How to Use Your Maiden Name When Choosing a Baby Name
If you’re attached to your birth surname, want to honor your own father or mother, or simply aren’t ready to “let it go”, consider incorporating your maiden name into your baby’s name, somehow.
But, as soon as baby is born, don’t fill out that birth certificate immediately! Think it through—how attached are you to “Smith” for example? Ask yourself: Why, specifically, is giving baby your maiden name (in some capacity) so important to you?
If you are looking to incorporate your maiden name into your baby’s name, here are four options to consider:
Consider your grandparents and past relatives.
“Using a family name is a great way to honor a whole branch of your family tree, rather than just one person,” says Jennifer Moss, founder of BabyNames.com. “Using it as a first or middle name, rather than hyphenating, also makes it easier on the child. Think about filling out forms, introductions, and so forth.”
Think about your heritage.
“Looking for a way to incorporate my maiden name into my first baby's name was part of the inspiration behind the name books that eventually became Nameberry,” says Pamela Redmond, co-creator and CEO of Nameberry. “I wanted a name that was both Irish and meant red, like my maiden name Redmond, since the baby would have my husband's last name, distinctly NOT Irish.” She recalls—and this was in the 80s, when there were so few niche baby name books—”it took me literally months to arrive at the name ‘Rory,’ which anyone searching Nameberry today could find in a few keystrokes.”
Explore the meaning of your surname.
“Look for a name with the same ethnic origin, and/or search for a name with a similar meaning. You can be creative and expansive in your approach,” says Redmond. For example, if your last name is patronymic (a name inspired by one’s father, for example, or late ancestor) like ‘Johnson,’ for instance, which is very common, you might want to look for variations on the name ‘John’ from Evan to Gianna to Zane, or search for other names with "gracious" in the meaning, as here.” This is a great example of two creative ways you can incorporate your maiden name into your child's first name or middle name.
Consider using your last name as baby’s first name.
According to Redmond, some surnames certainly work as firsts—such as, “Quinn” or “Taylor”—but today, you can also consider using more unconventional choices like Maguire or DeMatteo. “My youngest son's middle name is ‘Redmond,’ which he really likes having as a signifier of both sides of his family.” Using a maiden name in a child's name, says Redmond, may be even more important if you change your surname to your spouse's and give your children your spouse's surname.