Should we name a kid after a dead guinea pig?
September 22, 2016 12:01 PM   Subscribe

Would it be OK to name the kid after a dead pet? Were you named after a pet? Did you name your kid after a pet? We like the names, but we don't want to weird the kid out when they're older.

We're about to have our first child, and two of the front runner names are shared by some of our beloved, late guinea pigs. We're not settled on names, but if we were to name our kid Maude or Bertram after our beleoved pets, would that scar them more than the name witout the personal significance? If we name the kid either name, they would definitely know it was after a pet guinea pig so it won't be some kind of secret. At the same time, we recognize it might be a bit weird. These were two of our favourite guinea pigs, so it's really from a place of love.
posted by kendrak to Grab Bag (98 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I would have found it offputting as a child. And if word got out, there'd be no end of taunting from other kids.

But do they have to know about those two guinea pigs?
posted by Candleman at 12:04 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

Yeah, it's weird. Not clear on why they'd have to know where the name came from, though I believe you when you say they would.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:04 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Try to imagine how your kid will react when they find out (from looking though a photo album, or asking you about pets, or something you drop in conversation, etc.) that you used to have a pet with their name, and if the kid is old enough at that point, puts it all together that you named them after a guinea pig. Your kid then comes to you and asks for/demands an explanation, or just expresses love and/or revulsion for the idea.

That's a conversation you have to look forward to. If it goes well, super-duper. Are you prepared to have it in the worst-case scenario, of the kid finding this revolting/offensive?

That's your answer-- if you can take the consequences, then you can do as you please with the names of your guinea pigs.

I'd also advise against developing the likely inside joke where you see the kid do something and say "Well, the original Maude would never do that, [etc.]"
posted by Sunburnt at 12:06 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't want to have a name that was recycled from a dead guinea pig.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:09 PM on September 22, 2016 [34 favorites]

I don't know, I was named after a dead human, and didn't find that off-putting. And we named one dog after a long-dead relative, as well. I think if you just mention that you love the Name, so you used it for both the beloved pet and beloved child, it could be fine. It would only be weird if you made it about the kid taking the Place of your beloved guinea pig or something.
posted by ldthomps at 12:10 PM on September 22, 2016 [9 favorites]

Another vote for weird. Growing up, I coincidently had the same first name as a good friend's family dog, and that weirded me out enough to remember it some 25 years later. I wouldn't do it.
posted by cgg at 12:11 PM on September 22, 2016 [11 favorites]

Middle names. Takes it down a notch from 'potential target of playground mockery' to 'oddball quirk', which IME is how kids view most middle names anyway.
posted by Flannery Culp at 12:11 PM on September 22, 2016 [15 favorites]

I would vote no, don't do it. I think it indirectly communicates to the recipient that they are also identified, somehow, on the level of a guinea pig. (This devaluation doesn't happen when we name people after other people, especially those we respect.) Names and how they are used is important for a sense of self.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:12 PM on September 22, 2016 [35 favorites]

I know someone named for the deceased family cat - it's a less distinctive name than the ones you have in mind, but I don't think it was ever a big deal, just a funny family story.

Also, I totally wanted our old cat's name to be our daughter's name, but was overridden for reasons unrelated to the cat.
posted by vunder at 12:13 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

As both a kids and an adult I would find it weird to be named after a dead pet. Can't you art least put it into a context of "We gave both you and our beloved guinea pigs the same name since we loved the name so much"? That way the kid isn't actually named after the pigs - the kid and the pig share your favorite name. Still not great, but better.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:13 PM on September 22, 2016 [11 favorites]

I had a friend when I was in 5th grade who had the same middle name as the dog her dad had who died right before she was born, Allie. When I found out I said "isn't that kind of weird?" and she shrugged and said "he calls me Allie by accident all the time anyway, it's not a big deal."
posted by phunniemee at 12:13 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

My cousin Joshua was named after the dog that his father had as a child. It doesn't seem to have hurt him any, but it isn't really something that his parents have made a point of calling attention to, either.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 12:15 PM on September 22, 2016

I would say no, but it sounds like you really adored those guinea pigs and thought of them as family, not just pets. I wasn't named after anyone (or thing), but being named for something you loved dearly would be an honor, regardless of the species.

But maybe, when the kid is small, say that you just liked the name a lot. When the kid is more grown up and mature, then you can share more details.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:16 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

The obvious answer is to do it and never tell the kid where there name come from.

