Baby Twin Girls Bedingf!eld

Hi Swistle!

I’m SO. EXCITED. to finally be sending you my own baby name question, after reading your blog for at least 7 years and your baby name blog since its inception.

Even more exciting? TWINS. They’re quite likely identical, so anything that makes their names too matchy or hard-to-keep-separate is out for us (not the same first letter, definitely not rhyming), but I’d love it if there’s some subtle connection.

We have two names that my husband and I both like, maybe love, and have had in mind for a good long time. It kind of surprises me that I latched onto something so quickly, so I’ve resisted closing the case. We’ll probably not decide for sure til we meet them.

Top contenders:
Eleanor nn either Ella or Nora
Beatrice nn Bea — okay with the alliteration, many in husband’s fam have names that start with B. He goes by Bo, so is it cute that her nickname (and full name with nickname) would be so much like his, or weird?

Others that we love:
Madeleine — maybe too close to my name?
Everly nn Eve — maybe too Southern (though we are Southern, and do love the Everly Brothers, but maybe not enough to give them what appears to be a namesake?)
Louisa nn Lula / Lou
Adelaide or Adeline nn Delia / Ada
Olivia nn Ollie — out because someone else in the family has dibs!

Another strong possibility is that we could call one of them Cole, which is my last name; I didn’t change my name when we got married. After some tense conversations, I’ve accepted that the girls’ last name will be the same as my husband’s, Bedingfie!d. (Aside: does ANYONE out there agree with me that giving one my surname and one my husband’s is even an option? I get horrified looks from most people, including my husband, when broaching this, but it’s the only FAIR thing, isn’t it? Won’t identical twins already have enough in common? I do grant that they could consider us to be crazy later on. No matter, pretty much vetoed. Don’t worry, folks who think I’m insane.)

But I’ve always thought Cole could be a very cute girls’ name. I like it when I give my name as Cole and get the impression the other person thinks it’s my first name and I’m all cool girl. But given how much more common it is as a boys’ name (3432 M, 13 F in 2013), I don’t feel like it’s okay to give it as a girl’s first name by itself. We looked at possibilities for names for which it could be a nickname (Colette is my fave, Nicole, maybe Colleen), but don’t love any of them. So maybe just Cole as a middle name to go by? But then should only one of them get my name as their middle? If one is going by it, it would be weird to give it as a middle for both, right? Maybe two middles, one first, one secondary? (Thanks for this post on the logistics for your family with two middles!) We have a few family names we love that could get in the middle name game, primarily my husband’s grandmother, Lita, who’s an identical triplet, but also two great-aunts of mine, Ruth and Virginia.

May have more kids later… not sure I can think about it with a house remodel still not finished, and two (!!) newborns en route in the next few months. Due date is December 6, so we hope they’ll stay put at least til November. On the chance we do end up with a boy someday, some boys’ names we like: Milo, Emmett, Hugo, Oscar, Finn.

So — help with middles, any ideas that could trump our faves, any cute connections between names aside from general stylistic compatibility?

Thanks so much! Can’t wait to send pictures! I mean, I can wait, especially as long as we still have sheetrock dust in our house, but I’m very excited about the update to this post!



I think Eleanor and Beatrice are wonderful twin names, and it’s my favorite pairing from your list. I like the subtly matching -ea-. I think it’s cute and not weird to have a father Bo and daughter Bea. If you were to decide it was too similar, my second favorite set is almost a tie: Eleanor and Louisa, with Eleanor and Adelaide/Adeline right behind. The one thing that makes Eleanor and Adelaide/Adeline my second choice is that you’d prefer nicknames for Adelaide/Adeline that I think could be tough to implement, and she might end up Addy. I also like Louisa and Adeline—but again, it sinks lower on my list because of nickname issues.

Cole is dramatically different in style from the rest of your list, and it seems like trying to call one twin Cole immediately creates a tangle of issues. I think my top choice would be to use it as a middle name for both girls (and all subsequent children).

If you were strongly motivated to call one twin Cole, I would suggest this:

1. Beatrice, called Bea, would share ties with her dad’s name because of the similar nicknames/alliteration,

2. So then Eleanor would share ties with your name, by being named Eleanor Cole and called Cole (the Elean- part of her name also sounds similar to the -ilyn part of your name).

I would choose a different middle name then for Beatrice, perhaps Lita (another tie to her dad’s side) or Marilyn (so that each girl would have a part of her mother’s name).

Or if you decided you loved the name Colette, you could have Beatrice (called Bea, a tie to her dad) and Colette (called Cole, a tie to her mom). Perhaps Beatrice Lita and Colette Ruth.

