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The difficulties of picking a name

What’s your name?

I am once again struggling to find a suitable name for a new girl, and I am curious how other collectors go about naming their dolls.  Sometimes it’s very easy, the doll in question basically tells you who she/he is, but sometimes it’s really difficult.

And since I want to know how you pick names, I am going to share a bit about my naming habits and struggles. After starting with my first BJD in 2013 (Tristania was the first doll in the house) a couple of unstrung dolls found their way into the collection in later years as well. I find that I make a distinction between the BJD and the unstrung dolls. It’s not an active decision I made, I just feel differently about them. The bond is not the same, and as a consequence naming the Barbies, Blythes, Monst dolls and other unstrung dolls is much less of an effort.

I name them when I want to introduce them on the blog, but they only get first names. Most of them give me an idea of what name would suit them – an impression of their personality. But I don’t think of them as characters, they are “just” dolls. So I don’t really care if the names are unique or popular as long as I like the sound. Sometimes I forget their names again and have to look them up on the blog. I think I have never spent more than 15 minutes on finding a name for one of the unstrung dolls.

But with the BJD it’s a completely different story.

They come with a lot more personality, and with the customization they become “people”. When I think of them, I think of them with the names I gave them and an idea of their personality in mind, pretty much like I would think of humans. Finding the right name for them is sometimes just as much of a struggle as finding the right wig or background story.

Since BJD come with a sculpt name, some of the collectors I know don’t bother to find new names for their dolls. But when I frequently see other people’s dolls online that have a name, dolls I admire for their unique face up or style, I tend to remember their names.

Back to the struggles of finding a name. With some of mine I had a name and a character in mind even before I ordered them, those are the easy ones. Seraphine, Ludivine and Everett for example. Others come to life with giving them their face up. They tell me their background story, I know who they are, but I still can’t find a name that fits. My current struggle to find a name for my Raccoon doll Rose is one of those cases. I wanted to name her Harper, before I found out that the name became really popular in the US lately. There’s even a Rainbow High doll called Harper Dune, that really put me off that name choice.

Some of my doll’s names are made up, I just liked the sound (Tristania and Amanthis for example are my creations). But most of the names I chose are existing names. I try to find unique names that are not very popular and easy to pronounce for English speakers. Some of the names may sound funny in other languages, but I try to research that as well. I always have to smile about the Popodolls (Popo=butt) or other daring choices.

And since my BJD all have surnames as well as first names, the search for a good name doesn’t end with the first name. Most of the time I try to find a combination that seems to originate in the same geographic region.

And when I have decided on a name, it’s time to google the combination to find out if there are any namesakes you wouldn’t want for your character.

Very inspirational but a bit overwhelming are baby naming sites

There are a lot of them, the most popular one is probably Nameberry.

It’s a very extensive collection of names (not always accurate as far as the spelling of European names is concerned). But since it’s created for an US audience the US version of those names is probably just what people are looking for. Very helpful are the comments about possible quips invited by similar sounding words. If you are not a native speaker, picking names with an English speaking community in mind can be difficult. Every culture has their own outdated names, fashions and connotations with names. And what sounds nice following the standard pronunciation of one language might sound ridiculous in other languages.

Behindthename is another great resource if you want to look for both: First names and surnames.

I love their advanced search options by origin, letter and syllables. For some reason I like Nordic and Irish names, so searching by origin is always helpful to narrow the results down. You still get a lot of them, with all possible user provided variations. Sometimes that’s just a bit too much. Interesting, though.


One of the sites worth exploring is OhBabynames


I am not sure if it’s my browser, but the advanced search doesn’t always seem to work. Ohbabynames provides a lot of information for each name if you like that kind of stuff. Let’s say you want to know more about Adam…

These are just a few of many if you want to spend time browsing for inspiration.

I have collected a list of names I like, and when I am looking for a name I check that list first. But sometimes it’s just like the wig box. You have an extensive collection, but nothing wants to fit right.

And I am still undecided what I should pick for my Rose (thank god she has a sculpt name I can work with for now). I know she is a sophisticated strong personality, her name should reflect that. No flowery three-syllable melodic name would suit this girl. Solveig, Jorike and Idun are favorites. Or something with a hint of masculinity, but not a fashionable unisex name? I guess I will have to think about that for a bit longer. Maybe Rumpelstilskin after all?

I hope this wasn’t too boring to read, and I am really curious how much effort you put into finding a name. Want to tell me in the comments?


11 thoughts on “The difficulties of picking a name”

  1. I couldn’t agree more! BJDs do have their own personality, for me at least, they are more than just dolls, in a way that I don’t feel for other kinds of dolls. I too remember names of other people’s BJDs that I like, as if they were humans. Some BJDs are easy to give a name to, for others I need more time. My chosen names are mostly common, often borrowed from a tv character, or a song or novel. Holly for instance is the title of the first album of Justin Nozuka, Patrick is named after Patrick Jane, lead character of the tv series The Mentalist 😊. A very interesting subject, great post!

    1. Thank you! Nozuka would make a good name too :). Do you name your playline dolls? I can’t remember if they had names from your previous blogs.

      1. For the doll photo story I once made, all the 1/6 scale characters had first and last names, but I don’t remember all of them now and don’t own the dolls anymore. Two of my Sasha dolls have first names, but the others don’t, and if any of the playline dolls I am selling had one, I don’t remember.

  2. I love the site Behind The Name! I often go there for name inspirations. Especially when I want a name with a particular ethnicity. I don’t have a set method of naming dolls. I’m always on the lookout for an interesting name that catches my attention. Sometimes I find the name first (I have an extensive list) and then look at it when a new doll comes in. Though, sometimes I have a particular character in mind for a doll and have to consider if they are part of a family. Many of my characters are used in stories and have last names as well.

    1. It’s a great source, isn’t it? We seem to have a couple of things in common there. By the way, I love your Bronaugh, that’s a name I never heard before. You seem to like Nordic names as well as far as I remember.

      1. Yes, it is a great source for names! Thanks so much! Bronaugh is a name I stumbled across. The doll is just lovely! Thanks! I do love Nordic names…since I found out I’m over 25% Swedish. LOL And I also have some characters that come from those northern places.

  3. I try to let a doll tell me her name, but use a Baby Name book when I’m stuck. Occasionally I will make up a name, especially when telling a story. So I guess we all do the same in a round about way. 😊
    Big hugs,

  4. I use the site Behind the Name too! 🙂 I always check what particular name means.
    And I also love Irish, Scottish and Nordic names. I would go with Slavic ones, but nobody would be able to say them (except Polish readers of my blog xD).

    At the beginning I didn’t give new names to my dolls. I used the “fabric names”. But for some time I changed that. I think it was because of the Margaret, my little witch. I changed her name because I felt I had to. And now it became a habit. 😉

    1. Why not Slavic? Some of them might be hard to pronounce, but a little challenge is always welcome :), and they are certainly not that generic like some English sounding names like the sculpt names.

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