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Choosing “pretentious” boys names, even if some will judge you?

300 replies

Sevendayhigher · 28/09/2023 23:47

My husband and I are expecting a baby in the next month (don’t know the sex) and we’re struggling with names, because most of the boys’ names we love are considered by most to be “pretentious”. To make matters worse, we have a double-barrelled surname which, paired with the names we really love, is going to attract judgement from some people. We don’t really mind being judged by other people behind our backs (wouldn’t be the first time) but we DO mind people actively being rude to our faces about the name we choose (making it our problem), which a few people have already been with our possibilities.

What are people’s stance on naming babies what they actually want rather than something else so that people won’t think badly of them? I swear, we’re not trying to choose names so people think we’re “posh” or something - we genuinely love them and the way they sound, and honestly, it just seems so silly to us to not choose a name we really love because other people think we’re trying to be something we’re not!

We have no friends with kids so just don’t know what the situation with names are these days - do lots of people choose names that are “out there”? This may or may not make a difference but we live in West London where we’ve heard naming can be a bit more diverse, and was wondering if anyone could give us insight about whether it was more common to choose unusual names where we live? We think the worst scenario would be not choosing one of the names that we love and then it turns out everyone else just goes for it and we’ll regret we didn’t!

OP posts:
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PinkMoscatoLover · 30/09/2023 08:51

Jacopo · 30/09/2023 01:55

When people use double barrelled names - which is fine of course - what happens at the next generation? If Tarquinius Smith-Harris has children with Ithaca Raji-Trump are their children the Smith-Harris-Raji-Trumps? What do they do?
And the mind boggles about the grandchildren’s names…

It doesn’t work like that. I have a double barrel name, let’s say my surname is Adam-Johnson. My kids also have double barrel names as I’m not married to their dad. There names are Jacob-Johnson. I dropped the Adam part of my surname and only passed on one surname.

They’ll probably do the same with their children however I hope they both decide go marry so their kids just have one surname!

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PinkMoscatoLover · 30/09/2023 08:55

PeppermintMandy · 30/09/2023 07:21

A double barrelled name absolutely doesn’t not indicate that Mum and Dad aren’t married. Not at all.

In most cases it does. I don’t know one person who isn’t married and their child only has the mum (or dad’s) surname. Most situations double barrel has been used as a compromise.

The only other situation I can think of is if a couple are married but the wife hasn’t taken the husbands name. She still has her maiden’s name so the couple have agreed on a double barrel surname. I’ve never come across it though

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Mitchlou84 · 30/09/2023 08:55

I dislike double barrelled names immensely. Married or not choose the nicest surname from either parent to use.
I’d go for the posh first name with one surname.
Lysander is a character in the Jilly cooper books as is Rupert (which I love)

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CantMoveCatOnMyLap · 30/09/2023 08:56

When I was a child in the 80s in a fairly working class town, a child called Hugo or Sebastian or Tristan or Lysander or Lucien would have been ripped to shreds. I think a Tarquin would have fled running from school on his first day.

Nowadays with a wonderful refreshing variety of names no one would bat an eyelid. (Well, I’m not 100% sure about Tarquin, but in West London that would probably be ok too).

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BibbleandSqwauk · 30/09/2023 08:57

@Potiphar but you can't do anything about someone who might become famous and /or do something stupid or criminial. There are real life Harry Potters out there, people called Karen etc. Your earlier post about plumbers called Sebastian being an object of ridicule is on a similar par to your comments about mature students - nonsense. OP, just pick names you like. I'm a teacher and have met everything from Wayne to Tarquin, via Conan and Tyrion. Its fine, kids get on with it. If they really hate their name as an adult they can chage it if they feel weird in their chosen profession.

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PinkMoscatoLover · 30/09/2023 08:57

I don’t have energy to defend double barrel names anymore🤣 no way was I given my children a surname that wasn’t even mine. Double barrel is the compromise!

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gotomomo · 30/09/2023 08:59

Choosing a traditional name (eg bible names) is always a safe bet because although they go in and out of fashion they are always there in the background and are fine as a formal name for work etc. (you can always use a nickname). Choosing a more out there name is obviously a personal preference thing, i don't think kids really tease over names as much but I would steer clear of those that now are associated as feminine eg my friend had loads of issues being called Leslie, I know a Lindsey who was teased too, though this was 20 years ago of course. There's one pretentious name I would avoid and that's tarquin which is used as a joke /insult, a bit akin to Karen (have a lovely friend called Karen and it annoys me a lot the way it's used but I couldn't saddle a baby with that name now alas)

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lottiegarbanzo · 30/09/2023 09:01

The only thing that's important is how your child will be perceived in life with their name, not what anybody thinks of you.