I do think giving twins different surnames is a startling idea. I think it would be a statement not worth the ensuing confusion. The symbolism seems tricky to handle: surnames are packed with meaning, which is why it can be so incredibly annoying/upsetting to give up our own, or to give our children our husband’s family’s name. Applying those issues in such a dramatic and potentially divisive way to twins’ names makes me feel uneasy.

If the girls are going to have their father’s surname, and you have kept your surname, this makes me vote a second time to give them your surname as a middle name. I think it would also be an excellent name to keep in mind for a possible future son. (I think it would be fine to use it as the girls’ middle names AND as a son’s first name. I would think of it as “including your surname somewhere in each child’s name.” If there were to be a second son, I would use it as his middle name. Or I might decide to use it as a middle name for all the children, and not as anyone’s first name.)

Middle names. My favorite option is to use your surname AND an additional middle name, so that preserving your surname doesn’t mean losing the fun of choosing middles. I first thought to ask what Lita’s sisters’ names were, but then realized it would be awkward to use two triplet names and leave out the third. So: Lita, Ruth, and Virginia. I think my favorite would be to use Ruth and Lita, since they’re both four letters.

Eleanor Lita Cole and Beatrice Ruth Cole
Eleanor Lita Cole and Louisa Ruth Cole
Eleanor Lita Cole and Adelaide Ruth Cole
Eleanor Lita Cole and Adeline Ruth Cole

Another option, since the children will have your husband’s surname, is to use both names from your side of the family. This feels roughly even to me: two middles come closer to the impact of one surname.

Eleanor Virginia Cole and Beatrice Ruth Cole
Eleanor Virginia Cole and Louisa Ruth Cole
Eleanor Virginia Cole and Adelaide Ruth Cole
Eleanor Ruth Cole and Adeline Virginia Cole

Baby Boy Carson-with-an-L, Brother to Archer: Suddenly Can’t Use the Name They’d Chosen

Hi Swistle,

I don’t know if you will get to this before I actually have the baby, as I am getting induced Tuesday, but for reasons I’m not going to go into, we can no longer use the baby name we have been planning on THE ENTIRE PREGNANCY. The name we have been calling him, the name we told our other son, the name we love. :-( I am obviously feeling hormonal and have been crying over this all weekend and just feel like poop about the whole situation.

So, *brisk clap*, I’d like some opinions on some second choice names that we had eliminated for one reason or another. We also have a two year old son named Archer (who you guys helped name!).

Here are a few names we like and reasons why they were/are problematic:

Anders (This would have been our pick, but is it too close to Archer? I don’t want my kids to have matchy matchy names. He would probably get called Andy often which doesn’t bother me, and I like that it throws back to our Scandinavian heritage.)

Theodore (I like the name, but I don’t like the nickname Theo, which I’m sure he would be called. I do like the nickname Teddy, but I’m not sure it would grow with him.)

August (Just not sure if I would love it forever, if it’s too trendy, etc.)
If you guys have any other suggestions it would be SO appreciated. Thanks guys!

– J.


I wish right now for an office, with comfortable chairs and a box of tissues and a little table for having tea. I would call you in for tea, and we would sip, and I would feed you petits fours and I would PRY. Because that is my first impulse: to get the WHOLE STORY. I want to know the name that had to be given up, because then I could look for names of a similar style. But then I also want to know WHY it had to be given up, in case what is needed here is a firm discussion of circumstances in which a name does NOT need to be given up, even though in the midst of panic and hormones and dismay it might seem that it DOES.

Well. You have told us what you have told us, and I must assume that if you say the name is absolutely unusable, the name is absolutely unusable. But my first suggestion is still to consider whether it really is unusable. For example, did a friend/relative/celebrity just use the same name for their baby? The name is still usable for you, and your line is “OMG!! I can’t believe it!! That is the name we chose for OUR son! What a coincidence!” And it seems like there are a lot of other situations where the initial reaction might be to strike the name, but where that would not be the only option. Well, we will assume you have one of the OTHER sorts of reasons, the kind where the name is now absolutely unusable.

If we knew what the name IS (and why it was rejected, so that we know how close the new name can be to the original choice), that could help us choose something else that might make you happy. For example, if the name were Miller, and if you just found out something that makes Miller unusable but Meyer or Mercer or Baker or Turner would work, well then! We’d be halfway there!

Archer and Anders are indeed similar: both start with A, both have two syllables, both have six letters, both have an -er- sound; and because the -er- is at the end of one and nearly at the end of the other, they come close to rhyming (Archer and Ander). But they also have different A-sounds, some different prominent consonant sounds, and the endings don’t match even though they come close. They are similar, yes, but if you love the name Anders, and if you are down to the wire, I’d say you have a good possibility here.

