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The story behind naming of kids

Some parents spend months, or maybe more, thinking of the perfect name to give their newborn baby.

It’s a name that the child will carry with them for the rest of their lives. It’s a name that may or may not get them picked on in school. It’s a name that may be on posters for office, or the movies, one day. Will the name fit them as a baby and as an adult? Is it a family tradition and it’s not even a big decision because it’s been decided generations before?

A big decision.

The top 10 most popular baby names in the United States for 2013 list was released a couple weeks ago, showing what parents chose as the one thing that will stick with their child for the rest of their lives. 

The top 10 boy’s names are, in order from first to 10th, Liam, Noah, Ethan, Mason, Jacob, Jack, Lucas, Jackson, Logan and Aiden.

The top 10 girl’s names, from first to 10th, are Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Isabella, Mia, Emily, Charlotte, Amelia and Abigail.

Neither list changed much from 2012, maybe just a little shifting of ranks.

But all this baby name talk makes a person wonder, what’s behind a baby name?

“I was born in Hawaii, so my parents planned to name me Noelani, which means ‘Heaven’s Tears,’” Nicky Courneya said. “However, the nurse discouraged it, claiming I’d be teased on the mainland.”

That’s when her three older brothers stepped in and helped pick their baby sister’s name.

“Including my parents, my family members all start with ‘J’: Joe, Jean, Jay, John, Jeff. But since I was ‘special,’ they choose an ‘N’ name instead: Nicole. It’s after my great-grandfather Nicolas Sailer.”

Then there are the parents that cave to someone else’s reaction to their choice in names.

“After I was born,” Lynn Holland Reading said, “my parents named me Paula and called me that for a day, but one of my grandmothers hated it. So they abandoned that name and the next name they selected was Jill.

“After another day of being called Jill, my other grandmother revealed she hated that name. So for the next few days I was simply called ‘Baby’ as various names were considered.”

At a week old and ready to go home, her parents still hadn’t chosen a name.

“After my parents learned that I was not going to be released with my mother unless I had a name on a signed birth certificate, my father went out to the maternity waiting room and chose my name from the baby name book on a table. He said it was the first one he saw that sounded good with my already chosen middle name – Marie, which was an easy decision.

“In my maternal family, the firstborn girl of every generation has the middle name of Marie, which my daughter now also shares as her middle name.”

Many times family tradition becomes the story behind a child’s name.

“My husband’s name is Kevin, and his father’s name is Lyle, so we named our son Kyle,” Linda Mickelson said.

“My granddaughter Kaelen is after my mother, Kathlyn, who went by Kay,” Kathie Schaffler said. “I named my daughter, Karrie, by taking the K and ie from my name – Kathie.”

“I’m named after my dad,” Billee Wenschlag said. “I like the spelling of it; it’s different.”

And then there are the random choices that have no tradition but a fun story behind them.

“I was tired of baby name books with my youngest two, so I pulled out the map, and picked Branson and Austria,” Sue Lachowitzer said.

“My son’s name is Justus off of General Hospital. I thought the name was cool,” Tracy Survis-Heim said.

Deanna Sinclair said that while they had no particular reason for their twin’s names, they learned an interesting story years later.

“We named our twins Lauren and Stephen for no special reason. Years later we discovered that their names mean the same thing, a crown (of laurel leaves). One is a Greek-based name, the other Hebrew.”

Regardless of the reasoning for a child’s name, kids can count on some sort of story behind their naming.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.