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  • ASK BABYNAMES
    Name advice from our founder, Jennifer Moss.

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Two names, Different cultures.

Hi Jennifer,

I am a transgender man and one of the greatest joys of transitioning was getting to choose my own name so that I would feel more “me.” I am now legally Aaron Kai. I chose Aaron because 1) I liked its meaning (exalted, strong) and 2) it is gender neutral when spoken but masculine on paper. Its popularity also coincides with my birth year. I chose Kai because it means “Ocean” and one of my biggest passions is surfing.

I am very happy with my name, however, do you think it is strange to combine a traditionally Hebrew name and Polynesian name as a non-Jewish white guy, or have these names become Americanized enough so that they sound appropriate for my background? For example, I think it might be socioculturally inappropriate for a white man to be named something like Muhammed Enrique or Ezekiel Keoni. Thoughts?

Thanks,
Aaron

Aaron, Oh Aaron

Aaron, Oh, Aaron!

Hi Aaron,

In this day and age it is not culturally inappropriate to combine name ethnicities. Because many people are now culturally combined! Regarding the name Aaron, it is being used across the board by all faiths and cultures in the U.S. Although it is a Hebrew name, it is not perceived as a primarily “Jewish” name in this day and age. As for the name Kai, I actually know a (Caucasian) family who have named their children Hana and Kai because they were enamored with Hawaii and its culture.

I have spoken before about the Native American backlash at white people taking their tribe names as given names. But as far as I know, Polynesians do not take offense. If there are any Polynesian/Hawaiian readers out there that could shed more light on the issue, please write me.

I’m glad you have found a name that suits your passions, interests and personality! Enjoy!

Sincerely,
Jennifer

Graham or Jared?

Dear Jennifer,
My husband and I are trying to decide on a name for our baby boy. It’s between Graham or Jared. We like Jared because we would use Leroy (which is my dad’s middle name) as the middle name so the initials would be JLB which is my husband’s father’s initials. So we would have both families represented.

We are also considering Graham which seems like it’s a softer (less rigid) name. Part of the problem with Graham is that my husband doesn’t really like the initials GLB so we were thinking about having two middle names Leroy and James (which is my husbands father middle name) so again…both families represented but my husband doesn’t really want two middle names.

Do you have any thoughts on this. Thanks for your help!

Sincerely,
Louanna

Jared Fogle of Subway fame.

Jared Fogle of Subway fame.

Dear Louanna,

I’m not a fan of two middle names. I think it’s clunky for a person to bear three given names and just looks like the parents could not decide.

Between Graham or Jared, my personal preference is Graham. Jared has become very popular lately, and I like more unique names. Also, I identify Jared with the Subway guy and the jeweler (“He went to Jared’s!”).

But like I said, that’s just a personal preference–and assocation–and not given from the perspective of a name expert. Ultimately, it’s your decision.

Sincerely,
Jennifer

The Honest Company The Honest Company
Beyond the Meaning of a Name

Do you agree that names can have meaning beyond what the name book says?

Hi Megan,

Absolutely, a meaning and perception of a name can be very personal and different for each individual. For example if you and your partner have a special place that you’ve shared–for a romantic getaway, honeymoon, or even just a favorite spot–you may want to use that place name for your baby.

Many people will name a child after a favorite fictional character or hero/heroine, mentor or influencer in his or her life.

It’s always great to have a backstory of a name, a story to tell your child that goes beyond the onomastic meaning.

Thanks for writing!
Jennifer
@mossifer
@babynamesdotcom
p.s. You can ask me a question via Twitter by using the hashtag #AskBabyNames

Polish Name Roots

Dear Jennifer,

I have always been fascinated by names, especially since I have an unusual name myself. I am of part-Polish heritage and have always struggled to get information on the Polish names that I have found on my family tree. I was wondering if you could tell me the meaning of the name Feliksa and if you think it would work in non-Polish society? Also would it be possible to give me any history of the name Eugeniusz? It was my grandfathers name and although quite popular for a time in Poland I have never been able to find any reliable information on it in English.

Thank you so much for the help,
Genevieve

Hi Genevieve,

Both Feliksa and Eugeniusz are variations of the Latinized names Felicia or Felix and Eugene. Felicia means “Happy, Prosperous” as Eugene means “Well born.”

Just like dictionary words, most names have roots and offshoots (prefixes, postfixes) that can be traced back to Roman or Latinized names.

Hope that helps!
Sincerely,
Jennifer

Polish actor Eugeniusz Bodo and his dog Sambo

Polish actor Eugeniusz Bodo and his dog Sambo

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