In general, when parents strongly dislike the nickname of a name, I do recommend against using it. But I also reassure that right now is a very good time to avoid nicknames: a Theodore would not for sure be called Theo, unless you or he chose it. Teddy might not grow with him, but I don’t see any reason Ted wouldn’t—or of course he could switch back to Theodore.

August doesn’t seem at all trendy to me. While I can’t assure you that you will love the name forever, I don’t see any reason you wouldn’t. And if you like nicknames, I love Archie and Gus together.

Any of the three names on your list will serve your son well. If the name you wanted is indeed ruled out (and I do urge you to make VERY SURE it REALLY IS ruled out before you give up on it) (okay, now I will stop with that), you have three very good candidates to take its place. A few more possibilities to consider (some pulled from the Nordic section of The Baby Name Wizard):

Broder (maybe too much -er with Archer)
Emil (the -l might blend a bit with the L- of the surname)
Jasper (maybe too much -er with Archer)

There were quite a few others that I liked but that didn’t quite work with the surname. Soren, for example, seemed rhymey/sing-song with the -son of your surname. Or Finn: if I say the full name carefully, the -inn isn’t rhymey with the -on; but I found I didn’t say it carefully. And I wanted to recommend Anderson instead of Anders, but that doesn’t work with the -son surname.

Let’s also have a poll for your three finalists:

Baby Boy Carson-with-an-L, Brother to Archer
Choose a name for Baby Boy Carson-with-an-L


Baby Girl Heintz, Sister to Isabelle and Caroline

Hi Swistle,

We are expecting a sweet baby girl in early-November. We are in a naming conundrum! We have two daughters already, Isabelle Claire and Caroline Lurah. It should be worth noting that Lurah is a family name from my husbands side – the other names are just ones that we liked. Naming 3 girls is just as complicated as I expected!

My husband insists that he essentially named the other two girls, so he has been pretty hands off with naming this one. As you can imagine, this makes me very anxious to pick the “right” name with minimal input from him. Ultimately, he can veto a name he absolutely does not like, we haven’t had many of those – but there are a number of names I know that he is not a fan of). I will add that I want the names to somewhat flow together, or be of the same genre. Basically I’ve just picked from names that we’ve had on our girl list along the way; adding just a few.

Names that I like, along with the rationale why they aren’t -the one-:
— Madeline (this is currently our first pick, however I have a first cousin with this name, while we live in different states and she will be 17 yrs older than this baby, I can’t completely convince myself that using this name is ideal. I have discussed the name with her mom and they are over the moon if I were to use it. Our family is not huge, I have about 10 first cousins total – but I get the feeling that my other family members think it is a little weird to use it.)
— Mary Kathryn (husband really dislikes hyphenated names; I don’t like Mary as a stand alone name.)
— Kathryn (husband has a second-cousin named this and he is not interested in repeating this name.)
— Palmer (not sure that it flows with the other 2 daughters names since it is more of a unisex/ or surname. considered pairing it with a feminine middle name like Kate – but husband thought that a nickname wasn’t ideal as a name-name).
— Brooke (ideally we would have gone with Brooke; we would have been done and done. We’ve had this name as a runner up for daughter #2. However, about 2 years ago my husbands mom got remarried and her new last name is Brooke and her husband goes by Brooke).
– -Georgia (hands down, my all time favorite girl name. Would have used it for the first 2 girls IF the husband was on board. This may be his least favorite name, but he has mentioned he wouldn’t veto it this time around. With that said, my only conflict about using it is that I would then have two daughters nearly-named after states as Caroline could easily be thought of as Carolina.)

I love the idea of using family names, but unfortunately we don’t have any that we like or even convince ourselves to use as a first name.

Please! Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Desiree Heintz


First: do you agree that your husband named the first two girls, and do you agree that this means you should have/get to do the work of naming the third on your own? I think I would start with that. My feeling is that unless that was the deal (“I’ll handle it this time but then you do it next time, okay?” or “How about I get my choice this time, but then you get your choice next time?”), both parents are still responsible for the work of naming. (Unless of course you would LIKE it to be up to you this time.) Perhaps this can be given an amiable spin: he did such a good job with the first two girls’ names, you would really like him to work with you on the third; this is a special parental responsibility and you would like to do it as a team; etc.

