Talk to me about... surname names

(87 Posts)
BraveLilBear Wed 01-May-13 14:59:32

Just that really... DP and I have finally managed something of a shortlist for our soon to be DC, and two of the names on there are surname names (ie taken from a renowned surname), and one is also an American place name.

I used to be quite 'anti' them, but really like at least one of these and think it would work well. But what's the consensus?

I'm thinking distinguished names along the lines of 'Newton' (from Isaac) rather than 'Smith'...

<braces self for onslaught...>

OkayHazel Wed 01-May-13 15:05:22

Depends on the name.

Some names definitely work better than others. Some surnames were surely first names in the past but evolved as surnames to differentiate people with the same first name anyway. Other obv come from trades or place names or nick names etc.


some names that I think work well:

etc etc

Then you have the occupation ones:

i.e. Carter or Miller sound ok, Turner not so good.

We had Walker on our list as it's a family name

What names is it you are considering?

Think they tend to work better for boys than girls but there are always exceptions.

I know a couple of Pipers - one boy one girl.

Bert2e Wed 01-May-13 17:33:19

Sorry but I really don't like them.

usualsuspect Wed 01-May-13 17:41:37

Lots of really popular names are surnames.


I don't see the issue.

Catlike Wed 01-May-13 17:59:23

They're very fashionable at the mo. Not my cup of tea though.

Rhubarbgarden Wed 01-May-13 18:09:36

I think if it's a family name, eg mother's maiden name, then it can be ok. I don't really get why you would pluck a surname name from the air without any connection to it. It also depends on the name; eg Lewis is ok but Hunter is awful imo. And I have yet to hear a surname name on a girl that sounds nice, somehow they just sound very masculine to me, even Piper and Madison etc.

Kelly1992 Wed 01-May-13 18:14:56

If it's family then it's ok. but names like Elliott, Jordan, Austin, Thomas, Oliver etc. are common boys names anyway.

Although i'm not a fan myself I love Huxley and Hywel (pronounced Howell)

NadiaWadia Wed 01-May-13 18:39:21

A mainly American trend that is (unfortunately IMO) catching on over here. Sorry but I dont like it much.

Why do it when there are so many great actual names available? Why Harrison (for example) when you could just use Harry?

But if you must do it, then at least use a well known example, eg Elliot. And these kinds of names suit boys better than girls.

lisaro Thu 02-May-13 01:14:15

Normally heard screeched acriss a supermarket or on Jeremy Kyle. Sorry but you asked.

CoolStoryBro Thu 02-May-13 01:22:55

I live in the US and I love loads of the surname kind of names. I know a couple of Hunter's and both of them are awesome MEN. One of them is a CEO.

I think if you like a name, go for it. And don't worry that someone from MN thinks it sounds like it should be on Jeremy Kyle.

squoosh Thu 02-May-13 01:41:33

To be fair it's not a purely American trend. Living in Scotland I've met a lot of men called Campbell, Blair etc. It's something they've done for generations.

I do think it works better for boys though.

Americans seem to love names like Porter, Hunter, Cooper - old occupational type names.

There also seems to be a growing trend to use Irish surnames as first names e.g. Quinn, Rafferty, Cassidy. I don't really like it as to me they are so obviously surnames. If you know a lot of people with these surnames it's harder to see them as first names. That might just be me though.

othersideofchannel Thu 02-May-13 09:39:01

All names were first names originally, as someone above said. The purpose of a name is to identify you so middle and surnames were added, in case others shared your first name.

As long as a name sounds nice and identifies you, who cares if historically it has been used more as first, second or third name?

I know people with surnames that sound like first names, e.g. Alexander, Quentin, Oliver. Again, who cares?

pickledginger Thu 02-May-13 10:31:58

No. No, no, no. No. That's just my view though. One thing that does matter is if you have a surname that sounds like a first name eg Alexander. A Newton Alexander would spend a fair bit of time explaining that, no, he hadn't filled the form in wrong.

BraveLilBear Thu 02-May-13 10:44:35

Thanks for the input - I do agree that some surname names are on the chavvier end of the spectrum and that does bother us!

I think the redeeming feature is the main one that we have in mind is of an old English origin and is not an occupation name.

It is just very unusual, and everyone will instantly think of the noted scientist that inspired the name.