But for what it's worth, it would not bother me to be named after a dead pet. If my friends found out when I was a kid, yes. As an adult, no. Lots of people's parents do way weirder things.
posted by something something at 12:16 PM on September 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

My mom picked out my name way before she was pregnant, but was worried that someone else in our extended family would name their kid that. So, to reserve the name, she named her dog the name she planned for her future child. Then I came along, and the dog and I briefly shared a name before the dog passed from old age. (We were called different nicknames-- along the lines of Liz and Beth for Elizabeth). I think it's funny, and as a kid I always admired my mom's foresight.
posted by incountrysleep at 12:18 PM on September 22, 2016 [48 favorites]

I have to say, I think that is just flat out super, super weird. I had two guinea pigs I loved, but man, I would not name kids after them, especially because let's face it, guinea pigs are just not very bright animals. They just aren't. Adorable, but dumb. Named for a dog is one thing. But a guinea pig?

I don't really see why you have to tell them, but if you insist on letting them know that's what you've done, then no, don't do it. There are lots of awesome names for children; use one of those that isn't Maude or Bertram.
posted by holborne at 12:20 PM on September 22, 2016 [10 favorites]

I think the weirdness level depends on how you frame it. Are you really naming the kid after the guinea pig? Like, you loved the guinea pig so much you wanted to use its name for a kid, the way you might want to use your beloved grandmother's name to honor her? I think that would strike a lot of people as weird. Or is it more that you liked the name so much that you used it for a guinea pig and then (because you still liked it just as much) also wanted to use it as a name for your child? That's a lot less weird. I don't think most kids would be too bothered if you told them, "We always loved the name Maude and we didn't want to have to cross it off our kid naming list just because we had already used it for a pet."
posted by Redstart at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

"You were named after the dog!"
posted by JimN2TAW at 12:22 PM on September 22, 2016 [9 favorites]

I think it's weird and potentially hurtful to your kids. There are so many names in the world. Thousands and thousands. Keep your precious memories of your pets and your responsibility towards your children separate.

(Don't do it and think you'll just keep it secret. They will find out and that would make it even weirder.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:24 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

My dad had a cat with my name before he had a daughter with my name (me).

Also, it turns out that my name is actually pretty popular as a dog name nowadays. Who would have guessed!

I think it's perfectly fine. I've never been bothered by it or teased about it.

For what it's worth, I like my name (always have) and get a lot of compliments on it (also always have).
posted by rue72 at 12:27 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Also remember that, if you have siblings or close friends, and your kids have cousins/"cousins", then someone is probably going to let slip that Bertram used to be a guinea pig, and now it's a kid. And they may think it's weird, and poke fun.

So even if you are okay with it, and even if you choose to play down the origin of the name, family and friends will easily draw the line between the guinea pig and the child, and that could come out when your child is most vulnerable.
posted by China Grover at 12:28 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Are you really naming the kid after the guinea pig? Like, you loved the guinea pig so much you wanted to use its name for a kid, the way you might want to use your beloved grandmother's name to honor her? I think that would strike a lot of people as weird. Or is it more that you liked the name so much that you used it for a guinea pig and then (because you still liked it just as much) also wanted to use it as a name for your child?

It's more the later. We liked the names enough to name the guinea pigs that (after Empress Maud and Bertie Wooster), but don't want to take them out of the running because we still like the names.

My partner (who sees this as a completely fine thing) has made it clear he will tell the kid about the guinea pigs. We also have pictures of them around the house.

(As far as distinctive names go, the kid is lucky Tristram is still alive and thus out of the running.)
posted by kendrak at 12:31 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't think this is weird at all.
posted by zutalors! at 12:42 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

Do it. It'll be a great story.
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:43 PM on September 22, 2016 [9 favorites]

I would find it hilarious as an adult. I'm not really sure whether it would have bothered me as a kid, but I don't think so?
posted by Stacey at 12:45 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Heck, I like the idea. Naming your child after another creature that had special significance in your life seems like an act of love to me. My mom talks about some of her childhood pets with so much love that I would have been pleased to have been given one of their names (eh, if the names were suitable for humans and not things like Waddle-Doo).

People pick their kids' names for all sorts of different reasons, and kids are going to make fun of one another's names no matter what those names are or how they acquired them ... personally, I'd rather be named after an animal that was that special to my mom or dad than, say, have a name my parents found on the internet.

(Maude and Bertram were very cute, by the way - love the pictures)
posted by DingoMutt at 12:45 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

My parents named my youngest brother, Benny, the same name as our dead family dog, Benny. There was a four year gap between the death of Benny the dog and birth of Benny my brother. I still maintain that this was VERY WEIRD.

I mean, these are great names and do what you would like, but since you've asked: I consider this somewhat bananas.
posted by smallvictories at 12:45 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

I guess I'm clearly in the minority but this doesn't even remotely strike me as A Thing to be worried about. I interpreted the situation as love for these particular names, not that you're specifically planning to name your child after a guinea pig.

