May 10

Why We Named Our Son Nephi


When Alex and I were brainstorming names, Nephi was one of the names that had been mentioned by my sister *Lisa. So I brought it up and we put it on our brainstorming list. I kind of liked it, but Alex was more sold on it than I was at first. I just wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted to name our first child. We ended up mentioning to my family one day that Nephi was one of the many names we were considering. My three sisters instantly fell in love with the name and started calling him “Nephi” from that time forward. I think that their enthusiasm and immediate acceptance made me warm up more to the idea. We toyed around a lot with other name possibilities, but none seemed quite right. But whenever we’d think about the name Nephi, it just felt good to us.

It still took us a while to decide on Nephi, however, mainly because of how untraditional it is (especially outside Mormon culture); I wanted to be sure that it wouldn’t have any negative repercussions. So we did some research. As part of our ‘investigation’, we actually looked up as many people named Nephi as we could find and contacted them to ask them a few questions about their experience with the name. Kinda funny when I think back on it, but I’m glad we did it. To my surprise, all of them were more than happy to discuss it with us and shared lots of valuable insights to consider in choosing whether or not to name our son Nephi. I feel like they gave us a well-rounded take on it – the good as well as the bad – but the response was overall very positive. For example, having the name Nephi had given several of them a greater love for the Book of Mormon, made sharing the gospel easier & more natural (because it was a built-in missionary opportunity), and gave them the sense that they had something big to live up to. Social acceptance really wasn’t a problem and they loved being named Nephi. This was encouraging, but our decision still wasn’t set in stone.

Eventually we decided on Nephi Alex, after giving it a lot of prayer and feeling really good about moving forward with that decision.  I’m grateful we chose that name. I love the name Nephi, and I grow to love it more every day.

I like names that mean something special – names that have some sort of meaning attached to them, whether it is found in the actual meaning of the name itself or just because of someone great who had that name.  I think Nephi is that kind of a name. Nephi is one of my favorite prophets because of his strong character.

  • He was fully committed to being obedient to the commandments of God and had faith that he could accomplish whatever the Lord commanded him to do (1 Nephi 3:7, 17:50).
  • He was familiar with and followed the voice of the spirit (1 Nephi 4:6),
  • He was a loving and forgiving brother (1 Nephi 7:21, 15:25),
  • He was proactive (1 Nephi 16:23, 17:9)
  • He had a deep desire to do what was right (1 Nephi 10:17, 2 Nephi 4).

I guess you could say that we named our son Nephi for the same reason that Helaman named his son Nephi:

“Behold I have given you the names of our first parents, which came out of the land of Jerusalem, and I have done this so when you remember your names you will remember them. And when you remember them you may remember their works. And when you remember their works you may know that it is said and also written that they were good. Therefore my sons I want you to do that which is good, that it may be said of you and also written even as it has been said and written of them.” (Helaman 5:6-7)

The name Nephi Alex is a lot to live up to. Alex is the most Christ-like person I’ve ever met.  One day it just came to me that Alex would be the perfect middle name to go with the name Nephi. Nephi reminds me of Alex. I think they have a lot of Christ-like qualities in common. Anyway, I just really like the combination of those two names. What great role models for a little boy.

**On a random side note, did you know that recent studies have found that Nephi is actually an Egyptian name? They originally thought it was Hebrew, but the root word means “good” or “goodly” in Egyptian and denotes kindness. This makes 1 Nephi 1:1 even more meaningful (and ironic) when he says, “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents.” Perhaps Nephi was just trying to make a play on his name. Interesting, huh?  How cool would that be to say that you have an Egyptian name?

The Book of Mormon was written in reformed Egyptian, and there is evidence that Lehi was well-traveled, so this makes complete sense.  Matthew Bowen of the Maxwell institute said,”That Lehi would give his son an Egyptian name is not unlikely, since Lehi’s language ‘consisted of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians’ (1 Nephi 1:2). One reason Nephi was quick to point out his father’s knowledge of Egyptian may have been to explain the origin of his non-Hebrew name.” Anyway, I just thought that was an interesting tidbit.



*When I first wrote this, I guess I didn’t get all my facts straight as to who suggested the name. I originally thought it was Alex, but it was actually Lisa. I just updated it to be more accurate.