Speaking of Names

Devin and I have been talking about potential baby names for years, in that hypothetical way that many couples do. We never really liked each other’s choices. I tended to go for names with “oh-ee” sounds on the end, or names that look like they would: Zoe, Chloe, Phoebe, Calliope, et cetera. Devin hates most of those. Actually, we did agree we both liked “Zoe,” but as there’s at least one in our immediate family and two in our nearby lives, we kind of got beaten to the punch with that one.

Anyhow, early in pregnancy I put together a spreadsheet on Google documents where each of us could add names and the other could comment, hoping that somewhere along the line this would result in some kind of nexus of agreement. (Perhaps a Venn diagram would have been better). As it happens, we have a few names for both boys and girls that we both either like or could live with if we had to.

Yesterday I got to leave work a little early and Devin txted me to say he was at the Main Library. I found him at a desk poring over a tall stack of baby-name books, which we then checked out, took home and proceeded to plow through on New Year’s Eve.

Among other things, it reminded me that one of the experiments I’d been meaning to try was to look up the word “Seed” in as many languages as possible to see if any of THEM turned out to be words that could work as names. My results were somewhat limited by the fact that I don’t read the Greek, Cyrillic, or any of the Asian alphabets, so we may never know what the word for “Seed” is in Ukranian, Thai or Arabic.

Some of the rest of the results reminded me of the keen but also unfortunate etymological relationship between the word “Seed” and the word “semen,” which wouldn’t go over well once our child encounters his or her first middle-school health class. For example:


There’s also “Graine,” and while I’m fond of both words and names with e on the end, this just seems unfair.

Then there’s another bunch that just don’t work as names for a variety of reasons; either they’re too long, too hard to spell, or just seem silly:

Magbigay ng binhi
Sjem Enarstvo
Karna ur

There’s a handful that might work as names — if our child was really exotic or some kind of crime-fighting superhero:


Oddly, one of the books we picked up at the library, “The New Age Baby Name Book” by Sue Browder, has more than one sidebar devoted to Miwok Indian names related to seeds. This would be appropriate, since the Miwoks inhabited the San Francisco area, but … well, check out some of these winners and their meanings:

Helkimu: “Hitting bushes with seed beater.”
Howotmila: “Running hand down the brach of a shrub to find seeds for beads.”
Huatama: “Mashing seeds in a mortar.”
Kanatu: “Making mashed seeds into a hard lump.”
Memtha: “Tasting farewell-to-spring seed after it has been mashed with the pestle but while still in the mortar.”
Muliya: “Hitting farewell-to-spring seed with a stick as the seed hangs from the bush.”

No. Just no.

So, it looks like “Seed” will only wind up being its moniker until the baby’s born, and then after that we’re going to have to pick something we like — and agree on.

— Beth


  1. Angyl said,

    January 2, 2009 at 9:17 am

    What about gods/goddesses associated with agricultural cycles? LOTS more names/sounds there.

    • thecarrawayseed said,

      January 2, 2009 at 9:24 am

      Eh, that’s kinda getting away from the pun. :)

  2. Tyler said,

    January 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    On the crime-fighting superhero front, I am friends with a fellow of Iraqi descent whose name is Ziad. Of course, he also has a pretty good gallery of the spectacular misspellings of his name over the years:


  3. Waggie said,

    January 4, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Well, since you’re looking for translations.. Seed translated to Japanese could be ‘mi’ (実). It was once (and I think still) popular in Japan to name girls using katakana and end the name with ‘ko’ (meaning child). How does ‘miko’ sound? (‘ミコ’ in katakana or ‘実子’ in kanji, though that’s not an official name kanji)

    A dictionary entry on ‘実’:

    Also, the Ukrainian word for seed is ‘nasinia’ or some close variation thereof, I think.

    I hope that helps. :)

    – Waggie

    • thecarrawayseed said,

      January 4, 2009 at 3:46 pm

      Huh. I like both “Miko” and “Nasinia,” actually. Much better than “Zaad!”

  4. Christina said,

    January 7, 2009 at 1:11 am

    hmmmm you can always take to the next stage and look for seedling, or sprout puns.

    fyi kminek (kih-mee-nek) means caraway seed in polish, tomasz can pronounce it for you.

  5. Tara said,

    January 7, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    I actually like Osiva. I always pictured you guys picking a really awesome name, since you both have names like literary heroes/heroines.

    Magbigay ng binhi looks like Tagalog. Don’t do it (as if you were, but still haha)

  6. andrea said,

    January 12, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    the miwok names are fantastic. i mean, don’t. but! fantastic.

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