Anyway, even if they are part of family lore, it's unlikely that kids will be all that interested in pets they never knew and that died well before they were even born.
posted by anderjen at 12:46 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Another vote for weird. Find a new name to love for your new child.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:48 PM on September 22, 2016

Best answer: My main reservation comes from the fact that you repeatedly state it as "name my child after my well-loved much missed best guinea pig ever pet" rather than expressing the situation as it being such a great name that you already used it once, but it doesn't bother you to have fond memories of your piggie when you call your child. It's not the naming that bugs me, it's the implied prioritization in the way that you talk about it. Let it be the kid's name that you happened to have already used, rather than the piggie's name that you're recycling because you loved the pig. It's when you slip up in the way that you express it, that you start looking weird.
posted by aimedwander at 12:50 PM on September 22, 2016 [11 favorites]

Well, Steve Irwin named his daughter Bindi after his favorite crocodile, and her middle name was after his dog I think... but for some reason a guinea pig makes it seem a little more strange. I also would vote for a middle name.
posted by umwhat at 12:51 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

if they told me when i was in my 20s, not as a small child, i would one hundred percent find it hilarious that my parents named me after a dead guinea pig. i say hell yeah go for it if it's a great name, just wait til they're older to tell em
posted by burgerrr at 12:52 PM on September 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

Somehow this is less weird to me than the fact that I know a dog who is named after its owner's dead father. I could not possibly explain why.
posted by dizziest at 12:54 PM on September 22, 2016 [7 favorites]

Maude and Bertram are great names but they have to be paired with heavy middle names, like Eugenie and Christopher, so the kids have the choice.
posted by parmanparman at 12:54 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

And if you do this, and you tell the kid that's where their name came from, be 100% clear on whether it's okay to tell their friends that. At some point (eg middle school) they will hold this information as the darkest of secrets never to be mentioned, and when they decide that, you need to be fully on board, and not talk about it, or mention it in public, or tease them for hating it, or hold it over their heads and threaten to tell their crush/date or any other manipulative shenanigans.
posted by aimedwander at 12:55 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

SpacemanStix for the big-time win. Names do matter, a lot, and it's a definite downgrade to be named after a rodent.

Maybe your kids will have a sense of humour about it at some point, like some here seem to (although probably not when they're little), but I think it's a bit different when it's your actual name. (Or maybe you'll have a phenomenally sensie kid.) I wouldn't risk it.
posted by cotton dress sock at 12:59 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: YMMV, but I think this is hilarious, will be a great story for the kid to tell when they've grown up, and you should do it. For people saying that this is weird or the kid will be teased, I think a far bigger issue is that the names in question are "Maude" and "Bertram" which are very unusual names. The fact that they'd be named after a guinea pig doesn't even register relative to that.
posted by phoenixy at 12:59 PM on September 22, 2016 [14 favorites]

I think, at least as a kid, I'd feel a little annoyed about getting a hand-me-down name: you came up with original names for the guinea pigs, couldn't you find one for me? Or, if you loved the name so much couldn't you have saved it for me? It's different than being named after a relative, because you weren't the one who named the relative.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:02 PM on September 22, 2016 [15 favorites]

There is an episode of Frasier where Frasier and his brother learn they were named after their mother's lab rats.

I think this depends entirely on how it is handled. But I am kind of leaning towards "Please, do not do this" based on the framing. Also, based on the need to ask. That alone suggests you find it weird for some reason.

I guess I feel there is weirdness of some sort behind this or your question would be more like "If we decide to do this, what are some best practices for making it weird in a good way, not a bad way?"

Maybe reading through all this can help you move in that direction, but since you aren't settled on a name, some other name sounds like so much less work. Generally speaking, naming a kid shouldn't involve some kind of serious therapeutic process.
posted by Michele in California at 1:03 PM on September 22, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd do it and wouldn't even think twice about it. My mother was named after a dog. I always thought even as a kid that that was the best! I think it would be a fantastic to be named after a guinea pig.
posted by ilovewinter at 1:04 PM on September 22, 2016

My cousin is, according to his understanding, named after a famous jazz trumpeter. Which is entertaining because neither of his parents like jazz at all. However, this is the story the family was instructed to tell after he was born and named. In reality he was named after his father's favorite bull on the farm.

Of course, we found out much later the bull was named after the famous trumpeter because my grandfather was a fan of jazz.

Sooo, technically your kid could have been named after Bertie Wooster or Empress Maud rather than the hamsters.
posted by teleri025 at 1:06 PM on September 22, 2016 [11 favorites]

I think it's cute and I wouldn't care one bit if I had been so named. I say do it if you want to. Every kid has moments when they hate their name for whatever reason, and moments when they love it. Don't worry about it. And yes, Maude and Bertram are certainly unusual now, but isn't that what new parents are always looking for in names nowadays?
posted by clone boulevard at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2016

I would have done this, but my daughter who was born 6 months after my dog soulmate died wouldn't have been happy to be named Jake. Had she been a boy it would have been a no-brainer.
posted by ellenaim at 1:07 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is the fun kind of split for AskMe.

