Baby Naming Issue: Initials That Spell EEW

Amy writes:

I’m due with our second child, a baby girl in 6 weeks. We like unique first names with personally significant middle names and we have an 18 month old whose name we still absolutely love, Atticus, with his middle name being the name of the small town where we met & got married. We’ve had this baby’s full name picked out since before we even knew she was a girl but suddenly I’m having second thoughts. Her first name starts with E and is unique but a recognizable and easily pronounceable one-syllable word. Her middle name will be Elizabeth, a 4th generation name from my mother’s side, and our last name is two syllables and starts with W. My husband and I both love the name and have already revealed it to a few close friends and family members to positive reviews. But have you figured out my problem? Her initials will be EEW. I know it’s not the way most people spell eww when they’re talking about something gross and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to use my full initials for something but I can see the potential teasing of “Your parents named you ewwww?!” written all over it. Is that what it makes you think of?

I’ve thought about changing the spelling to Alizabeth to avoid the issue altogether but it feels like it would be taking something away from the family significance of the name. I’ve also considered adding another middle name before the Elizabeth but it feels wrong to just tag some other random name along that we don’t really care about just to change her initials. I’ve also thought of shortening the middle name to Beth, which I don’t like as well, but it sounds terrible when said aloud with her first name. What should we do? Am I making a bigger deal of this than I should be? Should we stick with it and hope it’s not something that comes up often? Are there any other spellings we could use or maybe foreign options of Elizabeth or…? I don’t want to give up the name we love but I also don’t want it to become an issue she’s unhappy with later and have her name tainted for me anyway with “Why did we do that to her?” guilt.

I keep telling my husband he wasn’t even in the room when I filled out the birth certificate for Atticus so I could change the spelling to Alizzabegth if I really felt like it but I don’t think that’s going to go over well!

Help! Time is running out!

I would not change the family name. There are many alternate spellings and other-language variations on the name Elizabeth, but if it’s for fourth-generation family significance I wouldn’t mess around with it.

You don’t mention the option of changing the first name/spelling, so I assume that’s not changeable.

Well, it’s a difficult situation. In general, I don’t like initials to spell things—even good things. And initials such as EEW or EWW are not great. But…I’m disinclined to try at this point to talk you out of a name you’ve solidly chosen just to avoid some initials. If the name were, for example, Anna Sue Stevens, I would tell you that sad as it may be, an alternative would need to be chosen; but EEW seems on the line to me. I’d certainly avoid it if I thought of it beforehand, but this is very close to being afterhand.

My favorite “solves the whole thing” solution is for you to add another middle name. I agree with you that it seems silly to just toss a random name in there merely for the purpose of solving the problem—but I think if we avoid the random and the tossing and instead find a name you DO love, or a name with significance, that it no longer seems silly at all. It takes the name you love and improves it in two ways: by getting rid of the problem initials, and by letting you use an additional name you love.

If the name Elizabeth is from your side of the family, are there women on your husband’s side you might like to honor? Or perhaps a surname with a pretty sound? Or your own maiden name? E__ Elizabeth Name Surname is the order I’m thinking of. I think this could end up being a very pleasing revision, and fun to choose.



Name update! Amy writes:

Hi Swistle. A few weeks ago you helped my husband and I with the initials problem for our daughter- EEW. Your advice and all the comments helped us to feel confident to go ahead and use the name we loved the way it was and that the initials really weren’t that big of a deal. Elm Elizabeth W. was born on Monday and she’s perfect, just like her name. Sending along a picture. Thank you and your readers so much!


30 thoughts on “Baby Naming Issue: Initials That Spell EEW

  1. C

    I honestly think you’re just having some pre-naming anxiety. They are both names you love and EEW isn’t even a really bad thing to spell out. The amount of times you write out only your initials, and including your middle name, are so so minimal, it would be silly to change the name you’ve loved for so long! So I would just say leave the name as you already planned.

  2. Rachel

    Hmmm. This is an interesting conundrum. I look forward to reading the comments on this. I think I would add a second middle name, like Swistle recommended. Such a simple thing to do to avoid (guaranteed) teasing. Perhaps your first name?

    E__ Elizabeth Amy W_______

    Or your middle name, if its not Elizabeth?

  3. lifeofadoctorswife

    I love Swistle’s idea of adding a second significant name after Elizabeth. Your maiden name would be wonderful, as would – as Swistle suggests – a meaningful name from your husband’s side. That seems like the perfect solution.

  4. StephLove

    I think leaving the name as is would be fine, adding a middle would also be fine, but don’t change the spelling to Alizabeth. It loses some of the family significance and it looks odd to my eye.

  5. hannah

    I have a good friend whose initials would have been ASS (middle name was mother’s maiden name) but his parents threw in another middle name (his father’s middle name) to change it to ACSS. No one made the ASS connection because of that. Now that he’s older, he’s changing his name to take out the C, because it “feels fake” to him. And he’s confident enough to pull of ASS.

  6. Anonymous

    I would also keep in mind that many monograms (the most common use of initials, it seems to me) place the surname in the middle of the thee letters– so her initials would be EWE, which seems fine.

  7. Joanne

    I always love questions like this, because my name is Joanne Rose K____ and that spells JRK. It is kind of a funny thing, I’ve honestly never wished that I had a different name or anything and I didn’t even take my husband’s name, which would have resolved it all! I say stick with the name that you want and don’t worry about the initials. The poster above is right, my monogram isn’t JRK, it’s JKR, which is just fine. I actually used to have to initial things all the time at work and I always used jrk, they are really pretty letters to write in cursive, so assuming your daughter is still taught cursive, eew will be REALLY fun to write!

