What’s in a [baby] name?

One night soon after my husband and I were first engaged we were having a conversation about baby names. Immediately we agreed on a girl name… which will remain a secret for now. *grin*

Boy names, however, were another story! Pretty much every name I liked, Ryan hated… and every name Ryan liked, I hated. Thankfully we weren’t anywhere near having a baby at that point.

A couple years later when I got pregnant (yay!) we were both somewhat convinced it would be a girl. Probably our main reasons for this were that we had settled on a girl’s name from very early on and we had often talked about little “so and so” by name even before conception.

But of course, at that 20 week ultrasound we were directed on the screen to… a penis. (Hooray for little boys!)

As thrilled as we were, this did mean a predicament for us… coming up with a name.

We went round and round with names. Still, many of the names I liked, Ryan didn’t and visa-versa. Finally a few names made their way to the top of the list: Oliver (Ollie), Levi, Ezekiel, Miles… and we just kind of got stuck! For a long time we just didn’t speak much about the name and continued to “feel” it out, hoping that one would emerge as the winner over time.

We considered the nicknames (especially important in Australia where everything is shortened). Although I love the name Ezekiel, I don’t really like the nickname “Zeke”… because I immediately think Zeke the geek, Zeke the freak… Doesn’t work for me (though Ryan loves it).

We considered what the initials would spell. We considered how the name would be pronounced in each of our home country’s accents. We considered the “timeless” verses “trendy” factor. And finally we considered the meanings.

Through all of our deliberations the name Levi rose to the top… the others slowly faded in appeal and this one “stuck”.

We loved the name Levi because it was simple, but not all that common (we only knew/heard of one other Levi at the time). We also thought it sounded cute for a little boy, and strong for a teenager and man. It fit well with our last name, and most importantly we loved the meaning.

As parents we feel that the meaning behind the names of our kids are very important. (We love the meaning of our own names: Ryan means ‘little king’ and Adriel means ‘strength of God’ or ‘follower of God’.) We believe that what we name them will mark them forever if we are intentional about it. Levi means “joined” which isn’t all that exciting… until you look at the context and the history of Levi. Levi was the head of one of the 12 tribes of Israel in the Bible. The “job” of that tribe was to be priests – to represent God to people and people to God. Levi means to connect (join) people to God. We love that meaning! (And on a side note I also loved that Levi was never allowed to go to war… I’m not gonna lie, I [selfishly?] hope my son will always be exempt from war too.)

So, Levi it was… Levi Scott (named for my dad) Booker. It has a good ring to it, doesn’t it? *grin*

Now that he’s with us on the outside, we can’t imagine calling him anything else. He’s most definitely not an Ollie, not a Miles, not an Ezekiel… although those are names we still really like.

Our little Levi is… just Levi and we knew that his name suited him perfectly from the moment we saw him. (That photo of him above is when he’s about three hours old – soooo sweet!)

Every parent has different (important and valid!) reasons for choosing the names that they do. How did you decide on your little one’s names dear mommy friends?


About Author

Adriel Booker is an author, speaker, and advocate based in Sydney, Australia who believes storytelling, beauty, and the grace of God will change the world. Adriel has become a trusted voice in areas of motherhood and parenting, Christian spirituality, and global women's issues. She's also known for her work with the Love A Mama Collective—serving under-resourced women in developing nations through safe birth initiatives—as well as her years spent as a Bible teacher and leadership coach. Her latest book is Grace Like Scarlett: Grieving with Hope after Miscarriage and Loss and she's made the companion grief journal available for free. Find Adriel across all social media platforms at @adrielbooker or sign up for LoveNotes, Adriel's 'secret posts' that aren't published anywhere else online. ✌️


  • The Planet Pink
    24 June 2010 at 7:47 pm

    I've been a fan of the name Levi for awhile! Miles was my first choice for a boy though. Never got to use it. 🙂 My first princess was named by a car salesman (no lie – we were shopping for cars and he asked what we were naming our baby. We told him our top two names and he gushed so much over one that we decided we had to go with the one that got the greatest reaction. Haven't regretted it). Princess #2 was named by her daddy. I had no strong opinion and I loved the idea of using a name he loved. We had a pattern by Princess #3 and had to stick to it (place names) and she's actually the only one that has a meaningful to us place name. Princess #4 was a tough one to name, but we finally agreed upon it and I can't imagine her as anything else!

  • Natalie
    24 June 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Boy names were easy for us to come up with! The hard ones for us for girls names, and then of course, we had to come up with two of them!

  • KimD
    25 June 2010 at 12:13 am

    We had a deal: boy-italian name; girl-first name german and middle mine. We had the boy's name all chosen and at the US it was of course a girl! So we narrowed our list to 3 german names and practiced saying them and we just couldn't decide. So we got on a name website and by chance came across Bianca, an italian word, and immediately we knew that was her name. After our decision we looked it up and realized it was meant to be. Bianca means white in italian. In French it is Blanche. Bianca was the "love" interest of Othello and my paternal grandparents, both deceased, were named Othello & Blanche!

  • Jessica Anne
    25 June 2010 at 12:25 am

    We had a hard time with boys names too. Luckily we had 3 girls. 🙂 Their first names we just liked. Their middle names are Japanese for their heritage and have meaning for us.