IMO, it's not weird at all if you liked the name before and still like it now. It's a tiny bit weird if you make it a point of "you were named to honor a little squeaky furball". But who cares if you and your partner are both into it?
posted by SaltySalticid at 1:09 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My middle name is from a 5 year old neighborhood girl my mom babysat as a young teen, the little girl died in a house fire with her mom, the story goes that the dad was a fireman and was called to the emergency at his own to see his wife and daughter perish...

I haven't talked to my mother in over 20 years. This knowledge freaked me out as kid, still does! I'm completely paranoid of dying in a house fire. Paranoid!

My mom was coming from a place of love, too. At least she named me after a person, even though I was afraid I was being "labeled" for a tragic fate...

No. You should not name your child/ren after dead guinea pigs. They will not grok the loving message you would be trying to convey. Actually, I think you sound really "off" trying to justify this. The message you are sending is demeaning towards your child/ren. They will understand this.

Why do you want to undermine your relationship with your future child/ren?
posted by jbenben at 1:10 PM on September 22, 2016 [7 favorites]

they would definitely know it was after a pet guinea pig

That seems like a joke your least favorite uncle who thinks he's funny but is really kinda mean would tell. Big difference between telling a kid they were named after a dead guinea pig (not even your very favorites but "two of" your favorites), and telling them they were named your very favorite names, and you love these names so much you even once named your beloved pets those names.

(I love the name Maude. Bertram less so. But if you truly love the names equally and not just as a joke or for symmetry, then go nuts. Just don't expect them to like being told they were named after some dead pets! I mean they might, but that's quite a gamble as you can see from these responses.)
posted by kapers at 1:11 PM on September 22, 2016 [7 favorites]

if your house is, like, covered in photos and remembrances of your beloved guinea pigs and your kids will be unable to conceive of themselves as anything other than heirs to the legacies of these creatures, then okay maybe that's a bad reason to do it? otherwise who cares, go for it
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:15 PM on September 22, 2016

It would make a good example of their parents' eccentricities later in life. That's not a bad thing, by the way.
posted by cecic at 1:18 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I also get that you're probably viewing it as something that could turn into sort of an affectionate family joke. But you might want to consider how it would go down if it turned out that your relationship with your children turns out to be fraught for some reason -- a not terribly uncommon occurrence. It will not help that you named the kid after a dead guinea pig.

(tbh, I'm also wondering why you would want to name your kid after Bertie Wooster, one of literature's foremost upper-class twits. It's a perfectly appropriate idea for a guinea pig, not so much for a kid. That sort of adds insult to injury, to me.)
posted by holborne at 1:20 PM on September 22, 2016 [18 favorites]

My brother and sister-in-law met through their yellow labs: Boady and Kauer. They recently had a baby girl and named her K---- B----, with her first and middle names having the same initials as the pooches that brought her parents together.
I don't know if they will ever tell her that. I like it because its sentimental, yet subtle.
posted by NoraCharles at 1:21 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was just coming to post something similar to Holborne. You don't know the kind of child you will have or the relationship you will have with them over a lifetime. It could become a point of contention. My relationship with my parents is a little fraught and if on top of those times when it was difficult, I also could throw on there that I was named for a transitory pet, well, it wouldn't have helped.

I get that you currently feel a lot of passion for these animals but you are going to feel a LOT of passion for your child. Raise them to appreciate and care for animals but give them their own name.
posted by amanda at 1:39 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

I have a name that is not popular (never in the top 500), but it's a name in some popular songs. Growing up people would always ask me if I had heard of X song, and was I named after it. I asked recently and my mom says no, it wasn't from the song, and it made me feel better to know it wasn't.

I think your intentions are good but in reality it'll be weird for your kids if they associate their name (which for kids is strongly tied to their identity/ego) with a guinea pig. I have met dogs with my name and although I love dogs I would resent sharing my name with a dog in my family, if that makes sense, or if my mom had named a dog with my name years before I was born.
posted by lafemma at 1:45 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I was named after a deceased family cat, who was named after the actress who played my mom's favorite soap opera character at the time. I've always found it weirder that they named a cat Melissa than that they named their daughter after the cat. Hasn't been an issue ever in my life and it provides a good chuckle when people tell their name origin stories. And honestly, I'd rather be named after a cat than a relative; the cat isn't voting for Trump.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:49 PM on September 22, 2016 [10 favorites]

I was named after a dead person, which is fine if it's along the lines of being named after a beloved older relative the kid never knew, or at worst "Junior." Mine was much weirder when I found out in elementary school, first because I was a girl named after a dead boy, and second, because the dead boy died at age 6 in a car crash the year before I was born. I was 6 when I found out. BOY HOWDY did my parents regret their choices.

