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Picking a Name with Rhythm

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Alliance Through Alliteration

Alphabet Soup

Alliteration is the repetition of certain vowel or consonant sounds, usually at the beginning of words.

Another way that names can become rhythmic is through alliteration. This differs from the patterns previously discussed because it focuses just on the vowel or consonant sounds at the beginning of the name rather than at the ones found at both ends or even in the middle.

One fairly well-known alliterative name is that of Hubert Horatio Humphrey, who served as a U.S. senator from Minnesota and as vice president under Lyndon Johnson. Other, more current bearers of alliterative names include actor Benjamin Bratt, the cute cop on the television show Law and Order, and David Duchovny of X- Files fame.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

When two names mirror each other by either beginning or ending with similar elements, the rhythm created by these mirror-image sounds can be very pleasant as well as quite powerful. One good example of a mirror-image name is that of actor Leonardo DiCaprio, which is about as mirror-image as you can get.

Are We Compatible?


You may be in love with a multi-syllabic first name, but if your last name also contains several syllables or has a less-than-straightforward spelling, your child is going to have a mouthful to deal with. Generally, simple first names are more compatible with complex or unusual last names, and vice versa.

In addition to paying attention to the rhythm created by the names you select, you'll also want to try to find names that are compatible in other ways. One of the strongest areas of compatibility is how the names you're considering work with your surname, both from a general, "Gee, it sounds nice" perspective and also from a more specific cultural or ethnic point of view.

This may seem pretty obvious, but mismatches in this area can go far beyond just sounding a little silly to being plain embarrassing. With the growing fashion of combining names from a variety of ethnic heritages, the changes for crossing cultural wires are getting stronger by the year. You may want to think twice before settling on such combinations as Keiko O'Brien or Madonna Mankewitz, unless it reflects both sides of your ancestral coin.

The silly or cute factor comes into play when you're considering name compatibility as well. Always remember to take into account all elements of a name – and don't forget how the initials look together, either!

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baby Names © 1999 by Sonia Weiss. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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