Kristan Shamus

    I am the only grandchild in the family on my father’s side. This meant that when I got married in September of last year and dropped my maiden name for my newly married name, the Pierce name had officially ended. This was very sad for me and my Pierce family for many reasons, but mostly because we have a long history here in America, being some of the first settlers in Bozeman, Montana. We can trace our genealogy back to the early 1800’s here. In honor of our familial heritage and history my husband has agreed to name our first born son Pierce. My family and I love this idea, and we love that it has so much meaning behind it, we just hope our future born son feels the same way.

  • Allison

    I named my daughter after my best friend, Sarah. No one ever forgets it because our last name is Connor, and no one ever believes that I have never seen the Terminator movies, because our youngest child (named after a relative) is John Connor. My middle child, though, was not named after a friend or relative. When my home pregnancy test was postive, a voice came into my head that said, “It’s a boy and his name is Timothy.” So there was never any question of what his name would be. I still wonder what is going to happen in his life that he was given the name that means “Honoring God.”

  • Katharine Massaro

    Having a popular name is on some level just as bad as having an obscure or strangely spelled/pronounced name in my opinion.

    Being named Katharine is a constant irritation to me. In school I was always one of a dozen girls named Katie, and people began to tack on my last name to my first name because there were too many of us. To this day, friends that I knew in high school still refer to me by my first and last name, even when I’m the only Katie in the room because in our collective lexicon that was how I was differentiated from every other Katie or Katie M.

    As an adult, going by my full name Katharine (spelled like Katharine Hepburn) has pitfalls. There are so many different ways to spell the name Katharine it that I am constantly on the lookout for that irritating “e” people put where there should be an “a”. It doesn’t seem like something important, but I’ve had legal papers where clerks have spelled my name incorrectly come back to bite me, and even a fraud notice put on my credit because someone somewhere put the wrong vowel in the middle of my name.

  • Reshma. Hyder

    Thank you KQED for having me share the background of naming my children and giving and acknowledging my late father in law. I was mourning his loss today and tuned in and realized how imp it is to also remember those who took time to name us and if we grow up loving our name it’s a continuous charity for our ancestors. Thank you KQED! Your programming truly heals and feeds a soul!

  • Marcia Hagen

    We named our daughter Joan, her father’s favorite name, and she changed it to Jessica after law school. She is fine with her family calling her Joan but everyone else calls her Jessica. When her father was alive he addressed all mail to her as J.J.

  • Marcia Hagen

    I should mention that my daughter and her husband named their children Greek names, Sophia and Alexander. Who knew they would become such popular names.

  • Chamali Samarasekara

    To Simone, Dashiell Gordon and Paloma Melin are beautiful. All the best to you and your family xx

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