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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Baby Name to Discuss: Paloma

Okay! You guys wanted to talk more about the name Paloma.

It's a Spanish name, uncommon in the United States. It didn't get into the Top 1000 at all until 1993, and it's hovered in the 800s and 900s since then. (Source: Social Security Administration. Commenter Catherine thinks it's "...elegant and cosmopolitan sounding, familiar enough that it's hard to mess up (pronunciation or spelling)..." The Baby Name Wizard says it's "Lush and romantic."

Commenter Patty asks: "I know Paloma can mean dove, but anyone else concerned that it also translates to pigeon?" I've heard pigeon used as a term of endearment, and in fact that improves the name Paloma for me: I'd use Pigeon as a cute family nickname.

Commenter ZestyJenny asks: "Are we allowed to use Paloma if we are of Scandinavian/Mutt/very white backgounds?" For my own baby-naming, I'm disinclined to use a name such as Pablo or Thijs even when I like the name. Part of it is that I like names to be coordinated, and so I don't want to paint myself into a corner: if I use Thijs for one baby, I know I won't want to use Oliver for the next one. Also, my surname is ethnic, and so names of another ethnicity sound clashy to me, and names of the same ethnicity sound...too ethnic. But both of these reasons will vary hugely from family to family.

So what do YOU think of Paloma? Do you agree with Catherine and The Baby Name Wizard about the impression the name makes? Are you worried about the potential "pigeon" translation? Would you use it in your family?

18 comments:

Jess said...

My sister calls her GPS, which has a woman's voice, Paloma, so I'm having a very hard time getting past that to think of it as a baby's name. I do think it's a good name if you're looking for something unusual--pretty and pronounceable.

Susan said...

To be sure, I'd have to hear several mothers call out to children (for example, at the mall or at the pool), "Paloma! Oh Paloma! Time to go!" or some such. I refer to that (unexpectedly hearing a name actually used for a real child) as "The Mall Test," and it's quite telling. I've had a few times when I thought I liked a name but as soon as I heard a couple moms calling it out I realized it didn't work at all, for whatever reason.

Until such time as I have a chance for a Mall Test, I give it a tentative thumbs up. I don't have a desire to use the name myself, but if I had a student with that name in my classroom, I think I'd like the name and enjoy saying it.

I don't think the "pigeon" association is a problem at all.

Catherine said...

I posted the original comment, so yes, I think it's a beautiful name that could be used more. Not so sure, however, about a little blond Scandinavian Paloma running around. Would have to think about that one some more. But I wouldn't hesitate for a brunette Euro-mutt so much.

But perhaps I'm biased. The few Palomas I know or know of are all artistic, worldly, and rather, well, lovely people inside and out.

Joceline said...

I tend to shy away from crossing ethnicity in names, especially since my last name is clearly Irish. I am French, and would have loved to name our son and any subsequent children French names, but I always thought they sounded clunky with our Irish last name. My son is named Declan, and the one on the way will have an Irish name as well. I love Paloma, but I think it just sounds ridiculous with most last names in America!

Anonymous said...

I have a Paloma in my classroom this year (4th grade). Her last name is a hypenate Hispanic-English, and nn Pomi. I know someone else who just used it as a middle name. I think I'd peg it as a rising star, seems to have buzz.

Bethtastic said...

I can't help but think of the horse breed Palomino every time I see/hear the name... And while horses are lovely animals, I wouldn't name my child after one. Nor would I name my child after a pidgeon.

Anonymous said...

I grew up with a Paloma who happens to be Asian American (dad from Taiwan, mom from the States). Her mom chose the name because the family was living in Chile at the time of her birth. She has a one-syllable, very obviously Asian last name, and it never occured to me that it was odd or didn't fit. I recently asked her if she ever remembered being picked on/singled out growing up, and she didn't. And we grew up in Reno, NV, at the time a relatively small city.

Erika said...

I love the name - it has a lovely rhythmic sound thanks to its consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel spelling, and I find it feminine and sophisticated, with a slightly artsy tone (thanks, perhaps, to Paloma Picasso). I would short-list it were I to have another daughter, and wouldn't be at all concerned with the possible "pigeon" translation.

Sarah said...

I like it, quite a bit, until the minute I remember all the cancer names that end in -oma. Lymphoma, glioma, carcinoma, sarcoma, Paloma. I know it's morbid. I hope I don't ruin it for someone else.

(I also shy away from cross-ethnic naming, in most cases; for some reason, the most egregious ones to me seem to be the ones with the Jewish-style last names. To wit: Paloma Chang I can almost get behind. Paloma Goldblatt? Never. (Although sometimes they can slide in as a middle name. Right now I'm all about Mairead as a mn, Jewish last name and all.)

Erin said...

I really like it, but don't generally like crossing ethnic lines with names.

I did notice that Paloma is the "P" name for hurricanes this season, so if we get a storm with that name it could raise public awareness. And depending on the strength/damage, that could be gppod or bad for the future of the name.

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/aboutnames.shtml

Erin said...

sorry about typos in my earier comment--holding a baby. ;-)

-R- said...

I like Paloma, and I don't mind that it could mean pigeon.

I am not sure about the ethnic name-crossing thing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I'm not sure what my mental rules about this are.

ZestyJenny said...

This is all very facinating. Thanks, Swistle, for opening up this conversation! Forwarding this to my husband for further discussion.

Okay, I'll come right out and ask it. My Paloma would be Paloma Jacobs. Too clashy? (You can be honest. Paloma is merely a candidate in my 'could be a boy fetus anyway' name discussion.)

That huricane info is also very interesting. We are already on J, so P could totally come up. And the intensity factor is also key. I feel sorry for anyone named Katrina these days, but if it were just a tropical storm, it might put it out there for greater acceptance.

Anonymous said...

I love the name Paloma! I have a cousin born in the early eighties named Paloma. (in the mid-west) She is Caucasian with a two syllable plain polish last name. I thinks the name is classy and seems worldly without being cliché.

Jill said...

Another point to consider: the diminutive of Paloma in Spanish is Palomita, which means popcorn. I personally don't care so much for the name. Maybe because I speak Spanish and think too much about the pigeon translation, and my city has a serious pigeon problem?

Pocket said...

Okay, I agree with Erin on the cancer thing. When I saw then name in the post title, I had to do a double take because I thought it was Papaloma (prounounced like Papilloma - as in HPV). Considering all the talk about the HPV vaccine in young girls today, I wouldn't touch the name Paloma with a 10 foot pole.

Jan said...

I really like it but I thought it was too far of an ethnic reach for my background/last name. Same with Paola. I love saying Paola. :) If it wasn't a Latina girl, I would think she had hippy parents.

Christa Terry said...

We chose Paloma, and occasionally call our Paloma "pidge," short for pigeon. We definitely crossed lines, since our last name is originally a Norman name but is more typically associated with England. I say, who cares? But I'll add that for anyone who assumes Americans won't have trouble spelling or understanding the name Paloma, we've had people write Pamola and other variations until corrected!