It depends in part on what the circumstances were surrounding the choice of the first two girls’ names. Did he get his way on names you weren’t initially crazy about, so he’s graciously backing down to give you a fair chance? (In which case, I’d steer you directly to the name Georgia.) Did you both put in equal work on the names, but the final choices happened to be ones he originally added to the list so he considers them “his”? Or did he in fact do much more work on it, researching and list-making and bringing name suggestions to the discussion and so forth, while you did in fact do much less? (If needed, you could bring out the “Okay! And with the first two I did ALL the BUILDING of the baby in my OWN BODY! So THIS time I’ll choose the name and YOU be pregnant!” But perhaps you are a less argumentative/resentful pregnant woman than I was.)

Let’s go through your list so far. Madeline sounds great to me: very compatible with Isabelle and Caroline. I like that all three have three syllables, and all three have an L sound. I wouldn’t be concerned about the cousin with the same name: the actual input you’ve received is of the thrilled variety, and the only negative input is what you feel others might think: this is not only unconfirmed but also possibly irrelevant (i.e., if they DO think it’s a little odd, is that enough of a reason not to use a name, or is that something you think they’ll dwell on for about 30 seconds after hearing the birth announcement and then never think about or care about ever again?). It’s extremely common for names to be used multiple times within a family, and you say you’d like to use a family name. My only hesitation is the matching -line endings of Caroline and Madeline: if they’re pronounced the same, it seems too matched; if they’re pronounced differently, it seems confusing. This would not be enough for me to rule it out, but it would be a mark against it.

Mary Kathryn and Kathryn both sound like they’ve been vetoed.

If I had veto power, I would veto Palmer. It’s such a clashingly different style from the first two girls’ names. Perhaps as a middle name if you love it.

Brooke sounds as if it’s out of the running.

Georgia is interesting to me. It’s your favorite. Your husband’s position is that he chose the first two girls’ names, and it is your job to choose the third girl’s name, and he will not veto this one. I would be torn here, if I were you: Do you keep looking for a name you both love, or do you say, “Great! You want me to choose? This is what I choose!” It is your hands-down, all-time-favorite girl name and your husband is saying go ahead, so I think if I were you I would go ahead. As a middle name, perhaps, if you decide not to use it as the first.

I think it’s possible a few people would notice and point out that Caroline could be turned (with pronunciation, spelling, emphasis, and syllable changes) into Carolina, which would indeed be the name of a state if we also added “North” or “South” to it—but I don’t think of it as a glaringly obvious issue, or as a negative one. Certainly not enough of an issue to rule out using your favorite name. At worst, it’s a little bit cute/interesting.

More possibilities to consider:

Adelaide; Isabelle, Caroline, and Adelaide
Amelia; Isabelle, Caroline, and Amelia
Anneliese/Annalise; Isabelle, Caroline, and Annalise
Audrey; Isabelle, Caroline, and Audrey
Eleanor; Isabelle, Caroline, and Eleanor
Evelyn; Isabelle, Caroline, and Evelyn
Genevieve; Isabelle, Caroline, and Genevieve
Josephine; Isabelle, Caroline, and Josephine
Lillian; Isabelle, Caroline, and Lillian
Mallory; Isabelle, Caroline, and Mallory
Margaret; Isabelle, Caroline, and Margaret
Meredith; Isabelle, Caroline, and Meredith
Miranda; Isabelle, Caroline, and Miranda
Natalie; Isabelle, Caroline, and Natalie
Sabrina; Isabelle, Caroline, and Sabrina
Vivian; Isabelle, Caroline, and Vivian

Baby Girl or Boy Am0s

Hello Swistle!

I’ve been following your blog for a long time, well before marriage, children, and the like. I never imagined needing your assistance, given my long lead time on coming up with a name, but here we are, seven weeks out from the due date (11/7), and I’m getting cold feet (about the name, not the child. Whew.)

We are keeping all names close to the vest, so I find myself unable to talk through any of this with someone, and it’s beginning to play with my 3rd trimester brain. I would so appreciate your thoughts. We are not finding out the gender and would like to go in with 2 names for each and see what the wrinkly little person looks like. We’re good on boys; need some help & possible reassurance on girls.

I am a Sarah and my husband’s name is Michael, nn Mike. (Yes, why we are two children of the mid-80s!) My name is a family name, after my father’s sister who passed away (she went by Sally). Both our middle names are our mothers’ maiden, which is a traditional special to us that we thought we’d continue, though it hasn’t happened in our picks thus far. My maiden name is She@n, pronounced Shee-h@n. Mike’s middle & his mother’s maiden is Un, a name with origins in China. We are from Catholic families (mine Irish, his Filipino) and as such, have some names that are very common to us that are off limits because we do. not. need. another. Patrick.

