Choosing a baby name that works with your surname

There’s a myriad of things to consider when thinking about a potential name for your baby. Whether it’s researching names that are on trend or trying to avoid those that might be too popular, choosing the perfect first name is no easy feat.

But there’s also an additional element you’ll always need to think about – that people don’t necessarily consider until they start seriously discussing names. And that’s how your first name choice will sound with your surname.

There’s no getting around the fact that your baby’s surname will affect the suitability of his or her first name. Some combinations just won’t sound right to your ears. So, what do you need to think about?

Say the full name out loud

Try saying first names out loud with your last name – it is surprising how different a name sounds once it is paired with a surname.

As with nearly every aspect of choosing your baby’s name, it is pretty subjective as to what sounds ‘good’.

Consider alliteration

Sometimes parents choose alliterative names such as Emma Edwards or Sebastian Summers. There are numerous celebrity examples of alliterative names: Janet Jackson, Lucy Liu and Lennox Lewis to name just a few.

These are fine if you are naming your first child, but if you go on to have several more and want to continue the there you could find the naming process becomes more and more challenging!

While it is a subjective matter, that are some things you might want to avoid when pairing a name with a surname.

Avoid rhyming

Most people would choose to avoid a first name that rhymes with their second name – such as Carys Harris or Mark Clark. Such a name might be amusing, and even attractively quirky – particularly if you imagine them on a musician or an artist – but what if you put these names on a troubled teenager who lacks confidence in their own self-image?

Even in the wild world of celebrities you don’t find many examples of rhyming names. Jack Black is an example but he was born Thomas Jacob Black.

It might be better to let your child adopt a stage name when they start frequenting the red carpets and, in the meantime, maybe opt for something a little less rock n’ roll, just in case they grow up to be an accountant!

Steer clear of famous names

In general, people tend to steer clear of giving their child the same first and second name of famous people. So, if your surname is Brand, the names Jo or Russell are likely to be put into the ‘no’ list pretty quickly.

This is especially the case if the person is famous for all the wrong reasons, such as Fred West or Myra Hindley.

Consider if it’s a very common pairing

If you have a common surname, think carefully about your choice of first name. A name that is very popular combined with a common surname might mean that your son or daughter shares his or her name with a classmate or friend (or several!).

Stay away from very long names

If your child is going to have a double-barrelled surname, then you might want to steer clear of double-barrelled or very long first names to keep the potential mockery in the future to a minimum – and to give the poor child a chance to learn how to spell their name!

Unless you have the time or the inclination to think extensively about the issue of pairing a first name with a surname, you needn’t be too consumed by the subject.

It can sometimes be easy to overthink things.

The important thing is that you choose a first name for your baby that you like. Provided it sounds like a pretty good fit with the second name, doesn’t have glaringly obvious rhymes or innuendos and the initials don’t spell out an obscenity, then the combination of the names should be perfectly acceptable!

This is an excerpt from our bestselling book the Best Baby Names for 2019, available to order from Amazon now.

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