The reason it appeals is that we like the idea of naming DC after someone to aspire to, plus we live in an area that isn't the nicest (at the moment), so there are lots of names being screamed at god awful pitches outside our house.

Plus having DC1 in a baby boom, at the back end of the school year (due end July), we think it would really help to have a distinctive (but not chavvy made-up) name to set them apart in the future...

BraveLilBear Thu 02-May-13 10:45:59

Lol pickledginger I very much agree that that would be a challenge! There's no way our surname could be confused as a first name. Ironically grin

pickledginger Thu 02-May-13 11:55:39

Then if you like the name, go for it. They aren't everyone's choice but when your child is actually born and named no-one's likely to give it any thought. When people say they don't like surnames as first names they're generally thinking of the same dozen or so names that are over used.

pickledginger Thu 02-May-13 12:00:16

Your DH isn't a sneaky United fan is he?

zoetstoffen Thu 02-May-13 12:05:19

As said it's very common in Scotland.

We did it - we used Darwin. One person asked if it was after the place, but aside from that everyone else has mentioned Charles Darwin or simply commented what a cool name it is.

lljkk Thu 02-May-13 12:23:19

They are quite common in real life (MN is not real life). So I think the consensus "out there" is that they are perfectly respectable.

ImaginaryHat Thu 02-May-13 13:24:56

Pickledginger your Newton Alexander comment just made me think of this scene from Cougar Town when Laurie finds out Smith's surname, made me giggle anyway! 19 mins 23 seconds in.

BraveLilBear Thu 02-May-13 14:17:28

Pickledginger noooooooo! My DH is a rare football-hating creature for which I am thankful - our child will not be called Ferguson smile

squoosh Thu 02-May-13 14:19:53

That reminds me, Ally McCoist's sons are called Mitchell and Argyll. Never really thought Argyll worked as a first name.

pickledginger Thu 02-May-13 14:23:12

It was Newton Heath I was thinking of grin. United's original name.

ABirdInTheBush Thu 02-May-13 14:31:44

I think there's a fine line between chav and cool. Mitchel and Taylor screamed across the playground = pure chav. But then I know two grown-up men called Spencer and Fletcher, respectively, and both of them have that edgy-cool-but-work-hard-and-achieve thing about them. I think their names have helped them along a bit.

Not sure about Newton, tbh. He would just be called Newt, wouldn't he? Cute while he is little - but not so great at school and beyond.

I like what you're trying to do, but the name reminds me more of a small pond creature than a pioneering scientist.

squoosh Thu 02-May-13 14:37:39

Mmmm, I quite like Fletcher as it reminds me of Mel Gibson's character Fletcher Christian from Mutiny on the Bounty.

He was beeeyootiful in that film.

usualsuspect Thu 02-May-13 15:46:56

Pure Chav?

Ugh to this thread.

ShadowStorm Thu 02-May-13 23:25:59

I think it depends a lot on the name.

I used to work with someone who had a surname name as his first name, and then a surname that was more commonly a first name - so his name was along the lines of Harrison Thomas - and that was very confusing at first.

Theonlyoneiknow Thu 02-May-13 23:34:17

As long as surname is an obvious surname ie, i know a Campbell Scott and everyone gets his name muddled up. I like surnames as first names ie, Jackson, Harrison, Campbell, Murdoch, Cameron etc

Trishstar Fri 03-May-13 07:12:20

We called our DS Hunter, a fair few people on here flamed it!

But we love it and everyone we meet comments on it and say how much it suits him. In the hospital and scbu everyone kept saying how much they loved it cos its different but not silly different!

Some horrible snobby, shallow and judgy people on this thread.
Let's all name our children 'proper' names shall we? hmm

I like surnames as forenames Op. What have you got on your list? smile

LalyRawr Fri 03-May-13 07:33:28

My daughters middle name is my dads aunt's (who adopted him) maiden name. Still with me? :p

But really, who the fuck cares what a bunch of randoms on the Internet think? Call your baby what you like and screw everyone else!

Panzee Fri 03-May-13 07:40:46

Do some of you also disapprove of forenames for surnames, e.g Heather Graham, John Terry? grin
Although now wondering which category Cole fits into. Cheryl Cole or Cole Porter? Guess its not that easy to pigeonhole after all wink

MortifiedAdams Fri 03-May-13 07:45:58

Is it Darwin?

