Can Bad Initials Sink My Baby's Name?

Filed under: Baby Names


I am pregnant with my fourth child. My previous three children have names beginning with, in order, T, B and A. My favorite names for this baby are Gerard if a boy and Genevieve if a girl, but my husband says that the kids' initials taken together will spell something that has a negative slang meaning. I didn't even know about this slang until he mentioned it, but what do you think? Does it matter what the kids' initials spell when taken together?

- TBA mom


Many a fine baby name plan has run aground on rocky initials. I've heard from lots of anxious parents fretting over the wisdom of names like Emily Zinn and Andrew Stephen Summers. Your full-family question, though, is a first. Before we start digging for every possible baby name acronym, anagram and inversion (Lana?), it's time to set some limits on how much we let letterplay rule our naming decisions.


I say a single first-last pair of initials shouldn't sink a name you love. Even in the toughest cases (say, Fred Upton), a middle initial can soften the sting and leave you with a faultless monogram. So go ahead and name your daughter Emily Grace Zinn with confidence.

When the full monogram is unprintable, though, you may want to think twice. A glaringly bad trio of initials can be a small, lifelong thorn in the side. In the case of Andy Summers, you might as well not even give him the middle name -- he's going to avoid using it at all costs.

As for the initials of four kids as a group, you have my permission to ignore that factor altogether. Think of it this way: when you meet a large family, do you ever stop to work out the kids' initials in age order and see what they spell? And for that matter, did your husband ever complain that his first three kids spelled "To Be Announced," as if he hadn't named them at all?

So your husband's objection is a stretch, especially with such an obscure bit of spelling. That's the good news. The bad news is that he felt the need to stretch for objections to Gerard and Genevieve at all. To me, that says that he simply doesn't like your favorite names. Be prepared to find alternatives, problem initials or not.

Have you had doubts about a name you loved? Share your experiences here! And if you have your own question to Ask the Name Lady, drop her a line!

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.