We feel pretty confident about our boy names: Oliver Hind3ry Am0s and Theodore Francis Am0s. Oliver is a name we discussed about in hushed tones and excitement the night we got engaged, when we spoke about our potential baby names for the first time. Hind3ry is my middle name, my mother’s maiden, and a side of the family that to which I am extremely close (much closer than to the She@n side). It would ‘sub’ for our maiden name tradition. Theodore (nn Teddy or Theo) is a name we are drawn to and in doing genealogy research, found out my husband’s great grandmother was named Teodora. Francis is my grandfather’s middle name, and he was such a special man that it’d be wonderful to have my son share part of his name. Putting the honor in the middle feels like a special secret between the generations.

Girls… enter the cold feet.

We had settled on Margaret Un Am0s. My mother and sister are both Margarets (Margie and Megie, respectively) and it’s a beloved but not overused name in my family. (Most, if not all, have gone by nicknames, including Peggy). Since it would be an honorific first name, I would not use my maiden or my middle name/mother’s maiden, as then it would be the exact name of either. (Bridge too far.) She would share a middle name with my husband and have matching initials, MUA, with him and her paternal grandmother. It’s good, right?

The hang-up with Margaret is the nickname. I had, for years, liked Molly for Margaret, even though I know it’s not traditional. (I’m blatantly stealing the nickname from Mary, but see Catholic roots above. No more Mary’s please!) But now I’m getting nervous. It feels so… cutsey. I think the “y” ending is throwing me. Can we have a Judge Molly? A President Molly? A Molly who walks into a boardroom of older men and is taken seriously? How much, if any, attention should we pay to the slight drug association? Many of the common nicknames of Margaret (Meg, Peg, Maggie, etc.) are off the table for various reasons. My husband has veto’d Greta. Is ‘Mim’ too out there as a possible nickname? On a scale of one to very, how desperate do I seem?

The other girl name is Audrey Amos. I do love this name, have a dear childhood friend as the only Audrey I know, & enjoy the alliteration since I was a Sarah She@n for so long, but we are stuck on the middle. Audrey She@n Am0s sounds so serious – I think? Hind3ry is too many “y’s”. Adelia is a family name from waaaay back and I do like it, but it just doesn’t feel as special as I have no ‘real’ personal connection to the ancient Adelia.

I have, in the past, liked more unisex names for girls, like Emerson and Addison, but they are not my husband’s cup of tea. I’d love to honor my grandmother, Wanda, but I just can’t with the Wanda.

We plan on having 3-4 children and unused names from this round will likely be future contenders.

I hope you have time to read my novella and share with your blog. I simply cannot think my way out of this one!

In your debt,


The very reason many parents give for using a full name on the birth certificate is that the child then has something to fall back on later if the nickname is not serious enough. So for me, “Is Molly serious enough for future serious professions?” is not even a question that needs to be addressed: if it is not serious enough, she will be able to use Margaret. Judge Margaret, President Margaret, Margaret walking into the board room. No problem here.

The drug association, I also dismiss. It is fully possible that there are people whose first association with the name is drug-related, but I doubt this applies to a significant segment of the population. Even people who DO first associate the name Molly with drugs are surely also familiar with it as a girls’ given name, and so would not react as if you’d named your daughter Cocaine or Marijuana. Names such as Jack and John have far worse slang associated with them, and yet the names persevere.

A bigger concern for me is that you say all the usual nicknames for Margaret are off the table for one reason or another. Many children do go their entire lives using the nickname their parents selected—but many others choose a different nickname. However, maybe the nicknames are unavailable for reasons that your daughter will agree with, or maybe you mean they’re off the table as PLANNED choices but would be completely acceptable as just-came-about-on-their-own ones—things like, “My sister goes by Meg, and that would be confusing,” where it would not be the nickname you’d choose, but it would be completely fine if your 17-year-old Molly decided to be Meg when she started college.

You don’t specifically mention the nickname Daisy, though that may be included in “etc.” That one has some of the appeal of Molly, and seems like a particularly fun, Little-Womenesque choice in a family where there is also a Grandma Margaret and an Aunt Margaret.

Mim seems as connected to Margaret as Molly does, so I don’t see any reason you couldn’t use it—but I don’t see the advantage of using it instead of the nickname you prefer. One advantage of Molly is that a lot of people are confused about which seemingly unconnected traditional nicknames (Peg, Polly, Molly, Sally, Daisy, Jack) go with which full names, and my guess is that a fair number of people would think, “Oh, right, Molly is one of those seemingly-unconnected nicknames for Margaret”: I did it myself for a moment, and I’m more interested in names than the average person.

