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July 12, 2007 | Tate Linden
I'll be the first to admit that naming your kid takes a lot of effort, thought, and in most cases comprimise. I would even go so far as to talk with someone - perhaps a historian or psychologist - about whether or not the name has any negative connotations. You could even open up any one of hundreds of naming books that tell you what every name means - or one of dozens of websites that allow you to search for names by their meaning.

One should also take the thirty seconds necessary to ensure you're not creating a catastrophe down the road when little Albert Sammy Smith is asked for his initials.

For me, naming was an intensely personal thing when it involved my own son. The question of who we wanted to honor (a great grandfather and both of his grandpas), how we wanted him to have options as to what he would use (Ted, Teddy, Theo, Theodore, TJ, etc...) to express his own personality...

Now that you know my views - read this article.

Yes. People really do that for a living.

Once you close your mouth (or stop laughing - if you're a corporate namer) I'd love to know what you think. Is there a place for people who offer a baby naming service where the names "Liz" and "Doug" are seen as first and foremost pertaining to fat kids? (Our new intern, Liz, would prove an exception to this rule, by the way.) Sure, almost every name is going to have connections for people - but if you know a Doug from decades ago who was the brightest and skinniest kid in your 3rd grade class aren't you going to have different thoughts about the name?

For me, I'm hoping that little Teddy doesn't select Theo as his preferred name. People in generations before and after mine don't understand why. But ask a Gen-Xer and you'll get the same answer every time: "Oh yeah - that's way too Cosby." If you only know one person with a name, then that name will be inextricably linked to that person in your mind. I only know one Theo - and though I did think he was pretty cool in the eighties - I don't really want that in my mind when I think of my son.

I'll make my question more clear. Is there a reason to pay $350 to get someone else's prejudices and experiences applied to your own flesh and blood?

Whaddaya say? Are you going to hire self-named "Nameologist" Maryanna Kowitts?
Birdiegirl July 12, 2007 12:41 PM

The "Who's Who" section on her website ( is worth visiting, if only to get a feel for her deeply subjective and, honestly, bizarro naming tendencies. She dissects celebrities' childrens' names, making vague references to "subliminals" and "tendencies" brought up by each name.
My personal favorite is her assertion that the first name "River" brings up "a relentless rush of emotional adrenaline" due to the actor River Phoenix's death by overdose a few years back. I'd bet dollars to donuts that your average American A) doesn't remember that River Phoenix died, B) doesn't care, and C) thinks the name River is a hippie construct, rather than a tragic remembrance of a drug-addled star.

Birdiegirl July 12, 2007 12:43 PM

On the other hand, your average American is not likely to spend $350 to hire a professional namer for their child.

Eileen July 12, 2007 2:55 PM

See, I hear 'River' and think 'crazy girl from Firefly'. Though I supposed that's not any better than Mr. Phoenix.

John Xavier July 14, 2007 7:20 PM

I don't think I would spend that much on deciding a name for a child. I've heard worse IMO.
Not sure if you've seen this article:
Choosing a baby name based on how Google-able it is. Because it's never too early to start monetizing!

Tate Linden July 16, 2007 9:25 PM

Nice find, John!
I think I Googled Theodore Linden beforehand, but just to be sure there weren't any mass murderers out there with the name. Interesting to see how the search engines have brought about a whole new thing to worry about...