Exactly this. It's not about you, it's about them. And perceptions will be different, because your peer groups and generations will be different.

So, in general, go with the name you really like. Do test it by saying it out loud, imagine shouting it across a park and school playground. Some names are nicer written down than spoken. Think about how others will pronounce it. Names create more of a mental impression when spoken out loud. Think about whether you / DH would like to be called that name. Why / why not? Could a person get comfortable with that name and fit in in different places? Introduce themselves to different people?

West London implies a lot of diversity and creativity. I'd imagine you could get away with almost anything and there will be all kinds of names at school. Lots of names that used to be 'posh' are not now.

But might your chosen name create a certain image still? One that would cause people to comment on the mismatch when they meet your child? That's not going to make him feel good. Or he may laugh it off easily, depending on his personality - but you don't know what that is.

Your family are the least of your worries. Once they get to know your son they'll know the name as 'his' and just think of him.

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MaudGonneOutForAFag · 30/09/2023 09:02

Mitchlou84 · 30/09/2023 08:55

I dislike double barrelled names immensely. Married or not choose the nicest surname from either parent to use.
I’d go for the posh first name with one surname.
Lysander is a character in the Jilly cooper books as is Rupert (which I love)

Edited

Why on earth? It’s just two surnames!

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Ididivfama · 30/09/2023 09:03

A lot of them sound pretentious these days, it’s normal. Just wait until he or she is here and do it. Then they won’t bat an eyelid. Or they’ll at least get used to it.

Also I’ve never actually met a Tarquin. Every! I quite like it now.

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Janinejones · 30/09/2023 09:07

In the Army a Rupert was usually slang for an inexperienced posh officer.

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IslandsInTheSunshine · 30/09/2023 09:07

Consider how your child will feel when they are at school and later on -18, 25, 30 and at work.

Consider how people will judge them and you for any 'pretentious' names.

Silly names can be a millstone around their neck.

It's not really about 'you' but how your child will feel and (sadly) how society will judge them.

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belladonna22 · 30/09/2023 09:08

PinkMoscatoLover · 30/09/2023 08:57

I don’t have energy to defend double barrel names anymore🤣 no way was I given my children a surname that wasn’t even mine. Double barrel is the compromise!

I think it just depends on people's social circles for what's "normal." Among our friends and family in London all the women have professional jobs, all bar one have married their partners and all bar one of the married ones have kept their names (myself included). We've double barreled because why not? They belong to both of us, they have both of our names? Two couples actually gave their kids the mother's last name alone because they liked it better. One went with the father's name. Who cares? In the modern world we all know who belongs to whom, just do what makes you happy. Posters saying you need to worry about being judged are likely revealing themselves as those likely to judge. I have an unusual name, and yes there was and is confusion sometimes about how to spell/pronounce it, maybe people judge me, but it hasn't held me back in life. I'm happy with it. It's kind of depressing all the commenters saying that kids should just fit in rather than stand out.

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lottiegarbanzo · 30/09/2023 09:08

People use Tarquin and Lysander as examples precisely because almost nobody is called Tarquin and Lysander. So using them doesn't offend anybody. There used to be cartoon in The Guardian where the 'pretentious middle class children's names' are Tarquin and Jocasta - because no-one is really called those names.

Lysander's nice though - pure Shakespeare. Sander / Zander / Sandy for short?

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Wbeezer · 30/09/2023 09:11

The problem as I see it is that having a baby isn't about self expression and being a parent is often about putting your own wishes and needs second to the child's. You don't know what the child's personality is going to be, if they will be sensitive to comments or not or enjoy having a different name. I chose rather plain classic names for my boys ( although they ended up being the only ones in their class) one wishes he had a more interesting name ( he's an art student!) The others are happy as they would not enjoy standing out, boys can be very rough on their peers. I think it was the right thing to do on the whole although I liked a few more unusual names I wasn't naming a character in a book.
Different to your situation but DH had young parents who gave him a fashionable name that is now irredeemably naff, he is a creative professional and he definitely thinks it has been an occasional hurdle in a way that being called Tom or James wouldn't be, this influenced us too.

