Blank Dullaghan

The way I see it, there are three ways to pick a name for your kid. You may have others, but we narrowed it down thusly:

People. You can choose the name of some historical figure you admire. I thought of Marie Curie right away, but then remembered that she died prematurely of radiation poisoning as a result of her scientific studies. Joan of Arc sprang to mind next, but she met an early end as well. Rosalind Franklin, same, and Helen Keller, well, not exactly, but hers was still not the life most of us would wish for our daughters. (Funny, though, that we have no problem imagining our*selves* in the great and tortured lives of history's heroes — I, for one, would be honored to have been named after Abraham Lincoln — yet we hesitate to sentence our *kids* to those folks' fates.) In the end, I concluded that heroes aren't such a bright place to start after all. I'd like a nice, peaceful, happy existence for our little one, and it's hard to get too famous doing that.

Ideas. You can go by meanings, and choose from names that are said to equal the traits and experiences you envision for your offspring. I went with "happiness," since that was the quality I found lacking in the historical figures, and came back with "Gay" (naturally), "Gioconda," "Manuia," "Yue," "Takwesha," "Farrukh," "Felicia" and "Dedwydd." All are said to have meanings equal or similar to the concept of happiness, and would accordingly bode well for little Ms. Dullaghan. But still. "Takwesha"? "Dullaghan"?

Words. There are certain words in the English language, and in others of course, that are just plain pretty, regardless of their meaning, and those might be good inspiration for the word you're bound to repeat thousands of times over the next several decades. "Sycamore," for one, has been declared by a noted poet to be the most intrinsically beautiful word in our language, and I suppose that's hard to argue with. Tolkien was in love with "cellar door," which does roll off the tongue quite nicely, and I've heard cases made for the beauty of the words "Beautiful," "Bobolink," "Halcyon," "Gossamer" and "Gonnorhea." Ah, no. Mellifluous, yes, but I'm not calling my daughter a venereal disease. It sets a bad precedent.

So that leaves the simple process of elimination, which is slow going. Any baby book on the market will array for you some 10,000 potential names for your child of either gender, and just going from A to Z with a highlighter gets really boring, really quickly. Most sound bad with "Dullaghan," let me tell you right now, and before long "Ava" starts to sound a lot like "Emma," and "Anna," and so forth. You circle several on the first few pages and realize you'll still have hundreds to choose from by the time you get done, which may not be until the kid is in high school.

It'd be great if you could get to know the child and choose something that reflects her personality, but there's the rub: you have to name her before you know her. And you have to live with the possibility — some would say certainty — that your choice will come to *define* her personality as she grows up. So you'd better pick something you not only won't mind hearing yourself say, but watching your daughter *be.* No pressure.

Fortunately, Lope has had some great ideas, possibly because she had better methods of deciding than mine, and we've got it narrowed down to a couple now.

We'll let you know how it turns out. I can tell you this much, though: it's not gonna be Takwesha.


Hello, I'm Ryan Noel. said...

We arrived at Simeon's name based on a dream I had 6 or 7 years ago in which we had a son named Simeon.

In the naming process, we found out that Simeon also means "obedient." I admit, any parent who names their child something that means "obedient" is *just asking* to parent a wildly disobedient child. :)

His name also means "God is listening," which if you know how many times we prayed desperately for a child, it makes perfect sense.

All this said, I think the more likely scenario is this: You choose a name based on whatever criteria or inspiration you feel, and the child's personality and person will define what the name's meaning — not the other way around.

Colin said...

Or that. If the perfect name comes to you in a dream, and turns out to have an evocative and poetic significance to you and your spouse, then yeah. That's probably the ideal method of naming, and would be awesome if it happens to us.

Other than that, I am somewhat comforted by your suggestion that our daughter will come to define her name, instead of the other way around. That seems a lot fairer.

Anonymous said...


'Strange that you mentioned Lincoln. For first names that produced a catchy sound when combined with Dullaghan. I had thought of Abraham or, for a girl (and I was certainly proud of this little jewel)

-- wait for it --

Della Hannah Dullaghan

I'll bet you and Katie are grateful for your names now, huh?

Love and hugs

Magnoliawhispers said...

I had a few names picked out and then waited until after he was born and then tried to fit the names with the baby and see which one definitely was a fit. Seemed to work. Jack met a guy named "Blank" yesterday. Like maybe the Mom was looking at the clock on the wall during labor and her mind went "Blank". Or the Registration lady told the Mother, "Fill in the Blank please, and so she did!"