A Mungbean By Any Other Name

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Naming a child is a huge responsibility.  It’s the moniker that they will carry with them until they’re legally old enough to stop being called what you’ve named them and choose their own name, or forever if you manage not to name them something that traumatises them enough to want to change it!

This little human I’m currently growing is going by the name MungBean, and it shall be known as MungBean until at least this time next week when we find out the gender… and only then if we can finally agree on a name!

There are a number of factors I want to consider when naming my offspring.  Factors that matter to me as the mother, even though they may not matter to other people.


I would take great steps to avoid a child’s initials spelling out things such as BNP or DICK or KKK.  Basically any word or acronym that will carry negotive connotations.

This small thing will have a surname ending in M.  So I want to avoid things such as BUM and CUM.


I’m more traditional than The Boy.  By miles.  Miss Rose is Rose Elizabeth.  It’s a classic, simple name and I love it.  The Boy is more creative in his names, more imaginative.  My step-son Z has a name that a lot of people struggle with unless it’s the shortened nickname he usually goes by.

Because of this my suggestions of William or Alexander for a boy are met with a luke warm response, and his suggestions are met with me pulling a face of “What???”.

We are both going to have to compromise somewhere if this little person is going to be named.


I like names that have some connetion to my family or my life.  My best friend is Aimee-Rose and my mother is Elizabeth.  This meant choosing Rose Elizabeth was about more than the fact I like both names.  I like to honour people in my choices.


There are always family members who don’t get on, people who don’t see eye to eye for whatever reason, and there will be memories of friends or acquaintenaces that people have hated.  For instance I want to avoid names of any of our ex’s, I don’t like the idea of my son running around with the same name of a guy who dumped me on Valentines Day even if I like the name Matthew, or a girl who used to pick on me in school, even if I think Megan is a pretty.

Choosing names that won’t cause the important people in your life to react negatively is tricky, but needs to be considered.  I like the name Luke, but my best friend is divorcing one.  I don’t want her having to say Luke all the time knowing what it means to her because she means more to me than the choice of name.


The names at the top of the names lists for the year are there for a reason.  They’re all lovely names, which is why they get chosen.  Amelia and Olivia are two names I’d have been considering for a girl if they weren’t at the top consistently for the last couple of years, and Oliver and Jack have always been favourites, but then they are for everyone else too.

I would rather this child wasn’t one of six of the same name in their class.  Not because it actually matters, and as I say they’re at the top of the lists for good reason, it’s just something I’d like to avoid.


I have always wanted to consider people’s reactions.  It’s not me who has to carry this name, it’s this child, so if people react by looking horrified or thinking it’s funny then I don’t want to inflict that reaction on my child, even if it doesn’t bother me as the parent.  However, you can’t please everyone.  I thought Rose was a safe choice, it’s simple, classic, pretty, but to my much beloved Grandma it was boring, ugly, old fashioned and “one I don’t much care for actually.”  And she decided she would call her Elizabeth instead as that was the much nicer name.

When my mum named me Judith she thought the same thing, simple, classic and pretty.  But my whole life I had people react to it, even into my 28th year when I was dating post husband, I told some guys in a bar my name who had been chatting me up and they literally laughed in my face and said “No it isn’t, what’s your real name?” then felt thoroughly guilty and apologised before shuffling off.  I was told it’s an old lady name, an ugly name.  I started going by Jude in my teens and, other than being sung at every five minutes, it’s done me well.  I’m only Judith to doctors and lawyers.  Even my midwife calls me Jude.

Basically I want to choose names that fundamentally we love because we love them.  People will find reasons not to like you when you’re growing up, and even if you are named Olivia or Jack, they will still pick on you for something if they get the urge because people suck.  Kids are cruel.  Names don’t keep you safe from bullies, and choosing a name you think of as un-pick-on-able like Judith doesn’t guarantee a thing.  Fashions change, opinions change.  People suck.

I want us to name our children things that we love.  If they hate it then I’d stand right behind them as they change it.  If they learn to adapt it to something they can work with, like I did with Jude, then great that’s fine.  My dad goes by his middle name not his first, and that works just fine too.

I will do my best to give them a name they will love and wear with pride their whole lives, but if I fail then there are options.  What matters is we think about it, we care, and we name them something we love because the more love you put into a child in every decision the better.


What will this little creature grow up called?  Who knows.  Miss Rose goes by Smelly more than she does Rose and that’s one hell of a name to carry.

So watch this space.  Little Mungbean will be named in due course… and we’ll see who loves it and who hates it, but for better or worse the child will be named.


4 responses to “A Mungbean By Any Other Name

  1. I love making baby name lists. But yes the problem is agreeing . There are lots of old traditional names coming back in to fashion perhaps something quirky will be a good compromise. Here’s some to test: Girls: Eliza, Emmerline, Evangeline , Alberta, Tabitha , Effie, Arabella , Antigone. (I like that most can be shortened to a cute nickname) Boys: Maxwell, Henry, Eugene…. I don’t have as many boys !!!


  2. Nell Chambers

    The name I was given as a baby is unusual, pretty, and something I can be proud of. Unfortunately, it was often mispronounced, and more often mis-spelled. I was glad when a fellow student at college gave me a nickname. My mother disapproved of course, which fed my teenage rebelliousness, but it was short, different, and a talking point (yes and sometimes the butt of jokes). However, it still gets mispronounced and mis-spelled. My birth name is Helena (Heleena, Helayna, Eleanor; my nickname is Nell (Nel, even Neil). You just can’t win. Never mind. There are other, more important, things to worry about.



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