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Pipsquiggle · 30/09/2023 09:11

I do think location makes a big difference.
Lysander in London will probably be no issue.

You need to think what the nick name might be - 'Ly' I don't like; 'Sander' ok. I know you have said that you probably won't go with that name but you know what I mean.

For all our DC we decided that we would NOT pick a name in the top 30 most popular names due to my DH being 1 of 4 DC with the same name in his class. He just said it was annoying. I am glad we did this, one of my favourite names was 'James' - there are 3 in my DS class

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superninny101 · 30/09/2023 09:11

I have an unusual name and my children all have very unusual names (never met or even heard of any other children with the same names). It is fine. They get more 'I love your name' than negative remarks. Just call them your favourite name.... unless it is Ptolemy!

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IslandsInTheSunshine · 30/09/2023 09:12

Why on earth? It’s just two surnames!

It's not really though .

In the past a double barrelled name was only used/available for a certain class of society, often those with titles (lord, lady, duke etc). The 'landed gentry'.

Now when couples combine surnames with a hyphen it can look as if they are trying to copy the 'upper class' or titled names .

Why are double barreled names posh?
The reasons for double-barrelling were originally financial. If two wealthy families joined in marriage both names would be perpetuated as a condition of the marriage. Wealth matches were common in the middle ages, and a famous, wealthy family would want their name to run on till the final trump of recorded time

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Highandlows · 30/09/2023 09:12

Omg! I agree living in the U.K. is ridiculous. People should name their children wherever they want to. I am surprised to find the place so judgmental. I am definitely out of place. Would never even think to ask a question like this.

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ClairDeLaLune · 30/09/2023 09:13

Lysander is a gorgeous name! Go for it OP! Would you mind sharing any of the other names? Just wondering if they’re equally nice.

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FUPAgirl · 30/09/2023 09:13

I personally would go with a shorter name given they are stuck with a double barrelled surname. ITs just such a mouthful otherwise. You need to think of your DC here, not your own wants.

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PinkMoscatoLover · 30/09/2023 09:13

belladonna22 · 30/09/2023 09:08

I think it just depends on people's social circles for what's "normal." Among our friends and family in London all the women have professional jobs, all bar one have married their partners and all bar one of the married ones have kept their names (myself included). We've double barreled because why not? They belong to both of us, they have both of our names? Two couples actually gave their kids the mother's last name alone because they liked it better. One went with the father's name. Who cares? In the modern world we all know who belongs to whom, just do what makes you happy. Posters saying you need to worry about being judged are likely revealing themselves as those likely to judge. I have an unusual name, and yes there was and is confusion sometimes about how to spell/pronounce it, maybe people judge me, but it hasn't held me back in life. I'm happy with it. It's kind of depressing all the commenters saying that kids should just fit in rather than stand out.

People just can’t wait to judge tbh

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ClairDeLaLune · 30/09/2023 09:14

If people think double-barrelled names are posh, I give you Gemma Winter-Brown!

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belladonna22 · 30/09/2023 09:15

IslandsInTheSunshine · 30/09/2023 09:12

Why on earth? It’s just two surnames!

It's not really though .

In the past a double barrelled name was only used/available for a certain class of society, often those with titles (lord, lady, duke etc). The 'landed gentry'.

Now when couples combine surnames with a hyphen it can look as if they are trying to copy the 'upper class' or titled names .

Why are double barreled names posh?
The reasons for double-barrelling were originally financial. If two wealthy families joined in marriage both names would be perpetuated as a condition of the marriage. Wealth matches were common in the middle ages, and a famous, wealthy family would want their name to run on till the final trump of recorded time

So when you see a double barreled last name, are you saying you judge the family because you think they are trying to look posh? What is with all this class obsession! It totally smacks of "I hate someone trying to get above their station." All it does is betray the judger's own class anxiety. No wonder British society still has so many issues.

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Winter2020 · 30/09/2023 09:20

I see in your update that you are considering the possibility of your child being ridiculed. The area I wanted to explore was your child’s general feelings.

Your opening post talks about what you and your partner think about names and what Joe public thinks but what about what your child will think and feel about their name?

I have seen Lysander was in the running so what about Lysander Bartholemew-Smythe? Is that a name you would want for yourself (gender adjusted) or do you think they might find that name a bit overpowering or even at worst a massive ball ache and they end up changing their name one day to Lee Smith? I think we should try to give our kids names that are fine if they are a solicitor or CEO of a multinational but are also fine if they work in a pub.

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