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Time was, choosing a name for a new baby was easy. Parents just looked to grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. Family names were handed down for generations.

Something happened in the ‘60s and ‘70s, though. Baby Boomers decided family names were not good enough. Spices, jewels, nature and cartoon characters were in. Sweet baby girls tripped over Crystal and Monet and Saffron and Cayenne. Chubby-cheeked boys sported such monikers as Maxmillian and Drake and North and River.

At one point baby names derived from the combination of letters from each elder member of the family became popular. As a teacher, I had the most difficulty with those names containing few, if any, vowels. Kqek – pronounced Kee-quick – threw me for a loop. Fortunately, his nickname was Pete so that’s what I called him. Of course, the names with too many vowels weren’t any easier. Lukilisha – pronounced La-kisha – made no sense to me. I persisted with my phonetic pronunciation.

The tide appears to be turning. Young parents are looking to family names again. Two of my grandchildren are named for family members: Peyton (my grandfather) and Mabry (pronounced May-bree – my grandparents’ surname). My daughter did not consider other, more colorful family names such as Birdie or Mindora or Venice (pronounced Vee-nis – because we are…Southern) or Burdon.

Nowadays, parents choose good old names such as Grace and Lily and Margaret and Jackson and Thomas and William. Names that can stand the test of time and not cause irreparable harm to the child’s psyche. Recognizable and pronounceable. Strong and…and…boring!

I long for the unusual, the distinctive, the extraordinary, the offbeat. After a little research, I found a plethora of suitable names, but even these are too dull.

  • Bronté
  • Chastain
  • Deveraux
  • McCartney
  • Lennon
  • Malone
  • Paxton
  • Athalie
  • Emmeline

    After another bit of research, I hit pay dirt!

  • Ayslia
  • Evza
  • Kryzlyannie
  • Myangeleeze
  • Saulth
  • Torin
  • Wylden

    Don’t you just love them? Can’t you hear a young dad yelling, "Knock the cover off that ball, Wylden"? Or a young mom cooing to her sleepy baby, "Close your eyes, Myangeleeze"?

    The best thing about unusual names is that they can be pronounced any way one wants to pronounce them! So…Ayslia can be pronounced as All-issa or As-lee-ah or A-slee. See? Multi-purpose. Fits any culture. Any gender.

    Life contains plenty of drudgery. Why not spice it up a bit with a made-up name? Let’s see…how about Urfboar? Or Truction? Or Nimake? It’s easy! I just looked at a modem box for the first one and the manual for my panini maker for the others. You can do it, too. I know you can.

    Or, you can spend time researching book stores and the Internet, but you won’t have nearly as much fun.


    Lonnye Sue Sims Pearson grew up in the Mississippi Delta, but now calls North Carolina home. She’s an English teacher (one of THOSE), and she loves to share her stories. Write Lonnye Sue at Deltamiss2002

    To read more of Lonnye Sue’s tales at USADS, visit these links:
    The Last Train
    Elvis Forever . . . And Ever

    Looking for more unusual Southern names? CLICK HERE

    Here's a list of grandparent names and nicknames

    Another list, Southern Style: Double Names

    Click here for another story about Southern Names: This Name's For You by Beth Boswell Jacks

    And another: What's In A Southern Name? by Lonnye Sue Pearson

    Read many more great stories listed on our USADS Articles pages.


    Want to leave a comment on Lonnye Sue’s story?
    Please visit our Message Board
    or write Ye Editor at bethjacks@hotmail.com.

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