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Do's and Don'ts of Neo-Names

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Inspire Me, Please!

What's in a Name

Singer George Harrison looked to Eastern music—a major influence on his music over the years—for inspiration when naming his son. The name he created, Dhani, was fashioned from two notes of the Indian musical scale, “dha” and “ni.”

Remember what I said earlier about the creative process being part inspiration and part perspiration? For the most part, they go hand in hand when creating a neo-name, but you'll need to prime your creative engine with a little inspiration first in order to get the whole process rolling.

The sources of inspiration for a neo-name are about as limitless as the universe around us. This is a time to let your imagination truly soar as you consider name possibilities from such sources as:

  • Names you love. Make a list of all the names that are special to you, as there may be a way to use every one of them.
  • People that you want to honor. Again, consider them all and make a list.
  • Special places and events. These can range from the first night that you and your partner met, to where you spent your honeymoon, to the inn where you conceived.

These sources are just a handful of the many that are waiting to be tapped. However, if you're having trouble identifying the wellsprings of inspiration in your life, one of the following may move you in some areas that you may not have considered:

  • Special objects or elements. Remember when I said that neo-names are almost always created from existing given names? Well, they are, but not always. They also can be formed from virtually any words that relate in a positive manner to something you treasure in your life.
  • Sayings, poetry, or even biblical scripture.
  • Popular songs. Did you have a favorite when you were dating? Maybe you heard a certain song the night you conceived your baby.

This was the case for two college friends of mine, who gave their daughter the combined name Peatra. They formed the name from the title of the popular Cat Stevens song of the early '70s, “Peace Train,” which was playing at a restaurant jukebox the night they first met.

Inspiring Details

As you go through the sources of your inspiration, take time to reflect on the various elements that make them special to you. Don't leave any stones unturned in this process—even something as simple as the color of the dress you wore the night your husband proposed can form the basis for a special name.

As the great architect I.M. Pei once said, “God is in the details.” So, too, can be good names.

The Neo-Inspiration Investigation

If you're drawing your inspiration from a specific occasion or event, the following example may help you in your process. I really analyzed and investigated the elements of a particular event to show how you can mine ideas for a name creation.

It isn't necessary to go through this process for every special moment that comes to mind. In fact, you probably won't be able to unless you have a very good memory or you keep an extremely detailed journal. However, it can help open your mind to the different angles and approaches you can take when making up a new name.

  • Occasion or Event: First date
  • Date and Year: July (don't remember date), 1974
  • Time of Day: Early evening
  • Where: Lexington, Kentucky
  • What We Did: Went out to dinner
  • Method of Transportation: Shelby GT
  • What I Wore: Long green gingham dress
  • What My Date Wore: Suit (probably not important)
  • What We Ate: Turtle soup!
  • The Music We Listened To: Joni Mitchell (among others)
  • Other Special Details: My date gave me a corsage of gardenias. I remember being taken by their intoxicating smell and their waxy, pale green color.

Just off the top of my head, here are the name possibilities presented by this particular occasion:

  • Summer (the season of the year)
  • Leo, Leonard, Leonardo (from Leo, the astrological sign for July)
  • Eve (for evening)
  • July, Julius, Julie, or even Julia (from the month)
  • Lex or Lexi (from Lexington)
  • Shelby (the car!)
  • Celadon (the pale green color of the gardenias)
  • Joni and Mitchell (for the music)
  • Ruby (birthstone of the month)
  • Lark (from larkspur, the flower of the month)

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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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