Middle name for ds is mil's maiden name. Second choice was my dm's maiden name. But they are both in top 100 boys names. We considered them because they were perfectly reasonable! I say go for it.

Catlike Fri 03-May-13 08:26:56

OP specifically asked for people's opinions on surname names. She gave the impression that she wasn't necessarily expecting everyone to be enthusiastic.

In that context, it seems perfectly reasonable to say "no I don't like them and this is why". If OP had posted a thread saying she loved surname names and wanted more suggestions then it would be rude to say you don't like them. I really don't see the problem in this case though.

BraveLilBear Fri 03-May-13 10:33:37

I am genuinely interested in the viewpoints here as what we're looking at is a little out of the comfort zone and I am pretty sure my mother (at least) will disapprove hence why it's difficult to gauge reactions in real life before we produce DC and say... ta-da! This is Surname Surname wink

Names we like include:

pickledginger Fri 03-May-13 10:44:58

I'd avoid Darwin because of the Darwin Awards.

Edison sounds nice.

MonkeyingAroundTown Fri 03-May-13 10:50:11

I like Edison

MonkeyingAroundTown Fri 03-May-13 10:56:27

Harrison is cute too

I really dislike them on girls. They are more successful on boys but I don't choose them myself.

That said, DH, both DCs and I have first names that sometimes get used as surnames so I guess the distinction is less fixed than I thought.

My objections to your list would be how practical they are for everyday wear IYSWIM rather than their intrinsic surnameness.

Catlike Fri 03-May-13 11:10:15

Well, if you like distinguished sounding names then how about:


squoosh Fri 03-May-13 11:14:35

In descending order, these would be my preferences

waaaaay down the list
down the lost some more

Edison lends itself to lots of good nicknames and I can imagine a Darwin to be very brooding and handsome.

Faraday and Washington are a bit more out there and I’m definitely not as keen. You’d get lots of people asking if he was conceived in Washington. And people saying 'fara...what? faraway?'.

squoosh Fri 03-May-13 11:15:50

I know a little Irving, he is so gorgeous and really suits his name.

I like them (not Faraday though! Sorry)

And they are very popular here in our very middle class rural town.

I am leaning towards one (Archer) if DC3 is a boy.

Edison is my favourite of yours I think!

ItsYonliMe Fri 03-May-13 12:27:58

Edison is the only one I would remotely consider. Mmmm it's not bad actually.

Can't fathom why anyone would call a son Darwin or Faraday.

ItsYonliMe Fri 03-May-13 12:28:22

Actually, Edison is growing on me.

LinghamStyle Fri 03-May-13 12:39:45

I'm in Scotland and have my grannies maiden name as my first name. It's not really considered a surname these days though and there were a few people in my class at school with the same name who weren't named after their granny.

BraveLilBear Fri 03-May-13 12:42:36

Thanks everyone - some cracking ideas there, especially Cromwell and Raleigh.

Faraday is probably off the list as we may have named a hamster that already blush and I agree about Washington... we are neither North-Eastern nor American and there is zero chance of our DC resembling the great Denzel!

Plenty to think about here, so thanks smile

squoosh Fri 03-May-13 12:46:17


In Ireland that name would be quite the conversation starter.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Fri 03-May-13 12:53:36

How about Cooper or Archer if you want old English occupations?

What about Brunel?

pickledginger Fri 03-May-13 12:56:40

Cromwell is not a good choice.

MorrisZapp Fri 03-May-13 12:56:58

Standard practice here in Scotchland. My wee boy has a surname name, as do at least half of his friends. All cute, and all suitable for adults too.

The names discussed on here are cute but I wouldn't use most of them as they are so obviously American and we have no American heritage, much as we love the place.

Faraday, Edison etc sound more like pets names to me if I'm honest. In fact if we ever get a dog I want to call him Fenway, after the baseball park smile

pickledginger Fri 03-May-13 12:57:24

Raleigh make bikes.

MonkeyingAroundTown Fri 03-May-13 13:51:46

I am adding Irving and Archer to my list of boys names for when we decide to have our next. They are so cute

BraveLilBear Fri 03-May-13 14:37:58

I really like Archer. And Harper (damn the Beckhams). Another one that is very cool and nice for a girl is Piper - unfortunately, we can't use that as it's the name of our favourite night club...

