How To Name Your Baby After Someone Whose Name You Hate

by Rita Templeton
Originally Published: 
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For as long as people have been naming babies, they’ve been disagreeing on baby names. It’s difficult enough if your partner’s favorite baby name is just something they think is cool and you don’t – but what if they have a deep, meaningful connection to that name? What if they insist that your mutual daughter must be named after Grandma Brunhilda, who gave the best advice and made the best pies?

Naming your child after someone special is a wonderful tribute to that person, and a way to carry on their legacy after they’re gone. But not all names are worthy of handing down to the next generation.

If you want to pay tribute to an amazing person with a less-than-amazing name, fear not. There are ways to do it without having to settle for a name you don’t like.

And if you still need some ideas, after reading the following tips, check out the Scary Mommy baby name database.

1. Add or subtract letters.

If you don’t like Brunhilda, you could take a few letters out – you don’t even have to rearrange – and make Bria. It doesn’t have to be the same exact name to be relevant.

2. Find an international version.

Most names have versions in different languages. For example, if your partner wants to name your son after Uncle John, but you think John is too common, broaden your horizons a bit and look to versions from other countries. There’s the French Jean, the Czech Johan, the Hungarian Janos, the Russian Ivan, the Spanish Juan, and the Italian Gianni – just to name a few. (Reminder: It’s best to stick to versions from your own culture to avoid any potential cultural appropriation issues.)

3. Use a nickname.

Great-Aunt Wilhelmina’s name just not cutting it? Try Willa or Mina, Minnie or Billie. Most names have a suitable nickname, and many of them are more contemporary-sounding than their root names.

4. Use their nickname.

Sometimes the person you’re honoring didn’t like their name either. Maybe cousin Adelbert always preferred to go by Del – so use that, or a name that includes it, like Delaney.

5. Find a name with the same meaning.

Grandpa Anshel was a jovial joke-teller whose name meant “happy.” If you’re not “happy” with the name Anshel, what about Asher, Felix, Isaac, or Tate – whose meanings are all similar?

6. Choose a symbolic name instead.

Nothing says you have to use the person’s name. What if your mother Corinthiana was an avid rose gardener? You don’t have to name your daughter Corinthiana to pay homage to your mom. You could name her Rose – or a variation, like Primrose or Rosalia.

7. Use their middle or last name.

Out of three or four names, there’s usually one that’s more tolerable than the rest. Even if it’s a short-and-sweet middle name, like Ann or Ray. And last names as first names are definitely on-trend: just look at the surging popularity of names like Harper, Carter, Finnegan, and Beckett.

8. Make it your child’s middle name.

If all else fails, and you can’t find a suitable substitute, you could always “hide” the undesirable name in between the first and last. After all, Gia Brunhilda Jackson will just be Gia Jackson to most people, or Gia B. if she needs to use a middle initial. Or you could even add another middle name – Gia Brunhilda Grace Jackson – and when someone asks her what her middle name is, she could just tell them it’s Grace, if she chooses.

You can love someone with an unattractive name enough to name your child after them, or you can love your child enough not to give them a moniker that’ll make them cringe later. Luckily, with a little creativity and flexibility, you can do both.

Need some baby name ideas? Check out the Scary Mommy baby name database!

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