Naming after a pet - I get that many people think of pets as family members. Naming a human after a dead pet, though? Just feels demeaning, and like the kid is second-best, a replacement for the original better-beloved guinea pig. And not even a dog, a *guinea pig*? With a lifespan half that of dogs? The kid's going to be 5-7 years old or younger when they start asking questions about "Why'd you name me Maud?" "How did Maud die?" "SHE WAS ONLY FIVE AM I GONNA DIE SOON?"

On preview: OMG jbenben, your parents and mine, WTF.
posted by Pandora Kouti at 1:51 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

If you're collecting opinions, I think this is fine. As an adult, I would find it hilarious. I wouldn't say anything until your kid is a grown-up, and maybe not then if he/she turns out to have a bad sense of humor.

posted by superfluousm at 1:52 PM on September 22, 2016

I was named after a cat. Or at least my parents explained it to me as ‘we re-used the name because we liked it as a name’, but I always tell people I was named after a cat because I think it’s funny. It probably helps that it is a completely innocuous name — I’m not called Emperor Fluffyface or anything — but I was only ever amused by it, FWIW.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 1:53 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

My name was the number one name for dogs for YEARS. I absolutely loathed it as a child when I introduced myself and someone would respond with "my aunt/cousin/grandma has a DOG named Molly!" That said, if you frame it as the kids are named after the book characters you loved, AND the pets also happened to have that name, that is much easier to swallow than being named after the pets, to which I say "what? Hell no."
posted by MsMolly at 2:05 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

I adore guinea pigs as much as the next man, but I wouldn't like having been named after one, living or dead.
Consider that you, or anyone else in the family, all of a sudden becomes superstitious for some reason. I really won't.
posted by Namlit at 2:12 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Get new guinea pigs and give them the names.
posted by Segundus at 2:12 PM on September 22, 2016 [9 favorites]

My mother once had a boyfriend who named his dog after her. She was really offended. One can only imagine how she would have felt about the reverse!!
posted by acm at 2:14 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was named after a dilapidated car -- but not really. My dad had this car long before I was born. He named it (let's say) wryly because he loved the name. So his first daughter came along, and my parents gave me the favorite name. I can understand this now, but when I was a kid and a teenager, it pissed me off. I couldn't get rid of the suspicion that the car was more important than the name. Of course, now I get it. But I'm still bummed that I had to live with the sour feelings for so long.

Your wanting to give your kid the same name as your pet isn't weird. But it could create weirdness for your child.
posted by wryly at 2:20 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think it's really interesting that Pandora Kouti had similar experiences being named after a beloved dead child and we both used the term "demeaning" in our answers - that's how it feels! And having photos of the pets around will only make it worse. I remember when my mother "proudly" showed me photos of the little girl and her mom in front of the house they eventually died in. That old b&w photo is seared into my brain. *shudders*

FWIW, Pandora Kouti describes the childhood thought process of the realization perfectly, that's exactly how I remember it.
posted by jbenben at 2:30 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

My niece was named after my brothers horse he had had to sell as he outgrew her & my nephew after a dog his mum had owned as a kid. My niece when she got older got to actually go & meet her namesake & thinks it was wonderful, nephew tells stories about the dog like he actually met him even though he passed long before my nephew was born. I think a lot depends on how the family presents the idea & the role pets play in the family. I'd have found being named after Guinea pigs much more interesting than being named after a witch on TV that everyone else with my name was also named after. If you're concerned don't tell them where it came from until they are old enough.
posted by wwax at 2:30 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Do it. Clearly you're into non-traditional names anyway, so a non-Guinea Pig name stands just as much a chance as being made fun of*. Please also dress them up for Halloween as their namesake rodents when they are young and you can still choose their costumes for them. Make them pose with a salt lick!

*Source: I have a weird first name, and somehow a worse middle name.
posted by Drosera at 2:41 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I friend of mine named his kid after a dead tarantula!!! he'd always loved that name, its special to there you go...
posted by supermedusa at 2:54 PM on September 22, 2016

Of course it's ok. Do it and don't worry about the haters, they gonna hate.
posted by pintapicasso at 3:12 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm say go for it! It's a fun story for you and your (eventually grown) child to tell, and light teasing of the unusual-name variety builds character (ask me how I know!), and also shows you have a sense of humor and are probably good parents.

My name went from being in the 400s in popularity when I was born to in the top 20 now. At the time it was a weird-sounding "old name" and I dearly wished I could be called something "normal" like Jennifer. Now, I don't begrudge new parents finding my name lovely and using it, but their kids aren't going to have the experience of hard-won appreciation for their name the way I did. My name was also a name that had personal meaning for my parents, and I find that special too, that it's not an aspirational name, that they didn't hear it on tv or pick it out of a name book because it means something in a language they don't speak or give me one name so they could call me a cute nickname. I think children's names with actual personal relevance to parents are the best names. Bonus if it's gently silly!