By the way, I like your whole concept of expanding the mother’s-maiden-name-as-middle-name tradition to include more maiden names. I think traditions end up being most pleasing and least burdensome when they’re FLEXIBLE. I think if I were you, I’d use a different family maiden name for each child—for the fun of it, and also to preserve as many family surnames as possible. Since the children will have their father’s surname, I’d be inclined to choose more names from your side of the family, but I wouldn’t be opposed to choosing an equal number from each side. (I would, however, be careful not to choose more from the father’s side.)
Audrey is also a great choice. I don’t think Audrey She@n Am0s is any more serious than Margaret Un Am0s, so that’s what I’d go with. Audrey Un Am0s seems like another good option. Or if you decide not to use maiden names for everyone’s middle, Audrey Frances would be a nice way to honor your grandfather. (But I’m very fond of the idea of a bunch of maiden names.)

I do think it’s most likely that this is cold feet rather than serious hesitation. Margaret and Audrey are both wonderful names with significance for you, and they go beautifully with Oliver and Theodore.

Baby Boy Cabrera, Brother to Jude and Jonah: Do They Have to Choose a J Name?

Hello Swistle! We are having a major name dilemma for our third boy coming this thanksgiving. Our first is named Jude, our second Jonah. We didn’t set out to name them both with the same initial, we just liked the names. My name also starts with a j, however my husbands does not. We would like a biblical name, as our other boys. We also would like to stay away from very common names (Jacob, James, John).
Can we pick a name that doesn’t start with a j? I go back and forth, I don’t want him go feel left out, but I don’t want to settle on a name we don’t love. We probably will have one more child. If we were to have a girl we had Lucia picked out. Our last name is Cabrera.

Some names we have considered:

Jacoby (same meaning as Jacob)
Luca (Italian for Luke)

We just haven’t found “the one”. Please help us! Thank you!



Certainly you can name him a name that doesn’t start with J. And if you’re already out of J names, and you’re planning a fourth child, this is definitely the moment to stop: after two it’s still easy to say “Oh, we didn’t match the initial on purpose, it was coincidence,” but after three it’s much more difficult. And if you do have four children, two children out of four with matching initials is much less noticeable/excluding than three children out of four; I don’t see any reason he’d feel left out if he and the fourth child both had names that didn’t start with J.

Since your name starts with a J, one option is to use your husband’s initial for the next child. This gives you an easy explanation for the few people who notice, and also give you an explanation in case the child requests one. But I don’t think you NEED anything beyond, “No, we just chose our favorite name each time.” For children, you can also play the same/different game: “Jude and Jonah both start with J; Gideon and Jude both have a -de-; Gideon and Jonah both have an -on-; Jude has 4 letters and Jonah has 5 letters and Gideon has 6 letters; Jude has 1 syllable and Jonah has 2 syllables and Gideon has 3 syllables…” and so on. The idea is to point out that a matching initial is not the only way in which names can be similar/different.

From your list, my strong favorite is Gideon. Luca would rule out Lucia if you had a girl, and neither Luca nor Jacoby reads biblical to me. Gideon is underused and decisively biblical.

Keeping in mind that I am consulting the Biblical section of The Baby Name Wizard and not looking up what type of Bible story each of these names is associated with, here are a few more I like with Jude and Jonah and with Cabrera:


If you do decide to stick with J names, I like Joel.

I also like Jared, which I see on the list of biblical names but which doesn’t sound biblical to me.

Baby Boy Determann, Brother to Elliot Marie and Judd Hobson

Hello there!
A friend from work introduced me to your blog when I was pregnant with my first child. Since then, I have always enjoyed reading your thoughts and suggestions! I am now pregnant with our third child, a baby boy who is due the beginning of December. This little one will be the sibling to our 3yo daughter, Elliot Marie Determann, and our 23 month old son, Judd Hobson Determann. I should include that our last name is pronounced like “better man” with a D. We would like to stick with J names for boys and E name for girls. Of course we had a girl name picked out, Evyn Hazel, but God had other plans;) Fingers crossed that we get to use the name one day!! Also, we like to include a family name in the mix. Elliot and Judd’s middle names are both family names. Some names that we have thrown around inlude:

Johnny Webb (I love, husband hates)
Shelby Jones (he would go by Jones or possibly Jonesy?? My grandfather was Shelby Hughes and some people called him Hughsey)
Jules (husband not a fan)

Some possible family names that could be used as first or middle names include:

We tend to like names that are different, but not to far out there. I’d like to stay away from anything to on trend or popular! Thank you for your help and I look forward to hearing back from you!!



