"If you are not getting the hint after the lingering hug with back rub, no amount of 100 Hour Board answers are going to help you." - Rating Pending
Question #89406 posted on 04/21/2017 4:37 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Why do Mormons give their kids such weird names? Is it because a lot of first time parents are young and make stupid choices without thinking of the future of their child? Having a name like Diezel or McKennleigh makes being a professional and an adult difficult. So what gives?

-My Normal Name Here

A:

Dear Norm,

As far as I can tell, this is a Utah thing (which may extend to other heavily Mormon areas like Idaho and parts of Arizona), not a general Mormon thing. I don't think it's a young and stupid thing, because silly names aren't limited to first or second children. Instead, I think the problem is homogeneity. When everyone around you is white and Mormon just like you, there aren't a whole lot of ways you can naturally stand out, so you start doing weird things to feel like you're different. And this isn't just about weird names; I think that any weird behavior by Utah Mormons can be explained by this desire to feel better than/different from everyone around you.

-The Entomophagist

A:

Dear MNNH,

Part of it could also be that if the parents grew up hearing names like those all the time, they become more normal in their ears. If you grow up across from the neighbor kids Bryynleigh and Sailor, those will be normal names in your mind, and that might make you more likely to give your own child a name in a similar vein.

-Alta

A:

Dear Normalcy is a Paved Road,

Mormons are weird. Weird people, weird names. I don't get what's hard to understand about this.

-Van Goff

A:

Dear person,

Probably because they want to ruin their children's lives.

-Sheebs

A:

Dear My ~

I think the word you were looking for is peculiar

~ Dragon Lady

A:

Dear Nermal,

Folks, stop bemoaning the terrible future of a kid with a weird name. It's a particularly bad take to try and shame parents who give unusual names to their kids. They will be just fine.

-Inverse Insomniac, who is glad not to be yet another Tyler

A:

Dear World,

An absolutely must-see resource for weird Mormon names is the annual compilation by blogger Jessie Jensen who, for going on ten years, has complied lists of baby names from Rexburg, Idaho, published in their local papers. No analysis as to the mentality or rationale for doing so, but lots of top-shelf examples of Mormon baby names.

- Rating Pending (who would have also accepted Raeting Lou Penndyng)

A:

Dear normal,

h/t Ingrid

--Creighanndra

A:

How are you My Normal Name Here!!

It cannot sense. Why does it matter about a professional and an adult difficult when it can just move every ZIG? It can only a name. Look at CATS! It is not a Kevin, or a Steve, or an Alice, but it can for great justice. It will every base.

Do not worry about a Mackkenzjiey or a Brinstar. It can only be you. But, if it is a judgment, then you know what you doing. All your high horse are belong to us.

Make your time, but not your neighbor name.

Ha Ha Ha Ha...

-CATS

A:

Dear William/Emma:

Jennifer Mansfield has an excellent post at Religion News Service adapted from her master's thesis about the why behind the cr8iv naming phenomenon concentrated among Utarizonaho Mormons.

It's worth reading in full. The tl;dr takeaway is that Intermountain West Mormons are much more likely to engage in this practice than Mormons elsewhere or non-Mormons in this region. 

She breaks up the naming practices into six types:

  • Combination/Invented Names
  • Creatively Spelled Names
  • Book of Mormon Names
  • Other Religious Name
  • Inspired Names
  • Theme Names  

Her abstract points to the likely motivational force:

This thesis argues that distinctive Mormon naming types have emerged out of a need to distinguish oneself when belonging to and being surrounded by a culturally homogeneous group. Contrary to existing literature, Mormon personal names do not contribute to a shared group identity among Mormons. Because the LDS Church restricts many usual venues for expression, names are one of very few areas open to creativity. Therefore, names have become a popular avenue for personal self-expression. Members of the group take advantage of the lack of restrictions on naming without recognizing that other members do the same thing, thus contradicting the original purpose of expressing individuality through this avenue.

I have what you might call a Mormon Pop Culture given name but it has suited me fine in the real world, such as it is.

---Portia