Which is why I'm going to name my firstborn daughter Martha Pickles, for my mother and my cantankerous cat.
posted by Queen of Spreadable Fats at 3:45 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's something that could end up being a funny story, but it could also easily not end up that way.

Don't do it. Kids are more important than making sure you got all the mileage possible out of your favorite name.
posted by mister pointy at 3:48 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'm in the "no" camp. If you want to name them after the original people that's one thing. But to say you named them after the pets and basically reused the names? Nah. The way you're stating it is like you loved your guinea pigs more than you love your kid.

Source 1: "He's a Jr. We named the dog Indiana!" - "You're named after a DOG!?!" [mocking laughter ensues] (Indiana Jones)

Source 2: If I were a boy I was going to be named Townsend (uhg). I knew this growing up. Parent later named a puppy Townsend. It suits a puppy much more than a human. A human name can sometimes be a pet name. (I think a dog named Steve is hilarious.) But recycling a pet name as a human name? No thanks.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:06 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

Why not retroactively re-name the dead pet?
posted by Ideefixe at 4:07 PM on September 22, 2016

The thing is, you can't predict or control your unborn child's eventual reaction to this. And as you see from this thread, there are many people who would find this weird or disrespectful. I'm of the opinion that if you're a parent you should want to avoid any and all kinds of psychological distress for your own child, as much as is humanly possible. This is a thing you have complete control over. Please don't do this.

Also for what it's worth, if this were a friend or acquaintance or relative of mine, and I found out that they named their child after a dead pet guinea pig (regardless of how beloved), I would think less of them for it. It gives me weird bullying vibes I think.
posted by aiglet at 4:43 PM on September 22, 2016 [5 favorites]

Sort of like the Frasier clip linked above, when you're telling stories are you going to have to specify "oh, sorry, the Maude that was eating garbage was Maude-our-guinea-pig not Maude-our-human-child"? Depends on your family whether that would be fun and hilarious or mortifying.

I think they both make great middle names.
posted by betsybetsy at 5:20 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

In 1949, I was a first born. My parents loved the name Linda with a second choice of Susan. They had a very elderly dog named Linda. They assumed the dog would die before I was born and had every intention of naming me Linda. The dog didn't die.



p.s. Everyone in my family told this story a million times with great glee. I've never actually liked the name Linda so the long term ramifications have been 0.
posted by susandennis at 5:39 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

My parents had a dog with my first name before I was born. I was not named after the dog, but rather the dog and I were both named after one of my father's professional mentors.

I was surprised when I found out about this, but never really offended. As an adult I occasionally tell people about it as one of my amusing stories.

I did have a coworker give a puppy my first name as the dog's name while we were working together. That was a little wierder.
posted by Jahaza at 5:44 PM on September 22, 2016

Why not use the name as an affectionate nickname?
posted by Napoleonic Terrier at 6:11 PM on September 22, 2016

My brother shares the name of a family dog (a chubby old beagle) who was alive when he was born, but the dog lived in a different house, and when my brother has expressed discontent about it, my parents have always said it was really just because they liked the name and not in honor of the dog or anything.

It sounds like you really love guinea pigs! I totally get it, those squeaky potatoes can melt your heart. But I think maybe you should instead honor them by having future piggies that your kid helps you take care of, and possibly naming them Maude or Bertie the second (Esq. M.D. Ph.D.).

I was given the unbearably common name Sarah and always wanted a weird name with a weird origin - at least my brother had the dog thing! I personally would have been pleased and amused by the guinea pig thing. But I am very, very weird and have always felt like I needed a name to match. If I had had one? Maybe I would have resented the heck out of it, like my mom who hates her uncommon name and subsequently gave her kids really normal ones. It's a cycle.

I just think that guinea pigs are really dramatically different than a human child, in terms of things like how and why you love and care for them, and how and why their names are utilized throughout their lives. So, like, the reasoning for their names should have dramatically different considerations. If, after considering in that different way, you still dig the names? Go for it. But have a really solid middle name for them to have in case of puberty drama.
posted by Mizu at 6:50 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Voting no. What message might your kids think you would be sending by doing this? That you hope you love your kids as much as your beloved guinea pigs? That the guinea pigs deserve the honor of having your firstborn named after them? That your kids should be looking to the pets as role models?

Obviously there's a split here so maybe some kids wouldn't mind it. But if they develop intuitions like those here in the "anti-" camp, that's going to be a point of resentment you can never undo. You obviously get that they *might* not like or you wouldn't have asked. So why risk it?