Judd and Jeb seem too similar to me for brothers. I find I start thinking one of the names is Jed.

Judd and Jent also seem too similar to me, with a similar Judd/Jed confusion. But Judd and Jentry don’t seem too similar at all, and I don’t usually worry so much about nickname compatibility.

And then Jules and Johnny are crossed off by your husband, so that leaves us with Shelby and Jesse and Jentry. Presumably you’ve already been through the whole J section of the baby name book, but let’s see if we can find some more names to add to the list anyway.

Jones. I assume there is already a reason this has been rejected as a first name choice, and yet wanted to specifically say how well I think it meets your preferences and works with the sibling names.

Jasper. This depends in part on whether you like the repeating -er- sound with the surname.

Jagger. Another with a repeating -er- sound.

Jennings. This has a strong Peter Jennings association for me: not too strong to use it, just strong enough to make it familiar and positive.

Jace. Possibly too on-trend, but I thought of it because of Jess.

Jamie. Similar to Jessie and Johnny.

Jax. Possibly too on-trend.

Janson/Jansen/Jenson/Jensen. I wonder if that ending is a little sing-song with the surname.


Jay. I love the simplicity of this, and I think it works with Judd without being too similar. Elliot, Judd, and Jay. I especially like Jay Wallace, but I also like Jay Hughes, Jay Butler, and Jay Robert.

Jem. A pleasing To Kill a Mockingbird reference, though does give me the Judd/Jed confusion. I think it’s something about the short-E sound combined with a consonant ending. Jem could also be a nickname for Jeremy or Jerome.

Jim/Jimmy. This has gone out of style as a nickname for James, so that people in the parent/grandparent generation are using it but the people in the child generation are mostly not. In this way it reminds me of Johnny, and I think it has a similar appealing sound.

Joe. I like this as much as I like Jay. Elliot, Judd, and Joe. I like Wallace best again for the middle name; I also like Joe Hughes.

Joel. This one joins my favorites list as well. Underused and appealing. Elliot, Judd, and Joel. I especially like Joel Robert, but also like Joel Butler.

Baby Boy Vargas

Hi Swistle,

We recently found out that our baby is a boy and while I’m so happy for a baby boy, I had lots of baby girl names that I loved, but very few boy names on my list. I’m feeling a little stuck.

This is our first and due in January. Our last name is Vargas (sounds Hispanic, but the roots of our name comes from husband’s great-grandfather being from Portugal, FYI). My very fave girl name is Poppy. I’m looking for a cute and fun name that doesn’t sound totally made up but also isn’t heard very often. My top boy name was Milo, until recently when my husband told his coworkers and they convinced him it sounded like a dog’s name, now he doesn’t like it anymore, so sad. I also had Luca on my list but husband thinks it sounds feminine- whatever! So now my favorite is probably Theo, though I’m not sure if I love the name Theodore. Def not Teddy.

For middle names, I want something with meaning, such as a family member’s name. I’m considering either my husband’s brother: Adam, my dad’s middle name: August, or my grandfather’s name: James.

Also as an FYI, my husband’s name is David, but he goes by Joey (his middle name is Joseph). We do plan on having one or two more kiddos in the coming years. Hopefully one will be a Poppy!

Thanks a million Swistle!!!!



Sigh. What on earth possesses otherwise pleasant people to declare that a name is “a dog name” or “a stripper name”? If the name were Fido, or Spot, or Mittens, I could see why even a kind and polite person might accidentally blurt out an animal-related remark before having time to think. But Milo? A name that has been used for people since the Middle Ages, and was given to over a thousand new baby boys in the U.S. in 2013 alone? No. Milo is not “a dog name.” Certainly there are many people using it as a name for dogs and cats and other animals, because many people like to use person names for animals, especially names that are cute and fun and not very common. I myself had a cat named George—which does not mean Kate and Will’s little prince has “a cat name,” it only means I used a person name for a cat. Or perhaps it means that names can be used for many things such as people, animals, cars, storms, etc., without usage in one category necessarily ruling out usage in other categories.

My hope is that your husband can be talked around to considering your opinion (and his own former opinion) more highly than the opinions of his co-workers. Milo seems like the perfect cheerful yet solid choice for your family, and it’s a shame to throw it out over this.

Sometimes other people can indeed spoil a name, however, and if this has happened, we will look for something else. (And perhaps your husband could agree not to share the finalists with his co-workers anymore.) Some possibilities to consider, looking for cute/fun and not yet worrying about surname compatibility:


Another possibility is to use a name with a cute/fun nickname: Christopher/Kit, for example, or Philip/Pip, or Moses/Moe, or Charles/Chip.