  • Cameron
    25 June 2010 at 12:40 am

    We decided on the name Isis one day when I was just reading through names in a baby name book as we were driving to my in-laws house for dinner. We weren't agreeing on a ton of names & we both knew we wanted something different & unique. It was hard to find something that fit what we were both looking for.

    I had never actually been one to put a lot of stock in what a name meant – probably because my parents named me Cameron which means "crooked nose." I've always HATED what my name means & therefore just didn't even consider it a factor when naming our child. This has been good & bad for us. We both absolutely fell in love with the name Isis as soon as I said it out loud. It was kind of a pause & then we both just started going on & on about how much we loved it!! But then some family members – and even some non-family members had issues with the fact that Isis was an Egyptian goddess who apparently married a family member or killed a family member or something?? I don't know, but we ended up having to just say that we love the name & we didn't pick it because it was an Egyptian goddess name. We picked it because we knew that she was special & unique already & we were naming her something like that.

    As soon as she came out, she felt just like an Isis & even now when I look at her, the name is perfect. And really, all the names we liked were really different, so I'm pretty sure family/friends would've had questions no matter what we went with. haha

    I love the name Levi, by the way! We like the name Gage for a boy & we had thought about Gage Levi. But now we have some different boy names picked out that I hope I get to use in the future!!

  • adriel, from the mommyhood memos
    25 June 2010 at 11:01 am

    Pink – That's such a cute story. Love it!

    KimD & Jessica Ann – I love incorporating cultural heritage in there. So cool. And KimD, what an amazing story about your grandparents! Totally meant to be!!!

    Cameron – I love the name Isis! And it IS special and unique just like her! Good for you for not being swayed by others opinions. 🙂 And for the record, I have a HUGE soft spot in my heart for all things Egyptian. 😉 I lived in Cairo for much of 2006. SUCH good memories. Oh yeah, and also for the record… Never mind the "crooked nose" thing – you are so beautiful!!

  • Jill
    25 June 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Adam and I were beating our heads against a wall (so to speak) about a girl name. Similar to you and Ryan, every name I suggested Adam shot down and I just thought he had the worst girl name suggestions. We got stock on the names that revolved around Eve (but didn't want Adam and Eve), so we settled on Eva, which I love! Also, we are not opossed to nicknames Evie and Eve.

    When we were dating we knew what our first boy's name was going to be. All along we were hoping for a boy first, for so many reasons, but man, I would not trade our baby girl in for a million boys! Now, I can't imagine it any other way!

  • Asashia
    25 June 2010 at 4:10 pm

    I honestly stumbled upon my son's name after driving down a street with the same name! I presented it to hubby and he loved it! That was the one and only name we contemplated because it was the only one we agreed on. I remember lying on the ultrasound table praying for a boy because that's all we had—just my luck, we didn't have disagree about that one choice in names. Everything else, well that's another story!

  • Sommer J
    25 June 2010 at 8:10 pm

    The sex that's name is hardest to choose is always the one you're most likely pregnant with! Happened to me with all three pregnancies. Levi is a great name and he certainly looks like a Levi!

  • Lilac City Momma
    26 June 2010 at 1:26 am

    I love his name!!

    We have two girls and had already picked a boy's name with the first too! Also, took us awhile going back and forth with names.

  • Sarah
    27 June 2010 at 3:37 pm

    We struggled with names too. We both made lists and the only name we both listed was Allison. He literally shot down every other name on my list. Although we agreed we both liked Allison we just weren't sure and kept looking for something else. Finally we decided we'd figure it out when she was born and when I saw her tiny little face, Allison just felt right. 🙂

    I love the name Levi btw! It was on my boy's list before we had the big u/s. Maybe it'll be on the list again next time… 🙂

  • Eastlyn and co.
    4 September 2010 at 8:09 pm

    When I met my husband I think he already had names in mind for his future children. Prentice for a boy and Ashley Nicole for a girl. I didn't like either one. I could see Prentice being teasingly called "princess"; and it seemed that every 3rd female child born in the 90's was named Ashley. I had a cousin named Ashley Nicole and our friends had just named their daughter…(you've probably guessed it already) Ashley Nicole. Our son was born first and didn't have a name for the first few days of like. I kept asking him, "What is your name, Sweet Baby Boy?" but he didn't answer. When the midwife returned for a follow up visit we needed a name for the birth certificate. I chose Aaron (b/c it's one of the first listed in all the baby books I poured over; and b/c my grandmother had a friend by this name, and I thought it was a great "old man" name, too). The hubs agreed without a fuss, and we used his first name, Michael, for the middle name.
    Since I named the firstborn, the hubs had dibs on baby #2 who turned out to be a girl. I didn't really want Ashley for a first name even though it is a pretty name, but it was the hub's final decision. We had a short list of first names: Elena (After Aunt Helen), Alana (after my mom), Elizabeth (just liked that one), and Aliya (hubs didn't care for this because of the singer by this name but spelled differently). When I gave the final push and baby girl entered the world, all eyes were on the hubs. He proudly announced that her name was Alisa Ashley. Everyone did sort of a double take, but it is what it is!
    I love the name Levi for your little one, and the meaning is so special, too.


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