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Fri 03-May-13 18:43:21

Yay! For the first time ever I have suggested a good name! grin Now, nobody use Archer before me!

pygmy Fri 03-May-13 18:48:19

I quite like Sullivan nn Sully, Harper, Willoughby, Rafferty and Montgomery for boys.

Oi, I said Archer first Saggy - admittedly for my possibly not even a boy foetus. But still, my prize!

DH is now voting for Franklin though, so props to whoever said that!

MsJupiterJones Fri 03-May-13 20:45:44

I really like surname names. Lawrence, Cameron, Harrison, Mitchell, Austin. One of those is my DS's name.

Love the idea of Edison, Darwin or Newton.

Thurlow Fri 03-May-13 20:48:37

I know a Edison. I think it is gorgeous. He can always use Eddie if he wants to when he's older.

Thurlow Fri 03-May-13 20:48:55

an blush

AlmondFrangipani Fri 03-May-13 21:01:58

Hi Brave grin

We are thinking along very similar lines if we have a DS! Our fav hasn't cropped up here yet but I love Archer and Edison!! X

Catlike Fri 03-May-13 21:05:36

DH is now voting for Franklin though, so props to whoever said that!


SlinkyB Fri 03-May-13 21:18:18

I know of a Statham, and a Kingsley; both surname guessing they're not your cup of tea though op?

ShadowStorm Fri 03-May-13 23:40:31

I like Edison, Darwin, and Harper.

I'd avoid Cromwell - it brings Oliver Cromwell strongly to mind, and personally I think opinions on him are too divisive to want to name a child after him. Bit like calling a child Thatcher.

ItsYonliMe Sat 04-May-13 01:19:36

If you say Archer out loud, it's actually quite difficult to say and hear. I don't think people will pronounce it properly - there are too many rs in it and English people can't pronounce rs.

The Scots, Irish and Welsh can use Archer cause they'd pronounce it correctly smile.

(I don't like it, however it's pronounced - sounds like one of Robin Hood's merry men)

squoosh Sat 04-May-13 03:07:13

That's funny, as soon as Archer was mentioned I thought 'Robin Hood' too! grin

grin I am from NZ actually, so it doesn't sound weird to me. Maybe I need to ask lots of randomers in the street how they say it!

DH is pretty set on Franklin now anyway.

ShadowStorm Sat 04-May-13 08:27:23

I thought schnapps when Archer was mentioned...

ItsYonliMe Sat 04-May-13 15:15:53

TeWisaves - yeah but in New Zealand and Australia they call their children very weird names don't they?smile

I think you'll find they are awesome names, and not at all odd!

MrsFrederickWentworth Sat 04-May-13 20:08:54

What about Lister, if not Franklin?

Don't think Higgs fits your criteria, nor Crick.


My father's names went

Family surname name, Christian name chosen by parents, family surname name v similar to normal name but one letter different, surname.

I didn't like the only one they chose, the rest were lovely. But they were also family names.

squoosh Sat 04-May-13 20:52:59


ItsYonliMe Sun 05-May-13 04:20:52

Tewesaves "awesome" grin grin

FrauGrau Sun 05-May-13 12:53:44

Very popular in Scotland, as others have pointed out: Campbell, Finlay, Blair, Cameron, Hunter, Ross, Bruce, Douglas, etcetera. I have a friend called MacDuff (first name). Not weird here!

MonkeyingAroundTown Sun 05-May-13 22:28:17

Fletcher is another nice one

MortifiedAdams Mon 06-May-13 03:33:59


raisah Mon 06-May-13 06:16:01

Does it go with your surname? Generally, I am not keen on the surname as a first name trend but the name you have chosen is good. It also depends on whether it suits your child. I would wait until he is born to see what suits him.

ShadowStorm Mon 06-May-13 22:23:26

DH was keen on Kelvin for DS - as in Lord Kelvin who determined the correct value of absolute zero.

TheSecondComing Mon 06-May-13 22:42:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BraveLilBear Tue 07-May-13 14:42:33

DP has quite a hard-sounding and fairly unusual surname that begins with a 'B' ie all hard consonants, but these names do actually go very well with it, and also, incidentally, with mine (which is very soft and commonplace in comparison) should the need arise...

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