What’s in a name?

Did you know that Mark Twain gave his cats deliberately odd names to help children develop their linguistic skills? The things you learn working for a feline-specific animal welfare charity! I love little facts like that. As I have a mild fascination with language too, think that any little tricks like that should be copied.

And so it is that, in lieu of any pets – we love cats but, sadly, they play havoc with my asthma – all of Dylan’s toys have names. We hope that, as he begins to talk, it’ll help him with different sounds.

That said, we have given them rather silly names – while Twain’s moggies were given monikers that encouraged verbal aerobics, our little man’s toys are altogether more daft. He has one of those musical seahorse things that helps soothe him to sleep when all else fails. This is called Gavin. He also has a zebra called Jennifer, a leopard called Jurgen, a caterpillar called Eric and a penguin known as Owen. There’s no rhyme nor reason to them; it all started off for our own amusement.

I blame my dad for this. He gave my toys strange names – probably for the same reason as he’s a linguist by trade. My favourite one when I was little was a collectable Andrex puppy that my grandparents went through numerous toilet rolls to acquire. It’s strange that I loved that toy so much; I’ve never liked dogs – we just don’t get on – but we were inseparable.

Dad being Dad decided to call it ‘Bog Dog’. I know. It raised eyebrows on the numerous times I lost him and was subsequently heard bawling his name out – particularly when I had to go into hospital for an operation to fix my terrible hearing. When we eventually got him back from Eastbourne DGH, he had one of those ID wristbands they normally reserve exclusively for newborn babies. ‘Bog Dog Briggs’ it said. Oh dear.

Speaking of dogs, Dylan recently got given a cuddly toy dog by Kate’s aunt. For whatever reason, we hadn’t given it a name. Until the following video – which needs sound, just in case you’ve not seen it yet – went viral last week…

Having resisted the overwhelming urge to call it Jesus Christ, we went with Benton – and then corrected that to Fenton when we realised that, like most of the internet, we had misheard it. I’ve got a hearing test at work tomorrow – it seems well timed, but I won’t be taking Bog Dog…


  1. brinabird

    We have a few names for toys but there is a definite theme for us here…inter milan football players!

  2. Debbie Jones

    We try to encourage my son (he is 3) to name his toys so we have an imaginative Doggy and Doggy 2!

  3. @SAHDandproud

    I try to go with imaginative names for our son’s toys in order to buck a family trend. My grandfather and grandmother, named Patrick and Mary, named their children Patricia and… erm… Mary.
    But, since having children, I have no control in this house. So despite attempting to name my son’s soft toys funny or unusual things he prefers to name them as he sees them. A zebra is a zebra. A soya bean is a soya bean (Yes, he has a toy soya bean) My wife is a scientist and works in a sector where, without going into too much detail, she names things. I think he gets ‘saying what you see’ from her.

  4. PoshBird

    Fab blog ! I had to smile as we call our pets odd names not for the educational value to our children, just for our own amusement ! We’ve had a rat called Eric, a cat called Dave (rip Dave ) and now a cat called Doris. We also named our four fish after neighbours we don’t like…Stewart, Judith, Martin and Sophie but shh don’t tell them 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.