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Creating a Neo-Name

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Once you've come up with some possibilities, it's time to consider all the ways you can play with your inspirations to come up with some neo-names.

There are many different approaches to this process, some decidedly easier than others. Some also yield better results. It's a good idea to try them all, or at least as many as you can manage. You may come up with the perfect name from an approach that you didn't think would yield anything interesting, so don't gloss over the ones that seem silly, far-fetched, or just too tough to try. Electricity was discovered when Ben Franklin was flying a kite. The all-popular Teflon was stumbled upon in a completely unrelated experiment. The point is that great ideas spring from strange places. Who knows where yours will come from! Let's take a look at a few possibilities.

Bits and Pieces

One way to come up with a name that's set apart from the rest is to use a piece or pieces of another word. For instance, using the examples I came up with above, there are several possibilities: Deni or Garen, taken from gardenia; Chelly, taken from Mitchell and adding a “y”; Cela, from the color of my flowers. See what new names exist within the seemingly ordinary words from your list. You may be surprised at what you find.

Blending Names

Name Dropping

The elements that are combined for a blended name don't have to be taken exactly from the host names. Sometimes, sounds from names can be blended into a new name. Actress Meryl Streep's name is an example of this—the opening sound, mer-, comes from Mary (her first name). The closing sound, -el, comes from the first initial of Louise, her middle name.

This involves taking parts from two names, or even more, and fitting them together to form a new name. The names can be yours and your partners, names that you like from other sources, favorite relatives, friends … the possibilities are limitless! The ways in which the parts can be combined are endless as well.


  • Marjo (Mary and Joseph)
  • Sandel (Sandra and Elaine)
  • Quindon (Quinton and Donald)
  • Raylin (Ray and Linda)
  • Anakaren (Anna and Karen)
  • Taylorscot (Taylor and Scott)

Head-On Collisions

A variation of blended names, head-on collisions take place when the front end of one name and the back end of another name form a new name.


  • Rondré (Ronald and André)
  • Sharlon (Sharon and Marlon)
  • Daveon (David and Leon)
  • Derwin (Derek and Irwin)
  • Jonell (Joni and Mitchell)


Alphabet Soup

The term acronym was coined during World War II to describe a pronounceable word formed from the initial letters or syllables of a series of words. The original meaning of the word expanded over the years to encompass abbreviations as well.

Acronymns, a neo-name style which involves combining the first letters of a series of words or names, can be a tough way to form a name; it's not always easy to come up with something that works well. However, it's worth a shot if you have a favorite song lyric, line of poetry, Bible verse, saying, or just a bunch of words that mean something to you.

I had a hard time finding real-life examples of acronyms used as given names, although I'm sure many exist. One very good one that was cited by author Stephen J. Spignesi in The Celebrity Baby Name Book is Kecalf, the name of Aretha Franklin's son, which was formed from the first initials of his parents' names: Ken E. Cunningham and Aretha L. Franklin. My inspiration example suggests a few, but they're not terribly good: Saldeg (my initials at the time plus the initials of my date which sounds very Norwegian) and Sadil, which stands for Sonia and Dave in Love, and sounds like something that should be on top of a horse.

Other approaches to creating neo-names that are similar in style to forming acronyms include:

  • Spelling a name or word backward to form another word or name (ananym).
  • Forming a new name by combining the letters of several names or words in any order (anagram).

These approaches won't yield a ton of possibilities and require you to set aside a decent amount of time, but if you love to play with names and you've got a lot of time on your hands, then why not give it a shot?

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More on: Choosing a Name


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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