    Alternately, you could use “Beth” as a middle name and her initials would be EBW, which wouldn’t have any connotations, except that maybe they are the same as EB White, children’s author. But how often does that come up? :) Good luck!

  8. MB

    i agree with the others – if you love both names, keep her name as is. my boyfriends last name starts with a ‘W’ and as of now, i would love to name her an E name (eve, specifically), regardless of the initials ‘EW’… so i say go for it!

    i don’t think most elementary school kids are clever enough to make fun of someone based on their initials, and after age, she probably won’t care :)

    good luck! :)

  9. Anonymous

    I’m close to 50/50 on believing that, oh, it won’t be a problem & that, yes, you should consider adding a second middle name to eliminate the possibility. Thing is, the second middle name is dropped for some documentation in some countries. Our children have two middle names & on some official documents only the first one appears (their birth certificates & passports have both; we’re Canadian). Many forms only have room for one middle name. All this to say that the second middle name can be subconsciously dropped from the mind as well. So you may want to consider adding a *first* middle name, if that makes sense! You could consider a name with a positive association like Grace or Joy or Blythe (which means Joyous). E____ Blythe Elizabeth would be an amazing name!

  10. Anonymous

    I spell “eew” “eew.” Maybe I’m weird? I don’t know, it always just seemed more phonetic to me. Anyway, I wouldn’t knowingly bestow the initials EEW on a kid. We talked about initials a lot in elementary school, tried to make words out of them(mine is Serb, bestie’s was Rambo), they appeared on top of those LL Bean backpacks in the First-middle-last order, etc.

  11. Slim

    How often will the initials be an issue? My initials spell a word — a benign word, but still — and I avoid any monogramming-type situations unless I can do the girly thing of having my last name initial centered with the first and middle initials on either side.
    I also like the suggestion of using your last name instead of your husband’s. (I realize The Mrs will have to fan herself if she sees this one.)

  12. christine

    I wouldn’t change Elizabeth but would add a second middle name, probably after Elizabeth. I think honoring someone else too would be a sweet idea…and it avoids EEW, which might come up if your daughter wants something monogrammed.

  13. Slim

    I just realized that doing the centered-last-initial thing would leave her with eWe. Color me sheepish.

    I still think you should use the name you love.

  14. JM and MJ

    I just talked some friends out of using a name they loved because the initials were EWW. Now, I think EEW is less awful than EWW, but I am sure it will lead to teasing. I live in the south where we monogram EVERYTHING so I may be a little sensitive, but I would hate alternating between EEW and eWe. That doesn’t leave her a lot of options.

    A second middle complicates things (including monograms, if that’s important to you), but is a nice idea. I also think you should keep Elizabeth as-is. So, if the first name isn’t up for debate, I guess my suggestion is to keep EEW despite the teasing and to hope that your love for the name is enough to make your daughter not feel bad about her initials.

  15. Liann

    While I think you should use the name you love, if the initials spelling EEW is really a concern, I don’t think changing the spelling of Elizabeth or adding a second middle will fix your problem. Her first and last initials will still be EW, and that is probably the most common way her initials will be viewed. so, while I totally understand your concern, I think that if the first name is non-negotiable, you should leave the whole thing just as it is, the way you love it. Good luck!

  16. Ms. Key

    Use it, don’t even worry about it. It’s SO RARE that you’ll ever use all three initials… honestly, I would NOT let that deter you from a name you’ve loved and chosen. And “EEW” isn’t a big thing at all.

    Don’t even worry about it. I’m a teacher, and the majority of my students NEVER talk about middle names… I don’t even know most of my students middle names. So, playground teasing based on those initials would certainly never be a thing at my current school…. I just don’t think it’s anything to worry over.

  17. The Mrs.

    You’ve chosen a gorgeous name, full of meaning and heritage.

    It also seems like you’re the sort of parents who will raise her to be confident and good humored.

    Whether you stick with your great choice or add to it with another lovely middle name, you’ve got good stuff here.

    Besides, she has a 25/26 chance of changing her last inital someday when she gets married. Nice odds.

    All the best to your growing family! Excited to hear what you choose!

  18. Anonymous

    Maybe the kids I went to school with were exceptionally nice, but I don’t remember anyone ever being teased for their name. Also, as a teacher now, I don’t see much teasing going on among the kindegarteners and first graders I’ve taught. Even if they were the teasing sort, I doubt most kids would think it through to get to “eww”
    I also don’t own (and have never owned) a single item with my initials monogramed on it, so I don’t see that as a big issue.
    Go with the name you love!

  19. AirLand

    My initials are ANL. And that’s because of my married name, my parents didn’t do that to me. I thought about keeping my maiden name as a second middle, but really no one notices unless I point it out.

    In your case, I’m not sure adding another middle name really solves your issue. Most of my encounters with initials are just first and last initial, so she’d still be EW. I don’t think it’s so bad though.

  20. Twee Poppets

    I’m surprised that not more people have pointed out the fact that her first and last names still spell EW. Middle names may not be used often, but most people know a person’s first and last name, and I think it would be easy to make the connection. I would be very much on-the-fence about giving her a first name that starts with an E, personally.

  21. Bree

    My parents gave me the initials BEG. My husband gave me the initials BS.
    Initials are just not my thing! I giggle whenever there’s an “initital here” document.
    But here’s the thing, I point it out to people and laugh about it before anyone has ever been able to say anything else about it. It is what it is. No big deal.

    P.S. I love Elm as a name! Gorgeous!


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