Picking the best nerdy name for your baby

When I was pregnant I felt obligated, to my dismay, to read books about pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. These are the kind of books that use phrases like ‘when you get the yack attacks’ without a hint of irony. (Had they said yak attacks, I wouldn’t have been so resentful.) So, I found myself trudging through these cringe-inducing texts rather than finishing H.G. Wells’ Outline of History. I hope my daughter can someday appreciate and understand the great sacrifice I made for her.

The only parenting books I did enjoy reading while pregnant were baby name books. I should clarify here that by ‘baby name book’ I mean ‘encyclopedia of world mythology.’ My husband and I chose our baby name from a list of ancient Norse goddesses.

I run into a lot of Aidens, Haydens, Braydens, Jaydens, Kaitlins, and Kaylas these days. When I go to conventions, though, I find a greater diversity of names from world literature, history, art, and geek culture. I once met a child named Anakin; he wore his name proudly.

Here is a list of some of the many names that floated through my pregnancy-hormone addled brain that I still like. This is just a small sampling as an exhaustive list would be, well, exhausting. If I could have a litter of children, these are the names I would pick.

From Mythology:

  • Artemis — Artemis was a powerful Greek goddess, believed to be of pre-Greek origin. She was the goddess of the hunt, wilderness, and wild animals. She carried a bow and arrows and is often depicted towering over a stag with its antlers in her hand. She was arguably the most badass of goddesses. No goddess, or god for that matter, portrays the strength, independence, and skill that Artemis has.
  • Icarus — Though the story of Icarus can be seen as a tragedy about the dangers of hubris, the name itself is beautiful. Icarus wore wings made of wax and was thus able to fly. Unfortunately, he flew too close to the sun, causing the wings to melt and him to plummet. This story can also be seen as one of great ambition without fear, and, indeed, the Hellenic Air Force Academy still calls itself Icarus in reference to the first Greek to take to the sky.
  • Math (a good middle name) — Math was a Welsh sorcerer and a king of Gwynedd, which is in northern Wales. His tale is a strange and sordid one that involves needing to rest his feet in the laps of maidens, but he was also a loyal father and husband. The appeal of this name, which I think would make a great middle name after a longer first name, is its double entendre — twice the nerdy reference at half the cost!

From History:

  • Hypatia — Hypatia was a Greek philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer in Alexandria, who belonged to the Neoplatonist school, taught at the university and improved on the astrolabe. Some scholars say that her death marks the downfall of Alexandrian intellectual life. (Her death happened near the time of the burning of the library of Alexandria, and both events were possibly precipitated by growing religious tensions in the city.)
  • Boadicea — Boadicea (also spelled Boudica) was a queen of a British tribe who led the uprising against the invading Roman forces. Many centuries later, Queen Victoria considered her a namesake, and she has become a legendary figure in Britain.

You may have noticed that I am a fan of naming girls after figures of strength, intellectual acuity, and power. Geek culture, often more so than popular culture, has no dearth of such women. Below is a list of a few that I fancy.

From Geek Culture:

  • Nyota — Nyota is the first name of Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek: The Original Series. Her name means ‘star’ in Swahili. She was chief communications officer, and throughout the life of the franchise, eventually became a commander. Her character proved to be an inspiration for women and African American astronauts, including Dr. Mae Jemison.
  • Leia — This one is obvious, I admit. No explanations necessary. She’s like an interplanetary Boadicea.
  • Daria — I was tempted to name my daughter Daria Jane after my two favorite TV characters of all time. Daria, the titular character of a classic MTV cartoon, was a cynical, sarcastic, sensitive, and brilliant girl who found herself alienated in school. Daria and her equally misanthropic friend Jane refused to give in to the inane dramas of high school life while providing snide and astute commentary on the world around them.
  • Hikaru — Hikaru is a Japanese verb meaning ‘to shine’, and is also the first name of Lieutenant Sulu in Star Trek, portrayed by the legendary George Takei. The character was meant to be pan-Asian, and was created at a time of great inter-Asian conflict. Like many characters on TOS, Hikaru represented peace, intercultural communication, and a love of knowledge and compassion above petty human squabbles. In Japan, the name Hikaru is used for both men and women.

This list is just a short jumping off point. Please post your favorite nerdy baby names in the comments section. What names have you considered?

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