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Baby names: Unconventional ways to honor loved ones

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When faced with seemingly infinite possibilities for a new baby's name, the first place we tend to look is the family tree. While some use relatives to rule names out, wanting their baby to be the one and only, others want to honor a beloved grandparent or someone generations back who they never had a chance to know. 

While using the honoree's given name is unquestionably the best way celebrate his influence, the cards don't always play out that way. Naming styles may not mesh or the honoree may have always hated her own name. Instead of tossing out the honored name idea entirely, consider some of these unconventional means of achieving the same goal.

Combination platter


If the names of your loved ones are too short or plain for your tastes, combine two or more into a fun new name for your baby. Look at their first, middle and last names for striking syllables and put them together in new ways. Or, go for the Southern route with a two-word first name, like Ella May or Parker James.

Play with the meaning


Every baby name has a meaning and every meaning belongs to several different names. If you have a relative whose name means "strong," use our reverse meaning baby name dictionary to find others with the same roots. While only you will know the reasons, a baby name chosen this way celebrates the qualities you hope your child will share with the chosen loved one.

Look to their loves


If every other consideration comes up empty, consider your honoree's favorite things as inspiration for your baby's name. A grandmother's favorite flower makes an excellent honor name for a baby girl. Perhaps your uncle had a beloved horse or a favorite author. Baby names chosen this way provide some of the very best answers to the question, "That's an interesting name. How did you choose it?"

While many will argue an honor name that isn't letter-for-letter isn't truly an honor name, don't let that stop you from finding your own path to your baby's name. A good question to ask yourself first is, "Would my aunt/grandfather/cousin/influence be honored by this choice?" As long as the answer is yes, do not hesitate to use that baby name you love.

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