Back to the drawing board

And let’s bring another edition of Naming Names to the table.

Wowsers. People are really bonkers about names. What’s in a name? Well, a quick google search can certainly answer that question for you. Or, at the very least, give you hundreds of opinions full of misspelled words, misplaced punctuation and confusing grammar.

As the due date approaches, the more I realize we do probably need to figure out a name besides Sweet Potato for the little sweet potato. As I think hard about a name for our baby girl, I have tried to be increasingly honest with myself. As I do so, I recognize how much I truly like the name Gertrude and specifically, the nickname Gertie. I mean, I really like these names. I know that many people, including several members of my own family, seem to think Gertrude is possibly the worst name ever created. Given such opposition, I decided to take my dilemma to the ultimate source: the internet. I googled “Should I name my daughter (my daughter!!) Gertrude” to see what the interwebs would tell me. Ok, I left out that parenthetical in my query, but let’s just pause: my daughter! Anyway, the answers I got were not pretty.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. Some people chimed into others’ similarly posted question with responses that indicate that the entire world is not quite of one opinion on the name Gertrude. A few people are like me: they actually find it charming, full of character and truly sweet. Others, though, and the vast majority of the commentators, actually despise the name. In an effort to illustrate just how awful of a name Gertrude is, people pointed out the name contains the word ‘rude;’ the name is too heavy on consonants; and some 20th century murderer was named Gertrude (this same type of fact, though, doesn’t seem to stop people from naming their child Charles or Jeffrey or Andrew). Many people hinted that a mother who would name her daughter Gertrude should be simultaneously referred to social services and institutionalized. Someone actually stated that she would rather dieΒ than name her (fictional) daughter Gertrude. She. Would. Rather. Die.

Well. Now I know what the internet thinks of Gertrude.

As much as I love the name, and as much as Aaron really, really loves the name, I don’t want to give our daughter a name that the world almost collectively seems to hate. I especially don’t want to give her a name that she may hate. I’m not ready to complete scrap Gertrude, but I’m not sure I can get over all of the venom out there. Argh.

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20 Responses to “Back to the drawing board”


  1. 1 Kristin January 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Maybe just name her Gertie? Is your favorite part the whole thing + the idea of the nickname, or could you give up the -rude? πŸ™‚
    Just think’ out loud here…

  2. 2 kateandgracie January 19, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    Nah, I’m just fundamentally opposed to naming a kid a nickname. I appreciate that lots of peeps do it — I know a kid who is just a Kate, just an Abby, etc. — but it’s not for me. Unless, of course, that nickname has now become a common enough name in itself, like Molly. Also, the ‘rude’ part never occurred to me and doesn’t really bother me, though I guess I never liked that Kate has ‘ate’ in it. πŸ™‚

    I appreciate you working with me to find a solution, though πŸ™‚ Please, keep the ideas coming!

  3. 3 Kristin January 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Yeah, I understand that. I am pretty much opposed to that also.
    Hmmm…

  4. 4 Kristin January 19, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    A friend of my sister had two great aunts name Okla and Homa. Just thought you might like to know that. Do with it what you will. You’re welcome.

  5. 5 kateandgracie January 19, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    What? Are you lying? That’s ridiculous…Or is it?

  6. 6 Kristin January 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    And of course they were twins. I think I would rather be Okla, wouldn’t you? Although they called her Aunt Okie, so there’s that.

  7. 7 Andra January 19, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    Ok, so I have an unusual name–nobody (including myself) knows how to pronounce it, they call me “Andrea” or “Audra,” etc. and it sometimes annoys the heck out of me. But at the end, (and at the beginning, natch), it’s still my name and it makes sense for me–I’m destined to explain it and defend it to a degree (it’s Latvian, it’s after my godfather, and so forth) and it’s all mine. I own it. And if your potato is a Gertrude, she will really BE a Gertrude, you know? As for the name itself, I honestly think the old, unusual names are coming back. B has a Hazel in her class. My cosin just names his daughter Elsie (good thing she’s not from WI, gotta say… But still pretty nifty). If you love the name, own it. If age asks why–tell her the truth: we loved the name, and we love you. It was a natural fit. She’s going to rock that name, should you choose it!

  8. 8 Andra January 19, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Sorry for the typos. Danged iPhone autocorrect!

  9. 9 gwendolyngarden January 19, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    If you love it, you should do it. And anyone who thinks she’s rude is rude for thinking that. And it kind of beats the hell out of Okla or Homa, no offense Kristin. And I have lots of “G” jewelry I can give her from her Auntie Gwen. πŸ™‚ And I absolutely adore that you both love it! And not that I get a vote, but I love it too.

  10. 10 gwendolyngarden January 19, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    And it might be slightly better than naming your child after the dog, or a Thanksgiving vegetable. πŸ™‚

  11. 11 Kathryn Ozma Robarts January 20, 2012 at 2:52 am

    I like the name Gertrude. As much as I would fear that children on the playground might use the taunt “Dirty Gertie”, anyone who grew up as a Kate knows that children survive rhyming taunts.

  12. 12 Sara H January 20, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I googled “should I name my child Brenna.” Plenty of nice comments, but also comments that “this name reminds me of a brown rabbit” and that it’s horrible because it sounds like a little kid trying to say Brenda and it was totally ruined by some “cow” on America Idol. No recommendations that I be institutionalized, but you get what I’m sayin’. πŸ˜‰

  13. 13 kateandgracie January 20, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Hahaha! A brown rabbit? Is that bad? I appreciate everyone’s kind words and support. And the information that I could do worse by my child — Homa, as one example.

