What’s in a name? A lot, actually. Naming your kid is one of the hardest parts of starting a family, fraught with arguments, opinions and bad choices. You need to make sure your child’s name is something unique but not too weird, easily rolls off the tongue, and most importantly, totally reflects the kind of parents you are. Here’s a handy guide to what various children’s names usually say about the parents who chose them. Old-Timey (ex: Enoch, Matilda, Earnest): You are a post-modern hipster who has graduated from reading Pitchfork.com and arguing with people over whether Ghostly International is a better record label than DFA to subscribing to Cook’s Illustrated and arguing with anyone who still eats farmed fish. You quit smoking and are thinking of taking up competitive cycling instead. One parent has had a beard in the past three years and likely has a meat tattoo. Taxidermy was so 2005.
European Origins & Not In The American Mainstream (ex: Felix, Oliver, Penelope): You probably reside somewhere in Brooklyn or Venice Beach and work in media, advertising or the restaurant business. Your tastes actually run fairly mainstream, but you like to pretend they don’t and that you are still hip, even though you’d rather eat a leather shoe than go to some music show at the Brooklyn Bowl at 9 p.m. on a Thursday night and miss out on eating whole-wheat pizza on the couch while watching “30 Rock.” Buying cardigans at American Apparel is as close to being “hip” as you get these days.
Generically WASP-Y (ex: Spencer, Anderson, Veronica): You are a blue-blood through and through, and take great pride in not looking like a “parent.” You lost your baby weight in three months, never had dark roots or dark under-eye circles thanks to your very competent Trinidadian baby nurse, and your kid enjoyed snacks at the salon at Per Se for his first birthday. The best part of your neighborhood is there is a Soul Cycle on the same block as the Gymboree, so when you are on your way to your workout you can wave at the little one.
Simple Family Or Biblical (ex: John, David, Mary): You took the easy way out—no one can mock a family or biblical name or they will sound like total jerks. (Total bonus if you have a unique family name, like “Steele.”) You probably tend to play it safe on most levels—pay bills relatively on time, try to always have a steady job, you join your neighborhood’s parents association to an extent but don’t get too close to them. You are a mostly straight enough couple, perhaps occasionally talking about going to a sex party but never actually going through with it, and one of you might have a minor problem with online porn.
Totally Bizarre (ex: Sound Teknishan, Harpoon Lightning, Jazzy Blue): You are famous. You are wealthy enough that it doesn’t matter if you gave your kid a ridiculous name as he will be home schooled anyway or attend L. Ron Hubbard Elementary at the Celebrity Scientology Center with other celeb kids. You’re probably already convinced that your child is destined for greatness and will also be famous. Also, their unique name will help them stand out when auditioning for movies, though the fact that you are besties with the director will probably do more to help them get the part.
Famous Author, Actor Or Musician-Inspired (ex: Morrissey, Clint, Shaw): You want the world to know your own personal taste in books, movies or music is pretty cool, and therefore you are too. You’d better hope your kid is able to stand up to the hip reputation that precedes him—it’s a sad day when Axl gets pummeled by a bunch of girls in the sandbox or when Dylan Hopper breaks his third pair of glasses in a month. You probably work in music or the literary world, further justifying your artsy choice. This one does not work so well if you really love the lead singer of U2.
Foreign (ex: Piotre [pronounced Peter], Jacques, Marcella): You spent a semester abroad or briefly lived overseas in the country from which your kid’s name originates (or one of your parents is from there, even though you yourself are totally American and only speak English) and you like people to be reminded of the fact that you are not run-of-the-mill American, but quite international. You probably have your child enrolled in French immersion school or only hire Spanish-speaking nannies in order to ensure your kid also becomes international and well-cultured before he is old enough to count. You would never feed your kid a Skippy peanut-butter sandwich because of the high-sugar content, but he can have Nutella on toast anytime he wants.
City Or Country-Inspired (ex: Nevis, Egypt or Brooklyn): You like to tell the world that you once visited this country and it was such a magical experience, you like to be reminded of it every time you talk to your child. David and Victoria Beckham kicked off this trend over a decade ago, claiming their son was conceived in Brooklyn, which is of course a total lie because at the time the only decent hotel they possibly would have stayed at was the downtown Marriott off the bridge.
Ends In “X” (ex: Maddox, Pax, Knox): You are Angelina Jolie.
*Please note that this article is tongue-in-cheek and meant to be read accordingly. If I mention your baby’s name, please do not start sending me dirty diapers in the mail.
Gillian Telling has a son named Charlie, which is a family name. She remains mum on whether she has an online porn addiction.