Baby Boy Gray

Hello! I have been following your blog for a few years, and so I’m sort of excited to now find myself in a baby naming rut.

I just found out (yesterday!) that our first baby will be a boy! He is due to arrive at the end of January. My husband and I had a boy name and a girl name picked out. I absolutely loved our girl name: Lucy Elizabeth, and I still hope to use the name if we have a girl in the future. Our boy name we had picked was Jesse Matthew (Matthew after my husband).

The problem is now that we know we’re having a boy, I’m not thrilled with the name Jesse. Maybe I am just sort of disappointed I have to table Lucy for awhile, but my husband feels equally lackluster. We still like the name, but we don’t love it. I know, I know–you don’t need to love the name. But we still want to explore other options. Plus, I have a hard time picturing a baby Jesse. I picture Uncle Jesse from Full House or some other long-haired musician/ motorcycle rider/ hipster. Maybe this is just because I don’t know any child named Jesse?

I tend to like old fashioned names that are not super common. I teach, so I want to avoid names that I hear all the time (and have many student associations for). I have never taught a Lucy or a Jesse. My husband, however, likes more traditional and common names and finds my names weird/ odd, but he can’t give me any concrete names that he does like.

Boy names that I like that he’s rejected are:
Abraham (Abe)
Theodore (Theo)
Gabriel (Gabe)

Other girl names I like as a pairing with Lucy if we end up with two girls in the future (we plan on having 3 children) are:
Theresa (Reese)
Penelope (Nell)
Beverly (Bee)

I do like names that are 2+ syllables since our last name (Gray) is only one syllable, and the middle name will definitely be Matthew, after my husband.

Any other boy options you could suggest would be greatly appreciated. Are there Lucy/Theresa style boy names that are “normal” enough for my husband and unique enough for me?!

Thanks so much,


Lucy and Theresa/Reese seem quite different in style to me. Lucy is a vintage revival with a British feel to it (Penelope, Violet, and Annabel fall into this category as well). Theresa peaked in the 1950s-60s, belonging more to the Linda/Cynthia/Sharon era. Reese is a modern unisex nickname; Lucy is also a nickname name, but the styles of Lucy and Reese are as different as the styles of Lucy and Theresa.

There’s no reason those two names can’t be used for sisters: many parents choose names of different styles for their children. But the reason I mention it is that it makes it difficult to find boy names in the Lucy/Theresa style: I could find you names that are like Lucy, and I could find you names that are like Theresa, but far fewer names are compatible with both styles. This may be why you’re finding yourselves stuck, as well.

The bulk of the names on your girl-name list and on your boy-name list are of the Lucy style, so I think I would start by looking for more boy names of that sort:

Edmund (perhaps too Narnia with Lucy)
Philip (Pip)

If your husband prefers more “normal” names, I’d lean toward the William/Owen end of the list—but then of course we’re probably getting into your classroom lists. This may be an area where one of you will have to give way: either he will have to understand about encountering the name in the classroom, or you will have to understand that the names you never hear in class are by definition going to be too unusual for him.

It’s possible, too, that your husband needs a refresher course in naming styles. This issue seems especially common with men: they think of the names of their peers as “normal names,” without realizing those are now the Dad Names and there is a new normal. If this is one of his issues, it can help to mention the names of HIS parents’ generation and ask him to imagine if his peers had had those names as children. Or it can help to have him browse some class lists or the Social Security name list, just to see what names are most common now.

It also sounds as if it’s time for him to make a list of his own. If he’s insisting on a “normal” name but can’t come up with any he likes, a trip through a baby name book may help in one direction or another: either he’ll realize the sort of name he’s looking for is not actually his style, or he’ll find some names to suggest and you can work from there. (This will also show you if he is thinking of his own peers’ names as the normal ones.) I think too that a parent who has been doing nothing but vetoing can become more reasonable to work with after he/she sees how much effort it takes to come up with possibilities and how it feels to have them vetoed.

I wonder if you would like the name John. In some areas of the country it’s quite common, but where I live it’s a surprising choice on a child—like Mary for a girl, where the name seems so familiar you’d think there’d be one in every classroom, but actually there are two Noahs, two Aidens, two Williams, two Connors, a Kyle and a Kylie and a Kaylie, and no one named either John or Mary in the whole grade. John Gray is a very handsome name, I think, and wonderful with Lucy. It may hit that sweet spot of familiar enough for your husband, but scarce enough in the classroom for you.