Saturday, April 16, 2011

An Asher by Any Other Name

Not surprisingly, we have already gotten a lot of questions about Asher's name. I don't think it would surprise anyone, either, to find out that a lot of thought went into choosing it. Probably too much thought, in fact. As an OB, I sign birth certificates all the time, so I guess I'm particularly opinionated about the names people give their kids, which meant a lot of "rules" guiding our choice.

The basic rules:
  1. The top 100 names for the last couple of years are off-limits. Crockett and I enjoy having uncommon names and felt that it would be a bit weird for our child to have a common one. This was hard because there are a lot of great names on those lists. However, it also helped ensure that we wouldn't chose the same name as one of our friends.
  2. Careful selection of initials to make sure they didn't spell anything uncouth (either in their usual order, or as a monogram)
  3. Awareness of potential nicknames/teasing
  4. No two people in the house should use the same name. I grew up with 2 Chrises; Crockett and his dad have the same first name. All of this can cause confusion.
  5. The name that is used should be the FIRST name. Crockett and a lot of his friends go by their middle names, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, we do find it a little complicated when dealing with legal documents, etc.
  6. The name should be relatively easy to spell and pronounce.
  7. The name's meaning, if it has one, should be something positive.
  8. No made-up names (my rule, which I stand by firmly after a patient recently gave her child a name that sounds a lot like the brand name of a popular prescription sedative)
  9. The name should be appropriate for all phases of life--babyhood, childhood, and adulthood.
These rules established, the next step was what was quite possibly the most inefficient research ever conducted: I read/skimmed the entire boy section of a book of 100,001 baby names. Seriously. Fortunately, most names could be discarded at first glance. Eventually, I compiled a list of names, as did Crockett through his own research (which, as you might guess, was conducted online, though I have to say that his method was about as efficient as mine). We also found a wonderful website with surveys of people regarding their names, so we were able to read first-hand reports about what is like to live with a particular name. Months later, we were finally able to compare notes, and through a process of elimination, we had a name: Asher Brighton Dunn.

So what's in a name? Asher is on Old Testament name. Asher was one of Jacob's sons. The name means "happy" or "blessed." In general, Asher was a decent guy, and his descendents, the Tribe of Asher, were a group of amazingly fertile people who were blessed with good fortune and prosperity. They were also known for their wisdom.

Crockett liked the concept of the name "Bright," in the sense of "intelligent," but it was not in any books or websites, meaning it broke rule #8. "Brighton" is a legitimate name, though, and seemed to pass all other tests. It didn't make the top of my list but was Crockett's favorite, so it is a compromise.

To answer the other question we are always asked: no, neither of these is a family name. We liked the idea of using a family name, but we feared that if we had a second child, we would have to have an "equal" name for that kid to make sure (s)he didn't develop an inferiority complex. It seemed safer to give each child a unique name.

In the end, I leave you with what we told the family when we announced our decision: Asher Brighton is our baby's name. We hope you like it. If you don't, feel free to keep that opinion to yourself.

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