    And you know, I worry about kids being mean — it’s one of my biggest worries, in fact; esp as I was bullied quite a bit in my tween years — but I also feel like it’s hard to predict in what ways they’ll be mean. Maybe naming a little girl Gertrude is just setting her up for additional meanness, but maybe they’ll overlook her name and ridicule her for her curly hair or her chubbiness or her awkward smile. Or just because. Or maybe she’ll be blessed not to be teased and taunted and survive it all with her self-confidence in tact.

    I still can’t believe that someone would rather DIE than name their child Gertrude. I mean, I know that’s maybe just an expression and all, but she sounded pretty serious to me. Yikes.

  14. 14 megan January 22, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    It’s unusual, it’s classic. Kids won’t think it’s weird. She’ll just be their friend Gertrude. I think finding a name that works with the last name is key, too, and this fits the bill. I had to pick something simple since my daughter’s got an unusual last name. Anyway, will you be sad if you don’t pick it? Our second choice name for a while was Elsa, and I have to say, I’m glad we picked Anna, but I didn’t love Elsa as much as it seems you love Gertrude.

  15. 15 Raoser January 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Okla. Homa. Wow.

    I agree with most everyone. It’s true everyone has something to say about names, but I find that pretty odd. I mean, who on earth has the time to find a random name so offensive? The only thing I can think of is if they’ve had a bad experience with someone who had that name but I still find it odd. In any case, I also don’t like the idea of naming someone a nickname, for many reasons. One, I like the idea of someone’s closest having their own personal way to address one. Two, I have a true affinity for elongating shortened names. I have been known to turn a many a name like Rob, Steve, Nick, Kraig into Roberts, Stevens, Nicholas’ and Kraigerys. It’s so nice to have options!

    And yes, the littlest sweet potato will be the name that fits her. There will possibly even be an element of meeting her and realizing one options suits her better than the other. I just can’t wait to find out what and who she is.

    Have you considered Sarayu? Hahaha. Oh, now that makes me laugh.

  16. 16 Jane Roe January 23, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I think that Terry will agree that sweet potato should be named Ellen after your two loving aunts who share Ellen as their middle name:)

    Seriously, I believe you will know the right name when you meet her. I had a good friend who had a name all picked out and then when she saw her son she changed it and named him Gordon because it went so well with their last name and he looked like a Gordon to her. Gordon obviously wasn’t a popular name at the time or even now, but he survived quite well and today is a very successful and happy man.

    Which gets me to my real point. You and Aaron will pick out a great name that will work for you and for sweet potato and it will be perfect. And what other people say really doesn’t matter as long as you two are happy with the name. You know what Shakespeare said,”What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

  17. 17 kateandgracie January 23, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Exactly, Jane! Which is why I was so surprised so many had such vile feelings for Gertrude — if she were named Olivia she would be just as sweet. And that’s the other reason — as Raoser said — I’d understand it if people had strong associations with it, but who even knows a Gertrude? Well, I guess I know one, as Heather pointed out posts earlier, but she is a very lovely person. Anyway, we’ll see. She’s going to have to have a name eventually, I figure. πŸ™‚

  18. 18 Keyes January 24, 2012 at 7:12 am

    A few thoughts: (1) although I like my name-as well as the name of another contributor to this blog-as a Heather born mid 1970s (and then being 1 of 3 Heathers in a 9-kid kindergarten class), I’m not sure picking the Internet’s favorite name needs to be the way to go; (2) because that kindergarten was at a Catholic school, I (think I) know that Gertrude is a saint’s nameβ€”not that this has to be your priority, but, in my experience, saints’ names generally translate well in various languages (or at least they are easily recognized as names, though there is a part of me that kind of likes that Slavic languages cannot deal with/declinate Heather-because it is a female name ending in R-it can screw up many an ‘official document’ when they don’t recognize the name in your passport as a name); and (3) associations? there is a Gertrude (from Ireland) in my book group and she is among the brightest, funniest, and most thoughtful people I have come across.

  19. 19 kateandgracie January 24, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Such a great perspective from the ex-pat! Thank you so much, Keyes! I had not thought at all about how she would fare abroad with her name … And I had never considered how the Slavic world deals with a name like Heather. Mostly, though, I think I love how you have reminded me that Gertrude is indeed a saint’s name so people can take their heresy and shove it (kidding, but I do really, really think naming kids after saints is pretty cool, even if I’m a non-believer myself) AND that you happen to know a great lady Gertrude. Speaking of which, I think Gertrude is one of those names that lends itself to the moniker Lady… as in Lady Gertrude. I once knew a young guy who often referred to himself in the third person as Sir Gregory (this was actually funny and not as weird as I’m making it sound) and I would try, out of his presence, to mimic his hilarity by calling myself Lady Katherine. While I think Lady Katherine works, it wasn’t funny when I’d say it. Lady Gertrude, on the other hand, really speaks to me.

    I am learning so much more than some woman would rather die than have to name her baby girl Gertrude (I know some of you probably dismiss that random internet woman’s declaration, but I can’t stop picturing her giving birth to a lovely girl and having the doctor hand her the baby saying, “Here’s Gertrude!” and the woman starting to reach her arms out to greet her baby when the severity of the situation sets in! She folds her arms back across her chest, turns her head so as not to see the child and says, “No, thank you. Please kill me now.”)

  20. 20 Mary Lloyd January 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Kate Lloyd you are too funny. What a great Mom you will be. Whatever the name. I will love it. Ane will love her to pieces.


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