Choosing a baby name is a fun, yet super important job. Read on to find out why we chose the baby name Arlo, what the name Arlo means, and how we feel about the name Arlo six years on.
Why we chose the baby name Arlo
A question we get asked a hell of a lot is, ‘So, why Arlo?’ or, ‘Where did you hear that name?’ Well, here is the full account of the long road to choosing a name for Arlo.
I LOVE love baby names. I have been thinking about names for potential children since I was a young girl. I kept a master list on my computer, updating it whenever I came across a new name that I loved.
But here I was, looking at that list whilst actually pregnant, and I realised that half of these names just would not work for us in the real world. I had some ridiculous names on there, which were lovely when I was playing make-believe, but this was the real thing now and it was time to get serious. I made some major revisions before presenting ‘The List’ to Sam.
Despite my edits, Sam burst out laughing at half of them and declared an immediate ‘no’ to the other half. It did come as a bit of a blow to have the names I have been thinking about for so long rejected with the smallest amount of consideration by someone who had clearly never given a moment’s thought to potential children naming before his seed had been well and truly sown. Ahem.
So, ‘The List’ was out. It was time to start from scratch.
Although we had similar taste in girls names, Sam and I discovered that we were miles apart when it came to boy’s names. He liked classic, popular names. I had a huge issue with calling my child a name that ten others would have.
I knew that I wanted a special name for my boy. A name that felt like ‘us’. One that was strong, yet gentle. And a name that wouldn’t be too ‘out there’ for him – it’s a hard balance to strike when you know you want to choose something a bit different.
We had a few issues along the way. Namely (pun intended), the classic dogs and boyfriends dilemma.
Could we give our child the same name as my dead dog? (my choice. Sounds weird, but I just really liked the name and already had good associations with it). Could we give our child the same name as my current dog? (Sam’s choice. Why do we like our dogs names so much??).
Was it crossing some kind of line to give our child the same name as my sister’s recent ex?? Yes, we clearly had no imagination to think outside of names of people we already knew.
Sam had fallen in love with ‘Albert’. I had told him repeatedly, ‘No no no never ever not in a million years not for me’. No offence to Alberts out there but my tastes tend to veer from the traditional. Sam was still fighting in Albert’s corner.
Meanwhile, I had fallen in love with dead-dog-name, which Sam had flung into the ‘definitely not no way‘ pile on more occasions than I could count.
So…Why Arlo and where did we get his name from.
There was no exciting eureka moment where we suddenly thought of the name. I can’t actually remember where I first saw the name Arlo, I think it was a baby name website. We were vaguely aware of Arlo Guthrie, but perhaps just a few generations too young for it to have any impact on our name choice.
I really like names ending in ‘o’. Phonetically gentle but not too soft to lose all masculine connotation. But Sam had vetoed most of those names. Arlo was the only one that he paused on. I liked that it was not way too unusual. It could work.
What does Arlo mean?
The Old English meaning is ‘army hill’ and is also a distant derivative of ‘hare’, ‘rabbit’, and ‘eagle’. In Italian it is a variant of ‘Carlos’ and in Spanish it means ‘barberry tree’.
Arlo name meaning
We quite liked that the name Arlo doesn’t have one particular meaning. You can almost give it your own interpretation.
Cut to around one week before Arlo was born, and we had two solid name choices. I say we, really I mean that I had two solid name choices.
Sam was still dithering. Agreeing to the two names one day, only to deny any such agreement and push for his beloved Albert again. (I was also still holding out a little hope that he might agree to dead-dog-name).
I thought a name would become obvious once he was born, as it is so hard to put a face to a name. I thought it would be easy to pick between our two boy names once I saw my baby.
Arlo was born and we stared at him. A lot.
He definitely didn’t look like boy option A. But did he look like boy option B?
Before he was born, I couldn’t imagine what my baby would look like. Now he was here, and he looked so like me, and yet he looked so different to anything I could have imagined.
He looked like him. And we weren’t sure how something so simple as a name could do that justice. It’s a bit mind-blowing, having a baby.
So we waited. And waited some more.
Pregnant me had been adamant that we would announce his name and his birth at the same time. That’s the ‘proper’ way.
The birth announcement texts were sent out saying, ‘Baby boy born…etc’. We ignored the desperate requests to know his name. We were desperate to know his name too, it just hadn’t come to us yet.
It became apparent over the next few days. I had been calling him Arlo in my head for a day or so when Sam accidentally called him Arlo out loud.
‘You called him Arlo’.
‘Well, that’s his name, isn’t it?’
After all the months (and years, on my part) of deliberation, it was as simple as that.
His name has met a bit of resistance. My grandma couldn’t get her head around it at first and wanted to call Arlo by his middle name – a name she is more familiar with.
A couple of days after his birth a stranger said (after a long pause), ‘Well, at least hell be the only one in his class’. A lot of the time we have to spell his name to people. However, I am pleased that most people seem to really like our choice, and there’s no denying that he has really grown into his name.
I think his name suits him completely, all our other choices now don’t fit at all. He is Arlo.
A little update as it’s been SIX YEARS since we named our baby Arlo. It’s funny reading this back because now that the mammoth task of naming our first baby is way behind us, I don’t feel like naming him Arlo was particularly groundbreaking at all. The name Arlo has certainly rose in popularity massively since, with a fair few celebrities choosing the baby name Arlo. I like that it’s gaining popularity, as I never wanted him to stand out, I just wanted to give him a nice name.
And we still LOVE his name. I’ve named two more boys since (you can see their names here), and I still have major love for the name Arlo. Boy, did he grow into his name. It suits him entirely. Could not possibly imagine him being called anything else. Arlo is a name that is full of character, easy to say, easy to spell. Simple yet gentle-sounding. And it suits a six year old just as much as a baby and I can see it wearing very well as an adult, too.
Lots of people stumble across this post when they are considering the baby name Arlo, and I love that so many of you have shared your stories in the comments. I might be slightly biased, but I think Arlo is a fantastic baby name choice.