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imsok00l's avatar

How to come up with an original name for yourself?

Asked by imsok00l (108points) December 17th, 2012

When I move to the U.S. from my native country I want to change my current name to something that sounds better in English, but I also don’t want it to be a generic name and I especially want to steer clear of any religious connotations. I can’t say I’m an overly creative person so I have no idea where to start. What do you think? Where do I look for a name that is unique but not completely nonsensical?

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17 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Give us some starters…can you use your own name as a jumping off point? It may be not a good idea to completely throw out your name. It is part of who you are and, I assume, given to you by parents who cared deeply. Naming a child, for most of us, is fraught with emotion and weight.

Perhaps something that “sounds like”?

glacial's avatar

There is not really a way to come up with an original name by taking it from someone else. Likewise, you could borrow something from literature or film, but this is still not original. It sounds like you actually want to have an un-original name, and one that sounds quite ordinary.

Have you considered that maybe your own name would be the best option? The US is a country of immigrants; there are lots of people with non-English names. You might regret having changed it once you have lived there for some length of time.

If you do choose a new name, it would be a good idea to check with others to see if it sounds good – as @gailcalled says, bring it to us and try it out. I have noticed that some non-native English speakers tend to choose “American” names that are outdated or very unusual.

imsok00l's avatar

gailcalled, the direct analogue of my Russian name in English would be Daniel Timothy. I don’t want to go with that because of a)the religious origin of those words (I’m not religious) b)it would be too common. there are a million other people named Daniel in the US alone. This all may sound silly but since I’m starting a new life I might as well pick a name that I actually like.

imsok00l's avatar

glacial, what I meant by originality was that I want to have a name/last name combination that nobody else does. I appreciate your suggestion that when I do come up with something I should ask native speakers if it sounds good.

gailcalled's avatar

My maternal grandfather was called Leonid in Russia. After he emigrated, he was called Leo. He kept his patronymic but pronounced it differently.

My paternal great-grandfather, who never left Lithuania, was called Lezer, Lazer, Lazar, and many other transliterations of his Hebrew name.

So, what names do you like? Having a first and last name combo that is unique may be also odd. You can pick anything but consider the long-term repercussions.

For example, you can call yourself Mr. Emigrant Newname. Would you want to?

Personally, I love the name Daniel. I have a beloved nephew and we sometimes call him Dan (but never Danny.)

zenvelo's avatar

I thought you were planning on changing your last name, not your first. I am like @gailcalled, I think Daniel is a great name and it really doesn’t carry religious connotations. If you don’t like it, though, you might consider names that are close, like Dante or even Dylan. And Timothy is a great name also, but something close to it like Tomas.

Dante Tomas would be different, vaguely Italian sounding. But Daniel Timothy is great. If you anglicize it you won’t stand out.

One thing to remember is that most in the US are either boring, or they come from somewhere else but don’t get questioned.

livelaughlove21's avatar

The name of your favorite pet and the name of the street you grew up on.

…oh wait, that’s something else. :)

If you want a name no one else in the US has, why change your name at all? It’ll be really hard to find a truly unique American name. If you find one that no one else has, it probably WILL be considered nonsensical here.

Oh, and having a biblical name won’t make people think you’re religious. Those names are so common that they rarely hold religious connotation to the layperson.

burntbonez's avatar

Daneel (Asimov character)

Do you want it to be American, or just so an American can read it and get it right?






It’s easy to develop new combinations and names. You have to think about what kind of sound you want. Do you like hard sounds or soft sounds. I.e., do you like the Ds and Ts or the ths and ns and ms.

How unusual do you want to go? I mean, when you make up a name, people will think you think you are precious. Special. Do you want to put up with that? Do you care? You could also do something that reminds people of your roots:

Timofiev (if that isn’t your real name)

Or use a sort of patronymic:

Just throw sounds together. Ad in ideas you are interested in. Play with the names and sounds and spellings and meanings. Boom!

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

If you’re looking for feedback, I think that Daniel Timothy (or maybe Daniel Timmons) is a beautiful name.

Daniel isn’t a very religious name. It does appear in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, but so do most names. As far as I know, there isn’t any “Saint Daniel” or “Pope Daniel.”

If you’re really too uncomfortable with Daniel, how about choosing another name that begins with “D”?

glacial's avatar

I agree with those who are saying that Daniel and Timothy are not perceived as religious names. Neither is particularly common, either.

Shippy's avatar

Dante (couldn’t find the little hat for the e)

Kind of a mix of Daniel and Timothy

zensky's avatar

The number 27 Male first name in the United States is Timothy.
The number 12 Male first name in the United States is Daniel.

So both are quite common. Howvever, they are religious in the sense that they are from the bible but most people would not associate them with being a “religious“name. Ezekiel and Zachariah maybe. Not Dan and Tim.

As I write this I am thinking I like Timothy Daniel very much. The initials are also cool: TD.

Timothy D. also sounds good.

Sunny2's avatar

I like Timothy Daniel. It has no particular religious connotation in the U.S. You could use a totally different name, but don’t give up your family heritage entirely. Most of us here value our family backgrounds, if only in our cooking traditions. You also could wait until you get here to decide what to do with your name.

downtide's avatar

I will agree with the others that just because a name originally comes from the Bible, doesn’t mean it’s a religious name now. The popularity of these names attests to this. However it’s true that both Daniel and Timothy are very common in the USA (and the UK, where I am).

You could perhaps browse some of the baby-name websites on the internet for some more ideas.

I changed my name under different circumstances, a couple of years ago, and like you, I wanted one that was a bit unusual. I looked for a name that was still English, but somewhat old-fashioned and thus, less common. The last time that my name was in the top 100 was apparently in 1906.

Another option for making a less common first name, is to adapt a relatively common surname. Names like Hunter, Parker, Mackenzie, all started as surnames but are now used as first names.

Lightlyseared's avatar

I don’t know about the US but if you were coming to the UK (well London, anyway) I wouldn’t bother. Where I work we have a lot of nurses from pretty much everywhere you care to name and most have tried the same thing only to find the first question their patients ask them after they have introduced themselves is “So what is your real name, dear?” OK so you have to put up with people butchering your mother tongue and get the pronunciation all wrong but hell, surely it is better to be accepted for who you are than pretend to be something you’re not?

mazingerz88's avatar

How to come up? See if there’s any historical or present American personality that you really admire and would admire for the rest of your life. You could take that name or a variation of that. Also, think of places that are special to you. Maybe you could combine the names of those places with the names of people you like. Come up with several choices and then look at the mirror and call out the names to yourself. Which one fits you best?

AshLeigh's avatar

I’m not sure what you’re looking for but I’ll just list off a few names that I like:

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