How to name a baby

I'd wager that your own name is a word you'll hear more often than any other in your life. It's one of the first things you learn to write, to read, to say; it's one of the first things you share with someone. I could go on indefinitely, but I think I've made my point.

So, I've got a son on the way. My wife and I are currently trying to decide on a name, and it's a maddening exercise. Hopefully, the name we choose will get a good 75-100 years of use, and be the object of all those verbs I mentioned earlier. Yet for all the consequences of this decision, there is no right or wrong answer. I can't analyze things, research names, and decide one name is "best." It's simply a matter of taste - and this is killing me! It's one thing to choose dinner, or a shirt, or even a car, relying on intuition - these'll last, what, a few hours to a few years? But a name?

I don't want a common name - who wants to share a name with so many that you perpetually have to add an initial to distinguish yourself? But a rare name is equally challenging - you're spelling or pronouncing it repeatedly, and you can never find the little souvenier license plates with your name. I'd like to use a family name, but that raises more questions. Is it OK to change spelling? And with every name, you've got to avoid having stupid initials or sharing a name with a particularly notorious historical figure. It goes without saying that we won't be putting Adolf Stephen on a birth certificate this December. I want a name that has some meaning, but I don't want it to be transparent.

So, I've tried to set up a framework for this, and of course have researched. We haven't bought any books, but the interweb has more than enough information. Google "baby names meaning" and I'm sure you'll find plenty of lists explaining what the names mean in Old Norse or Greek. The Social Security administration will give you rankings of how popular names have been and what the most popular are now. I've got one bookmark that even combines the two, and gives you fancy graphs. To top it off, there are scholarly/economic articles discussing the relationships between baby names and parental education, and so forth. It's overwhelming - maybe once I have a more-developed list of potential names, it would help, but it's useless while I'm in the brainstorming pahse.

So, if I cop out and name the kid after me, do I get to choose whether he's a junior or a II?

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