I'd be a bit more equivocal if you just pitched it as liking the names and wanting to recycle them, but even then it'd strike me as less than ideal.
posted by mark k at 7:08 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

You do realize that you'd be consigning your son to teasing Every. Single. Day. Of his Life. If you name him Bertram? Maude is fairly awful too; girls will be catty at least, rather than beating the shit out of her like kids will do to your son. They're just not names that will be pleasant to have for your poor kids. Please don't do that to them.

I like the suggestion above to use them as middle names, if you must use them, and also I see no reason to tell them the origin of their names unless they ask and unless you think their personality is such that they'd appreciate it. Many people would be weirded out by that, and I'm not sure what you'd have to gain by telling them.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 7:09 PM on September 22, 2016 [8 favorites]

Seems fine to me. I got my daughter's name from a cat I kind of knew as a child. It wasn't that the cat meant much to me, but the name always stuck as a favorite. My daughter thinks it's funny that I got her name from a cat, but my mother was HORRIFIED to hear the story. Ha!
posted by defreckled at 7:24 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

Give your kids whatever names you want. I was named after a movie star. If you're worried about your kids getting teased, they will get teased regardless what you name them. It's just how life goes.

For the record, I love both of the names. Unique and vintage. You do you, to hell with the haters.
posted by vivzan at 7:45 PM on September 22, 2016 [2 favorites]

Popular human names tend to trail pet names by about 10 years, according to onomatologists.

You do realize that you'd be consigning your son to teasing Every. Single. Day. Of his Life. If you name him Bertram? Maude is fairly awful too; girls will be catty at least, rather than beating the shit out of her like kids will do to your son. They're just not names that will be pleasant to have for your poor kids. Please don't do that to them.

Bertram? Maude?

Naming them that is a way for them to get really good at fistfighting in school, as long as they're being harassed by kids in their weight class.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:55 PM on September 22, 2016 [3 favorites]

I know someone with a dog named Oliver and a daughter named Olivia. The dog came first. Somewhat weird, but obviously they like the names. Olivia is too young to go to school & be teased, but we will see once kids realize that she shares a similar name to her pet.

In this day and age, uncommon names seem to be the norm, so Maude & Bertram fit right in. Names go in cycles; we are now in the unusual/old-fashioned/unique round. I wouldn't worry about teasing over the name you choose; there will be many others with less common names, too. That said, I would hesitate to name my kids after my dead pets, but that's just me. And I wouldn't have named my kid & pet variations on the same name.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:55 PM on September 22, 2016

I'm not really sure I understand why kids at school would know the whole history of his name.

You should name your kid what you want.
posted by waitangi at 9:07 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

i would do this, and i wouldn't worry about it. the kid isn't going to care, and it's not as though a million people are going to continually bring up the guinea pigs, constantly overshadowing your first-born's own legacy. it's great, you can do it.
posted by andreapandrea at 9:58 PM on September 22, 2016

Best answer: ALSO, if you ask a dozen people if you should name your kid X, there's always going to be SOMEONE out there who thinks it's the ABSOLUTE WORST NAME ZOMG HOW COULD YOU??!?!?! no matter what in the world the name happens to be. So don't worry about it. your goal is to have the kid and name it something that sparks joy in your heart and let them shine that light out into the world and rejoice in the fact that people can be named something other than Mary and John.
posted by andreapandrea at 10:01 PM on September 22, 2016 [1 favorite]

I vote no, partially because I would have hated being named after a pet and partly because I would have hated being named after a character in a PG Wodehouse novel, especially something as old-fashioned as Maude.

(My parents are hugs PGW fans. A copy of Leave it to Psmith was one of the first gifts my dad gave my mom. I have a deep and abiding hatred of his particular brand of humour - I find it obnoxious and contrived and would have changed my name at 18 had I been named after one of his characters, especially one who was as much of a privileged, clueless dimwit as Bertie Wooster. So. You never know. Your kid might turn out to be a Wodehouse hater like me.)
posted by Tamanna at 12:40 AM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Personally I wouldn't care if I - or a friend- had been named after a pet, as long as the name made sense for a human.

If your kid thinks being named for a pet is weird, they won't tell other kids. I only know the reasons behind a very few of my friends' names, it's not something that has to come up in conversation. Anyway Guinea pigs are great, and most kids probably don't judge them the way adults might. I think lots of kids would be pretty sanguine about sharing a name with a Guinea pig.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 1:14 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Since the names feel so easily transferrable to you, I think you should instead get two new pets and give THEM the names. If your response to that is, "But Bertie and Maud were special and we couldn't do that," then you can see the logic behind not doing that to your children.

Names are really important. They're huge signifiers of who people are and their family values. Babies are named after beloved family members. They're often NOT given certain names because one of the parents knew a kid with that name in elementary school who used to eat their sandwiches in a funny way and now they'll always think of THAT person when using the name.

Naming a kid after a beloved family member is one thing; naming them after a beloved family pet is another.

