I am due to have our third baby boy this week and my husband and I are STILL having a difficult time coming up with a name. Our first two were named well in advance of their birth, so this difficulty is new to us and being made even more stressful by the daily questions we get on what this baby will be named!
Our first two sons are named Andrew & Alex. Both names were simply names we liked and the two “A”‘s were not intentional by any means. It honestly never occured to me that this could cause a problem in naming future children. We tend to like very traditional/Biblical names and liked the way these two names sounded together. Now with a third boy, we’re facing the challenge of not only coming up with a third boy’s name we love, but one that goes well with Andrew & Alex. We don’t intend on having our kids names be “matchy”, but I can’t get beyond the fact that to use a random non-A name will seem like a misfit to me. We’ve thrown around numerous non-A names for the past few months (Matthew, Christian, Caleb, a few others) but the use of these non-A names just didn’t flow well to me with the other kids’ names.
So as far as A names go, our very favorite name is Addison. We both love this name and if we were to use it we’d probably name him Addison Matthew. I love the way that Andrew, Alex & Addison flow, however, am struggling with its popularity in use these days as a girl’s name. My husband is less concerned about this and points out that these days many names are interchangeable between genders. We know men named: Courtney, Brooke, Blaire, Lindsey, Lynn, etc. We know girls named: Ryan, Tyler, Elliott, etc. I fear that if Addison is a “girl’s” name, our little boy will be teased. My husband is less concerned, saying that kids will always find something to tease about if they’re looking for something.
Anyway, with all of the names and queries you see coming in, I was wondering what your thoughts are on these? Do you think Addison is too much of a girl’s name these days to use for a boy? I’ve read the Social Security statistics and know that Addison has been a top 20 girl’s name for years, while it’s much lower down the line for boys (I think in the 800’s). But from reading your site, I know you’ve pointed out many times that top names aren’t necessarily as common as they were a couple decades ago (meaning that there aren’t likely to be 5 Charlotte’s in a class just because it’s the #1 name).
Between my husband and I, we actually only know one Addison (male or female) and this Addison hapens to be a man.
The other A names on our list right now are: Austin, Ashton and possibly Aiden. But while we like these, we don’t love them the way we love Addison.
Thank you for reading this! I know I may be way too late in the game to hear anything before the birth day but thought I would give it a try!
I absolutely would not advise using Addison for a boy at this point. Here are the 2012 numbers from the Social Security site (I included only spellings used more than 20 or so times):
Addison: 8122 girls, 169 boys
Addyson: 1262 girls
Addisyn: 827 girls
Adyson: 234 girls
Adison: 126 girls
Addysen: 84 girls
Adisyn: 82 girls
Addisen: 58 girls
Adysen: 54 girls
That’s a total of 10,849 new little girls named Addison in 2012, and only 169 boys (and that number is falling each year now). Addison is no longer a unisex name; it is now used almost exclusively for girls. And not just “used for girls,” but VERY used for girls: it was #14 in 2012.
Yes, it’s true that popularity isn’t what it used to be, and that’s exactly how I’d be reassuring you if you were concerned that the name Addison was too common for your baby girl, or that the name Matthew was too common for your baby boy. But that is not the question here: in this case we’re wondering if a name is too popular for girls to be used for a boy. The question “Will there be five Charlottes in every classroom?” is quite different than the question “Can I use Charlotte for my baby boy?”
Yes, it’s true that many names can be used for either boys or girls, and Addison hovered in that category for awhile, but now it has flown that particular coop. Yes, it’s true that many men have names that have since become used almost exclusively for girls, but that doesn’t mean it still works just as well to name little boys Courtney and Ashley and Evelyn in 2013. Yes, it’s true that many little girls are given “boy names,” but that doesn’t mean that many little boys are given “girl names”—fair or not. And of course children can always find something to tease about, but that doesn’t mean we should deliberately give a child a name that’s highly likely to cause trouble, any more than we should deliberately give a child a terrible haircut. I think a boy born in 2013 named Addison would be dealing with a considerable hassle his entire life. You and your husband may decide the name is well worth the risk; in that case, I strongly urge you to give him a middle name currently used only for boys (such as your choice of Matthew), and one that goes well with your surname in case he decides to use his middle name as a first name later.
I can completely see how if you know only one Addison, male, the name would feel like it belongs to that range of names that are fine for either boys or girls. It’s similar to the way I can completely see how my friend named her daughter Isabella, thinking it was a very rare name because she had never heard it on a single person; I had never met a single Isabella at that point either. These are the sorts of reasons I find the Social Security’s site so invaluable: it can be startling and helpful to see how our impressions of a name compare to the actual usage. Many, many times I’ve thought, “Pshh, I’ve never heard that name, it can’t be all that common” or “That one’s definitely gone out of style” or “No one is ACTUALLY giving that name to girls”—only to find my own experience of the name doesn’t reflect the actual situation. I can say “But I don’t know any Isabellas” all day long, but that’s completely irrelevant to the fact that approximately 20,000 new ones are born each year; all it means is that my personal sample size is too small to be accurate. We can say that Addison seems like it ought to be for boys and girls, or that the only adult Addison we know is male, but that’s irrelevant to the story the actual numbers are telling us about what is happening with the name: thirty years ago in 1983, there were 36 male Addisons born and 0-5 female Addisons; in 2012, there were 64 female Addisons for every 1 male Addison, and the number of male Addisons was decreasing.
Leaving aside the issue of Addison’s current usage for boys/girls: you say you want traditional/biblical names, and have used two such names so far. The name Addison would be a radical departure from this style—a much bigger departure than breaking the line of A-names. If you love it, I suggest using it as a middle name.
Speaking of A names, are you planning more children after this one? If so, and if you’re having trouble coming up with A names at this point, and if you’d prefer to avoid matchiness, I would certainly quit the A names now. Even if you’re planning to stop at three, I don’t think it’s weird to have two children sharing an initial and the third having a different initial; it’s after three in a row that I feel the pressure is on. It wouldn’t be some “random non-A name”; it would be your favorite boy name for this baby, just as the previous two choices were your favorite boy names for those babies. Some people will notice it when the birth announcements go out (“Oh, I’d thought they might use another A name”) and then everyone will forget about it and those will just be the kids’ names.
Since the first two boys share your initial, perhaps it would be pleasing to everyone if the third child shared your husband’s initial. Or perhaps you could look for a name that shares other sounds in common with Andrew and Alex, and/or is two syllables as they are. Or, try saying the names in a different order to see if it’s only the set-up of the first two names that makes the third stand out: Alex, Caleb, and Andrew, or Alex, Matthew, and Andrew. Or try saying the names in sets of two instead of all in a group: do you like Alex and Caleb together? how about Caleb and Andrew? If you like the pairings, you probably DO like the three names together, but you’re getting misled by a feeling that the first two create a pattern.
One name that comes to my mind is Nicholas. Andrew, Alex, and Nicholas. I think it’s the way the -c- sound of Nicholas echoes part of the -x- of Alex. Patrick would work similarly: Andrew, Alex, and Patrick. Or I like Elliot: Andrew, Alex, and Elliot. Or Daniel, to echo the -an- of Andrew and the -al- of Alex, as well as carrying the -a- sound through all three: Andrew, Alex, and Daniel.
If non-A names continue to seem jarring, I suggest:
Andrew, Alex, and Aaron
Andrew, Alex, and Adam
Andrew, Alex, and Adrian
Andrew, Alex, and Aiden
Andrew, Alex, and Asher