It’s been a while since a baby name has caused as much stir as Elon Musk and Grimes’ son, X Æ A-12 has done in the few short days since his birth. And while we’re still not sure if the celeb pair are pulling our leg, we’re using this as a teaching moment for the do’s and don’ts of giving your child such an unusual name.
“In general, our philosophy is that you have to see the name from the perspective of how your child will live with it, and if it puts a burden upon them, then you are doing your child a disservice,” Jennifer Moss, founder of BabyNames.com and host of the Baby Names Podcast, told SheKnows. “I think this is one of those names, if it’s real.”
Grimes would probably disagree with that assessment. When someone on Twitter accused her of naming her child like an album, she countered, “I think it sounds like the name of the main character in the story. I hope he vibes with that.”
I think it sounds like the name of the main character in the story 🪐 I hope he vibes with that.
Ok, going back into the pain/ beauty reverie for sum time, just came on to add my thoughts. Peace to all 🤍-🐉🐷🐁
— ꧁ ༒ Gℜiꪔ⃕es ༒꧂ 🍓🐉🎀 小仙女 (@Grimezsz) May 6, 2020
This still isn’t the strangest name Moss has ever heard. That prize goes to Tallulah Does the Hula From Hawaii, the name of a New Zealand girl who was not pleased with her parent’s choice. In 2008 the 8-year-old girl’s lawyer told the court that she refused to tell anyone her name. Her parents temporarily lost custody of her until they changed her name.
Though no one is talking about removing custody from Musk and Grimes, California law does prohibit them from using X Æ A-12 on the baby’s birth certificate. Only the 26 letters of the English alphabet are allowed — and yes, that excludes accent marks, umlauts, and any other characters from foreign languages.
“Prior to the computer age, [naming laws] had to do with … not putting a burden on your child,” Moss said. “You can’t use profanity, obviously. You can’t do anything that would be considered emotional abuse, like naming them Adolf Hitler.”
Since the advent of computers, the laws in some states have evolved to prohibit special characters because they wouldn’t register with government databases, Moss explained.
But if the Tesla founder and musician want to call their baby X Æ A-12, there’s no reason the name they use in everyday life has to match his birth certificate.
“If you really want to give your kid a nickname like Jimmy or Birdie, for example, give them something that at least can work for an adult, and then just call them [by their nickname],” Moss said.
That gives the child a choice by the time they get older, the way Moss’ own daughter Miranda rejected her nickname “Mimi” when she was 8. Or the way Claire Elise Boucher goes by “Grimes” now.
So what are Musk and Grimes calling their baby at home, anyway? On Thursday, Musk was on the Joe Rogan Experience and instructed the host how to pronounce X Æ A-12: “It’s just X, the letter X. And then, the Æ is pronounced ‘Ash’ … and then, A-12. A-12 is my contribution.”
The smirk on Musk’s face as he says all that may be revealing something.
Get more creative baby name inspiration from these other celebrity parents.