All of my kids have inherited names from beloved family members -- these were people who had many, many positive values that we wanted to pass along in the form of sharing those names. It felt like bestowing my newborns with honor to pass along those family member's names.

I'm honoring the deceased people, not their names. So yes, it does feel perfectly acceptable to reuse those names because you adore them, but it feels weird because those names are attached to guinea pigs.

I vote avoid naming your kids guinea pig names. I grok where this feels like splitting hairs, but it's a BIG hair to split.

A kid saying, "I was named after my grandma," and another saying, "I was named after a guinea pig," -- I hope you can see where you're purposely putting your kid in a humiliating situation. Parents try to avoid that.

(Sure, as an adult it can be a cute story -- as a kid it's mortifying.)
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:38 AM on September 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

I would be cool with finding out that I was named after a pet. Our pets have generally had people names so it's quite feasible one of us could marry someone with the same name as one of our dogs or cats, past or present. I can imagine a future family dinner: "go call Pete, it's time for dinner" " Pete the dog or Pete your son in law?". One of my cats has the same name as my great aunt's middle name (not named after her exactly, I liked the name).

The chorus of no's has been quite educational. So I guess don't do it.
posted by kitten magic at 3:49 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Names can be such a huge burden in ways you can't predict or anticipate. I mean, jesus, my name is used for both men and women, and that has caused me a lot of awkward moments in my life ESPECIALLY since I'm a woman working in a male dominated field (I'm a programmer). I have no doubt my parents never anticipated how much trouble my fucking name would cause me over the years, and I'm sure they never thought that I would hate it, but I do. I hate my fucking name.

And this was my parents giving me a perfectly "normal" name.
Oh and the first part of my maiden name rhymes with "Fart", so you know that went well in school....

You are suggesting naming your kids after pets. Dead pets. Dead pets that were rodents.

They won't make it to grade 2 before they start seriously resenting you for doing that to them. They'll tell one person, not knowing they'll be made fun of for it, and suddenly it will spread all through the school and thats it. It is a secret they can't escape now. They will very likely be humiliated by it, it would be one of those things they try to keep secret and DREAD when it inevitably comes out. It will be a source of humiliation they could never escape aside from changing their name, which you can bet they probably would do as soon as they were legally able to.

For the love of all that is holy, don't do this to your children. Middle names? Sure. Fine. First names? Jesus Christ no. Just no. It would be kinder to name them something weird like "Grape" or "Dancer" or something equally stupid. At least they could try to own it, make it theirs and special. If you name them after dead pets it will never be THEIR name. They will always know they were named after dead rodents and jesus christ, that would suck.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 6:16 AM on September 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

My husband never mentioned the fact that the name we chose for our son was the same as his dead childhood cat. I found out from his family after he was born and named. It didn't really bother me and I think we would have still used the name had I known. Shortly after he was born, we also found out that the name is a very popular dog name (and it still is 20 years later) which people bring up all the time.

And it has never, ever been an issue with my son or anyone for that matter. I think sometimes we over think this type of thing.
posted by maxg94 at 6:26 AM on September 23, 2016

Best answer: I was named after a beloved, deceased pet. Mostly this fact was referenced when my parents wanted to end an argument, which they would do by comparing my respective strengths and weaknesses vis a vis the namesake golden retriever. It was fine, and it never bothered me. This is honestly the first time I've even thought of it in years. You're not going to mess up your kid by doing this, unless you loudly announce it to his friends when he's in middle school.
posted by Mayor West at 7:49 AM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. It's good to see these different opinions, giving us lots to think about.

Honestly, my main reservation with Bertram is that it's an uncommon name. If we name the kid after a literary fop, I'm lobbying for Reginald (after the Saki stories).

We'll let you know how it shakes out in 6 weeks after the kid is born.
posted by kendrak at 11:12 AM on September 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

I went to college with someone named after her mom's favorite milking cow, Molly. She thought it was amusing, wasn't an issue.
posted by Neekee at 1:57 PM on September 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

My younger brother's middle name was the same as our family dog. (We inherited the dog from granny.)

He went through hell.

Don't do it.
posted by Pablo MacWilliams at 3:21 PM on September 23, 2016

If we name the kid after a literary fop, I'm lobbying for Reginald (after the Saki stories).

I would vote Reginald for the win. Having said that, kids today use the word "reggie" to mean stupid. The more you know...
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:40 AM on September 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Not weird in my opinion. I would love to be named after a dead pet.
Why is it a concerned they will be picked on by kids? Why are other kids going to know your child has the same name as a guinea pig?
posted by shesbenevolent at 12:02 PM on September 26, 2016

Response by poster: Update: Kid has been born and we named him after Pat and Jerry Brown because it's a less odd name than Bertram, and we hope he'll be a fine example of California Gold. (And since Huell was never on the table, this is as California as we could get.)
posted by kendrak at 3:40 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

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