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Do's and Don'ts of Neo-Names

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Neo-names often work best and have the strongest impact when they're paired with a more common first or middle name. Don't get carried away by the creative process and decide to come up with created first and middle names for your baby. One is generally enough.

Before we get any further into the process of creating neo-names, it's time to issue a strong caution to all of you who are going to attempt this. Please, please, don't go overboard with neo-names. There's no denying the thrill of creating a wonderful new name for your baby, but unfortunately, this name fashion is one parents can take to extremes. Some expectant moms and dads get so wrapped up in the process that they develop tunnel vision when it comes to the name or names that they create, much to the dismay of their relatives and friends when they hear the name for the first time.

Save yourself from the embarrassment of having to answer the question, “How could you (did you) choose THAT name for your child?” Be sure to keep the following points in mind as you embark on this process:

  • Remember that whatever name you create will have to be spelled and pronounced many times during your child's life. Try to keep things simple and logical.
  • There's a difference between creating an unusual and lovely name and one that's unusual because it's so awkward and ugly. Stay away from such unfortunate combinations as Chalaydriaor Maksymilia (which are both real names, unfortunately).

  • Follow the same rules in test-driving any created name you come up with; i.e., how it works with middle and last names, whether it lends itself well to pet names or nicknames, how the initials of all the names line up, etc.
  • Finally, this is a time when you absolutely should get input from other people. If the looks you get when you tell people the name range from mild amusement to horror, please think twice about using it. You may be the only ones applauding your creativity.

For some examples of names that probably should have been left at the bottom of the creativity pile, turn to the end of this chapter. In fact, it might be a good idea to do that now so you get a better idea of what to stay away from!

Into the Wild, Blue Yonder: A Neo-Name Road Map

What's in a Name

Sometimes, all it takes is the change of one letter to create a new name. Actor Rick Schroder (NYPD Blue) and his wife Andrea came up with a great one when they named their daughter Cambrie, a nice variation of Cambria.

What's in a Name

Brianna, one of the most popular girls' names in the 1990s, is a created name. The name and all its spelling variations—Briana, Breanna, Breana, Breeana, Breiana, Briannah, and so forth—is one of the few created names to crack the higher echelons of the most popular lists.

Many parents who decide to create a new name for their baby feel at a loss over how to go about it, especially at first. This is understandable, given the fact that they're creating something entirely new that they couldn't find after pawing through lists of names or after digging around in family genealogies. However, you don't have to feel like Christopher Columbus casting off for the New World as you consider the journey that lies ahead.

While it's true that you're probably going somewhere you've never been (unless you're one of the select group of people that creates names for a living), you're not necessarily sailing uncharted waters in order to arrive at your new creation. Fortunately for you, other parents have blazed this particular trail, and they've left you some path marks for how to go about it. One or several of them should provide the guidance you need in creating your own neo-name masterpiece.

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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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