When I was little I hated being called Verity. It was weird. No-one knew how to spell it. When I was 3 or 4 I renamed myself with a 15 long name that I insisted people call me. No-one remembers it now but it included Kylie, Madonna, and all of my baby sitters names (Pamela was one).
Still, my name can be hard work. I seem to say Vs like Bs as people sometimes assume I’ve said Berity (yes, that’s totally a more likely name…) I get Dorothy sometimes, and more often, plain confusion.
But as I got older, I started to appreciate having a different, uncommon, yet traditional name. It comes from the Latin veritas. Older people seem to judge me more kindly when they proudly tell me my name means truth. I have a dictionary that defines it as ‘moral truth’. Pretty cool though I think contradictory.
I met my first other Verity when I was 17. She said, ‘Yeah I hate my name.’ I took it really badly. ‘Well I don’t, I love it.’ I’m pretty sure she thought I was a dick and she was probably entitled to. When I was 13 I almost spelt it Verité. Thankfully, I wasn’t that much of a dick.
However, it’s given me a hard precedent. I would like my children to have different, uncommon, yet traditional names with cool meanings. Given the trend in the past few years to bring back all the old school names, I haven’t found many left to take.
What I have found interesting is names that were super posh when I grew up – Amelia, Oscar – are firmly top 10 now across the country. In fact, every name on the 2015 top 10 list of boys’ and girls’ names was posh when I was a child. I’ve called this Boden Britain: we’re all getting more middle class and we’re more aspirational. As once posh names are used across the classes it’ll make it harder for employers to judge class by CV in 20 years time, which is a good thing (other than the mega posh who go for Fifi Xanadu Criseyde followed by seven surnames and totally pull it off. But then a family friend normally puts their CV straight on the CEO’s desk so they’re not judged the same way anyway).
We’ve found all of the baby name suggestion websites pretty rubbish. My sister helpfully advised us to watch film and TV credits. Just make sure you watch widely and from different countries as there’s a massive difference in variety.
Google is more than adequate to discover meanings.
If you’re bothered by the popularity of a name (which I realise not everyone is) there are two websites I love: names.darkergreener and the ONS. The darkergreener website lets you type in a name to show how it’s changed from 1996 to now and includes names that are not, and have never, been top 100 (like Verity, ahem). Though it’s worth downloading the top 100 lists from the ONS, to get more ideas that are printed on a spreadsheet in front of you. Plus the ONS has developed a super cool feature that lets you track the popularity of a top 100 name from 1904 to now. It helps you see that names you might not associate with being very common among your peer group will be very common among your child’s group because they’ve rocketed in popularity since you were born.
Though that all said, both of our names are top 100 and if RB is a boy, he’s going to be common as muck. I’ve found boys’ names much harder than girls’ names, and that’s before trying to agree with my more traditional and equally opinionated husband. There seems to be a fuller, wider spectrum of girls’ names than boys’. Boys’ names are either traditional or insane. Girls’ names have a nice chunk in the middle where they can be a bit flowery and whimsical but still socially acceptable. But then that goes with gender stereotypes, doesn’t it.